There has been a lot of talks since the Fujifilm X-H1 was announced and most of that talk has been focused on the headline improvements of the camera, things like the IBIS and body design. Some of what has been said has come from a place of serious ignorance, with claims of the camera feeling rushed, or that too little was changed between this camera and the X-T2 for example. I think that claim is absolutely ridiculous, but I can understand how someone who has not used the camera or taken the time to investigate the full list of features could come to that conclusion.
So, anyways, today I wanted to take a minute and talk about some of the things that have not been as publicized, which in my opinion take the X-H1 to another level. There are a ton of quotes out there about ‘the little things’, but this one from John Wooden is one that I think really gets the point across.
“It’s the little details that are vital. Little things make big things happen.”
Little Features that Help The Fujifilm X-H1 Stand Out
1. Movie Features Get Their Own Sub-Menu
This one is something that people basing their opinions off of a spec list would probably not realize or notice. But Fujifilm actually added a whole crap ton of movie/video focused menu functions to the X-H1 which are all controlled via the special mode sub-menu. In previous X-Series cameras, the movie mode functions were limited to one single page of the main menu, that has now been extended to 4 pages of the movie sub-menu. That is A LOT of added customization and functionality for video shooters that you simply didn’t have before on a Fujifilm camera.
2. AF System Algorithm Change Isn’t As Minor As It Appears
On the surface, the AF upgrades on the X-H1 appear to be fairly minor over the X-T2 or the other X-Trans III based cameras, but in reality, those algorithm changes are far more significant than someone looking at a spec sheet could ever realize. The X-H1 takes the same physical hardware that is in the X-T2 and it stretches it to its maximum potential.
I think that I mentioned this in my initial impressions post, but just to reiterate. The X-T2 broke up each individual user selectable focus point into 5 sub-zones that the camera used to measure the focus on that point. The X-H1 takes those same 5 sub-zones but then expands those into 4 subzones each, so where the X-T2 would be measuring 5 data points per focusing point, the X-H1 is measuring 20 data points. The result is that not only is the X-H1 more accurate and better at tracking, but it is also simple better at focusing in lower contrast situations and where the subject is moving quickly.
But it doesn’t end there, the X-H1 is also able to take all of this data into account at once. One thing that Fujifilm pointed out to those of us in on the press briefing was that there are three types of pixels readings that the Fujifilm AF system makes, on the X-T2 the camera could only take one of those types of pixel reading into account at once. The X-H1 though, is able to take all three types of pixel reading into account simultaneously – thus making its AF much more accurate in all sorts of situations where on the X-T2 if the camera was not reading the correct type of pixel information, it could end up being less accurate.
3. The IBIS Isn’t Just Catching Up To the Pack, It’s A Step Above
One could be forgiven for thinking that the IBIS that Fujifilm has implemented into their X-H1 was simply a response to the fact that virtually every other serious mirrorless competitor was using this technology. While that may be partly the case for the reason why Fujifilm decided to make this technology work, what they have done in order to make sure that it’s effect on image quality is minimal is impressive.
Something that has apparently gone a little overlooked is the fact that the Fujifilm IBIS implementation is powered by two dedicated processors, whereas the IBIS implementations of other companies are powered by a single processor. The advantage here is that Fujifilm’s implementation is able to sample the telemetry data from its sensors 10,000 times per second, and thus make the necessary adjustments and corrections for the movement of the camera faster than other systems are capable of doing. But not only can it make those adjustments faster, the adjustments can also be more accurate thanks to sampling more data to base those corrections on.
4. 4:2:2 Video Through HDMI Out
I’ve heard some complaints that the camera is limited to 8 bit 4:2:0 video recording in camera, and yes that is, in fact, a ‘limitation’ on this camera. However, what many have not brought up is that this camera IS capable of 4:2:2 (though still 8 bit) via HDMI out for those using external recorders. This isn’t as good as 10bit, or 4:2:2 in a camera like what some people were wanting, but its something, which is notable for video people wanting that expanded capability.
5. The Customization of that ‘E-Ink’ Top Display
Many have made the mistake of thinking that the top display on the X-H1 is simply the Fujifilm version of those top display screens that we have seen on DSLRs for years. Sure, while on the surface that is the case, how many of those DSLR screens can you customize to show the information that you want it to show? That answer is probably zero. Not only can you customize the top panel screen to display the information important to you, but you can also customize its appearance so that you can see the screen easier depending on the scenario that you are shooting in.
The screen can flip from a white background with darker text to a dark background with white text. This will make the screen easier to see in darker or brighter environments and needs to be noted.
So, there are 5 features that could be easy to miss with the X-H1 that I think are worth noting, things that I feel like making the experience of using the X-H1 a better one. Things that you could not really speak to if all you have done is read a spec sheet and compared the camera to others on the market.
But finally, I wanted to address one other point about the X-H1 that others have brought up, and that is the decision from Fujifilm to not upgrade the battery at all. That is one complaint that I will simply scoff at. I use the X-Pro2, and I have yet to ever really find the batteries to be limited to my work – ever. I am routinely able to get through an entire shoot on one battery, my shoots will last sometimes 2-3 hours and I can often take upwards of 600 to 900 images in a single session.
Now, is that impressive in any way? No, that is not what I am trying to say. My point is that I am able to capture everything that I need (more than I need honestly) within a fairly standard timeframe, and I am able to do that on a single battery with no problem. Occasionally I need to change out the battery towards the end of a session, but that only happens every once in a while. So I change it out real quick, and get back to shooting, in all it takes two seconds and hardly disrupts the flow of the shoot.
Obviously, I am only shooting stills, so for video people, the battery issue can definitely be a more real issue and I am willing to acknowledge that. However, as noted by Fujifilm, with the battery grip you are able to have three batteries in the camera at once, as well as have the camera powered by the wall thanks to an AC adapter (that can simultaneously power the camera and charge the batteries.
All in all, I stand by my original assessment, that Fujifilm has done a ton of things right here with the X-H1. They have taken the guts of their tops X-Series cameras and managed to find a way to make them even more professional, with more features, and better functionality in a package that will be more appealing to a traditionally pro market. Is it perfect? No, far from it. But is it a solid improvement over what Fujifilm was offering previously, with the potential to be exactly the tool that many professionals all over the world are looking for? Definitely.
Anyone who says otherwise is ignorant, biased, or simply just trying to get clicks with a flashy headline.