Fujifilm's FinePix X100 was a game-changer, with its large image sensor, fast prime lens, hybrid viewfinder and rangefinder-style retro look. It likely ignited the "retro" trend in the camera industry three years ago and the third-generation X100T is finally here.
On paper, it shares the same 16.3-megapixel X-Trans APS-C CMOS sensor, EXR Processor II image processor and Fujinon 23mm f/2.0 (35mm equivalent of 35mm format) fixed lens with its X100S predecessor.
Notable improvements include an ultra fast electronic shutter with shutter speed as fast as 1/32,000 sec (which is the world's fastest, according to Fujifilm), a bigger and higher resolution 3-inch LCD monitor, seven customisable "function" buttons, built-in Wi-Fi, sensitivity settings up to ISO 51,200 and a new Classic Chrome film simulation mode for muted tones and deeper colours.
However, the biggest improvement is on the advanced hybrid viewfinder.
Like its predecessors, the hybrid viewfinder is able to toggle between electronic viewfinder (EVF) and optical viewfinder (OVF) modes, simply by pushing a small lever in front of the camera.
Now, the OVF comes with real-time parallax correction that moves the optical finder frame during focusing, just like what the old rangefinder cameras used to do.
Plus, you can now perform manual focus more accurately, as the OVF will simultaneously show the focus area in a separate display on the bottom right corner of the viewfinder window.
Just push the lever to your left to get into this mode, turn the lens focusing ring and watch as the area in the corner comes into focus.
In addition, the EVF also has reduced screen lag, automatic brightness control and a new Live View feature with wider dynamic range.
If you are wondering why anyone would want to switch between OVF and EVF modes, it is because both have their plus points.
The OVF mode works better under bright light conditions and has no screen lag. On the other hand, the EVF mode works better in situations when the glare would be unbearable, such as a sunset.
With its die-cast magnesium alloy chassis, the X100T retains the sturdy and solid build of its predecessors. The slight protruding right-hand grip allows for a comfortable grasp of the camera.
While it is not as bulky as a DSLR, it is not as small and slim as prosumer compacts. Still, it is quite lightweight, tipping the scales at 440g. Together with the prime lens and small form factor, this is one camera I would recommend for street photography.
On the top is the shutter speed dial, exposure compensation dial, a Function button and shutter release.
In front, there is the aperture ring for changing the aperture from f/2.0 to f/16. Luckily, both the shutter speed dial and aperture ring have an Auto setting, for those who want simplicity on those fronts.
On the rear right side, the wheel dial of its predecessors has been replaced by four directional buttons. Each button can also be customised for quick access to settings you desire. If you have ever handled a rangefinder or manual camera before, the handling of the X100T will feel as superb.
Operation-wise, this camera is pretty fast, needing just 1sec for start-ups and shutdowns. Using an SD card with a writing speed of 45MB per second, the X100T was able to shoot 7 RAW images in 0.9sec before the buffer ran out.
Autofocusing (AF) is almost instantaneous in bright sunlight. In dim lighting conditions, it takes up to 2sec to secure a focus, with the aid of AF assist light.
Such amazing AF performance was not present with the original X100, so the AF for this has improved tremendously.
As you might expect, image quality here is excellent, with sharp renditions of pixels, smooth skin tones and great dynamic range that preserve plenty of details in the darker areas.
Noise performance is superb with no visible noise artefacts up to ISO 3,200.
Full high-definition videos are crisp and sharp. With continuous AF switched on, the camera was able to gain a sharp focus within 2sec during a pan shot. On the downside, it did pick up a fair bit of ambient sound.
Battery life is average for its class, with 330 still images taken on a full charge. In other words, be selective if you plan to shoot for a full day.
My only complaint about the X100T is the lack of a built-in protective lens filter. Without this filter, the lens is exposed to dust and water once you remove the lens cap. While there is an optional Protector Filter PRF-49S to mount on the lens, I would rather have it there by default.
The Fujifilm X100T is like a digital version of the cult classic Konica Hexar, an autofocus camera from the 1990s that came with a fixed 35mm lens. Neither a compact nor mirrorless camera, the X100T is in a class of its own with its superb image quality, fast autofocusing, great handling and sharp prime lens.
Image sensor: 16.3-megapixel X-Trans APS-C CMOS
Display: 3-inch LCD with 1,040,000 dots; electronic viewfinder with 2,360,000 dots and optical viewfinder
Sensitivity: ISO 100 - 51,200
Shooting speed: Up to 6 frames per second
Lens: 23mm f/2.0 (35mm equivalent of 35mm format)
Weight: 440g (body with battery and memory card)
Value for money: 4/5
Battery life: 3/5
This article was first published on Nov 12, 2014.
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