The Fujifilm X100s and X100 are both beloved callbacks to the classic rangefinder and even more so: the venerable Hexar AF. On top of the retro aesthetic the cameras feature a very lovely 23mm lens (35mm equivalent) prime lens that’s both exceedingly sharp while delivering dreamy bokeh. While it’s a nice, light camera to carry around, that same fixed lens leaves out a wide range of focal lengths you just can’t reproduce by moving your feet.
Last year Fujifilm introduced the WCL-X100 convertor giving the X100 and X100s a wider 28mm equivalent focal length. Now Fujifilm has gone in the opposite direction with a new TCL-X100 1.4x teleconverter. Giving the camera a bit more reach and narrower lens’ field of view, this new attachment essentially turns the camera into equivalent 50mm rangefinder. Now the question is this hunk of glass worth the $350 it costs over just moving a few steps closer?
Pros and Cons
- Nice and sharp even when shooting the lens wide open
- Captures bright colorful images and almost perfect skin tones
- Hearty, solid piece of glass without weighing down the light Fujifilm rangefinder
- Hindrance to AF speed and reliability is appalling
- A bit pricy and non-essential for most photographers
We reviewed the Fujifilm TCL-X100 used the Fujifilm X100s.
Taken from Fujifilm’s website
- Magnification Factor: Approximately 1.4x
- Focal Length: 33mm (35mm equivalent: 50mm)
- Lens Construction: 4 elements in 4 groups
- Weight: 180g (6.4 oz.)
- Dimensions 70mm (2.8 inches) x 46.5mm (1.8 inches)
- Front Filter Thread Size: 67 mm
- Minimum Focus Distance: 5.5″ (14 cm)
Like the WCL converter before it, the TCL screws onto the front of the X100s. The lens attachment itself looks a bit like a short looking glass with a large front-end glass element that measures 70 mm across. This makes the camera tilt slightly upwards when sitting on a table, but otherwise the attachment does not look too awkward as it has the same anodized finish as the X100s.
The TCL feels nice and solid with a bit of heft to it. There’s nothing hollow about this hearty lens attachment thanks to it being one big hunk of glass—or four glass elements as it were. Even though it’s solidly built, the TCL does not feel like it adds very much weight to the camera or cause the X100s to tip forwards when you have it hanging from your neck.
Ease of Use
Bumping up the X100s’ focal length from an equivalent 35mm to 50mm isn’t super significant amount of zoom, but it’s enough of a change that will affect how you compose your images. The 50mm equivalent focal length gives me a bit more distance to work with while I take candid street shots. While the TCL is especially nice for intimate portraits, the extra bit of reach is something I had to get used between backing up to get entire buildings into the camera frame or a quick snap of my lunch.
Unfortunately, using this lens also substantially degrades the autofocus performance of the X100s. Autofocus on the X100s is pretty good by all accounts, it’s not the quickest but it gets the job done and it’s accurate. Adding the TCL attachment, however, slows down the X100s’ autofocus system to almost a half-second at times. This slow down makes the camera incredibly annoying when it misses those pivotal photo moments because it’s too busy zeroing in focus.
What’s more AF on the X100x becomes camera aggravatingly inconsistent. For the most part the X100s is still quick enough in bright and well lit situations, but add a far away subject to the equation and suddenly the AF motors inside the lens take their sweet time to hone in.
During my time with the TCL lens I updated the firmware, enlarged the focus area to its maximum size, strictly used the EVF, and even activated high performance mode in the camera’s power management settings. Even with all these tweaks the X100s equipped with the TCL still was slow to focus in most conditions save for the most ideally lit environments with subjects less than 10 feet away.
Thankfully, manually focusing the X100s with the attachment still works and is an absolute joy with camera’s split-image and focus peaking assists.
Despite my gripes with the aggravating autofocus performance the TCL drags down, the lens attachments continues to hold up the image quality of the X100s’ amazing lens. The attachment barely adds any distortion or vignetting, all while perfectly translating the original lens’ dreamy bokeh and color retention.
Likewise the TCL is incredibly sharp even when shooting with the X100s’ lens wide open at f2. Except for the slightest hint of smearing details at the very edges of the frame, the TCL catches every fraction of a scene from stands of hair caught from portraits to cracks in the road while shooting street photography.
Fujifilm’s are renowned for their dead on accurate color reproduction, especially with skin tones, and the TCL changes none of that. I got amazing results shooting everything from a field of plants to random people on the street. In post I never had to adjust the saturation level. Other than a couple of necessary white balance correction, colors are perfectly represented through the TCL lens.
Continuing the list of things Fujifilm got right, the TCl controls color fringing incredibly well. For this shot above I had to pixel peak for a good couple of minutes before I found the first hints of color fringing. Fringing in bright light is a truly rare occurrence and what little I found was barely noticeable in most of my shots.
Fujifilm did an incredible job giving the X100s’ only lens silky smooth bokeh and the TCL translates it perfectly. Even with busy background, the images look deliciously bokehlicious and it only gets better with shooting close up and macro shots.
Extra Image Samples
- Solid construction
- Tack sharp details throughout most of the frame
- Bright and accurate color rendition
- Well controlled fringing
- Absolutely dreadful autofocus performance
- At times I felt like I could literally just walk forward and save myself $350
- An 85mm equivalent would give the X100/s even more reach and a more focused portrait lens
We can’t look past the way the TCL-X100 completely ruins the X100s autofocus system. It’s a big turn off especially for shooters who rely on the using AF. Manual focusing on either the X100s and X100’s works well, but both camera feature an older focus peaking system that only highlights areas in focus with white dots; making it less useful in bright light or zeroing in on light colored objects.
The lens attachment is a nice addition that helps extend the capabilities of the X100 and X100s without sacrificing image quality. Although the lens gives the X100/s some more reach and adds the portrait perfect 50mm focal length, it does not feel like essential piece of kit owners of either camera need. Whereas the WCL-X100 added a wider field of view that can only be achieved with a wide-angle lens, the difference between a 50mm and 35mm is far more negligible. In some ways photographers can reproduce this extended focal length by simply getting closer to their subject.
Adding in significant dead weight this attachment adds to the camera’s AF system, we can hardly recommend users pick up this attachment for $349.95. But for photographers who feel a 50mm lens is absolutely essential to their craft, they won’t be disappointed with the lens’ quality or its ability to produce stunning images.
The Fujifilm TCL receives 2 out of five stars.