As I walked past my camera shelf yesterday I heard what I can only describe as a soft whimpering. I searched for the source and realised it was coming from my Fuji X100T. I lifted it up to face me and looked quizzically into its little viewfinder window. I could swear I saw a tear there.
“What ails you, little camera?”, I asked.
After a moment of sullen silence it replied in a small voice: “I feel unloved” it said. “Mr. Fuji is bringing out new cameras and lenses that make me feel insecure.”
“First there was the X70. It’s like me after a crash diet. It fits in a pocket—a pocket! It has a tilty touchscreen too…”
I snorted derisively
“I know YOU don’t like such things, but the Snowflake Generation does, brought up on smartphones and all.”
“But you have a viewfinder. An OPTICAL viewfinder. And that lovely 23mm lens.”
The little camera shuffled in my hand, turning its back to me
“That won’t help me much now that Mr. Fuji has announced the 23mm F2 R WR, will it? Now anyone can turn their X-Pro2 into a better version of me—faster, better AF, weatherproofed— and with an optical viewfinder.”
I didn’t know what to say. I started to speak but the little X100T cut me off.
“YOU’VE ordered one, haven’t you?”
“Don’t try to lie to me—you were seen. The X-E2 was in your bag when you went into the shop. She heard you, you unfaithful man!”
“Alright—yes. I have ordered one. But I still love you. I’ll still take you out, and…”
The little X100T hopped off my hand and back onto the shelf.
My X100T has a point. Its predecessor, the original X100, started the whole Fuji X line when it was announced back in September 2010. The current iteration, the X100T, is a vastly improved version of that first camera both in performance but particularly in handling. To be fair, it has always been what might be called a niche camera—an acquired taste—a fixed focal length compact camera with an optical viewfinder in an era of EVFs (if you’re lucky) and zooms; a compact camera for photographers, not what I believe the Americans refer to as “soccer moms”. It was a risk on Fuji’s part to bring it to market, but it was a risk that has paid off handsomely. One thing led to another and to the X Series we have today.
I have written at length already about my own journey with the cameras. In short I had an X100 and disliked it. I then had an X100S and struggled with it before finally getting my X100T and using it extensively until it grew on me. Now I appreciate that this may sound as if I am not wholly convinced by the X100 concept; that’s not strictly true but I did find that the iterations before the X100T were just too quirky in their handling to work for me.
But all that’s a thing of the past. The X100T is an integral part of my X kit, as a go-everywhere discreet picture taking machine. The TCL and WCL-X100 adaptors give me 50mm and 28mm and the whole setup fits in my Domke F5XB. What’s not to like?
Problem is, the X100T, announced in September 2014, is starting to look a little long in the tooth. It is part of the same generation as the X-E2, and the X-T1 with the admittedly excellent (and well proven) 16mp sensor. The last new camera that I expect to see from Fuji with that sensor is the X70; the 24.3mp sensor introduced in the X-Pro2 and now equipping the X-T2 is the way of the future. So surely the X100T replacement will follow the same trajectory?
Maybe not. There are two things that militate against it; the X70 is a well-made, consumer-orientated compact camera with an 18mm lens (28mm equivalent). It is smaller and cheaper than the X100T and significantly less complex and expensive to make, since it has no EVF let alone a hybrid viewfinder. I can’t say that I’m a fan of the X70; I’ve made no secret of my dislike of the tilty touch screen and given that I already have a perfectly good GR it has never appealed to me as a camera. I also can’t get away from the thought that it is a way of using up the stock of 16mp sensors… Still, it is by all accounts selling well and I have no doubt that some people who would have been considering an X100T have sprung for an X70. Our colleague Klaus Sassenberg has one and loves it.
The second and more serious threat comes from the newly-announced 23mm f/2 R WR. This is a lens that I and others have been asking for for some time. The 23mm f/1.4 R is an exceptional lens but the size of a biscuit barrel and the weight of a baby hippopotamus (okay, I exaggerate, but you know what I mean). It is one of the very few Fujinon lenses that I have owned for a time then sold on. You have to be really dedicated to the 23mm (35mm in full frame terms) field of view to really make it worth it. When the 35mm f/2 R WR appeared my hopes were raised, and now have been realised. An f/2 means a sensible size and weight—a boon for the travelling photographer—and the WR designation gives a degree of ruggedness that is welcome in daily use.
So, in a couple of months time an awful lot of people will be putting an X-Pro2 and 23mm f/2 combination alongside an X100T —both figuratively and literally—and wondering why they should bother with the little fixed lens compact. The X-Pro2/23 is fully weatherproof. It has the bigger sensor, better handling, better AF, better everything. It knocks the X100T out of the game in almost every way…
Except two. Firstly, the X100T is significantly smaller than the X-Pro2, and lighter too. If we look at the specs, we see that the X100T is a comparatively svelte 440g while the X-Pro2 body only comes in at 495g. The 35mm f/2 is 170g so we can expect the 23mm to be there or thereabouts, probably tipping the scales at about 150-160g. These extra grams can make all the difference when packing for a trip, or when walking about a city for hours on end. Secondly the X100T has a leaf shutter; this equals near silence in use and more significantly the benefit of being able to flash sync to much higher speeds.
The X100T occupies a niche; the X70 and 23mm f/2 make that niche smaller, but it is still there.
So what next for the X100 range? The pessimistic view says that it will cease to exist, rendered no longer relevant for the reasons already stated. That would be a short-sighted shame. The optimistic view says that before the end of the year we will see the X100U, with weatherproofing, the 16mp sensor replaced by the 24.3mm and improvements across the board in AF performance and handling. The joystick from the X-Pro2 and now X-T2 will make an appearance and we may—may—even see the tilty screen making an appearance (sigh). I wouldn’t bet the farm on dual SD card slots though—the X100T has always been more of a sniper’s weapon than a machine-gunner’s. But a bigger grip and the adoption of the bigger battery from the interchangeable lens models would be welcome additions. I’ll be honest and say that I think at this stage we are more likely to see a next-generation X100 than an X-E3. I think the bean counters will kill the latter off as being too middle-of-the-road for the current marketing trajectory.
But—and here is an interesting thought—if I were sitting in the Fuji design studios at the moment and I wanted to re-establish the X100 line as a stand-out flag-bearer for the brand, I would do something a little radical. I would differentiate from both the 23mm-equipped X-Pro2 and all the other manufacturers out there by once again reaching into the past and learning from it, just as they did when the X100 first burst upon the scene over a lustrum ago. I would take the 27mm f/2.8 formulation and use that as the basis for a brand new lens for the X100 line; a 40mm equivalent. This would at a stroke put clear blue water in the range between the X70 and the X100U and also offer a classic fixed lens focal length in a compact and portable form. It would be a higher quality lens than the interchangeable, entry-level 27mm so the X-Pro2 would not compete. Back in the day, Leica did it, Rollei did it, Olympus did it and many others. I do it today, after a fashion, with the Fujinon 27mm mounted almost permanently upon my X-E2. If I were Fuji I would grasp the nettle. In the mirrorless market, as in so many others, differentiation is king. And nobody else is doing a fixed 40…
I went back to the shelf and told my X100T in no uncertain terms just what I thought. I told it that it has a special place in my Fuji lineup and that no mere lens—or camera with flashy tilty screens and all—would ever replace it in my affections. Then I nestled it back into its Domke. Tomorrow we’re going out together. Just because.
- You can find more from Bill Palmer at Lightmancer
- Subscribe to Macfilos for free updates on articles as they are published. Read more here
- Want to make a comment on this article but having problems? Please read this
I considered the x70. As I have fallen in love with my X1, and also like the quality of Fuji images, I figured the X70 would be a 28mm alternative, with flip screen, for use on those days when 35mm is just not wide enough. As I have a Ricoh GR Digital I (small sensor) I have the GV2 OVF- in my opinion, without doubt, the only 28mm OVF you will ever need. Then, I was stopped dead in my tracks: unbelievably, the X70 has no focus confirmation light near the hot shoe. How in the world was that missed???
You have to hand it to Leica (x1,) they ask a healthy price for their cameras, but, in use, the do a pretty good job of thinking things through before going to market.
Wayne, have a look at the GR – it can be found at very keen prices these days and owning one meant that the X70 was of no interest to me. And yes, it has a focus confirmation light!
One other thing Fuji could do with the x100 is turn it into an honest rangefinder camera. I would order one the day they announced such a thing…..a first in my behavior.
I know! It is a pipe dream.
My X100 sulked until i bought is a leather case, now it enjoys going out all over the place and getting chucked around where other Fujis don’t go..
Heh. Mine has a leather case too. The only problem is, as I found recently when I took it to Madeira and forgot the charger is that you have to keep taking the damn thing off for USB charging…
I had my x100T in its TT Retrospective 5 bag and as I read your blog, I could hear it cheering inside…bravo…great blog! I love (and I am sayiing it out LOUD) I LOVE my x100T…ya know, when I was looking for a good digital camera a few years ago, I rarely found the word LOVE in any of the other camera brand reviews as much as with my x100T’s ancestors…as many others have said before me, I actually feel more like a photographer when I have it in my hands.
Yeiter, you sum it up very well. The X100T is a mood-altering drug as much as it is a camera. It’s hard not to smile when using it and you can’t say that for many cameras – or indeed things!
No, no no………………..No! 🙂
Waterproof if possible (always welcome in the UK), same FOV lens but with the new 24mp sensor. The joystick would be a welcome upgrade too and an improved EVF.
Don’t mess around with larger batteries as I have plenty of spares for my X100S……..and it should be compatible with the current 28mm WCL and 50mm TCL.
I have an X70 too and wasn’t a fan of tilt screens until I started using one…BUT, I am not sure I would like or use one too much on the X100F (or whatever it is called.)
p.s. Fuji, could we please have a way of giving the user defined Q menu selections a meaningful name!
I appreciate that many people will disagree as their requirements and likes will differ from mine…..and I suppose that is why nobody will ever produce the perfect camera.
Ian, I hear you. I’d love to see the ability to name things in the Q menu. Mind, I’d like to be able to embed my own copyright statement in the EXIF too – others allow it…
And you are right – the perfect camera will never exist – but some come close!
Be still my heart! A 40mm equiv X100U would be close to perfection. Perfection would be 50mm equiv.
Wouldn’t it though? But I fear a 50 equiv. is a bit less likely. A 40 equiv. is a really good compromise; I find I use my 27mm a lot, particularly for street. It would be sweet as an F2 on an X100 form factor…
Really super article. I had the X100S but found it too bulky for what it offered. Thinking it was the focal length that was my problem, I bought the teleconverter, but that compounded the bulk problem. So I found someone more likely to make better use of it than i and willing to pay for the privilege! Now I have just acquired a pristine leica X1 for a third of its former new price and am really enjoying learning 36mm photography (with no bulk!). But I can see the attraction of the X100T………. (No, stop that gas-sing little voice! I’m satisfied with what I’ve got.)
Thank you for your kind words, John. I do understand the attraction of the X1, but with the X100T you do get that optical viewfinder, with the little digital preview window… that’s what swung it for me. Whatever you do don’t go to a dealer, or borrow one, and look through…!
A talking camera, no thanks. I just want a camera that does what it is told and does not answer back.
William, you raised a smile! Do you remember the Konica Kampai – it had little feet, and could turn towards a loud noise and take a photo…!
I was just thinking the same thing. I LOVE my Xpro-2 but I still find myself picking up my beloved X100T. But…it is a little long in the tooth, as you say. I would love to see it upgraded with the faster responsiveness of the X-Pro2, the 24MP sensor, and sure, the joystick would be nice. I’ll still buy the XF 23mm f2 lens when it comes out for the Xpro2 (as it’s a different camera for different uses in my world) but I’m craving the X100 successor. No, I don’t need it. The X100T is great. But that doesn’t stop me from wanting it.
Bill, enjoyed your article. I find it hard to believe it has taken Fuji so long to commit to a 23/2 for the X-series. The T is the camera I want to love in my original X100. I skipped the S after renting it.
I rented an XPro2 with the 23/1.4 and the 35/2. What surprised me is how Fuji handles the frame lines for the 23. I assumed it would look like the view through the X100, but instead, Fuji seems to change the VF magnification and then pushes the 23 frame lines out. The difference is the feeling be being immersed in the scene with the X100. By contrast the 35 frame lines in the XPro2 are wonderful and the 35/2 is stunning. The joystick drove me crazy. Unless there was a way to lock it, every time I put it to my eye the focus point was in a random location because it was bumped around while being carried over my shoulder.
My X100T goes to work with me every day and gets used a fair amount in my day job. The size/weight ratio is the icing on the cake for the 100T. I also like having the ability to use the flash and the high sync leaf shutter. The dead-quiet shutter is also another favorite by-product.
A 40mm FOV version of the X100 would be interesting. But is Fuji does come out with another 100, wouldn’t it be the X100F? X100 (orig), X100S (second,) X100T (Third) and X100F (Fourth)?
Maybe if this is the end of the line for the X100 the T will become the cult classic of the line.
I like your point about "cult classic" – the X100 does in many ways remind me of the old Konica Hexar – a cult classic of it’s time with an equally superlative 35mm F2 lens. I carry my X100T a lot too – either that or my GR is my "daily carry" and you are dead right about the advantages.
To be fair I’m not sure about the nomenclature – your assumption is just as logical – and as valid! – as mine.
Here’s a couple of tips for you – In the X-Pro2 Set Up menu you will find "button/dial setting" – 4th down. Select that, and the top choice is "focus lever setting". You have three choices – Lock (off), Push to unlock and on. Mine is set to push to unlock for the very, very rare occasions when I might want to shift focus. I really only use mine for playback, where I have found it has enabled me to speed up review and raw processing considerably.
Secondly, don’t forget that like the X-Pro1, if you select AND HOLD the front lever to bring up the OVF view, you can toggle magnification. The additional trick offered by the X-Pro2 is that if you push in the centre of that front lever, it also displays a range of focal length framelines to help you choose the best one to use – very Leica!
Hope this helps.
It is a camera, not a talking doll.
Thanks for pointing that out, Willie. Equally, it meant as whimsy not Hansard… ;0)
I’m long in the tooth and so is my x2 and newest purchase X1, I am retired they are not! Enjoyed the article but I wish you and Moke Evans would do more photos, you two should exploit your photo talent and leave the gear stuff to the twits on my side of pond that not only trespass on people’s time but encroach upon eternity…
The logical conclusion is that the next generation of X100 range should be a fullframe….
Genuine question… Why is that logical? Fuji have shown no interest or inclination to market a full frame digital camera, preferring instead to maximise the benefits of the APS-C format. I could see them bringing out a medium format offering before full-frame. If I’m wrong I’ll happily my Hadley Pro…
why is FF the next logical step for X100 range?
Without this the new X100 will be just an X-Pro2 with fixed 23mm lens.
More important is that Fuji need to show a vision of future progress.
No, that’s the point of the article. The X100 will never be a fixed lens X-Pro2 because it already trumps any X-Pro and 23mm lens combination by being smaller and by virtue of the leaf shutter. Furthermore Fuji have made it clear more than once that they do not see FF as strategic. Look what was said to Barney Britton in an interview the other day:
"Are you interested in attacking the full-frame market in the future?
We’re attacking this market with our X-series. And with X-Trans III, we think that when people actually see what our cameras can deliver, we think there’s a good chance that photographers will use our X-series in the future.
The question of sensor size depends on what the user wants, as an output. If you’re using a medium format camera and you definitely need that for the work you’re doing, maybe APS-C is too small. But for general use, I think our [current] APS-C sensor is comparable to full-frame image quality. I think we can satisfy most people. But in future our goal is to satisfy everyone."
In other words, never say never, but the quality gap between APS-C and FF is now so slight in real world use that it would be hard to justify any investment in that direction. We are far more likely to see a new Fuji MF camera before then.
Therefore the route to differentiation for the next iteration of the X100 series lies in the factors already mentioned combined with a subtly but significantly different focal length – which is why I said 27mm (classic 40mm fov) -and/or greater lens speed.
Good post. Three quick points:
I love my x100 no S no T for what it is, a great compact travel classic with excellent JPEG and rescue capabilities in open BULB mode and its special sensor I liked over the younger generations. I use Sigma DP and Leica M, too. They’re all very different animals.
Who needs to better a fork, when he should learn to cook instead?
Don’t forget the awesome ND Filter the X100 series have. So many times I have used it with F16 when I want to slow motion in bright daylight whilst on the streets.
I forgot to mention great article!
The next gen X100 (if there is one) I hope would have the newer sensor (mainly for Acros), a redesigned F2 23mm lens that doesn’t go soft wide open up close, WR and like someone else said a manual focus tab with stops at each end.
Please Mr Fuji please. Make the best camera out there the best again!
Since I have the X-T2 on preorder, I feel a yearning now for the next iteration of X100T and been thinking what I’d like it be. Assuming that Fujifilm upgrades the next iteration’s sensor to 24MP (X-Tran CMOS III,) in my opinion taking the Leica Q approach be ideal.
A fixed 16mm f/1.7 (24mm FF eq.) lens resolving on to 24MP sensor. With a push of a lever it switches to 23mm (~35mm FF eq.) and with another push to 35mm (~50mm FF eq.) I wouldn’t mind losing pixels to achieve that. Of course 16mm shall be at 24MP, but 23mm crop be at ~20MP while 50mm crop at ~16MP.
Cropping, distortion and coma corrections, and film simulations be done in-camera for JPEG images, while RAW files be left untouched. Goes without saying that it must have the incumbent flash sync speed and ACROS film simulation. Also, I feel that there is no need for the "Advance Filters;" they are gimmicky and in my perspective not something most X photographers use. Instead Fujifilm should allow for the memory banks to save more Custom Menu settings, especially extend the ability to use ‘friendly names’ for these settings. Finally, icing on the cake will be weather sealing.