The Fuji XH-1 Review

What I love and hate (It is more love) about Fuji’s new Flagship APS-C Camera.

Scroll to the bottom to see some awesome hi res files.

What I love and hate (It is more love) about Fuji’s new APS-C Camera

Why did I buy this camera?

I normally shoot all my stills on my Leica MP-240 or Leica MP (film). These are my cameras of choice for enjoyment, and for artistic photos that don’t have a time limit on delivery and where I can be fully flexible immerse myself in my own creativity. They are not workhorse cameras. I needed a DSLR for product, place and people photos (and very high quality video) for work, and I needed something I could be sure of getting the shot quickly and accurately with a tough camera that was easy and efficient to use in a range of conditions.

The Leica rangefinders for work in these conditions don’t quite cut it. For video in the past I’ve used the Panasonic X1000 4K (sweet, but not much dynamic range and images a little ungradable) and the Canon XC-10 (great 4k camera with excellent dynamic range, but I wanted something for stills as well on the same body).

My Fuji XH-1 package contains:

  • Fuji XH-1 (duh)
  • Fuji 16-55mm F2.8 lens
  • Fuji Battery grip with 2x extra batteries

What do I love and hate about the camera?

Battery Grip

I love the fact this camera is offered with a battery grip as a package with 2x extra batteries. In fact, the battery grip enhances the capabilities of the XH-1 with the Turbo power option to shoot at a higher rapid fire FPS, lets you run the camera with mains power, and charges 2 batteries in it (with the DC adapter) and lets you plug in a set of headphones.

But I hate the terrible battery life! No wonder Fuji is bundling the battery grip with this thing. With 1 battery in the camera, using live view and taking some shots in burst and video I was getting a low battery warning within the first 40 minutes of using the camera! Yes, I had charged it in full. I think Fuji should have put more into the battery engineering on this one. For a video shoot, inside I have to use the auxiliary power.

Oh, and you would have thought if the battery grip was attached to the camera, and you have 1x battery in the camera, with 2 in the grip, you could charge all of them with the external power cable. No Sir! You need to detach the grip, put that on charge, and charge up your internal battery separately. I don’t like that.

The Film Simulations

This is actually what I was most excited to try. I’m a film lover, and I love the look and feel of film. Let me point out here that if you shoot RAW, whatever preset you shoot will not be fixed in the image. What is great about shooting RAW with the camera and Adobe Lightroom is that you cam apply any of the presets to your image afterwards in processing, and you are not locking yourself into a fixed profile on a JPEG.

JPG from RAW

Fuji gives you the following presets:

P.S – I love the film simulations…be great if it had Superia too.

Internal FLOG Recording for video

Well there is a lot that I love about the video on this camera. Particularly that it can shoot 4K at 200Mbps LOG. Log is close (but not) RAW for video. RAW video is a different thing, but LOG is a nice flat colour profile that for those of us doing blogs, amateur short films, documentaries, TV commercials, web videos, and others can benefit from. It is nice and open with great dynamic range, and very gradable and doesn’t fall over. I actually like the look of the Eterna film simulation in the Fuji, but like the flexibility offered buy LOG. So I really love the fact Fuji has provided a LUT that you can apply to your footage in Premiere to make FLOG look like you’d shot Eterna but then of course giving you the flexibility to re grade.

The video quality in the camera is so good, I cam happy to use it in the place of my Canon XC-10 which technically was 305Mbps and 422 colour vs the Fuji 200 Mpbs and 420 colour. The files are so clean, detailed and great. Very usable. Plus I get to use it with the sweet looking 16-55 F2.8!

Sound recording interface could be better, but maybe that is just because I am used to other systems.

One big thing I hate about the FLOG is that the base ISO for FLOG is 800. Yikes. My Canon XC10 shot log at 500iso. Time to load up on neutral density filters.

While we are on the base ISO of the camera for stills, or video when not shooting LOG – It is 200. I would have liked lower.

The APS-C Sensor Size

This is a contentious issue. I think a lot of people buy full frame thinking they need it when they really don’t. Now I personally own 2 full frame cameras. My Leica MP-240 and Leica MP Film. I enjoy the shallow depth and wide angles I can achieve. 10 years ago (2005-2010) it was a given that full frame cameras were higher quality with larger photosites on their sensors. But the technology with smaller sensors with smaller photosites has come in leaps and bounds, thanks mainly to Panasonic with the four thirds development that the technical picture quality and low light/high ISO gap between full frame and other sizes is closed, and it no longer a valid argument.

Actually, for the purpose I bought this camera, APS-C is a benefit. No corner darkening, smaller body, less prone to dust, no distortion in the corners, it is just a high quality image at a relatively small size, and the cost saving from not having full frame has been out into other useful features I use. That I use to help make me money. Not to stroke my ego thinking I have a full frame camera.

The Intervalometer

I’ve always wanted one, and this camera has a sweet one.

My Fuji 16-55 F2.8

Firstly, I’ll say that Ken Rockwell has a better review than I could ever give on this lens here. I love this lens. It is sharp, edge to edge, no vignetting no matter how hard I have tried to get it to do so, the F2.8 is sharp, the depth separation is sweet as, nice creamy bokeh, focuses quickly.

But I hate the fact the focus is fly by wire. I want to be able to focus manually and feel it, the electronic focus is, well, awkward for video work. That said, the cameras tracking and quick auto focus is not too jarring.

The EVF (Electronic Viewfinder)

This is an excellent EVF. I love it.

The Touch screen.

Sharp and responsive. I love it.

Dual SD Card Slots

This is a big one. When I bought the camera I was excited about this. I could record photos and videos and have a copy of the same file go to 2 cards. Na uh. With photos, yes the backup mode works, and you get the same JPEG or RAW on both cards. Not possible for video recording, which, given 75% of my use for this camera is video, that is a real bummer. But, I thought there was the next best thing for me: Sequencial recording with the ability to send photos to Slot 1 and video to Slot 2. Yes, thats what it says in the menu and the manual. But, maybe because of a firmware bug, the camera seems to randomly switch between them, so sometimes I have video clips on one card I’m not expecting, haven’t figured out why yet.

I hope this is addressed with new firmware updates.

Autofocus/Manual Focus Assist

The auto focus is fast. The single point focus for product and portraits is super. The tracking is accurate. The manual focus magnification for assistance is clear and useful. Best auto focus I’ve used, coming from a mirrored DSLR style setup.

The interface

There is a lot to love, and a lot to hate about this camera’s interface.

The Q (Quick?) Menu

This quick feature menu to do things like change the white balance, the film style, and others, but guess what? You can’t see the changes happening live as you change. Luckily you can put these settings into the My Menu function to select them and see the changes taking place. It is like there were 2 seperate interface design teams working on this camera.

The buttons and controls

I actually like the retro feel. I love the fact you can tap the right arrow and get the white balance menu. But, there is no label you can do that. I discovered it accidentally.

Overall though, for a seasoned photographer shooting in manual mode, everything makes sense, behaves as expected and it placed in a useful position. No problems. It lets me get the job done.

The top screen

Yuk. It is not useful. Seriously, it is pixelated, and badly backlit. Fuji – please learn from Canon and Nikon here, they do awesome top screens.

How is the image quality?

ISO Performance?

I’m not a pixel peeper. But, here are some high ISO/low light samples for those of you who are.

I could go on about what I love and hate about this camera, and look at every little function and analyse it…but I’m not one of those pixel peeper reviewers. Above all the quirks, and things I think could be better, there is no doubt the image quality is brilliant. That is the most important thing. The colours are solid and accurate, the detail is great, the dynamic range is super with the highlights and shadows very recoverable in RAW files. Best APS-C camera I have used, and in my view, better than some full frame options.

For me, image and build quality, this is an excellent workhorse camera. But there are a few quirks I’d like to see ironed out in future firmware versions.

Hi Resolution Samples

All taken with the Fuji XH-1 with the 16-55mm F2.8, and processed in Adobe Lightroom.

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