I’m going to approach this review from a different perspective than my review of the X100S, I’m going to look at this camera from a Street Photographers perspective. The camera is more than capable of being used for a number of photography disciplines and a quick visit to one of the X100T Flickr pages will give you some great examples of this. If you’d like to read the full review of the X100S, the previous version of this camera with the exact same image sensor and lens, you can click here.
I’m no stranger to the X100 series having started the X100S challenge a couple of years ago (flickr page, X100s Challenge Article). If you read through my various experiences with the X100s over on PhotolisticLife.com you’ll notice I started off thinking the camera was just “another point and shoot” and by the end of the experience I was/am a huge fan of the camera and actually used it as my primary camera for the better part of a year.
When I review a Street Photography camera, really any camera, there are a few things that I look at that are what I would call “deal breakers”. These are the minimum requirements I have set for a Street Photography camera based on my needs and expectations. Things like high ISO image quality, overall image quality, intuitive control layout, speed, and build quality. Let’s take a look at the Fujifilm X100T:
Low Light PhotographyHigh ISO Quality
The first thing we will explore is the cameras capabilities in low light utilizing high ISO. If you’ve done a lot of Street Photography you’ll be intimately familiar with the wide range of available light from street to street, block to block. Often I’ll turn a corner and be in the shadow of a large building, enter a dimly lit subway, or walk through a pedestrian tunnel where light is scarce. You need a camera capable of shooting in all of these situations without missing a beat. There is nothing worse than having to avoid an area because of the limitations of your camera.
When I set up the X100T to put it through its paces I placed it on auto ISO (200-6400) with a minimum shutter speed of 1/125 (I wish it went to 1/250) auto-focus, and Aperture Priority*. I found that the camera did a fine job at selecting the ISO but obviously you still need to keep an eye on your shutter speed to make sure it doesn’t dip too far below 1/125. For the shot above I shot in manual mode with a shutter speed of 1/15 to blur everything except for the woman’s reflection in the subway car window.
*Setting the camera up in this way will make it as fast and accurate as possible. Be sure to turn off your auto-focus assist light in the settings if you use this set up. If you shoot after dark it’s better to pre-focus your camera and leave it in manual focus so the camera doesn’t have to hunt for focus.
At ISO 6400 the images exceeded my expectations. I recommend trying to over-expose in order to retain more sensor data (shadows don’t hold as much information as highlights do) when shooting at extreme ISO settings like this. The camera passed my high ISO test with flying colors. Obviously this is a rather subjective test, whether or not you’ll be happy with the level of detail at ISO 6400 is entirely up to you. For more high ISO image samples you can check out the sample galleries over at DPReview.com.
Overall Image QualityIs It Sharp Enough?
The X100T has the same basic sensor as the X100S and the X-T1 and it’s earned quite a good reputation as being one of the best 16 megapixel crop-sensors on the market. That’s saying something since it’s more than two years old. You won’t be disappointed with the image sharpness or color rendering capabilities of the X100T.
The camera struggles a little when shooting wide open close-up shots, like macro. Luckily, you won’t be doing much of that in Street Photography so where it’s important this camera shines. I have absolutely no complaints with the image quality that the X100T brings to the table.
Build QualityWill It Last?
The build quality is excellent, it’s heavy enough to feel like it could withstand minor bumps and bruises however I wouldn’t recommend it since the lens is fixed and if you bust it you’ll have to buy an entirely new camera. I don’t see any design flaws in the camera that could become a problem down the road, it looks as though it’s built to last. If I had one suggestion for Fuji I would say the camera could be a little larger (with a full frame sensor in a perfect world).
I added a Thumb Grip by Lensmate* that does not require screwing anything in but slides snug into the cameras hot shoe mount. If you carry the camera in your hand (with a wrist strap) then I’d highly recommend this, the grip on the camera isn’t very deep. Personally, I will most likely carry this camera with a neck strap because of its small and discreet size (more on that below).
*Using a thumb grip partially covers the drive button and the wheel below your exposure compensation dial. You can still get at them easily so it’s not a big deal but it’s worth noting.
I’m going to include button layout in the “Build Quality” section because it seems right. The button layout is very similar to the X100S with minor but good changes. There are more customizable buttons to access your key adjustments without having to enter the menu. The biggest changes I noticed are the directional buttons around the OK button (used to be a spinning wheel) and the wheel below the exposure compensation dial now spins (it used to just push from side to side).
SpeedWill You Miss A Shot?
The auto-focus on the camera is lightning fast, even in low light. All of the shots on this page were shot with auto-focus (don’t judge me) and I never missed a shot because focus couldn’t find a lock. With that being said, I did miss a shot because the camera took too long to wake up. This was my fault because I already knew the camera takes about a second to wake up and I normally half-press the shutter to keep it awake between shots (best solution I’ve found). If you half-press the shutter from time to time and keep the camera awake it is lightning fast.
Powering up the camera is actually slightly faster than waking the camera from sleep, I prefer not to do this between shots because I believe in eliminating as many steps as possible so I can focus on composing my shots. Even with the slight delay in waking up (hopefully it’s addressed someday) I would still recommend this camera, the aforementioned workaround renders the problem moot.
Overall ExperienceCan I Recommend It?
I really like this little camera, I like it so much that it will become my primary Street Photography camera from here on out. The size, image quality, and ease of use make this the perfect camera, in my opinion, for Street Photographers. The image quality is on par with that of the Leica (X100T has better high ISO capabilities) at a fraction of the cost (Leica $6,500 vs. X100T $1,200).
Seasoned Street Photographers will tell you that image quality takes a back seat to the content of an image in Street Photography. The sharpest photograph in the world of a boring scene is still a crappy image. I only mention this because up until the X100T I felt that my Nikon Df was the best Street Photography camera around because of its full frame sensor. What I realized is that the X100T can take the same or better images than the Nikon Df because it is smaller and more discreet allowing me to create more candid shots of my subjects. I found myself taking shots with the X100T that I would not have attempted with a larger camera, primarily because I was less worried about people reacting to the camera.
I just wanted to make a quick note about the conversion lenses. I purchased both and use neither. The primary reason I purchased the X100T was because of its small size. When you attach one of the conversion lenses the camera gets larger (obviously) and if I’m going to shoot with a larger camera I will just use my Nikon Df with multiple lens options. To each his own though, the image quality was not impacted by attaching either conversion lens… I was impressed.
There are two lenses available, a wide and a “telephoto”, 28mm and 50mm focal length equivalent. Both lenses work with the X100T even though (as of typing this) they both only say X100 and X100S.
Do you have any questions? If you’d like to know more about the X100T please feel free to leave a comment below or ask via the Facebook page.