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Mirrorless boss is back & better than ever



(Pocket-lint) – The long-standing Fujifilm X-T series has in the past set the benchmark for being the mirrorless camera to beat all others. Indeed, the X-T3 won Best Camera in the 2019 Pocket-lint Awards.

Now there’s a new kid in town: the Fujifilm X-T4. But does this latest camera add enough extra to warrant its purchase? We got to play with a pre-production camera ahead of its official announcement, followed by using the final camera on some car shoots. Here’s what we make of it.

X-T4 vs X-T3: What’s new?

  • X-T4 adds:
    • New in-body stabilisation unit (IBIS)
    • New shutter unit (15fps mechanical)
    • Dedicated movie mode
    • New battery system

At a glance the X-T4 looks a lot like its X-T3 younger brother. But there are some clear differences. The newer camera is a little larger and heavier, on account of a new battery system that’s designed to last longer.

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Some weight has been shed elsewhere, to avoid it getting altogether too heavy, by introducing a newer, smaller in-body stabilisation system, which is said to be capable up to 6.5 stops (up from the 5 stops of the X-H1, where in-body was first introduced by Fujifilm).

In tandem with the stabilisation system is a new shutter mechanism, capable of up to 15 frames per second (15fps) burst shooting. It’s also tested to 300,000 shutter cycles, doubling the durability over the X-T3.

Other little tweaks should make a big difference for movie users: a dedicated movie mode, with its own Q Menu on-screen settings (useful for silent adjustment), and even a removable SD card door, should you be shooting from a rig. The rear LCD screen is also a little higher in resolution than before (1.62m-dot compared to 1.04m-dot).

Elsewhere the specification is built around the same core as the X-T3. This means the X-T4 has the same sensor and processor combination, same on-sensor autofocus capabilities (albeit with some algorithm tweaks to improve tracking and face/eye-detection). So if you’re looking for higher resolution or advances in quality in that area, then the two cameras don’t differ.

How does the X-T4 perform?

  • New magnesium alloy body footprint: 134.6mm x 92.8mm x 63.8mm / 607g
  • 3-inch tri-adjustable LCD touchscreen, 1.62m-dot resolution
  • 0.5-inch, 3.69m-dot OLED electronic viewfinder
  • Improved autofocus algorithm
  • 425 selectable AF areas

The X-T4 is made primarily from magnesium alloy, which gives it a robust feeling in the hand. It’s also weather-resistant, so paired with a suitable lens you needn’t worry about splashes and rain. We’ve been using the lovely 16-55mm f/2.8 for the majority of this test.

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The X-T4 is larger than the X-T3 given its new battery system, but that extra little bit of bulk and 10 per cent weight increase is worth it on account of longevity. The new battery is 2,200mAh in capacity, which is a big increase over the 1,260mAh of the X-T3’s cell. Despite having two batteries on hand and shooting across multiple days, we didn’t even drain the first one to zero – meaning the 500 shots per charge quote seems on point. 

There’s also a new vertical grip, which can house two additional batteries, and comes with a dedicated switch to flick between normal, boost and economy performance modes. The X-T3 grip won’t fit onto the X-T4 due to the new battery system and different camera footprint.

Recharging takes place via USB-C, much like an Android phone, but you’ll need to use a 15W charger at the wall for the fastest possible recharge times. It’ll take about three hours to recharge the one cell, which isn’t especially quick, but use a low power USB port and it’ll take three or four times longer than that!

The X-T4 has the now staple rear LCD and OLED viewfinder setup. The vari-angle touchscreen is easy to use, benefits from that added resolution, while the OLED finder is the exact same as found in the X-T3. That means it’s got all the resolution you’ll need, complete with a high refresh-rate, deep contrast, and a massive 0.75x equivalent magnification size – which makes for a formidable finder scale to this eye.

If you’re familiar with the X-T3’s autofocus – which we found did a great job at the Goodwood Revival motor show – then it’s much the same with the X-T4. The camera uses a massive 2.16-million phase-detection pixels embedded across its sensor’s surface, designed to cover the full width from edge to edge. That means you can focus anywhere in the field of view, as far vertically or horizontally as you wish, and still acquire the same focus ability as you would in the centre.

The autofocus system is pared down to 425 areas maximum, which can be further reduced to simplify operation as you wish. The AF point can be adjusted between a variety of point sizes, too, by using the rear thumbwheel. There’s still no Panasonic-style Pinpoint mode, however, which we always miss when using other brands’ mirrorless cameras.

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With a decent lens on the front and the X-T4 is a formidable shooting machine. From its 15fps burst, to the various custom settings (much like you’ll find in a pro DSLR, in a scenario-appropriate format), mirrorless system cameras don’t really get any better than this.

What’s the X-T4’s image quality like?

  • 26-megapixel X-Trans CMOS 4 sensor
  • ISO 160-12,800 (80-51,200 ext)
  • New: Eterna Beach Bypass filter

Just like the X-T3, the X-T4 features Fujifilm’s fourth-generation X-Trans CMOS sensor. This sensor is backside illuminated, with the copper wiring placement beneath the photo diodes in the sensor, in order to create a cleaner signal path.

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That all worked a treat in the X-T3 and it’s much the same here: image quality is exemplary. Although, as we always say, a lot of that comes down to the lens on the front of the camera. And Fujifilm’s range of optics means there’s something for more or less every situation.

The 18-55mm we’ve used for this review is fine, but not the hottest ticket, we’ve found the 40-150mm f/2.8 and 50mm f/2.0 to impress us much more – especially those wider aperture lenses.

We’ve shot with the X-T4 in and around Fujifilm’s House of Photography in central London, where there’s a variety of light sources and situations. That’s given a broad scope to test out the baseline ISO 160 sensitivity, right through to the higher ISO 12,800 setting when shooting a vase of flowers in the dim-lit (off public limits) basement at the property.

Low-light will show some grain, of course, but it’s not overwhelming by any measure and even the four-figure ISO settings are really clean looking. But daylight is where things really shine, those lower settings giving real clarity.

We’ve always praised Fujifilm for its image quality prowess, a trend that the X-T4 continues. It’s done our various car shoots a treat in terms of exposure, colour balance, scale and detail.

No, it’s not more resolute or more advanced than the X-T3, which some will see as a downer, but as that camera was already accomplished you’re really looking to buy this newer model for its better battery, faster burst rate and improved image stabilisation (although it’s a marginal improvement in that regard).

The X-T4’s new video capabilities

  • Dedicated movie mode, via physical switch dial
  • Dedicated Q Menu with silent mode selection
  • 4K 60fps maximum, 1080p 240fps slow-mo
  • Can fix crop to 1.29x for all modes

The X-T4 has also clearly been engineered with the videographer in mind. Not only on account of the better battery and removable SD card door, but also the dedicated movie mode, which is activated via a physical switch beneath the shutter speed dial atop the camera.

Moving this switch over to ‘Movie’ means you get a dedicated Q Menu, which is accessible during shooting and means silent adjustment of modes is possible using the touchscreen. The physical dials will also work, but if you want to avoid the physical motion and clicking sounds then this is one way around it.

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The frame-rate possibility has also increased, with Full HD (1080p) now available at up to 240fps. Some would call that slow-motion to one eighth the speed of a normal 30fps capture. The X-T4 is also 4K capable, offering 60fps in this Ultra-HD mode (just like the X-T3).

All this adds up to a much more accomplished and movie-focused device, in an attempt to outsmart the Panasonic and Sony options on the market. That said, with the likes of the Panasonic Lumix S5 now available, we think the competition has a slight edge.

Verdict

The Fujifilm X-T4 might rely on the same sensor as the X-T3 before it, with an autofocus system that’s much the same, but its variety of feature boosts make it an altogether more considered camera.

The addition of a faster burst mode, better battery life and improved image stabilisation make for a more rounded camera. Plus its dedicated movie mode sees a boost that could lure in a wider audience – although Sony does have that market largely wrapped up.

Stand the X-T4 up against any camera of its type in the same price bracket and it’ll more than hold its own. Whether for stills or video, this is Fujifilm showing it can still set the benchmark in this category.

Also consider

Fujifilm X-T3

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If you’re looking for a stills camera and can pick up the predecessor model then you’re not sacrificing any image quality potential, which might make this a veritable bargain.

Panasonic Lumix S5

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If you want a small-scale but full-frame image sensor to step things up a notch, Panasonic’s fairly priced entry in this space is rather special.

Writing by Mike Lowe.





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Fujifilm X-S10 wants to makes mirrorless easy



(Pocket-lint) – One of the things that’s become synonymous with Fujifilm’s X-series mirrorless cameras is the series of classic dials present, used to take full manual control of settings. But the new X-S10 aims to change that – for this entry-level camera sticks with a single control dial to keep things simpler.

This isn’t Fujifilm having a total upheaval and changing its ways, it’s the Japanese company offering an alternative and more “easy-access” approach for those who might be a flummoxed by the presence of so many dials on other cameras. After all, the competition rarely have such complex-looking setups.

Just because it’s simplified its design ethos, however, doesn’t mean the X-S10 has cut back on its specification. This mirrorless camera – which uses the X Mount lenses – has the same 26.1-megapixel X-Trans CMOS 4 sensor as found in the very capable X-T4 camera.

It also features a very capable 5-axis image stabilisation system, can shoot up to 8 frames per second, has enhanced the company’s face/eye detection autofocus, and a deep handgrip for assured hold onto the camera body.

The Fujifilm X-S10 will be available priced £949 body-only, £999 with the 15-45mm f/3.5-5.6, £1299 with the more advanced 18-55mm f/2.8-4, and £1399 with the 16-80mm f/4.0.

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Writing by Mike Lowe.





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Nikon Z5 review: Mirrorless marvel



(Pocket-lint) – There was a moment not so long ago when the camera market stalled. Nikon, in particular, was affected and somewhat lost its way. Products were cancelled. Production struggled compared to the norm. Then, thankfully, the Japanese maker came back with a whole new camera system – its mirrorless Z series – and reaffirmed why it’s a force to be reckoned with.

But top-end cameras never come cheap, so while many will have baulked at the original Nikon Z7 and Z6‘s asking price, the step-down Z5 (on review here) is the company’s way to make its full-frame line-up that bit more affordable. But with Sony, Panasonic and Canon all fighting for space, just how well does the Z5 hold up?

Design & Lens Mount

  • Nikon Z mount (FX full-frame format)
  • Dual SD card slots (UHS-II compliant)
  • Dust & moisture sealed magnesium alloy body
  • Built-in electronic viewfinder (0.5in, 3,690k-dot OLED)
  • Tilt-angle mounted touchscreen (3.2in, 1,040k-dot LCD)

To look at you’d probably struggle to tell the difference between the Nikon Z6 and this Z5. The two cameras are more or less identical, except the Z5 is about 20 per cent cheaper.

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Just because it costs less cash doesn’t mean there’s any scrimping on the feature set. The body is (mostly) magnesium alloy and weather-sealed against dust and the elements. There’s a large-to-the-eye electronic OLED viewfinder with heaps of resolution. The rear LCD is touch-controllable and mounted on a tilt bracket. There’s two card slots, too, both of which are SD rather than the lesser used (and altogether pricier XQD type).

As we said of the Z6, the Z5 has a design that appears very much ‘mirrorless DSLR’ – which is what the masses had long been asking for. It’s got the main buttons and dials in the right places to make quick adjustments, although we’d like a secondary dial to make quicker yet adjustment for metering, burst, and some other settings (the reserve of even higher-end cameras, really).

Using the camera feels natural though: the joystick-like toggle to the rear is ideal for quick adjustments and positioned well should you be using the camera up to your eye; and that electronic viewfinder is such high quality that it often doesn’t seem like an electronic one at all.

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There are some slight changes we would make though. Although the 3.2-inch LCD screen is of ample quality (albeit not the very highest available) we’d like to see it vari-angle mounted instead – just as we said of the Z6.

Performance

  • 5-axis Vibration Reduction (VR) stabilisation system
  • 273-point Hybrid AF autofocus system
  • Face/Eye/Pet Detection options
  • Adjustable AF point size
  • Up to 4.5fps burst max
  • Wi-Fi & Bluetooth
  • USB charging

The autofocus system in the Z5 is also the very same as you’ll find in the Z6. We find it’s a little more varied and precise than what you’ll find from Canon’s EOS RP in the way it controls.

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Not only does the Nikon offer 273 autofocus areas – encompassing 90 per cent of the frame, making edge-to-edge focus simpler – you can adjust from auto to wide-area, single-area or pin-point focus.

We really love the pin-point option. With a full-frame sensor at your disposal it’s critical to get focus and aperture selection right – and this option helps keep things extra precise.

Like many of its competitors, the Z5 also offers face and eye detection – including those of dogs and cats. So it’s super easy to shoot your subjects, friends, family and pets. Sometimes the camera thinks it spies a face in among random textures, when it locks on and then doesn’t want to let go, but otherwise it’s very responsive at latching onto subjects. We have been impressed by this kind of system in the Panasonic Lumix S1, so it’s great to have here.

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Autofocus is generally capable, although we’ve found the single area mode to struggle a little more when it comes to lower light conditions. It doesn’t hunt excessively, but can simply fail to find focus at all sometimes. The multiple area focus options tend to find an alternative to latch onto instead, generally bypassing any contrast detecting issues in other modes.

Switch to continuous autofocus and things remain capable, but it’s here – i.e. with speed – that the Nikon Z5 displays it’s not the top-end camera on the market. Sony already offers some incredible subject tracking from its active focus system. And when it comes to burst shooting the Z5’s maximum 4.5 frames per second is lower than the Z6 and many other cameras in this class – showing it’s got a smaller buffer and being the ultimate key point of difference as to why it’s a more affordable camera overall.

Still, even without being able to whirr off dozens of image a second, the Z5’s in-body image stabilisation is a clear benefit. Having that added assurance that hand-held shots will be extra sharp at even fairly low shutter speeds is highly reassuring – and you can see it in the results.

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Battery life is reasonable overall. Like the other Z series cameras you should be able to shoot a bundle – 300-400 shots – before the cell will deplete. Even then, thanks to USB charging, you can (slowly) recharge it out in the field with an external pack if you so wish.

Image Quality

  • 24.3 million pixel full-frame CMOS sensor
  • ISO 100 to 51,200 sensitivity (expands to 102,400)
  • Video capture: 4K at 30/25/24p (1.7x crop); Full HD (1080p) at 60/50/30/25/24p (no crop)

As the Z5 sits below the Z6 you’d probably expect lower grade image quality. That’s a half truth, though, as it’s only with much higher resolution images that you might see the Z6’s benefit. In terms of resolution the two cameras are more or less the same.

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Point being: the Z5 really excels with its image quality. Although for this review we’ve only had the collapsible 24-50mm f/4-6.3 lens which, while certainly small and suited to this kind of body, does have aperture limitations.

That said the Z mount is yours for the taking. If you want a faster, sharper and more accomplished lens then take your pick. And the kind of resolve you’ll get from the best of the Z mount is nothing short of breath-taking from what we’ve seen in the past. The Z5 can tap into all of that – if you’ve got the spare cash to invest in more glass anyway.

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The quality isn’t just down to pixel-peeping judgement, mind, as the shallow depth-of-field possibilities that a full-frame sensor offers open up a whole world of possibilities. The sensor’s extra size just enhances that melty blurred background look.

Equally impressive is how the ISO sensitivity holds up. The lowest ISO 100 delivers pristine shots with a good amount of dynamic range that holds up even through to ISO 800.

The higher ISO sensitivities still hold a fantastic amount of detail. You’ll inevitably see more grain from ISO 1600 up to ISO 6400, but it’s not a major bother. Go beyond this and the older Z6 has the upper hand, but only by a whisker.

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When it comes to video the Z5 isn’t as top-of-the-tree as some of the competition out there. Yes, it can capture 4K video, which is great, but the crop factor is rather high (at 1.7x). And when Panasonic has the S5 to compete, we suspect videographers will be lining up elsewhere from a moving image perspective. Not to mention the Sony A7S III (which can shoot 4K at 120fps).

Verdict

After the camera industry stalled for quite some time, it’s now in a renaissance period. Nikon’s Z series cameras and new lens mount – which arrived about the same time as Canon’s EOS R – has once more shown the kind of heights the brand can reach. And the even more affordable Z5 shows off this full-frame potential in real style.

However, this new period is also a competitive one – especially when it comes to video capture. And with new cameras from Panasonic (Lumix S5), Sony (A7S III), Canon (EOS R5), the Nikon Z5 shows its video shortcomings. Not that it’s unimpressive, it’s just outclassed in this regard. We’d also like to see continuous autofocus and low-light shooting improvements, and a vari-angle mounted LCD screen would be an added bonus.

When it comes to stills, though, the Z5 is a star. As mirrorless cameras go the Nikon is easy to use, has a wonderful viewfinder, introduces improved autofocus features, and feels pitched to the correct kind of audience (the dual SD cards rather than XQD card being one example of this user friendliness). That all adds up to what’s arguably the best entry-level full-frame camera you can buy.

Also consider

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Canon EOS RP

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There’s little doubt that the future of Canon’s advanced amateur and pro market lies in the R series, and the RP offers an affordable route into the system. However, it’s the battery life and 4K video performance that is likely to put users off. For stills shooters not looking to take hundreds of images a day, though, this is unlikely to affect you.

Writing by Mike Lowe.





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Canon EOS R5 brings 8K video to full-frame mirrorless series



Canon hasn’t been quiet about the announcement of its EOS R5 camera, teasing a pre-release way back in February about some of the goodies you could expect from it.

Now the full information has come to the fore: the EOS R5 is the top-tier camera in the company’s RF lens-mount mirrorless system, bringing a 45-megapixel full-frame sensor that’s even capable of 8K video capture.

Yes indeed, the EOS R5 is a beast when it comes to potential. Here are some other specification highlights, as there are so many potential places to start.

  • In-body stabilisation system, works with lens IS for up to 8-stops of stabilisation
  • 12 frames per second mechanical shutter (20fps electronic shutter)
  • Dual Pixel CMOS AF II autofocus system introduced (0.05s)
  • Enhances face/eye detection, adds animal detection
  • ISO 100-51,200 sensitivity (102,400 expanded)
  • Weather-sealed magnesium alloy body
  • 5.76m-dot electronic viewfinder
  • 3-inch 2.1m-dot vari-angle LCD
  • Dual card slot (1x SD, 1x CFE)

There are some big take aways there, in particular that this full-frame sensor is a massive 45-megapixels when it comes to resolution. That’s not quite the highest Canon has ever produced (there’s the 5DS), but the company is claiming – due in part to the RF lens system, but also the low-pass filter design here – that it will deliver the best fidelity of any of its cameras. Like, ever.

It’s also the first camera to introduce the second-generation focus system, called Dual Pixel CMOS AF II, which not only claims the world’s fastest speeds (at just 0.05 seconds if the right lens is attached), but adds in animal detection – it’s able to lock onto the eyes of various species, including dogs, cats, and birds (including birds in flight).

Then there’s the image stabilisation system, which is a first for Canon. There’s a gyro in the body, which works in tandem with the lens-based stabilisation (IS) to function as a two-part system, which Canon claims can stabilise for up to 8 stops. That’s a rather immense claim.

Elsewhere the R5 has an ultra-resolution electronic viewfinder, plus a 3-inch vari-angle LCD touchscreen.

Two card slots feature: an SD (UHS-II) and CompactFlash Express slot. The latter is an essential for one of the R5’s other major abilities: shooting 8K video. Yes, this camera can capture the 33-megapixel format at 30 frames per second. Or you can ‘downgrade’ to 4K and shott at 120fps, making for ultra high-definition slow-motion capture. Looks as though Canon is finally opening the gateway to its high-end video capabilities.

So how much do you need to buy such a system? It doesn’t come cheap, at £4,199.99 for the body only. The RF lenses are various prices and levels, including a batch of new optics also announced to show the company’s dedication to getting the R system well and truly off the ground.





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Nikon Z5 and Z30 set to expand mirrorless camera line-up



With the passing of so many major shows in 2020 – there was no CP+ in Japan, for example – there’s been a lack of exciting new camera releases. Especially from the big brands, such as Nikon. Rumour has it, however, that’s about to change in the coming months. 

With the company’s focus now on its mirrorless line-up, the Z series, 2020 will see an expansion of focus with the purported release of two new cameras: the Z5 and Z30.

The Z5 will sit beneath the Z6 (pictured), likely to hit a more appealing price point and bring slightly watered-down features to the full-frame model.

At the other end of the scale is the Z30, destined to sit beneath the Z50 – again bringing fewer features for a more accessible price point to the APS-C sensor line-up.

Perhaps the bigger rumour, however, is that in 2021 there’s a plan for a new chart-topping model: the as-yet-unnamed ‘Z9‘. This has been a long time coming – as in the middle of 2019 we wrote about the five features we’d like to see in such a camera. Inevitably it looks as though it’s been delayed.

It all seems very sensible to us if these rumours are true. The company needs to get that kit into the market to expand its range – especially with Canon already offering the M50 and R5 (likely comparable to the Z30 and Z5).





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