Fujifilm X-H1: A Disappointing Release

Fujifilm X-H1: A Disappointing Release

Fujifilm has recently announced the X-H1, a larger APS-C mirrorless camera that leans more towards the video crowd. Although this camera is definitely an interesting one, I can't help but feel a little disappointed with the features.

Skimming through many of the comments online, the most common questions are around where this camera fits and whether or not people should simply wait for the replacement to the Fujifilm X-T2.

As a fan of Fuji cameras, it's not very often I'm disappointed by them, however this camera is a missed opportunity. It seems feature-packed on the surface but when comparing it to other Fuji cameras and a quick look at the competition, it will allay any excitement. 

First of all, this camera is big when it comes to mirrorless and especially big considering it's an APS-C camera. It rivals full-frame mirrorless cameras in terms of size and weight. In fact, it's actually heavier than the Sony a7R III even when including batteries and SD cards. The sensor and the processor are exactly the same as the X-T2 and so are most of its other features.

It's probably much quicker to point out what's new because there's not a lot:

  • Sensor-Shift in-body image stabilization

  • DCI 4K

  • F-Log

  • 120 fps at 1080p

  • Addition of a touchscreen and an improved viewfinder

  • A top LCD screen

  • Minor improvement to focus system

For photographers, this camera offers almost nothing over the X-T2 at a much higher price point. Based on that it's safe to assume this camera has been developed more for videographers and even then this is disappointing. Sure DCI 4K is great and 1080p at 120 fps is very useful, however the camera is limited to 15 minutes worth of recording time without the battery grip. If you include the battery grip then the price shoots up further and makes this camera about as heavy and much larger than the Canon 5D Mark IV, which is a full-frame DSLR. There's no headphone jack in the camera, battery life is actually worse than the X-T2, and due to the less-than-useful record time, the battery grip is essentially a requirement. With this camera, gone is the argument of mirrorless being more compact and lightweight. Even on a gimbal this camera is going to be relatively awkward and potentially very difficult to balance.

In general, Fuji is not considered the go-to brand for video, and with this camera, I have a feeling this is not due to change anytime soon. With alternatives like the Sony a7R III and the Panasonic GH5, why would you pick the X-H1? The GH5 offers far better video features like 4K at 60p, internal 4:2:2 10-bit, a much bigger battery, a really effective flip-out touchscreen, no record time limit, and all packed into a smaller, lighter body with a lower price. This is, of course, comparing it to the X-H1 with the battery grip, which is as mentioned, pretty much a requirement.

The Fujifilm X-H1 is a disappointing and confusing release from the company which is very unlike them. This feels rushed and completely unnecessary, and it would have been much better to simply wait and release a proper update the X-T2. 

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137 Comments

Thomas Nicholas's picture

Did its predecessor have IBIS? cause I would of that be worth mentioning

Usman Dawood's picture

I mentioned it as being one of the new features thus implying it wasn't in the old camera. Fuji calls it Sensor-Shift.

Are you serious? Fuji calls it what it is. In-body image stabilization (IBIS), READ the press release dated Feb 15, 2018. Second paragraph. You'll find the acronym IBIS. I suppose a few other APSC brand loyalist are afraid that they no longer can say "oh, but Fuji doesn't have IBIS"

Usman Dawood's picture

Fujifilms website tech specs clearly discuss it as Sensor shift check yourself.

I called it what Fuji calls it we all know it’s IBIS.

Also I don’t understand what you’re on about with the last part of your comment.

Kyle Medina's picture

Nobody is ever happy.

Oh boy you are about to trigger all the Fuji shooters(Fujicans, Fujise, Fijians?).

The XH-1 is what the XT2 should have been without the top screen.

Usman Dawood's picture

I'm one of them haha

If the XT-2 was the same size as the XH-1, then I would have stayed shooting FF. We don't want these giant bodies anymore.

The author of this article is spot on. The camera does not fit into any category that makes sense. I literally think the only category the XH-1 fits is for the person that feels extreme remorse for switching to mirrorless, but doesn't want to go through the hassle of selling all their Fuji glass.

Fuji cameras have atrocious AF, so they make no sense for sports or wildlife shooters that prefer APS-C.

Scott Stebner's picture

Why? It’s a beautiful sensor with beautiful colors and resolves extremely well for its resolution.

Scott Stebner's picture

Gotcha. I must have been looking at different files after switching from medium format to Fuji :) My bad

Scott Stebner's picture

Thanks for the detailed explanation. Which Fuji did you own?

Scott Stebner's picture

So, never actually used the sensor you’re talking about?

M D's picture

Maybe try shooting with a Fuji digital camera instead of relying on DPReview to fuel your need to argue with a user base who have owned many Fuji digital cameras.

I have the x100s and the XPro2. They both have strengths and weaknesses. But I know them well because I’ve been shooting a Fuji digital camera every day for the last few years.

Scott Stebner's picture

I do not like green eggs and ham, I do not like them Sam I Am :)

Giovanni Aprea's picture

I agree, I put a lot of hope into the X-Pro1 when I got it and, at beginning, found it to be really good, small, beautiful colors, nice lenses bla bla bla then when comparing to my D-SLR with a FF sensor I found out the limitations, color wise it's absolutely nice to get those variations but, let's say the truth, they are not the real colors and they can be achieved in post processing anyway. The biggest disappointment was a month ago when I gave it another chance, I shoot it side to side with my FF D-SLR, the Fuji with the 14mm and the FF with a 20mm, both on tripod, both in raw and both with same aperture setting, comparing the files in a situation where I needed to stack several exposures to blend shadows and highlights revealed that camera totally inadequate, it still does well for a compact portable system but I'd never trade it for a FF body not to talk about lenses and their shortcomings, I know the sensor plays big with the out of focus area and shallow DOF but, under some circumstances, the blurred area rendered by the Fuji sensor along with their lenses is definitely a no-no.
I know I am talking about first iteration of the X-Trans sensor (even tho somebody prefers its processing to the second generation especially talking about the jpg engine) but am referring to stationary photograph where AF system has little to no involvement, just sensor and lenses...

The look of XTrans II and III files are unique and are a huge reason that an extreme amount of photographers are buying or totally switching to the Fuji system. Fuji is making money hand over fist and growing faster than all the other manufacturers. I know the look of their files and the small size of mirrorless were enough to prompt me to ditch all my FF gear and I couldn't be happier with the results.

I really have to take issue with people like you.

So damned disingenuous.

If you have a point, then make it fairly and square(ly). Matching a Fujifilm fixed lens compact camera with known lens softness at the edges with the Sony interchangeable lens camera and then blasting the whole line up of sensor tech is nothing if disingenuous (or if you didn't know the difference, then even worse, as one who essentially is spouting nonsense due to ignorance).

If you wanted to do this properly, then comparing the a6500 with the X-T2 would be a fairer comparison but for whatever reason, you fail to acknowledge this. So for reference, here is it.

The detail loss can be fixed by using a bunch of different programs to import files before processing them rendering this comparison and argument totally non-important. I mean, this issue was solved over a year ago, but people that have no idea constantly bring this up like it is an actual problem still.

You can if the raw engine used for processing by DPreview is known to be terrible.

Scott Stebner's picture

Anyone else feel tvisbtopic has been beat to death haha? Which Fuji did you own bob?

It's not about creating detail, it's about properly extracting the detail that is there.

The sensor on the A6300, A6500, X-T2, X-T20, X-E3, et al, is with almost a 100% certainty the same exact sensor.

Fuji neither designs nor manufactures sensors, they merely buy them from Sony. The only difference between the A6500 and the X-T2 is the FILTER mosaic put in front of the sensor.

This may surprise you, but your sensor sees in black and white, I'm not kidding, it only detects how many photons hit a particular pixel, it doesn't actually detect the wavelength (color).

The way to workaround this is to create a filter that only lets light from a certain wavelength hit some pixels, while not others.

Then you use an algorithm to estimate the real color.

The only difference between the X-T2 and the A6500 is this filter and the algorithm used to estimate colors.

The demosaicing algorithm used on Bayer patterns is fairly efficient (faster) and well understood, that's why Fuji didn't ask Sony to put a X-Trans filter in front of their medium format sensor (because processing 50 MP images with a slower algorithm, especially in-camera is bound to be hellish).

Depending on the algorithm that is used to process the raw data from the X-Trans pattern, quality may vary.

That's why some suggest using a different RAW processor, because they eliminate artifacts produced by how the image is being built by the software.

Do I think Fuji should insist on using X-Trans? No, the mere hit on performance because of the inefficient algorithm renders it a bad decision (e.g. more processing power needed to achieve the same results), and the benefits are marginal at best.

The detail IS in the file. If you process Fuji files with, say, Irident Developer the detail shows up. Even using Adobe, and knowing the right sharpening settings will produce results equivalent to Sony. I have a a6300 and an X-T2. There is only a different look and different handling. Image files are equivalent quality.

But software sure as hell can hide and improperly render details that were there.

Every raw developer you tried?

But you stated above that you haven’t used an x-trans camera; I quote:

‘I don't need to actually shoot with the cameras in question to see how well the sensors perform.’

So how, exactly, did you test all these other raw processors?

It’s not creating detail which isn’t there. Lightroom, which DPR use to process their raw files, happens to be problematic for Fuji x-trans files. This is probably now the most well documented issue with x-trans on the planet. It appears to be something to do with the way LR demosaics the X-trans raw, which doesn’t extract the full detail which is in the file. If you process with e.g., Iridient, or Capture One Pro, it’s a night and day difference and there is very clearly huge amounts of latent detail in the raws which Lightroom simply smudges over. The first Fuji I owned I sold in a month because I was unfamiliar with the LR issue, but when a friend showed me my own files processed with Iridient, it was like chalk and cheese detail-wise so I ended up running some more tests and then giving Fuji another chance, but committing to Capture One for my processing of those files.

Now, I’ve owned full frame DSLRs too, and I’m not claiming the Fuji sensor is magic, in fact it has about a stop less dynamic range at base ISO than state of the art FF (normal for an APS-C sensor) and it’s a pain it’s not better supported by the leading raw processor. However, the latter is Adobe’s issue, not Fuji’s, as easily demonstrated by processing the same file through different software.

My biggest issue with x-trans is that, in my opinion, it’s unneccessary. It doesn’t mitigate moiré, it just shifts it to a different frequency, which renders it redundant (as it is nothing to do with the colour science Fuji users love, in my opinion), it causes some raw processing issues and incompatibilities (as above) and I believe it increases processing overhead, as x-trans is more intensive to demosaic. The latter is, to my mind, the most pressing reason for Fuji to eventually drop it - it may be the reason the X-H1 eats batteries and overheats so quickly while trying to demosaic x-trans to video at any kind of decent bitrate.

You fail to understand that RAW is data and not image.
The details are there but the softwares, like LR, cannot extract.

Dude which bayer sensor are you referring to? The ones on body's twice this price or three times this price?

Or did you mean ones on body's a third larger than this one lacking half its features?

Also... What Fuji did you own?

From my understanding, IBIS is the big new feature for the Fuji XH-1 camera and it isn’t mentioned in this article. I’m happy with my X-Pro2 and these new features don’t warrant an upgrade for me but I know IBIS is a big deal for some shooters and they are excited for this feature.

Usman Dawood's picture

Fuji calls it sensor shift so I called it that too.

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