Fujifilm X100T

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Fujifilm X100T

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My initial introduction to the Fujifilm X world was through the original X100 – as soon as I saw it, I lusted after it!  Up to that point, I had always used DSLR cameras but something about the little retro looking X100 intrigued me and at the point in time when I decided I wanted to get one…nobody had them in stock!  I tracked one down at a Dodd Camera north of Dayton, Ohio after a few days and jumped in the car.  A couple hours later I was the proud new owner of an X100.  I was so excited to have it, I even took it inside with me when I went to Red Lobster for lunch and sat and stared at it on the table while waiting for my food!

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That original X100 was a quirky little camera.  Fixed, single focal length lens…slow AF…odd menu system, etc.  But the images…so film-like and rich.  So many people were frustrated with the handling but loved the IQ.  I only had my X100 for a couple months before swapping it for the newly introduced Fuji X-Pro1 and the awesome Fujinon 35mm f/1.4 lens.  After that, I was hooked on the Fuji X system for good.

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The X100 eventually was upgraded to the X100S, which I briefly owned for a day.  The same day I bought it, Nikon ended up announcing the Df camera and I thought that was going to be the bees’ knees so I returned the X100S and decided to wait for the Df.  Well, once the Df was released to less than glowing reviews and I saw just how big it was and how wrong it was, I decided it wasn’t for me…but Fuji was working on a camera that just might be – the “coming soon” X-T1.  I now own two X-T1’s so you can tell I love them.  Fuji made exactly what Nikon was trying to make with the Df.

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Anyway, recently I wanted to get a “carry everywhere, everyday” camera and initially thought about the X100T, or maybe another X100S which had been lowered in price since the X100T was out.  I did find a used original X100 for a great price so I bought it, but once I got home two things made me return it – it’s serial number was in the range of the first batch that had the “sticky aperture blade” issue and even though it didn’t display that issue, if it did pop up in the future it wouldn’t be covered under warranty obviously.  The second thing was the hotshot was a bit loose, which was sometimes a problem with the original X100’s that were used with a “thumb grip”.  I ended up finding a great deal on both a Sony A7 with kit lens and a Sony A6000 with kit lens.  The A7 body is pretty good…full frame, small size.  The kit lens sucks though.  I was never too happy with the A7 honestly so I ditched it.  That left me with the A6000 to try out, and after a few weeks I thought maybe it was the camera I was looking for as my everyday shooter…image quality is fantastic.  It had the 16-50 kit lens though, which like all Sony kit lenses ain’t great.  I also had two of the Sigma DN Art lenses for the Sony though – the 30mm f/2.8 and the 60mm f/2.8, and they actually are GREAT lenses.  Not as good as the Fujinon lenses I am used to using with my Fuji X gear, but really nice and very inexpensive.  The thing is, I ended up with a “kit” again…the A6000 body, three lenses, a Nikon-to-Sony adapter, Arca-Swiss grip, etc. and my carry everywhere camera was suddenly too big.  I ended up getting rid of that A6000, but I sold the Sigma lenses.  I did get another A6000 though when there was the instant savings deal going on.  It’s currently my “play” camera – I put older legacy glass on it via a Fotodiox Pro adapter – fun & inexpensive, and some of the old, cheap legacy lenses are really great.  I have a Cimko 28mm f/2.8 lens that is a great street photography lens on the A6000, and also a small collection of old legacy glass like a couple of 135mm lenses and a small & lightweight Nikon 50mm E Series lens.  The combo of such a high-res sensor with older, (sometimes) low-contrast legacy glass can give cool results a lot of times.

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So, back to square one.  I started researching every kind of small, quality camera I could find and spent about 2 weeks doing it.  I looked at some Micro 4/3 cameras, which I’ve had in the past and was never all that happy with…the only thing I’ve ever really liked about m4/3 cameras are the size of the system…but I knew if I went that route I’d end up with a kit again.   I looked at the Ricoh GR…some really cool features and a lot of street shooters seemed to like them and if you’re into black and white you can get some amazing image quality, but it has no viewfinder.  The Nikon Coolpix A…very similar to the Ricoh, and now priced at less than half of it’s original price, but again no viewfinder.   A Panasonic LX100?  No, again the m4/3 sensor is a bit small.  A Samsung?!?  Nah.

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Then I thought, why not just get a Fuji X100T?!?  Yeah, it’s a fixed, single focal length lens…but it’s a killer lens and at 35mm equivalent, it’s right what I would want for street photography.  The quirkiness of the original X100 was now gone – they fixed just about everything with the X100S, and the last couple of niggles they fixed with the X100T now.  There are some people that think the X100T’s AF isn’t good enough for street photography…I think they’re nuts.  It’s plenty fast enough if you know how to use it.  I love the way you can set the AEL/AFL button as a “back focus” button and it will autofocus even if you’re in manual focus mode.  The IQ is fantastic…the handling is fine…and the menus are very similar to the X-T1’s that I use already.  I decided to go ahead and get one and I’m so glad I did.  I went for the all black version this time after having the two-toned silver/black version that I had in the X100 and X100S…but honestly, the camera is beautiful in either version.  The two-toned is a little sexier in it’s retro vibe, but the all black is a bit more stealth-like.

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X100T – f/8

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The new hybrid viewfinder in the X100T is something else too!  I tend to use the EVF the most, but I have been using the OVF a bit more than I ever did with the original X100 or the X-Pro1.  The parallax correction frame lines are more accurate now, and there is an amount of battery life savings when using the OVF over the EVF, though with the digital overlays on the OVF it’s probably not a huge savings.  The OVF is a tad bit quicker for street shooting as well…when using the EVF, when you take your eye away from the viewfinder it shuts off the EVF and goes back to OVF so when you bring your eye back up it has to switch back to the EVF.  It seems that if the EVF just shut off when you took your eye away and then switched back on when you put your eye back would be better, but maybe there is a reason Fuji had to do it this way – I don’t know…but I do slightly worry about the lifespan of the mechanical mechanism that controls the viewfinder switching back and forth.  The OVF also adds the benefit of your eye being able to see outside the frame like vintage rangefinder cameras so you can anticipate your composition when it comes to a person or thing entering your intended shot.  When I use the EVF, I often have the camera set to one of the black and white settings to visualize the scene in monchromatic.  Although I always shoot in RAW, it’s often enjoyable to view the scene in black and white…the RAW gives me full color so when processing my images, I always have the option to go color or black and white.  I am now actually shooting in RAW/Fine JPG and I have C1 set for Standard, C2 set for the Classic Chrome simulation with Auto ISO from 200-3200, C3 is Black and White with red filter, Auto ISO 200-3200, and C4 is Black and White with green filter, Auto ISO 200-3200.  I set the slowest shutter speed at 1/125 for these options.  I have c5 set a little differently with the Provia simulation, Auto ISO 200-800 with 1/60 set for slowest SS.  Honestly though, with the awesome Q button, it’s really so simple and quick to make changes to the camera’s settings that using the custom C options are not all that needed, but it is nice to be able to select one and just know what the camera is set for without needing to necessarily double check everything.

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In my opinion, there are at least two improvements between the X100S and the X100T that make it worth the upgrade above all else…the fact that the lens aperture is now in 1/3 stop clicks and the exposure comp dial going +/- 3 stops now instead of just 2 stops.  There are other changes that are great too, but those two are probably the largest and most beneficial.  I love having 7 customizable buttons now.  Fuji got rid of the scroll wheel on the back and went with a 4-way button setup…I have the four buttons all set to select the focus point (just like on my X-T1’s) and the Fn button next to the shutter release set to activate the built-in ND filter.  Other function buttons are used to engage the Macro mode and White Balance adjustment.

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The X100T is the X100 perfected…almost!  The only thing that I’d like better would be if it was 100% weatherproof.  The AF is very quick now…it honestly seems as fast as the X-T1 which I’ve never had an issue with.  It has everything that all the other modern digital cameras have, whether you need or want it.  WiFi, Face Detection, Film Simulations, great AF, various MF aids, Intervalometer, etc.  I really like the more retro-look of the original JJC hood, but the new domed version protects the lens a lot better and also lets you use the original Fuji lens cap as well, so I am now using that version.  I also am using the new Lensmate X100T thumb grip that is designed just for the X100T.  I have outfitted my X100T with a custom made olive green leather Kaza Deluxe half case, an olive green soft shutter release and both an olive green Lance neck strap as well as an olive green Lance wrist strap…both with quick release connectors so I can switch back and forth.  I call this my X100T Safari Edition!  I sometimes wonder if it’d be cool to have a small zoom lens on an X100 body…something modest like a 3x or 4x zoom, but honestly the lens that is on the X100 line is SO good, it’d be a shame to mess with that!  Also, there’s something to be said of it having a fixed focal length…it frees you up from worrying about what lens is on the camera and just makes you shoot.

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If you are used to shooting with a camera that has interchangeable lenses, or a variable focal length lens, the X100 series cameras will take you while to adjust too.  You have to “zoom with your feet”.  Some people will simply just not like having a single focal length lens.  I for one find it refreshing to go out and work with a camera like the X100T.  It changes the way I shoot and the way I think about shooting, and I enjoy that.  It will never replace my other cameras, but I really love grabbing the X100T and a spare battery and going into the city for a day of street photography, and it also is wonderful as my “every day, everywhere” camera which is what I wanted it for in the beginning anyway!  I can’t imagine somebody using the X100T and not having a good time.

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UPDATE 6/20/2015:  I recently had a boudoir/glamour shoot in the studio and I only took one of my X-T1 bodies with the 56mm f/1.2 lens on it, but I also had the X100T in the bag as well.  At some point, I got the X100T out, slapped on a Pocket Wizard, and proceeded to use it for the first time in the studio.  It’s not that I ever doubted the X100T would be great in the studio, it’s just that I never had taken it along on a studio shoot up to that point.  It was great just like I figured it would be, and I liked a lot of the images I made with it.

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X100T – f/8 – Single softbox on camera left.
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PROS:

– Image quality;  looks;  handling;  exquisite lens;  build quality;  external charger included;  it’s just fun to use.

CONS:

– price;  Fuji-branded accessories too expensive (I went with third-party options).

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