Introduction

Shown with accessory grip attached

The role of the Fujifilm’s X-E models has changed subtly since the X-E1 arrived as the second camera in the company’s X-mount range of mirrorless interchangable lens cameras.

The X-E1 and 2 were EVF-based alternatives to the range-topping X-Pro cameras, with their hybrid viewfinders, but still had distinctly rangefinder-esque styling and enthusiast-level ambition. The arrival of the popular X-T series caused a slight re-think, though. The X-E3 put a little more emphasis on compactness, rather than just being an X-T2 in a different body.

The X-E4 continues this trend: it’s a much more compact, more travel-friendly camera than the X-T4 but achieves this in part by going without the bigger camera’s built-in image stabilization. And, once you’ve got it in your hands, it becomes clear that it’s more like an X-S10 in a body that gains aspects from the entry-level X-A series as well as previous X-E cameras.

Let’s look at what that means for the X-E4.

Body

The X-E4 is the most compact camera in its series yet, with a minimalist shape that does away with any hint of a hand grip. This makes it appreciably smaller than the DSLR-shaped X-S10, which has a substantial, and comfortable, handhold.

The classic rangefinder styling and dials persist from the previous X-E cameras but the move to a square window for the AF illumination LED has the effect of recalling the more modest X-A models. The flip-up rear screen, which adds flexibility over the fixed-screen X-E3, is another echo of the X-A models.

If you don’t appreciate this ergonomic reductivism, an optional thumb rest that slots into the hotshoe is available, as is a hand grip and base plate that screws into the bottom of the camera. These will cost $69 and $89 respectively. The availability of these add-ons helps cement its status as a distinctly X-E camera, rather than an X-A, as does its more substantial build.

Handling

The controls of the X-E4’s controls are broadly in keeping with those of the previous model. There’s an exposure compensation dial on the shoulder of the camera and a shutter speed dial, but it now only has a single command dial on the front of the camera where its predecessors had two, one front and one back.

The X-E4 gains a ‘Q’ button in the place of its predecessor’s ‘Auto’ switch, and instead becomes the first X-mount camera to have a ‘P’ position on its shutter speed dial (the X-S10 and X-A models have conventional mode dials with ‘P’ positions).

In the middle of the back of the camera is a four-direction AF joystick. It’s placed quite low down, presumably to avoid accidental operation, but the lack of thumb rest or hand grip makes re-positioning your hand to reach it feel a little precarious.

Beyond that, most of your options for controlling the camera rely on the touchscreen, tapping to position the AF point or swiping in one of the four cardinal directions to access the functions you’ve assigned.

Like the X-S10 (and unlike the X-E3), there’s no focus mode control on the front of the camera, which serves as another hint at the X-E4’s more modest ambitions.

Core specs

At its core, the X-E4 shares most of its specs with the X-S10, with the excellent 26MP sensor we’ve seen in raft of Fujifilm models now, paired with a quad-core ‘X-Processor 4.’

This means it offers the same performance as the X-S10, with the latest autofocus tracking and high-speed shooting. It can shoot at up to 8 fps in mechanical shutter mode, and that shutter works up to 1/4000 sec. In e-shutter mode you can shoot at higher shutter speeds and at frame rates of up to 20 fps using the full sensor or 30 fps with a 1.25x crop.

Like the X-S10, the X-E4 uses the older, smaller NP-W126S battery. This is enough to give the camera a rating of 460 frames per charge, which is impressive for a camera at this level. As always, the very specific CIPA methodology delivers a rather low number: it’s quite common for you to get around twice the stated number in everyday use, depending on how you shoot. But, since the camera will charge over USB, 460 shots should be enough that you only need worry about battery in the most remote locations.

Screen and viewfinder

The X-E4 uses the same 2.36M-dot OLED EVF as the X-S10 and the X-E3. And X-E2S and X-E2, for that matter. It’s a pretty decent panel, which can be run at up to 100 fps and has optics that give a pretty respectable 0.62x magnification. This is a little lower than the likes of the Sony a6400 or Nikon Z50, but not by a horrendous margin.

The rear screen is touch-sensitive and flips up by up to 180 degrees, allowing selfies or vlog-style video if you wish. It’s 1.62M-dot 3″ panel, which is one of the higher resolution figures in this class.

Movies

Shown with accessory thumb rest and (included) USB-to-headphone adapter attached.

As you might expect, the X-E4’s movie specs are a match for those of the X-S10, with DCI or UHD capture at up to 30p using H.264 encoding at up to 200Mbps. It’s 8-bit capture, so you miss out on the Hybrid Log Gamma (HLG) and more flexible 10-bit F-Log capabilities of the X-T4, but you still get an 8-bit variant of F-Log internally or output a 10-bit signal to an external recorder if you get more ambitious with your video projects.

The camera has a standard 3.5mm mic input and, as with other recent Fujifilms, an adapter that lets you connect a pair of conventional headphones via USB-C, though we worry a little about how much leverage it lets you apply to that socket. Focus peaking and zebra exposure indicators are available.

Summary

Shown with accessory grip attached.

The X-E4 is a very different camera to its predecessors, not because it’s radically changed, but because the rest of Fujifilm’s range has changed around it. It’s still an attractive, sensibly-sized camera, but one that appears more modest in ambition, now that image stabilization is available in the mid-range X-S10.

Accordingly, the X-E4 is a less expensive camera than its predecessors: with launch prices having dropped from $1000 for the X-E1 and 2, to $850 for the X-E4 ($50 less than its immediate predecessor).

For your money, you get a camera that’s the smallest and most travel-friendly in the range, and with a good level of direct control, if you can live with the single command dial. It may lack the fancy hybrid viewfinder, but there’s no reason you couldn’t add a 27mm F2.8 pancake or 23mm F2 lens to create an ersatz X100 alternative. It’s not quite the same thing as the X-E models that have gone before it, though: a little more X-Æ, perhaps.

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