Disclaimer: I was given a free Fujifilm X100T for this review.
It is a beautiful Sunday here in Dubai, and it is my day off “work”. I arrived last Wednesday from London after 2 weeks of teaching workshops, and I ended up doing a few workshops for Gulf Photo Plus (a photo organization in Dubai). I had a great time teaching the workshops here in Dubai, and also ended up shooting a lot of personal photos for myself (around 5–6 rolls of medium-format Kodak Portra 400 on my Hasselblad and a Mamiya 7 I borrowed from my friends Imraan and Mo.
Anyways, I also met the Fujifilm representative (Yuta-san) and he gifted me a Fujifilm X100T (no strings attached). Fujifilm was generous enough to sponsor my 2 workshops here (a 1-day Conquer your Fear of Shooting Street Photography course, and a 3-day intensive Intermediate/Advanced Street Photography Workshop focused on projects). They let the students play with a bunch of X-T1’s, X100T’s, and lenses.
Fujifilm are also sponsoring my free talk on street photography (at Gulf Photo Plus this Monday evening at 7pm).
Also check out our upcoming street photography exhibition this Tuesday evening at 7pm.
Anyways, I am still pretty committed to shooting film at this point (most of my personal work back home in Berkeley, California in my neighborhood is shot on my Hasselblad 6×6 medium-format camera on Kodak Portra 400) and I’m still focusing on my “Suits” and “Only in America” series on 35mm with my Leica MP and Contax T3 (also on Kodak Portra 400).
But at the same time— I know a lot of you guys who shoot digital were interested in the new Fujifilm X100T. A lot of people were curious whether it was “worth” the upgrade from the original X100, or the X100s (and my thoughts on it vs. the Fujifilm X-T1).
Long story short (before I delve into the details), I think if you have an X100 (and want an upgrade), I think the X100T is a substantial enough upgrade. If you have an X100S, the upgrade isn’t really necessary (but if you want to sell your X100S for the newest and greatest, go for it).
Also at this point, I prefer the X100T over the X-T1 for street photography, as the X100T matches the X-T1 in terms of autofocusing speed, is smaller, has Wifi functionality, has as stiff buttons as the X-T1, and is lighter.
I also think that the X100T is the best “bang-for-the-buck” camera for street photography currently in the market (in terms of value for the money), especially if you want a viewfinder. If you want something uber-pocketable and a solid daily carry-around street photography camera, I recommend the new Ricoh GR (read my review here).
Let me get into some of my more detailed thoughts on the Fujifilm X100T below.
One of the first questions that I had about the X100T (over the X100S) was regarding “what’s new?”
I did some digging around teh interwebz and found that the changes were pretty minor. Better autofocusing, Wi-Fi functionality, some fancy electronic shutter (allows you to shoot f/2 in bright sunlight), a new film-simulation JPEG preset (not really necessary if you post-process your files in RAW with Lightroom), bigger LCD screen, and some other bells and whistles.
I tried to purposefully not do too much research on the Internet, because I don’t really care too much about specs and technical details. I wanted to try the camera out, and bring you guys some practical details which would affect shooting the X100T on the streets.
1. Better autofocus
I would say the autofocus of the X100T (compared to the X100S) is quite substantial. It now equals the X-T1 (or perhaps is even a little faster). Whereas the X100S was still a bit laggy at times with the autofocusing.
Based on my purely un-empirical and un-scientific standards, I would measure the autofocusing abilities of the cameras below:
- Original X100 (5/10)
- X100S (7.5/10)
- X-T1 (8/10)
- X100T (9/10)
It seems the X100T has a faster autofocus than the X-T1 (because it has a fixed lens, and is optimized for the body). Whereas the X-T1’s autofocusing speed depends on the lens you’re actually shooting with.
So the X100T is damn solid when it comes to autofocusing speed. I would still say that the Olympus OM-D series cameras still have the edge (fastest autofocusing cameras I’ve used for street photography, when I tested the cameras of my friends).
Also as a side-note, because the X100T has a leaf-shutter (is practically silent), there is less camera-shake than the X-T1, which still uses a traditional mirror. Therefore I find that you can shoot the X100T at slower shutter speeds (and have sharper images) than the X-T1.
2. Build quality
The X100T has a huge improvement over the X100S in terms of the stiffness of the dials. I found one of the biggest problems of the X100S was that it was quite easy to knock around the exposure-compensation dial (on the far right of the camera). This is practically a non-issue with the X100T now, as Fujifilm stiffened the exposure-compensation dial (thanks for listening guys!)
Something minor: but the silver-finish of the X100T looks substantially nicer than the X100S. It looks more “titanium-like”— it has a slightly darker silver color. It looks more premium.
Also a minor detail: the focusing dial of the lens has some added texture, which looks quite beautiful in silver (I have the black version, and you can’t see it well).
I think if are deciding between the black and silver version, I’d actually get the silver version (I think it looks nicer). But of course if you want to be stealthy and prefer black— it is always a solid option too.
You can also see some of the aesthetic differences on the Fujifilm site here.
There is some new rangefinder-like firmware thingy that Fujifilm updated, but I honestly think it is pretty gimmicky. Personally, I actually prefer to use the EVF (electronic viewfinder) on the X100T, as it is much improved to the X100S. The refresh rate is very fast (very similar to the X-T1) and it is big.
The LCD screen of the X100T is also slightly bigger than the X100S, and is a little easier to read in the bright sunlight.
They also moved around some of the dials on the left side, so now you can change the “view mode” from the back (I figured too many people got confused by using the front lever).
I couldn’t tell any difference in terms of weight or the handling of the X100T over the X100s — I believe it is identical.
Still super-light, compact, and even pocketable (if you have big enough pockets).
I preferred carrying the X100T on the stock neck strap, as it is so light you barely feel like you are wearing it. Even the X-T1 can get a little heavy after a while.
I figure if you travel a lot, the X100T would be a great companion or a daily camera to bring into work.
The great thing about the new X100T is that you can now program (nearly all) the buttons in the back. This includes the “Q” (quick) menu.
I found this to be extremely useful, as you can program the camera to your heart’s content.
Fujifilm also hit a home-run (at least in my book) by making the menus simpler.
Nowadays when I meet someone with the original X100 (even to a bit the X100S), the menus are a nightmare. Too many functions and features.
The X100T has simplified it a lot— which makes me a lot less frustrated when hunting for stuff to change.
Oh as a small point: if you have problems firing your flash on your X100T, make sure that your shutter is set to “mechanical shutter” (not the electronic one), and that the “silent mode” is turned off.
3. Image quality
The X100T has the same sensor as the X100S (and the X-T1). Still superb.
Great high-ISO capacities, the best colors I have seen out of a digital camera (the Nikon D800/Canon 5D Mark III also look great).
For me I have shot it all in black and white in RAW, and I shot it consistently at ISO 3200–6400 with no problems.
I honestly think that full-frame isn’t really necessary in street photography— and even iPhones/compact cameras/crop sensors all do a pretty damn good capturing “the decisive moment” with solid quality. If anything, I find that I often have to add a ton of fake grain to make digital photos look grittier— as they look “too clean” straight out of the camera.
So long story short, 9.5/10 image quality from the X100T.
4. Shooting experience
I shot around the souks (markets) in the “Old Dubai” for a few days, shot at night, to get a feel of the camera.
The camera is light, small, unobtrusive, and compact, and literally weighs nothing around your neck. I had absolutely no problem walking around with it all day around my neck— no strain, didn’t even feel like it was there.
The camera was snappy, and rarely missed autofocus on anything during the day. I also shot a lot of really close “street portraits” with the macro mode, which also works quite quickly.
I also shot a lot with the flash on the X100T (the integrated one), and while the recharge time isn’t the fastest in the world, it still gets the job done.
I shot the camera mostly in “P” mode (“A” on the front lens, and “A” on the shutter dial), and in ISO 1600 in autofocusing mode. I like the idea of just “setting and forgetting” the camera. The camera did a good job of setting the shutter speed/aperture to capture the images I wanted, and I didn’t really find any times that I could blame the camera for not getting the photo I wanted.
Also at night if you use the AF-illumination light, the camera autofocuses quite solidly. If you turn off the AF-illumination light, it tends to hunt a bit (especially if there isn’t much contrast at night).
If you want to also be more of a “stealth” street photographer, the camera’s shutter sound is literally silent. In-fact, I have a problem not knowing when the camera takes a photo, I turn on the fake shutter-sound to +1 in order to know when the camera took a photo.
But to sum up, the X100T is an absolute joy to shoot with— little to no stress dealing with shooting in the streets. You just point, click, and make the photos you want.
Is it worth it?
So I think the million-dollar question (or the ~$1300 question) is whether the X100T is “worth it”.
I will give my personal advice:
- If you own the original X100, I think the upgrade is worth it.
- If you own the X100S, I don’t think the upgrade is worth it.
- If you own a heavy DSLR (or big camera) and want a smaller camera, it is worth it.
- If you own a Leica, it is not worth it (or necessary, common you already own a Leica).
However if you love the newest and greatest (and you can afford it) I would say go for the upgrade. I think if you’re rich (or have disposable income), the X100T is still enough of a “justified” upgrade over the X100S (assuming you sell the X100S).
Also things to consider: for the price of $1,300 you can afford a round-trip ticket to somewhere in the world, buy 33 amazing photography books (assuming each book was around $40), go on a road trip somewhere (related article on how to do an American road trip), book a photography workshop, and invest it in experiences.
The best advice I have ever read was this: money can only buy you happiness, as long as you spend it on experiences, NOT material things.
Related: Read my article on How Money Can Buy You Happiness in Street Photography.
Buying a new camera won’t make you a better street photographer. Buying you the new X100T won’t make you a better street photographer. But if you want something more compact, light, and with better autofocusing abilities (to capture the beauty of everyday life) — go for it.
Also ask yourself the question: do I need this camera or do I simply want to acquire it for the sake of it? Make sure you don’t fall victim to “GAS” (Gear Acquisition Syndrome). If so, I have some tips to overcome GAS.
If you want to become a better photographer, I recommend you to buy books, not gear.
Free Lightroom presets
You can download some of my free Lightroom 5 Street Photography film-simulation presets (optimized for the Fujifilm cameras and works well on all RAW files on all cameras) for free.
Enjoy, feel free to edit them, share them, or whatever! They are all “open-source”.
Video review of the Fujifilm X100T
Purchase the Fujifilm X100T
The Fujifilm X100T retails for around ~$1300 on Amazon. If you purchase the camera through my affiliate links (everything on my blog that points to Amazon), I get around a 7.5% commission fee— which helps me pay my rent, my film, and my coffee/espresso habit (which is a good thing— which leads to a lot more free articles and resources for this blog).
Thank you guys for the support, and to Fujifilm for sponsoring me with this free camera (as well as the X100S), my events, and for making a badass camera that ultimately helps the street photography community.