Although the offerings in Fujifilm’s current generation of more affordable cameras – X-E4, X-T30 II, X-S10 and X100V – share similar internals such as sensor, processor, photography and video capabilities, their variations in body shapes, sizes, materials, viewfinders, LCD monitors and controls mean they will be better suited for different main tasks.
There will be some degree of overlap, however.
This similarity across current generations is one of Fujifilm’s strengths as it takes little to no time to work out how to get the most out of the company’s cameras and how to best access and control their functionality.
Of the current generation, the X-E4 takes minimalism to the maximum with just one unmarked function button on the top right with other controls accessible via swiping on the LCD monitor if you choose to switch screen input on.
I used the camera with it switched off for the duration after an initial test of all the camera’s functions at factory setting.
“Selfie” screens and lenses
The X-E4 has a two-way tilting monitor that flips all the way up and towards the subject in what some commentators refer to as “selfie mode” intended, I assume, for stills and video selfies as well as YouTube movies where the moviemaker addresses the camera.
Whether mounting the X-E4 on a selfie stick, tripod or in the hand, those users may wish to consider a wider lens than the Fujinon XF 27mm f/2.8 R WR supplied with the review loaner.
Smaller, wider lenses to consider there include the Fujinon XF 16mm f/2.8 R WR, the narrower and quirkier XF 18mm f/2.0 R or the even narrower XF 23mm f/2.0 R WR.
I am partial to an even quirkier choice, the superwide XF 14mm f/2.8 R, for its long depth of focus even at wider apertures, its lovely sense of space and separation of objects in the front from those in the back.
The downside of the 14mm for selfie stills and movies may be its slower autofocus speed compared to more recent optics like the “Fujicron” and pancake lenses above, or even the larger and costlier but fast linear motor-equipped “Fujilux” wide lenses including the XF 18mm f/1.4 R LM WR and XF 23mm f/1.4 R LM WR.
Most days were sunny and vacationers were everywhere in all the local parks, so I tried a tactic I’ve seen used by street photographers like Julia Coddington: flipping the tilting monitor up to use it like a waist-level finder.
Set at default, the LCD was a little too dark but maxing the screen’s brightness setting did the trick.
As soon as I was done shooting, I set the brightness back to normal to avoid running the battery down too fast.
I found that getting the LCD into exactly the right position is crucial: pulled out a little and tilted a little less than 90-degrees to the camera back, to avoid the image inverting.
Image inversion is a good thing when the screen is tilted all the way up and forward for “selfie” videos and photographs but can be challenging when walking through crowds and trying to keep the camera level and the photograph well framed.
With a little practice you get better, otherwise best to stick to the viewfinder.
Tilting, or fully-articulated? Works for Panasonic.
I took a break a while back from Fujifilm cameras to make videos with Panasonic Lumix M43 gear and fell in love with those cameras’ fully-articulated LCD monitors as well as the Lumix DMC-GX8’s tilting electronic viewfinder when making photographs and movies.
With touch turned on and the LCD to camera left, it’s easy and fun to make exposures, choose focus points and select function settings with my left thumb while cradling the monitor in my left hand.
I know some Fujifilm users complain about fully-articulated monitors, preferring various flavours of tilting or fixed monitors, but I’d have no problems with full articulation on every Fujifilm camera.
I do like the ability to protect the LCD by flipping it towards the camera.
The Fujinon XF 27mm f/2.8 R WR
The bundled 27mm pancake lens is the latest iteration of one of Fujifilm’s best yet most underestimated primes.
The first major difference between the original XF 27mm f/2.8 R and the new XF 27mm f/2.8 R WR is signified by the initials “WR” meaning weather resistance.
The second is in the addition of a lockable, clicked aperture ring with a minor optional update being the Fujifilm LH-XF27 Lens Hood.
The LH-XF27 hood reportedly bayonets on to the lens though it looks more like it screws into the lens’ filter threads, making me wonder how effective it might be if one wants to attach a filter first with the hood on top.
The lens’ own cap can’t be attached onto the hood so Fujifilm provides an optional lens cap, the Fujifilm LHCP-27, allowing you to keep the hood attached at all times.
I’m relying on information from the B&H product pages as lens hood and cap are not bundled with the X-E4 plus 27mm kit.
An alternative is to purchase Squarehood’s SquareHood for XF 27mm f/2.8 Mk II.
I have been using one on the XF 27mm f/2.8 R WR and will be reviewing it after also using it on the XF 27mm f/2.8 R.
So far I can report that I enjoyed having it on the X-E4’s lens to protect against flares from low sun as well as rain in what I had hoped might be a dry Sydney spring, until the weatherman announced La Niña was on its way.
Making the most of one Fn function button
Function buttons, D-pads and other hardware input seems to be vanishing little by little in favour of swiping or diving into the menu system, setting up your most-used menu items in My Menu, or choosing from a small subset in the Q menu via the Q function button.
The X-E4 goes further again by removing the MCS switch that’s appeared on every Fujifilm camera until this one, and I have come to rely on it being there.
The alternative is to assign Manual/Continuous/Single autofocus selection to the Fn function button, or dive into the menu system each time.
Instead I chose to allocate AF Mode to the Fn function button to rapidly select from Single Point/Zone/Wide-slash-Tracking when photographing people going about their business outdoors.
Documenting local life under COVID-19 Delta lockdown
The last protest rally I covered was back in June 5, 2021, and a long-planned portrait project has been on hold far longer than that.
The local galleries had been closed for months, so were the non-essential retail stores, and everyone has been on edge thanks to the pandemic.
Despite this suburb being the original COVID-19 ground zero thanks to a café worker coming back from a trip to Wuhan, the locals have had a laissez-faire attitude to social distancing and wearing masks outdoors.
Auto-immune problems run in our family, so we have been extra-cautious and have done our public photography and videography with longer lenses than usual so as to keep our distance and good health.
The Fujinon XF 27mm f/2.8 R WR was the perfect choice, then, for documenting local life in public compared to my pre-pandemic defaults of 21mm, 28mm or 35mm equivalent focal lengths.
That Fujinon XF 27mm f/2.8 R WR’s “perfect normal” focal length is a little wider than the “standard normal” of 50mm equivalent lenses like the XF 33mm f/2.8 R LM WR or the XF 35mm f/1.4 R “god lens” and its XF 35mm f/2.0 R WR “Fujicron” little sister.
I find 50mm-equivalent focal lengths just a little too long, a little too like short telephotos, and videos and stills made with them feel a bit too distanced, a bit too ironic in the Cartier-Bresson sense.
Since the Fujinon XF 27mm f/2.8 R WR came out, a few photographers have shared their plans to sell their XF 23mm and XF 35mm lenses to replace them with the XF 27 and I can understand why.
Sisters from two other mothers?
The Fujinon XF 27mm f/2.8 R WR shares some traits with Leica’s legendary Summicron-C and Minolta’s M-Rokkor 40mm rangefinder lenses for the Leica CL and Minolta CLE 35mm analog film cameras – small size, light weight and an aperture ring.
While those time-honoured and sadly discontinued precursors are manual focus-only, the XF 27mm’s prime heritage is autofocus with manual focus via its rather narrow focusing ring.
In contrast to earlier Fujifilm cameras, I found the X-E4’s processor produced fast and accurate autofocus and so I almost never needed to focus manually when working outdoors.
The exception was when shooting video in the low-angle light of early evening with strongly backlit people against a bright patch of sky, and then I went to the menu system, chose AF/MF SETTING > MF ASSIST and selected Focus Peak Highlight.
Likewise I went to AF/MF SETTING > FOCUS CHECK and selected ON to magnify the image before recording video.
Recording video for sharing or grading
While documenting rare goings-on in the local park, I hit the Drive/Delete button and selected Movie.
I had already made a Custom setting for Eterna, Fujifilm’s excellent analog movie film simulation, shot some clips then switched over to F-Log and made more.
The X-E4 has some impressive video capabilities for its size, weight and price and I used a cinematic combo of DCI 4K, 24fps and 100 Mbps in 10-bit 4:2:0.
The X-E4 is capable of recording 10-bit 4:2:2 when connected to an Atomos Ninja V monitor/recorder via HDMI, and may make a handy little run-and-gun video camera if rigged up with cage, handles and all the relevant accessories as well as a stabilized zoom lens or two.
I took the minimalist path and attached a Manfrotto PIXI Mini Table Top Tripod to the camera via a JJC HS-ML1M Hand Strap for Mirrorless Cameras and an URTH 39mm fixed neutral density filter to the XF 27mm lens.
I’d normally use a variable neutral density filter but mine are 77mm and 82mm in diameter and stepping up from 39mm to either of those demands a stack of step-up rings I don’t have right now.
Instead I’d recommend looking into a 39mm variable neutral density filter, and if you have other VND filters already then stick with that brand as there can be quite a bit of colour variation between brands.
If you want to semi-permanently mount VNDs on each lens you use for video then best to stay with the same brand.
Video loves Leeming LUT Pro
I cannot recommend Paul Leeming’s Leeming LUT Pro camera profile look-up tables files for serious video production as well as his recommended custom camera settings.
Buying his Fujifilm X Series LUT pack gets you LUTs for F-Log, Eterna Cinema, Pro Neg Std, HLG for Rec.709 and the first three out of those four can be used with video on the X-E4.
As Mr Leeming writes:
“Leeming LUT Pro™ is the world’s first unified, corrective Look Up Table ( LUT ) system for supported cameras, designed to maximise dynamic range, fix skin tones, remove unwanted colour casts and provide an accurate Rec.709 starting point for further creative colour grading.”
Both Eterna Cinema and Pro Neg Std produce video files that can be viewed and shared with minimal to no colour grading if you wish and F-Log has the best dynamic range of the three but must be graded as it is the flattest of them all.
Best to apply the relevant Leeming LUT Pro camera profile LUT to your video files, though, whichever profile you have chosen, to give you the best base from which to do further grading.
Above all, please expose your videos using the principle of ETTR – expose to the right – to avoid burning out the whites and so the lower values are raised up while avoiding too much digital noise.
In the next article, I will be sharing a gallery of photographs documenting a little of local life under lockdown, along with stills from videos of the same subject matter.
- B&H Affiliate Link – FUJIFILM X-E4 Mirrorless Digital Camera
- B&H Affiliate Link – Fujifilm cameras and lenses
- B&H Affiliate Link – FUJIFILM Thumb Rest for X-E4 – Fujifilm’s X-100, X-E and X-Pro series cameras have little to no grip built in to their bodies and so they need metal hand grips, L-brackets, cages, thumb rests aka grips and camera straps added for extra security and comfort. Fujifilm makes its own metal hand grip and thumb grip but alternatives are also available from third party makers.
- B&H Affiliate Link – FUJIFILM MHG-XE4 Metal Hand Grip
- B&H Affiliate Link – FUJIFILM XC 15-45mm f/3.5-5.6 OIS PZ Lens with UV Filter Kit (Black) – now sadly marked as “no longer available” by B&H, this lens is bundled with the X-E4 in some territories and has received excellent reviews for its optical quality. It may also be available on the secondhand market.
- B&H Affiliate Link – FUJIFILM XC 50-230mm f/4.5-6.7 OIS II Lens – reportedly an excellent companion lens for the XC 15-45mm f/3.5-5.6 OIS PZ and one that is sometimes bundled with some Fujifilm cameras in certain territories.
- B&H Affiliate Link – FUJIFILM XF 27mm f/2.8 R WR Lens
- B&H Affiliate Link – Atomos Ninja V 5″ 4K HDMI Recording Monitor
- B&H Affiliate Link – Atomos Ninja V+ 5.2″ 8K HDMI H.265 Raw Recording Monitor
- B&H Affiliate Link – Expert Shield Anti-Glare Screen Protector for FUJIFILM X-E4 Digital Camera
- B&H Affiliate Link – Peak Design Camera Straps – I usually attach a Peak Design Clutch and Peak Design Cuff to each camera and carry Peak Design Slide Lite or Peak Design Leash camera straps to attach when needed.
- B&H Affiliate Link – SmallRig Camera Cage for Fujifilm X-E4
- B&H Affiliate Link – SmallRig L-Bracket for FUJIFILM X-E4 Camera
- Café Royal Books – website
- Compact Camera Meter
- Fujifilm X – X-E4, Make More with Less
- JJC – X-E4
- Ken Rockwell – Fujifilm 15-45mm, XC f/3.5-5.6 OIS Power Zoom – “…this tiny, inexpensive and stabilized all-plastic lens has excellent optics.”
- Ken Rockwell – Fuji 50-230mm, XC f/4.5-6.7 OIS II – “This small, light and inexpensive lens has excellent optics as sharp as as any of my “pro” XF lenses, focuses super-close and has image stabilization. It creates astoundingly sharp pictures at an ultra-low price.”
- Unititled.Net – First Thoughts on The Fujifilm X-E4 and Fujinon XF 27mm f/2.8 R WR “Perfect Normal” Prime Lens, Part 1
- Wikipedia – Normal lens – Perfect normal = 40mm in 35mm format and standard normal = 50mm.