Saturday, May 23, 2015

Fuji X100T camera -- a Hands-on review

The first Fuji X camera I owned was an X100 when it came out in March of 2011. I used it by itself, but also carried it as part of my Leica M9 kit instead of a Leica 35mm Summicron lens. That way I not only had a spare body, but also a lens that could do some close-up work as well. I kept the X100 until the Fuji X-Pro1 came out a year later, at which point I traded in the X100 and said I would not acquire another single, prime lens camera. With the advent of the interchangeable lens X-Pro1 model I didn't see the need.

That said, the latest iteration of the series, resulting in the X100T, came with enough advanced improvements to make me want to have a second look, and maybe some second thoughts.

The new X100T retains the same classic, retro rangefinder style that made the X-series famous from the start, and its ultra-compact, light-weight body render it very convenient to always carry with you. 

The X100T is the third generation of the series, and, although it stills has that same retro look that put the Fuji X series on the map, it contains of number of serious improvements that made me what to give it a try. I was still hanging on to the fond memory I had of that 23mm f/2 lens.  No other Fuji X lens could replace it. They were either fast and bulky and couldn't focus close, like the 23mm f/1.4, or slower and still couldn't focus close, like the smaller pancake 27mm f/2.8 or a little too wide angle like the 18mm f/2.

The camera comes with the same APS-C CMOS 16.3 megapixel sensor as all top-of-the-line Fuji X cameras. If you know anything about the X series, you know how good the image quality is from the X-trans sensor and its proprietary, randomized pixel pattern that eliminates the need for an anti-aliasing filter along with the image degradation that comes with it.

The Fuji 23mm  f/1.4 lens weighs 10.6 oz (301 g), whereas the entire X100T camera with lens weighs in at only 15.52 oz (440 g). Once I realized that, I began weighing the possibility of using a X100T as a spare body when I traveled and leaving my 23mm f/1.4 and macro lens at home. Granted the 23mm f/2 lens does not get in as close as a true macro, but I don't usually need a real macro 1:1 range for travel photography. I just want to use if for close-up detail work and also like the more candid look that a fast aperture, f/2 lens delivers.

The combination optical/electronic viewfinder -- one of the most attractive features of the X100 series cameras -- has been completely redone. The lever on the front of the camera that toggles the two modes of OVF and EVF, now also toggles in a small tab to the lower right of the optical frame. This provides an electronic enhanced view of the area under the focus point so the user to check focus. Obviously handy in MF, this feature, showing either focus peaking or spit-image, is also useful in AF to check the cameras choice of focus subject. 

The AF system is quite improved and now includes face recognition.  Spot reading of exposure can now be set to the AF focus point. 

The button and control layout on the rear of the camera is similar to the X-T1 making their use more intuitive and a quicker learn for those who use both cameras.

The four-button pad on the rear of the camera has been borrowed from the X-T1, but with improved tactile feel due to raised buttons. These buttons can be set to control directional movement of the focus point in the finder or LCD screen. Alternatively, these four buttons may be used individually as part of the set of seven buttons that can be re-programmed to do any of the customize-able camera functions. On my X-T1 I have customized these buttons to do exactly what they do here on the X100T, as I find it the quickest way to re-position a focus point without removing my eye from the finder window. I found the button and control layout on the rear of the camera to be the best design so far on any X-camera.

The X100T now has the addition of an electronic shutter with extended speeds up to 1/32000 second. Using this shutter does limit the ISO to the base 200-6400 range, but has the advantage of being completely silent, something I have found useful when shooting in more than one solemn occasion. The flash cannot be used with the electronic shutter. 

The shutter is a leaf diaphragm within the lens. Because a leaf shutter opens to the maximum set aperture width whenever it goes off, flash sync speeds as high as 1/4000 can only be used at some apertures -- 1/1,000 for at all apertures, 1/2,000 at  f/4~f/16, and 1/4,000 at f/8~f/16 .  This is great for using fill flash with an open aperture outdoors on a bright day. 

Auto focus on the X100T uses a hybrid of contrast and phase detection systems for quick and accurate focusing. The camera can focus as fast as .08 second. 


The X100T now has WiFi capability. Once you install Fuji's Camera Remote App on your smart phone or tablet, you can control the camera and many of its features from your phone. Fuji's Camera Remote App is one of the best I have used. You can also transfer images from the camera to your phone using a built-in WiFi connection. In addition, the camera can connect through WiFi to Fujifilm's Instax printer SP-1 and print images directly to it.

The X100T has a 3-stop (8x) built-in ND filter of 3. This allows using the lens even at f/2 in bright sun. The photos above illustrate how the ND affects the exposure. Both images were taken at f/2 and 1/1000 second, but for the exposure on the right the ND filter was turned on resulting in a correctly exposed shot taken directly into the sun. Another side benefit of the ND filter would be to slow the exposure down to blur the flow of moving water in landscapes. 

The X100T can be triggered with the remote Fuji RR-90 shutter release, or that old throw-back to classic days, the simple, screw-in release on the shutter button.

The OVF frame of the  hybrid optical/electronic viewfinder has been upgraded to auto correct for parallax by moving the frame when shooting at close ranges. The frame itself now presents a 92% coverage of the scene, as opposed to 90% on prior models.

The lens aperture ring goes from f/2 to f/16, and has been upgraded to do so in 1/3-stop increments. The over/under exposure dial now extends to +/- 3 EV, up from =/- 2 EV on the X100S. 

ISO can now be used to control auto-exposure when shutter and aperture are both set to manual use. The user can set the ISO range of high and low ISO speeds within which the camera will operate automatically.

Battery life has not been improved. The X100T uses the same, small rechargeable NP-95 battery as earlier Fuji cameras with the same short life span. If you order the camera, immediately order a spare battery or two to go with it. You're going to need them. 

The front lever now moves both left and right. Right switches the viewfinder from OVF to EVF and back again, while left pops up a small electronic focus-assist tab to lower right of the optical finder window. 

There was always one aspect of the X100 that I missed, the ability of the lens to get in really close -- not macro, but conveniently close-up so that it served the purpose when I was traveling and didn't want to carry a lot of extra gear, such as a macro just for close-ups. Although the Fuji 35mm lens could shoot fairly close and had a fast f/1.4 aperture that gave me nice bokeh on close-in photos, it was never the same as what I admired most about the quality from the 23mm f/2 I had on the X100. 

Although the X100T is a fixed lens camera, Fuji makes two auxiliary lenses for it, the WCL-100, which converts it to an equivalent 28mm focal length, and the TCL-100, which converts it 1.4x to an equivalent 50mm focal length. Both auxiliary lenses maintain the f/2 aperture and still allow for close focus. I am not sure how much these auxiliary lenses affect optical quality, and also not sure of the wisdom of buying auxiliary lenses for a fixed lens camera, but I will be testing these auxiliaries at a later date. 

The new World Trade Center photographed in Black & White Red filter mode to darken the sky and add contrast to the clouds. 

A 35mm equivalent lens with its close-focus distortion is usually not the best choice for in tight, close-up portraits. In some instances, however, it can deliver a more intimate point-of-view, while the f/2 aperture still provide a decent bokeh to the background. 

The Classic Chrome color mode mimicking the look of early film comes standard on the X100T. I really love this look, and have been applying it a lot as I did here and in the photo below, but then I was cut my teeth on early Kodachrome film. 

The 23mm lens focuses quite close in macro mode. With the aperture wide open, where I like to use it for more casual close-ups, the images does have a softness to it. Some might find this a fault, but I find the quality quite appealing. It sets close-ups done with this lens apart from a more typical macro look. A ground-level shot like the one above would have benefited from a tilting screen like that of the X-T1, but, I suppose, we can't have everything. 

The built-in ND filter helped me slow down the shutter speed enough to create the blurring streaks in this tunnel photo. 

I like using a slight wide-angle lens in close on the foreground for lifestyle shooting. It puts the view right in the scene. With an f/2 aperture some bokeh effect can still be maintained. 


If a fixed lens, rangefinder camera is something you would like to use, then the Fuji X100T is something of a best-of-breed in the fully automated, digital genre. It is not for everyone. You have to like using this type camera. There is something to be said for the basic simplicity of restricting yourself to only one lens. I can see why this camera series quickly became a favorite of street photographers. It is unobtrusive, easy to carry and store, capable of exceptional image quality, is good in low light, with many advanced features for speedy and accurate focus, whether manual or AF. 

When I first began testing this camera I did so never thinking I would consider going back to using one. By the end of my one week trial I felt a bit sad having to send it back. I had grown attached to the convenience of its small size and simplicity, and the advantage of the close-focus ability of its 23mm lens. I began to consider acquiring an X100T as a second body and lens to my X-T1. On a trip I made while during my testing, it was easy to toss the X100T in my camera bag in place of both my regular 23mm f/1.4 and 50mm Touit macro. It actually weighed less than both lenses, and took up no more room. Plus it added the convenience and safety of having a second body. Most of all, I liked the performance and especially the uniqueness of the close-up results. It's starting to sound like I'm talking myself into acquiring an X100T. 

If you are planning on buying a Fuji X100T, you can help support this site at no extra cost to you by clicking the link and purchasing from one of our affiliate sellers listed below -- and thanks for your support.

The Fujifilm X100T black camera body can be ordered from:  BH-Photo   Adorama  Amazon

The Fujifilm X100T silver camera body can be ordered from:  BH-Photo  Adorama   Amazon

The Fujifilm  MHG-X100 hand grip can be ordered from:  BH-Photo  Adorama   Amazon


  1. Hey Tom
    Thanks for the insights. I feel the same way about the X100T. I've rented it twice and both times I wanted to keep it longer and was sorry to have to return it. Something about it that's just so versatile and easy...

    Be Well.

  2. sweet little camera, so much better than the two prior models which i also owned. small enough to carry in a jacket pocket, a joy to use.

  3. X100T is amazing and I'm so happy I choose it. I think your information will helping all who like photography. Photography is the part of our life to enjoy our moments.