Specializing in romantic portraits of happy couples, Heidi and Ryan Browne know all about great partnerships – here’s what they made of X-T4’s blend of superb stills and video features.
“It’s absolutely the best camera Fujifilm has made,” enthuses Heidi Browne who, with partner Ryan, recently got the chance to test-drive X-T4. High praise indeed and, as hybrid storytellers producing timeless stills and video for happy couples all over the world, you can expect Heidi and Ryan’s opinion to be well-founded. They are also one part of the successful photo collective, Forged in the North. They took X-T4 on a trip around California, capturing a variety of subjects in stills and video.
So why did X-T4 fit the bill so neatly for these modern photographers? “X-T4 combines so many great things from prior generations of the X-T and X-H lines,” says Ryan, “and there’s really not much else you can ask for with these specs.” With features equally weighted for stills and video, it’s a perfectly conceived camera for those who’ve never really seen a dividing line between the two, like Heidi and Ryan. “From the very first cameras we bought after college, we started creating both stills and video at the same time, so it’s always felt completely natural to us,” he continues. “There was never a plan for it to be that way – it’s just what always interested us the most.”
“X-T4 combines so many great things from prior generations of the X-T and X-H lines, and there’s really not much else you can ask for with these specs.”
To test out X-T4’s stills features, Heidi and Ryan decided to shoot a few different couples they know. “It’s the type of work we do most of the time,” says Heidi, “so it just made sense to test it out on that. All of our subjects were real people, not models, and we happened to be traveling around Southern California while testing the camera, so that’s where all the locations were. It’s the work that keeps us most busy these days, and X-T4’s updated and improved Face and Eye Detection AF was used in the majority of these portraits. It’s especially powerful and useful as the lifestyle feel of our photography often involves the subjects moving around. And let’s not forget that X-T4 gives you amazing exposure and colors straight out of camera.”
“As well the technology that drives X-T4,” adds Ryan, “the size of the camera is a huge advantage. Having something so small and compact gives us the ability to work longer without getting tired. But more than that, it helps our subjects feel more at ease. Especially when you’re working with real people and not models, as we most often do, having a small camera setup makes it feel much less intimidating.”
“For our video project with X-T4,” continues Heidi, “we wanted to shoot something that would show off the capabilities of the camera, so we focused on a friend of ours who is a paramotor pilot. This setting allowed us to push the camera to its limits to see what it could do.”
“We really wanted to focus the video work on what would showcase some of our favorite features in X-T4,” adds Ryan. “This new camera adds a crucial component over X-T3, which is its five-axis in-body image stabilization (IBIS). Because of that, we could capture everything handheld. So, while some shots in the films emulate a locked-off tripod and others give a dolly or Steadicam effect, it’s actually achieved without any of that extra kit.”
“The quality of X-T4’s files is insanely good, too,” adds Heidi. “Being able to shoot up to 400 Mbps means we have much more latitude with coloring later on. The resolution and frame rate options give us tons of flexibility as well, so we can shoot anything from 4096×2160 4K at 30p to super-smooth 240p slow motion with the Full HD mode.”
In summing up their experience with the new model, Ryan says: “Hybrid shooting with a camera like X-T4 is definitely something we’d recommend to photographers, because when you mix photo and video, one really helps inform the way you approach the other. For instance, shooting stills can help strengthen your composition and framing as a video shooter. And shooting video can help strengthen your storytelling as a stills shooter.”
“For us,” he adds, “X-T4 works for any situation from a casual walk-around travel camera to full-blown professional shoots. It’s so well-rounded that it’s suitable for tons of different types of people. Videographers will love the ease of operation, the quality of the files, and built-in stabilization. And those making stills will love it for its compact design, fast autofocus, and, of course, that famous X-Trans 4 image quality.”
“But the really interesting thing,” concludes Heidi, “is that the technology in X-T4 is really helping drive both of those groups towards hybrid creativity, and advancing what’s possible for photographers to make. Basically, what we’re finding out through these new, feature-packed hybrid cameras is that many stills photographers can take what they know about making great images, and put that into excelling at video. It used to be that video was quite inaccessible to most people, but with cameras like X-T4, the quality of the video features mean it really frees up creative people to do so many amazing things. Fujifilm has really nailed it here.”
“Hybrid shooting with a camera like X-T4 is definitely something we’d recommend to photographers”
ABOUT THE PHOTOGRAPHERS
Ryan and Heidi Browne are part of the Brooklyn-based Forged in the North photography and videography collective, and their award-winning wedding photography has been featured in a long list of industry publications.