Fujifilm X-H1 User’s Experience

Review Date: June 4, 2018

Category: Advanced to Pro

Fujifilm X-H1 with optional Vertical Power Booster Grip VPB-XH1

Fujifilm X-H1 with optional Vertical Power Booster Grip VPB-XH1

Photoxels Editor's Choice 2018 - Mirrorless Interchangeable Lens Camera
Photoxels Editor’s Choice 2018 – Mirrorless Interchangeable Lens Camera

5 User's Experience


Tuesday, May 8, 2018 – Here’s what I receive in the box:

  • Fujifilm X-H1 (black)
  • No memory card [I used 2 16GB SDHC II memory card for the review]
  • Li-ion Battery NP-W126S 8.4V 1260mAh 8.7Wh
  • BC-W126 Battery Charger with power cord
  • Shoulder Strap
  • Body Cap
  • External flash EF-X8
  • Metal strap clips (2) with Protective covers (2) and a Clip attaching tool
  • Documentation: Owner’s Manual
  • Handgrip with AC-9VS AC Power Adapter Charger and two Li-ion batteries NP-W126S

I also chose to pair the X-H1 with the following wide-angle zoom lens:

  • FUJINON XF16-55mmF2.8 R LM WR [24-83mm equiv.]
  • Soft Carrying Case
The announcement of the Fujifilm X-H1 back in February was somewhat of a surprise for me. I (and I guess everyone else) was expecting an X-T3, but Fujifilm chose instead to branch out to a completely new model to represent a new breed of camera targeted specifically to the professional photographer. The X-H series is billed as the “Hyper-X” series for highest performance required by pros in the field — and the first of the series, the X-H1, is the product of talking to professional photographers and responding to their exacting needs and standards.

What were those pros’ requirements? They seem to be mostly in the handling of the camera:

  • a large grip design for stability and comfort
  • leaf-spring switch for a feather touch shutter-release button, reducing further camera shake and allowing for quick capture
  • a quieter mechanical shutter, completely silent electronic shutter
  • a new toughened body and lens mount able to safely handle large and heavy telephoto lenses
  • a new focus level
  • an AF-ON button
  • bigger buttons for more comfortable operation
  • a touch-enabled LCD
  • a top-body LCD panel

These might seem small changes but when you are using the camera for long periods of time, changing lenses often, attaching heavy telephoto lenses, you do not want the camera to get in the way, to hunt for tiny buttons or for the camera to fail.

In addition, to successfully compete with the existing competition, the X-H1 added the following features:

  • cinema-oriented video
  • best of its kind 5.5 stops 5-axis In-Body Image Stabilization (IBIS)

Why did Fujifilm not add these enhancements into the X-T2 and bring out the X-T3? Probably because it wants to keep the X-T series as compact and light as possible, and so the X-H series is born.

The Fujifilm X-H1 offers both in-body image stabilization and DCI 4K (4096×2160) video. The video offers a digital cinema aspect ratio (17:9) and a high bit rate of 200 Mbps. You can use the highest ISO 25600, a low shutter speed of 1/4 sec, and even Film Simulation modes in video. A built-in premium sound microphone (24bit / 48KHz) permits high-resolution sound recording.

You’ll love the huge, bright and clear electronic viewfinder with 3.69 million-dot resolution, 0.75x magnification, display time lag of 0.005 seconds and a frame rate of 100 fps. The EVF has the same eyepoint as on the X-T2, and I could see the whole screen wearing glasses on the X-T2. On the X-H1, I have to push closer to the eyecup to see the top part of the screen. Could be the redesigned eyecup is the culprit. The diopter dial is one of the easiest I’ve used.

The X-H1 has the same tilt mechanism on the 3-inch LCD that allows tilting in portrait or landscape orientation. Despite the real estate available, the viewable portion of the screen is not as large as you’d expect, nor as high resolution (same 1.04 million-dot resolution as on the X-T2). The LCD can also be quite difficult to view in bright sunlight.

I may be wrong, but it seems that the EVF and the LCD do not gain up in low light.

Emulating the design of the mirrorless medium format GFX 50S, an 1.28 inch sub-LCD on the top of the camera allows for instant confirmation of shooting information. The display remains visible even when the camera is turned off. I love dedicated dials, but I don’t mourn the loss of the Exposure Compensation dial. Also, I am usually not a fan of top panels but this sub-LCD panel is simply a thing of beauty with its white on black (or vice-versa) letterings.

Compared to the X-T2, the X-H1 has:

  • the same 24.3 megapixel APS-C sized X-Trans CMOS III sensor without low-pass filter;
  • the same 2-axis three-direction tilt LCD (1.04M-dot resolution) but now touch enabled;
  • a new beautiful electronic viewfinder with 3.69M-dot resolution (compared to 2.36M_dot on the X-T2), slightly lower, but still huge, 0.75x magnification (compared to 0.77x on the X-T2), display time lag of 0.005 seconds and a frame rate of 100 fps
  • the Exposure Compensation dial is replaced by a button and a beautiful top plate sub-LCD display
  • the same 325 AF points with custom settings but with more sensitive phase detection AF;
  • the first in-body I.S. in a Fujifilm X series mirrorless, providing up to 5.5 stops image stabilization;
  • a new shutter shock absorption mechanism for quieter mechanical shutter
  • feather-touch shutter button

The redesigned shutter release button takes some getting used to: it has a very short travel and is very sensitive. That helps in reducing camera shake but also makes half-press of the shutter button almost impossible. At first, I get frustrated. After a while, I give up on half-press and simply rely on the fast AF to lock focus and the metering to lock exposure and simply click away. The mechanical shutter mechanism itself is very quiet and, of course, the electronic shutter is completely silent.

AF is FAST. Though there is a slight lag in very low light, gone is the feeling that there is an AF lag (even imperceptible) when shooting in adequate lighting.

The battery remains the Achilles heel for mirrorless cameras, though with the optional handgrip attached, you have three batteries in total powering the X-H1, boosting battery life to around 900 shots.

Though slightly larger and heavier than the X-T2 (or X-Pro2), I carried the X-H1 (with XF16-55mm lens attached) without a shoulder strap and did not feel like I was hauling a cumbersome and too heavy DSLR.

The XF16-55mm is silky smooth and the AF locks in very quietly.

I really like the lock buttons on the Shutter Speed dial and the ISO dial. Unlocked, you may find the dials are too easy to knock off their settings.

The Exposure Compensation button needs to be a bit easier to locate by feel. Likewise, I would venture to say the other control buttons may need to be made even bigger so they can be easily pressed with thick winter gloves on.

Yes, you can now use the Menu to select ISO: Just set the ISO DIAL SETTING (A) to be COMMAND (instead of AUTO) and use the Front Command dial to select an ISO. I was not aware of that feature at first and spent a frustrating time in the field trying to figure out why all my shots were at ISO 51200 instead of being automatically selected depending on the light availability (since the ISO dial was at “A”). There should be an indication somewhere on the sub-LCD that we are in ISO Command mode.

Wi-Fi on Fujifilm mirrorless needs to be seriously upgraded: I was this time unable to get PC AUTOSAVE to register and work on my Mac after spending a frustrating hour trying to coax it to connect. [The best Wi-Fi implementation I’ve used so far was hands-down on the now defunct Samsung NX cameras.]

What I like about the X-H1:

  • Top-notch construction (metal feel, heft, texture).
  • Weather-sealed body: Splash-proof, dust-proof and freeze-proof.
  • Direct control dials, with lock/unlock release buttons.
  • 2-axis tilting LCD that stays positioned on the optical axis of the lens (I always feel weird pointing the camera one way and looking at a LCD offset to the left).
  • Large and bright EVF with rotating info.
  • It’s a small thing, but it’s great to be able to easily adjust the diopter control
  • In-body image stabilization, at last
  • Cinematic-oriented video

No review is complete without a couple of improvement suggestions:

  • Bigger buttons for glove wearers.
  • ISO COMMAND indicator on sub-LCD display.
  • Upgrade the LCD display: higher resolution, better view-ability in sunlight, and eliminate touch lag.
  • EVF and LCD need to gain up in low light.
  • Upgrade Wi-Fi capability.
  • Longer-lasting battery.

Once again, Fujifilm has shown that it listens and responds to feedback, this time specifically from professional photographers. Though the X-H1 is currently not too far off in specs (and price) from the X-T2, remember that the Fujifilm X-H1 is only the first camera in the professional X-H series and we can therefore expect more improvements in future model responding to the specific needs of professional photographers — and that is where we may start seeing the X-T and X-H series diverge more.

The X-H1 is Fujifilm’s answer to the Sony A7 III, which is itself the answer to the Nikon D850. So, Fujifilm is giving DSLR professional photographers who have yet to switch to a mirrorless system an insanely stylish and capable camera they simply must try out before settling on a mirrorless system. Highly Recommended.

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Next: Fujifilm X-H1 QuickFact Sheet / Buy

Related Links:

Fujifilm X-H1 Press Release
Fujifilm X-H1 Specifications
Fujifilm X-H1 Sample Images
Fujifilm X-H1 Special Site
Fujifilm X-H1 Catalogue

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