Announced during the Fujifilm Summit on January 27 2021 amongst other heavyweights like the GFX100S and GF80mm f1.7, the Fujifilm X-E4 and XF27mm f2.8 R WR duo has now officially joined X-mount.
The X-E4 is probably the very last camera body to join the X-Trans IV sensor series after the X-Pro3, X-T3, X-T30, X-T4, X-S10 and X100V as my gut feelings are that the X-H2 will debut with a new sensor. This full review will comprise three main parts to make it meaningful for you, the reader:
a. Design of the X-E4 and XF27mm f2.8 R WR (from now on XF27 II for short)
b. Handling and performance
c. Philosophy of design and Conclusions.
In the Fujifilm world dominated by the X-Pro and X-T series, one might find strange the pairing of two of the not-as-popular body and lens models but Fujifilm has interestingly decided to market the X-E4 and XF27mm f2.8 II as a street photographer’s kit, and frankly – this pairing in my opinion proved well thought out by Fujifilm designers.
*not all markets will bundle the X-E4 and XF27 R WR as a kit, the X-E4 will retail for USD849 and the XF27 II at USD399 and as a bundle, USD1049.
*In the spirit of Fujifilm’s decision to release the X-E4 and XF27 f2.8 R WR together, all the samples shared here were shot with the X-E4 and XF27mm II.
Design of the X-E4 and XF27mm f2.8 R WR
Spec-wise, the X-E4 is not going to raise any eyebrows. Sporting an already proven 26.1 megapixels BSI X-Trans IV sensor, one will confidently expect the X-E4 to produce images true to Fujifilm’s heritage and similar to imaging output from the top end X-T4, X-Pro3 and even the 2019 released X-S10.
In fact, the X-E4 comes equipped with the full updated set of 18 film simulations, including the popular Classic Negative and the newest Eterna Bleach Bypass. It does seem though that Fujifilm may have the issue of having different film simulations available across its 7 X-Trans IV bodies, for example the X-Pro3 has not received Bleach Bypass and the X-T3 / X-T30 has not received Classic Negative. Only the GFX100S gets the very newest Nostalgic Negative at the time of announcement.
Design wise, personally I love what Fujifilm has done with the 4th gen, making it the most elegantly minimalist one in the series. Ports wise, one gets the absolute necessary MIC/Remote, USB-C, HDMI ports together with a joystick amongst the standard plethora of buttons. Unlike the Fujifilm X-T4, It uses the NP-W126S battery so it is likely current users already have a few of these lying around.
Unlike the X-S10 that has very different design philosophies, the X-E4 comes with the traditional Fujifilm top plate physical dials allowing one instant access to Shutter speed, Exposure compensation adjustments. All in a camera that is actually significantly smaller than my X100V compact, which to me is one of the X-E4’s key strengths.
For the other star of this story, the 27mm f2.8 R WR lens has undergone a useful makeover. Fujifilm has listened to the users, starting with the addition of an aperture ring to the lens. I understand the optical formula in Gen 1 and Gen 2 versions has stayed unchanged however the Gen II is now also weather resistant and I find that the focusing speed has also improved, but probably due to the new current gen sensor as the last time I used the XF27 was Gen 1 with a X-Trans II sensor.
In the photo above, we can see that seated next to the very nicely clicked aperture ring is the focusing ring. All you need in a lens provided in a design shorter than a LEGO figure.
Accessories wise, other than the standard boring lens caps, Fujifilm has also included a tiny screw-in-hood designed like the one we find on the GF50mm lens. (see below). I understand that a handgrip will be available as a separate accessory.
Beyond the aperture ring, Fujifilm has nicely included a ‘Auto’ value on the aperture ring that locks securely in place when set, a release button on the aperture ring completes the design. And yes! The X-E4 comes with a tilt screen now too. The tilt screen actually goes full 180 degrees for well… selfies.
Handling and Performance
A first question to answer is probably, why a 40mm focal length equivalent lens? My humble answer is that in a world where people still ask should one use a 35mm or 50mm for street, the XF27mm f2.8 R WR strikes the perfect compromise. Not as wide as a 35mm but yet wide enough , not as intimate as a 50mm but intimate enough.
And most of all, this lens is so compact most people won’t even notice or be bothered with one photographing them. I have seen users boasting of street photography exploits with the XF50mm f1 or even the XF90mm f2, I don’t judge but frankly I am not keen on sticking out like a sore thumb in the streets.
Other specifications that might matter are that the X-E4 comes equipped with a single UHS-1 SD-card slot and a 2.36 million dots 0.62x EVF. (for comparison, the X-T4’s is a 3.69 million dots at 0.75x).
Dimensions are a compact 121.3 x 72.9 x 32.7 mm and 364 grams with the SD card and battery equipped.
Ironically, the X-E4 and XF27 II reminded me of the enjoyment I had when shooting the now discontinued Fujifilm X70, just petite enough that no one bothered with me but yet powerful and reliable enough to produce the results that I desire.
The X-E4 and XF27mm R WR kit feels like the X70 with a 50mm lens on steroids that Fujifilm should HAVE made but never did.
To get a point right off my chest is that there will be some users who will argue that at a maximum aperture of f2.8, the XF27 II is not going to produce any ‘bokeh’ for one to awe at, I do differ with this image below. f2.8 may not be seen as a large aperture but get close enough and one is easily rewarded.
Of course a f1.0 will literally obliterate the background but a lot of users in their pursuit of extremes may have forgotten the importance of aiming for a balance.
Sharpness wise, there is no contest that the XF27mm R WR lens is plenty sharp.
Philosophies and Conclusion.
In my opinion, the X-E4 and XF27mm f2.8 R WR will be the X-mount siblings that are the Fujinon gems hiding in plain sight. It will lack the superlatives that marketing people will spew (stuff that I’ve grown tired of) but yet this setup will simply be the one that delivers as good a quality as its other X-Trans IV siblings imaging wise. (video wise comparisons it is a much more complicated story and I confess I lack the expertise to make a judgement on this)
The typical suspect-critics will say the X-E series lacks the sexiness of the X-Pro series or the robustness and all-roundedness of the X-T series but they forget to mention that among all these noise, the X-E series was simply all along designed and destined to be that unassuming humble camera that simply focuses on getting the job done well without having you break the bank.
Imagine, the same X-Trans IV in the X-Pro3 was going for USD1800 at release, or the X-T4 at USD1699 and now the X-E4 costs USD849 in 2021, which to me is a pretty decent sign of value. Just yesterday another brand released a USD6500 mirrorless camera, literally costing 7.6x the price of the X-E4, in fact even more costly than the GFX100S, a medium format camera.
It may not have a titanium top plate, or even be attached with the words ‘fastest’ ‘ground-breaking’ or even ‘revolutionary’. But in all honestly, that doesn’t bother me a single bit, because this dynamic duo simply performs just like ‘that’ unassuming hardworking and humble chap we all know in our life in camera world terms.
And in this sense, well, I have to say again that, yes, the X-E4 and XF27mm f2.8 R WR duo might probably be the gems hiding in plain sight that we may miss and definitely worth considering.
The X-E4 and XF27mm f2.8 R WR kit simply delivers the goods for the street photographer or the enthusiast keen on embarking his or her journey into Fujifilm X-mount.
What do you think?
Thank you for reading.
1. The Fujifilm X-E4 and XF27mm R WR were loaned from Fujifilm Asia Pacific and returned.
My many thanks and appreciation to Mr. Keitaro So, Divisional Head of Fujifilm for providing the loan.
2. Both sets were on firmware ver 1.00 and pre-production sets.
3. All samples shared were from JPEG and minimally edited to my preferences, there is no LR support for the RAW files from X-E4 at the time of writing.
And a question I left for the last is – guess what will happen to Fujifilm’s X-A series now with the X-E series moving into the X-A price region?