Fujifilm TCL-X100 teleconverter for X100/S samples gallery
The Fujifilm TCL-X100 is a screw-in teleconverter for the X100 and X100S which increases the effective focal length of their 23mm F2 lens to 50mm. We've been shooting with the TCL-X100 for a few days now, in a range of different situations and light levels to see how it performs in everyday use. Read on for our first impressions, and follow the links to see our sample images.
Experience with Fujifilm TCL-X100
By Barnaby Britton
I've been an X100 and X100S user for about three years now. There are many things that I appreciate about both cameras, but chiefly what keeps me coming back to them is their relatively small size, almost silent shutter and excellent, very sharp 35mm equivalent prime lens. I've played around with the WCL-X100 screw-in wide converter, which provides a 28mm (equivalent) field of view and while I've always been impressed by the minimal quality degradation, 28mm isn't useful enough to me that I attach it very often.
The design philosophy and operation of the TCL-X100 is exactly the same as the older WCL-X100, but rather than taking the effective focal length down, it increases it from 35mm to 50mm equivalent. This might seem like a relatively modest increase, but the difference between 35mm and 50mm is pretty significant for the sort of photos that the X100 and X100S do best - candid portraiture and street-type shooting.
Like the older WCL-X100 the TCL-X100 is attached by screwing it onto the front of the camera's lens, and in-camera geometric corrections are activated using a menu option. With the menu option activated, a small yellow symbol is also displayed in the viewfinder to remind you that the corrections are being applied but there is no electronic connection between the camera and TLC-X100 (so you'll need to remember to activate / deactivate the menu option when you attach or detach the lens).
With the converter attached, the X100S is instantly less discreet. The conversion lens really does add a lot of bulk to the front of the camera, and its huge, convex front element is hard to miss (and indeed hard to keep clean).
If you're a fan of the camera's optical viewfinder you'll find that the framelines are corrected for the longer effective focal length (assuming you've remembered to activate the menu option after downloading the latest X100 or X100S firmware) but the converter occludes the lower right-hand quadrant of the image area. The electronic viewfinder experience is, of course, unaffected.
In use, the TLC-X100 is pretty much trouble-free. Autofocus isn't quite as reliable when faced with low contrast subjects in poor light with the lens attached, but not to the extent that I found it seriously limiting. The only thing I found that I really needed to change was the maximum shutter speed threshold in the automatic ISO menu setting. I can safely hand-hold the X100/S at around 1/30sec without the TCL-X100 attached, but this is risky at an equivalent focal length of 50mm so I upped it to 1/60. If you habitually use automatic ISO, this is something you might want to address. If you don't, just stick to the '1 over focal length' rule when it comes to shutter speed and you'll probably be fine.
As far as image quality is concerned, the combination of an X100S and TCL-X100 is capable of truly impressive results. In fact, looking through my sample images, I would challenge anyone to guess that they'd been taken through a large, multi-element additional lens. That said, the X100/S tend to deliver somewhat hazy images at close focusing distances, and this is equally true when the TCL-X100 is attached. It's not an issue beyond around 1m, but at focus distances closer than this, sharpness does drop off progressively.
As I've already mentioned, the X100 and X100S apply some automatic geometric corrections to images when the menu option for the TCL-X100 is activated. This makes a big difference, especially to distortion. You'll see in the sample gallery that I've included a couple of images of our studio test scene to illustrate this point. Shot from ~2m distance, the uncorrected image shows pretty severe pincushion distortion, which you'll definitely notice in linear scene elements. As such, you're really going to want to remember to activate that TCL-X100 menu option. It's worth noting here that our sample gallery consists almost exclusively of converted raw files, run through ACR 8.4, which honors the geometric corrections applied in-camera to JPEG files.
There are 44 images in our samples gallery. Please do not reproduce any of these images on a website or any newsletter / magazine without prior permission (see our copyright page). We make the originals available for private users to download to their own machines for personal examination or printing (in conjunction with this review), we do so in good faith, please don't abuse it.
Unless otherwise noted images taken with no particular settings at full resolution.