With yesterday’s announcement of the new X-H2 mirrorless camera, Fujifilm is trying to fill a gap in its range between its APS-C offerings and its medium-format GFX line by introducing a 40.2-megapixel sensor in its latest X- series body. This may seem like a bit of a compromise as Fujifilm doesn’t have a full-frame system, but one advantage of sticking to its smaller sensors and just adding resolution is that you’ve got a camera that’s still fairly compact. I briefly got to try out a pre-production version of the new X-H2 and the recently released X-H2S at Fujifilm’s X-Summit NYC event, and there might be a lot to like here if you’re a loyal Fujifilm user. Here are some initial thoughts and finer details learned from the short time with these cameras.
At $1,999.95, the X-H2 seems like a reasonable price for a semi-professional camera with a high-resolution sensor. The all-metal construction of the X-H2 and X-H2S is very robust and feels well equipped to be pushed into a situation where your camera can take a beating. The buttons and dials feel clicky and solid, and almost lean a bit on the stiff side. The tilting LCD screen on the back is sturdy, with a nice weight and resistance when you turn it. It’s not the Nikon Z9’s over-engineered multi-tilt rear screen, but it doesn’t feel like a noticeable structural weakness.
While the rubber grips on the X-H2 and X-H2S feel as stiff as small tanks, the height of the grips can cause the tip of your little finger to hang in the air. I’m used to this ergonomic flaw with my own full-frame Sony mirrorless cameras, and if it’s a deal breaker for you on bodies like that, it could be a deal breaker here. Yes, you can always attach a vertical grip, but those add-ons are cumbersome and make mirrorless cameras look more like old DSLR clunkers.
A top LCD and EVF that is easy on the eyes
Above the handle is the top LCD, a large negative display that brightly illuminates (switch to a positive contrast display) at the push of a button on the side of the electronic viewfinder. It really pops out in low light and remains visible even in bright light, although it drains the battery faster so it automatically shuts off after 30 minutes or once the camera is turned off.
Speaking of the EVF, the 5.76 million-pixel viewfinder is bright and has a comfortable eye relief. When using the eye sensor’s auto-switching live view mode, you’ll see momentary blackness before the EVF turns on, although this is in line with how other cameras in this price zone operate. Like the tilt screen, I’ve experienced other cameras that do a better job (Sony A1, Nikon Z9, Canon R3), but they cost a lot more than the X-H2 and X-H2S.
Fujifilm also builds in numerous power optimization modes that change the behavior of the EVF. I counted six performance modes: normal; economy; low light priority; resolution priority; Priority EVF frame rate (120p); and EVF frame rate priority (240p). You can choose based on your preference and shooting scenarios, and I noticed some changes in the behavior of the EVF when I switched modes – like buttery smoothness for bright light situations or more choppy responsiveness with better night vision, all at the expense of battery life. Fujifilm loves to give users a cross-border amount of control with little things like this, and the truth may be that most people leave it on normal, never change it, and be totally fine.
The need for speed (and slightly clunky AF controls)
While the X-H2S is the speed demon variant, the high-resolution X-H2 is no slouch. They both support the same autofocus smarts for eye, face and object detection. Both cameras easily grabbed the focus on the eye of a static or moving subject when I used them briefly. You have all kinds of autofocus options to choose from — even telling the camera to prefer the right or left eye — but these settings can take a lot of familiarity before you’re as fast as the camera.
For example, in the settings, tracking eyes, faces and objects are isolated from each other. So while these focusing systems are advanced, it requires more dial-up and futzing when you switch between them than I initially expected. I know most modern cameras are a little nightmare of menu systems to learn and adjust, but I hope for the sake of you Fujifilm fans you can adapt to this without checking a lesson on camera menu logic.
Maybe just not using the electronic shutter on the X-H2?
One of the things I’ve done my best to torture with the new Fujifilm cameras in my short time was the electronic shutters of the X-H2 and X-H2S. As someone who uses a camera with a stacked sensor, I’m spoiled for the ability to shoot at high speeds without the viewfinder blackout. Unsurprisingly, the X-H2S and its faster stacked sensor can handle fast, jarring pans just fine with its e-shutter. The straight lines in the frame still looked straight and didn’t give in to much rolling shutter jello effect.
It was a different story with the X-H2 and its more traditional BSI (non-stacked) sensor. I could easily take a picture with movement in it where vertical lines seemed skewed and a little curved. This is the downside of the higher resolution X-H2 sensor and slower readout speeds. While it sounds good on paper that the X-H2 can record 20fps blackout-free with its electronic shutter, it will most likely be limited to situations with little to no subject or camera movement – a limitation where you can’t imagine need to worry about on the X-H2S.
It’s easy to think that this sibling dichotomy could have been resolved if Fujifilm had opted for a single camera with both a high megapixel count and a stacked sensor, but according to Fujifilm’s Yuji Igarashi, that single-camera solution would simply be too much. cost a lot. The good news, however, is that these cameras have excellently damped mechanical shutters that are quiet and don’t cause too much vibration (shutter shock) in the body.
New Fujinon lenses
As for the new XF 56mm f/1.2 lens and GF 20-35mm f/4 lenses announced alongside the X-H2, both felt well built with fast autofocus. The new 56mm remains fairly small and compact like its predecessor, although Fujifilm claims it is better in every way than the old design it replaces (more technical sharpness and quality bokeh, less “character” and flaws such as chromatic aberrations and coma). . The GF 20–35mm and its rubberized felt focus and zoom rings terribly robust when mounted on the GFX100S. While Fujifilm’s mid-format offerings are on the budget end of the spectrum in that world, every time I buy one, I get that “this thing means business” feeling.
Last up on the lens front, Fujifilm announced two tilt-shift lenses at the end of its X-Summit keynote — as an ironic “two more things” moment. They are a 30mm f/5.6 and a 110mm f/5.6. The presenters gave no further details about these lenses, other than a very brief tease on stage to expect more at a later date.
Overall, I left the X-H2 and X-H2S demo section feeling fairly impressed with what Fujifilm has put together. I think X-series people who have been waiting a long time for a high-resolution camera will appreciate it a lot. But if your heart is with bigger sensors, Fujifilm’s only answer remains the big jump to medium format.
Photography by Antonio G. Di Benedetto / The Verge