The third generation of this high-end compact gains an updated viewfinder and refined controls. Andy Westlake tests it in our Fujifilm X100T review
Fujifilm X100T Review – Introduction/Features
At a Glance
- 16-millon-pixel, APS-C X-Trans CMOS II sensor
- 35mm (equivalent) f/2 lens
- ISO 200-6400 (raw), 100-51,200 (JPEG)
- Advanced hybrid viewfinder with 2.36-million-dot EVF
- 3in, 1.04-million-dot LCD
- 1/32000sec max shutter speed
- Price £999
It is a little over four years since Fujifilm first showed off the X100 premium compact, which marked a distinct change in direction (and fortune) for the company. With its unique hybrid optical/electronic viewfinder, traditional control dials and classy good looks, not to mention excellent image quality, the X100 quickly established itself as a favourite among enthusiast photographers.
In its original incarnation, the X100 was distinctly quirky and buggy, but Fujifilm applied its kaizen philosophy of continuous improvement, releasing a series of major firmware updates that transformed its usability. The second version – the X100S – added Fujifilm’s unique X-Trans CMOS sensor, and a number of other hardware updates bringing much-needed improvements in speed and operational performance.
The X100T (T for ‘Third’) continues the process, with a range of control refinements to improve the shooting experience, and bring the camera more into line with the company’s X-system compact system cameras. Yet perhaps the most interesting update is its advanced hybrid viewfinder, which allows an electronic view of the subject to be projected into the lower-right corner of the optical viewfinder, giving a handy visual check of correct focus during shooting.
Fujifilm X100T Review – Features
While the X100T gains plenty of changes over its predecessor, its imaging core remains the same. So it has a 23mm f/2 lens (equivalent to 35mm on full frame) and a 16.3-million-pixel, APS-C size X-Trans CMOS II sensor.
This chip eschews a conventional Bayer-pattern colour filter array in favour of Fujifilm’s own semi-randomised arrangement, which reduces the sensor’s susceptibility to giving false colour artefacts. This in turn allows the elimination of the optical low-pass filter that’s conventionally used to counter moiré effects.
The sensor also has phase-detection elements in its central region to assist with autofocus. An X-Trans processor completes the package.
A sensitivity range of ISO 200-6400 is available for raw shooters, with an expanded range of ISO 100-51,200 if you’re happy to shoot only JPEGs. As the expanded ISOs are those most likely to benefit from careful processing (ISO 100 due to limited highlight range, ISO 12,800-51,200 due to noise), this decision looks rather strange.
The X100T re-purposes the top-plate Fn button to operate movie recording by default, but I changed it back to set ISO, as on previous models.
The X100T includes an excellent auto ISO set-up, which allows you to set maximum and minimum ISO sensitivities, along with a minimum shutter speed you’re happy to use. This means you can leave the camera set on auto ISO for handheld shooting and forget about it.
I allowed the camera to use the full raw ISO range, and set a minimum speed of 1/80sec to minimise blurring from camera shake or subject movement. Auto ISO is also available in manual-exposure mode and now takes into account the exposure-compensation setting, which gives a really useful method of shooting.
One useful Fujifilm feature is the dynamic range setting, which allows you to expand the highlight dynamic range before detail clips to white. The DR 200% setting adds an extra stop, and DR 400%, 2 stops. The penalty is that each imposes a higher minimum sensitivity setting – ISO 400 for DR 200%, and ISO 800 for DR 400%, which inevitably reduces image quality a little. Personally, I use DR 200% in high-contrast conditions and tend to avoid DR 400%.
Colour output can be controlled using Fujifilm’s film-simulation settings. In addition to the familiar Provia, Velvia and Astia options (the latter being my personal favourite), the X100T gains Classic Chrome, which looks rather like Kodachrome.
A couple of more-muted Pro Neg settings are optimised for accurate skin tones when shooting portraits, and several monochrome options are on offer too.
Continuous shooting is available up to 6 frames per second, which is more than adequate given the fixed 35mm-equivalent lens. The X100T has a small built-in flash, along with a hotshoe to attach more powerful units.
As is now almost obligatory, it also has Wi-Fi for connection to a smartphone or tablet, allowing both remote control of the camera and easy image sharing. Fujifilm’s implementation is quick and easy to set up, and works reliably.
Fujifilm X100T Review – Viewfinder and LCD screen
The unique selling point of the X100 series has always been its optical/electronic hybrid viewfinder. This combines a direct-vision optical viewfinder with an electronic display, and the user can select between the two by flicking a switch at the front of the camera. Uniquely, the EVF can project detailed exposure information into the optical finder, including such things as a live histogram and electronic level display.
The X100T improves on previous iterations in several ways. It can now display an electronic view of the subject in the lower right corner of the optical viewfinder, allowing confirmation of focus. In manual focus mode this can be magnified, and combined with a peaking display or Fujifilm’s unique Digital Split Image display. This allows accurate manual focus using the optical finder, bringing the X100T’s shooting experience closer to traditional rangefinder cameras.
Viewfinder information displays have been refined to match the X-T1’s, and most importantly the focus-distance indicator is much less intrusive than before and no longer interferes with composition.
When shooting using the excellent electronic viewfinder, the information display rotates when you turn the camera to portrait format – oddly, though, this doesn’t happen with the optical finder or LCD. The X100T’s 3in, 1.04-million-dot LCD is also a huge improvement over the previous generations’ 460,000-dot display, and has a 3:2 aspect ratio to match the sensor.
These three viewing options all complement each other nicely. The optical viewfinder gives the same sense of immediacy and connection with the subject that rangefinder users value, while the electronic finder allows for more accurate composition and previewing of the final shot.
The LCD has similar benefits to the EVF, but lets you shoot with the camera away from your eye, which can be more discreet and less intimidating to subjects. The ability to switch seamlessly between these options, with no major change in camera behaviour, is a real advantage for the X100T.