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Hands on: Fujifilm X-T4 review

Fujifilm's retro flagship evolves into a truly modern hybrid

What is a hands on review?
Fujifilm X-T4
(Image: © Future)

Early Verdict

The Fujifilm X-T4 is shaping up to be one of the best mirrorless all-rounders you can buy. It brings major new features like IBIS, a new battery and a faster, quieter shutter, which collectively make it a genuine hybrid camera for stills and video shooters. While it would have been nice to see a new sensor, processor and viewfinder, the X-T4 has enough new talents to tempt upgraders and owners of rival systems alike.

For

  • IBIS a big bonus for video and stills shooting
  • Speedy burst shooting
  • Very quiet shutter
  • Powerful video features
  • Impressive battery life

Against

  • Slightly bigger than the X-T3
  • Same sensor and processor as older X-T3
  • Articulating screen not so good for stills shooters

The Fujifilm X-T4 is a mirrorless camera with a split personality – on the outside it's all retro dials and analogue chic, but inside it's packed with more advanced features than we've seen from any Fujifilm X-T camera so far.

It's a compelling combination. Like the Fujifilm X-T3 (which will remain on sale), the X-T4 is for keen amateur photographers and pros who want the latest mirrorless power in a fun, desirable package. The difference this time is that the X-T4 has cranked its 'all-rounder' dial up to 11.

The headline news is the inclusion of in-body image stabilization (IBIS), making this only the second Fujifilm camera to have this feature, the other being the Fujifilm X-H1. Both video and stills shooters can benefit from IBIS, and its inclusion here brings the X-T4 up to speed with rivals like the Sony A6600

The rest of the X-T4's new features read like a checklist of responses to requests from Fujifilm shutterbugs: a bigger battery (check), improved autofocus (check) and, naturally, a new Film Simulation effect (called Bleach Bypass).  

However, these exciting additions are teamed with the same sensor and processor combo as its predecessor – so does the Fujifilm X-T4 do enough to entice photographers who might be looking either side of its somewhat premium price tag? 

Fujifilm X-T4

(Image credit: Future)

Fujifilm X-T4 release date and price

  • The Fujifilm X-T4 may be available to buy from April 2020
  • No precise release date due to the coronavirus outbreak
  • Prices will start at $1,699 / £1,549  / AU$2,999

The Fujifilm X-T4 will be available to buy from April 2020 in various bundles. If you just want a body-only X-T4, it'll cost $1,699 / £1,549 / AU$2,999 in either black or silver.

A bundle with the excellent XF18-55mm f/2.8-4 R LM OIS kit lens will cost $2,099 / £1,899 (around AU$3,750). Or, if you'd rather get the X-T4 with the new XF16-80mm f/4 R OIS WR lens, that will set you back $2,199 / £1,949 (around AU$3,850). Fujifilm Australia hasn't confirmed the prices of the kits for fans Down Under, but we will update this review as soon as we know more.

These are roughly the prices we expected for the X-T4, although if they're a bit too steep for you then it's worth noting that the Fujifilm X-T3 will remain on sale for some time yet. That camera now costs $1,299 / £1,199 / AU$1,823, making it a more affordable alternative if you don't need IBIS or any of the X-T4's other new features.

Of course, the Fujifilm X-T4's price means it's now also up at the level of many full-frame cameras, including the Nikon Z6 and Sony A7 III; but while it has a smaller sensor than those cameras, it does also have some superior features. 

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Fujifilm X-T4

(Image credit: Future)
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Fujifilm X-T4

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Fujifilm X-T4

(Image credit: Future)

Build and handling

  • The Fujifilm X-T4 is slightly larger and heavier than the X-T3
  • There's a new fully articulating touchscreen, which could divide opinion
  • Its magnesium alloy design is still weather-resistant

Fujifilm doesn't often make dramatic departures from its retro blueprint, and the X-T4 is no different. Let's just say that if you've picked up an X-T series camera before, you'll feel right at home here.

There are, of course, a few changes. Pick up the X-T4 and its extra weight is immediately noticeable – this isn't exactly a heavy camera compared to equivalent DSLRs, but the extra 68g over the X-T3 is a distinct increase. Of course, many might consider this extra heft, along with the 5mm increase to the camera's width, to be a good thing for balancing out longer lenses. 

Fans of smaller prime optics, on the other hand, may disagree, but however you feel about the X-T4's increased size and weight, there's no denying that it remains a very handsome camera. It's both tactile and fun to shoot with, and those can be important factors for everyday shooting, or for pulling yourself out of a photographic rut.

Somewhat more controversial is the inclusion of a fully articulating touchscreen. On paper, this is a more versatile display than the X-T3's three-way tilting screen, because it flips round 180 degrees to the front, which is helpful if you like to shoot or vlog to camera. It also helpfully folds away to face the camera, to protect it while it's in your bag. But the mechanism is arguably inferior for those who like to quickly shoot from the hip or above their heads, as it takes longer to pull out and also sits to the left of the camera.

Otherwise, there are only minor design changes from the X-T3. Strangely, there's no 3.5mm headphone jack on the camera body this time, with Fujifilm instead supplying a USB-C headphone adaptor in the box – this could be slightly annoying if you want to power the camera via a portable Power Delivery charger at the same time.

There have also been some minor tweaks to the button layout – the quick 'Q' menu has moved to the top-right, while the AF-On button is more pronounced, and there are now distinct 'stills' and 'movie' modes beneath the shutter speed dial. While the latter might appear to be a minor tweak, it hints at some of the bigger changes that have taken place under the hood.  

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Fujifilm X-T4

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Fujifilm X-T4

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Fujifilm X-T4

(Image credit: Future)

Features and autofocus

  • The Fujifilm X-T4 has 5-axis in-body image stabilization
  • This provides up to 6.5 stops of stabilization with certain lenses
  • A new quieter shutter mechanism helps it shoot at up to 15fps

It might look remarkably similar to its X-T predecessors, but the Fujifilm X-T4 is the biggest leap forward for the series yet, thanks to three main new features: IBIS, a new battery, and a new shutter mechanism.

The big new addition, and the main reason for owners of older X-T cameras to upgrade, is the new in-body stabilization. Like other IBIS systems, this counteracts your hand movements as you shoot, and lets you use slower shutter speeds when handholding the camera. This can be particularly helpful in low light, as it allows you to keep your ISO settings lower than you'd otherwise be able to.

The X-T4's IBIS system apparently provides 6.5 stops of stabilization with most XF / XC lenses (18 out of Fujifilm's total of 29 lenses, to be precise). That's pretty impressive, and particularly exciting if you own classic prime lenses like the XF35mm f/1.4 or XF56mm f/1.2. We'll need more time to test just how effect the system is, but we certainly appreciated the extra versatility and security of knowing there was powerful stabilization on hand to steady our shots.

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Fujifilm X-T4

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Fujifilm X-T4

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Fujifilm X-T4

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Fujifilm X-T4

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Fujifilm X-T4

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Fujifilm X-T4

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Fujifilm X-T4

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Fujifilm X-T4

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Fujifilm X-T4

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Fujifilm X-T4

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A more subtle, but perhaps equally significant addition, is the X-T4's new shutter unit. It's clearly picked up some tricks from the Fujifilm X-H1, because some new shock absorption makes the X-T4's shutter incredibly quiet, which was a real boon when we were street shooting in London's Covent Garden. Together with a new motor, it also allows the X-T4 to shoot at an impressive 15fps with the mechanical shutter, which puts it right up there with the speediest mirrorless cameras around.  

Of course, this speed isn't particularly helpful if the autofocus can't keep up with the action, and luckily Fujifilm has fine-tuned its AF system for the X-T4 too. Fuji claims that the X-T4's tracking success rate is twice as good as the X-T3, which wasn't exactly a slouch in this department, and the Face / Eye AF has also been improved. We certainly found the autofocus performance to be very quick at locking onto moving subjects like cyclists, but again we'll need more time to test this thoroughly.

The X-T4's final big new feature is the larger battery. This is quite a departure for Fujifilm, which has used the same battery (or a variant of it) in all of its X-Pro and X-T cameras before now. With cameras like the Sony A6600 offering battery lives of 720 shots, though, it feels like a wise move for the X-T4, which can now manage 500 shots per charge in 'Normal' mode or 600 frames in 'Economy' mode (according to the CIPA standard). That might not be class-leading, but it's a big boost over the X-T3's 390-shot battery life, and reduces the danger of a flashing red battery icon ruining your afternoon shoot.

Professionals and wedding snappers who want day-long performance will also have the option of the new VG-XT4 grip, which houses two additional batteries that boost the X-T4's stamina to 1,450 shots. Fujifilm says the batteries also switch seamlessly when one runs out, which is good news for anyone shooting one-off video events.  

Video skills

  • The X-T4 can shoot 4K/60p video and Full HD at 240fps
  • It can shoot Cinema 4K/60p 4:2:0 10-bit video to SD card
  • There's a new IS Mode Boost for static handheld shots

The Fujifilm X-T3 is an excellent little video camera, at least in terms of quality, but it lacks the IBIS and articulating screen that would have made it a great one – and this is where the X-T4 shines.

By adding those features the X-T4 really is taking the video fight to the Panasonic GH5, and it hasn't stopped there either; it has several other new video features that elevate it to true hybrid all-rounder status. 

On a usability level, the X-T4's video and stills modes are more clearly separated thanks to that new 'still / movie' sub-dial, and also a separate 'Q' menu (short for 'quick') for movies. This lets you keep your settings for both modes truly separate, which is great if you need to regularly switch between the two at an event.

The X-T4 still tops out at 4K/60p 4:2:0 10-bit video recording internally, but you can mount an external video recorder to shoot 4:2:2 10-bit footage via the micro HDMI port. There's also a new 240fps slow-mo mode, which sounds like a lot of fun and could well be more than a gimmick if the quality of the X-T3's 120fps is anything to go by. 

We'll need a lot more time to test out the X-T4's video powers, although the face tracking certainly seemed as reliable as its predecessor during our quick handheld vlogging test. One question all of this does raise, though, is where it leaves the X-H series. Fujifilm insists the X-H series isn't dead yet, but the X-T4 certainly inherits much of what made it a strong, video-focused alternative to the X-T range. 

Fujifilm X-T4

(Image credit: Future)

Early verdict

The Fujifilm X-T4 is the natural evolution of the X-T series, but it’s evolved into a space that's more hotly contested than a jalapeño eating contest.

So who is it for? If you’re after a stylish mirrorless system that’s equally adept at taking stills and shooting video, there’s no doubt it’s a highly compelling new option.

That said, it doesn’t offer quite the array of stills shooting modes as something like the Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark III, nor is it likely to match the high-ISO performance of a full-frame camera like the Nikon Z6.

Stills photographers (particularly landscape shooters or anyone who mostly does tripod-based shooting), meanwhile, will almost certainly find better value in the existing Fujifilm X-T3, which has the same sensor and processor.

Still, it’s hard to think of many all-rounders that can match the X-T4’s combination of stills quality, video powers, style and handling. We’ll let you know if it’s a pound-for-pound mirrorless champion in our full review very soon.

What is a hands on review?

Hands on reviews' are a journalist's first impressions of a piece of kit based on spending some time with it. It may be just a few moments, or a few hours. The important thing is we have been able to play with it ourselves and can give you some sense of what it's like to use, even if it's only an embryonic view. For more information, see TechRadar's Reviews Guarantee.