Are you thinking that making a 35mm lens into a 50mm doesn’t really make that much of a difference? Well, that’s what I thought too.
- No sharpness affected
- No autofocus speed affected
- Made of metal, solidly built
- Distortion is visible
- A bit big and heavy
A bit hard to screw onto the lens sometimes
The TCL-X100 is a telephoto-converter lens for Fujifilm X100 series. It basically screws onto the existing fixed 23mm lens and converter it to about 35mm (50mm full-frame equivalent) lens. As much as I love the 35mm focal length, sometimes a 50mm focal length just works better. Such as when you want to make more space between you and your subject. I originally planned to buy this lens converter because of this reason for shooting candids. Then use it to shoot food as well as I'm more used to the 50mm focal length for shooting food. That little reach does make a difference.
Nothing is affected here. Some reviews said the autofocus is a tiny bit slower but I don’t see the difference.
This is a very well-built converter lens. It’s made of metal. It feels really solid. However, I think that it’s a bit big and heavy. It seems to be about the same size as Fujifilm’s XF 35mm F2 WR (and that lens has autofocus mechanism inside). When the lens is screwed onto the camera, it’s front heavy. I guess the weight comes from all the glasses inside that helps to keep the image quality and that comes to my next point.
The good thing about this converter lens is that you don’t loose the great image quality produced by the attached 23mm fixed lens on the X100 series. With the TCL-X100, you’ll still get the same sharpness and colors. I’ve used some converter lenses on other compact cameras and handycams in the past and the image quality is clearly decreased.
Distortion is visible. For a 50mm (equivalent) lens there's a little too much distortion for my liking. Though it could be easily corrected in post process (the on-camera "lens correction" doesn't help much), it would've been great if the distortion is less visible out of the box.
Using the TCL-X100
I’m gonna get this out of the way. Screwing on the TCL-X100 is not as easy as it seems to be because there’s no indicator to lock the lens in place and screw in. Sometimes I just keep turning and turning but the lens just won’t screw in. Ok now that’s the lens screwed on, the experience of using it is quite positive. First you need to go into your menu and turn on your lens converter setting to “TELE” for the camera to change the lens profile correction. I really wish the camera could detect the lens straight away like how Sony does it with their 28mm lens that can screw on wide converter lenses.
Giving that little more reach with a 50mm focal length really does make a difference. I’ve used it for work at weddings to take candids when I don’t want to get too close to my subject. I’ve used at food shoots. With a 50mm focal length, you’ll also get more depth of field from the TCL-X100 than the fixed 23mm lens which results in more bokeh at f/2.
Like the given 23mm lens on the X100 cameras, the image looks a bit soft wide opened when you shoot something close up. I always need to stop the aperture down to about f/4 or f/5.6 to get the sharpness for close up shots.
Using it on the streets is good too because it won't look as intrusive like DSLRs. And as I've mentioned earlier, I don't see the difference in the autofocus speed. Not that the camera is that fast anyway, but it's good to see that's it's not slower.
Keep in mind that you'll get a bigger camera when this lens is attached. You won't be able to hide the camera in the pocket of your jacket anymore.
All in all, the TCL-X100 is a great addition to your X100 set. It's very good for travel and documentary photography if you want to have a small powerful set of camera with an extra lens or two (the WCL-X100, wide converter) to expand your creativity. However, if you really want to keep your camera nice and small, don't get it. The fixed 23mm lens that comes with the X100 camera will do the magic just fine.