It was going to be tough for Fujifilm to follow up on the X-T3, a mirrorless camera that I and many others believe to be the best APS-C camera on the market. It was not only the prettiest and best-handling flagship out there, it was fast, compact and produced sharp, color-accurate photos. The icing on the cake was the awesome 4K video capabilities, something of a surprise for a Fujifilm camera.
Fujifilm’s answer is the X-T4, another big evolution in its flagship X-T series. It has the same 26.1-megapixel sensor as the X-T3 but delivers much-needed updates like a flip-out screen, improved autofocus and in-body stabilization.
The X-T4 has killer specs, but it’s also more expensive than before, and there are even more rival cameras since the X-T3 came out. It now competes with Sony’s A6600, with the best autofocus on the market, along with Canon’s blazingly fast EOS M6 Mark II. Can it still vanquish all its rivals and keep the APS-C crown? With the COVID-19 lockdown eased in France, I took it around the countryside to find out.
Body and Handling
The X-T3 was stylish and relatively lightweight, two key selling points of Fujifilm cameras. The X-T4 is still a great-looking camera, but it’s not as svelte. It’s 2mm wider and 5mm thicker, and weighs 607 grams compared to 539 grams for the X-T3 — about a 10 percent weight gain.
That doesn’t sound like a lot, but it tipped the X-T4 out of the “compact” category shared by the X-T3 and Sony’s A6600. However, it’s still nimble enough to take most places and the flip-out screen and in-body stabilization (IBS) are easily worth the tradeoff.
The X-T3 was already the best handling APS-C camera out there, and the X-T4 takes that up another notch. I love how this camera feels. You get the same versatile array of manual dials, buttons, a D-pad and a joystick. However, Fujifilm has made those even more useful, particularly for video.
It’s easy to switch between still and video shooting, thanks to a dedicated dial. Each mode retains its own main and quick menus, so you won’t see a flash option in the movie settings, for instance. It also means your exposure, log, film simulation and other settings won’t get mixed up.
These quick menu options and improved manual controls are especially useful for video. For example, you can program the quick menu with up to 16 touch buttons that can be set for mic input levels, in-body stabilization, frame-rate and video quality. That makes it far easier to switch between slow-motion 1080p and regular 4K, for instance.
With your quick menus, buttons and dials set up, you’ll rarely need to jump into the main menus. Should you need to, though, Fujifilm’s menus are among the best for mirrorless cameras. That said, some items like the IBS settings are not particularly well-labeled, and Fujifilm’s remote control app is ill-designed, especially for video — though that’s an industry-wide problem.
However, the X-T4 body ticks other boxes, too. It has a bigger battery than the last model that let me shoot photos all day and video for about two hours continuously. Like the X-T3, it has dual high-speed SD card slots for backup and faster shooting. While slower than the new-fangled CFExpress cards (meaning shorter burst shooting times), they’re easier to find and a lot cheaper. Better still, Fujifilm now lets you capture to each card separately or both at once, for redundancy.
Finally, you get HDMI, USB-C and microphone ports, but unlike the X-T3, Fujifilm has inexplicably removed the headphone port. That’s not quite as tragic as it sounds, as I could still monitor sound via the USB-C port with an adapter (included with the X-T4) or USB-C headphones.
The X-T4 still bests Sony’s APS-C cameras and its other rivals when it comes to handling and looks, despite the gain in size. But what about performance?
The news is (mostly) good here, too, starting with the shutter. Fujifilm’s new low-vibration model makes this camera both quicker and quieter than ever. In fact, the X-T4 may have the best feeling and sounding shutter I’ve ever tried — there’s zero vibration and it makes an extremely satisfying “snick.”
The X-T3 shoots at a respectable 12 fps (20 fps in electronic mode), but the X-T4 can hit a breakneck 15 fps with the mechanical shutter and 20 fps with the electronic shutter. It can shoot blackout-free in electronic shutter mode, albeit with a slight lag on the display. Those speeds beat Canon’s M6 II, the former champ, and the X-T4 can do it for 38 consecutive RAW frames compared to 23 for its rival. Sony’s A6600 can hit 46 RAW frames before the buffer fills.
Now, speed is nothing if the autofocus can’t keep up. While the X-T3 wasn’t bad in this category, it couldn’t touch Sony’s A6600 when it came to AF speed, especially for subject tracking. It was also behind the M6 Mark II for burst shooting and video autofocus.
Luckily, Fujifilm made some improvements here, too. The X-T4 now tracks color and shape data along with distance for improved accuracy, while working in darker places than before. For continuous AF tracking, the X-T4 locks on to your subject with a single box instead of multiple squares so it’s easier to see what you’re tracking. With all that, Fujifilm claims a .02 second focus lock speed (on par with Sony’s A6600) and double the focus hit rate.
Is that accurate? In my tests, the AF worked better than the X-T3 for sports and other types of dynamic shooting. It was also less jerky and locked on to my subjects more reliably. Face and eye detection was also smoother and more accurate.
However, in tricky sports and other scenarios, it still missed some shots. It was most fussy when tracking fast moving objects like our dog against dry grass similar in color to his fur. It’s a big improvement over the X-T3, but the focus hit rate still isn’t as high as Sony’s A6600. That’s a high bar, though, and the X-T4 autofocus otherwise excelled in most situations.
The X-T4 is only the second Fujifilm camera with in-body stabilization, after the X-H1. It’s smaller and lighter than the X-H1 by 70 grams, but Fujifilm has promised that the IBS actually works better, delivering 6 stops of shake reduction or 6.5 stops with a compatible lens — more than any other APS-C camera.
I don’t have the hands of a surgeon, but I could still get sharp photos down to about a quarter or eighth of a second. That makes this camera much more useful for low-light shooting than the X-T3. It also helps considerably with video, as I’ll discuss shortly.
As for image quality in low-light and most other situations, the X-T4 excels. There was no need for Fujifilm to change the excellent 26.2-megapixel X-Trans sensor, which is second only to Canon’s M6 II in APS-C resolution. As such, image quality is generally unchanged from the X-T3.
The X-T4 is among the best APS-C cameras for color rendition, in a tie with Canon’s M6 II. Everything looks natural here, whether you’re shooting landscapes, animals or people. JPEGs look good straight out of the camera, though Sony does a better job controlling noise without any loss of detail.
For high-ISO shooting, it’s on par with Sony’s A6600, the leader in this category. I found I could get usable shots at up to ISO 12,800 as long as I exposed correctly. Coupled with the highly effective in-body stabilization, that makes the X-T4 very useful for concerts, parties and other low-light situations.
Like Panasonic’s GH5s, BMPCC 6K and other recent cameras, the X-T4 uses a dual-gain sensor design. That helps reduce noise, especially in shadows, so you can really boost the dark areas of RAW images in Lightroom and other photo-processing apps.
If you need even more dynamic range, the X-T4 offers the multi-shot HDR mode it introduced on the X-Pro3. That mode rapidly takes, aligns and merges three RAW images to preserve extra detail in highlight and shadow areas. It then spits out a single RAW photo, unlike the JPEG-only images produced by similar features on other cameras. Shooting directly into the sun with the mode enabled, I was able to take photos that preserved extra detail in the highlights and shadows, and I could edit them further in Lightroom to really push the exposure. Even straight out of the camera, though, the results were impressive with extra sky and shadow detail.
As ever, you get a range of very useful JPEG film simulations like Velvia, black & white Acros and desaturated Eterna. As I’ve said before, these simulations are well designed and produce professional-looking results, and if you need the original image data, it’s all there in the RAW file. With the X-T4, Fujifilm also introduced the Eterna Bleach Bypass filter, giving you the contrasty desaturated look of films like Fight Club.
Should you wish to shoot your own film, the X-T4 improves on the already-excellent X-T3. As before, you can shoot 4K video at up to 60 fps and now shoot 1080p at a time-stopping 240 fps. However, video quality at that frame-rate isn’t as sharp as 120 fps video, and you can’t record audio. On the plus side, continuous autofocus and face detection work at those speeds and don’t on other cameras (ahem, GH5).
The X-T4 reads out the entire width of the sensor for video with no line-skipping in 4K or 1080p modes. As such, it’s sharp, vibrant and nearly free from aliasing and other artifacts. Rolling shutter or jello effect is well controlled.
With 10-bit internal and external recording, you can shoot video with more dynamic range than Sony or Canon’s APS-C cameras. The GH5 records better quality video internally (10-bit 4:2:2 on the GH5 compared to 10-bit 4:2:0 on the X-T4), but the X-T4 can shoot 10-bit 4:2:2 as well if you use an external recorder. The benefits of that are most noticeable in scenes with subtle color gradations or when shooting HDR video.
The X-T4 still has F-Log to boost dynamic range — in fact, I shot much of the video for this review (that you’ll soon be able to find on YouTube) in HDR using that very setting. To make that easier to use, Fujifilm has introduced a Log Assist function that helps you see details and judge exposure better than with the X-T3.
Video autofocus is faster and more reliable than before, especially with face and eye detection enabled. However, it doesn’t support touch-to-choose subject tracking like you get in the photo mode, so it’s not ideal for shooting wildlife, sports and other action-type footage. For normal single-point video autofocus, however, it’s almost on par with Sony.
In-body stabilization makes the X-T4 far more useful for vlogging than the X-T3. It’s not going to dampen out the jolting when you walk and can take a hot second to catch up with pans or tilts, which occasionally makes them look jerky. However, handheld shooting is very stable, and often I didn’t even need a tripod to get very good results, even when zoomed in.
The fully articulating screen also means the X-T4 is now a solid option for vloggers or one-man-band videographers. It flips out to the side, so it’s never blocked by a microphone or tripod. An external mic input also makes interviews or run-and-gun shooting easier.
The X-T4’s microphone jack now supports both mic and line-level inputs, which gives you more options when choosing a lav, shotgun or other mics. As mentioned, there’s no headphone jack, but using the USB port and adapter isn’t a problem unless you need to tether your X-T4 to power while shooting. If that’s your situation, you could resolve it by purchasing the VG-XT4 battery grip, which gives you a 3.5mm headphone jack to use with the X-T4.
Is the X-T4 a worthwhile upgrade over its excellent predecessor, even though it shares the same sensor and offers similar image quality? Heck, yes. The imaging chip is one of the few things that hasn’t changed (it didn’t need to), and Fujifilm addressed nearly everything else I didn’t like about the X-T3.
I called out the lack of a flip-around screen, in-body stabilization and middling autofocus. Fujifilm fixed all those things. At the same time, it boosted the shooting speeds and added other desirable features like an ultra-smooth shutter and Log Assist video feature.
The X-T4 is a superior camera to Sony’s A6600 in every way except the autofocus, which still needs a bit of work. The only thing making it a hard sell is the $1,700 price tag. That’s far more than the $1,200 A6600 or $1,100 M6 II with an EVF.
For that kind of money, you could easily go full-frame and get Sony’s A7 III. However, I think the X-T4 handles better than even the A7 III and has superior video capabilities, too. If you’ve got the budget and want the best APS-C mirrorless camera on the market, then I’d highly recommend the X-T4.