A few days ago Billy, one of the Fuji Guys, handed me the new TCL-X100 to try out on my Fuji X100s.
The X100 was not only my first Fujifilm camera but my first fixed focal length camera. I eventually upgraded to the X100s and I love it as it's the camera I always have with me.
The 35mm & 50mm FOV are classics. I was a 35mm guy and now have transitioned to loving the 50mm FOV. Not to say both won't have their place in my photography but I do favour one over the other.
The Feel of the TCL-X100
Fuji has yet to ask me to design a lens but the wide conversion and the tele's physical stature seem to me like they should switch bodies. The wide-conversion lens (WCL) has a 49mm filter size and is 1.5 inches in length. While the tele conversion lens (TCL) has a 67mm filter size and is 1.8 inches long. The TCL even has a convex shape to the front piece of glass like a wide angle. Strange. But I'll leave lens design to the experts.
The TCL definitely adds bulk to the X100s. You won't be able to slide the X100s into your pocket with the TCL attached.. not comfortably at least. The filter adapter & lens hood live on my X100s because I prefer the ergonomics when holding the camera. When I was first handed this seemingly giant piece of glass I was worried. Luckily it is not as heavy as it looks. At about 180 grams you will notice it is on the camera but I carried it around for 2 days with me and I never did the added weight bother me.
So enough about touching it.. does it make photographs?
Using the TCL-X100
I very quickly enjoyed using the TCL on my X100s. Like I said before, I love the 50mm FOV. And having that on a camera that I love really brings a smile to my face.
Focusing is just as fast as without using the TCL. Obviously there are not any moving parts inside the TCL that have anything to do with it but the extra glass doesn't impact focusing speed.
Update(05/14): I read Kevin Lee's review of the TCL on The Phoblographer site. He states that the AF speed & reliability was "appalling". I have been using the TCL for 2 weeks and have not experienced any issues with AF speed or reliability. At all. I have done focus tests of the same targets with and without the TCL and the speed and accuracy remains the same. I don't know if it is a localized problem with his copy or what.
When shooting I switch between the Optical View Finder (OVF) & Electronic View Finder (EVF). The TCL enters the frame lines on the OVF but I am pretty used to that from using the X-Pro1. It is still very usable.
Of note the built-in flash and focus assist lamp will be somewhat blocked by the TCL which I haven't had to deal with yet. The filter adapter & hood also do this but not to the same extent.
The close focusing distance is 14 cms from the sensor plane while using macro mode. So you can fill the frame while making a portrait. I never saw a problem with distortion.. whether it is controlled by the lens or via corrections in camera I don't know.
I find the TCL to be plenty sharp for my needs. I am not a big pixel peeper and the only "peeping" I do is to confirm my focus point. For those who want.. nay.. need a hundred percent crop.. here you go.. a photo taken at 1/40th of a second handheld of an antique radio with lettering that isn't the most crisp to begin with..
Looking at photos closer than anyone should and wishing something was small enough to fit inside a pocket inside of a pocket is fun.. but I like making photographs with the kit I test the same way I make any photos.
The day I received the TCL I visited my sister and went with her to pick my niece of from school.. from there we went on a walk through a natural area here in Calgary and I documented it along the way. I really like the narrower depth of field with the TCL and I love the 'bokeh' it produces wide open.
Even with added size this is still a compact system and it was easily carried while hiking these trails. It wasn't cumbersome at all.
This tele-converter for the X100/s is something that some shooters have been waiting for since the X100 was released in 2011. If it would make the profile of the camera smaller I would of preferred a fixed 50mm FOV lens in a X100s body. But this is the next best thing.
The main advantage for me in having the TCL is that I can treat my X100s as a fixed lens 50mm FOV camera body. I am not interested in taking on and putting off a tele-converter as I am walking around and carry a bag to store it in, etc. I like just throwing the camera over my shoulder and heading out. Whether I go out with a 35mm FOV or 50mm FOV will depend on what I am photographing.
A problem I see is when I am thinking about what lenses to take with me I can easily settle the argument by only taking my X100s.. that way I can focus on making photographs with the 35mm FOV.. done. No further internal struggle required. Will I go back and forth about it now?
For photographers with only a X100/s this could be a 3 focal length system for them. 28/35/50 FOV.. on a camera with a f/2 aperture, great high ISO capabilities and a silent leaf shutter.
So.. in my opinion if you already have a Fuji x-series interchangeable camera there is no better 50mm FOV lens than the XF 35mm 1.4 R.. it is my favorite lens. I would buy that before buying the TCL-X100.
For those with just a X100/s and are longing for more reach.. like for portraiture.. your wish has come true.
This post is just my first impressions based on 3 days of using it. I am hoping over the next week to use the TCL-X100 to make more portraits.. in concert with the Fuji Instax Share SP-1 printer I think it will be a great combination for street portraits. I will report back with my findings.
Disclaimer: I am an Official Fujifilm X-Photographer. Fujifilm Canada allows me to test new products to review and provide my feedback to them. I am not paid by them and they encourage me to be candid and honest in my opinions.. which I am.