Fujifilm X-T4 Review
Usability - How easy is it to use?
Fujifilm kept the design of the X-T4 very much inline with its predecessor. Its highly tactile design combines traditional mechanical controls with the modern convenience of dual control-dials and an 8-way joystick. This professional digital camera is build upon a solid metal frame wrapped with a rubber coating all around, leaving the top and bottom metal plates uncoated. The camera feels very solid and dense with only some weakness in the hinge of the rotating LCD.
The Fujifilm X-T4 is larger than its predecessor to accommodate the added image-stabilization mechanism. This makes the camera relatively large for a mirrorless and comparable in size to Full-Frame offerings from other manufacturers and even APS-C DSLR, although less deep but slightly wider. Its shallow and narrow grip allows reasonable purchase over the camera when paired with a medium lens but would be risky to use single-handedly.
Holding the camera, most controls on the grip-side are within comfortable reach. Unfortunately, some controls are on the right side of the camera. Since aperture is usually controlled by a ring around the lens barrel, one hand has to switch positions when deleting or reviewing files, and also when changing the Drive Mode or ISO, unless the latter is assigned to a control-dial.
There are a few items around the lens mount. Starting clockwise from the upper-right, there is a standard Sync-Port to connect studio lighting. A 3-way Focus-Mode switch is found at the lower-right. This one selects between Manual, Continuous and Single focus. The Lens-Release is at the lower right of the lens mount. Higher up, there is an unmarked customizable button, an AF-assist lamp and the clickable front control-dial. The dial has defined ribs and firm detents.
With three dials, two of them stacked, on the top plate, plus the aperture-ring on most Fujinon X-mount lenses, the top is really packed. Given the dials positions are marked , it is possible to read the state of the camera without resorting to a status display, with a few exceptions outlined further below. Despite giving access to all exposure parameters, these dials are complicated than usual, although not as much as on the X-T3.
The top half of the left-most dial controls ISO sensitivity. This ISO Dial has markings for ISO 200 to 12800 in full-stops with 1/3 steps in between, plus ISO 160 and both a Custom and an Auto position. Any expanded sensitivity can only be selected with the dial set to Custom ISO using an assigned control-dial. At least, this is simpler than on the X-T3 which required an extra 4-point list to explain! The detents of the ISO dial are rather soft which makes it easy to turn accidentally unless the lock button at its center is engaged.
Right below the ISO dial, there is a Drive Mode dial which has 7 positions: HDR, Single, Continuous Low, Continuous High, Bracketing, Advanced Filter and Motion Panorama. Gone is Movie mode which now has its own switch rather than being a Drive Mode. The new HDR mode takes its place. Bracketing performs one of 6 types of bracketing and is configured using the Shooting Setting menu. Most bracketing modes are highly customizable.
Continuous Drive modes are rather complex on the X-T4. There are 6 speeds to choose from for Continuous High and 4 for Continuous Low which tops out at 8 FPS. Advanced Filter mode offers a choice of simple filters which can all be done by software instead. Motion Panorama captures an extremely wide field of view by panning the camera in any direction. Multiple-Exposure moved into the menu system. One has to be careful when rotating the Drive Mode dial not to accidentally change ISO, unless that dial is locked.
The built-in EVF is housed right between the ISO and Shutter-Speed dials. On top of it, there is a standard hot-shoe to connect an external flash. On the right side of the housing, a View Mode button cycles over different modes for the Eye-Start Sensor. The most practical one turns off both the EVF and LCD until the sensor is triggered. This can save battery-life, as long as Eye-Start Sensor is not triggered by something else. Other modes select the EVF, LCD or automatically switch between the two.
The Shutter-Speed dial is the most anachronistic control on this mirrorless digital camera. It is marked in full-stops with no intermediate detents from 1s to 1/8000s. The rear control-dial must be used to select 1/3 stops or any shutter-speed outside of this range. The T position allows any shutter-speed compatible with the selected shutter type to be dialed-in using the rear control-dial. The B position enables Bulb mode, as long as the Electronic-Shutter is not selected, otherwise it always exposes for one second only.
Like the ISO dial, the Shutter-Speed dial has an A position to make shutter-speed selection automatic. This effectively puts the camera into P or A mode, depending if the lens aperture is on Auto or not. On prime lenses, this is a distinct position of the aperture-ring. On zooms, there is an Auto switch on the lens barrel. The Exposure-Mode is implicit from the position of these dials which is crucial to understand. Any accidental movement of these dials causes the mode to change which is why Fujifilm placed a lock button on the Shutter-Speed dial too, although its detents are sufficiently firm.
Below the Shutter-Speed Dial, a rotating switch select between Stills and Video mode. This replaces the Metering Mode dial on the X-T3. The final dial is for Exposure Compensation. It is marked in ±3 in 1/3 EV steps. There is also a C position that allows the front control-dial to set ±5 EV of EC. When multiple parameters get mapped to the front-dial, such as having both EC and ISO set to A, the front control-dial must be clicked to cycle over available parameters.
Some photographers complain that locks slow them down, while others find them essential. There is no lock on the EC dial which is another one that can accidentally lead to incorrect exposure. Among all controls, it is the lens aperture-rings that are most problematic. This forces photographers to constantly watch the displayed aperture in the EVF or LCD. During the review period all these dials are found at an unexpected positions at some point, causing several missed shots due to resulting over-exposure or excessively long shutter-speed.
A small button flush with the top-plate provides access to one of a whopping 60 functions! Fujifilm moved the button from a hard to reach location to the more accessible corner of the top-plate. To its left, there is a two-stage shutter-release surrounded by a rotating power-switch. The release has an unusually long amount of travel which leads to a firm halfway point. Any time the camera enters sleep mode, the release must be to be pressed quite a bit for the camera wake up. The power switch has a firm detent but very little throw which did cause the camera to be accidentally powered on when pushed into a camera bag.
On the grip-side of the camera, a plastic door covers dual SDXC memory card-slots that are both UHS-II capable. The other side has two rubber panels. One covers a Micro HDMI and a USB-C connector, while the other a 3.5mm and 2.5mm analog input. The 3.5mm is a standard mini-jack to record stereo audio from an external source. The 2.5mm accepts a wired connector. For nostalgia, the shutter-release is also threaded for a mechanical remote-trigger.
The Fujifilm X-T4 features a high number of controls on its back which is dominated by a wide 3" rotating 1.6 megapixel LCD. While its resolution is higher, the movement mechanism of the LCD is much less practical than the previous double-hinge. This is the only regression compared to the X-T3 which also makes the camera less sturdy. With this design, the LCD must be extended outwards in order to be tilted. The theoretical advantage though is that one could capture selfies with the new rotating mechanism but it is rather difficult in practice due to the ergonomics and weight of the camera.
Right above the screen, there is a 0.5" EVF with a large 0.75X magnification and 3.7 megapixels of resolution, which is the same impressive unit found on the X-T3. Even though there are newer electronic viewfinders with higher resolution, this EVF delivers a superior viewing experience by maintaining its maximum resolution and brightness down to very light. Contrast is excellent and colors look remarkably natural. They can be adjusted in 11-steps along the Red and Blue axis. Its 100Hz refresh-rate produces a natural view with fluid motion. When using the electronic shutter, the EVF refreshes at a multiple of the continuous drive speed.
In Sports Finder mode, introduced on the X-T3, a 1.25X crop frame is showed within the imaging area. This frame covers 20 megapixels that be captured at up to 30 FPS while allowing the viewer to keep an eye on what is just outside the frame to facilitate framing fast moving subjects. The X-T4 has a number of Manual Focus Assist modes, including the unique Digital Split Image, Digital Microprism plus the usual Electronic Magnification and Focus Peaking. The latter two are available at all times, while the former can only be used with the camera in MF mode.
Both the EVF and LCD almost manage to provide a consistent Exposure-Priority preview. In P and M modes, the preview is remarkably accurate. It also previews exposure in A mode under most circumstances. In S mode though, it can be completely inaccurate, particularly when a fast shutter-speed is selected. Whenever the view is Exposure-Priority, the Live-Histogram accurately shows the distribution of tonalities because it based on the displayed view. Of course, this means that it can be significantly off in Shutter-Priority mode.
Fujifilm added a novel option to Instant Review on the X-T4. Although it offers the same 4 choices as most of their cameras: Continuous, 1.5s, 0.5s or Off, the X-T4 behaves differently when the View Mode is set to Eye-Sensor plus LCD Image Display. Regardless of the setting, Instant Review is not shown while the EVF is being used. This lets the photographer keep an uninterrupted view of the scene until he or she distances himself or herself from the camera, at which point the last image captured gets shown, unless Off is selected.
Numerous buttons and controls are found on the back of the X-T4. Directly to the left of the EVF, there are Delete and Playback buttons which work as usual. It is not possible to delete an image from the Instant Review though. On the other side of the viewfinder, the clickable rear control-dial is found between the customizable AF-On and Q buttons. Below the control-dial, there is customizable AE-L button.
All these buttons, plus directions on the 4-way controller, are customizable to any of the same 60 features. A few of these features are not accessible though the menu system, so they must be assigned a function button to be used, the most obvious being Depth-of-Field Preview. The Quick Menu which is invoked by default with the Q button is extremely customizable. The number of icons shows can be set to 4, 8, 12 or 16 and each one can be set to virtually any function independently for Stills and Video mode. Honestly, this seems excessive.
Below AE-L, there is a small 8-way joystick to controls the focus area and navigate through the menu system. This joystick is efficient to use but a little uncomfortable due to its sharp edges. It can be clicked to recenter the focus-point or area. Lower on the camera back, there is a 4-way controller with a central OK. The middle button opens the Menu system while each directional one can be assigned an individual function. The last button on the back is the Disp/Back button which is used to cycle over display modes or cancel actions in progress.
Similarly to other X-series cameras, the menu system for Stills mode is organized into 6 vertical tabs, each with 2 or 3 pages of related settings: Image Quality, AF/MF, Camera, Flash, Setup and My. In Video mode, there are 7 tabs: Movie Setting, Image Quality, AF/MF, Audio, Time Code, Setup and My. The My menu includes manually added items and is different between Stills and Video mode. Although slightly unconventional, finding most settings outside of the Setup menu is relatively straight-forward. The Setup menu itself has another level of indirection and it split further into 7 submenus. Format is the firs item user the User Setting submenu of the Setup menu.
Fujifilm digital cameras have always been big on feature interaction and the X-T4 is no exception. Many features and settings cannot be used together but the way the camera handles those is inconsistent. In the best cases, the camera automatically changes the incompatible setting and highlights it in yellow. This is the case when an Expanded ISO is selected and the camera is switch to HDR mode. Switching it away from HDR mode, restores the setting to its previous level. In other cases, an option is simply greyed out and menu navigation skips over it which get frustrating when one does not know why a setting is disabled. Movie mode is full of such cases which causes certain frame rated and bit-rates to be locked out until multiple other settings are changed! Figuring out which is another problem.
Selecting a continuous shooting speed can be an excersize in frustration. One must go several level deep to locate the Continuous High option menu which has a two page list of burst rates covering 10 to 30 FPS, some with 1.25X crop, some without and some in both versions. Combinations which require an Electronic Shutter are labelled ES. Depending on the selected shutter type though, some options could be greyed out or simply not there. One some cases, the X-T4 only shows the second page of speeds.
The bottom of the X-T4 has a metal tripod mount which is in-line with the optical axis of the camera. This is ideal for panorama photography. This time, the tripod mount shifted towards the back of the camera. When using a quick release plate, even a small one, it will protrude from the camera. There is also a plastic battery-compartment door and a battery-grip connector covered by a rubber rectangle which detaches completely from the camera.
When one thing is given, another is taken away. The new Fujifilm X-T4 comes with the best included camera strap. It is wide and made of soft neoprene with a non-slip rubber coating on one side. On the other hand, the X-T4 comes without a charger. For a camera that retails for $1700 USD or $2200 CAD, this is really disappointing. A stand-alone charger costs $70 USD or $100 CAD! Previous X-T chargers cannot be used since the X-T4 has a new and more powerful battery. While the camera itself can charge a battery internally, no professional would regularly do that. Internal charging ties up the camera, places it in a precarious location and generates heat inside the camera.
The optional charger is quite fast and charges two batteries simultaneously while showing an independently status for each of them on a monochrome LCD screen. The only issue is that this charger needs a charger itself! It used DC current from a USB-C port which requires a relatively high voltage through USB Power Delivery. Therefore, it must be connected an a USB-C charger and does not work with a USB-A charger fitted with an A-to-C cable.
Without a doubt, the Fujifilm X-T4 will be instantly familiar to anyone who has used an X-series mirrorless before. The layout of its dials and buttons is simple to remember, even though using them gets complicated when an unmarked settings is required. This includes all Extended ISO, fractional, ultra-fast and slow shutter-speeds plus Exposure-Compensation beyond ±3. The camera is certainly efficient to use. Its main issue is that most dials, including the Aperture-Ring on most Fujinon lenses, have soft detents which result in frequent unexpected changes.
Fujifilm X-T4 Highlights
Sensor-Size: 24 x 16mm
Actual size when viewed at 100 DPI
|26 Megapixels Mirrorless||ISO 80-51200|
|Fujifilm X Mount|
|5-Axis Built-in Stabilization, 6.5-Stop Improvement||Full manual controls, including Manual Focus|
|0.50" Built-in EVF 3.7 Megapixels (0.75X)||Custom white-balance with 2 axis fine-tuning|
|Automatic Eye-Start sensor||Spot-Metering|
|1 Axis Digital Level||Hot-Shoe & Sync-Port|
|Weatherproof down to -10C||Stereo audio input|
|Built-in Dust Reduction||Lithium-Ion Battery|
|20 FPS Drive, 79 Images||Secure Digital Extended Capacity x 2|
|4096x2160 @ 60 FPS Video Recording|
|3" LCD 1.6 Megapixels|
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