Fstoppers Reviews the Fujifilm X-T4: A Deviation

Fstoppers Reviews the Fujifilm X-T4: A Deviation

In a release cycle reminiscent of certain other manufacturers, Fujifilm decided to replace their flagship X-T series camera in 18 months rather than the usual 2 years. With a smattering of feature updates, a new battery, and a couple of cosmetic changes, is it really worth the upgrade from the X-T3? Let’s find out. 

This review will be taken from the perspective of someone who has owned an X-T1, two X-T2s, an X-H1, and an X-T3. You could say I’m an addict. The other thing to note is that I’m a full time stills photographer. About once or twice a year, I’ll be asked to shoot a video, but my main use for these cameras is stills, so we won’t be taking a deep dive into the changes for video work. With that out of the way, let’s take a look at the heavy hitting features of the X-T4

Why I Made the Switch

My X-T3 has been to hell and back over the past 20 months. It has been with me on just shy of 300 jobs and every single step of the way for my personal work. With almost 400,000 actuations on the shutter and dings and dents from the rigors of use, it is finally starting to show its age. Minor things have started going wrong with it frequently and it doesn’t inspire confidence at this point. Basically, I didn't want to restart my business following our economic slowdown with a camera that might fail on the first session.

I was surprised to learn that an X-T4 would be coming earlier than usual, and I must say, the spec sheet didn’t impress me as an X-T3 user. But, I scheduled a quick conversation with my local Fujifilm representatives to learn more about their plans for the future. While the X-T4 doesn’t offer a lot more for my work than the X-T3, the new battery would be nice and Fujifilm noted that it was here to stay, at least in the flagship models from here on out. Since our local office had a special offering that included a battery charger (I can’t believe I actually just wrote that) and a couple of extra batteries to get me started, I decided to make the jump. 

X-T4 + Laowa 65mm f/2.8 2X Macro.

Body Design

The X-T4, while appearing physically quite similar to the X-T3, is actually very different in the hand. The additional space required for the new battery means it is marginally thicker and heavier. The grip has also been extended and indented slightly and feels appreciably different to the X-T2 or X-T3. For those who found these cameras a little too small for their hands, the X-T4 may be more comfortable. I actually didn't think I would like the new grip at first. I was so used to holding the previous models. Now that I'm used to it, however, I actually enjoy holding the X-T4 more than the X-T3. It feels slightly safer in the hand.

Left: X-T3, Right X-T4. A small, but noticeable difference.

 

One issue that I have come across with the redesign is the tripod mount hole. Manfrotto tripod mounts now extend significantly off the back of the camera and the battery door cannot be opened with the tripod mount on. I use Manfrotto mounts with my BlackRapid double strap when working corporate events to make it easy to switch between strap and tripod when needed. If I need to change a battery quickly at an event now, I have to take the camera off the strap, undo the mount, and replace the battery. Not a deal-breaker, but certainly inconvenient.

Shutter Mechanism

Fujifilm now rates the shutter life of the X-T4 at 300,000. This is double that of the previous models, which is great because my X-T3 is already past this number and is still kicking. Hopefully, the X-T4 will last even longer. Together with this durability improvement, Fujifilm has dampened the shutter even further to the point where the sound is almost imperceptible if you're not standing next to the camera. A couple of weeks back, I was actually asked if I was using electronic shutter by a colleague as we made headshots in an office. He couldn't hear the shutter from 6 feet away over the hum of computers. For those looking for an even quieter shutter sound, this might be the ticket. 

Buttons and Dials

The X-T4’s body has undergone yet another revision of the button and dial layout. Probably the most prominent is the replacement of the photometry switch with a stills/movie selector switch. This is an excellent addition as it allows hybrid shooters to keep every relevant setting completely separate for video and stills. With the flick of one switch, you can go from shooting stills in aperture priority mode to shooting 24p video at 1/48 and using the dials under your thumb and forefinger to work your exposure. 

Stills and Video are now completely separate in the menus and on the body. A welcome change for many hybrid shooters, no doubt.

One button that I’m really not sure why changed is the Q button. It has been in the same place on every X-T series body to date and never posed an issue. In its place, you can now find the AE-L button. Honestly, this is one of the reasons I’m glad all buttons can be customized on the Fujifilm bodies. Having to retrain muscle memory just to use one model is quite frustrating. 

A quick reassignment in the menu fixes the loss of muscle memory from this change.

The Processor and Sensor (Autofocus and Image Quality)

This is the first time a Fujifilm X-T successor has shared exactly the same processor and sensor combination as the previous model. In theory, the X-T3 should be able to do everything the X-T4 can do and that had me second guessing whether an X-T4 would be the right choice. However, I wouldn’t be surprised to learn that additional cooling inside the larger body or other small physical changes have allowed Fujifilm to pull even more out of this sensor/processor combination. After all, this is the same processor that runs their GFX 100 and that camera manages to process five 100MP raw files per second with full autofocus and image stabilization. I think it’s fair to say there’s a little wiggle room within the processor. 

For now, however, there have been a couple of updates to bring this in line with Fujifilm’s X-Pro3 and add to the already great autofocus of the X-T3 body. The X-T4 can now focus down to -6EV, which translates to better overall autofocus with less hunting in good light (older lenses perform better again) and much more confident focusing in darker situations. One gripe I always had with my X-T3 was how slow it was to focus with f/2.8 or darker lenses in low contrast situations. This has improved significantly, which is great for indoor work such as events and studio work. Coupled with the new EVF low light boost mode, the camera is now much easier to work with indoors. 

Fujifilm X-T4 + XF 18-55mm f/2.8-4

Additionally, Fujifilm has rolled out some new AF-C tracking functionality. By switching the camera to AF-C and Wide-Tracking mode, you get access to a very sticky focus point that will track whatever you place it over until you disengage the autofocus system. While this was always the case, it was a bit like Windows 98 in terms of reliability — it worked when the stars aligned. Now, it certainly works as advertised and for the first time with a Fujifilm body, I feel confident using this coupled with back-button focus in single release. With previous models, I would always leave my camera in Continuous High when using tracking to ensure I got the images in focus. Thankfully, this is not the case anymore. Thankfully, this function also plays nicely with Fujifilm’s face/eye detection autofocus, so it can be used reliably for portrait sessions as well. 

There are still a couple of improvements that could be made to this system. For example, being able to change the size of the focus point in this mode. Sometimes, you want to start tracking something far away or track a specific part of something that is relatively small in the frame. At present, the precision simply isn’t there to do this. Also, the focus frame is extremely jittery in the viewfinder. Smoothing the rendering of this would make it much easier to concentrate on photography rather than a focus square that had too much sugar in its coffee. Otherwise it works as intended and is a great step towards fully fleshing out the autofocus system.

IBIS

While I never asked for or wanted IBIS in my other X-T bodies, it is certainly a welcome feature. It’s nice to know you have it when you need it and can switch it off if you want to. It works an absolute treat and definitely provides the advertised improvements over the X-H1. It works as advertised for photography (see the sample below), but I have seen one issue floating around from video users. 

X-T4 + XF 56mm f/1.2 @ f/11 and 1/14

The Screen

The rear screen, seemingly in a move sure to placate YouTube reviewers around the world, has been replaced with a fully-articulating unit. This, to me, completely dilutes the X-T series of cameras. While previous models have been stills-oriented and had great video to boot, the X-T4 seems to be video-oriented but make great stills as well. Does that sound like the X-H line at all to you? 

With previous X-T models, the tilting screen is quick and easy to flip up or down to get a low or high angle and doesn’t obstruct your ability to grip the camera and keep it relatively steady. It also remains close enough to the body that nothing around you will knock and potentially break it off while you are working. The fully-articulating screen is an absolute pain for these purposes because without a decent grip on the camera, all you’re doing is creating an even less stable platform for yourself. On top of that, it’s much slower to fold out and flip the screen, which makes it next to useless for my fast-paced work such as adoption meetings and family sessions. 

Additionally, the screen now flips around into a front-facing mode. While vloggers may appreciate this, the tradeoffs are far too numerous for adding a screen like this to an X-T flagship camera. This would be better left to the smaller, lighter X-T100. On a really well built and ergonomic body like the X-T4, it is a flimsy and cumbersome item that takes away more than it adds.

In day-to-day photo and video work, is this screen position really more useful than being able to quickly flip the screen up or down 45 degrees?

The Battery

The new battery is welcome, of course. Although personally I never had any issues with the battery life of my X-T2 or X-T3, it is nice to know that these new batteries will run for a little longer. For video work and those who like to review images in between shots, I can see that this will be a very welcome addition. Since I've been testing the camera and all of it's new features, I've had the rear LCD on a lot more than I would typically in day to day use. However, I managed 1350 images on my first charge and 1200 images (with 23% left) on my second charge. 

The battery itself has also had a physical makeover so it can only be inserted one way. While previous batteries were marked and the battery door wouldn’t close if they were inserted the wrong way, it seems that some users had trouble with this. It should be much easier to insert batteries in dark situations now if you had trouble before.

So, a new battery. That’s great. But, let’s address the elephant in the room. A flagship body that doesn’t come with a battery charger. That’s right. You just bought Fujifilm’s “professional” level camera and you have to stop shooting and plug the camera itself into the wall to charge it. Alternatively, you could run a USB-C cable to a powerbank in order to charge that brand new battery that you don’t have an existing charger for. It’s no wonder that Fujirumors reports the BC-W235 charger as being a best selling item from his statistics. You can’t live without a charger as a professional and, especially after a battery change like this, it should be included in the box. Faux pas, Fujifilm. 

This is how Fujifilm expects buyers of their top-tier SLR-styled camera to charge batteries?

In Conclusion

The X-T4 is a souped-up X-T3 at heart. There are a few quality-of-life enhancements and functions for very specific applications like the HDR function and naming of third-party lenses in the menu system (great for keeping track of your manual focus lenses in EXIF data). However, it does feel a bit like an iteration that could have waited for the next release cycle and been blessed with the best physical technology Fujifilm had to offer as well. 

As a stand-alone camera, it is yet another fantastic machine. It makes the same great images that the X-T3 does and makes everything just a little faster and more reliable. However, to me, it feels like a big deviation from the heart of the X-T lineup. It’s as though the designers changed everything that comment sections on the internet had to complain about and threw the distinction in personality between the X-H and X-T cameras out the window. 

What I liked

  • EVF FPS/Resolution Boost Modes
  • Extra shutter life
  • IBIS - works really well for stills, perhaps some improvements needed for video
  • Extra battery life could come in handy
  • Additional autofocus Functionality and reliability

What I Felt Could be Improved

  • Including a battery charger
  • Keeping the original tilting screen design
  • Keeping button positions relatively similar to other X-T bodies
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19 Comments

The screen is a no go for my part. So is a camera without IBIS. I think that screen should better been on a H2. So much for a bunch of YouTubers reviewing photo cameras and wanting to use them for blogging. I don’t know how other photographers feel, but I use the screen all the time and it feels wrong when it’s not in line with the lens.

I completely agree. It's a very unstable way to use the camera.

This "feature" alone has me looking to upgrade my x-t2 to an x-t3. I often shoot with the screen out flat/horizontal in the style of a medium format waist viewfinder. This is a major reason I switched to Fuji. This one thing will force me away from Fuji if it is not corrected when the x-t5 comes out.

My thoughts exactly. While it can certainly be beneficial for certain photographers, for me, it's a deal-breaker. I wasn't sure how much it would affect me until actually using it, but no change to date has required me to make use of a camera in a way that changes the way I work so detrimentally.

Excellent review. I'm glad to see you didn't equivocate about your feelings concerning the rear LCD. There are advantages to both designs but I certainly prefer the one on the X-T3. It is possible to design one with all the advantages of both. Maybe we'll see that on the X-H2.

As far as the charger goes, it's hard for me to get too upset. The previously-included charger was bulky and inconvenient compared to 3rd party options. Frankly, I'd rather Fuji keep the cost of the camera body as low as possible and let me choose the best charger for my needs.

On the contrary, I dialed back my feelings for that LCD! haha.

I'm right there with you on the charger. I've been using Wasabi chargers for years now. However, at this point, it's a brand new battery and there are no charging options except the one Fujifilm wants you to shell out for. It feels a little bit like the beginnings of Dongle Life all over again. In subsequent models, I can see removing the charger, but with the first model it just seems like a bit of a spit in the face. Either way, here's to off-brand USB chargers!

Good camera, despite the improvements such as Ibis, I don't see this as a pure photographers camera. It suits hybrid shooters the best. If you have xt3, you are not losing out on much as a photographer (Ibis maybe for certain genre, next xt3 firmware will improve the autofocus even better if that's something important). But this is certainly a good one for videographers and hybrid shooters.

At this stage, it's actually quite a bit better for photographers (especially if you're using the older lenses). Hopefully, firmware updates will bring the AF changes and improvements in low light focusing to the X-T3. The IBIS is also quite useful for on-the-move editorial jobs since a tripod isn't really necessary until things get really dark. For my use cases, it makes a few advancements that make it worth it for the most part.

Stuart Carver's picture

Looks a great camera, like the X-T3... but my X-T2 doesnt ever feel like its lacking at anything so will be keeping it for the foreseeable.

No need to upgrade, then!

barry cash's picture

Well thought out words for the review shows you actually use Fuji farmers and know what the hell your talking about this is even more apparent in what you didn’t write about.

Personally I don’t mind the flippy screen just wish it was a tiny bit bigger and of course more dpi. The battery charger deal was a good mention but not worthy of a con as it’s no big deal to buy it separately if you really need it.

FPS hitting buffer shooting raw is a bigger deal and one you didn’t mention which is curious to me.

Off subject I would love to see someone write an article about shooting with two to three identical camera bodies point out the benefits of shooting prime lenses without having to switch them.

Good article

Cheers, Barry. I didn't mention the FPS boost as it's just a stat that you can interpret how you will. If it's useful to you, you can leave it at the full 15 FPS and yes, deal with the inadequate buffer. That sucks, for sure. For me, I switched it straight back to 10 FPS (the lowest setting) and so far haven't even turned the dial past CH. I don't think any Fujifilm camera to date has really had a good buffer for sports, though. Even the X-T3 maxes out in a few seconds.

Prime lenses on separate bodies is actually an interesting topic - it's how I work most of the time. Let me put some thought into it and see if I can make an article that would be beneficial here on Fstoppers.

The whole screen thing doesn't bother me in the slightest. I've used both and while I like the old screen for low angle shots, I use it pretty rarely. Probably 95% of the time I'm shooting through the EVF. I can manage the other 5% with either option and I do like having a front facing screen on occasion.

Glad it's useful to someone! It's got me wanting to return it and grab another X-T3, to be honest. I do a lot of waist-level work when I'm at family sessions or corporate events to save my back over a long day. Now, I have to wrap my arm around a protruding screen and be cautious that nobody knocks me and damages it. It's a real pain for my work, unfortunately.

Clint K's picture

The screen complaint seems extremely petty. So it makes the camera extra unstable because it articulates to a much higher degree? Are you holding the camera by the screen when you shoot?

From above:
I do a lot of waist-level work when I'm at family sessions or corporate events to save my back over a long day. Now, I have to wrap my arm around a protruding screen and be cautious that nobody knocks me and damages it. It's a real pain for my work, unfortunately.

Sridhar Chilimuri's picture

The battery was a huge issue for me while shooting in colder climates. I think this is a welcome change. Somehow, this review feels limpid. I think Fujifilm created a better camera by improving most flaws and needs from the previous model - better battery, IBIS, Autofocus, and yes the flip screen to be equal to its competitors. I think Xt4 makes a great camera (XT3) even better.

These "flaws" and "needs" are very subjective. As I mentioned above, for my work, the battery doesn't matter at all. I was easily getting 1000 frames from the old batteries. For your work, I'm sure it's a benefit and that you'll be happier for it! For someone who is on a tripod all the time or uses extremely high shutter speeds, the IBIS is meaningless as well. These were my thoughts on the camera for my purposes. While they may not be in line with your wants and needs, I'm not sure that constitutes a "limpid" review. Just a subjective one. Cheers for chiming in!

I was also very skeptical. Then I got one to try out from Fujifilm. On a hike crouching in a river shooting a waterfall, with no tripod, getting sharp images with blurry water at 1 second, shooting portrait with the flip out screen almost touching the water, I thought - this aint bad.

Every one has their specific needs, but IBIS and a battery refresh after a decade are serious, serious updates.