Featured image by Patrick Tomasso
The new Fujifilm X-E4.
Do I need it? No. Do I want it? Sigh… yes…
I’m writing this story moments after Fujifilm have wrapped up their live event where they announced the camera (amongst other things). I just want to quickly jot down a few of my thoughts.
At the moment, I have my trusty X-E3 sitting right in front of me. It’s a camera I’ve carried with me to many different places. And I’ve used it for many different causes. Though it might look a little weird with a larger lens attached to it, the little fellow never let me down. Do I need this upgrade to the new version of the same camera?
What I like about the new Fujifilm X-E4
Only a week ago, I thought I’d be better off with an X-Pro model as my next upgrade. Though now, there are some updates to the X-E4 that really draw me to the camera again.
First of all, the size. It’s so incredibly tiny, there isn’t anything like it. When it comes to cameras, I try to keep them as unobtrusive as possible. If a camera is too heavy, or too bulky, I’m not taking it with me. There isn’t a worse thing you can do to a camera than leaving it home.
At the same time I care about having a powerful and up to date sensor in my camera as it gives me access to features I otherwise can’t have. Think about updated autofocus, better low light performance and new Film Simulations. The fact that they squeezed all these features from the bigger, more expensive pro-oriented bodies into this tiny little camera is amazing.
Second, they removed that little Auto-lever that’s on the X-E3 and replaced it with a P (for Program) mode on the shutter speed dial. This might be the thing I like most about the new design. The switch lever on the X-E3 was nice, and it allows you to switch to ‘dummy mode’ very quickly. Though I never use it as I keep my camera in manual mode at all times anyway. In fact, I turned it on accidentally on a few occasions and it took me a moment to figure out why my camera wasn’t responding to my manual input anymore.
I understand that they want to keep this functionality, as this camera is more oriented to the casual shooters and less towards the professionals. The fact that they now included it in a dial that’s already there anyway, is the smartest thing they could’ve done. It cleans up the top plate of the camera so much. I never liked the inclusion of the dial on the previous model but I accepted its presence. Now that I see what the alternative is, I can barely look at the clutter that’s on my X-E3 now.
Anyway, the functionality is still there but the implementation is way cleaner. Way to go Fujifilm!
Third, and this ties into my previous point, I like how they flattened out the surface of the camera all around. I don’t mind a flat body as the camera is so light anyway, you won’t have any trouble holding it. I really liked it when Fuji got rid of the unevenness on the front of the top plate on the X100 series and made it a straight, flat line. They’ve flattened out the front of the top plate on the X-E4 as well and I think it looks so damn clean.
Also, the more rigid ridges on the top are pretty badass compared to the flowing lines of the X-E3. I can also do without the awkward little bump on the back for your thumb. If this were a more heavy body, you might appreciate a bump like that a little more. This type of body is light and nimble and I say; remove all unnecessary distractions. The cleaner the better.
Next to that, now it looks even more like a vintage body and those are always pretty to behold.
Fourth, I appreciate that the screen now flips a bunch of ways. Though I don’t care much for a selfie screen, I like to have the ability to shoot from low angles and a screen like this makes it a lot easier. The fact that they’ve managed to make it flush with the body like on the X100V, is also excellent. If you don’t wish to use it, that’s fine, pretend like it’s not there.
A few other things I appreciate
- It has USB-C instead of Micro USB. More similar ports in my life for more convenience.
- It uses the same good old NP-W126s batteries. Those batteries are in all my other Fujifilm cameras and I rather keep those the same. I never had any issues with the battery life of these ‘older’ batteries anyway so it’s totally fine by me!
- The ETERNA Bleach Bypass Film Simulation is included. It’s a cool looking simulation that I definitely want to play with. Bring it to the X100V as well Fuji, there’s no reason to omit it there.
What I don’t like about the new Fujifilm X-E4
I had to think real hard what I don’t like as there aren’t that many things. The only thing I can do, is compare it to what my X-E3 has that the X-E4 has lost. Or what I hoped Fujifilm would’ve brought over to the X-E4 from other cameras in the X-series.
First of all, I don’t appreciate that they’ve gotten rid of the scroll wheel on the back. It’s there on my X100V and I probably use it more than I realise. I’m sure this will become painfully clear when I hold a camera without that scroll wheel. Next to that, I appreciate it when all my cameras operate the same and a big part of that with Fujifilm cameras is that they have the same button layout1.
Secondly, I secretly hoped that they would incorporate the ISO dial in the shutter speed dial as they did in the X-Pro 3 and X100V. I understand why they didn’t but I just would’ve liked to have that. The same goes for the hybrid viewfinder but that’s even more of a stretch2 so I’m not saying anything else about that. The same goes for an incorporated flash, though I also believe it’s not an essential part of interchangeable lens cameras like these. It belongs on compact cameras like the X100V and the XF10. The X-E4 can do without.
A few other things I would’ve liked
- keep the M-C-S dial on the front or on the side for easy switching from Manual, Continuos and Single focus modes. In fact, they should’ve placed it on the side as it would keep the minimal looks of the camera without compromising on functionality.
- I’m not sure about the wider camera strap attachment points. I use split rings for my own handmade camera straps and I think those will slide back and forth when mounted to the wider attachment points. Also, the regular camera attachment points are a little smaller. Which is better.
- I think Fujifilm should’ve included the new film simulation Nostalgic Neg.3 with this camera. The fact that they didn’t do this at launch is not a good sign for any possible future updates that could add it. The same goes for currently existing cameras.
I truly like that Fujifilm aren’t afraid to put the latest and greatest technology from the flagship models inside the smallest body they can make with that. The X-E series has never looked this nice and clean before. In fact, I don’t think any of the other X-series cameras have looked this clean. The X100V might still be the most gorgeous camera they’ve ever made. Though I’d take a good long look at the X-E4 before I say that out loud again. I like the design that much.
Now, design isn’t everything when it comes to cameras. Yes, it makes a camera more fun to use and therefore causes you to pick it up more. Which in turn leads to you taking more photos. Still, the internals are what make the photo, not how the externals looks that they put those internals in.
If I can make a bold statement about the X-4: if the X-Pro 3 is a poor man’s Leica, the X-E4 is a poor man’s X-Pro 3 and for that, it’s perfect.
So will I upgrade from my trusty companion that is my X-E3? Probably. Will it be the X-Pro or the X-E line? I guess it depends on how much of a pro I think I actually am.
The Playback and DISP/BACK buttons on the X100V and X-E3 are switched and as a result, I can’t get used to either of the layouts. I imagine this also happens when there suddenly isn’t a scroll wheel where I expect one to be. ↩︎
From what I understand, it’s a very tricky thing to manufacture and therefore it’s probably too expensive to include in a ‘budget’ camera like the X-E4. ↩︎
I don’t like that name but I just want that new stuff okay. ↩︎