Swings and Roundabouts: TCL-X100 As A Portrait Lens Part 1

Back and forth, round and round. Swings and roundabouts. I seem to have no destination.

First, let me state, as a straight up 50mm equivalent lens* for the X100(s), it’s super duper and I have no problems with that. If you see the world in 50mm, then this lens is great and perfect for you. If you want just a bit more reach, then this lens is great. Optically, in a real world sense, this lens is fecking brilliant. It renders beautifully. Bear in mind though, that while much of what I say will have general applicability, what I’m doing here is talking specifically about how I find it as a portrait lens.

The magnifier

As a magnifying teleconverter lens, it magnifies. Everything. Including problems.

For example, under normal conditions focus acquisition** on the X100s is adequate and usually (for me at least) fine, but it does live at the edge of being potentially problematic. The TCL-X100 does seem to magnify that issue. Further, focus acquisition is often problematic in low light. With the TCL-X100, this is magnified into frequently being an actual hinderance. During the session in which the photograph in a previous post and the photograph below were taken, I had a lot of trouble acquiring focus.*** Switching to manual focus only partially solved the problem. While manual focus is well implemented on the X100(s), the camera is primarily made for auto focus, and the narrow focus control on the lens is difficult to work quickly. Working in close for portraits, with a narrow depth of field and a moving subject, manual focus is a pain. It’s exactly when you want autofocus to work. (there’s more under the photo)


I’m treating this as a multi-part post. It’s become too long, so I’ve cut it up into more manageable bits. More soon.

* I’m going to call it a “lens,” as even though it’s not, it is. Both actually and cumulatively
** both speed and actual ability to do so
*** this was highlighted in particular with the contrast in performance at the end when I went back to the fixed lens for some wider environmental shots


3 thoughts on “Swings and Roundabouts: TCL-X100 As A Portrait Lens Part 1

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