Camera Notes: Fujifilm X100F and Conversion Lenses vs. Olympus Pen-F

This article is a response to a lot of comments I’ve seen on forums about the Fujifilm X100F. It won’t interest you unless you own are are thinking of buying the X100F. (Amazon.com, Amazon UK) I bought this camera a month ago, to complement my Olympus Pen-F. (I’ll post a more thorough review of the X100F soon.)

X100f

It’s important to note that the X100F is a fixed-lens camera; it has a 23mm (35mm equivalent) lens. This limits its usage somewhat, making it an ideal camera for certain types of photography but not for all. In order to extend the use of this camera, Fuji sells two conversion lenses: the TCL-X100 II Tele Conversion Lens (Amazon.com, Amazon UK) and the WCL-X100 II Wide Conversion Lens (Amazon.com, Amazon UK). The former converts the camera to a 50mm equivalent, and the latter a 28mm equivalent; neither of these are a big change. If they converted to, say, 70mm and 20mm, then the difference would be a lot more obvious, and useful. But it’s possible that conversions of that magnitude would require add-on lenses that are even bigger and heavier.

Many people discussing this camera on forums talk about purchasing one or both of these conversion lenses. The problem is that these lenses are both heavy and unwieldy. My X100F with a filter adapter, UV filter, and lens hood, weighs almost exactly 500g. The conversion lenses and 180g (for the TCL) or 150g (for the WCL). In addition, they unbalance the camera and make it unwieldy. Since the X100F is designed to be svelte and unobtrusive, adding one of these large lenses goes contrary to the camera’s design. I bought the TCL, and immediately returned it, because it made the camera very bulky and hard to handle.

I think one reason people are buying these conversion lenses because of gear acquisition syndrome; they have a fancy new camera, and they need to buy accessories. They by straps, cases, soft shoulder buttons, grips, and more. But unlike with most cameras, they cannot buy lenses to change the default. I think if these conversion lenses didn’t exist, people would not have the need for them.

But why buy this camera if you’re going to add such a heavy lens to it? There is another option: the Olympus Pen-F. It is roughly the same size, and, with a similar lens — in my case, the Panasonic 20mm — it weighs only 50g more than the X100F. And you can change lenses, as with any standard DSLR.

Penf

These are both excellent cameras, and each has its strengths and weaknesses, and there may be other considerations that lead you to prefer one of these cameras over the other, or another model or brand of camera. But if you are a photographer who wants to shoot in a wide variety of conditions, having an interchangeable lens camera makes a lot more sense. If, however, most of your photography is street shooting, then the X100F is for you.

6 thoughts on “Camera Notes: Fujifilm X100F and Conversion Lenses vs. Olympus Pen-F

  1. If you’re considering the X100F but prefer interchangeable lenses, wouldn’t a more logical alternative be the X-Pro 2?

    The Olympus lacks many marvelous features that attract folks to the Fuji platform including the hybrid OVF/EVF, dedicated array of controls, and beautiful out of camera jpegs with film simulations.

    • That’s certainly possible. I’m not familiar with that camera, but it’s a lot more expensive than either of the two I discuss.

  2. I recently was looking for a new camera and considered the X100F, but having been a Fuji owner for a number of years and having a few lenses didn’t want a fixed lens camera. X-Pro 2 and X-T2 were too expensive but the X-T20 was just right, and cheaper than the Olympus Pen.

    • Yes, if you already own lenses, then it’s best to stay with the same system. Unless you want to sell them all and start over.

  3. I used my X100T for two years without buying any accessories. Earlier this year I got the TCL, and have been very happy with it. Yes, it’s bulky, but I don’t take it everywhere or leave it on the camera all the time. But when taking portraits or shots of people, 50mm is really excellent. Before I bought the X100T I’d been using a Nikon FM3a with a 50mm lens for years, so I am also just very comfortable with 50mm.

    I agree it’s not as elegant as the X100T on its own, but it is a useful addition, especially as I have no interest in owning two cameras. As freediverx says above, there are many reasons why I love my Fujifilm camera, other than just the type of lens. And there is one huge advantage with the fixed lens + adaptor system: no chance of dust collecting on the sensor.

    Overall, it’s definitely not perfect, but I’m pretty happy with this setup. And in my case it’s not gear acquisition syndrome. It took me two years of deliberating before getting the TCL. I didn’t even buy a spare battery until 6 months in (incidentally, that is something I would definitely buy straight away next time!).

    • I definitely agree that the Fuji has many other features that make it attractive. I’m only looking here at the question of lenses. Yes, the fixed lens is not only cleaner, but it saves space; having part of the lens inside the camera allows it to stick out much less than if it were mounted manually.

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