Monday, June 2, 2014

Preview: X-100S w/ TCL-X100 is Leica-like

Fujifilm X-100S with TCL-X100 teleconverter attached @ 50mm equiv. 1/350th sec f/2.8 @ ISO400. Local artist and instructor Josh Hite in Gastown, Vancouver. 

I enjoy shooting with an optical viewfinder. For those who don't get it even after trying it, they will never get it I suppose. It's like trying to convince someone to ride a fixed-gear single speed bike, or drive a manual transmission on a car. Yes it's more work and more limiting, but through the limits we become better photographers, bike riders, and drivers. Sometimes, there's even advantages to the limits. For an optical viewfinder (OVF), we don't get exact frame lines of the final image, we don't get to see depth of field or exposure; but we gain something that a digital screen doesn't give us: the real world!!

Yes we get to see the world the way our eyes see it (but through a singular optical finder). When I use an OVF I find that I learn to imagine the shot which helps me visualize the final product before I shoot with it. It's the same thing many Leica film shooters have been saying for decades, the beauty of shooting with a rangefinder camera. It's true the Fujifilm hybrid optical and electronic viewfinder is technically not a true rangefinder (using dual framing windows to find focus), but it's the closest representation of one on a modern camera. When I shoot with the X-100S, I feel like I'm shooting a Leica M series camera. I can say this with confidence because as you know, I also review for Leica Canada as well. How does the X-100S shoot when attaching the TCL-X100 tele-converter lens? Let's find out...

I've always been a fan of the 28-35mm focal length for street photography. I like the safety of having a medium wide-angle lens to get everything into the picture, and work in close proximity with my subjects. I struggle with the 50mm lens because I thought it was a boring focal length. That's what I grew up shooting with, as it was typically the standard kit lens that came with every film SLR (and many rangefinders). As I've matured in my shooting style, I'm beginning to 'get' why so many photographers, especially Leica M shooters, love shooting with the 50mm focal length. It gives you just enough tele to get in close to your subject, but not so much so that you feel that you're stealing the image. It's also very linear, with almost no discernible image distortion (barrel or pincushion), good for shooting straight lines or objects that are square (like buildings). 

The TCL-X100 tele-converter lens transforms the Fuji X-100S' 35mm equivalent focal length (23mm) to a 50mm equivalent (33mm). Many Leica shooters would be very comfortable shooting with this attachment, as you're getting a 50mm f/2.3-ish full-frame equivalent in terms of focal length vs depth of field. The silver version (also available in black) really makes it look like a vintage Leica lens attached to a leather wrapped M3 body. Ok, I know the look isn't going to help you take better pictures, but it definitely will put the photographer in the mood to go out and shoot with it. How does it shoot? It's very nice.

iPHone capture of the view through the OVF with 50mm equiv frame lines. Notice the intrusion of adapter. Not horrible and normal for rangefinder shooters. Don't attempt to use a lens hood though...

If you're a rangefinder style shooter, I recommend shooting with the OVF, even though the lens adapter intrudes into your frame lines a bit. Also, remember to turn off image preview so that when you shoot, there's no screen blank-out at the moment of exposure, something that rangefinder photographer's love (unlike SLR's that blank out at the moment of exposure as the mirror has to flip up to expose the film). When you shoot with the OVF and decide to manually focus, the camera automatically switches over to EVF mode, zooms in, and allows for immediate focus peaking, and then tap the shutter button to swich back to OVF mode. This is a very slick implementation of a modern OVF with the help of EVF focusing. Bravo Fuji!!

This is only a preview so I'll leave it here for now. I just got the camera and I have a lot more testing to do. I already reviewed the X-100S  so I'm not going to re-review the same things. I will focus on how it shoots with the new TCL-X100 tele-converter. It's a screw-mount with no electronic contacts, so you do have to manually tell the camera that it's attached so the proper frame-lines will appear in OVF mode. It's big, heavy, all glass and metal, and feels good in the hands. If you're a lens hood kind of shooter, it won't be great with this lens attachment as it makes it way too big and long. I'll have more to report on as I will put it up against a DSLR with a 50mm equivalent focal length, as well as a true film SLR with a 50mm lens.

For now, happy shooting and thanks for viewing.




  1. Hi Munetake,
    Just wanted to say I really enjoy your blog, photography and reviews. Thank you very much!

    1. Hi Pixeltoko,

      Thanks for taking the time to comment. It seems everyone reads my reviews and then goes to other forums to debate what I wrote. Lots of new projects coming up. Thanks again!! Happy shooting...

  2. Thank you so much 🙂 I am slowly wrapping my head around this concept and your articles are very helpful. Can you please help me to find the bozily golf rangefinder


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