My Fujifilm FinePix X100 has been my favourite camera ever.
That’s quite a statement when you consider the number of cameras I’ve owned and used over all my years as a photographer, film and digital. I’ve owned an X100 for about three years at the time of writing. I was drawn to the original release mostly by the manual controls, the hybrid viewfinder, the relatively large sensor size and the excellent, versatile 35mm equivalent f2 prime lens. All of this packaged in a compact and lightweight (if not quite pocketable) format.
The X100 proved itself to me over and over again. It was the perfect camera to obtain great image quality without having to lug around a heavy rucksack full of equipment. I think it really won its place in my affections during a family holiday to Rome in 2012. I decided to take only my X100 rather than all my DSLR kit and it performed superbly, making the holiday more enjoyable into the bargain as I only had a small, light camera with me.
Yes it had quirks. Yes it had foibles. Yes it had idiosyncrasies. But it was also enormous fun to shoot with.
When the X100S was released I’d had my X100 for about a year. It seemed too soon to be updating and to be honest I just couldn’t justify the outlay regardless of the improvements made to the camera.
And now the X100T has been released offering even more new features and the timing was right for me. I pre-ordered one and I’ve had the pleasure of using it for a couple of weeks or so now. And no, I couldn’t bring myself to sell my beloved X100 in order to fund the purchase of the new model.
It has been a fortnight of chomping at the bit to get out and about and shooting with the camera. This is not the easiest of things in late November and early December in England. The daylight hours are short, the weather has been pretty foul and the best of it has been occurring when I’ve been sat in the office. I finally had a long weekend this weekend, a chance to get out for some proper photo walks! But no, I came down with the dreaded “man ‘flu” and spent most of my time recovering.
However, I do feel that I’ve used the camera enough to know that I’ve fallen in love all over again.
There were several much vaunted new features of the X100T :-
- An Electronic Range Finder (ERF), a new feature of the X100’s hybrid optical / electronic viewfinder which pops a small electronic frame into the corner of the optical finder to aid manual focussing.
- Wifi. Enabling remote control of the camera and wireless image transfer to phones, tablets and computers.
- The new “Classic Chrome” film emulation for straight out of the camera jpgs (and also available as a camera calibration within Adobe Lightroom if you shoot in raw).
- An extra couple of stops of exposure compensation (now +/- 3EV rather than +/- 2EV).
- Option to use an electronic shutter with a maximum speed of 1/32000.
However what I have enjoyed most so far is the overall feel of the camera in use. Everything just feels far more positive than my original X100, from the autofocus speed to the feel of the buttons, dials and switches. All the features of the original are still there, plus lots of extra new ones and it all just works beautifully.
Having controls which feel more positive makes the shooting experience more intuitive and organic. The camera feels more like an extension of myself rather than something to be battled against to get the shot I want. Everything is right where I want it to be. I have several function buttons which I can set along with the Q menu which was a feature of the X100S but not the original X100. Even the Q menu can be configured to show the items you want to have appear there.
Only once so far have I had any problems focussing and that was when I had accidentally left the camera in “macro mode”, so hardly surprising and rectified within a second of realising what I’d done (one function button press without having to take my eye away from the viewfinder).
One feature I’m particularly enjoying is one that I remember I voted for a couple of years back when Fujifilm were asking registered owners about potential new features for the X100 – the ability to have spot metering follow the selected focussing point. I’ve used that a lot over the last couple of weeks.
Another new feature I’m happy to see is the built in intervalometer. I started to experiment with time lapse earlier this year so I’m keen to make use of this. I had been using a phone app to perform this function on my EOS 6D, the built in intervalometer of the X100T will be a lot less trouble to use.
The only quibble I have with this camera so far is battery related, It’s not so much the actual battery life but the amount of warning you get that the battery is getting low. Just like the X100 and the X100S before it, the X100T employs a little battery graphic which essentially has only three bars. As a result you can find yourself very suddenly running low on power. It’s a little enough thing to gripe about, but I do wish that Fuji would do something about that battery level indicator. If I’m out with the camera for an extended period then I will always have a spare battery or two on me, but there is always the potential for a missed shot because you didn’t get enough warning that the battery was critically low. This is a feature of both the X100 and the S which I would have liked to see improved on the T.
Oh and the camera is still quite happy to let you pop the battery in the wrong way around. If you are suddenly “caught short” and scrabbling to pop a fresh battery in to get shooting again as quickly as possible it’s something you might fall victim to. You won’t do any damage but it can be a little frustrating to think you’re all good to go again, flick the power switch and then realise what you did. Fuji – the battery does have a curved corner. Is it really beyond the capabilities of excellent Japanese engineering to use that curve as a key to prevent the user from putting the battery in the wrong way?
I would have liked the addition of an analogue ISO dial, like the X-T1 has. Auto ISO works well and it is quick and easy to change ISO settings using either a function button or the Q menu. It just seems a shame to have analogue controls for aperture and shutter speed but not ISO. It’s true that I’m not sure quite how Fuji would have found the space for it on the top plate of the camera but I thought I’d mention it.
A couple of suggestions for future “Kaizen” there maybe?
One last thing to note is not directly about the camera. I finally got around to buying a Gordy’s wrist strap. I’d been intending to get one ever since I got my original X100 but somehow never got around to it. I found a UK reseller and it arrived the day after the camera landed in my hands. It feels such a natural way to carry a camera of this size and weight. The strap goes around my right wrist and I clutch the end of the camera so that my finger is poised right over the shutter release. It feels much more comfortable to me than a neck strap, I never liked having a camera bumping around against my torso and somehow it feels far less fuss to bring the camera up to my eye to shoot.
Fuji seem to have really hit the mark with the X100T. They’ve corrected just about all the niggles from the original X100 (yes, I’m thinking of that battery gauge when I say “just about”) and added practical features which enhance the shooting experience. This is an update which seems to be more about the ease and pleasure of use than about improving the final image quality (same lens, same sensor and same processor as the X100S). The X100 range has always been a camera for photographers to enjoy using and with this third release of the camera I hope to have a lot of photographic fun ahead.
( top photo taken with Fuji X-Pro1, all others taken with Fuji X100T)