In what has become the most busy “review/preview” winter I’ve ever had, the time has now come to look at the brand new Fujifilm X-T4.
Fujifilm has been on a serious releasing spree this winter, and since writing my mammoth run-through of the X-Pro3 which I was very close to the development of, they have put out an insane amount of products in the course of just 3 months. The X-T200, The XC35mm f/2, The GF45-100mm, The X100V and now the X-T4!
Once again I have shot the official product shots, some lifestyle model shots, and some jpeg sample shots for the Fujifilm marketing department, and I have taken the liberty of testing it in my everyday photography for about a month or so. So before we get going as always, I’ll be courteous and write down my usual disclaimers.
Feel free to skip everything but number 3
Disclaimer 1: I’m an X-photographer. That’s spelled brand ambassador for Fujifilm. I don’t get paid for doing these write ups (and I have been doing them even before getting involved with Fujifilm). This means that I’m just about as biased as I can get, and whether you choose to believe my views or not is entirely up to you. I expect you to be adults, capable of forming your own opinions based on presented information.
Disclaimer 2: All the images in this article has been shot using a prototype of the X-T4 camera. Image quality might therefore not be final, although I have been told that it is.
Disclaimer 3: All shots with- and of the product has been shot by me, and is not to be used without my explicit permission.
So. I comes as no surprise to those of you who have been following my journey over the past 8 years that I am a photographer who likes his cameras in the shape of a rangefinder. (Be they real film rangefinders like the Bronica RF645, The Fujifilm T-X1, The Leica M series or the Fujifilm GW690, or be they pseudo-rangefinders like the X-Pro series, the X100 series or even the Contax G series.)
So I have never taken a particular keen interest in the DSLR shaped X-T series. I know that it completely saved the X-series back with the (to Fujifilm even) surprising popularity of the X-T1. And ever since then the X-T2 and recently the VERY capable and critically acclaimed X-T3 have all made a very big mark in the mirrorless camera market.
What started out as an experiment has since become Fujifilms top selling mirrorless APSC camera.
Back when I reviewed the Fujifilm X-T3 I was seriously blown away by the new X-Processor 4, The X-Trans 4 and the overall complete feel of the product. Even though I prefer my X-Pro cameras, the X-T3 is a camera that I have really enjoyed using from time to time. So I always wondered what Fujifilm would put into the X-T series to to keep making it better. With the X-T4 they are getting REALLY close to technical perfection!
Before X-T3 camera came out Fujifilm launced the X-H1. That product did absolutely nothing for me. I loved the IBIS and the resulting (very) silent shutter, but the formfactor, the frankenstein-look and the clumsiness was so unlike the Fujifilm that I know and love. So that camera has never seen any real use in my hands after the initial trial-run. I simply never “felt” it. And I often need my tools to give me a certain feeling to spark my creative vision. It sounds stupid, but that’s just the way I am. Sorry, not sorry 😀
I was told during the past year that the IBIS unit was still too big to fit into an X-T sized body, so imagine my delight and surprise when I saw the X-T4 for the first time!
It’s really only marginally bigger than it’s predecessors, but it packs an IBIS and a larger NEW battery type.
The entire camera with full specs, packshots from every imaginable angle and comparison charts have already leaked within the past two weeks, so I’m thinking that I won’t get into too many specifics in this “first look preview”. I’d rather outline the key differences, and what I like and what I dislike. So for full spec runthroughs and comparison head-to-head tests etc you will have to look somewhere else. That is the HUGE benefit of not being a proper reviewer, and doing this writeup out of passion alone.
But let’s dive on in to the nitty gritty shall we….
Build and feel
There’s no denying that the X-T series has always been one of the more well-designed faux-dslr style mirrorless cameras. Drawing obvious design cues from the old Contax RTS cameras, the X-T series looking very balanced with its bilateral top dials, the beefy faux-mirror-box EVF top and the focus on manual controls. I personally LOVE how it looks in the silver variant. The X-T1 had to be purchased as a special edition graphite silver model, whereas the X-T2 and X-T3 came in silver editions right off the bat. The same is true for the X-T4. It comes in both silver and black from the get-go.
Just like the X-T3 before it, the X-T4 has been assembled in China. Before anybody get their “hatin’ on”, let’s just put all the “cheap Chinese products” bullshit to rest, shall we? The quality of the build is very good, and there’s no feeling of cheap build anywhere!
The material used is magnesium alloy which has been coated in either a black or a silver finish. The silver finish is the same as the one found on the X-T2 and X-T3.
The entire camera has grown a little bit compared to the X-T3. The size measurements are (W) 134.6mm × (H) 92.8mm × (D) 63.8mm. This only differs from the X-T3 in mere millimetres. This is mainly to facilitate the new IBIS unit. The grip has been made a little more substantial, although not as “grippy” as the X-H1. This is because of the new battery which is a little larger than the old battery (More on that later). I like this new grip. It ensures better handling, without going full frankenstein-bulk like the X-H1. The shutter button is in the same place at the top plate as the X-T3.
The stability ring surrounding the lens mount has been toughened, also taking design cues from the X-H1. This looks quite cool in silver where the ring is quite pronounced in a very cool way.
Apart from the slightly bulkier appearance and the prominent lens-mount ring, the biggest difference with the X-T4 compared is to be found on the backside of the camera.
The new Vari-angle LCD display
Now, here is where you’ll see the most prominent change on the X-T4 in comparison to its predecessors. There’s a new tilt-swivel-bend-turn-twist-screen model on the X-T series!
Whereas the screen on the X-Pro3 made a lot of sense to my type of photography, this screen simply does not. I will settle for the fact that people who like to see themselves for vlogging will have the perfect screen on their hands.
For stills photography….not so much.
Whereas you could swiftly pull down the X-T3 screen for quick action low angle shots, with this new screen you have to switch hands, flip out to the side, twist around and THEN you can shoot! I have no count as to how many shots I missed because of this. I ended up leaving it flat on the back treating it like a non-flip-screen X-Pro2. Pretty far from ideal if you ask me.
The screen desperately need a proper tilt function akin the one found on the X-T100 or the Panasonic S1R, but I guess a lot of the “full swivel screen” lovers out there are being heard this time.
But just like the X-Pro3 screen was perfect for some users (including yours truly) the new screen on the X-T4 will be perfect for others. You won’t find me complaining, bitching or moaning. I’ll just use another tool if I want tilt screen. And that’s all I have to say about that.
Overall build changes and minor improvements
There has been a lot of refining going on with the X-T4 body. The general idea has probably been that not much needed changing. What they did do is
- Make the top a bit more flat. especially the faux-mirrorbox.
- Extend the EVF eyepiece a bit further from the body
- Make the EVF rubber removable via click function on the sides of the rubber
- Make a STILL/MOVIE switch instead of the photometry switch.
- Make the grip more grippy.
- Change the texture of the leatherette
The shutter speed and ISO dial as well as the exp. comp. dial are still in the same place as on the X-T3, with the same click/de-click locking mechanism. You now have a “C” function on your ISO Dial so you can switch it to be adjusted on the front scroll wheel. Just like on the X-Pro3 and X100V.
Functions and Specifications
This is obviously where the X-T4 will win over the crowd. This is where a lot of things has been added or changed. While the outer shell remains largely unchanged, and the sensor/processor combo is still the same as that of the X-T3 there are a lot of very cool improvements to the X-T4 that makes it a very worthy upgrade in my opinion. I’m not going to go through them all, rather I will highlight those that I find to be the most significant. But first the specs!
Below you will find the complete spec sheet of the X-T4. If the strain on your eyes from that jpeg is too much, you can also download it as PDF HERE
As you can see from the specs chart it is indeed the same X-Trans 4 sensor combined with the X-Processor 4. But Fujifilm has managed to squeeze a lot of extra juice out of that combination. If they are overclocking because of the higher battery capacity available, I don’t know. But they have managed to make a very fast camera even faster. It’s really nice.
What the charts doesn’t really how is that Fujifilm has really honed in on the fact that this is a real “Hybrid Camera” meaning that it will shoot great stills as well as amazing video all in one body.
Under the Shutter Speed dial you will now find a STILL/MOVIE switch that will instantly switch the entire menu system and camera interface according to chosen function. No more having various video settings in the Stills menu, and vice versa. In MOVIE mode you have a FULL MOVIE MENU, and in STILL mode you have a FULL STILL MENU. The switch is seamless, and you have very specific functions in each menu. This is a BRILLIANT move from Fujifilm from a usability standpoint, and it makes so much sense!
I don’t shoot video. At all. So I have been into the menus, played around a bit, tested the IBIS/OIS/Digital stabiliser combo (which works impressively well). I’ve seen that you can shoot 240fps at 1080p, and that you can shoot 4K / DCI4K at 60fps 200mbps. (30fps @400mbps) It’s very very capable, and I think videographers will be absolutely blown away by the video functions. So if you’re into video – Go check out some of the videos on YouTube that are most likely out today that deal with this subject.
IBIS – In Body Image Stabilisation.
This is the big feature for the X-T4. Again Fujifilm made a real push in what can be done technically in their cameras. As I wrote in the beginning of the article, I was consistently told that the IBIS unit could not fint into the smaller X-T body. But somehow along the way they pushed through the size-barrier. And they didn’t only make it smaller, they made it even better than the already very great stabilisation inside the X-H1.
Whereas the X-H1 stabiliser is using a spring-hung mechanism for tension, the new X-T4 stabiliser unit uses magnets instead. This makes it quite a bit more stable, but also quite a bit more precise. This means that the specification is now up to 6.5 stops of stabilisation with select lenses within the XF lineup. You heard it.
And I’m telling you this right now. That stabiliser is one amazing piece of tech! I cannot get over how I could handhold my XF35mm f/1.4 at 1 sec and still get a sharp picture! I absolutely love the function, and I hope it makes its way into every future Fujifilm camera. It’s amazing. Some of you will still have moving subjects in your scene depending on your type of photography, so bear in mind that an IBIS unit will not solve all your problems with shaky images. It might end up giving you shaky persons instead 😀 – At least that’s what can happen on the streets. I shot the X-T4 a lot at night and often forgot that I was shooting at 1/8s, only to be reminded when I wanted to capture a person in the scene.
I love how it enables my to shoot the slower aperture lenses like in super low light and still being able to keep the ISO low, while getting sharp images. It’s just very very handy at times. Even when working with old vintage lenses.
Silent shutter mechanism
Another cool new feature is the new shutter mechanism. It has a brand new construction and a newly developed high-torque coreless DC motor.
This results in an ultra-fast focal plane shutter that has the capability to shoot up to 15fps in burst mode, which Fujifilm claim is the worlds fastest mechanical shutter burst speed. Quite impressive. The new shutter construction also has an advanced response performance with a shutter release lag of just 0.035 seconds.
The shutter unit now has double the durability with 300.000 actuations, in comparison to the 150.000 actuation-rating of the X-T3.
But what really makes this new shutter mechanism sing, is how ultra silent it is. If you thought the X-H1 was silent, just wait till you hear this one. The only Fujifilm camera in production with a more silent shutter is the X100V with its leaf shutter.
The shutter is so silent that during normal conversations, you will not hear it at all, let alone under ambient street-noise conditions. It’s goddman fantastic for candid shooting!!
Fujifilm states that the shutter noise is approx. 30% quieter compared to the X-T3. I don’t know about that. All I know is that’s it really really quiet.
Tracking, Eye AF and burst speed
I wanted to write about these three things combined, since they all express how fast and responsive the T-X4 is. In comparison to the X-T3 even with the latest firmware I found the Eye AF to be not only faster, but much more “sticky” to the subject and precise. In the shots below of Nanna I had her moving from side to side behind the very harsh glowing neon structure. It’s essentially multiple lit Plexiglas plates 10 cm behind each other. It is close to impossible conditions for any Eye AF tracker to keep up with that. But the X-T4 did it flawlessly. (The little unsharpness and glow is from me using my beloved Tiffen Black Pro-Mist 1/4 filter)
I didn’t have time to go to a racetrack or any sport event for that matter, so my tracking and burst testing was done at the local celebration of the danish tradition of “Fastelavn” where the kids dress up and beats a wooden barrel filled with treats. I attached the following series of images where I used the focus tracking on the boy, as well as the 15fps mechanical shutter burst. These are just straight out of camera RAW files exported from Lightroom. No adjustments made at all. They were shot using the XF90mm f/2 @ f/2 and 1/500s shutter speed. I think everything looks nice and crisp.
Of course the real test is with subjects moving towards you, but as I said, I didn’t shoot any of that this time. But I’m betting that a lot of other photographers have shot some burst sequences.
Fujifilm writes the following in their pressrelease
“A new algorithm and phase detection AF’s processing capability has led to autofocus performance as fast as 0.02 seconds. This ensures that users can capture and track a subject moving at high speed, especially when combined with the continuous shooting performance of 15fps in post view and 8fps in live view.
Tracking AF performance has also undergone serious enhancement. The tracking success rate has been doubled compared to the X-T3. The Face / Eye AF performance has also been dramatically improved. This enhanced tracking ability has made focusing and taking portraits even easier than ever before.”
I will definitely say that they’re not exaggerating with those claims. It is indeed very improved in terms of the speed parameters compared to the X-T3.
New Battery (and charger)
One of the most requested features for a long time within the Fujifilm X-series community is a new battery with larger capacity and hence more possible shots per charge. Fujifilm has squeezed every ounce of power out of the old NP-W126S battery. The X-T3 is capable of squeezing around 390 shots out of a single battery, while the new NP-W235 battery in the X-T4 rates at 600 shots in economy mode, and 500 shots in normal mode.
Now those numbers are weird CIPA standard numbers. They mean absolutely nothing in real life. The way I shoot, I never run out of battery with the NP-W126s. I always carry a spare just in case. This has been my way of doing it through more than 7 years. It has worked perfectly. I squeeze way more than 390 shots out of a single battery.
However the new X-T4 battery serves a massive improvement. I could shoot for a full day and still having only used 25% of the capacity. I never during my testing period had to change a battery in the field. And there were a couple of 8am to 7pm shooting sessions. The new battery is in other words VERY impressive!
Equally impressive is the new charger (sold separately). It holds 2 batteries, and it has a small backlit display that will show you the battery charge in percentages and graphical representations. Batteries are loaded vertically side by side, so the charger is kept relatively small.
When using the DC adapter via the USB-C and charging the batteries in camera, you will have a high-speed charging mode. I charged a flat battery from 0%-100% in 24 minutes!
Functions and Image Quality
Lots of new functions has been crammed into the X-T4 in comparison with the X-T3. Without going into too much detail, I will just say that you get all the functions of the X-Pro3 and then they added new ones. So just like the X-Pro3 you will find
- Clarity control
- Tone Curve (this can even be fine tuned in 1/2 increments now, for even finer control)
- Color FX blue
- HDR modes
- Classic Negative Film simulation
- Improved menu for adapted lenses
This time Fujifilm put some more features into the camera. Most notably new auto-white balance settings and a new Film Simulation called “ETERNA Bleach Bypass.”
New Auto-white-balance settings
I didn’t really start paying attention to white balance until quite late in my photographic career. Main reason was that I had no real color undersatanding, and shot everything in black and white in the beginning. While getting more into artificial light photography as well as developing my colorphotography skills I learned just how crucial the white balance is to a photo. So these days I mostly use a set Kelvin WB, or use a Custom set WB. But sometimes it’s rather nice to use Auto WB. Especially one that is so fantastic and on-point as Fujifilms Auto WB. This is especially useful in tricky multiple lightsource candid environments, where your manual white balance won’t fit 100%.
With the X-T4 Fujifilm added “White Priority” and “Ambience Priority” options in addition to “AUTO” White Balance. The new modes have different ways of processing the pure white. The “White Priority” mode reproduces a stronger white, while the “Ambience Priority” produces a warmer tone. I found the “White Priority” to be really well balanced outside in harsh sunlight, while the “Ambience Priority” worked wonders round the dinner table in more subdued indoor lighting. It’s definitely a welcome addition for those people who aren’t yet comfortable with manual WB, but still want a little more customisability. I’m really glad to see Fujifilm put some attention towards White Balance!
Above are some lifestyle product shots I shot for Fujifilm marketing. I used the T-X4 and XF35mm f/1.4 to shoot them They were delivered as jpegs SOOC. The Fujifilm jpegs are in a league of their own.
“ETERNA Bleach Bypass” filmsimulation
Whereas the Classic Neg. filmsimulation was developed as a simulation geared towards the still photographer, the ETERNA, and now ETERNA bleach bypass was developed with the videographer in mind. That’s not saying that it can’t be used as a still photography film simulation, but I’m pretty sure we’ll see a lot of users wanting some more saturation to their files. Because that is essentially what the ETERNA Bleach bypass is all about. High contrast, Ultra Low saturation!
The bleach bypass is a developing method that stems from a traditional processing technique for silver halide films. It is also known as skip bleach or silver retention, and its is a chemical effect which entails either the partial or complete skipping of the bleaching function during the processing of color film. By doing this, the silver is retained in the emulsion along with the color dyes, resulting in essentially a B&W image on top of a color image.
This has seen a lot of uses during especially music videos in the 90’s as well as in some cinema stuff. Most notably is the movie Se7en.
I find that you need strong sun for this film simulation to do it’s thing. You really need some high contrast for it to burn out! – In the danish winter this year, that has been quite a rare sight, but I did manage a couple of sunny days. Below are some examples shot and exported directly SOOC using the new ETERNA Bleach Bypass film simulation. I have packaged the full size images for you to download as well. You can download those HERE
Now this is always the portion of the writeup that actually matters the most. Enough mumbo-jumbo about the look and feel of the damn thing. No more function run-throughs. How does this puppy perform In regards to IQ.
Well….simple answer is…. just as good as the X-Pro3, X-T3, X-T30 or any other X-Trans 4, X-Processor 4 combination out there.
Some might argue that due to the inclusion of IBIS, some people will end up getting sharper images and hence better looking image quality. I don’t really believe that.
I believe that we live in times where the past 7 years have given photographers such amazing options in terms of IQ, that it doesn’t really matter. It’s the old saying that it’s “the 10 inches behind the camera that makes a good image “
Image quality is as good as it gets within the Fujifilm X-series eco-system. You will be hard pressed to take a bad technical quality photo with this camera.
Conclusion and Sample images
The X-T series cameras have never been “my kind of camera” as opposed to the X-Pro series. But that doesn’t mean that I don’t like it. As far as Faux-DSLR styled mirrorless digital cameras go, the design of the X-T4 is as beautiful as it gets. In silver it is simply stunning. The more muscular, compact looking build is looking very nice.
But what is important than its looks is the new tech inside. The new battery, the complete hybrid approach, the amazing new IBIS unit and resulting new shutter build with it’s superfast 15fps burst mode and incredibly silent soundlevel all makes for a camera that is getting really close to technical perfection. The only bad thing I have to say about this camera is the new screen type – but for some of you it will be perfect. And that’s the bottom line. We’re all different photographers with different requirements from our tools. There is no such thing as a perfect camera for everyone – but the X-T4 must be pretty close for a lot of people!
I have shot mostly street, reportage and lifestyle images with this camera. This doesn’t mean that it won’t perform in other fields of photography. This camera is as versatile as it gets. It’s probably even better suited for sports and high speed action. And for the videographer using Fujifilm, this camera is a no-brainer.
Most of the shots are Classic Neg. images that I have processed to various extent. I have also been toying with my new yet to be released Cinestill 800T preset as well as a Black Pro-Mist 1/4 filter from Tiffen. Hence the slight softness and super-glow in some of the images.
I don’t shoot brickwalls. I’m not a reviewer, I’m a photographer. Thats why I don’t do SOOC comparisons etc. You can probably find those elsewhere. All images can be viewed by clicking the gallery below. Download them at will and look at the EXIF. Everything is there. Knock yourselves out.