I recently picked up a Fuji X-T4 to use on a slate of upcoming filmmaking projects, and have now shot with it quite extensively. Today, I’m sharing my thoughts on the camera for other filmmakers considering it as an option.
If you’ve been following my blog for a while, you know that I am a huge Fuji fan. I love using my X100T for stills and have previously owned the X-T2 and X-T3 cameras as well.
When the X-T4 first came out I didn’t upgrade to it right away. At the time, production work had slowed down a bit and I was shooting most commercial projects on my Arri Alexa Classic 4:3.
But as production work has come back full force in recent months, I needed a mirrorless camera that could serve as a jack of all trades, for both video and stills. It had to be something that was small, easy to shoot with, and hold up next to my Alexa as a b-cam, among other criteria.
I considered many options – from the Lumix GH5 II to the Canon EOS R5 – but in the end I circled back around to Fuji.
For me, color science is always the biggest factor when purchasing a new camera, and Fuji’s colors are among the best in the business. This, along with many of the other amazing built in video capabilities the X-T4 offers made it impossible to ignore.
Below I’ve broken down my thoughts on the camera so far, after nearly a month of shooting in both test and real world environments.
Build Quality & Design
Fuji’s cameras are known for their cool retro aesthetic and great build quality, and the Fuji X-T4 definitely carries this forward.
I love the metal controls, physical dials, and overall layout of the camera. Everything is so easy to access, especially ISO and shutter speed as both have their own dedicated dials on the top of the camera. These dials lock into place, so nothing gets accidentally bumped while shooting.
You can assign custom camera settings to virtually all the physical/function buttons on the camera. One of the first things I did with the X-T4 was assign the small function button on the front of the camera to toggle on and off the F-Log view assist mode. When I’m shooting in F-Log mode, this means I can easily switch between the flat/log recording and a preview of what the footage will look like in Rec 709.
The body feels just the right size for shooting without a grip or cage. It’s big enough that you’re not afraid it will slip out of your hands, but still small enough to remain compact and discreet when you need it to be.
I even shot a bit with the camera in a rain storm, and got some really great material. The body is weather sealed, which allows you to confidently shoot in those kind of conditions. You never know where the next project will take you, and it’s always nice to work with a camera that can handle just about any environment.
The camera has dual SDXC card slots, which is incredibly helpful – especially when shooting remotely. Ideally, I like to have a 128gb card in each slot at all times, which gives plenty of recording time and reduces the need to media manage. You can even set the camera to record to both cards simultaneously if you want an instant redundancy of your raw footage.
While the camera does have just about every input/output you need for filmmaking (micro HDMI, mic jack, etc.), in order to monitor audio you need to use an adapter. The camera comes with a USB-C to headphone dongle that allows you to monitor sound through USB, so it’s not a big deal in reality – but worth noting.
The X-T4’s articulating LCD screen is incredibly good quality and very bright, even in direct sunlight. And the EVF is just as good – in fact, so good that it’s my preferred method of monitoring. I would use it over both the LCD and an external monitor in most situations, it’s just so clear and accurate.
Overall, I love the X-T4 body. It’s nice to look at, easy to shoot with, and makes you want to get out there and capture some great stuff.
The Fuji X-T4 can record video internally to 10bit/H265 at a bit rate of 400Mbps. This is incredibly impressive, and the results in this mode are truly stunning.
I would argue it’s the best video quality I’ve seen from any DSLR or mirrorless camera, at least from those that I’ve worked with first hand.
10bit color means subtle gradations in skin tone or sky detail look so much more vivid and realistic. And 400Mbps gives you enough bandwidth to capture the incredible detail and dynamic range the camera is capable of producing.
H.265 files are still compressed however, so you will almost want to treat these files like they are RAW in terms of your workflow. It is technically possible to edit with the H.265 files natively (they will even open in Quicktime with no issue), but you’ll have a much smoother experience converting everything to ProRes or similar before editing.
There are plenty of other record modes as well, of course. You can choose to shoot in HD or with higher compression if you need to for whatever reason, but for most filmmakers the full res 4K/10bit files are just too good to pass up.
The camera has the ability to shoot F-Log internally, which is what I plan to use for the vast majority of professional work. I’ve written in the past about being careful when you shoot Log on DSLRs (due to the high compression), but at 400Mbps the X-T4 can make good use of F-Log.
If you choose not to shoot in F-Log, you can make use of some of the incredible film simulations that Fuji offers (more on that below), which can also yield great results.
There is also an HLG color space/mode that you use in place of F-Log. I didn’t experiment with this mode extensively, since HLG doesn’t allow you to use the view assist feature while shooting.
Thhe settings that I recommend using for narrative/commercial productions are:
4K DCI / 400Mbps / All-I / 10bit / F-Log
For specialty shots, you can step into HD mode and shoot 120fps (if you need to overcrank), but be careful about doing this while shooting F-Log. The images look much thinner and have far less flexibility in the grade.
I’ve already stated that the X-T4 has some of the best color science out there, but that really does deserve to be repeated. Most competitors aren’t even in the same ballpark.
But color aside, the camera has so much else to offer visually. Images are detailed without ever feeling too sharp, and motion feels incredibly natural. It has an amazing amount of dynamic range, and the shadows/highlights fall off beautifully.
Even when you’re shooting with the film simulations, the shots never look overly stylized or artificial. Everything just feels very natural and subtle, but also remarkably vivid with respect to contrast and depth.
The camera has built-in image stabilization, which is quite good. That said, I would highly advise against using IS in most professional settings, unless you are capturing a very specific type of shot.
If you essentially need a locked off/tripod shot, but don’t have a tripod with you – the IS will have you covered.
But if you need to pan and tilt, or run and gun with the camera, the IS on the Fuji X-T4 (like any other camera) will give itself away. You can see the stabilizer re-calibrating if you pan a bit too quickly, or something comes into the frame that throws it off.
It’s a great feature to have for those locked-off style shots though, and even more useful if you need it for photography, which is where it really shines.
I know this is a video review, but it’s worth pointing out just how amazing the Fuji stills are. This can’t be said for many X-T4 competitors that thrive in video mode, but are not nearly as powerful with regard to stills capture.
Some photographers may not be as drawn to the X-T4 because it is a Super 35mm camera (not full frame), but for video shooters the sensor size is perfect. It gives you a classic motion picture field of view and the ability to pair more lenses with your body. Personally, Super 35mm is the format I always look for when purchasing a new camera, unless I’m shooting 16mm or 8mm film.
Fuji Film Simulations & Eterna
Fuji’s film simulations are hugely popular with filmmakers and photographers alike, and on the X-T4 they are realized to their fullest potential.
The simulations are essentially built in color grading LUTs that bake a specific look into your footage. While some users love to shoot in a flat/Log color space to give themselves maximum flexibility in post, others have the opposite idea.
I now know several filmmakers and photographers who shoot exclusively with Fuji’s film simulations and often do little to no post-processing. They like capturing the look in-camera, and working within the confines of what the simulations offer. I could certainly see doing this myself under the right set of circumstances.
The X-T4 contains each of the following film simulation modes. Most of these can be found on older Fuji bodies too, with the exception of Eterna which was more recently introduced:
- Classic Chrome
- Pro Neg Hi
- Pro Neg Standard
- Classic Neg
- Eterna Cinema
- Eterna Bleach Bypass
Below is the same shot captured in each of the film simulation modes:
PRO NEG HI
PRO NEG STANDARD
ETERNA BLEACH BYPASS
Each of the included film simulations are quite strong. The only one I don’t really care for is Sepia.
Unlike the other film simulations which feel ready for professional use, Sepia feels like a left over setting from an early 2000s point and shoot camera. I can’t see any use for it in real life, unlike all the other modes.
Eterna is the latest and greatest film simulation that is directly geared toward filmmakers. It’s supposed to emulate the look of motion picture film, with slightly muted colors, reduced contrast, and natural tones.
When I bought the X-T4, the first thing I did was test out Eterna. I’d heard so much about it and had to try it for myself.
As expected, Eterna delivered beautiful results. The footage looked balanced and somewhat finished, as if it was a final grade created by a colorist. This could not be said for some other Fuji simulations (like Velvia) which are much more intense. With those, results vary significantly from shot to shot. But with Eterna, the colors are so subtle that it kind of works on everything.
That said, Eterna definitely has it’s own look, and that may or may not be the look you are going for.
Personally, it’s a little too desaturated for my taste, so I would likely add some saturation in post along with other color balance tweaks.
But for the casual shooter that likes the Eterna look as-is, you could totally shoot, edit, and deliver without any additional grading. That is, as long as your shots are perfectly exposed/balanced in camera.
Of all the film simulations, my favorite might actually be the most standard option on the list: Provia.
I tend to lean toward slightly more saturated/vibrant colors when grading my own projects, and Provia really showcases the full spectrum of Fuji colors beautifully. Unlike Velvia however, Provia is not so over-saturated that it becomes problematic when shooting skin tone.
I also really like using Astia Soft and Pro Neg Standard. Like Provia, both simulations are fairly neutral and work with almost any subject. But they each have a touch less saturation, reduced contrast, and their own unique characteristic color balances.
I’ll often toggle between Provia, Astia Soft, and Pro Neg standard, more often than not landing on Provia.
Classic chrome is an amazing film simulation too, but I rarely use it. It’s quite stylized, and in a way that veers off from the look I’m typically going for. But again, that’s purely subjective. For someone else, Classic Chrome could be the perfect tool.
As much as I love the film simulations, I use them in photo mode far more than video.
When shooting video, I almost always default to F-Log, and not just because it gives you a bit more dynamic range to work with.
My favorite “look” out of the fuji camera is the F-Log view assist mode. This of course can only be accessed by shooting in F-Log and activating the view assist feature (which adds a LUT to the raw image for monitoring).
When shooting with the view assist, the monitored image looks just right to me. It’s not as punchy as the film simulations, but not as flat as F-Log. This makes it easy to monitor for technical accuracy and still have a nice looking picture to work with.
Ultimately, whether you shoot F-Log or use a film simulation, you can’t go wrong. Both will deliver beautiful results in the right hands.
I used the autofocus modes fairly extensively when shooting test footage with the X-T4, but still have a lot more exploring to do with it.
For now, I can say that it exceeded my expectations, while falling short of my needs for most professional shoots.
When set to continuous autofocus (to track your subjects as they move), the camera does a pretty solid job of identifying the focal point and sticking with it.
However, it’s never perfect. For instance it might latch on to a face, but when that face turns to look in the opposite direction the focus racks to the background.
Even in more controlled scenarios, it can go off the rails from time to time, so you have to be careful with it.
This can be said of most autofocus systems on other brands too however, and there are none that get it 100% right. At least not yet… Although I hear very good things about Canon’s DPAF system.
When autofocus works on the X-T4, it works well. With a wider focal length and a simple subject/movement, you could probably get away with using it. But you do have to know its limits so you don’t run into issues on a more complex shot.
While this review is primarily focused on the X-T4, I do want to take a minute to share my thoughts on the Fuji 16mm – 80mm zoom lens. This is one of the kit lenses you can buy with the camera, as an alternate to the more common 18mm – 55mm lens.
I used to own the 18-55mm lens, and thought it was pretty good – especially for a kit lens. But when it came time to purchase the X-T4, I decided to spend the extra little bit to get the 16mm – 80mm.
I’m a long lens shooter much of the time, so the 18mm-55mm was just a little short for my liking. The 16mm-80mm is perfect in terms of focal length, especially on the Super 35mm sensor. I rarely need to go wider or longer.
Overall, I was very impressed with the lens so far, and as expected prefer it over the 18mm-55mm.
The build quality is excellent, and like Fuji’s cameras it has manual controls. This is huge for me (specifically having manual iris control), as I dislike shooting with fully electronic lenses that can only be controlled via the camera. It’s not intuitive and tends to slow me down on set.
The 16mm-80mm is not the fastest lens at F/4, but that’s workable for my needs. Once in a while of course I do need a low light lens, and for that I’m considering picking up the Fuji 56mm 1.2, which looks amazing.
When zooming on the 16mm-80mm, the lens extends out quite far. This means you wouldn’t want to use it with a traditional rail/mattebox system, and instead might use screw on NDs or a clamp on Mattebox.
The focus throw is obviously not the same as a traditional cinema lens, but it’s also not a cinema lens so that is to be expected.
Most importantly, the images the lens produces are incredibly detailed, but like the camera not overly sharp either. It feels like clean modern glass, but somehow doesn’t feel clinical – at least when paired with the X-T4. At the same time, it doesn’t have a ton of personality either, so don’t expect the world.
I wouldn’t use it for everything, but as a run and gun lens to always leave on the camera it’s pretty great.
The most important thing to note with regards to post is the difficulty in editing H265 files natively. Even though most software can handle H265 files now, the files are processor intensive and can cause bottlenecks in your workflow.
As mentioned earlier, I recommend converting your files to ProRes 422HQ for editing and mastering. If that takes up too much disk space, create low-res Proxy files (ProRes Proxy ideally), and edit with those, then re-link to the H265 files before coloring your footage.
Color grading the X-T4 is a lot of fun, as the footage is extremely flexible – at least when using the full res 400Mbps files.
I haven’t tried shooting and grading any shots using the lower bit depth / bit rate files, so I can’t speak for performance on that level. But the 400Mbps H265 files (in both Log and Rec 709 with film simulations) were incredibly malleable in the grade.
Often times I get excited about a camera on paper, but lose interest once I actually start to shoot with it. The X-T4 is definitely not one of those cameras.
As an all around tool, it’s the perfect option for many of us.
It’s just the right size to be built out for professional shoots or scaled down for guerrilla productions. The image quality is arguably best in class, and the color science is industry leading.
Virtually every mandatory feature/function you need as a filmmaker is available on the camera, including extras like image stabilization and film simulations.
It has it’s quirks too – there’s no headphone jack and the battery life when shooting 4K video isn’t amazing – but there are workarounds. Use an adapter for your headphones and pick up a battery grip.
Those outliers aside, the camera is absolutely fantastic, and one of my favorite that I’ve owned to date. It’s also not badly priced at $1699 for the body.
For current X-T3 owners, it’s tough to decide whether or not to jump to the X-T3. Personally, had I still owned the X-T3 I probably just would have kept updating the firmware and skipped the X-T4 as the two are nearly identical.
But for those new to Fuji or upgrading from an older model, the X-T4 is going to be hard to beat as an all rounder.
I’ll aim to cut together some demo footage soon and post it to the blog for those interested.
In the mean time, fingers crossed that Fuji’s working on that cinema camera we’ve all been clamoring for!
What’s your favorite Fuji camera? Leave a comment below.