The FUJIFILM X-T4 has been officially introduced and you can find our full hands-on review article and video by clicking here. Within this short article, I’ll try and summarize my experience of working with the camera on “Arisa”, a short documentary I’ve produced/filmed and edited under the umbrella of cinema5D reviews.
I first wanted to shoot a music video with the FUJIFILM X-T4, but struggled with finding a proper candidate here in Japan, in a relatively short time. Social media proved to work fine for this and after approaching the community, Conor MacLeod Keenan came to my assistant and introduced me to Arisa, a Japanese/Korean singer, originally from Yokohama who is currently living in Amsterdam (thank you Conor)!
I “fell” on Arisa unexpectedly and immediately admired her willingness to cooperate. Every good documentary story has to stand on two solid legs – the “subject” and his/her ability to carry the story on his/her shoulders, and of course, the engaging visuals. Well, not so sure how well I did with visuals, but Arisa proved to be a real asset to the story. More about Arisa Safu and her artistic work can be found here.
Equipment Used in This Mini Documentary
In all of my short documentaries, the ones I’m doing also to review cameras, I’m trying to stay fateful to real shooting scenarios, at least ones that I know I’d meet in the field. I always try challenging myself and be extremely mobile with having the minimum of necessary equipment with me, yet produce the highest possible “value for money” results. Maybe I also want to prove that equipment/a camera is only a tool, and the center should always be the story! (It’s not what you use, it is more how you use it).
BTW, one thing to clarify when writing “minimum necessary equipment”: For a real production, I will always have “backups” with me, meaning an additional camera and on top a mobile phone (Sony Xperia 1. Read my review by clicking here). I will also have 2-3 different sound equipment solutions (more on what’s in my bag coming soon). So if worse comes to worse, I always have something to film and record audio with.
But, during the filming of camera reviews, of course I have to be limited to working with the camera I’m reviewing, so backup equipment is not relevant here.
For the work on this review, here is the list of equipment I brought with me:
Camera and Lens
- FUJIFILM X-T4
- Charger and 3 batteries (lasted all day long)
- One lens (FUJIFILM XF 16-55mm 2.8) – Opted for this one as I wanted best optical performance combined with a relatively fast lens.
- Vari ND (Syrp 82mm)
- An assortment of SD cards (64-128gb from Sony/Panasonic and Lexar). BTW, if possible, stay away from Lexar. They have a terrible customer service.
- NO tripod! (As one of my aims was to test how well the new In Body Image Stabilisation system works)
- NO lights (I wanted to see how well the camera preforms in lowlights situations)
- Very small, soft backpack that does not distract me from moving around fast and comfortably
When it comes to sound (during interviews), I used the Saramonnic blink 500 B2 kit. I like this piece of equipment as it is relatively cost effective, easy to use and produces good quality audio (with external lavaliere microphone). I prefer this device over the Rode Wireless GO, because it is possible to simultaneously use 2 transmitters over the single one found in Rode. The downside of this setup is the obstacle of separating the 2 recorded audio singles. Those will always be mixed. The other thing to be aware of is the placement of the on/off button. I guarantee that your thumb will press this knob unwontedly at some point. The consequence might be an empty battery when you really need to work with the device…
Back to the camera: One design decision that might irritate many is the absence of a traditional 3.5mm headphone jack. I must admit that when getting the camera, I was not so thrilled to find out, yet my work-around of using the supplied USB-C to 3.5mm female connector was to “hang” it inside the camera strap “ear”, and this completely non-professional solution did the trick. (It also worked very well during a second production I did with the FUJIFILM X-T4, where I filmed in the sun, sand, rain and a bit of snow).
In the field
My passion is creating documentaries. Jumping into peoples’ lives is always enlightening. Spending a day together with the person I chose to film is rewarding (always something new to learn)!
As there is no time for preproduction, imagination and reality always clash. I love to be challenged and operate in a “multitasking” way. Gone are the days where I could only concentrate on creating beautiful images. Now it is a blend of filming / producing / directing / reporting / taking care of audio and lights. And with this story it was no different. I also try to stress the camera, in order to explore its strengths, weaknesses and general capabilities.
In this particular review, the FUJIFILM X-T4 turned out to be joyful to use. Working handheld with minimum fatigue was great (it has a larger camera hand grip than the one found in the X-T3). The IBIS worked remarkably and allowed me to achieve this balance between smooth(ish) movement and fluidity.
What really stressed me out was the camera’s EVF. Like with the X-T3, the one found in the X-T4 is simply not good enough for constant, long working periods. If I compare it to the one found inside the Panasonic or Leica line of cameras, it is much behind.
Another point of concern was the autofocus functionality. I deliberately used the AF-C mode in many of the interviews (something that I won’t necessary do while working on a paid work). I simply wanted to see how far this camera can go and how well it can preform. As you can see in this documentary, the AF-C functionality when filming in lowlight conditions and in F-log is far from being perfect. Those micro focus adjustment can prove to be a real issue, especially when watching the material on a large 4K screen.
The result of communicating with FUJIFILM, is their recommendation not to use F-log in lowlight situations especially when AF-C is being deployed.
When it comes to lowlight performance, the camera performed really well! It has this nice balance between lowlight sensitivity and not destroying the reality, meaning, it does not enhance a lowlight scene to the extent of looking as if it was shot during daytime. It is also not completely noisy. I wouldn’t hesitate to use high ISO values when working with this camera at all.
I’m sure some of you are wondering about the cage I’ve used while filming with the camera… Well, no cage. (Actually, no cages for me in general). Somehow, I find myself moving away from using those and now trying to manage with what I have (especially during camera reviews), While being on the subject of cages, expect Tilta and SmallRig to come up with cages for that new camera right after the official presentation of the camera. One other thing to note concerns the camera grip. The one found in the X-T4 is much easier to hold, as the grip “stomach” is deeper. Holding the camera for long periods of time proved to be no problem at all.
During this particular project I did not us the articulated screen too much, but of course it is nice to have.
For its price ($1700), the FUJIFILM X-T4 is a remarkable camera. The X-T3 has been evolved into a “Swiss army knife” filming machine. The camera is extremely capable of producing beautiful images and more importantly, flexible and joyful to use. In an era, where lots of the produced content will find itself in the net, this is a perfect tool for filmmakers and aspiring content creators. Last but not least, don’t forget to try before you buy. What works well for me, might be less good for you. Make sure to test the camera, as after all, $1700 is $1700….
Music courtesy of MusicVine.com – Get 25% off any Pay-Per-Use license with code C5D25 (valid for one use per customer).
What do you think about the FUJIFILM X-T4? Will you consider getting it, or do you prefer to wait and see what comes next from other camera manufacturers? Please share with us your thoughts in the comment section below.