Photography News Issue 53

Photography News | Issue 53 |


First tests

FujifilmX-H1 The PN team, Roger Payne and Will Cheung, got the chance to try the new Fujifilm X Series camera at a special launch event in Lisbon. Here are their first impressions

Words and images by Roger Payne andWill Cheung

The July 2016, was Fujifilm’s first serious foray into providing a stills camera that shot video. But not a brand to rest on its laurels Fujifilm’s designers have now rustled up a brand-new stills/video offering and created a whole new arm to the X Series in the process. Welcome to the X-H1. Despite signalling a new era in the X Series, there’s some familiar territory with the X-H1. Most notable is the sensor, which is the APS-C sized X-Trans CMOS III that we first saw on the X-Pro2, launched just over two years ago. Given that it took three years for the X-Trans CMOS II to become the III, Fujifilm clearly believes there’s life left in the existing technology, even though it’s probably nearing its twilight years. The X-Trans CMOS III is again coupled to the X-Processor Pro imaging engine, so any performance gains on the X-H1 are born from new algorithms and general tweaks. Compared with some brands, Fujifilmwas late to the 4K video party and only more recently has 4K become the de facto standard across X Series models. The X-E3 and X-T20 both have it baked in, while X-Pro2 users just need to complete a firmware update. Despite this, as a photographer who was shooting more video, the X-T2 ticked a lot of boxes for me. I tend to shoot in Full HD rather than 4K, so the fact that 4K could only be recorded to an external device on the X-T2 didn’t bother me. X-T2, launched in

Instead, I was attracted to the fact that footage was captured at full 6000x4000 pixels then downsampled, as opposed to the less appealing methods of pixel binning or line skipping. I also liked the fact that the Film Simulation modes made post-production that bit easier. Not to mention, of course, that the X-T2 is also a rather special machine for stills photography. The sensor is a proven performer, rich in colour and high on detail; I can safely say I’ve had some of my most rewarding images from it, so I for one welcome its inclusion in the X-H1. You also get all those lovely film simulation modes which knock most other manufacturers’ picture styles into a cocked hat, and there’s the added benefit of a new one – ETERNA – to play with. In truth, the new mode is designed more for video than stills, although it is available across both. Colours from ETERNA are designed to be more muted with rich shadows, the intention being to give a more cinematic look to footage. One feature that we definitely haven’t seen before on an X Series camera is in-body image stabilisation – IBIS for short – and it’s this that could well make many videographers sit up and take notice. Until now, Fujifilm’s image stabilisation has only been available through selected lenses with optical systems, but now it’s in the body and offers shake compensation on five axes, and with all XC and XF lenses. If you want to get technical, the X-H1

feel that by adding this, Fujifilm has taken a diversion from the ‘compact’ mirrorless mantra it has subscribed to for the past fewyears. Personally, I like the larger grip – it feels more DSLR- like while still maintaining a size and weight advantage over a comparable full-frame model. But the body does tip the scales at 673g – almost 170g more than the X-T2. A bigger grip isn’t the only tweak to be excited about when it comes to the X-H1’s body, though. The electronic viewfinder (EVF) now has 3.69 million dots (up from 2.36 million on the X-T2) and it’s both large and bright. The rear LCD is three-way tiltable, but now adds touchscreen functionality and there’s also a sub- LCD on the top-plate. This doesn’t mean Fujifilm has done away with dials and switches – they’re still very much present and correct – but the programmable sub-LCD, which has been plucked straight from the GFX 50S, does allow you to see a little more camera status information than the dials alone provide. On top of this, no fewer than 19 modifications have been made to the general operation of the camera, highlightsofwhichincludeadedicated AF-ON button, a remarkably quiet shutter and a newly sculptured focus lever for rapid focusing point access. The addition of IBIS and a new Film Simulation mode does not complete the X-H1’s moviemaking credentials. In truth there’s a wealth

uses three axial accelerometers and three axial gyro sensors, not to mention a dual processor that makes 10,000 calculations a second to recognise and combat unwanted camera movement. The upshot of this is that up to 5.5EV of image stabilisation is possible, although this does vary on the lens in use. Our initial hands-on tests show the system to be highly effective and while it’s not quite a built-in Steadicam, the benefit is plainly evident. Weather-resistance is something that both the range-topping X-T2 and X-Pro2 feature, so it’ll come as no surprise that the X-H1 has it as well, with 94 seals positioned around the body. The standards are the same; water-resistance, dust-resistance and a guarantee for the camera to keep operating in temperatures as low as -10°C. Clearly, the X-H1 is as happy as its brethren to be out and about when conditions are inclement. But being targeted at the professional market, the X-H1 does go up a notch on the durability scale with a magnesium alloy shell 25% thicker than that on the X-T2. The mount has also been strengthened making it more impact resistant and preparing it for longer and heavier lens additions to theXF range (the first ofwhich is the XF200mm f/2, which is due to arrive before the end of the year). To top it all off, the body is swathed in a harder, scratch-resistant paint. There’s also a larger hand-grip and some may

Fujifilm has taken a diversion from the ‘compact’ mirrorless mantra it has subscribed to for the past few years

Images The X-H1’s remodelled body features a larger handgrip than the X-T2 and has a three-way tiltable touchscreen LCD.

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