On Thursday, Fujifilm launched their new flagship X-Series camera, the X-H1. To put it simply this is more than just the new kid on the block. This camera has some serious features and usability improvements over the previous X-Series cameras that will no doubt make the Fujifilm ecosystem even more attractive to both photographers AND videographers. We were invited out to LA for the Fujifilm X-H1 launch event, and as a part of the evening we were able to get our hands on the X-H1 for some initial impressions before we get our actual review unit sometime in the next week or two.
Fujifilm X-H1 Highlight Specs
These are the official Fujifilm spec highlights for the X-H1, as taken from the official announcement press release.
- X processor Pro
- Integrated 5-axis image stabilization (IBIS)
- Vibration-free closure
- Professional video features (including Cinema 4K)
- Large electronic viewfinder with 3.69 million pixels
- Folding and swiveling 7.6 cm (3 inch) 1.04 million touch screen LCD pixels
- 25 cm (1.8 inch) shoulder display
- Particularly robust housing
- Splashproof and dustproof
- Cold-resistant to minus 10 degrees
- Improved AF algorithm
- Dual memory card slot
- Wi-Fi function
- Film simulation modes (including ETERNA)
- Creative filter effects
The ergonomics of the new Fujifilm X-H1 are unlike that of any X-Series camera before it. Taking design cues from both the X-T2 and the GFX-50S, the X-H1 almost feels like a merger of the two bodies. The grip and LCD top plate are very ‘GFX-esq’ while the remaining portion of the body is very much inspired by what Fujifilm did with the X-T2, though improved upon in various ways.
On the top of the camera you have two main dials; one for the ISO and one for the Shutter Speed controls. Both of these main dials also feature a secondary lower dial; one to control the drive mode, and the other to control the metering mode. As well, as noted above, there is now an LCD on the top plate which displays your current camera settings. It is also customizable, allowing you to show the information important to you.
Around to the back of the X-H1 you will find a layout very reminiscent, though different in a couple ways, to the X-T2. It has that same touchscreen design as the X-T2 and the GFX-50s. This is a great feature to have and is very welcome in the X-H1. One of the changes that Fujifilm made on the rear of the X-H1 to improve usability over the X-T2 was to move the ‘Q’ button from just below the AF Joystick to the outer edge of the thumb hump.
Overall, the X-H1 felt really good in my hands, and is the first X-Series camera announced since the X-Pro2 that had me loving how it felt in my hands right off the bat.
In terms of build quality, this is also another area where Fujifilm took what was already a good concept in the X-T2 and really improved on it in several ways. The body of the X-H1 is thicker than the X-T2 and X-Pro2 are, which will allow the X-H1 to take beatings a little better. But speaking of beatings, that is another area where the build quality of the X-H1 is a step above the rest of the X-Series, as Fujifilm implemented a new scratch resistant paint technology that makes the X-H1 body incredibly resilient to scratches and scuffs.
Going back to what I said about the X-H1 in the ergonomics section, this camera feels really good. It’s a departure from the ‘smaller and lighter’ mantra that has seemed to be what Mirrorless manufacturers have fixated on for years. This is bigger, thicker, and heavier than the X-T2 and other X-Series cameras. But in return you are getting a better built and a more durable body that will be able to hold up to a truly professional workrate – and all the abuse it entails.
We have zero concerns about the build quality on the X-H1 at this point. It seems solid all around.
What’s interesting about the X-H1 and the AF upgrades are that the improvements are all software based; Fujifilm upgraded the algorithm. What would seem like a fairly minor update is actually quite an impressive improvement. The X-T2 samples five data points from a single AF point in order to measure and achieve focus. Utilizing those same AF points (because it is the same sensor), the X-H1 is sampling 20 data points (for a single AF point). Needless to say, that is a vast improvement in the amount of data for the processor to take into account when focusing and tracking subjects, and this was readily apparent in our limited use of the camera.
In a pretty dark environment with smoke and odd lighting, the Fujifilm X-H1 prototype we tested was able to achieve focus quickly and in a way my X-Pro2, which I was utilizing on that same show floor, was not able to do quite as consistently. It wasn’t a night and day improvement in my experience, but it was definitely better and definitely quicker. But as noted, our use was limited and we will need to hold off until our full review for a complete look at the AF performance.
We only had a limited time to play with the X-H1 and get any sort of sample images, and those we did get came as JPEGs (because RAW converters can’t process the X-H1 RAF files yet). So with that disclaimer out of the way, here are some sample images from the Fujifilm X-H1 launch event in LA last night.
Ok, let’s talk about some overall initial impressions on the X-H1 now that you have had a look at those sample images and seen what I’ve had to say about the camera. In terms of stills, the X-H1 is really more of the same from Fujifilm. This has the same sensor and same processor as the X-T2 and X-Pro2, and thus you can expect identical image quality from this camera. The real bit that will determine if you should upgrade to this camera will be in the usability and video improvements.
Fujifilm has put together a camera that on paper seems to be an excellent merging of stills and video functionality. We did not get to test the video functions yet, but we will, and our little experience with the stills really just confirmed our thoughts on what to expect from this camera. We will of course hold off any final thoughts until after our full review is complete. But for now, we will just say that we are really liking what we have seen out of the X-H1 so far and that if all goes according to plan, we will almost certainly be enjoying the heck out of it during our review too. If you are looking for a true, honest to god serious, professional camera from Fujifilm – look no further, the X-H1 is your camera.