The Fujifilm X-T4 – A Lot of Praise but One Big Niggle.
I’ve been shooting with Fujifilm X-Series cameras since 2017 when I bought my first Fujifilm X-T2. I was immediately smitten. I’d been a Nikon user all my photographic life, completely loyal to the products of the Japanese giant. I’d begun in the ‘80’s with the FM2, and progressed through the Nikon D2x to the D750. I thought it would ever be so. But when I made my first few images with the Fuji X-T2 I was quickly convinced. It was the photographic equivalent of a Damascus road conversion. Since then I’ve been shooting (professionally and for fun) with the X-T2, X-T30 and X-T3. Everyone of them has been great. But when the X-T2 began to wobble a bit, I decided it was time for a change. I kept the X-T3, sold the X-T2 and X-T30 and with the equity, invested in the new X-T4.
So, what’s special about the X-T4? It’s just a little chunkier than its predecessors, and I’ve encased mine in a leather half-case, more for appearance than practicality, but it’s still an easy camera to hold, much more ‘grippable’ than the X-T2, and that’s important when you are clamouring in and out of vehicles.
It’s got the usual features that you’d expect. That classic look that pays homage to earlier generations of film cameras, the tactile knobs and controls, the aperture ring on the lens that I love so much. The option of switching to an electronic shutter, which enables completely silent operation, ideal for inside quiet buildings, cathedrals, or weddings. The film simulation settings, so that the photographer can emulate the quality results previously only obtained from Fujifilm film emulsions. The high specs include a 26mp X-Trans APS-C BSI CMOS sensor (whatever that all means! I just know it’s great!) 3.69m dot electronic viewfinder (EVF), 0.75x magnification. 3inch vari-angle touch-screen, 1.62m dots. In-Body Image Stabilisation – up to 6.5stops. 15fps continuous shooting (mechanical shutter). ISO80 to ISO51200 (extended). Impressive or what!
Mine is optimised for my own taste. I usually shoot on Classic Chrome film simulation, (I find it best for my automobile work) I use a dynamic range set at DR400. In the Quick Menu, I set the options to Highlight: -1, Shadow: +2, Colour: -2, Sharpening: +2, Noise Reduction: -4, Grain: Weak, White Balance: 6300K, -1 Red & -4 Blue, Exposure Compensation: +2/3 to + 1-1/3.
Despite all of that , the one major selling point for the X-T4, and what sets it above the X-T3 is that it come with IN-BODY IMAGE STABILISATION. That’s what contributes a little to its extra heft, but the advantages are huge. I frequently (once a week or so), shoot in low light conditions, and I need to produce high quality professional images in those conditions. That means high ISOs (typically around 3200) and low shutter speeds, (typically around 1/30th sec). A steady hand is needed, but a lot of these images are made hand-held, and lower levels, looking down into the rear LCD. That doesn’t help camera stability. It’s no problem with the X-T3, if the LENS has image stabilisation, so I have mine X-T3 fitted with the f/4 Fujinon 16-80mm. A great combination. But the top of the range Fujinon 16-55 f/2.8 has no image stabilisation (strange that, for such a prestige lens). So, if I want the extra stop that this Lens affords, I have to be extra careful with camera stability, and that’s not always easy. Step forward the X-T4, the perfect partner for the Fujinon 16-55 f/2.8, providing the low-light stabilisation needed for those indoor, flash-free difficult shooting conditions.
So, the X-T4, is quite simply an amazing camera.
With such a glowing reception in the trade press, and with just about everything the professional image-maker could need in a camera, it seems niggardly to complain or criticise anything so minor as the LCD Screen ‘improvement.’ But I must! As you can see by the photographs, the LCD screen on the previous X-T series opened forward to allow low level photography, from the waist. For an old codger like me, this was a great benefit. Not only because I was used to waist level finders on the Bronica cameras, but because I could stand up and still shoot low! Imagine how I did this with the eye-level finders on the Nikons. I had sore knees with kneeling on the ground, not to mention worn out trousers, so I bought knee pads, like builders and carpet fitters use. Then I bought a fold up stool so that I could sit… But when I switched to Fuji my dreams all came true, and I had cameras that I could hold at waist level, standing, and still see what the camera sensor was seeing ahead. A MAJOR advance for low level shooters! With the X-T3, another innovation allowed the LCD to open to the camera’s left as well, allowing the camera to be tilted for portrait format shooting. Another plus.
But look at the LCD on the X-T4. It doesn’t tilt out and up. It swivels to the left, so that the LCD sits out from the camera. There’s an advantage of course, in that the LCD can now be swivelled completely to face into the camera, providing screen protection when the camera is not in use or when shooting only with the EVF. And of course, if you are using the camera to shoot video footage, there will be a distinct advantage, with the camera on a tripod, and the LCD extended. In fact I’m sure that Fuji had the videographers in mind when this latest ‘improvement’ was planned.
For me though, it’s a disaster. Try holding this camera at waist level looking into the LCD, extended to the left! The camera becomes hard to hold, the extended LCD is in the way, and the advantages given by the earlier LCD designs are gone. And I NEVER shoot video!
So, to sum up, – plenty of praise for the new X-T4, overall a great camera, and well worth the £1550 price tag for the body. But please, Fuji, when you design the X-T5, could you remember the low-level stills photographers as well as the videographers!