I was taken by surprise by the introduction of the Fujifilm X100t. The previous model, the X100s was a mature product, without glaring deficits . It didn’t cry out for upgrading, especially before the replacement of the venerable X Pro 1 was accomplished.
When the X100t was announced I remember reviewing the new features:
Better autofocus: They always say that.
Face detection: Hell, my RX100 pocket cam has that.
Better manual focusing aids: I rarely use the manual focus
Wi Fi: Big deal. Gimmicky.
Closer aperture and and shutter stop increments on dials: Maybe helpful.
Ultra high speed shutter without flash functionality: teats on a boar.
Oh, and it has the same sensor and processor as the X100s? So at the time, I decided to pass.
Then I upgraded my XE1 to the XE2 which came with similar technology. Using that camera, I realized that he autofocus really was better, that face detection was useful, and that Wi Fi functionality had its uses. Then Fuji announced that there would be no further upgrades to the X100s, which given the same hardware, might well have benefitted from upgraded firmware.
I felt manipulated, but I placed my order.
The X100t is another evolutionary step in the X100 line. The body is of course very much the same, but different. The LCD is larger, the buttons are smaller, and the scroll wheel is better. They changes some button positions (the “Q” button) for what seems like no good reason.
What is useful is that almost all of the buttons are programmable. For instance, I can finally set things up so that the down button on the 4 way controller now controls the autofocus box, just like on all of my other “X” cameras. Unfortunately the buttons are programmable and thus they are left unlabeled. It can be hard to remember which ones which. Perhaps a pictograph could be created(to be summoned when necessary) to show current button assignments.
There has been a lot of talk about the little video screen available in the optical viewfinder that shows a close up of area covered by the focus point for manual focusing. Problem is that it’s little. I can’t really see detail very well in it. I still think that the so-called “jaggies” in the electronic viewfinder are the best focus aid, and they are now available in multiple colors.
When I first started to use the camera, I thought I noticed something odd about the“t” model’s autofocus behavior. When using the electronic viewfinder, the viewfinder information (which you can select) along with the focus box, only appears with a half press of the shutter. My previous X cameras showed the information, as well location of the focus box without a shutter press. This was annoying and meant a delay in shooting while you wait for the focus point to appear. Oddly enough, none of this was true for the optical finder and the LCD, which behaved as before. Then I figured out that the “Back/display” button will only program the display that is active at the time. If you press it while looking through the EVF, the issue is solved. Frankly, give all of the Fuji X series cameras I’ve owned, I’m a little embarrassed that I didn’t know this.
Face detection is better than on the XE2, as, in the absence of faces, it defaults not to a central focus point like the XE2, but to a movable focus box. This is much better, and hopefully retro-programmable to the XE2. I find that face detection is useful for party and event shooting, mainly for posed images. It’s not so good for street shooting, especially with the lens wide open. In that situation it seems to detect the narrow depth of field, and arbitrarily picks one face for attention. Often this is not the one you had in mind. Its function can be assigned to a button however, making it easy to switch off and on.
Autofocus is otherwise clearly better. It is not only obviously faster, but significantly more reliable in low light and low contrast situations, again, like the XE2. It also now focuses pretty well through the TCL-X100 which was a problem on the X100s.
Wi Fi is fun. The phone app mirrors the view screen and allows you to frame and capture discrete images for instance, on the street. and also to frame in the outdoors with the camera at an inconvenient position, where using the LCD or viewfinder would be difficult. You can change a variety of settings by remote control, and select the focus point by touching the image on the phone’s LCD. I believe this will prove very useful.
As you might imagine given the same lens, sensor and processor, image quality is largely unchanged, which for me is OK. Perhaps jpg quality is better, but I shoot mainly in RAW. Then there’s the “Chrome” (ie: Kodachrome) film simulation, available when shooting jpgs as well as in the RAW file converter. It’s interesting… but I was always more of an Ektachrome kind of guy.
So am I happy? Yes and no. The X100 series has tended to be the most heavily used equipment in my bag, and thus smaller improvements do mean more than in other gear upgrades. Autofocus performance is among the most important attributes in a camera, and it is significantly improved here. I also think the WiFi feature is worth having.
Also, I bought the “t” model at a discount, and received a good price for my X100s on eBay, so the cost of the upgrade was not outrageous. I do think however, that the autofocus upgrade could and should have been offered to X100s owners, which in my mind would have reduced my desire for the newer device. Thus, I feel a little “used”.
But just a little. It’ll pass.