The Fuji X100V Digital Teleconverter Adds Flexibility To A Fixed Lens Camera
Some people complain about fixed focal length cameras claiming there isn’t enough flexibility with only one focal length.
While I see the X100V’s fixed 35mm EFL focal length lens as a feature, not a bug, the ability to “zoom” in is a nice touch that gives me a narrower field of view when that is something that I need to help me tell my story.
Fuji has this option on the X100 series and other Fuji camera models and it’s called the Digital Teleconverter. (It’s on the X100V and the X100F for sure — I don’t remember if they had this on older X100 models.)
This allows the photographer to “zoom” in to 50mm EFL and 70mm EFL respectively. Of course you’re not actually zooming. All you are doing is cropping. But that’s fine by me because on the X100V, you have a 26.1MP X-Trans CMOS 4 sensor that delivers simply stunning image quality. I personally believe it’s the best APS-C image quality you can get from any camera. There’s more than enough resolution on that sensor to crop in for a 70mm FOV. You still have 13.05MP and the files are still amazing. I’ll note that 13.05MP isn’t much less than the 16MP on the original X100 sensor.
You have to enable this setting on the camera’s shooting menu. Assign DIGITAL TELE-CONV. to the control ring. Once enabled, you merely turn the dial to get the different “zooms,” i.e., from 35mm to 50mm to 70mm and back. You also have to have the camera set to record JPEG files or (with the current firmware) RAW + JPEG. It doesn’t work in movie mode or in any of the bracketing modes.
NOTE: Only the JPEG file will show the zoomed image. The RAW file is untouched. That’s just one of the reason my X100V is set to RAW+JEPG.
This bit of magic has one other cool feature. The Digital Teleconverter that Fujifilm programmed into the X100V isn’t just a way to crop pictures in-camera. It applies an upscale algorithm to the crop, and also applies some smart sharpening. It makes the crops look so much better than the old “digital zoom” we all hate. It creates images that make it look like you had a couple additional prime lenses at your disposal.
If you look at the JPEG output when you use the Digital TC feature, you will see the file is 6240 × 4160 pixels which is exactly the same size you would get if you hadn’t used the Digital TC. To me this is the most remarkable part of the Digital TC feature and something I rarely see discussed, even on Fuji camera forums. I think that’s because many people just don’t know about it.
When you “zoom” to 70mm, the camera also does a better job with macro shooting.
Now I know you’re probably thinking — “Wouldn’t I be able to just do this in post by cropping?” The answer is YES but then you have to take the time to do that and you also still need to deal with the up-res side of the equation.
I’ve played around with this feature quite a lot and I have to say it’s more valuable than I thought it would be.
One of the X100V’s strong suits is its film simulations. Ever since the original X100 came out (I’ve owned every iteration of this camera) I thought the film simulations were very cool. You can customize your own and there’s a cottage industry around building and distributing new film simulations.
This also means using the JPEG not the RAW file. I realize this is a horrible idea in some people’s minds. But if you saw the quality of the JPEG files from the X100V you’d re-think that. As long as you are confident you can get a good exposure, then there’s really no reason to use the RAW files if you can come up with a film recipe that you really love.
Add to this the ability to “zoom” and up-res in camera, and you end up with a camera that really has three useable focal lengths (EFL 35mm, 50mm and 70mm) and this opens up a whole new door to creative expression. Now you don’t get the same depth-of-field benefits you’d get if you actually used three different lenses, but if all you need is a narrower field of view, this has you covered.
I will quickly note that I tested the JPEG output using the digital teleconverter against working with the RAW file in post and cropping in to duplicate the same results. Frankly, I cannot tell the difference. Meaning — I was expecting that the RAW files being cropped would have led to a better result than simply using the JPEG but I was wrong. To my eyes, they are equal.
This is a huge timesaver if you need to quickly turn images around. For someone like me, with my experience (having shot tens of thousands of rolls of slide film which left very little to no room for error) I am practiced at getting the exposure right in camera. I have no problem working in JPEG mode on the X100V and would say that about half my images are JPEGS straight out of camera.
If you don’t own an X100V and have never seen this in action, you may leave this article thinking it’s a gimmick. You’d be dead wrong. Fuji has carefully crafted a solution that allows people to “SEE” in camera what they might not be able to in post unless they have significant experience.
Add to that the ability to upscale the image in camera and to bake in a recipe that looks great and you have an every day camera that is capable of producing professional work in record time, with lots of creative options.
As I continue to explore the X100V I have become more and more enamored with it. I even plan on buying a second one just in case something happens to my main camera — that way I won’t be without one and that’s a good thing.
Remember, toys are joy.
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Roughly 90% of my photos are finished in Topaz Labs’ product called Topaz Photo AI. It is a one click sharpening, noise reduction, resolution enhancement tool that uses AI to see what your photo needs and only applies as much correction as is required and only to the areas that require it. Check it out at bit.ly/TopazLabsPhotoAI