Discreet dimensions, classic styling and a fast f/2 fixed lens have swiftly earned the X100 range cult status with street photographers and travel shooters alike, and the Fujifilm X100T is the latest compact camera to woo their wallets. But with competition hot on its heels from some major players – most notably Nikon with its Coolpix A, and Sony with the RX1 – Fuji has had to up its game. The fight back starts with the upgraded X100T, the third generation of Fujifilm’s popular X100 compacts. At first glance it seems it’s business as usual. The camera retains the same retro styling as the two previous X100 models, and the same fixed 23mm f/2 lens. And there’s no increase to the modest 16.3MP resolution either, so what has changed? The X100T builds on the success of the X100S with some notable big improvements, arguably the most impressive of which is the change to the shutter mechanism. The covert nature of shooting candids means most street photographers don’t wish to advertise their presence, so Fuji has added a fully electronic shutter. The result? Completely silent capture, with no ‘click’ at all.
The X-Trans CMOS II sensor is the same as that in the S, but the rear of the camera sees some significant improvements. The D-Pad is more ergonomically spaced out and replaces the rotary dial of the S, while the key buttons on the left of the camera have been redesigned, and now include a Wi-Fi button. The T also features an improved optical viewfinder where exposure information and even the focus point can be overlaid on the optical glass.
The X100T’s exposure compensation range jumps from 2 to 3 +/-EV, offering more control over metering, while a bigger 3in LCD provides 1040k-dot resolution to review images. The shortcut Q menu can now be customised and battery life improves massively, with 700 shots per charge now possible, outstripping the X100S’s 330.
The X100T still includes the popular Film Simulation effects found on the X100 and X100S, but now with the addition of Classic Chrome, which recreates a rich colour palette similar to Kodachrome. And those wishing to record video are well catered for too, with Full HD quality and an external microphone slot.
Handling & quality
If you’ve always used DSLRs, the handling will take a little getting used to. The X100T’s handgrip isn’t very pronounced, so won’t feel as comfortable in your hand. However, the camera itself is well balanced, with the main command wheels and buttons laid out ergonomically with appropriate spacing.
As the X100T fits in your pocket, it is the perfect companion for urban photo trips. The compact dimensions offer a high level of discretion and it’s the perfect size with which to shoot from the hip. Also, at 400g the X100T is light enough to carry around all day without becoming a burden. Even though it’s small, images can be easily composed using the optical viewfinder, or if you prefer a larger picture, the LCD. Focusing is much faster and more accurate than on previous X100 models and the camera locks on to targets quickly and keeps them in sharp focus.
The small Q button on the rear is the key to quickly changing settings such as ISO, white balance, image quality and Film Simulation effects. The dedicated Drive button also speeds up operation so you can capture candids as they happen, and the burst rate of 6fps is decent enough for a compact.
The On/Off switch is a little too easy to activate accidentally – say when putting the camera in your pocket or into a bag – but the lens cap (which was reported to slip off easily on early X100 models) has a reliably secure fit.
Fuji’s X-Trans sensor delivers amazing image quality and the pictures captured with the X100T confirm this. For such a compact camera, the T captures a huge amount of detail. The fixed 23mm lens delivers sharp images – not just at mid-apertures, but also at f/2 and f/16. And Macro mode is excellent – once activated the minimum focusing distance reduces from 50cm to just 10cm, enabling frame-filling images of small subjects.
If you already own an X100S, then there probably isn’t enough here to justify upgrading to the T. However, if you are looking to buy your first premium compact, the combination of the Fuji’s gorgeous retro styling, amazing image quality and improved focusing performance will be a very tempting proposition indeed. The X100T undoubtedly offers big camera image quality in compact dimensions, but the £999 price-tag also makes it a sizable investment, especially when compared to the Nikon Coolpix A, which has an 18mm f/2.8 fixed lens, matches the X100T’s 16MP resolution and comes in around half the price. However, for street photographers craving discretion or pros wishing to travel light, the X100T could well prove hard to resist.
- Camera: Fujifilm X100T
- Lens: Fixed 23mm f/2
- Price: £749 (As of June 2016)
- Effective resolution: 16.3MP
- Sensor: 23.6x15.6mm APS-C X-Trans CMOS II
- Processor: EXR Processor II
- LCD: 3in 1040k-dot
- OVF: 0.48in 2360k-dot hybrid
- Autofocus: 49-point hybrid AF system
- ISO: 200-6400 (expands to 100-51,200)
- Shooting speed: 6fps
- Minimum focus distance: 50cm (10cm in Macro mode)
- Video: Full HD (1080p) at 60fps
- Other features: Wi-Fi, built-in flash, film effects, silent electronic shutter
- Battery life: 700 shots
- Card type: SD, SDHC, SDXC
- Size (WxHxD): 126.5x74.4x52.4mm
- Weight: 440g
- Visit: www.fujifilm.eu/uk
This review was first published in the March 2015 issue of Practical Photography - download back issues here.