An unloved child… the Fujifilm X-H1

This is the first part of a collection of thoughts about the Fujifilm X-H1. You can find the second part here.

I think I felt like a lot of Fujifilm photographers at the end of 2017. When the first rumours of a new Fujifilm with IBIS went around, I was very excited. After all, IBIS was the only thing I really missed about my Fujis. Then the camera was announced in February 2018… and a kind of disillusionment followed. It was quite big, a little heavy, a bit clunky and truly no real beauty either. But above all: What has become of the genes of the X series? Where was the unique and the special thing that finally drove me to Fujifilm, especially with the X100 or the X-Pro2?

This camera looked like a crossing between a Leica SL and a Sony A7, which is not much praise even with a lot of good intentions. OK, actually it looked more like a shrunken Fujifilm GFX 50S… which doesn’t make it much better. After further considerations and reading some first reviews it soon became clear to me: this camera wouldn’t be my choice. Period.

And now, despite all my doubts, I am suddenly an owner of this Fujifilm X-H1. How could this happen? There are two reasons for this, one profane and one logical. The profane: Due to a job change I was forced to return the X-T2 – the only camera that didn’t belong to me personally, but to my employer. The logical: I must admit that I haven’t used the X-T2 quite often. I only used it for some shootings when things like the folding display or the big and clear EVF were advantageous. It’s a great camera, no question about it, but not as much as my clearly preferred X-Pro2.

The innovations and advantages of an X-T3 as a logical replacement – especially in the area of speed and AF – weren’t really decisive for me either. At least these things weren’t important enough to convince me to buy this camera. And there was the thing with the new sensor. It may be very good, but a short test showed me that I couldn’t have used the X-Pro2 and X-T3 files with the same workflow and the same Lightroom presets side by side. There’s a clear difference in the look that I would always have to adjust.

So, I surprisingly decided to look again at the X-H1, especially since the latest discount of 600€ made the camera much more attractive. And suddenly the overall picture fitted much better for me. The camera still wasn’t sexy, but somehow I realized that it could be a perfect addition to my equipment. And this simply because this camera can do things my other cameras can’t. Its sensational viewfinder, the DSLR form factor, the huge and ergonomic handgrip and especially the IBIS expand the range of photographic possibilities enormously.

This camera will never become my new love, but I see it as an outstanding ‘possible-maker’. It’s more a pragmatic tool, not a tool that inspires me to go out and make pictures even if I am not in the mood for that. But sometimes you just need those tools, right?

I don’t want to say much about the camera yet since I haven’t had it long enough for that. But I can still anticipate one thing: I am very positively surprised by the X-H1. The bad image of this camera is actually not justified at all. You might still like to argue about the look, but the functionality is quite sensational. To be honest, I actually see a significant added value compared to the X-T2.

Essentially, both cameras share the DSLR replacement concept. However, the X-H1 implements this more consistently from my point of view. It’s not just the IBIS, it’s the overall impression the camera leaves on me. For example, the ergonomics – especially with larger lenses – are much better than with the other cameras. And the EVF is nothing short of amazing.

In the next few days I will have the opportunity to use the camera much more in practice. Then I will also deal with the frequently reported disadvantages and points of criticism that you hear and read so often: So e.g. with the spongy shutter release button, the allegedly useless second display, the bad battery performance, etc… Then we’ll see how many of these still are left.

Tbc… so stay tuned

17 Comments

  • Like you I wasn’t planning on buying the X-H1 but I couldn’t be the price. It does things my X-Pro2 can’t for me (with tripod and adjustable screen). Loving this camera.

  • I have used the XH1 for a year now and while I prefer smaller, I find I reallly enjoy using this camera. I bought a second bidy3when they went on sake. I feel like the camera has helped me embrace more video than ever so it is a true hybrid for me.

  • Hi Ramon,

    I have no problem with imperfection at all 😉 But I don’t think that the X-H1 stand for imperfection, it’s very perfect in many ways. My question is rather whether the camera can meet my expectations regarding some special things, such as IBIS.

    Peter

  • Hi Dawn,

    yes, the price has also given me the strike. But now I have to see if the camera really suits me and helps me.

    Peter

  • Hi Steve,

    video would be a strong argument, but as for now I don’t really use this feature. It’s another world and I don’t know if I want to start with this at all.

    Peter

  • Before the thought of purchasing the X-H1 I bought the X-T100. Even though it didn’t get much (if any) advertisement its a nice little camera…small, light & powerful….and a great price.

    Good luck with your experimentation and love 😉 with the. -H1.

  • I switched from the X-Pro2 to the H1 & I love it. I just didn’t get on with the Pro2 as much as I love its form factor. I look forward to your up coming comments.

  • Hi Nigel,

    that’s interesting, but I would never change my X-Pro2 for an X-H1. 🙂

    Peter

  • Hi Dawn,

    I really love the X100 series. The original one was my entry to the Fujifilm world…

    Peter

  • Hi Peter.

    I started out my Fuji obsession with the X-E1 which I loved but I lusted after the X-Pro1 which I resisted as it was double the price of the E1 at the time. So eventually along came the X-Pro2 so I thought here we go. A big mistake (for me) the ISO Dial! I had grown up with such ISO Dials & had no problem with them but now in my mid 60’s with my eyesight not so good I couldn’t see the bl**dy thing. So it was glasses on, glasses off, glasses on, glasses off. You get the picture it drove me nuts. Also the optical viewfinder, I just didn’t like it. No problem, Turn it off. But with my clumsy hands I kept turning it back on, I even tried gaffer taping over it but I would still manage to turn it on. I’m also into Bird & Wildlife photography for which I have a hugely heavy Nikon kit so when along came the XH1 I thought why not & I love it. With the grip & the 100-400 its a much easier option to manage than my D500 but unfortunately it not quite up there with it. But I have the choice & the H1 is great for everything else that I’m into.

  • Hi Nigel,

    I also don’t think the X-Pro2 makes any sense for wildlife and bird photography. And I don’t want to force my opinion on anyone. But just two remarks about the ISO dial of the X-Pro2. First, why do you have to look at it? You can adjust the ring and read the data on the rear screen. Second, how often do you manually adjust the ISO? I have it set to 98% of the time on automatic. It’s such a fantastic feature.

    Peter

  • Hi Peter

    I hear what your saying about the ISO, in fact I kept my X-Pro set to auto iso most of the time. Having been totally enamoured with the RF style of the X-E1 I was convinced I would love the Pro2 even more & believe me I wanted to. It just didn’t work out for me. I keep mulling over a second hand X-E2 or X-E3 as a second body but then I think maybe we’ll get an X-E4 soon so lets hang on a while longer.

  • Hi Nigel,

    we’re all different and that’s a good thing!

    Keep on shooting, with whatever camera…
    Peter

  • Hallo Peter Poete,

    zunächst: Ich schreibe auf Deutsch, weil mir das flüssiger von der Hand geht. Ich habe schon einige Ihrer Artikel gelesen, was mir recht viel Freude gemacht hat. So auch dieser.

    Ja, ein bisschen schräg schaue ich meine X-H1 auch immer wieder mal an, weil sie so wenig den Kameras entspricht, wegen derer ich vor einigen Jahren von Nikon zu Fujifilm gewechselt bin. Allerdings gibt es dafür sachlich betrachtet nicht den geringsten Anlaß.

    Das erste, was man zur X-H1 hört, aber auch selbst denkt, ist “klobig und schwer”. Stimmt das wirklich? Mit X-T2/3 komme ich nur zurecht, wenn ich den MHG dranschraube. Dann sind die X-Ts aber fast so groß und schwer wie die X-H1 und sie fassen sich mit diesem Appendix noch bei weitem nicht so gut an wie die X-H1! Die Haptik dieser Kamera, aber auch die ganze Ergonomie finde ich großartig.

    Ganz wichtig, ja unverzichtbar, ist mir das obere Statusdisplay. Ich lese immer wieder, daß bei X-T2/3 aufgrund der 3 Räder auf der Oberseite der Kamerastatus auf eine Blick erkennbar sei. Nix is! Ich fotografiere fast nur in Zeitautomatik, da steht das Zeitenrad auf “A”, nutze oft Zooms, die keine Blendenbeschriftung besitzen und am schlimmsten: Die Belichtungskorrekturräder von X-T2, und schlimmer noch X-T3, lassen sich nur mit Kraftaufwand und spitzen Fingern verstellen. Wenn mann diesen umständlichen Prozeß verflüssigen will, muß man die “C”-Einstellung nutzen und sieht den eingestellten Korrekturfaktor …… NICHT. Man sieht also gar nichts! Demgegenüber ist die X-H1 wesentlich gesprächiger.

    Ach ja, und dann wäre da noch der tolle Bildstabilisator!

    Wahnsinn der nahezu völlig geräuschlose Verschluß und der streichelweiche Auslöser! Und ja, ich gebe Ihnen recht, die Bilddarstellung ist eine Wucht, noch einen Tick zurückhaltender als bei den anderen Kameras mit X-Trans III, was die JPEGs ein bisschen sanfter und wahrhaftiger macht. Und noch ein paar gute Eigenschaften könnte ich hier anführen, die die X-T3, deren neuen Sensor ich auch nicht brauche, nicht besitzt.

    Was bleibt Negatives? Eine Schönheit ist die Kamera nicht, aber das ist bei vielen technischen Gegenständen so, daß die robusteren und weitergehenden Fähigkeiten zu Lasten der Schönheit gehen. Ein Mercedes G ist zweifellos häßlicher als ein GLE, aber er kann mehr und ist wesentlich robuster. Und: Ich hätte mir für die größere, stromintensivere Kamera größere Akkus gewünscht. Ich lese immer was von 250, 300 Bildern. Habe ich noch nie geschafft, weil ich weder zu den Leuten gehöre, die 200 Aufnahmen am Stück machen, noch dauernd, wenn sie das nicht machen, die Kamera aus- und wieder anschalten. Mehr als 100 Bilder schaffe ich selten. Also habe ich die Taschen voller Akkus.

    Ehrlich: Die X-H1 ist die Abstand technisch beste Kamera, die Fujifilm in der X-Serie baut. Ich fotografiere gerne mit ihr und bin mit den Ergebnissen sehr zufrieden. Auch wenn ich sie manchmal schräg anschaue!

  • Hello Michael MD
    I fully agree with what you have to say about the X-H1. The silent shutter, the ergonomics, the top plate screen, exposure comp on the front dial & of course IBIS are all killers for me.

  • I have the XT1, XT2, and I bought the XT3. A week or so later, the XH1 went on sale with the Grip and two additional batteries for 100 bucks less than the plain vanilla XT3! I returned the 3, and got me the XH1 and I couldn’t be happier. It has everything the XT3 has (for my shooting style), saved me a few bucks, and it’s just freakin’ awesome camera!

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