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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Nick Merzetti's picture

I’d have to disagree. I loved it. I got some pre announcement time with it. Check it out if you’re interested in my thoughts : Not my YouTube channel so I’m not trying to shill here lol

https://youtu.be/z5zSpZ1VT3s

David Apeji's picture

Some people like larger cameras. The tiny almost non-existent grip of the XT-2 was a deal breaker for me.

One thing I didn't see mentioned in the article or the comments (at least before I gave up due to flame wars) is EVP refresh rate. I read elsewhere that the X-H1 has a 100Hz viewfinder refresh rate even without the grip. That alone is huge for me -- first time I tried an X-T2 I found it unusable without the grip, even for stills (panning or moving subjects both get strobe-ish). So I always use the grip on the X-T2. To be able to only use the grip when shooting video (if then) would be a big win, and at least offset some of the weight difference.

IBIS of course is another big win, though I'm curious to see real review results on that.

Bryce Milton's picture

Everyone is entitled to an opinion, but its not just a video cam. Its a hybrid meant for a broader audience. I have an X-T2 and dont feel compelled to upgrade, but the IBIS feature is a huge step forward for Fuji. Looking forward to IBIS in my next Fuji X-body (X-T4?).

Gergö Nyirö's picture

To my eyes this is a Beta camera made from recycled parts just to test the IBIS. (Same sensor, same processor, same battery - with even less capacity in this one)

It's funny because I dont remember seeing in there an article about how the Sony A6500 was a disappointing release...While it brought the same improvements over the A6300 or maybe actually less....

The IBIS alone is worth an upgrade for me, it's a big technologic step forward....

Usman Dawood's picture

I didn’t write for Fstoppers then :-p

Aaron Bratkovics's picture

I keep misplacing my fuji. First it was on the desk. I found it later on a rock. I put it down in the gym...vanishes. I'm beginning to think it's secretly trying to hide from me.

Yeah it's a neat update. Not for me but....I'd sayyy let them play around a bit and have them experiment.

The weight is a problem. I abandoned Canon for this reason - that weight simply isn’t necessary. In fact, I’d prefer the camera to be smaller even than an X-T1.
The resolution is also disappointing. I own an X-E2 and an X-T1 and the newer sensor failed to convince me.
And then there are the price rises....... ....Fuji has got comfortable, slipping by degrees into the same awful complacency demonstrated by Canon and Nikon.

I think this article was a pretty unfortunate release on the part of fstoppers.

As a Fuji X-T2 owner and a professional stills and video shooter, I'm very excited about this release. For me, this camera gives me a great collection of updates that allow me to stay very competitive in the industry while also allowing me to stay within the fuji system which, I would argue, is much more important than any single body release.

Claiming this camera offers "almost nothing" over the X-T2 for stills shooting is misinformed. The AF system was dramatically improved in almost every way. The number of data points being analyzed per focus point is increased by 4 times! I would say that is a very significant upgrade. Also, while perhaps gimmicky, adding a touch screen, for some photographers, is another very welcome update not only for taking photos but for navigating photo previews.

As for video features, you complain about recording time and the lack of internal 4.2.2. 10bit video. As a working camera operator I have RARELY encountered a scenario where I need to shoot 15, let alone 30 minute clips. Interviews would be the only circumstance I can see wanting to exceed this limit but I have no issue with cutting or patching video files together in these very marginal situations. As for 4.2.2. 10 bit video, sure 10 bit would have been welcome but 4.2.2. is available via external recording and the difference between 8 and 10 bit isn't great enough for most applications. If you need this exact feature, get the one camera that offers it. Neither one of these complaints should be deal-breaking factors for people considering this camera.

I think the size complaint is extremely superficial - if you want a small camera why are you looking at this camera? The x100 series would make much more sense and, in fact, I know a handful of shooters who are loyal to various camera systems who have x100 series cameras for exactly this reason.

And finally - the battery concern. Would Fuji throwing in a battery twice the size have been an exciting upgrade? Absolutely. Am I upset that they didn't change it? Not at all. For me personally, I have had no issue shooting a 4-5 hour event on one or 2 fuji batteries. With the battery grip, I have never exhausted all 3 batteries in a single day of shooting. Having an extra battery in my pocket and switching it with a dead battery takes 30 seconds at the most.

Overall, this camera is an excellent release - not confusing or disappointing at all. The IBIS is hugely welcome, the touch screen is a cool new feature for the x-series, the many added menu items and other features for video, and the list of reasons to upgrade to this camera goes on.

To be quite frank, I am confused and disappointed by this article and hope it doesn't mislead any camera pros/enthusiasts away from a camera that might be a great option for them. I hope Fstoppers does a better job of curating the content that is posted on their website in the future and avoids encouraging ill-informed, click-bait articles from discrediting their content overall.

We cant demand more features and also get upset with size. Adding IBIS and 4k capability with decent handling of heat is something that takes more room. And comparing this to a GH5 seems ridiculous with it having a much smaller sensor.

Ill take the upgrades and ergonomics, the last thing i want is a fuji 6500.

woon jia wei's picture

really? no headphone jack? in a video-oriented camera?

"For photographers, this camera offers almost nothing over the X-T2 at a much higher price point."

Seriously? The X-H1 is a nice upgrade over the X-T2 for sports and wildlife photogaphers. You failed to mention the improved AF, tracking and the lack of EVF blackout when shooting burst. Also, the larger size of the X-H1 will pair nicely with Fuji's 50-140 and 100-400 lenses. Your article is lacking some facts. Please do some homework.

This is so close but still missed the mark I have the X-T1 and really like the idea of touch screen but also wanted a full rotating screen. That along with headphone jack is a must any serious video. For now I'll just get more glass and see what the X-T3 looks like.

Cleary an emotional response to a camera release which doesn't meet your need. I would expect a better thought out and balance article from a professional photographer and fstoppers contributor.

What you forgot to mention:

- the increased durability with thicker metal and better weather sealing. Sony and the X-T2 have their issues in this regards.

- A lot of big lens users are asking for a bigger body. I am sure they can squeeze it into a smaller body if they really want to. eg make a smaller heatsink and thinner body or make the IBIS less effective by using a smaller IBIS unit.

- It is half the price of A7R iii, better ergonomics, better grip, Fuji color, better future support, likely better built with better weather sealing. I am not saying it is better than A7Riii as A7Riii is an amazing camera. I am saying there are people who choose a camera for specific reasons.

- It takes better still than GH5. So for hybrid shooters who do not want to carry 2 systems, then it will be Fuji or Sony.

Personally, I prefer the way they do it now, ie create a new line with a bigger body for people who like it and keep the X-T2 successor as small as it is.
The only major disappointment in this camera is the same size battery.

Whether it is an unnecessary release only time will tell.

Usman Dawood's picture

You're assuming my emotional state. Not a great way to start a discussion.

I'm always skeptical when manufacturers make claims about weather sealing and durability. Sony A7R III was supposed to be more durable and weather sealed however it's still not up to par.

The bigger smaller camera argument was developed by mirrorless manufacturers. You can't start by saying oh look at those huge DSLRs and how bulky they are and then develop a bigger camera because you realize that actually bigger in many cases is better.

You can't compare the price of an APS-C camera to a full frame camera that offers significantly better image quality.

The XT-2 is also better than the GH5 for stills but we're not discussing stills for this camera, are we?

At the beginning when mirrorless cameras have significantly subpar autofocus and EVF which is inferior to DSLR's optical viewfinder, all mirrorless camp has to shout about is the weight and size. As mirrorless cameras improve, people start to realise you mirrorless cameras have other advantages. Size and weight is no longer the only factor. Most mirrorless camera companies have different lines which suit a different need. They don't all get bigger. They produce small and also big cameras to suit different needs. What is wrong with that?

You started the comparison with A7Riii first in your article. I am just reminding you it is a much more expensive camera and it is an unfair comparison. A camera comes in a whole package including still features, video features, durability, support, price etc. You can't just compare one aspect of a camera and say it is inferior or superior. The comparison to A7Riii and GH5 was simply answering your question in the article "With alternatives like the Sony a7R III and the Panasonic GH5, why would you pick the X-H1?" The answer is people is lower budget and want to do hybrid shooting.

Usman Dawood's picture

"They produce small and also big cameras to suit different needs. What is wrong with that?"

Don't say one thing and then do another and then try to write it off as progress. We now have an APS-C mirrorless camera system (grip is required) that's bigger and heavier than a full frame DSLR. A big camera is fine, this is too big, there's a difference, balance is important.

"The answer is people is lower budget and want to do hybrid shooting."

Ok that's a fair point. Having said that you are cherry-picking points to serve your arguments.

For one, my article discusses video more than it does stills. The GH5 is geared more towards video and the X-H1 is geared more towards video, especially when comparing it to the X-T2. This is more for video shooters, Fuji would not be releasing cine glass if it weren't. This is why I discuss and compare its video feature more than I do its stills.

Although the A7R III is more expensive the GH5 isn't, you chose not to point out that price difference in your comment. Also, an A7R II is about the same price as the X-H1 with grip and it offers significantly better stills capabilities and fantastic video options.

"Don't say one thing and then do another and then try to write it off as progress."

You mean once a company said the small camera is better then they are not allowed to build big camera forever?
There are many people complaining mirrorless cameras are too small and difficult to hold comfortably. What they are doing is responding to user demand, like they always do.
If they make all their camera bigger, then I will be the first to make the complaint.

By the way, I thought m43 companies also meant to make smaller camera? The GH5 and O-MD 1 ii are exactly small either.

"The answer is people is lower budget and want to do hybrid shooting."

As I said, I was simply answering your question "With alternatives like the Sony a7R III and the Panasonic GH5, why would you pick the X-H1?"

"The GH5 is geared more towards video and the X-H1 is geared more towards video, especially when comparing it to the X-T2. This is more for video shooters, Fuji would not be releasing cine glass if it weren't. "

Fair point. But there are different levels of video shooters. I think they are also trying to target DSLR users who prefer tougher and bigger cameras. If they only want to target video user, they could have made it smaller without increasing frame thickness or use a smaller Mpx sensor like the A7Sii or GH5s.

"Although the A7R III is more expensive the GH5 isn't, you chose not to point out that price difference in your comment."

If I were to list all the pros and cons all these cameras, I will be here all day long. My point is this camera is designed to fit a specific need. In this tough market, it is essential for camera manufacturers to serve all needs and expand their customer base with different products. That is why Sony have fast FF camera, high Mpx FF camera, high sensitivity FF camera, APSC cameras, 1' P&S, ultrazoom compact camera etc.

GH5 is not cheap for a m43 camera. In UK, it is almost at the same price point as X-H1.

What is the battery life of the 5D mark IV when shooting video?

Usman Dawood's picture

Around the same as the Fuji with 2 batteries.

The critique isn't very imaginative. Reviewing a camera body in isolation, mostly focusing on the spec sheet is a little pointless. And the review reads like the camera wasn't even in possession. I frankly cant tell.

A better tact would have been positing 'who the target audience is' and 'for what purpose.' For example, obsessing over size and weight doesn't really matter if you're using a rig, big cine lenses, an external atomos recorder and whatever other gear - what are the limitations within this setup? Maybe it's better suited for a hobbyist with a small steady cam. I personally fly a dji matrice 600pro with 5DSR for stills most of the time but was just looking for a light high quality 4k camera. Could the xh1 be a good drone camera?

At least fuji is taking a first step in the right direction. If we think about Fuji's priorities it's always been focused on really great optics. I would bet that they'll roll out more cine lenses at a greater pace than Sony or Panasonic, and the bodies will follow. Consider how sony pumps out new bodies but the lenses have always lacked. Same w panasonic. Lastly, the title come off as a sort of techno-entitlement - maybe why so many bad reactions from everyone.

Usman Dawood's picture

This isn't a review.

Light high-quality 4k camera - Sony a7 III.

Michael Laing's picture

Really the title of the article is half the problem and makes the article sound like click bate. I am not saying the X-H1 is perfect but it is a very good camera.

Personally the extra size isn't a big issue and I use a hand grip on most of my camera's (except the X-E1) and comparing it to a Canon 5Dmk4 is just silly, if you add a vertical grip to a 5Dmk4 it is much bigger than the X-H1 and when shooting video having some weight isn't a big issue, particularly when you add Fuji lenses onto the camera, which a generally much smaller than equivalent Canon L lenses, so really you have to take the entire system into consideration, not just the camera on its own.

The sensor in the X-H1 is the same as the X-T2 but that is not unusual for camera manufacturers to do that (Canon used the same 18mp sensor for years).

As for the video. Yes, it isn't the GH5 but the Sony A7III isn't as good as the GH5 when it comes to video quality and yes the Sony A7III has better AF then the X-H1 but the the Sony has A7III also has better AF than the GH5. It could be said that the X-H1 has better image stablisation than both the A7III and GH5, as well as nicer colour profiles when you don't want to edit in log and the view finder is far superior to both.

So cherry picking your details which makes the Fuji a 'disappointment' is a little disingenuous.

Now of course the X-H1 does have its fault. The AF is too complicated and not as consistent but that was also the case with the X-T2, so it really wasn't something unexpected and hopefully will be improved with firmware updates.

Fuji was never going to create a GH5 video beater straight out of the box but they played to their strengths, which is the build quality, colour profiles and ergonomics and they added IBIS which works very well.

So whilst I wouldn't give the camera an A+, I would certainly give it a B+ and with firmware improvements the grade will get higher.

Usman Dawood's picture

The title is very relevant to the actual article. I discuss specifically why I think it’s a disappointing release.

The 5D4 doesn’t require a grip to unlock feature the x-h1 does. On that basis to get the full camera from Fuji you have to attach the grip therefore it’s a sound comparison. Even in terms of battery life with the grip only is the Fuji comparable to the 5D4.

The Sony a73 is an incredible video camera and much better than the GH5 in many respects. The GH5 does have some asvantages like 4K 60p but the Sony has some very noticeable advantages.

The Fuji does have pretty good ibis but it’s a bit crappy compared to the Sony when it comes to panning. Having said that yes the ibis is pretty good.

AF as you mentioned isnt great on the Fuji and that’s a biggy.

Fuji could potentially make one that can beat the GH5 if they tried harder. This is a rehash of old tech in a new body with one or two extra features.

When a company like Canon does something like this we call them out on it. Just because Fuji has been awesome as a company so far doesn’t mean I’m gonna give them a pass when try and pull this kind of stuff.

Patrick Whalen's picture

The whole reason I use the Fuji system is because of the size. If I need a full frame camera for bog jobs I grab a Canon DSLR. and take care of business, but nothing beats the portability of my X-t1.

I just don't see the point of a huge Fuji? It's like one of those Full sized Austin mini....

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