X-H2: Aerial photography in Namibia x Tom Hegen

In this article, I would like to share my impressions of the Fujifilm X-H2. I mainly shoot aerial photography projects from helicopters or small airplanes, using the Fujifilm GFX system. I wanted to see how the APS-C system camera Fujifilm X-H2 holds up against the high-end line of Fujifilm medium format cameras. So I took the X-H2 on a field test to Namibia to document some of the most spectacular landscapes from the air.

X-H2 & XF50-140mmF2.8 R LM OIS WR

When I received the camera, I noticed that it meets the same high standards that I got used to by working with the GFX system. The build quality is excellent, and the button layout is similar to the GFX, which makes it easy to adopt. In addition, the Sub LCD Monitor is super helpful for verifying camera settings. I wish could have had this feature in a camera when I started with landscape photography thirteen years ago.

X-H2 & XF50-140mmF2.8 R LM OIS WR

The final result of my work is usually a large-scale print. I document places around the world that sometimes have very complex sceneries. Often the story I tell is about a very specific location and I am seeking to reveal details that would not be visible from the ground.

I get to see places not everyone gets to see, and I want my images to be a window into a world that wants to be explored. My fine art prints measure two meters in width and more. For me, this is the ultimate experience with a photograph, standing in front of a print and being able to see all the details of an image.

X-H2 & XF18mmF1.4 R LM WR

I need the best image quality available and super high-resolution cameras to achieve this. When I got my hands on the X-H2 with its 40MP resolution, I knew that it’s an impressive resolution for an APS-C sensor, and I was really surprised how the files compared to the same scenery shot on the GFX system. Even though we are talking about a completely different camera category, the sensor beautifully renders details, providing stunning image quality. 

X-H2 & XF18mmF1.4 R LM WR

One of the main reasons why I work with GFX is the in-body image stabilization. Aerial photography can be quite challenging as the platform that I’m shooting from is in constant movement and the fact that I can only shoot handheld limits to use of the camera. To pull off tack-sharp images, I always need to find the perfect balance between aperture, speed and ISO settings. When Fujifilm introduced the in-body image stabilization, it was a real game changer! It compensates for a lot of movement, and I have hardly any motion blur in the images. Having this technology in the X-H2 is a great asset for everyone who shoots handheld from moving subjects or in low light conditions. Amazingly, I can hold a shutter speed below 1/200 from the open door of a flying helicopter and still get sharp results. Before Fujifilm introduced the image stabilizer, I tried not go below 1/1000 when shooting aerial projects.

X-H2 & XF16-55mmF2.8 R LM WR

Also, the ISO performance of the camera is remarkable. I could easily set the ISO to 1000 and more without too much image noise. This really helped when we took the camera on sunrise and sunset flights when the sun was very low, and the light conditions were challenging. The small build size of the X-H2 also comes in very handy in a limited space, such as the cockpit of a helicopter.

When I did the first prints from the abstract sand-themed landscape images in Namibia, it was a real pleasure to see how much detail the camera captured.

Even when shot from 800 meters above the ground – using genuine Fujinon X Mount lenses – small details such as patches of dune grass, structures in the sand or animal trails on the ground were visible. It’s just amazing how much technology and features are packed into such a small body.

X-H2 & XF18mmF1.4 R LM WR

The video performance also benefits from the high-resolution sensor, enabling X-H2 to capture astonishing details in 8K resolution, even in lossless ProRes compression. When checking the video files, sometimes I wasn’t sure if I was looking at a photo or video. The resolution and details on 8K are just something else. 

Overall I can summarize that the quality of the Fujifilm X-H2 is amazing and I wish such a system had been available when I started photography.