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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Goran Vrakela's picture

Did you have a chance to use it? I did. I'm a Nikon shooter, but as photography mag editor I have a chance to test most relevant photo gear. And I'm impressed with X-H1! I just shot for a day in Lisabon with it, and from the moment I took it in my hand it felt great... So, I really don't agree with you, camera is more than just specs - and X-H1 is IMHO great camera and it will be a real success :-) Next week I'm going to publish on our website my honest opinion, and I can say right now it will be very positive...

Usman Dawood's picture

Every camera is more than just specs you can't use that excuse because that's true for all cameras.

But you didn't include those in your article. Or they seem insignificant. Such as the 1.5 stop of EV.

Usman Dawood's picture

Sorry what didn’t I include please be clear.

He's referring to the AF improvement in low light.

Very clickbait-y title and article. You may be disappointed with the X-H1 and not understand who would buy it, but I don’t think you are the intended audience. You keep citing that it isn’t full frame like the 5D4. Ok, but so what? With Fuji’s great lenses the bokeh advantage is minimal in many cases, and with certain lenses, (56 1.2 for example), Fuji has the advantage. Second, X-Trans is a very sharp sensor and for those looking for sharpness over DOF, the Fuji is the better choice. Finally, the 5D4 you cite is lambasted due to it’s exteme crop on 4K video. The Fuji crop is only 1.17. Advantage Fuji. And yes, the Fujifilm X-H1 (with the included battery grip and extra batteries) is $1000 less than the Canon. Not to mention many of the quality Fuji lenses are significantly less expensive than the Canon equivalents.

So the audience for this camera is pretty clearly current Fuji users who want IBIS and are looking for a hybrid camera that is great at stills, but also great at video. This fits the bill. I’m sure Fujifilm is also hoping to convert some standard Canon/Nikon/Sony shooters (and they will). It’s their first camera that video isn’t an after thought, and I believe it’s the start of Fuji’s serious entry in to the category (the MK lenses look amazing and have gotten rave reviews).

Usman Dawood's picture

Never said anything about it not being full frame or how it needs to be full frame, I only made size comparisons. You've completely misunderstood that point.

Also it's not great for video it's meh for video. Great is a GH5, that's great for video.

Canon lenses are full frame lenses you can't compare the two and say/imply Fuji is cheaper so that means it's better. Full frame is cheaper than medium format does that make it better?

micro 43rds sensors are meh. DR range is lacking. I would never get a GH5 for myself that takes pictures as priority and video and short second.

Meh depends on the skill of the user. If you're talented it would be a useful tool or companion hybrid camera.

Usman Dawood's picture

Yeah but that’s true for all cameras lol. That’s not something unique to Fuji it’s not an excuse if it’s true for all cameras.

As the Fuji X system has some of the smallest and sharpest lenses out there. If you go full frame you don't have the option of using the same lenses but on an even smaller body. You could fit 2 of their compact lenses in the palm of your hand. Try that on full frame.

I shoot Fuji exclusively so I'm speaking from experience. Fujinon lenses are typically very good to great. And, yes, many of their their prime lenses are nice and compact. But as focal length increases, particularly with their better zooms, the size advantage disappears. They become pretty similar in size and weight to their full frame equivalents—e.g., Fuji's 50-140 F2.8 is very similar to Canon's 70-200 f/4, etc.

Personally, X-H1 is just fine but missing 4K60P.
And thats only because G9 and GH5 brought this feature in the game for less money so......
And yes, the ablity to do slo-mo 4K, even a basic 60fps is a huge deal for weddists.

To anybody thinking about buying this body, here's the opinion of an actual Fuji user:

I have been shooting with Fuji since the X-t1 was the flagship body so I have some experience with the system, I have also used (and liked) Sony and Nikon systems. Including the D800 and Sony a7r2.

I am wondering, In what world is this Camara similar size or weight to a 5d? It's 200g lighter with battery and SD card than the current 5d. They are not similar sized bodys and in this case the size is nice because it places the shutter in a more comfortable position on the, also more comfortable (than previous Fuji's), grip. This article also doesn't seem to be taking into account how much smaller Fuji lenses are.

We live in a time where arguing sensor quality is almost pointless in cameras like this as they are, with very few exceptions, all fantastic, pick your brand, they all have draw backs but in a customers eyes the images are far sharper than they need to be for most uses, colour and creative principles are more important.

Comparing this to a 5d or Sony a7...anything is kind of a crazy practice because you are talking about a different sensor class and design and a 1000 to multi 1000 dollar gap in equipment cost that doesn't justify the performance.

Also Bob...buddy, where did you get those files bud, my XT 1 didn't even shoot that soft. I'll take Fuji lenses of Sony/Zeiss almost any time and now that there is stabilisation in body alot of Sony's draw is depleted.

The current xtrans sensors shoot really lovely 4k and APSC isn't much of a disadvantage for video. We can debate specs forever but I think the one thing this camara has over all the other brands is the control layout. I learned photography on Minolta slr's and I remember having to be responsible for judging every aspect of exposure before pressing the shutter. Fuji is the only company giving us that kind of on body controll out of the box. I don't want to knock the other makes as they all have things to like about them but, Fuji's greatest strength is in the expierence of the use of their cameras in the field. Coupled with their spectacular lenses this camera is not comparable to the others as Fuji cameras are made for photographers, not spec junkies. When you use one you will get it.

Fuji doesn't leave it's photographers behind like so many other brand do now. And if I am coming of as defensive, I am. I never liked using DSLRs much and Fuji has been hitting it out of the park with the x mount bodies for years now. So I want to add my voice to comment sections like this because they are doing amazing work and I want potential customers to know that there are photographers who wouldn't trade this system for anything.

This is a fantasticly flexible camera and yeah it's kind of a niche body but those of us who wanted the new features it houses are really excited for this, I know I am.

People who knock new stuff like this are often just trying to find fault with compeeting products in an attempt to make themselves feel justified with their gear investment in a market that is constantly trying outdate and reinvent itself.

The fact is ibis is heavy, look at the a6000 vs the a6300 or 6500 (I know body material is also a contributing factor here but still)
If you want ibis you are going to get some extra weight.

If you want to buy a new camera and you are thinking about this, think about your shooting, think about how you use your camera and if you are like me and you want to spend your time looking down the viewfinder and not at a menu, filter through the noise and see the potential this camara offers as a tool. The Fuji world is a great world to live in.

Looking top down all the knobs make fast work. The LCD is a big + vs having to flip out that LCD to see digital info on what the settings are in one compact convenient location.

JetCity Ninja's picture

someone is clearly ignoring the size of the lenses that are meant to be used with this video-centric camera.

Usman Dawood's picture

That's a relatively fair point however you have to agree that with a full frame DSLR even the larger lenses are perfectly fine. This camera, however, is larger than a full-frame DSLR with the required Grip making it much less effective for a lot of uses. Trying to put this on a gimbal or anything like that is going to be awkward at best. Also, most of the lenses Fuji have are much smaller anyway.

Bigger camera up to a certain size is perfectly acceptable but this camera takes it beyond that.

Usman Dawood's picture

I discuss that specifically with the grip. I discuss how the grip is essentially a requirement to get all the features. You don’t need a grip for all the features with the canon. The Fuji noticeably heavier and larger than the DSLR with the required grip.

That grip is really only required if you are shooting longer videoclips or very high framerate stills. You can take it off when it's not needed which makes the camera modular... Also it shoots a higher fps than the 5d when it has that grip, it also shoots better video without it.

Fact is this camera manages to be smaller and lighter while having an in body image stabilization system and a fantastic continuous fps speed.

.... And half the price.

It's just a bad comparison that comes off as misleading.

A better comparison would have been with the a6500 which the X-H1 is larger and heavier than.

I'm not saying this camera is perfect but this is an awesome flexible camera that looks to me like it takes advantage of the space it uses.

Usman Dawood's picture

If you’re serious about video which this camera seems to take aim at then the grip is required. You still need to buy it. You still need to use it in those circumstances you can take it off true but it’s still attached when you need it.

Flexible would have been if it allowed better than normal features with the grip. Unlimited recording with the grip and 30 mins without. That would make more sense considering what this camera is supposed to be for.

Brent, you seem like the one desperate to justify your choice of Fujifilm. The X-H1 can be the perfect body for you and still be deficient in exactly the ways that the author describes. It is an objective fact that the X-H1 isn't competitive with the GH5 in terms of video. Period. And the X-H1 *is* bigger than some full frame bodies. With the battery grip—and the author makes a good case for including the grip—it is bigger than the 5D4.

Cameras are tools for the photographer. Not ALL cameras are for everyone. Authors need to stop trying to put square pegs into round holes.

Chris W's picture

Oh boy, pro Sony community these days... when Sony has IBIS it is a BIG BIG advantage, but when others have it, "Disappointment"....

And "much higher price point"... Ok, you are short of $300 USD but you feel it is totally worth it spending another grand or two to invest in Sony FF?

I mean, pro Sony community doesn't even count Sony APSC when bashing Fuji?

Usman Dawood's picture

I'm part of the Fuji community as much as I am Sony if not more.

It's not a disappointment due to having IBIS it's a disappointment due to its limitations and bad implementations of several features.

When Canon released the 5D4 with its relatively crippled video features we "all" had a go at them, Fuji isn't immune to criticism just because they've done some good things previously.

Fujifilm firmware updates. Never a disappointing release.

Usman Dawood's picture

That's not an excuse.

Complaints can lead to firmware updates so if my article helps them realise that what they've done isn't good enough then that's a good thing right?

I think it's a real shame we now try and make every camera shoot both stills and video. In most cases, you end up with a camera that does neither as well as it would have had it been dedicated to one or the other.
Oddly, professional video (only) cameras still exist at the higher end of the market. Professional stills cameras do not, at least in 35mm equivalent.

Not a lot of honesty. The addition of the dedicated (right now) dual core processor is an excellent addition. I'm quite sure is will be used for other task in the future. Yes there's alternative and those alternative have profoundly smaller hand grips that many photographers simply don't want. Fuji get's it. It's like telling a carpenter that the weight and size of hammer doesn't matter and not major. Of course it is. Style and ergonomics matter. The author failed to mention that the low light limit for phase detection autofocus has been improved by about 1.5. That's a big deal for golden hour and low light shooting styles. The X-H1 is a new line. An alternative to the small grip mirrorless cameras. Those that wanted a mirrorless video cable camera but not sacrifice their comfortable grips, have a Fuji X-H hybrid line.

This is pure clic bait. Clearly not a well thought out article. I originally thought there would be some precise technical arguments. Only personal preferences. The photography community needs to step up its game. We want the camera manufacturers to continue release cameras with hardware upgrades. Upgrade the processors and the displays. Not simply focus on the image processors. Take a cue from smartphones.

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