February 17th was the first time I did a portrait shoot without my X-T1, I'll be honest I didn't go into the shoot as confident, all I had was a Thinktank bag, and my trusty X100T. I had no idea what I expected to capture, but I knew that my projects couldn't stop due to a clumsy mistake I had made early in that month.
The plan was to take my subject down to the Dequindre Cut, a 1.35-mile trail that linked the Detroit Riverfront to Eastern Market. The location was rather bland and wide open Shooting with the X100T seemed hopeless, how was I going to focus on my subject when 90% of the frame was going to be the background. I came to the conclusion that the 35mm focal length equipped with this camera was just going to be too wide... I knew I needed to make a change,asthe X100T just isn't suited for portraiture styled photography.
A friend of mine was kind enough to offer me his Canon 60D and 18-135mm zoom lens, unfortunately I had to decline. I felt like the my aperture had to be around f/2.8 or faster to really capture what I wanted. Plus I just didn't want to be responsible for someone's camera. I already broke mine, it'll be just my luck that his would go crashing as well.
I needed a more practical solution, photographers on Reddit suggested that I just rent, this was another good idea, I take my projects seriously so I'm not afraid to dish out money, but when I looked how much things would cost week after week it almost made more sense just to buy another camera.
I was coming close to shoot day and I still had no camera. At this point I decided to give up, the X100T was the camera I had and I was just going to have to make it work. I began to research portraits taken with the 35mm focal length, most of the results were of the Canon 35mm L lens and I must admit... I was blown away. The composition was on point, the bokeh was creamy, I ran across some really nice photographs. It made me a little more optimistic, but at the same time it bummed me out. The Fujifilm X100T had the same focal length as this Canon lens, but it was no f/1.4. My background wasn't going to match what these other lenses produced... If only it had a faster aperture.
So I decided to research something else, "Fujifilm X100T bokeh shots". Again the results were quite impressive, however many of the images were super close to the subject... This wasn't ideal for portraits. After looking at image after image I noticed a few that stood out from the rest, I clicked on them and saw that they were taken with the TCL-X100... This was the answer to all my prayers. This little adapter allowed me to take my 35mm and turn it into a 50mm. I next day shipped it and the fun began.
Magnification Factor: Approximately 1.4x
Focal Length: 33mm (35mm equivalent: 50mm)
Lens Construction: 4 elements in 4 groups
Weight: 180g (6.4 oz.)
Dimensions 70mm (2.8 inches) x 46.5mm (1.8 inches)
Front Filter Thread Size: 67 mm
Minimum Focus Distance: 5.5″ (14 cm)
The TCL-X100 is built like a tank, it's pretty much identical to the Fujinon 23mm that comes attached to the X100T. The only difference, well it's larger. The lens itself definitely has some weight to it, though you don't notice it too much when mounted on the X100T. In fact, that unit is built so perfectly that it keeps the X100T at balance, especially when equipped with the Lensmate Thumb Grip.
Fun fact, I dropped this lens in the snow and it still works... Actually I dropped it in the snow, shot for 10 minutes, walked back to my car, realize I left it, walked back grabbed it out the snow and yeah, it still worked.
The lens itself is fairly easy to get on, though I do dislike some things about it. When using my X100T in its normal wide state (35mm) I have a JJC Hood and B+W Filter attached to it, in order to install the conversion lens I have to remove all of this to properly screw it on. This isn't a huge problem, it just makes these items more of a liability. The idea of losing my filter and lens hood due to constant removal is just mentally annoying to me. Another thing I disliked was the fact that I kept hitting the focusing barrel, I shoot mostly in manual mode, with focus peaking enabled, so when my knuckle hits the focus ring the lens instantly goes into its focus peaking, it's a user error, but one that I can't seem to shake off.
** Ian Boys has posted and informed me of a few quick minor complaints.**
- I have the same kit and I have set the third button down on the left (Trash during playback mode) to toggle between adapter/no adapter in shooting mode. So no more menu diving. You can also turn off the automatic activation of MF in AF mode in the menus. These two things make using the TCL quicker and easier.
Another thing hated was the fact that you have to go into the settings to switch the camera to "tele" mode, not to take a picture, but for your EXIF data to notice that it was in fact a tele converter attached to your lens. They also have a wide option for those of you who purchase the WCL.I also noticed that when you remove the TCL you have to go back in and switch back to the 23mm option, I rarely did this resulting in most of my images being taken at the "33mm" focal length. For some of you that may not be a major issue, but for me... Yeah it bothers me.
Outside of the focus ring and aperture dial, the TCL-X100 doesn't have any other functions. Yet it completely changes the way you shoot with the X100T. I stated earlier that it's a balanced system, but it takes away the whole minimal aspect of the X100T. It's no longer a pocket-able system. I found that ever since I bought the TCL-X100 I took my X100T less and less. Now I know, I could have just left the lens at home, but my mental didn't let me. I felt like I had to bring it, because I didn't want to have that "I wish I bought my other lens moment", but again, if I was going somewhere that wasn't as photo friendly, I just left the entire thing at home... This was never the case when I shot with just the X100T.
In terms of focusing, I haven't noticed too many issues. The lens is a tad bit slower with the TCL installed but nothing to complain about, as long as your subject is bright then you shouldn't have much to worry about. One of my favorite features this lens offers is the distance it can focus at. It's not quite a macro styled lens but in a tight hunch you could attempt to use it as so.
This might as well be a one liner... I haven't noticed any difference in image quality with the TCL-installed, no added distortion or vignetting and the lens does a surprisingly good job with bokeh as well. I used it in several situations, on the street, in portrait sessions and even for a few landscape type photos.
All in all, I have to say I'm impressed. I was a bit down that my portrait kit was gone, but I actually think I could make this work. If I was say a retired photographer or financially established and shot just as a hobbyist then the X100T and TCL would be all I needed in terms of a kit, nothing more, nothing less.
I have nothing bad to say about the lens, it is a bit on the larger side which may take away from the aesthetics the X100T originally provided, but in exchange for what it offers I say it should be in everyone's camera bag if the X100T is your only body. For those of us who have a DSLR or mirrorless interchangeable system... ehhh I would probably say hold off to be honest. I purchased my X100T because it was a trustworthy second unit in a compact form. I love my 35/85 setup I have between my 2 cameras, so once I get back on my feet I'll be getting rid of the TCL, as it just isn't what I want out of my X100T...
The Fujifilm TCL-X100 is available for purchase at Amazon
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