New Fujifilm Camera: X-H2S | First Impressions & Sample Footage
Another Fujifilm camera on the docket, and wow did they deliver. Here's my first impressions on the highly anticipated hybrid camera for photographers and filmmakers.
The Fujifilm X-H2S has been a long time coming — and wow — did Fuji throw everything they could for this one. I was lucky enough to learn about this product back in March, and though we've only had a month with it, I believe Fujifilm has finally made a true competitor to the video mirrorless market.
Small Disclaimer: All sample footage featured in this article was captured on pre-production hardware provided by Fujifilm North America.
The most notable upgrade to the Fujifilm X-H2S line is that you now have a brand new STACKED, backside-illuminated, XTrans V CMOS sensor with 26 megapixels of resolution. In simple terms, the stacked sensor allows information to be processed significantly faster and with higher accuracy. For example, you can expect 3-4x better rolling shutter performance because of this upgrade. The upgrade to a 5th generation processor introduces new abilities like 6.2K recording with ProRes, high-efficiency image capture, and dedicated AI processing. This new processor raises the ceiling and introduces some headroom for future capabilities and updates. The viewfinder has jumped to a 5.76M dot OLED display with a 120FPS refresh rate, creating a hyperreal viewing experience. Users now have access to a UHS-II SD card slot and a CF Express type B slot, required for ProRes and high bitrate recording. Looking at the ports, you get the remote, mic, headphones, better USB-C, and—holy sh*t, stop the presses!—a full-sized HDMI port.
Now that I've given you an overview of the notable upgrades to the Fujifilm X-H2S let's dive deeper into what this camera can do.
X-H2S Mirrorless Digital Camera - Body Only
Are you a hybrid shooter? The do-all X-H2S from Fuji meets the needs of even the most demanding creator. Excelling in both video and still imagesBuy for $2,499.00
The Video Experience
The improved sensor and processor of the Fujifilm X-H2S open up a massive suite of video upgrades and this camera. You can capture 6.2K footage up to 30P, where you're capturing the entire sensor readout. This open gate approach is a killer feature when looking to recompose the in post, especially for vertical content. At 10-bit 4:2:2 internally, with bitrates as high as 720Mbps, the footage here will push your machine, but the quality of these files is rich. When you lock in the proper exposure, you have something with much more latitude for post-production.
I'm seeing an improvement in the dynamic range that makes this much more competitive than before. Fujifilm is marketing 14+ stops of dynamic range with their new F-Log2, which has a floor ISO of 1250. Standard F-Log will lower starting ISO to 640 and deliver 12+ stops of dynamic range. It is worth noting that this camera does not have a dual native ISO sensor. Fujifilm has a linear noise reduction system in place to manage noise. Additionally, using a film simulation will vary between 12-14 stops of dynamic range depending on which one you use, and HDMI RAW will deliver about 13+ stops of dynamic range. Still, it's worth mentioning that this format will require an external recorder.
At 4K, you can expect to capture at 120FPS, marking another closed gap between Fujifilm and its competitors. However, the 120FPS mode is only available in the high-speed settings with no audio capture in this mode, and if you're using this, there'll be about a 1.3x crop. The standard 4K settings go up to 60P. If you plan on capturing in the highest fidelity, you may want to invest in more storage. On a 128GB card, you'll get a little over 7 mins at the highest ProRes internally, and depending on the bit rate, you'll get anywhere between 23 minutes and 5 hours when you capture in H.265.
For my work, I turn off the in-camera sharpness and noise reduction. Even so, at 6K the footage looks plenty sharp. The 4K footage seems to look a little crispier (in a good way) which is thanks to the oversampling being done by the sensor. The 5th generation processor has a sub-processor dedicated to in-body image stabilization that promises up to 7 stops of compensation. Concerning the video, this feels like something that has gotten noticeably better so far. I want to spend more time with it, but the camera doesn't seem to work against intentional camera movements as previous versions did.
This camera has accompanied me in the office, on a hot day at the zoo, and even in the sweaty backstage of a festival. I have yet to see a thermal warning from this camera, let alone have the camera shut down during a recording. It's always good to flip out the LCD during extended recordings to improve the heat dissipation, and you can even buy the new Fujifilm cooling pack to help flush heat away from the camera. However, in my tests so far, I never met a situation where I've needed this accessory.
Let's talk about autofocus, a feature Fujifilm has invested a lot into, and it shows. I will be spending a lot more time with this, but the focus latches onto your face or eye and keeps it there. You're locked in. Whether it was a talking head in a controlled setting or vlog style recording in shifting light — my face was in perfect focus. I want to put in more reps, but right now, this aspect of autofocus feels like it's matching some of the best in the industry. There's also the inclusion of animal, bird, car, bike, plane, or train object tracking, where sports and wildlife photographers should see a noticeable improvement in their line of work. Better AF tracking is a big deal for Fujifilm because autofocus is one of those functional and marketing tentpoles that can make or break a conversation for creatives. So far, it feels like the X-H2S is right up there with the front of the pack.
Deep in the menus, you'll find flickerless shutter speed shooting, making it easier to film with LED light sources in the background. However, it is a shame there is no shutter angle in the current version of this firmware. While there is now proxy recording, it's oddly only in the ProRes mode which has the lowest record times. This would be even more valuable for H.265 recording when you're doing long takes in a trickier codec and want an easy-to-digest proxy file. I'm hoping Fujifilm can sort this out in the future.
The Photo Experience
Now, let's not forget about the photography on Fujifilm X-H2S because there are some severe upgrades here. You can capture up to 15 frames per second with the mechanical shutter or an insane 40 frames per second when you switch to electronic. This fast-paced shooting mechanism makes for a competitive tool for capturing sports, adventure, and wildlife where the odds of getting the perfect shot are much higher. There is no significant support for the RAW files, so I'll save my thoughts on the image quality for the final review. I'm hoping to see an improved file that gives users more latitude.
Once again, the autofocus performance surprised me with how good it was with photography. It feels much stickier, and the algorithms Fujifilm has been developing seem to pay dividends in the field. I tested this across multiple subjects over the last month, and it looks like the most challenging may be some types of vehicles, but it was pretty rare. I'll save my final thoughts on this for the full review.
As you might have noticed, the LCD flips around and to the side. At 1.62M dot across 3 inches, it's good enough, but I had hoped to see better touchscreen integration with this generation. But I will say this display itself feels like it has more resistance and is sturdier than any previous Fujifilm camera, and I appreciate that as a user.
I should also note that custom profiles capture all the customizations for photos and videos. I highlighted this during our meetings, and I'm happy to see that white balance adjustments will add value to any custom profiles.
For those that capture a lot more than the average person, you can purchase a battery grip or, at a later date, the network grip. The former will triple your battery life, and the latter will have improved antennas and ethernet for high-speed shooting environments. I typically save my deep dive on the camera body for the full review but let's go over some key changes that the Fujifilm X-H2S introduces.
This camera body is smaller than the XH1 but larger than the X-S10. In the hand, it definitely feels hefty and feels solid. There's enough space for a secure grip, and the viewfinder sits further from the LCD, making for a comfortable shooting experience. The command dials no longer push in for a secondary button, and the rear command sits further to the side of the camera, making for what might be a point of contention for some users. The mode dial is similar to the GFX 100S. There is no sub-dial like the X-T4, but you have seven custom modes to attribute your essential recipes. You'll find a dedicated record, white balance, ISO, and customizable function buttons on the top. There's a sub-LCD to the left, just like the predecessor. The back sees the disc-based directional pad, additional controls, and a directional pad. Looking at the port side, you'll immediately notice that most doors now flip open with authority and stay there.
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The HDMI is the only one that flops down, but at least it goes all the way down. Small things, but significant differences. You'll also notice this communication port behind the LCD, and this is where you can attach the cooling fan. This piece draws power from the Fujifilm X-H2S and will work to keep the camera at an acceptable temperature to keep recording. At first, I felt like this was kind of corny, but after using it, it is pretty ingenious and does bring value in hotter environments.
Fujifilm XF 18-120mm F4.0 LM PZ WR
Thi new, affordable zoom lens offers a 27-183mm equivalent focal range and a constant F4.0 aperture built to be equally good at photo and video. There was no denying that some of the existing zoom options didn't translate well for video, but now you have something that makes a case to be the only one you need for enthusiast work.
This weather-sealed lens is smaller than a tallboy with a 72mm filter size and has a power zoom function ring on the body to become the dad-cam of your dreams. The aspherical elements make this a competent photo and video lens. Though there's no optical image stabilization, using a camera like the Fujifilm X-H2S will bring you plenty of stabilization in the field. At 460g, it's not heavy, and having control over the zoom speed, focus speed, and more through the menu showcases the attention to detail Fujifilm has implemented with this lens. There seems to be minimal focus breathing; Fujifilm directs users to their cinema lenses for that type of requirement. Is this something that will perform better than the 16-55 F2.8? Optically, I don't think I can say yes, at the moment, but from a function standpoint, I think this may be the better for most people.
Fujifilm XF150-600mm F5.6-8.0 R LM OIS WR
There's also introducing a new red-badge lens from Fujifilm with a monstrous equivalent focal range of 229-914mm. Slap on the 2x converter in conjunction with the sensor crop, and you have a ceiling over 1800mm. GOOD GOLLY! The internal zoom system ensures the lens won't get longer on you when you zoom, maintaining a good balance on a tripod or hand. It isn't nearly as heavy as it looks and is something that you can easily carry in your backpack for a more extended trip. The linear focusing motor and five stops of optical image stabilization make this just a powerhouse of a lens that you can use with confidence. Shooting at 1800mm handheld is absurd but becomes a reality when you pair this lens with a camera like the Fujifilm X-H2S.
It's exciting to see Fujifilm continue to build out its lens family aggressively each year. My only genuine concern at this time is whether they can keep up with demand because these lenses are looking like must-haves for their respective audiences.
XF18-120mmF4 LM PZ WR Lens
Eyeing a cinema-quality Fuji lens? The XF18-120mmF4 LM PZ WR Lens will be your do-it-all workhorse with its stepless aperture and full focus controlBuy for $899.99
XF150-600mmF5.6-8 R LM OIS WR Lens
Need to bring vast distances into frame? The XF150-600mmF5.6-8 R LM OIS WR places an astounding degree of potential in the hands of any image-makerBuy for $1,999.00
At $2,500 US, the Fujifilm X-H2S is not an inexpensive camera but looking at what it brings to the table, and you have something that delivers flagship photo and video features at a much more affordable price point than many of its competitors. As I mentioned earlier, these are just my first few weeks of impressions to share with you and how the specs on the page translated in my working environments. In the weeks to come, I'll share more insights on the new autofocus system and the video experience with this camera in a full-blown review. What I can say now, though, is that Fujifilm has introduced a compelling mirrorless camera that takes the flagship name with authority in their X-series lineup.