So, the cat is out of the bag, Fujifilm has finally announced their new top of the line X-Series camera – The X-H1. This is an exciting camera for a number of reasons, including its In-Body Image Stabilization and extensive video focused features. But honestly one of the things that stood out to me the most was the departure from Fujifilm’s vintage design aesthetic. I mean, that isn’t totally true, the camera does still look pretty old school, just now instead of looking like old manual film cameras, they have upped it to start looking like higher-end mid-90s film cameras with all the bells and whistles.
In reality, the X-H1 is the bastard child of an X-T2 and the GFX-50s, taking the general grip design and top LCD from the GFX and merging that with the vintage dials and overall look of the X-T2. It is an interesting move, one that I am curious to see how it turns out. The camera has the potential to be much more appealing to the die-hard DSLR crowd but also has the potential to be unappealing to that Fujifilm base user who has come to love the minimal vintage style and smaller size of their cameras.
At any rate, the camera has been announced, as you, no doubt know, and I had the incredible opportunity to come down to LA for Fujifilm’s launch event for the X-H1. This was actually only my second time in LA, so that was exciting to fly down from Portland for a day and be a tourist for a few hours before heading over to the Hubble Studio, where Fujifilm held their X-H1 camera launch event.
So, since I was able to be one of the first people (besides all those lucky punks like Jonas Rask and others who had the camera before the announcement) to have my hands on the camera here in the US I wanted to share some of my initial thoughts on it.
Initial Hands-on Impressions with the Fujifilm X-H1
Ok, so right off the bat the Fujifilm X-H1 looks mostly unlike any X-Series camera we have seen before – thanks in large part to that enormous (by x-series standards) grip and the top LCD screen that is reminiscent of those Canon and Nikon users are used to on most modern DSLRs. So it is likely that some of you are wondering how this camera feels, and let me just say that I was quite impressed with the feel of this camera in the hands. It is by far the best feeling X-Series camera for a single-handed grip, at least for my medium sized hands.
As you all know, my primary camera is currently the Fujifilm X-Pro2 and coming from that over to the X-H1 for an evening was absolutely a breeze. You can thank Fujifilm’s incredibly consistent menu system and control layout for this. The biggest adjustment for me was simply the ‘SLR Style’ design itself, and having buttons in places slightly different from where I am used to them being on my X-Pro2. That said, it was a really quick adjustment, and I am confident that any of you who are already X-Series users (or who are familiar with the system) should be able to pick up the X-H1 and be ready to rock in no time. For users coming from systems other than Fujifilm the learning curve may take a little bit more, but really, once you are used to the Fujifilm method of interacting with your camera, it’s incredibly easy and simple to use this setup.
What I Liked About The X-H1 Right Off the Bat
- It feels really good in the hands
- EVF Looks great
- AF-On Button
- AF Accuracy in dark environment
- Top LCD Display
- In-Body Stabilization
What I Disliked About The X-H1 Right Off the Bat
- Secondary Dials – These were harder to manipulate than I would have liked.
- Push button to ‘Lock down’ ISO/Shutter Dials (Slows me down too much when trying to change a setting)
I really only got to play with the X-H1 a little bit with demo units that they had at the event. I wasn’t able to produce my own conditions or utilize the gear in a situation that I would normally use it in. However, the dark and smokey environment that Fujifilm had going on in one portion of the event was an excellent test for the X-H1’s AF system. In my limited use in that scenario, I was able to focus on people for these event photos no problem. Something that I couldn’t always say for my X-Pro2, so score that a win for the X-H1 and it’s upgraded AF system.
Clearly I need more time with the camera in order to develop some more complete thoughts on it as a whole. However, just as some initial impressions, it is very clear to me that Fujifilm has done a lot right with this camera. They, as they are known to do, listened to their customers and built a camera that more or less accomplishes the goals of the target photographer/videographer that Fujifilm is targeting with this camera. I would have liked to get a better look at the camera, but this event was what it was.
I look forward to playing with the RAW files from this camera and hopefully getting my hands on one again soon for a full review. My initial advice to anyone seriously looking at one of these would be to go ahead and get one. I didn’t experience any issues with any of the units that I played with today and quite honestly the capabilities here are enough to justify the expense (IBIS, Hello). If you are interested in getting one of these on day one, you can pre-order the X-H1 over on Amazon.
Update: Here is a fun video that Fuji made for us at one of the experiential stations.