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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Donald Bate's picture

Good question and interesting comments Clint, and I can give you a good reply, as I have previously given this very topic much consideration!
Firstly, the results I'm getting from Fuji 24MP files are so incedibly good that I have never, not even once, found myself wishing for a larger sensor. As many professional Fuji users can testify, it is possible to create stunning detail-rich enlargements that are more than good enough for 99% of clients. Even the previous generation 16MP sensor is wonderful. I suppose if I was regularly comissioned to produce massively detailed enormous bill boards I might consider Medium Format, but I'm not. And even then, most bill boards are viewed at a distance and 24MP is fine.
Secondly, the benefits of compact mirrorless are certainly not "wiped out" by the "giant, heavy" X-H1 (I smile.. you've obviously never handled a Mamiya RB67!!) because now I have a choice: with one set of lovely Fujinon lenses I can use a great-handling X-H1 or, if I really need a compact lightweight body for whatever reason, use my little X-A2. (or X-E3, if I had one). So I can have the best of both worlds and still agree with your last sentence.. perfect! I'm a satisfied and contented Fuji photographer with no regrets whatsoever.

Giant, heavy??? Read the specs, its 1/3 heavier and still way lighter than a FF body. With the same lightweight Fuji lenses its still a significantly smaller package than a FF camera. It's virtually the same weight as the Sony A7R3, but once you attach those FF lenses, well??

Also we should'nt compare the X-H1 with the Sony A7R3, its almost half the price, a better comparison would be with the Sony A6500

Lance Bachelder's picture

Really lame article - why is Fstoppers having a guy who shoots architecture commenting on a camera he knows nothing about? The 4K footage I've seen online shot using the Eterna setting is among the best sub $10K camera footage I've ever seen and far better than anything M43. I won't be buying a XH-1 (I have the X-T20 as a travel cam and 5D4 for work) but I would have no problem using this camera to shoot an indie feature film especially with those new Fujifilm compact cinema zooms.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C5pi2dBRTcg&t=86s

Adrian Pocea's picture

Indeed, the footage so far looks amazing. Better even than the A7r3. Pure cinema, without any effort.I am really tempted by it. I would disagree though about the under 10000 camera. C200 and Ursa mini look better

Lance Bachelder's picture

Well I said "among the best..." I concur the BMD and C200 are great in fact I would use the C200 any day for just about any budget feature film.

Usman Dawood's picture

Many professionals prefer to shoot log and flat profiles. Baking everything in with Eterna isn’t how a lot of professionals like to work.

Also yes I shoot architecture but I also shoot Fuji and love many of those cameras. I have an active and growing YouTube channel so video is huge deal for me.

Yes, many may do but it's not that many also don't. It is very well known that Roger Deakins, one of the most famous and professional in the industry, will shoot in camera and his latest movie the colour was famously shot as much as possible in camera.

I would argue that a Youtube 'professional' vs Hollywood professional are not the same. I would sooner adopt the techniques of those latter - grading is about achieving the basics e.g. skin, highlights, roll-off et-al, before mocing onto artistic effects like mood. If you can do some of the heavy lifting in camera, then so be it. They are just tools.

Usman Dawood's picture

Aren't Hollywood films shot in RAW? Essentially nothing is baked in.

I can't claim to know this but whatever the answer may be, it can be clear that he chooses to film WYSIWYG (to bring back an old acronym). What he see's in camera is what you get - essentially, for anyone wanting to use Eterna in camera and have it pop out at the end as you saw it is acceptable.

I had to look this up this quote and I can't be 100% certain of its accuracy but what he has once said of his shooting process for the James Bond film.

"As I have said elsewhere, I create the ‘look’ of a film in-camera. I use only one LUT and the set timing for each scene follows the metadata to the DI suite. The DI process then is, for me, all about matching from shot to shot within a scene and less about adjusting individual scenes."

I believe "in-camera" is as much as a reference to the set-lighting and colours as much as it is post processing but from what many who have studied his techniques can say is that he chooses to see what he wants in camera as opposed to being flat and then adjusting in PP to colour grade and match individual scenes.

Lance Bachelder's picture

For the most part correct - not only RAW but uncompressed out to an external recorder creating MASSIVE files. But I could go make a really nice feature film with just the DIT and Color timing budget from a studio feature. A big studio feature will have 3 to 6 weeks of color timing at a top facility like Company 3 or Technicolor easily spending 6 figures. I've been lucky to attend some of these and it's a mind blowing experience. But for the rest of us, shooting in a world-class look such as Eterna from Fujifilm is a bonus that would be hard to replicate without a lot of time as a Colorist.

Goran Vrakela's picture

You can use etherna, but don't need to, you may use F-log if you prefer it. Etherna is somewhere in between Log and Provia, great if you need to produce 'same day edit' with 'cinematic' look. Tried and tested, it works. And it makes sense, at least to me :-)

If it feels rushed it's because Nikon and Canon are about to drop a mirrorless bomb on the competition. I like the Fuji bodies but no matter what raw converter I try, I can't get the same colors as I can with my Nikon

david shepherd's picture

Fujifilm X-H1: Another Disappointing Clickbait Article.

This is the first negative post I have seen on the X-H1. I am so happy that Fstoppers continue to hire world-class authorities on photography hardware. Experts that can render a genuine hands-on review prior to the release of the camera, even without ever holding the camera in-hand. Surely you're going to post your disappointing experience with footage tonight onto Youtube and explain why Fujifilm has disappointed you with this camera. Pulitzer prize-winning journalism right here. Fujifilm should just exit the market right now.

Usman Dawood's picture

Point out quotes and sections of the articles and tell me why it’s bad or wrong.

I hope you realise you’ve just done to my article exactly what you suggest I’m doing to the new Fuji camera.

For starters, I’m pretty sure the x-t2 would be bigger and heavier than a 5d with the battery grip on, so why is the x-h1 special in this regard?

Usman Dawood's picture

Because the XT2 wasn't geared towards video it had great stills capabilities with some video features and if you wanted to expand on the video features you could add a grip which was fine because it's not being pushed for video in the same way.

The X-H1 is designed more for video shooters but they're still crippling it with limitations. You can't make a video camera that has a 15 min limit and then force people to buy a grip to get 15 minutes more. Had they have done something where you get 30 mins internally but get unlimited recording with the grip that would be something to rave about.

Or what if you could record 60p by adding the grip.

I love fuji cameras but just cause I have love for them doesn't mean I'm not going to call them out when try and pull something like this.

I disagree. The X-H1 is designed for pro video AND pro still photographers. It’s a pro camera. Size should be less of an issue. If you’re shooting the 16-55, 50-140 or any of the larger lenses, size balances the camera. There are so many tiny cameras in Fujifilm’s lineup, how about one larger camera?

I think the problem is expectation. People were expecting an amateur camera with IBIS and they got a pro camera. IBIS will come to those cameras in time, but it is not a surprise that IBIS came to the most expensive camera first.

Usman Dawood's picture

It's not really for pro video though is it. This was supposed to be more of a video camera but it's been really badly done. Could have been way better.

If a product doesn't meet expectations then it's not a good camera. Expectations are what the market wants and if you don't meet them you're doing the wrong thing.

Bigger is fine as long as it's not too big. This is bigger than a 5D4 because the grip is basically a requirement. It's too big.

I use the XT2 for PRO use. Some amateurs suck with PRO gear. Some amateurs shoot PRO quality work with beginner gear. Gear is an endless battle of why my investment is better than yours.

david shepherd's picture

My point is that you have not rendered an in-hand review of the camera to give an opinion. This article just looks at the published specs, maybe the press videos and headlined that this is a disappointment. There is more to a good product than whats on paper. I am not saying that the product is any reason for someone to make a decision from, but neither should this article until you have your hands on it. It is very irresponsible and unfair to the readers who may be looking forward to this product for their personal reasons.

Usman Dawood's picture

David this wasn’t a review. This was an article about a camera being released.

Educated comparisons can be made because we have a lot of cameras on the market. Everything is relative. I also know what the stills capabilities of this camera are because I own Fuji cameras and use them regularly. It has the exact same sensor.

It’s completely fair because I discuss the release and don’t mention anything about image or video quality.

They released camera with specs, I discussed the camera and specs.

david shepherd's picture

I would love too, but I do not have the product in-hand to offer a genuine perspective. That is my point about this article, no one has the product to offer a valid perspective that justifies such a headline. This article does not offer a purpose that can help this community, especially when only a select few can publish to such a community platform that leads the conversation.

M D's picture

You are such a troll

I could not agree more—and I shoot nothing but Fuji. For users who have been dying for IBIS and actually want a full-frame sized body with an APS-C sensor, well here you go. But for video shooters it's as if Fuji isn't paying attention to its users or the competition. The recording time limits are a deal killer. The required battery grip and resulting size and weight are a deal killer. The lack of 10 bit 4:2:2 is a deal killer. The lack of peaking or zebras...deal killer. The lack of a bigger battery? That's just inexcusable. Fuji, I want to bring you into my video studio when I replace my EX1s but this effort isn't even close to good enough.

That said, some of the features—the large handgrip, the higher res EVF, the more robust body (and paint), the touch screen (laggy as it currently is), and ability to actually focus on feathers and fur (you've promised this before, Fuji) are all things I was hoping to see in the X-T2 and continue to hope for in the X-T3.

Are you sure there isn't peaking or zebras? I definitely have peaking on my xt20, don't use zebras though so I can't comment on that.

You're right, Chadd. I meant waveform.

Which cameras shoot 4:2:2 10-bit outside of the GH5? Which shoot G9 shoots 4k60, but Is 4:2:0 8-bit and body is just as large and heavy as the X-H1 with a smaller sensor. Sony APS-C don’t shoot 4k60, their FF don’t. They don’t shoot 10-bit.

I was specifically referring to the GH5, Je. I guess it all depends on how you look at this body. If you look at it as a videocentric body designed to compete with GH5 then there is reason for disappointment. If you look at it as a body that is designed for people who desperately need IBIS or who want a full frame-sized body with an APS-C sensor inside then it hits the mark and offers some nice video upgrades for those who want to dabble.

I agree, it misses the mark. Where the X-T2 surprised us with some great video features considering how bad video had been on previous Fuji camera, the X-H1 doesn't hold up as a video centric camera. Extended recording time, headphone jack on the battery grip and so on were pardonable on the X-T2 as it was a photo camera with surprisingly good video features.

For the X-H1, it needs be to be closer to the GH5 or at least match Sony. It shouldn't need the battery grip to unlock essential features. A twist out screen would be great. The price and size also make it hard to swallow.

Fuji fan here but it looks like I'll be waiting for the next generation for Fuji to understand video. With that said, the new film simulation (besides f log) looks really handy for getting a nice grading straight out of camera.

Burak Erzincanli's picture

24mp seems a little bit disappointing as well. And yes, mp matters; not just for fine prints, also for ease of retouching.

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