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Fujifilm X100t review - hands on with what may be the best compact camera viewfinder ever

Tom Morgan
16 Sep 2014
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We try out the world's first electronic rangefinder on Fuji's latest flagship premium compact

When Fujifilm announced the X100T premium fixed lens compact ahead of the Photokina show, we were worried it would be a mere incremental update to the (admittedly excellent) X100S. We still went into Fuji's booth optimistic, however, and were blown away by the unique "world's first" hybrid rangefinder.

As with the X100S, a lever switch on the front of the camera which flips between an optical viewfinder and an electronic one. However, it can be tough to tell exactly what you're focused on when shooting in manual mode with the optical finder. On the X100T, flipping the switch to the opposite side brings the electronic overlay into the corner of the optical view, displaying a zoomed-in image of the focus point. It also adjusts for parallax, the gap between the shooting range frame and the actual shooting range, in real time, moving the frame with the focusing distance.

You can get a better of how the two viewfinder modes work in our X100S review, which explains the differences in detail, but suffice to say a digital readout overlaid on top of an optical viewfinder is a revelation for anyone coming from a purely electronic EVF. As you move the focusing point the digital display moves with it, letting you keep the entire frame in view using the optical finder but ensure your image is perfectly in focus.

Fuji has stayed faithful to the retro-inspired original X100 with the new model, which shows a clear lineage in both silver and black colours. It's one of the larger premium compacts, but justafiably so; with an in-built ND filter, integrated flash, twin mode dials and plenty of physical buttons, it's about as feature-packed as fixed lens compacts get. It's just a shame Fuji hasn't added a tiltable screen, as the LCD remains fixed here.

The X100T is almost identical to the X100S in terms of physical dimensions, but Fuji has rearranged the buttons on the rear of the camera for better ergonomics when shooting. The Drive mode button is now next to the rear thumb dial, the quick menu button is closer to your thumb's natural resting position and the four-way menu buttons have shrunk to make room for the larger 3in screen. With no labels it's confusing at first as to what they do when shooting, and even though you can program them all to your own preferred functions we're hoping Fuji makes this a little clearer for the final model.

The aperture ring on the lens now covers 1/3 stops, while the exposure compensation dial on the top of the camera now covers the +3 to -3 EV range. Fuji has also added Wi-Fi, a first for an X-series camera, which should make transferring and sharing photos to a smartphone much easier.

Inside, Fuji hasn't made many major changes from the X100S. It retains the same 23mm, f/2 lens, paired with a 16-megapixel APS-C sensor and no optical low pass filter. However, we were blown away by image quality from the X100S, so we're hoping to see similar results from the new model. Unfortunately this means sensitivity remains unchanged, with a standard ISO 200-6,400 range extendable up to 51,200; it would have been nice to see higher (and lower) standard sensitivities added to the new model, at least when shooting in RAW.

As it is, the autofocus feels a lot quicker, macro distance closer and the ability to adjust exposure compensation when filming video in manual mode is welcome indeed. We weren't able to test the Classic Chrome film simulation mode, but based on feedback from the people we spoke to that have been using pre-production versions of the camera for a week or two, it's a must-use addition that creates beautiful, film-like stills.

According to Fuji, the X100T should be on sale in the UK from November onwards, with an RRP of £1,000 for both the black and silver models. We'll have to wait until we get a final model in for review to see whether it can justify that premium price, but based on what we've seen so far it's a seriously impressive piece of kit that we can't wait to get in for a closer look.