Eric Francis puts X-T4 through its paces in challenging conditions, documenting the high-speed action of indoor sports.
As a professional sports photographer, Eric Francis is no stranger to challenging conditions and, as it took place in February, this project was no exception. “I shot two different projects: recreational league hockey and amateur boxing,” says Eric. “I chose these as much out of necessity as anything else. It’s still winter in Nebraska, so indoor sports are the only option.”
These seemingly restrictive conditions actually gave Eric a great opportunity to test X-T4 in situations that could get the better of even the best cameras. “This was the perfect environment for X-T4, since ISOs were going to be high and the frequency of the indoor lighting was problematic,” he explains, going on to tell us how X-T4 rose to the challenge.
He specifically praises the new mechanical shutter that is capable of 15fps continuous shooting, along with the Flicker Reduction function, which automatically controls shutter timing in line with the fluorescent light flicker rate to achieve more stable exposure.
“I really enjoyed shooting the amateur boxing,” Eric continues. “A boxing ring set up in a large steel building in the middle of rural Nebraska was a no-brainer for potential. I used the Flicker Reduction function to help with the light frequency, and the ability to achieve 15fps for stills was a very, very welcome addition.”
“I used the Flicker Reduction function to help with the light frequency, and the ability to achieve 15fps for still was a very, very welcome addition”
In fact, X-T4 performed so well that Eric has already made the decision that it will become a permanent addition to his gear bag. “X-T4, and a future twin, will be staples of my sports and action work,” he reveals. “I’d have to say the speed of the mechanical shutter and the increased refresh rate of the electronic viewfinder make sports photography feel like cheating.”
Ease of use was also a big plus for Eric, who was very happy with the dedicated AF-ON button. “I can now return to 100% back-button focusing. I shot in this way for most of my career and have been working back and forth depending on the situation. Now, I will be able to switch back to a nearly full-time back-button focusing setup,” he explains.
This user-friendly setup continued to impress Eric when navigating between still and video functions. The ability to change between the two at the simple flick of a switch was a big hit. And this brought him on to his favorite video feature: recording Full HD/240p super slow-motion footage.
“It’s as close as a video clip can get to the impact of a still image. The ability to capture the fastest of action and slow it down so drastically and with so much impact is amazing,” he enthuses.
Eric’s overall impressions of X-T4 were very positive. “You don’t have to spend $10,000 or more and buy a backbreaking amount of gear to produce high-impact action photography,” he tells us.
“I’m pretty sure anyone who shoots video will love this camera. All the new features combined with Fujifilm’s unmatched color science is a no-brainer for those video people,” he continues. “When it comes to sports photography and the world that I spend a lot of my time in – well, if you can’t make an impactful sports image with X-T4, it’s not the camera’s fault.”
In summing up, Eric specifically mentions X-T4’s fast and durable mechanical shutter, the wide dynamic range of the 26.1-megapixel X-Trans CMOS 4 sensor, the superfast AF performance, and the newly developed longer-life battery.
He concludes by emphasizing X-T4’s abilities in this field of photography, saying: “This is a nearly perfect sports photography machine. Combine this with the arsenal of FUJIFILM lenses and there isn’t a sports situation I’d even remotely be concerned about.”
“I’m pretty sure anyone who shoots video will love this camera. All the new features combined with Fujifilm’s unmatched color science is a no-brainer for those video people”
About the Photographer
Eric Francis is a freelance sports, editorial, and commercial content provider based in Omaha with a list of clients from all over the world.
Instagram: @efphotopix, @fujixsportshooter