Fujifilm X100T Review

October 30, 2014 | Mark Goldstein | |

Introduction

Successor to the popular X100 and X100S cameras, the new Fujifilm X100T is a premium digital compact camera with an APS-C sensor and a fixed 35mm equivalent f/2 lens. Significant upgrades to the X100T include an ultra-fast electronic shutter that is capable of exposures up to 1/32000sec, an advanced hybrid viewfinder featuring real-time parallax correction and an electronic rangefinder, a 3-inch 1.04-million-dot LCD monitor, seven customisable function buttons, new Classic Chrome film simulation mode, built-in wi-fi with remote control function, 1080p movies at 60fps, 50fps, 30fps, 25fps and 24fps, USB battery charging, and a top sensitivity setting of ISO 51,200. The Fujifilm X100T will be available in both black and silver for a suggested retail price of £999.99 / $1299.99.

Ease of Use

At first glance the new Fujifilm X100T is almost identical in appearance to its immediate predecessor, the X100S - most of the improvements to the X100T have been made "under the hood". As with the previous models, the X100T is another classically styled rangefinder-esque camera, with the same non-interchangeable 23mm fixed focal length lens, comparatively large body, and emphasis on a manual way of shooting.

Once again the Fujifilm X100T is a very well-built camera, with absolutely no flex or movement in it chassis thanks to the die-cast magnesium alloy top and base plates and machined control dials. At the same time, it's actually a little lighter than a first glance might suggest, weighing in at 440g with the battery and memory card fitted. Measuring (W) x 74.4mm (H) x 52.4mm (D), it's ever so slightly slimmer than the X100S, though you'd never be able to spot the difference.

The X100T is supplied with a push-on, lined lens cap to help protect its 23mm optic, although there's no way to connect it to the camera. You can use filters with the X100T, but only by removing the ring at the front of the lens and buying the optional 49mm accessory. There's a subtle but effective hand-grip at the front and a space at the rear for your thumb, with your grip helped in no small part by the textured faux-leather surface that runs around the full width of the camera. Two small metal eyelets on either side of the body are used for connecting the supplied shoulder strap. A metal tripod mount is positioned slightly off-centre from the lens and next to the memory card / battery compartment, so you have to remove the camera from the tripod to change either of them.

Fujifilm X100T
Front of the Fujifilm X100T

At the heart of the X100T is the same 16.3 megapixel APS-C CMOS sensor as used in the X100S. APS-C is a size that's more commonly used by the majority of DSLR cameras than by your average compact, being about 10x bigger than those found in most compacts, and also larger than those in most compact system cameras. It promises to deliver image quality at least on par with DSLRs, and as our test photos and sample images show on the next two pages, the X100T actually surpasses a lot of them.

Once again helping to keep the image quality high is the X100T's fixed 23mm lens. This is equivalent to 35mm, a classic focal length that is half-way between true wide-angle and the standard 50mm, which is roughly equivalent to human eyesight. The Fujifilm X100T's lens has a fast aperture of f/2, which in conjunction with the large APS-C sensor makes it easy to throw the background out of focus and achieve some lovely bokeh effects, helped by the 9-blade aspherical lens. The combination of the F/2.0 aperture and the newly extended ISO range of 100-51200 makes the X100T very well suited to low-light shooting, allowing you to hand-hold the camera in places where you'd usually be reaching for a tripod (if allowed) or other support.

The clever ISO Auto Control setting allows you to set the default sensitivity, a maximum sensitivity (up to 6400) and a minimum shutter speed (1/30th is a good starting point), with the camera over-riding your ISO choice if it thinks you're being too ambitious whilst maintaining a shutter speed that won't introduce camera shake. New to the X100T is the ability to set three different ISO Auto Control settings, so you could customise one for landscapes, one for action, and another for low-light, and then be able to quickly change between them. Auto ISO is also available in the manual shooting mode, complete with exposure compensation, which has now been extended to +-3EV via the revised dial on top of the camera.

The X100T has a top shutter-speed limit of 1/1000th second at f/2, which often causes under-exposure. Fujifilm have compensated for this limitation in two ways. Firstly, the X100T again incorporates a 3-stop Neutral Density filter, which allows the aperture to remain wide-open at f/2 even in very bright conditions, perfect for outdoor portraits where you want an out-of-focus background. You do have to delve into the menu system to turn this on, or map it to one of the seven customisable buttons. The ND filter can also be used to creatively slow down the shutter speed for shooting bright, fast-moving subjects like waterfalls.

Fujifilm X100T
Rear of the Fujifilm X100T

Secondly, Fujifilm have added a completely silent electronic shutter to the X100T which provides a much faster top shutter speed of 1/32,000th second. In conjunction with the ND filter, you can continue shooting at f/2 in the brightest of conditions without having to resort to fitting a glass ND filter or using external flash and lights. There are some important caveats with the electronic shutter - the ISO range is restricted to 200-6400, you can't use the flash at all, and the slowest shutter speed is only 1 second, but overall it's a great addition that makes the X100T more versatile than its predecessors.

The X100T continues to offer a respectable close focusing distance of 10cms, so macro shooting certainly isn't out of the question. There is still one small fly in the ointment though. Normal focusing is from 50cms to infinity, but if you want to get closer to your subject than that and still be able to auto-focus, you still have to select the Macro mode, which in turn prohibits the use of the optical viewfinder, instead relying on the electronic one. You then have to turn off the Macro mode to return to normal focusing beyond 2ms. It's not the steps that you have to go through that's problematic, but the 50cm distance, which you'll often find yourself on the cusp of when grabbing a candid shot, especially if you're trying to fill the 35mm angle of view.

The X100T has the same ultra-fast hybrid AF system as the X100S, with both a conventional contrast-detection system and built-in Phase Detection pixels which enables the camera to achieve a focus lock in as little as 0.08 second. The X100T utilises a leaf-shutter rather than the focal-plane shutter that DSLR cameras have. This is a small circular shutter that's built into the lens itself, the chief benefits being near-silent operation and extremely high flash-sync speeds (up to 1/4000 second). To make the camera even less obtrusive, there's a Silent menu option which turns off the speaker, flash, AF-assist lamp and most importantly the artificially-created shutter-release sound, instantly making the X100T perfectly suited to candid photography.

Most of the focusing improvements have been made to the X100T's manual focusing mode. Manual focusing is activated by setting the focusing switch on the side of the camera to Manual and using the ring that encircles the lens to focus. The X100T has an electronically coupled focus-by-wire manual focusing ring, rather than a physical one, which is cleverly more sensitive to how you use it - turn it slowly and the focusing distance changes slowly, but turn it more quickly and the camera quickly moves through the distance scale. You can also use the AFL/AEL button on the rear of the camera to set the focus automatically, then use the focusing ring to micro-adjust the focus manually, if required.

Fujifilm X100T
Top of the Fujifilm X100T

The X100T offers not one, not two, not three, but four ways of manually focusing. Firstly, there's a handy blue distance scale along the bottom of the viewfinder (both the OVF and EVF) and on the LCD screen if you're using that for composition, with a red bar indicating the the focusing distance and a white bar showing the depth of field, which actually changes in line with the current aperture - very clever. You can press the rear command control in to magnify the view in the electronic viewfinder, with the ability to then pan around the frame by pressing the AF button and spinning the command dial, making it much easier to judge precise focusing.

The second manual focusing method is the Digital Split Image feature. Harking back to film cameras of the past, this displays dual images on the left and right which then need to be lined up together for accurate manual focusing, enabling accurate focusing especially when shooting wide-open or for macro shooting. It's much easier to understand in practice than written down. The third method is the Focus Peak Highlight function, which displays a coloured line (customisable) around the subject when it's in focus, something that Sony NEX users in particular have been enjoying for a while.

The fourth and final method is the much trumpeted electronic rangefinder mode. For the first time ever on any camera, Fujifilm's engineers have figured out how to incorporate a small magnified EVF area into the X100T's optical viewfinder, which appears in the bottom-right corner of the viewfinder when you push the lever on front of the camera to the left. This magnified view makes it a cinch to ensure that your subject is in focus as the EVF updates as you turn the manual focus ring, especially as it can be used in conjunction with the Digital Split Image and Focus Peak Highlight discussed above (and the magnification of the focused area can be changed too). The main caveat is that it blocks a portion of the optical viewfinder, but that's a small price to pay for such an innovative and effective feature.

The X100T's hybrid optical viewfinder / electronic viewfinder system has been further updated with real-time parallax correction when using the OVF. Parallax error, which occurs during close-up shooting, is automatically corrected as you manually adjust the focus - on the X100 and X100s, you had to re-frame the shot manually to compensate after half-pressing the shutter button. The OVF also now provides 92% scene coverage, up slightly from the 90% offered by the X100S. Other improvements to the still unique OVF/EVF experience include small graphics that auto-rotate when you switch from holding the camera in landscape to portrait orientation, the choice between a natural or 'Shooting Effect Reflection' mode which mimics the current shooting settings, and the same 54 fps, 0.005sec lag screen refresh as used by the flagship X-T1 compact system camera.

Fujifilm X100T
Front of the Fujifilm X100T

Shutter lag is virtually non-existent on the X100T, so once you have set the focus, you'll never miss the moment because the camera can't fire the shutter quickly enough. Continuous shooting speeds are the same as the X100S, with a top rate of 6fps for 29 JPEGs if a shutter speed faster than 1/100th is used, dropping to 3fps for shutter speeds between 1/10th and 1/100th of a second. Note that both the focus and the exposure are set according to the first frame in each series, so it's not a particularly good system for tracking fast-moving subjects in varied lighting conditions. The write speeds from pressing the shutter button to recording to the SD / SDHC / SDXC memory card are perfectly respectable. Shooting a single RAW + Fine JPEG takes about 6 seconds to record to the card, although thankfully you can take another shot almost straight away (a delay of just 0.5 second). Taking a 6 frame burst took the camera around 25 seconds to save, during which you can take more pictures, but not at the 6fps rate.

Surrounding the lens is a circular aperture ring, with 7 markings from f/2 to f/16 and an Auto setting just in case you want the camera to take control. Fujifilm have updated his dial to allow you to choose third-stop apertures, a very welcome improvement on the X100S. On top of the X100T is a large, tactile control dial for setting the shutter speed, with settings ranging from 1/4th to 4000th second, an Auto option, a T setting for longer exposures (1/2th to 30 seconds, set via the circular command wheel) and a Bulb mode for exposures up to a whopping 60 minutes in length. Alongside the shutter speed dial is another tactile dial for changing the exposure compensation, now going up to -+3EV rather than -+2EV as on the X100S.

Three other controls complete the X100T's top-plate. The small but responsive shutter release button is encircled by the On/Off switch, with a thread for a very traditional mechanical cable release - there's no need to buy an expensive dedicated accessory for this camera. Alongside is the tiny Fn button, which by default turns movie recording on/off, but can be customised to suit your own needs. Finally there's an external flash hotshoe for suitable dedicated external units, supplemented by the camera's built-in flash positioned just above the lens, which has a range of 50cm - 9m at ISO 1600.

The X100T's LCD screen has also been upgraded, now being 3 inches in size with a much improved resolution of 1040K-dots. The LCD screen has a handy Info view which presents all of the key settings at once, or you can switch to the Standard or Custom Live View modes, with the latter offering 14 customisable options (these are also used for the electronic viewfinder). The completely configurable Quick View screen, opened via the Q button on the rear, provides quick access to 16 frequently used shooting settings including the ISO speed, White Balance, File Size and File Quality, with the new 4-way controller and full rear command dial used to quickly change them.

Fujifilm X100T
Side of the Fujifilm X100T

The Fujifilm X100T can record full 1080p movies at 60fps, 50fps, 30fps, 25fps and 24fps with stereo sound and a high bit rate of 36Mbps, even when using the optical viewfinder. You can now set the aperture, shutter speed and ISO during recording, and you can also set the Film Simulation mode, so black and white footage is possible. Continuous auto-focusing is possible, and you can now manually focus too (now with peaking), which encourages some more creative effects. There is a new 2.5mm stereo mic jack and a HDMI port for connecting the X100T to a high-definition TV, although as usual there's no cable supplied in the box. Also missing is a paper copy of the otherwise helpful manual, which is supplied on CD-ROM instead, along with the consumer MyFinepix software the slow and rather unintuitive RAW convertor (essentially a specially customised version of the commercial Silkypix application).

The X100T's rear control layout has also been tweaked, more closely resembling the X-T1. There's still a vertical row of four buttons on the left of the LCD screen, but they're smaller than on the X100S and their operation has changed to View Mode for switching between the LCD and the OVF/EVF, image playback, image deletion and the new wi-fi function.

Install the FUJIFILM Camera Remote App and you can transfer your pictures immediately to a smartphone or tablet PC and then edit and share them as you wish, transfer stills and video onto the X100T, and embed GPS information in your shots from your smartphone. You can also control the camera remotely, with the list of available functions including Touch AF, shutter release for stills and movies, shutter speed, aperture, exposure compensation, ISO sensitivity, Film Simulation modes, White Balance, macro, timer and flash. The built-in wi-fi also provides a simple means to backup your photos to your home PC, and you can send images directly from the camera to the Instax SHARE Smartphone Printer for instant Instax prints.

On the right of the LCD screen is the relocated Drive button and the rear control dial, the customisable AFL/AEL button and the Q button, and underneath the four-way controller with unmarked options around it for toggling Macro on/off, white balance, focusing point, and film simulation. All four positions can be customised, and even better, you can set them up to directly choose the AF point without having to choose that mode first, which massively speeds up operation of the camera's auto-focusing and is something that we'd like to see implemented across the X-series range. In the middle of the control wheel is the Menu/OK button, which accesses the Shooting and Set-up menus. Underneath is a solitary button for changing the LCD display mode.

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