On the X-H2S Experience
I am Aditya Varma, a cinematographer based out of Mumbai in India. I have been using Fujifilm cameras for a while now, starting with the X-T2, and then using the X-T3 and X-T4. They have been my go-to cameras, I have used them professionally for both cinematography and photography, as well as carrying them with me all the time for personal use. So, I was looking forward to what Fujifilm would create next and after using the X-H2S I know it is going be my new go-to camera.
The first thing that struck me when I first held the camera was that it had great ergonomics, the deeper grip provides a better grasp on the camera, molded to fit into the hand seamlessly. Every feature has been improved upon – autofocus on pictures are faster, with 40 fps, stabilization has become better, the inclusion of the top display is very helpful.
The use of CF Express card has made X-H2S a fast camera with writing speed swifter and turnaround quicker. One of the things that I had been looking forward to is the presence of a full HDMI cable port, and the X-H2S delivered that.
The autofocus performs well in difficult conditions. We shot all our gimbal shots with the autofocus mode on. We were shooting inside a moving bus, on a mountainous road, and still the autofocus was reliable. It really helps a cinematographer to concentrate on framing and the image, when one does not have to worry about focusing on the subject. The new IBIS along with the new rolling shutter, which almost mimics global shutter, makes it perfect for handheld shots. Most of the film has been shot handheld.
4K with 120p was another element I was looking forward to in Fujifilm cameras. Although the full HD 120p in X-T4 was sharp, the 4K footage helps to crop in and the 120p shots can match the quality of the rest of the footage. It is also better to upload 4K media on social media sites such as YouTube.
I personally really like the open-gate 6k 30p, the 2:3 ratio has a cinematic quality, which I prefer to utilise in face shots and detail shots. We used the 6K feature to shoot portrait videos for the film. Plus, 6K footage helps in delivering in 4K because of the possibility of being able to crop in or add motion.
The internal ProRes is a great addition. It will definitely save a lot of time in the workflow which usually goes into converting the footage, especially when the client wants a quick turnaround. Lots of platforms these days, like Netflix, request for ProRes format.
I have been a fan of the F-Log since the first time I used X-T3 in 2019. It is like shooting on film, but without film, yet still flatter. Its value shows during post production, in colour grading, when it can be molded to almost any look imaginable. I used the F-Log2 profile for the first time on the X-H2S, and it retains all the advantages of the F-Log, while recovering more details from highlights and shadows. Even when I was working on screen grabs of F-Log2 footage, which are 8-bit images, a lot of data could be recovered. The Eterna profile is always handy when footage is required right out of the camera, all one needs to do is adjust the white balance.
The recording time has been improved upon from the X-T. In the X-H2S it has been improved drastically, making it a great choice for documentaries, especially which might require recording longer interviews or rolling non-stop for extended periods of time. Fujifilm has provided a fan which can be easily attached to the camera body to prevent overheating.
The ISO performance requires a special mention. We shot throughout the day, from the early morning to the evening. The image looked equally good in both the blazing sunlight of the midday and after dusk, when it was almost pitch dark. There are certain shots that have ISO of 8000, yet the image was totally usable.
The X-H2S has amazing weather protection, we have shot with it in early morning in very cold temperatures as well as during mid-day under the scorching sun, in and around water bodies, in dry and dusty conditions, and camera has remained unaffected. As I have mentioned before it is a great choice for documentary shoots, it is also perfect for travel and guerrilla shoots, or any shoot that is mostly on the move, spontaneous and unpredictable.
One of the best things about using X-H2S for the shoot was the ability to switch from shooting videos to clicking photos in an instant. I could shoot a scene and also take pictures for it, without having to change the camera. And the performance is as good for photos as it is for videos, making it a great choice for a hybrid camera that can adapt to the need of the moment.
Cameras like the X-H2S can be the revolution in filmmaking. It packs a punch despite being a small camera. It has every feature and ability to be used in making anything ranging from YouTube vlogs to feature films. Fujifilm is making cameras that require less equipment, less gimbals, less lighting, less resources just generally. When you are not worried about the equipment, the story and the actual film can be focused on. Attention can be given to performance, details, and simply creating a memorable image. In filmmaking time is perhaps the one of the most significant resources and with cameras like X-H2S time is being saved, because a large amount of time is not being spent on setting up. We went on our shoot with a tiny crew and limited time, yet we were able to shoot not only what we had planned, but also had the time and ability to improvise whenever something inspired us.