Mr. T. – an X100T review

So what could I possibly write that hasn’t already been written about the X100 series from Fujifilm? The truth, not much! Yet here I am, scribbling down words to try and describe my thoughts about the third iteration of this amazing camera. In fact this is really the first time I have written anything about the X100/S/T other than just show images from the camera. I have never done a proper review. Why? I don’t really know, but I think I’m scared to do one because of the sheer amount of stuff I really could say about this camera series. I simply do not know where to start, and how to end it! It has been my go to camera for 3 years now. Never leaving my side, like a good companion. So I will try to present the features of this latest model, and then try to draw some parallels/differentiations to the older models where appropriate. So let’s get to it.

History

My first Fujifilm was indeed the X100. It defined how I would start to think about photography. It presented a new cleaner way of thinking about photography. Stripping away all the superfluous. Focussing on the basics.

It is a camera that I think was clearly made for street shooting. Its qualities I later found transcends this stigma of it only being a street photographers camera. I have used this camera series for everything from studiowork, to travel photography over family snaps as well as landscape photography and back on the streets. It works in all those genres. Again I think it’s because it represents simplicity in a way that makes you visualise your images better, hence making the resulting photographs better.



The X100 was such a quirky camera. It worked 60% of the time, but when it did…..Oh boy! The S changed this, and made the X100 a reliable camera with fast(er) autofocus and other refinements, even including an X-Trans sensor which the original X100 didn’t have. So what did Fujifilm do this time around?

Usage

With the X100T, Fujifilm has refined this camera to an almost perfect state. On the outside they made minor changes (The changes are rather pronounced in their subtlety, but more on this a little later) Where they refined this camera is in the usability department. This past month I have been asked quite frequently if updating to the T is worth it. I’ll tell you this. Going from the S to the T is a bigger upgrade than going from the original X100 to the X100S.

Overall operabillity is MUCH faster. Everything is just fluid and smooth sailing. wait times for interaction are non existent, and everything feels incredibly fast. The EVF/LCD features a really clean and organised information overlay which greatly enhances the feeling of simplicity in use. You can customise it to your hearts desire. Take away info, add everything back and more. Your choice.

The physical button layout has been re-ordered yet again, but this time the layout really makes sense. The buttons are great to the touch, and Fujifil replaced the “jog wheel” navigator with a 4 way D-pad. This works much better! The D-pad buttons can be customised to control AF point directly, something I think a lot of people will find incredibly useful.

The OVF/EVF is still there, and with the T they gave it a steroid injection! In OVF mode it now has realtime parallax adjustment to the framelines. This is amazing. Period! My subjects are now much better framed when using the OVF.

They also added a little electronic pop up window in the OVF mode that shows you the focus selection portion of your image in digital glory, giving you the opportunity to manual focus using both focus-peaking and split image focus assist. This is very cool, but I have yet to actually use the feature extensively.

The T benefits a lot from the refinements in speed, menulayout, EVF/LCD layout, as well as physical button layout.  The usability is the biggest upgrade on the T, and if you are as X100S user, you will notice they difference as being VERY vast!

Compare the above to putting an SSD in your laptop, replacing your regular HDD. It will not make your processor faster, but you eliminate the bottleneck of the system, hence making the entire system feel A LOT more snappy, especially in trivial day-to-day tasks. THIS is what the X100T brings to the table. An incredible boost in overall feel and speed in day-to-day use.

Design

If I was to pick one single camera based on design, it would be a Leica M. They have that pure minimalism down good! Fujifilm seems to know this as well since the X100 from the start was clearly modelled after old Leica rangefinder cameras. The industrial design of the X100 is amazing. Nothing less. I have NEVER had so many questions about gear since acquiring the X100 series. It is so pure and beautiful.



So why would Fujifilm change that? They wouldn’t! They do what Leica does, what Apple does, what B&O does. They make subtle changes to a basic shape that your eyes won’t immediately notice. But when noticed they feel right at home, and don’t break the overall product aesthetics.

Key changes:

  • No more chrome on/off switch.
  • The EVF/OVF window front is now flush with the body, no more window protrusion.
  • The hand grip goes from baseplate to topplate. Continuous.
  • The Aperture ring and top dials now has a diamond etch instead of a rippled one.
  • The physical buttons on the back has a uniform round look.

The above are visually very minute, but they do give the impression of a modernised retro looking camera. No easy feat to pull off, but Fujifilm did it. WELL DONE!

Image Quality/Classic Chrome

The image quality of the X100T is the same as on the S. Some people hate the look of the X-Trans files. I’m not one of those people (clearly!) and I love the dynamic range that I get from the files. They are incredible to work with, and RAW support is getting better by each update to Lightroom. Image quality is great. Enough said.

It has a macro mode, but when using close focus you have to turn your aperture down to at least F/4, since the lens in the X100/S/T is soft wide open at close range.

The .jpegs are freaking GORGEOUS!!! As with any Fujifilm camera, you can shoot jpegs 100 percent of the time, and be a very happy camper! I always shoot RAW+jpeg, and I only use the RAW’s about 20-25% of the time.

This time around Fujifilm added a new film simulation called Classic Chrome. I wrote more about it here. Though not exclusive to the X100T (the X-T1, and the X30 has it as well) it is an amazing film simulation, that is very flexible. It’s closest relative is the Pro Hi Neg. simulation found in the other cameras. But it really is a simulation that is quite unique. Its more than just desaturated, it’s balanced in its appearance which is quite pleasing to the eye. In post I give the a bit of a contrast boost, as well as added clarity, and I achieve a cool grungy look that is very pleasing for street/urban portraits.

Conversion

Fujifilm made 2 conversion lenses for the X100 series. The TCL-X100 which makes the X100/S/T a 50mm f/2 eq and the WCL-X100 which makes it a 28mm eq.



So with these two small add ons in your pockets (yes, they actually fit in my jacket pockets which is quite amazing) or your bag, and you will have 3 classic focal lengths at your disposal with very limited bulk. (28mm+35mm+50mm f/2)

The TCL do add some frontweight to your X100T, while the WCL feels more at home on the small body. Image quality using these two are good. The distortion added to the images from the converters is corrected in-camera on the jpegs, but on the raw files you’ll have to do the correction yourself.

If you want to fill the frame using the TCL at f/2 the image will appear a little soft due to the limitations in the X100/S/T lens. Nothing major, but still…

Samples

Samples below have been taken using the X100T. They have been variously processed in Lightroom from RAW as well as jpeg.



The samples below are taken using the X100T with the TCL-X100


Conclusion

So there you have it. I found some things to say about the X100 series with focus on Mr. X100T.

This review doesn’t bring anything new and revolutionary to the table, but these are my words and thoughts from my 3 years with the X100 series. I really, really like the X100T. All the X100 cameras are AMAZING all rounders. And the X100T with all its amazing usabillity improvements is the best upgrade to the series yet. It’s a fantastic camera that I use everyday!