Fujifilm X-H1 Review
The Fujifilm X-H1 is the company's range-topping APS-C camera and its most video-capable camera to date. It's based around the same 24MP sensor as the X-T2 but adds in-body image stabilization as well as a more comprehensive set of video options.
The X-H1 looks like a fractionally larger X-T2 but with the sloped viewfinder 'prism' and top-panel LCD that hint at the styling of the GFX 50S. Fujifilm has also clearly been listening to critics of the X-T series and have made the camera's grip and buttons significantly larger, particularly the AE-L and newly-added AF-On buttons.
- 24MP X-Trans APS-C sensor
- 5-axis in-body image stabilization (rated at 5EV)*
- 3.69M-dot OLED viewfinder
- Touch sensitive rear LCD with two-axis tilt
- DCI and UHD 4K capture at up to 200 Mbps
- Slow motion 1080 (from 120 and 100 fps)
- Internal F-Log capture
- 24-bit audio capture
- Eterna/Cinema Film Simulation mode
- Reduced blackout in continuous shooting
- Twin UHS-II-compatible card slots
- Anti-flicker shooting mode
- Wi-Fi with Bluetooth for constant connection
The company says it's made further improvements to its AF system and says the new camera will be able to focus in lower light and with smaller apertures.
Despite being based around the same sensor and processor, the X-H1 promises significantly improved video performance, with the range of shooting options extended to include DCI as well as UHD 4K shooting, bitrates up to 200 Mbps and the ability to record F-Log footage internally.
Other additions include the movie style 'Eterna' Film Simulation and an anti-flicker option for shooting under artificial lights.
Interestingly, although rated at 5EV, Fujifilm says the stabilization can hit 5.5EV of effectiveness if paired with non-IS lenses. The explanation for this is that the unstabilized lenses tend to be primes and are generally relatively wide focal lengths, both of which mean they're more likely to project a larger image circle than the sensor requires. This gives the sensor more room to move around, providing greater stabilization.
The X-T2 is already a very credible video performer: offering good levels of detail capture and Log output over HDMI if needed. The X-H1 takes this a step further. In addition to being able to shoot UHD 4K at up to 30p it can also shoot the wider aspect ratio DCI 4K format at 23.98 and 24p. Enhanced compression options allow capture at up to 200 Mbps and it can also capture F-Log footage internally.
Like the X-T2, the H1 uses a 1.17x crop region of its sensor to capture its UHD and DCI 4K video. This means using roughly 1.4x more pixels than necessary, in each dimension, to produce its UHD footage. This oversampling leads to higher levels of detail capture than would be possible by simply using a 3840 x 2160 region. If the X-T2 is anything to go by, it should look good and have pretty well-controlled rolling shutter.
It seems most of the camera's additional size relates to the addition of the stabilization unit, but thermal management has also been improved, allowing the camera to shoot 4K for 15 minutes, rather than the 10 of the X-T2. However, as with the X-T2, there's an optional battery grip that lets the camera cycle between drawing power from each of three batteries. Presumably this avoids too much heat building up in the same place, since it extends the camera's 4K shooting duration out to the traditional 29 minutes, 59 seconds stipulated by import duty regulations.
On top of this comes the ability for the camera to retain a raft of settings separately for stills and video. This means you don't have to significantly reconfigure the camera every time you switch from stills to video shooting or back.
|Parameters treated independently for movie shooting|
The obvious things that can't be set independently for stills and movie shooting are the exposure settings, since these are primarily defined by dedicated control dials. If you plan to swap back and forth between stills and video shooting, the camera's new 'Movie Silent Control' mode is one way around this.
Movie Silent Control disables the aperture ring, shutter speed dial and ISO dial, passing control to a touchscreen, joystick and four-way controller-based interface. This means discrete stills and video settings can be maintained, since the dedicated control points no longer have any affect in video mode.
However you choose to control exposure in movie mode, you'll quickly find that the X-H1 offers shutter speeds equivalent to 360, 180 and 90 degree shutter angles for 24, 30 and 60p video capture, with the options for 1/24th, 1/48th, 1/96th, 120th and 1/240th becoming available.
Like its sibling, the X-H1 offers a series of focus peaking options (color and intensity) but no zebra warnings for setting exposure, beyond the 'Live View Highlight Warning' option that indicates an unspecified and unspecifiable brightness.
The X-H1 also brings Fujifilm's DR modes to movie capture for the first time, allowing you to capture more highlight information, if you can tolerate higher ISO settings. Meanwhile the 'Eterna/Cinema' Film simulation is designed to give 'soft,' low-saturation footage with low contrast but distinct shadows. Fujifilm says it can be used as an end-point in itself or to give yourself a degree of latitude for color grading.
Users of Fujifilm's MK lenses (launched in X-mount alongside the X-H1) will appreciate the ability to view aperture as T-stops, rather than F-numbers. It's unclear at this point whether this option will be available with adapted and third-party lenses identified this way.
Dynamic Range Priority
Fujifilm was one of the first brands to exploit the ISO-invariant properties of the sensors it uses through its Dynamic Range modes (The DR modes offer multiple ways of delivering ISO settings using different amounts of hardware amplification to capture additional highlight information).
The X-H1 takes this further with a 'Dynamic Range Priority' mode. This uses the existing DR modes in combination with the camera's ability to adjust the Highlight and Shadow aspects of its tone curves. There are four settings: Weak, Strong, Auto and Off. The 'Weak' setting is DR200% mode with highlights and shadows softened by 1 step (since it's based on DR200%, is only available from ISO 400 upwards), while 'Strong' is DR400% with Highlights and Shadows set to -2. Strong is only available from ISO 800 or higher.
New shutter mechanism
Along with in-body stabilization, the X-H1 gains a new, quieter shutter mechanism. In addition to being quieter, it also allows the camera to offer Electronic First Curtain (EFC) shutter mode. In this mode the sensor being activated starts the exposure but a physical shutter is still used to end it, so that you significantly reduce the risk of shutter shock without increasing the risk of rolling shutter.
Various combinations of EFC, mechanical and fully electronic shutter are available, to allow the use of each mode for the shutter speeds where it gives its greatest advantage.
Compared with its peers
The X-H1 is the latest high-end crop sensor camera to offer both stills and video shooting but each one provides a different set of features:
|Fujifilm X-H1||Fujifilm X-T2||Sony a6500||Panasonic GH5|
|Sensor size||APS-C||APS-C||APS-C||Four Thirds|
|Image Stablization||5-axis, 5.5EV||Lens only||5-axis, 5EV||5-axis, 5EV|
|Maximum shooting rate||14 fps with e-shutter, 8 fps mechanical (11 with grip)||
14 fps with e-shutter, 8 fps mechanical (11 with grip)
|11 fps||9 fps (11 with S-AF)|
|Screen articulation||Two-axis tilt||Two-axis tilt||Tilt||Fully articulated|
|EVF||3.69M dots||2.36M dots||2.36M dots||3.69M dots|
|Video Bit depth||8||8||8||10|
|200||100||100||400 (150 in 8-bit mode|
|Mic / Headphone sockets?||Yes / On VPB-XH1 accessory grip||Yes / On VPB-XT2 accessory grip||Yes / No||Yes / Yes|
|Log capture?||Yes||HDMI out only||Yes||HLG (V-Log L Via paid upgrade)|
|USB||3.0 Micro Type B||3.0 Micro Type B||2.0 Micro Type B||3.1 Type C|
|Shots per charge (CIPA rating)||310||340||310||410|
|Weight (with card and battery)||673g||507g||453g||725g|
Pricing and availability
The X-H1 is available with an MSRP of $1899 body only and $2199 bundled with the VPB-XH1 vertical grip.
|Review Publication History|
|February 15||Introduction, body and handling, first impressions and samples|
|March 15||In Use..., Autofocus, Image Stabilization, Image Quality,
Dynamic Range, Video and Conclusion added
*Fujifilm says the camera will give up to 5.5EV of stabilization when paired with non-stabilized XF lenses. As with all CIPA ratings, the performance is likely to be lower with very wide or long lenses.
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