The Fujifilm X-E4 ($849.95, body only) is the latest edition of the beloved rangefinder-style mirrorless camera. It puts the viewfinder in the corner and sports a slim body without a prominent handgrip, a good match for prime lenses. Tactile dial-based controls and in-camera film simulations give it a more analog feel than most digital cameras, and you'll still enjoy excellent autofocus and 4K video. The X-E4 isn't as much of a crowd-pleaser as some others, like the Editors' Choice award-winning Fujifilm X-T30, but if you live life off the beaten path, it might be the camera for you.
Rangefinder Style With EVF
We call the X-E4 a rangefinder-style camera because of its viewfinder position. It's at the top left corner, where you'll find the optical viewfinder in a Leica M rangefinder. It's in contrast to the more typical SLR style, one that centers the viewfinder behind the lens.
It's a style Fujifilm owners are used to seeing. The fixed-lens X100V, the latest in a long-running series of compacts, and the high-end swappable-lens X-Pro3, put the viewfinder in the same place. Those models offer (basically) the same image quality, but cost more due to weather protection and hybrid viewfinders that swap between optical and electronic views.
The X-E4 uses a full-time electronic viewfinder and doesn't offer any dust or splash protection to meet its more down-to-earth starting price. It's also quite compact, coming in at 2.9 by 4.8 by 1.3 inches (HWD) and just 12.8 ounces without a lens attached. It's available in silver, which we received for review, or black.
You can buy the camera as a body only and pick your own lens, or get it in a kit with the freshly updated XF 27mm F2.8 R WR for $1,049.95—a $200 discount compared with buying them separately. The 27mm is Fujifilm's smallest prime lens—the kit slips easily into a jacket pocket.
Handling and Controls
The flat-front body pairs well with the 27mm. If you prefer a different angle, Fujifilm also has small quality lenses in 16mm, 18mm, 23mm, 35mm, and 50mm focal lengths. If you prefer a little more handle on your camera, an add-on grip is available for $90. I didn't get a chance to try it, but it has some thoughtful touches, including access to the battery compartment and a dovetail cut for use with Arca quick-release tripod heads.
Most XF lenses include an aperture ring, so you can set the f-stop via the lens itself. The X-E4 includes a front command dial, useful for XC series lenses that omit on-barrel control. Shutter speed is handled by a dedicated dial on the top and a second dial sets EV compensation. If you prefer to take less control over settings, the shutter dial has a P setting to put the camera into Program mode, one where you don't have to worry about setting the f-stop or shutter speed.
It's not just the dials that take the camera back in time. The aluminum top plate and textured leatherette come into play, and the threaded shutter release really hammers it home. You can connect a threaded release cable or a soft release button if you'd like.
Other controls are more digital. The top includes two function buttons, one of which is mapped to the on-screen Q menu interface by default. The rear is minimal—Drive/Delete, Play, and AEL/AFL buttons are in a row at the top, next to the viewfinder. Menu/OK and Display/Back buttons are on the rear, to the right of the tilting LCD, and an eight-way joystick rounds things out.
The physical controls aren't the only way to interface with the camera. The on-screen Q menu comes in handy to set other features. It's navigable via touch, but you can also use the rear joystick and front wheel to change settings. The Q menu is very useful, and fully customizable. Its default function set includes focus modes, ISO, the self-timer, screen brightness, and image processing options.
The display also supports swipe gesture control. It's not a feature I reach to, but you may appreciate it. You can map up, down, left, or right swipes to set different functions. LCD quality is excellent too. The 3-inch screen is sharp and shows accurate colors, is very responsive to touch, and is mounted on a hinge. It tilts up or down to more easily hold the camera at high or low angles, and flips up above the camera to face forward for selfies.
The eye-level electronic viewfinder OLED EVF is crisp, at 2.4 million dots, with a decent 0.62x magnfiication. It's larger to the eye than the optical viewfinder in entry-level SLRs like the Canon Rebel T8i, and in line with other mirrorless cameras in this price range, including the Canon EOS M50 Mark II and Fujifilm X-T30.
Power and Connectivity
The X-E4 doesn't include an onboard flash, but there is a hot shoe if you want to use an external one. It's also got a 3.5mm jack to connect an external mic, and a micro HDMI output for use with an external recorder. The USB-C port does double duty—you can connect a set of headphones to monitor audio with the included 3.5mm dongle, and it's a charging port, so you can top off the battery without having to carry an external charger (not included).
The NP-W126S battery and UHS-I SDXC card load in the bottom. The battery is rated for 460 photos per charge or about 45 minutes of 4K recording time. It's a bit better than what you get from competitors like the Sony a6400 (410 photos), but lags behind the 600-shot battery that powers the larger Fujifilm X-T4.
Wireless connectivity is available. The X-E4 uses Bluetooth and Wi-Fi to connect to Android and iOS phones and tablets. The Fujifilm Cam Remote app, a free download, is required to set things up. Once you've got it going, you can transfer photos to your phone's camera roll, or use your phone as a wireless remote control.
Fast, Reliable Autofocus
Fujifilm uses the same hybrid phase-contrast focus system in most of its current-generation cameras, so you get the same level of acumen with the X-E4 as with the high-end X-T4. Focus is performed on-sensor and is smart enough to detect faces and eyes and track moving subjects.
You can let the X-E4 take the reins and set a focus point on its own—face and eye detection work well for photos of people. You can also set a focus point manually—there are numerous areas of interest available, from a small pinpoint to a wide zone. It's quick to change, too—just nudge the rear joystick and turn the front dial to cycle through the options.
Lens choice also affects autofocus response, and it's worth noting given that the XF 27mm F2.8 is one of Fujifilm's slower-focusing lenses. Its optics move back and forth visibly (and audibly) to set focus, as opposed to lenses like the XF 23mm F2 with smaller, quieter focus elements. It's not a dramatic difference, but you'll note a little stuttering and some noise when using the XF 27mm.
The camera supports 8fps with its mechanical shutter. Its buffer is good enough to hold about 15 Raw or 100 JPG shots, with about 15 seconds required to clear a full burst to memory. The burst rate goes higher with the electronic shutter—20fps at full resolution or 30fps at 16MP.
Fujifilm has settled on a 26MP sensor for the X-E4, the same used across most of its line. (A couple of entry-level models still use an older 24MP imager.) Its BSI CMOS design and Fujifilm's X-Trans color filter array cover a wide ISO range, offer a wealth of color and grain options, and read out quick enough for silent electronic shutter photography.
Photographers working in the JPG format can choose from several color profiles, many named after analog film emulsions. The standard look is Provia, and you also get vivid (Velvia), soft (Astia), muted (Classic Chrome), black-and-white (Acros), and some others. Fujifilm bills its Eterna and Eterna Bleach Bypass simulations as good fits for video, and I leaned heavily on the 1980s throwback Classic Negative during my time with the camera.
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Enthusiasts and pros picking up an X-E4 may want to take advantage of Raw capture. You'll need to process images to finish them—either using desktop software like Adobe Lightroom or Phase One Capture One, or in-camera. If you work with Lightroom, you'll have access to many of the same film simulations you can use in-camera, along with the flexibility to adjust white balance, open shadows, and curb highlights afforded by Raw capture.
Image quality is as good as you'll get from an APS-C camera. There's plenty of resolution—the only similar model with more pixels is the 32.5MP Canon M6 Mark II—and you'll enjoy photos with sharp, clear lines from the low extended ISO 80 setting up through 3200. Photos are a little softer at ISO 6400 and 12800, but it's not until you push to the extended range, up to ISO 51200, where results are really blurry. Automatic ISO control doesn't range higher than 12800.
There's some room to fine-tune things—if you're working with JPGs, you can increase or reduce noise reduction, open up dynamic range for a modest HDR effect, and adjust sharpening, among other settings.
The X-E4 is a capable video camera, even if its video features are slightly hidden. There's no Record button or movie mode dial setting; instead you need to dive into the Drive selection menu to find the movie mode, way down at the bottom. Flexible controls come in handy if you're a frequent video user—you can map the unmarked top function button to Record if you'd like.
4K is available at the cinematic 24fps and standard 30fps video frame rates in either UHD (16:9) or DCI (17:9) aspect ratios. You can also set the resolution to 1080p and push frames to 60fps with sound. In-camera slow-motion is available at 120 or 240fps. Autofocus works during all video modes, including slow motion.
You can use any of the film simulation modes for video, and there's a flat F-Log profile available for video pros who want to apply a color grade using pro editing software. You're limited to 4:2:0 8-bit footage when recording internally to a card, but the camera outputs better-for-grading 10-bit 4:2:2 footage over HDMI.
Video is clear, but the X-E4 doesn't include a stabilized sensor, so you'll see some shakiness when working handheld, especially with an unstabilized lens like the XF 27mm. If video is your thing, the X-S10 has the exact same toolkit, but with a 5-axis IBIS system for smoother handheld shots. The X-T4 goes even further—it records 4K60 at 10-bit quality internally.
An Affordable X Mirrorless for Rangefinder Fans
The Fujifilm X system has served rangefinder camera devotees from the jump. The compact X100 ushered in the retro craze, and the X-Pro1 followed shortly after with swappable lenses. Those models live on today, and continue to use Fujifilm's unique optical-electronic hybrid viewfinder. They're the closest digitals to getting you the optical viewfinder rangefinder experience, without spending thousands on a digital Leica.
The X-E4 drops the optical portion of the viewfinder, cutting down the cost of entry to $1,050 with the XF 27mm lens, but it doesn't detract too much from the experience. Everything else about the camera feels like a vintage rangefinder, including the corner EVF, shutter speed dial, and flat front grip.
Customers with older X-E models have some reasons to upgrade, too. The tilting display is a first for the series, and the 26MP image sensor and in-camera charging support are notable updates versus the 16MP X-E1 and X-E2.
If you're a fan of the style, the X-E4 will serve you well. It's not the best all-arounder, though. Our Editors' Choice-winning Fujifilm X-T30 has a centered viewfinder and a molded handgrip, so it's a better fit for zoom lenses. If you're not in the Fujifilm system, the Sony a6400 is another one to consider—it puts its viewfinder in the corner like the X-E4, but uses more common mode-dial controls and has a nice grip to better balance with zoom lenses.
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