The Fuji X-H1 is Fujifilm’s latest APS-C sensor flagship camera, but does this camera replace the X-T2 in Fuji’s line up? I spent some time shooting landscapes with the X-H1 in Tuscany last month and had the chance to compare the cameras side by side to see what the differences are.
The X-H1 uses the same 24mp XTRANS III sensor and X-Processor Pro as the X-T2, and indeed the X-T20, X-E3 and X-Pro 2, so the image output from the cameras is exactly the same. If your prime interest is in shooting still images then it’s important to understand that the images from both the X-T2 and the X-H1 are identical, the differences between the cameras lay in other areas.
I made a video outlining the practical differences, which you can see below
The headline difference between the two cameras is that the X-H1 has 5 axis IBIS (in body image stabilisation) which can work on it’s own or in conjunction with the OIS (optical image stabilisation) in Fuji lenses. Fuji claim that it gives between 3.5 and 5.5 stops of stabilisation depending on the lens, meaning you should be able to handhold the camera with considerably slower shutter speeds than normal without there being any shake. Arguably though IBIS really comes into it’s own with video where it removes camera shake in handheld video and makes panning shots much smoother.
Fuji are clearly marketing the X-H1 as a camera aimed at people who shoot primarily video, which is noticeable in that most of the differences it had at launch over the X-T2 were in it’s video capabilities. It’s the first Fuji X series camera to be able to shoot F-Log, a flat profile which is essentially similar to shooting RAW in photography. F-Log allows more detail, colour and contrast to be pulled out in post-production, making it easier to attain a particular look or to match the video to that shot with other cameras (for example a drone). Without F log, you’re forced to shoot your video in one of Fuji’s film simulations, and while Provia is a relatively neutral profile it’s still quite contrast-y and saturated.
On top of that, Fuji introduced a new film profile specifically for the X-H1. Eterna has a more cinematic feel than the existing profiles and has less saturation and contrast, as well as more flexibility to pull detail from the highlights and shadows than the other film simulations
The X-H1 also introduced the capability to shoot at 120fps in full HD, which allows true slow motion, as well as being able to shoot 4K video at 200mbs, as opposed the X-T2 ‘s limit of 100mbs
One final significant video difference is that the X-H1 can shoot longer clips. It can shoot 4K continuously for 15 minutes compared to the X-T2’s 10 minutes. It can shoot Full HD for 20 minutes compared to the X-T2’s 15 minutes.
A few months after the launch of the X-H1, Fuji introduced a firmware upgrade (Version 4) for the X-T2 which implements a few of the X-H1 features like F-Log and 120fps in Full HD into the camera, bringing the cameras much closer together in terms of video features. However, the ability to shoot longer clips, to shoot 4K at 200mbs, the Eterna film simulation, as well as IBIS still mean that the X-H1 has the edge for people who shoot mostly video.
BUILD & CONTROLS
The first thing you notice when you see the X-H1 is that it’s quite a bit bigger than the X-T2. This feeling is strengthened when you pick it up and feel the additional weight. The X-H1 weighs in at 673g compared to the X-T2 at 507g, and this increase is down to the IBIS mechanism inside the body as well as the fact that the magnesium frame of the X-H1 is 25% thicker, making the body tougher. The handgrip is significantly bigger and deeper, which makes the camera really fit well in the hand and much easier to hold out in front of you when shooting video. The exposure compensation dial of the X-T2 has been replaced with a small LCD screen containing all the essential shooting parameters, and overall the right side of the camera looks and feels very much like the GFX, Fuji’s medium format camera.
Personally speaking I switched from using dSLRs to Fuji mirrorless cameras because I wanted to cut down on the size and weight of my camera equipment and I really like the form factor the X-T2. It’s a wonderful combination of ergonomics and sturdiness, fitting perfectly into the hand but having a tough enough build that I’ve taken it with me to all kinds of harsh environments, from -20º and blizzards in northern Norway to spray filled environments next to Icelandic waterfalls. It’s a really well balanced camera, and its size and weight mean I can carry an extra body (an X-T20) for shooting B-Roll or time-lapses, 3 lenses and a DJI Mavic drone in a small backpack that’s easy to carry with me on long hikes or us steep hills. The X-H1 feels like a step back in that respect, and I prefer the size and feel of the X-T2.
The X-H1, like the newer X Series cameras, has a touch screen and Bluetooth connection, and how important these things are will depend on the shooter. While I like the idea of wireless connectivity, it’s not something I use in practice, and touchscreens certainly aren’t something that I feel I need. I prefer to use the joystick to focus, particularly as I’m often shooting with gloves, although I do find the “pinch to zoom” a useful feature. Still, touchscreen is something I can happily live without but I do accept that some people really do find it useful.
So where does that leave the differences between the two cameras then, which should you choose? The cameras have identical image and video quality, but the X-H1 is €300 more expensive, so it’s really going to come down to how much you want or need IBIS in your shooting. The stabilization works incredibly well and you can see in the video I linked above the difference between handholding the camera with it turned on and with it turned off. It provides much smoother footage when holding the camera still, and makes a huge difference when you’re moving the camera, for example making a handheld panning shot or walking with the camera. So if you’re shooting video then the X-H1 is probably the camera for you, but if you’re shooting mainly stills then the necessity of IBIS starts to become a little more debatable and depends on what kind of photographer you are. I shoot mostly landscapes and mostly on a tripod where IBIS makes no difference whatsoever. I also shoot street photography, particularly when I’m travelling, but its rare that I feel a need for a slow shutter speed as even if the camera is steady, there will be blur from elements in the frame moving during the exposure. This however is the way I shoot, for other people it may be different and from experimenting I was able to get sharp handheld telephoto shots at 200mm down to around 1/40. If this is something you need in your photography then you’ll love the X-H1.
For me though the IBIS comes at a cost that exceeds its advantages. First of all there’s the increased size and weight, which matters to me as I like to travel as fast and light as possible. Secondly there’s the faster battery usage; Fuji lists the X-H1 as being good for 310 shots on one charge against the X-T2 which is listed at 340 shots per charge. I couldn’t really measure this with any degree of accuracy as I’m constantly using the camera differently. I might be using it to shoot a bit of 4K B-roll video, then on my tripod with the LCD screen on to shoot images, then with the LCD and EVF off to shoot a time-lapse, all of which use the battery differently. I did notice however that I needed to change the battery considerably more often on the X-H1 than I do on the X-T2, and this was in the warm environment of Tuscany so I’m not sure how it would handle cold climates like Norway or an alpine winter.
At the end of the day though the image and video output from both of these cameras is superb, and if you’d like to see more about the image quality you can expect check out my X-T2 review or have a look at the video review above.
You can’t go wrong whichever you choose to buy and Fuji seem to be constantly taking on board feedback from their customers to improve their line of X Series cameras. The X-H1 is probably not meant to replace the X-T2, something that will become more apparent with the launch of the X-T3 either later this year or early next. Rather, it’s a new line that’s focused on the growing video market, so think of it this way: The X-T2 is an amazing stills camera that also produces fantastic video, the X-H1 is a fantastic video camera that also produces amazing stills.
If there’s anything I haven’t covered either above or in the video, just drop me a comment or an email. Also, thanks to Fujifilm Portugal as ever for lending me the camera to test.