We’ve seen a growing trend of products released to the mark bearing old-school styling, or the re-release of the originals from the ’70s, ’80s and ’90s. These types of nostalgic products aren’t isolated to fashion and footwear, but have been a trend among tech manufacturers for quite some time now as well. With technology, however, the pros of recreating an exact replica of an older product may not always hold up to modern standards, especially correlating the price versus the quality of the end result. We’ve already witnessed the success of the Fujifilm Instax range, which introduced an instant camera to the market with stylings from the archives, while introducing modern improvements to the technology. A few years ago, Fujifilm launched their X-series cameras, which combines the looks of the retro camera with the technology of modern cameras.
We received the Fujifilm X-T100 for review, which is an entry-level, mirrorless camera. It’s aimed at beginners and offers enough under the hood to allow them to progress sufficiently with their photography exploration. The camera slots in between the X-A5 aimed at the novice, and the X-T20, which has a few more advanced features. The unit offers modern features such as Bluetooth and WiFi transfers and a 24MP, APSC sensor.
Build and Design
There’s no escaping the retro look of the X-T100. The unit has great appeal for the collector, while also offering enough under the hood for many casual photographers. The model is available in three colours; black, dark silver and champagne gold. The unit is a base black, plastic finish with grooves across the body to resemble the classic camera of the 80s. The unit is fairly heavy at 448g. Even with a largely plastic outer covering, the frame of the camera is made of metal, giving it very solid build quality.
Despite its classic design, the unit still carries many of the modern-day features in terms of its button layout and scattered shortcut keys. Unlike a few of the older cameras with a single control dial, the X-T100 has three. The main control dial toggles between the various shooting modes, while the other two have no indicators on them. The reason for this is that these two dials are customisable and change based on the main control dial’s selection. For example, using the Aperture Priority mode, the rear dial is a shortcut to adjust the aperture, with the top right-hand dial setting the exposure. There’s another left-hand side dial, which by default manages the film simulation modes, which is also customisable.
The remaining buttons are a bit of a mixed bag. For starters, I like that they are flush against the body of the camera, which makes the design a little better. However, it’s not really all that practical. Pressing of the buttons isn’t always the easiest thing to do, often times needing the outer portion of your nail to create sufficient pressure for it to register, as they don’t have enough travel as a clear indication that you’ve made a successful press. In addition to this not-so-well thought out button layout, the four-way controller isn’t ideally placed either. While they are within easy reach of the right-hand thumb, it also falls within the resting region, which means your grip has to be especially light to avoid clicking any of the shortcuts while taking a photo. There is a nifty workaround, though, by selecting and holding the menu button down for 4-5 seconds, locks these buttons, which means you don’t have to worry about accidentally changing any settings and ruining the shot.
Despite its classic design, the unit still carries many of the modern-day features…
The LCD frame can be swivelled in quite a few different positions, as you change your positioning for the perfect shot. The frame can tilt upward by 120° and downward by 45°. In addition to this, it can also flip open by 180° and then tilt again through the same angles. It’s not the full 360° some would want, but it does a decent enough job for you to manage anyway. The brackets of the mechanism feel sturdy and secure enough thanks to more metal, which, again, adds a little extra to the overall weight. In terms of the usefulness of the 3” LCD, it has touchscreen capabilities, as well as basic swipe gestures. The touchscreen support can easily adjust the focus point in any shot, depending on the selected mode, which is extremely useful. It is worth mentioning that your gestures have to be fairly quick, as a slow swipe often results in the changing of the focus point on the screen.
The X-T100 houses an electronic viewfinder, which has an OLED display with 2.36 million dots and 0.62x magnification for optimum viewing. The screen itself has a very good colour reproduction and fast refresh rate, allowing you to get a good idea of what the final photo will look like after the shot. The viewfinder is off by default, but it activated by means of a proximity sensor when you move your eye towards the viewfinder.
The camera has a 15-45mm power zoom lens that’s included in the contents of the X-T100, which offers a good range. The size of the lens puts the camera in the mid-size category. In addition to this, the unit also has a microphone jack via the 2.5mm port. It’s not your standard port, so you may have to search around for a converter of some sorts.
The X-T100 includes a 24.2MP APS-C CMOS sensor, which comes with a bayer array. This is a more cost-effective option, which means it does affect quality. That said, we’re not talking about bad quality images, but it won’t be higher-end, professional shots. On the positive side, it also means that users can get a much broader ISO range. The range is adjustable from 100 to 51,200. There are two points worth mentioning here. The first being that if you wish to use RAW images, the ISO is limited between 200 and 12,800. The other caveat is that manually setting the ISO at times has a few undesirable results, which doesn’t match against the standard ISO settings.
Moving onto the video capabilities, the unit is capable of shooting in 4K. The limitation, however, is that the frame rate is capped at 15fps. If I’m honest, there’s very little point to shooting a film in 4K if you’re unable to benefit from a smoother image due to low frame rates. I would suggest shooting in 1080p HD mode for a better balance between resolution and frame rate. The benefit of offering 4K, in this case, is that you can shoot burst shots at 8MP at 15fps. This works great for images. Using the burst mode at the highest resolution has a lower frame rate of 6fps, which is still fairly usable for imagery.
…the unit is capable of shooting in 4K. The limitation, however, is that the frame rate is capped at 15fps…
I’ve already mentioned the 15-45mm zoom lens in the previous section. The full list of features includes a focal length of 23-68mm, providing a slightly wider than standard shots. The lens works well for a wide variety of your everyday shots without requiring an additional lens or two in your kit. That said, when attempting to take the perfect zoomed in a landscape shot, the zoom lacks the true range. The electronic zoom is a bit laggy and wonky, as it sometimes doesn’t zoom in/out when you choose to, either lagging in its response, or users having to release the zoom and then try again. If you’re aiming to shoot many landscape shots, I would suggest investing in one of the Fujifilm X-series lenses with better zoom capabilities.
The X-T100 also includes both Bluetooth and Wi-Fi image transfer to your smartphone via an app. All of the connections can be managed from within the app, so you don’t have to connect to the device via the Bluetooth and/or Wi-Fi settings menu. Once you’re done, the originals settings are restored and you’re able to continue normal use without needing to reconnect to the Wi-Fi, etc. I loved the efficiency of this feature. Where the connectivity to the camera lacks, is that it isn’t all that fast in providing the user with a thumbnail in order to select the images they wish to transfer. Adding to this, users can also control the camera snap via the smartphone, which means you can take better self-portraits and the likes. And it works very well, too.
Performance and Image Quality
Getting used to the X-T100 isn’t as easy as many other entry-level to mid-range cameras. For the average camera, you’ll simply have to switch it on, turn the toggle to the Auto mode and you’re off to the races. There are elements of that on the X-T100, but for quite a lot of the early shots, I had to spend some time adjusting the settings to set it to the best “auto” mode for any environment. I lost quite a bit of quality shots when I attempted to take some photos at a kids’ birthday party, having concluded my test shots indoors. The biggest issue was that the camera wasn’t able to easily adjust between the light and dark shots, leaving the outdoor shots extremely washed and overexposed, with the images under the shade very dark. Lesson learned. Once I managed to get this right, however, the images were quite a lot better.
The touchscreen support was very useful, especially in terms of focal point, irrespective of whether you’re using automatic or manual focus. There are a few other adjustments that can be made directly onscreen as well, making it quite convenient. When it comes to tracking focus, however, this poses a few more challenges. More frequently than not I was unable to successfully track an object across its path, which meant that it wasn’t always in focus when reviewing the snapped image.
The X-T100 falls somewhere between entry-level and mid-range…
When it comes to the battery life of the unit, it’s fairly good. During the 3-week review period, I only required to charge the battery once. This including all the Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connectivity tests and transfers, continuous on/off toggles and a huge amount of time spent setting up the camera for the different tests. In addition to this, I also forgot the camera on a few times when using the Bluetooth remote option, which isn’t an issue as the unit goes into standby mode after a few minutes in any event. Where the battery did consume more life was during the 4K video testing, which is to be expected. At the same time, however, compared to many other DSLR cameras in a similar price range, the battery life on the X-T100 could be improved, even though users may not have too many issues with it unless direct comparisons are made. I always found that the 3-bar battery gauge to be a little short of information, but it isn’t too much of an issue with the X-T100, which can be charged by means of a USB cable, which is what I tested. The charge time isn’t all that bad either, with little over two hours to fully charge, even when the unit is in use.
For many, the X-T100 may be considered an entry-level camera due to its pricing, but in the South African market, there are quite a number of lower priced units, although for varying reasons. The X-T100 falls somewhere between entry-level and mid-range in that case. As such, you should expect imagery that’s above-par for entry-level units. Thankfully, and for the most part, it does. Once you’ve managed to set the camera in your preference, you’ll be able to get a fair amount of crisp, sharp and brightly coloured images. For users that make use of photo editing software, there are additional advantages shooting RAW images on the X-T100, with slightly more detail. That said, it’s not the easiest to manage RAW images directly on your smartphone, so users may be best served to select both RAW and JPEG output, depending on the capacity of their SD cards. In addition to this, users can also choose a wide selection of colour and monochrome shots, as well as a few advanced filters to your personal taste. That said, with the array of filter software currently available for free, I don’t recommend using these while snapping your images. It’s much better to apply a post-capture filter and being able to adjust the images to your preference, rather than selecting one and having to stick to it.
The noise levels on the X-T100 are fairly well-managed overall. The detail across the lower ISOs are retained until around ISO1600. Above this, you’ll start to notice some graining, but not immediately obvious if you’re not looking for it. It’s also worth noting that there’s a difference between the noise reduction algorithm between JPEG and RAW images, with preference on clearer images on the latter over performing any reduction. For very low-light shots such as night time, the camera doesn’t offer the best automatic settings. Users are will be left having to set up their cameras again. I experimented with a variety of adjustments taking photos of the night sky during a full moon, with the results ranging from really bad to very useful. Taking photos of the moon proved a little tricky, even when using a tripod, again as a result of the limited zoom range of the lens.
The Fujifilm X-T100 has the looks of an old-school, retro camera, with all the functionality of a modern one. There are quite a number of useful features on the unit, with great build quality to boot. Although the overall image quality isn’t the greatest, comparatively speaking, it can still deliver some great quality shots when the conditions are perfect. That said, the unit does sit between the entry-level and mid-range categories, with a retail price of R7,999. The biggest issue that the X-T100 has as a mirrorless camera in this price range is that there are quite a number of quality mid-range DSLR cameras, often times at lower price points.
The Fujifilm X-T100 has a great set of features for the intermediate photographer, as well as delivering decent photos with some tinkering.
- Retro styling
- Great feature set
- Viewfinder features
- ISO range for RAW images
- 4K limited to 15fps
- Touchscreen focus stability
Ease of Learning
Ease of Use
Value for Money