The X-H1 – Fast and Fantastic by Andrew Hall
As a photographer who has used FUJIFILM X Series cameras since the introduction of the iconic X100 in 2011, I have seen the mirrorless X Series develop into a system that not only rivals the conventional D-SLRs but also in many instances out performs them.
The image quality, the beautiful sharp Fujinon glass in the lenses and the groundbreaking technology in all the X Series cameras allows me to capture images that were previously out of reach.
I currently use a pair of X-T2 bodies and a kit of XF zoom and prime lenses for all my motorsport. The X-T2 has undergone several firmware upgrades since its release further improving the already impressive Auto Focus accuracy and overall performance
FUJIFILM are constantly striving to improve and advance the features of the X Series range and this development is given direction with input from photographers in the field. We are asked what features on the X Series we like what we don’t like and what we would like to see in the future. It’s been my experience that nearly all the features we have asked for have found their way onto the new X Series models and this is one of the main reasons that FUJIFILM photographers are very loyal to the brand.
I was very privileged to be part of the testing team for the X-H1 and was excited about the new body containing technologies not previously fitted to an X Series body.
The X-H1 is perfect for the rapid action world of motorsport. I used the X-H1 to capture images at the Bahrain 6hr sportscar race and the performance was a step up from the already brilliant X-T2.
The X-H1 has the same superb image quality and high ISO capabilities as the X-T2 along with increased AF performance and improved ergonomics. The Auto Focus performance in particular was fantastic, very fast and accurate and with 5 custom modes. I switched between the custom modes depending on the type of shot. I used mostly the single point focus mode but occasionally switched to the zone focus mode. This flexibility to adjust the auto focus characteristics is key to the superior performance.
The body is slightly larger than an X-T2 by due to a bigger grip containing a small LCD screen similar to the GFX 50s. This screen is a revelation with all the camera setting information and battery usage available in an easy to read screen. I was able to view all the information on the screen even in full sun. Other than being easier to hold by virtue of the grip the X-H1 felt no different to my X-T2 while using it. The build quality is the very high standard I’ve come to expect from X series cameras. The weather resistance sealing is very impressive. My current X-T2’s have proven to be very reliable workhorses over the last 2 seasons of my motorsport activities in all sort of shooting conditions from blazing heat to snow and I’m very confident the X-H1 will provide the same performance.
For me though the best feature on the X-H1 is the In Body Image Stabilizer (IBIS) featured for the first time in an X Series body.
Having IBIS means that every lens in my kit is now image stabilized. Having used the all of the image stabilized lenses in the XF range, the stabilizing technology was already a vital tool in my image making process. The fact that there is now IBIS enables me to use my favourite prime lenses in ways that were not possible before. In particular my XF16mmF1.4, XF23mmF1.4, XF56mmF1.2 and my XF90mmF2 are all now far more versatile.
The sportscar race in Bahrain started in the late afternoon and raced into the dark. The Bahrain international circuit is fitted with lights and these took affect soon after sunset. Despite the level of illumination on the track the conditions still presented a big challenge to Photographers with cars popping on and out of shadow areas and reflections from the cars under lights. The X-H1 performed extremely well especially the Auto Focus system. We can get quite close to the action at Bahrain and having IBIS on the X-H1 I was confident to my XF56mmF1.2 and XF90mmF2 prime lenses in situations that I would have been hesitant to do previously. The results were superb and you could see the multi axis IBIS working as you were shooting! The EVF on the X-H1 is even higher resolution that the X-T2 and this all added to the ease of shooting.
In my world of motorsport photography using the X-H1 with In body image Stabilizer with up to 5.5 stops of image stabilization means that I can create unique images, from pin sharp driver portraits in dark pit garages to panned shots on track at much slower shutter speeds using my favorite prime lenses.
With the X-H1 FUJIFLM have kept the X Series core philosophy of lightweight, agility and superior image quality intact while giving photographers the latest technology at their fingertips. The addition of IBIS is a big advantage that I intend to exploit to the full in my upcoming year of Motorsport events.
My photographic career spans nearly 30 years yet my passion for photography remains undiminished and the FUJIFILM X Series is largely responsible for that! The X-H1 is superb but I know that FUJIFILM will not rest on their laurels and will be driving the development of the X Series just as enthusiastically in the months and years ahead. I for one am looking forward to being part of the journey.