Let me begin this short review by asking you to bear in mind, this is my first review on any photographic equipment - ever!
I am not the nerdy geek who loves trying out third party lenses or other weird stuff on my cameras – only if really needed. On the other hand, I have been working as a professional photographer for over 20 years with almost all major camera brands on the market.
To me my camera is a tool. No more, no less. As a documentary photographer, I often work in very sensitive situations. With my life’s project – Dead and Alive – documenting funeral rituals around the world, it is extremely necessary for me to be able to work as anonymous and silent as possible, not disturbing some of the most sensitive situations and moments one can experience.
Since the release of the X100S and the X-T1, I have been providing Fujifilm with detailed feedback on their cameras. Feedback that has always been taken very seriously by the Fujifilm camera development team, and many of my suggestions has been implemented in next generation cameras. However, after the release of the X-T2, I felt that Fujifilm was “home free”. As I stated in a video on YouTube from August 2016, I found the X-T2 the most intuitive and powerful tool I had ever worked with. But!!! After the release of the X-H1, I have to correct that statement.
I have read many comments on the X-H1, saying that there is not much reason to buy it when you compare it with the X-T2. Well, it depends, I would say. Basically I only do stills and if you read the specs, it seems like not much has changed. But when you get the X-H1 in your hands and take your first shots, you will immediately get the feeling, that this camera is something different. The X-H1 is a super refined X Series camera and Fujifilm really went that extra mile to make a high-end DSLR competitor. And in my opinion, they more than succeeded.
Many things have been improved on the X-H1 over the X-T2, and in the following I will stick to the features that makes a difference in my shooting.
The camera is a bit bigger than the previous X Series line up, and weight is up too. Since I always have the MHG-XT2 grip attached to my X-T2 for better handling, I like the new grip on the X-H1. And since I very often shoot in low light situations on slow shutter speeds, I am very happy with the extra weight – eliminating some of the micro vibrations when shooting.
Improved AF. I often shoot in environments where situations are developing very fast and unpredicted, and I don’t have time to switch between continuous and single AF. With the improved AF, it is now possible to shoot people moving relatively fast towards the camera on single AF and still get sharp images. That’s a huge improvement over previous X Series cameras. The speed and sensitiveness of the AF has been improved a lot, making it a very reliable camera and a joy working with.
The new and very quiet shutter makes the camera perfect for shooting in a very discrete manner in delicate situations. That is really a huge improvement being able to shoot without people noticing. I love that.
Another thing I noticed after going through my first set of images from the X-H1, was the improved micro details. The dampened shutter and the very soft shutter release button simply eliminates most of the vibrations from pressing the shutter release button and from the shutter itself. Often shooting on 1/30-1/15 it is really something that I am very pleased with.
And of course the 5-axis in-body image stabilization, on top of the above mentioned improved features, adds another dimension to the X-H1. As far as I have tested the IBIS, it is almost impossible to make it over compensate, so don’t worry if you forget to turn it off when going out in the sun after shooting inside.
The last thing I will mention here is the ETERNA film simulation. Even though I don’t shoot a lot of video, I find it very useful for stills. When shooting in harsh sunlight, I switch to the ETERNA film simulation to better be able to see the information in the dark areas of my images in the EVF. In that way, you can make sure that you still have information in the dark areas when working on your RAW files.
Oh, one last thing! With the separate menu for shooting video on the X-H1, I am quite sure I will look much more into that in the future.