I have always thought the Fuji X100 series of camera looked like a very interesting concept in the way that they take the photographer back to a fixed lens, which aids compositional and creative skills, simple, effective, manual controls, but packed with some exciting and useful modern tech. I nearly took the jump with the X100S but held off. When the X100T came along it seemed to have evolved to the point where it was hard to imagine the camera getting much better without some major advances in sensor technology. In short it was clearly a mature product developed from user feedback on the hard controls and firmware. Seeing the X100T and reading up on the technical side convinced me it was an interesting buy. Owing to the use I imagined for this camera, a leather case seemed like a good idea and my local dealer had a brown one on offer, so I went for that too. Its a beautiful camera and the case complements it wonderfully (below image shows only half the case, which includes a nice matching strap). The case is snug and feels very well made. It has an access flap to allow changes of battery and memory card without having to remove the case and the upper case clips on with poppers to completely enclose the camera.
Being a Fuji convert with the X series, the camera felt much like an old friend but with a few new twists and advances in ergonomics, the main one of which is the amazing viewfinder. Put simply, its an amazing but useful bit of tech. A flick of a lever takes you between optical viewfinder or electronic viewfinder. As a third option there is a really cool idea where you can select a small projection of the EVF image in the lower right corner of the optical viewfinder image. This is an electronic rangefinder that allows incredibly easy and accurate manual focus on the selected focus point using peaking or split image assist. The OVF has a very comprehensive overlay with all the shooting data plus a rectangle to show the area of image capture, which corrects for parallax error. While I would be happy with an EVF of this quality alone, the OVF is great for some light conditions and situations. It can aid composition or catching the moment as it gives a bigger view than the capture area.
Technical reviews can be found everywhere and I have already made plenty of comment on what I think are the positive and negative features of the Fuji system, so no need to repeat much of my previous blog post here. Please read that post on the X-T1 for details of my reasoning behind certain settings. However, I think it is worth sharing some settings and configurations which may assist anyone new to the camera. In truth, the cameras do take some time and thought to set up properly, but once done, it hugely enhances the shooting experience and delving into the main menus is simply not needed. You are simply not getting best value from this camera if you do not make the effort to use the customisation available.
As with the other X-system bodies there are 7 custom settings options that are configured in the shooting menu and accessed via the "Q" menu button. I set these up based on the film simulations and those for this camera are almost identical to those of the X-T1, the only significant differences being to the ISO and DR (dynamic range) settings, due to differences in camera controls and options. These settings enable me to shoot almost any subject and get the results I want, without messing around adjusting settings or entering the menus. Below is a table that shows how I have these set up.
On this camera 3 different settings for Auto ISO can be created, so this versatility makes it possible to use auto ISO for all my custom settings by default. Setting these up was the only part of setting up the camera that truly confounded me for a while. You can set them up within the shooting menu under ISO setting BUT, if you do this, the settings will not bear any relation to what you get when you later select a custom setting in the Q menu. I eventually discovered that you have to set the auto ISO up within the setup process for each of the custom settings, within the shooting menu, if you want them to stick. You have to configure each of the 3 options for each of the 7 custom settings, which is a bit tedious but worth it overall! Anyway, I set Auto ISO 1) to ISO 800 max, shutter 1/60, base ISO 200, 2) to ISO 6400 max, shutter 1/100th, base ISO 200 and 3) to ISO 6400 max, shutter 1/125th, base ISO 200. Almost all of my custom settings use option 2), which is likely to give enough shutter speed to avoid camera shake or motion blur for most subjects I am likely to shoot. The one exception is custom setting 4 which uses the Velvia film sim, which I would only use on landscape type subjects, so a 1/60 sec shutter makes sense as does limiting ISO to 800 for quality and detail. I can easily select a specific ISO or another auto option as I have a function button programmed for ISO. This makes the camera simple to use fast but also gives me control where needed.
My DR settings are DR100 for every custom setting. I do find use of DR 200 valuable for high contrast scenes, so I have easy access to adjust this via a function button. I avoid auto DR as this tends to use DR 200 too readily and push up the ISO to 400 accordingly.
The only other point of note in the custom settings is that you will see that I have dialled down all my shadow and highlight tone curve adjustments. To me this gives much more pleasing OOC jpg files with details preserved in the shadows. I have found the X-Trans 2 sensor/processor prone to clipping shadow detail to black if these are left at default on the more contrasty film sims. I also dial down noise reduction as some still takes place and I prefer to have the detail rendered and deal with noise later if I need too.
I have already mentioned 2 of the function buttons, which I dedicated to ISO and DR. This camera has 7 you can use, which is really handy. If desired you can set up the 4-way control pad on the back just to directly select the position of the AF point, without having to press the AF function button to firstly activate the point. However, this loses you 3 function buttons, which to me are more useful as function buttons. I have the remaining function buttons set up for AF point selection, image quality, shutter type, Wi-fi and movie capture.
The Q menu is now configurable and the options you choose will probably be based on what important settings you could not fit on all the function buttons. I would argue that shooting functions such as ND filter, face detect, Advanced filters, metering, flash type and compensation etc should feature here as these will be needed fast. If you set up your custom settings you are unlikely to need to fiddle with tone adjustments, film sims, noise reduction etc, so these would take a lower priority. Here is how I have configured mine from the available options.
One of the interesting features of this camera is the leaf shutter. Firstly its very quiet, so excellent for weddings etc, but for someone interested in flash shooting its ability to sync at very high speeds means some interesting creative possibilities. Flash sync speed does vary depending on aperture as the movement of the blades is greater at larger apertures, but its always much faster than any normal focal plane shutter.
It is also great to have the electronic shutter option as along with the built-in ND filter it should mean shooting at wide open aperture is possible in any conditions.
The lens has an element of dual character....wide open at close focus distances there is a softness and slight halation like residual spherical aberrations, but this disappears at normal distances and upon stopping down to f4 close up. The lens sharpens a bit upon stopping down for normal imaging but is really plenty sharp enough at f2. It is prone to flare, which can be used to advantage for certain types of shots such as high key or backlit portraits.
AF seems very fast and very confident almost all the time, and seems every bit the equal of the X-T1. I have had a few misfires where it has focused behind the subject but that is rare.
Battery life is modest but not at all awful. Best to buy a few cheap ones to have along. I got some X-Pro ones off Amazon and they seem great. The battery can now be charged in-camera via USB too.
Needs may vary but I want to keep my X100T clean and clear of clutter, as I have interchangeable lens cameras for when I need more complexity. I have no accessory lenses, grips, filters or hoods on mine.
The camera has been used locally and on a 4 day trip to Europe, where it proved to be just what I had hoped....a very pure photographic tool that inspires and challenges you to go out and shoot. Its image quality is excellent for an APS-C camera and the lens gives a decent element of control over depth of field, especially when close-up. I personally love the 35mm view angle for its versatility and its limitations and this camera somehow gives a different shooting experience to either an X-T1 or X-E1 with the 23mm f1.4 prime attached. I shoot jpg by default, adding RAW as insurance if I feel there may be colour casts or some other difficulty, but the jpg files are so good, RAW is rarely needed.
Here are some images shot in a range of conditions, some at very high ISO sensitivity.