My impressions of the Fujifilm X-H1
As stated in other posts, this is not a camera I had planned on buying. When it was announced I read about it, figured it to be a nice step forward and let it go. I heard about the X-T3 coming next year and figured thats my huckleberry. But the X-H1 showed up, and the early testers had some interesting things to say about it. More importantly, a couple of the few trusted souls that actually use cameras and practice photography gave it pretty high marks. I stumbled across a few reports about the IBIS (Internal Body Image Stabilization) that had me conjuring up a few uses in my own world but the capper was the hype surrounding the AF and overall internal processing improvements. All this using the same components as the X-T2. So I had to see for myself. These few things I heard about could matter for some of my work. Not in an earth shaking, life altering way, this is after all, just a camera. But more in a well rounded professional way. Maybe work more efficiently with less worry? Better results?
What people who do not use a camera full time, or any time they use one to make a living, don't understand are the features that matters to a pro. Any camera I have held in my hand recently (going back several years to Nikon D90's) is capable of professional work. But some cameras have certain features and tick certain boxes that make them of more use to a pro than what may be desired to those that shoot for a hobby. Those features usually add substantially to development costs which is why they are omitted from mainstream equipment. I love my Fujifilm cameras. I have always considered them just as professional as anything else I have used save for the Nikon D4/D4s/D5 bodies. Those Dx series of cameras cost a lot but they have features that the lesser bodies like D8xx's lack. They have a very robust build and weather proofing too but still use many of the same components as the "lesser" prosumer D8xx bodies. You can push the Dx cameras hard and they take it. My X-T2's and X-Pro2 can take relatively hard use but they do hiccup occasionally just as my D8xx bodies did. And they are not built to the same level as the Dx bodies. They remind me very much of the D8xx bodies I used. The Fujifilm GFX is built solidly and is very similar to the pro Dx bodies, it is a brute.
The X-H1 is that pro body missing in the smaller sensor category from Fujifilm. The GFX50s has the larger sensor offering covered. But Fujifilm lacked a robust build and offering in their APS-C camera systems until now. The X-H1 also fulfills a need for those that use video as part of their workflow. Its by far the most conclusive offering for video that Fujifilm has offered in a mirrorless camera. I'm not a video photographer. So my take and my impressions are built around its use in still photography.
The body is larger by maybe a third. Its a better size for me personally and I can manage it better in hand. The grip is deep like that of the GFX, it actually feels a lot like the GFX, just a tad smaller. Thats not a bad thing either. Controls are similar to all Fuji cameras of late. I've read about some complaining about the ergonomics like shutter speed dial too far away from your fingers when shooting, which I just don't get. The rear command dial supports shutter speed changes so...? But the controls are not perfect. Not yet. I do find the AF-ON button to be too far to the left, so for me its practically unusable. I so miss using the AF-ON button too. There is no exposure comp dial anymore, just a useless tiny LCD panel in its place. That to me was a bad idea. Its the same as on the GFX though, and that was a stupid design error too. So exposure comp is a button and command dial function now. Have I mentioned this sucks? Everything else closely matches the X-T2 controls. Locking dials, assignable buttons, but I should mention that Fuji did a nice job on the feel of the buttons this time. Speaking of which the shutter button is so smooth and effortless. It was almost a problem with the ease with which it is triggered. Buttery smooth and feel. My finger did adapt quickly and its just dreamy now. The eyecup is longer and the whole assembly protrudes rearward so your cheeks aren't pressing in on the screen. Nice. For me, the buttons on the grip for portrait mode use are better placed and are not accidentally triggered as easily as on the X-T2. Focus lever is easy to use no matter which mode. So its C+ or B- on the controls, with negative marks issued for no exposure comp dial, dumb tiny LCD, and AF-ON a half inch too far to the left. Its overall a nice design and totally A+ on the build.
When you press that dreamy shutter button, the autofocus improvement is noticeable. Very quick, with any lens, and it locks even in very low light. Its amazing really. You can check out the Fujifilm X-H1 site for specifics but the ability to parallel process information makes a huge difference. Having more "sub" focus points per each focus point provides the extended information to process and it all works together very well. This X-H1 focuses better than any camera I have owned to date in single point mode. Zone focus looks to be improved as well but I need more time working with it as I do with zone and wide tracking. I did track deer moving across a field so far, without issue, but I do need more work with it. Face/eye recognition works, and while its fine for my use, it appears others really need a more defined application of it. This iteration is better than past ones though. I think its overrated but really, it not something to make or break a camera for me. The in-body stabilization, something I had always poo-poohed about really works. Its not necessary all the time, but it makes it possible to use my 16-55mm zoom in times where it was not possible before. Ditto for the 90mm f/2. Another huge benefit is with my 100-400mm zoom in good light and its ability to help when hand holding said lens with the TC 1.4x attached. Watching the subject in the viewfinder moving all over and suddenly just stop at half shutter press is only exceeded by hitting the zoom feature afterwards on the image and seeing how sharp it is. Thats a 840mm FF field of view! Handheld! Works the same for any other longer lens like the 50-140mm, or shorter lens, in good or bad light. Obviously, stabilization of any sort does nothing to stop motion. It works on stable subjects but it does work in a creative way with flash at very low shutter speeds. And I have found it works pretty well when panning, which surprised me. The AF performance and IBIS then were my main reasons for the upgrade. But the sensor somehow got a tweak, even though Fuji denies it. The IQ is darned good with some added qualities around color, and image "depth" along with better detail rendering. I posted about some "Wow" images I am getting so you can read that but suffice to say, the camera produces very pleasing images overall. I don't get Eterna, the new film simulation, but its supposedly for video so may be thats why. Its just a flat, de-saturated color, low contrast rendering. Whatever. ISO performance is better on the high side. ISO 6400 shoots like ISO 3200 did. Native ISO has increased so maybe thats why. With Fuji being basically ISO-less anyway, the numbers don't matter much just the fact the performance is better does.
The fit and finish of this body far exceeds anything I have seen from Fuji except for the GFX which to me seems identical in quality. Actually the X-H1 may be a teeny tiny more robust. This is the first pro APS-C camera I have ever seen. Or held. Even compared to the D300 and recent generations of it. The X-H1 body is solid. Its lens mount is thicker and all this makes handling any of the Fuji lenses so much easier for me. Mirrorless is supposed to be smaller and weigh less, The X-H1 still fits that bill. The body weighs 2 lbs. 8.4 oz. with grip and batteries installed. Its still smaller than a D500 but provides much more performance. The tilt screen is improved in articulation. The touch screen is there if you want it. I mostly don't. The menus are typical Fuji and getting deeper all the time. Remember to back up your menu settings with X-Aquire. Battery life is about on par, I guess, with the X-T2. I have not taxed it enough to know. Batteries are charged in camera, as per the X-T2. The camera makes use of Bluetooth and is either on all the time or off all the time. I have left it on to check battery drain. I don't really see batteries being used any faster with it on, so far. It does connect to my phone quicker after being paired and my wireless transfers are that much quicker for it. Set up and registration is pretty slick because once paired, the camera asks to use your phone settings for date, location, etc. so you do not have to enter that stuff in. Connections overall work as intended. I have backed up settings using X-Aquire and tried to use the X RAW conversion software from Fuji but it froze my system. I've always had marginal success with Fuji's computer based software, excepting the Lr plug-in for tethering. That works well, speaking of which, Fuji includes this pretty cool gizmo for tethering with the X-H1. I screws into the area by the little door for the USB connection and provides a way to wrap the USB3 cord to prevent it from pulling out, losing the connection. Very nice after thought.
I have already sold one X-T2, the other is pulling interest now as I write, from one local person and one online person. So the second X-T2 body may be gone. I have no concerns with using the X-H1, the X-Pro2 and my GFX50s as my work cameras now. I can also fill in at times with my X100T and its TCL-X100 extender lens. I would seriously add a second X-H1 but plan to just wait for September and the rumored X-T3 announcement. I am waiting for this to see what sorts of improvements they could possibly make to the best APS-C camera on the planet right now. I hear it may be a 30MB sensor - its not really needed in my mind but hey, if it matches the IQ without loss of performance in ISO, bring it on. Ditto for auto focus. Whatever it does bring, I'm a lot less anxious waiting for it having the X-H1 in hand.