Hands On with the Fuji X-T4: Trying the IBIS, 240fps Slow Motion, and More

I didn’t have a terribly long time with Fujifilm’s latest hybrid shooter before it was released—it was only about a week for what you see shot below—but thankfully, not too much has changed since the previous X-T3, and what has is obvious and easy to evaluate.

Compared to the X-T3, the X-T4 is still weather resistant, still shoots 10-bit 4k internal F-Log at 60p, and maintains much of what made its predecessor great. Fuji has simply added a few things that make it an even better tool for the hybrid creators like myself.

These additions are what I’d like to discuss. Furthermore, given my rather limited experience with the new gear, I want to keep these initial thoughts succinct.

While I think Fujifilm makes some incredibly beautiful cameras, this article will focus more on my experience with the camera. I’ll have a handful of images sprinkled in, and after the next two sections that talk about video centric features, there is a video I created to test out the new gear. In that video I chose to explore the 240p capabilities.

Image Stabilization: Optical & Digital

First big addition to Fujifilm’s X-T camera line: in body image stabilization.

For the past year and a half I have mainly been using the X-H1 for my video projects, with the exception of one project utilizing the GFX100. Point being, I’m used to having internal stabilization. Internally stabilized cameras are great because I personally like to keep my setup as simple as possible. Having the ability to capture relatively smooth footage while shooting handheld is something I very much appreciate.

A new feature they bring to the table is digital stabilization, which can work in concert with IBIS. I felt like this offered some serious benefits shooting handheld when compared to the X-H1. The digital stabilization option will crop your video by 1.29x. This crop option is also available without turning on digital stabilization—so if you were frustrated by crop frame’s inability to allow for two different frames like Sony’s a7 III can, this might help that a little.

Will this replace a gimbal? I think this depends on your own situation/needs, and I’m sure there will be some videos that come out comparing footage from a gimbal-mounted X-T3 vs the X-T4. Was this setup enough for my current personal needs? Yes, it was.

I still did some stabilization in post for the video I did to test out the camera, but the adjustments were minor. For the shots I captured at one eighth speed I didn’t even bother with post stabilization. Which leads us to the next section.

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Slow Cam is Slooooooow: Life at 240p

My original background is in still photography. I love the details that can emerge from a single frame, which is why I think I really love what can come out of high frame rate cameras. This is because we are able to extrapolate more details within motion.

I’ve loved having the ability to shoot at 240fps on my phone, but a phone just doesn’t have the dynamic range, the image quality, the general lens selection, low light capabilities, and plenty of other advantages that a dedicated camera brings to the table. When I saw this feature on the spec list, I knew it was something I wanted to explore in more depth.

Fujifilm has this feature in an easy-to-find menu with plenty of options based off of what speed you’d like to shoot. You’re able to toggle it on/off and, when it’s on, you can keep it at your preferred speed. My only gripe is that you lose out on audio when you shoot at higher frame rates. While not the end of the world, it would be nice to have audio included (even if you don’t intend on using most of it).

The ‘Flippy’ Screen: Not a ‘Selfie’ Screen…

While reading through the comments on a few rumor articles, I noticed that one of the most polarizing changes about this camera was its new flip screen. With this generation, Fujifilm abandoned the three-axis screen and opted for a more limber design. One (unfortunately) dubbed by many: the flippy screen.

A common theme I saw floating around was the notion that this makes the camera a better selfie-cam. This concept annoyed some shooters—why would any company make a dedicated camera more selfie-compliant? While I agree that the selfie culture we live in could use some adjustments, I disagree that this new screen was designed to enhance or even cater to that trend.

I found the new screen incredibly helpful in achieving different angles with limited strain on myself—which, I think, is the entire point of any movable LCD. I also loved that the screen can be placed back into a position that protects itself. I’ve never broken a screen on a camera, but that doesn’t mean I don’t have some anxiety about doing so. This also acts as a way to avoid scratches on the screen.

Is the screen a little more conspicuous when flipped out? Sure thing! If that is a problem, then this might not be the camera for you. Maybe the new X100V is a better option.

Battery life

While the battery is one of the smaller components on a camera, this is an incredibly massive change that Fujifilm has made. I’ve been shooting mirrorless for several years now and battery life has always been an issue. It used to be an issue when I shot with early Sony a7 cameras, it’s been an issue with all Fujifilm cameras up to this point.

The larger battery—that now looks a lot like the kind you find in a Nikon DSLR—allows for a lot more uninterrupted shooting: approximately 50% more in Economy Mode. The 600 shots available to this camera put it roughly on par with the a7 III’s CIPA rating of 610-710 shot per battery. The X-T4 also allows for charging via its USB-C port. I do think I will still need a couple of backup batteries (like I did with DSLRs); when that happens, I might pick up a vertical grip to charge three batteries at once and gain a substantial increase in consistent battery life when needed.

In fact… let’s talk about grips real quick.

The Grip(e)

Also while browsing through rumor site comments, I noticed a lot of people who were genuinely upset that Fujifilm made the camera larger but didn’t make the grip any larger. Now, to give you an idea of my size, I’m six foot two and I don’t have “tiny hand syndrome” by any stretch. I think the X-H1’s grip is a little too pronounced, but I will concede that the X-T4 is a bit shallow.

Did its lack of prominence prevent me from getting a shot? Not yet—a week is hardly enough time to make this claim. But even if that did eventually happen to be the case, I wouldn’t let that prevent me from using this camera when I could solve that minor issue with the aforementioned vertical grip or a cheaper grip extension that will likely come out soon enough.

Overall Thoughts

This camera is definitely going to replace my X-H1 as my go to video machine, or for when I need a nimble yet capable stills shooter. The benefits I see from the X-T4 make that decision an easy one for me:

  • New screen design
  • Significantly improved battery
  • Being able to shoot at 240p
  • Improved image stabilization

Each of these (and more) makes the value of this camera outweigh both the X-H1 and the X-T3 before it. I think anyone who is shooting with another hybrid system or is considering one should really investigate the X-T4 and get an idea of whether or not it will suit their workflow.

To dive deeper into the specs, or if you want to pre-order the camera, click here.

About the author: Adrian Murray is a well-known photographer, artist, Lightroom expert, and author. This opinions in this post are solely those of the author. To see more of Adrian’s work, visit his website or give him a follow on Instagram. This review was also published here.

As Expected, the Sony 20mm f/1.8 G Looks Really Good

These days, it’s probably more likely that you win the lottery than for Sony to make a bad lens. Their process over the last few years has been really dialed in, to the point where making a technically good piece of optics is their bread and butter.

I have gone on record as saying that I adore their 24mm f/1.4 that they released a couple of years ago, and I’m happy to report that I feel nearly as strongly about this new 20mm f/1.8. It’s not quite as great as that lens in my mind, but it’s still a stellar piece of very wide-angle glass for just $900.

Making lenses this wide that don’t have horrific distortion is not easy. Looking at my images with the 20mm, I have to say I am most impressed not with how sharp it is (it’s very sharp) but how well images are rendered despite the dramatic wide-angle. Lines are straight on the edges, and the perspective doesn’t seem warped in any way.

I think this iteration of 20mm is more akin to what our eyes see when they aren’t locked to a fixed position. They dart around and view a whole wide space, and the 20mm captures that look in the same way I feel like my brain processes any scene in front of me.

So that is to say, when I’m enjoying a vista or piece of architecture, I find that shooting it with this lens is capturing more what I remember a scene looks like than other optics I might carry with me if that makes any sense.

As far as physical construction, the build and operation of the 20mm f/1.8 G is pretty much par for the course from Sony primes. It has a declick-able aperture ring that can also be set to “A” and controlled from the camera if you don’t like adjusting the aperture on the lens itself. It also has a programmable custom button on the left side of the lens which many of you will also appreciate.

The standout feature of the lens’ construction is actually how small and light it is: this is a very compact lens. It’s much lighter than I think one would expect for how quality the images look.

Comparing how Sony is making lenses to someone like Panasonic or Canon is kind of night and day: Sony seems to be getting smaller whenever they can, while the other guys keep getting larger, with the exception of maybe Nikon’s Z primes. The long and short of it is if lightweight and compact are important to you, then you will love what Sony has done here.

I think this lens will be most at home shooting landscapes and architecture, and 20mm is a fantastic wide point of view for real estate and interior photography as well. Seeing as the distortion is so well controlled, I can see homes looking really good if photographed with this lens.

Though I haven’t had a chance to try it yet, I imagine astrophotography is also going to work very well since Sony has specifically put in the time to assure points of light, like stars, are rendered as points and not blobs. We’ve seen that in other lenses like the 24mm f/1.4 and that same treatment was given to this lens.

Sony mentioned to me that this has a pretty close focusing distance for a lens so wide open, and I do agree you can get pretty darn close to subjects with it. It’s a neat point of view, and though I’m personally not certain what I would do with this ability quite yet, I’m sure many of you will find interesting ways to take advantage of it.

There is very little to complain about here, as you can tell. The lens is very close to optically perfect, is lightweight and compact, and has a very friendly price tag.

I don’t think I would go so far as to say this lens has character, though. It’s a rather neutral and sterile experience, capturing and rendering images more technically perfect than visually interesting. This is what I have come to expect from Sony though, and pixel peepers will absolutely love how sharp this lens is from corner to corner, and relatively consistent through the aperture range.

That visual perfection is probably what you want to see as well, and if that’s the case then you’re in luck: the Sony 20mm f/1.8 G seems to be delivering that in spades.

Long Term Review: Two Years with the Laowa 25mm 2.5-5x Ultra Macro Lens

Two years ago, Venus Optics sent macro photographer Thomas Shahan their Laowa 25mm f/2.8 2.5-5X Ultra Macro lens for testing. Now, after two continuous years of real-world use and testing, he’s finally gotten around to sharing his thoughts in a thoughtful review that will be a huge help to any extreme macro photographers who are considering this lens.

To cut right to the chase: the lens has obviously impressed Shahan over the past two years and held up very well, becoming his go-to for extreme macro work.

Comparing the Laowa to one of its main competitors—the Canon MP-E 65mm f/2.8 1–5x Macro, which he has also used extensively—Shahan can’t help but point out that it’s really not much of a competition.

“The Laowa, aside from being less than half the price, weighs about half as much as Canon too, which is a big deal,” says Shahan. “Most macro lenses are really sharp lenses, so I often favor the lighter options above all else. You’ll also notice this weight difference when packing and after a long day shooting outside.”

In terms of downsides, Shahan’s main complaint is the lack of auto-aperture control or aperture coupling of any kind.

“This lens is completely manual,” explains Shahan, with an emphasis on completely. “Coming from a background of using reversed prime lenses, I’m used to is. And although it’s definitely not ideal, it’s not that big of an issue for me personally. But be forewarned.”

To hear all of Shahan’s thoughts on the lens, watch him use it in the field, and see many many more sample images captured with the Laowa 2.5-5x macro, watch the full video above. His conclusion, in the end, is pretty straight forward:

“I like this lens a lot,” he says at the end of his review. “And after years of singing the praises of reversed primes for macro, I actually grab this lens for most of my high-magnification work now […] Any lens that allows people to get closer than ever in an affordable, accessible package, is a huge leap forward and I support it.”

Reviewer: The LomoMod No.1 with the Liquid Lens is ‘The Worst Camera I Ever Tested’

Vintage glass shooter and digital photography YouTuber Mathieu Stern lately got the chance to try Lomography’s special LomoMod No. 1 cardboard film electronic camera as well as unique liquid-filled lens– an ostensibly “enjoyable” mix that ended up being a problem for Stern, that has actually dubbed it “the worst video camera I ever before tested.”

Lomography’s quirkier video cameras have actually never been for the faint of heart, yet you would certainly think that a lover of vintage glass with years of photography experience would be the ideal audience… … perhaps not

. While Stern appreciated the experimental element of the liquid-filled lens and also the “fascinating” results it created, he practically hated whatever else concerning trying to develop and shoot with the LomoMod No. 1. Shooting with this soft fixed-focus lens was itself a little a headache, yet his major problems steam down to the build-quality of the DIY tool style video camera body.

It took Stern two hours to build the video camera… … wrong. Then an additional 2 hours to do it right– with some help from his partner– only to have the electronic camera’s movie advance handle break after 10 minutes of use. Given that he had a spare, he had the ability to replace the knob with the one from the various other set. That knob broke after simply another image.

His verdict follows from this obviously irritating experience:

“In the end, I truly like some of the photos I shot with this camera,” claims Stern, “however the camera itself is one of the most awful points I’ve ever before used. It’s tough to make, awkward, tough to complete one solitary roll of film, and also the outcomes are tough to predict.”

As a choice for experimental digital photography fans who do not want to tear their hair out, Stern really suggests you slap Lomography’s liquid-filled lens on an electronic camera– though also after that, the lens is very soft, so in Stern’s words, “do not search for sharpness……” Check out the complete review up top to listen to every one of Stern’s thoughts regarding this electronic camera, and unless you’re truly hankering for a video camera that will certainly take you hours to build and also might quite possibly damage after just a couple of mins of use … … we would certainly recommend you miss this specific electronic camera version.

(by means of Fstoppers)