Fuji X100T: Off with the old, ready for the new
By the time you read this my X100T will be sitting in a shop window with its lens pressed up against the glass like an eager pup, wagging its wrist-strap and eager to leap into the hands of its happy new owner.
I normally have a bit of a New Year clear-out of kit that for one reason or another I want to liquidate, but this year I decided to cut and run a little earlier than usual. On the lens front I took a critical look at what I have, and have used, in the past year and decided with not a little regret that the elegant but portly Fujinon 90mm f/2 had to go. I love the rendition of this lens but I find that it gets limited use in my current lineup and I firmly believe that it's only right to set it free to go to someone who will use and appreciate it more.
The X100T is another matter. It sees a fair amount of use, often wearing the WCL or TCL adaptor. It's a great everyday carry, with a sensible balance of size and capability. Now some may think that I have been influenced by my recent acquisition of the 23mm f/2 for my X-Pro2 and have decided to go against my own advice and de-"duplicate” — but in fact nothing could be further from the truth. I'm not considering past or present, but future...
Let me explain. Those who have followed my Fuji X Series meanderings on Macfilos for the past couple of years may remember that I have long had a love/hate relationship with the X100 line. I had the original X100 first of all and just could not get to grips with it. The handling was just a little too quirky and slow, the AF a bit too hit and miss. It didn't fit well in my photographic "ecology" and after a couple of episodes where I seriously contemplated lobbing it at a wall I sold it on.
A few months later I had another go with the X100S. Close but no cigar and again it did not last. This was getting personal now — it's not you it's me — and I had a third go with the X100T. I carried it with me everywhere in January to take part in the Serious Compacts annual "Single in January" challenge — a photo a day, no matter where, no matter when, no matter what. It was my constant companion and, a bit like Rose Sayer and Charlie Allnut in The African Queen we learned to get along.
Success. Third time lucky, as the saying goes. It did help that the X100T is a significantly better imaging device in every way than its two predecessors. Almost every aspect of the camera had been improved, but what really did it for me was the much better handling and the innovative hybrid viewfinder. Oh that viewfinder. That little picture in picture facility in the OVF did it for me. It fitted the way I work, the way I saw and the way I wanted and needed a camera to behave. Result happiness.
So why, after just over a year of happy and contented ownership, have I come to the parting of the ways?
Making a space
Because I am making a space in my bag for the X100F.
In the same way that Fuji have raised their game from the X-T1 to the X-T2 and raised the bar with the X-Pro2 over the X-Pro1, I am fully expecting the X100F to be a major step up for the X100 range. Let's consider for a moment what I expect to see:
- A recomputed and improved lens. Much as I would really like to see a fixed lens 27mm, I strongly suspect that the F will sport a 23mm once more, albeit one that incorporates the lessons learned over the past five years. It will still be a leaf shutter, because that is part of the differentiation from the X-Pro2 fitted with the 23mm f/2. It will still be an F2, but it will be tuned and fettled to deliver optimal results from the new...
- 24mp sensor, as seen on the X-Pro2 and more recently the X-T2. This is an all around better sensor than its 16mp predecessor but it will almost certainly lead to a...
- Bigger battery, hopefully the NP-95 which will bring the X100F in line with the rest of the X-Series. This will in turn mean a...
- Bigger grip, which in and of itself will be no bad thing. The additional real-estate may also give Fuji the opportunity to slot in...
- Dual SD cards, although I wouldn't count on it. I would, however, count on...
- A higher resolution rear screen and EVF, even if just to keep up with the Joneses and...
- AF performance will improve, as will high ISO sensitivity all as part of the 24mp sensor dividend.
- I suppose video will get a boost too - whoopee...
I'm rather hoping for a joystick on the back a la X-Pro2 and X-T2 too; I don't use it for focusing but it is a boon to reviewing and rapid raw processing in camera. Acros needs to be there of course — I am sure it will be. Plus/minus three stops of exposure compensation would also be nice, along with USB charging which is mysteriously absent from the X-Pro2. What wouldn't be nice, as far as I'm concerned is a tilty and/or touch screen. I know they are to be found on the X-70 but they are contra to the ethos of the premium X-Series models.
On the downside, I'm really hoping that apart from the aforementioned grip growth we don't see a fit of the digital Leica malaise in the form of an overall increase in girth. Part of the joy of the X100 series is the compact size. However — and it is a big however — there are two factors that might lead inexorably to porkyness — the potential need for a bigger heat sink and a move towards weatherproofing. That latter would be overall a good thing but not at any cost. My fingers are crossed that doesn't happen. I can live without a drip-dry X100F; if the weather is inclement I'll just roll out the X-Pro2.
Wibbly wobbly pound
Ah yes, cost... The current UK RRP is £849, thanks to the wibbly pound. That's fifty quid more than I paid 14 months ago. Judging by the X-Pro and X-T price trajectories, and taking into consideration the psychological impact of a four digit price tag on what is after all a fixed-lens compact, I'm expecting the F to come in at a shade under a grand. I'm happy at that price point, because it means that I get some money back in my pocket from the sale of my X100T and 90mm lens.
One of the interesting aspects of moving on is what to do with the accessories. I'm getting rid of the X100T's leather case at the same time because for all the reasons I've stated I don't expect it to fit its successor. I'm hanging on to the WCL and TCL wide and tele adaptors for now, though. The logic is as follows: If the lens makeover is mild, it would make sense for Fuji to keep compatibility. If I'm wrong, I will hold on for a short while longer then sell them on — there is always a ready market for good glass.
There's also a strong chance that the X100F will incorporate a digital crop factor, like the X70. If it does, life suddenly becomes very interesting indeed. The WCL will still have applicability to get me out to the 28mm-equivalent field of view, but if the crop sensor capability gives me a 50mm equivalent at an acceptable loss of pixels then suddenly the admittedly bulky TCL may have had it's day — or, equally, may continue to be useful in order to deliver a 70-75mm equivalent when used in conjunction with said crop. Time will tell, but it's an intriguing thought, isn't it, particularly for travel purposes? 50mm FOV fan that I am, the thought of having an eminently usable 16mp+ cropped file without adding to the bulk of the X100F is a mouthwatering concept.
Why are you selling now and not waiting until the X100F is actually announced? Well, I don't really think I will have long to wait — CES 2017 is on the 5th to the 8th of January and I'll lay a small wager that there will be an announcement there and stocks available by March. But more importantly because the day that it is, there will be a move to dump used X100s, 100Ss and even 100Ts which will for a time soften secondhand prices.
The new kid on the block will be that good, mark my words. So I have decided to get ahead of the curve and set it free before Christmas. The money released will go into a deposit fund for the X100F for now.
Don't disappoint me, Mr. Fuji...
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