Fujifilm X-H1 – The new flagship APS-C format camera combines elements of the popular X-T2 with some from the medium-format GFX
The screen can be tilted up and down or flipped out for portrait-format shooting. It’s not as intuitive to use as a vari-angle unit, but it’s solidly constructed.
CIPA testing gives a battery life of 310 images. You’re likely to be able to capture more images in real-world shooting, but a spare battery is advisable.
There’s a max continuous shooting speed of 14fps, or 8fps with the mechanical shutter, but you have to drop to 5.7fps if you need uninterrupted Live View.
A new shutter button design and spring mechanism make the shutter the quietest of the X Series. The electronic shutter allows silent shooting.
4K (4,096 x 2,160) video can be recorded to an external device via an HDMI connection. Footage recorded internally to an SD card has 4:2:0 colour.
When the mechanical shutter is employed, the Flicker Reduction system can be used to ensure more stable exposure under fluorescent lighting.
Fujifilm has introduced the X-H1 in response to requests from professional photographers, but at its core is the same 24.3MP APS-C format X-Trans CMOS III sensor and X-Processor Pro engine as can be found in the company’s other recent X-Series cameras.
However, in a notable difference, the sensor can move to compensate for camera shake, as the X-H1 is the first Fujifilm X-Series camera to helpfully feature in-body image stabilisation (IBIS). This operates across five axes and has a claimed maximum compensation value of 5.5EV. Another key introduction is that Fuji has given the X-H1’s mechanical shutter a new spring mechanism that is designed to minimise vibration and operation sound.
Like the X-T2, X-Pro2 and X-E3, the X-H1 has Fuji’s 91/325-point Intelligent Hybrid “With 3.69 million dots, the X-H1’s electronic viewfinder (EVF) matches the GFX’s for resolution” autofocus (AF) system that uses both phase and contrast detection. However, Fuji has improved the phase-detection algorithm and made the system sensitive down to -1EV while the contrast detection system has the same
-3EV sensitivity. In addition, Fuji has worked on the continuous AF performance to make it better at tracking moving subjects.
Fujifilm also wants the X-H1 to have more appeal to videographers than its earlier cameras. With this in mind, it’s possible to shoot C4K (4,096 x 2,160) footage at 200Mbps with F-Log Gamma for better grading and matching of multiple camera outputs. Further good news is that this can be recorded to a memory card in the camera or an HDMI device.
Those who want to produce attractive results direct from the camera can use Fuji’s Film Simulation modes, including the new ‘Eterna’ mode introduced with the X-H1, which is designed to replicate the look of cinematic film, with rich shadows and some subtle colour saturation.
Looks-wise, the Fuji X-H1 resembles a cross-breed of the X-T2 and GFX 50S. It’s not as deep as the medium-format GFX, but at 139.8 x 97.3 x 85.5mm it’s quite a bit chunkier than the X-T2 (132.5 x 91.8mm x 49.2mm) – this was a key request to Fuji from professional photographers.
In the AF/MF tab of the X-H1’s menu is the AF-C Custom settings, allowing you to customise the response of the continuous autofocus (AF-C) system.
These comprise five Sets of settings along with a sixth that is provided for the photographer to customise. Each of the Sets specifies values for Tracking Sensitivity, Speed Tracking Sensitivity and Zone Area Switching. These are designed to take control over how quickly the camera adjusts the focus when the subject distance or speed of movement changes, or prioritise the focus area. A good understanding of the subject and the situation is needed, but the menu screen displays typical uses for each Set.
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A new scratch-resistant coating makes the camera more durable than previous models, while seals around the joints and controls ensure that the X-H1 is dust and water-resistant. It’s also freeze-resistant down to -10°C. On the top of the camera there are dials for setting the sensitivity and shutter speed, but the presence of a 1.28-inch LCD on the top plate means there’s no room for an exposure compensation dial. Instead, there’s a button to the side of the shutter release that is pressed while the rear command dial is rotated. This button is little awkward to locate when the camera is held to your eye, but it is possible to use the customisation menu to dedicate another button, such as the one on the front of the camera next to the grip, to take on this duty.
Both dials on the X-H1’s top plate are lockable and while the shutter speed dial seems well protected from being accidentally knocked out of position, the sensitivity dial is more prone and we found it best to keep it locked in place.
With 3.69 million dots, the Fujifilm X-H1’s electronic viewfinder (EVF) matches the GFX’s for resolution and is paired with a maximum frame rate of 100 frames per second in the Boosted performance setting plus a lag of 0.005 seconds. It provides a detailed view of moving and stationary subjects. There’s also a Natural Live View setting if you prefer the electronic viewfinder to simulate the look of an optical viewfinder, but we prefer the standard view that shows the impact of exposure, colour and white balance settings.
“The X-H1’s AF system is fast in decent light and can keep pace with a speeding subject”
By Fujifilm’s own admission, the presence of the same sensor and processing engine as is in the X-T2 (and others) means that grip the X-H1 produces the same quality images. However, the addition of IBIS and the improved AF system should enable it to produce the highest possible quality in a wider range of situations.
When shooting with the XF 16-55mm R LM WR lens at 55mm, we had a hit rate of 60 per cent at 1/8sec and 20 per cent and 1/4 sec; these equate to compensation values of around 3.5 and 4.5EV, which are a bit shy of Fujifilm’s claims.
As we expected, the X-H1’s AF system is fast in decent light and can keep pace with a speeding subject. However, it’s not completely reliable in low light and when photographing dancers indoors, it missed a few shots that we felt it should be capable of delivering. To be fair, there were also a few tricky lighting scenarios where it surprised us by getting the subject sharp.
As with the rest of the X Series, the images that the X-H1 produces are generally attractive with a good level of detail and pleasant colours that are dictated by the selected Film Simulation mode. Noise is controlled well and even ISO 6400 images look very good.