How much would I gain from upgrading my Nikon D5100 to a Fujifilm X-T4?

I’m currently still using my very first DSLR, a Nikon D5100 which I bought nine years ago. The camera is still working well but I’ve been thinking about upgrading it lately for mainly the following reasons:

  1. The low-light capabilities are not that great. I find that at ISO 800 it already degrades noticeably and everything beyond that is usually too noisy for my taste.
  2. I’d like to have more physical dials/buttons, so I have to go less through the menu or button combinations to change settings.

Since I read much good about Fujifilm cameras in this forum, I took a look at them and immediately fell in love with the look and the dials of the X-T-series. Since the X-T5 is too expensive for me, I’m now considering to buy a used X-T4 (or rather to start saving money for one…).

I think it would satisfy point 2 but I can’t really judge how much it would really help for point 1. How much did sensors really improve in the last decade, especially with regard to low-light performance and dynamic range? I looked at some plots on but to be honest, it’s not clear to me what exactly I should look for and how that translates to actual differences in practise.

Did someone here make a comparable upgrade in the past and would be willing to share their experience?

Obviously there are more things to consider when switching manufacturers and going from mirror to mirrorless but for now I’m mostly wondering how much better the X-T4’s sensor is in practice compared to the D5100.

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I went from a Canon T3i/600D to a Fuji X-T5, so my experience is somewhat comparable. My old Canon’s noise definitely started to cause problems around the 800 ISO mark, and beyond 1600, it was really bad.

Noise levels between the X-T4 and X-T5 are very similar. I find noise to be excellent up to 3200 and very good at 6400. Beyond that, it depends on the image, but I’m still using plenty of images with 12800 ISO.

It’s important to note that I’m not a noise snob and don’t get too upset with it. But combined with the excellent performance of modern cameras and noise reduction in post, I find it to be of very little concern.

If you want me to post any sample pictures, just let me know what kind of genre you want to see (landscape, portrait, indoors, outdoors, etc.), and I’ll see what I can provide.


I was curious to compare between my old camera and latest one. I found two shots at ISO 1600, one from each camera, and used Area Exposure Mapping and Area Color Mapping to even out exposure and white balance between the two images. I then compared two areas of each image at 100% zoom (both are unedited RAWs other than the area mapping).


The left sample is the Canon T3i/600D and the right one is the X-T5. Quite a difference in noise!

Not sure how scientific this is, but interesting nonetheless.


I teach photography classes so I get the see the good, the bad and the ugly of the camera world. My answer to your question is that you are going from a Model T Ford to a Ferrari. The difference is huge. Go for it. The Fuji cameras are my favourite camera that I don’t own but can recommend in a heart beat. You will never look back.


On one hand, an even older D90 still takes wonderful pictures in good lighting conditions, but on the other how often do we get spoiled with good lighting conditions?

I started with a D3200 and my main camera now is an X-T3 and the difference is night and day. Understand though that there’s still a limit, and you will still run into it at times. The Fuji cameras are a joy to shoot though, enjoy.

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You will see a substantial improvement in low light performance if you go with the Fuji X-T2 or X-T3 cameras. And unless you want IBIS, these 2 models are significantly cheaper than the X-T4 and X-T5.

I went from a D7000 to an X-T3, which is I think equivalent to what you’re proposing.

The D7000 could reasonably be used up to ISO 1600 (for my taste), while the Fuji stayed usable up to ISO 6400. That’s a huge difference. Add to that the X-T4’s sensor stabilization, and you’ve got yourself a game-changing difference in low light.

While these technical differences were great and all, what truly blew my little mind was the way a mirrorless camera shows you exactly what you’ll get before pressing the shutter. With a DSLR, I often took a shot, then checked on the screen if it worked, changed some settings, took another shot, repeat. With the Fuji, I know everything there is to knock before pressing the shutter.

This what-you-see-is-what-you-get nature of mirrorless cameras has other benefits, too: Back then, there were quite a few settings on the D7000 that confused me. Using the Fuji, I finally understood the exposure triangle fully, thanks to being able to see the effect immediately when turning the dials. I also very much enjoy the Fuji’s physical dials. I almost never go into the camera’s menus these days, because everything is available on a physical button or dial, which is great! I also enjoy that you can see the exposure-critical settings from the outside, without even turning on the camera.

(That said, the X-T4’s dial setup is slightly less ergonomic than Nikon’s traditional DSLR setup. To change the ISO or Shutter speed requires shifting your hand on the X-T4, where it’s a simple finger flick on the Nikon. If you’re concerned about the speed of your adjustments, the Fuji way is less efficient. Personally, this doesn’t bother me in the slightest. I’ll gladly take that for the haptic joy of those buttons and being able to adjust things without turning on the camera. And you can configure the Fuji to work the DSLR way, too.)

And lastly, the Fuji system is appreciably more compact. Even though the X-T4 is one of Fuji’s bigger bodies, it has nothing on a DSLR. Lenses are smaller, too. And by virtue of being a newer system, there simply are no duds in Fuji’s lens lineup. They’re all optically good, and represent a reasonable tradeoff for their respective price point. That’s actually a big relief coming from Nikon, where several decades of lenses include quite a few bad choices, and checking reviews is mandatory before buying.


Thanks a lot for the many responses! Seems I have to start saving money :smiley:

@europlatus Thanks, this comparison gives me a much better intuition than some abstract noise numbers!

@dtrtuser Good point, I didn’t consider them yet. However, I’m not so good at keeping my hands still, so I think the extra money for IBIS will be well spent.

One more question I have: How well does the electronic viewfinder work? I’m currently using the viewfinder almost exclusively as I find it much more ergonomic and easier to set the frame. The only experience I have with EVF is from my Sony RX100VA, which is pretty bad, so I’m a bit afraid of losing the optical one. Of course the RX100 is likely not comparable but it makes me a bit worried.

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Frankly, much better than the optical finder in your DSLR. Bigger, brighter, you see your exposure and clipping. You can zoom in, highlight your focus, see in black-and-white.

When I replaced my D7000 with a Fuji, I was skeptical, too. But it turned out I had it the wrong way around. Seeing what the sensor sees (as opposed to merely what the lens sees), is actually a benefit, not a disadvantage.

The only caveat being: the EVF rendering by default shows the JPEG rendering, not the raw data. So there may be more highlight/shadow data recoverable in post than is immediately obvious on the viewfinder. There is a “natural live view” mode that shows a very flat rendering instead that gives a better indication of the raw data.


I would echo @bastibe’s thoughts exactly. I was a bit nervous about moving to an EVF, but as soon as I tried it, like within 1 second, I was sold. My previous experience with any electronic viewer had been the Live Mode on the back of my DSLR, and that ate through batteries and had lots of quirks, which meant I rarely used it. The Fuji EVF (and I imagine those on all modern mirrorless cameras) is a joy to use and way more helpful for nailing the shot the first time. And as @bastibe said, Natural Live View on Fuji cameras gives you a WYSIWYG view closer to the RAW, if that’s what you shoot. I use Natural Live View almost all the time these days.

The one downside for me with an EVF is that you need to have the camera powered on. With a DSLR, you can use the OVF to frame the shot without even switching your camera on. I often find myself switching the camera off and on more with a mirrorless camera, which is a bit of a pain. But with the X-T4 and X-T5, the battery life is excellent, so it’s not as much of a concern in that respect.

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This is an often overlooked aspect of Fuji’s system. You can set it up to work almost exactly like a DSLR if you want with the aperture and shutter speed controls on the front and rear dials. This is very handy for any scenario when you need to fire off shots and change settings quickly.

But for taking your time with landscape shots, for example, the dials are a joy to use, and you can set it all up without turning your camera on.

As a bit of a digression, I also love going completely manual with the X-T line. Using a manual lens without any electrical contacts is so much easier to use with modern mirrorless technology. The ability to zoom into the subject with the EVF and check focus with the various focusing aids like focus peaking is a game changer. It’s a fantastic combination of old-style manual shooting with modern technology to help prevent wasted shots.


I have made it a habit to always switch the camera off when I’m not using it. As soon as I raise it for the shot, my index finger switches it on, and when I lower it, I switch it off again. These devices turn on and off so quickly, it really is not a problem to do this.

Actually, I can’t recall since when or why I do this. It just happens to be a habit I have. Unsurprisingly, I never had any issues with battery life. Even the tiny battery in a Ricoh GR or Sony RX1 would easily last me a thousand pictures.

On a related but opposite note, I particularly enjoy Fuji cameras because I can fully configure them while they’re switched off. I find people react much less to a guy fiddling with a gadget, compared to someone shoving a lens in their face. By setting things up beforehand, I can often get a shot before people had time to react. Not nefariously. I’m talking mostly about my kids not making silly faces for the camera.

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It’s a nitpick rather than a serious problem, but I do miss being able to just raise the camera to my eye to see if the shot looks good without needing to turn the camera on. Although these cameras turn on and off quickly, it just feels like I’m wearing out components unnecessarily when I turn on and off again repeatedly. Old ingrained habits are hard to break. Maybe some people just keep their cameras on all the time when they’re out shooting. But when I’m hiking or out for a walk, I always want to turn it off as soon as I’m not using it. This was also a necessity with my X-S10 because the battery life was considerably worse with that camera. Not an issue with the X-T4/5.


I would add that I recently moved to mirrorless camera because this is the way new cameras are going. Mirrorless won’t make my photos more interesting or better than what I would get with an SLR, but now I have an 4K video camera and a still camera at the flick of a switch. Yes it could be argued that D-SLRs can also be video cameras, but mirrorless just seem more suited to this split personality as there is no mirror to move out the way when you want a video and you can continue to use the viewfinder.

My X-T4 arrived yesterday :slight_smile:. I think I’ll need a bit to get used to the EVF (and probably read through the whole manual once to understand all the settings) but apart from that my first impression is pretty good.

I made a little comparison of high iso performance and thought it might be interesting for future readers who are in the same situation as me. Fotos taken in the evening, so only artificial light. Same focal length and aperture in both cases. Processed in darktable with only default modules enabled (no denoising). Slightly increased exposure in the fuji-images as they were a bit darker. Images are downscaled a bit to have the same size (note that the X-T4 has a higher resolution, so the downscaling probably has a higher impact on noise there).

I’m quite happy with the difference, especially in the 3200-6400 range.
Thanks again for your help in my decision making!

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I upgraded from a Canon 80D to an X-T4 after using a few Canon DSLRs in the past, similarly avoiding the T5 due to cost, and not being convinced the higher pixel count was worth it. While probably less of a step than you’ve taken I found that the game changer was the EVF. Clearer, larger and brighter than the OVF from my DSLR, with the added advantage of focus-assist for my manual lenses and the ability to nail exposure with the dials without taking the camera from my eye.

I also found an improvement in low light and detail through it not having an AA filter and enjoy having some consistently good lightweight lenses built for APS-C sensors.

I couldn’t be happier.


What irritated me the most so far is that when I am in a menu (using the display) and then look through the view finder, I see the menu there as well. So I first have to exit the menu before I can use the VF. But I guess it’s just a slightly different workflow I have to get used to (or maybe a matter of configuration).

I’d be interested in seeing you change to the 3pass demoasoc option in the highest ISOs, as the noise looks better on the Fuji but the difference in perceived sharpness is not great on the fuji

It actually is already the 3pass option. It didn’t make a big difference, though.

I’m also a bit wondering why the fuji images are so much less sharp (also considering that it has IS in both body and lens of which the nikon has neither). But since I was only interested in noise for that test, I just made some quick hand-held snapshots. I think to actually compare sharpness, I’d need to be more thorough when taking the pictures.
Also, I have no idea how the lenses compare w.r.t. sharpness (Nikkor 40mm f2.8 vs Fuji 18-55mm f2.8-4).

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The 40mm Nikon is likely much sharper than the Fuji zoom. I found that Fuji lens to be not sharp at all and ended up getting rid of it.