Fujifilm X-H2S Review

Camera Reviews / Fujifilm Cameras / Fuji X i Preview
Basic Specifications
Full model name: Fujifilm X-H2S
Resolution: 26.10 Megapixels
Sensor size: APS-C
(23.5mm x 15.6mm)
Kit Lens: 3.06x zoom
(27-84mm eq.)
Viewfinder: EVF / LCD
Native ISO: 160 - 12,800
Extended ISO: 80 - 51,200
Shutter: 1/32000 - 900 sec
Max Aperture: 2.8 (kit lens)
Dimensions: 5.4 x 3.7 x 3.3 in.
(136 x 93 x 85 mm)
Weight: 23.3 oz (660 g)
includes batteries
MSRP: $2,500
Availability: TBD
Manufacturer: Fujifilm
Full specs: Fujifilm X-H2S specifications

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Fujifilm X-H2S Preview -- First Impressions

by Jeremy Gray
Preview posted: 05/31/2022

The Fujifilm X-H1 launched way back in early 2018. At the time, it launched as a brand-new flagship Fujifilm X Series camera, complete with an SLR-styled design and impressive hybrid functionality and performance. However, the X-H1 fell a bit by the wayside. As Fujifilm launched the X-T4 with a new X-Trans CMOS 4 image sensor and new X-Processor 4, a combo which later made its way into even more affordable, compact cameras, the X-H series remained stuck in the previous generation. It was disappointing not to see a new X-H camera with the latest and greatest Fujifilm tech. However, that changes now with the brand-new Fujifilm X-H2S flagship camera. The X-H2S ushers in a new generation for Fujifilm and packs a serious punch, rivaling high-performance full-frame mirrorless cameras and besting every APS-C camera on the market – at least on paper.

Equipped with a brand-new stacked X-Trans CMOS 5 HS image sensor and the new X-Processor 5, the Fujifilm X-H2S promises to deliver the best-ever performance in an X Series camera. It's important to note the stacked sensor – the first of its kind for Fujifilm – because the new sensor design drives much of the camera's promised performance. This is a "hands-off" preview, meaning we've yet to try out the camera for ourselves, but by all accounts, the X-H2S is an exciting camera for Fujifilm X photographers. Without further ado, let's dive in and see what the new flagship offers.

Fujifilm X-H2S key features and specifications

  • New flagship X Series camera
  • SLR-style body
  • Weather resistant body
  • Improved ergonomics and controls
  • Brand-new 26.1-megapixel stacked BSI X-Trans CMOS 5 HS image sensor
  • High-speed readout and reduced rolling shutter
  • X-Processor 5
  • Up to 15 frames per second (mechanical shutter) and 40 fps (electronic shutter) at full-resolution with AF/AE
  • 7 stops of in-body image stabilization
  • 3-inch 1.62M dot vari-angle LCD
  • EVF with 0.8x magnification, 5.76M dots and 120fps refresh rate
  • Dual card slots (1x CFexpress Type B / 1x UHS-II SD)
  • 6.2K/30p video
  • DCI 4K/120p video
  • FHD/240p video
  • Full-size HDMI Type A
  • Internal Apple ProRes (4:2:2 10-bit)
  • New F-Log2 with expanded dynamic range
  • $2,499 (body only)

Fujifilm X-H2S design: Streamlined SLR-style camera promises improved usability

Commiserations for Fujifilm's trademark shutter speed dial. It's gone on the X-H2S. However, this omission isn't designed to upset hardcore Fujifilm fans or kill the soul of the Fujifilm X Series. Rather, the omission – and many other inclusions – underpins a move toward improved usability, speed and workflow. The X-H2S is all about speed, so it makes sense to ensure that clunky mechanical dials don't slow you down. After all, if you're shooting at 40 frames per second, you're interested in capturing the moment, not dialing in a shutter speed or ISO value with a mechanical dial on the top of the camera. We love Fujifilm's dials, but ultimately, a flagship camera must be designed around usability, not style. Further, adding more buttons means additional customization and controls that are always usable through remote shooting applications.

However, that's not to say that the X-H2S doesn't ooze style. It looks good. It has a lot in common with the original X-H1 in terms of fit and finishes, but the X-H2S looks a bit more modern and nearly every aspect of its control layout has been reconsidered and, as far as we can tell, improved.

Before diving into the specifics, let's briefly discuss the overall size of the X-H2S. It's a bit larger than something like the X-T4, but it's smaller than the original X-H1. The X-H2S's dimensions (W x H x D) are 136.3 x 92.9 x 84.6 millimeters (5.38 x 3.66 x 3.33 inches). The camera's minimum depth is 42.8mm (1.69 in.), not including the protruding front grip. The X-H2S weighs 660 grams (23.28 ounces), including the battery and memory card. The X-H1's dimensions are 139.8 x 97.3 x 85.5mm (5.50 x 3.83 x 3.37 in.) and it weighs 673g (23.74 oz.). The X-H1's minimum depth is 39.5mm (1.56 in.). Aside from the minimum depth, which doesn't matter given that the camera has a front grip, the X-H2S is smaller across every dimension. Plus, it's lighter. As we'll see, Fujifilm has included even more physical controls and useful buttons despite the slightly shrunk down camera body.

Looking at the X-H2S's front. While the camera is smaller overall, the front grip is larger, which should be more comfortable when using larger, heavier X-mount lenses. Gone is the physical S/C/M switch to control the autofocus drive mode. In its place is a customizable function button that you can use to cycle through autofocus drive modes or other settings if you desire. The focus mode button, plus the other function button, are more pronounced and have an improved surface, improving usability when you aren't looking at the controls. The X-H2S should be easier to use "by touch," so to speak.

Moving to the top of the camera, there's quite a lot different about the X-H2S compared to its predecessor. The X-H1 featured two mechanical dials, one for ISO and another for shutter speed. You see a similar pair of dials on other Fujifilm cameras, like the original GFX 50S, a camera whose design heavily inspired the X-H1. If you look at the X-H1 side-by-side with the GFX 50S from the top, apart from the different sizes, the cameras are nearly identical. The X-H2S loses these dials, replacing them with a single traditional PASM mode dial with seven custom "C" positions. This mode dial is located to the left of the viewfinder. To the viewfinder's right is a nice e-ink backlit display, like what you see on the GFX 100S, and four buttons: REC, ISO, WB (white balance) and an Fn (function) button. Like the front buttons, these are larger, more pronounced and easier to "feel."

The shutter release is perhaps the most important button on a camera. At the very least, it's the one you use the most. The X-H2S's shutter release has been redesigned and offers a "lighter" half-press position and easier operation between the "half" and "full" press positions. The camera's power switch is located by the shutter release, meaning you can swiftly turn the camera on and start shooting.

The back of the X-H2S also looks a lot different. The Delete and Playback buttons remain in the top left corner, although the Delete button now doubles as the drive mode button. The rear display is now a vari-angle display, working better for video applications. The 3-inch display has 1.62M dots, up from 1.02M dots on the X-H1. To the right of the display, a lot has changed. There's a larger autofocus joystick, and it's moved up a bit. The AE-L and AF-ON buttons are repositioned. The Q button has moved next to the display, where it used to be located on the thumb rest. The directional buttons are similar, and presumably, each direction can be programmed to a custom function. The DISP/BACK button is unchanged but now doubles as a Bluetooth function button. Although, again, even if buttons look similar, materials quality is said to be better, and the buttons should feel nicer to use.

As for ports, the X-H2S includes a full-size HDMI Type A port, headphone jack, mic jack and USB-C (USB 3.0) connector. The camera has dual card slots. One is a CFexpress Type B slot, which is important given the camera's performance, and the other is a UHS-II SD card slot.

Before finishing this section, let's talk about the electronic viewfinder. It's a new EVF with a 5.76M dot display. The X-H1's EVF has 3.69M dots. The X-H2S's EVF has 0.8x magnification, up from 0.75x, and a 24mm eye point. Fujifilm told us that the automatic detection is significantly better with the X-H2S thanks to its improved design and eyepoint. The camera will be less finicky when switching between the EVF and rear display. The EVF refreshes at up to 120 frames per second when using the camera in its "Boost" performance mode.

Image sensor: Brand-new 26.1-megapixel stacked X-Trans sensor promises improved performance and speed

The X-H2S is equipped with Fujifilm's fifth-generation X-Trans CMOS HS image sensor. Why "HS?" It stands for "High Speed," and as we'll see, the sensor offers speed in spades. It's a backside-illuminated sensor, meaning that the sensor's wiring layer is beneath the photo-diode structure. This allows light to travel more efficiently through the sensor to reach its photo-sensitive components. This isn't Fujifilm's first backside-illuminated sensor. The X-Trans CMOS 4 is also back-illuminated.

The X-Trans CMOS 5 HS sensor does have a new trick up its sleeve, with a stacked structure. The stacked structure features four times the number of A/D converters and transfer circuits found in the non-stacked fourth-gen sensor, resulting in significantly faster readout speed and improved rolling shutter.

The 26.1-megapixel sensor offers the same resolution as the previous-gen sensor. It includes the same roughly 100% phase-detect autofocus coverage, but the rolling shutter is improved from 1/40s (stills) and 1/60s (video) to 1/151s (stills) and 1/180s (video). The sensor also allows for improved video resolution, performance and features, but more on that a bit later.

The native ISO range is 160-51,200, like the older sensor, and the electronic shutter speed ranges from 15 minutes to 1/32,000s.

Autofocus and performance: AI-powered AF and super-fast shooting speeds

While the autofocus system isn't fundamentally different from the X-T4's, the X-H2S's AF should still be improved compared to the X-T4, especially when shot against the X-H1. Fujifilm says that the X-H2S delivers three times faster autofocus than the X-T4. The stacked sensor allows for faster information readout, resulting in more AF calculations and improved overall speed.

The X-H2S also includes new autofocus algorithms, resulting in better autofocus prediction, accuracy, and tracking. Zone AF subject detection and low contrast autofocus performance are said to be especially better.

By incorporating artificial intelligence, which is all the rage these days in new cameras, the X-H2S uses "Deep learning technology" to recognize humans (face/eye), animals (including eyes), automobiles, motorcycles and bicycles, airplanes and trains. It's worth noting that "animal" and "bird" are separate in the camera's subject detection menu. And yes, you will need to manually select the subject for detection, like most other cameras, but unlike the Nikon Z9. You could map this function to a custom dial or button if you'd like, but we imagine switching subjects in the menus won't be too much of a hassle.

The stacked X-Trans CMOS 5 HS sensor is paired with a new X-Processor 5. The new processor has a 1GHz main CPU, up from 608MHz in the X-Processor 4. The X-Processor 5 also includes a 600MHz sub-processor that solely handles in-body image stabilization. The IBIS system is newly developed, by the way, and promises up to 7 stops of shake correction.

Thanks to the stacked image sensor – and its fast readout speed – and the more powerful X-Processor 5, the X-H2S can shoot at up to 40 frames per second using its electronic shutter. At 40fps, the camera shoots full-resolution raw images with full AF/AE capabilities. Compared to the X-T4, which shoots at 30fps, but only in a 1.25x crop mode, the X-H2S is not only quicker, but it captures higher-quality images at its fastest shooting speed. Further, the X-T4 performs AF/AE calculations at a max speed of 40fps, whereas the X-H2S performs AF/AE calculations at 120fps.

When using the mechanical shutter, the speed drops, of course, but only down to 15fps, which is still very fast and up among the fastest cameras with a mechanical shutter. The mechanical shutter is extremely durable, too, as it's rated for 500,000 actuations. Fujifilm also told us that the mechanical shutter is so quiet that the engineers had to add a bit of an artificial sound, just so the photographer knows when the shutter opens and closes.

In terms of buffer depth, Fujifilm states that when using the electronic shutter at 40 frames per second, the X-H2S can record 184 JPEG frames or 174 raw (compressed) images. At a slightly slower but still swift 30fps, the JPEG buffer increases to 1,000+, and the raw buffer is 270 shots. When using the mechanical shutter at 15fps, the JPEG buffer remains extremely high at 1,000+ images and the raw buffer increases to 400. Of course, we'll need to test these numbers, and we assume that these specs apply to the CFexpress Type B slot and not the UHS-II SD card slot, but we'll see. If the camera matches its specs, the buffer depth is very impressive and will allow photographers to capture a lot of action, even at fast continuous shooting speeds. Buffer clearing will also be interesting. CFexpress Type B cards typically perform very well in this regard.

Wrapping up this section with battery life, the X-H2S uses the same NP-W235 lithium-ion battery as the X-T4, GFX 50S II and GFX 100S. In "Economy" mode, the camera can shoot at up 720 frames (LCD) or 610 (EVF). When used in "Normal" mode, the number drops to 580 and 550, respectively. Finally, when using "Boost" mode, which allows for the 120fps refresh rate for the EVF, the camera promises 530 shots (LCD) and 390 shots (EVF).

If you want better battery life, you can add the new optional vertical grip ($399). This accepts two batteries and increases the "Boost" battery life to 1410/1040 shots and the maximum battery life when using the LCD up to 1850 shots. Of course, all these battery performance specs are CIPA ratings, which, in our experience, almost always underreport real-world battery performance, sometimes by a significant amount.

Video: A true hybrid camera

When the X-H1 launched, it was Fujifilm's best "hybrid" camera to date, packed to the gills with numerous "firsts" for an X Series camera, including DCI 4K recording and the Eterna Film Simulation. These two features have since made their way into subsequent X Series cameras. The X-H2S includes a few "firsts" of its own, including 6.2K resolution video, internal Apple ProRes recording and new F-Log2.

The X-H2S also has an optional accessory aimed at heavy video users, Fujifilm's first attachable cooling fan. The fan attaches behind the display after you remove a small plate. The X-H2S cooling fan allows users to record about 50 minutes of continuous 4K/60p footage in 40° Celsius ambient temperatures (104° Fahrenheit). Without the fan, the camera will overheat after 20 minutes, which is still impressive considering its 4K/60p video in sweltering temperatures. When considering 4K/60p video at 25° C (77° F), you can record with or without the cooling fan for 240 consecutive minutes.

Looking closer at video specs, the X-H2S's 6.2K video is in a 3:2 aspect ratio and 29.97p. There's no crop factor. There's again no crop when shooting DCI 4K video, and the camera can shoot at up to 59.94p. If you want DCI 4K or 4K UHD video at 120p, an impressive spec, there's a slight crop – 1.29x. For FHD video, you can shoot at up 240p (1.38x crop) or 120p (no crop).

The new F-Log2 option offers up to 14+ stops of dynamic range for 6.2K and 4K/30p video. It's 13+ stops in other video modes. Even still, the original F-Log promised "only" 12+ stops. The camera also records HDMI RAW with 13 stops and HLG video with approximately 12 stops. When shooting F-Log2, the base ISO is 1250. For F-Log, it's 640. The X-H2S supports internal Apple ProRes recording, which is a big deal for intensive video users. The internal ProRes recording is 10-bit at 4:2:2. The X-H2S has a full-size HDMI port if you want to record externally, and the camera can record ProRes RAW and Blackmagic RAW through HDMI to an external recorder.

We're excited to try out the new video features in the X-H2S, especially the camera's autofocus. All the new AI works in both stills and video.

Pricing and availability: Coming in early July for $2,499

The Fujifilm X-H2S will be available on July 7 for $2,499. A standard vertical grip will arrive on the same day for $399, although it's unclear if the grip will include any extra batteries. The optional $199 X-H2S Cooling Fan will arrive on the same day, as well.

There will be a second vertical grip, a File Transfer Grip, that will arrive in September for $999. This grip includes an Ethernet socket, an extra USB-C port for smartphone tethering and 802.11ac (170Mbps) speed and a 2x2 MIMO antenna. The X-H2S body itself can transfer at up to 60Mbps over Wi-Fi.

We're looking forward to getting hands-on with the Fujifilm X-H2S as soon as possible. Stay tuned to Imaging Resource for more news on the camera and hands-on impressions as soon as possible.


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