The new FUJIFILM X-T4 has just been released, promising to be one of the more interesting cameras to be delivered during 2020. If you are like me, an owner of the FUJIFILM X-T3 who wished for a little extra, then the wait is over. Enhanced performance, combining the advantage of the now discontinued X-1H (stabilised sensor) and articulating LCD screen, can now be found within this newcomer camera. Prepared to be impressed by what seems to be the best all around small and lightweight APS-C sensor camera that can shoot video, currently in the market?
For the last few weeks, I’ve been running and gunning with the new FUJIFILM X-T4 camera, and let me tell you, the great X-T3, just got (much) better! If I have to summarise my experience while working with that new camera, I would write PURE Joy. It is not even about a specific feature or certain specification. It is about the overall usage and camera flexibility. Let me say it loud and clear, for documentary filmmaking, it is currently one of the best tools out there!
FUJIFILM X-T4 – What is New (in no Particular Order)
FUJIFILM have done their homework by listening carefully to feedback from the field. They have merged their two successful camera lines, the X-T3 and X-H1, into one winning product. I mean, I hope you can agree with me that both cameras where aiming to capture the attention of a similar audience, us the filmmakers. Each had its advantages and limitations, which – at times – might have caused a bit of hesitation in regards to which camera to get. On top, I can only imagine that like with so many other manufacturers in our field, resources at FUJIFILM are limited, so it is better to consolidate manufacturing lines and concentrate on bringing a winner product that combines goodies from both worlds to the market.
So, what did FUJIFILM bring to the table, in order to make that camera so likeable? Well, first of all, they kept (almost) all the good stuff one can find inside the X-T3. Here is a short list of what is untouched:
- H264 / H265 encoding
- 4K (up to 60p) resolution and frame rate
- High data rate recording (Up to 400 Mbps)
- All Intra (Alongside Long GOP) compression
- 10 bit 4:2:0 color sampling
- Touch screen LCD
- Excellent audio performance (For a mirrorless camera)
It is also worth noting that the the X-T4 inherits the 26.1 MP “X-Trans” sensor and “X-Processor 4” found in the X-T3. The difference in performance lies in the better configured written algorithm.
So those are ALL there. But what really makes this camera even more capable is the inclusion of some new features like:
- A new excellent 5-axis IBIS (In Body Image Stabilization). Apparently this new IBIS unit uses magnetic force rather than springs. FUJIFILM claims that the IBIS unit is approx. 30% smaller and 20% lighter than the one found in the X-H1
- Thicker camera hand grip. Even for my small hands, the X-T3’s camera grip was a bit too “thin” to hold. The X-T4 overcomes this issue by offering a slightly thicker grip. Those few mm’s made a big difference while running and gunning in terms of handling comfort
- Swivel LCD screen
- larger size and capacity batteries
- Dual SD slot recording with the ability to instantly record a back up video at the same quality (not a proxy video file)
- Up to 240 fps in full HD including functional autofocus (x1.29 crop)
- The F-Log view assist function is now compatible with BT.709 standard (You can trust the image you see also for color and exposure, as it is not just a random overlaid color on top of F-Log). Mind you that switching between F-Log and view assist (and vice versa) while recording is not possible. Toggling between those two modes (F-Log and view assist BT.709) is only possible prior to pressing the REC button. After that you are “stuck” with your last selected option throughout the recorded clip
- Movie and photo modes have a separate knob position. Additionally, when dialling “Movie”, the menu ignores all the photo related functions. This is a great help and works fine, though NOT all the way down. The more you dive into the menu, the less it keeps the “video only structure”
- When recording while the camera is on Manual Focus Mode, it is now possible to press the S.S. button. As a result, the frame will digitally zoom so focus confirmation becomes easy. In addition, if you’ve started recording while in this “zoom in” mode, the camera will automatically reset to the chosen framing (finally)
- “MIC jack setting” added – Now it is possible to switch input level between MIC and LINE
- Different shooting modes might end up with different crop factors. If this is a concern for you, there is now a way to set the camera to a single crop mode (x1.29)
- New ETERNA Bleach Bypass picture profile added (Low saturation/High contrast)
- EVF/LCD BOOST SETTING: It is now possible to choose between 3 different modes when shooting in different conditions “LOW LIGHT PRIORITY”, “RESOLUTION PRIORITY”, or “FRAME RATE PRIORITY”. “Low Light Priority” will turn the white menu writing into red, making it easier to view in the dark
- Dedicated Time Code menu. (Functionality is the same as with the X-T3)
- “White Priority” Auto White Balance – For reproducing white better
- With the X-T3, when replacing the SD card the camera will turn off. This is not the case anymore with the X-T4
FUJIFILM X-T4 – In the Field
For the last few weeks I was lucky enough to work with the new FUJIFILM X-T4 and as I wrote above, it was pure joy. I think what makes this camera so special is its greater flexibility and performance (similar but in many ways better than the X-T3).
The real deal with this camera is to see how well the IBIS is functioning. Many current cameras are doing it right, but somehow, in my opinion, FUJIFILM is doing it a bit better. There are three stabilizing modes:
- Sensor shift and optical (For OIS equipped lens only)
- Sensor/OIS lens/Digital stabiliser (mind you that in this mode, the camera will crop the image, x1.29)
- “IS Mode Boost – on” – The performance of IBIS is enhanced by allowing it to move even more freely. This mode is supposed to imitate the usage of a tripod and I can report it is working remarkably
Out of those 3 stabilization modes, my favorite is the “IS Mode Boost – on” for the following reasons:
- Image is not cropped
- Image is very stable
In fact, despite FUJIFILM’s advice to use this mode when filming static shots, I decided to try it when moving, especially when following people. The results I got were promising. I would say that with a little practice, the movement fluidity can be almost “gimbal-like”, but with the twist of being a bit on the “rough side”. What I’m trying to say is that personally, I don’t like to use gimbals when filming documentaries, as the result are too smooth for my taste (besides the fact of having additional equipment). I’ll go even farther by saying that too smooth movement somehow contradicts my style of documentary shooting. I will always prefer rougher movements that synchronize nicely with the object I’m filming. The FUJIFILM X-T4″IS Mode Boost – on” is offering me just that. Combined “smooth” and “organic” movement.
Autofocus will work fine MOST of the time UNLESS when shooting in low light with F-log turned “on”. FUJIFILM’s recommendation is to turn F-log “off” during lowlight conditions. From my experience, leaving F-log “on” and shooting in lowlight, might result in getting “microfocus movements” that can distract a lot! (Very noticeable mostly in the background of the filmed object.)
In one word, excellent! One can simply use ANY desired ISO the camera offers and achieve absolutely acceptable results. The native ISO is still 640, and going all the way up to 12,800 is a breeze. It’s not that there is no noise at all, but in many situations, that noise won’t disturb and cause the footage to be unusable at all.
Power and batteries
More features (like IBIS) are always translated into consuming additional power, so FUJIFILM has decided it was the right time to move on and introduce new batteries to their up coming X-T4 camera.
Those current new batteries are 2200 mAh (16Wh) as opposed to the older 1250 mAh (8.7Wh). In reality, the camera will run longer, but of course, consume more power. I can safely say that with 3 batteries, I could finish a “normal” shooting day (whatever “normal” is)…
Talking about power, two points to remember:
- FUJIFILM will be separately selling a new charger that can charge two batteries simultaneously
- Like with the X-T3 and X-H1 cameras, there is an external camera grip that can be purchased separately, but unlike with the other FUJIFILM grips, this one is NOT a charger (additional information about that camera grip can be found in the “Sound” section
Rolling Shutter Effect
I was pleasantly surprised to see how well the new X-T4 handles rolling shutter. My opinion is based on what my eyes can see, and NOT on our lab test, so please stay tuned. Our X-T4 lab test will follow soon.
The X-T4 keeps all the advantages of the X-T3 when it comes to sound quality, but brings one operational obstacle. The 3.5 headphone plug has been replaced with a USB-C connector. Needless to say that when I saw this solution first, I got uncomfortable about it, but what helped to “ease the pain” was the fact that FUJIFILM is including a USB-C to 3.5mm short cable in the box. As a side note, I found my own (non-professional) cable placement solution, and after plugging it into the camera, I never had the reason to disconnect it again. That solution held well from day one till today and I filmed with it in rain, sun, snow and sand. To cut a long story short: everywhere.
By the way, if you ask yourself why FUJIFILM gave up on the 3.5mm headphone socket, it is not because they were not aware of our needs, but rather a physical placement issue after adding the IBIS to the camera. If you really miss this 3.5mm mini plug, you can find it in the camera grip accessory (sold separately). Personally, I wouldn’t invest in buying this grip as I didn’t miss the “in body” 3.5mm headphone jack at all and that grip cannot serve as a charger.
Mind you that 2.5mm camera control has moved from the right hands side ( X-T3) to the left hand side.
FUJIFILM X-T4 – Concerns
- Like with the X-T3, one of my issues with this camera is the EVF. Move your eye a bit away from the center, and you will feel as if your focus has changed. Adjust the little diopter knob, and you will find yourself doing it again a few minutes later. I truly hope that FUJIFILM will move on by replacing this part of the camera with a more advanced solution.
- I’ve mentioned that possible autofocus hiccup farther up, BUT during a professional paid job, my advice is to do the obvious and shoot interviews in MF or AF-S focus modes and use AF-C when necessary, like when following people and objects.
- The recording button (camera shutter button). Unlike with the X-T3, I found myself recording after pressing it, thinking that the camera has stopped recording (and more importantly vice versa, thinking I’m recording but actually not…) As I was working with a pre-production model, I hope that the sensitivity of this button can be fine-tuned.
- In full HD 240fps, the image tends to be soft and at times, not free from artifacts, depending on what your subject of shooting is and the way of framing it. This high frame rate mode does not like horizontal lines as it tends to “break” them apart. On the other hand, concentrate on a subject and blur the background, and you got a “free” ticket to the wonderful world of super slow motion.
Pricing and availability
The FUJIFILM X-T4 will be selling for $1700 ($200 more than the X-T3 when not discounted). Its availability is scheduled for March 2020. No word if the X-T3 will continue to be sold in parallel to the new camera.
The FUJIFILM X-T4 is currently the best APS-C camera that can shoot video in the market (and in all honesty, with its functionality and picture quality it can easily challenge many of the more expensive full-frame mirrorless cameras out there). This camera can be deployed in a large variety of productions, but if you are like me – a documentary filmmaker who travels a lot and has equipment weight and luggage size in mind – this camera might prove to be very useful to you. On top, having IBIS on board (and a really good one), opens the door for much more handheld work which was less possible before, with the X-T3. Even using FUJIFILM’s own MKX lenses seems to be much more attractive now.
Long ago, I stopped encouraging others to buy new equipment, nevertheless, for me, it is time to say “goodbye” to my beloved X-T3 and say “hello” to the new X-T4. As a documentary filmmaker, this is the tool I’ve been waiting for. Small, lightweight, capable in producing beautiful footage, relatively affordable (for what it can do) and simply fun to use.
All in all, well done FUJIFILM.
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What do you think about the new FUJIFILM X-T4. If you are in the market for a new mirrorless camera that can shoot high-quality videos, will you consider getting it? I’m also very curious to hear from owners of FUJIFILM’s X-T3, in particular, if you’ve had some AF-C issues.