Fujifilm X-H1 Review

Introduction

The Fujifilm X-H1 marks the latest release in the X series of mirrorless digital cameras. Initially released spring 2018, it man’s the helms as the current flagship line for the camera maker with a 24.3-megapixel X-Trans III APS-C sensor and 5-axis image stabilization. On paper, it’s specifications appear nearly identical to the popular X-T2 and X-Pro2, but it delivers expanded video capabilities.

The result is a brand new bread of camera from the manufacturer built on the successful principles of their previous lines. Fuji is renown for delivering high-quality fast lenses, none of which have optical stabilization. The inclusion of 5-axis stabilization marks a revolution evolution in their lineup. However, is this a significant enough change that convinces current X-Pro and X-T2 users to justify an upgrade? At its original release price, the camera competed with Sony’s A7 III, a full-frame camera with arguably a stronger feature set.

Tough competition. With the implementation of stabilization and updated video-centric features, Fuji is making aggressive efforts to catch up to current industry innovations. However, are these efforts sufficient, especially to convince current full-frame users to avoid the A7 III and go Fuji instead? In today’s post, we take a look at Fuji’s heavyweight hitter and see if it still makes the cut a year later.  

Fujifilm-X-H1-camera-body-black

 

What are some of the goods, bads, and the uglies of the Fujifilm X-H1?

Pros:

Image Quality

Image quality is undoubtedly a strength of this camera. The removal of the optical low pass filter (OLPF) delivers superior image quality, dynamic range, and color reproduction. Details are recoverable at nearly two stops before a reduction in image quality or noise occurs. Despite such a substantial shift in exposure, images still retain detail, contrast, and accurate color. Fuji’s color reproduction and color science are excellent. The built-in color profiles work well and replicate classic Fuji film stock in their current digital cameras, something lacking amongst the competition. Overall, this is a camera geared to provided fantastic JPEG images straight out of the camera, and one that can easily convince hardcore RAW shooters to entertain shooting JPEG. 

Video Quality

It has built-in log profiles, namely F-Log, which is the video equivalent of shooting in RAW. F-log delivers a much flatter profile with maximum dynamic range and makes it substantially easier to color grade or pull contrast in post-production. Not only that, users can now shoot F-log straight to the SD card, and no longer need to use an external recorder. Log profiles are a massive addition, and a feature serious videographers will appreciate. 

It shoots both standard Ultra HD 4k and DCI Cinema 4K. DCI 4K provides a slightly wider aspect ratio at 17:9, instead of 16:9 found in standard 4K. 

The maximum bitrate has double to 200 Mb/second.

It shoots 4K up to 30 fps. 

It can shoot 120 or 100 fps in Full HD 1080p, which is limited to 6 minutes of recording time, however. 

You can now use face detection AF while filming. 

It has a new film simulation profile, called “Eterna,” which is based off Fuji’s motion picture film of the same name which looks fantastic during filming. Eterna delivers videos with precise color and realistic contrast that creates immediately publishable video footage.  

Focusing Performance

The touch LCD allows users to focus the camera with the touch of a finger. They can pull focus, even when composing through the EVF up to their eye, tap to focus and tap to shoot. 

It inherits the same intelligent hybrid AF system that uses both contrast and phase-detect AF from the X-T2. It has a total of 325 AF points, 169 of which are phase-detection points. Overall, focusing performance in both AF-S and AF-C modes are phenomenal, even in continuous burst fire. The camera delivers a high hit rate, upwards of 90%, when tracking fast-moving subjects though does take a bit to familiarize oneself how to set up the camera for best results.

For manual focus users, it offers several assist functions: digital split image, dual view, focus magnification, and focus peaking. The combination of split image, which splits the image at the focus point, along with focus magnification makes achieving critical focus manually second nature. 

Display & Viewfinder

It features an improved EVF with a resolution at 3.69 million dots, 0.75X magnification and 100 fps refresh rate. The result is an EVF that is among the best in class. The EVF was already a strength of Fuji cameras, but it’s that much better. Not only that, but it also has a larger eyecup as well, further improving viewing comfort. In many respects, the EVF of this camera is on par with the Sony a9 and surely outcompetes the Sony a7 III. 

It has a 3-inch touch LCD that tilts. It produces a resolution of 1 million dots and more than adequate during bright sunlight. The addition of a touchscreen allows users to both touch focus and touch shoot, as mentioned previously. Outside of that, this LCD has an exciting addition. It supports swipe gestures and focus area selection. While, a bit cumbersome during initial familiarization, with practices users, can display any of the following with a simple swipe on display: display histograms, electronic level, exposure clipping, among other features. Touch functionality works even when an external monitor is connected, unexpected.

It has a dedicated view mode button on the camera, allowing users to customize the displays to their specific viewing preferences. 

It replaces the exposure compensation dial with a sub monitor on the top of its body, similar to the GFX50. This tertiary screen displays critical shooting parameters and is fully customizable, unlike similar displays on traditional SLRs. It uses an e-ink display that functions even when the camera is powered off. In terms of legibility, this is hard to beat. Here are just a few of the available options applicable to both stills and videos: movie mode, recording time, exposure compensation, ISO, and battery level. Overall, this display is extensive and works incredibly well. 

Both the LCD and viewfinder rotate when the camera is in portrait orientation. 

User Interface

It has a “My Menu” tab which is a programmable custom menu for quick access to necessary menu selection.

Physical Layout and ergonomics

The body of the camera is improved, now thicker by approximately 25% and has more magnesium alloy than its predecessors. With this increased thickness, comes increased weight, of course, which raised nearly 100 g. The camera also features an improved lens mount design. The culmination of these improvements delivers a build quality with greater endurance, strength, and better weather sealing. Not only that, but it also has a broader base, with much-improved handgrip that’s enlarged for more comfortable use. The grip now feels reassuring and gives users confidence knowing they won’t accidentally drop the camera. Lastly, the physical buttons are also larger, deeper, and more recessed, which further improves overall ergonomics. 

It has dedicated shutter speed, aperture, and ISO dials. 

It is entirely weather and dust sealed, even at temperatures down to – 10 C.

Niche features offered/Extras

It has 5-axis in-body image stabilization, making this Fuji’s first camera to provide this feature. Image stabilization is undoubtedly a godsend here, as it dramatically assists users when shooting handheld. Fuji rates the stabilization at delivering between 3.5 to 5.5 stops of stabilization, allowing users to shoot handheld at 1/15 of a second with confidence. The addition of stabilization also breathes new life into old lenses that lack optical image stabilization and dramatically increases their usability. While the performance of this system is on par with industry-standards, it still lags behind the Panasonic GH5. Panasonic is still superior amongst all manufacturers in this regard, hands down. 

It has a completely silent shutter.  

It has dual SD card slots, both of which are UHS-II.

It has a built-in flash, which has extensive control menu to customize its use. 

It has built-in Wi-Fi and Bluetooth. Wi-Fi allows the camera to perform remote shooting via Fuji’s Camera Remote app, which is reasonably robust. Here are a few of the adjustments possible through the app in both photo and video modes: aperture, ISO, shutter speed, and film simulations. Bluetooth, on the other hand, allows the camera to pair to compatible smartphone devices wirelessly. Bluetooth also provides the ability to transfer images automatically and geotag images through the devices GPS. 

It delivers a continuous burst rate of up to 8 fps, without lag or blackout. With the optional booster grip, the burst rate increases to 11 fps with the mechanical shutter and 14 fps with the electronic shutter. Buffer performance is impressive as well. It can maintain 8 fps indefinitely until the SD card is full, which is shy of 400 frames without a single stutter. 

It has built-in flicker reduction mode, which reduces inconsistencies in exposure caused when shooting under fluorescent lights. 

It has a built-in grain simulation mode, which generates digital noise similar to film grain. 

It has 16 built-in film simulation modes that apply Fuji’s classic film emulation to JPEG images to replicate the look of their analog film stocks. 

Users can save up to seven custom settings for specific shooting scenarios, considerably simplifying the complexity of changing selections. These are then programmable to any of its function buttons, including the swipe gestures. 

It has a microphone input port which has extended customization. Here is a list of the adjustments available: limiter, wind filter, and low cut filters. Huge pluses.

Fuji has a wide and varied selection of APS-C specific lenses available for use with this camera. They offer the most extensive range to date. However, Fuji lacks support from third-party manufacturers and doesn’t have a large selection of lens adapters like Sony or Canon. 

It has built-in focus bracketing, which takes a series of photos at different sections of the focus plane and merges them into a single image. Focus bracketing is a godsend for those who shoot macro photography as it allows users to adjust the focal point after the fact. 

Cons:

Video Quality

This camera only has 8-bit color, unlike the competition which supplies 10-bit color. 

It has an additional 1.17x crop factor when filming 4K; this is on top of its standard APS-C crop factor. In all, users will have to adjust their technique and lens selection to compensate for the additional crop. 

Auto aperture during filming is very abrupt. It does step gradations as it changes exposure which is both noticeable and quite distracting. To prevent this, use auto ISO instead.

4K recording is limited to 15 minutes and 1080p 20 minutes. Thankfully, the optional battery grip increases both to 30 minutes. Note: recording to an external recorder also obliterates this time limit.  

Focusing Performance

AF-C performance when filming is hit or miss. Face Detection has a relatively low hit rate compared to the competition. The new Eye AF also doesn’t work in video, unfortunately. Thankfully, Fuji has released several firmware updates to improve AF-C performance while filming video. Fingers crossed it’ll be remarkable, eventually. 

Low Light Performance

Just like the X-T2, the low light performance here too is adequate but not excellent. The camera is only sensitive down to EV -1 and supplies a limited native ISO range from ISO 200 to ISO 12,800. Unfortunately, noise appears at ISO 3,200, low in comparison to today’s standards. However, the noise that appears is pleasing and looks akin to film grain. Overall, this camera is not ideal for super low light shooting unless you plan on relying on image stabilization to compensate for poor ISO performance. If that’s the case, you should be okay in most circumstances. 

User Interface

While the touchscreen itself works well, the user interface, on the other hand, isn’t adequately optimized for touch input and is rather sluggish to use. Touch input only works for the quick menu as well and not the main menu. 

Its user menu is incredibly extensive and complex. Users will undoubtedly need to read the manual to comprehend this camera fully. 

Battery Life

Battery life is average, not great. Fuji rates the battery life at 310 shots on a single charge. This figure compares to the industry-standard seen in mirrorless cameras, which is 320 shots on a single charge. However, with the additional booster grip, which house two extra batteries, the battery life is extended up to threefold. Nice.

Layout and ergonomics

The shutter button of the camera is quite sensitive and will inevitably cause many unexpected triggers during initial familiarization. However, the softness is a pro simultaneously as it prevents unnecessary camera shake induced by depressing the shutter; allows users to shoot in even lower light handheld. 

While this camera provides many physical dials, there are no custom user-defined modes (U1 or C1, depending on camera manufacturer). Lack of a custom mode means users are forced to reset shooting parameters every time the shooting environment changes. 

Features removed

It lacks zebras.

It doesn’t display audio waveforms during filming. 

It lacks 4K at 60 fps. 

While it has a built-in time-lapse mode that provides ample customization, it doesn’t generate an in-camera video file of the resulting lapse. Users will have to combine them manually instead.

It uses a USB 3 (Micro Type B) port, oddly enough. These are not commonplace in the market. Why they didn’t opt for USB C is beyond us.

The buffer performance is lacking at 14 fps with the grip installed. It fills after 40 JPEG and 23 uncompressed RAW images. Shooting at 8 fps is better if shooting sports, as it provides unlimited photos.

Is the Fujifilm X-H1 a good starting camera?

Yes, it makes an excellent choice for the starting camera. Don’t confuse this camera with a video refresh of the X-T2. The improvements and innovations made here deliver a far better all-round camera across the board. There’s an attention to detail with this camera that’s lacking in this price point among its competition. The X-H1 is Fuji’s best and strongest camera to date. It makes a fantastic choice for the beginning multimedia shooter and experienced professionals alike. It’s incredibly customizable, well-performing, and built to last through years of demanding use.

What are the best lenses for the Fujifilm X-H1? 

General Photography: 

Fujinon XF18-135mmF3.5-5.6 R LM OIS WR
Fujinon XF55-200mmF3.5-4.8 R LM OIS

Specifically for Macro Photography:

XF60mmF2.4 R Macro

Specifically for Landscape Photography:

Fujinon XF14mmF2.8 R
XF27mmF2.8

Specifically for Portrait Photography:

XF35mmF2 R WR
Fujinon XF50mmF2 R WR
XF90mmF2 R LM WR

Best bundles for the Fujifilm X-H1

camera bundle

Is the Fujifilm X-H1 a good camera for you?

Yes, surely it could be an excellent choice. While not the smallest offering from Fuji in physical size, which can be a deal-breaker to some desiring a more compact travelers camera. The increase in size makes it the strongest, durable, and best handling Fuji to date. For hybrid shooters demanding convenience, this may not be the camera for you. However, if you are willing to overlook physical size, this may be the perfect fit for you. This camera is ideal for multimedia content creators who shoot both photo and video desiring a robust performing hybrid camera. 

The X-H1 makes great leaps and improvements over the X-T2 with in-camera stabilization and added video-centric features. While it has some shortcomings in AF performance, low light, and missing input ports, it is on par with the competition in all other regards. That said, current Fuji users should seriously consider upgrading if their budget allows. This is Fuji’s best camera to date, and though it arrives at a time where the competition is fierce, it holds steadfast on its own. 

This camera is marketed heavily towards serious and professional level videographers, but the lack of headphone jack (without the additional grip) can surely turn of this demographic. However, remember, the booster grip increases the limited video recording time, delivers three times the battery life, and adds additional ports. So, while it is an added expense, it does offer significant value. The newly released X-T3 has all of these features built-in, however. So the feature set provided here leaves serious videographers somewhat underwhelmed. The XT-3 may be a better alternative if these are deal-breakers to you.

Nonetheless, this is a phenomenal camera in all and one that still competitive in 2019.

Overview
  • Image Quality
  • Video Quality
  • Focusing Performance
  • Low Light Performance
  • Dynamic Range
  • Battery Performance
  • Display & Viewfinder
  • User Interface
  • Physical Layout & Ergonomics
3.6

Summary

Fujifilm’s X-H1 is an incredibly customizable and well-performing camera built to last through years of demanding use. While not the smallest offering from Fuji, it is, however, the most durable Fuji to date. It makes significant leaps and improvements over the X-T2 with in-body stabilization and added video-centric features. Undoubtedly, it makes a compelling camera for hybrid shooters and current Fuji users. While it has some shortcomings in AF performance, low light, and missing inputs, it is on par with the competition in all other areas. The innovations made here have delivered a better all-round camera across the board and Fuji’s best camera to date. Fuji has created a camera that makes an excellent choice for beginners or experienced professionals alike and one that’s still competitive in 2019.