FUJIFILM has continually refined its APS-C mirrorless line, making it arguably the most complete system on the market. The recently revealed X-T4 elevates this manufacturer’s standing once again by implementing in-body image stabilization, using a larger battery, and making many improvements to overall speed. Another easy-to-see change is the rear display—now it flips out and works wonderfully for vlogging and for selfies. This release and our hands-on preview show that sometimes the best thing you can do is make fewer changes that result in bigger benefits to the overall experience.
Having a chance to take the X-T4 for a spin meant that I was intrigued by how the changes would help me as a vlogger. There have always been minor frustrations that have come with vlogging on most previous FUJIFILM cameras. To name a few, we have screens that only tilt, just okay autofocus, and limiting battery life. Fortunately, the X-T4 rectifies many of these problems while still keeping it at the top of its class for basically everything else.
Image Quality Still Reigns Supreme
One of the big advantages of FUJIFILM cameras is that, beyond their standard Provia-esque look, they include a variety of film simulations that grows with each new release. New to the X-T4 is Eterna Bleach Bypass, a pleasingly desaturated style that I imagine will appeal most to video-oriented types. My go-to has been Classic Chrome, both in my photos and nearly every one of my 90+ YouTube videos, but each style is fun in its own way, and certainly there are times when I’ll switch just to spice things up.
Most importantly, no matter which look you choose, the image quality remains lovely. The X-T4 has the same 26.1 MP X-Trans 4 sensor found in the X-T3, so its capabilities are a known quantity at this point—and they’re rightly acclaimed. Video remains mostly unchanged from the superb X-T3. The X-T4 keeps its maximum at DCI 4K at 60 fps with 10-bit color depth and plenty of other settings to boast about. What is new is a Full HD 240 fps option that is up there with the best of the mirrorless competition, letting you record a 4x slow motion for a 60 fps video and 10x for 24 fps. Plus, autofocus works throughout, which is a pleasant surprise.
Make Room for Major Upgrades
If you’re familiar with the X-T3 or X-T2, you will notice that the X-T4 has put on some weight. This is largely the result of two things: an all-new battery, the NP-W235, which has nearly double the capacity of its predecessor (2350 vs 1260 mAh), as well as the most substantial technical upgrade to the whole thing: in-body image stabilization.
This isn’t FUJIFILM’s first stab at an image-stabilized camera. The first was the X-H1, and the X-T4 boasts an IBIS system that is substantially smaller, while managing to compensate for an even greater 6.5 stops of shutter speed. Unfortunately, while this aspect may have shrunk, the VG-XT4 Vertical Battery Grip has grown—a lot. The larger batteries make the new grip substantially taller and, when placed side-by-side with the camera, it reaches more than three quarters of the way to the top plate.
As far as actual handling of the camera goes, not too much has changed. The same dial, d-pad, and joystick combination that we all know and love is back, and button placement is the same, although the ordering of the AF Lock (now “AF On”), Auto-Exposure Lock (AEL), and Q buttons have rotated counter-clockwise.
Some changes have been made to the top dials, with the modes on the left being consolidated and reordered, and the different AF types on the right being replaced by a simple mode switch between Stills and Video. As someone who switches back and forth between the two frequently, this was my favorite improvement, especially since you can now have separate shutter speeds for each mode, and the menu only shows settings specific to your current mode.
Refined Shutter is Easy on the Ears
The first press of that shutter on the X-T4 will make you instantly aware of another improvement: the all-new shutter design. FUJIFILM calls it out as being 30% quieter, which I think is short-selling it. I had never thought to complain about the X-T3’s shutter, but after my time with the X-T4, my old standby sounds like an entry-level DSLR from a decade ago.
It’s not just the sound that benefits from the new shutter; the durability rating has doubled—from 150k actuations on the X-T3 to 300k on the X-T4. Additionally, blackout has been reduced from 96 to 75 ms and continuous shooting with the mechanical shutter is up to 15 fps at full resolution from 11 fps. Electronic shutters still seem to be king of speed for mirrorless, since continuous shooting can reach 20 fps at full resolution or even 30 fps with a 1.25x crop.
AF tracking performance has also been improved, with a particular focus on subjects moving away from the camera. Also, continuous focus tracking is now supported in light conditions as low as -6 EV. I didn’t check out the low-light but will admit that the tests I ran taking bursts of someone jogging by me in Central Park came out inconsistent. However, I was working with a pre-production model and there are multiple levels of customization and, based on the X-T3, I’m sure with some tuning of the settings the results would get better.
I’m not convinced this will become the next big thing in sports photography. However, these are substantial improvements that should appeal primarily to that market—and it just adds another use case for the rest of us.
A Screen Ideal for Vloggers, and Almost Everyone Else
Before getting my hands on this camera, I spent a lot of time thinking about the platonic ideal of a rear camera screen. I went into the B&H SuperStore and literally picked up every camera to poke and prod at those LCDs. I found a comically large number of different ways to answer the question of “How should a camera’s screen move?”
As someone with a more video-centric mindset, the X-T4’s fully articulating method seems like a total win. But, as someone who likes to get very low to the ground with my photography, I understood those concerns the first time I held the X-T4 a couple of inches off the ground and tilted it upward to get a photo.
Honestly, it was kind of awkward and certainly more difficult than it would have been with the X-T3; the weight distribution of the system completely changes when the screen is entirely off to the side versus pulled straight back. I had genuine trouble the first few minutes figuring out how to reorient the center of gravity while articulating that screen on the side.
Of course, I eventually got it, and the additional flexibility of the screen—for vlogging and otherwise—ultimately outweighs that. Plus, I’ve always been a fan of flipping the screen toward the body during travel to keep it away from the elements.
One thing of note is that, while the screen itself is quite nice and substantially higher resolution than its predecessor (up to 1.62m dots from 1.04m), the touch aspect is a bit finicky. There is a video-specific mode that turns all control over to the screen, which is nice in theory because it means that knocking into the various dials on the camera won’t change your ISO, shutter speed, etc., but changing anything requires trying to navigate a menu awkwardly that doesn’t work like any other part of the UI.
The Only Stable Thing in My Life is This Sensor
Once, when I was out with the camera, the only lens I had with me was the beloved 16-55mm f/2.8, which is exceptional but lacks optical image stabilization. Historically, that would mean it was useless for any kind of handheld videography, but that made it perfect for testing the most fundamental update: in-body image stabilization.
Between the weight of the lens, the camera, and my RØDE VideoMic Pro Plus, I was struggling as I held it all out in front of me, but you would never know it from watching, because the footage came out shockingly smooth.
It will not replace my gimbal, the DJI Ronin-SC, but it does mean that if I’m in a situation where I can’t viably use it or want to just hold up the camera, point it at my face, and say some words, I no longer need to worry about giving an audience migraines.
Regardless, the IBIS system doesn’t seem to be fully compatible with all lenses. I tested it on the MKX 18-55mm cine lens and found the footage to have both shake and an odd kind of warping. This can likely be fixed with firmware (or is a pre-production sample bug only). Still, if you encounter this problem, there is a digital image stabilization in-camera via a crop—which is the way most smartphones, action cams, etc. these days handle this issue. It’s not the kind of thing you’d want to rely on unless you had to, due to the forced hit to resolution, but it’s a nice thing to have.
Oh Headphone Jack, Where Art Thou?
A common complaint on the part of video types using the X-T2 was the lack of a built-in headphone jack. You were only able to monitor the system’s audio if you bought a weird hacky third-party adapter or the official battery grip. The X-T3 added the headphone jack—turning it into a more generally usable video camera, albeit one with battery life that would make anyone frequently shooting videos probably want that new battery grip, anyway.
Using the XT-4 and its massively enlarged battery marked the first time I didn’t worry that it was going to die during a shoot. But, two steps forward, etc.: FUJIFILM has oddly reversed course by removing the headphone jack. It does come with a USB Type-C to 3.5mm adapter that will allow you to monitor audio as long as you don’t need the only port for some other purpose (like charging).
I Hate to Say Goodbye, but I also Hate Watching You Leave
I had the X-T4 for a week. During that time, I took hundreds of photos, shot two YouTube videos, and stared long and hard at my bank account—knowing what I had to do and steeling myself for it. I just couldn’t look at my X-T3 the same way anymore. Sure, it’s seen me through trials and travels and been a trusty companion throughout, but there’s nothing that it does that the X-T4 doesn’t do at least as well, and most things it does better. Much better.
So, I’m counting the days until I can get my hands on this camera again. For good. Because the wide range of improvements that FUJIFILM has made to its APS-C flagship come together to form the exact camera that I have been waiting for: FUJIFILM image quality matched with the feature set that we have increasingly come to expect from these sorts of cameras. It is exactly what I need in my life.
Will you be getting an X-T4? Let me know in the Comments section, below!