Fujifilm X-E4 Review

Introduction

Released in spring 2021, Fujifilm’s X-E4 adopts many of the innovations ushered in by their higher-end cameras. And on paper, it appears to be an X100 series camera, of sorts, now with interchangeable lenses. It’s advertised boasting similar styling to the X100V, but it broadly follows the technologies debuted in the X-S10. But gone is its chunky DSLR-styled design. And instead, Fuji’s opted toward a minimalist direction with utmost pocketability.

At first glance, it’s pretty sleek and stylish indeed. And it follows the rangefinder-style design the X-E range is known for. Unlike its predecessor, released four years prior, it now offers a substantial update to the sensor, processor, AF system, and rear display. And it looks to be quite a well-rounded blend that’s well suited to both stills and videos. But one capable enough to replace a large and heavier camera. Yet, it does so in the smallest form they’ve made to date.

Its predecessor was beloved by street photographers, given its small discreet size, easy-to-use controls, and reliability. But, how does this fourth-generation model stack up? They’ve targeted this release to compete with Nikon’s Z50, Canon’s EOS M6 Mark II, and Sony’s A6100, tough competition. And it comes to market in quite a crowded space already. So how exactly does it match up to rivals? Let’s find out.

Fujifilm-X-E4-camera-specs

 

What are some of the goods, bads, and uglies of the Fujifilm X-E4? 

Pros:

Image Quality

It features the same 26.1MP X-Trans CMOS 4 sensor without an Optical Low Pass Filter (OLPF) and the X-Processor 4 from the X-T4, X-S10, and X-T30. Like these cameras, the sensor uses a backside-illuminated design and a randomized pixel array, improving the signal-to-noise ratio and the image quality by smoothing the tonal rendering. As such, it’s no surprise that this model’s 14-bit RAW (RAF) files offer rich colors, a wide dynamic range, and superb image quality across a range of shooting conditions. The X-Trans design also closely mimics film’s organic nature, and both the digital noise and defocusing are nuanced and pleasing. This design also simultaneously removes moiré and aliasing. So overall, the image quality is greatly improved here over its predecessor outgoing third-generation 24MP sensor. And the image quality also matches Fuji’s higher-end cameras.

It includes all 18 of Fuji’s popular Film Simulations, letting you recreate various classic film stocks. They’re the ideal way to capture classically styled images in-cameras, reducing much of the need for post-processing. Additionally, you can customize the simulation, like the X-S10. Here, you can modify the colors, textures or add the Grain Effect to replicate authentic film grain.

It obtains the movable White Balance target, letting you capture a custom white balance anywhere in the frame.

It obtains the Color Chrome Effect, letting you add depth, detail, and vividness to the color’s hues.

It obtains both Ambient and Ambient White AWB priority modes.

For continuous shooting abilities, this camera is largely identical to the X-S10. With that, it offers a high burst rate of 8 FPS using the mechanical shutter or 20 FPS with the electronic, both with AF. And it also obtains the 1.25x Crop Mode, jumping the burst to a whopping 30 FPS. The buffer depth is also quite similar at 105 JPEG or 18 uncompressed RAW images before slowing.

Video Quality

On the video front, this camera obtains much of the core functionality from the X-S10 and X-T30. With that, it shoots DCI 4K 30p and 1080p Full HD up to 240p. And it records either resolution to the MP4 or MOV formats with H.264 (Long-GOP) compression in 8-bit 4:2:0 and data rates of 200 Mb/s. The camera also oversamples from a pure 6K readout, creating genuine uncropped video. Overall, the video quality this camera delivers is excellent, which is surprising as it’s a photography-centric release. And they’re quite impressive to boot. Expect the videos to have a similar level of detail as the X-T4, and most users will find them identical. The main difference is the X-T4 offers better frame rates. Either way, you’ll get natural-looking footage with a unique flair and plenty of detail.

Note: Fuji limits video recordings to 29-minutes and 59 seconds. But, this is an improvement over its predecessor 10-minute maximum.

It obtains the Full HD High-Speed Rec Mode, which renders in-camera 1080p FHD videos up to 240p for 10x slow-motion. But, these videos don’t have any sound.

Note: 240p recordings are limited to 3 minutes at 200 Mb/s or 6 minutes at 100 Mb/s.

The updated processor has also greatly improved the camera’s rolling shutter performance when filming moving subjects. And the faster readout speeds make rolling shutter virtually non-existent in most circumstances.

It obtains the Fixed Movie Crop Magnification option from the X-S10. Here the camera applies a fixed 1.29x crop. And it makes it easier to maintain framing when recording in different formats.

It obtains Fuji’s F-Log profile, which records a flat and soft gamma curve and maximizes the camera’s dynamic range.

It has Time Code to sync multiple cameras.

It obtains zebras for highlight clipping and warning indication. And you can adjust the thresholds as needed.

Like the X-S10, the AF-Assist lamp doubles as a tally lamp for videos, and you can customize whether it blinks or stays steady.

Like the X-S10, it can output a clean 4K 10-bit 4:2:2 signal via the micro-HDMI port for use with external recorders or monitors.

fuji-xe4-black-camera

Low Light Performance

Low light performance is excellent. It features a native ISO range from ISO 160-12,800, further expandable to a low of ISO 80 and high of 51,200. And users can expect usable images up to ISO 6,400 or 12,800 with processing.

Focusing Performance

It obtains a similar high-end autofocusing system from the X-S10, and by virtue, the X-T4. In this case, it too features a 425-point Intelligent Hybrid AF system, mixing both phase and contrast-detection. And like the X-S10, it too can focus as fast as 0.02 seconds and down to -7 EV, with compatible lenses. This system also covers 100% of the frame, letting the camera focus anywhere on the screen. But Fuji’s updated the Tracking algorithm here, however. And the camera’s tracking is modestly improved over the X-S10. It’s now quite good at maintaining tenacious focusing as subjects move across the frame. So expect a high hit rate, even when tracking the subject at 8 FPS. Otherwise, the Face/Eye-detection AF remains great. And the camera confidently follows moving subjects and intelligently focuses on the eye. Overall, the autofocus system is excellent and matches the responsiveness and reliability of the X-T4 and X-Pro3.

It obtains the AF-C Custom Settings found on several Fuji cameras. This option lets you customize the focus tracking speed and sensitivity to tailor its performance to the subject at hand.

It obtains several manual focusing aids, including Digital Split Image, Digital Microprism, and Focus peaking.

Battery Performance

It uses the standard NP-W126S battery. But battery life is excellent for a compact mirrorless camera. Expect 460 shots per charge, 60 minutes of 4K video, and 75 minutes of 1080p.

Display & Viewfinder

It obtains the same OLED electronic viewfinder as its predecessor. In this case, it still has a resolution of 2.36M dots and a 0.62x magnification. It’s also offset to the left side of the camera, reinforcing its range-finder-styled design. This positioning lets you track moving subjects outside of the frame or interact with the subject. It’s a classic flair amongst documentary photographers and a popular feature. But, it’s quite a nice change compared to rivals. Overall, while unchanged here, the viewfinder is par for the course. But, it does have some notable cons. We’ll cover those later.

It features a 3.0-inch 180º tilting touchscreen LCD with a resolution of 1.62M dots. And this was among the most requested features to update, as its predecessor had a fixed 1M dot display. The screen now tilts nearly 90º downward for high-angle shots and 180º for front-facing selfies. Overall, this rear display is excellent and outpaces rivals in resolution. It’s also bright, sharp, and flush with the rear housing, making the design relatively seamless. Additionally, it’s lag-free and pulls out sufficiently for waist-level shots. Plus, it supports various touch functions, including touch AF, double-tap, swiping, pinch to zoom, drag, and full menu navigation.

Like the X-S10, X-T200, and X-T4, you can adjust the color (WB) of both the EVF and rear display.

User Interface

It obtains Fuji’s latest menu and interface, which are modern and up to date. Like the X-S10 and X-T200, they’re fully touch-enabled. And overall, existing users will find them immediately familiar, and new users will quickly master them.

It offers seven Custom Settings, C1-C7. These let you store and recall your favorite shooting setups.

It obtains the Quick Menu so that you can customize a list of 16 of your most-used settings.

It obtains the My Menu, letting you create a preset menu of your favorite options.

The camera offers a customizable function button and four additional touch buttons, T-Fn1-4.

Like the X-S10, both the still and video modes have separate menus, making it easier to find mode-specific functions. The same applies to the Q Menu.

Physical Layout & Ergonomics

Physically, it uses a sleek yet minimalistic design reminiscent of classic rangefinders. But one that also follows the traditions of their X100 series. It’s handsome, with clean, bold lines that immediately brings a sense of traditions and some nostalgia. And the design here indeed becomes a key selling feature over rivals, which are rather bland by comparison.

The camera uses a silver-toned magnesium top plate, adding durability, while the remaining sections use polycarbonate. But, it is roughly 10% heavier than its predecessor, now at 364g, including battery and SD card. Even so, it’s about the same dimension and equally as pocketable. So you shouldn’t find it particularly difficult to store it in a small bag, jacket, or pants pocket. Overall, the design is excellent and matches the X100F in many respects.

It features a front command dial with a push-in function, making it dual purpose.

It features a rear AF joystick for menu navigation or quick AF point selection.

The top plate includes a dedicated shutter speed and exposure compensation dial. And the shutter speed dial now has a Program (P) position for automatic control. Otherwise, both of the dials are well dampened, solid, and provide robust clicky feedback.

Niche Features/Extras

It features built-in Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connectivity to transfer images, update the firmware, and remotely control the camera. And like the X-S10, you can also use it as a high-quality webcam by using Fuji’s X Webcam software.

It has a 3.5mm microphone input, a nice change over its predecessor 2.5mm connector. And you can adjust the levels, add a wind cut, low cut, or limiter via the menus.

It has a USB-C port (USB 3.2 Gen1), which is a nice change over its predecessor Micro-USB. This port also now supports continuous charging via a PD-rated source. And Fuji even supplies a headphone output adapter with purchase, converting it into a headphone output for monitoring.

It offers extensive in-camera editing functionality, including RAW conversation, red-eye removal, crop, rotate, and more.

It has built-in panorama.

It has several bracketing options, including AE, film simulation, dynamic range, ISO, white balance, and focus bracketing. And focus bracketing is the newest addition to the line.

It has Flicker Reduction, which reduces the flicker caused by shooting under fluorescent light sources.

It obtains the Pre-Shot Mode. And like the X-S10, it captures a series of images with the electronic shutter before depressing the physical shutter button. This helps ensure you never miss a decisive moment during sports, action, or wildlife.

It has HDR.

It has in-camera image rating.

It has Multiple Exposures with a maximum of 9 frames.

It has the Interval Timer Shooting function to capture time-lapses, and it now also offers exposure smoothing.

It has a fully silent electronic shutter.

It obtains the Voice Memo setting so that you can add a voice recording to the current photograph.

Cons:

Video Capabilities

The camera will overheat during prolonged clips above 20 minutes in length. As such, it’s not the most reliable option for long-form content or use as a dedicated video camera.

Autofocus Performance

It lacks eye-detect AF for animals.

Display

The display lacks eye relief, and it’s also incredibly flush to the rear housing. Combined, this means you have to put your eye right up to the screen to get a full view. Otherwise, you’ll miss some information. This is particularly problematic if you wear glasses since you won’t ever see the entire display. Additionally, you can also experience light leaking if it’s not close enough to your eye. And to make matters worse, your cheek will likely touch the display, engaging touch functionality and changing, say, the AF point. Overall, the EVF on this camera feels slightly cramped and somewhat underwhelming.

The rear EVF eye sensor is also rather sensitive. And you can trigger it by merely holding the camera handheld close to your body for stabilization for low-angle shots. When this happens, it inverts the display or turns it off. This isn’t ideal if you want to shoot from the hip and be discrete. This should be an easy firmware fix, but it needs addressing.

It lacks a fully articulating side-hinged screen. But like all cameras with this flip-up articulating, adding a microphone to the hot-shoe blocks the screen. Using a wireless lavalier with a low-profile receiver is the better option here than a shotgun mic. Otherwise, you won’t be able to check your framing.

Menus

Many main menu settings are strangely unavailable for use in the My Menu setting.

While the main menus are well-organized, new users will find them complicated. It’s a reasonably advanced camera for the price, so there’s quite a learning curve. Be prepared.

Ergonomics

The camera doesn’t provide many customizable controls. In total, you have the Q button, Fn button, and the AEL/AFL buttons, then four touch gestures. But that’s not enough to fully configure the camera, given the missing rear command dial and two missing buttons from its predecessor. This single adjustment dial, in particular, becomes problematic as not all X series lenses come with dedicated aperture dials, namely their XC range. Without one, you have to take trips to the quick menu to change both aperture and ISO (unless you program it to the Fn button), slowing the workflow. Overall, there’s very little to control here, which is a shame considering how much real estate is available on the camera.

Fuji strangely removed the AF/MF selector switch from the front of the X-E3, which provided quick access to changing the autofocus mode. This selector is usually a hallmark in their design. Without it, you’ll have to dive into the quick menu to change this particular setting, again slowing workflow.

The camera does have a light and plasticky feel in hand. There’s also no rear thumb rest or front accents to help improve the camera’s handling and grip. Instead, you’re left with a completely slick design, which is difficult to hold. You’ll undoubtedly have to purchase an accessory thumb grip to improve the handling here. But doing so builds the camera up both in bulk and cost. Not ideal, as you’ll quickly start approaching the X-S10’s body alone price. But, it’s a must though. Without it, the camera just doesn’t feel secure, comfortable, and confident. Overall, the ergonomics here are an overlook on Fuji’s part. The base model of this camera should have at least included these accessories. Otherwise, they should have improved on the X-E3’s existing grip without resorting to add-on purchases. Strange decisions here.

Another thing of note: the optional grip accessories improve the handling but make it hard to access both the Exposure Compensation and Q-buttons. So there’s a slight trade-off here.

The camera also has an off-center ¼-20-inch tripod thread. And many larger XF lenses descend below its body. Combined, these make it slightly awkward to balance, particularly with quick-release plates.

The top panel keys (Drive, Playback, and AEL) all lack tactile separation. Without any, you’re forced to remove your eye from the EVF to check the keys, slowing workflow. At least the middle key should have a small bump. Additionally, both the Menu and DISP buttons are touch-sensitive and not physical buttons. As such, they also lack tactile engagement.

The battery door is too close to the tripod socket. A complaint we make every time, as it makes quickly removing the battery tedious when using a tripod. And both the battery and SD card live in the same compartment, making it a chore to remove either when using accessories.

This is more of a note, but it lacks a dedicated video start/stop button. Instead, you’ll change to the video mode using the drive menu, then start/stop a video by pressing the shutter release.

Lacking Features

It lacks weather sealing.

It lacks tethering support.

It lacks a built-in flash.

The camera only offers a single SD card slot. But frustratingly, the SD slot only supports the older and slower UHS-I standard, not the faster UHS-II. As such, the buffer clearing speeds are relatively slow. But, this is par for the course in the class.

It lacks in-body image stabilization.

It lacks the Nostalgic Neg film simulation, mimicking the classic American film stock from the GFX100S. Hopefully, this is added later as a firmware update.

Is this a good beginner camera?

Yes.

It’s an excellent option for beginners or new Fujifilm users. And it provides a substantial step-up in image quality over their other entry-level models like the X-A7 and X-T200. Fuji’s made some notable updates to the sensor and processor here. So you get their best image quality at a price point of their other entry-level cameras. And the excellent touch interface and simple layout will make it easy to configure and use. So it’s quite a steal. And it also provides plenty of advanced features that are well suited for long-term growth.

What are the best lenses & bundles for the Fujifilm X-E4?

General Photography: 

Fujinon XF18-135mmF3.5-5.6 R LM OIS WR

Macro Photography:

XF60mmF2.4 R Macro

Landscape & Astrophotography Photography:

Fujinon XF16mmF2.8 R WR

Portrait Photography:

Fujinon XF50mmF2 R WR
XF90mmF2 R LM WR

Sports & Wildlife Photography:

Fujinon XF200mmF2 R LM OIS WR

Product & Still Life Photography:

XF60mmF2.4 R Macro

Extra Batteries:

Fujifilm Battery NP-W126S

SD Cards:

SanDisk Extreme PRO 32GB
SanDisk Extreme PRO 64GB 
SanDisk Extreme PRO 128GB

Tripods & Gimbals:

Manfrotto Befree Advanced Travel Tripod
E-Image 2 Stage Aluminum Video Tripod
Zhiyun Weebill S Compact Gimbal Stabilizer

Microphones & External Recorders:

Rode Wireless Go
Rode VideoMicPro

Battery Grip:

FUJIFILM Thumb Rest

Is this a good camera for you?

Yes.

This is a solid option for vloggers if you want something portable, easy to use, and capable. Pair this camera with an optically stabilized lens, and you can get some high-quality content.

Serious videographers should consider the X-S10 instead though. It’s a better camera given its in-body stabilization, lack of overheating, and fully articulating screen. Otherwise, if you’re looking for a compact stills camera that happens to shoot excellent videos, this is surely one to consider.

Current Fujifilm owners should consider upgrading, particularly if you have the X-E3, X-A7, or X-T200. This camera obtains Fuji’s best sensor and AF performance. It also gets all of their film simulations. So if you’re willing to overlook the ergonomics, it’s quite a solid option.

This camera is reasonably capable of shooting sports, action, and journalism. It offers fast shooting speeds of 8 FPS or 30 with the 1.25x Mode. And it’s a solid contender here for the price.

In the end, Fujifilm’s X-E4 is extraordinarily compact and lightweight. And it matches the X100 series cameras in weight. However, it gives you the flexibility to tailor its image quality later using interchangeable lenses. As such, if you’re looking for a compact camera with interchangeable lenses, solid autofocus, and Fuji’s best image quality, this is it. It obtains all of their latest advancements, now in an ultra-compact and stylish body. As such, it’s arguably their best everyday camera and consideration if you want something small, simple, but capable.

Overview
  • Image Quality
  • Video Quality
  • Focusing Performance
  • Low Light Performance
  • Dynamic Range
  • Battery Performance
  • Display & Viewfinder
  • User Interface
  • Physical Layout & Ergonomics
3.7

Summary

Fujifilm’s X-E4 is very much an X100V with a slightly smaller form and interchangeable lenses. And it’s a solid option for beginners and enthusiasts looking for a stylish everyday companion, indeed.