When the X-H1 was first announced, I wrote an article talking about how it was a disappointing release from Fujifilm. My thoughts about that camera haven't really changed; however, since rumors of the X-T4 started to circulate, I've had a think about the H series and where it sits in the line-up.
The main reason why I considered the X-H1 to be a disappointing camera was because it didn't offer anything significant over the X-T2. Comparing it to the X-T3 makes the X-H1 even less of a compelling option. In short, Fujifilm just didn't do enough with the X-H1 to make it something that truly stood out.
Fujifilm's Fragmented Line of Cameras
I can't seem to understand why Fujifilm produces so many variants of the same camera. The X-T2, X-H1, X-T20, X100F, X-Pro2, and the X-E3 are all pretty much the same camera with a few differences. They all have the exact same sensor, meaning that the image quality you'd get from the "entry-level" version versus the flagship is pretty much identical. That's six cameras from the same company with the same exact sensor. Now, I'm sure someone out there is going to talk about how this is an advantage, but it really isn't, because it distracts from the flagships. It also means that customers are picking between the most minor of differences.
This was the biggest problem with the X-H1: it simply didn't and still doesn't offer enough over some of the cheaper options available from Fujifilm. From a photography standpoint, the X-T3 is noticeably better even without having in-body image stabilization. The camera has much better autofocus in comparison to the X-H1, and it produces better, more accurate colors too. If it's video features you're comparing, then the differences are even greater, with the X-T3 being the clear winner.
The incremental differences between each of the Fuji cameras is confusing and frustrating. You buy one Fuji camera, and a few months later, another comes out that is either slightly better or slightly worse at another price point. It's just not clear, and the X-H1 was the worst to suffer from this.
Did the X-H1 Fail?
Considering the rumors of how Fujifilm may discontinue the X-H series of cameras in lieu of the potentially soon-to-be announced X-T4, one could assume that this camera just didn't do as well as Fuji had hoped. Based on that, one could classify it as a failure. Having said that, it's difficult to make an informed call on this right now; however, if it has failed, then it's easy to see why.
This camera was more of a sideways move instead of an update. Sure, IBIS is a useful feature, but for the most part it's wholly overrated in real-world shooting. More people, it seems, preferred the feature-filled T3 over the H1, as did I. Very few people seem to prefer to shoot with an APS-C mirrorless camera (with the grip) that's heavier and larger than a full-frame DSLR camera, especially when the benefits don't outweigh the drawbacks.
The most frustrating thing about this camera is that it had so much potential, yet its incremental nature is what seemingly killed it.
Should Fujifilm Discontinue the X-H1?
If you asked me this question just over a week ago, I would have said absolutely, without a doubt. I firmly believed that Fuji needed to get rid of this line of cameras and focus on the T series instead. Since then, I had a proper think about the potential of this camera, and I've changed my mind. Fuji definitely needs to produce an X-H2, but they need to do a heck of a lot more than simply rehashing the same sensor in a slightly different body. It's not enough to just add in IBIS or slightly improved video features and think that's enough. The X-H series of cameras needs to stand out as its own line with clearly defined benefits and features that separate it from all the other cameras.
Ultimately, no, this line of cameras should definitely not be discontinued. Fujifilm just needs to do more with it to realize its potential.
Polite Suggestions for Fujifilm
I think there are plenty of ways that Fujifilm could make the X-H series of cameras a huge success. Here are a few things that I think could work really well for this camera.
Increase the Price
I think Fuji should increase the price of the X-H line of cameras to somewhere between $2,500 to $3,500. The reason is because this allows much more flexibility in regards to the kind of features they can develop for it. If we want incremental updates between different camera lines, then the price can remain relatively unchanged. If, however, we want some meaningful updates for the H series of cameras, then they need to cost more, and they need to target a different market segment.
Most people may continue to buy the X-T3 and the potential 4; however, the X-H line of cameras needs to be a clear step up. Increasing the price is inevitable if we want a much better overall camera system.
The 1D X and D5 Alternative
Once the price has been increased, Fuji could produce a camera that actually competes with something like the Canon 1D X Mark III and the Nikon D5. This is where the X-H series of cameras needs to sit. A large APS-C camera with a built-in grip and an X-H specific battery. Nikon and Canon both have specific batteries for their top-end pro cameras, and Fujifilm needs to do the same. The larger body can help them improve battery life beyond anything they've produced so far. Another benefit of the larger body is that they can offer better features without the risk of the camera overheating.
- A camera with a built-in grip like the 1D or D5
- A new X-H series-specific battery, which is much larger, like the one in the 1D X III
- 20 fps full raw files with a huge buffer to keep up
- 30 fps for full JPEGs or HEIF files
- Dual CFast or XQD storage options; SD cards are not going to be enough
- A highly improved focus system to keep up with the best cameras on the market
- Improved face and eye detect AF
- High frame rate video without any cropping
- Significantly better weather-sealing and durability
Having a proper competitor to the 1D X III and Nikon D5 at a much cheaper price point would be incredible for Fuji shooters. Currently, Fujifilm just doesn't have anything remotely close to that level of performance, and that gap could be filled with the H series cameras. Imagine an X-H2 that could be used by professionals to photograph the Olympics.
Fujifilm touched on very high-end professional telephoto lenses with the XF 200mm f/2.0. Since then, we haven't had any new lenses that sit in a similar place. I think Fuji needs to produce more lenses like these for the high-end market that would shoot with it. Now, these lenses would be large and heavy and would require a large and heavy camera body to match. This is what the H series of cameras was essentially built for: a camera with a large body that's ergonomically effective for larger heavier lenses. For the X-H series of cameras to work, Fujifilm needs to produce more lenses like the XF 200mm. Otherwise the X-H cameras just become bodies full of potential and nothing to help realize it.
I admit that I gave the X-H1 quite a hard time, but it deserved it. That was an incremental, confused camera that offered very little over Fujifilm's other offerings. I have, however, changed my mind since then about how this camera sits in the line-up. This camera has so much potential and could be something far more incredible than anything Fuji has produced so far. Unfortunately, that potential is being wasted right now, and I feel like this is because Fujifilm is trying to play it far too safe.
A potential X-H2 needs to be much more than an incremental update. If Fuji can get this right, then we might see the first ever proper high-end professional APS-C camera, and that, I think, would be incredible.
Yes. Absolutely! I think that the X-H line needs to continue on! There are people who like that form factor. There is so much potential for the X-H line to be absolutely amazing. I think that there is a perfect reason for the X-H and X-T lines to continue to co-exist... if Fuji can do the X-H2 well.
Not going to argue with any point raised in this article bar one. I love my X-H1 and use it much more than my X-T3.
Why? IBIS. It's amazing.
I think you are right about a "super-flagship" Fuji too. Making any upcoming X-H2 into a 1DX positioned body makes a lot of sense.
Let's see what Fuji say next month.
If the XT4 really does become a bit bigger with a bigger grip and add the X-H1's standout feature (IBIS), then the X-H line should change dramatically.
I would suggest that they make it more like the S1H, add in internal NDs, add a mini-xlr port for audio, and make it the best video mirrorless camera available. Even bring out a hot-shoe XLR adapter for professional audio, and internal raw (like BlackMagic Raw), and 120fps in 4K. Basically a better looking, more functional Canon XC-15 with an X-Mount packed full of features that full-frame cameras won't be able to touch for another 2-3 years.
Body around 800-900 grams and sell it for $2700 - $3000.
This would instantly become the best, small form factor mirrorless video camera option out there. And the XT3/4 would be a beautiful B-Cam.
Fuji is still small compared to Canon, so I would not expect a 1D-X style camera to be successful for Fuji. Only look at how the Olympus EM-1-X was recieved and Olympus has some long lenses already. Nonetheless I think that some Fuji users would trade in their small camera bodies with grip extension for a bigger body with a bigger battery inside.
Hasn't it already been discontinued?
If they had a plan to make the H series into a 1DX competitor, ought to be in the hands of professionals in time for the Olympics, along with some longer fast primes to work with. And maybe the X-H1 and the 200mm provide a hint that someone at Fujifilm had that sort of roadmap in mind. But at this point I’m going to suppose that if the H line survives, it will end up oriented to cine/hybrid shooters and compete with the S1H. But where’s the glass? They have two parfocal X-mouth zooms, but is there any other sources for X-mount cine lenses? I’m not sure.
With all that said, seems most likely they will kill off the H line. They don’t seem geared up for either of the two scenarios above.
Which X-Mount zooms are parfocal?
The X-mount ones ;)
I think the X-H line should be competing with the Panasonic GH5, not the 1DX.
It was supposed to be Fuji’s video-specific body, but the X-H1 doesn’t do unlimited recording and it doesn’t record to both card slots.
Those are the features that will drive me to buying a set of GH5 bodies because I do a lot of long form video interviews.
I’d much rather use X-H bodies, but as you stated, Fuji didn’t do what they could have and should have done with the X-H1.
The GH5 is two years old and it’s still the standard bearer for many when it comes to video. If the X-H series is supposed to be video-focused, the 1DX is not the target, the GH5 is.
Yes but they can and should change up the lines. The X-T3 is a much better alternative to the GH5 and the x-H1 just doesn’t offer much over it in terms of video or stills.
The XH1 should I think be put up as a main line flagship
I own two X-T3s. It is not a better alternative to the GH5 when it comes to video.
The GH5 has a laundry list of video features that the X-T3 doesn't have.
Flagship doesn't mean make a bigger body and jack up the price. The X-H1 was promoted as a video camera and it doesn't have video features that cameras already on the market upon its release had.
If they try to make a 1DX competitor, I'm not buying that camera. It would cost too much and still not deliver the functionality I need. I think that camera would end up being like that Olympus flagship camera that nobody is going to buy.
The people in the market for that kind of camera are buying 1DX, Nikon D5, or jumping ship to Sony A9. I don' t there's a market for the APS-C camera you describe.
A better alternative compared to the X-H1.
I think Fujifilm messed up the X-H series after they released the X-T3 with far better specs and feature.
I nearly bought into the X-H1 ...
They have 4 things that made me want to move from X-T2 bodies to X-H1
1. The built in grip
2. The shutter button
3. No exposure compensation wheel
I find X-Tx bodies to be too small ergonomically speaking and always use them with the optional grip or battery grip.
I'd rather have the grip built into the body like the X-H1 and a flat battery pack that goes with it.
The grip sticking out the top of the X-T2 battery pack is freaking annoying when it's not attached to the camera.
The shutter button of the X-H1 is a delight.
For me the exposure compensation wheel is not just a total waste of space but I'm constantly bumping it by accident. I use the front command wheel for exposure compensation.
Good riddance if you ask me.
IBIS wasn't really that important to me.
But at the end of the day I thought that those things weren't enough for the up/side-grade I figured if I hang in there for the X-H2 then that would be the camera to buy. By that time they would have gotten their stuff together, I figured.
If it's supposed to be a flagship camera then the should make it a flagship camera do as you suggest. Throw everything they have into it.
The biggest disappointment with the X-H1 was that it was using the same sensor and CPU as the X-T2. Doesn't really sell the flagship status, if you ask me.
I think the IBIS was supposed to be the big draw card, but it turned not to be.
I always enjoy reading your thoughts on Fuji, Usman, but this time I disagree. Fuji is different in that it differentiates its bodies as much on form factor and price as it does on features. I actually prefer this. Choose the body style you want at the price you can afford. IQ is democratized and feature sets are not artificially limited as Canon does with bodies. The X-H1 failed because most people, including myself, saw it as a two-year-old camera the day it was introduced. And anyone following FujiRumors already knew that in six months the X-T3, with new internals, would be released at a lower price point. This was an inexplicable recipe for failure on the part of Fuji.
I believe that if it was the X-H1 that debuted six months later with the new internals, the story of this body would be completely different. Its larger grip, improved construction, stronger mount, more robust weather sealing, and more durable paint, its superior shutter mechanism with a vastly superior shutter button placement, IBIS, and sub-display all serve to differentiate it from the X-T line. It's a much better design for photogs who shoot with Fuji's Red Badge zooms. I know I'm not alone when I say that if Fuji decides to introduce the next X-H model at the beginning of a technology cycle instead of the end, I will switch from my X-T body immediately. Fuji doesn't need to double the price. They don't need to compete with the 1Dx. They don't need to turn the X-H line into a cine series. They just need to avoid the same mistakes they made with the X-H1.
Fuji have already officially discontinued the X-H line so perhaps the question (and article title) should be "should they have".
Well written article and I hope Fuji is listening. If XT4 has the same IBIS, XH can be discontinued. If not it should stay. XH IBIS is stunning. However the biggest problem Fuji has is battery life. They must address it.
I bought my X-H1 with the grip + Fujinon XF16-55mm f/2.8 R LM WR lens just over three months ago. I made a exchange with my Fujifilm X100F camera and paid 1000€ cash for the whole package.
I wondered if it pays to take the risk, because there are so many who complain about it. Now when I have used it, I have come to the conclusion that all the complaints are nothing but opinions.
My Fujifilm X-H1 is absolutely amazing and I use it for professional use. There are still some bugs in the software so I hope Fujifilm will come out with at least one update to fix it. I am completely satisfied with my camera and I will keep it the next time I buy a new one.
Long live X-H1 ;-)
"The main reason why I considered the X-H1 to be a disappointing camera was because it didn't offer anything significant over the X-T2. Comparing it to the X-T3 makes the X-H1 even less of a compelling option. In short, Fujifilm just didn't do enough with the X-H1 to make it something that truly stood out."
Stronger body shell, Standard grip that is big enough to actually provide a secure grip, properly angledand comfortable shutter release, ...
They may not matter to Mr Dawood, but for some of us those differences fix the deficiencies of the XT-1, XT-2, XT-3. XT-4 ... that is, they remove the reasons why we do not like their uncomfortable "retro" design.
The real mistakes , so far as X-H1 sales are concerned, were to fit the X-H1 with the 24Mp sensor rather than the 26Mp version, and to equip the XT-4 with superior IBIS and much better battery life.