2022.05.31 Kiko Arcas

X-H2S: Bird photography x Kiko Arcas & Alberto Saiz

Kiko Arcas

Vigo, 1975

I am a photographer from Vigo and I have been passionate about birds for more than thirty years. I have dedicated my time to be a scientific bander, to collaborate in ornithology courses for the University of Vigo, I have carried out several scientific works on the ecology of species such as the Lesser sandpiper or the Red-backed shrike and all this together with my brother José Arcas, doctor in biology and artist of Nature.

My photographs have appeared in several books and publications such as El Río de la Vida, Fotografiando Aves, Ptaki Otop, Visión Salvaje, Guía de las Especies Marinas de Canarias, etc.

I am currently a collaborating photographer for the prestigious nature documentary production company IntoTheWildProductions, and I give wildlife photography workshops for the travel and nature tourism agencies Somiedo Experience and GoThombi. For some years now I have had a very special relationship with FUJIFILM SPAIN where I give talks, write articles or test new equipment before it is released on the market. Some of my talks have been at the Delta Birding Festival, Urdaibai Bird Center or Feria Internacional de Turismo Ornitológico de Extremadura among others.

As well as being an ambassador for Fujifilm, I am also lucky enough to represent the prestigious Dutch brand of photographic hides for wildlife ButeoPhotoGear and clothing for photographers StealthGear.
In the years that I have been a photographer some of my photographs have been awarded in prestigious national and international competitions:

  • Montbarbat 2003 and 2005. finalist and fourth prize respectively.
  • Ateneo Ferrolán 2008 First prize.
  • Cíes Islands National Park 2009 First prize.
  • BBC Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2010. Finalist.
  • Montphoto 2011 Second prize.
  • Glanzlichter 2011 Honourable mention.
  • Narava 2012 Finalist.
  • Festival de l’Oiseau et de la Nature 2015 Finalist.
  • Festival de lÓiseaux et de la Nature 2020 Finalist
  • FIO 2020 Finalist
  • Bird Photographer of the Year 2020 2nd Prize in the Man and Nature category.

I am currently involved with my friend and X-Photographer of Nature, Javier Ramos, in the Boreal Wings project with Fujifilm Spain. We are documenting bird life in the Norwegian Arctic as well as testing Fujifilm equipment under harsh weather conditions.

Since I started working with Fujifilm equipment three years ago, until today, I have had a lot of different equipment in my hands, starting with the X-T2, a camera that I fell in love with for its aesthetics and functionality, to my current equipment consisting of the X-T4 as first body, X-S10 and X-H1. I will always highlight the factors that are fundamental for me in Fujifilm equipment; colour, sharpness of the lenses, weight and finally camera-optics balance.

As for the Fujinon lenses that I use the most in my field work, they are, first of all, the new Fujinon XF200mm F2 LM OIR WR that together with the 1.4x teleconverter make it an indispensable tool for me. In addition to this telephoto lens, in my backpack I can’t miss the versatile Fujinon XF100-400mm 4.5-5.6 R LM OIR WR .

As for wide angle lenses I use the Fujinon 16mm 1.4, the Fujinon 10-24mm 2.8-4 and of course the Fujinon 80mm F2.8 Macro.

Key features and comments on photography by Kiko Arcas

Fujifilm could not have chosen a better way to mark the occasion of the 10th anniversary of its X-Trans system than by launching its new 5th generation sensor and processor. Any photographer who lays their hands on one of these cameras are certain to be delighted.

The new X-H2S is the camera everyone has been waiting for, and I can honestly say it has exceeded all expectations during the time I had to test it out. The incorporation of these latest upgrades makes this the perfect camera for the kind of nature shots I take of birds and mammals and will place it among the top choices for sports, action and wildlife photographers.

X-H2S x XF150-600mmF5.6-8 R LM OIS WR

Here are just some of the new features of this latest generation camera that have caught my attention:

  • Burst mode shutter speeds of 40, 30 and 20 fps for blackout free shooting with ES.
  • High-capacity buffer memory in 15 fps burst mode shooting with MS and 20 fps with ES.

X-H2S x XF150-600mmF5.6-8 R LM OIS WR

  • Shutter speeds of 8, 7, 5 and 3 fps in MS and CL.
  • New AF/AE algorithm for professional level use.
  • A 7-stop in-body stabilizer for optimal results for hand-held shots at speeds of 1/2 s with a 18-55 mm and of 1/15 s with a 600 mm (914 mm) tele-zoom.
  • Burst mode of 10 and 15 fps with mechanical shutter (MS). The new CF Express card slot means that you no longer have to wait for your memory card to finish recording when capturing action shots. This is certainly a must-have feature for ensuring no unrepeatable, unique shots are missed.

X-H2S x XF200mmF2 R LM OIS WR

  • The AF has undergone a huge improvement and can now confidently handle any task. A further handy functionality is the new subject tracking mode, which offers a range of settings: 1) Animals (mammals), 2) Birds, 3) Vehicles, 4) Motorbikes and bicycles, 5) Planes and 6) Trains.
  • In mammals and birds mode, the AF tracks the head and eyes of ultra-fast moving subjects, allowing you to concentrate on framing the shot and on what really matters most – the composition.
  • The new 5th generation, 26 megapixel, stacked sensor, enables the capture of much cleaner, images within a greater dynamic range, picking out more details in the lights and shadows, and of course, higher ISOs (3200, 6400, 12800), with no risk of noise, to produce exceptionally vivid and vibrant photographs.
  • Fast, responsive touch screen allowing you to navigate it quickly.
  • Two card slots, for SD and CF Express.
  • Body weight: 660 g.

This is, without a doubt, the manufacturer’s top-of-the-range X-Trans model for action and wildlife photography.

When holding the X-H2S for the first time, you will immediately notice its new, compact and ergonomic design. If you have used the X-H1 model previously, you will realise that it bears little resemblance to it, in either its design or its performance. Its design is similar to the brand’s recent GFX-50II and GFX100s models in terms of its grip and the location of the components of the camera body, dials, top screen, ISO buttons, WB, video REC, etc.

Another notable feature are the new positions of the WB, ISO, REC buttons on the body, located below the shutter line, which make them much easier to locate and operate with the index finger without having to take your eye off the viewfinder at any moment. This eliminates the risk of missing a single instant of the action and allows for a much smoother workflow. As well as their factory pre-set capabilities, these new buttons can be fully customised, allowing the photographer to tailor the functionality to their needs by adding whatever functions they prefer.

X-H2S x XF150-600mmF5.6-8 R LM OIS WR

The brand has also considered those of us who usually use grips on our cameras and the camera may now be held with the grip as well as with the body for a speedier and more comfortable experience.

A further new aspect of the camera is the redesigned joystick, which is now larger and positioned next to the viewfinder, making it easier to locate. The right thumb is now placed in a more natural position, perfectly coinciding with the position of the joystick.

In addition to the buttons already mentioned, two more buttons have been added, one on the top of the camera and the other on the grip. They haven’t been assigned a specific function; instead, they can be utilised for whichever function best suits your workflow.  In my case, I have chosen to set it to activate or deactivate the camera stabilizer with a simple click of the button. There’s a purpose for this: it’s to make the camera more intuitive so you don’t waste time browsing for features in the menu.

X-H2S x XF150-600mmF5.6-8 R LM OIS WR

I sincerely believe that this is an extremely high-end camera, and though I don’t believe that the perfect camera actually exists, this one comes very close. Over the days I have been putting the camera to the test, plus more trials in the field, where we really find out how well it performs, I have been more than delighted with the new features as I have discovered them. I have been particularly impressed with the way my workflow has become more efficient as a result of the enhanced ergonomics and new button placement, as well as the upgraded sensor and processor.

X-H2S x XF150-600mmF5.6-8 R LM OIS WR

X-H2S VIDEO By Alberto Saiz

The new features and improvements to video mode in the XH2s have met many of the expectations that were placed on this new model.

The body has seemed compact, very comfortable in ergonomics and with a modern design, very tight size and weight, perfect for carrying light equipment on long days in the field.

The new buttons dedicated to ISO and WB, larger and fully customizable like the rest, and the direct access button to record from photo mode, the larger HDMI connection, XLR audio are very smart add-ons

X-H2S x XF150-600mmF5.6-8 R LM OIS WR

In terms of resolution: being able to work in 6.2K using the entire area of ​​the sensor to be able to later, in post-production, benefit from it in reframing or stabilization, is a great help. When we film nature, we find ourselves in situations where there are scenes with a lot of detail, so having this extra resolution, beyond 4K, was something very necessary.

Recording in 4K at 120 fps has been another advance that we were waiting for, the image looks very clean with that organic Fuji look and also in H265 422 it allows us to work very well in post-production.

Being able to shoot raw, whether it’s Apple ProRes or Blackmagic, is another huge advantage to being able to have more creative control of the image.

As for the video codecs that the camera incorporates, the fact of being able to work internally on the card in all ProRes modes, the truth is that it is also a very, very important advance because it allows us to have much faster post-production, in workflow, as all professional color correction and video editors understand this format very well.

X-H2S x XF150-600mmF5.6-8 R LM OIS WR

Another important advance has been the greater recording time even up to 120 fps, we are no longer as limited as we were before and for us it is essential because when you are tracking an animal doing a behavior that is perhaps unrepeatable not being worried about that limitation of 5 minutes, or 2 minutes that we had before in the X-T4, for example, it is a fundamental help for our job.

X-H2S x XF200mmF2 R LM OIS WR

In terms of image quality and dynamic range, the fact of being able to work in this new FLog-2 up to 14 stops of dynamic range is something super useful for those of us who work in wild environments where we cannot control light situations. where there is a lot of contrast. Having that extra dynamic range is a huge help.

Another of the features that I have found very interesting is the video autofocus that I think has been greatly improved, the subject detection and tracking mode, which distinguishes between animals, mammals and birds and cars, etc., which is also something that those of us who filmed nature never had until now.

As for the ISO, there has also been an improvement, I have done some tests forcing it up to 25,000 and the truth is that with a subsequent noise reduction, the shots are quite usable.

Also, the new stabilization of up to 7 points has seemed very helpful to me when working with a handheld camera or with the help of gimbals.

Thanks, and congratulations to Fujifilm for having created such a complete camera, which goes one step further in all video functions, which with the combination of the new XF150-600mm is a perfect combo to film nature and wildlife.

X-H2S x XF150-600mmF5.6-8 R LM OIS WR