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Fujifilm hopes to find foothold in the pro market with the X-H1 camera

Create: 03/25/2018 - 07:50
Fujifilm X-H1
  • Fujifilm's first camera to offer in-body stabilization and 4K video
  • Uses an APS-C sensor and can accept an X-mount lens
  • Intended buyer: Advanced amateur, professional photographer

Fujifilm has enjoyed widespread popularity and loyalty with its excellent mirrorless X-series cameras and lenses, but there is one market that the company hasn’t cracked in significant numbers: professional photographers.

That could change with the release of the Fujifilm X-H1.

Nearly everything about this camera is intended to appeal to the working photographer, from being weather resistant to a body that is touted as being able to take some knocks.

The X-H1 is Fujifilm’s biggest and most expensive digital camera since the release of its medium format GFX.

APS-C, NOT FULL FRAME

Like its other X-series cameras, this also uses an APS-C sensor. Why not full frame? While Fujfiilm no doubt could have created a full-frame mirrorless camera, it would have been without a stable of compatible lenses for the launch. If there is one thing that pros want, it’s lenses.

By staying with APS-C, it can launch with the existing line of 20+ lenses, as well as those from third-party lens makers.

The X-H1 uses a 24.3 megapixel X-Trans CMOS III sensor that feeds images through the camera’s X-Processor Pro image processor. The native ISO range is 200-12,800, which can be extended to a range of 100-51,200.

This body comes with in-camera image stabilization, which is a first for the X series. Fujifilm says the five-axis compensation provides 5.0 stops of stabilization.

BODY STYLING

The X-H1 bears a resemblance to the X-T2 Pro in that it has a hump for the electronic viewfinder. The X-H1, however, has a much larger grip with the shutter release and power switch. The top deck also has a monochrome LCD panel that displays shutter speed, aperture, ISO and a couple of other pieces of information.

Like some of its other cameras, the two dials on the top deck serve dual purposes, allowing the photographer to quickly make other adjustments.

The rear of the X-H1 looks similar to other X-series cameras with a touch-enabled tilting 3.0-inch LCD panel and several controls, including Fujifilm's "Q" button and a small joystick.

The X-H1 has both electronic and manual shutters that can work in conjunction with each other or be selected to operate independently. The range of the manual shutter is 4 seconds to 1/8,000, while the electronic shutter's top range is 1/32,000.

The camera has no built-in flash. It can uses external flash units. Flash synchronization is 1/250.

The X-H1 can shoot as quickly as 14 frames per second with the electronic shutter and 11 frames per second with the manual shutter with the accessory battery grip.

Images are saved to a single SD memory card.

BUILT FOR THE PRO

Fujifilm says the X-H1 is dust- and weather-resistant and should stand up to hard use. The body's magnesium alloy frame is 25% thicker than the X-T2. It says the body is resistant to impact shock torsion and other sources of deformation and uses a scratch-resistant coating.

The accessory battery grip, described below, is also weather-resistant.

Fujifilm said it made additional improvements that were based on feedback from professional photographers, including a large grip design, a leaf-spring switch for the shutter release, near-silent shutter sound, a new focus level, a new AF-ON button and larger buttons on the rear of the camera.

POWER DEMANDS

Battery power isn't a strong point for the X-H1, as the shot capacity with the stock NP-W126S lithium-ion battery is about 310 shots.

Pros almost certainly will want to purchase the Vertical Power Booster Grip (VPB-XH1, US$329.99) that is compatible only with the X-H1. It holds an additional two batteries, meaning that there are three batteries available to power the camera. Shooting is extended to about 900 still shots and doubles the amount of 4K video recording to about 30 minutes. It includes its own AC adapter, which can fully charge the batteries in the grip in about two hours.

Connection ports include Micro HDMI Type D, USB 3.0, a microphone port and input for a remote control unit. The Vertical Power Booster Grip has a headphone jack for monitor audio while recording video.

4K VIDEO, FINALLY

For those who record video, the X-H1 is Fujifilm's first to record DCI 4K video. DCI stands for "Digital Cinema Initiative" and is recognized as the 4K standard by the film and video industry. UHD-1 4K video is used by consumer television and other computer media, such as video games and YouTube.

The X-H1 can use Fujifilm's ETERNA film-simulation mode when shooting video. When shooting stills, the camera can use one of many film-simulation modes that replicate the look for Fujifilm's popular color and monochrome emulsions.

Note that when shooting 4K video, each clip is limited to about 15 minutes, unless the accessory Vertical Power Booster grip is attached. The combined power from the three batteries doubles the recording time to 30 minutes.

When using the Adobe Lightroom plug-in, the camera can be tethered to a computer for studio shots and saving photos directly to a PC or Mac. The HS-V5 software for Windows also allows similar tethering capabilities.

The body is 5.5 x 3.8 x 3.3 inches (139.8 x 97.3 x 85.5mm) and weighs about 23.7 ounces (673 grams).

The Fujifilm X-H1 went on sale March 1, 2018, for US$1,899.95 for the body only and for US$2,199.95 as a package deal of the body and Vertical Power Booster Grip.

Watch Fujifilm's promotional video for the X-H1

About the Author

Mike Elek is a longtime journalist and was one of the original editors for The Wall Street Journal Online. He also has worked as a reporter and editor in Pittsburgh; Philadelphia; Vineland, N.J.; Poughkeepsie, N.Y.; New York City; and Hong Kong. He is a U.S. Air Force veteran. He shoots with film and digital cameras.