The Fujifilm X-H1 is the new flagship X Series mirrorless camera, sitting above both the X-T2 and X-Pro2 in the range. As you'd expect for a camera aimed at serious enthusiast photographers, pros and videographers alike, the X-H1 features a comprehensive specification, including in-body image stabilization – a first for a Fujifilm camera,.
That said, it shares a lot of tech with its siblings, so the question is whether the X-H1 offers enough new features to differentiate it from the rest of the Fujifilm X Series range. Let's take a closer look…
- In-body image stabilization is a first for an X Series camera
- Cinema 4K at 24p
- Same 24.3MP APS-C X-Trans III CMOS sensor as X-T2
For the X-H1 Fujifilm has opted to stick with its 24.3MP APS-C X-Trans III CMOS sensor, which we first saw back in 2016 in the X-Pro2, and which has since found its way into the likes of the X-T2, X-T20 and X100F. It's a sensor that's certainly impressed us in the past, but the relatively modest ISO range of 200-12,800 (expandable to 100-51,200) looks a little conservative compared to some potential rivals; the Nikon D500, for instance, has an extended sensitivity range that hits an ISO equivalent of 1,640,000.
If Fujifilm's engineers may have taken it easy in the sensor department, they've been busy elsewhere on the X-H1, and the big news is the arrival of in-body image stabilization (IBIS for short). While we've seen sensor-shift anti-shake technology on mirrorless cameras from Sony, Panasonic and Olympus, Fujifilm users have had to make do with the limited lineup of optical stabilized Fujinon lenses.
This all changes with the X-H1, with the new in-camera 5-axis system offering up to 5.5 stops of compensation with any lens not equipped with Fujifilm's OIS technology, which is great news if you've got a bag full of Fujifilm's lovely fast prime lenses. And you're not missing out if you want to pair an OIS lens with the X-H1 either, as the camera's IBIS will work in tandem with the OIS to provide a 3-axis system.
That's not all, as Fujifilm has also equipped the shutter with suspension for absorbing the shocks that can be generated when using the mechanical shutter, which should help reduce the risk of any additional camera shake.
While Fujifilm doesn't want the X-H1 to be seen as quite the hybrid video camera the Panasonic Lumix GH5 is considered to be, it has improved the camera's video recording capabilities over the X-T2. As well as offering 4K recording (3840 x 2160) at 30p, the X-H1 also offers DCI 4K (4096 x 2160) at up to 24p, while it also has the edge over the X-T2 when capturing Full HD footage, being capable of shooting at up to 120p compared to the X-T2's 60p.
Fujifilm has also doubled the bit rate on the X-H1 over the X-T2, increasing it from 100Mbps to 200Mbps, while it also offers a 400% dynamic range setting (approximately 12 stops) and an F-log shooting mode. There's also a new ETERNA film simulation setting which Fujifilm reckons is ideal for shooting movies; this simulates the look of cinematic film, creating understated colors and rich shadow tones.
The X-H1 gets a bigger electronic viewfinder than the X-T2, with the 2.36 million-dot OLED display in the X-T2 replaced by a 3.69 million-dot OLED unit, although the magnification is down a touch, from 0.77x to 0.75x.
As we first saw on the X-T2, the X-H1 has a 3.0-inch rear display with a double-jointed articulated movement which means the screen can also be pulled outwards and away from the body when the camera is tilted on its side. One noticeable change from the X-T2 is the arrival of touchscreen functionality.
In terms of connectivity, the X-H1 gets Bluetooth on top of Wi-Fi and NFC, and once you've paired the camera with your smartphone or tablet and downloaded the accompanying Fujifilm Camera Remote app you'll be able to easily transfer your images and share them on social media
Build and handling
- Dedicated AF-On button
- Much more pronounced grip than X-T2
- 1.28-inch LCD on top plate
As you'd expect for a camera aimed at serious enthusiasts and pros, the X-H1 is both dust-proof and water-resistant, while it's also designed to operate in temperatures as low as -10C. It's similar to the X-T2 in these respects, but to underline the X-H1's pro credentials the magnesium alloy used for the shell is 25% thicker than that used in the X-T2, and it sports a high-quality scratch-resistant coating.
The design of the X-H1 is a fusion of the X-T2 and the medium-format GFX 50S, with the most notable feature taken from the latter camera being the pronounced handgrip. This gives a much more satisfactory grip than the X-T2, especially if you're going to be shooting over long periods.
Another feature borrowed from the GFX 50S is the 1.28-inch LCD on the top of the camera. This displays all key shooting information, but it does come at the expense of the dedicated exposure compensation dial on the X-T2; instead there's a little exposure comp button next to the shutter release, and, just as we found when shooting with the GFX 50S, it's a tad awkward to use this in conjunction with the rear command dial.
Current X Series users, though, should feel right at home with the controls of the X-H1, with dedicated dials for ISO and shutter speed (both featuring locking buttons to prevent accidental movement), along with switches for drive modes and metering.
As we've come to expect with an X Series camera, the X-H1 is highly customizable, with the segments of the four-way control pad on the rear, as well as the dedicated function buttons, all capable of being assigned different functions via the menu.
As we've seen on recent X Series cameras, the X-H1 benefits from a small focus lever, while there's now a dedicated AF-On button on the rear of the camera for back-button focusing, a technique many photographers swear by – although if we're being hypercritical its positioning could do with shifting about 5mm to the right so the thumb falls more naturally on it.
Thanks to the re-designed shutter mechanism with improved damping, anyone who's shot with the X-T2 (or other X Series cameras) will instantly notice how much quieter the shutter is when triggered. The new feather-touch shutter button can take a little getting used to, as it's incredibly sensitive, but once you've got to grips with the hair trigger on the X-H1 you'll find it a welcome addition.
- Tweaked version of the AF system used in the X-T2
- 91-point phase-detect AF system
- 5 AF-C custom settings to help focus tracking
The Fujifilm X-H1 uses the same hybrid autofocus system (featuring both phase- and contrast-detection AF) as the X-T2, but Fujifilm has tinkered with the AF algorithm to enhance the performance further, while it's also improved the sensitivity of the phase-detection AF; it's now sensitive down to light levels as low as -1EV, compared to -0.5EV on the X-T2, and this is complemented by the -3EV sensitivity of the contrast-detection system.
Furthermore, if you use or are planning to use teleconverters with moderately slow lenses, such as the XF100-400mm f/4.5-5.6 R LM OIS WR, the good news is that the minimum aperture has been expanded from f/8 to f/11 on the X-H1, allowing phase-detection autofocus to be used at slow apertures.
The autofocus system in the X-H1, then, offers 91 phase-detect AF points arranged to provide decent coverage across the frame, while it's possible to have a total of 325 AF points at your disposal thanks to the contrast-detect AF points coming into play. However, it's only possible to access all 325 points in Single focus mode – switch to Continuous (AF-C), and while the contrast-detect points support AF acquisition, they aren't selectable.
As on the X-T2 there are five AF-C presets to choose from depending on how your subject is moving in the frame, how fast it's moving, and where in the frame you want the camera to place bias for focusing. These three parameters are called Tracking Sensitivity (how long the camera waits before switching focus), Speed Tracking Sensitivity (determines how sensitive the tracking system is to changes in subject speed) and Zone Area Switching (whether bias is to the centre, auto or front), and as well as the five presets there's also a custom setting allowing you to refine the three variables yourself.
The AF system performs very well for static subjects, with focusing both quiet and quick (we tested the X-H1 with Fujifilm's 16-55mm f/2.8 standard zoom). Switch to continuous AF and the tracking system is still very competent – we found that it could happily track fairly predictable subjects, although it will struggle when movement becomes a bit more tricky to judge.
There's still room for improvement – the X-H1's AF system doesn't quite have the sophistication of the 693-point AF system in the (albeit slightly pricer) Sony Alpha A7 III, or the excellent 153-point AF system in the Nikon D500.
- Same burst shooting speed as the X-T2
- Viewfinder is bright and crisp
- Solid metering performance
As Fujifilm's flagship camera you'd expect the X-H1 to offer some performance advantages over cameras further down the range, but perhaps a little disappointingly the X-H1 shares the same burst shooting speeds as the X-T2.
With the mechanical shutter selected both cameras are capable of shooting at 8fps, and, with a SDHC UHS-II card installed, can capture 31 compressed raw files at this rate. Compare that to the Nikon D500, which is capable of shooting 200 compressed raw files at 10fps (admittedly with an XQD card), and the X-H1 looks a little pedestrian.
The X-H1 can shoot at a faster rate of 14fps if you opt to use the electronic shutter (for 27 raw files), while should you add the optional VPB-XH1 battery grip to the mix the burst rate increases to a fast 11fps with the mechanical shutter.
The viewfinder is excellent. Raise the camera to your eye and the display is large and bright, while the clarity and color rendition don't disappoint; in low-light conditions things get a little noisy, as the screen is artificially lightened, but you can still easily frame your subject, albeit at the expense of the increased grain. We'd suggest though that you opt for the optional 'Boost' mode under Power Management in the menu of the X-H1, as this sees the refresh rate increase to 100fps – it's worth the sacrifice of the extra power used by the battery.
Fujifilm has stuck with its TTL 256-zone metering system for the X-H1 – it's a system that's been used in the majority of X Series cameras, and it's a consistent performer. In high-contrast scenes it does tend to underexpose the shot to preserve highlight detail, though, and there will be occasions when you have to dial in a touch of exposure compensation to rectify this.
The X-H1 uses Fujifilm's NP-W126S Li-ion battery – that's the same battery as the X-T2, which is good news if you're planning to have both cameras in your kit bag, but the X-T2 has the slightly better battery life of 340 shots, compared to 310 shots for the X-H1.
This can be attributed to a number things, including the fact that the larger viewfinder and in-body stabilization are likely to drain the power of the X-H1 a little more. We'd recommend getting the VPB-XH1 battery grip, as you can pack in an extra two batteries (in addition to the one in the body), while handling is also improved for portrait-format shooting.
- 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 range display are exceptionally clean – you'll have to look really closely for signs of luminance (grain-like) noise 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 colors 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 detail once the files had been opened in Lightroom.
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 Series 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.
And then there's the price: at £1,699 / $ 1,899 / AU$ 3,399 (you'll only be able to get the X-H1 with the VPB-XH1 grip in Australia), Fujifilm is pitting the X-H1 against some very tough competition, including the likes of the Nikon D500 and full-frame Sony Alpha A7 III.
In short, then, the X-H1 is sure to appeal to X Series shooters who've been crying out for in-body image stabilization, but it doesn't have quite the same broad appeal as the X-T2. The Fujifilm X-H1 is a very good camera, but not quite a great one.