Before all else, I would like to thank Ms Carmen, Marketing Manager of Fujifilm Singapore, for loaning the X-H2S for review. By the time this review is online, the camera unit had returned back to Fujifilm Singapore.
After months of waiting and numerous rumours flying over the internet, the X-H2S was finally announced in X-Summit OMIYA 2022, together with XF150-160mm and XF18-120mm. Fujifilm categorised it as a flagship model, which means the best of the best technologies Fujifilm can offer is in this camera body (or maybe together with the upcoming X-H2). If I remember correctly, The “H” in X-H stands for “Heavy-duty”.
If you have watched the X-summit, you will know this flagship model addresses three groups of categories: sports photography, wildlife photography and videography.
While I do not belong to any of the three categories and I do street photography most of the time, my perspective of using this camera will be more on people on the streets and things revolving around the streets.
Also in this hands-on sharing, it is based on a photographer’s point of view as I am not a videographer trained. To test with people on the streets, I have also used various lenses of mine to see how well this camera can perform.
Here is the list of lenses I used:
- XF 16mm f1.4
- XF 23mm f2
- XF 23mm f1.4 WR
- XF 27mm f2.8 WR
- XF 35mm f1.4
- XF 50mm f2
- XF 80mm f2.8
- XF 18-55mm f2.8 – f4
- XF 70-300mm f4 – f5.6
Sensor and Processor
Fujifilm has come thus far when comes to image sensors and processors. Now, Fujifilm has come out with its first-ever Stacked-Back Side Illuminated (BSI) X-Trans CMOS sensor 5 HS and X-Processor 5. With this new processor, Fujifilm has also introduced Nostalgic Negative film simulation to the APS-C camera. Nostalgic Negative was only made available to GFX (first with GFX 100S) series only. I know not many people actually talk about this film simulation but I just want to highlight how much I like this film simulation after I tested out the GFX 50S II.
More on the Image quality and performance below.
Design & Build Quality
When I first saw the camera, it was resemblant very much to the GFX100S/50S II. It is also a totally different design from its predecessor, X-H1. This is a good way to distinguish between models. The new X-H2S can be distinguished easily at a glance too, especially since there is a label “S” on the front of the camera body.
The magnesium build camera is sturdy, durable and solid to hold. Something I am expecting from a flagship camera. The weight of the camera is 660 grams but personally, I do not feel it is heavy to hold and I think that because the weight is well distributed across the camera body.
For a note, it is just 53 grams heavier than X-T4 and 13 grams lighter than X-H1.
X-H2S has an ergonomic handgrip design but some photographers might think it is too large to hold, particularly photographers who have smaller hands. As for me, probably because I have large hands, it is very comfortable to grip. The feeling reminds me much of the good grip I had with my DSLRs back in those days.
Overall buttons are comfortable to press with good tactile feedback. The Focus stick is large and good to navigate focus points and between menus. Nothing to complain about here.
The newly developed shutter button is very sensitive and I have to learn to adapt to it. For most Fuji cameras, I depress half the shutter button for focus and then depress it fully for taking the shots. But then, the shutter button of the X-H2S is probably set it up higher than the other Fuji cameras. I basically snap the shot when I depress “half” the shutter button. It took me a few shots to find the sweet spot. Sometimes I do forget and history repeats itself. It is not something difficult to familiar with, it just takes a while for my muscle memory to familiarise itself.
On a side note, I love the shutter sound. A gentle and very satisfying “tid” sound.
The Viewfinder, The LCD Screen & the Sub-Display
I have to say the viewfinder is really a pleasure to use. The 5.76M dot OLED with a 120fps refresh rate is one of the best improvements Fujifilm has made. It makes the viewing experience so smooth as if I am shooting through an optical viewfinder. (Remember to set to EVF frame rate priority to enjoy the 120fps, otherwise, it is default at 60fps.)
However, the LCD screen keeps the same 1.62M dot resolution as the X-T4 but is still better than my X-T3. The display is indeed sharper and it is a good screen to meet my needs.
The “always-on” sub-display reminds me of the DSLR’s sub-display but better. As a sub-display, it provides all the necessary current settings and information to allow one to have a quick view.
The image quality is great and that is across all ISO ranges that I used in this test. Honest speaking, I cannot find anything to fault it. Personally, I feel that the image quality has some improvement at the high ISO range, especially on the ISO 3200. Not a dramatically huge difference but you can tell. Other than that, it is hard to tell the difference between X-H2s and X-T3.
The autofocus performance of the camera is kind of limited by the lenses. Because the performance of this X-H2S is really fast, it does push the limit of the older lenses to work faster. If the lens is on the slower side (for example a lens without Linear Motor), you can feel that it works slightly slower and also missing out on some focus tracking (but it picks up pretty fast). That said, the newer lenses (such as XF 23mm f1.4 WR) are really designed to optimise with X-H2S than the older ones. All in all, the autofocus is really snappy and accurate. The older lenses do feel snappier too than having them on my X-T3.
The focus tracking is a real improvement here. The eye-AF together with the Subject Detection such as “Animal”, “Bird”, “Automobile”, etc does pick up well and is quite sticky to the respective subject, especially a moving one. But if there is more than one subject in the frame, then that is another story altogether.
On paper, it states that it can achieve up to 7 stops of compensation with some lenses can only go up to 5 stops. In the real world, how stable is it with my shaky hands is more matters to me. The results show everything. I have tested with 4 lenses and it turns out that the IBIS is impressive. Whether it is combined with an OIS lens or not, my handheld results are pretty consistent and terrific.
I notice there are some people who commented about the battery life that does not last for the whole day. But in my 2 weeks of testing, it lasts me for the whole day with 35% remaining the least, that is about 500 shots taken.
Based on the CIPA standard, the battery life is rated as 720 shots. And based on my calculation, it is about there. So I think the rating from CIPA is quite consistent with my experience.
Although battery consumption is subjective to individual usage and many other external factors to be considered, all I can say is that this NP-W235 battery is definitely better than the NP-W126S on my X-T3. If your photography consumes more battery power, then just bring another one. If bringing two batteries is insufficient, then make it three.
PASM dial is something I familiar with for a long time, especially since I used DSLR before. I do not hate it nor I am happy to see it. It just reminded me of how I should operate the camera differs from the one with Fuji-style dials.
I do miss the Fuji-style dials with this X-H2S but handling the PASM dial is not a show stopper for me.
The focus mode selector switch has been replaced by the “fn3” button in X-H2S. By default, fn3 is set as the “focus mode selector” function. If you are a person who switches various modes a lot, this might be a little ignoring to you as it takes you to a screen to select the focus mode with your D-pad and the “OK” button to enter instead of instantaneously switching with the switch.
Another thing that I do not mention is the memory card. It comes with 2 slots, one for CFexpress Type B card and another for UHS-II. Because I do not have a CFexpress Type B card which unable to verify the capability of read/write speed of the camera when shooting at 40 fps.
Probably some photographers might notice this. The front dial is now not clickable.
One last interesting thing to share, X-H2S is the first Fuji camera that comes with a variable shutter speed. It calls “Flickerless S.S. Setting”. You have to enable “Flicker Reduction” first before you can set the “Flickerless S.S. Setting” on. This helps to eliminate flickering lighting from indoor LED lighting, bulb and monitor screen, etc. Only Manual and Shutter priority modes can enjoy this functionality.
For the next generation of X-H series, I hope that the position of the Focus stick to be a little lower, probably beside the AEL button will be a better option. Whenever I want to change the focus point, I need to shift my thumb much higher to reach for the Focus stick and by doing so, I have to reorientate my hand placement on the handgrip.
Another thing I hope Fujifilm can do is on the focus mode selector. Instead of the cumbersome control, you may consider making the fn3 button to toggle between the modes. I believe it will be easier for photographers who need to toggle often. Probably it can be added in a firmware update.
Above are some of the little feedback or more like my personal preference.
In my own words
The grip, the sub-display and the overall size of the camera pretty much reminded me of the good old DSLR era. Oftentimes it also reminded me of how far technology has come.
After 2 weeks of use, I believe Fujifilm has delivered the flagship model very well and beyond my expectation of what a flagship camera can be: a hybrid, heavy-duty camera for both worlds.
For Fuji enthusiastic (who like dials, dials and dials) like me, I will not get it for my personal causal shooting. Yes, the stacked BSI sensor is very attractive to me. The focusing speed and the AF tracking are something my current X-T3 cannot do with. What I can hope is that the future X-T5 has most of what X-H2S or X-H2 has to offer together with the X-T3 flip and tilt screen and I will be ready to smash my piggy bank.
Who is this for?
This is a flagship camera and also a workhorse that is designed with professional photographers (and professional videographers) in mind. It has the best performance Fujifilm has to offer to date. But that does not mean non-professional photographers should not get it. If camera size is not a factor, this X-H2S will be a camera you can consider as it is the pinnacle of Fujifilm for years to come.
Also, Fujifilm also confirmed they will be releasing X-H2 which comes with 40 megapixels in the X-Trans 5 HR. X-H2S focus on speed while X-H2 focus on fine details. Only the photographers themselves will know which camera can meet their demands in photography and the photography genres they are shooting.
Fujifilm just laid out them for you to choose from.
Thank you for reading.
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1. All the shots taken here are shot by me.
2. All of the shots are straight out of the camera with some edited via In-Camera Raw Processing.
3. I reserve ownership of these images, if you wish to use my images, please notify me.
4. The camera firmware is 1.01.
5. The opinions are based on my experience. If there is any mistake, please kindly drop me a message and I will gladly make the amendment.
3 thoughts on “X-H2S – The best of what APS-C can be”
You should try back button focus.