Ever since I published my review of the Fujifilm X-E4, I have received numerous requests to explain my focus switch and ISO dial exclusion solution. It can be difficult to know how to best set up this new camera, especially with the changes that Fujifilm made, and perhaps most puzzling are focus mode and ISO. I don’t know if my settings are best, but hopefully this will be helpful to some of you.
In case you don’t know, Fujifilm removed from the X-E4 the M/C/S focus selector switch that most X cameras have. This switch allows you to quickly and easily go between Manual Focus (MF), Autofocus Continuous (AF-C), and Autofocus Single (AF-S). Instead of a switch, you now have to dig into the menu to change this, which is an inconvenience, to say the least. Fujifilm programmed the X-E4 so that the Focus Mode can be, or really must be, set and saved with each Custom Preset. I have all of my presets set to Autofocus Single (AF-S) because that’s the Focus Mode that I most commonly use. No matter the C1-C7 preset that I choose, it is set to AF-S, and whenever I change presets the Focus Mode will be automatically set to AF-S, whether that’s what I want or not. Most of the time this works well, but not always.
I have AF+MF set to On. I also have MF Assist set to Focus Peak Highlight (I prefer Red) and Focus Check set to On. This is important because most Fujinon lenses are capable of Manual Focus Override, and if you have one of these lenses, when you are in an autofocus mode, if you half-press the shutter you can turn the manual focus ring on the lens and manually focus. Yes, you read that correctly: you can manual focus while in AF-S or AF-C, without setting the camera to MF! Not only that, but MF Assist will automatically activate, and if you are using Single Point AF Mode, focus zoom will also automatically activate. So it’s like setting the focus selector switch to M, except that you stay in AF-S or AF-C. By the way, this isn’t a new feature, and many other Fujifilm cameras are capable of this. It’s pretty slick, and if you’ve never used it you should give it a try.
That works well for Fujinon lenses, but what if you are using a third-party or vintage lens that is manual-only? No matter the Focus Mode you are in, you can press the Focus Stick in to activate Focus Check. You don’t need to be in MF Mode to manually focus, and Focus Check helps to achieve a properly focused image; however, MF Assist will only activate in MF Mode, so Focus Peak Highlight (or whatever you have it set to) won’t activate unless MF Mode is selected. If you don’t need MF Assist, keeping the camera in AF-S or AF-C focus mode even when using a manual lens, and using the Focus Stick to Focus Check, is a good strategy. If you do like to use MF Assist, you’ll need to set the camera to Manual Focus Mode, which is found in the AF-MF Menu.
You can program one of the buttons on the camera body or one of the touch-screen gestures as a shortcut to activate the Focus Mode menu. I chose the AEL-AFL button on the back, and that works well for me, but it might not work for you. The unmarked Function (Fn) button on the top is another good option. This is not an ideal solution, but it’s better than digging through the menu. Since most of the time I’m using AF-S, it’s only occasionally that I need to change the Focus Mode to AF-C or MF, so it’s not a huge deal, but it would have been better if Fujifilm had kept the M/C/S switch on the camera body.
The X-E line has never had an ISO dial on the camera body. You’ve always had to dig through the menu to find the ISO menu. I had hoped that Fujifilm would add an ISO dial around the Shutter knob like the X100V, but they didn’t. My solution to this lack of an ISO dial is simple: the front wheel, which is called The Command Dial. The little wheel on the front can be programmed for only a few different things, like aperture, shutter speed, and ISO. A long press will allow you to switch what it controls, but I have it set to, and I leave it set to, ISO. Because I most often use Auto ISO, which can be programmed with each Custom Preset, I don’t change ISO often, but when I do this works very well, probably better than a dial around the Shutter knob.
The Fujifilm X-E4 is a great minimalistic camera, and I really appreciate that aspect of it, but the exclusion of the M/C/S switch went just a little too far, in my opinion. But that doesn’t mean the camera isn’t a great tool or that it can’t be worked around. I found that it has a sufficient number of buttons, and the firmware Fujifilm gave it does make up for some of the exclusions. Changing focus modes is more cumbersome than it should be, but it’s not a big problem, just an occasional minor inconvenience.
If you have a Fujifilm X-E4, I hope that you found this article helpful. If you’ve found a different solution to either the missing focus mode selector switch or the non-existent ISO dial, I’d love to hear about it in the comments! I’m fairly satisfied with my focus switch and ISO dial exclusion solution, but maybe you’ve figured out something even better.
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