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This spring, the Fujifilm X-H1 was released to the masses. It’s touted as the company’s camera with the most video features to date, even topping the popular X-T2. As long-time owners of the Fujifilm X-Pro2, my husband and I jumped on the X-H1 bandwagon early, sending in our preorder the day it was announced.
Our main intention was to use it to support our new venture into videography. In the short couple of months that we’ve been shooting with the Fujifilm X-H1, we’ve found it to be not only a superior camera for video but for still photography as well.
Here are our thoughts so far. This camera is most comparable to the Fujifilm X-T2, which is already a respectable video performer. We don’t have the X-T2 but will make some comparisons to the X-Pro2 that we do have.
Compared to most other Fujifilm cameras, such as the X1ooF and X-Pro2, the X-H1 is much bulkier, but that isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Much of the bulk comes from the camera’s larger hand grip and buttons, making it much easier to carry the camera.
The X-H1 also ads an AF-On button for those who prefer using back-button autofocus. It also has top-panel LCD similar to a DSLR. In practice, the top-panel LCD seems unnecessary, especially since it takes the place of the Exposure Compensation dial that is present on the X-Pro2 and X-T2.
This is among our favorite features of the X-H1: its shutter is whisper-quiet, offering a soft yet audible click when a photo is taken.
Not only is the shutter quiet, it also allows the camera to offer an Electronic First Curtain (EFC) shutter mode. EFC allows you to reduce the risk of shutter shock without increasing the risk of rolling shutter.
For videomakers, in-camera stabilization is key for helping capture smooth footage. The X-H1 is Fujifilm’s first camera to include IBIS and right off the bat, we’re impressed with its performance.
When activated and used with an image-stabilized lens, capturing smooth hand-held video footage is easier than ever before. As an added bonus, IBIS also helps you shoot still photos at low shutter speeds.
Although based on the same sensor and processor as the X-T2, the Fujifilm X-H1 boasts significantly improved video features. Shooting options have been extended to include DCI 4K and UHD 4K shooting. If you’re unfamiliar with the two terms, here’s a quick summary. DCI (short for Digital Cinema Initiatives) 4K is 4096 x 2160, while UHD (Ultra High Definition) 4K is 3840 x 2160. For videos winding up on YouTube or TV, UHD is fine. But for videos that will be projected in theaters, DCI 4K is a better choice.
The X-H1 also allows for recording F-log footage internally. In video-terms, shooting in log format is like shooting in RAW. Your log footage tends to be less saturated and less detailed so that you can color grade (post-process) the video footage to your liking later. F-log made its debut on the X-T2, but it could only be done via an external recorder. The X-H1 is Fujifilm’s first camera that allows for the recording of F-log directly to an SD card in 4K.
Another vital video feature making its Fujifilm debut on the X-H1 is 120 fps slow motion video. It can only be recorded at full HD, but the slow-motion video quality has been stellar, especially when paired with IBIS.
Fujifilm has long been known for their excellent color reproduction, even back in the days of film photography. Thankfully, that is passed down in Fujifilm digital cameras in the form of film simulation modes. They’re similar to the color profiles offered in digital cameras from Canon, Nikon, and Sony.
Until recently, Fujifilm had six unique film simulation modes on its cameras: Provia, Velvia, Astia, Classic Chrome, PRO-Neg STD, and PRO Neg HI. The X-H1 is the first camera to ship with Fujifilm’s seventh film simulation, Eterna.
Designed for videographers, Eterna is characterized by more muted, subdued colors and rich shadow tones. Our observations so far are that Eterna is designed for further color grading in post-production, and also to attract the video viewer’s eye to the action in the scene and away from the rest of the frame.
One of many things to love about Fujifilm is that they really listen to their customers. Kaizen firmware updates are frequent and they add useful features that build on the cameras. Here are a few things we’d like to see rolled out in firmware updates, or in the next version of the X-H1.
Physically, the chunky handgrips and the bigger buttons are appreciated for improved ergonomics. However, the missing exposure compensation dial is a big disappointment. Also, the rear LCD having only a two-axis tilt is limiting; it needs to be able to fully swivel to appeal to the vloggers and also make it easier to shoot from different angles.
Finally, battery life and video recording limits on this camera leave much to be desired. The X-H1 limits 4K video recording to 15-minute clips. This can be extended to about 29 minutes of shooting in 4K if you use the optional battery grip. However, the battery grip adds lots of bulk to the camera, making it less pleasant to shoot with.
Hopefully, Fujifilm will take a cue from Sony and their new NP-FZ100 battery, which arguably is the best-performing battery for mirrorless cameras at the moment.
The Fujifilm X-H1 is the first of a new line of cameras that make the bold statement that Fujifilm is a viable alternative for videomakers. This camera builds on the already credible video features of the X-T2 by taking it a step further with the addition of features such as Eterna film simulation and 5-axis IBIS. If you’re a serious video maker, keep an eye on the X-H series. It will only improve more with each new release.
Overall Rating: 9/10
To hear more about our experience with the X-H1 and how it compares to the X-Pro2, check out the video below featuring the main Fujifilm shooter of the two of us: my husband Martin.