Reviews |Fujifilm X-E4

Fujifilm X-E4 Review

Fujifilm X-E4
Review

Price when reviewed

£799

$849
Check current price

Our Verdict

Fujifilm is clearly a company that cares about the build and feel of the cameras it produces as well as the quality of images that they output. The Fujifilm X-E4 slots in nicely to the X-series, becoming the smallest, lightest model to date with the 4th generation X-Trans sensor.

It’s great to see that despite the X-E4’s small size, Fujifilm has still given it a tilting screen, even enabling the screen to flip up through 180° so it’s visible from in front of the camera.

It’s not without its issues, but there are no major problems (although the screen’s image-flipping issue needs a firmware fix) and provided you plan to use it for shooting stills with small prime lenses, you’re likely to be very happy.

Think of the Fujifilm X-E4 as a compact camera with the bonus of interchangeable lenses, and you’re likely to be very happy.

For

  • Traditional exposure controls
  • 180° tilting screen
  • High-quality sensor

Against

  • The Menu and Display buttons are too flush to the back of the camera and feel spongy
  • Issues with eye sensor when composing images on the screen when it's tilted
  • No grips on the front or rear

What is the Fujifilm X-E4?

Fujifilm’s X-T series of interchangeable lens mirrorless cameras tend to attract the most attention, especially the top-end Fuji X-T4 and X-T3, but the X-E series of rangefinder-like cameras are also interesting.

Although they have a different naming convention, the X-Pro cameras are often seen as the headliner of the X-E series, because they have a similar design. However, like previous cameras in the line-up, the Fuji X-Pro3 has a hybrid viewfinder arrangement that combines an optical viewfinder with an electronic one. The Fuji X-E4 is a bit more conventional as it only has an electronic viewfinder.

The Fujifilm X-E4 is the replacement for the Fuji X-E3, and it features the latest 26.1MP X-Trans CMOS 4 APS-C format sensor and X-Processor 4 processing engine. Fujifilm has given it a similar design to its predecessor and the Fuji X100V (but with a removable lens).

Fujifilm X-E4 price and release date

The Fujifilm X-E4 price tag for the black or silver body only is £799/$849. The X-E4 price rises to £949/$1,049 for the camera body plus the XF 27mm lens or £899 for the X-E4 body with an Accessory Kit that includes a new BLC-XE4 leather case, MHG-XE4 hand grip and a TR-XE4 thumb rest.

The Fujifilm X-E4 release date was 4th March 2021.

The Fujifilm X-E4 is a bit like a Fujifilm X100V with a removable lens, compact, well made and with a great sensor.

The Fujifilm X-E4 is available to pre-order from Adorama in the USA

Specification

  • Camera type: Mirrorless
  • Announced: 27th January 2021
  • Sensor: 26.1Mp X-Trans CMOS 4 APS-C sensor
  • Processing engine: X-Processor 4
  • Lens mount: X
  • Sensitivity range: ISO 160-12,800 expandable to ISO 80-51,200
  • Viewfinder: 0.39-inch 2.36million-dot OLED with 100% coverage, 0.62x magnification 100fps
  • Screen: 180° Tilting 3.0-inch 1,620,000-dot touchscreen LCD
  • Autofocus system: Intelligent hybrid with up to 425 selectable AF points with Face & Eye AF
  • Continuous shooting: Mechanical shutter: 8fps, Electronic shutter: 10fps or 30fps with 1.25x crop blackout-free
  • Max video resolution: DCI 4K (4096 x 2160) at 29.97/25/24/23.98fps, 4K/30p 4:2:0 8-bit, 4K/30p 4:2:2 10-bit video via the HDMI, Full-HD at up to 240p
  • Mic and headphone port: 3.5mm and USB-C
  • Film Simulation modes: 18 modes: Provia/Standard, Velvia/Vivid, Astia/Soft, Classic Chrome, Pro Neg.Hi, Pro Neg.Std, Black & White, Black & White+Ye Filter, Black & White+R Filter, Black & White+G Filter, Sepia, Acros, AcrosS+Ye Filter, Acros+R Filter, Acros+G Filter, Eterna/Cinema, Classic Neg, Eterna Bleach Bypass
  • Battery: NP-W126S – 380 shots per charge in normal mode
  • Storage: SD/SDHC/SDXC UHS-I
  • Dimensions (WxHxD): 121.3 x 72.9 x 32.7mm / 4.77 x 2.87 x 1.28inches
  • Weight: 364g including battery and memory card
Fujifilm X-E4

Features

As the X-E3 has a 24.3Mp X-Trans CMOS III APS-C sensor and an X-Processor Pro processing engined, the upgrade to Fujifilm’s 26.1MP X-Trans CMOS 4 sensor and X-Processor 4 processing engine is predictable for the X-E4. And while that 1.8Mp jump in resolution doesn’t sound much, it’s worth remembering that the X-Trans CMOS 4 sensor is backside-illuminated. That means that the light receptors are closer to the surface of the sensor so they receive more light, which is good news for image quality and noise control.

This combination enables a sensitivity range of ISO 160-12,800, which can be expanded to ISO 80-51,200. The X-E4 can also shoot at up to 8fps (frames per second) when the mechanical shutter is in use and 30fps with the electronic shutter with a 1.25x crop. If you want to avoid the crop, the electronic shutter can be used to shoot at up to 10fps.

Fuji’s X-Processor 4 also enables DCI 4K (4096 x 2160) video to be recorded at 29.97/25/24/23.98fps. When 4K/30p is recorded internally, it has 4:2:0 8-bit colour, but it can also be connected to an external device via HDMI to record 4K/30p 4:2:2 10-bit.

This video capability is supported by a 3.5mm microphone port and a USB-C port that can be used to connect headphones either directly or via the adapter included in the box.

Fujifilm X-E4

As the X-Trans CMOS 4 sensor has pixels for phase-detection focusing, the X-E4 has Fujifilm’s Intelligent hybrid with up to 425 selectable AF points. These points cover the full sensor and Face & Eye AF is available.

Further good news is that when the Fujinon XF50mm f1.0 R WR is mounted, the X-E4’s AF system is sensitive down to -7EV. That’s good news for anyone shooting in gloomy conditions.

Thanks to Fujifilm’s understanding of colour science gleaned from its history of film production, its digital cameras’ Film Simulation modes have proved a popular way of giving Jpegs a particular style in-camera. The Fujifilm X-E4 has 18 Film Simulation modes including the new Eterna Bleached Bypass.

Fujifilm sells the X-E4 body only or with the new XF 27mm f/2.8 R WR pancake lens.

Fujifilm X-E4

Build and Handling

Like previous X-E series cameras, the Fujifilm X-E4 has a rectangular rangefinder-like design that resembles the APS-C format compact camera, the Fuji X100V. It’s made from magnesium alloy to give it a robust, high-quality feel.

Interestingly, Fujifilm is introducing an optional Thumb Rest for the X-E4. This metal accessory, which is available for £59/$69.99 slips into the camera’s hotshoe and runs along the back of the camera to create a pronounced resting place for your thumb. There’s also an optional Metal Hand Grip for £79/$89.99 that attaches to the base of the camera and adds a grip to the front.

Fujifilm X-E4 thumbrest

I haven’t used either of these accessories but I’d certainly consider purchasing them with the X-E4 as its front and back are completely flat. This isn’t a major issue with the XF 27mm f/2.8 R WR mounted as it’s a very small, light lens. But some extra grip would be helpful with larger optics.

Fujifilm’s decision to go for optional grips for the X-E4 is quite interesting. Omitting any form of grip-like protrusion from the front and back of the camera means that it has a very sleek appearance and it’s as small and light as it can possibly be. And with the XF 27mm f/2.8 R WR kit lens mounted, the textured covering on the X-E4 probably gives sufficient purchase for most people. However, those that find that they need a bit more grip have the option to get one or both of the accessory grips.

It would’ve been nice to get at least one grip, perhaps the thumb grip in the box with X-E4, but in such a competitive market, I suspect that Fujifilm was keen to keep the price down.

In the absence of these optional grips, I carried the Fuji X-E4 on a strap throughout my testing – specifically, the Wandrd Sling Strap if you’re interested. The camera didn’t actually slip from my grasp at any point during my testing but I wanted the reassurance of a strap just in case.

Viewfinder

Unlike the X-T series, the Fujifilm X-E4’s 0.39-inch 2.36million-dot OLED viewfinder is in the top left corner of the camera body. The viewfinder doesn’t protrude above the body, giving the X-E4 a cleaner, more streamlined look.

While its location differs, it’s the same viewfinder as in the Fuji X-S10 and although it gives good service, showing a natural level of detail and an accurate preview of the captured image, there’s no eye-cup which means you are likely to see some of the surroundings, especially if you’re a spectacles wearer.

Fujifilm X-E4

Control Layout

Like the X-E3, the X-E4 has a shutter speed dial on its top-plate above the thumb rest. This has whole-stop markings running from 1 sec to 1/4000sec plus T and B to set the camera to Time or Bulb mode. You can adjust the shutter speed in 1/3EV steps using the command dial on the front of the camera – this is the only command dial.

Fujifilm X-E4

As usual, there’s also an ‘A’ for automatic setting on the shutter speed dial that tells the camera to set the shutter speed itself. However, there’s also a new ‘P’ setting that can be used to set the camera to program mode. On the X-E3 and other Fuji X-series cameras, Program mode is set by turning the shutter speed dial and the aperture ring to their ‘A’s settings. This is still possible with the X-E4, but the ‘P’ setting overrides the aperture ring and gives a faster means of setting Program mode.

Exposure compensation is set using the dedicated dial with markings running from -3EV to +3EV in 1/3EV steps. Setting this dial to the ‘C’ position enables exposure compensation to be adjusted from -5EV to +5EV in 1/3EV steps using the command dial.

There’s a button to access the Quick menu on the camera’s top plate, between the shutter speed and exposure compensation dials. While this conveniently placed in the camera’s default set-up, I’m concerned that the optional thumb rest will make it awkward to reach.

Fuji X-E4 review

Like the X-E3, the X-E4 doesn’t have a navigation pad but there’s a mini joystick that Fuji likes to call an ‘AF Lever’ which gives a quicker way of moving the AF point around the screen or making menu selections. It’s also possible to set the AF point with a tap on the screen and there’s an option in the menu to enable it to be used when the viewfinder is active, but I find it easier to use the joystick.

This joystick sits just above the Display and Menu buttons on the back of the camera, keeping plenty of room free for your thumb.

Above the X-E4’s screen, there’s a row of three buttons to access the Drive/Delete, Playback and AELAFL options, putting everything you need in easy reach. These three buttons stand proud from the back of the camera by just the right amount, which means they’re easy to locate when you’re looking in the viewfinder. You can also feel a slight click when they’re pressed. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said of the Display and Menu buttons, which are quite flat to the back of the camera and don’t give much in the way of feedback. Indoors or in warm conditions it’s just about possible to distinguish their smooth surface from the stippled texture of the coating on the back of the camera, but it’s hard when your thumb is cold.

Fujifilm X-E4

Fujifilm X-E4 Screen

The Fuji X-E4 has a 3-inch 1,620,000-dot touchscreen mounted on a bracket that enables it to be tilted upwards through 180° so that it can be viewed from in front of the camera. There are three hinges in this bracket and the screen has to be pulled out from the back of the camera and then tilted up.

That’s a nice addition for anyone shooting selfies or vlogging, and as the screen tips up above the camera, it can be seen when the camera is mounted on a tripod.

A tilting screen is also better than the fixed screen of the X-E3, plus with 1.62million dots, its resolution makes a significant step up from the 1.04million dots of its predecessor and the X-S10. There’s plenty of detail visible.

Also, when the option is activated via the Button/Dial setting section of the menu, the screen responds quickly to taps or swipes.

I have one infuriating issue with the screen, or rather the eye sensor that detects when the viewfinder is being used. If your hand or finger passes near the sensor when the screen is tilted out to compose an image from a low angle, the preview suddenly flips upside down because the camera thinks it’s in selfie mode. I’ve tried switching to use the LCD only and deactivating the Autorotate Displays feature (which is really for portrait/landscape orientation), but it doesn’t resolve the problem. The only answer, for now, is to keep your fingers well away from the eye sensor and use the joystick to set the AF point. Fujifilm is aware of the issue and I’m hoping that there will be a firmware update to resolve the problem as the company has a good track record for listening.

Fujifilm X-E4

Performance

My previous experience of the 26.1MP X-Trans CMOS 4 sensor and X-Processor 4 processing engine prepared me to expect the X-E4 to produce high-quality images and it doesn’t disappoint. Fujifilm’s understanding of colour and contrast enables the camera to produce attractive images in a wide range of situations. Even in dull overcast conditions that often results in uninviting images, the X-E4 is capable of delivering something worthwhile.

The Film Simulation modes are great. Everyone has their favourites and there’s one to suit most occasions.

I used the X-E4 exclusively in the default exposure metering setting, Multi, as the viewfinder and screen give a good preview of the captured image. In bright sunshine, I often reduced the exposure by 1/3EV to deepen the blue of the sky and make it looks a little less cyan.

Fujifilm X-E4 Image Quality

I would use the Fuji X-E4 at any of its native sensitivity (ISO) settings. It keeps noise under good control and the noise reduction system isn’t too aggressive. However, I’d still aim to use ISO 6,400 or lower whenever possible as ISO 12,800 Jpegs lack a little fine detail while the raw files have daily visible luminance noise. The amount of noise in ISO 12,800 raw files isn’t bad but it’s worth stepping down to ISO 6,400 if you can. If the conditions really demanded it, I’d use ISO 12,800 and process the raw file carefully.

Fujifilm X-E4 Autofocus Performance

Fujifilm’s hybrid focusing system is pretty snappy these days and it’s able to keep fast-moving subjects sharp. That said, the XF 27mm F2.8 R WR which is available in a kit with the X-E4 isn’t the fastest or slickest performer for focusing.

However, pop a lens like the Fujifilm XF 50-140mm f2.8 WR OIS or the XF 16-80mm f4 R OIS WR on and you’ll notice a difference, it’s quieter and smoother. They’re not really natural partners for the X-E4, but if you have one for a larger Fuji camera, you may want to use it.

With the Tracking AF activated, the X-E4 does a good job of keeping up with a fast-moving subject like my dog. It doesn’t nail it in every shot, but I got a reasonable hit rate. I had great fun panning with it to get shots of him running with his legs and the background blurred.

Fujifilm X-E4 Dynamic Range

The 26.1MP X-Trans CMOS 4 sensor in the X-E4 captures a wide tonal range and this high dynamic range translates into images with wide latitude. That means they are pretty elastic in post-capture processing. If you need to underexpose an image to protect very bright highlights, you should be able to brighten the shadows by around 4EV. You may even be able to push them further, but look out for a gritty texture developing.

Video Performance

The Fujifilm X-E4 isn’t the camera that you’d automatically pick for shooting video, but if you’ve bought it for its small size, you’re likely to want to take it everywhere and you’d naturally expect to be able to use its 4K-recording capability. The good news is that it’s capable of capturing high-quality results. However, as our sample video shows, if you’re using the unstabilised kit lens, you need to be very careful how you hold the camera and ideally use some form of stabilisation.

Fujifilm X-E4 Sample Images

Follow the link to browse and download full-resolution images from the Fuji X-E4.

Fujifilm X-E4 Image Gallery

Fujifilm X-E4 Sample Video

This video was shot handheld on the Fujifilm X-E4 set to DCI 17:9 (4096×2160) 25p 200Mbps with the film Filmulation set to Provia/Standard and the white balance to Auto on an overcast day. The lens was the new Fujifilm Fujinon XF 27mm F2.8 R WR, which is unstabilised and there’s no in-body stabilisation in the camera – the footage shows the limitations for handholding the camera when shooting video with the unstabilised kit lens.

Fujifilm X-E4

The Fujifilm X-E4 is available to pre-order from Adorama in the USA

Verdict

Fujifilm is pitching the X-E4 as a small, light and affordable interchangeable lens mirrorless camera, and although some may argue about the definition of affordable, I think it ticks all those boxes.
Crucially, it has Fujifilm’s widely respected 26.1MP X-Trans CMOS 4 APS-C format sensor and X-Processor 4 processing engine that combine to produce stunning images in many of Fuji’s other cameras, including the superb X-T4.

There’s also a decent viewfinder and screen, with the latter being tiltable through 180°.

However, there are a few issues. Something needs to be done about the image flipping upside down when the screen is tilted slightly up and the eye sensor detects something as it drives you crazy. Thankfully, that can be fixed with a firmware upgrade.

The Menu and Display buttons could also do with being more like the Drive/Delete, Play and AEL/AFL buttons, it’s not a deal-breaker as you get used to them, but it would be good to see this corrected for the X-E5.

Other issues to be aware of are that the X-E is a camera that needs some form of a strap or the optional grips and it’s designed for use with small prime lenses. Zoom lenses like the XF 16-80mm f4 R OIS WR or XF 10-24mm F4 R OIS WR make it feel unbalanced.

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Edgars
1 year ago

Nice review. X-E4 will replace my old X-Pro2.