Autofocus in the Fuji X-T4 is Still Unreliable

Fujifilm is probably one of my favorite companies right now. They produce some of the best products within their respective formats. For APS-C the X-T series of cameras are probably the best. For medium format, the GFX 100 is the best in several key categories. Unfortunately, the problem I and many other Fuji shooters face, is the unreliable autofocus.

Phillip Bloom recently uploaded a video, demonstrating and discussing the video autofocus limitations of the the Fujifilm X-T4. As good as this camera is when it comes to its stills performance, Fuji has been making a concerted effort to improve its video features. On paper, the X-T4 seems like the perfect aps-c camera for video; features like IBIS, log profiles, and resolution are brilliant. The main problem however, is that the autofocus still isn't quite up to par. 

This could primarily be down to the fact that the lenses themselves are not designed for video. This also makes this a difficult fix, because many of the popular focal lengths would need to be updated in order to correct this. For example, the Fuji 56mm f/1.2 is an absolutely brilliant lens. The kind of images it can produce are beautiful. Unfortunately, it's pretty difficult to use for video if you're trying to shoot with autofocus. 

In the video above, Bloom goes through many of the Fuji lenses and discusses some of the things you could do to correct a few of the problems. Unfortunately, the underlining issue may take Fujifilm a while to fix. 

Log in or register to post comments

24 Comments

Rhonald Rose's picture

Autofocus not being good relevant go vlogging or video production?

I guess, in video production you don't want the camera start focusing things you don't want to focus and so you'd like to have more control and so it doesn't matter. But in vlogging, you want the camera to make sure it keeps you in focus since you will be holding the camera on a stick.

I think camera manufactures should have a vlog centric camera and then stills + movie production centric camera in today's market.

Vlogging camera must have very good autofocus, light weight, front and rear focusing microphone, etc.

It will be a good market, but not sure how much the camera manufactures wants to keep a dedicated line. Stills+video camera tends to get heavy when you keep adding features to satisfy both stills shooters and video producers. Also the ergonomics requirements for stills, video production and vlogging are all different.

Usman Dawood's picture

I guess it depends but Philip Bloom is a respected filmmaker, so I doubt he's discussing this from a vlogging perspective.

Although, you do make some points which I agree with.

Philip Bloom's picture

Hi Usman, you are right, this is not about vlogging although for AF it doesn't make much difference. This is about using video autofocus for certain situations which I have done for close to 4 years now since the 1DXmk II; interviews and tracking subjects mainly.

All cameras at some point will have this ability. The Sony FX9 does an incredible job as do the Canon C300 II and C500 II. These are clearly not blogging cameras!

Video autofocus is an evolving technology that we should embrace, not be snobbish about. If anything makes our life easier when filming then embrace it! For the 1st 17 years of my camera, I had a B&W viewfinder on my Betacam. Was I happy when I finally got a colour one? Damn right. Was I happy when the 5D ii came along and gave me amazing (for then) low light ability? Damn right! The list goes on. It's funny how some find video AF to not be for professionals. It's their loss really!

Stuart Carver's picture

I posted this on Fujirumors.... all this trolling about the video capabilities of Fujifilm cameras all over the internet, yet I spotted this being used on a prime time television program on ITV in the U.K.

This is the much maligned X-H1 with the ‘useless’ kit lens being used by the hosts wife to film the TV show during lockdown.

Somebody from the film crew has obviously sent that camera to them to use so my question is, what makes the brand good enough for a film crew making TV shows with 5 million viewers but not good enough for a load of anonymous nobodies on the internet?

The host even said his wife had to learn how to become a camera operator so on top of all these unusable features for video we had a complete novice creating a 30 minute TV show with it, and not that this matters but they are both pensioners too.

Usman Dawood's picture

Calling something unreliable is different from calling it unusable. I think Fujifilm has done a great job so far but the complaints about the AF is real and to downplay them doesn't help customers or Fuji.

Many Fuji users including myself have complaints about it and the great thing about the company is that they listen.

Sure, you can produce content with the current AF system, but it does need to be improved.

Stuart Carver's picture

Come on man ‘content’.... it’s a television show not a f—king YouTube vlog.

I’m not downplaying anything, I’m just telling you somebody at a major TV broadcaster, who could have picked any single camera on the planet to send to Alan Titchmarsh to film his show, chose to send him a Fuji camera and lens to get the job done... why wouldn’t they just send Panasonic, a Canon, a Sony, Nikon etc if the Fuji was so bad or unreliable.

There is an old saying about a bad workman blaming his tools, and unfortunately in photography it rings true a vast majority of the time.

The show is still on catchup, why don’t you watch it and see what you think of the ‘content’

Usman Dawood's picture

Right, but you also have a video above from a respected filmmaker describing problems with the AF.

Just because it was used for something doesn't mean it has no problems.

Also, that statement about the bad workman is curious, because it's actually about taking responsibility. We are Fujifilms customers, they produced something and the customers have complaints. Fortunately, they normally do take responsibility.

Stuart Carver's picture

But how many of these complaints are within reasonable circumstances? What I mean by that is, why are we testing auto focus on 6/7 year old stills lenses with outdated focus mechanisms, everybody already knows those old lenses aren’t great at focusing, and I guess the same applies for most other manufacturers. Is auto focus the best use case in some video situations? There is a reason Hollywood film studios never use it.

This guy above has highlighted issues but then you can search elsewhere and find film makers on YouTube who shoot Fuji and create amazing content like Gareth Danks, Ian Worth, Nigel Danson, Thomas Heaton, Andy Mumford to name a few. Chris and Jordan on DPreview quite often shoot their reviews on Fuji and the end product is awesome.

I’m willing to bet that the woman shooting that gardening programme was using the camera with auto focus switched on and again the end product was good.

It seems to me people are wanting ultra professional video results with cameras not properly designed for video, using features that professional videographers would never use (IBIS, AF, no Gimbal, internal recording etc) in circumstances that are just not realistic for the equipment they are using.

Couple all the above with the vast majority of people just wanting to jump on the latest negativity train (see Nikon card slots) so they can troll away on forums

Also you still haven’t answered my question about why a professional film crew would send that camera to 2 complete novices to create a TV program? They could have sent literally any other.

Usman Dawood's picture

"Also you still haven’t answered my question about why a professional film crew would send that camera to 2 complete novices to create a TV program? They could have sent literally any other."

Well mostly because it doesn't matter.

Just because a camera was used for something doesn't mean it suddenly has no issues. The 5D Mark 2 was used on a feature film, that doesn't mean that Canon has nothing left to improve or offer.

"why are we testing auto focus on 6/7 year old stills lenses with outdated focus mechanisms"

Because those are the current Fuji lenses, and also, that's partly the point.

Stuart Carver's picture

But it does matter though, people are saying the auto focus can’t be relied on to work.

We aren’t talking about highly skilled film makers making use of whatever gear they are using and getting results because their skills outweigh the shortcomings of the camera.. we are talking about 2 people who 10 weeks ago had no interest in cameras or photography using equipment to make a TV show that was in focus. Why wouldn’t the film crew just send a camera they know they can rely on to focus properly... or perhaps they already did.

To be fair most of your articles on here consist of moaning about gear one way or another.

Usman Dawood's picture

You realise that you're complaining about people having complaints and then moaning about how people moan.

Also I don't understand why you would be against Fujifilm updating something that many people want improved. What's the downside?

Once again, that point of it being used by a broadcast company means little to nothing. Now if they exclusively shot with it and/or recommended it based on the AF, then sure you'd have a point, but that's not the case.
Also, you're making a lot of assumptions about that situation. It's like when someone sees a UFO and calls it an alien. The first letter is 'unidentified' yet they leap to the conclusion about it being an alien before they know what it is.
In a similar fashion, you're asking yourself an unknown and then deciding you know what it is.

But even if it were how you paint this picture, that still doesn't negate the problem, the AF still has issues and it's something that needs to be updated.

Complaints about Fujifilms AF system have been around for quite some time and although they have been updating it, the main issue has been the lenses which have not been addressed yet.

Tom Anderson's picture

Great job highlighting this. Hopefully it will lead to improvements from team Fuji. I find it funny that the same people who brag about Fuji putting out firmware updates, would not want to point out features that could be improved. Fanboys ruin everything.

Remember how much heat Sony got for their mirrorless cameras early on? Sony listened and now they are crushing it. People complained about their lack of lenses, now they have one of the best lineups out there. People complained about not bringing over IBIS from the aXX SLT cameras, so they added it. People complained about terrible battery life, so they fixed that. People complained about the lack of a second card slot, so they fixed that. People complained about ergonomics, so the expanded the grip and improved button placement.

There's a reason that Sony keeps on gaining market share. They actually listened to the user base and give them what they want.

Don't we want every camera company to be that responsive? Why do the fanboys complain about people wanting more from a camera maker? Makes no sense to me.

Stuart Carver's picture

You are just talk rubbish now. Please explain what assumptions I’m making about the situation? You think they bought the camera themselves?

And again, all I ever see you doing is writing negative articles about gear, other photographers just use theirs.

ignacy matuszewski's picture

Well it's mostly the case that his job here is writing articles, not making photos somewhere else.

About the camera - it doesn't matter that it was used for TV, days where television was equal to steal quality are gone for a long time. XT-4 is not a bad camera, but it has it flaws, and you need a good operator to overcome them. It's just the same with FS7 camera lineup, one of most popular systems for documentary work, they do their job, but the images from this camera looks awful and you need to either be a skilled colorist to correct them, or pay someone to fix them.

In reality they send this camera just because it was either the cheapest or the least used they had, and only thing that mattered was simply a codec.

Usman Dawood's picture

I work full time as an architectural photographer, that's my main job.

Other than that, some good points :).

Howard Barnett's picture

I have spent hours on the phone to Fuji about the AF not being reliable, great cameras but not impressed with the AF
www.howardbarnettphotography.co.uk

Costel Nicolaie's picture

My second shooter uses an XT2 and the focus is ok but far from perfect or 100% reliable. DSLR's have that big sensor under their mirror for a reason, and that is near-perfect focus, and I will continue to use them until they crumble in my hands.

SPEE DING's picture

Can’t say I’m surprised. Poor AF, mediocre IBIS. Don’t hold your breath waiting on “updated” lenses.

Usman Dawood's picture

Is the ibis really bad? I thought it was quite good when I tried it but I didn't test it for very long.

Olivier M. Mischon's picture

AF is not a feature. I do not want pcb, motors in my lenses. That stuff is expensive, breaks and near useless. It's still a sales gimmick. Big declicked primes work. The rest is toystuff.

Philip Bloom's picture

Anyone who sneers at video AF is a snob who is losing out. On many high-end cameras we have it for a reason because it's bloody useful for certain situations, not everything. Embrace innovations, don't be a snob. If you were a snob then why the f**k you shooting video anyway? Go back to film!! :)

Corey Weberling's picture

ya it's unfortunate because they probably need to release version 2's of all their fast lenses.

the xt4 is super tempting to upgrade to from my 6300.....but I'm holding out to see Sony's version. Really hoping they release something comparable this year.

Philip Bloom's picture

Considering Fuji have had to create their own PDAF from scratch due to Sony not giving them the on sensor tech from their sensors, they are doing realy well. It is getting there and I am confident it will just keep improving. We are still a long way off Sony and Canon but give it time!

Adam Valentiner's picture

Thanks for the review Phillip. Hopefully Fuji will be updating firmware for both the lenses and the camera soon in order to improve the auto focus performance. My takeaway is that there a few lenses which seem to work the best the Fuji 16mm f1.4 performed good and the 16-55mm f2.8 performed the best during these tests.

Have these lenses been tested with video and autofocus? These are some of the lenses I have seen bundled with the camera, these are what I now have.
FUJIFILM XF 10-24mm f/4 R OIS Lens
FUJIFILM XF 16-80mm f/4 R OIS WR Lens