50 days with the Fujifilm X-H1

50 days with the Fujifilm X-H1

April 27, 2018

Towards the start of the year, Fujifilm announced the X-H1, their new flagship camera firmly targeted towards the professional (and in particular the video market). However, it was seen by many as an incremental upgrade from the Fujifilm X-T2 with the only real positive being the inclusion of in-body image stabilisation (IBIS) with the downside being the increased size. Personally I switched from a Canon system to Fujifilm to decrease the size (and weight) of my equipment, so I immediately dismissed the X-H1 and decided to stick with my two X-T2 bodies.

Over the next couple of weeks, I found myself in a few situations where I knew that IBIS would have been very useful. So I decided that I would give the X-H1 a chance even though it was larger than my X-T2 as ultimately it would still be a lot smaller than my old Canon 5D Mark 4.

It has been exactly 50 days since my X-H1 arrived. As it happens, I had a small commercial PR job booked in for the following day so I started using it in a working environment immediately. One thing I love about all of the Fujifilm cameras (including my Medium Format GFX 50S) is that they can all be setup and used virtually identically. Especially useful as I am a man so I of course have a keen dislike of reading any kind of camera manual!

It is common knowledge that the Fujifilm X-H1 is the largest of the 'X' cameras but the increase in size is actually quite advantageous. The new deeper grip feels so much better than the X-T2 and the 'large but excellent' 16-55 f2.8 lens has become a perfect partner for the new camera. For the commercial PR shoot, I was using on-camera flash and something that immediately struck me was that the flash actually felt nicely balanced when mounted to the X-H1 which is a complete contrast to using a large flashgun on the X-T2 or X-Pro2. The X-H1 also felt far more responsive than my X-T2. Now, I know that on paper there is very little difference but they felt worlds apart in actual use.

In addition to shooting commercial photography and wedding photography, I also make a large proportion of my income via selling my landscape photography via stock photography libraries. For the majority of these shoots, I prefer to use my GFX, however there are occasions when I need to travel light and I just need a good all-rounder. A good camera body with a good lens. The X-H1 / 16-55 combination meets these requirements perfectly. Whilst the X-H1 is larger than the X-T2, the actual difference in size and weight is hardly noticeable especially when mounted to a tripod. In fact, the only issues I had with using the X-H1 for landscape photography was in the post-processing stage with the lack of Capture One Pro support for the X-H1. The files still looked good in Lightroom but the difference in details when using Capture One Pro compared to Lightroom is astonishing.

Weather proofing can of course be beneficial when using a camera outdoors for landscape photography. It can also be a great reassurance when shooting a wedding! The happy couple were adamant that they wanted a shot of them with the Tyne bridge as a backdrop even though we were caught in a snow shower. Luckily the camera was responsive enough for me to shoot a selection of images without them getting hypothermic!

Initially it was the availability of IBIS that made my decision to purchase the camera and it really does not disappoint. I have used various stabilising systems in the past but I am finding the Fujifilm IBIS to be by far the best. Normally when shooting mountain landscapes, I prefer to carry a tripod but the shot above was taken on a day hike up the Old Man of Coniston with my 8-year-old lad so I couldn’t carry my normal full bag of gear, opting for the X-H1 / 16-55 combination and a polarising filter. The shutter speed for this shot was 1/25 second.

My only complaint with the IBIS function at the moment would be that you have to enter the camera menu to switch it on and off. Apparently a future firmware update will allow you to map this to a function button which will make it much more convenient. It is of course essential that you switch the IBIS off when shooting long exposures on a tripod. However, for this 25 second shot of Blea Tarn in the Lake District National Park I forgot to do this! I am pleased to report that this did not actually cause any problems and the image is still pin-sharp. 

I am extremely pleased with how well the IBIS works on the Fujifilm X-H1 but it is not the only reason why I think this is the best all-round camera that I have ever owned. The size is perfect, the camera is responsive and the Fujinon Lenses are outstanding. But, as a final thought, just how far can you push the shutter speeds using IBIS when hand holding the Fujifilm X-H1? I don’t have a definitive answer to this question but the shot below was taken at night, ISO 1000, f2.8 @ ¼ second. Quite impressive I think!