« The Fuji X-H1: Opinions and Impressions | Main | Five Favorites »

Monday, 10 December 2018

Comments

Thank you, Mike, for your two-part compelling introduction of the importance of balance in camera design.

The grace of fit and flow with the H-1 starting from the shutter's silent smoothness, running through its fit with my hands, and, yes, the rear screen at waist level, mean it's my main-lens camera over the T-3 I also have when working, say, in Portland's Japanese Garden.

The write-up was worth the wait.

Tom

“The “hyper” X is a camera that doesn’t go to extremes in any respect...”
Maybe that’s the problem - too much marketing hype / excess in the name. My apologies for the bad pun :~)
And now back to the substance - thanks for a well considered review.

I read equipment reviews continually reminding myself that the information given is subjective.
The reviews do give something to think about, though.

Your reviews are practical - which I like.

The Fuji is slightly bigger that the Nikon Z cameras in every dimension except height, where it is 3mm shorter than the Z6, which is about a 1/10th of an inch. I found this out from the Camera Size Comparison website, which poses the cameras side-by-side. That view teaches you something about aesthetics. The Fuji is a strikingly handsome camera, and the Nikon isn't -- the family dog wouldn't shoot with it unless you tied a pork chop around it's eye-piece housing.

That said, the Fuji and Nikon are damn near twins, and the Nikon website has been touting the Z6 as the most "balanced" camera they've ever produced...which echoes what you say about the Fuji. In the long run, I suspect the Nikon will prove to be the "better" of the two, for some definition of "better." Unless, of course, aesthetics are really important to you.

Oh: Good review. I even liked the car parts.

The new Fuji looks like a pretty decent camera. But, damn, that's a sweet looking Silverado.

All around is good. I have both the GX8 and the G9 and they both suit me to a tee (or a T, I am never sure). Now that I used to the hair trigger shutter release on the G9 I like it. The GX8 requires a harder push and I have missed the odd shot due to timid button pushing. Anyway, I am happy with every facet of both cameras and realize that some camera, somewhere, outdoes it in one or another of these facets.

I really like the camera, except I really love my X-T2. The X-H1 is just enough bigger/blockier that it doesn't fit right(for me), as much as I want the IBIS. Really, really, want the IBIS, so am likely going to take another peek, but unsure if that feeling is going to shift.

I'm sure it's a very capable performer, although FWIW, not a very good looking one. For that size though, I would seriously consider a SONY FF...

Nothing exceeds like excess.

The most damning criticism of the X-H1 may be the lurking presence of the X-H2—or, arguably, an X-H1s.

The X-H1 looks suspiciously to me like a rushed-to-market product, based on what at the time of manufacturing and I suspect even of design were previous-generation components, pushed out by Fuji to discourage current customers from migrating to competing cameras that were more adept at shooting action and video.

Perhaps the improved sensor and processor which appeared in the X-T3 weren’t quite ready for prime time when Fuji’s engineers needed to lock down the specs for the X-H1 so they could proceed into manufacturing in order to meet a marketing schedule. I think it would have made more sense to wait a few months.

The form-factor and ergonomics of the X-H1 are, as you argue, quite well thought-out. But the technology is a bit stale: other than its lack of in-body stabilization (admittedly, not a small point), the X-T3 is better suited to than the X-H1 to do precisely the things that were meant to position the H series at the top of the Fuji crop sensor product line.

I really liked the way you put it: that balance is something to be valued for its own sake. Great point. And as good an explanation for why I like the X-H1 so much myself. Plus that shutter...

"It's human nature to chase extremes . . ." Hear, hear! I've thought about this idea quite a bit in recent years, and I've come to my own formulation:

There's a very human tendency to think that if a little bit of something is good, then more of it will be better; a lot of it will be really great, and the best of all possible worlds would be this one good thing, and nothing but this one good thing everywhere and forever.

Now, as soon as you express it that way, it's obviously silly, but we all fall for this basic fallacy now and then - and many of us seem to fall for it more or less all the time.

There will be TOP readers who know scads more about this next idea than I ever will, but I believe the Chinese captured the corrective to this fallacy many centuries ago in the concept of yin/yang. Those of us who remember the '70's tend to picture yin/yang as a static, two-dimensional graphic, but if we must visualize it, it would be more accurate to portray it in three dimensions and in constant motion. Sometimes yin predominates, at other times yang, and over time they tend to even out - but the balance between them is never static.

And oh by the way, I'm with you on cars: give me a small, nimble, fun-to-drive car that's good on gas every time!

Cheers,
Dan

Every time you like something, I want to buy it. Why is that? I will resist, but I feel the urge.

So are you buying one?


(I noticed that your rented camera is missing the sync socket cap. For some reason Fuji cameras with this feature seem to shed these caps like molting birds shedding feathers. I've lost two myself on X-T bodies...and I've never used this socket. I think it's fostered a tiny cottage industry in China.)

Very well-balanced review. Thank you.

As for the buyers (leasers) of monster trucks, the ones that "convey their fat butts to the hardware store on Saturday or the diner on Sunday in pickup trucks the size of railroad cars with huge, comically exaggerated front ends that seem like parodies of aggressiveness and macho swagger." My wife and I call those things penis-substitution devices. Could the set on Dpreview who insist they need the biggest-megapixel giant DSLR with huge battery pack and protruding penile kit zoom be seeking a similar substitution?

Another really excellent write-up, Mike.

As with Part 1, I fully concur with your assessments.

Regarding DPReview: I gave up on their reviews about 5 or 6 years ago. Their testing is, IMHO, a rather confusing mix of testing by amateurs for amateurs, and in another weird contradictory way, rating cameras on features that are now differentiated only at the very extremes of performance. How many people really need 4K 60P video at 10-bit 4:2:2? And how many actually know how to edit and render 4K 60P video and actually need 10-bit 4:2:2 for green screen compositing? Or 693 AF points with 20 FPS continuous shooting frame rates? 5%? Probably more like 1%. Yet, not having these features are now regarded as "make or break" because DPR's mission statement is getting photographers to constantly churn gear, by the premise that buying the latest and greatest camera is going to transform them from Joe Average Photographer to a James Nachtwey, Peter Read Miller, or Steven Soderbergh. And by buying from Amazon, of course.

As for the X-H1, I also find the X-H1 is one of the top 5 cameras I've ever used, and excels in all respects for my specific needs as well. Truly a professional workhorse.

A case in point: I recently tested for Fujifilm North America the autofocus performance between the X-T3 compared the X-H1 for motorsports photography. The X-T3 is red-hot on the market right now; rightfully so, and in no small part for its new performance enhancements; the new autofocus system performance being most notable amongst them, acc. to all the review sites and YT talking heads.

Guess what? After shooting over 12,000 frames with both cameras in six different scenarios over the course of two long days at the track, based on 2-proportion tests generating Z-scores and p-values, I can state with 95% confidence, statistically speaking, there is NO difference in AF performance between the X-T3 and X-H1. None. Zip. That's not to say the X-T3 is bad, its to show how good the X-H1 is.

For me, and it sounds like you, there's more to a camera than bells, whistles, and 4K 60p 10bit 4:2:2 video. With a flippy screen.

Speaking of a couple of my other top five cameras: I had the chance to shoot with and edit the files from the Canon 1Dx MKII and a 5D MkIV recently. Cameras slagged by YouTubers for being "3 year old cameras released every 3 years". In the case of the 5D IV, every 4 years.

You know what? They are really exceptional cameras. They both produce superb image quality with gorgeous color and super-accurate white balance. There is a reason why Canon owns 60%-65% of the professional market. 'Cause they work and work and work and they get the JOB DONE. And they almost never break.

The X-H1 is just like those cameras. For me, it's the Canon 1Dx MkII of the APS-C mirrorless world. I'm thinking of picking up another X-H1 body as a backup, because I'm begining to think the X-H1 is something of an outlier. But, an exceptional outlier. The quality of the files from the X-H1 are just gorgeous, and I'm not at all sure that a camera utilizing the sensor of the X-T3 will be as good, because the X-H1 consistently produces the highest and "finest character" of image quality I've seen this side of the Fujifilm GFX50S.

Time will tell. Meanwhile, I'm going to go looking for another X-H1, "LNIB".

David Bowie always described himself as a “generalist”, so maybe this camera is in good company.

No disrespect meant but, way I see it, it's the old story -- 'men are just boys with costlier toys.' I doubt even Ken Tanaka will be able to take 'better' pictures with it, and neither is anyone else likely to do so. To paraphrase Ansel, the most important part of a camera is the 12 inches behind it. It's great fun, of course, to 'play' with ever newer models of cameras, no harm in that. But in the right hands (say, someone like Ming Thein), an old Olympus E-PM1 with good glass will meet 90% of a photographer's needs; a camera is but a tool.
https://blog.mingthein.com/2012/03/15/long-term-review-the-olympus-e-pm1-pen-mini/

Glad the X-cams work for you - and for many others! I personally prefer a virtual-dial arrangement to the good-old-days physical wheels. I'd miss way too many camera-on shots with an X-cam dial set to +2EV or somesuch setting that made sense - yesterday (cue the Wedding Singer).

I do agree that large trucks are hideous, and owning a lower-slung car I generally pull over at night to get the stadium lights out of my rear-view mirrors. Can't say anything in particular about Apple, never took a serious bite since a 4s phone was attempted and abandoned.

Thinking about it, you've identified a key reason why I never particularly liked DPReview's reviews.

This verdict is going to make me get a second job so I can afford one.

When SUVs like the Suburban first became popular and suburban moms started driving them, I developed a figure of merit for vehicles, calculating vehicle to drivers weight. One of those moms in a Suburban had the highest-a 70- while me in my Miata was about a 14 -5 times lower.

The two things I really value are a big grip and IBIS. So fot m43 which I love for hiking I sold my OMD EM5 and bought a Panasonic G80 when Panasonic added IBIS to their previous G7 .... so you can hold it comfortably with one hand and use longer exposures safely and avoid high ISO photographs.

When I have more time for photography and less far to walk I love my XT1 and a small prime .. So this camera again looks like it fits the bill ... again big grip and IBIS.

Just as the G80 is not as pretty as the Olympus; the XH1 is not as pretty as the XT series but with a big grip, IBIS and a very useful top readout it looks very tempting. It will have to wait for a year or so and will be more tempting for me when the XH2 comes out . The Rolling Stones asked “ who wants yesterdays papers?” On Between the Buttons ... well I do actually!

Your impressions about the XH1 resonate with me, I like mine very much too. It handles and feels like a robust tool.

There is, in fact a difference between driving a giant diesel six-wheel pickup and using a laptop which is too thin: one of these things pukes carbon dioxide (and particulates and other noxious awfulness) into the atmosphere, and does so for no reason at all other than that the owner just does not care.

So, please do not treat these things as equal: owning a too-thin laptop is merely silly, driving a vast behemoth is much, much worse than that.

(I would fully understand if you choose not to publish this comment: I think it's sad that the world is in a state where you might need not to, but that's not your problem.)

Balance = compromise. Which is appropriate, because all cameras are compromises of one sort or another. It's exactly the same thing going through my mind when I evaluate my Pentax 645z against the newer competition using the same sensor from Hasselblad and Fuji.

Would I compromise wide and affordable lens availability for size and weight? No. The lenses I own trump the ones I can't afford. My 645z still provides the best compromise of system size, cost, function in the field, and ability to make larger prints with the illusion of infinite detail intact.

But even then I say "blend" instead of "compromise". There exists for any set of requirements a blend of features that fulfills all of them without excess. And for any set of applications, there exists a specific set of requirements. When we evaluate something for our own use, we sometimes don't articulate those requirements because we think we already know them, and one measure of maturity and expertise is that we really do know our requirements.

Example: The Corolla you mentioned won't carry a pair of my tubas. Yes, I often enough need two instruments--one bigger and one smaller--that it becomes a requirement to be able to carry both. A Suburban fulfills those requirements, but not the requirement of being able to get in and out of it without climbing. And then there's the requirement of allowing spirited driving without needing a 30-gallon tank. And the psychological requirement for styling that doesn't make me subjectively hate it, as a minivan would. For me, a Ford Flex fulfills the requirements most accurately without excess. That makes it a good compromise, though I might tart up that description by calling it balanced. But for the person who doesn't need to carry two tubas (or similar), it's excessive.

Good call on those monster pickups, which to me are excessive in both styling and size for the requirements most owners need. My 23-year-old Toyota T100 will carry anything any owner of those monsters will likely carry, and clear any off-road obstacle, too. But it doesn't look like it has a glandular condition. But then there's unstated requirement that the vehicle driven by an accountant on the weekends makes him look in his own mind like he fells trees with a hand axe during the week, which isn't that much different than the reason I won't own a minivan.

I posted a long(ish) personal take on the Fuji X-H1 under the "Blog Note" from Monday, 05 November 2018. There was a delay in comments going on-line that week and it was kinda easy to miss, so just a reminder for those who may want to read another personal take on the camera.

All in all, I agree with you Mike on the mismatch between actual value of products reviewed vs the value assigned by reviewers. Too often opinions on products shared in the mass media are - at least in my view - too far removed from the actual needs of potential users, and instead reflect the intricate mechanics of modern marketing. The need for "hype" is reflected in posting reviews based on "using the pre-production model for one day" , "one-upmanship" reflected in too much focus on technical specifications, the need for the "new" - reflected in only the newest products receiving attention. Overall, I feel too few reviews are done by knowledgeable users and involve carefully weighed opinion based on experience and practical testing.

So thank you for this one, Mike.

PS. I agree on all accounts about the X-H1. I think it's a sleeper and its main "big flaw" is actually not being sexy enough marketing-wise and coming to the market at the time when the mirrorless full-frame hype was in full swing. Although, I actually disagree none of its features are absolute best - I think the X-H1 may have the softest and quietest mechanical focal-plane shutter in any recent camera. And, looking for "bests", I think it's the best combination of price, features, ergonomics, image quality and lens ecosystem available from any camera maker today. Could such "best compromise" be sexy? For me, yes!

Excellent review from a photographer's perspective.

No-one could argue that the X-H1 is not a well-rounded and refined product, but there is one bit of grit in the unguent.

I could produce exactly the same images with the much simpler X-E3 for a fraction of the price, or get a full V8 motor in the A7 III or a Z6.

Sure, it lacks IBIS and the build and handling qualities of the X-H1, but for those who are not acquainted with Fuji's USPs, the X-H1 seems a bit heavy for a V6, whereas the same motor makes the X-E3 seem like a sports car...

This is more to do with shelf appeal than any realistic assessment of its worth, but it's a problem for Fuji all the same.

On the question of the size of the X-H1 and whether or not it's "too big", I used a practical test: does it go into the same bag I've been using to carry my X-T2. Answer = Yes, so clearly not too big!

I really have a very short wish-list for things that could be better. Right at the top is Fuji adding an icon for the status of the IBIS system onto the sub-monitor. I often use the camera on a tripod, where IBIS should be off. I'd like an easy way to see the status of IBIS without having to cycle through all the settings. I'd like to think this can be addressed in a future firmware update.

The biggest adjustment relative to the X-T2 has been getting used to the humming of the IBIS system. It's always on, even if you've turned IBIS off. I don't mind it now, but it was a bit strange at first. Now it's just a soothing noise that says "You can actually hand hold this one!"

Stephen Scharf said "Guess what? After shooting over 12,000 frames with both cameras...."

12,000 frames in 2 days?? Wowee-Zowee! I realize that this is the product of professional sports shooting where the camera is used like a machine gun to catch fast moving things in the hope of capturing just the right image. But, still, I am quite sure that I haven't shot 5,000 images in my entire life, and I am having a hard time getting my head around how you would review a 12,000 image shoot!

[Quickly? :-)

I know that SI photoeditors used to review 3 images a second when reviewing game-day shooting that needed to be processed and published with the utmost speed. At that rate, 12k images only takes 1 hour 7 minutes to review...not so bad. I assume there's a knack to it though! --Mike]

Mike,

I would very much like to see a post where you talk about your 5 favorite cameras of all time and what you like about them (including how long you used them). I think that it would be informative/educational for anyone looking at a new camera.

CRM

Now that the X-H1 review is finally out of the way, perhaps you have time to write up an analysis of your week spent with the Chiron :-) Like it or not, at least the design team on the Chiron had the guts to be bold. Many hyper-cars look like a wedge on wheels, you have to look at the badge to determine the make. The Chiron is pretty much unmistakable.

You know, there is a lot to be said for a camera like this.... Perhaps 'overbuilt' a bit, with extreme competence in about every feature, but not bleeding edge in any. I love cameras like that, and keep them a long time.
I'll give a few personal examples:
Canon 40D the last (I think) all metal APS-c in Canon's line.
10MP I still use it occasionally mostly on a Copy stand
Canon 1DsIII 21MP Bought in 07 my main camera until last year when I added a 5D4
Nikon D3s 12MP a camera that does everything well I should also mention the D300 & D700 .
In real pictures , it can be difficult to see that the 5D4 is better, just as I am sure there are many cameras 'Better" than the 5D4.
But now, cameras are so good that the camera is rarely the major determinant of the quality of the pictures made.
I used my 1DsIII for a decade as my main camera.
I get the feeling that the H1 is a camera like that.

If I were pushed to buy something new, it would likely be the Fuji GFS 50s, and then use that for a decade. (Especially because it could utilize my Canon 17,24 &90 T/S lenses

"I have never been forced to accept compromises but I have willingly accepted constraints."
- Charles Eames (half of design team with his wife Ray, creators of some of the most "balanced" products and furniture ever created)

There's a knack to going through images fast for review, oh yeah. Last Saturday I only had about 900 from the roller derby bout, but cutting that down to 200 to show at the after-party was still more than an hour of work.

I've shot as many as 2300 at one day (4 short bouts) of roller derby. Doesn't get that high for much of anything else for me, it does seem to be a sports-related thing.

Especially for Sports Illustrated editors, they start with the assumption that a perfect picture of any even occurring on the field will be present. So, first thing, nix any photo that's imperfect. (Probably, every now and then, they have to go back and dig deeper if everybody actually missed it.) That makes it much easier to review a couple of photos a second; you only go forward, never back. I slow myself down going back too much.

So, the trick comes down to being totally ruthless.

The other necessity is to use Photo Mechanic rather than Bridge or Lightroom to attempt to sort through quickly. That'll save you seconds per photo right there.

Just some parting comments about the X-H1, if Mike will permit:

While the X-T3 followed the market entrance of the X-H1 by only 9 months, the X-H1 is most definitely not a "rushed to market" camera. One doesn't even need to use one long and hard in a professional context to know that; Mike figured it out in one week of use. The camera is exceptionally well-engineered and well-manufactured. During the time I was using the X-T3 alongside the X-H1 for all that motorsports testing, the X-T3 locked up on me four times. It also consistently meters about 1/3-1/2 a stop too low, resulting in images that are about 1/3-1/2 a stop too bright. The X-H1, by comparison has never locked up on me once in 9 months of hard, professional use, and meters exceptionally accurately, as well as the GFX50S or a Canon 1Dx MkII. This camera is strong, stiff, durable and robust, and...it just delivers. And, I don't worry about it getting cracked through the frame if it gets smacked on cement when I am jumping over K-wall to get to a corner.

As for getting the same image quality as an X-T2/X-E3 because it has the same sensor and image processor: Nope, sorry again. The X-H1 produces superior image quality superior for many photographic attributes to those cameras. And, every professional I've talked to that was shooting with X-T2s and switched to X-H1s also say they are also obtaining superior image quality from the same lenses using the X-H1. I attribute this to a hypothesis that the X-H1 is manufactured to obtain and maintain extremely tight optical tolerances because of the requirements of the 200mm f/2.0 and MK Series of cine lenses it was designed for, and thus, extracts maximal optical quality from the Fujinon XF lenses.

Also, attending the Fujifilm Festival in Venice, CA, in October, I got the distinct impression that the Fujifilm senior management were quite proud of the engineering accomplishment that the X-H1 represented as the first model in a brand new line of profesionally-oriented cameras. At the corporate Q&A they held for us Sunday morning, I raised my hand, holding up my X-H1 and mentioned, "I know that the X-T3 is deservedly getting a lot of excellent press right now, but please continue to develop the X-H line. These are superb professional cameras", and Kazuki Harigaya, Product Manager, Fujiflm North America, with a big smile. replied, "Thank you for saying that!" I think they are justifiably proud of this camera.

Kazuki on the right, next to Fujifilm NA General Manager, Yuji Igarashi, at the 2018 Fujifim Festival Q&A session

@Steve Rosenblum: This testing was an exceptional use-case, I usually don't take this many frames for a racing weekend, but in this case, I was generating a large sample N for statistical analysis of using both cameras in six different and challenging motor racing use-cases. In some cases, the proportion of sharp, in-focus frames between the two cameras was only a few percent, and because I was looking for possible small differences between cameras using "proportions data", you need a larger sample N to detect small differences than you do with continuous data. FWIW, I don't shoot motor racing like an MG-42 machine gun, more like a Delta Operator, with a "double tap". As David Dyer-Bennet pointed out, Photo Mechanic is da bomb for this type of editing.

In my humble opinion DPR reviews are, at best, mediocre.

...no surprise they misjudged the X-H1.

I had more faith in DPR when Phil Askey owned and edited the site.

The comments to this entry are closed.