Fujifilm X-H1 Review: Bigger and Better with In-Body 5-Axis Image Stabilization System

Fujifilm’s X-H1 boasts a solid weather-resistant build, great autofocus for videos and stills, excellent RAW and JPEG image quality, Sharp DCI 4K video, built-in 5-Axis Image Stabilization and more

Fujifilm X-H1 Review: Bigger and Better with In-Body 5-Axis Image Stabilization System

Okay, so we’re reviewing the X-H1, Fujifilm’s new flagship for the X series.

At first glance, the Fujifilm X-H1 looks like a heftier edition of the X-T2, most conspicuously, with a deeper grip.

It also has a considerably bigger viewfinder unit, probably, to prevent your nose from messing with the touchscreen unless, of course, that nose is so big that it kills the purpose altogether.

The X-H1’s in-body image stabilization and the sensor-cooling heat sink inside also justify the flagship’s rather substantial body.

A magnesium alloy shell that’s 25 percent thicker compared to the X-T2, doubles the camera’s overall strength.

And, the surface coating this time around makes the X-H1 much more scratch resistant too.

The X-H1 may be bulkier than the X-T2 but is still comfortably smaller and lighter than its DSLR counterparts.

Looking at the camera from the top you’ll notice the familiar dedicated and lockable shutter speed and ISO dials we saw on the X-T2.

However, gone is the exposure compensation dial in favor of an LCD panel, which is not a bad thing, considering how often that dial turned by mistake, particularly when being taken out of the bag.

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Put the X-H1 alongside the GFX 50S and the family likeness becomes apparent, despite the X-H1’s scaled down form factor, at least from the top and the front.

While the grip, as mentioned, is larger than the X-T2, it is still less substantial than the GFX 50S, the middle approach making it far more comfortable in the hands, particularly when shooting with bigger lenses.

While the X-H1 looks like an emaciated version of the GFX 50S, it has the exact same LCD panel on top, with the 128 x 128-pixel display, capable of changing details depending on the mode it is in; for example, the exposure information for still photos seamlessly changes to video-oriented details in the movie mode, and vice versa.

The highly visible dark display on the backlit white background can be reversed to show white numbers and text on a dark background, which is as visible as it is in the former mode.

There’s also a provision for customizing the information displayed in either mode and since the LCD is dot-matrix, you could, theoretically, display almost anything on it.

Moving over to the rear of the camera, you’ll notice some minor changes in the buttons, with AFL now becoming AF-ON.

The focus button is also slightly larger and better rounded than it is on the X-T2, making it relatively easier to use, especially with gloves on.

The cross keys, or selector button, continue to be unreasonably small in spite of the larger real estate of that rear panel; the larger cross keys on the X-Pro 2 would have done relatively better here.

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The unique screen articulation, first seen on the XT-2 and fine-tuned on the GFX 50S, finds a place on the X-1H as well, allowing the 3-inch display to fold up vertically by 90 degrees or down by 45 degrees, or so.

It also moves laterally to give you that perfect portrait orientation, with the shooting data cleverly rotating to stay upright in synch with the changing orientations, not only on the display but on the viewfinder as well.

While this mechanism may be a better option than the side-hinge system in terms of ease and quickness of use, it does, however, take away the forward flipping capability of the screen, ruling out selfies and vlogging to camera, in the bargain.

In a highly practical upgrade over the X-T2, the display on the X-H1 is now touch-sensitive, which means you can now tap to change the focusing area, pinch to zoom, swipe to playback, and so on.

The X-H1 also inherits the gesture control feature from the XE-3, allowing you to swipe up to display live RGB and brightness histograms, while a down swipe will let you utilize the new dual-axis leveling gauge; and, you can swipe right to access the microphone controls.

The four ports remain the same as on the X-T2, which include a 3.5mm microphone input, a USB 3 port, a mini HDMI port and the 2.5mm remote jack.

The headphone jack continues to be absent from the body, and, while you can charge the battery, you can’t, actually, power the X-H1 over USB.

You’ll find your two memory card slots behind the weather-sealed door in the grip, which is one of the 94 points of weather-sealing on the camera.

Again, you have the exact same 24-megapixel X-Trans III sensor inside the substantial body of the X-H1 that is now a standard on most of the Fujifilm X range, which, effectively, means the XH-1 also gets the same embedded phase detect autofocus system, a little enhanced, though.

Together with the same X series image processors, the picture quality is more or less the same as the X-Pro2, X-T2, X-T20, or the X-E3, which is pretty good.

Also, the X-H1 can create some super quality JPEGS – reminiscent of the Color X-Trans III camera – made possible by the film simulations, which now include a new video-friendly Eterna option.

While the sensor remains the same as the ones you find on most of the X line-up, the X-H1 is the first X family member to have an in-body 5-axis stabilization system, good for up to 5 stops of compensation, depending, of course, on the lens type deployed.

The degree of compensation depends on the lens you’re using. All non-OIS lenses – those are the lenses without their own optical stabilization – should expect up to around 5 stops of compensation.

A new image stabilization menu gives you the flexibility to either opt for continuous stabilization or go for the feature only when taking pictures.

Either way, the benefit of image stabilization isn’t only about minimizing camera shake but also about steadying the view during composition, with longer lenses in particular.

Do be aware, though, that continuous running of that stabilization feature is going to have a telling effect on the battery life.

The already quiet shutter system of the Fujifilm X range is now even quieter and the new electronic front curtain considerably minimizes shutter shock.

The mechanical shutter allows you to shoot at 8 frames per second, while the electronic shutter can shoot at 14 fps, with continuous autofocus in both options.

The Bluetooth capabilities of the X-H1 allow you to maintain a low power link with your smartphone and easily access the WiFi for remote control as well as image transfer.

Furthermore, the updated Fujifilm app for your smartphone now includes updated GPS details for auto-location embedding.

While the X-H1 has upgrades like the in-body stabilization, the touchscreen, bigger grip and the enhanced video and Bluetooth over the X-T2, which are great improvements in themselves, the image quality remains the same.

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