2018 was a very strong year in photography for mirrorless cameras. All of the major camera makers laid down their respective gauntlets with powerfully specced premium offerings, including Fujifilm with their X-H1.
It was one of the early releases in 2018, and from the outset raised the bar for other manufacturers to try to beat. With the possible exception of the Nikon Z7, the Fujifilm X-H1 reigned supreme throughout the year.
Having landed on our review desk over the recent festive season, here’s why we think it is the best premium mirrorless camera you can buy right now, and why it should be the go-to replacement for your trusted DSLR.
Before we delve into the performance of the Fujifilm X-H1, let’s get one thing out-of-the-way.
This mirrorless camera is designed for professionals. If you consider yourself an enthusiast, or just have shed loads of cash to burn, then buy it by all means, but be aware that this particular is intended for use by those who make a living with photography.
More specifically those photographers who find themselves in the action and sports fields.
While the X-H1 excels in a number of different types of photography, it is in those two aspects in particular where it shines brightest.
This is down to the superb focus tracking available on the camera, which makes it great at capturing shots of moving objects, along with ensuring the intended target is routinely captured with a high degree of clarity and crispness.
Rock of Gibraltar
Another aspect that makes the X-H1 feel a cut above other mirrorless cameras is its solid body and rugged construction. Holding this camera in your hands you immediately like it’s capable of taking more than a few knocks.
It also has a good deal of heft to it, which comes in handy given the large X Mount lenses that can be fitted onto it. While the X-H1 is classed in the mirrorless bracket, its design and feel is certainly akin to that of a premium DSLR.
In terms of weight the X-H1’s body (including battery) tips the scale at 693g. Those looking for a sleek camera they can carry around should therefore look elsewhere.
Along with the rugged design, most of the controls, buttons and dials on the X-H1 have a pleasing mechanical feel to them. Each time you change a setting on the camera’s body, it feels like you’re doing so with purpose.
Before we wax too lyrical though, the dials either side of the viewfinder can prove a bit finicky and difficult to work at times. If you have pork sausages for fingers like some of us in the office do, it can sometimes be hard to get the precise setting you’re looking for.
Once you are set up though, the Fujifilm X-H1 is a dream.
Feature rich device
Now let’s touch on some of the key features that sets the X-H1 apart.
One of the first things that I truly enjoyed on this camera curiously enough was the 3″ LCD touchscreen (1.04 million dots) on the rear. In particular it was the crispness and refresh rate at which it worked, making it far easier to operate the X-H1 while taking pictures and filming objects that weren’t necessarily at a good eye level.
It also gave me a better idea of the images it would yield as we changed settings, and before we pressed the shutter button.
As for the images we got, they were superb across the board, thanks to the 24MP X-Trans CMOS III sensor onboard. Add to that a 5.5-stop 5-axis in-body image stabilisation and the X-H1 was a dream to use. The aforementioned in-body stabilisation is also a first for any Fujifilm X-series camera, and results in a smooth and steady performance that videographers will enjoy too.
One of the other great features is battery life. It’s almost as if the NP-W126S Li-ion battery that the X-H1 comes with gently sips on power when it is not in operation, which means if it’s been a week or two until you next pick up the camera, it’s still got enough juice to see you through a couple of hours.
When the battery is fully charged you can get through a solid four to five hours of solid photo taking before a recharge is needed.
As for video recording, as with most cameras, the battery life dips quite a bit. Down to 35 minutes in this case when recording in 4K, and 45 minutes in Full HD. To help in that regard, the X-H1 also comes with an attachable battery booster which should double the amount of time you can record for.
It does make the X-H1 even more bulky and heavy, so be advised that it can become unwieldy at times.
The Fujilfim X-H1 is going to cost you a pretty penny at R20 500 for the body only (depending on the retailer). While it is indeed quite a bit of money to put down on a mirrorless camera, it’s money well spent given how much the X-H1 can muster.
In recent years mirrorless cameras have gotten better, but you always turned to a DSLR if you wanted the genuine professional camera experience. With the Fujifilm X-H1 that’s no longer the case.
If you’ve recently bought an expensive DSLR there’s no need to change to this instead, but if it’s been awhile and you’re looking to upgrade your DLSR, the Fujifilm X-H1 is a worthwhile replacement.