Title: Capturing Emotions: My Journey with the Fujifilm X-T5

 

I feel obliged to add a response to my previous article questioning the value of photography in this day and age.

You see, I’m a guy in my 40’s who has been a photographer for close to two decades. Over the years I have struggled with creative block as many creatives do. I have had periods of inactivity, exhaustion and non stop productivity. I have chased Instagram likes as a form of recognition for my work and also deleted all my social media. All this has often lead me to questioning the value of my photography.

A realisation came to me a few weeks ago when shooting a pre nuptial wedding shoot and looking at prints of my daugher. My photography has value in the moments and emotions captured in time. It doesn’t have to be perfect because the emotion that can be evoked when looking back through cherished photos goes deeper than technique, composition etc. Yes, all those things can add to a photo but it is the emotion captured that resonates most with the viewer.

In the past my perfectionism has lead to indecision and inaction and so I now try and live by the mantra of done is better than perfect. When I’m old and looking back on all the photos of my daughter I’ll be grateful to have so many memories, whether they are technically accomlished or not.

As a passionate photographer, I’ve embarked on a journey with the Fujifilm X-T5, a camera that goes beyond just being a tool—it’s a companion that has changed the way I see and feel about photography.

Discovering the Fujifilm X-T5:

From the moment I held the Fujifilm X-T5 in my hands, I knew there was something special about it. Its retro design, reminiscent of classic film cameras, instantly appealed to my aesthetic sensibilities. But it wasn’t just its appearance that drew me in; it was the promise of a photographic experience unlike any other. For me. photography has a soul and my cameras, or at least the best ones also have a soul and evoke emotion. The XT5 with its diminutive size, physical control dials and film simulations inspire me to create.

If you also want to feel that inspiration and are considering purchasing your own XT5 then please consider doing so through my Amazon link. This helps me to continue building this website and feed my family without costing you a penny more.

Embracing Creativity:

One of the most remarkable aspects of the Fujifilm X-T5 is its ability to inspire creativity. With its array of film simulation modes, I found myself exploring new artistic possibilities, each mode imbuing my images with a distinct mood and atmosphere. From the timeless elegance of Classic Chrome to the nostalgic warmth of Classic Neg, every frame became an expression of my creative vision.

Capturing Moments, Embracing Emotions:

What sets the Fujifilm X-T5 apart is its ability to capture not just images, but emotions. The camera’s exceptional image quality and color reproduction breathe life into every photograph, preserving the fleeting moments and emotions that define our lives. Whether it’s the joy of a my daughter’s laughter, the serenity of a sunset, or the intimacy of a candid portrait, the X-T5 elevates ordinary moments into extraordinary memories.

Connecting with the Past, Embracing the Future:

As I continue my journey with the Fujifilm X-T5, I can’t help but feel a deep connection to the rich legacy of photography. With its intuitive controls and tactile feel, the camera pays homage to the craftsmanship of analog cameras while embracing the cutting-edge technology of the digital age. It’s a perfect blend of past and present, reminding me that the true essence of photography lies not in pixels or megapixels, but in the emotions captured within each frame.

Conclusion:

In a world filled with endless distractions, the Fujifilm X-T5 along with a prime lens such as the 35mm f2, serves as a reminder to slow down, appreciate the beauty around me, and capture moments that matter. With its soulful design, unparalleled creativity, and ability to evoke emotions, it has become more than just a camera—it’s a gateway to a world of endless possibilities, where every click of the shutter is an invitation to explore, create, and connect with the world around us.

OM System OM1 review – Not a birding review!!!

In this OM System OM1 review I am going to show you what the OM1 is like in general use. I originally bought the OM1 with the intention to start spending much more time doing wildlife photography. However, as is often the case I found that with a young family I simply didn’t have the time available to really dedidcate to that pursuit.

It is easy to find an OM System OM1 review that covers wildlife and particularly bird photography and as much as I would like to do more wildlife photography I simply don’t have the time.

 

Therefore this review will cover what the OM1 is like to use as a general camera shooting landscapes, travel and some candid portraits too.

If you find my review useful and plan to buy an OM1 then please consider using my Amazon affiliate link below. This wont cost you anything but will allow me to earn a small commission which helps me to write more reviews like this.

OM 1

As you can see from previous articles on my site I have been using Olympus gear for a long time now. I have owned and used the EM5III which I reviewed as well as the EM1X and EM1III. In all honesty I wasn’t motivated to write a review for the EM1 III as I really didn’t feel that it brought enough to the table to warrant a full review. The EM1X was and is a fantastic camera but one that was controversial due to the size. I actually really liked that camera and have been tempted recently to get another due to the great deals Olympus Europe are offering on it. However, I’m doing a lot of travel these days and so I have resisted as it doesn’t fit that well with my ethos of travelling light.

Anyway, back to the OM System OM1 review.

The OM1 had enough new features and claimed improvements to get me seriously looking at it because I wanted a camera that was suited to travel. It is not just the size of the Micro 43 system that attracted me but also the possibility to leave both my tripod and filters at home thanks to the IBIS and internal ND filters. This would enable me to travel essentially with just the camera, lenses and batteries without compromising on the kind of images that I could create.

So What’s new with the OM Systems OM1

Here are the main selling points that motivated me to buy the OM1, which I shall talk about in this article.

:Speed improvements brought about by the new dual Truepic X processor and stacked sensor.

:Usable handheld Hi Res mode

:Live ND mode

:Subject detection modes

:IPX 53 weather sealing

:Supposed improved high ISO performance

:50 FPS with AF usable in Pro Capture mode

:Improved viewfinder

Om System OM1 ergonomics

 

The OM1 was the last camera that was designed by Olympus before they sold their imaging division and it changed to what has now become OM System. It has the Olympus logo on it and it feels every bit an Olympus EM1 series camera. The handling is very similar to previous EM1 bodies. A couple of the buttons on the back are a little too recessed for my liking so using it with gloves is more difficult than the EM1X (which was among the best handling cameras that I’ve ever used).

 

However, it is comfortable and the build quality feels up to the usual standards I have come to expect from Olympus. It now comes with an upgraded IP53 rating for weather sealing. In practise, I have put my olympus cameras through some of the most demanding weather over the years, from the wild winds and driving rain of the Outer Hebrides to the monsoons of Asia and they have never let me down. With the OM1 I have no concerns that it will be anything less than solid in all weather conditions.

The main upgrade that interested me was the new 5.76 million dot EVF. This has been a long time coming and is a much needed upgrade in order to mix it with the competition. It is bright, clear and sharp. It makes the EVF a pleasure to use and is a huge upgrade compared with the previous generation’s old 2.36 million dot EVFs. I am now able to clearly see which areas of an image are in focus and combined with the focus aids it is infinitely better than the older cameras. With the EM1X I could barely define sharpness and manual focussing was a real struggle.

Dual SD card slots remain and while it would have been nice to see a CF express type B card slot to match the shooting speeds possible with the OM1 I find that the dual UHS-2 card slots work well for everyday shooting and save me a bit of money on having to purchase (the still expensive) CF Express cards.

On the top dial the OM1 has 4 custom slots which I find very useful for quickly swapping between setups for various shooting scenarios. I initially set these up with differrent birding and wildlife scenarios in mind and it made switching between hi speed shooting modes and various auto focus modes very quick and easy. My custom modes are now setup for various portrait and lighting scenarios.

In terms of ergonomics, everything else remains broadly similar to the EM1 mark 3 so moving from one to the other is pretty seemless physically.

The OM1 has a new and in my opinion, much improved menu system which anyone migrating over from another brand will find far easier to navigate. Items are laid out and named in a much more logical way than the older menu system. As someone who has used a lot of Olympus cameras I knew my way around the old menus but the new one is undeniably much better.

Not only is the menu laid out much more logically but unlike other cameras, when an option is not available it actually tells you why. You can also press the info button to get a brief explanation of what a menu option does. I find the new menu to be one of the best available from any manufacturer.

Sensor

The OM1 comes with a new stacked 20mp sensor that allows it to shoot at insanely high frame rates of upto 120 fps without AF and 50FPS with AF. For birders this is incredibly useful and when combined with Pro Capture it allows you to get shots that are simply not possible with most other cameras.

To read more about these features I would suggest that you head over to specific wildilfe and birding reviews as it is beyond the scope of this review and as mentioned in the title, this is not a birding review.

OM System claims that the new sensor offers a 1 stop improvement in dynamic range and a two stop improvement in high ISO noise performance.

In all honesty I have not done any scientific tests on the dynamic range of this camera compared to previous versions as I no longer have any other Olympus cameras. My instinct from looking at previous photos and ones from the OM1 are that any difference in dynamic range is fairly minor. The shots look the same to my eye and that’s fine as I normally get the exposure pretty close to where I want it in camera and I find the OM1 to have enough dynamic range to do this. Should it be a particularly challenging scene then it’s easy to setup bracketing.

I have tested for noise performance and I can say that a two stop improvement is a little optimistic. I would suggest 1 stop to be a little more accurate. There is definitely an improvement in the high ISO performance of the OM1 compared with the EM1 iii and EM1X and I am often surprised at how good images look at ISO 6400. In fact I was shooting the OM1 just the other day at night and found that the noise performance, even at ISO 10,000 was surprisingly usable when shooting black and white (which I do a lot these days).

Some of the claimed improvement in noise performance undoubtedly comes from OM Workspace now having an AI powered de-noise feature included which does a remarkable job at cleaning up image files. Adobe Lightroom also now has this feature.

As much as I wish they could, OM System cannot overcome physics and the small gap between Micro 43 and APS-C in terms of noise still exists. My Fuji XT5 files still look cleaner once I start to push the ISO to 3200 and above.

Key features

As mentioned at the start of this review, as well as wildlife photography, the OM1 has some key features and improvements that lead me to believe I could use this camera for travel and leave behind my tripod and filters.

The hand held hi res mode combines 8 images to create a 50mp file and importantly, composites the images much more quickly than the EM1 III.

Hand held Hi res image
HHHR 100% crop

In practise I have found this feature a mixed bag. Sometimes the additional detail and improved noise performance/tonality are readily apparent over standard 20mp images and at other times I struggle to see any meaningful difference between them. What I can say is that the speed at which the OM1 now produces the hi res images makes it much less of a hassle to take them as you are only waiting a few seconds for the camera to be ready to shoot again.

OM System’s Hi res mode still does not have motion correction unlike Panasonic so any movement in the scene can and does cause some issues. In practice, for landscapes I have found hand held hi res quite usable. I have even used it for portraits on occasion and providing your subject doesn’t move too much it can work well. I wouldn’t rely on it though.

One thing that I rarely hear discussed online is the fact that the larger depth of field of Micro 43 sensors for a given angle of view can be a benefit over larger sensors. For instance, when shooting a landscape where I want front to back sharpness on my GFX 100S, it will require me to stop down considerably, pay much more attention to hyper focal distances and quite often require me to focus stack. On the OM1 the hi res mode combined with deeper depth of field actually makes getting these kinds of images much more simple than on larger format sensors. The image quality of hand held hi res is not quite upto medium format standards but it is certainly a lot closer to full frame than you might think.  Either way, I find hand held hi res to be a useful feature and one that I hope OM System develop more in the future.

The other feature that interested me is the ND filter mode. I say mode because it is not a physical ND filter but a software based solution that combines multiple photos and blends them together in camera to give the apearrance of having used an ND filter. I don’t know about you, but I’m a sucker for slower shutter speeds when it comes to rivers, waterfalls and coastal images.

Shots like this are made easy thanks to excellent IBIS and the ND filter.

In practise I have found the ND filter in the OM1 to work really well and give natural looking shots most of the time. With upto 6 stops of ND filtration it offers plenty of scope to get those beautiful silky water effects yet leave your tripod and physical ND filters at home.

 

Auto Focus

While most OM System OM1 reviews focus on how the camera performs for wildlife and bird photography, not much has been said about how good it is for general photography.

The speed of the new processor along with quad pixel Af points mean that the OM1 is very quick to focus. I use the OM1 with single AF unlike when I use Sony cameras which do much better in continuous AF mode.

The OM1 easily captures candid shots like this one of my daughter enjoying snow for only the second time.

The AF is quick to attain focus and rarely gives me any false positive focus locks.

Face and eye AF work quite well when your subject is facing the camera front on and even to the side a little but it is not as good as the latest AF from either Canon or Sony. Those systems are exceptionally good at keeping the subject when they turn away from the camera and back again although my Sony A7IV does ocassionally give a positive focus lock yet the image is not quite in focus. Generally the AF on the OM1 is fast and accurate and on par with my Fuji XT5 when it comes to face and eye tracking. In low light it can sometimes struggle a little bit but all my other cameras behave in the same way under the same circumstances too.

One of the main benefits I find with the Micro 43 system is that I’m much more likely to take it out and capture casual moments and memories.

If i had to rate the OM1 AF when shooting general subjects and people I would put it in the second division, below Canon and Sony but on par with Fuji and Nikon and above my Panasonic GH6. It is more than capable of getting sharp in focus shots in the majority of situations.

The subject recognition modes also work really well, bird photography is a breeze and shooting my growing pack of dogs when they are charging around is no challenge at all. The fact that you can easily setup custom functions to switch between your favourite AF modes is also very useful.

 

OM Sytem OM1 review – Conclusion.

If you are considering the Om System OM1 as a general camera for family, portrait, landscape and travel photography then it is a very capable camera. It has the most advanced computational photography modes of any camera from any brand with features such as live view, live composite and hand held hi res and ND modes. Combined with the exceptional weather sealing and comfort it makes for a great all around camera. It will also allow you to capture some fantastic wildlife images for a lot less money than a lot of other systems while saving quite a bit of weight.

However, as a general camera there is a lot of competition and if the features that I mentioned above are not integral to your plans then it may not make sense to pay for all the technology crammed into the OM1.

Yes, the OM1 is capable of doing just about everything you could want and that makes it a great all rounder. However you are paying for a stacked sensor and hi burst shooting rates which may be of no benefit to the things you photograph.

For landscapes and travel, an OM5 ii (if they bring the new menus, hand held hi res speed and ND filters of the OM1) would be perfect and cheaper/lighter. I would choose the OM1 over any X series Fuji for landscapes as I’m just not a fan of Fujiilm X series cameras for landscape photography.

If you shoot mainly people then I would take a Fuji XT5 over the OM1 and for street photography the Fuji weather sealed f2 primes are hard to beat. I wish OM System would update their compact f/1.8 primes to be weather sealed but they show no signs of doing so.

You also have to consider that you can now pick up some great full frame options for a similar price to the OM1. A Sony A7IV with an f/1.8 lens will still give shallower depth of field than an OM1 with one of the costly but excellent f/1.2 primes. The shooting experience with the OM1 may be a little nicer but the image quality of the Sony will be better.

As with all cameras, there are pros and cons and I could make arguments for and against almost all cameras and kits. In the end, if the OM1 does what you want it to do for a price you are willing to pay then you will not be disappointed as it is an excellent camera. There is no camera that does everything brilliantly, thats why I now choose cameras for specific needs. The OM1 suits me perfectly for travel where the subjects will be of the natural world and that’s why I take it with me on these kind of trips.

That concludes my OM System OM1 review. I really enjoy using the OM1 and Micro 43 in general. Many have spoke of the demise of Micro 43 but I sincerely hope that they continue to bring out new and innovative cameras like the OM1 because I certainly enjoy using them. Despite Youtube and other places constantly beating the drum of full frame I believe a lot of people would be well served using Micro 43 instead. All sensor sizes come with compromises and it’s up to us to decide which ones we are willing to accept. Now OM Systems, please make a Pen F II and I would be all over it.

Sony A7III vs A7IV

Sony A7III vs A7IV

In this post I am putting the Sony A7III vs A7IV to see how the two compare. Is the Sony A7IV worth upgrading to from the Sony A7III?

I originally owned a Sony A7III back when it was released in 2018. I was pretty impressed with it as you can see in my review at the time. The Sony A7IV intrigued me as I wanted to see how they could improve upon what is still one of the best hybrid cameras, even in 2022.

In this article I am going to cover everything that you need to know when considering the Sony A7III vs A7IV including image quality, video quality, ergonomics, menus and all the upgraded features. If you would rather watch then my video comparison of the Sony A7III vs A7IV Can be found here . The video shows screen recordings of the AF in action, the IBIS and video quality as well as everything else.


Sony A7III vs A7IV – Ergonomics

The first thing that you notice when you put the Sony A7IV next to the A7III is that the new camera has gained a little size over its predecessor. In terms of weight they are within a few grams of each other but the size difference, particularly the depth of the camera is more noticeable than the figures would have you believe. The mark III feels quite small and dinky in comparison to the latest mark IV version. The A7IV is deeper due to Sony adding a fully articulating screen (more on that later) and improving the heat management of the camera.

The grip has also grown and now offers more depth and provides more purchase on the camera, particularly when operating it one handed. Those with larger hands will definitely appreciate the added space and comfort. The A7 IV now weighs in at a measured 658g with the battery which is only 8g more than the mark III.


One of the most obvious changes to the A7IV is the switch to a fully articulated rear LCD screen. The previous model had a tilting mechanism often favoured by purely stills photographers but the new, articulated screen works much better for hybrid shooters like myself.

 

Not only is the new screen fully articulating it has also increased the resolution from 0.92 million dots to 1.04 million dots. More importantly the screen now has a 3:2 aspect ratio which matches the cameras sensor resulting in less wasted space on the screen.

The Sony A7IV’s screen now uses the touch screen functions to much greater effect, allowing you to use it to navigate the menus as well as the usual AF funtionality. The A7 III touchscreen was mainly limited to selecting AF points. The new one feels much more modern and in keeping with what we have become used to with modern gadgets like phones and tablets.

The EVF on the Sony A7IV has also been upgraded to 3.69m dots from 2.36m dots on the A7III. The improvement is welcome and a noticeable one but it is not class leading compared to some of the competition. The refresh rate can also be boosted to 120hz, double that of the older model. Everything else remains the same on the viewfinder.

One of the ergonomic changes that I find most satisfying is the increased size of the buttons on the mk IV. The AF-On button is now substantially larger and the AF joystick has also been enalarged and also flattened slightly which definitely makes it easier to move your AF point as desired.

The record button has been moved to the top of the camera instead of to the right of the viewfinder. In all honesty I don’t mind either location but given the choice I prefer the new placement as it is more in keeping with the other cameras that I use such as the Canon R5 and Nikon Z series bodies. I would prefer the Menu button to be on the right hand side like Nikon and Panasonic cameras so that it can be selected one handed.

There is now a dial below the PASM dial which allows you to switch between photo, video and S&Q modes. The dial is lockable as is the unmarked exposure compensation dial (it can be set to whatever you want now). There are also 3 custom setting slots on the PASM dial as opposed to 2 on the A7III.

The Sony A7 IV now has dual UHS-II card slots with slot 1 also accepting CF Express type A cards. You will need either V90 rated SD or CF Express A cards to record in the higher video resolutions/bitrates now available on the A7 IV. The A7 IV wont allow me to even try using a Sandisk Extreme Pro 170mb/s card for these higher quality video settings. I ordered a couple of these cards to enable recording using the higher quality video modes and they work well.

There is also a new locking mechanism on the memory card door. You now have to slide the lock (similar to the A7III) and at the same time slide the memory card door towards you. It is kind of awkward to be honest and one of the things that I prefer on the Sony A7III. Also the strap lugs on my A7IV are quite thick and can get in the way of the memory card door when opening. It’s not a big deal but something that I have noticed.

 

Menus

The A7IV uses the latest Sony menu system and my goodness what a difference it makes. The old Sony menus were a confused mess fo the most part. I often still find myself searching through them to find certain options and settings.

The new menu system is now much better laid out and for the most part it is logical and much quicker to find what you need. I particularly appreciate that it gives you a preview of the items contained within the selected menu option so that you don’t waste time diving into a menu only to find that the setting you needed is not there. I’d go as far as to say it is now one of the best menu systems available.

One thing that has caught me out and something that I find annoying is that when you set the camera up to use a picture profile in video mode, the camera carries this across when you switch back to photo mode. So I shot a bunch of images this morning with the log profile set for photos. Why Sony thought this was a good idea I do not know. Luckily I shoot in RAW + Jpeg so had the RAW files to fall back on.

Sony A7III vs A7IV – Image quality

The main headline grabbing upgrade for the A7IV is probably the increase in resolution from 24mp to 33mp. In all honesty, if this were the only reason that you are considering an upgrade from the Sony A7 III then I would save your money.

The increased resolution is nice to have as it enables a little more cropping room but the difference is not enough to justify the expense of an upgrade. You’re going from images measuring 6000×4000 pixels to 7008x 4672.

Yes, there is a little more detail in the 33mp images but it’s only just about enough to go up one print size. It does make the A7IV a more interesting proposition for landscape photographers who also have a hybrid workflow, perhaps aspiring youtubers who focus on landscape photography may give the A7IV more consideration but for most people resolution alone, while nice to have, likley isn’t the main reason to upgrade.

From my testing dynamic range remains essentially the same so at least that resolution bump has not come at the cost of dynamic range.

Here is an A7IV raw file with no adjustments. The blacks and highlights have clipped
And here is the same file with the exposure increased by 1 stop along with a 100 push on both the blacks and shadows as well as -100 pull on the highlights. It looks hideous but gives an idea of just how flexible the RAW files are.

In terms of high ISO noise performance, you can see from my test shots below that the A7III and A7IV perform very similarly.

A7III Raw ISO 3200, Converted in Lightroom, no adjustments
A7IV Raw ISO 3200 converted in Lightroom, no adjustments
A7III Raw ISO 6400, converted in Lightroom, No adjustments
A7IV Raw ISO 6400, converted in Lightroom, no adjustments
Sony A7III compared to A7IV 100% crop, ISO 6400

 

The A7III does slightly better once above ISO 6400 but once you down size the A7IV file to match the A7III dimensions it is actually a tiny amount better.

A7IV Tiff resized to A7III dimensions, converted in Lightroom, no adjustments
A7IV downsized to A7III dimensions, ISO 6400, 100% view

 

One thing that I have noticed is that the auto white balance in the A7IV does a better job than the A7III. I often had to apply fairly significant corrections to the A7 III images as they sometimes gave a magenta or yellow tint depending on the lighting conditions.  I have not found this to be an issue with the mark IV. Outdoors the colours are very similar as seen below.

A7III (left) vs A7IV

Skintones have also been improved on the A7IV vs A7III, particularly in mixed lighting conditions. This quick portrait was shot in window light with auto white balance and auto ISO. The AF nailed shot after shot. It really is impressive and the more I use it the more I appreciate just how easy the A7IV makes everything.

A7IV, Sony 85mm 1.4GM @ 1.4, 1/250, ISO1250 – RAW file, no editing done

The A7 IV now also adds the ability to shoot lossless compressed RAW files which helps to save some card and hard drive space without compromising image quality.

You can also shoot in 10bit HEIF format instead of Jpeg. In theory this should give more colour information than the 8bit Jpeg files but in use I haven’t noticed any difference. You also have to consider that HEIF is a relatively new format so before shooting chekc that they are compatible with your device/PC.

A7 IV vs A7 III – IBIS

The IBIS in the A7 IV is said to give 5.5 stops of image stabilisation compared with the 5 stops quoted for the A7 III.

 

I wanted to test out whether there was any real world difference so I shot my usual tests handheld at 24 mm on the Sigma 24-70mm f/2.8.

I found that results were so similar as to not warranty any further testing.

It is impossible to explain the difference in IBIS performance for video without showing the footage so please see my video here

 

This is where the A7IV shines against the A7III – Auto Focus

The AF in the Sony A7 III was always pretty good, especially as Sony updated the firmware to add better Eye AF as well as animal detection. However this has been improved again, with the A7 IV taking advantage of the BionZ XR which Sony claims is 8x faster than the BionZ X found in the mark III.

The A7 IV has 759 phase detect AF points giving 94% coverage vs 693 with 93% coverage on the A7 III. The increase doesn’t sound like much but more importantly it puts it in line with the A1 and A7SIII which I suspect will allow it to benefit from any AF improvements added to those bodies.

The phase detect points now work down to f/22 (vs f11 on the A7III) and the AF will work in -4 EV vs the A7III’s -3 EV.

When I first noticed that you can now change the AF point selection colour from white to red I gave a little prayer to the camera gods as this was something that I often had issue with in previous generation Sony cameras. When using the A7III and the A7R2 I owned before that, it could sometimes be incredibly difficult to know which focus point was being activated if the colour matched the background. It’s funny how small things can sometimes turn out to be instrumental in giving you a feel for whether you will like to use a camera or not.

The A7 IV has ported over the same AF algorithms found in the top of the line Sony A1 which adds real time eye AF and subject tracking. The A7 IV also adds human/animal AF that works  in both photo and video mode. There is also vehicle tracking for photography as well as the ability to select bird eye AF.

Having tested this out on some not too challenging geese and pigeons I can say it does a great job.

Bird Eye Af works flawlessly for subjects such as this goose.

Again, it is best to watch the video for demonstrations of just how good the AF in the Sony A7IV is.

In use I have found it to be as good as anything available (including my Canon R5). In fact I would even put it a notch above the R5. It locks on really quickly and is accurate. To see this in action subscribe to my Youtube channel and hit the notifications bell as the full video will be released soon which includes footage of the AF captured on an Atomos Ninja V. You can now see the video here

With Eye AF turned on it is the quickest system that I have used to pick up the subjects eyes and it can do it even when the subject is quite small in the frame. Mind you, the Sony A7III is no slouch in this area either.

I could see a discernible difference when shooting the Sony A7IV vs A7III. It is simply much quicker to react, pick up the subject and place that green box over the eye.

When the subject either turned away from the camera or left and then returned to frame it was significantly quicker to regain focus on the eye than the A7III. The MK III  did not always pick up the subject’s eyes again quickly and on some ocassions even failed to do so at all. I believe this is due to the older algorithm scanning the entire scene to re-aqquire the subjects eyes whereas the Sony A7 IV has been programmed using machine learning to prioritise looking for a subjects eyes in the same area as it last detected them. Whatever the technicalities it is a marked improvement.

 

Video

The Sony A7III was one of the first true hybrid cameras, bringing together great stills and at the time, excellent video specs. However times have moved on and the lack of 10 bit internal video as well as 4k is starting to show against the competition.

The A7IV has adressed this and now offers upto 4k30 with no crop whereas the A7III tops out at 4k25 without a crop. Once you go to 4k30 there is a 1.2x crop on the A7III. The recording limit of 30 minutes found on the A7III has now been removed too.

As well as the usual S-log options the A7IV now includes S-Cinetone.

Importantly the A7IV now offers 4k60 full pixel readout (no binning) but this does crop to APS-C or 1.5x.

Where the A7IV has definitely taken things up by several notches vs the A7III is with the codecs and colour depth available. This is great news for those wishing to colour grade their footage in post.

The A7III only offers 8bit 4:2:0 internal shooting options whereas the A7IV now shoots 10 bit 4:2:2 internally with the option to use the H.265 codec or All Intra H.264 at a bit rate of 300mbps for 30p or 600mbps for 60p footage. Lower data rates are also available for those who don’t need the added grading headroom or simply want to save on disk space.

Below are the various 4k codecs and bit rates available.

4k H.265 24p bit rates
4k H.265 60p bit rates
4k H.264 24p Bit rates
4k H.264 30p bit rates
4k H.264 60p bit rates

4K All intra has fixed settings as follows :

24p – 4:2:2 10 bit 240mbps

30P – 4:2:2 10 bit 300mbps

60p – 4:2:2 10 bit 600mbps

 

The A7IV does away with the Micro HDMI port and replaces it with a full sized HDMI which is so much more sturdy.

It also adds what Sony call Active stabilisation. This is basically a digital stabilisation using information from the gyro on the IBIS. The field of view crops in a little to allow this. This is something that I tested for my video review and will show there.

The A7IV now lets you adjust (in 7 steps) how quickly focus transitions are performed as well as 5 steps of control for how quickly the AF will switch from one subject to another.

 

An interesting concept and one that I have seen carried out extremely well by DJI is the focus mapping option. This shows you which areas of your image are in and out of focus by colouring the areas. I’m still not convinced on its usefulness so will report back when I have had time to use it a little more.

Sony A7III vs A7IV – Conclusion

When I saw the specs for the Sony A7IV I wasn’t blown away. There was no one aspect that really stood out to me as groundbreaking or a must have. A little more resolution, an articulating screen, a new menu (again), a few extra video modes and promised AF improvements didn’t really seem like that much considering how groundbreaking the A7III was back in 2018 and how long it has been since then.

I have had and owned at least one of each generation of Sony’s A7 series bodies since the A7R. I have always appreciated their technical abilities, groundbreaking specs and ability to push the boundaries for autofocus. However, I have never gelled with one the way I have with say, the Fuji X-Pro 1 & 3 or the Nikon Z7II or Canon R5. The difference, I have always felt is that those feel like cameras made by a camera company that understands photographers. They get the little things right in terms of button placement, menus, ergonomics, design and handling.  These things really do make a massive difference when it comes time to pick up a camera and shoot.

 

The Sony A7IV is the first Sony camera that I have picked up and felt like it is finally designed by a company that understands what we as photographers/videographers want. There are no headline grabbing features that blow your mind the way that the Canon R5, Sony A1 or Nikon Z9 did at release but the whole is definitely more than the sum of its parts when it comes to the A7IV.

After having shot a lot with both of these cameras side by side, if it were my money and I had to decide between the Sony A7III vs A7IV , I would buy the A7IV without doubt. It feels like a camera, makes everything easy and gets out of your way and lets you shoot. Not to mention that I would no longer consider a camera without 4k60 video.

 

I hope that you found some value in this article and it helps with your decision. Please don’t forget to help out in anyway you can by subscribing to this blog, my yotube channel or buying through my links. Any help is much appreciated and allows me to spend more time creating content like this.

Sony A7 IV Best Settings

Sony A7 IV best settings

In this post I’m going to walk you through the best settings for your Sony A7 IV. I’ll start by helping you to setup the camera out of the box and then move on to the best settings for photography on the Sony A7 IV. If you are looking for the best video settings for the Sony A7 IV then these will be available soon in a separate article.  The Sony A7 IV allows you to setup completely seperate custom settings and options for photography and video.

I’ve been lucky enough to get my hands on the Sony A7 IV pretty quickly even though you can’t find one in stock at a lot of stores. If you would prefer to watch then checkout my video instead.

Being a previous user of the Sony A7 III (Sony A7III video review) I’m very familiar with the Sony system but there are a few worthwhile changes on the Sony A7 IV that make setting it up a little different.

 

Let’s dive straight into setting up your brand new Sony A7 IV out of the box.

Setting up the Sony A7 IV – out of the box

When you turn your camera on for the first time you need to set your menu language. I’ll select English here.


Then set your time zone. I’ll be selecting Lisbon/London. You can also turn daylight saving on/off. As we are in January this is set to off in the UK at the moment.

Now select the way you want your date to be formatted. As I’m British I’ll go with D-M-Y or day, month then year. My American friends can choose M-D-Y.

 

Set the date and time accordingly (note the format is using the 24 hour clock).

 

 

Next you can choose to register your phone with the smartphone app. I’ll do this later via the smartphone regist option in the menu system.

 

That’s the basics setup.

 

Sony A7 IV setup – menu options for photography

Hit the menu button to the left of the viewfinder and you will notice that the Sony A7 IV is using the latest Sony menu system.

To select any option you can either press the direction on the rear dial or you can rotate it to scroll up and down through the options. Right is enter and left is to go back a step.

Here are the settings that I use for photography.

Camera Icon menu option 2/52

JPEG/HEIF switch – Jpeg

Image quality settings

File format : Raw + Jpeg

Raw File Type : Lossless Compressed (gives the best quality raw files but saves space over uncompressed)

Jpeg Quality : Extra Fine (again gives the best Jpeg quality)

Jpeg size: 33m (if you want smaller Jpegs for social media or as backup then select medium 14mp or small 8.2mp)

Aspect ratio: I leave it to the native 3:2 aspect ratio and do any cropping on the image in post. You can select between this, 4:3 slightly shorter on the long edge,  16:9 standard film aspect ration and 1:1 for square format

I often use Sandisk cards with my cameras as I have found them to be very tough and reliable. If you are looking for a card for your Sony A7 IV then I always buy from Amazon as they have a great returns policy and usually the best pricing. Cards linked below:

Skip to

Long exposure noise reduction – I leave this on as it captures a black frame at the same shutter speed after a long exposure in order to map hot pixels and noise and remove them. You can do this in post if you prefer. Having this option on will result in the camera taking a second exposure for the same length of time as your first, so can involve a lot of waiting around if your exposure is 1 minute or more.

Scroll down and you will move to Option 3/52

High ISO NR : Low. I like to do most of my noise reduction in post so I keep this set to low. This will only affect your Jpeg files.

Colour Space : Adobe RGB if you plan to edit, sRGB if you are going to post images directly online. Adobe RGB gives more colours but sRGB is the standard used online.

Lens compensation: Leave at defaults (shading comp- auto, chromatic aberration comp auto, distortion comp- off)

Camera Icon menu  (Option 4/52)

Format– Always format your memory cards before use to minimise the chance of corrupt files and data loss.

Rec Media Settings: This is where you can select how the camera records to your memory cards. You can choose between slot 1 for photos and slot 2 for video, Simultaneous recording which saves the same files to both cards at the same time ie backup, or auto switch which will automaticall record to the other card when one becomes full. I choose the first option to keep things simple when transferring my media to the computer.

Camera Icon Menu  (Option 5/52)

File/Folder settings:

File Number: Set to series

Set file name : I set this to ‘A74’ so that I know which camera has recorded the images when I load them onto my computer. You can choose any name you prefer.

Copyright Info: 

Write Copyright info: On

Set Photographer: Add your name

Set Copyright: Add your name or company name.

I shoot in Manual mode but if you shoot in aperture or shutter priority with auto ISO then you will need to set your ISO values using option 13/52 and 14/52.

Sony A7 IV best settings for landscapes and non moving subjects

Choosing your autofocus settings will depend on your subject.

Option 20/52: Single Shot AF

Priority Set in AF-S : AF

Focus Area: Spot Small

Face/Eye Prior in AF : Off

For manually focusing set 20/52 to manual focus and turn peaking on as below.

26/52

Peaking display: On

Peaking level: High

Peaking colour: Red

 

Sony A7 IV best settings for portraits

Focus mode: Continuous AF: On

Priority set in AF-C: Balanced

AF Tracking sensititvity: 4

Focus area: Wide

Face/Eye priority in AF : On

 

The Sony A7 IV does an amazing job picking up a subjects eye, locking on and sticking with it even when they turn away from the camera for a second. It quickly locks back on to the same subject so I almost always use eye AF when shooting portraits.

Finally if you don’t want to hear the autofocus beep everytime the camera attains focus then head over to option 49/52 and turn audio signals off.

 

 

I hope you found this useful and hopefully it saved you a bit of time scrolling through the vast menu system of the Sony A7 IV. If you got some value from this post then please share it with your friends or anyone that you think would also find it helpful.

In a future article I shall be going through the best settings for video on the Sony A7 IV as well as showing how I set up the custom modes and function buttons for photography and video.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fuji XT4 vs X Pro 3

Fuji XT4 vs X Pro 3

 

If you are new to Fujifilm or simply looking to upgrade to the latest and greatest that Fuji has to offer you have probably looked for comparisons of the Fuji XT4 vs X Pro 3 but how do you choose between them. What are the main differences and more importantly what are they like to use?

I’m fortunate enough to own both of these top of the range APS-C models from Fujifilm and have used them both extensively. I bought mine from Amazon as I like their returns policy and customer service.

 


I love them both for very different reasons which I shall go through after explaining the more obvious differences in this Fuji XT4 vs X Pro 3 article. If you want a more detailed review of the Fuji XT4 then click here or watch my Fuji XT4 video review on youtube. You can also see the video version of this Fuji XT4 vs X Pro 3 article here


One thing that I should mention straight off the bat is that if you are a videographer then you can skip the rest of the article and just purchase the Fujifilm X-T4 as it is much more suited to video work due to its larger battery, fully articulating screen and better video specs including 4k 60 and 10 bit internal recording as well as IBIS.

 

For those of you who are primarily stills shooters then the choice is somewhat more difficult.

The Fuji X-T4 is like a sports saloon car, it can go fast and do virtually everything that a 2 seater convertible can do but with a bit less style and of course you can’t put the roof down on a sunny day (the roof in this case being the X-Pro 3’s hybrid viewfinder).

 

So let’s start with what the Fuji XT4 and X Pro 3 have in common:

26.1MP X-Trans IV CMOS APS-C sensor

X-Processor 4

weather resistance

maximum continuous shooting speed of 30fps (with crop) or 20fps when using the e-shutter

hybrid autofocus system with contrast and phase detection (max. 425 points)

dual SD card slot (UHS-II compatible)

Both cameras are using the same 26mp X-Trans IV sensor which results in identical image quality. They are both powered by the latest X-Processor 4 and offer the same hybrid AF system and in use they appear to be pretty much equally as fast. Neither are laggy when switching between menus items or indeed switching the camera on. The X-T4 may have a very slight edge in face detect AF due to the latest algorithm being employed but in the real world they are pretty much neck and neck.

XF 55-200mm, F/7.1, 1/480, ISO 160

Both are weather resistant and I have no issue using either of them in less than perfect weather. The feel in the hand offers very similar build quality but in a different way. The XT4 feels more dense and solid and it should as it weighs 609g vs the X-Pro 3 at 497g.

They are so similar in size that it is not even worth writing down the measurements. However when you pick them up they feel worlds apart.

The XT4 feels very solid, weighty and like a workhorse with its enlarged grip (compared to the XT3). It is a very nice design and I must admit that I do like the look of the camera. However the X-Pro 3 feels different to other cameras due to its range finder esque styling, beautifully machined and subtle finish. I should say that I have the standard black version not one of the Dura coated models.

The X-Pro 3 is probably the most beautiful camera that I have ever owned and that includes models such as the X100T (in silver) and a Silver Pen F, both of which are among the best looking digital cameras ever created. Pictures on the internet don’t do it justice. They really don’t.

In use there is no denying that the XT4 makes more sense for most people.  It offers an individual ISO dial rather than the slightly fiddly design on the X-Pro 3 where you have to lift the shutter speed dial and twist it to your desired ISO speed. This also feels like a weak point that may be prone to break in the future but to be fair it hasn’t yet.

The XT4 also continues to use the D-Pad which offers up extra Fn buttons that can be programmed to your liking. I can happily accept cameras from Fuji with or without the D-Pad but if given the choice I would retain it.

 

That X-Pro 3 LCD Screen

The other main physical difference which may or may not affect you depending on your shooting style is the XT4’s fully articulating LCD screen vs the highly contentious inward facing screen on the X-Pro3. The Screen on the X-Pro 3 faces inward and only opens downward. This Is supposed to encourage you to use the viewfinder and avoid constantly chimping your images giving a pure and authentic photographic experience. Okay, I made that last bit up but I think that is the general idea.

The screen on the X-Pro3 while not conventional is actually not a dealbreaker for me unlike for some. It actually works well in practise and as I use the camera purely for stills, particularly, street, candid portraits and documentary photography it offers the only function I would ever want in those scenarios which is the ability to shoot from the hip on the street in order to be discreet. Plus if I want to review my photos I can easily do so via the EVF.

The rear of the screen has a second display which is permanently on and shows the current film simulation with what looks like the label of old Fujifilm film emulsions. Maybe it’s a bit cheesy but I quite like it. The display can also be changed to show your current shooting setting.

As much as I like the X-Pro 3’s rather novel LCD screen there’s no denying that for most, it is not as useful as the fully articulating one found on the XT4. If I was solely a street shooter or just taking travel/documentary type stills then my opinion would be different but as I shoot a lot of landscapes as well as some video too, the fully articulating screen offers more flexibility. I can reverse it to check framing when creating video and it offers a variety of positions should I be shooting at high or low angles as well as in portrait orientation. It also closes with the LCD screen facing inward which means  it is protected and you can ignore it altogether should you wish.

In the end which screen you prefer will depend on what type of photographer you are and how you shoot. I imagine that someone coming from using their mobile phone for photography would find the X-Pro 3’s screen quite limiting. However I very rarely use the LCD screen on any camera to compose my photos so being forced to use the viewfinder simply is not an issue for me.

Prime or Zoom?

I choose whichever one will serve me best for whatever I plan to shoot on that occasion. If I’m heading out for landscapes I grab the XT4 along with the 10-24mm and 55-200mm lenses. If I am going on vacation with the family and just want a camera with me for candid shots of them and anything else encountered then I usually put the X-Pro3 with the 23mm 1.4 or 35mm f/2 in a small bag along with the 56mm 1.2, a spare battery and a powerbank. IMO the X-Pro 3 suits prime lenses and the XT4 works better with the zooms. Both of course can work well with either.

Fuji XT4 vs X Pro 3 EVF/OVF

The EVF on both models is virtually the same although the XT4 offers a little more magnification at 0.75x vs 0.66x and aa much larger viewfinder eye cup which helps to shield the viewfinder when shooting in bright sunlight. . In use the differences are hardly noticeable. Even though I am left eye dominant I am fortunate to be able to use either eye. The range finder style viewfinder on the left of the X-Pro 3 does have some advantages when shooting people as you are not quite so hidden behind the camera. This allows me to  feel more connected with my subjects and be more aware of what is happening outside of the field of view of the viewfinder.

The hybrid viewfinder on the X-Pro 3 offers all the benefits of an EVF as well as providing an OVF. Using the lever on the front of the camera you can very quickly change between the two. You can also superimpose a small electronic image onto the OVF which can aid in focusing.

The design is excellent and although I have preferred EVF’s for sometime now the OVF can come in very useful when shooting on the street.  For instance, it would allow you to perfectly time someone walking into frame and capture them in exactly the right position in your image due to the lack of any delay.

IBIS

100% Crop @200mm 1/10

Of course, the XT4 now has IBIS which can be useful when wanting to keep your ISO as low as possible as it allows you to shoot at shutter speeds not otherwise possible. If you shoot mostly people then the benefits of IBIS are probably not all that important as you will usually be using a faster shutter speed. It does allow for a little bit more creative control by enabling you to add motion to your images, for instance blurring the motion of subjects while retaining perfect sharpness of the surrounding scene.

If you are a travel/ landscape photographer and would rather not bring along your tripod then the IBIS in the XT4 is at its most useful. Allowing you to keep the ISO as low as possible to ensure the best possible image quality. I have found that with the Fuji 10-24mm lens I can consistantly handhold shots at the wide end down to 0.5 seconds. As useful as this is, if I am going out to do landscape photography then my tripod will be coming with me and so the IBIS becomes redundant. It is useful for grabbing quick shots which would otherwise require bumping up the ISO so it does add a level of flexibility that the X-Pro 3 lacks.

 

Staying Power

The XT4 also uses the larger capacity NP-W235 battery which offers significantly more shots than the NP-W236s used in the X-Pro 3. I get about 900 shots from the former and around 500 from the latter. Both cameras can be charged via USB-C so I usually only carry one spare for each and then recharge from a power bank. So although the new battery in the XT4 is definitely welcome it is perhaps not quite the deal breaker it would have been had neither of the cameras been capable of charging over USB-C.

The NP-W235 battery in the XT4 is much better.

When out and about shooting street and documentary photography I have noticed that I get a better reaction to the X-Pro 3 than the XT4. The design is minimalistic with no obvious Fuji logo on the front of the X-Pro3 and the classic range finder esque styling seems to be viewed as less threatening. I guess it looks more like an old film camera, a novelty if you will and so people pay it less attention or they enquire in a positive way about what camera it is. Yes you will get asked if it is a film camera quite a lot. Either way the reaction or lack of definitely makes me feel a little more confident and comfortable pointing it at strangers on the street.

Fuji XT4 vs X Pro 3 Conclusion

In the end the choice will come down to what type of photographer you are as much as the specs.

As an owner of both models my opinion is that for pure stills, perhaps with a focus on candid/street/documentary photography the sheer pleasure of owning and using such a unique camera would have me gravitate towards the X-Pro3 even though it is less flexible, less fully featured and actually more expensive than the XT4. For this type of photography I prefer using prime lenses and that is where the X-Pro 3 makes sense and shines. Attach the 23mm, 35mm or 50mm f/2 prime lens on the X-Pro 3 and you have a  discreet, lightweight, weather sealed and very capable camera that (without sounding too poncy) epitomises the joy of photography, at least for me. It is a pleasure to use and it doesn’t hurt that it is as beautiful as it is capable.

 

With all that said, for 90% of photographers the XT4 is probably going to make more sense. It is cheaper, more capable, more comfortable to hold for long periods has better battery life and works better with Fuji’s zoom lenses (especially the red badge lenses) thanks to the larger grip and the option of a battery grip.

Add in the IBIS, fully articulating screen and better video options and it is one of the most well rounded mirrorless cameras available in any format and despite my love of the X-Pro 3, it is the one I would choose if I had to pick only one camera. However it doesn’t make me feel the way that the X-Pro 3 does and there is definitely something to be said for that.

Which one would you choose? I’d love to hear in the comments below.

 

My latest article on the Sony A7IV can be found here 

Fujifilm XT4 Review in 2021

Fujilm XT4 Review in 2021

The Fujifilm XT4 was released in April 2020. In that time many other cameras have been released by various manufacturers. So I wanted to review the Fujifilm XT4 in 2021 to see how it performs. If you want to see how the Fuji XT4 compares with the X-Pro 3 then take a look at this article 

If you would prefer to see a quick video on why you should buy the Fuji XT4 then you may want to check out my latest video instead. Alternatively you can see my Fuji XT4 video review which is now up on Youtube

The Fujifilm XT4 that I am reviewing is my own. I purchased it in October 2020 as it featured several important upgrades over the XT3 that convinced me that the XT series could finally be my main camera system. So here I am in 2021 reviewing the Fujifilm XT4.

The XT4 is Fujifilm’s top of the range X series camera. It uses the same 26mp X-Trans sensor as the previous generation of X series bodies. Having experience with the XT3 I already knew that the image quality that can be achieved with this sensor is excellent both in terms of resolution, dynamic range and high ISO performance. I will include sample images below just in case you are unaware of how this sensor performs.

Original raw capture
Shadows pushed all the way in Lightroom
100% crop of above image shows very little noise in the shadows

For me, the image quality that I would get was a known quantity and one that I knew I was happy with. However, the upgrades that made me look more closely at the XT4 were more on the handling side of things.

As I spend a lot of time out shooting with my family in tow, I often find that I don’t carry a tripod on these types of trips. Having been a long-time user of Olympus cameras and their excellent IBIS (in body image stabilisation) the inclusion of IBIS in the XT4 was a very welcome addition. So how well does the IBIS work?

 

With the Fuji 10-24mm f/4 lens attached the IBIS in the XT4 works alongside the OIS in the lens to give a claimed 6 stops of image stabilisation.

100% crop @10mm 0.4 Seconds

I took a series of images to see just how effective the IBIS was. Normally I can get sharp hand held images on the 10mm end of this lens shooting at 1/20th second. If the shutter speed drops any lower then my keeper rate goes down. 1/15 of a second and below and it becomes a bit hit and miss.

With the IBIS turned on I found that I could consistently get sharp handheld photos at 1/3

to ½ a second. This is with excellent technique. If I shoot in a more casual manner, then I cannot achieve sharp images with slower shutter speeds than 1/5 second.

So, the XT4 IBIS in combination with the OIS in the 10-24mm lens is giving me approximately 4 stops of stabilisation at the wide end.

100% Crop @200mm 1/10

I repeated this experiment using the Fuji 55-200mm lens and found that I could consistently get sharp handheld images at the 200mm end at 1/10 second whereas normally I would have to be shooting at 1/320 giving me around 5 stops of stabilisation.  This is pretty much in line with what Fuji says the XT4 IBIS will give you alone and about a stop under the 6 stops they claim the combined IBIS and OIS of the lens will give.

Overall the IBIS is not quite as effective as that found on the Olympus EM1 III where I could regularly handhold wide angel images at 1-2 seconds but I’m still happy with it when you take into account the larger APS-C sensor found in the XT4 giving you better ISO performance. It allows me to just about get down to speeds where I can add an element of motion to water which is the main reason I would be shooting at those shutter speeds.

Build quality and handling

When I first opened the slick black packaging of the Fuji XT4 and held the camera in my hand I was very pleasantly surprised. My previous experience with the XT series ( I have owned the XT1 and XT2 and tested out the XT3) was that they are well made but always felt a little hollow. I was not a fan of this feeling as I like a camera to feel solid in my hand. I take my gear all over the World and I want it to feel as if it can stand up to some serious work.

The XT4 immediately felt better and much more solid. Yes, it weighs a little more at 607g vs 539g for the XT3 but it feels much better built, does not have that hollow feeling and the grip has been enlarged which makes it much more comfortable in the hand. It is now 2mm wider and 5mm deeper than the XT3 at 135 x93x 64mm. The size now seems just about a perfect compromise between feeling solid, well-built and comfortable in the hand without being too bulky or heavy. Please do not change this Fuji as I think you nailed it this time.

The shutter mechanism is now rated to 300k actuations compared with 150k on the XT3. This alone speaks to the improved build quality and gives me confidence that the XT4 will easily cope with professional use.

LCD Screen

One of the most significant (and controversial) changes comes in the form of a fully articulating rear LCD. I know that some Fuji fans prefer a standard or 3-way tilt screen as found on previous generations, but I find a fully articulating rear screen to be the most flexible solution. It allows you to tilt up and down as well as front facing when horizontal and it also allows you to flip it 90 degrees to the camera body when shooting in portrait orientation. Not to mention that you can conveniently close it so that the screen faces in towards the body and is protected from being scratched or damaged. I understand that for ‘from the hip’ street shooting it may be less balanced and subtle but I rarely do that so don’t miss that ability.

 

The fully articulating screen is great but note the mic prot cover which is fiddly in use.

While I love the screen, I do have one gripe with it. Well actually its not with the screen itself but with the cheap flappy port covers for the mic and remote sockets. They get in the way when you are setup for video and then want to flip the screen from rear facing to forward facing. I wish Fuji would have made them removable but they didn’t. Inexplicably they did decide to make the memory card door removable. Surely that is the wrong way around.

Battery

Lastly the other change that was especially important to me was the use of the new NP-W235 battery which lasts much longer than the older generation NP-W126s found in the older generation cameras. I can now shoot well over 500 shots on one battery and as I have the battery grip and two additional batteries this can easily see me through a long weekend landscape photography shoot. The camera itself can also be charged by USB-C which is great as I have a ton of power banks lying around so I can just bring one or two power banks on my trips and charge all my devices including the camera.

Something that I am not so fond of is that Fuji does not include a proper charger in the box. Only a cheap looking Phone style USB charger and USB-C cable is included so you must charge the batteries up while in the camera. Not great if you need to charge batteries while using the camera. The same can be said of the batter grip as there is no way to charge this separately. You must attach it to the camera and then charge all 3 batteries together. Again, not really the best solution as it would be nice to be able to charge the batteries in the grip while using the camera. It’s not a big deal though because the batteries now easily get me through a day’s shooting and I can simply plug everything in to a power bank at night to charge them.

There are a few other additions to the XT4 which may be of interest to you but are not that significant for my use. One is the addition of Classic Chrome film simulation. This is a beautiful filmic looking preset that I find works very well for side lit scenes and Caucasian skin. However, as I shoot a lot of my portraits in Asia it doesn’t work so well for Asian skin tones, so I only tend to use it when I’m back in Europe.

Classic Chrome (used for this shot) suits Asian skintone better than the new Classic Neg but I tend to use one of the Pro Neg film simulations the most.
100% crop of above image using the 56mm 1.2@ 1.2, 1/125, ISO 160

The Fujifilm XT4 now also allows for 240 fps HD video capture but I must admit I have not used it thus far being primarily a stills shooter. The video specs of the XT4 are excellent and varied, offering a lot of options for professional video capture which I will be exploring more later in the year if I can get back to the UK once this damned pandemic is dealt with. The Eterna profile along with very good 10 bit 4k video means that the Xt4 is more than good enough for my video needs.

Image Quality

Finally, as promised here are some image quality samples for those of you who are unfamiliar with what the 26mp X-Trans sensor can produce. The image quality is basically unchanged from the XT3 and X-Pro 3. I own an X-Pro 3 and get exactly the same images from it as I do the XT4.

The AF performance and in particular face and eye detection is slightly improved in the XT4.

XF 55-200mm, F/7.1, 1/480, ISO 160
XF 56mm @ f/1.2, 1/4400, ISO 160

So why would I (and you) choose the Fujifilm XT4 over rivals such as the Sony A7II (which I have also owned)?

For me there are 3 main reasons.

Firstly, and most importantly (for me) the handling, ergonomics and joy of using the XT4 is beyond the A7III. The XT4 feels like a ‘real’ camera with its manual dials for ISO, shutter speed and aperture. The Sony feels like a smart phone on steroids and as a bit of a techno dinosaur I prefer the more analogue feel of Fujis. If I enjoy using a camera and it makes me feel inspired then I generally get better images with it.

Secondly, I wanted a rugged but lightweight camera system (note I said system) and while the XT4 may not be much smaller than the A7III/Z6/EOS R etc, when you combine it with the vast array of Fuji lenses (particularly the Zooms) then the kit as a whole is still significantly smaller than a full frame kit. My go to lenses for travel are the trio of 10-24mm, 18-55mm, 55-200mm and the 35mm f/2. This all fits easily in my bag ( Lowepro Flipside 400AW) with room for a spare body, batteries, filters, laptop, hard drives, mics, Mavic 2 Pro drone + 3x batteries and more.

You can build out quite a small full frame mirrorless kit but I always found it limiting to only stick to the smaller cheaper lenses and having used Sony cameras with the GM series of lenses in the past I found them unbalanced and unwieldy on the A7 series bodes. I understand why many use them and would never discourage that but for me the Fuji system does what I want at a size and weight that I am happy with.

Finally, an important factor in any decision is price. The Fuji system has options from cheap to expensive but overall, the cost of building a comprehensive kit around Fuji is cheaper than that of full frame and IMO the difference in image quality between APS-C and full frame is not worth the additional cost. In fact, I skipped it altogether and also added a medium format camera to my kit for those occasions where I need it.

 

For an alternative view from a talented photographer check out Jonas Rask’s Fuji XT4 article

 

 

5 Reasons to buy the Fujfilm XT4

Olympus’ recent announcement that they were selling their camera business gave me the final push (which I’d been considering anyway) to sell off the last of my Micro 43 gear and switch to one system.

I am planning to get back to much more photography than I have been able to over the last few years now that my daughter is growing up.

As you probably know I have the chance to test out all the latest gear quite regularly from all the main manufacturers.

In the end I made the move to Fuji. I have been a Fuji user on and off since 2013 with the X-Pro1 and have used all their models since. However the XT4 has finally banished any last remaining issue that I had with the Fuji XT3.

The inclusion of IBIS was a big one for me as well as a few other important upgrades that I go through in my latest Youtube video.

Speaking of Youtube, now that I have more free time I will be dedicating quite a lot of it this year to producing content on there. Not only will I include reviews of all the current kit that I am using but I will also delve more into the how and why of photography, take trips (once this pandemic finally leaves us) and vlog about my various phtoographic exploits. I hope you will join me there.

 

 

 

Panasonic GX9 vs Olympus OMD EM5 III vs Fuji XT30

In this post I’m going to compare the Panasonic GX9 vs Olympus OMD EM5 III vs Fuji Xt30. As you probably know, I’ve shot Panasonic, Olympus and Fuji cameras for years now, going back to the the Panasonic G3, EM5 and X Pro1. I want a compact and lightweight camera that I can use mainly with prime lenses for some projects that I have planned in the Philippines later in the year. The project will be documentary and involve lots of candid portraits as well as some street photography. I plan to use whichever camera I choose with a (35mm equivalent focal lengths) 50mm and 85 ish mm prime lenses as those are my preferred focal lengths for the kind of shooting that I have planned. On the Panasonic and Olympus I shot the Pana-Leica 25mm 1.4,Olympus 45mm 1.2 and Sigma 56mm 1.4 while on the Fuji I paired it with the 35mm 1.4. I had planned on using the 56mm 1.2 as well but in the end couldn’t get hold of one in time for my testing but the AF performance is pretty much on par with the Fuji 35mm lens and having owned the 56mm previously I know how it performs.

 

Firstly let me say that all the specs are available online so I’m not going to go through them all here. I’ll just talk about those that mattered to me for the project that I have planned. Those being image quality, AF, handling and performance.

While the GX9 and EM5 III uses a 20mp Micro 43 sensor the Fuji XT30 makes use of the larger 26mp APS-C sensor found in the XT3 so it should be a no brainer that the image coming out of the Fuji is better and it performs better when pushing your ISO higher. The thing is that when reading forums on the internet they would lead you to believe that the difference is night and day and this simply is not the case. Yes the Fuji is slightly better once you get up to 3200+ ISO but the differences wont be enough to make or break an image. For me the more interesting question was about the colour each camera produced and I was particularly interested in the Acros black and white profile of the XT30 as a lot of my project will be shot in black and white. Quite frankly I chose the XT30 as one of the most affordable ways to get the Acros profile.  In my opinion the image quality produced by all the cameras is good enough for what I had in mind.

 

Fuji are heralded within the media for being excellent for portraits, skin tones and the Acros profile and in a lot of situations I know why. I love the organic look of the colours coming off the X-Trans sensor and under the right lighting conditions the Acros profile produces some beautiful black and white images. However sometimes the colours can feel just a little flat while the Panasonic and Olympus in my opinion actually produce more pleasing colours more of the time. I am a big fan of the colours that both Panasonic and Olympus cameras put out SOOC. For me they win when shooting colour images but the Fuji does well for black and white work. This is why I bought an XT 30 just for this project. However I like the Fuji and Panasonic black and white rendering equally and it really depends upon the subject and light as to which is better in a given situation.

In terms of handling all the cameras are small, lightweight and discreet. They are quick in use and it is easy to quickly change settings on them. I prefer that the Olympus has a separate door for memory cards and I still prefer the PASM system employed by virtually every camera manufacturer rather than the separate dials for shutter speed employed by Fuji. (note the XT30 has a shutter speed dial which when using most Fuji lenses combines with the Aperture ring to give control over exposure). The XT30 does not have and ISO dial unlike its big brother the XT3.

All the cameras feel well built although I’d have to give the nod to the GX9 and Em5III (although I have heard issues reported around the strength of the tripod plate on the EM5II) as they just feel a little higher quality finish and of course the Em5III is weather sealed.

I had fully expected to love the little Fuji XT30 but there were 2 major issues for me once I had a little time with the camera. Firstly, I wanted to shoot the 35mm 1.4 and 56mm 1.2 for my project and quite frankly the AF motors on these lenses still proved to be pretty poor. I had hoped that with the latest generation of camera bodies the AF when using these lenses would have improved but unfortunately (and this is no fault of the XT30’s) it hasn’t. Now I know that a lot of Fuji users love these lenses and in terms of their image quality, yes they are gems but the problem I had while testing the gear out (on not very trying subjects) was that it took multiple shot to get perfect focus. No, it wasn’t a bad copy of the lens, this is exactly how I remember my previous version being as well. I guess it is my own fault for hoping for an improvement that simply can’t be provided by a newer camera. These lenses desperately need updating and I really hope Fuji is working on this as their more modern lenses perform much faster. However it is these lenses that I particularly wanted to use. I’m not interested in the f/2 primes as I’m giving up some of the benefits of that APS-C sensor when shooting with them. In all honesty I like the ergonomics and handling of the EM5 III the most, so unless the XT30 is going to give me tangible benefits (which it would if these lenses auto focussed quickly enough) over it then I’m not going to choose it. The EM5 III is simply more fun and gives me more confidence that I can nail the focus every time.

 

Fuji Acros ISO 4000

While the Fuji XT-30 does offer slightly improved High ISO performance the differences are minimal and I’d still place my limit of acceptable IQ for portraits at ISO 3200, exactly the same as the Micro 43 cameras.

Olympus EM5III Monochrome + Green filter , ISO 2000
GX9 , L Monochrome Pofile, ISO 200

The second major issue (and one which even had me and my wife spend and evening trying to figure out) was the Fuji App to transfer images to your mobile device. I have used this app before, along with the ones form every other major camera manufacturer (except Canon). The best ones are from Olympus and Panasonic, Sony’s is fine too and Nikon’s although temperamental usually works. Well this Fuji App is a complete and utter bag of S**t. I spent hours trying to get it to connect to my phone, my wifes phone, my tablet and in the end gave up. When I’m out in the middle of nowhere taking photos and I want to quickly transfer some images then this is a big no no for Fuji. I didn’t previously have this issue when I owned the XT2 so I can only assume that the updated app is either useless, has compatibility issues or it’s the XT30’s fault. Either way in the end no matter how beautiful the Acros black and white images were, far too many were out of focus and when they were in focus the app made viewing them on my mobile device impossible. The Fuji is sadly out of the race and has been sent back.. As you saw in my Olympus OMD EM5 III Review this camera does everything that 90% of people will need it to do with no fuss. It makes photography easy and fun and dare I say it, quite cool too.

 

However I already own the Panasonic GX9 and a GH5 so is the Olympus at approximatley £1000 twice as good as the Panasonic GX9 which can be had for under £500 (as of early 2020)?

 

In the Olympus’ favour it has slightly better IBIS, is weather sealed, has a better viewfinder and offers Hi Res mode as well as the useful long exposure modes such as Live Bulb and Live view. In the Panasonic’s favour for me is the fact that it uses the same menu system and has the same colour profile as my existing GH5 and so using the two together would be a more seemless experience and mean my lazy ass doesn’t have to memorise two menu systems. It is of course half the price.

 

When I wrote my Olympus EM5III review it was before the Coronoavirus Pandemic had really hit the UK hard. Money and business was quite good and I could afford the additional cost of the EM5III over the GX9. However as I sit here writing this (early April) the UK economy has basically shut down, business has dried up and I am now putting a much higher priority on bang for buck to ensure that I get the most out of any investment that I make in to a camera or system. This puts cost way higher up my list of priorities than would previously have been the case and I’m sure like many photographers out there I am now really asking myself the question, do I honestly need these extra features and are they really going to make a difference to my work and earning potential.

 

For me, in the end it comes down to the image I can produce. Yes it is nice to have the better viewfinder but the one in the GX9 does not hinder me from getting the shot. I also quite like the tilt mechanism on it. Yes, hi res mode would be nice to have and I can see myself using it quite a lot for landscapes but the projects that I have lined up will be fine with 20mp of resolution. Am I going to suddenly start doing a lot of long exposure photography to make use of live bulb and live view…..If I’m bluntly honest with myself then no, that just isn’t going to happen.

Does my camera need to be weather sealed? Well a lot of us like to kid ourselves that a certain specification is an absolute must. I hear people all the time saying that weather sealing is absolutely essential. I don’t buy it for the most part. I used to live in the Outer hebrides, a place where the weather could not be more challenging to a photographer. My cameras back then didn’t offer top notch weather sealing and you know what I did when the heavens opened… I popped my camera back in my camera bag and waited for the torrential wind blasted downpour to pass. Just before and just after the storm is the best time to photograph anyway not during it. Even if the cameras were weather sealed like a tank the front element of the lens woud be covered in rain and ruin any image. The philippinnes, just like the Outer Hebrides is prone to sudden torrential downpours but for the subjects that I plan on shooting it is irrelevant as I doubt many portrait subjects will be willing to stand out in the rain while I photograph them. Long story short, weather sealing is nice to have but not essential for me.

 

Both the GX9 and EM5 III have fast enough AF speed for my needs. Yes the Olympus may be a little better at tracking thanks to its phase detect Af points but it doesn’t make a difference for what I shoot as the GX9 is quick to focus and has decent face and eye detect AF.

Conclusion

The crux of the matter comes down to which camera offers the features that I need in the cheapest package and this is where the GX9 delivers in spades. IMO it is probably the best value camera in the photographic universe at the moment.

In terms of output it is virtually identical to the Olympus EM5 III however it actually bests it in my opinion in one area that is vital to my project. The black and white profiles of the latest generation of Panasonic cameras and in particular L Monochrome D is just about my favourite black and white profile of any camera.

 

Despite wanting the Fuji XT30’s black and white output the |fuji sytem currently has too many compromises to work for me (Slow AF, No IBIS, Poor Wifi App, No PASM). Despite quite liking a lot of the EM5III features I don’t really need them. My Panasonic GX9 takes beautiful black and white images (particularly in the L Mono and L Mono D profile) and offers everything that I need in a small lightweight package. It doesn’t hurt that it looks beautiful too. So I’ll be using it alongside my GH5 for my projects this year.

 

 

 

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