Fujifilm X-T4 Mirrorless Digital Camera In-Depth Review

Is the Fuji X-T4 the Ultimate All-in-One Stills and Videography Camera?

With their attractive retro styling and impressive specs, Fuji’s X-T cameras have become some of the most popular cropped-sensor models on the market in recent years. The latest addition to the line-up, the Fuji X-T4, is billed more as a sibling model to the X-T3 than as its all-out replacement; almost an X-T3 Mark II, if you like. In reality though the X-T4 boasts a number of clear advantages over its predecessor. As a result, many X-T3 owners may want to consider trading-in their old model for Fuji’s latest high-end APS-C powerhouse. 

The X-T4 won’t only be of interest to existing Fuji owners though. In fact, with its ability to capture both photos and video clips with equally impressive results, this is a camera that will appeal to anyone looking for an all-in-one shooting solution in a single compact package. In this in-depth review, we take a look at exactly what makes the X-T4 such a desirable camera for both photographers and videographers alike.

The Fuji X-T4 At-a-Glance

Pros

+ Ideal for video

+ In-body image stabilization 

+ Good ergonomics and customizable controls

+ Great image quality

+ Separate photo and video modes

+ Long battery life

+ Fully-articulating touchscreen

+ Fuji’s legendary film simulation modes

  

Cons

- Mediocre autofocus performance

- Short buffer when shooting RAW

- Headphone monitoring requires adapter

The X-T4; an In-Depth Review

Image Quality

- Image Sensor

With its 26 megapixel BSI CMOS sensor, the Fuji X-T4 doesn’t differ drastically from the X-T3 in terms of image quality. However, given that the X-T3 already produced truly fantastic images, this really isn’t bad news at all. 

One thing that Fuji has changed here, though, is the way in which RAW images are captured. The X-T4 boasts a greater number of RAW shooting modes; uncompressed, losslessly compressed, and now also a lossy compressed option too. Although the main reason for shooting in RAW format is for the superior amount of detail the files will capture of a scene, in some situations it could be advantageous to shoot in the new lossy compressed mode. This will be particularly true for anyone who doesn’t want to waste precious memory capturing superfluous detail in areas that make only minor difference to image quality.

Otherwise though, you get the same top-of-the-range 26 megapixel cropped-frame sensor we’ve come to expect from Fuji’s leading models, resulting in fantastic resolution and impressive dynamic range across the board. 

- ISO Performance

Overall, ISO performance is comparable to both the X-T3 and other leading competitors’ models. I.e. the X-T4 does an excellent job of keeping noise to a minimum. In part this is because the sensor is of a “dual gain” design; meaning that once set to a certain ISO (for example, ISO 800 and beyond), it will automatically switch to a higher gain setting. 

Although this function somewhat reduces dynamic range, the advantage is that it results in much lower levels of digital noise when shooting in poor lighting conditions. As with previous cameras in the X-T line, the X-T4 permits users to set upper and lower auto-ISO thresholds themselves.

- Film Simulation Modes

One of the biggest attractions of Fuji cameras is of course the manufacturer’s famed film simulation profiles, allowing shooters to easily recreate the look of iconic film stocks from years gone by. With the X-T4 you have access to a full 12 Film Simulation modes, including the newly added Eterna Bleach Bypass; a profile that imitates the subdued palette of Eterna movie film stock when developed by means of a beach-bypass process. This profile lends itself particularly well to shooting video with a moody and sophisticated look.

Focusing

Fuji says that the X-T4 builds extensively on the X-T3’s subject-tracking AF system; now also taking into account a host of extra input such as shape, color, and distance to determine focus. Theoretically this results in vastly improved performance when locking onto moving subjects - particularly in low-light situations, or when the subject is moving away from the camera. 

In practice, however, Fuji evidently still has some work to do in this department if it is to get AF tracking up to the same standards as its strongest competitors. Indeed, while there is some clear improvement over the the X-T3 here, tracking with the X-T4 can vary substantially depending on the shooting conditions; from highly accurate to distinctly unimpressive. Perhaps the single biggest cause of this variation in AF performance is that the X-T4’s focus tracking appears to be heavily weighted to consider the color of the subject above all else; often leading to confusion when subject and background are of a similar color.

For slower-moving subjects, however, autofocus performance is more consistently fast and accurate. As with previous X-T models, users can select from a single focus point, a larger zone, or the entire AF region - with single AF mode generally producing the best results. 

Face/eye-detect autofocus also works well most of the time; although false-positives are not unheard of here either, and the camera will occasionally lose track of the face in low light. Thankfully though, in such cases face detect can be quickly and easily overridden by use of the joystick.

Video

Beyond ease of use and simply producing great looking stills, the X-T4’s strongest asset is undoubtedly its video specs. As with the sensor, though, there’s been no major overhaul here, with only a couple of extra features added when compared with the camera’s predecessor. Jut as with the sensor, though, in this case no news is good news, as the X-T3 was already among the top APS-C models available for videography.

In practice this means that you get 4K video (DCI or UHD) at up to 30p (60p with a crop), and 1080 video at up to 240 fps, which can then be output as between a 1/10 and 1/4 slow-motion footage. This last function being one of the few video-specific updates when compared with the X-T3. When shooting 4K video in 50 and 60p, you will usually be able to capture around 30-20 minutes of footage at a time. 

Further boosting the X-T4’s moviemaking credentials, the camera comes with an impressive range of video tools such as zebras, peaking, punch-in recording, and corrected preview for when shooting in Log format, etc. You now also gain the option to record audio as web-friendly AAC files, rather than traditional Linear PCM.

Performance and Handling

- Image Stabilization

For X-T3 owners considering an upgrade, this is likely to be the dealbreaker; the X-T4 comes with five-axis in-body stabilization, making it a far more usable camera than any previous X-T model. Rated for up to 6.5EV of correction, stabilization makes a world of difference to handheld footage, especially when shooting in low light. 

Whether the difference in f-stops is really as dramatic as Fuji claims is somewhat debatable. Nonethelss it’s clear that the X-T4’s stabilization works very well. And now even the most erratic and jerky filmmaker will be capable of shooting beautifully smooth and stable footage. 

- Battery

The X-T4runs on a new 16Wh battery pack, rated to power 500 shots per charge when used in “normal” shooting mode. For most users, this will be plenty enough for a long day of shooting - if not two - but might not satisfy the needs of particularly prolific filmmakers. 

Not for nothing, though, is the X-T4 our top recommended camera for dual stills and video shooters. Here Fuji throws filmmakers a lifeline in the form of an add-on vertical battery grip accessory, the VG-XT4. In addition to the regular internal camera battery, the grip will take a further two NP-W235 battery packs; upping the frame count to 1,500 shots before you’ll need to seek out mains power for a recharge.

- Shutter

So far you may be wondering precisely why Fuji went to the bother of releasing a follow-up to the X-T3 if all the new model really does is add image stabilization and a couple of extra features for videographers. However, some of the X-T4’s advantages are of a more subtle variety. 

Take the shutter for example. While a camera shutter will never have the same headline-grabbing allure of sexier specs like sensor size and pixel-count, it’s nonetheless an essential part of any camera - and one that makes a big difference to performance. 

Anyone who cares about the longevity of their camera gear, then, will appreciate the advantages offered by the X-T4’s new shutter, which now has a durability rating twice that of its predecessor: taking actuations from 150,000 on the X-T3 to 300,000 on the X-T4. Meanwhile, the full-resolution burst shooting rate is up from 11 fps to 15 fps using the mechanical shutter, or 20 fps using the electronic one. That’s as fast a many pro DSLR and Mirrorless models. What’s more, blackout has been reduced from 96 to 75 ms. Impressive stuff.

And as if that weren’t already enough to stimulate a new-found enthusiasm for shutter mechanisms, Fuji claims that the X-T4’s shutter is 30% quieter than the X-T3’s. In practice the shutter seems even more silent than this, making the camera extremely well-suited to discrete documentary and portrait shooting.

- LCD and Viewfinder

If you shoot any amount of video, you’ve probably already been coming round to the idea of the X-T4 as you read through this. If Vlogging is your thing, though, the following two paragraphs should be enough to fully seal the deal. 

For a start, the X-T4’s LCD is substantially higher in resolution than its predecessor’s; 1.62m dots compared to 1.04m on the X-T3. However, the real selling point as far as Vloggers are concerned is the fact that this screen is now fully articulating, making it much easier to film yourself than on previous X-T series cameras (for example, the X-T3 only offered a two-way folding LCD). 

You can now also make all adjustments to exposure controls and ISO etc. while filming via the touchscreen itself - and entirely independently of the top dial settings. This means that your exposure settings remain unchanged if you need to quickly revert back to shooting stills again; very handy. 

In addition to the rear LCD, the X-T4 features a 3.68M-dot OLED EVF (electronic viewfinder) with a refresh rate of up to 100 fps.

Ergonomics and Build

- Controls

Older Fuji users will find little on either the rear or top of the X-T4 to truly disturb them. In fact, with only a couple of exceptions, button, dial, joystick and d-pad placement are largely the same as on the X-T3. Noticeable, however, is the addition of a switch on the top of the camera designed to enable quickly changing between video and stills shooting modes. 

We already gained some insight into just how useful this function can be when discussing the LCD (above). In case you missed it, though, the main advantage here lies in being able to maintain separate settings for video and stills shooting. This makes alternating between the two a whole lot simpler, as you no longer need to go through the hassle of dialing back in the correct settings for ISO and exposure each time you switch between tasks. 

At first the idea of having two sets of controls for video and stills might sound confusing. Yet in practice things are kept very simple, as the menu shows only the settings relevant to your current shooting mode. For example, when in video mode, you aren’t shown any useless information related to flash photography, but instead only see more useful data such as Audio and Time Code settings. Clever stuff!

Finally, the X-T4 has been provided with a somewhat deeper hand-grip than the X-T3. While this might upset retro-purists in love with the early-80s SLR silhouette the X-T series is famous for, it sure does make for more comfortable handling. Especially when using longer, heavier, lenses.

- Build and Weather Sealing

While the X-T4 is solidly constructed and comes fully weather sealed, it doesn’t offer any noticeable upgrade over the X-T3 in this department. Again, though, given the sturdiness of the previous model, this is really not a problem.

- Connectivity

Another area in which the X-T4 hasn’t radically changed when compared with its predecessor is terms of the number of SD card slots on offer. However, as the X-T3 already provided space for two cards, this is absolutely fine by us. 

Yet there has been a slight upgrade of sorts here; Fuji’s design boffins have evidently worked out that putting two cards side-by-side exposes the user to the risk of accidentally ejecting the wrong card while in the middle of recording. Instead, the X-T4 has had its dual UHS-II card slots re-arranged so that they are positioned vertically up the side of the camera. Handily, the two SD cards can be assigned to different tasks; e.g. one to record movies and the other for stills. However, if one card fills up, the camera will automatically start saving to the other available card.

Beyond this, the X-T4 comes with a single USB-C type connector allowing USB PD charging. The bad news is that the headphone jack that was sorely missing from the X-T2, and then added to the X-T3, has now inexplicably vanished again. Things aren’t quite as bad as they were with the X-T2 however - no third-party dongles at least - and headphone monitoring is still possible via an included USB-jack adapter. The only drawback being that if you’re using the USB adapter then clearly you can’t have anything else plugged into the USB port at the same time. I.e. no charging with headphones on! An odd choice.

Conclusion

Aside from the removal of the headphone jack, the new Fuji X-T4 loses nothing in the way of usability or features when compared with its predecessor. Yet it offers several important advantages over the X-T3. Some of these upgrades are subtle, and will only be appreciated by those with a solid understanding of camera technology. Yet the value of others - such as image stabilization for example - will be apparent to everyone.

Many X-T3 owners may now be kicking themselves that they didn’t hold out for what is effectively an X-T3 MK II. In truth, though, whether it’s really worth making the upgrade to the X-T4 will depend on your precise photographic needs and shooting style. Certainly, for filmmakers and photographers who often work in low lighting conditions, the addition of in-body image stabilization may be all that’s needed to swing the balance in favor of the X-T4. Meanwhile, improved video options, a better battery, and the fully articulating touchscreen only serve as the icing on the cake.

If you’re new to the X-T series of cameras, however, there’s little doubt that the X-T4 is now Fuji’s flagship model; offering the ultimate package for those who need both great video performance and the ability to shoot top quality stills within the same camera. Assuming budget isn’t a constraint, then, there’s really no reason to go for any of the earlier X-T models over the X-T4. 

Indeed, this camera really does offer everything the serious film maker and photographer could possibly need. Other than one detail; a full-frame sensor. And this last point isn’t to be under estimated. Indeed, rather than comparing the X-T4 with previous Fuji models, perhaps a more relevant question might be to ask whether a full-frame DSLR or Mirrorless camera might better suit your needs instead. This wouldn’t be the right choice for everyone, though, but when you consider that the amazing Sony a7III full-frame Mirrorless camera costs only a few hundred dollars more than the Fuji X-T4, it’s certainly an option worth considering. 

However, for those who prefer the more compact size and greater convenience of the APS-C format, or for whom a full-frame camera would simply be overkill, the Fuji X-T4 undoubtedly represents the pinnacle of current cropped frame camera technologies. If that’s what you’re searching for, you need look no further than the Fuji X-T4.

Leave a comment

All comments are moderated before being published