Fujifilm X100T Field Test Part II

View from a lens. One lens.

By Eamon Hickey | Posted:

[A note on sample images in this report: Several of these example JPEG images were created from original RAW files using the Fujifilm X100T’s in-camera RAW development feature, which lets you apply film simulations and other camera settings to a RAW image on your SD card, then save a JPEG of the result. More on this below.]

Performance

I found the Fujifilm X100T to be a fairly good performer overall, with a couple of modest exceptions. Once I had it on and activated, it responded essentially instantly to any control inputs, but it was sometimes just a bit slow to wake from sleep. It’s a small issue, and in my outings with the X100T I didn’t miss any shots because of it, but I think if I owned one, this might rear up and bite me every now and then.

[Editor’s note: We measured the Fuji X100T’s power-on to first shot time at about 1.9 seconds, the same as the X100S. Both cameras however have a High Performance mode that reduces startup time to about one second, at the cost of increased battery drain.]

As I mentioned in part 1 of this report, my first time out with the Fujifilm X100T was to shoot the Thanksgiving Day parade, and my next two shoots after that were also outdoors during daylight. I shot most of my images on these walks using the camera’s Single AF (AF-S) autofocus setting, and it worked very well for me, focusing quickly and decisively. On one walk, I suddenly noticed a construction crew just as they were fastening cables to a crane hook, and I was able to focus and shoot in a second or less; the camera’s AF system was easily quick enough for this kind of street shooting. On later outings, I tried the X100T’s AF system on nighttime subjects in the East Village neighborhood, and here again the camera focused well on the high-contrast subjects I was shooting using the AF-S mode. With some later indoor shots in restaurants, the X100T’s AF-S system was somewhat slower but still worked reasonably well, focusing accurately in about a second or a little less.

1/100s / f/4 / ISO 400 / 35mm eq. / [original]
Classic street shooting part II: The Fujifilm X100T with its fast single AF, 35mm focal length and classic film simulation modes make it a pleasure to have for shots like this.

When I tried the Continuous AF (AF-C) setting on the Fujifilm X100T, I found it much less reliable, especially in anything other than bright outdoor light. Indoors in the restaurants, and also in some nighttime sidewalk shooting I tried to do, the AF-C system, which is supposed to be able to follow moving subjects, did a lot of hunting back and forth and never acquired focus. After several outings with the X100T, I felt very confident about its AF-S setting, but I wouldn’t expect great results with this camera trying to follow-focus moving subjects in AF-C, especially in low light.

I was never slowed down by shot-to-shot time with the Fujifilm X100T, and the burst rate is easily fast enough to make autoexposure bracketing a breeze. As a quick and dirty way to ensure I get a good exposure of every subject I photograph, I sometimes like to set my cameras to bracket every shot I take. I used this method with the X100T when I took a walk in Battery Park at the southern tip of Manhattan and made a picture of a New York City police boat against a bright afternoon sky. The camera fired off 3 shots in under a second, and the +2/3rd stop exposure turned out to be the best. However, on that same walk, also shooting rapid sequences of bracketed exposures in RAW+JPEG (Fine) mode, I several times ran into the buffer limit of the X100T, which was about 6 or 7 frames with my settings. I didn’t try to time the buffer clearing rate because my SD card wasn’t the fastest, but the somewhat skimpy RAW buffer size might trip me up occasionally if I owned this camera.

[Editor’s note: In the lab, we confirmed the X100T’s top burst speed was about 6 frames per second. Buffer depth when shooting RAW or RAW+JPEG files was 7 frames, and 16 frames when shooting best quality JPEGs. Buffer clearing was pretty fast with a 95MB/s UHS-I card, at 3 seconds after a burst of 16 best quality JPEGs, 5 seconds after 7 RAW files and 7 seconds after 7 RAW+JPEG files.]

1/1400s / f/5.6 / ISO 200 / +0.7 EV/ 35mm eq. / [original]
Bracketing in Brooklyn: New York Harbor on a hazy winter day. Autoexposure bracketing helped me get a better exposure.

Lens

In recent years I’ve become more and more attracted to the idea of reducing my camera gear to the bare essentials, and that’s a big part of the appeal of a fixed-lens camera. I haven’t quite reached the point where I want to limit myself to only one field-of-view (although two might be enough). But if I had to choose just one lens, I might very well pick a 35mm equivalent focal length like the 23mm f/2 optic on the Fujifilm X100T. To my mind, Fujifilm has done an excellent job judging how to balance important qualities of this lens — field-of-view, size, and maximum aperture, especially.

For me, the f/2 maximum aperture of the Fujifilm X100T’s lens was especially welcome. I used it in a venerable, very dark Greenwich Village eatery called the Olive Tree Cafe when I got a shot of a group of four friends at another table. The ability to open up to f/2 helped me keep my shutter speed up (1/75) and my ISO at 6400 — a high setting, but a lot better than the ISO 12,800 I would have had to use with a maximum aperture of f/2.8, which is typical of nearly all other compact wide-angle lenses.

1/75s / f/2 / ISO 6400 / -0.7 EV / 35mm eq. / [original]
Low light is no problem for the X100T: Four friends at f/2 and ISO 6400 in the very dim Olive Tree Cafe. Developed from RAW in camera, using the "Pro Neg Hi" film simulation.

If I have one quibble with the Fujifilm X100T’s lens, it would be that it’s almost too small. It’s so compact and extends so little from the camera body that I had a hard time holding the camera without accidentally brushing the lens focus ring. When I had the manual focus magnification assist function activated, these little movements would constantly trigger the MF assist magnification and the EVF or LCD image would zoom into a small section of the scene. This was annoying when I was trying to frame my shot, rather than trying to fine-tune my focus. I ended up deactivating the MF assist feature because of this. To be fair, my hands are larger than average, and other, less ham-handed photographers might not have this issue.

Another important plus for the lens on the Fujifilm X100T is that it can focus quite close in macro mode, as we noted above. This came in handy when I wanted to get a photo of a colorful fallen leaf on the street outside my apartment, which I ended up shooting from only about 6-8 inches away.

1/100s / f/5 / ISO 640 / 35mm eq. / [original]
Close-up: Macro mode on a fallen leaf. Developed from RAW in camera, using the"Velvia" film simulation.

I’ll talk more about my images from the Fujifilm X100T below, but in terms of qualities specific to the lens, check out our analysis of it from our optics review of the X100S. My test shots confirmed those lab findings, showing few if any noticeable flaws other than a little geometric distortion, and a bit of light falloff at the widest f-stops. I shot almost 300 images at apertures from f/2 to f/4, and I’d say that the bokeh, or out-of-focus blur, is perhaps not the creamiest I've ever seen but is still very pleasing.

Images & Video*

Check out the Image Quality section of this review for our in-depth analysis of Fujfilm X100T images (coming soon). For my part, I’ll say that ever since I reviewed my first Fujifilm digital SLR 14 years ago, I’ve been very impressed with the company’s color judgment as expressed in the JPEGs their cameras produce at default settings. Speaking very generally, I’d call it a saturated look that manages to still seem natural. Most of my shooting days with the X100T were overcast, with resulting muted colors, so I can’t say I’ve developed a complete sense of its color characteristics, but I haven’t seen anything that makes me think it won’t be as good as its predecessors.

But that brings me to a feature that I enjoyed on the Fujifilm X100T — its film simulation modes. In particular, I like the fact that you can develop a RAW file in-camera using any of the film simulation modes and the camera will save a JPEG to your SD card with that setting applied. With many of my RAW images, I used in-camera RAW developing to make a range of JPEG versions of the shot with several different film simulations. It’s fun to play with, and most of the film simulations themselves are very well-judged to my eye — the Pro Negative simulations, especially, remind me of the lower-contrast, lower-saturation, skin-tone-optimized wedding films that were long one of the “secrets” of pro portrait photographers. I also think the black-and-white simulations looked very good. I used the standard B&W simulation on a shot I took of a passenger stepping out of a subway train, and I’m pleased with the default tonality and contrast of the resulting conversion — these qualities usually need substantial adjustments when manually converting from color to B&W

Fuji X100T: Film simulation modes
1/110s / f/4.5 / ISO 3200 / 35mm eq. / [original]
Stepping out of the 6 train. Developed from RAW in camera using the "Monochrome" film simulation.

1/70s / f/4 / ISO 200 / 35mm eq. / [original]
Developed from RAW in camera, using the "Pro Neg Hi" film simulation for lower contrast.

That said, I don’t love all the film simulations, although it’s important to remember that this is a very subjective topic. The Velvia setting doesn’t look very accurate to my eye (too saturated and contrasty). And in my test shots at least, the relatively new “classic chrome” simulation sometimes looks very nice, but it doesn’t resemble any slide film I remember, certainly not any recent version of Kodachrome, which some people seem to think was the family of emulsions that Fujifilm was aiming to replicate.

[Editor's Note: Update, 7/21/2015: We've now had the opportunity to shoot a sample video with the X100T.]

The video quality itself, like still image quality, isn't all the that different from the X100S. Video quality for the most part is decent, but it still suffers from the noticeable moiré and aliasing artifacts. Also, the lack of image stabilization, while not much of an issue for stills given the X100T's bright f/2.0 lens, it's much more crucial for pleasing, smooth video without a tripod. You can see the Full HD sample video below shot in 60p mode and using continuous AF.

Fujifilm X100T Sample Video
1,920 x 1,080, H.264, Progressive, 60 fps, C-AF
Download Original (249.4MB MOV)

Wi-Fi

As we noted above, the Fujifilm X100T has several different Wi-Fi functions, and I ran through three of them in a test scenario one day using my iPhone 5 and the Fujifilm Camera Remote app. What interested me the most are the features for transferring images to my phone for web sharing or texting to friends and family — these are the functions I would use often. The Camera Remote app provides two methods for this. The first is called the “Receive” mode, and it lets you transfer single images from the camera to your phone (or tablet) from the playback mode of your camera. I had no trouble establishing a Wi-Fi connection and the transfer works fine, but in use this function would end up requiring a lot of re-establishing the network connection via the iPhone’s settings menu whenever you took a new photo that you wanted to transfer. It’s more of a hassle than I’d like. (On a video from Fujifilm Australia that I watched, it looks like it’s a little more straightforward with an Android device.)

I’d be more likely to use the second image transfer mode — “Browse Camera” — where you browse the Fujfilm X100T’s SD card from your phone. This lets you select multiple images for a single transfer. My habit would be to do this once or twice a day after I had accumulated some worthwhile images, thereby getting all my transfers done with only one round of establishing a connection.

I also did a little testing of Camera Remote’s remote camera control feature. Not only can you trigger the Fujifilm X100T from your phone in this mode, but you can also change many of the camera’s shooting settings and even do touch focus using your phone’s display as a viewfinder. The whole system is fairly responsive, and it’s pretty good remote control functionality overall. I doubt the X100T would be my choice for the kinds of studio setups where this type of remote control could be really useful, but still, it works well if you need it.

1/420s / f/5.6 / ISO 200 / 35mm eq. / [original]
One World Trade Center building shot from Fulton St.

Wrapping up

All in all, I had fun shooting with the Fujifilm X100T. It’s very portable, has good controls for advanced photography, takes great pictures, and performs very well overall. I love the hybrid optical/electronic viewfinder, the lens, and the X100T’s good looks and quality feel.

All that said, I can’t say I fell in love with the whole camera. The accumulation of several small but consistent annoyances takes a bit of the bloom off the rose for me — most importantly, my modest problems with accessing the aperture ring, accidentally turning the focus ring, and finding the button for back-button AF by feel. Those are all pretty personal experiences, though, and I’m sure many other photographers wouldn’t have had the same issues. And in the end, even with those caveats stated, I could be very happy shooting with the Fujifilm X100T for a great deal of the general street, travel, and social photography that I do.



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