The Fujifilm X-T4 Still Isn’t Enough to Drag Me Away From Sony, and It Has Nothing to Do With Sensor Size

The Fujifilm X-T4 Still Isn’t Enough to Drag Me Away From Sony, and It Has Nothing to Do With Sensor Size

When pondering my move away from Canon almost 18 months ago, the two main contenders were Fujifilm and Sony. Despite the announcement of the incredible-looking X-T4, Fujifilm still hasn’t done enough to drag me on board, and it has nothing to do with sensor size.

When researching my upgrade options in late 2018, I knew I wanted to ditch DSLRs and take advantage of the more compact and feature-rich offerings of the world of mirrorless. Shooting a lot of sports, there were two obvious choices for my budget: the first was the Fujifilm X-T3, an APS-C sensor camera boasting 20 frames per second with its electronic shutter, and an equally impressive 11 frames per second with its mechanical shutter. Leaving full-frame sensors behind would be a little jarring, though this was more psychological rather than for any practical concerns. Low-light images might have suffered, but given how rarely anyone views my images at 100%, this would not be a huge issue.

The second option was the Sony a7 III, offering 10 fps with both mechanical and electronic shutters, and that full-frame sensor that was more about feeling “pro” than any real logic. However, it was when I came to research my lens options that I realized why moving to Fuji would be impossible.

Titel monument, Serbia

The lens that has shot 90% of the images in my portfolio is the Canon 16-35mm f/2.8L, a piece of glass that I could adapt to the Sony a7 III, though this again wasn’t a decisive factor. Adapting glass has softened the blow of changing systems, but it wasn’t critical. Instead, it’s the fact that a 16-35mm f/2.8 equivalent simply doesn’t exist for Fuji, and it’s a hole in their lens lineup that for me is a gaping chasm.

A little more than a year after I decided that Fuji was not the right fit for me, along comes the X-T4. Let’s be honest: this thing looks incredible. It has all of the tactility and je ne sais quoi that the Sony lacks; while the a7 III has been something of a game-changer, it is an expensive box full of buttons designed by those who stare at spreadsheets and eat their lunch at their desks. Fujis, by comparison, are designed by people who love the process as much as the results, and understand that taking a photograph is much more than pulling a trigger.

For as long as most people can remember — and leaving aside RF glass — Canon has offered five full frame wide-angle zooms: the EF 8-15mm f/4L Fisheye, EF 11-24mm f/4L, EF 16-35mm f/2.8L, EF 16-35mm f/4L IS, and the EF 17-40mm f/4L. For my purposes, the fisheye is an overpriced novelty, and the 11-24mm is both too wide and too slow. The maximum aperture also rules out the 17-40mm.

BGI Academy, Denmark

In the middle, Canon has always offered two flavors of 16-35mm: the f/2.8 and the f/4. One is fast and heavy, and the other is not so fast, not so heavy, slightly cheaper, and has stabilization. Given my frequent need to freeze action in shoddy lighting conditions, the f/2.8 version has been essential, spending more time attached to my camera over the last 15 years than anything else. (Last year, I agonized over how to switch out my adapted Canon 16-35mm f/2.8, eventually choosing the Tamron 17-28mm. I had to compromise — both financially and to keep weight down — and decided that a few millimeters of reach was worth the sacrifice if I could keep a maximum aperture of f/2.8. So far, it’s been the right choice.)

When it comes to wide-angle zooms, Fujifilm’s offerings are much more limited. At the widest, there’s the XF 8-16mm f2.8, working out at 12-24mm when translated to full-frame — again, too wide for me. I stretch enough people’s faces, feet, and fingers already. More relevant is the XF 10-24mm f4 R OIS, effectively a 15-36mm lens, and like the Canon 16-35mm f/4, it comes with stabilization to make up for the lack of a wide maximum aperture.

Strange things, dark places.

Strange things, dark places.

The 10-24mm lens is the obvious counterpart, but for me, stabilization is useless. I’m shooting at speeds of 1/1,000th of a second and faster; if anything, I need a 10-24mm f/1.8 to compensate me for the reduction in sensor size — not stabilization.

As a result, Fujifilm’s X series of cameras is still let down slightly by the selection of lenses. Obviously, this is very specific to my photography, but if you’re an event shooter like me, a fast wide-angle zoom is a critical part of that much-discussed holy trinity of lenses, and I’m a bit confused as to why Fuji hasn’t plugged this gap. The X-T3 and X-T4 have proven that Fujifilm was right to stick with APS-C when offering a viable, more portable, and often more affordable alternative to full-frame mirrorless systems. With Canon’s APS-C range still teetering between EOS-M and the possibility of APS-C RF and Sony’s a6x00 range lacking the tactility and usability of the X cameras, you could argue that Fuji has very successfully carved something of a niche in a very crowded market.

The $2,000 Fujifilm XF 8-16mm f/2.8 R LM WR lens.

The $2,000 Fujifilm XF 8-16mm f/2.8 R LM WR lens.

Of course, this lens omission is not unique to Fujifilm. Some would argue that Canon’s EOS-M range of lenses barely draws comparison and Sony’s APS-C equivalent of the 16-35mm is again stuck at f/4, again compensated by stabilization. At least Fujifilm offers the very expensive 8-16mm f/2.8, though that does beg the question: if it can make a pricy 8-16mm with a fast maximum aperture, why doesn’t it do the same for its 10-24mm? Perhaps its simply too niche and consequently too expensive.

All of this fairly pointless chin-scratching has come about because Fujifilm has knocked it out of the park with the X-T4. The Gear Acquisition Syndrome is strong, and I crave that camera. Perhaps instead, I should be grateful that the lens doesn’t exist and be content with lusting from afar. Thank you, Fuji; your lens gap is a godsend.

No doubt, you'll let me know your thoughts in the comments.

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36 Comments

Oliver Neumann's picture

Over the last years Fuji has put a lot of effort into upgrading X series bodies, but the lens choice has still more limitations than for a Sony (not to speak of the DLSR Canon and Nikon systems or MFT). You better buy the lens you need first and than the body that goes with it as all bodies that you can buy today are at least good enough.

Timothy Linn's picture

Your logic is sound; you need a particular lens that isn't available for the Fuji system. I'm not sure that makes this post either helpful or broadly applicable to the majority of readers.

Les Sucettes's picture

Who the hell cares...

Matt Neder's picture

I would argue at least some people care, given the current shares and comments on this article.

Cares may have even been given by some who take actual time out of their day to comment on an article, solely in an attempt to make sure that everyone knows just how little they were moved or engaged by it.

And all the while being blissfully oblivious to the fact that this exact type of comment does the opposite of what you invariably intended it to. You commented on this article, and in this day and age, engagement is engagement. That drives viewership, that drives shares, that drives site traffic.

Just a suggestion, but if you truly don't care, perhaps you would next time consider trying an alternate technique, such as simply not commenting at all. It could be argued that your 'who cares' comment is infinitely more useless than the actual article, since someone put real time and effort into crafting that at least.

Different strokes for different folks, I'll leave you with this thought: Just because you don't care, that doesn't mean that everyone else feels the same way or agrees with you. I apologize if this news shocks you to your core.

Nice article btw (sorry it took a roundabout way to get to that), but having been reading up on the XT-4 as a current A7iii user, I found this a great read. Keep up the good work.

Dale Karnegie's picture

Since you loved this article, I wrote a few more articles for you!

Title: The new teslas are great but its not enough to make me sell my RV
I personally choose to live in a RV. Tesla doesn't make an RV. Therefore, I love my RV and I won't buy a Tesla.

Title: The new Dyson vacuum looks great, but its not enough to make me sell my mop.
I personally have only hardwood floors. I like to mop them. vacuums don't mop. therefore, I love my mop and I won't buy a vacuum!

Title: Black and Decker's Hammer looks great, but its not enough to make me sell my screw driver
I uniquely only screw in screws, never hammer them. The new hammer doesn't screw! therefore I love my screwdriver and I wont buy the new hammer!

Matt Neder's picture

I read and loved every one of these, you had me cracking up dude well done.

Also, since I have hardwood floors and a dog who sheds at least three dogs per day, I'd love more information on this new Dyson vacuum you speak of! None of mine can keep u with his ridiculous, silly blonde tufts that he leaves carefully strewn all over the place.

You may additionally have just invented the next great new Kickstarter; the scrammer! Part hammer, part screwdriver. Whatever the job, the scrammer has you covered.

In some(what) seriousness related to this article, I enjoyed it because I own an A7iii and have been reading up a lot on the new XT-4. I professionally do video, and its video specs (on paper) blow away the A7iii. Thanks to this site I've also really been enjoying the process of learning and practicing photography.

I've read every comparison and opinion I've been able to find on the XT-4 since it dropped. I tend to do as much research as humanly possible before finally making a "big buy" like a camera that costs thousands of dollars. Since I'm not rich and don't have unlimited income, for me this technique seems to help keep that ever-present "new gear envy" feeling (at least partially) at bay.

Matt Neder's picture

Tired of re-cleaning that same hardwood floor day after day? Well you're in luck! Our new scrammer, part hammer, part screwdriver, will make quick work of any pesky surface. You'll be left with a perfectly minced and shredded area where your wood floor once was, and find yourself free of worry from every having to vacuum the stupid thing ever again. :)

Pierre Dasnoy's picture

Thanks for the good laugh guys !

Dale Karnegie's picture

Let me summarize this article for everyone:

- I have an oddly specific requirement that all of my pictures are taken with a 16-35mm F2.8
- Fuji doesn't make a lens that gives me the FF equivalent of this lens.
- Therefore, I'm not switching from Sony to Fuji and I want all of you to know I didn't buy something

Questions you'll have after reading this:

- Why did the author think that readers would relate to this?
- Why did the author think we would care if he buys X camera or Y camera?

Bonus fun things:

Andy Day: "...and It Has Nothing to Do With Sensor Size"
Also Andy Day: "if anything, I need a 10-24mm f/1.8 to compensate me for the reduction in sensor size"

Alferd Smnarke's picture

If I don't get a sense of fulfilment or intellectual stimulation in return for my valuable time spent reading/viewing content on the internet, sometimes I feel bitter and angry.

Matt Neder's picture

Context is also important. What you personally may not find intellectually stimulating or fulfilling could be the opposite for someone else. For me personally, having been doing a ton of research on the XT-4 and currently being an owner of the A7iii (and considering upgrading), I found some benefit from it.

That being said, I can't disagree with the sentiment that oftentimes it's incredibly frustrating to get drawn in by some click-bait esque article with the hopes and expectations of one thing, only to find it's something totally different. IMO it's one of the biggest down sides to how present and available digital content is to us in 2020. The sheer amount of it as a whole means that there's a lot of low-quality filler out there. Good luck finding what interests you! A day filled with bitterness and anger is never fun.

the dikiz's picture

That's a fair sum up Dale, exactly my feelings after the read

Blake Aghili's picture

The good thing is now X-T3 becomes cheaper :)

Keagan De Villiers's picture

xt-4 is great is every aspect besides the sensor size. for that reason and that reason alone i will not switch. need tha full frame goodness :)

Geoffrey Keeton's picture

I like the Zeiss 21 FE...also 2.8. But it is MF only... I'm actually interested in looking at the Batis 18...I have the 25 mm Batis, and it's one of the sharpest things I have ever used. I would like to get the Loxia 21 mm and try it out, but again manual focus... back to the Fuji issue. If they had Zeiss lenses I would buy their cameras. I shall with the a7iii over a year and just sold it I just can't stand that thing.

Mihail Tanase's picture

They have 2 Zeiss with af.

Ryan Davis's picture

Check out the Zeiss Touit 12mm 2.8, 32mm 1.8, and 50mm 2.8

Matt Neder's picture

What specifically do you find so offensive regarding the A7iii? Always interested to hear other users experiences.

Mihail Tanase's picture

Importance of Ibis depends on the user. My wife is mostly the stills shooter and without Ibis she gets more blurred photos even at 1/200 secs and 35 mm

Luca Santirocco's picture

Probably the worst content here?

Herco le Fevre's picture

I noticed a wide-spread misconception about aperture and sensor size. In terms of amount of light an f2.8 is the same regardless sensor size. You don't need to factor in the crop. So, the 10-24 on Fuji doesn't need to be f1.8 to match the FF equivalent of f2.8 to reach low ISO or fast shutter speed.

In terms of Depth-of-Field (DoF) the difference between full-frame and APS-C is not determined by the aperture, but by difference in focal length. At f2.8 the DoF of 24mm is the same on APS-C and FF. However, 24mm in APS-C has a different view angle than in FF (more like 35mm). And since longer lenses have shallower DoFs, there's your difference.

You could argue that shallow DoF isn't the critical design factor for wide-angle zoom lenses. The quality of focus transition, field curvature and bokeh is much more important and fortunately that is not determined by sensor size.

As a Fuji-shooter I do consider moving for part of my gear to Sony, but not because of the lenses. The A7iii and the XT4 are very competitive and reach a similar level of image quality (at least for stills). Where there's a real difference is when you move to the A7Riv. That level is hard to reach with the current state of APS-C. However, we're talking different price-levels here. Good to know that the XT4, the A7Riv and the GFX100 all use the same sensor as a basis. Only cut to different sizes...

L V's picture

Are you an idiot? F2.8 does NOT let the same amount of light in on an APS-C as in a Full Frame. You absolutely DO have to factor in the crop. This is why full frame bodies are simply ideal for almost all pros. No limitation on hardware, but truly more expensive. Read up n how sensors work before making such a long comment as this.

Steve McQueen's picture

What's with the hate? It does let the same light for exposure purposes. f2.8 at 1/1000th at ISO100 is the same exposure for FF and crop. I could even take the picture on a FF sensor, print it out, and then cut out the centre section with some scissors, giving exactly the same picture, at the same exposure, and now only seeing the cropped area. Cutting off the edges of the sensor vs the edges of the picture makes no difference for exposure. There's more light overall for FF, but it's also spread over a bigger area...

Herco le Fevre's picture

It's very simple: does your separate light meter have to know the sensor size of the camera? No, it just knows the ISO, the aperture and the shutter speed to find right exposure. It's simple physics...

Andrew Miller's picture

So glad the XT4 is out and about foe long enough to give people a reply good length of time to slate it. Oh wait. It's the lenses not the camera that are being slated.

More click bait

Joseph Parker's picture

Besides the obvious argument of the author having very specific requirements in terms of lens needs, he also doesn't offer why he needs them. He says he likes a specific Canon lens, which, in my humble opinion, is not a very good lens nor does it have good optical qualities outside of a fast aperture. Nikon wide angle lenses are much better with Fuji coming in a close second (for wide angle lenses). To me, 16mm is not very wide and a wide trinity lens should be 12-24mm, to complement 24-70. Saying 12mm is too wide for you makes no sense. Simply don't use the wide end. If he needs more reach, maybe look into changing lenses as that range seems weird to me, but he doesn't even offer that explanation. He offers he needs a wide aperture to increase shutter speed. The aperture on the 2.8 fuji will expose the same as the 2.8 on the Canon. It wont offer the same depth of field until 1.8, but generally that is not a consideration with wide angles and not something he says (it also isn't apparent in any of his sample work). The fact that he uses Tamron now which only goes to 28mm and has a 17mm wide, and is not nearly as sharp or have as good of color saturation as the Fuji makes me think this guy is a hack. I'm not saying he should switch or that Fuji is for everyone (you should pick your gear bases on your needs), but in even his myopic example, he gets nearly every fact wrong. People who have GAS typically do so because they are floundering and have no clue as how to stop the bleeding or where their business needs to be.

Andy Day's picture

Putting aside how weirdly angry this article made you:

1. Most of my shots with my 16-35mm are at around 20mm. The article explains why 12mm is too wide for me. I took a compromise with the Tamron: though most of my shots are between 20mm and 35mm, the loss of 7mm at the long end was a nice balance with the size and weight of the lens.
2. I don't need the Fuji's sharpness nor its colour saturation. It would be nice, but it's not a priority.
3. At the time, moving to Nikon wasn't an option. Adapting Canon glass eased the transition, but there was no Nikon camera that had the specs that compared to the a7iii.

Pierre Dasnoy's picture

One word : Speedbooster.
Put that between your canon lens and youf fuji, and stop click baiting specific matters only you is interested about.

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