When the Fujifilm X-H1 launched in 2018, it was heralded as Fujifilm’s flagship X Series camera. But, that was five years ago and, since that launch, the X-H1 lost flagship status as cameras like the X-T4 and X-Pro3 arrived with better specs. The years that have passed without an upgrade to the X-H1 — outside of firmware — have Fujifilm fans wondering if an upgraded X-H1 is even in the cards. But, as Fujifilm prepares to celebrate ten years of the X mount series in 2022, the rumors have started up again, with hopes that Fujfilm celebrates double digits with a new flagship.
As a new Fujifilm convert myself, I’m itching to see what the company launches during their X Summit in May. During last year’s X Summit, Fujifilm said a new flagship would be coming in 2022 with a stacked, backlit X-Trans sensor. But, they didn’t say if that new flagship would be an X-H2. Earlier this week, a teaser video announced the fifth generation of the X series coming during the Summit and a Tweet from Fujifilm Africa suggests that evolution includes an X-H2. Whether or not the fifth-generation includes an X-H2, there are a few things I’d love to see in the next reiteration of the X Series. Fujifilm, if you’re listening, could you grant this Fujifilm girl a few wishes?
Re-claim flagship status
Five years is too long for a flagship to go without an update. The Fujifilm X-H1 no longer has the best specifications in the series. If Fujifilm plans to launch a new flagship, it’s going to have to surpass the newer specs inside the X-T4, and to some extent the X-Pro3. There are five key areas Fujifilm will have to address if the X-H2 is going to warrant a higher price tag than the X-T4: sensor, speed, stabilization, video, and battery life.
A Stacked Sensor
The X-T4 and X-Pro3 have the fourth generation of the X-Trans sensor, a 26.1-megapixel option. The X-H1 houses the third generation, which is 24.3 megapixels. I don’t think a huge jump in megapixels is necessary — with the APS-C sensor, higher resolutions come at the expense of increased noise. But, I expect a boost here, and Fujifilm has already teased that there will be a flagship with a stacked sensor design. That means it’s not going to be the same sensor that’s in the X-T4.
A concept first launched by Sony, a stacked sensor allows faster readout speeds. That allows for faster burst speeds with a higher resolution. A faster reading on the sensor can also allow for a faster autofocus system.
A stacked sensor isn’t unique, but I’m itching to see a stacked sensor with X-Trans color. The number one reason I switched to Fujifilm last year is color. I’ve already saved hours of editing because I rarely have to touch the color.
Faster burst speeds
With that stacked sensor is going to come a faster burst speed. Fujifilm isn’t typically the first brand that comes to mind for sports and action (as much as I love the colors). But, a flagship would at least need to catch up to the 30 fps electronic and 15 fps mechanical on the X-T4. I wouldn’t be surprised if a stacked sensor went well beyond that.
The X-H1 has 5.5 stops of stabilization; the X-T4 has up to 6.5 stops. I expect a flagship to at least catch up to that 6.5 stops. More than that is pretty tricky, but it would be pretty incredible if Fuji jumped up to Olympus’ and Canon’s level, which is up to 7.5, eight stops of stabilization when combined with stabilized lenses.
The X-T4 also outpaces the X-H1 in video. I expect the new flagship to at least catch up with the uncropped 60 fps 4K. But, if Fujifilm wants to compete with flagships from other brands in video, they’re going to have to step up to 8K.
A bigger battery
The X-T4 has a bigger battery than the X-H1, which is a bit ironic since the X-H1 has a larger grip. The X-H1 was Fujifilm’s first with IBIS, and the battery life drained pretty quickly. A flagship is going to need at least the X-T4’s battery, though I certainly wouldn’t mind getting a bit more juice.
AI-based autofocus features
The stacked sensor — which Fujifilm has already confirmed and is at least meeting the specifications of the X-T4 — is a pretty good bet for an upcoming flagship. Anything less would be a step backwards. But, outside of what Fujifilm has already confirmed, and catching the X-H series up to the X-T, there are a few other features I would love to see. Chief among those is a smarter autofocus.
While Fujifilm’s eye AF is pretty good, improved accuracy here would be welcome. But, flagships from other companies already have much more than just eye AF. What about animal eye AF? Or vehicle detection AF? I would love to see both.
One of the things I love about my X-T4 is the controls. I can adjust settings quickly enough that I now shoot in manual more for scenarios I would have shot in aperture priority on my DSLR. But, I was originally hoping for a larger grip and the top screen of my D850. I don’t hate the X-T4 grip like I do the grips that dig into my hand with heavy lenses, but I wouldn’t mind more to wrap my hands around.
The X-H1 added a screen on the top and that larger grip. But, it moved the shutter speed dial and made it harder to adjust without pulling your hand away from the grip. If the X-H2 can mix a larger grip with that top screen and the easy reach controls of the X-T4, I would probably buy one. (Nevermind the fact that my X-T4 bodies aren’t yet a year old.)
Fujifilm makes some pretty tough cameras. But, they’ve never really said how tough. Weather-sealing usually comes with some fine print. We’d love to see an IP-rated camera that spells out exactly what the camera is able to handle. Few mirrorless cameras actually have an IP rating, with one of the exceptions being the Leica SL2.
I’m already starting to sound like my nine-year-old writing up a Christmas list (who is at least considerate enough to ask Santa for the expensive toys because the elves make them). So I might as well go one step further — could we get a brass option too, or maybe some more colors to that leather wrap? I love Fujifilm’s vintage look, but I also love ogling the vintage cameras on eBay with unique colors on the leather. (I have Chris Gampat to thank for that.)
More Film simulations
When Fujifilm announces an update to the X-Trans sensor, they tend to launch some new film simulations too. We’d love to see some new film simulations celebrating ten years of X-Trans. It would be great if those simulations could trickle down to existing cameras with firmware updates too. In particular, Natura, a high ISO film that’s got some great grain and lifelike color yet also looks pretty cinematic, would be great to see. A tungsten option would also be great for creating cool tones. VSCO created a Fujichrome-inspired tungsten filter two years ago, we’d love to see Fujifilm bring their tungsten film to their X-series cameras.
While it’s unclear what exactly Fujifilm’s new flagship will look like (or even if it will be named the X-H2), Fujifilm has confirmed a new flagship for 2022. The company has said a new generation of cameras will launch during this year’s the Fujifilm X Summit. The event is scheduled for May.