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Monday, 05 November 2018

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I'm a long time Fujifilm user, and have bought the X-H1 together with the 16-55 f/2.8 this year. I went through the usual protracted decision process (which I like almost as much as actually using the equipment…) Here are my observations:

1. This is the best multi-purpose digital camera I’ve ever used (I’ve used quite a few since 2003, from Sony, Nikon, Leica, Olympus and Fuji). It’s not suitable for everything, but for my purposes it is the perfect blend of things I need and like.

2. It feels great ergonomically - I have large hands and I like “handholding” the camera - I prefer to keep it in my hand most of the time when photographing, instead of on the strap or in a bag. This works much better with the X-H1 than with the comparable shape Nikon 300 series and 7000 series cameras I used to use and like - lighter body, and better grip.

3. The size and grip work very well with larger prime and zoom lenses (16/1.4, 23/1.4, 56/1.2, 80/2.8, 90/2, 16-55, 50-140, 100-400) - they feel much better matched to the X-H1 than to the X-T2/3. I think this is often underestimated: in my experience the way some lenses look and feel when mounted on a specific body can make or brake the experience. I can work comfortably with the X-H1 and the large 100-400 zoom without the additional grip - definitely not the case with the X-T2 I used to have. I also never liked the 16-55 with the X-T2, but with X-H1 it is like a new lens.

4. The dedicated, marked external dials for aperture, shutter speed, ISO are excellent and feel great (easy to turn, firm clicks, lock if needed). I would prefer half-stop or third-of-a-stop steps for the shutter speed dial though.

5. I warmed up to the small display instead of the marked exposure compensation dial. Being able to see the key settings from above without lighting up the screen is actually useful, and you can map the EV comp. to either the front or back dial (also without pressing the additional button), where you can actually operate it in a faster and more fluid way, than with the stiffer dedicated dial on top on the X-T(x) series. For me the front and back command dials also work very well - partly because of the larger grip and more “clicky” operation than on the X-T2.

6. The viewfinder is fantastic - not too contrasty (if you use Eterna simulation or the “natural live view” menu option), which is a plague affecting all other EVFs I’ve tried. It is also large, detailed and fluid.

7. I prefer the two-way tilting LCD to the “swivel out” design for photography. I understand it may not be best for video, but I dislike screens that extend to the left (and off the camera-subject viewing axis) when used at waist level for taking photos.

8. I like the IBIS, and it is genuinely useful with larger primes that don’t have OIS, and with the 16-55 zoom. I don’t see much improvement with lenses that already have OIS (technically, Fuji says there should be an additional benefit).

9. I find that after several months of use I prefer the X-H1 to the X-T(x) series cameras I used, and - surprisingly - even to my GFX 50s! It is more comfortable and ergonomic than X-T(x) models, and significantly smaller and much more hand-holdable than the GFX. With IBIS and fast primes you can often achieve shutter speeds and depth of field that would require 2-3 stops higher ISO on the GFX, negating much of the image quality advantage. But I still like the way the GFX “draws” the image better, including the 4:3 aspect ratio, the fall-off of sharpness around the focus plane, the colour fidelity…

Overall, the X-H1 is a sleeper. For me it is actually a better all-round camera than any other current APS-C model from anyone (but I don’t use my cameras for video). The comfortable grip, the IBIS and the way it works with larger lenses are what makes it perfect for my use. It is heavier than some comparable models, but for small prime lenses I prefer the X-Pro2 anyway, and for large lenses (including primes) I actually want the added weight and grip.

Yes indeed, don’t promise things.
Maybe fifteen years ago, Steve Jobs was on stage presenting new faster Macs (It’s a miracle, they are always “the fastest Macs ever”!), and he said “in a year, we’ll have them up to 3Ghz”. I said to my screen: “what are you doing, man? You can’t promise that. And you shouldn’t, why would you want to make people wait to upgrade.” And a year later, he was (not*) apologizing, saying that the whole industry had hit a brick wall, for the first time More’s Law was not coming through, and they couldn’t deliver much faster Macs.

*Of course he made no such thing as an apology. Steve was not that kind of guy, sadly.

Always put off until tomorrow what you don’t have to do today — tomorrow you may not need to do it at all ;-) . Jeremy has posted a review for you in his comment so that’s worked for you ;-) .

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