Exploring Fort Worden Bunkers with the Fujifilm X100T

With its industry-unique X-Trans sensor promising super-sharp images, I though the old abandoned bunkers of Fort Worden State Park near Port Townsend would make a great testing ground for my new Fujifilm X100T camera (get one here bundled with a free Audio Technica microphone).  Would it render the much touted sharpness and rich colors?   Not having image stabilization, could I hold the camera steady enough?  How would high-ISO perform in low-light conditions on an overcast day?  I intended to find out.

Fort Worden was built in the late 1890’s as part of U.S. seacoast fortifications to protect Puget Sound, including Seattle, Tacoma, Everett and the Puget Sound Naval Shipyard.  The concrete bunkers and artillery gun placements embedded into the top of Artillery Hill were in operation on and off from 1902 to 1957, though most of its guns were removed and sent to Europe during World War I.  The guns were never fired in battle at Fort Warden.

Today, the site is owned by Washington State and operated as a State Park, with the old army buildings, barracks, officer’s quarters and parade grounds providing lodging and accommodating conferences, workshops, festivals and other special events.  The Park also offers camping, hiking and beach walking that draw my family here at least annually.

With my new Fujifilm X100T in hand, Fort Worden provided an excellent opportunity for a family walk while I learned the handling characteristics of this new camera and checked out its performance on some detail-rich rust, moss and algae covered fortifications.

Open rusty steel door at concrete bunker tunnel, Artillery Hill, Fort Warden State Park, Port Townsend, Washington, USA (Brad Mitchell)

Rusty steel door at concrete mortar tunnel, Fort Worden State Park, Port Townsend, Washington

Open and closed rusty green steel doors in concrete bunker tunnels, Artillery Hill, Fort Warden State Park, Port Townsend, Washington, USA (Brad Mitchell)

Bunker tunnels, Fort Worden State Park, Washington

Closed rusty green steel door in concrete bunker, Artillery Hill, Fort Warden State Park, Port Townsend, Washington, USA (Brad Mitchell)

Rusty green steel door and latch

Closed rusty green steel door and ladder on concrete bunker tunnel, Artillery Hill, Fort Warden State Park, Port Townsend, Washington, USA (Brad Mitchell)

Rusty steel door and ladder on algae-covered concrete bunker wall

Rusty electrical box on moss and algae coverred concrete bunker wall, Artillery Hill, Fort Warden State Park, Port Townsend, Washington, USA (Brad Mitchell)

Rusty electrical box on moss and algae covered concrete bunker wall, Fort Worden State Park, Washington

Rusty steel latch on steel bunker tunnel door, Artillery Hill, Fort Warden State Park, Port Townsend, Washington, USA (Brad Mitchell)

Rusty steel latch on bunker tunnel door

Rusty steel latch on steel bunker tunnel door, Artillery Hill, Fort Warden State Park, Port Townsend, Washington, USA (Brad Mitchell)

Rusty steel latch on bunker

Rusty steel ladder and tunnel entry in moss and algae coverred concrete bunker wall, Artillery Hill, Fort Warden State Park, Port Townsend, Washington, USA (Brad Mitchell)

Bunker tunnel entry and rusty ladder on algae covered concrete, Artillery Hill, Fort Worden State Park, Port Townsend, Washington

Rusty steel hinch on steel bunker tunnel door, Artillery Hill, Fort Warden State Park, Port Townsend, Washington, USA (Brad Mitchell)

Steel door rusting off its hinges

Closed rusty green steel door on concrete bunker tunnel, Artillery Hill, Fort Warden State Park, Port Townsend, Washington, USA (Brad Mitchell)

Rusty closed steel door, Fort Worden State Park, Port Townsend, Washington

My conclusions from the shoot:

  • The fortifications at Fort Worden State Park are very fun to explore, with family or camera!  The texture in the rust, moss and algae are great for testing sharpness and the tunnels are eerie enough for a fun and spooky family adventure.
  • While I still have much to learn about handling the X100T, I’m quite happy with it so far, shooting hand-held, aperture priority and auto-focus on stationary subjects.
  • The X100T performs exactly as I had hoped in terms of reproducing details and rich colors.  See 100% crops below for representative details.
  • The camera produces captures plenty of dynamic range in these overcast conditions.  Contrast curve-adjustments were made to all images above to bring out the full-breadth of subject tones.
  • No noise was observed in images shot up to ISO 3200.  However, most images were full of rich subject detail, making evaluation of high ISO noise difficult to distinguish.  ISO performance will need more evaluation in another settings.
  • A very few images did exhibited camera motion blur.  Most images were shot in “Auto3200″ ISO mode, meaning that the camera will automatically adjust ISO up to 3200 to maintain a shutter speed of at least 1/60 second.  I really like this auto-ISO concept!  However, in one shot, the shutter speed was as low as 1/18 second, and this image was not razor sharp (first image below).  Please add image stabilization to the next version of this camera Fuji!  In the meantime, I’m going to order a thumb grip to improve my grip on the camera and hope that provides a slight edge on low shutter speed sharpness.
  • Bottom line:  I’m very satisfied with the X100T so far!

100% crops used to evaluate image sharpness:

Rusty steel door latch, Artillery Hill, Fort Warden State Park, Port Townsend, Washington

Rusty steel door latch shot at ISO3200 at 1/18 second … not quite razor sharp likely due to camera movement.

 

Rusty steel door latch, Artillery Hill, Fort Warden State Park, Port Townsend, Washington

Rusty steel door latch

 

Rusty steel door latch, Artillery Hill, Fort Warden State Park, Port Townsend, Washington

Rusty steel door latch

Rusty steel door latch, Artillery Hill, Fort Warden State Park, Port Townsend, Washington

Rusty steel door latch

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