FIRST LOOK: Fujifilm X-H2S
The Fujifilm X-H2S retains the familiar feel and handling characteristics of previous high-end Fujifilm cameras we’ve reviewed, but the various improvements to the body design and use of dials and buttons has definitely improved the overall handling characteristics.
The autofocusing system appears to have improved significantly – especially for subject recognition. The camera was able to identify human faces and eyes, birds’ eyes and vehicles, drawing a rectangle in the viewfinder around the closest one in the frame. If the selected subject moved away, it swapped instantly to a closer one. This was true for both stills and video.
Photo Review was offered a 24-hour ‘hands-on’ with the new Fujifilm X-H2S camera on the day it was announced – so, naturally we accepted the offer with alacrity. It’s not often we get to see new gear so early Down Under! The X-H2S is an important camera, not only because it’s a new ‘flagship’ model but because it genuinely pushes the boundaries of what cropped-sensor cameras can do in interesting ways. Introducing stacked sensor technology into the X-Trans sensor design is a ‘first’ for the APS-C format (Canon, Nikon and Sony APS-C chips use regular front- or back-side illuminated chips).
Angled view of the new Fujifilm X-H2S camera fitted with the XF16-80mm f/4 R WR OIS lens and the VG-XH vertical battery grip. (Source: Fujifilm.)
The objective of the exercise is facilitating the quest for speed; hence the ‘S’ designation in the model name – and also the ‘HS’ in the name of the new camera’s sensor, where it denotes ‘High Speed’. We received the new camera body with the Fujinon XF55-200mm f/3.5-4.8 OIS lens, which we haven’t yet reviewed. It’s not the best choice for our brief encounter with the camera but at least we were able to take a few photos for this report.
We’ll begin by looking at the key features that contribute to the speed of the new camera and make it the ‘flagship’ of the line-up.
Under the hood
The new stacked-layer back-illuminated 26.16-megapixel (effective) X-Trans CMOS 5 HS sensor underpins the X-H2S’s capabilities. While its resolution isn’t the highest in the X-Series, the stacked design quadruples the number of A/D converters and transfer circuits found in the previous generation of X-Trans sensors (such as the 26-megapixel BSI CMOS X-Trans sensor in the X-T4). Facilitated by the new X-Processor 5 image processor, the new sensor enables significantly faster readout speeds with reduced rolling shutter effects.
Unfortunately, stacked sensors are expensive to produce. This partly accounts for the relatively high price of the new camera, and also means Fujifilm must find ways to take advantage of faster data handling. Several features of the new camera provide examples of the benefits of this. We’ve outlined the main ones below:
1. Continuous shooting speeds for stills are lightning-fast with a top speed of 40 fps (‘blackout-free’) when the electronic shutter is used or 15 fps with the mechanical shutter. Buffer capacity is also generous with 1000+ frames (JPEG or RAF.RAW) when the mechanical shutter is used and also for JPEGs with the electronic shutter at 30 fps or slower. At 40 fps more than 140 frames can be stored, regardless of the file format.
2. Video specifications are equally impressive, with 6.2K/30p video and up to 60p for DCI and UHD 4K video. High-speed video is also available at up to 120p/100p 720Mbps for both 4K sizes or 240p/200p/120p/100p 720Mbps for both formats of Full HD.
3. Autofocusing has also been improved, thanks in part to the new sensor and processor and also to a new algorithm for tracking moving subjects as well as a 120Hz EVF refresh rate. As in previous cameras, the X-H2S uses an ‘intelligent’ hybrid TTL phase and contrast detection system. Subject detection has encompassed Deep Learning technology to move beyond the now-standard human face and eye detection and includes animals, birds, cars, motorcycles, bicycles, airplanes and trains.
4. The X-H2S also features five-axis in-body image stabilisation with up to seven stops of shake correction to facilitate hand-held shooting, even with longer lenses. We found the system quite effective with the Fujinon XF55-200mm f/3.5-4.8 OIS lens, including in difficult lighting.
The X-H2S has a similar ISO sub-menu to the one in the X-T4, which lets users specify three Auto ISO ranges and access them via the Quick menu or custom button. Each setting lets the user set the upper and lower limits to the range as well as the slowest shutter speed. In addition the auto ISO settings can be used in Manual exposure mode for both stills and movie recordings.
What else is new?
Aside from the speed advantages associated with the new sensor, X-H2S has been enhanced in a number of different ways. These are outlined below, starting with the physical changes to the camera body.
The top panels of the X-H1 and X-H2S showing the significant differences between them. (Source: Fujifilm.)
The top panel of the X-H2S has undergone significant modifications, although it retains the LCD data display of the previous model. A mode dial replaces the ISO dial on the X-H1, providing quick access to the P/A/S/M and movie shooting modes, along with filters and seven custom settings for storing frequently used collections of settings. Another addition to the top panel is a movie recording button, indicated by a red dot.
The LCD data display is moved closer to the EVF housing, replacing the previous model’s shutter speed dial to make way for three customisable buttons, the front two defaulting to ISO and white balance with the third unmarked. These changes make the new camera more DSLR-like to operate and less like a manual rangefinder camera, which should also make it faster to set up for shooting.
The front panel of the X-H2S with no lens fitted. (Source: Fujifilm.)
Comfortable and secure operation is facilitated by the generous handgrip. Also on the front panel are two customisable buttons, one of them replacing the focus control lever on the previous model. This gives users 10 customisable buttons in addition to the custom shooting mode banks.
The rear panels of the X-H1 and X-H2S showing the changes to the positions of key controls and the smarter-looking design. (Source: Fujifilm.)
The rear panel of the camera body has been ‘cleaned up’ with a smarter-looking control layout that sees the joystick enlarged and moved up to sit parallel with the base of the EC+VF housing. This has required the AEL button to be moved down, which is smart since it’s used less frequently.
Users can choose whether it moves the selected AF area around the screen or adjusts its size. Pushing it in provides three options: moving the AF area to the centre of the screen, zooming in on it or changing its size. The touch screen controls can also be used to select and adjust the AF area.
The rear control dial has been enlarged and moved to the right, while there’s a larger, more sculptured thumb rest on the new camera, which has meant moving the Quick menu button to a new location below the AEL button. The remaining buttons are in the same places as on the X-H1 but they are more clearly marked.
Rear view of the X-H2S with the monitor screen extended and tilted. (Source: Fujifilm.)
Like the X-H1, the X-H2S has a fully adjustable rear LCD, which rotates out from the camera as well as tilting. It’s the same screen as the X-T4’s, with a 900 x 600 pixel resolution and a maximum refresh rate of 60Hz via one of the Boost modes in the camera’s menu.
The resolution of the EVF has been increased to 5,760,000 dots, with a 24 mm eye point and magnification of 0.8x, while the maximum refresh rate is doubled to 120fps in Boost mode for improved visibility. It also suppresses the distortion that can occur when the user’s eye is displaced while shooting with the viewfinder. The camera also offers a ‘240p equivalent’ mode which reduces the brightness of the OLED panel and makes it easier to view motion.
Side view of the X-H2S with the memory card port cover open to show the dual CFexpress Type B and SD card slots. (Source: Fujifilm.)
Fast memory cards must be used to take advantage of the speed capabilities of the X-H2S. Accordingly, the X-H2S is the first in the series to introduce a faster, higher-capacity memory card format, with dual slots for CFexpress Type B and SD cards. The SD slot accepts UHS-II Speed Class 3 and Video Speed Class 90 cards but they’re not quite fast enough for the full video capabilities of the camera.
The NP-W235 battery is the same as used in the X-T4 and is CIPA rated for 580 shots/charge when the monitor is used or 550 shots/charge with the EVF. Effective battery life can be extended by to 720 and 610 shots/charge respectively by selecting the Economy setting in the power modes menu. The camera can also be powered and have its battery charged from a suitable USB PD source.
A new optional file transfer grip (FT-XH) is due for release in September. It will provide wired LAN connectivity and high-speed wireless communications capability to allow in-studio tethered shooting or rapid file transmission for sports and journalistic files. It uses two of the same NP-W235 batteries as the camera and can double as a vertical grip.
This side view of the X-H2S body shows the FAN-001 cooling fan in place. (Source: Fujifilm.)
Another optional accessory, which will be released with the camera, is the FAN-001 cooling fan, which can be fitted to the rear of the camera body without a cable, as shown above. It will be useful when recording high-resolution and high-speed video as it will reduce the risk of the camera shutting down as a result of over-heating.
Side view of the X-H2S showing the interface ports. (Source: Fujifilm.)
A significant improvement to the interface options is the provision of a full-sized HDMI port, which will allow an external recorder to be connected to the camera. The USB interface has also been upgraded to a USB 3.2 Gen 2 (10Gbps) port, which is USB-C compatible.
The base of the camera body has an interface connector with 15 contacts for fitting the VG-XH vertical battery grip. Also beneath the same lift-up rubber cover is a USB-C, which plays a role in connecting the battery grip to the camera.
Although we only had the camera for a short time – and the supplied lens wasn’t ideal for evaluating it – we were favourably impressed by the new X-H2S. Physically it retained the familiar feel and handling characteristics of previous high-end Fujifilm cameras we’ve reviewed but the various improvements to the body design and use of dials and buttons definitely improved the overall handling characteristics.
We weren’t able to shoot much video in the limited time we had the camera. This was mainly because of time constraints but also partly because we didn’t have a CFexpress card with the speed to match the camera’s top video speeds and resolutions. We’ve included one screen grab from a 4K 50p clip in the SAMPLES provided below.
Subjectively we felt the autofocusing system had undergone significant improvements – especially with respect to subject recognition. The camera was able to identify human faces and eyes, birds’ eyes and vehicles, drawing a rectangle in the viewfinder around the closest one in the frame. If the selected subject moved away, it swapped instantly to a closer one. This was true for both stills and video.
We didn’t get the chance to test continuous shooting and, with the camera being an early production model (and also due to time constraints and an unsuitable lens) we were unable to run our normal Imatest tests. We hope to receive a review unit with a more suitable lens in the near future.
Image sensor: 23.5 x 15.6 mm X-Trans CMOS 5 HS sensor with 26.16 million effective pixels
Image processor: X-Processor 5
Lens mount: Fujifilm X mount
Focal length crop factor: 1.5x
Image formats: Stills: JPEG (DCF Ver. 2.0, Exif Ver. 2.32), RAF.RAW (14-bit), (HEIF 4:2:2 10-bit), TIFF (via in-camera raw conversion) RAW+JPEG; Movies: MOV – (Apple ProRes 422, ProRes 422 HQ/LT, HEVC/H.265, MP4 (H.264/MPEG-4 AVC;
Audio: Linear PCM Stereo/AAC
Image Sizes: Stills: [L] 6240 x 4160, 6240 x 3512, 4160 x 4160; [M] 4416 x 2944, 4416 x 2488, 2944 x 2944; [S] 3120 x 2080, 3120 x 1760, 2080 x 2080; panorama: vertical – 9600 x 2160, 6400 x 2160; horizontal- 9600 x 1440 Movies: 6.2K(3:2) 6240 x 4160 at 30/25/24p, DCI4K(17:9) 4096 x 2160 and 4K(16:9) 3840 x 2160 at 60/50/30/25/24p, Full HD(17:9) 2048 x 1080 and Full HD(16:9) 1920 x 1080 at 60/50/30/25/24p; All Intra / Long GOP compression available; High speed recording at 120p/100p (4K) or 240p/200p/120p/100p (FHD)
Aspect ratios: 3:2, 16:9, 1:1
Image Stabilisation: Image sensor shift mechanism with 5-axis compensation; 7 stops pitch/yaw compensation; digital stabilisation (for movie mode only)
Dust removal: Ultra Sonic Vibration
Shutter (speed range): Focal plane shutter (Mechanical: 30-1/8000 seconds [S/M modes to 15 minutes] plus Bulb to 60 minutes; Electronic shutter: max. 1/32,000 second; flash sync at 1/250 sec (mechanical shutter), 1.125 sec (electronic shutter)
Exposure Compensation: +/- 5EV in 1/3EV steps (+/-2EV for movies)
Exposure bracketing: 2 / 3 / 5 / 7 / 9 frames in 1/3EV steps, up to +/-3EV
Other bracketing options: Film simulation, Dynamic Range, ISO, WB, Focus
Self-timer: 2 or 10 seconds delay
Interval recording: Yes, for time-lapse (Setting : Interval, Number of shots, Starting time, Interval timer shooting exposure smoothing)
Focus system: Intelligent Hybrid AF (TTL contrast AF / TTL phase detection AF)
AF selection: Single point AF: 13×9 / 25×17 (Changeable size of AF frame), Zone AF: 3×3 / 5×5 / 7×7 from 117 areas on 13×9 grid; Wide/Tracking AF: Yes (AF-S: Wide / AF-C: Tracking); face/eye detection plus Animal, Bird, Automobile, Motorcycle & Bike, Airplane and Train detection
Focus modes: AFS (Single) / AFC (Continuous) / MF
Exposure metering: TTL 256-zone metering with Multi, Centre-weighted, Average and Spot metering patterns
Shooting modes: Program AE, Aperture Priority AE, Shutter Priority AE, Manual Exposure
Film Simulation modes: 19 modes (PROVIA/Standard, Velvia/Vivid, ASTIA/Soft, Classic Chrome, PRO Neg.Hi, PRO Neg.Std, Classic Neg., Nostalgic Neg., ETERNA/Cinema, ETERNA BLEACH BYPASS, ACROS, ACROS + Ye Filter, ACROS + R Filter, ACROS + G Filter, Black & White, Black & White + Ye Filter, Black & White + R Filter, Black & White + G Filter, Sepia)
Filter modes: Toy camera, Miniature, Pop colour, High-key, Low-key, Dynamic tone, Soft focus, Partial colour (Red / Orange / Yellow / Green / Blue / Purple)
Other internal processing modes: Monochromatic Colour, Grain Effect, Colour Chrome Effect, Colour chrome Blue, Smooth Skin Effect, Dynamic range settings (AUTO / 100％ / 200％ / 400％), Clarity (+/- 5 steps)
Colour space options: sRGB and Adobe RGB
ISO range: Auto, ISO 160-12800 plus extensions to ISO 80, 100, 125, 25600 and 51200; For movies – ISO 160-12800 plus extension to ISO 25600
White balance: AWB (auto/ ambience/white priority), Daylight, Shade, Incandescent, Fluorescent (x3), Custom (x3), Colour temperature (2500K – 10000K)
Flash: External flashguns only (EF-X8 recommended)
Flash modes: TTL (TTL Auto / Standard / Slow Sync. ) / Manual / Commander / Off
Flash exposure adjustment: not specified
Sequence shooting: Max.40 shots/sec. with electronic shutter, 15 fps with mechanical shutter
Buffer capacity: Max. 184 frames JPEGs, Compressed RAW: 175 frames, Lossless compressed RAW: 170 frames, Uncompressed RAW: 140 frames
Storage Media: Dual slots for SD, SDHC, SDXC cards (UHS-I / UHS-II, V90 compatible) and CFexpress Type B cards
Viewfinder: 0.5 inch OLED EVF with approx. 5,760,000 dots, 100% frame coverage, 24mm eyepoint, -5 to +3m-1 dpt adjustment, 0.80x magnification, eye sensor
LCD monitor: 3.0 inch vari-angle touch screen colour LCD with 1,620,000 dots plus 1.28 inch monochrome LCD data display
Interface terminals: USB Type-C (USB3.2 Gen 2×1), HDMI (Type A), 3.5 mm jacks for microphone and headphone, 2.5 mm Remote Release Connector, Hot shoe, Synchronised terminal
Wi-Fi function: Built-in Wi-Fi IEEE802.11a/b/g/n/ac (standard wireless protocol); Bluetooth v4.2 (Bluetooth Low Energy)
Power supply: NP-W235 rechargeable Li-ion battery; CIPA rated for approx. 720 shots/charge with economy mode, 90 min for 6.2K movie recording
Dimensions (wxhxd): Approx. 136.3 x 92.9 x 84.6 mm
Weight: Approx. 660 grams with battery and card
RRP: AU$4449 (body only)
Distributor: Fujifilm Australia; 1800 226 355
55mm focal length, ISO 160, 1/17 second at f/8.
200mm focal length, ISO 160, 1/20 second at f/6.4.
200mm focal length, ISO 160, 1/58 second at f/6.4.
134mm focal length, ISO 160, 1/1250 second at f/5.6.
148mm focal length, ISO 160, 1/110 second at f/4.5.
200mm focal length, ISO 160, 1/52 second at f/7.1.
105mm focal length, ISO 160, 1/300 second at f/4.2.
200mm focal length, ISO 160, 1/90 second at f/4.8.
110mm focal length, ISO 160, 1/1000 second at f/5.6.
Vehicle recognition; 78mm focal length, ISO 160, 1/150 second at f/5.
200mm focal length, ISO 160, 1/150 second at f/4.8.
Crop from the above image showing recorded details.
Standard Film Simulation mode; 55mm focal length, ISO 160, 1/900 second at f/5.6.
Vivid Film Simulation mode; 55mm focal length, ISO 160, 1/850 second at f/5.6.
200mm focal length, ISO 3200, 1/10 second at f/6.4.
200mm focal length, ISO 200, 1/280 second at f/4.7.
100mm focal length, ISO 200, 1/150 second at f/4.
74mm focal length, ISO 160, 1/170 second at f/5.6.
Human face and eye recognition; 55mm focal length, ISO 320, 1/180 second at f/5.
200mm focal length, ISO 200, 1/180 second at f/4.2.
105mm focal length, ISO 640, 1/160 second at f/4.2.
134mm focal length, ISO 400, 1/200 second at f/4.4.
55mm focal length, ISO 1000, 1/80 second at f/3.5.
55mm focal length, ISO 400, 1/80 second at f/3.5.
55mm focal length, ISO 1600, 1/80 second at f/6.4.
55mm focal length, ISO 160, 1/350 second at f/6.4.
55mm focal length, ISO 320, 1/250 second at f/8.
55mm focal length, ISO 320, 1/300 second at f/9.
Bird recognition; 200mm focal length, ISO 320, 1/300 second at f/7.1.
55mm focal length, ISO 320, 1/300 second at f/7.1.
Still frame from 4K 50p video clip.