TCL-X100 alternative: Third party teleconverters

Ok, obviously I love the Fuji X100 cameras, like we probably all do. And I don’t know if you have it the same, but sometimes (mostly trying to shoot tight portraits/headshots) I’m like “man, I wish the lens would be a little longer” ((trying really hard no to say “that’s what she said” right now)) but I don’t wish it often enough to justify spending 350$ on Fuji’s original TCL-X100 teleconverter. And last week it hit me:

"what if I just mount whatever other piece of glass in front of the lens to see what happens?”

And I went to the webs and found this Panasonic VW-LT2E for 5$. That’s if I have my math right 70x cheaper than original glass.

With this particular deal I was extra lucky not just because of the price tag, but also because it has same 49mm filter size as a camera and even the appropriate form factor/weight to match the X100.

So okay, 70x cheaper glass. Is it 70x worse than original?

You bet it isn’t . However it’s not perfect (and I’ve heard that the original TCL-X100 is) : you pretty much don’t loose sharpness or brightness (or maybe you are, but it’s really small amount) but, in a some situations you can see this "submarine window effect" around the corners. I shot couple of flat textures to demonstrate the worst case optical scenario:

The way I see it, there are three options with this glass:

1) crop the corners
2)live with it/use it for your advantage
3)go spent 350$ for the original one.

I have this glass for a couple days and I was so excited to share this one with you guys (because I couldn’t really find anything about this cause on the web) that I really only have a few pictures (I’ll edit this later when I’d have more), but I think (hope) they are enough to demonstrate the idea that maybe the world (eBay) is flooded with glasses like this one that can be used to modify the lens of this great camera for a significantly small price .

That’s sort of my point here.

This glass, even if it would cost 50$ I would still grab it a be happy as hell about it and man, I believe that there are even longer converters out there (X100 with 100mm lens? how cool would it be?) or wide ones, that are just waiting to be found.

Hope this helps, I know I would be (I am) totally excited reading about this. To me it means that I would really not be needing any other camera for a long time.

Take care

"The cheapass" Paul

Geartalk: Mountainsmith Mountain Shelter LT tent

As far as I know, the current state of outdoor industry seems to be mostly about “fast and light” approach as there are plenty of people obsessed with weight of their outdoor kit. And I guess it makes sense from brand’s viewpoint: most people who can afford hi-tec outdoor gear are people working during weekdays and playing during weekends. They don’t need or want expedition durability that comes with higher weight. I guess.

And I’m pretty much a new guy when it comes to outdoor gear, I’m still gathering experiences as well as building my gear kit. One thing I know for sure: I spend around 350 out of last 400 nights sleeping in tent. First in quechua qucikhiker tent (hilleberg akto knockoff) and alter, fuelled by need to go lighter in this Mountainsmith Mountain Shelter LT which I got myself second-handed for around 100$. After putting it through a lot of enviromnents from woods and desert to alpine I guess I KINDA recommend it.

It’s a floorless, spacious (almost 5 square meters of covered space) single wall, two person shelter which you can either build on two trekking poles (135 and 115cm long: plenty of headspace) or suspend from the trees, which is actually pretty neat feature.


It can sustain quite a lot abuse. that being said, the only reason I can’t fully recommend it is because after about 150 nights  the main (and only) zipper failed on me (guys in Mountainsmith used some no-name zippers instead of good-ol YKK. I Just don’t get it. I mean, ok, to be fair: I didn't especially care about the zipper, no brushing with toothbrush adn soap or waxing it. nothing. But still. Lesson learned.

From couple of emails I’ve exchanged with them I got the feeling they care about their stuff, but weren’t really able to help me as I was in the midldle of my traveling and could not afford to be tentless, so I’ve spent couple more months in zipper-less tent. Kinda bummer to be honest.

That and those mosquitoes, mice and spiders I had to fight with inside the open shelter are the reason I can’t really recommend it to everyone. 


Long distance hiking with emphasis on hiking rather than camping in mixed terrain (up to mild alpine conditions) is what I would recommend it for. But man, I wish the zipper hadn’t failed on me, because it really is sweet and affordable light shelter and except for the zipper problem I did really create a bound with it.


And it looks damn good on photos.



In couple weeks  I’m planning to head to to spain with my girl to cross pyrenees from Mediterranean to Atlantic, and I will probably take this shelter with me again, but mostly because I can’t currently afford the heavy rugged dome-tent from czech company Jurek I would want. I mean, I believe in testing things from the whole spectrum, so my next one will probably be some heavy, rugged dome tent. 



PS: I’ve never done a “review” of on outdoor gear so there’s major chance I forgot to mention something that you’d find interesting and would like to know-if so, shoot the question in comments-I will do my best to help.

Take care



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