My long-awaited, silver-bodied X-T4 has finally arrived to join me in lockdown. What a smasher! The new body X-T4 becomes my lead camera with the trusty X-T2 staying in close support. As part of the deal, I have had to say farewell to my X-T20 in order to generate some cash. Hello and goodbye!
I should emphasise that this is not a comprehensive review of the X-T4 but is rather a personal statement about features of the camera which attract or interest me for my style of photography, if there is such a thing.
Although all the photos in this article, apart from the product images, of course, have been taken by me with the X-T4, they are not meant to illustrate the full range of the camera’s capabilities. If I could do that I would be a much better photographer. In fact, the images are a result of taking the new camera out on a dog walk, my daily exercise.
Click images to enlarge and view sequence in lightbox
It’s worth noting that the X-T4 shares the same 26MP sensor (and X-Processor 4) as the X-T3. But, of course, it is an upgrade from the 24 MP (and X-Processor 3) of my X-T 2, although I do not expect the modest increase in MP to make a major difference in practice.
A headline feature of the – T4 for me is the arrival of five-axis In Body Image Stabilisation (IBIS) with up to 6.5EV correction – best in class. This feature works in conjunction with Optical Image Stabilisation (OIS) in Fuji lenses which have it or, on its own, for Fuji lenses which do not.
For me, this is a really valuable feature, offering much-improved stabilisation and ability to use shutter speeds in light conditions that would be tricky or impossible without it. I must also admit that my ability to hold a camera absolutely still without any support is not improving. The incorporation of IBIS has meant that the X-T4 is a little bigger than the previous X-T3 and X-T2. However, on the plus side, this has enabled the provision of bigger grips for improved handling.
Mirrorless cameras with EVFs are heavy drainers of batteries and Fuji cameras are no exception. I have become used to going out with one or more spare, charged batteries in my pocket and have often longed for bigger capacity Fuji batteries. For instance, my X-T2 batteries expire after around 300 to 350 shots.
In answer to my prayers, then, the X-T4 arrives with a new, larger battery rated at 500 shots per charge, or up to 600 shots in economy mode. Hallelujah! This new battery is the second reason why the X-T4 is a little larger than its predecessors but this larger battery is one big deal for me.
Another feature of the X-T4 I like is the ability to charge the battery in-camera via USB-C. This is of course not unique to Fujifilm but is new to me.
The X-T4 comes with an entirely new shutter mechanism with improved damping and rated to last 300,000 cycles – double the rating of the X-T3 and X-T2. While I shall probably not notice this improvement in practice, I certainly will use the 15-frames-per-second speed capability of the new mechanical shutter for wild-life and action photography.
As Jonas Rask writes, “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 world’s fastest mechanical shutter.”
By enabling the electronic shutter, this can be increased to 20 frames per second with no crop and 30 frames per second, albeit with 1.25x crop. The mechanical shutter operates up to 1/8000s and the electronic up to 1/32000s. I look forward to testing some of these capabilities in due course.
The X-T4 also offers an improved AF tracking ability in comparison with its predecessors. It takes colour and shape information into consideration as well as distance. As this was an area where my X-T2 was still behind the best competition, it will be good to see how much progress has been made. There are also improvements to face tracking and provision of a face selection option.
I do very little video but have been meaning to do more. One reason for hesitation is that I like my camera to be set up exactly the way I like for stills shooting. Switching to video means making significant changes at high speed when you come across a street scene you’d like to video for instance. After the video, I would then have to reset my X-T2 back to stills shooting. Because the process is fussier than it need be, I have tended to avoid it. There is too much chance for flustering and missing both the video action and the unexpected perfect still opportunity – which the gods like to make available just when the camera is still in video settings.
All this changes with the X-T4 which now for the first time properly separates the still and video camera functions. There is a simple control lever underneath the shutter speed dial which has only two positions, still or movie. The clever part is that when you choose the movie option this takes you into an entirely separate movie menu area where all your settings are retained in between sessions.
Let me stress it. I mean all settings, comprising all movie-format settings, all image quality settings, AF/MF Custom settings, all audio settings, all time code settings as well as all user setup adjustments. Once set, you are ready to go and only have to make any control dial adjustments the scene demands.
This makes a big difference, not only to a video tyro like me but to an experienced videographer as well. Both will of course revel in what IBIS can do for video quality with 4K for 30 minutes duration. DPReview’s verdict on the X-T4’s video capability is that it “tops even the updated (Panasonic) G9 to the best-in-class title.” I am definitely going to be taking more video…
This is High Dynamic Range photography and does not involve any tone-mapping at all. I use this a lot in certain situations where there are extremes of dynamic range, often in sky-and-land contrasts.
Up to now, I have only owned cameras capable of exposure bracketing whereby you can take, for example, three shots at three different exposures, or more, and blend them in post into one image which captures a wider range of exposure than the sensor can handle. The X-T4 can do this as well but it also has the ability to take three exposures at different exposures and blend them in-camera, outputting a blended HDR jpeg of the three images and also a RAW of the original metered image. This will be useful for those shots of high dynamic range, whether landscape or cityscape images, where pressure is on to get a well-balanced image quickly. Initial trials suggest this feature works really well.
Pre-shot ES setting
This is a feature which is so useful. By enabling pre-setting, the camera locks on to the subject and begins to track at high speed when you press the shutter button halfway down. Keep the shutter button halfway down and the camera goes on recording to the buffer so that you always have twenty images in the store. When you press the shutter button all the way down, the camera then writes the latest twenty images to the memory card, followed by subsequent real-time images as you carry on shooting. At 15 frames per second, this also ensures your memory card isn’t overwhelmed by redundant frames. You also get to capture the entire sequence and avoid cursing that you were late with the shutter button. Of course, some phones have this capability but its great that now the X-T4 has it as well.
The three-inch, 1.62-million-dot fully articulated touch screen monitor is very capable but it is something I will not use all the time. If folds away to protect the screen and is there for when needed. It has four function button ‘swipes’ built into its touchscreen, a nice touch. The reviewer consensus appears to be that the screen is great news for video makers but much less so for stills shooters.
The X-T4 has fourteen function buttons which are a great aid in having those functions you use frequently easy to hand. To be honest, I don’t need that many but the crux of the matter is that I know where the critical ones are. For me, the main one is the button on the front of the camera to which I assign the AF function once I have disconnected focus from the shutter button. This enables “front button focus” which, in my opinion, is far superior to “back button focus”. I use my fore-finger on the shutter button like everyone else but use my third finger (otherwise unused) for the front button focus duty. It works really well and I can recommend it.
Form and function
You may well be fed up by my constant enthusiasm for the Fujifilm X-Ts. Well, I shall say it again. The X-T 4 is very good to look at in a retro kind of way and it improves on what was already a handsome and well-performing range. Once set up, you have all the controls on the top plate of the camera: ISO, shutter speed, exposure compensation and, on the lens, the aperture ring. The complex becomes simple and I think there is nothing better than a proper dial to rotate in order to make your will manifest.
Even after just a couple of days of experience, I know I am going to enjoy the X-T4. It is a big step forward in the X-T concept and I can thoroughly recommend it to all Fuji photographers.