The Fuji TCL-X100 is the new teleconverter for x100s (and x100 as well). It simply converts your x100s from a 35mm to a 50mm camera. I had read quite few reviews before deciding to buy one, in the end I love the documentary feeling of the 35mm. What triggered me to do it was flexibility. With the Fuji TCL-X100, you have one of the best cameras in two different versions.
As you may already know, our reviews are never pixel perfect. I don’t know how much the Fuji TCL-X100 weights, or how big it is. And for what matters, I am not going to find out. What you will find out today is going to be how I felt with my Fuji x100s and the Fuji TCL-X100 on top of it, what I loved, what I disliked and the general outcomes of my first hours with it.
Please remember that the x100s is my main camera. Currently I photograph 100% of my subject with it.
Feelings about the Fuji TCL-X100
When I opened the box, the first thing I notice about the Fuji TCL-X100 was its packaging: it was just lush, as the rest of the Fuji X series. Then I held the tele converted in my hand and I felt its weight. It felt quite light, but after adding it to my camera, I felt the difference in weight. Not huge, but still noticeable if you, like me, love the featherlight feeling of the Fuji x100s. Mounting the tele converter on the camera is simple: you just screw it on top of the lens, and the job is done.
Fuji TCL-X100 and the Optical ViewFinder
I started using the Fuji TCL-X100 without having the proper firmware installed on the camera, this is why some of the metadata in my files are not correct. I could still use the Electronic VewFinder (EVF) of the x100s, but I was not able to use the Optical ViewFinder (OVF). Few minutes later, with the latest firmware installed, the camera was showing the right frame even in the OVF. Being so used to using the optical mode, the Fuji TCL-X100 makes your life slightly harder, as the frame in the optical viewfinder is smaller, but the EVF is a good solution.
I guess this tele lens will push me to use the EVF a little bit more, which could be a good thing.
I had read that with the Fuji TCL-X100 on, the x100s was much slower and imprecise in focussing. I have done my tests and I have to admit that I cannot see a sensible reduction in the focussing speed, which I am very happy about. The camera with the tele lens attached struggles a little bit more in tough conditions (shooting backlit in a high contrast environment for example), but nothing I couldn’t easily manage.
The worst fears about having a camera which would be a hell to use are gone!
Changing your perspective
It may sound really silly, but to me, passing from a 35mm to a 50mm involves a change of personal perspective. It is not that the Fuji TCL-X100 changes your approach, I am changing it. I have always seen the 35mm as the perfect lens to tell a story, and I am so much in love with the x100s because it forces me to look at every situation, making the most out of my eyes. I tend to step back and tell a story through my images, be them for a Boudoir session or for a portrait. Mounting the Fuji TCL-X100 I saw my mentality shifting a lot: not only I had a narrower field of view, but I was drawn closer to my subject. The story become more about details, more about those kind of shots I avoid taking with the Fuji x100s, but that with the Fuji TCL-X100 mounted on top of it, with less distortion, I can take. This way my shift in approach.
Why do I love the Fuji TCL-X100 so much?
I love the Fuji x100s for its amazing qualities and for being perfect for documenting a story; however, from time to time I miss the possibility to get closer, to alternate wide shots with details. With the Fuji TCL-X100, I am given the possibility to do it, to switch my field of view and my approach in few seconds.
It is true that a normal camera with two lenses would be the same, but because the x100s is my camera (and I am not interested in changing it), the Fuji TCL-X100 is the perfect companion to allow me to give different feel to my images. If you have a x100s already, I would not hesitate to suggest this tele adapter to allow you more variety.
And for its price, is absolutely worth it.
What would I change?
The Fuji TCL-X100 screws on top of the 23mm lens of the Fuji x100s. There are no moveable parts, no electronics in it. The camera does not know when the tele converter is on. You need to tell the x100s that you are using the converter through a menu item. If you use the Fuji TCL-X100 most of your time, or just if you do not put on and off the Fuji TCL-X100 often, this is not going to be an issue. But if you are looking for quickly putting up the Fuji TCL-X100 and using it, then the normal setup is not going to be optimal. A solution would be to set the function button to the tele converter selector; the downside of doing it is that you lose a quick access to your ISO settings.
I would love the x100s to automatically recognise the presence of the Fuji TCL-X100!
Apart from this, my first hours with my x100s and the tele converter have been a breeze and the latter had been a great (and relatively inexpensive) addition!
Now I will have to balance how and when to use it. Until now, without the Fuji TCL-X100 available, I had to think more and work around my story with my mind and feet. It is a welcomed challenge!