Fujifilm’s XT series is well-loved for its myriad of top dials and vintage charm. When Fujifilm designed the XT5, those dials were left intact. Yet, with both a new sensor and processor, much of the camera has changed. When comparing the Fujifilm XT5 vs. XT4 the list of differences appears to overpower their similarities.
But, when Fujifilm launched the XT5, the camera had already lost its flagship status to the faster X-H2. While the newer body makes several improvements, it’s also a two-steps forward, one-step backward kind of update. Comparing the XT4 and the XT5 feels more like comparing the XH2 and XH2s than an older camera and its predecessor. That begs the question, is the XT5 worth the update for XT4 owners? Is the now-discounted XT4 still worth buying? I shot with the XT4 and the XT5 to compare the two cameras.
The Big Picture
Packing a new processor and sensor, the Fujifilm XT5 delivers higher resolution images without a crazy uptick in noise. That added detail looks lovely with Fujifilm colors and the character coming from many X Mount lenses. The autofocus system is now capable of recognizing the eyes of pets, birds, trains, and automobiles. Enhanced stabilization and longer battery life are also welcome additions.
While the XT5 delivers a higher resolution, the XT4’s autofocus consistently got a higher hit rate. The lower resolution also helps the XT4 at high ISOs. And, if you want to shoot selfies or flip the screen shut to pretend you are actually shooting with an SLR, the XT4 has the better screen for it. As the older camera, it’s also easier to find it on sale.
In short, the Fujifilm XT5 delivers great photos with a higher resolution sensor and beautiful ergonomics. But, if you want that high-resolution sensor and good autofocus, the Fujifilm XH2 is the better choice, alas, with a wildly different control scheme. The XT4, meanwhile, is a nice alternative with great controls, better autofocus, a larger buffer, and a discount.
Fujifilm XT5 Pros
- 40-megapixel sensor that still has those great Fujifilm tones
- Eye AF now works on animals and subject detection for planes, trains, bikes, and automobiles is included
- Stabilization bumps up to 7 stops over 6.5
- The EVF has a wider diopter adjustment range and, in electronic shutter, has no blackout
- The body is slightly smaller and lighter
- The battery life increased to 740 shots
Fujifilm XT4 Pros
- Autofocus had more hits than the XT5 in our tests
- The screen flips forward and closed
- The XT4 is heavier, but the material feels a nicer
- The lower resolution is better for high ISOs
- The buffer doesn’t fill up as fast as the XT5
- As the older model, it’s easier to find discounts
I shot portraits, action, and a wedding using both the XT4 and XT5. As I compared both bodies, I used these lenses:
- Fujifilm 50mm f1 R WR
- Fujifilm 18mm f1.4 R LM WR
- Fujifilm 90mm f2 R LM WR
- Fujifilm 56mm f1.2 R WR
- Fujifilm 150-600mm f5.6-8 R LM OIS WR
The 50mm, 18mm, and 90mm lenses are my own. The 56mm and 15-600mm, as well as the XT5 body, are a temporary loan from Fujifilm.
The control scheme on the XT5 is virtually identical to the XT4. Both camera bodies have that classic feel, with labeled ISO, shutter speed, and exposure compensation dials. Photographers who have shot with the XT4 will be able to immediately pick up the XT5 and feel at home. While the controls are the same, there are a few key differences between the LCD screens as well as the viewfinders.
The Fujifilm XT4 has a flip-out screen that uses a hinge at the side. This allows the screen to face forward for selfies or vlogging. It also allows the screen to close against the back of the camera body to protect against scratches, preserve battery life, or help resist the temptation to use the screen instead of the viewfinder.
The screen is completely redesigned on the XT5. Instead of a hinge at the side, it uses a metal frame that pulls the screen away from the camera body. The screen can still tilt to the side via a button that releases the screen, which folds it out towards the right hand. The XT5’s metal frame feels much more durable than the XT4’s hinge. But, if you want to flip the screen forward for a selfie or flip it closed, you can’t do that on the XT5. The XT5’s screen is higher resolution as well, at 1.84 million dots compared to the XT4’s 1.62 million dots.
The XT5’s EVF doesn’t change resolution at 3.69 million dots. But, the XT5 has a wider diopter adjustment range, which is great for adjusting the camera to your eyesight. The XT5 also has a no-blackout viewfinder if you shoot in electronic shutter mode.
Both the XT4 and XT5 are weather sealed. Neither camera experienced issues when splashed with water.
The XT5 is slightly lighter and smaller than the XT4. It’s a difference of fewer than two ounces, which is difficult to notice even picking up the XT4 in one hand and the XT5 in the other. The XT5 is slightly less wide and a little bit shorter.
While the difference in weight is hard to pick up on, I did immediately notice a bit of a different feel to the XT5. The material on the top and bottom plate doesn’t feel quite as nice as the XT4. It’s a small difference — if I didn’t own the XT4, I wouldn’t have noticed. And, I don’t think long-term durability is going to suffer. But, I do believe that the lighter weight is due to the slightly smaller size and possibly also a difference in that top plate.
Focusing and speed
The XT5 has the animal eye AF that the XT4 doesn’t. The XT5 will also recognize bikes, planes, and trains. That’s a handy tool for shooting quickly without moving that joystick.
However, the XT5 consistently had more misses than the XT4. I can’t ask my dog or the party-goers on a dark dance floor to move identically for each test, which means my results are far from scientific. But, when I photographed the same type of subject with my XT4 and the same lens that I had on the XT5, the XT4 seemed to always have a higher hit rate. That was true for both action and low-light autofocus testing.
I thought perhaps the XT5 was missing not because of the autofocus but because the new processor simply made the camera faster and the autofocus couldn’t keep up. However, the XT5 isn’t actually faster. With the mechanical shutter, which is what I used during autofocus tests, both cameras shoot at 15 fps. The 425 phase detection that’s on both cameras falls behind when using a higher-resolution sensor.
That brings us to speed. Using the mechanical shutter, both cameras top out at 15 fps. However, the larger files from the XT5 fill up the buffer faster despite its new processor. The XT4 can shoot 35 uncompressed RAW files in a row. The XT5 can only shoot 19 RAW frames at that top speed.
Yes, the XT5 has a new processor. But, the files are larger and the camera body is still limited by UHS-II cards. The XH2 is faster because of the new processor and the ability to record to CFexpress. To get a speed upgrade, the XT5 would have had to move to a CFexpress, which likely would have meant a larger camera body and not a smaller one. And CFexpress cards are pricey, so some photographers prefer dual UHS-II cards.
Fujifilm has never really been known for sports. But, if speed and autofocus are a priority, the older camera body is actually a bit better.
Ease of Use
Because the XT4 and XT5 are so ergonomically similar, jumping into the new camera body will be easy for photographers upgrading from the XT4. The physical controls function the same.
There are a few small differences inside the camera menu. For example, the XT5 has a new section for network settings. That’s one less step than accessing those same settings from a submenu inside the setup tab. Sadly, neither camera has a touch-capable menu.
Otherwise, both cameras sit at the same level for ease of use. The lack of an obvious auto mode (you have to set each dial to the A position instead) isn’t ideal for newbies. But, neither camera is an entry-level body and those same ergonomics that lack an auto mode are well loved.
The new 40.2-megapixel sensor on the XT5 creates more detail and more cropping flexibility in post. The files from the XT5 have roughly 1,500 more pixels of width than the XT4. That’s not a minor jump in resolution. Images from the XT5 feel a more detailed than the XT4, but not over-detailed.
The XT5 also has a few more shooting options. The XT5 has the skin-softening tool that Fujifilm first introduced in the GFX series. It’s made for JPEGs, but it does a nice job of being subtle and not the pore-less oblivion of a smartphone filter. The XT5 also has the ability to shoot HEIFs in-camera. It also gains the Pixel Shift Multi-Shot mode first launched on the GFX series, combining multiple images for a 160-megapixel image. But, as with the GFX series, it’s not done in-camera like similar options from Olympus or Panasonic; it requires Fujifilm’s Pixel Shift software.
The XT5 has larger, more detailed files, but the XT4 wins in low-light scenarios. At and under ISO 6400, it’s difficult to detect a major difference in noise between the two cameras. Higher than that, however, the XT4 gains the upper hand. At ISO 128000, the XT5 has noticeably more grain. Because of noise reduction algorithms, the cameras switch places at high ISOs when it comes to detail; the XT4 will look a little more detailed.
Both cameras maintain what draws most photographers to Fujifilm in the first place. Both X-Trans sensors have beautiful colors and Fujifilm’s range of color profiles. But, the XT5 has a higher level of detail in good light, while the XT4 does better at fighting noise and retaining detail above ISO 6400.
Which one should you buy?
Bringing a high-resolution sensor into a camera with the lovely ergonomics of the XT series creates something worth getting excited about. In a weather-sealed vintage-style camera with great ergonomics, the Fujifilm XT5 captures images with lovely colors and details.
But, it’s not an upgrade in every area. The relationship between the Fujifilm XT5 and XT4 feels more like the relationship between the Fujifilm XH2 and XH2s than that of a predecessor and current model. The XT5 has a better sensor and processor, but the autofocus system works better on the lower resolution XT4 sensor. And, at high ISOs, images from the XT4 are a bit cleaner.
As an XT4 owner, I’m not upgrading to the XT5 unless a firmware update improves the autofocus algorithm. As a wedding photographer, I need the autofocus system to be able to keep up. If I broke my XT4 and was forced to update, I’d actually be more likely to pick up the XH2. Even though I prefer the ergonomics of the XT series, the autofocus on the XH2 is better. Similarly, photographers regularly photographing fast subjects (requiring a good autofocus system and regularly using higher ISOs) will be better with the XT4, XH2, or XH2s.
But, photographers who prioritize color, resolution, and detail over speed and autofocus will likely enjoy the XT5. Its high-resolution sensor makes a few sacrifices, but it captures beautiful images and feels great in the hands.
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