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T-eed Up

There’s a new entry-level X-T series Fujifilm mirrorless camera which is based on the X-A5 so it’s quite a bit cheaper than the X-T20, but is anything that’s important missing?

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Fujifilm’s X mount system has been one of the success stories in mirrorless cameras and, so far, not seriously challenged in the ‘APS-C’ format sensor category. The top-end of the X mount line provides plenty of choice, so now Fujifilm is starting to plug the gaps lower down the range, particularly as the non-EVF ‘X-A’ models are never likely to appeal to the more serious shooter, but the X-T20 could be beyond some budgets.

In a nutshell, the X-T100 – now the new entry-level ‘X-T’ model – is essentially a version of the X-A5 with the all-important viewfinder added along with a selection of X-T20 features, but it’s around $700 cheaper (although the XC series kit lens – rather than an XF model – accounts for some of this difference). The T20 is a pretty thing, but the X-T100 isn’t quite so cohesive in its styling with the EVF housing, in particular, looking less well integrated with the whole and, for some reason, Fujifilm has opted to make the handgrip detachable. There really doesn’t seem to be any good reason for taking it off though, except that the X-T100 is actually slightly bigger overall than the X-T20. The EVF module looks to be pretty much the same as the T20’s both on the outside and the inside where there’s a 1.0 cm OLED-type EVF with 2.36 megadots resolution, 100% vertical/horizontal scene coverage and 0.62x magnification (the 35mm equivalent). You’ll read exactly the same thing in the X-T20’s specs.

However, while the X-T100’s external control layout is still based around a trio of dials, it’s a very different arrangement to that of the X-T20. Firstly, there’s a main mode dial – which, incidentally, also has positions for four subject/scene modes alongside the standard ‘PASM’ settings – but the dial alongside serves as the front input wheel while the third control is user-assignable multi-functional. So, if you’re a bit of traditionalist, and like the idea of having a shutter speed dial and an exposure compensation dial, then the X-T20 is still for you. That said, the X-T100 is still reasonably traditional – at least by digital camera standards – with all exposure adjustments via the front and rear input wheels (which Fujifilm calls ‘Command Dials’, and the former used to apply compensation except in the manual mode when it adjusts shutter speeds.

The rest of the control layout is pretty conventional too, with a four-way keypad cluster on the back panel for navigational duties – and also direct access to various capture functions – and an ‘OK’ or ‘Enter’ button in the centre. Hard to get lost here.

The EVF is complemented by a tilt-adjustable LCD monitor screen which has various touch controls for both shooting and playback (more about these later on). The monitor has a three-way tilt adjustment, but unlike on the X-T2 (or GFX 50S), the vertical adjustment isn’t primarily designed for vertical shooting, but rather to allow the panel to be folded all the way around to the front of the camera to enable… er, selfies. So be it, but if you do want to do low-level shooting with the camera in the vertical orientation, the monitor’s vertical upward tilt works just fine here too.

While the top and bottom plates are anodised aluminium, the rest of the bodyshell is GRP and there’s no weather sealing, but then the X-T20 doesn’t have this protection either. There’s a choice of three body colours, with the alternatives to basic black called ‘Dark Silver’ and ‘Champagne Gold’ (which is actually a lot nicer looking than it sounds... think the Contax S2 or G1, for example).

Burst Of Speed
On the inside, the X-T100 has same 24.2 megapixels (effective) ‘APS-C’ size CMOS sensor as the X-A5 which has a conventional Bayer-type RGBG filter pattern rather than the ‘X-Trans’ design used in the rest of the X-T series clan. This means it also uses a conventional optical low-pass filter. The sensitivity range is equivalent to ISO 200-12,800 with extensions to ISO 100, 25,600 and 51,200.

Images can be captured as 14-bit RAW files (but only with lossless compression) or as JPEGs in one of three sizes and two compression levels, and with a choice of three aspect ratios – 3:2, 16:9 and 1:1. There’s RAW+JPEG capture options, both with a full-size JPEG and either the ‘Fine’ or ‘Normal’ compression level. The maximum continuous shooting speed is 6.0 fps which is significantly slower than the X-T20’s best of 14 fps and the burst lengths are also shorter – up to 26 best-quality JPEGs (versus 65 when the T20 is running at 8.0 fps).

While the X-T100 has the option of using a sensor-based shutter instead of the conventional focal plane one, this doesn’t translate into any shooting speed advantages.

However, the X-T100 has the X-A5’s 4K video-based stills capture modes called ‘4K Burst’ and ‘4K Multi Focus’. These both capture at 15 fps – as the X-T100 only shoots 4K video at 15 fps – and give 8.3 megapixels stills. Panasonic has already proven the usefulness of 4K video frame grabbing for high-speed shooting and, as we’ve noted before, an 8.3 megapixels image is big enough for quite a number of applications. The T100’s ‘4K Burst’ mode does exactly what it says on the tin, while the ‘4K Multi Focus’ captures a high-speed sequence of images at different focus points (i.e. focus stacking). Subsequently, you can select a single image or, alternatively, a composite image made from the full sequence or only the images within a certain focusing range.

As with Panasonic’s ‘4K Photo’ functions, the ‘4K Burst’ mode can be preconfigured to pre-record (i.e. starting when the shutter button is depressed to its half-way position), capture continuously for as long as the shutter button is held-down, or commence capture with one press of the shutter button and end it with a second. However, unlike on the Panasonic cameras, this set-up is done via the main Shooting Menu and a setting labelled ‘Release Type’ (i.e. rather than separate 4K capture mode settings).

Taking Effect
The in-camera JPEG processing options are pretty well the standard X mount system fare, starting with 11 ‘Film Simulation’ profiles. The ACROS B&W and Eterna cine settings are missing here, but all the other favourites are available, including as Provia/Standard, Astia/Soft, Velvia/Vivid and Classic Chrome. A very nifty new feature automatically couples ‘Film Simulation’ selection to live view with one screen showing the selected profile and an array of smaller ones below showing a number of the other options. This allows you to preview the effect and also make direct comparisions between, say, all the transparency-film based profiles.

Parameter adjustments are provided for colour saturation, sharpness, highlight tone and shadow tone. These are ‘global’ adjustments and, when set, will apply to all the ‘Film Simulation’ profiles. Auto bracketing is available for the ‘Film Simulation’ profiles so three versions of an image can be captured simultaneously… particularly handy if you want colour and B&W. Bracketing modes are also provided for exposure, white balance, ISO and dynamic range expansion. Each of these is over a sequence of three frames except for AE bracketing which can also be set to two, five or seven frames (with adjustment of up to +/-3.0 EV). There’s a choice of three manual settings for dynamic range expansion processing – called 100%, 200% and 400% – or an automatic correction which assesses the brightness range in the scene and adjusts both the exposure and the tone curve accordingly. Alternatively, multi-shot HDR capture is also available with either auto or manual adjustment (again up to +/-3.0 EV) to give the desired increase in dynamic range. The X-T100 has in-camera panorama stitching – either horizontal or vertical – a double-exposure facility, an intervalometer (for sequences of up to 999 frames) and a set of 12 ‘Advanced Filter’ special effects with the same handy live view preview screen as is provided with the ‘Film Simulation’ profiles. The two newcomers – to X-T series cameras, that is – are ‘HDR Art’ and ‘Fog Remove’ which should probably be more accurately renamed ‘Haze Remove’ and works like a built-in UV filter (so it won’t actually remove fog!). ‘HDR Art’ creates the exaggerated HDR edge effect that’s now all a bit old hat.

Get The Point
The X-T100 has the 91-points version of Fujifilm’s hybrid contrast/phase-difference detection autofocusing system with the central 35 points being the faster PD types (and representing roughly 40 percent frame coverage).

Overall coverage is much wider and extends a good way to the frame edges all around. There’s a choice of single-point, zone or wide/tracking area modes.

With single-point selection there’s a choice of five point sizes to vary selectivity and the zone focus can be set to 7x7, 5x5 or 3x3 points cluster. There are also face- and eye-detection capabilities, with the latter settable to either the left or right eye priority. Switching the AF operations (i.e. single-shot and continuous) is done manually and via the menu system rather than an external switch. Likewise for switching to manual focusing.

Both the AF-S and AF-C modes can be set to either release- or focus-priority.

Like the X-T20, the X-T100 offers interlocking of the AF point and the spot metering, an AF+MF function for full-time manual override, and a ‘Pre AF’ mode in which the camera is autofocusing continuously even without the shutter being depressed to its half-way position. An LED illuminator is provided for low-light/contrast AF assist. The assists for manual focusing comprise a magnified image (also available with AF operation too), a distance scale and a focus peaking display which can be set to one of three colours and two levels of intensity. While some of the X-T autofocusing frills are missing here – such as fine-tuning for the tracking – this is still a pretty capable system overall.

ABOVE & BELOW: Test images captured as JPEG/large/fine files using the Super EBC Fujinon XC 15-45mm f3.5-5.6 R OIS PZ zoom lens. The 24.2 MP Bayer-filtered CMOS delivers good levels of definition and detailing, smooth tonal gradations and excellent overall colour saturation and hue.

Exposure control is based on 256-segment metering which drives multi-zone, centre-weighted average, fully averaged or spot measurements. As noted earlier, the X-T100 has both a sensor shutter and a conventional FP shutter with the third option of hybrid ‘‘electronic first curtain shutter” operation which starts the exposure with the former and ends it with the latter. The primary benefits of the sensor shutter here are reduced noise and vibration, but it also allows for a top speed of 1/32,000 second compared to the FP shutter’s 1/4000 second. In addition to the four subject programs directly accessible from the main mode dial, another ten are available via its ‘SP’ (short for ‘Scene Position’) mode. Alternatively, automatic scene mode selection is performed when the mode dial is set to the ‘SR+’ position, with the X-T100 able to determine, via analysis of the focusing and metering, six subject scenarios – Portrait, Landscape, Night, Macro, Night Portrait or Backlit Portrait.

As on the T20, a built-in pop-up flash is integrated into the central housing and is manually activated via a lever located at the base of the left-hand dial (as viewed from behind the camera). Again, it’s pretty low-powered with a metric guide number of seven at ISO 200 and just five at ISO 100. The TTL control modes include slow-speed sync, first or second curtain sync and an optical commander mode for the remote triggering of compatible off-camera flashes. The maximum flash sync speed is 1/180 second. There’s no manual non-TTL mode for reducing the output, but flash bracketing is available over a range of +/-2.0 EV which, at this power level, will do the job just as well.

The white balance control options comprise auto correction, seven presets (including for underwater), fine-tuning, provision for making one custom setting, manual colour temperature control over a range of 2500 to 10,000 degrees Kelvin and, as noted earlier, auto bracketing.

In The Hand
In both looks and handling, the X-T100 definitely grows on you over time especially, if you haven’t got the prettier-sibling X-T20 always on hand for direct comparisons. It feels no less well-built than the X-T20 and equally comfortable to handle.

There is only one customisable ‘Fn’ button – it’s on the top plate – but the X-T100 also has the function dial (a.k.a. ‘Fn-D’) we mentioned at the start of this review.

The ‘Fn’ button can be assigned one of 30 operations while 18 are available for the function dial. However, the downside with the latter is that the function dial then loses all its default settings which are different depending on the main mode dial’s position.

On the ‘PASM’ settings, the pre-assigned function is ‘Film Simulation’ profile selection or, at the ‘Advanced Filter’, ‘SP’ or ‘SR+’ settings, the function dial serves as a selector for these various functions. Switch to another function and it’s the same irrespective of the main dial’s setting. Curious. On the plus side, there’s a set of four ‘Touch Functions’ – as introduced on the X-E3 – which enable custom functions to be assigned to the left, right, up and down swipe actions on the touchscreen, again each selectable from a list of 30 items. This facility is also provided on the flagship X-H1 and it works quite effectively in practice.

Otherwise, the touchscreen controls aren’t fully implemented, but are available for focus point selection with autofocusing, either with or without automatic shutter release. You can also move focusing points or zones around, or zoom in and out using the digital zoom function. Importantly, touchscreen focusing and shutter release are available when using the EVF and you can also configure the area of monitor screen to be used (either left or right halves or one of the four quarters) to make this operation more efficient.

Additionally, depending on the selected shooting mode, there is an on-screen tab for the ‘Film Simulation’ profiles, scene/subject programs, ‘Advanced Filter’ settings and the ‘Portrait Enhancer’ levels. A second tab is provided for setting the focusing mode (i.e. AF-C, AF-S or manual).
In playback, touch controls are available for browsing and zooming (including zooming in on the focusing point/zone which is always an interesting exercise), but not for zooming out all the way to the thumbnail pages or, subsequently, for thumbnail selection.

There’s no touchscreen functionality for the menus or the ‘Quick Menu’ screen which provides direct access to a total of 16 capture-related functions, but has to be navigated conventionally. However, the ‘Quick Menu’ can be customised with 27 functions available for assignment to each of the display’s 16 tiles.

Both the EVF and monitor screen are adjustable for brightness and colour and, of course, also customisable. You can add or subtract elements as desired and these include a level display (only single-axis here though), battery power indicator, focusing scale, guide grids (3x3 or 6x4), a real-time histogram and a long list of status indicators. However configured though, both displays are the same, but the main monitor also has info-only display which is primarily designed to be used in conjunction with the EVF. It provides a host of information including the AF points and zones, a real-time histogram, exposure settings and a total of 14 capture settings.

There are five image replay/review screens which include a full frame image with capture data or a thumbnails accompanied by a brightness histogram, two pages of capture data and the focus point employed. And, very conveniently, pressing in the rear command dial instantly zooms in on this point for checking the focus (or, as just noted, you can also do this via the touchscreen).

The in-camera editing functions include RAW-to-JPEG conversion (with 11 adjustable parameters), red-eye removal, cropping, resizing, Fujifilm’s ‘PhotoBook Assist’ feature (which allows for up to 300 images to be organised for reproduction in a photo book) and direct printing to an Instax instant print device via WiFi. The X-T100 is the first X mount camera to additionally have Bluetooth connectivity which provides the convenience of a constant low-powered connection with other mobile devices, and automatic geo-tagging.

Fujifilm’s Camera Remote app allows for both image file transfer and full remote control of the camera via a smartphone or tablet.

Speed And Performance
With our reference memory card – Lexar’s 128 GB SDXC UHS-II/U3 (Speed Class 3) Professional – loaded, the X-T100 captured a burst of 74 JPEG/large/fine files in 12.392 seconds, giving a shooting speed of 5.97 fps which is obviously as close to the quoted 6.0 fps as makes little difference.

owever, as we’ve noted with Fujifilm X mount cameras in the past, the quoted burst lengths are quite conservative. During our tests, the X-T100 regularly captured burst lengths of best-quality JPEGs in the region of around 70 frames (of course, the camera will go on shooting anyway, but then at a much slower frame rate). The test files in the time trial averaged 10.9 MB.

While the autofocusing isn’t as sophisticated at that of the higher-end X-T cameras, it’s still pretty quick and has plenty of scope for precisely matching the selectivity to the subject or scene. The tracking is less reliable overall especially with faster moving subjects, but still acceptably good in other situations. The camera takes a little time to get everything together after start-up, but this appears to be largely down to the XC kit lens which is a power zoom and automatically returns to the focal length in use at switch-off (arguably much more convenient than a few nanosecond saved).And don’t think that not having an ‘X-Trans’ sensor holds the X-T100 back when it comes to its imaging performance. The 24 MP Bayer-filtered device is a bit of a revelation, delivering excellent JPEG sharpness and definition, smooth tonal gradations, accurate colour fidelity across the spectrum and plenty of dynamic range without resorting to any in-camera tweaking. Once again, Fujifilm’s ‘Film Simulation’ profiles do an nice job of balancing ‘real’ and ‘perceived’ colour to give very pleasing results irrespective of saturation (although Velvia is undoubtedly still the pick of the litter if you like that transparency-film punchiness).

The noise reduction processing is also very well handled, ensuring that the high ISO performance is exceptional.

Both the colour saturation, sharpness and contrast are maintained across the full native ISO range with minimal chroma (colour noise) and very low luminance (brightness) noise. Even at ISO 12,800 it’s hard to fault the image quality. Some softening and NR artefacts start to become noticeable at the two extension settings, but both are still quite useable. RAW files have a wider dynamic range again, and post-camera sharpening preserves even more fine detailing at the highest ISOs up to 12,800 (the extensions aren’t available for RAW capture), but overall the JPEG performance is a strong one across a wide usable sensitivity range.

Making Movies
It’s hard to fathom why Fujifilm has shackled the X-T100’s 4K UHD video recording to a speed of 15 fps, unless it’s designed more for the high-speed still capture modes than for making movie clips. Who knows, but presumably it’s processor power related as is the case on the X-A5.

More usefully, Full HD footage can be recorded at 50, 25 or 24 fps with stereo sound and adjustable audio levels (with stereo level meters displayed in the LCD monitor. There’s a stereo audio input – albeit a 2.5 mm connection rather than the standard 3.5 mm – and the clip length, either 4K or 2K, is now 29 minutes and 59 seconds with automatic file partitioning at every 4.0 GB of data. Slow-mo video clips can be recorded at the HD resolution of 1280x720 pixels and down to one-quarter speed, but all settings are locked off during shooting and the maximum clip length is seven minutes. Time-lapse sequences can be recorded in 4K UHD.

Streaming to the camera’s HDMI connector is available with both 4K and 2K video (8-bit, 4:2:2 colour), with the option of simultaneously recording 4K internally (8-bit, 4:2:0 colour) to a memory card and streaming. A handy ‘HDMI Rec Control’ sends start/stop commands to the external recorder when the shutter button is pressed.

The touch focus controls are particularly useful when shooting video and continuous AF is both smooth and reliable. The magnified image and focus peaking display are again provided to assist with manual focusing. For exposure control, both aperture and shutter speed can be manually selected, but the sensitivity range is reduced to ISO 400 to 6400.

The Full HD video performance is excellent, but 4K at 15 fps doesn’t really look particularly smooth - especially if anything is moving, either the subject or the camera. We noted with the X-T20 that it was unlikely to be selected primarily to shoot video, but it was still pretty capable here nonetheless. The same is true of the X-T100 except only in terms of its Full HD performance which means there are other better alternatives if you really want the 4K resolution without spending a fortune.

The Verdict
There’s a lot to like about the X-T100, not the least being that it’s the most affordable Fujifilm X-T series mirrorless camera by a considerable margin.

Consequently, it does lack a number of features and is throttled back in some performance areas, but in reality there’s nothing missing that compromises either its overall capabilities or the image quality.

In fact, compared to its direct rivals, either mirrorless or D-SLR, the X-T100 is generally a more well-rounded package. Consequently, the value proposition is very hard to ignore.
While its basic DNA is from the more consumer-focused X-A5, let’s not forget that this is still a very capable camera for an entry-level model and the X-T100 simply builds on this with the addition of EVF and boosted specs in a couple of key areas. The high ISO performance is particularly praiseworthy.

Consequently, there’s enough here to make it more than suitable as an affordable back-up body if you already have a X-T20 or even an X-T2, which also means there’s enough here to give the enthusiast-level shooter a more affordable entry-point to the Fujifilm X mount system.