One could argue that Fuji’s timing of the X-H1 release in February of 2018 was a bad marketing move due to the release of the X-T3 months after the announcement. I wholeheartedly agree, as the X-H1 certainly did fall into the shadows of the X-T3 and all the fanfare that surrounded the camera. After-all, the X-T2 was one hell of a camera (see our Fuji X-T2 review) and many Fuji fans anticipated the release of its successor. As a result, most ended up dismissing the X-H1, while many reviewers negatively criticized the camera, especially once the specifications of the X-T3 started surfacing on the Internet. After I took the Fuji X-H1 with me to Morocco and Uzbekistan, I realized that this is the camera I have been waiting for from Fuji. And even though I eventually tested out the X-T3, it was the X-H1 that I actually ended up buying for my needs. Read on to find out why.
With most high-end M43, APS-C and full-frame mirrorless cameras on the market featuring in-body image stabilization (IBIS), Fuji’s lack of IBIS on its cameras has been a rather noticeable negative, especially considering how useful IBIS can be in low-light environments. The X-H1 was the first Fuji camera to feature IBIS and although the first iteration of this technology had some issues (such as jerky video when shooting hand-held videos and lack of full 5-axis stabilization on some lenses), Fuji addressed them through firmware updates to the X-H1. I will detail my experience with IBIS later on in the review, but it is important to note that IBIS was one of the key factors for me personally when deciding between the X-H1 and the X-T3.
Aside from IBIS, the X-H1 also has a few specific body features that I personally prefer over the X-T3: a much larger and deeper grip, a useful top LCD similar to the one on the GFX 50S, larger and better-placed buttons, and an overall superior construction. The X-H1 also has a much better shutter mechanism that reduces shutter shock and allows capturing images at ridiculously slow shutter speeds. Where the X-T3 stands out is in newer sensor technology, a faster processor that delivers improved fame rates for both stills and video shooting, a faster and more capable autofocus system and a few other features and improvements that I will highlight further down in this review.
Although the Fuji X-H1 is the top-of-the-line model among all X-series cameras, the release of the X-T3 resulted in rapid reduction of the price of the camera – today it sells roughly $100 less than the X-T3. So if you are in the market for a new Fuji stills camera, you might want to take a closer look at the X-H1, as I believe it offers better overall value than the X-T3.
1) Fujifilm X-H1 Specifications
Main Features and Specifications:
- Sensor: 24.3 MP (1.5x crop factor), 3.9µ pixel size
- Sensor Size: 23.5 x 15.6mm
- Resolution: 6000 x 4000
- Native ISO Sensitivity: 200-12,800
- Boost Low ISO Sensitivity: 100 (JPEG-only)
- Boost High ISO Sensitivity: 25,600-51,200 (JPEG-only)
- In-Body Image Stabilization: Yes, 5-Axis
- Sensor Cleaning System: Yes
- Lens mount: FUJIFILM X mount
- Weather Sealing/Protection: Yes
- Body Build: Full Magnesium Alloy
- Mechanical Shutter: Up to 1/8000 and 30 sec exposure
- Electronic Shutter: Up to 1/32000 and 30 sec exposure
- Shutter Control: Focal Plane Shutter
- Storage: 2x SD slots (UHS-II compatible)
- Viewfinder Type: 3,690,000-dot OLED color viewfinder
- Viewfinder Magnfication: 0.75x
- Continuous Shooting Speed: Up to 14 fps
- Exposure Meter: TTL 256-zones metering
- Built-in Flash: No
- Autofocus System: 325-point AF system
- LCD Screen: 3.0 inch, 1,040,000-dot tilting touchscreen LCD
- Movie Recording: Up to DCI 4K @ 24p (50 to 200 Mb/s
- GPS: No
- WiFi / Bluetooth: Yes / Yes
- Battery Type: NP-W126S
- Battery Life: 310 shots
- USB Standard: 3.0
- Weight: 623g (excluding battery and accessories)
- Price: $1,299 (as of Apr 2019)
A detailed list of camera specifications is available at Fujifilm.com.
2) Camera Construction, Handling and Controls
Considering that the Fuji X-H1 is a mini version of the premium GFX-50S medium format camera, its body build, construction and handling are accordingly impressive. The camera features a high-quality full magnesium-alloy construction from front to back, making it a real workhorse. While the Fuji X-Pro2 and X-T3 cameras have a rather small grip, the X-H1 has a full-size grip similar to what one would find on a DSLR and other high-end mirrorless cameras on the market. It is not only noticeably larger, but also much more comfortable to hand-hold, especially when shooting for extended periods of time. The protruded grip also allowed Fuji to move the small On / Off switch, as well as the Exposure Compensation button to the front part of the grip, which left some space for the customizable OLED top screen that displays important information such as exposure and other camera settings. Take a look at how this changed the layout of the top of the X-H1 when compared to the X-T3:
Personally, I am a big fan of this layout, as it makes the X-H1 very similar in layout and ergonomics to my GFX 50S that I am very used to. The biggest difference is the lack of the “DRIVE” button, which Fuji moved to the base of the ISO dial on both the X-H1 and the X-T3 – a smart move considering that it is easier and faster to switch between different camera modes in this new configuration, rather than pressing a button, then toggling between all the options in the camera menu as it is done on the GFX 50S. So in a way, the ergonomics of the X-H1 are already superior to those of the GFX 50S.
The back of the camera differs only slightly when compared to the X-T3. While the number of buttons is the same, the X-H1 has larger round buttons that make them a bit more comfortable to use. While the AE-L button is still to the left of the rear rotary dial, the AF-L button on the X-H1 has been removed in favor of the AF-ON button for those who like to use back button focusing.
The rest of the camera buttons, ports and switches, including those on the front, are pretty much identical to those of the X-T3.
The added grip size and more robust construction do have a drawback though – and that’s camera weight. Compared to the X-T3, the X-H1 is about 135 grams heavier, making it the heaviest among the X-series cameras at 623 grams (without battery and memory card). Once you add the battery and memory card, you can expect the camera to gain another 50 grams. As a comparison, the Nikon D7500 weighs a total of 640 grams without battery and memory card.
Overall, I would say that the X-H1 has the best ergonomics among all Fuji X-series cameras. It is remarkably easy to use and the controls never get in the way of shooting, which is great.