My Fujifilm X-E4 Focus Switch & ISO Dial Exclusion Solution

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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Video: Horseshoe Bend + Fujifilm X-E4 + Pergear 10mm

Check out this quick video where I use a Pergear 10mm f/8 Fisheye on my Fujifilm X-E4 at the Horseshoe Bend overlook near Page, Arizona. The film simulation recipe that I used was The Rockwell (find it on the app!).

While I’d passed this famous photographic landmark a handful of times, this was the first time that I’d actually stopped to take a look myself. It’s a part of the Glen Canyon National Recreation Area, and sits a little ways northeast of the Grand Canyon and just southwest of Lake Powell.

Despite visiting during the “off season” it was surprisingly crowded. There’s a small entrance fee, and it seems well maintained. A well-marked trail leads to an epic overlook of the Colorado River. The steep drop-off has railings at one spot but otherwise there’s nothing to keep visitors from falling except for good sense—it didn’t seem as though everyone was exercising good sense while I was there. The red rocks were dusted in red sand, making footing unsteady at times. Be careful if you should visit.

The reward is an incredibly amazing view! There’s a similarly amazing place in this region called Goosenecks State Park that’s much less crowded, which is briefly featured at the beginning of my Monument Valley video. If you have a chance to visit Horseshoe Bend or The Goosenecks, be sure to do so. Don’t wait until the seventh or eighth time passing by before finally getting out of the car and heading down the trail. It’s worth your time, and your photographic attention.

Review: Fujifilm X-E4 — The Little Camera That Can

The X-E1 was my introduction to the world of Fujifilm cameras. I love the X-E line—the nearly perfect combination of form, function, size and price—it’s easy to understand why people are passionate about it. Fujifilm just released the latest model in this series: the X-E4. This new iteration has received plenty of praise and criticism. Fujifilm made some significant changes to this model, but do they equate to a better camera?

The Fujifilm X-E4, which retails for $850 for the body or $1,050 when combined with the new 27mm f/2.8 lens, is the fifth X-E camera. Fifth? Isn’t the X-E4 the fourth? In 2012 Fujifilm released the X-E1 (X-Trans I), a year later the X-E2 (X-Trans II), in 2016 the X-E2s (also X-Trans II), in 2017 the X-E3 (X-Trans III), and now in 2021 we have the X-E4 (X-Trans IV). Beginning with the X-E2s, this series marks the end of a sensor generation, and most likely the X-E4 will be the last camera with the X-Trans IV sensor.

Fujifilm knows how to make a beautiful camera, and the X-E line is one of their best looking. The X100, X-Pro and X-E series are the epitome of modern-retro fusion camera styling. People will mistake it for a vintage film camera. The X-E4 is indeed one of the loveliest cameras made today! The X100 and X-Pro lines are more premium, while X-E is more mid-level. This camera is not weather-sealed, and there’s no IBIS, which will certainly cause complaints, yet the X-E4 is a wonderful camera that is well-built and well-designed—a solid offering by Fujifilm, no doubt—but it’s not a premium model, so expectations should be kept reasonable.

The X-E4 is Fujifilm’s smallest interchangeable-lens camera with a viewfinder. It’s tiny! Really, though, it’s not all that much more compact than the X-T30 or especially the X-E3, but it is slightly smaller nonetheless. It’s pretty darn lightweight, too. This is why I bought the camera: I wanted a smaller and lighter option for travel, and the X-E4 fulfills that nicely.

Fujifilm’s promotional slogan for this camera is “Make more with less.” It’s clear that the design philosophy for the X-E4 was minimalism, something that I appreciate. They attempted to “achieve simplicity” with it, and indeed they did! But did they go too far? There are a number of buttons, switches, and wheels that have been removed from the camera body. Aside from the Shutter Speed and Exposure Compensation knobs and the On-Off/Shutter-Release switch/button, there are now just seven buttons, a joystick, and the front wheel—and that’s it! I wish that the M/C/S focus selector switch had not been axed (probably the most controversial decision), but I’m alright with all of the other design choices. It would have been a nice touch if Fujifilm had included an ISO ring around the shutter knob, but it’s not a big deal that they didn’t.

The X-E4 has an X-Trans IV sensor, which has been around for about two-and-a-half years now; however, Fujifilm has refreshed the firmware in new models, so this camera feels like a different generation than the X-T3 and X-T30. It’s more similar to the X-Pro3, X100V, and especially the X-T4, yet Fujifilm tweaked it a little, so it’s not exactly the same as those cameras, either. One difference is that literally everything in the menu can be (or, really, must be) set in the custom presets. There are some advantages and disadvantages to this, and it definitely takes longer to set up (there are a couple of new tools to potentially help with this); overall I feel like this was a good change that I hope Fujifilm carries forward into future models.

One positive side effect of this firmware change is that it’s now possible to program eight film simulation recipes into the camera. Yes, eight! There’s still the C1-C7 custom presets that can be accessed through the Q Menu, but whatever is programmed into the IQ Menu is remembered separately from the custom presets. As you scroll through the C1-C7 presets in the Q Menu, you additionally have the IQ Menu settings, which are designated by a P, A, S or M, (depending on the shooting mode you are in) in the Q Menu. This eighth “custom preset” cannot be named, but it’s nice to be able to store another recipe in-camera. Also, the very confusing “Base” designation is now gone.

One negative side effect of the firmware change is that the focus mode, whether Manual, Continuous or Single, must be set from within the menu, and must be programmed with each custom preset. I shoot in Single-AF 80% of the time, so that’s what I have it set to, and most of the time this works well. But, when I need to change it (I have a button programmed to quickly access this), it’s not remembered by the camera, so when I adjust to a different custom preset it’s back to Single-AF, when maybe I want Continuous or Manual instead. When I’m shooting in something other than Single-AF, I find myself having to sometimes reset it to the focus mode that I want to use, which can be a little inconvenient and a bit frustrating. The X-E4 does have the ability to automatically save changes to presets, which is a potential solution, but I can foresee some possible problems with that, so I haven’t tried it. I’m hoping that I’m just overlooking some simple solution to the problem, and this will be a complete nonissue once I figure it out. This curious design choice might be the biggest reason why people don’t buy the X-E4, and the inclusion of a M/C/S focus selector switch would have avoided it altogether. It’s just unfortunate, but it’s not a deal-breaker for me because most of the time the camera operates just as I want it to. It’s only a problem every once in awhile.

The X-E4 has a flat design with no bulges for grips. You can buy an aftermarket grip and thumb rest, which is supposed to help with holding the camera, yet adds a little girth and weight. I have had no issues holding the camera, so I have no plans to use those. I might be in the minority with this opinion, but I actually prefer the flat design; however, some people won’t like it, and this might be a reason to avoid the X-E4, depending on your preferences.

The electronic viewfinder is plenty good enough for me—I believe it’s the same one found in the X-T30. The rear screen is a touch-flip. I actually have the touch capability disabled because accidentally touching it, which happens often, does annoying things. The flip ability is nice, but I have never moved it to the “selfie” position—only 90° for waist-level shooting. Maybe someday the full flip will come in handy.

Image quality on the X-E4, like all X-Trans IV cameras, is outstanding. I said about the X100V, and it’s just as true (if not more true) with the X-E4, is that it’s like shooting with an endless roll of film. Actually, it’s like shooting with up to eight endless rolls of film. You can capture as many frames as you wish on each roll, and change the film anytime you want. Amazing!

The video specs are pretty darn good on the X-E4. I’ve not used the camera much for video yet, but I have no doubts that it would be plenty good enough for most people and most purposes. Most likely it has a similar overheating issue as the X100V, but I’ve not heard any reports or experienced overheating myself. Plan to keep clips under five minutes in length, and give the camera a break every now and then, and it should not be a problem at all. If you are serious about video, I don’t think you’d want the X-E4 as your primary cinema camera, but I believe that it would make a solid second body.

With product reviews, people often look for recommendations. Should I upgrade from the X-E3? Should I choose the X-T30 or X-S10 instead of the X-E4? What should I buy? I can’t tell you what decisions you should make, but, for me, I really like the X-E4 as an interchangeable-lens companion to the X100V for travel. That’s where this camera makes the most sense to me, but you’ll have to decide for yourself if it makes sense for you and how you might want to use it.

For travel photography, I’m trying to go smaller, lighter, and simpler, and a key component to that is the Fujifilm X-E4. I really appreciate the redesign. It’s not perfect—no camera is—but it’s pretty darn close to perfect for what I want it use it for. The X-E4, along with a handful of compact lenses, such as the new 27mm f/2.8 that came with it, fits nicely into a small camera bag, right next to the X100V. The X-E4 really is the little camera that can, and I couldn’t be happier with my purchase.

This post contains affiliate links, and if you make a purchase using my links I’ll be compensated a small amount for it.

Fujifilm X-E4 Black    Amazon   B&H
Fujifilm X-E4 Silver   Amazon   B&H
Fujifilm X-E4 Black + 27mm f/2.8    Amazon   B&H
Fujifilm X-E4 Silver + 27mm f/2.8   Amazon   B&H

I captured the photographs below using my Fujifilm X-E4 on a recent trip to Arizona:

Sitting Above Horseshoe Bend – Glen Canyon Nat. Rec. Area, AZ – Fujifilm X-E4 & Pergear 10mm
Three Palms – Sun City West, AZ – Fujifilm X-E4 & Fujinon 27mm
That Way – Phoenix, AZ – Fujifilm X-E4 & Fujinon 27mm
SS At 35th – Phoenix, AZ – Fujifilm X-E4 & Fujinon 35mm
Old Cars & Tires – Kamas, UT – Fujifilm X-E4 & Fujinon 27mm
Trash Cart – Phoenix, AZ – Fujifilm X-E4 & Fujinon 27mm
American Motorcycle – Phoenix, AZ – Fujifilm X-E4 & Fujinon 18mm
Spring Seeding – Phoenix, AZ – Fujifilm X-E4 & Pentax-110 50mm
Lemon Tree – Phoenix, AZ – Fujifilm X-E4 & Fujinon 35mm
Blossoming Red – Phoenix, AZ – Fujifilm X-E4 & Fujinon 27mm
Dark Blossoms – Phoenix, AZ – Fujifilm X-E4 & 7artisans 50mm
Hanging Light Bulb – Phoenix, AZ – Fujifilm X-E4 & Fujinon 35mm
Roundabout – Phoenix, AZ – Fujifilm X-E4 & Fujinon 18mm
Coffee – Phoenix, AZ – Fujifilm X-E4 & Fujinon 18mm
Two Thirty – Surprise, AZ – Fujifilm X-T4 & Fujinon 27mm

See also: My Fujifilm Gear Page

Help Fuji X Weekly

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Fujifilm X-E4 Thoughts….

I wasn’t intending to write this article. I had other things that I wanted to talk about. There are a couple new film simulation recipes I’ve created that I plan to share. I want to give my thoughts on the new GFX100S. I want to talk more about the GFX-50S that Fujifilm sent me to use. There are a couple of lens reviews that I’ve been procrastinating on. The Android version of the Fuji X Weekly App is edging closer to being finished. But, the upcoming Fujifilm X-E4 has been turning inside my brain all day, so that’s why I’m writing about it instead.

I think a lot of people had high hopes and expectations for the Fujifilm X-E4, and nobody really predicted what it ended up being. It’s like when the X-Pro3 was announced, and everyone was scratching their heads. With the X-Pro3, even though so many didn’t understand it, I think there was a pretty large curiosity towards it, and a lot of people came around to it after awhile. The X-E4 has a similar lack of understanding surrounding it, but it doesn’t carry that same curiosity, so it will likely be fairly ignored. It’s already been overshadowed by other gear announcements.

There was a post I published back in July called Shrinking Camera Market: What Fujifilm Should Do in 2021 & Beyond. I suggested that Fujifilm should make a less-expensive 100MP GFX camera. Guess what? They did! Another thing I suggested is that Fujifilm should do more to differentiate the X-E4 from the X-T30 (and the eventual X-T40) because the X-E3 and the X-T20 were so very similar (aside from camera shape). Well, it looks like they did that, too. My apologies.

The question is: what was Fujifilm thinking when they designed the X-E4? What was their vision? That’s tough to know until the tell us, if they tell us, as they might not. Until then, we’re left guessing, and most of the guesses seems to be along the lines of, “They cheapened the X-E line.” I really don’t believe that was their intention.

As I’ve thought about this, I believe the X-E4 is intended to be a minimalist’s “just shoot” camera. Looking at all of the aspects of an X-E3, the designers asked themselves, “Is this necessary?” If the answer was yes, it stayed, perhaps repositioned or redesigned. If the answer was no, to the chopping block it went! I question if the rear wheel and focus-type-selector were really unnecessary, because I think they’re both quite handy. But someone obviously didn’t think so. An ISO dial on the shutter knob (like the X100V) would have been a great addition, but that didn’t happen, unfortunately. I do believe the design of the X-E4 was very intentional, and there was a purpose to the decisions, even if I don’t fully understand them myself.

Besides being a “just shoot” camera, I think the X-E4 was intended to be a smaller pocketable-ish camera, like the X100V or the X70. Remember the X70? It was the short-lived baby-brother to the X100T, with an 18.5mm fixed-lens. Sony suddenly stopped production of the X-Trans II sensor, which the X70 used, and that killed the camera. The X-Trans III sensor was too hot to place inside the small X70 body, so an X80 never happened. Is the X-E4 actually an interchangeable-lens X80? Maybe. Attach one of Fujifilm’s pancake lenses—the 18mm f/2 or 27mm f/2.8—to the X-E4 and it could pass as an X70 successor. It wasn’t very long ago that Fujifilm said there would be no X-E4, that the X-E3 was the end of the line, so maybe the initial vision of this camera wasn’t X-E at all. Just a thought.

Where I think the Fujifilm X-E4 makes the most sense is as a lightweight, compact, carry-everywhere camera. It could nicely complement the X100V. It might be a good option to replace an aging X70. Or, if you never purchased an X70 but always wanted to, this might be a solid alternative. Maybe the XF10 never interested you because of its sluggish performance, Bayer sensor, and PASM dial, but you’d love a compact X-Trans option. Well, now you have one.

My opinion is that if you can make peace with the minimalistic redesign, and you get yourself the 18mm f/2 and/or the 27mm f/2.8—maybe even use a wrist strap instead of a neck strap—this camera could be a very nice travel/street/have-with-you-wherever-you-go option. Is it perfect? No, but what camera is?

Like a lot of you, I’m disappointed that the Fujifilm X-E4 isn’t the camera that many of us thought it could or should be, but as I’ve pondered what it is exactly that Fujifilm created, I can see its place and it does make some sort of sense. If you embrace it for what it is, and perhaps think of it more as an interchangeable-lens X80 than an X-E camera, than I think the X-E4 could actually be a wonderful and fun option.

I say all of this, but I’ve never used or even held an X-E4, so this rant should be taken with a grain of salt. I was initially bummed by the camera because my expectations were off, but now that I’ve had time to dwell on it I’m actually beginning to warm up to it. I think the X-E4, like many of the X-E cameras that came before, will go under the radar and will be under appreciated, but for those who own one, it will be a joy to use.

This post contains affiliate links, and if you make a purchase using my links I’ll be compensated a small amount for it.

Fujifilm X-E4 (Body Only)   Amazon  B&H
Fujifilm X-E4 (w/27mm f/2.8)   Amazon  B&H

New: Fujifilm X-E4

Fujifilm just announced the brand-new X-E4. This will be the smallest interchangeable-lens camera in the X series, and comes in at a modest $849 (body only) price tag. Plenty has been said about it, and I wanted to add my own quick opinions.

The X-E4 is a camera that I am excited for. Why? Because my Fujifilm journey began with the X-E1, and I love the X-E line. I appreciate the size and design. The X-E4 is the X-Pro3’s and X100V’s little brother; sometimes little brothers get overlooked. I could be wrong, but I bet this will be last camera with the X-Trans IV sensor, and the next Fujifilm X camera will feature a new X-Trans V sensor.

This latest version of the X-E camera, which will be released on March 11, is the smallest. It’s also the first with a tilting screen. There are some curious design choices. I’m not surprised that the D-Pad was removed, but I am surprised that the back wheel and some other buttons have been taken away. Fujifilm really embraced a minimalist camera back, which I suppose fits a philosophy that helps to separate this camera from the X-T30 and X-S10, but I wonder if that was actually a good idea. I’m personally disappointed the shutter speed knob doesn’t have an ISO dial like the X100V. It’s still such a beautiful camera body!

The GFX100S, which was announced the same day and really has received most of the attention online, and perhaps deservedly so, was given a new film simulation, called Nostalgic Negative. Strangely, the X-E4 won’t have this new film simulation (but it will have Classic Negative and Eterna Bleach Bypass). This puzzles me because 1) my assumption is that the majority of GFX users shoot RAW and not JPEG (although there are certainly many who do) and 2) this could have been a selling point for the X-E4 and would have generated more excitement for the camera. It would have made more sense to me to have included this film simulation on both cameras, or if it was going to be on only one it should have been the X-E4. My guess is that we’ll start seeing Nostalgic Negative on whatever X series camera comes after the X-E4.

I haven’t preordered the X-E4, but I’m considering selling my X-T30 and replacing it with the X-E4. I don’t think that’s necessarily an upgrade (maybe arguably in some sense, and maybe arguably a downgrade in some other sense, but mostly roughly a lateral move overall), but I just love the X-E line. I haven’t decided yet what I’ll do.

The X-E4 is a compact, lightweight Fujifilm X camera that embraces minimalism, simplicity and retro goodness. It seems like such a fun camera that’s especially great for travel or street photography. Introduced at the same time is the new 27mm f/2.8 pancake. This one is weather sealed (the X-E4 isn’t) and has an aperture ring (both are great upgrades!) yet with the same great image quality, so it’s a lens that I hope to add to my collection someday. You can buy the X-E4 bundled with the Fujinon 27mm pancake lens for $1,050.

If you’d like to preorder the camera, you can use the links below:

Fujifilm X-E4 (Body Only) Amazon B&H
Fujifilm X-E4 (w/27mm f/2.8) Amazon B&H

This post contains affiliate links, and if you make a purchase using my links I’ll be compensated a small amount for it.