Fuji X-H1 Image Quality Comparison

Below are crops from our laboratory Still Life target comparing Fuji X-H1 image quality to its less expensive sibling, the X-T2, as well as against several recent premium interchangeable lens cameras: the Nikon D500, Olympus E-M1 II, Panasonic GH5 and Sony A7 III. The Sony A7 Mark III is the only full-frame model in this comparison, however we decided to include it because at the time of writing it is selling for the same price as the X-H1, and because of Fujifilm's claim that their X-Trans APS-C sensors produce image quality that can rival full-frame Bayer-filtered sensors.

NOTE: These images are from best quality JPEGs straight out of the camera, at default settings including noise reduction and using the camera's actual base ISO (not extended ISO settings). All cameras in this comparison were shot with our very sharp reference lenses. Clicking any crop will take you to a carrier page where you can click once again to access the full resolution image as delivered straight from the camera. For those interested in working with the RAW files involved, click these links to visit each camera's respective sample image thumbnail page: Fuji X-H1, Fuji X-T2, Nikon D500, Olympus E-M1 II, Panasonic GH5, and Sony A7 III -- links to the RAW files appear beneath those for the JPEG images, wherever we have them. And remember, you can always go to our world-renowned Comparometer to compare the Fuji X-H1 to any camera we've ever tested!

Fujifilm X-H1 vs Fujifilm X-T2 at Base ISO

Fujifilm X-H1 at ISO 200
Fujifilm X-T2 at ISO 200

Above, we compare the X-H1 to its less expensive sibling, the X-T2, which shares the same sensor and processor hardware. As expected, image quality is very similar at base ISO with both cameras providing great image quality, though we do see the X-H1's image is just a bit sharper here. This is mostly due to the lenses used, though, as we had to retire our Fujinon 60mm f/2.4 lens which is a "focus by wire" design that was no longer focusing reliably. We will probably switch to the Fujinon 56mm f/1.2 in the long term, but in the meantime the X-H1 shots above were taken with the Fujinon 90mm f/2. Still, it appears Fuji has tweaked default JPEG processing, with a revised tone curve that produces brighter upper midtones and highlights, and slightly higher saturation of greens and reds.

Fujifilm X-H1 vs Nikon D500 at Base ISO

Fujifilm X-H1 at ISO 200
Nikon D500 at ISO 100

Here we compare the Fuji X-H1 to the 20.7-megapixel APS-C Nikon D500 at base ISO. The 24-megapixel X-H1 does resolve a bit more detail than the Nikon, however the D500 produces a slightly crisper image with higher contrast which is especially noticeable in the red-leaf swatch, though sharpening halos are more evident from the Nikon around high-contrast edges. Noise levels are low from both cameras here at base ISO, however keep in mind the higher base ISO of the Fuji. Both cameras offer great color, though the Fuji's appears a little more accurate overall.

Fujifilm X-H1 vs Olympus E-M1 II at Base ISO

Fujifilm X-H1 at ISO 200
Olympus E-M1 II at ISO 200

Above we compare the Bayer-filtered Micro Four Thirds Olympus E-M1 Mark II to the X-Trans-filtered APS-C X-H1. You would think the 24-megapixel X-H1 would have a noticeable resolution advantage over the 20-megapixel E-M1 II here, but both cameras have similar resolutions along the vertical axis (4000 vs 3888 pixels) which is how this scene is framed, so the resolution difference is very minor and mostly boils down to different demosaicing algorithms and processing. Luminance noise appears higher from the Fuji, but chrominance noise is higher from the Olympus. The Olympus produces a crisper image with higher contrast, though default sharpening also appears to be a bit stronger. The X-H1 actually resolves more fine detail in our red-leaf swatch even though contrast is lower, while the E-M1 II renders it smoother but with less fine detail, however the Olympus does better with thread pattern in the pink fabric. Both offer great color, but reds and greens are little more saturated from the Fuji.

Fujifilm X-H1 vs Panasonic GH5 at Base ISO

Fujifilm X-H1 at ISO 200
Panasonic GH5 at ISO 200

Here, we compare the X-H1 to another high-performance 20-megapixel Micro Four Thirds camera, the Panasonic GH5. Again, not much difference against the 24-megapixel Fuji X-T2 in terms of captured resolution due to the different aspect ratios. The GH5 image is however a little more natural-looking, with some areas such as the fabrics showing better detail, while the X-H1 image is a bit sharper and contrastier overall. The red-leaf pattern is more faithfully reproduced by the Fuji, however again that's partially because the Panasonic is reproducing more of the fine thread pattern which breaks up the leaf pattern a bit. Colors are also just a little more accurate from the Fuji.

Fujifilm X-H1 vs Sony A7 III at Base ISO

Fujifilm X-H1 at ISO 200
Sony A7 III at ISO 100

Above we compare the 24-megapixel APS-C X-H1 to the new 24-megapixel full-frame Sony A7 III. This isn't really a fair comparison, but the A7 III body lists for a similar price, and Fuji has claimed their X-Trans APS-C sensors offer image quality comparable to full-frame cameras. Here, the Sony produces a sharper, crisper image with better detail and lower noise, however there are noticeable moiré patterns in the red-leaf swatch. The Sony reproduces many of the offset printing colors in the mosaic crop and resolves much more of the fine thread pattern in the fabrics, but overall color is warmer and generally more pleasing from the Fuji.

Fujifilm X-H1 vs Fujifilm X-T2 at ISO 1600

Fujifilm X-H1 at ISO 1600
Fujifilm X-T2 at ISO 1600

Again, we see slightly sharper, crisper results from the X-H1, while noise levels appear very similar. The tone curve used by the X-H1 continues to produce a brighter overall image despite both images having near identical middle-gray levels (which is how we try to expose these shots). Subtle detail in our tricky red-leaf swatch appears to be just slightly better defined from the X-T2, though.

Fujifilm X-H1 vs Nikon D500 at ISO 1600

Fujifilm X-H1 at ISO 1600
Nikon D500 at ISO 1600

Here at ISO 1600, the Nikon's rendering is much softer than it was at base ISO, while the X-H1's is only slightly softer, and the Fuji continues to resolve more detail in most areas. While contrast is still much higher in the red-leaf swatch, the D500's default noise reduction has blurred away more of the subtle detail than the X-H1. Luminance noise is however a bit higher from the X-H1, which is not unexpected thanks to its smaller pixels.

Fujifilm X-H1 vs Olympus E-M1 II at ISO 1600

Fujifilm X-H1 at ISO 1600
Olympus E-M1 II at ISO 1600

The Fuji X-H1 starts to pull away from the Olympus E-M1 II here at ISO 1600, with much lower chroma noise and fewer noise reduction artifacts, though luma noise is higher and a little coarser. The Olympus E-M1 II's default noise reduction starts to distort and flatten subtle detail in the mosaic crop and especially in the red-leaf fabric.

Fujifilm X-H1 vs Panasonic GH5 at ISO 1600

Fujifilm X-H1 at ISO 1600
Panasonic GH5 at ISO 1600

The GH5 compares fairly well with the X-H1 here at ISO 1600, producing an image with lower noise while holding onto almost as much detail, except in our troublesome red-leaf swatch where the Fuji does much better with fine detail. Overall contrast and color continue to be better from the X-H1.

Fujifilm X-H1 vs Sony A7 III at ISO 1600

Fujifilm X-H1 at ISO 1600
Sony A7 III at ISO 1600

Unsurprisingly, the full-frame Sony A7 III out-performs the X-H1 here at ISO 1600, with a crisper, cleaner and more detailed image overall, although moiré patterns and area/frequency-dependent noise reduction artifacts interfere with subtle detail in the red-leaf swatch. Colors are still warmer and more pleasing from the Fuji, though.

Fujifilm X-H1 vs Fujifilm X-T2 at ISO 3200

Fujifilm X-H1 at ISO 3200
Fujifilm X-T2 at ISO 3200

Again, very similar image quality here at ISO 3200 between the two siblings, with the X-H1 continuing to provide a brighter, contrastier and slightly more saturated image.

Fujifilm X-H1 vs Nikon D500 at ISO 3200

Fujifilm X-H1 at ISO 3200
Nikon D500 at ISO 3200

Once again, we see the Fuji X-H1 holds onto more detail than the Nikon D500 here at ISO 3200, though the D500 continues to produce higher contrast with more obvious sharpening halos. Luma noise levels are again a bit higher from the X-H1 but chroma noise is lower, and overall the X-H1 produced the better image here.

Fujifilm X-H1 vs Olympus E-M1 II at ISO 3200

Fujifilm X-H1 at ISO 3200
Olympus E-M1 II at ISO 3200

The Fuji X-H1 is the overall winner here at ISO 3200, with better detail and fewer noise reduction artifacts than the Olympus E-M1 II. Luminance noise from the X-H1 does appear a little higher, but chrominance noise is lower, and the Fuji hangs on to more fine detail in most areas. Colors remain warmer and a little more pleasing from the Fuji as well.

Fujifilm X-H1 vs Panasonic GH5 at ISO 3200

Fujifilm X-H1 at ISO 3200
Panasonic GH5 at ISO 3200

The Fuji X-H1 comes out ahead in this comparison as well. The Fuji image looks more refined and natural in areas of fine detail while the Panasonic's area-specific noise reduction tends to distort or blur fine elements a bit more than the Fuji. Luminance noise in flatter areas is lower from the Panasonic, but noise reduction artifacts are more visible compared to the Fuji's more film-like noise grain structure. The Fuji does significantly better with subtle detail in our red-leaf swatch, even though contrast is a little lower.

Fujifilm X-H1 vs Sony A7 III at ISO 3200

Fujifilm X-H1 at ISO 3200
Sony A7 III at ISO 3200

The A7 III continues to produce a crisper, more contrasty and detailed image than the X-H1 here at ISO 3200. Noise levels are indeed lower from the full-frame Sony, though less natural-looking noise reduction artifacts can be seen in flatter areas. Overall, the Sony A7 III still comes out ahead here when viewed at 100% like this, but there is no denying the X-H1 does amazingly well for an APS-C camera.

Fujifilm X-H1 vs. Fujifilm X-T2, Nikon D500, Olympus E-M1 II, Panasonic GH5, Sony A7 III

Fujifilm
X-H1
ISO 200
ISO 3200
ISO 6400
Fujifilm
X-T2
ISO 200
ISO 3200
ISO 6400
Nikon
D500
ISO 100
ISO 3200
ISO 6400
Olympus
E-M1 II
ISO 200
ISO 3200
ISO 6400
Panasonic
GH5
ISO 200
ISO 3200
ISO 6400
Sony
A7 III
ISO 100
ISO 3200
ISO 6400
Detail comparison. High-contrast detail is also important, pushing the camera in different ways, so we like to look at it, too. The X-H1 performs very similar to its predecessor here, with both able to fully resolve the line pattern inside the lettering even at ISO 6400, and with the only noticeable differences being contrast and color. The X-H1 compares well to the Olympus E-M1 II and Panasonic GH5, with both Micro Four Thirds models dropping off in image quality more quickly as ISO rises. The APS-C D500 produces higher contrast across ISOs, but the Nikon isn't able to resolve quite as much detail as the X-H1, and it generates the most obvious sharpening halos. The Sony A7 III is easily the overall winner here with great detail and contrast, and the least image degradation as sensitivity climbs, though that's not a surprise given its full-frame sensor. Its default processing is arguably the most sophisticated as well, maintaining excellent detail, contrast and crispness while producing very few sharpening artifacts.

 

Fuji X-H1 Print Quality Analysis

Very nice 30 x 40 inch prints all the way up to ISO 800; a pleasing 8 x 10 inch print at ISO 12,800; and a usable 5 x 7 at ISO 51,200.

ISO 100 through 800 images look nearly identical, with tons of sharp, fine detail and vibrant, pleasing colors, each making excellent prints up to 30 x 40 inches -- the largest print size we test. Despite the range of ISOs here, there is very little visible noise to negatively impact print size. Up to ISO 400, images are extremely clean when it comes to noise, and ISO 800 shows just the faintest hint of noise in the flat shadow areas of our test target scene, but not enough to affect print size. Prints at 30 x 40 inches push the resolving power of the X-H1's 24-megapixel sensor; we can see a tiny amount of pixelation at very close inspection, but that's not an issue at normal viewing distance for prints of this size. Wonderful print quality all-around at these ISOs, particularly for an APS-C camera!

ISO 1600 prints from the X-H1 continue to perform very well for large sizes, offering a nice 24 x 36-inch print. We do, nevertheless, see visible noise in the shadow areas of our test scene at this ISO. However, the noise itself does little to negatively affect fine detail and color reproduction.

ISO 3200 images start to display a drop in fine detail due to the increase in noise. However, prints still manage to look great up impressively large sizes; a 16 x 20 inch print in this case. A 20 x 30-inch print also looks quite nice, but there's just bit too much noise for us to call it here; this size could work for less critical applications or with careful post-processing.

ISO 6400 prints look great up to 11 x 14 inches. The increase in noise and drop in fine detail hurts printing at larger sizes, but this is still an impressively large print for an APS-C camera at this ISO sensitivity.

ISO 12,800 images top out with a very pleasing 8 x 10 print -- a rare feat for a crop-sensor camera. At this size, noise is very well controlled, and detail in most areas is still crisp and clear. Colors still appear rich and vibrant, as well, despite the high ISO.

ISO 25,600 prints almost squeaked by at 8 x 10 inches, too, but the noise was simply a bit too strong. We're happy to call it at 5 x 7 inches, though, which look quite nice at this sensitivity. For less critical applications, though, we think the next print size up could work.

ISO 51,200 images, despite being two stops past the X-H1's highest native ISO setting, still manage to produce usable prints, at both 4 x 6 and 5 x 7 inches. Noise is obviously quite strong and makes printing at larger sizes inadvisable, but the fact that this camera offers usable prints at every ISO is quite remarkable.

As we saw with the earlier Fuji X-T2, the Fujifilm X-H1 does a remarkably great job at print-making. Fuji's latest 24-megapixel APS-C X-Trans sensor and X Processor Pro really work well together for capturing images with lots of detail, while also controlling noise at higher ISOs. And despite having the same imaging hardware as the X-T2, the new flagship X-H1 manages to surpass the earlier camera in some notable print quality sizes. The X-H1 manages wonderfully large 30 x 40-inch prints all the way to ISO 800, instead of ISO 400 like the X-T2. Further, ISO 1600 sees a print size jump, going up to 24 x 36 inches, instead of 16 x 20. Past this, print quality sizes match the X-T2 pretty closely; an 11 x 14 at ISO 6400, a nice 8 x 10 at ISO 12,800 and a usable 5 x 7 at ISO 25,600. At the maximum extended high ISO of 51,200, however, the X-H1 offers a slight improvement, with a nice 5 x 7-inch print, too.

About our print-quality testing: Our "Reference Printer"

Testing hundreds of digital cameras, we've found that you can only tell so much about a camera's image quality by viewing its images on-screen. Ultimately, there's no substitute for printing a lot of images and examining them closely. For this reason, we routinely print sample images from the cameras we test on our Canon imagePROGRAF PRO-1000 printer, which we named our "Printer of the Year" in our 2015 COTY awards.

The Canon PRO-1000 has a lot of characteristics that make it a natural to use for our "reference printer." When it comes to judging how well a camera's photos print, resolution and precise rendering are paramount. The PRO-1000's more than 18,000 individual nozzles combine with an air feeding system that provides exceptional droplet-placement accuracy. Its 11-color LUCIA PRO ink system delivers a wide color gamut and dense blacks, giving us a true sense of the cameras' image quality. To best see fine details, we've always printed on glossy paper, so the PRO-1000's "Chroma Optimizer" overcoat that minimizes "bronzing" or gloss differential is important to us. (Prior to the PRO-1000, we've always used dye-based printers, in part to avoid the bronzing problems with pigment-based inks.) Finally, we just don't have time to deal with clogged inkjet heads, and the PRO-1000 does better in that respect than any printer we've ever used. If you don't run them every day or two, inkjet printers tend to clog. Canon's thermal-inkjet technology is inherently less clog-prone than other approaches, but the PRO-1000 takes this a step further, with sensors that monitor every inkjet nozzle. If one clogs, it will assign another to take over its duties. In exchange for a tiny amount of print speed, this lets you defer cleaning cycles, which translates into significant ink savings. In our normal workflow, we'll often crank out a hundred or more letter-size prints in a session, but then leave the printer to sit for anywhere from days to weeks before the next camera comes along. In over a year of use, we've never had to run a nozzle-cleaning cycle on our PRO-1000.

See our Canon PRO-1000 review for a full overview of the printer from the viewpoint of a fine-art photographer.

*Disclosure: Canon provided us with the PRO-1000 and a supply of ink to use in our testing, and we receive advertising consideration for including this mention when we talk about camera print quality. Our decision to use the PRO-1000 was driven by the printer itself, though, prior to any discussion with Canon on the topic. (We'd actually been using an old Pixma PRO 9500II dye-based printer for years previously, and paying for our own ink, until we decided that the PRO-1000 was the next-generation printer we'd been waiting for.)

 



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