23 Mar

So, this is me with my brand new Fujifilm X100T. The little digital rangefinder APS-C camera and its 35mm f2 equivalent lens will be my personal system for the year 2015 and will follow me in my daily walks, family trips, night explorations, and whatever else may happen to happen. It is since 2008 that I yearly upgrade my personal camera, usually around February, when my birthday comes, and until this year it had always been with Sony cameras. Fact is, many used to calle me “the Sony guy”. So, why did I change brand? It’s a long story, almost a ballad.

It all started in 2008 with the Sony A350. It was my first DSLR. It also was the camera that brought me back, violently, into the passion for photography, which I had pun on hold in 2000, when I had to sacrifice almost all of my hobbies in order to keep the pace with my studies in biomedical engineering.

One year later, in 2009, I’ve got my first “serious” assignment, for which I upgraded to a second hand Sony A700. This was the camera that taught me how quick and precisely a professional photographer can (and should be expected to) work. 2010 was the year of the full frame upgrade with a second hand Sony A850, with which I finally gave full power to my old Minolta primes.

At this point it happened that the upgrades, while providing the image quality and system performance I needed to fit in the market of weddings and portraits, had caused such an increase in weight, size and general bulkiness, that I found myself more and more reluctant to bring the camera along in my free time. I had the cameras and lenses I sought for since my youth, and yet I didn’t like to bring them along. I know many photographers can relate with that.

For a while I solved the issue with analog cameras, such as the original LC-A for color positives and the Bessa R2 with the 35mm Color Skopar for bw negatives, but eventually in 2011, while Claudia was expecting Agata, I got a NEX-3 and moved into the mirrorless world. And I loved it. It would have been the perfect camera, especially when coupled with the pancake Voigtlander 35mm f2.5 Color Skopar, if it wasn’t for the absence of a viewfinder and enough dials to quickly control the camera, but luckily for me Sony answered my needs in 2012 when made the NEX-7 finally available in Europe. As you already know, I got one. Was it the perfect camera then?

With the NEX-7 my blog started, and my life changed. The NEX-7, coupled with the Color Skopar, opened my eyes and my mind to a completely different way of experiencing and producing photography, which brought me in a few months to Alaska for the NEX-6 promo and shortly after to one of the major Italian magazines with a whole editorial. My first solo exhibition was entirely produced with this combo, and one of those photos even ended up at the Photolux festival in 2013.

Set in manual mode it was the quickest system I’ve ever used since and even afterwards: I could magnify the scene for precise focusing just by pressing the AEL/AF button or tweak the white balance by pressing the top C button, I could operate the aperture straight from the lens, the shutter speed from one of the top dials of the NEX-7, the ISO from the rear dial, and the amazing electronic viewfinder would adjust the exposition, contrasts and colors in real-time. All with a speed and precision I never found on any system before or afterwards. Fact is, I deeply regret selling it.

What I didn’t like about the NEX-7 and had me sought for a “more perfect” camera where its issues with compact m-mount wide angle lenses (anything wider than a 50mm equivalent and faster than f4 would smear the edges horribly) and its so-and-so image quality above 1600ISO. Those were (at the time felt as) both critical issues for a guy who had just discovered his love (and talent) for night street and urban landscape photography. Luckily for me Sony seemed to listen to my needs and put the RX-1 on the market.

In an attempt solve the wide-angle and the high ISO issues while keeping the experience unaltered, I went for the RX-1, with its full frame 24MPx sensor (which is still one of the top performer for high ISO) and its 35mm f2 Zeiss lens (probably the best 35mm around). With the RX-1 I also tried to replicate the blog experience I had with the NEX-7, this time upgrading to a more challenging “12 projects” approach. It was a crucial and formative year, in which I had to trade improvisation with planning, and sometimes inspiration with commitment.

The high ISO quality and the overall image quality were just outstanding, better than I had hoped. This camera helped me realise my best work in terms of image quality so far. With it I produced artistic series I’m proud of such as Doll’s House, I’m Batman, X/Y PROJECT, Metamorfoodist, and the best portraits I’ve got of my daughter and my dog, as in Family Holidays and in Meet Shadow.

But when it came to the shooting experience, well, it was never even close to the one I had with the NEX-7. I often felt as I had to work around the quirks of the camera to get what I had in mind instead of having a tool opening new photographic approaches and options. Let me be straight: with the RX-1 I had a love-and-hate relationship.

The quirks were subtle and hard to justify, like the colour peaking available only in magnified mode, the focusing ring that required way too much turning to go from the close focus to infinity, no hyperfocal indicator nor anyway to stop the lens to focusing back to infinity every time the camera went into standby, all of which could have been overlooked if it wasn’t for the quite slow AF which became even worse in low-light.

While with the NEX-7 I never missed a shot, but I often had to erase a few of them because of the high ISO noise, with the RX-1 I never had to trash a shot, but I often missed some. Again I needed an upgrade, and this time I knew what I wanted: the RX-1 24MPx sensor with my 35mm Color Skopar on it. And again, Sony answered my prayers with the direct evolution of the NEX-7: the A7. Would that be that I finally could have my “perfect camera”.

In January 2014 I bought the A7, plugged the Color Skopar in it and went out shooting. Sad to say, I didn’t like the results. I couldn’t recognise the lens anymore. It was way softer than it used to be when on the NEX-7, the edges where kind of messy with smearing, and there was a lot of micro-shaking. Sure, once reduced the shutter speed to at least 1/125th or once shot in fast bursts I could avoid the shaking, but the first option worked against my “thirst for light” (with the NEX-7 I was able to shoot as slow as 1/15th without shaking, hence the A7 shaking was making me loose three stops of light, the same I had just gained thanks to high ISO performances), while the second made me way less inconspicuous (while the RX-1 leaf shutter had been a dream of silence, the A7 shutter was DSLR like, and a burst would set anyone on high alert).

In a desperate attempt to make the A7 work for my needs, I sold the Voigtlander lenses, my old Bessa R2, and the NEX-7 to buy the new zeiss lenses specifically designed for the A7 and its fast(er) AF. The 35mm f2.8 was just perfect in size, but way far from the RX-1’s 35mm in terms of quality and personality, while the 55mm f1.8 was bigger but incredibly good. Plus (and not a small one) my two old AF Minolta’s, the 85mm f1.4 and the 100mm f2.8 macro, worked flawlessly on the A7 thanks to the LA-EA4 adapter. So, here I was, finally able to go as wide as 35mm with good results, with the best 50mm around, plus the old-school, dreamy 85mm and 100mm coupled with DSLR-like AF. All with the best EVF around and a crazy good sensor. Did that mean that I was finally happy?

Unfortunately no, Quite the opposite. 2014 had been my saddest years, photographically speaking, and I don’t dare to put it all on the A7. If you look at my flickr account you’ll se how my personal photographic production drastically dropped in March 2014, as soon as I ended my second 365. Sure, I was tired. Sure, I needed sometime far from the blog, the forums (mostly), and flickr. But yet, a production of solely fourteen photographs out of the 2.378 I’ve published in the last seven years are too few to justify as due to tiredness or shyness.

Maybe it was because I didn’t have the blog anymore. That slowed me down a lot, for sure. And truth be told, the A7 is a fantastic camera, with I I produced the photographs published on Vogue Italia, and I’m sure the A7 MKII is even better, if it’s true that Sony managed to fix the few issues with the ergonomic that caused the micro-shaking, and to speed the AF up. So, why didn’t I go for the MKII this 2015, why couldn’t I entrusted it to be my yearly “perfect camera”?

Well, some of the reasons are not fully logical, like “I needed some fresh air” stuff. Some of you may even relate with them, but they would still be useless for camera-evaluation. Once I take them out of the equation, together with the very minor complaints, there’s basically only one remark that remains: full frame won’t get compact. That’s it.

In my search for quality, from the NEX-3 on, I had my “portable equipment” increasing in size until the moment, with the A7, in which it was too close to my DSLR equivalent. The only compact option was the okay-35mm, already with the excellent 50mm the camera was to big to stay in my jacket pocket. Let alone with any fast portrait lens. A good and fast full frame lens will always be a big and heavy lens. I ended up compromising portability for quality. But did I want to? Did it make sense? After all, I already had some DSLR which were as good if not better than the A7. So, why don’t just use them?

While photography is either your prevalent hobby or your main work, you all know that being out LOOKING FOR something to capture it’s all about ENJOYING THE ACT of photographing. Photographs do not take themselves, you need a camera to capture a moment, and you need to enjoy the camera during this act or you won’t be bothering to bring it along. Some lucky photographers have solved the issue with iPhones, but I wasn’t lucky on this one. I (still) need a (non DSLR) camera that looks like a (non DSLR) camera and works like a (DSLR) camera.

Off course when I’m on an assignment this is all different, I actually like to get so visible that people start getting out of the way and stop stepping between me and my subject. But not in my free time. So, you see, I “really needed” my “perfect camera” to be smaller, which, after the A7, meant APS-C or smaller.

In order to stay with Sony and go APS-C I would have had to downgrade to the A6000, which however lacks the control and customisation of the NEX-7, RX-1, and A7. Because the a6000 is not pro-designed. Why on Earth did they stop producing pro-designed APS-C mirrorless if they were the ones who invented them with the NEX-7?

Once I settled to look for solutions other than Sony I discovered the mirrorless world had quite expanded since my first look at it in 2011. The m4/3 had an incredible variety of excellent lenses and the DSLR-like performances in terms of responsiveness, AF, and roughness. Nikon and Canon had entered the market with mixed results. Samsung was producing some of the best reviewed cameras. Sigma had gone for the weirdest look. And Fujifilm, well Fujifilm was still the sexiest.

It took me three painful months to get to the point when I placed my order for the X100T, and I won’t bother you with all the research, nightmares, comparisons, etc. What I’ll tell you is that I tried really hard to buy me an Olympus E-M1, but I failed because I was unwilling to pay the current price for a 2013 camera while I know that the MKII is around the corner (probably end of 2015, according to most of the rumors around). But for a while I really wanted it, and maybe the 2016 “perfect camera” will be a m4/3.

But when I eventually read about the X100T and its “electronic rangefinder” technology I knew I had to give it a try. The X100T is compact, the high ISO performances are excellent, the AF is excellent, and the manual focus experience is just top notch. With it I can use the optical viewfinder while having a small EVF on the lower right corner to assess the exposition and to get perfect focusing. If it isn’t the best of both (OVF and EVF) worlds, well it’s damn close. And its lens is wide (35mm equivalent), fast (f2), and can be converted to either a 50mm equivalent and a 28mm equivalent by screwing a converter.

The X100T is also a weird camera. For example it comes without a filter ring or a hood. Once you put any of them on it, you understand why: they would protrude and become visible in the OVF (the hood goes further and actually obscures part of the frame, something any range finder shooter is well used to).
To activate the flash I have to deactivate two major options (silent mode and electronic shutter). It is unclear why the camera doesn’t do that by itself once instructed to activate the flash.

EDIT: The new firmware 1.10 partially fixed this issue. Now if shutter is on M+E (the best option)  the camera is able to automatically shut down the Electronic part and use the flash (when required). So it is “just” the silent mode that has to be disabled (if previously enabled) to “grey-out” the flash mode.

If I shoot in RAW (why should I shoot anything else than RAW?) the ISO settings are reduced to 200-6400.
It is impossible to scroll through zoomed-in photos. It’s something I’m used to in order to assess the shots with the best focus, but with the X100T I’m forced to zoom-in/zoom-out to scroll and check through a series of shots.

EDIT – while zooming in the preview it is possible to scroll through the photos and keep the zoom positioned in the same area by turning the focus ring. I know it is weird. But it works.

The X100T is definitely a downgrade in terms of image quality if compared to the A7 (low iso, high iso, even at pixel level). It’s not a bold statement, it’s just the same reality that every single honest review on the internet agrees on. But if I was concerned only about quality I could have just walked around with my D800 and the Sigma Art 35mm f1.4 on it. No, I was looking for the shooting experience, and when it comes down to it the X100T really shines. The X100T is the first camera I feel compelled to use at least as much as my old and beloved Bessa R2. Even my lovely NEX-7 had always been second to that one.

Does it mean I like the X100T more than I liked the NEX-7? It’s too early to answer that question, after all I lived a whole, intense year with the NEX-7 around my neck, and I knew it as it was part of my body. I’m still learning the X100T, I’m now in the phase in which every day I change something in the configuration, trying to make it fitter to my needs. What I like is to see that my needs are changing together with me using the camera. I think this is the discriminant of any really good camera system, that it answers to your needs while teaching you new ones.

Do you know the common sentence “it is not the camera, is just the photographer” the media like to sell to the public? Well, every photographer knows it is a lie. While it is obvious that any good photographer can take good photos regardless the camera, as well as any good soccer player is better than me regardless the shoes or the ball, it is also true that the camera plays a major role, and not only in terms of functions, but especially in terms of experience. The camera has the responsibility to help the photographer “enter the spot” and to keep him there. Otherwise all the time we spend choosing the camera to buy would be just pointless. We would buy the cheapest, wouldn’t we? Wait a moment… should we?

27 thoughts on “Fujifilm X100T – a step sideways on the quest for the “perfect camera””

  1. Ahh yes, Lovely reviews. I have the Sony NEX 6, never tried the A7 due to the reviews on the mirror slap vibration issue. The A7s and newer A7II supposedly resolve those issues. I had a Fuji X-E1 for a time. I hate the AF, the smearing of files, the missed focus. My Sony NEX 6 blows away the Fuji AF but the newer Fujis are supposedly nice. I would prefer the ergonomics of the Fuji X100T to my Sony NEX 6. It’s hard to believe any review these days on the photo forums. I haven’t found my perfect camera. I think the manufacturers do this on purpose. LOL!

    Anyway, I love the Sony NEX 6 for its compactness, ease of use, tilt screen, peak focus. I hate it for the noise past ISO 1600. But I hate their kit lenses, and don’t want to use other lenses on it. If they made a nice kit lens like Fuji did, this would be the perfect camera for everyday use, easy to carry in a bag. But the kit lens is crap.

    I love the Sigma DP Merrill cameras for their compactness yet they produce the closest files to film I’ve ever seen. The details and 3D color rendering are lovely and rival a Nikon D800E and Pentax 645 Digital system; all in a small compact unit. I hate the quirkiness and limitations in using them. No viewfinder. In today’s world that is just stupid. As much as people complain about them, and yes they are a pain, I am in love with these Sigma DP Merrill cameras. When you nail it, the files blow everything else away. Period. But I am wandering here. Most people want a lovely small camera with ability to switch lenses and compact size with a sensor that is large.

    I love the Ricoh GR camera. The files are sharp and the 28mm is awesome. So many cool features. It’s the best compact. But it is fixed, and no viewfinder. Again, just stupid to not include a viewfinder.

    I don’t own a Fuji anymore, but I love the new Fuji X-T1 and X100T. The ergonomics of the cameras are retro but useable. I love Fuji lenses. I don’t love the smearing of files or the Xtrans. Dump the Xtrans, Fuji! Go full frame. I would own a Fuji today if they could make the AF faster and not miss focus so much. I prefer the design of the camera to that of the NEX series.

    I am debating between the Fuji X-T1 and the Sony A7II. I prefer the Fuji ergonomics and their lenses. I like the smaller cameras though, like you. I like the Sony A7 series for the files. Beautiful stuff coming out of those cameras, and full frame, no smearing. But both interchangeable lens cameras are slightly larger than what I nam willing to carry around on a daily basis. I was spoiled with the size of the cameras I listed above. Having used and gotten used to the quirks and annoyances of the Sigma DP Merrill cameras, I am now spoiled as to how much detail and dynamic range that all of those other cameras lacked, and I almost feel like I am using a Holga when I go back to using a lesser camera. Once you see the detail and dynamic range, there’s just no settling for less. Yes, the Sigmas suck battery life, so they give two with the camera. I’ve not had a problem as I shoot very slow and don’t shotgun it. I use the Ricoh GR for my bum around camera, but when I want extreme detail and that Kodachrome, Ektachrome file, I use the Sigmas.

    It’s all in what you like though. I like many cameras, and hate them at the same time, like you.

    There is no on perfect camera in usability and file output though. I think Sony & Fuji are getting close to a perfect package in ease of use, nice ergonomics and lens choices, coupled with some lovely files. (Just not as detailed as the Sigmas).

    I will add one more thing: these cameras that I have mentioned are small enough that even if you carried a few of them, they are still smaller than the big honking Nikon D800 or Canon 5D Mark III. For an older person, this does matter.

    I hope you don’t mind me linking on my Facebook your camera article. I find it similar to my own experiences.

    1. lainer thanks for you long contribution. I feel it adds some important elements, especially with the digression on Sigma files 🙂
      Please feel free to share the post wherever you like.
      As for the Sigmas, as you said they lack the viewfinder and I agree that without a viewfinder a camera isn’t a camera. So I opted them out. Should I need that quality, I’ll go with the D800.
      I don’t agree with you about full frame Fujifilm, I actually think that those kind of form factor (X100, X-Pro, X-E) need to be APS-C in order to keep the lenses small enough. Maybe a X-T full frame. But that’s another field, that’s where the mirrorless are trying to surpass the DSLRs. There’s still work to do, though, my Nikon DSLR are crazily fast in everything and they NEVER miss a shot, they don’t get stuck, they are true workhorses. When Sony gets at that level with the A7 / A9 lineup I’ll most probably return to their systems.
      I really like you closing sentence, when you say that a photographer can have two or more of the small cameras around his neck and still work lighter than with just one D800. That’s very true and the future I held hope on. Three cameras with three primes and less overall weight. Then they would need to design new flashes though, the current one feels very oddly on small mirrorless cameras!

      1. I am experimenting with that 3 camera rule. Right now, I carry the Sigma DP3M, Sigma DP2M and Ricoh GR. So, I have a 75mm, a 47mm and a 28mm prime lens solution. As you know, the Sigmas can be quite quirky and limiting, so i was thinking of adding another useable prime to the mix, and that was the camera you are now using, the Fuji X100T. I am waiting a bit to see more reviews. As much as I love the Sigmas, they shine in situations when the lighting is bright and sunny with non-moving subjects, though I’ve gotten some beautiful pictures in not so perfect situations. Still, if I must use a camera on cloudy days, I bring the Ricoh GR, and would like to add two fixed prime compacts for those days. One or two of these cameras makes it easy, light and certainly a doable solution to bringing one big camera. I love the Nikon cameras too, but when I am out and about on a daily basis, I bring one or two compacts in my purse. 🙂

        1. 28, 47, and 75… wow, that’s a great equipment. When I’m working I usually use a 35mm on the D800, which thanks to its 36 MPx can create 17MPx cropped RAW with an equivalent 50mm lens, plus I have the D750 with the 85mm on the other shoulder. Very heavy, but best quality and performances. We’ll see if I can reduce the weight without compromising quality and performances in the future 🙂

      2. Oh, also, DigiLloyd’s website has helped me a lot in my quest. Thankfully, I live in Arizona, where the Sigma cameras can be out many, many days of the year as it’s so sunny here. If I were in NYC, I’d bring the Ricoh GR and the Fuji X100T for sure. There needs to be a 50mm and 90mm fixed compact for everyday situations, something as useable as the Ricoh and Fuji.

        1. That’s an interesting remark. Environment is an important variable when it comes to the “perfect camera”. I need a urban shooter for my free time, especially good in low light situations since I generally get out at dusk/night.

  2. Hello again, Luca.

    A lot has changed in the last few years, since I was enamoured with your NEX-7 365 adventure. At the time, you probably don’t recall, but I do, I had the NEX-C3 and its kit lens. The small camera changed my photography in ways I can barely describe; before having that little gem I seldom took my 400D and its meagre kit lens out anywhere with me at all. The NEX became my daily camera.

    Then I took the plunge on the NEX-7, and completely fell in love with that camera. In some ways, I too regret selling that camera. I really didn’t need much more from a camera at all. It was fast and quiet. I bought the 24/1.8 and became addicted to the 35mm equiv field of view, to the point where I picked up an RX1.

    I sold the NEX-7 and picked up an A7R for the lenses I had since acquired. From M-mount to M42, I had lenses. I still have both the RX1 and A7R, for over a year now, and the RX1 is still my most used camera. It gives consistent results, and I am generally happy with its usability. The sonnar is simply amazing. I have definitely used my A7R a lot more since moving back to the UK, as I take it with me instead of the RX1 for most occasions.

    The RX1 comes with me when photography is not the main activity, but those days are few and far between. I drive to work now, and can’t take photos of my work or around work, really, so I end up waiting for potential sun in the UK at weekends—those days are few and far between.

    I’m building up a set of primes that suit me for what I like to photograph, mostly small and high quality, but not Leica’s M lenses as they’re still too pricey for me.

    If I were taking photographs for a living, with a high MP full frame camera, maybe I would want a smaller APS-C camera for general use, too. Thing is, I don’t have much of a chance to take photos most days, and when I do, I want my full-frame goodness and a light camera. The A7R & RX1 combo are still less bulky than a D800 for a day out, though I know I don’t *need* them, I do generally enjoy shooting with them.

    Nice to read another one of your articles—I’m looking forward to the next.

    All the best to you and your family,


    1. Hello Martin, I’m really happy to see you here, again. I remember your old system and I well remember when we had the discussion about the NEX-7 / NEX-6 choice. I’m glad you loved your NEX-7 and I’m sorry to hear that you sold it too!
      Your point about the RX-1 and the A7R as DSLR replacements for an amateur are perfectly fine. If I didn’t have my DSLRs I would have stayed with the A7, probably getting the MKII, which seems to solve most of the issues I had with the system. You chose to compromise a bit the performances to gain a lot of portability and keep the same quality. You see, it’s basically a triangle (one of the many in Photography), you may increase one side but be sure than another one is shortening, and no cameras can yet provide the best of everything.

      1. Yes, I think that if money were no object, I would have the NEX-7, but I do indeed still have the old C3 with which I started this adventure. I might convert it to IR… unsure yet.
        A triangle it is indeed, you can have any two of the three:

        1) big sensor
        2) small body size
        3) small lenses

        I think APS-C is probably the tightest triangle, with the A7 series next. Fixed APS-C and also the RX1, also form a tight triangle.

        I have the A7R, and am unsure on the A7mkii until I can get my hands on one.

        The biggest change for me is moving from Tokyo back to the UK. I’m in a bit of a slump myself at the moment, and I’m trying to find a way out…

  3. The journey to find that perfect camera has been a long journey for me. Actually, it’s been quite endless lol. I’m currently with an X100T and Sony A7II and I have to say, this is the happiest I’ve been in terms of how it feels to shoot. I’m glad that you said cameras also matter. There is something to be said about the tools we use. If it doesn’t feel good in your hands chances are, you touch it less. The X100T for me, feels perfect for that everyday take with you camera. That’s exactly how it’s been since day 1. I leave for Greece in a couple months and I can’t wait to have it by my side – day to night (with the A7II of course in bag).

    1. Mikee, I’m glad you enjoyed the post and found a few minutes to add your thoughts. You are equipped with two of the best photographic tools around, I bet you’re happy! Fact is, those two cameras gain a lot for being an iteration of a previous design. The X100T is basically nothing different than an X100S with a better interface and a few adds, and yet almost everybody who tries it swears those few things make a world of difference. The same goes for the A7II, it is still the same sensor we’ve seen with the RX-1 in 2013 and yet it should have accomplished where the A7 was so close to succeed. I know how you feel about Greece, I’ve a couple of trips planned and I’m craving for them the same. Not only, it is one week that I’m stuck at home due to problems with my back and I’m getting crazy just by looking at the X100T and aching for a little drive somewhere nice to shoot!
      May I ask you which lenses are you using with the A7II?

  4. I quite surprised you say Sony A6000 is not pro-designed. It is different from Nex 7 or else, but in my opinion it is excellent and I would certainly call it pro-designed (more than adequately). Understandably, different people have different standards and preferences and once the interface changes, even those with adequate talent to adapt to new things, would still need some time to learn and get comfortable with the new interface. However, it seems you never gave A6000 a real try.

    I have never used an X100T so cannot comment on the efficiency of its interface. My general opinion and feeling as of now, is that a retrostyle interface (like dedicated shutter speed dial and aperture ring on the lens) might create a sense of refreshing nostalgia for older generation (include me among them) while, it is not the most efficient interface for modern digital cameras with so numerous functions and settings to choose and change. In particular, comparing to A6000, all else being equal, it seems lacking two customizable buttons (C1 and C2 on A6000). Moreover, many other buttons on A6000 are customizable (The entire dial pad in the back, Fn and AEL buttons) to the extent that in actual shooting, I almost never need to go to the menus to change the setting. I only wish it had a touch screen. Since you rely mainly on manual focus, touch screen may not be important to you. I also wish it had even more customizable buttons for even greater operational speed (there is easily enough space for two more buttons on the top of the camera).

    I admit customizable buttons do make A6000 somewhat more complicated to learn to operate comparing to the X100T’s interface. Now the user has to decide what how to assign different functions to different buttons and dials. This also makes A6000 more pro-designed in my point of view as well.

    1. Just forgot to add, in no way I wanted to discourage you from using X100T, nor did I want to put down X100T. It is a beautiful piece of equipment and I am sure it is just as highly capable as A6000 in producing beautiful images. It is certainly worth to be tried and experienced first-hand. By the time, you have finished your experience with it, there will very possibly be a successor to Nex 7/A6000 which may very possibly turn out to be another marvelous camera from Sony worth being given a chance.

      1. Hi Ramin, thanks for sharing your experience with the A6000. You may be right, I could have dug more into the A6000, and I will be happy if you wanted to share more about your experiences with the camera. Is it your “perfect camera”?

        Personally, what put me immediately off was the lack of the second top dial, which reminded me too much of the NEX-6 interface, which I enjoyed but couldn’t work with as quickly as with the NEX-7’s. Maybe the A6000 has been improved in that respect and with the right amount of customisation I could have got to a “NEX-7 like” experience. Please note that I recognise the quality of the A600, fact is, it still is my most suggested camera when people ask me “which mirrorless” or even “which first digital” with interchangeable lens they should get. The A6000 embeds and one of the best APS-C sensors in the market, for sure the one with most pixels, it’s packed with a lot of cool features, and it’s compatible with tons of legacy lenses if you like manual focusing, and tons of A-mount lenses if you get a little adapter (which makes the camera even faster), and finally a good amount of E-mount lenses.

        My final decision over the X100T had been for compactness with quality, and X100T with its small and excellent lens is smaller (thinner) than the A6000 with the Zeiss 24mm. It is also a cheaper option. Sure, with the A6000 you’re free to change lens, but as I explained in my post I was willing to sacrifice that for a smaller size and a more suited experience with manual focusing.

        Your analysis of the X100T is not completely accurate. With respect to the X100S, the X100T has now seven buttons which can be customised: trash, wi-fi, fn, up, down, left, right. They are more than I actually need, especially considering that some of the most important functions already have dedicated dials/switch: there’s a dedicated switch for M/A/C focusing; pressing the front dial while focusing automagically zooms in the scene; the AEL/AF button can be customised with all the possible combination of AEL or AF; and in some circumstances the focus ring becomes part of the interface as well (for example you can use it to scroll through pictures while the front dial is used to zoom in pictures, and the four pad is used to move around a zoomed in pictures). Plus the interface opened by the Q button can be fully customised as well, so when you press it you immediately have a personalised selection of items that can be modified straight away.

        I personally love the analog-like dials and not (only) for the nostalgia. All the pro DSLRs are equipped with a small, old-style LCD on top to give us the ability to check on what configuration we are shooting just by glancing at the camera. The X100T does it too thanks to its dedicated, analog-like dials. So I would call it a pro-feature, in a way.

        While I love a certain level of customisation, I do not recall it as a specifically a pro-feature, but more as a way for small bodies to cope with the lack of space to include all the dedicated buttons of a pro DSLRs. The latter have buttons for all the important functions, but very little space for customisation. For example, if I have to grab the D800 of another photographer during a shooting, I would just need a quick look to its top to know how it is set, and I could quickly and easily change everything I needed by just pressing the same buttons and operating the same dials of my D800. That is a pro tool. I have a bit of that with the X100T, since all the important (to me) functions are hard coded to dedicated switches. My NEX-7, thanks to its almost infinite level of customisation, was, by the time I had found “my perfect” configuration, responding almost better than my DSLRs. But I could assure you, if you didn’t already know, that if I had given my camera to a second photographer he would have needed a few tens of minutes to figure out how I had set the buttons and the functions, and even more than that to configure it back to his likings.

        I’m not saying I’m against customisation, I’m at the opposite of that, I’m just debating the assumption that you can measure how pro a camera is in terms of how many buttons you can configure. At the end of the day, for a professional photographer a camera will be “pro-designed” if it “helps him get in the zone and doesn’t ever kick him out of it”. With this sentence I mean to highlight the fact that different style of photography may need different interface approaches. And different features. So, I guess that if a Holga camera does the trick for a photographer, the Holga camera will be a pro-designed camera for that photographer… I’m stretching the meaning to its far end, here, but I’m sure you get my point.

        So, again, I would really like to hear more about your A6000 and how it suits your needs. And what disappoints you making you craving for a “more perfect” camera. After all, this is all we dream of 🙂

        1. I admit I never paid attention to X100T. I am just a casual photographer not a professional by default and the cost of owning more than one system is excessive to me. So I definitely want a lens interchangeable system. You, on the other hand seem having a Nikon system and X100T is just your accompanying camera. Right?
          For the sake of this discussion, I did a quick online check gathering some info about X100T. I read the DPReview ‘s review of the camera and a studio side-by-side raw comparison with A6000 (I don’t know which lens they used on A6000). To my surprise, there are significant differences between the images that come out of these two cameras (I don’t know how much of that is visible in real life scenarios): the X100T has significantly lower high iso noise, like two stops better than A6000. However, on the other hand, it has a significantly softer image across the whole iso range. Even at base iso, it looks quite softer than A6000. Some people say this is due to the sensor architecture. So at the end of the day, it depends how much a good software can correct the weakness of each camera: noise reduced using a good noise reduction software (such as DXO Prime) applied to A6000 images or a good sharpening tool applied to X100T images to make them sharper. Which one results in an overall better image? Dpreview, in their review also mentions the video quality out of X100T leaves a lot to be desired. Video is equally important to me as I also shoot video and I want a camera that does both stills and video with a decent quality.
          Well, as of dreaming an ideal and perfect camera, once the door for imagination left open, I can think of many unrealistic cameras. 😉 But to remain practical and in the present time, there are of course rooms for improvements in A6000. It is indeed far from a perfect camera. A6000 with one or two is about the largest size I am willing to go for a daily basis usage. At some point I would like t move to full frame but I am still waiting to see how Sony will continue with the design of their full frame mirrorless cameras. I do street photography. From my personal experience in the social environments I pass by, A6000 (I have a silver version) grabs less attention and is less intimidating than a bigger black DSLR. I would like to stick to the same rangefinder form factor. I will be happy if Sony would come up with a full frame sensor in a A6000-like camera body as A7 series cameras are still one step up in grabbing people’s attention compared to a silver A6000.
          So here are improvements I wish to see:

          i) Always, the better image quality, the happier I am (better low light performance and better dynamic range). Also availability of lenses with even better optical performance.

          ii) full frame

          iii) A silent shutter mode when it will be absolutely silent while taking picture. A7s has this mode and I hope Sony will implement it in all their mid and upper level future cameras. That is needed for when stealth or non-intrusive shooting is needed.

          iv) touch screen interface: I had a Nex 5N before and the touch operation was really handy for choosing where to focus on the screen.

          v) improvements in the video side of the camera (better bit rate such XAVCS codec, mic input jack). A7s is amazing in this regard.

          vi) improved AF performance particularly in low light. While A6000 is quite fast and reliable in daylight situations, low light AF is still lagging behind. I have seen some video of AF performance of A7s in low light and it is amazing. I hope Sony will implement that in all their mid and upper level future cameras. AF tracking is very good but can still be better (I need it for when I record a movie).

          viii) Camera start time is slow. Ideally, it should start and be ready to be used as soon as the power is turned on.

          viii) better build quality is also always welcome: metal construction (like A7 ii) and, weather resistant.

          I currently have 24mm Zeiss, 35mm OSS and 50mm OSS (as well as the kit zoom which I use only if I really have to). I might at some point grab the 32mm Touit lens (which reportedly is sharper than my 35mm lens) or a Sigma 19mm or a wide angle Voigtlander if I stay in APSC format. Or, I may move up to full frame instead.

          1. Hi Remi, thanks for the follow up.
            You are correct, I have already a complete DSLR(s) system I use for my job, so if there’s anything in particular I want to do (perspective, distance, approach, illumination, etc.) I’m already equipped for. As a photographer and a tech lover the first instinct, however, is to replicate, in a smaller size, the same approach. Same focal lengths, same number of flashes, same grips, etc. It took me quite some time to realise I don’t actually need any of that, what I need is quality, compactness, and joy of use.

            I didn’t check the comparison between the X100T and A6000, so thanks a lot for sharing. It is interesting to see how the two camera makers, Fujifilm and Sony, went for such different approaches in designing their sensors so to improve on the aspect they favoured more. I have to say, and not because I currently have a Fuji camera, that I personally need more high iso performances than sharpness, but because I tend to shoot a lot in low light conditions and without a tripod. For someone who shoots mostly under sunlight, with flashes or on a tripod I guess it would work the opposite way 🙂

            On the video side you’re most probably correct. I read tons of negative feedback on X100T video capabilities too. The fact is, for how much I would actually love to have shot videos of important moment in my life, I’m really not a video guy. I’ve got my first mirrorless, the Sony NEX-3, so I could shoot videos of my newborn girl with my good old Minolta lenses, and yet I did it just once. I discovered I loved the NEX-3 for photography and that I’m not interested in videos… So, it’s not a drawback for me. But if you’re into videos too, then Sony and Samsung are currently the most interesting makers.

            Coming to your list, I think you’ll be pleased with each next mirrorless generation because your wishes are in line with the current development:

            i) Sensor quality will keep to upgrade, so your lenses will deliver better and better photos. Better low-light and wider dynamic range are to be expected.

            ii) There’s already a full frame mirrorless, but I’m with you when you say you’ll wait for a “rangefinder design”. That was something I was really missing since the NEX-7, I hated smashing my face on the LCD of both the RX-1 and the A7. Rangefinder design gives me also a better and easier view with my “other eye”. Many reviewers have already asked this question: if there’s no mirror why having the evf in the top center?

            iii) The leaf shutter is how they call it in Sony. RX-1 has it, and I could shoot on a movie set with it without having to use a blimp (a box used to cancel the shutter sound). X100T is already equipped with it. You’re right, it makes all the difference.

            iv) I never used a touchscreen camera beside my iPhone, but I’m sure it’s handy if well implemented.

            v) video performances are constantly improved.

            vi) lowlight AF comes together with lowlight ISO performances. Because the system partially works using the image, and the clearer is the image the easier is for the system to detect the focus point. so it will keep getting better.

            viii) The responsiveness of mirrorless cameras, Sony’s in particular, is something the makers will have to address seriously if they really plan to take over the DSLR market. It is also a lot about camera-lens communication. The NEX-7 was super slow to start up when using a Sony AF lens, but almost immediate when using the voigtlander m-mount lens with the adapter. The camera didn’t have to wake up the lens and wait for info from it, so it just and simply started.

            viii) toughness, roughness, and weather sealing is something “new” coming to the mirrorless market. Olympus started in 2013 with the incredibly well built O-EM1, Fujifilm and Sony answered in 2014 with the A7 and X-T1. One of my disappointments with the X100T is its (missing) weather sealing. Makers are understanding that there’s a market in that, but they are not yet willing to apply weather sealing to all their mirrorless. I hope this will change quickly.

            You have already a good equipment. I would suggest you to stay APS-C until you “really have” to move to full frame. With the latter everything will be bigger and more expensive, so unless you really need the extra stop(s) in low light, you’ll be fine with the APS-C.

  5. I’ve been at photography for almost fifty years. In the 70s and 80s I did professional advertising and art photography with many exhibitions, publications, etc. In those days, I used view cameras, Pentax medium format, and Nikons.

    Now that I photograph for pleasure only, I prefer to keep it simple. I have an NEX-7 and some good lenses, and loved the NEX-7 until, unfortunately, I got my hands on a Sigma DP-2 Merrill. Now I own all three Merrills, and the NEX-7 is gathering dust. Yes, they are not the most convenient cameras, but the files (I work only in B&W) are the best digital files I have ever seen. I carry a Ricoh GR too at times.

    My advice, if you like your present camera, DO NOT try a Merrill. You will start to hate your present camera. LOL

    1. Hello Robert, it’s very nice nice to meet you, and thanks a lot for adding your bit to the discussion. You’re making me sincerely curious about these Merrills, I’ll have to give one of them a try sooner than later…

      1. Hi, Luca. Nice to make you acquaintance. Yes, you really must try one. The DP2 and DP3 Merrill lenses are among the best I have used. This includes Leica, Nikon, Pentax, Schneider large format, etc. The sensor is just great for color at ISO 100 or 200. For B&W, the sensor is fine up to ISO 800 or even 1600.

        The images they produce have a kind of three dimensionality that I have not seen from any other digital camera. And they are very small, and very light. I use mine with an optical finder in the flash shoe, and a loupe for the LCD when I want to work slowly.

        This should give you and idea of what one of these (now selling for $500.) can do.


  6. Great to see you back posting Lucca. As I mentioned on Flickr, I am in a similar boat to you. I want an A7 MKII or A7R MKII when that comes along but I love the view finder layer, features and size of my Fuji X-E2 and its crop sensor specific lenses with their inherent size advantage.

    I shoot mainly architecture and urban images these days so me head tells me a Sony A7R and Canon 17/24 T/S lenses would be the perfect solution but the intangible aspects of how I feel about the Fuji keep me from selling up and transferring. It speaks to me and motivates me to take it everywhere I go and capture things I may not otherwise capture.

    I have been in a bit of a creative rut lately too. I’m really excited to see how you get your mojo and start feeling happy with your images and what you create again.

    Great to have you back.

    1. Hey Ian, thanks so much for welcoming me back so warmly, it really means a lot to me, and thanks for finding the time to share your thoughts here on the blog! I feel your dilemma, and yes it is very difficult to answer. As I told you on Flickr, when it comes to creativity I’ve found that the “logical part of the brain” shouldn’t be listened to. Its work is to solve problems, it can find the answers very well, but do not let it ask the questions, it will only ask those it already knows the answers to.
      That said, if you feel your work is being limited by your current equipment it, well, looking for an alternative is the right thing to do. I know people who work with the A7 series with legacy T/S lenses and are super happy about it. If you are used to the EVF rangefinder style and not DSLR you may want to wait a bit longer and see what the X-Pro 2 will look like. Today I’ve read rumors about it having a larger, 1.2 crop factor sensor. It could be a good alternative to the full-frame approach if keeps full compatibility with the current lens lineup.

      All that said, you may need to find motivation to get out and shoot again. It may be a new camera, a new lens, a new photography school, a trip, a personal resolution (like a 365 project), etc… Just get out and have fun!

  7. Hi Luca,

    as a fellow NEX-7 (3rd copy, lol) shooter I’ve been following your 365 with that camera all the way through and dropped some comments here and there. With regards to Fuji I second what someone else mentioned above.

    In late 2013 I pulled the trigger on an X-Pro1 and some glass (but for some reason kept the NEX-7). Now, 18 months and xy thousand shots later I will finally sell the Fuji, despite all the awesome glass, Hi-ISO performance, build quality, shooting experience, … The main reason: X-Trans. No matter what lens or RAW converter I use, what I do in PP – at lower ISO I personally prefer the look from just about any other newer APS-C or FF sensor to what this exotic CFA delivers, especially but not exclusively when it comes to green structures (trees, bushes, …) and big prints. I’d really like to keep my Fuji gear but as long as they stick with X-Trans – no way.
    Luckily I shoot most of my stuff at lower ISO with adapted Zeiss glass and this where the NEX-7 still rocks but like some other folks I’m still hoping for a compact full frame NEX, not so much because of FF but mainly for better Hi-ISO performance. A fast AF system like on the A6000 wouldn’t be a bad thing either but since such a camera would be so close to the ‘holy grail’ I doubt we’ll see it anytime soon (but let’s all hope for the best).

    Cheers, Ken

    1. Hi Ken, thanks so much for adding your thoughts to the discussion. Your comment, as the ones before yours, shows how much my struggles are currently shared by the mirrorless users. While the DSLRs have now settled in a dimension where they almost all provide the same features and they all fulfil their users’ needs, mirrorless designs are still struggling into coping with technical issues, physical limitations, and users’ needs.
      So far I haven’t noticed the “green structures” issue with my X100T, I shoot only in RAW and do the post-production in Lightroom, but I read around and it seems to be one major issue. Rumors are that the new X-PRO 2 should embed the new sensor, so maybe Fujifilm found a solution. We’ll see. Your NEX-7 is still a fantastic camera, especially with the adapted Zeiss glasses, and maybe Sony will listen to your hopes and design a NEX-like fullframe camera in the future…

      We’ll still be looking for the Holy Grail for quite some time, I fear 🙂

  8. Enjoyed your review. I understand your passion for the quality of the shooting experience.

    Going back to the early 1980’s I used a Leica M2 for the first time. Until then I had used Pentax and Nikon SLRs. The rangefinder changed my way of seeing.

    In 2001, after a few years of not making images, I got the bug again. I started with a P/S Kodak digital camera that for its time was a lovely camera. I found myself trying to use it like I would a rangefinder camera. That lead me back to shooting B&W film, processing it at home and scanning the negatives. I was happy I could use my old rangefinder cameras again. The turning point came when I decided to shoot color. I quickly found C-41 or slide film was not for me. That drove me to digital: First and Olympus E-1, then a Pentax K10D, then a Canon 5D and finally a 6D. Along they way there have been innumerable digital point and shoots, hoping to fill that small camera itch.

    Fuji comes out of nowhere in 2011 to introduce the X100. Was this the camera? I bought one on introduction and was an immediate love/hate relationship. Eventually the camera sat on my shelf and I gravitated to the Canon 6D with the wonderful 40mm pancake lens.

    Fuji, to their credit, introduced firmware upgrades that made the camera more useable. I even rented the X100S but it still didn’t get me past the X100 disappointment.

    I got a look at the Leica M-E last year. After renting one for a week I was hooked again. This was just like using my M6. The camera was wonderfully simple. What a change. How many times did I bring the X100 to my eye to find it was set to an unwanted mode? The Leica probably makes little sense, but I got it at a great price with a full warranty. It has terrible high ISO and a laughable LCD screen. But it’s enough to see what you need. I’m fine with the M-E up to 1,600. At 640 and below it still makes awesome images.

    After the X100 and before the M-E, the Ricoh GR seemed like it may be the ultimate P/S. I could even put my 21mm VC viewfinder on it. When wearing glasses it was perfect. Stunning images but I found little joy in using this camera.

    I just sent back a rental X100T after 10 days. Fuji has finally produced a great X100 camera experience. I love the classic chrome look. Otherwise I’m hard pressed to see any image quality improvements over the original X100. But in USING the camera it’s a great improvement.

    I’ve decided to get the X100T, hoping for another price drop to $999, and make it my every day carry camera. While the M-E with the Biogon 35/2.8 is compact, it’s still heavy compared to the X100. There is no excuse not to carry the X100.

    For a recent vacation I took the M-E, a 35, 50 and 90 along with my X100 and the Ricoh GR. It was still a compact kit and everything got used and make a keeper images. The Leica M-E is a pure shooting experience but the X100T makes for a nice companion.

    1. Hi Jim, sorry for the late answer but your comment somehow came unnoticed!
      Thanks a lot for sharing your story, it tells the very same struggle into finding that feeling we got with film cameras in an age where film makes little sense. I hope you’ll get the X100T at the right price and start finally enjoying it!

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