The Fujifilm X100F has a 23mm (35mm equivalent) focal length lens permanently attached to the front of it. The built-in Digital Teleconverter does a good job of increasing the camera’s versatility, with options for 50mm and 75mm. There’s also a 50mm (equivalent) teleconverter lens that you can buy. But what if 35mm isn’t wide enough for you? What are your wide angle options for the X100F?
Fujifilm makes a wide angle conversion lens for the X100 camera series called WCL-X100 (there is also a nearly identical new version called WCL-X100 II). It’s received much praise for optical quality, and it’s been called an essential accessory for X100 series cameras. But it’s also a bit on the expensive side, ranging from $250 to $350.
I like the dramatic results you can get from going really wide angle. I find it to be challenging yet rewarding. Occasionally I wish that the X100F was more wide angle than it is. So I thought it would be a good idea to buy a wide angle conversion lens for my camera.
Having an extra lens kind of defeats the purpose of the X100F. It becomes less pocket-sized and gains some weight. You move away from the one-camera-one-lens philosophy. I think it’s nice to have the option of going wider, but it’s not something that I would use frequently. I figured that the conversion lens would mostly sit on a shelf, seldom used. My suspicions were that I’d only dust it off occasionally when wanting to shoot more dramatic wide angle pictures.
The WCL-X100 also doesn’t change the focal length all that much. You go from 35mm to 28mm. I really liked the 18mm (equivalent) lens that I used to pair with my X-E1. The 28mm focal length of the wide angle conversion lens is a long ways off from 18mm, which is where I’d love to be if I could.
I decided that I couldn’t justify spending $250 or more on a lens that would mostly go unused and wasn’t what I really wanted anyway. I set the highest price that I’d be willing to pay at $150. Over the last few months I searched online for a WCL-X100 but the cheapest one I found was $200. I almost jumped on it, but talked myself out of the purchase because it was more than I wanted to spend.
A couple of weeks ago I began to look for alternatives to the WCL-X100 wide angle conversion lens, figuring that I’d never find one for $150. Surely there is a third-party option, I thought. I discovered that Vivitar (also sold under a couple other brand names) makes a wide angle conversion lens for the X100 camera series, and it can be found for as little as $30. That’s a bargain!
Having owned a few different Vivitar products over the years, I know that it’s hit-or-miss with that brand, and usually miss, so I looked for some product reviews to get an idea of the quality of their conversion lens. The most glowing reviews that I found said it was mediocre. The worst reviews said it was a piece of garbage, not worth even $30. I decided to pass, hoping for something of better quality.
Then I discovered an old blog post by photographer Noah Kavic, where he figured out how to use a Nikon wide angle conversion lens on his X100 camera, and it cost a fraction of the price of the WCL-X100. I also found a few other photographers who did this same thing. I decided to give it a try!
It takes a few different pieces to make it work, but I found it all online for about $60 (including shipping). I waited for everything to come in the mail, and the last item arrived the day before heading off on a road trip to Seattle. Perfect timing! It was pretty easy to figure out how it all pieced together.
Here’s the parts list:
- Nikon WC-E68 0.68x Wide Angle Conversion Lens
- Attachment Ring for Fujifilm X100F
- 49mm UV Filter
- 49mm-46mm step-down adapter
The Nikon WC-E68, which converts the focal length to 24mm on the X100F, is actually more wide angle than the Fujifilm WCL-X100, which is 28mm. While 24mm compared to 28mm may not seem significant, it is definitely closer to where I want to be, and it is something I’m quite happy about. Use caution when buying the conversion lens as Nikon has similar products that won’t work–make sure it is the WC-E68 that you are purchasing. I paid $50 for mine.
You need an attachment ring for the X100F, which, if you buy a generic brand, can be found for under $10. Screw the 49mm UV filter (which was something that I already owned) onto the attachment ring. The UV filter is important because corner sharpness is improved when the conversion lens is placed slightly further away from the camera’s lens. The 49mm-46mm step-down adapter ring, which I found for $2, allows the WC-E68 to screw onto the camera. If you have a lens hood, it can be on or off, it doesn’t really matter.
I captured a number of photographs on my road trip using the Nikon WC-E68 wide angle conversion lens, putting it to the test, and I come to some conclusions. First, my suspicions about wanting to use the lens only occasionally was proved true. The camera is bulkier and heavier and less travel-friendly with the wide angle conversion lens attached. I found myself leaving it behind at the hotel room. With the conversion lens attached it barely fit into my jacket pocket.
Something I noticed is that there’s some obvious purple fringing in situations with a strong back-light. Lens flare is also more prevalent when using the conversion lens. I found it best to avoid shooting towards the sun, although the results aren’t horrible if you do. On a positive note, distortion is well controlled.
I found that there is some significant corner softness when using large apertures. At f/4 it’s downright awful. At f/5.6 it’s not great but usable. By f/8 corner softness isn’t bad at all, but it is still there a little. Even though you won’t find corner-to-corner tack sharpness, corner sharpness is reasonably good when the aperture is f/8 or smaller. The WC-E68 is a lens to use when there is plenty of available light. If you crop the exposures to 28mm you are able to remove some of the corner softness, and I wonder if this is why Fujifilm doesn’t offer a wider conversion lens. The center is sharp no matter the aperture, and I didn’t notice any significant drop in center sharpness when using the conversion lens.
My opinion is that the Nikon WC-E68 wide angle conversion lens is a decent alternative to the Fujifilm WCL-X100 if you have a limited budget, don’t plan to use it often, when you do use it you do so carefully, and you prefer something more wide angle than 28mm. I do appreciate the 24mm focal length and the fact that I only paid $60 instead of $250. The WC-E68 does a reasonable job when the situation calls for something more wide angle than the 35mm focal length of the X100F, and I will happily pair it to my camera every once in awhile.
Below are ten photographs that I captured, all camera-made JPEGs, using the Fujifilm X100F with the Nikon WC-E68 wide angle conversion lens: