First thoughts. Minimum cost and size to meet my needs. GAS Relief: FUJIFILM X-T100

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Update: Still a great looking and capable tool for stills, but I have found that despite its video-friendly articulating screen and mic port it is not suitable for video due to unfortunate AF performance. More here.
I have tried for years to find a cost-effective and compact every day digital camera solution. The goal is a camera that:
  • WIll fit in a jacket pocket.
  • Has caveat free, no excuses IQ.
  • Easy on the eyes.
  • Decent controls and ergonomics.
  • Has an EVF.
  • Is an affordable non GAS (gadget acquisition syndrome) driven solution.
The EOS M50 is great on paper, but the lens selection is poor and it just does not do it for me aesthetically. The last part won’t make you shoot better, but if I am going to carry a camera everywhere good looks would not hurt. Full frame solutions, like the Leica Q, EOS RP, or A7 models, are too big and/or too dear for pocket-friendly everyday use. The rundown of past contestants I have tried:
  • Sony RX100 series
    • Pluses.
      • Great IQ for such a small sensor.
      • Zoom is convenient.
    • Why not?
      • Ergonomics suffered. Too small for my beef mitts.
      • Not a fan of the popup EVF.
      • I would prefer a brighter fixed prime rather than a zoom.
      • Would trade a larger build for the ability to change lenses.
      • Physics. While impressive you can only do so much with a 1″ sensor.
  • Olympus PEN F
    • Pluses.
      • Gor-jus. A great looking camera.
      • Great IQ for a MFT sensor.
      • Great, affordable lens selection.
      • Nice stills 4K functionality.
    • Why not?
      • Once you acclimate to the looks it is a regular camera with a fancy dial that cannot be reprogrammed.
      • MFT has its limits.
  • Panasonic G7
    • Pluses.
      • Great control layout.
      • Great IQ for a MFT sensor.
      • Great, affordable lens selection.
      • Nice stills 4K functionality. Strong video performance.
    • Why not?
      • Looks convincing, but feels like the hollow plastic body it is.
      • No phase detect focusing.
      • MFT has its limits.
  • Olympus EP-5 and EP-L5
    • Pluses.
      • Great IQ for a MFT sensor.
      • Great, affordable lens selection.
    • Why not?
      • No EVF. Add on is clumsy in real-world use.
      • MFT has its limits.
  • Ricoh GR
    • Pluses.
      • A great lens means great IQ.
      • Very compact with great ergonomics and controls.
    • Why not?
      • Would trade a larger build for the ability to change lenses.
      • In my experience, the APS-C sensor did not impress.
  • Samsung NX300
    • Pluses.
      • For a dead mount walking it has an impressive feature set.
        • Face detect.
        • Great touch screen implementation.
      • Very good IQ.
      • Attractive metal top body.
    • Why not?
      • No EVF included or available as add on.
      • Old as Methuselah and Samsung dropped support long ago.
  • Sony a6000

Complicated. Really tried. On paper, a Sony E mount camera should be it for me since that is what is in my big boy camera time bag. But…

I have been trying to stick with the one mount thing for a smaller APS-C solution. But after three attempts I have to finally admit that I just do not like the Sony a6xxx cameras. Not one of them. Even the newest and most expensive models do not interest me because they:

  • Have unfortunate ergonomics.
  • Have the same old sensor since the a6000 and it shows.
  • Have unsatisfactory screen articulation. I wanted at least one camera in my bag that had a 180 degree side swivel screen (like the X-T100 or EOS M50). The very expensive Sonys a6###s do have 180 vertical flip screens, but they either flip up blocking the hot shoe and limiting mic use (Sony a6600 for example) or down blocking the tripod mount (Nikon z50 for example).
  • Have no good pancake solutions available. The 20mm f/2.8 and the power zoom pancake lenses are not good IQ wise. They both regularly disappointed hence the low gallery count for both. The good existing and newly released APS-C lenses are large and expensive and along with full-frame lenses defeat the whole purpose of having a compact camera.

Had heard a rumor at one time that they were going to release a little A7 SLR-ish body APS-C Sony, but that rumor was not true. Add a new sensor and I would be here for that assuming they kept the price reasonable and the body small. I was disappointed when the new Sony APS-C cameras were announced recently. The same camera design, sensor, and new expensive lenses were not what I was looking for. And if they do release a DSLR-ish body that does not address the lack of a decent pancake lens.

A recent realization has me wondering if an old friend has the solution I have been looking for. The realization is that a model has gone on sale.

Maybe I was inspired by the recent GW acquisition?

Fuji GW690III

Return to Fuji-La, perhaps?

Fuji La

Fuji’s have been what I wanted in an APS-C camera. I almost pulled the trigger a few times, but could not decide what line and vintage. Loved the looks and ergonomics of the X-Pro # line, the features of the X-T# line and the good value of the X-T #0 line. Annoyingly they all held their value well and are larger than I would like for a carry-around camera.

I like the X100 line, but their premium price and fixed lenses were deal breakers. I looked at the X-E# line, but the screen does not articulate at all and it was pricey.

Enter the sale price X-T 100.

The X-T 100 flew under my radar somehow. I watched the DPReview review and the only real ding had to do with video. I rarely shoot video, but I never looked at the camera again.

Had not looked at Fuji lenses in a while, but thought, like Sony, that their lenses were all too big and expensive.

Then I realized a couple of things.

Body:

When I saw the sale price for the X-T100 new that was cheaper than every other Fuji I was looking at new or used I took a closer look. A 30% drop from $499 to $349 changes things. What I noticed this time:

  • One ups the PEN-F with a dedicated dial at the top for film simulations. And unlike the PEN-F the dial can be reprogrammed.
  • It has a new articulating touch screen and viewfinder that would not be out of place on a much more expensive camera.
  • Has 24MP sensor tech for less money than a 16MP X-Pro1 used.
  • While video and AF-C are limited compared to more expensive small Sonys it offers much better aesthetics, ergonomics, and IQ for a lot less money. You can even dress it up a bit with a two-tone champagne gold or gray model. I went with all black since my local shop had a leftover kit that included the $299 15-45mm PZ for only $50 more.
  • It has a built-in flash that I really like for easy fill in a pinch.
  • Even with its SLR shape, it is still very small. (Comparison here.).
  • Has consumer features right on the dial, like panorama, so they can be accessed without menu diving.

Lens:

Not sure how, but back when I shot Fuji I had no idea the 27mm f/2.8 pancake existed. And unlike near every other Fuji lens, it actually depreciates quite a bit (KEH Listing.). Picked one up from KEH for much less (almost $200) than new. Solid reviews, great Flickr samples, and even Ken Rockwell likes it.

So new camera and lens for less than most any other camera body I was seriously considering. Feel like I am getting an interchangeable lens X100 for hundreds less.

I have been attempting to use a “pro level” full-frame camera like the A7 for daily use (not optimal) or force myself to use a camera with unfortunate ergonomics and meh IQ for casual use because it uses lenses I have (also not optimal). Hoping this camera works out.

Too early to tell if it will be a keeper, but I just got it last night and initial impressions are favorable. Downsides first.

Minuses:

  • 4K at 15fps. Basically useless, but I do not shoot video often at all and when I do it is at 1080p since that better fits my needs. This is a stills camera that can shoot video and do light blog duty when need be.
  • Some mention 6fps, but that is fine for my needs and day one continuous focus speeds are also fine for my needs.
  • Given the price point nothing else really. I do not believe anyone is or should be, looking for top video and sports specs from such a small and affordable camera.

Pluses:

  • A looker in all black. I intended to buy a gold two-tone copy, to jazz it up a bit but bought an all-black copy from my favorite local store to get a near free lens and it is still quite a handsome little camera.

FujiFilm X-T100

  • Best screen articulation I have ever owned. I personally do not like the small flip hinge swivel front-facing screen solutions like I have had on a few cameras. Much better than the over engineered setup on the Pentax K-1s I owned. This new to me solution is pretty slick. (Pardon the dust.)

FujiFilm X-T100

  • I really like the jacket pocket-friendly grip-free profile of the camera. Also surprised a just big enough small grip is provided for free. Free? That is appreciated.

FujiFilm X-T100

  • Really like the small flash. My NX300 does not have a flash and I like this more traditional setup over the popup arm of the a6000.

FujiFilm X-T100

  • The port doors are well implemented and close confidently.

FujiFilm X-T100

  • The top plate and dials are aluminum, feel good to the touch, and belie the low cost of the camera.

FujiFilm X-T100

  • Great, clear viewfinder.

FujiFilm X-T100

  • USB charging.
  • Great phone app with WiFi and Bluetooth. You can even do firmware updates through the app.
  • While it does have very consumer-friendly features like all auto modes it also has all of the necessary manual controls anyone would need.
  • Most entry-level cameras sacrifice control dials, but this camera has three.
  • Really like the film simulation dial. Actually fun to use.
  • The rear dial is well built and has a push function that includes acting as a shutter in selfie mode.

FujiFilm X-T100

  • And most importantly a great photography experience. Very similar to the results I remember from the more expensive Fuji models I once owned.
    • Detail filled 24MP images.
    • The phase focusing system is plenty fast and accurate.
    • Great IQ and colors.
    • Quick lowlight test shots.
  • Mechanical shutter up to a humble 1/4000s, but all digital shutter brings 1/32,000s.
  • Really liking the 4K burst and multi-focus stills features. Nice to have and wonderfully implemented.

Already had the opportunity to put the X-T 100 and PZ to use today at a parade and it did very, very well. Very intuitive in use. It was perfect for the task, I did not miss my larger gear, and was able to get the kit in my jacket pocket even with the zoom. This is exactly what I wanted this set up for. Here is an ongoing sample gallery and here are some sample shots:

FujiFilm X-T100

FujiFilm X-T100

FujiFilm X-T100

FujiFilm X-T100

FujiFilm X-T100

FujiFilm X-T100

FujiFilm X-T100

There is no reason I could not use this camera for real photography work. Add a Godox trigger and it would be a great fit for my current flash gear. I could very well use this to build a small kit for travel work or if I just do not want the risk of loss or weight burden of my main kit. I would easily recommend this camera to any user on any level. This is all the camera most would need. All for much less than a grand with a couple of lenses.

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