Until recent years, Fuji’s mirrorless offerings were always seen as incredible tools for photographers, but left a bit to be desired in the filmmaking department. Their cameras – like the X100T, the first Fuji I ever owned – offered incredible color science, gorgeous film simulation modes, a beautiful design, and stunning still image quality… But just didn’t have the video functionality needed to compete with Canon, Panasonic, or Sony.
Video always seemed to be a bit of an afterthought for Fuji, and while many of their cameras could in fact record 1080p video files, they didn’t do so particularly well. Or at least that’s how it was for a while.
Eventually, Fuji decided to step up to the plate (video-wise), and have since put out cameras like the X-T1, X-T2, and X-Pro2, each of which are clearly designed with the filmmaker in mind.
That said, these cameras – which are hybrids in many respects – lean more toward stills than video. They are capable of producing gorgeous video footage, but nonetheless they still feel like they are designed with the photographer in mind first. That isn’t necessarily a deal breaker for many filmmakers (myself included) as these cameras can outperform many from Sony and Panasonic in critical areas, namely color science. But at the same time there is no denying that they just didn’t have as many professional bells and whistles… Until now.
Enter the Fuji X-H1.
For the first time, Fuji have put out a mirrorless camera that (while still very much a hybrid) is more focused on video than stills. Much in the same way that the Lumix GH5S is clearly aimed at video shooters, the X-H1 seems to be as well. That’s not to say that it isn’t also loaded with incredible stills functionality, but for the first time video is at the forefront.
Just take a look at some of the X-H1 specs –
- 24.3MP APS-C X-Trans CMOS III Sensor
- X-Processor Pro Engine
- 5-Axis In-Body Image Stabilization
- Internal DCI 4K Video and F-Log Gamma
- 4K @ 200 Mb/s
- New Eterna Film Simulation Mode
- 0.75x 3.69m-Dot Electronic Viewfinder
- 3″ 1.04m-Dot 3-Way Tilt LCD Touchscreen
- 325-Point Intelligent Hybrid AF System
- 1080p at 120 fps; Flicker Reduction Mode
- 1.28″ Sub-LCD Top Screen
- Weather-Sealed Body; 2 UHS-II SD Slots
Notable highlights include internal F-Log, 5 Axis In-Body Stabilization, and the ability to record 4K at 200 Mb/s. All three of these additions will likely convince more filmmakers to switch over to Fuji, as these can be deal breakers for many.
The X-H1 still records in 8bit 4:2:0 – not 10bit like the GH5 – which is worth noting as the extra bit depth is certainly something that will be important for some. That said, I can say from first hand experience with the X-T2 (which I love and have owned for a while now), I rarely find myself shooting in any situation where the limitations of 8bit recording are noticeable.
Not to sound like a broken record, as I’ve said this on the blog many times before, but the best thing about Fuji’s cameras is their color science. It’s why photographers have been so enthusiastic about their cameras for years, and why I myself made the jump to Fuji after shooting with Panasonic, Sony, and Canon, each for varying lengths of time.
No camera will ever do it all, and there are always tradeoffs when you make a purchase. Take the recently released GH5S, which is an incredible camera in so many respects, but doesn’t necessarily replace the original GH5 as it lacks some crucial features, such as in-body stabilization.
I always try to explain to filmmakers (when asked what camera they should buy) to focus on their needs, not the specs. For me, color is a major need. I am somewhat obsessed with color grading and the effect that amazing color can have on audience perception, and for that reason I’ve really embraced Fuji’s cameras, despite the fact that they haven’t always had as many features as cameras like the A7S III or GH5.
Now with the X-H1 though, there is a lot less to sacrifice than ever before. Really, the biggest drawback is that the camera doesn’t shoot 10 bit – but does that really matter if you don’t see a difference in your final images? I will take an 8bit camera will brilliant color science over a 10bit camera with poor camera science any day. Not to say Lumix cameras have poor color science, but in my opinion they just aren’t nearly at the level of Fuji… Nor is Sony, who is even further behind.
As I mentioned in my initial review on the X-T2, one of the things I now look for when purchasing a new camera is the intention of the brand. In other words, I ask myself whether or not the brand is moving in a direction that I can buy into, as I hope to invest in not only a single camera, but multiple cameras from the same manufacturer over time.
That’s why I invested in the X-T2. It may not have been perfect in every way, but in the areas that mattered to me, it delivered in leaps and bounds. And most importantly made me believe that Fuji was committed to pushing the boundaries of their video capabilities over the long haul. This hunch was certainly re-inforced with the X-H1, as it tells me that Fuji is dedicated to remaining a major player in the mirrorless video market.
The icing on the cake are Fuji’s latest cinema lenses, now available in X-Mount: The MKX18-55mm T2.9 and MKX50-135mm T2.9
These gorgeous parfocal lenses are the antidote to many filmmakers complaints about some of Fuji’s older X lenses, which have notoriously been difficult to pull focus with. These professional zooms clearly solve that issue with true cinema housing, and I am certain we will continue to see the lens lineup expand in the near future.
Most importantly to me though, is that these lenses yet again signal where Fuji is headed. They tell me that Fuji is on the path to creating a robust filmmaking ecosystem in which their camera bodies and cinema lenses can work together in harmony. For that reason alone, I can see myself sticking with Fuji for the foreseeable future – at least with regards to my mirrorless needs.
Will I keep my X-T2? Probably. For now at least… It’s still an incredible camera and I don’t see any reason to sell it as stabilization/internal Log were never deal breakers for me – If they were, I never would have bought the camera in the first place! That said, when a project arises that calls for the X-H1, I wouldn’t think twice about the upgrade.
How about you? What are your thoughts on the X-H1 and where Fuji is headed?
Noam Kroll is an award-winning Los Angeles based filmmaker, and the founder of the boutique production house, Creative Rebellion. His work can be seen at international film festivals, on network television, and in various publications across the globe. Follow Noam on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook for more content like this!