Fujifilm X-H1: Has-Been or Awesome Deal?

Technology in the video world is moving at a blistering pace. With new features being released seemingly every month, once-hyped cameras are being tossed by the wayside faster than ever in favor of the next big thing. Although this trend of rapid obsolescence could be seen as a negative, it often results in just-shy of cutting edge technology rapidly coming down to a price point that is affordable for the masses. This could be the case with the Fujifilm X-H1!

Coming to you from Lee Zavitz, this retrospective is on Fuji's flagship video model of 2018 that was released with much fanfare, but ultimately was eclipsed by a faster, more capable model: the X-T3. That's not to say the X-H1 is a dog. Far from it! It's still the only Fuji APS-C camera with in-body stabilization. Now, with Fuji's latest firmware updates, the autofocus and stabilization have been improved to the point where this camera may deserve a second look.

However, the biggest bonus may be the price: $999 with the power grip and two batteries! Considering that the body was originally released with an $1,899 price tag plus an additional $329 for the power grip, this is an extremely good deal for a very capable camera. Fujifilm has always been pretty good about bringing firmware updates to their cameras, so the camera may get even better in time! Fujifilm stumbled pretty hard with the original release of this camera, but with a price that's difficult to beat and features that finally work as intended, the X-H1 could finally be ready for prime time.

Do the new upgrades make the camera more attractive to you? For those of you that were early adopters of the X-H1, does the firmware make you happy, or are you annoyed that the price has dropped on a camera you paid a premium for? Sound off!

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33 Comments

michaeljinphoto's picture

Never was.

Alec Kinnear's picture

X-H1 is a great camera (the biggest issue is the placement of the Q button which is almost unusable for adult hands, too many false presses just holding the camera, the X-T30 inherited the issue). For still the X-H1 is the best camera Fuji has produced. There's a subtle difference between the X-T20 and the X-H1 and a subtle difference between the X-T3 and the X-H1 in favour of the X-H1. There's just a touch more detail in the X-H1 especially at high ISO.

My mirrorless journey found a long term way station finally with the Nikon Z6 which is basically a full frame X-H1. Fuji cameras are lovely and I prefer the Fuji interface to anything else, but the difference between APS-C and full frame at high ISO is too important to ignore. Plus when working with vintage glass, the density of APS-C 24 MP (about 57 MP on 35mm) means the quality of your photos is often limited by the resolution of the glass.

michaeljinphoto's picture

The X-T3 whips the X-H1... I'm not sure why you think the X-H1 is the superior camera between the two.

Alec Kinnear's picture

Oh, it's Mr. I-love-only-the-newest-gear again. For stills the X-H1 is better than the X-T3 (although the pair are close), not counting IBIS. Excellent IBIS puts the X-H1 significantly ahead. In its favour for stills/carry camera, the X-T3 is a slightly smaller body.

For video, the X-T3 offers 10-bit, 4K 60p and is clearly the better camera (again discounting IBIS and replacing it with a gimble/glidecam). Though X-H1 video footage is excellent, X-T3 video quality is fantastic, better than any of the other mirrorless bodies.

michaeljinphoto's picture

The only reasons to choose an X-H1 over an X-T3 for stills are:
1) You absolutely need IBIS
2) You prefer the ergonomics of a bulkier camera
3) You want to save money

In every spec for stills, the X-H1 is equal to or inferior to the X-T3. This isn't about loving or hating new/old equipment. Camera bodies aren't lenses. Sensors and processors don't age like optics do. It's rare for a newer body in the similar price range to be inferior to an older one. If you want to point out specific reasons why the X-H1 is a superior stills camera to the X-T3, please go ahead because I can't see a single area where it has a technical superiority. Not the sensor performance, not the AF, not the burst rate, nothing...

There's a reason it's the cheaper camera and there's a reason that the price dropped off a cliff soon after the X-T3 was released.

Note that this isn't to say that the X-H1 isn't "good enough" or that you can't take good photos for it. I'm just arguing against your false assertion that it's a superior camera for stills. The only thing it has going for it over the X-T3 is IBIS and the value of that is dependent on your subject matter.

Alec Kinnear's picture

Have you compared X-H1 images head to head against X-T3 and X-T20 images? Have you owned an X-H1?

X-Trans III offers better image quality at high ISO than X-Trans IV. A number of sites noted it at the time. The difference isn't enough to devalue the X-T3 (unlike the Canon 6D and 6D II where a similar situation arose that the older camera offered both more reliable focus and better high ISO and more flexibility in the shadows).

And the X-H1 had some special sauce which made its images better than both the X-T2 and the X-T20. It's the best implementation of X-Trans III which is the best version of X-Trans which Fujifilm ever shipped in terms of high ISO. X-Trans IV (as I pointed out) offers numerous improvements for video which make the slight sacrifice in terms of stills quality worth it for most shooters.

Well there you have two examples of inferior newer models, Mr. I-love-only-the-newest-gear.

michaeljinphoto's picture

Considering that two of my friends are Fuji shooters with one owning an X-T2 and X-H1 and the other owning an X-T2 and X-T3, I'm pretty familiar with the cameras and their capabilities since I've helped both of them edit plenty of their RAW files.

There are plenty of actual technical specifications that prove that your claim is garbage, but instead of bringing your own numbers to a numbers fight you're talking about "some special sauce" and high ISO "image quality" with no definition given as to what exactly you mean by "image quality" or how you are going about quantifying it. Keep on trolling, though.

Alec Kinnear's picture

I'm somewhat surprised that you would allow a close friend to shoot such an obsolete and awful camera like the two year old X-H1, Michael. I'm even more astonished that you are editing your friends' RAWs for them.

I shot primarily an X-H1, an X-T20 and an X-T3 for six months with some overlap where I had two of them in my possession at the same time. The difference was perceptible between the RAW files. I shot an X-H1 and X-T2 side by side when choosing which Fujifilm body to start with. The X-H1 files looked better head to head.

But since you've chosen to dismiss my perceptions as an owner and shooter of these cameras, let's take a look at a third party head to head evaluation where the tester is only concerned with details of image quality.

https://www.imaging-resource.com/PRODS/fuji-x-h1/fuji-x-h1-image-quality...

Base ISO:

<blockquote>it appears Fuji has tweaked default JPEG processing, with a revised tone curve that produces brighter upper midtones and highlights, and slightly higher saturation of greens and reds.</blockquote>

ISO 1600:

<blockquote>Again, we see slightly sharper, crisper results from the X-H1, while noise levels appear very similar. The tone curve used by the X-H1 continues to produce a brighter overall image despite both images having near identical middle-gray levels (which is how we try to expose these shots).</blockquote>

ISO 3200:

<blockquote>very similar image quality here at ISO 3200 between the two siblings, with the X-H1 continuing to provide a brighter, contrastier and slightly more saturated image.</blockquote>

There's a clear difference here. X-T3 vs the X-T2:

https://www.imaging-resource.com/PRODS/fuji-x-t3/fuji-x-t3-image-quality...

<blockquote>Overall, though, very similar image quality here at base ISO with just slightly higher noise and resolution from the X-T3, along with an improved default tone curve that retains more visible detail in deep shadows.</blockquote>

DPReview came to similar conclusions in their technical image quality test:

https://www.dpreview.com/reviews/fujifilm-x-t3/7

<blockquote>Even upon being downscaled to the same resolution as the X-T2, the X-T3 still shows greater noise at its highest ISO setting....With noise reduction minimized, the X-T3 still exhibits fractionally more noise than the X-T2. Not quite as dramatically as in ACR....The most likely explanation we can think of for this discrepancy is a very slight increase in read noise as a result of running all the electronic components faster, to allow the faster sensor readout. At the highest ISOs even a tiny increase in read noise would be amplified many, many times.</blockquote>

So the X-H1 enjoys the better tone curve of the X-T3 AND the lower noise of the X-T2's X-Trans III sensor. I.e. the X-H1 delivers the lowest noise and brightest images of all of the Fujifilm APS-C cameras to date. The differences are small but perceptible.

Keep in mind the image quality of the original Canon 5D is higher than any Fuji body in colour (in BW Fujifilm APS-C is superior). There's no getting around full frame if you shoot past ISO 400 regularly in colour.

michaeljinphoto's picture

"I'm somewhat surprised that you would allow a close friend to shoot such an obsolete and awful camera like the two year old X-H1, Michael. I'm even more astonished that you are editing your friends' RAWs for them."

Please feel free to quote where I referred to the camera as "obsolete" or "awful". Now you're just proving yourself to be a clown who's incapable of understanding nuance.

As for why I "would allow" then to shoot those cameras, WTF do I care what someone else chooses to shoot? They enjoy them and that's all that matters. You might find it amusing that one of them actually owns Fuji gear because I specifically recommended that they go that route due to their needs and wants. I happen to think that Fuji currently produces the best overall APS-C system out of all the manufacturers because they're the only ones who take the format seriously.

In regard to why I'm editing their RAW's, it's because they take my family photos for me whether it's photos of birthday parties or baby photos. I ask them to do it so that I can actually be in the photos so it doesn't look like my kids are being raised by a single parent. I can't pay them all that much so I do the editing myself which is why I've become quite familiar with how the files from those 3 cameras behave.

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"Base ISO:

<blockquote>it appears Fuji has tweaked default JPEG processing, with a revised tone curve that produces brighter upper midtones and highlights, and slightly higher saturation of greens and reds.</blockquote>"

"JPEG Processing"? Oh, we're talking about JPEG's here? Yeah.. nevermind. I don't shoot JPEG nor do I know anyone who does unless they're photographing with their phone. Maybe the X-H1 produces better JPEG's. I honestly wouldn't know. I think we can safely end the discussion if you want to talk about comparing camera performance based on SOOC JPEG files.

--------------------------

I'm not discounting your perceptions as an owner of the cameras (or former owner). I believe that you believe what you're saying. I'm just saying show me the numbers. Show me technical specs. Show me measurements. Show me testing methodologies and analysis that aren't people taking pictures and saying what they THINK they see. That's the difference between fact and opinion. That's also the problem with so many reviews and comparisons whether it's between camera bodies or lenses.

BTW, your links are broken.

Alec Kinnear's picture

Links work for me. Links are side by side comparisons. It's about as technical as it gets outside of LensRentals.com.

michaeljinphoto's picture

That's weird. They're working now. Thanks. Are there any comparisons of the RAW files or is it all SOOC JPEG?

Alec Kinnear's picture

My experience with the RAW corresponded to the Imaging Resource and DPReview notes on jpegs. The curve about which they are talking is embedded in the RAW files as well as the jpegs. One can manually overcome the difference but it's extra work. The difference in noise on the sensor can't be overcome. The X-T3 is almost half a stop noisier than the X-H1 as high ISO. At low ISO it's just noisier.

Of course these are relatively small differences. The differences between X-Trans 2 (16 MP) and X-Trans 3 (26 MP) are more significant.

For high ISO colour photography, APS-C is just not the answer. The X-T3 is a great hybrid camera. The X-T20 is a great small camera. The X-T30 interface is crippled as it has the Q button in the middle of the thumb grip like the X-H1. It's possible to turn off the Q button but that's just another way of crippling the interface.

The X-H1 has less noise than the X-T3

Rob Mitchell's picture

It was the best of their offerings.
I've had them all.
However, fiddly controls and the Fuji-way of working manual is a royal pain in the behind.

I outed them all and the Z7 does more than the any of the XT range could. Plus, no more fiddling and farting to try match the colours to my D850.

Much like much of Fuji's bodies, never was worth it. X-Pro, x100, xt all for what they offer and price aren't worth it. The way fuji does things cripples these cameras badly. Poor support, poor firmware support (one day this camera is flagship next day its not so such with firmware support), diluted offers, poor EVF I can go on. Good glass but expensive when compared and no third-party AF alternatives at this time. Even their film simulations suck with lack good color and highlights control. Who wants to shoot muted color hard contrast shots?

michaeljinphoto's picture

"Who wants to shoot muted color hard contrast shots?"

So there's this site called "Instagram"...

Instagram is the pinnacle of BS

Alec Kinnear's picture

EVF on the X-T3 and X-H1 is fantastic (identical 3.6 million pixels, decent eye distance, great focus peaking). X-T20 EVF was pretty awful. I haven't used the X-T2 or the X-T30 to compare.

It's easy to turn off the film simulations or choose one with a softer tone curve. The limitation with Fujifilm cameras is APS-C (I'm not in the market for the expense or bulk of medium format at this time, plus GFX auto-focus is not ready for sports which is about half my shooting).

michaeljinphoto's picture

I disagree. I think that the APS-C thing is fine since Fuji (unlike most manufacturers) actually committed to releasing top quality lenses for it. The APS-C vs. FF thing is so overblown. In reality, nobody can tell the difference short of extreme situations and even then, they'd have a difficult time telling if it's an APS-C camera vs. a FF camera or an old FF camera vs. a new FF camera.

The only limitation with Fujifilm is the annoying hassles that come with using the X-Trans sensor (higher processing power requirement, the fact that Lightroom is atrocious with the files, and trading off moire mitigation for increased false color). If you can get beyond those issues, there's theoretically nothing you shouldn't be able to accomplish with a Fuji APS-C that you can accomplish with a FF camera from another brand.

Alec Kinnear's picture

The false colour is awful above 400 ISO, software programs are slow with X-Trans it's true. I disagree that no-one could see the difference.

I shot full frame Canon 5D Mark III against Fujifilm bodies head to head with the same lenses for sport in about equal quantities on a few occasions. The pictures I used were more than 90% Canon.

It's possible to shoot great work with APS-C, just as it's possible to shoot great work with an original Canon 5D. The upper edge in terms of ISO is 1600 though, unless you are shooting black and white.

Contemporary photographers all so spoiled in terms of camera. IBIS, 1600 ISO, high quality 4K video and we're still not satisfied. Our predecessors could hardly dream of such cameras.

In New Price, X-H1 is not available in market (B&H). Still in old high price.

Stuart Carver's picture

Fantastic camera, bargain price.

Usman Dawood's picture

Disappointment when it first came out and has aged terribly.

In my view it’s the worst x mount camera so far.

Stuart Carver's picture

I don’t understand why you think it’s aged terribly, has it grown wrinkles or something? It’s basically a slightly larger XT2 which is an awesome camera.. it just offers more choice dependant on your ergonomic choice.

Usman Dawood's picture

X-T3

That's why.

Remember the price differences between both models when the 3 was released and for a good amount time since its release too.

Stuart Carver's picture

But this is my point, has the XT3 suddenly rendered these cameras useless? Or is this just a trait of our modern consumerist world? I’m guessing everyone said the XT2 was the best thing since sliced bread when it came out and the XT1 was now obsolete, it’s like a non stop chain where what was the best is now rubbish.

For me the XH1 is an excellent camera for those who want an LCD screen, IBIS, bigger grip, quiet shutter.. it’s not suddenly a dog just because something newer came out.

Usman Dawood's picture

I find it completely acceptable for us to disagree on this point but to me, it was terrible when it was initially released. I hated it and even after trying and testing it I thought it was a poor release compared to what Fuji already had available. I decided not to review the camera.

When people talk about the size I get it to some extent but for me, I already own full-frame DSLR cameras so I don't want a mirrorless camera that's HUGE. I mean this camera with its required grip is larger and heavier than the 5D4. but with a smaller sensor.

I've never used a top LCD, I find IBIS and IS to be highly overrated and a quieter shutter offers no value to me.

Essentially this camera was a stop-gap between the X-T2 and the significantly better X-T3.

Stuart Carver's picture

See I’m not disagreeing with any of those features for my own photography, only the top LCD would be useful for me but not at the expense of the exposure comp dial. BUT, the XH1 has grown on me massively the longer I’ve took time to consider it, I guess I’m just outwardly positive about most cameras that are released at the moment, people slate the Z cameras but imo they are arguably 2 of the best cameras on the market right now.

Usman Dawood's picture

You're absolutely right about the camera for you and I think if it fits your requirements then that's a brilliant thing.

Sounds like you're a tech fan :), how wonderful.

Usman Dawood's picture

Oh, and your Roseberry Topping image is so awesome.

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