Saturday, February 20, 2016


End of last year our son was born which meant that December holidays were cancelled for us and we stayed at home. 
2 months on however we felt it's time to test if he can handle our active on the go lifestyle and so we planned a week long holiday in one of South Africa's most beautiful regions. 
The well known Garden Route. 
When planning our trip we had decided to make use of accommodation within the Garden Route National Park, which proved to be a great choice as it allowed us to really enjoy the peace and tranquility of this area.
We took a flight to the coastal town of George from where we continued via rental car to the nearby village of Wilderness and the Ebb and Flow Rest-camp.
The perfect place to take in both the beach and the cool forests of Wilderness.

The following day after an early morning walk to one of the over 800 year old yellowwood trees we travelled via the Outeniqua pass and the Karoo town of Oudshoorn  to the world renowned Cango caves.
For us it was one of the highlights of our trip. 
I am however doubtful if it had been as nice during school holidays when the groups that walk through the caves are large and photo opportunities diminish.

This, I thought, would also be a fitting challenge to test the high iso quality of my little companion. 
The just released Fujifilm X70. The new kid on the block.
Indeed it turned out that the conditions through out our trip where a challenge to any camera. Forests with extreme contrast, dark caves and for the most part a coast covered in mist.
Judge for yourself if it worked. I think it did exceptionally well.
A little challenge was the way we travelled however.
For most of the time I had my son like a kangaroo in front, a backpack, my X-T1 over one shoulder and the X70 in the other hand. 
I'm certain that a number of my images would've turned out better had it not been for this set up. In his defence however, he was extremely well behaved and much enjoyed our early morning hikes. 

So, no tripod unfortunately was being used and often only a one handed shot was possible. Nevertheless the X70 proved to be a worthy member of the X-family and as such capable of top quality images. 
The fixed 18.5mm f2.8 lens (28mm equiv.) is sharp wide open and improves further when stopped down. 
The color reproduction is typical Fuji, excellent.
I'm told the lens is optically corrected for distortion and as such I did not notice any distortion or chromatic aberration. I would love to test the lens with some architectural shots in future.
It also turned out to be very useful closeup. Allowing focus as close as 10cm and still include the surroundings in your frame.
I also enjoyed the slightly wider perspective over the the X100T, a personal preference.

Unfortunately I couldn't compare the X70 directly to the XF18 f2 R but I have the feeling that the fixed lens on the X70 is the better of the two.
In fact I feel there is really no need to talk much about the image quality as it has the same well known sensor of the X-T1 / T10 / X100T series cameras.
What makes it different is its very compact size. Pretty exactly the same size as my wife's XF-1, which is remarkable for a camera with an APS-C sensor, and the addition of a touch sensitive 180 degree folding selfie screen. A first for Fujifilm. 

When taking selfies it is advisable to use the autofocus with face detection. It works perfectly. The same can be said for the touchscreen which seemed to be quite responsive during my use. One can focus and shoot with one touch or just focus and use the shutter button to release. In review mode one can double tap or pinch and swipe to zoom in and out and advance to the next frame. Just like on any modern cell phone.
During my time with the X70 I liked it so much in fact, that after we returned home I bought one for myself, including the lovely leather case and strap and the bright optical viewfinder. It's such a sexy little camera.

We continued our trip along the coast via Knysna to the beautiful area of Natures Valley in the Tsitsikamma region of the Gardenroute.
Although this camp is in need of an upgrade the area is spectacular and a haven of peace. Definitely a place to visit again.

Our last stop, and no doubt the highlight of our trip, was the magnificent Stormsriver region. Blessed with an incredibly beautiful coastline it is a photographers and hikers paradise. 
The rugged coast invites one to spend hours photographing and the constant mist we experienced during our stay added to the atmosphere. 

The X70 set in Velvia film simulation mode was ideal for these conditions and because of the small size always on me.
With the X70, Fujifilm has succeeded to make an already compact system even more compact without sacrificing any quality. It feels every bit as well made as an X-T10 and the image quality is perfect.
Due to the small size it was however not possible to still include a viewfinder in the body, which in bright daylight can be a problem, but at a price it is possible to get the external optical viewfinder as an accessory. It is exceptionally bright and offers frame lines for both 28mm as well as 21mm for the upcoming ultra wide converter. 
I'm already looking forward to that one to complete my X70 kit.

And hopefully another trip.