Fujifilm X100T First Impressions

I am not one of the early adopters of Fuji cameras, and I’ve gotten to the system backwards compared to many users. Many start off with an X100 or X30 as an introduction and move up, but I needed a no-holds-barred camera that was more portable than my Canon DSLRs, so I started off with a Fujifilm X-T1, added an X-E2 as backup and now, having seen what lighter gear can do (compared to the giant DSLR gear I used for years), I wanted to go further into the evolution.

Fujifilm CSC

So for our wedding anniversary, couples-only trip to the Sexy Marriage Radio Getaway in Dallas this year (#SMRGetaway), I got a Fujifilm X100T and only brought that camera. No zoom(s). No bag/backpack. Just the camera.

20160628 115836 IMG_0234 G15_DCE

Here are some of my first impressions:

Size

It’s heftier and larger than I expected (but manageable).

(Comparisons courtesy of CameraSize.com.)

Even though the specs show it is the same weight (just under 1 lbs) and size as the XT1 body, I keep expecting it to be smaller when I get it out. That’s not a good or bad thing. Just a thing.

Boot up

Even in high performance mode, it takes longer than on my X-T1 to access the Q menu, drive, photometry (metering mode), etc after boot up, but is similar to my X-E2 after firmware 4.0. (Tip: Don’t forget to turn on Pre-AF in the Autofocus settings for faster autofocus.)

Lens cap

Most of the time, I remember to remove this, but if I am in optical viewfinder mode, the only indication that the lens cap is on, is:

  • the electronic overlay is dimmer
  • if focus assist overlay is on, it is dark gray, but this is the same spot where the lens protrudes into the viewfinder so I tended to not notice this

But if you are in EVF mode (which I like better), then the view is black.

OVF/EVF

The much praised optical rangefinder viewfinder with the electronic overlay is… interesting. Being able to see more of the scene than what is in the frame takes a bit to get use to, but I can see how useful it could be. I can see how it can make you feel connected to the photography and subjects you are shooting like people who shoot DSLRs, but I tend to adjust exposure, film simulation, highlight and shadow tone, etc, and I don’t completely trust light meters so I like the preview image you get in EVF mode which is exactly like the X-T1 and X-E2.

Controls

Adjusting aperture, shutter speed and EV are easy as adjusting on the X-E2 (the X-T1 is much easier than both due to additional controls). The EV dial is tighter than either the X-T1 or X-E2, but is welcome since the camera often goes into my pocket.

For consistency between cameras, to get the X100T more like my X-T1 and X-E2, I reassigned:

  • The top d-pad button from Macro to Autofocus mode
  • The left d-pad button from Film Simulation to Macro (for Film Simulation, I, personally, like to chose one of my presets from the Q menu)
  • The right d-pad from (?) to Auto ISO

I would love to reassign the View Mode button to be the Drive button (and vice versa). This would make it closer to the X-E2 button layout (where the left buttons are Play, Drive, Auto Exposure mode and custom). But if you hold down the View Mode button, the monitor goes to sunlight (bright) mode. And, unfortunately, you can’t even assign the bottom Fn button to Drive. Drive is not one of the options.

Handling

I keep wanting to use it one handed (like I can with my Canon G15 which is only 0.1 lbs lighter), but without a proper thumb position on the camera*, you have to shoot this two handed or risk shaking or not getting the composition you expected.

*I tend to put my thumb between the drive button and control dial or on the top right of the display. The spot between the AEL/AFL button and the memory card activity light is just too far to the right for me to grip without some kind of thumb rest.

I shoot two handed anyway, but I’m considering getting a Lensmate Thumbrest or a hand grip for better ready-to-shoot holding.

Fuji’s metal hand grip (MHG) designs for the X-T1 and X-E2 have worked great for me, but I’m not sure I want to add 25% more weight to the X100T. I’m definitely not getting any of those knock-off thumb rests as they either look ridiculously too short or block the drive button and the command dial (both of which I use frequently).

I did almost immediately add a soft button. The shutter release button is raised significantly over the X-T1 and X-E2, but is still not great unless you use your finger tip (soft buttons work on any part of your finger).

(Tip: use a bit of Loctite or super glue to keep a soft button from loosening. It will come out later if needed, just wiggle (tighten slightly then loosen) to undo the bond.)

I also immediately added a hot shoe cover to avoid it snagging anything. It is probably unlikely, but better safe than sorry.

Focus Check button

FYI For those of you accustomed to the X-T1 and are spoiled with a dedicated Focus Assist/Check button, you can check focus in you photos by click on the back command dial (just like on the X-E2). Unfortunately, like the X-E2, once you are magnified, you can’t go to the next image and stay magnified because both the X100T and X-E2 lack the 2nd command dial found on the X-T1.

Strap

I have always used sling straps with my DSLRs, X-T1 and X-E2, but on the X100T, I found it cumbersome. Attached to the side attachment points, the strap got in my way of enjoying the X100T. When I tried either a modified Peak Design Leash or PD SlideLite attached to either a Peak Design plate or a tiny Black Rapid attachment on the bottom, it was better (probably fine for long walks), but still got in the way of my enjoyment.

The best method so far was just carrying it in my hand with a small wrist strap for backup or stuffed in my cargo pant pocket. Warning: The camera tended to turn on in my pocket which drains the battery and leaves me black photos (mostly because I have a soft release button).

Built in charger

Looove it! You can charge with the same charger for your phone including booster batteries, but keep in mind that the battery takes 4 hours to charge* from nearly dead so this limits you to getting only one battery fully charged overnight, so extra batteries and an external charger would be good.

*This is assuming you can provide about 700 milliamps of power which is what my meter was showing (so no cheap 500 milliamp phone chargers).

20160627 135644 IMG_0231 G15_DCE

Battery life

I’m going to have to fill this in later as I have not really used this for long enough periods at a time. If it is like my other Fuji cameras, it should stay on for about 1.5 hours continuously or for about 300-350 shots if turned off between use.

It is important to note that for mirrorless cameras, not only is the number of photos you can shoot per charge important, but the duration the camera can operate. Unlike DSLRs which only engage the sensor when you take a picture or go to live mode (or shoot video), mirrorless cameras use their sensors all the dang time!

Under constant use, I typically switch out the X-T1 and X-E2 batteries around every 1.5 hours when the 20% remaining icon turns on (because it quickly drops to 10% and then stops operating). This can be extended greatly if you aren’t shooting often, by either having a short auto shut of time or just turning off your camera between use.

I am sad that the battery that came with my X100T from Best Buy was manufactured in 2014/12, but the camera was manufactured only 7 months later than the battery (2015/7) and I got it from Best Buy on year later from the manufacturing date (2016/6). This is just the nature of the supply chain, but it still saddens me that I have a battery that will fail earlier than I would like. (Lithium Ion is notorious for having a short shelf life especially if the battery is not strictly manufactured.)

Wifi tranfer and controls

Seems to work just as well as on my X-T1 and X-E2, so I imagine it working fine on the X100T. FYI the images transferred are reduced size, but you typically don’t need full resolution if you are grabbing images from your phone. These are perfectly large enough for email and social media.

Shutter

O…M…Goodness!!! The leaf shutter is QUIET!!! The key rings for the neck strap makes about as much noise as the shutter. Take a moment to let that sink in. *breathe in* Yip. Awesome!

And in panorama mode, I’m about the only person who can hear it unless the room is very, very quiet. (When I’ve shot a panorama with my X-T1 (or X-E2) in a quiet room, my daughter compares the sound to a machine gun.)

Looove it!

(Only the XQ1/2 and X10/20/30 cameras are quieter since they only have electronic shutters (can’t shoot panoramas in electronic shutter mode on X-T1 or X-E2 (yet)), but the XQ and X10/20/30 also only have 2/3″ sensors.)

Only 23mm (35mm equivalent)

Here is where it gets dicey for me. I’m not use to so limited a range. I tend to shoot ultra wide (18mm or less) or tight (50-140mm is my favorite). I’m still on the fence with the 23mm lens, but I do notice myself adjusting pretty automatically — just like getting handed someone’s smartphone.

Macro mode

With a 4 inch minimum distance, “macro” shots are pretty good.

20160622 210521 DSCF0061 X100T macro_DCE

At f/2, it is a little soft for my taste in macro mode (I like my images really sharp and with really shallow depth-of-field), but since the minimum distance in macro mode is 4 inches, f/2.8 – f/4 sharpens up the image quite nicely and (depending on the look you are going for and the situation) may or may not impact bokeh too much for your taste.

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Panorama mode

 

Without a wide lens, one option is to shoot panoramas. Under first glance, the X100T’s panoramas seem as good as the ones from the X-T1 and X-E2, but under closer inspection, there is motion blur that doesn’t occur with the X-T1 and X-E2. My guess is that the motion blur is due to the X100T not having image stabilization. More on this in a separate post.

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No Image Stabilization

If you are a pixel peeper (like I am), I noticed slight motion blur occasionally at 1/15 if I shot hand held using good stabilization techniques using both hands close to the body. This is not surprising since the inverse rule applied to the 35mm equivalent lens would be a minimum of 1/30.

However, I have found shots below 1/30 that look perfectly fine, and if you are reducing your images for social media and not cropping strongly, small motion blur will probably not be visible.

Flare

The X100 cameras are known for a flare problem which is supposed to be drastically reduced in the X100T. I only noticed this twice after shooting the photo. I can’t tell yet if you can predict when the flare will happen in the EVF. Both times were low to the ground during sunset.

20160622 190237 DSCF0033 X100T flare_DCE

And as you can see, it is kinda a cool effect (but not cool if it is blocking how you would like the photo to come out).

No Zone Focus Mode

Unlike the X-T1 and X-E2 which has 3 focus modes (Wide, Zone and Area), the X100T does not have Zone Focus. This is fine most of the time, but was a bit frustrating when I wanted to hand off the camera to someone. Area focus sometimes chose the background if the camera operator put the focus point between people’s heads. Wide was the best I could choose and hope we were in focus.

Yes, I could have turned on face detection, but:

  • I don’t tend to shoot with face detection on in case the camera catches a face who is NOT the subject (this has happened too frequently)
  • and I didn’t want to dive deep into the menus every time to turn that on and off for something that I don’t use frequently
  • (I find face and eye detection best when you are shooting single portraits.)

Video button

Good grief! I have twice so far accidentally started a video without meaning to press this button. Compared to the very recessed, hard-to-push video buttons on the X-T1 and X-E2, the raised button on the X100T can be accidentally pushed very easily. I don’t shoot video often so I might re-assign this button. FYI you can do this easily by holding the Fn button until you get a list. I believe this works for all re-programmable buttons on all the models but might not be available on older firmware. Too bad Selector Button Setting is not one of the options. I would love to be able to toggle between function pad and focus area selection without going into the menus. (Hear that, Fuji?!)

A quick tip about videos. If you are prone to shooting video in very low light, switch your movie mode to at most 30fps. Remember, if have maxed out your ISO at 6400 and your aperture at f/2 and your shutter needs to be a little slower than 1/60 in low light, it can’t if you are set at 60fps which translates to about 1/60 per frame. (Trust me, I learned this the hard way.)

At 30fps, don’t forget to hold your camera still, use a tripod, monopod, or some other stabilization method.

Conclusion

Good

  • Small enough (considering the large sensor inside)
  • Nearly all the same programming and controls as other Fuji cameras
  • REALLY Quiet
  • Built in charger (slow but convenient)
  • 4″ minimum focus distance
  • (Forces you to think about your photography)

Annoying

  • Slow boot up
  • No proper grip for thumb
  • No zone focus
  • Slightly blurry motion panorama
  • Blurry macro at f/2
  • Wish OVF was black if lens cap was still on
  • Max shutter speed in auto ISO settings is 1/125.
  • Still wish there was a zoom
  • (Forces you to think about your photography)

Bad

  • If you need a zoom, you need to carry a separate adapter or camera
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