Tuesday, 12 May 2020

A First Review of the Fujifilm X-T4



This week I am going to look at the new Fujifilm X-T4, which Fujifilm started shipping to customers who had pre ordered their cameras last week.

I have owned every edition of the X-T line up since the X-T1 was launched in 2014 and I still have an X-T2 and X-T3.  So, what makes the X-T4 worth buying?

Pre Production Testing
My X-T4 arrived a couple of days ago but, as a Fujifilm X-Photographer, I did get to test a pre-production sample in February for a few hours while I was working at the FIA World Endurance Championship event in Texas.  I was supposed to have an X-T4 for a four-day test in March at the 12 Hours of Sebring in Florida, but, like many things recently, the Covid19 pandemic put the kybosh on that.  So, I am now playing catch up.

What I found with my short time with the camera in Texas was the layout of the buttons and dials is almost identical to the previous generation X-T models, which is a good thing. This made shooting with the camera really easy, I didn’t have to spend time setting dials or diving into the menu, I just went out and shot with it.

Physically the camera is slightly bigger than the X-T3, especially if you use a battery grip like I do, but it is not overly big and it sits comfortably in my hands.

The performance was brilliant.  For stills it just produced the goods and for video, it is a step forward for anyone who wants to shoot quality footage handheld.

Maxime Martin - no97 Aston Martin Racing Aston Martin Vantage
Fujifilm X-T4 + XF200mm f2 + 1.4x converter - 1/30 @ f16 ISO80


Is It Worth Upgrading from an X-T3?
First off, for all you X-T3 owners out there, the 26.1MP X-Trans4 sensor and the XP4 processor are the same in both cameras and I will be continuing to shoot with my X-T3s for the foreseeable future.  However, there are some significant upgrades that the X-T4 does offer, especially if you shoot video like I do.

The inclusion of IBIS (in Body Image Stabilisation) for the first time in the X-T line is fantastic.  Fujifilm has already developed an IBIS system in the X-H1 but this IBIS unit in the X-T4 is smaller and offers up to 6.5 stop advantage.  The X-T3 was a much better video camera than the X-H1 and, to be honest, the only reason I had an X-H1 was for its ability to shoot stabilised video handheld. While I do like the larger form factor of the H1, the X-T4 does everything the X-T3 does and more, with the added advantage of IBIS.  So, it is ‘Bye-Bye’ X-H1!

So, what else does the X-T4 offer?  Here are some of the highlights that made buying an X-T4 a very easy decision for me.



A New Higher Capacity Battery
At last we have higher capacity batteries, which do last a lot longer than the original W126S batteries. Officially the new W235 batteries will last approximately 500 shots compared to 390 for the W126S.  However, as I found with the W126S batteries when shooting with the X-T3, it depends on how you use them and I was regularly getting a lot more shots per battery than the official figures quoted.

When I was shooting trackside in Texas, I shot around 1000 images in the first 90 minutes of the race. This would’ve drained at least one battery on the T3, but on the T4 I had 70% on one and the other two were still at 100% - very impressive considering I was in ‘Boost’ mode.  

Now I know some X-Series owners are a little peeved that they have invested in several W126S batteries and will have to buy new ones if they want to own an X-T4. I also have lots of batteries for my X-T and X-Pro bodies but the large capacity batteries are something we professional photographers have been asking Fujifilm for since 2015 and I am very pleased they have found a solution.  It will make my life working out in the field a lot better.

Now for a downside to this.  Fujifilm have elected not to include a battery charger in the box with the camera, you can now charge all three batteries in camera with the USB-C lead.  Sounds great on paper but for a working photographer that is a nightmare.  When we come in to download our pictures we swap the batteries out and put them on charge while heading back out to get some more shots.  When working, I can’t leave my camera to charge the batteries up.  I will be getting more batteries and a charger as soon as I can.



New LCD Screen Design
Now this is an area that has divided opinion on the internet.  Personally, I like the new screen design and the fact that you can swing the screen out and face it to the front for framing while vlogging is a big plus point.  The fact you can hide the screen by flipping it around is great for some of the environments I work it and will save me worrying about damage.

The only thing that worries me is the fact you have to move the screen to the side to see it when shooting low or high, whereas you just moved it to 90 degrees when shooting low with the X-T3.  I will get used to that but it isn’t as slick an operation when working quickly in the pitlane as it was with the previous model.



Faster Auto Focus Performance
The X-T4 boasts improved AF performance with a lightening 0.02s in boost mode.  While shooting in Texas the AF performance seemed to be quicker and locked onto the subject immediately.  While there is definitely an improvement compared to the X-T3, it doesn’t seem to me to be a massive jump forward as the T3 was already a class leader in this department.  As a sports photographer any improvements in focus is always welcome.  

Another area that has been improved is the Face Detection / Eye Focus system on the X-T4.  While shooting portraits on the grid the system really did lock onto a face or an eye quickly and accurately.

Norman Nato - no1 Rebellion Racing R13-Gibson
Fujifilm X-T4 + XF200mm f2 - 1/1250 @ f2 ISO160

Flag Bearers on the Grid
Fujifilm X-T4 + XF200mm f2 - 1/1250 @ f2 ISO160

15 Frames per Second
A new focal plane shutter design has enabled Fujifilm to increase the frames per second using the mechanical shutter from 11 to 15 frames per second in CH mode and 5.7 to 8 fps in CL mode.  

The top speed is 30fps using the X-T4s electronic shutter, which is the same as the X-T3, but the T4 can achieve blackout-free burst shooting at that speed.  I still prefer to shoot with the mechanical shutter for sport having had a bad experience of ‘bendy bats’, ‘leaning players’ and banding in images under artificial lights with my X-T2 but the times I have used the improved electronic shutter on the T3 I have been impressed.  I suppose I am a bit of a Luddite when it comes to trusting electronic shutters but will give the X-T4’s ES a try at the first opportunity.

The new mechanical shutter in the T4 is also noticeably quieter than the X-T3s shutter and on a par with the X-H1, which makes shooting in quiet conditions a lot easier.

Dempsey-Proton Racing Porsche 911 RSR
Fujifilm X-T4 + XF200mm f2 + 1.4x converter - 1/2000 @ f4 ISO200



Shooting Video with the X-T4
One of the major hardware changes on the X-T4 is the ‘Still / Movie’ selector under the shutter speed dial, giving you two separate camera modes and menus.  As someone who shoots stills and videos for different clients this is a brilliant move as you can set up the camera as a stills camera in one area and at the flick of a switch you have a different set up for video.

Like the X-T3 the T4 can shoot 4K/ 60 fps 4:2:0 10 bit straight to an SD card and 4K/60 4:2:2 10 bit to an external recorder via HDMI.  The X-T4 can also shoot 1080P / 240, up from 1080P/120 on the X-T3, which allows you to shoot super slow motion in Full-HD.

Here is a short test video of the 240fps slow motion.



When shooting with the X-T3 I tended to use either a tripod with a video head or mounted on a DJI Ronin S Gimbal. For handheld shots I tended to use the X-H1 because of its IBIS.  However, the X-H1 was limited to 4K/30P which had to be used carefully when shooting rally cars moving at speed.  The 60fps shooting ability of the T3 is very useful, but it lacked IBIS for those handheld shots.

So, having the video capabilities of the X-T3 and IBIS, with some added extras thrown into the mix as well, makes the X-T4 a very potent video camera for my work.

A New Film Simulation
Finally, Fujifilm have added Eterna Bleach Bypass to the film simulation menu.  This is a low saturation, high contrast simulation and as someone who uses Eterna to shoot video with, because it is very easy to colour grade in post-production, I look forward to testing Eterna Bleach Bypass soon.

Conclusion
The things I have commented on are the items that are important to me in my work, there are a number of other new items on the X-T4 that might be important to you as a photographer.

Due to the current Covid19 lockdown here in the UK I haven’t had the opportunity to shoot with the X-T4 ‘in anger’ yet, apart from a couple of hours trackside at the Circuit of The Americas in Texas back in February.

However, as a long-term Fujifilm user, and from the short test I did with the camera in February, I know the new edition of the X-T line will offer me several improvements for the systems I rely on for my work and I look forward to reporting back here on my findings once motorsport resumes.

For more information on the Fujifilm X-T4 visit the Fujifilm website HERE


LMP2 Battle
Fujifilm X-T4 + XF200mm f2 + 1.4x converter - 1/2000 @ f2.8 ISO80


Four Time 24 Hours of Le Mans Winner Yannick Dalmas
Fujifilm X-T4 + XF200mm f2 - 1/1250 @ f2 ISO125


Paul Dalla Lana - no98 Aston Martin Racing Aston Martin Vannage
Fujifilm X-T4 + XF200mm f2 + 1.4x converter - 1/2000 @ f2.8 ISO80


Kevin Estre - no92 Porsche GT Team Porsche 911 RSR-19
Fujifilm X-T4 + XF200mm f2 + 1.4x converter - 1/2000 @ f3.6 ISO160


Race Start
Fujifilm X-T4 + XF200mm f2 + 1.4x converter - 1/1250 @ f2.8 ISO100

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1 comment:

  1. Great review Jeff.
    Temptation level has been raised slightly.

    ReplyDelete