Fuji X-H1 Field Test Part III

The X-H1 has new video features, but is it a great video camera?

by Jeremy Gray | Posted 05/02/2018

In the previous Field Tests, I discussed the Fuji X-H1 mostly in terms of a stills camera. While my discussions of design and usability apply to using the X-H1 for video in addition to stills shooting, my discussion of autofocus, performance and image quality was, so far, solely relative to shooting photographs. In this final X-H1 Field Test, I will be exclusively discussing its video features, performance and overall video quality.

More so than any previous Fujifilm cameras, the X-H1 is designed to be a true multimedia camera. Fujifilm blends together high-end photo capabilities and video performance into a single camera. Does the X-H1 succeed with this lofty goal?

Video

The Fujifilm X-H1 has a dedicated movie setting menu, which is nice, because it allows you to alter various shooting settings independently for stills and video recording. While I won't list the full assortment of settings you can adjust in the movie mode, a few of them are particularly notable, such as being able to choose separate Film Simulation, dynamic range, white balance and other image quality parameters for movie recording. Further, you can also select different focus area and autofocus settings for movies.

Generally speaking, the X-H1's suite of video features and performance is quite similar to the X-T2. However, the X-H1 includes additional video features and performance that offers a handful of minor improvements, some of which may prove very important for certain users.

Fuji X-H1 4K Test Video
Fujifilm 10-24mm, 3840 x 2160 (4K) at 24 fps, Eterna Film Simulation, ISO 200, DR100.
Download Original (808 MB .MP4 File)

Like the X-T2, the X-H1 records 4K video, but unlike the X-T2, the X-H1 can record 4K for 15 minutes at a time, an improvement of the measly five-minute 4K record time of the X-T2. Further, the X-H1 has built-in image stabilization, which makes recording handheld video much easier and generally works quite well. The X-H1 also adds internal F-Log recording, a new Eterna Film Simulation and separate dynamic range settings for video.

Fuji X-H1 IBIS Test Video
Fujifilm 10-24mm, 1920 x 1080 at 24fps, DR400, ISO 800, Eterna Film Simulation
Download Original (184 MB .MP4 File)

Some weaknesses of prior Fujifilm cameras have not been addressed with the X-H1, however, including the lack of a headphone jack in the camera body itself -- although one is available via the vertical power grip -- and poor battery life when recording video. In fact, the battery is rated for only 35 minutes of video recording. And while I cannot speak to the X-T2 with respect to video autofocus, I can say that the X-H1 comes up a little short.

Expanding further upon autofocus, I found the AF system to be sluggish and indecisive when recording video. The camera makes many small adjustments even when focus appears fine, which can lead to a distracting look to the video and in some cases, a lot of focusing sounds. On the other hand, I do find that the touchscreen works fairly well for moving the focus point because it is quiet and responsive. In fact, you can use the touchscreen for many controls with the X-H1, including shutter speed, aperture, exposure compensation, ISO, microphone settings, volume and more. Arguably less user-friendly is that video recording is started and stopped using the shutter release as there is no dedicated movie record button, which means you cannot simply shoot a still while recording video using the shutter button as you can with some other cameras.

Fuji X-H1 Autofocus Video
Fujifilm 56mm f/1.2 APD, 3840 x 2160 (4K) at 24fps, DR400, ISO 800, Eterna Film Simulation
Download Original (734 MB .MP4 File)

On the plus side, the video quality itself is quite good. The 4K UHD video and DCI 4K (a new and differentiating feature to the X-H1) look very good. You can record 4K UHD (3840 x 2160) video at up to 30 frames per second and DCI 4K (4096 x 2160) at up to 24 fps. Granted, there is some moiré here and there with fine details, but by and large, video quality is detailed and pleasing to look at. The video quality is also good through much of the ISO range. At ISO 200, there is good fine detail, contrast, color and dynamic range. In the test video below, pay close attention to the backlit petal sticking up from the front-facing purple tulip. The details in this petal are very fine and are a good reference point as ISO increases, thereby requiring additional noise reduction. You can also note how the contrast changes with increases in ISO and how the highlight details become more washed out.

At ISO 1600, we see more visible noise starting to appear, particularly in smoother areas of the frame and in the shadows. Further, the finer details in the petal are no longer visible. At ISO 3200, the noise is visible throughout the entire frame and fine details are further reduced. At ISO 6400, 12,800 and 25,600, the video becomes noisier and more washed out. By 25,600, the video quality is simply not good.

Fujifilm X-H1 ISO Test Video
Fujifilm 56mm f/1.2 APD, 3840 x 2160 (4K) at 30fps, DR100, Provia Film Simulation
Download Original (1.6 GB .MP4 File)

Video certainly looks pleasing at ISO 800, which is the minimum ISO speed for DR 400% video recording, which you can see samples of below. With DR 400% enabled for video, Fujifilm states that you can record with up to 12 stops of dynamic range.

New to the X-H1 is the Eterna Film Simulation. This preset generally flattens the look of video, reducing overall saturation and contrast. It's not simply reducing vibrancy, however, it also changes how the camera renders certain memory colors such as blue and green, making them appear more natural and less like what you get from most cameras, which tend to oversaturate these colors. I like Eterna for video, and it certainly has a "cinematic" look in my opinion, although that's obviously subjective.

In addition to 4K resolution, you can record in the X-H1's 2K (2048 x 1080) or Full HD (1920 x 1080) options at up to 60 fps or in a new high-speed recording mode, which allows for 120 fps shooting and slow-motion playback as slow as 1/5 speed.

Fuji X-H1 High-Speed Video
Fujifilm 10-24mm, 1920 x 1080 at 120fps, 1/5x playback, ISO 200, Velvia Film Simulation
Download Original (535 MB .MOV File)

The X-H1 offers numerous other interesting features, including clean HDMI out with 4:2:2 8-bit video (compared to the 4:2:0 internal recording), 200Mbps bitrate for high-quality video and a higher-quality built-in microphone (24-bit, 48 kHz).

The X-H1's video features and improvements may not justify selling your X-T2 to get an X-H1, but you can easily make the case that it's a notably better video camera than the X-T2. However, when compared to its competition, the X-H1 is not an obvious choice for filmmakers as it still doesn't pack the same punch as similarly-priced offerings from Sony and Panasonic, in particular. However, if your focus is split between stills and video, the X-H1 should fit the bill. The video quality is quite good, and it offers a lot of very nice features.

Field Test Part III Summary

Good 4K video quality and numerous new features

What I liked:

  • Good 4K video quality
  • High-speed mode works well
  • Numerous ways to capture video with good dynamic range
  • Internal F-Log recording

What I disliked:

  • Video battery life is not very good
  • No built-in headphone jack
  • No dedicated movie record button

For videographers, the Fujifilm X-H1 may not be a perfect choice due to poor battery life and mediocre autofocus. However, its video quality is good and it offers a wide assortment of features, making it a great choice for someone who needs both good stills and video performance.

Overall Field Test Summary

The X-H1 is Fujifilm's best X Series camera

What I like best:

  • Great ergonomics and overall user experience
  • Very good image quality
  • Film Simulations are as good as ever
  • Fast continuous shooting speeds
  • In-body image stabilization
  • Good autofocus for stills
  • Many video features including 4K recording

What I like least:

  • Occasionally excessive in-camera image processing
  • Eye AF and Face Detect AF are underwhelming
  • Buffer depths are fairly shallow for a fast, pro-oriented camera
  • Video recording limits are frustrating
  • Poor battery life, especially for video

Overall, the Fujifilm X-H1 is a very good camera. Compared to the X-T2, the X-H1 includes many similar features and specs, but it improves upon the X-T2 in a lot of small ways that add up to a superior overall camera. There are still weaknesses, however, but they are limited. There are competing cameras at similar price points which do a lot of what the X-H1 does and in some areas better. Personally, I am a big fan of the overall user experience of Fujifilm cameras and love the JPEG images the camera produces, while also producing very good and flexible RAW files, to boot. Ultimately, the X-H1 is the best X Series camera Fujifilm has released and while it is not groundbreaking, it is very well-rounded and versatile.



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