How to Improve the Fujifilm X-T4: A Canon User's Perspective

How to Improve the Fujifilm X-T4: A Canon User's Perspective

I picked up a Fujifilm X-T4 about five months ago to use primarily as a backup camera and for street photography, video, and family use. Although I shoot with a Canon system in my studio, I fell in love with Fuji’s cameras years ago when I acquired an X-Pro1 and a few X lenses. In this article, I offer a friendly critique and some suggestions for Fuji to improve an already great camera system. 

This is not a comparison of the X-T4 to the EOS R5, but my critiques are based largely on my experience using the R5. Now, I realize that some may think it unfair to compare these two cameras since they are both at very different price points. But, as both are high-end professional models, I think it's fair to have similar expectations in performance.


I’m sure that this is not news to anyone, but they're still is a lot of room for improvement in Fuji’s AF system. With mirrorless options from companies like Canon, Sony, and Nikon, that feature near-flawless autofocus systems, Fuji still has a way to go. Whether in still or video mode, the autofocus tends to be a bit finicky, especially while using tracking. Once in a while, it just doesn’t want to focus and sort of freezes up for a second, or it hunts and pecks while trying to lock in on the subject. When using my R5, on the other hand, it never misses. The eye-tracking is almost perfect, and when I am using it for video, I don’t even worry about whether it’s going to lock on the subject or not. In general, however, the AF system in the X-T4 is very good, and the interface works well too. But, as Fuji rolls out new models, this is the key area where I think they need to show a big improvement.

Fujifilm's menu system is very good, but with a few tweaks, it can be great and much more intuitive.

Menu System

The menu system in the X-T4 is good but has some annoying quirks. For example, if you scroll to a particular option in the menu and select it, the next time you access the menu, it will automatically go back to your last “My Menu” setting. I am not sure if there is a way to change this, but so far, I have not been able to do so. This is extremely frustrating because often, I will access an option in the menu (that’s not part of the custom “My Menu” settings), make a change, and then immediately want to go back into that same menu to tweak a setting I have made. Instead of hitting the menu button and starting where I left off, it goes back to the last used setting in “My Menu.” It’s one of those small things that creates a lot of extra effort and I think it would be much preferred for the menu to always open where you left off.

Another aspect of the menu system which has the potential to be great, but is only okay, is the way you use a physical dial and a menu together to fine-tune a setting. For instance, there is a dial on the top plate of the camera to adjust the drive mode from single to continuous low, continuous high, bracketing, and more. But, you must also access the rear menu screen to tweak options like the number of frames per second, bracketing parameters, etc. This would be a perfect system if the menu screen popped up automatically after changing the physical mode dial on top. Then it would be easy to fine-tune settings. As it is, you must change the knob, and then find the “Drive Settings” menu to make further adjustments, which turns out to be a time-consuming process.

The shutter speed, exposure compensation, ISO dials, and shutter release on the X-T4 are extremely well made and a joy to use.

Battery Life

To be fair, I hold this critique with the R5 as well as with the X-T4, but the R5 battery life has been better in my experience. Although the X-T4's battery life is good, it’s not great. And the last thing I want is a large, bulky grip since this eliminates the portability of the camera. In the past, using DSLRs, I barely had to change batteries and often one battery could get me through an entire day. Mirrorless cameras are much more power-intensive, of course, but putting that aside, I think the battery life needs to be improved. The first night I had the camera, I took it out to do some street photography on a full charge. After a few hours, the battery indicator was in the red, which surprised me. Luckily, there were outlets in some of the subway cars, so I was able to squeak out a bit more power to get through the night.

Changing the drive mode can be done by moving the selector pictured here; however, the menu must be accessed to further tweak these modes. This is a good system, but it can be improved.

Buttons and Dials

One of the main reasons I purchased this camera is for the physical knobs and dials, especially the shutter speed dial, aperture ring, ISO dial, and excellent manual-focusing ability. The shutter speed, ISO, and exposure compensation dials are very well constructed and don’t slip out of their current settings easily, even when unlocked. But, a few of the dials can be greatly improved. The front and rear command dials are the most finicky. They have a spin as well as a press option, and often, as you spin the dial, it will accidentally press down, selecting something you don’t want. This could be fixed by simply firming up the dial. The same goes for the AF/MF switch on the front of the camera. I love this old-school method for adjusting the focusing mode, but sometimes, I have unintentionally moved the switch. Finally, the AF selector switch is one that I think should be redesigned. Unlike the multi-controller on my R5, this dial is too small and not prominent enough for a switch that is used often. The response is also a bit slow when adjusting AF points. A larger, more pronounced dial would make finding and changing autofocus settings and points much easier.

I love the AF/MF switch, which is in line with the X-T4's retro styling. But the button needs to be a little harder to move accidentally.

Live View Contrast

The primary way I use the X-T4 is through the viewfinder with exposure simulation turned on. At times, I use the screen for shooting, but more often than not, I prefer the EVF, whether shooting concerts, street photography, or family photos. The issue I’ve encountered is that the EVF and LCD screen do not match in contrast. I have adjusted the EVF settings to get it as close as possible to the LCD, but it’s still not perfect. This can be very jarring when reviewing an image that looked rich and contrasty at eye level, but quite a bit more flat when pulled up on the screen. I don’t have this issue with my R5 or even with my X-Pro1.

The autofocus selector would be much easier to use if it were bigger and more responsive.

Resolution and Sensor Size

As with any new camera, I would expect the latest Fujifilm X camera to have an improved sensor and higher resolution. But to be honest, this is the least of my concerns as the image quality is already superb. I also doubt that Fuji wants to invest in full frame cameras since they have already built a great system around the APS-C and medium format sensors, and I don’t think this is a make-or-break matter for most of us shooting with an X-T4 at this time. Don't get me wrong, it would be amazing to see a full-frame sensor in a Fujifilm X flagship camera, but I think their energy is best spent on those other areas.

Small Changes Make Big Gains

The good news is that everything I have critiqued in this article amounts to small changes. This means that in the X-T5 (or whatever it will be called), if these changes are employed, the camera can truly be exceptional and appeal to a wider audience. And, to be fair, the X-T4 is already an exceptional camera as it is. But, I think that it can be even better, and as a Fujifilm fanboy, I look forward to seeing what changes are to come in the new models.

Pete Coco's picture

Pete Coco is a portrait photographer and musician based in New York. When not performing as a jazz bassist, Pete can be found in his studio working with a wide range of clients, although is passion is creating unique portraits of other musicians and artists.

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Thank you!

As someone who owns both systems (Fuji X-T series and Canon RF), the biggest issue with Fujifilm cameras *and* lenses is video autofocus performance. I had the Fuij before I got the Canon and am waiting for the X-H2 to address those issues and perhaps introduce some interesting new features. If they don't, I think I'm going to cash out of Fuiji and stick with Canon. I'm a hobbyist and not a professional, so I don't know that it makes any sense financially to own both systems. Doesn't make sense for backpacking and trips, either. But I really do enjoy both.

I didn't really say too much about the video AF in particular, but you are completely right. The AF performance in video mode leaves a lot to be desired, especially when compared to the Canon which is almost flawless.

Thanks for the article (and not a video :-). I’m just an amateur, but I used to shoot with Fuji for many years as my travel/street camera (tried X-T1, X-Pro2, X-E3). While the IQ was always excellent, the menu system really slowed me down. In addition to the “last menu item” issue, there is also no way to view the menu system on the LCD when it is turned off while shooting. This was a particular issue for me with the XP2 since between the OVF, EVF, LCD and Eye Detect, there are 5 or 6 different settings you have to toggle through with the viewfinder button to get back to the “LCD off” state. Very frustrating, especially since it would be such an easy fix to reactivate the LCD when the Menu or Q button is pressed. Maybe they’ve fixed this, but I’ve moved on as this really slowed me down and degraded the shooting experience. It’s too bad, because otherwise I really enjoyed the XP2. As a Nikon shooter, I switched to the new Z fc for travel. Smaller, lighter, excellent IQ and a more intuitive UI and menu system. No complaints so far. If I need my Fuji fix, I still have and old X-E1 and a couple of primes, but it mostly sits in a drawer theses days.

Good points, Tom. It's these small frustrating things that add up to a poor user experience. By the way I do have a video about this too I just didn't link it this time LOL. Thanks for reading and for the insights!

Good review of what Fuji must address. Are you really happy with low light performance when compared to the RF?

I think the R series cameras are in another league when it comes to low light performance (based on my experience with the R5).

Really what a stupid comparison ,Canon R5 with the 24-70 $4999 , FujiXT 4 with the 18-55 $2099 ......more then twice the price !!!!

Not really look a the Leia 0.95 Noct its competitors have close to the same image quality for 10 /times Less money...also the Noct has the worst CA of most Leica lenses and is in need of a major update....Moral of the story sometimes you don't get what you pay for...

The article is an assessment of a canon user on what must be fixed in Fuji. That begs that question.

Actually I'm a Canon AND Fuji user lol. And I think the comparison is fair, since both are pro bodies. You could compare it to an R6 if you prefer, which is much closer in price and get the same basic results.

any modern camera has an almost infinite combinations and permutations in their settings.
The "out-of-the-box" default usually gives the best overall result under the greatest number of conditions
Anyone can come up with his favorite tweaks - and anyone else can call him out for being a blowhard

Battery shots, I don' know as I don't shoot XT4. I do have GFX100s which is same battery as XT4. Last 2 shoots, my single battery lasted 950+ shots. Official capacity is half of that.

FF - why care when GFX is there.:) Yes slower AF but man overall still the best camera picture quality wise, that I have used.

AF, agree on it. For whatever reason Fuji just can't get their AF right. It is not bad but Canon, Sony and Nikon are all better than Fuji now.

I think there are a lot of things others can learn from Fuji too.

GFX isn't a good substitute (or comparison) for a FF system. Sure the picture quality competes with and may even beat the highest spec FF camera models but that's where the advantage ends. GFX are bigger cameras with bigger (size wise) and very limited lens selection. Price wise, you can buy FF cameras around the $2000 price point and GFX expensive, starting from $3000 and going to $10K. They are not sports cameras either as they lack the speed of competing FF cameras.

Sure, if money is the main objective, stick with FF. If ultimate picture quality is the objective, move up to MF. Wish I could afford the PhaseOne IQ4. Not everything you shoot requires the fastest AF. In medium format terms GFX is plenty fast.

I was merely pointing out there are a number of disadvantages to MF compared to FF that you seem to gloss over. A lot of those disadvantages are dealbreakers for many people. Now we have cameras like the Sony A1 producing excellent image quality, a lot of discussions have been had whether the GFX system is really worth it for some photographers. If you can live with the limitations then by all means buy into GFX but the limitations still need pointing out. The lack of speed is very important to working professionals too. It's not always as simple as just pointing out the image quality as a reason to buy into a particular (expensive) camera system.

Can’t the same be said about APS-C and 35mm? Hardly any difference in images but much larger and more expensive. It’s all relative, full frame owners just can’t seem to grasp that though, all part of the cultist attitude.

Please don't make me out to be a 'FF cultist', whatever that's supposed to mean. You don't know me and you have totally missed the point anyway. The original comment claimed MF is better than FF because of superior image quality. I was merely pointing out there's a lot more to a particular system than image quality alone and the Fuji GFX has a number of disadvantages compared to FF cameras. I'm talking about features and ecosystem, not the sensor size. Price is also a major factor too.

Did I call you one? Nowhere on my comment does it remotely suggest it was aimed at you.

Haven't tried the MF Fujis but I know some friends who rave about them. PhaseOne is awesome too but remember those massive file sizes really take up a TON of space. Even with my R5, I'm working with raw files around 40mb, which adds up fast!

Thank you for the well thought out article. I really like Fuji. I mean I really LOVE Fuji. The XT- 1 I have is still great and see no reason for upgrade, BUT.....they just keep making them better and better. I still want to get the GFX 50s. I know it's older and blah blah blah, but it looks perfect for my wants and needs. Thank you again.

I love it too! Despite my criticisms haha

I agree on the battery life. I have an xt1 and and xt2 as well as a gfx100s. battery life on the xt1 and 2 is horrendous. One battery will last maaaaybe an hour and a half to two hours. I have like 15 batteries for these cameras because of this. The GFX100s is much better on battery than the xt 1 and 2 but it's still not great. i can burn through two to three batteries on a shoot and if you are shooting video you're really screwed. When shooting stills I've learned to just turn the camera off when I'm not shooting a photo or leave the the main view port as the evf and not the back screen and have it set to only turn on when i pull the camera up to my eye. That has noticeably increased the battery life.

Yep, but turning the camera on and off is so annoying. The camera goes into sleep mode so I'm not sure why that doesn't work the same way, but again, the other day, I maybe got 2 hours walking around outside before the red light came on.

>Yep, but turning the camera on and off is so annoying

Teah it really is annoying lol. I hate using sleep mode on my XT1 and XT2 because turning the camera off an on gets the cameras shoot ready faster than waking them from sleep mode. I don't have that issue on my GFX100s though. it's pretty quick to come out of sleep mode.