Fujilm XT4 Review in 2021
The Fujifilm XT4 was released in April 2020. In that time many other cameras have been released by various manufacturers. So I wanted to review the Fujifilm XT4 in 2021 to see how it performs. If you want to see how the Fuji XT4 compares with the X-Pro 3 then take a look at this article
If you would prefer to see a quick video on why you should buy the Fuji XT4 then you may want to check out my latest video instead. Alternatively you can see my Fuji XT4 video review which is now up on Youtube
The Fujifilm XT4 that I am reviewing is my own. I purchased it in October 2020 as it featured several important upgrades over the XT3 that convinced me that the XT series could finally be my main camera system. So here I am in 2021 reviewing the Fujifilm XT4.
The XT4 is Fujifilm’s top of the range X series camera. It uses the same 26mp X-Trans sensor as the previous generation of X series bodies. Having experience with the XT3 I already knew that the image quality that can be achieved with this sensor is excellent both in terms of resolution, dynamic range and high ISO performance. I will include sample images below just in case you are unaware of how this sensor performs.
For me, the image quality that I would get was a known quantity and one that I knew I was happy with. However, the upgrades that made me look more closely at the XT4 were more on the handling side of things.
As I spend a lot of time out shooting with my family in tow, I often find that I don’t carry a tripod on these types of trips. Having been a long-time user of Olympus cameras and their excellent IBIS (in body image stabilisation) the inclusion of IBIS in the XT4 was a very welcome addition. So how well does the IBIS work?
With the Fuji 10-24mm f/4 lens attached the IBIS in the XT4 works alongside the OIS in the lens to give a claimed 6 stops of image stabilisation.
I took a series of images to see just how effective the IBIS was. Normally I can get sharp hand held images on the 10mm end of this lens shooting at 1/20th second. If the shutter speed drops any lower then my keeper rate goes down. 1/15 of a second and below and it becomes a bit hit and miss.
With the IBIS turned on I found that I could consistently get sharp handheld photos at 1/3
to ½ a second. This is with excellent technique. If I shoot in a more casual manner, then I cannot achieve sharp images with slower shutter speeds than 1/5 second.
So, the XT4 IBIS in combination with the OIS in the 10-24mm lens is giving me approximately 4 stops of stabilisation at the wide end.
I repeated this experiment using the Fuji 55-200mm lens and found that I could consistently get sharp handheld images at the 200mm end at 1/10 second whereas normally I would have to be shooting at 1/320 giving me around 5 stops of stabilisation. This is pretty much in line with what Fuji says the XT4 IBIS will give you alone and about a stop under the 6 stops they claim the combined IBIS and OIS of the lens will give.
Overall the IBIS is not quite as effective as that found on the Olympus EM1 III where I could regularly handhold wide angel images at 1-2 seconds but I’m still happy with it when you take into account the larger APS-C sensor found in the XT4 giving you better ISO performance. It allows me to just about get down to speeds where I can add an element of motion to water which is the main reason I would be shooting at those shutter speeds.
Build quality and handling
When I first opened the slick black packaging of the Fuji XT4 and held the camera in my hand I was very pleasantly surprised. My previous experience with the XT series ( I have owned the XT1 and XT2 and tested out the XT3) was that they are well made but always felt a little hollow. I was not a fan of this feeling as I like a camera to feel solid in my hand. I take my gear all over the World and I want it to feel as if it can stand up to some serious work.
The XT4 immediately felt better and much more solid. Yes, it weighs a little more at 607g vs 539g for the XT3 but it feels much better built, does not have that hollow feeling and the grip has been enlarged which makes it much more comfortable in the hand. It is now 2mm wider and 5mm deeper than the XT3 at 135 x93x 64mm. The size now seems just about a perfect compromise between feeling solid, well-built and comfortable in the hand without being too bulky or heavy. Please do not change this Fuji as I think you nailed it this time.
The shutter mechanism is now rated to 300k actuations compared with 150k on the XT3. This alone speaks to the improved build quality and gives me confidence that the XT4 will easily cope with professional use.
One of the most significant (and controversial) changes comes in the form of a fully articulating rear LCD. I know that some Fuji fans prefer a standard or 3-way tilt screen as found on previous generations, but I find a fully articulating rear screen to be the most flexible solution. It allows you to tilt up and down as well as front facing when horizontal and it also allows you to flip it 90 degrees to the camera body when shooting in portrait orientation. Not to mention that you can conveniently close it so that the screen faces in towards the body and is protected from being scratched or damaged. I understand that for ‘from the hip’ street shooting it may be less balanced and subtle but I rarely do that so don’t miss that ability.
While I love the screen, I do have one gripe with it. Well actually its not with the screen itself but with the cheap flappy port covers for the mic and remote sockets. They get in the way when you are setup for video and then want to flip the screen from rear facing to forward facing. I wish Fuji would have made them removable but they didn’t. Inexplicably they did decide to make the memory card door removable. Surely that is the wrong way around.
Lastly the other change that was especially important to me was the use of the new NP-W235 battery which lasts much longer than the older generation NP-W126s found in the older generation cameras. I can now shoot well over 500 shots on one battery and as I have the battery grip and two additional batteries this can easily see me through a long weekend landscape photography shoot. The camera itself can also be charged by USB-C which is great as I have a ton of power banks lying around so I can just bring one or two power banks on my trips and charge all my devices including the camera.
Something that I am not so fond of is that Fuji does not include a proper charger in the box. Only a cheap looking Phone style USB charger and USB-C cable is included so you must charge the batteries up while in the camera. Not great if you need to charge batteries while using the camera. The same can be said of the batter grip as there is no way to charge this separately. You must attach it to the camera and then charge all 3 batteries together. Again, not really the best solution as it would be nice to be able to charge the batteries in the grip while using the camera. It’s not a big deal though because the batteries now easily get me through a day’s shooting and I can simply plug everything in to a power bank at night to charge them.
There are a few other additions to the XT4 which may be of interest to you but are not that significant for my use. One is the addition of Classic Chrome film simulation. This is a beautiful filmic looking preset that I find works very well for side lit scenes and Caucasian skin. However, as I shoot a lot of my portraits in Asia it doesn’t work so well for Asian skin tones, so I only tend to use it when I’m back in Europe.
The Fujifilm XT4 now also allows for 240 fps HD video capture but I must admit I have not used it thus far being primarily a stills shooter. The video specs of the XT4 are excellent and varied, offering a lot of options for professional video capture which I will be exploring more later in the year if I can get back to the UK once this damned pandemic is dealt with. The Eterna profile along with very good 10 bit 4k video means that the Xt4 is more than good enough for my video needs.
Finally, as promised here are some image quality samples for those of you who are unfamiliar with what the 26mp X-Trans sensor can produce. The image quality is basically unchanged from the XT3 and X-Pro 3. I own an X-Pro 3 and get exactly the same images from it as I do the XT4.
The AF performance and in particular face and eye detection is slightly improved in the XT4.
So why would I (and you) choose the Fujifilm XT4 over rivals such as the Sony A7II (which I have also owned)?
For me there are 3 main reasons.
Firstly, and most importantly (for me) the handling, ergonomics and joy of using the XT4 is beyond the A7III. The XT4 feels like a ‘real’ camera with its manual dials for ISO, shutter speed and aperture. The Sony feels like a smart phone on steroids and as a bit of a techno dinosaur I prefer the more analogue feel of Fujis. If I enjoy using a camera and it makes me feel inspired then I generally get better images with it.
Secondly, I wanted a rugged but lightweight camera system (note I said system) and while the XT4 may not be much smaller than the A7III/Z6/EOS R etc, when you combine it with the vast array of Fuji lenses (particularly the Zooms) then the kit as a whole is still significantly smaller than a full frame kit. My go to lenses for travel are the trio of 10-24mm, 18-55mm, 55-200mm and the 35mm f/2. This all fits easily in my bag ( Lowepro Flipside 400AW) with room for a spare body, batteries, filters, laptop, hard drives, mics, Mavic 2 Pro drone + 3x batteries and more.
You can build out quite a small full frame mirrorless kit but I always found it limiting to only stick to the smaller cheaper lenses and having used Sony cameras with the GM series of lenses in the past I found them unbalanced and unwieldy on the A7 series bodes. I understand why many use them and would never discourage that but for me the Fuji system does what I want at a size and weight that I am happy with.
Finally, an important factor in any decision is price. The Fuji system has options from cheap to expensive but overall, the cost of building a comprehensive kit around Fuji is cheaper than that of full frame and IMO the difference in image quality between APS-C and full frame is not worth the additional cost. In fact, I skipped it altogether and also added a medium format camera to my kit for those occasions where I need it.
For an alternative view from a talented photographer check out Jonas Rask’s Fuji XT4 article