Two months with Fujifilm’s X100T model

THE X100T CAPTURES a man telling officers during protest on Michigan Avenue: “It’s cops like him [who] make good cops look bad.”

A little over two months ago, I got a Fujifilm X100T; a small and unassuming digital camera. At the time, protests regarding the police shooting of Laquan McDonald were taking place in Chicago, and I decided to take the X100T out for the first time to capture them. It was a gray, drizzly, cold day, but the camera held up well. The X100T is not weather-sealed, but it is small enough that I was able to tuck it into my coat whenever a sprinkle of rain passed overhead. The temperature was near-freezing, making it necessary to wear gloves. I was worried that they would make it difficult to operate the X100T’s controls, but the buttons and dials are well-spaced and easy to reach, invalidating my concern.

As I began taking photos, I discovered my greatest annoyance with the X100T: its menu system. As someone who is used to Nikon cameras, I expected that it would take some time to adjust to the Fuji system, but it seemed convoluted. The terse titles of options in the menus are frequently misleading, and options are often located in unexpected places. However, after configuring things to my liking, I am able to use the Quick Menu to access frequently-changed settings such as ISO and flash. Another issue is that the X100T battery drains much faster than a DSLR. I’ve been able to mitigate this by keeping it turned off and only turning it on as I raise it to take a picture, but it is something that takes a bit of getting used to.

The image quality of the X100T is terrific. It produces beautiful colors and skin tones. On a Nikon camera, I have to do a bit of post-processing on the RAW files to get a nice result. With the X100T, I am frequently blown away by the in-camera JPEGs. The colors are accurate and people look great. The camera has a fixed 35mm-equivalent lens. It produces sharp images, even at its largest aperture of f/2. There is almost no chromatic aberration. The camera performs extremely well in low-light, high-ISO situations despite its small size.

One of my favorite features of the X100T is its hybrid optical and electronic viewfinder (OVF and EVF, respectively). A switch on the front of the camera toggles between them. The OVF has overlays for the focus point and other basic information, as well as a box that aids in compensating for parallax by outlining what the sensor will see when a picture is taken. A unique feature of the X100T is a small insert in the bottom-right corner of the OVF that can display a magnified view of the focus area, but I usually disable it because I find it distracting. Toggling over to the EVF, there is a focus peaking mode that highlights the in-focus areas of the image, making it criminally easy to focus manually. The EVF also supports face detection for focusing and metering, and it simulates the exposure of the image based on the configuration of the aperture and shutter. Both the OVF and the EVF are refreshingly large compared to the Nikon viewfinders I’m used to.

When I carry the X100T around, I seem to be able to blend in more easily than I can with a bulky DSLR. The X100T looks like an older rangefinder camera, and people don’t pay much attention to it. I can easily take pictures on the street and I don’t get questioned or approached as I sometimes do when I use a bigger DSLR. It’s also easy to use to take pictures in casual settings with friends and family. The mechanical shutter is almost inaudible, and it has an electronic shutter that is completely silent. Its size makes it easy to drop into a bag or sling over a shoulder without a second thought. The X100T is a great camera to bring while walking around.

While it’s not a replacement for a DSLR or larger mirrorless camera, I find myself grabbing the X100T by default when I’m heading out. It is small, light, and fun to use, while giving me ample control to capture moments as I see them. It’s not a good choice for sports or other fast-paced photography, and its fixed lens, though wonderful, is not well-suited to all situations. However, it excels at getting out of the way and letting me concentrate on taking photos. The X100T is an excellent camera, and I’m looking forward to many years of photography with it.