Setting up a Fujifilm X-E4

 

Briefly breaking from my photographic posts on travel, here is a post on how I set up a Fuji X-E4 camera I just bought.  The purpose is to demonstrate how by applying yourself to setup, you can get a very simple camera that can perform complex tasks.

I got my partner Jools a Fujifilm X-E4 as a birthday present and after it arrived I decided to get one for myself as well.  It will replace one of my X-T2s (a top model in its time) because it has full current Fuji functionality.  It will also replace my X100s, which is a sophisticated coat-pocket fixed lens camera, as the X-E4 is about the same size with the kit lens.

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The two X-E4s, one with kit lens.

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Curiously, Amazon describes the skill level for this camera as “Novice” whereas Ted’s Cameras describes the skill level as “Semi-Professional, Enthusiast”.  Essentially, they are both wrong but especially Amazon.  True, you can set the camera on “P” and just press the button and get it to work pretty well.  But the camera also has all the capabilities of the top model X-T4, which has more than twice the number of buttons and dials and which is twice the price. The main drawbacks are there’s only one SD card slot instead of two and it’s not water sealed.

The point is you can have it both ways.  You can have a very simple and compact camera that is very easy to operate and yet can do all the complex things with little effort.  You just need to spend some time setting it up to your own requirements.  What I have to say will also apply to other current Fuji models as well, and much of it to previous models and even other camera marques. 

This is just about setup, not a camera review, so if you don’t already understand the functions and operations of the camera and want to, see this review from Greg Cromie, or others on the web.

The X-E4’s lack of external buttons and dials has led me to customise it in ways I have previously ignored – specifically LCD screen swipes, Q Menu and My Menu.  I set it up so that in most cases I don’t need to specify individual menu choices – just the type of shooting I am doing.  That makes it very easy to use.

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X100s vs X-E4.

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General Setup

One of the first things I did was to change the default setting for Touch Screen Mode (AF/MF  SETTING > TOUCH SCREEN  MODE) from TOUCH SHOOTING to OFF.  The default setting meant that every time you accidentally touch the LCD screen it takes a photo, which is just crazy.  (Another potential option is to set it to AF but then if you touch a point on the screen to autofocus, you have to turn the camera on and off to get AF back to the shutter button).

Then I set default menu items using Photography Life’s Recommended X-T4 Menu Settings.  The functionality of the two cameras is the same though the interfaces are very different.  Most default items also don’t need to change.

After that I went through the manual and identified all the settings I might want to change while operating the camera and wrote them down.  I then identified which I could specify in the various ways to customise the camera.

  • Swipe actions are on p257 of the manual
  • Possible Q Menu items are on p251
  • Actions for the three customisable buttons on p254
  • Most actions are available when you set up My Menu options, apart from Setup Menu options.

So I’ll show you how I set up my camera.  Bear in mind these are my own idiosyncratic choices and I have distinct preferences as to how I use the camera.  I only shoot RAW, so JPEG-only settings are not required.  I also don’t shoot flash or video.

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Swiping right for Colour Balance (while taking a picture of a CD cover).

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Swiping

There used to be four directional buttons on the back of the camera that were customisable but they are gone and instead you can have certain functions appear when you swipe up, down, left or right.  To set them up you go to the menu on the back of the camera and select SET UP> BUTTON/DIAL SETTING > FUNCTION (Fn) SETTING.  This command also applies to the three customisable buttons but we’ll come back to that later.  I set mine up as follows:

  • Swipe left: Performance
  • Swipe up: Histogram
  • Swipe right: Colour balance
  • Swipe down: Virtual horizon (Electronic level)

For example, swiping for colour balance is useful because you can see the colour of your scene change as you change settings.  Similarly, you can also set the Q Menu background to transparent (SET-UP > SCREEN SET-UP > Q MENU BACKGROUND). 

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Q Menu

The Q Menu (or Quick Menu) appears on the LCD screen on the back of the camera when you press the Q button on the top of the camera.  You can have up to seven custom Q Menus plus the default Q Menu.  They can have 4, 8, 12 or 16 options though effectively one less because one is for navigation.

In my case I found 8 was the useful number.  No matter how many Q Menus you have, the items will always be the same (eg ISO might be choice number 3) but each item can have different values on the different menus.

You can set your custom Q Menus up so that either the camera saves values you change for the next time you turn it on, or so it reverts to the initial value. (Set IQ > AUTO UPDATE CUSTOM SETTING to ENABLE or DISABLE).  This choice only applies to custom Q Menus; the Default Q Menu always autosaves changes.  So if all you want to do is change values on the fly as required, perhaps you don’t need to specify any custom menus and can just use the default Q Menu.

I chose DISABLE.  So instead of changing the values of settings for different circumstances, I set up different custom Q Menus for different purposes, expecting to change the Q Menus and not the values of the items.  First I will show you what I set up, then how I went about setting them up.

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My Q Menu setup for Birds in Flight.

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Q Menus I Set Up

My Q Menus are an example, not really something to copy.  Contemplate your own preferences.  Your needs and priorities will be different.  Also, don’t worry too much about the detail just now.  The principles of the process are what is important.

My purpose, again, is to have a range of menus for different purposes that I just need to select and need not alter.  So I set up custom menus for these purposes:

  • Landscape/ General
  • Interior
  • Wildlife
  • Mono
  • Time Exposure

In more detail, these are the values I selected for each setting.  (I really only needed one less setting.  White balance stays at auto, I have also have it set by swiping, so it is mainly there to make up the numbers).

Landscape/ General

  • ISO: Auto (Max to 12,800; Minimum shutter speed 1/15sec)
  • White Balance: Auto
  • Self-Timer: OFF
  • AF Mode: Single Point
  • Shutter type: Electronic
  • Focus Mode: Single
  • Film Simulation: Provia (Standard)

Interior

  • ISO: Auto (Max to 12,800; Minimum shutter speed 1/15sec)
  • White Balance: Auto (may need to change to suit lighting)
  • Self-Timer: OFF
  • AF Mode: Single Point
  • Shutter type: Mechanical (to avoid banding)
  • Focus Mode: Single
  • Film Simulation: Provia (Standard)

Wildlife

  • ISO: Auto (Max to 12,800; Minimum shutter speed 1/15sec)
  • White Balance: Auto
  • Self-Timer: OFF
  • AF Mode: Zone
  • Shutter type: Electronic, Mechanical if problems with motion
  • Focus Mode: Continuous
    • Not in Q Menu but set in Menu: AFC Custom Settings: 6: 2/ 1/ Centre
  • Film Simulation: Provia (Standard)

Mono

  • ISO: Auto (Max to 12,800; Minimum shutter speed 1/15sec)
  • White Balance: Auto
  • Self-Timer: OFF
  • AF Mode: Single Point
  • Shutter type: Electronic
  • Focus Mode: Single
  • Film Simulation: Astia – Yellow filter

Time Exposure

  • ISO: 160
  • White Balance: Auto
  • Self Timer: 2 seconds
  • AF Mode: Single Point
  • Shutter type: Electronic
  • Focus Mode: Single
  • Film Simulation: Provia (Standard)

 

How to set up Q Menus

First go to SET UP> BUTTON/DIAL SETTING > EDIT/SAVE QUICK MENU.  Here you set the number of menu items you want (4, 8, 12 or 16) and then continue to specify what these menu items should be.   Next exit from the menu, press the Q button for the Q Menu and specify the values for the items of the default Q Menu.

Then you may want to specify up to seven custom Q Menus.  The easy way is to hold down the Q button with the Q Menu showing.  You can give each custom Q Menu a name and also set default values.  Remember to save the values as you go, otherwise you won’t get what you thought.  You can later change your custom Q Menu values using the same method.

For X-E4 and X-S10 only:  As well as the values that appear in the Q Menus on the back of the camera, each custom Q Menu also a whole range of default values that you set with the long press of the Q button.  So if you don’t set these here, settings that you have set in the Main Menu but don’t appear on the Q Menu screen on the back of your camera will change to their original defaults.  For example, I didn’t initially realise this and my Main Menu setting of RAW for Image Quality changed to the original default of JPEG (Fine) whenever I accessed a custom Q Menu.

 

Setting Up “My Menu” Items

You bring up the camera’s menu by pressing the [Menu/ OK] button and you can specify additional menu items under “My Menu”.  Putting menu items in My Menu saves you having to search through all the menu items when you need them.  Set up your My Menu with SET UP> USER SETTING> MY MENU SETTING.  You select the items from there.  Most menu items are available as long as they are not in the Setup Menu.

These are the options I set up for “My Menu” items:

  • AE BKT SETTING
    • You can press the Drive/ Delete button and select exposure bracketing.  Then when you press the shutter button your bracketing behaviour is whatever is set in this menu setting.   So you can set that up here, and may change it for different circumstances.
  • FOCUS BKT SETTING
    • You can specify to take a focus bracket from the Drive/ Delete button but you specify what happens in this setting and in the case of the Auto option, you also set it going from inside the setting.
  • AF-C CUSTOM SETTINGS
    • This is how the camera focuses in continuous focus mode, which you may want to set up and leave, or you may want to tweak for different situations.
  • RELEASE/ FOCUS PRIORITY
    • Setting whether AF-S and AF-C takes the photo when you press the shutter or wait for the camera to lock focus first. You may want to set this and forget it but I may want to experiment, for a while at least.
  • AF+MF
    • I have the camera to override autofocus when you turn the manual focus ring on the lens. I have this here in case I want to change that.

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Nikon D850 vs Fujifilm X-E4.  You might notice one is a little larger.

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Customising buttons

There are only three buttons you can customise on the X-E4.  I left the Q button to bring up the Q Menu and the AEL/ AFL button for exposure/ focus lock but set the front button (by default ISO) to VIEW MODE SETTING.  This is how the LCD screen and the electronic viewfinder operate.  Usually I leave it at Eye Sensor, but sometimes (eg in an audience) I may want to turn the LCD screen off and just use the electronic viewfinder.

I first tried setting VIEW MODE SETTING to be a swipe on the LCD screen.  This is an option you can set but it shouldn’t be because it doesn’t work (or at least, not for long).  Swipe to make it the electronic viewfinder and the LCD screen turns off and you can’t swipe to change it again. Instead, you have to find the menu item and change it there.

 

Loose ends

I would have liked to set performance on the Q Menu to Boost/ Low Light for wildlife and use it as Normal otherwise, because Boost increases the drain on the battery.  But it’s not available as a setting for the Q Menu so I set it to (Left) Swiping.  Previously I had self-timer there but I have that on the Q Menu anyway.

 

Outcome

It took a lot of thought and effort but I’ve ended up with a camera with full capabilities that is nonetheless very easy to use, either as a general camera or as a coat pocket camera.

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Comments are welcome. You may have a different view, I may have made a mistake, or you might like more explanation of something.  Bear in mind I’m about to be travelling so my response may be slow.

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Normal service resumes after this post with travel posts, though I may not post for a few weeks while travelling.  I will probably resume posting with North Queensland, then return to the last few Samarkand posts…..