Fujifilm X-T4: the best camera of the year so far?

By Geoff Harris

It’s been a difficult year for camera retailers; they were already facing a tough time from the ever-growing threat of smartphones, and then comes along the lockdown to make life even more difficult.

Fortunately, most seem to have weathered the storm, and one ray of sunshine in an otherwise bleak six months has been the release of the Fujifilm X-T4. This new mirrorless camera is apparently selling very well indeed, so let’s see what all the excitement about.

If you are a looking for a high-performing yet relatively small and light mirrorless camera with image stabilisation and a versatile rear screen, but don’t need the bigger files (and greater cost) of a larger, full-frame sensor, then the X-T4 has a lot of appeal. Let’s start with the essentials. The sensor is a 26.1MP APS-C X-Trans CMOS 4 chip, combined with the X-Processor 4, and although it’s the same tech as featured in the camera’s predecessor, the X-T3, it remains a very strong performer. To get the most from it, we’d recommend shooting in raw, but the JPEG performance is also impressive. Noise is well controlled right through to ISO 12,800, which is beyond what most users will be selecting on a regular basis, and the removal of an optical low-pass filter also helps preserve detail.

The sensor and processor are one thing, but much more noteworthy is the inclusion of in-body image stabilisation (IBIS), something lacking from its predecessor – the technology has now developed to enable smaller IBIS units to be used, fitting the X-T4’s compact body. Used with a compatible Fujifilm lens, the X-T4’s IBIS works over 5 axis to keep images as sharp and as stable as possible when you are shooting handheld. If you are using a lens which also has image stabilisation, the camera calls on this first, and then compensates for any shortfall by using its in-body system.

You will get the best results from the IBIS when using slower shutter speeds with a wide lens, since a long telephoto lens will tend to show up even the tiniest bit of camera shake (bigger lenses tend to be much harder to hold steady too). It should be possible to go as slow as 1 second with a wider lens and still get acceptably sharp shots. While we wouldn’t advise that X-T4 owners sell the tripod just yet, as it will still be needed when shooting slower than one second, the IBIS is a really welcome addition, and greatly adds to the cameras versatility.

Another big attraction of the X-T4 is its speedy AF (autofocus) performance. Thanks to a new algorithm and developments in the phase detection AF’s processing capability, tracking a subject moving at high speed has got easier, especially when combined with the continuous shooting performance of 15fps in post view and 8fps in Live View. Fujifilm also claims the tracking AF performance is twice as good as the X-T3’s, along with improvements in Face / Eye AF performance, making it easier to get sharper portraits (you can also tell the X-T4 to prioritise the left or the right eye, which is a big help). The camera has the same Intelligent Hybrid AF system used by the X-T3, which uses both phase and contrast detection.

We mentioned the versatile screen earlier on, and the vari-angle screen makes it much easier for both stills and film makers to move into the right position. Being able to swing the screen out to the side and than adjust the angle greatly adds to the camera’s versatility; you can also turn the screen round so it can record you, which is obviously very handy for selfies and vlogging. Although the viewfinder remains the same as the one of the X-T3, it’s very much a case of it ain’t broke, don’t fix it: the 0.5 inch, 3.69-million-dot electronic viewfinder delivers plenty of detail, and with camera settings applied, you can easily check exposure and white balance, for instance, before taking the shot.

Add in superior video performance – the X-T4 can Full HD video at up to 240p (with continuous focusing) – weatherproofing and great design, and you have a very special APS-C mirrorless camera. It’s too early to say whether the X-T4 is the camera of 2020, but it’s certainly a strong contender. The Fujifilm X-T4 is available now and take the full range of X series lenses. You can expect to pay around £1600 body only.

Geoff Harris

I am a journalist and photographer and currently work as the Deputy Editor of Amateur Photographer (AP) the oldest weekly photographic magazine in the world. Before that I served as the editor of Digital Camera, Britain's best-selling photography magazine, for five years. During my time as editor it became the UK's top selling photo monthly and won Print Publication of the Year at the 2013 British Media Awards. As well as being lucky enough to get paid to write about photography, I've been fortunate to interview some of the greatest photographers in the world, including Elliott Erwitt, Don McCullin, Martin Parr, Terry O'Neill and Steve McCurry. This has been a wonderful learning experience and very influential on my photography. Beyond writing, I am a professional portrait, travel and documentary photographer, and reached the finals of the 2016 Pink Lady Food Photographer of the Year competition. I am a Licentiate of the Royal Photographic Society and hope to take my Associateship whenever I can find the time. In addition I write about well being/personal development and antiques collecting for a range of other titles, including BlueWings, the in-flight magazine of Finn Air.

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