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Author Topic: Fuji X-H1 impressions  (Read 3574 times)

Rand47

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Fuji X-H1 impressions
« on: April 08, 2018, 11:56:09 AM »

The Fuji X-H1 is a very nice advance on the X-T2.  With the release of the Sony A7III at essentially the same price-point, the Fuji hasn’t received much press as might be expected.  If one were choosing a system based on these two cameras, the Sony would appear to be the better choice.  That’s how the reviews are going, at any rate.

As someone who was burned severely by Sony in the past and would not have another one even if they gave it to me for free along with all their GM lenses, and as someone who has a considerable investment in Fuji glass, I’m delighted with the X-H1.

The good:

Robust body - the thing is built like a tank.  The increase in body thickness and rigidity, and the beefed up lens mount are very evident in the feel of the camera.  This alone would have made me buy it.
VERY bright EVF, very detailed - getting close to the natural feel of an OVF, but with all the WYSIWYG advantages of EVF.
Shutter and release are silky smooth, amazingly quiet
IBIS is excellent.  I’m easily hand holding down to 1/2 second in many situations.  Fuji’s implementation is excellent in that the IBIS works in conjunction w/ OIS lenses to optimize effectiveness.  I was expecting an “either/or” implementation.  IBIS makes the 16-55 much more user friendly in lower light.
Ergonomics - one will either love or hate.  I love.  Better grip, better designed vertical grip, slightly larger size better for large hands.
Implementation of electronic first curtain shutter is nicely done.  Mode selectable to have EFC be default up to its optimum effectiveness, then have mechanical shutter take over automatically, then have fully electronic shutter take over above 1/8000th.  Clever.
Sub menu LCD is very nice addition.  At first I wasn’t sure about having the dedicated exposure compensation dial go away.  In actuality the functionality is essentially the same.  Set the EC button to “on/off” use the rear command dial to adjust, “setting” visible on nice sub menu LCD “in the same place” as was with the dial.   AND, now also have other useful info at a glance, including when the camera is off.  VERY clever.
Amazing video capability - especially given this is Fuji’s first real leap into advanced video.  I’m not a video person, but I’ve been having fun exploring.
Overall, the X-H1 retains all the goodness of the X-T2 and, for me at least, improves on all its strengths in every way that matters to me.

The not so good:

Bluetooth implementation is all but worthless - it still depends on wifi to actually do anything useful.
Touch screen is only marginally useful.  UPDATE: The announced firmware update for May indicates Bluetooth will be able to run the camera via the app! I have it turned off most of the time.  Too easily messes things up when hand held shooting, is worse than useless as it more often screws you up than helps you.  But, for tripod work I like it a lot for touch AF point selection and focusing (makes focus stack series very easy), also nice to swipe to bring up electronic level & histogram then swipe to make them go away for fine composition on the LCD.   Touch for image review is very nice.
Some bugs in firmware.  Fuji has already addressed a couple of issues with an update.  More to come in May re AF in video mode. 

The weird:

More than usual for a new release, posters were having all sorts of “problems” and complaining a lot about QC issues.  99% of these were either user error, or failure to RTM.  Most accountable to incompatible SD cards, and/or using the “non S” battery (an earlier version).  Fuji has a pretty specific compatibility list, and even if using an SD card with the right “specs” it seems that is no guarantee.  Many reports of camera lock ups, etc. all caused as it turns out by SD card issues.  Makes me wonder why Fuji cameras are so “card fussy?”  I specifically bought SD cards from Fuji’s list and have had ZERO issues of any kind.

The looks.  For those who are in love with the retro look of the X-T cameras for its own sake, the X-H1 is kind of shocking.  Like the Borg have assimilated an X-T2.  But from a form follows function usability standpoint, the darn thing is flat out beautiful.

My final thoughts are that this is the camera I have been looking for.  Kind of a Goldilocks camera in terms of size, ergos, robustness, features.  Also, it is worth mentioning again that Fuji’s jpegs are REALLY good.  And that coming from a pretty dedicated raw shooter.  I shoot raw + jpeg and find that many times it is hard to best the jpeg with my own processing.  And one not much appreciated aspect of this is that you can spin-out as many “Fuji” tuned jpegs from the in-camera raw processor as you like.  And, it’s fast and easy.  All the film simulations and tone controls are available “post exposure” for an infinite tuning ability after the fact. 

Rand
« Last Edit: April 12, 2018, 11:21:30 PM by Rand47 »
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Rand Scott Adams

Alan Smallbone

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Re: Fuji X-H1 impressions
« Reply #1 on: April 08, 2018, 02:17:03 PM »

Rand, thanks for the review. Many interesting things to ponder.

Alan
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BernardLanguillier

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Re: Fuji X-H1 impressions
« Reply #2 on: April 08, 2018, 04:23:16 PM »

Thanks for the review!

Cheers,
Bernard

DP

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Re: Fuji X-H1 impressions
« Reply #3 on: April 08, 2018, 08:31:53 PM »

Fuji’s implementation is excellent in that the IBIS works in conjunction w/ OIS lenses to optimize effectiveness. 

all pioneer dSLM brands in business with IBIS did that long before Fuji - Panasonic, Olympus, Sony...
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Chris Kern

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Re: Fuji X-H1 impressions
« Reply #4 on: April 08, 2018, 08:46:51 PM »

I really wish you hadn't posted this.  I was certain I wasn't interested, and would wait for the X-T3, but now you have me second-guessing myself.  (I still would have preferred a dedicated exposure-compensation control on the top of the camera, however; I use that frequently on my X-T2, and much prefer it to the button-and-dial control on the X-H1 and my Nikon D800E.)

rdonson

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Re: Fuji X-H1 impressions
« Reply #5 on: April 08, 2018, 09:07:37 PM »

Yeah, I'm waiting to find out what the X-T3 will be.  At this point after 50 years w/o IBIS I see it as perhaps a nice to have but not a requirement. 

I do like the larger grip but I'm not wanting to go back to a body with the same size as my Canons. 
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Regards,
Ron

Rand47

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Re: Fuji X-H1 impressions
« Reply #6 on: April 08, 2018, 09:31:52 PM »

I really wish you hadn't posted this.  I was certain I wasn't interested, and would wait for the X-T3, but now you have me second-guessing myself.  (I still would have preferred a dedicated exposure-compensation control on the top of the camera, however; I use that frequently on my X-T2, and much prefer it to the button-and-dial control on the X-H1 and my Nikon D800E.)

What I found re EC is that it is essentially “the same” as the X-T2 “functionally.”  In initially configuring my H-1, I set the EC button to “on/off” - then turned it on, and left it there.  The command dial is literally “just below” where the EC dial used to be, and the amount of ED dialed in is large and right on top where the dial used to be.  No real change, other than the looks, except that I don’t ever bump it by accident.

I think you might be surprised, as was I, at how nice the implementation actually is.

Rand
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Stephen Scharf

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Re: Fuji X-H1 impressions
« Reply #7 on: April 12, 2018, 02:40:13 PM »

I'm going to add on to Rand's initial impressions article with my own rather than starting a new thread.

I should preface my comments below that I bought my X-H1 specifically for my professional motorsports photojournalism work, so my comments should be considered from that context firmly in mind, specifically with respect to my discussion of the engineering requirements and design embodiment of the X-H1, so lets get down to reasons why Fuji built this camera:

One of the things I've been posting about on various photo-fora is how much more robust the body on the X-H1 has been engineered to accomodate long, heavy, prime telephotos and the new MK-X Cine lenses. Fujifilm did considerable engineering to strengthen and, most importantly, stiffen the frame and lens mount to be able to mount long, heavy, prime telephotos and the new Cine MK zooms. These "devices", as Fuji refers to them, put a considerable tension load on the lens mount, and thus the lens mount needs to be designly sufficiently robustly to support these loads.

Here's an example: note how much thicker and "beefier" the "support/stiffening ring" around the lens mount is on the X-H1 compared to the X-T2.



The other thing I noted today is that Fuji moved the button for releasing the lens from the lens mount to further away to make it easier to disconnect larger (and wider in diameter) lenses. This little change is a big win for me, as it was difficult at times to actuate the lens release button on the 50-140 and 100-400.

Why was this done? Back in early 2017, when Fujifilm engineers were asked if they were going to develop a 200 mm f/2.0 or f/2.8, replied, "A 200 mm f/2.0 would require an entirely new camera body". The engineering work documented in the white paper from Fujifilm on the development of the frame  fully supports that statement. From the Fujifilm X-H1 development white paper:

"Let's examine the X-H1. The product planner requested the developers to make the body more robust so that new devices could be installed and the expected camera performance could be realized. In order to make the body more robust, the frame, which is made of magnesium alloys, needed to be strengthened by adding extra thickness.
The frame is 125% thicker for X-H1, meaning that the frame has almost doubled in volume (1.25 x 1.25 x 1.25 = 1.95). The strength of the frame is almost twice as strong.

Portability and lightweight are the charm of the X Series. This should always be taken into account even when considering an exterior design that is more robust. The designer examined the frame closely and learned where the stress is most/least applied and where the extra strength is most/least needed. With the study, the following structure with pillars jointing the exterior part has been realized, which helped minimize the effect on body size."




"The development continued. There are certain parts of camera body that needed extra consideration. For example, front body important in terms of ergonomics and operability, but the impact on weight is huge if the entire front body were simply 125% thicker. Another extra consideration was given to the mount. In near future there will be lenses that weigh more than 2kg."(that's 4.4 pounds, guys, that a big-assed, heavy lens)



Continuing from the Fujifilm development white paper: "Considerable load would be applied to the mount. The mount needs to withstand the weight of the lens. Photographers move around when they are at work, so additional stress would be applied on top of the lens weight. To withstand the stress, the mount part is reinforced ribs as shown below. The mount itself is thickened (note: per my photograph above) and the ribs gives additional support."

The diagram below from the Fujifilm development white paper depicts the reinforcement rib in the camera frame. The bright white lines are steel (not magnesium) reinforcement ribs and pins to provide the requisite stiffness for supporting these tension loads while still maintaining the optical tolerances (which are at the micron level). These are not insignificant engineering challenges and accomplishments.



More on my practical experience follows  in the subsequents posts.

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Stephen Scharf

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Re: Fuji X-H1 impressions
« Reply #8 on: April 12, 2018, 02:48:13 PM »

So, engineering requirements aside, what's the X-H1 like to use in the real world?  Well, personally, I find it to be much like an X-T2, which is truly an excellent camera, but functionally better in every way.

Some data regarding the size: The X-H1 is WHOPPING 5% larger than the X-T2 in 2 of 3 dimensions, and 10% thicker at its minimum depth dimension, the extra thickness necessary to incorporate the IBIS subsystem. Here is a top view photo showing my Graphite Silver next to my X-H1.



So, while the size difference is "statistically significant", do I find it to be practically significant?

No, with the exception that the grip is MUCH better than the X-T2's.

Regarding weight: The X-T2 with a RRS L-plate mounted is actually 17 grams heavier (I did the data analysis) than X-H1. Do I ever think about how heavy the X-T2 is when I am using it in the real world with its L-plate mounted? No.

Do I think, OMG, this X-H1 is SO HEAVY when I am using it in the real world? No.

The leaf-spring shutter button and 5-spring suspended shutter mech is an absolute joy, the smoothest, silkiest, quietest, best damped focal plane shutter I have ever used, hands down, bar none, from any manufacterer. There is absolutely no "breakover" in actuating the shutter, and it is designed so that no vibration or shock is transferred to the body to interfere with the IBIS system. Incredible and really, really nice. REALLY nice.

The 3.7 million dot EVF is amazing, fast, clear, and gorgeous to look at  but more importantly, the camera has exceptionally accurate matrix metering, on par with the GFX, which is exemplary. See the photo of Putah Creek Pond below to see how accurately the X-H1 meters to render both shadow detail and capture the highlights in the sky without blowing out. This metering accuracy makes it a snap to edit images by just needing to set black/white points. That's it. By contrast, I found my first X-T2 in matrix metering mode seemed to consistently read the scene as darker than it actually was, thereby overexposing by 1/3 or 1/2 a stop. The X-H1 metering system seems to be much more accurate, and the higher resolution and clearer EVR makes it easier to gauge the exposure preview of the scene.



A lot of folks in the internet "specs geeks" forums have been griping about the removal of the exp comp dial for the submonitor, but in actual use, this has not been a problem for me in any way whatsoever. I have my rear command dial to be able to actuate the exposure comp functionality by a simple press, and then a turn of the dial sets comp quickly and effectively. And the EVF now displays a full ± 5 stops of compensation. And, I don't find that I am inadvertantly bumping the exp comp dial as I often find happens on my X-T2 when I am running around from place to place shooting at the race track.

And, having the submonitor has proven to be much more useful than I originally anticipated. It's really nice to be able to glance down at it with lenses like the 18-55 or 10-24 to see what aperture the lens is set at, as well as a panoply of other useful information. When the camera is switched off, its great to be able to see how many frames are left on the card, the available battery capacity, and the exp. comp setting. Bottom line: the more I use the camera, the more I like it.

The rear touch screen is nice also, and I really like being able to swipe to bring up the auto timer, the RGB histograms, or the roll/pitch gauge on the LCD. The fact that you can configure it to be only active on a specified part of the screen, as well as the increased eye relief of the new EVF, this lets you look through the viewfinder without getting grease from your nose on the LCD, as well as letting you use the LCD touch functions. The next post will show some real world use photographs, including high-speed continuous autofocus.
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Stephen Scharf

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Re: Fuji X-H1 impressions
« Reply #9 on: April 12, 2018, 02:56:28 PM »

Of course, I had to take it to the race track to try it out. It performed very well and is very responsive. In particular, the back button for autofocus is much improved over the X-T2's. The silkly shutter makes it easy to take multiple frames without the shutter breakover impacting panning or holding the lens by hand. 

Chevrons with Cosworth BDA 2-liter motors are always fast at this track. Fuji X-H1 and 50-140 with 1.4X extender





Formula Atlantic with Cosworth twin-cam BDA are very fast at Sonoma Raceway. 



Big Aston Martin used as the pace car



Porsches! 




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Stephen Scharf

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Re: Fuji X-H1 impressions
« Reply #10 on: April 12, 2018, 02:59:32 PM »

Here's my conclusions to date: a lot of folks are looking at the X-H1 as a line extension to the X-T-series. It's not; its a completely NEW line of camera bodies intended for what I would classify as "hard-core" professionals, specifically those that will be working in tough and demanding environments, and will need to frequently use long, fast, heavy prime telephotos or cinema lenses. This is why it has the number "1" after it.  Its intended for sports, motorsports, combat photojournalists, wildlife photographers, studio photographers, and professional videographers, and in some use-cases, those end-users who need stabilize those lenses. If one was in the Canon system, this set of end-users would comprise the photographers that need a Canon 1D-class body; the X-H1 is the analog in the Fuji X system to a Canon 1D-series camera.

My experience is that the majority of photographers will or do not need a 1D-series body, but some, like me, for my professional motorsports photojournalism work do: we need a tough, durable, strong and stiff camera body that can safely mount long, heavy, fast prime teles and not break.

What I've found that has been a big added plus are the vastly improved shutter mech, the significantly better EVF, the improved continuous high-speed AF system using parallel processing, the increased matrix metering accuracy, and  improvements in operational efficiency from the addition of the sub-monitor and touchscreen LCD.
« Last Edit: April 12, 2018, 07:59:14 PM by Stephen Scharf »
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rdonson

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Re: Fuji X-H1 impressions
« Reply #11 on: April 12, 2018, 07:04:30 PM »

Thanks, Stephen for the thoughtful series of posts.

Now I'm anxious to see that the X-T3 will be.  Will it embrace the X-H1 grip?  Will it be the X-H1 but without IBIS?
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Regards,
Ron

Stephen Scharf

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Re: Fuji X-H1 impressions
« Reply #12 on: April 12, 2018, 08:04:39 PM »

Ron,
My guess is that the X-T3 will be very close in form factor to the X-T2. It will have faster autofocus due to the predicted stacked sensor design, and if there is a BSI sensor, we could expect about a stop increase in dynamic range. But I would expect that it would not have IBIS, and largely resemble the X-T2. Whether it has a comp dial on the top deck or a submonitor is an open question. Before I got the X-H1 I was firmly in the camp that I preferred, on the whole, the physical dial for setting comp, but after a pro shoot I had the week before last, where the comp dial was constantly getting changed from the camera bumping on my shoulder or back while racing around doing my shoot, and, after having used the submonitor on the X-H1 for over a week now, and seeing how useful it is, I would be fine with the X-T3 having a submonitor in place of the comp dial.

Cheers,
Stephen
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Stephen Scharf

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Re: Fuji X-H1 impressions
« Reply #13 on: April 12, 2018, 08:22:33 PM »

I thought folks would like to see some examples of the X-H1's IBIS. Both photographs were captured at f/9, ISO 800, Fuji 18-55 at 55mm (83 mm 35-e) at 1/10th of a second, handheld. These are 100% crops of JPEGs. Virtually no editing, sharpening, clarity, dehaze, etc. performed on the photographs other than the crop to 100%. Images rendered at 144 ppi.

This is my EAR 324 phono stage
EAR 324 Phono Stage by Stephen Scharf, on Flickr]

My Michell Gyro SE II turntable sitting on a Boos Bros. butcher block board. Same settings as above.
Turntable by Stephen Scharf, on Flickr]

I should add that these photographs look even sharper on my Retina Macbook Pro at 220 ppi.
« Last Edit: April 12, 2018, 08:49:39 PM by Stephen Scharf »
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rdonson

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Re: Fuji X-H1 impressions
« Reply #14 on: April 12, 2018, 09:23:18 PM »

Thanks again, Stephen. 

I don't use the top comp dial on my X-T2 now.  I much prefer the front control dial to alter the EC.  I don't think I need the IBIS so I'd be happy as a clam with the larger grip with the "sub monitor" like the X-H1.  The better sensor and faster AF would be a boon. 

I sound like a spoiled kid as I still really enjoy the X-T2 and the results I get with that.
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Regards,
Ron

Stephen Scharf

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Re: Fuji X-H1 impressions
« Reply #15 on: April 12, 2018, 10:54:31 PM »

Thanks again, Stephen. 

I don't use the top comp dial on my X-T2 now.  I much prefer the front control dial to alter the EC.  I don't think I need the IBIS so I'd be happy as a clam with the larger grip with the "sub monitor" like the X-H1.  The better sensor and faster AF would be a boon. 

I sound like a spoiled kid as I still really enjoy the X-T2 and the results I get with that.

The X-T2 is still a superb camera. It will be a superb camera even when the X-T3 ships.
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Rand47

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Re: Fuji X-H1 impressions
« Reply #16 on: April 12, 2018, 11:25:17 PM »

Stephen,

Thanks for the excellent write up on the H-1.
The more I use mine, the more impressed I am...

Rand
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armand

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Re: Fuji X-H1 impressions
« Reply #17 on: April 13, 2018, 02:29:23 AM »

As I stated in another topic I think Fuji missed the boat here in not increasing their battery size. This was the perfect opportunity, larger grip and overall size. I would love the IBIS but by itself is not good enough to upgrade from the X-T series.

fredjeang2

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Re: Fuji X-H1 impressions
« Reply #18 on: April 13, 2018, 03:03:21 AM »

I would love the IBIS but by itself is not good enough to upgrade from the X-T series.
That is the key point I wanted to know on the Xh1. If it was on par with the dual IS of Panasonic that is a real improvement for video and stills
IBIS, clean hdmi output? and Eterna profile are reasons to consider an XH1 imo. (A log profile a la GH5 is useless in 8 bit).
« Last Edit: April 15, 2018, 07:55:10 PM by fredjeang2 »
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armand

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Re: Fuji X-H1 impressions
« Reply #19 on: April 13, 2018, 03:14:55 AM »

They don't have dual IS, at least yet. I don't know if it makes any difference in stabilization effectiveness.
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