Cameras

Fujifilm X-H1 Review

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It’s been some time since we’ve had a fresh line of cameras from Fujifilm, whether it’s a standalone range or a sub-series within an existing stable. The last one was 2016’s medium-format G system, which still only contains one member, the GFX 50S. This makes the arrival of the X-H1, a camera that will sit above the current co-flagship X-T2 and X-Pro2 models in the X variety, particularly noteworthy.

Check Fujifilm X-H1 Price

Fujifilm X-H1: Features

  • 24.3MP X-Trans CMOS III sensor
  • X-Processor Pro
  • Fujifilm X mount
  • 5-axis, 5.5-stop in-body Image Stabilisation system
  • ISO 200-12,800 (exp to ISO 100 and 51,200 equivalents)
  • DCI 4K to 24p (up to approx. 15min)
  • UHD 4K to 30p (up to approx. 15min)
  • Full HD to 60p (up to approx. 20min)
  • 0.5in OLED viewfinder, approx. 100% coverage, 3.69m dots
  • 3in tilting LCD touchscreen, 1.04million dots
  • 1.28in top-plate LCD screen
  • 8fps (14fps with electronic shutter)
  • Eterna Film Simulation feature
  • Wi-Fi and Bluetooth
  • Flicker reduction mode
  • 310-shot battery life
  • 139.8 × 97.3 × 85.5mm
  • Approx. 673g (including battery and memory card)

Performance

The camera’s autofocus system is as comprehensive in its specs as we would expect, although Fujifilm claims to have made changes for accuracy and speed over previous models. 60 different data analysis points are now used to fine-tune accuracy and tracking performance, with the camera calculating three different types of phase detection in each area to work out the best focus point to use. According to Fujifilm, this has allowed low-light phase-recognition to go from -0.5EV on the X-T2 to -1EV here, and for lower-contrast and/or higher-frequency subjects to be identified more easily than before.

The X-H1’s autofocus system looks complex but it’s actually quite straightforward. You can choose from single-point autofocus, zone AF (where you change the size and position of the area) and wide-region AF. You switch between single-shot AF, continuous AF and manual focus with a switch on the front of the digital camera, and in constant AF mode, the wide-area AF option becomes a tracking mode.

Tested with Fujifilm’s ‘red badge’ XF 16-55mm f/2.8 R LM WR lens, static autofocus speeds are very fast. The lens’s AF actuators have become quiet, and if you accidentally give the super-light shutter release a full press instead of a half push, you might think the camera has fired without focusing. It hasn’t: it’s just very fast, and very quiet.

In its continuous shooting mode, the autofocus system keeps up very well, both for single-stage, zone and wide-area tracking, though in its tracking mode, very erratic subject movements can cause the autofocus to lose contact with the subject.

A combination of electronic viewfinder blackout and a tiny amount of lag means that it might not be quite as easy to follow a fast-moving subject as it is in the optical viewfinder of a high-speed DSLR. That said, the camera’s AF system is still a sound all-round performer.

The image stabilisation system also appears to be really effective, with images captured at moderate focal lengths in single-figure shutter speeds still maintaining good sharpness. In our tests with the unstabilised, aforementioned 16-55mm zoom lens, we achieved around 3-4 stops of shake compensation, with reliably sharp images taken handheld at 1/8 sec at 55mm.

The X-H1’s exposure system offered no surprises during our testing, working perfectly well in its default multi-pattern mode for most shots. You don’t have to dip into the menus to change the metering setting because this is set on a physical dial below the shutter velocity ring. However, to apply EV payment, you have to press a small button to the right-hand-side of the shutter release, which is fiddlier than on other Fujifilm models like the X-T20 and X-T2, which have a dedicated exposure compensation dial on the top plate.

The X-H1’s regular JPEGs and Raw files offer good dynamic range, but its secret weapon – common to all the Fujifilm models – is its expanded dynamic range modes, which can be set to 200% or 400% or left on Auto. Expanding the dynamic range pushes up the base ISO level by 1-2EV, which some photographers might not like, but the payback is Natural files with a huge range of tonal information. It’s worth repeating that the powerful range is expanded in the Raw data – it’s not just the quick in-camera JPEG dynamic range fix used by many other camera makers.

The sharpness and fine detail from the X-H1 is really as good as you could hope for from a 24MP APS-C sensor, aided by the lack of an optical low-pass filter over the sensor and the quality of Fujifilm’s X-mount lenses. Like Olympus and Panasonic, Fujifilm bakes lens corrections in to the Raw files rather than simply offering them as part of the JPEG processing. As a result, when you open your Raw documents in Adobe Camera Raw, they’re already corrected. If the lenses do produce any chromatic aberration or distortion, it’s taken out before you ever get to see it.

Noise levels are equally impressive. Even at ISO 6400, real-world images still look remarkably razor-sharp, textured and free from noise. Just a few years ago, we wouldn’t have dreamt of capturing at these sensitivities with an APS-C sensor, and high-ISO image quality like this is one of those slow revolutions that we now take for granted.

When you factor in Fujifilm’s excellent Film Simulation modes – the black and white ACROS mode is especially impressive – you have a camera that doesn’t just perform well as a device but produces first-rate images too.

Image quality

  • Uses one of the best APS-C sensors out there
  • Very good dynamic range
  • Film Simulation modes are excellent

With the Fujifilm X-H1 using the same 24.3MP X-Trans III CMOS sensor as other X Series cameras, image quality doesn’t disappoint. As we’ve found in the past, this is one of the best APS-C sensors out there: it does an excellent job of resolving detail, while the colors recorded are hard to fault.

While it’s a little disappointing to see the fairly conservative ISO range compared to some rivals, the X-H1 makes up for this with how well it handles noise. Images shot at the lower end of the sensitivity variety display are exceptionally clean – you’ll have to look really closely for signs of luminance (grain-like) sound in flat, blocked-color areas.

It’s only when you hit ISO3200 that luminance noise starts to become a bit of an issue, while at ISO6400 and ISO12,800 you’ll start to see colours become a little less saturated, and chroma (color) noise becomes more pronounced.

While many manufacturers furnish their cameras with their own JPEG picture styles, Fujifilm’s Film Simulation modes easily have to be the most successful, and the X-H1 features with 16 of them, including the new ETERNA mode that’s intended for video shooters. These modes can produce some lovely results – we particularly enjoyed Arcos for mono images – and in some instances you may be more than happy with the processed JPEGs straight from the camera, rather than tinkering with a raw file.

Dynamic range doesn’t disappoint, and you have plenty of flexibility to recover detail in raw files during post-processing. We found it possible to pull back a good amount of highlight and shadow fine detail once the files had been opened in Lightroom.

Check Out: Fujifilm X-H1 Lenses 

Verdict

There’s no question that the X-H1 is Fujifilm’s most advanced X Series camera to date, thanks to a range of new and refined features. These include the arrival of IBIS, a brilliant high-resolution EVF, advanced 4K video capture, touchscreen control, and an all-round tougher build. It’s perhaps that last point, however, which prevents X-H1 from capturing our imagination in quite the same way as many previous X Collection cameras, particularly the X-T2. The X-H1’s considerably bulkier build will certainly appeal to some, while it should help it to balance better with larger and longer lenses, but its size means it loses some of that X Series DNA that’s made cameras like the X-T2 a firm favorite.

Also, with this camera aimed at serious enthusiasts and professionals it would have been nice to see Fujifilm make more of an effort to put clear blue water between the X-H1 and the X-T2 in terms of performance. As it is, apart from some tweaks to the AF you’re not gaining much, if anything with the X-H1.

Check Fujifilm X-H1 Price and Bundles 

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