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.
I took 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 a the wide lens equipped with the X100T didn't help by any measure. It was at this point that I knew I need to make a change, the X100T, though an awesome camera just isn't suited for portraiture styled photography.
I had a few options, one was borrow a camera, which I did. A friend of mine was kind enough to lend me his Canon 60D and 18-135mm zoom lens. Though this was generous gesture, the idea of driving to pick up and drop off someone's camera seemed somewhat daunting, not to mention the case by case basis where we had a shoot the same day, it just seemed like I would to much of a burden, sure for the first couple of borrows no big deal, but after a while no one wants to continuously just hand their camera out... Especially to someone who dropped theirs out of a camera bag.
I needed a more practical solution, photographers on Reddit suggested that I just rent, as a professional if I didn't have a back up camera then for paid sessions the only viable option would be to rent a body similar to the one I previously used. This made perfect sense, except for the fact that a lot of my current shots weren't paid, I had projects to get done, and I couldn't afford to rent a new body everyday, it just didn't seem ideal.
Finally someone suggested I just use what I have. The X100T is my only camera right now, and though it's capable of capturing beautiful images, its 23mm focal length sometimes hinders my creative ability. I hated that I had to get nose level with my subject to capture a chest up composed shot, not to mention the slight distortion the wide angle lens presented, so here we are, the TCL-X100 is now in my possession and will be my go to kit over the next month or two. But enough of the background story, lets get into my initial thoughts.
- 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)
Not much to say about the unit here, it's built like a tank, 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, both the bottom of the body and TCL-X100 are identical, so no unexpected tipping will occur.
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 in order to properly screw it on. This isn't so much of a problem if I'm going on a portrait sessions and I know the 50mm focal length will be all I'm using, but at times when I want to use the conversion lens at an event, or family outing I can already see that removing all of that gear will be frustrating, not to mention storing it. 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 it's 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.
The lens itself does take away from the simplistic appeal of the X100T. I mean visually it looks stunning, the chrome outer looks golden on my X100T, but I purchased this unit because of it's small form factor, because it was pocketable, discreet and harmless looking. The TCL is the exact opposite, it's robust, noticeable and makes the X100T nothing more than another interchangeable camera system.
I did hate the fact that you have to go into the settings to switch the camera to "tele" mode, they also have a wide option for those of you who purchase the WCL. At one point I turned took the TCL off and I found out that my camera did convert back to 23mm, so I thought I had found a way to get by without turning it off, by simply just leaving it on. This worked until I realized that my EXIF data was still showing up at 33mm, for some of you that may not be a major issue, but for me... Yeah it bothers me.
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, something that shocked me considering it's original focal length was average.
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. Actually 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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