Monday, October 27, 2014

First Impressions: The Fujifilm X-100T is a Subtle but Significant Upgrade

Fujifilm X-100T @ 23mm. 1/800th sec f/4 @ ISO 400. Chinatown Vancouver


I finally have the new Fujifilm X-100T in my hands. It feels familiar, and it should. It's basically the same as the X-100S with subtle exterior upgrades. So subtle that many reviewers didn't mention some of them. However, for an X-100 shooter, it's the subtle upgrades that will help you shoot faster and with more confidence. This isn't the X-200, so don't expect any extreme upgrades. Yes, an articulating screen would have been nice, but focusing on upgrading the hybrid optical-electronic viewfinder was a good idea. Concentrate on what makes you different, and not what everyone else is doing. Almost every manufacturer is abandoning the optical viewfinder (except higher end DSLR's and Leica M rangefinders). Fuji is investing in this older technology, but improving upon it. This is good news. My first impression so far is that this is a must-have camera for those who love to shoot through optical viewfinders and also those who love Fuji X-series cameras. Let's take a quick look...

Let's focus on the major upgrades and changes on the new T that differentiates it from the the S and other X series cameras:

-unique optical viewfinder mode with a built in EVF mini window to help focus and check exposure
-projected frame lines for parallax correction in OVF mode.
-vertical info in EVF mode (but not in OVF)
-normal rear 4 way controller that's fully customizable. No more weird wheel from X-100(S)
-drive mode button moved from left side of LCD to the left of the thumb wheel
-Q-button moved below the AF/AE button. Again, easy thumb access.
-a real push button thumb wheel on back. Huge improvement to navigate controls
-1/3 stops for aperture (for me, this is a BIG minus, but I'll explain later)
-major firmware and menu control upgrade (identical to X-30 and similar to X-T1)
-wifi controller and viewer
-Insanely quiet and fast electronic shutter up to 1/32,000th sec. 
-Rear LCD upgrade to 3" and over 1 million pixels


Image of X-100T taken with iPhone 5S
What makes the X-100 series so awesome is the hybrid optical and digital viewfinder. I've heard some big-time camera reviewers say they find no use for the optical viewfinder since the electronic ones are getting so good.... WRONG! Very wrong. Sorry Chris Niccolls (The Camera Store), I have to strongly disagree. I've done some critical back-and-forth tests between the optical and digital viewfinder (it's so easy with the switch on the front) and the OVF looks better about 90% of the time. Zero lag, you can see outside the frame-lines, and the colours are true and natural! On top of that, you can now check focus (which includes focus peaking in colour) and exposure via the mini EVF projected in OVF mode. This is a first for any OVF, and it works perfectly. I love it. They've also included projected frame lines to correct for parallax error, especially useful when focusing on closer subjects (the lines move towards the bottom right corner, which is where the lens is). The vertical information feature is also included (same as X-30 and X-T1) but this works in EVF mode only, not OVF. Overall, this is the most advanced optical viewfinder ever made in history, and with the optional full screen electronic viewfinder mode, this hybrid system is truly one of a kind. I'm sure Leica wishes they could have this technology. It's genius. I only want to shoot in the the OVF mode with the mini window (easily accessed by moving the front switch in the opposite direction). There's no point to shoot EVF, seriously. Being able to switch back and forth, you can comparatively see how ugly the EVF mode truly is... sorry.  
Another change I was happy to see is moving the shooting controls closer to where your hand will be while shooting. I complained on previous reviews that the drive mode button was oddly placed on the left side of the LCD, which made absolutely no sense. FIne, place the viewing controls to the left of the screen, but all shooting controls should be easily accessible with your right hand. The drive mode is now logically placed to the left of the rear thumb wheel. The Q-button has also been re-located in a more logical spot. It's now below the AF-AE button so you can 'quickly' access it without having to take your eye away from the viewfinder. Now it's truly a Q-button. The push button thumb wheel is also an upgrade from the previous toggle wheel, which was not intuitive at all.   

These are the two major improvement for me on the new Fujifilm X-100T (viewfinder and control features) and the two things that most users of the X-100 and X-100S will notice right away and appreciate immediately. The rest I will go over on my preview or full review, which includes the new operating software (basically the same as the X-30), wifi controller (same as X-T1 and X-30), and the all new electronic shutter (but can be used in collaboration with the mechanical shutter). For now, let's say that the X-100T is an insanely awesome camera. It's a unique hybrid digital rangefinder camera that has no real competition (it is now a true rangefinder in that there is a focusing aid in the optical view mode). If you want a hybrid OVF/EVF camera, you have no other choice. On top of that, it has a decent size APS-C sensor, it's compact (due to a non-zooming prime 23mm f/2 lens), and has advance shooting features. 

I've only had the camera for a few days so I'll post more pictures and really dig into the features and share what I've found. So far so good. Like the X-30, there is no image quality upgrade (same sensor, same processor, same lens), but there's enough feature upgrades to attract new and previous X-series shooters. Fuji really focuses on the shooting experience, and that's the biggest upgrade on the latest X-100 series camera. 

Thanks to Fujifilm Canada for sending me the X-100T so quickly (thanks Serena!). Please comment below for any questions or comments. Thanks for visiting and happy shooting!

BHT

Check out my review of the Fujifilm X-100S 

Check out my review of the Fujifilm X-30

Check out my review of the Fujifilm TCL-X100 Converter Lens

8 comments:

  1. Good insights on the subtleties Take. Can't wait to try it out at the Fuji store in HK. Even better, hope they make an X-pro 2 asap

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    1. Hi Don,

      Thanks for your comment. Yes, we're all anxiously awaiting the announcement of the X-Pro 2. With the new hybrid mini EVF within the OVF feature, I can see a future for the optical viewfinder in digital photography. The X100T is a very refined camera though.

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  2. Jumped the gun, sold my Nikon gear and gotten myself the X100T (released yesterday in Singapore) and wow! The OVF with electronic rangefinder is really useful and I heartily prefer it over the EVF. Got to admit that I prefer the EVF on my X30 over the EVF of X100T though. Fully embracing Fujifilm now I gotta admit!

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    1. Hi Dave,

      Congrats on the X100T! I'm glad you agree that the OVF is superior to the EVF (except for precise framing. Having the mini EVF for focus and exposure also makes it so that you rarely have to go into EVF mode. I have my review copy for 2 months (I'm taking it with me to Hong Kong for 3 weeks) so I'm really going to get to know this camera. Who knows, I may end up selling my beloved Ricoh GR! Thanks again for sharing!

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  3. These are great cameras and I love my X100s (I had the earlier model and took many great shots with it). However, there is till too much that is fiddly and dinky with these cameras when using the longer lenses (55-200). I have had them all X-Pro1, X-E1 etc and blown a lot of money and time in the process. I will never sell my D3x and replace it with a Fuji. I am not bagging Fuji, because if I had to choose only one camera for my world travels, it would be the X100s. However, for the work that I do, it will always be my D3x with 70-200 and my X100s for everything else.

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    1. Hi Philip,

      Thanks for expressing your valid points. I am 100% in agreement with everything you said. If you notice, I haven't reviewed any of Fuji's telephoto lenses, and even the 56mm f/1.2 is considered 'telephoto' for me as a street photographer. In fact, anything above 50mm equiv for me feels telephoto as I'm use to being close to my subjects.

      I think the X-T1 is the body that is geared towards a DSLR replacement, and its pretty good. However, I've moved away from DSLRs since I've stopped shooting sports and weddings, so I'm not the best person to ask if the X-T1 can replace similar spec'd DSLRs. I still have a full DSLR kit (Minolta-Sony) but I've been slowly selling off lenses over the years. The advantages of the DSLR does not compensate its weaknesses, such as size, weight, price.

      If I had to choose only a single camera to travel the world and price was no issue (in a way, I can borrow any Leica or Fuji or a few other brands if I wish) I too would probably choose the Fujifilm X100T. A close second would be my Ricoh GR. I'm off to Hong Kong in less than 2 weeks, and these two cameras are coming with me (plus a Leica, but I don't know which one yet!) My DSLR stays home, even though I have amazing lenses (Minolta 1st gen G-series primes and f/2.8 zooms).

      Thanks again for your comment. Let's hope the upcoming Fujifilm X-Pro 2 will blow us away, although we can pretty much guess 80% of the upgrades (hybrid of X-T1 and X100T and maybe a few unique functions).

      Happy shooting!

      BHT

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  4. How do you find the effects on battery life when using the OVF in hybrid mode?

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