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Fujifilm X-H2S review: hands-on first look

May 31, 2022

Fujifilm X-H2S


Manufacturer:

Manufacturer:

Price as Reviewed:

£2,499.00 (body only)

Andy Westlake takes a first look at Fujifilm’s impressive new professional APS-C camera

Fujifilm X-H2S at a glance:

  • £2,499 body-only
  • 26.1MP APS-C stacked BSI CMOS sensor
  • ISO 80-51,200
  • 40 frames per second shooting
  • 6K 30p video recording
  • 5.76m-dot viewfinder
  • 3in fully articulated touchscreen
  • 5-axis in-body stabilisation

Four years ago, Fujifilm launched the X-H1, its first camera to feature in-body stabilisation. While it was a very competent performer, it was eclipsed just 6 months later by the appearance of the firm’s X-T3, which was smaller, more charismatic, and crucially debuted a new 26.2MP sensor. Out-spec’ed by its younger sibling, the supposed flagship model faded from view.

Fujifilm X-H2S stacked CMOS sensor

The Fujifilm X-H2S debuts a stacked version of the firm’s 26.2MP X-Trans CMOS sensor

Fujifilm has been determined not to make the same mistake again, and as a result, the new X-H2S is a very different proposition. Instead, this pro-spec model debuts a new sensor, which is the same 26.2MP resolution as before, but now employs stacked technology for faster shooting speeds. It also introduces Fujifilm’s first AI-based subject recognition system for autofocus tracking. As a result, not only does the X-H2S become the undisputed king of the X-system line-up, quite simply it’s the most ambitious and sophisticated APS-C format camera we’ve yet seen.

Two new Fujifilm lenses, too…

Alongside the X-H2S, Fujifilm has announced two new lenses. The XF 18-120mm F4 LM PZ WR is designed as a general purpose optic for video/stills hybrid shooters with a power zoom design, while the XF 150-600mm F5.6-8 R LM OIS WR is a long telephoto for sports, wildlife and other action photography. Read more about Fujifilm’s new lenses here.

Fujifilm X-H2S Key Features:

  • Controls: Fujifilm has dropped the X-H1’s analogue dials and switches in favour of electronic dials and customisable buttons
  • Screen: The side-hinged fully articulated screen can be set to face almost any angle, including forwards
  • Add-on fan: An optional cooling fan bolts onto the back for longer video recording times at high ambient temperatures
  • CFexpress: Like many recent high-speed cameras, the X-H2S employs a CFexpress Type B card slot, alongside one for UHS-II SD
Fujifilm X-H2S memory card slots

The X-H2S becomes Fujifilm’s first X-series camera to accept CFexpress Type B cards, alongside a standard UHS-II SD slot

So what makes the XH-2S so impressive? First is sheer speed. It’s capable of shooting at 40 frames per second in full resolution using its silent electronic shutter, with full autofocus and autoexposure tracking, and with a buffer of 140 frames even in its uncompressed raw format. Switch to the mechanical shutter, and it’ll keep going at 15 fps until either the power or card space runs out. No other APS-C or full-frame model can match this, and while the latest Micro Four Thirds flagships shoot faster, they won’t keep going for as long. With its stacked CMOS sensor, there shouldn’t be much problem with rolling shutter distortion – Fujifilm specifies the scan time as 1/150sec for stills, and 1/180sec for video.

Fujifilm X-H2S back view

While the X-H2S has all the same rear controls as the X-H1, the buttons are larger and the layout is much improved

Then there’s the autofocus. Fujifilm’s new AI subject detection is capable of recognising and focusing specifically on humans (both faces and eyes), animals, birds, cars, motorbikes, airplanes or trains, with subject selection via the onscreen quick menu. Thanks to the sensor’s rapid 120fps readout speed and a new X-Processor 5, the camera can also take autofocus readings more frequently, promising greater accuracy. The firm says it’s also tweaked the behaviour when using focus-point groups to reduce the risk of focusing too close to the camera.

Fujifilm X-H2S NP-W235 battery

Fujifilm has used its familiar NP-W235 battery in the X-H2S

Other features include 5-axis in-body stabilization that’s rated for 7 stops, and the option to output files in HEIF format rather than JPEG. For power, the XH-2S uses Fujifilm’s standard NP-W235 battery, which promises 390 shots per charge when using the EVF, or up to 720 shots with the LCD in ECO mode.

Optional VG-XH vertical grip

Fujifilm X-H2S with VG-XH vertical grip

The X-H2S fitted with the matched VG-XH vertical grip

The firm will also be offering a matched VG-XH vertical grip (£399), which includes a duplicate set of controls for portrait-format shooting. Like Fujifilm’s other grips it holds two more batteries, effectively tripling the camera’s stamina. It also features the firm’s boost mode switch, which enables you to either speed up the camera’s performance at the expense of battery life, or engage Eco mode to get more shots per charge.

Fujifilm X-H2S with grip, rear view

The back of the crip has replicate controls and Fujifilm’s unique boost mode switch

An FT-HX network grip is promised in September, which will include a built-in ethernet socket, and support tethering to a 5G mobile device for file transfer. But it’ll cost £949.

Fujifilm X-H2S: Video features

Video specs are equally advanced as those for stills. The camera is capable of internal recording in 6.2K resolution at 30fps, 4K at 120fps, or Full HD at 240fps; all with 4:2:2 10-bit colour. It can output either ProRes or BMD raw to an external recorder, via its full-size HDMI port.

Fujifilm X-H2S ports

Fujifilm X-H2S ports: full-size HDMI, USB-C, microphone and headphones

Subject detection AF is available during video recording, and Flog2 output promises 14 stops of dynamic range. Fujifilm claims that the X-H2S can keep recording for an extended time, up to 4 hours at 25 °C. To avoid over-heating and enable extended recording at higher ambient temperatures, an add-on fan will be available for £169. It simply bolts onto the back via two large screws, which makes it quick and easy to install and remove.

Fujifilm X-H2S add-on fan

Uniquely, Fujifilm is offering this add-on fan unit to extend video recording times

This approach is certainly intriguing, and means that you can get the benefits of active cooling without always having to carry around a large camera body with an integrated fan, like the Panasonic Lumix GH6 or Canon EOS R5 C. It’s worth noting, though, that once the fan is installed, the screen can’t fold back in, so is left sticking out the side until you take the unit off again.

Fujifilm X-H2S:  Design and build

One area where the X-H2S stands out in Fujifilm’s range lies with regards to its design. It’s clearly been designed to attract users of high-end APS-C DSLRs, such as the Nikon D500 and Canon EOS 7D Mark II, who may not currently see an attractive  upgrade option in those firms’ mirrorless line-ups. Nikon’s Z 50 and retro-inspired Z fc are both distinctly lower-end models, and while Canon’s latest EOS R7 looks exciting, Canon can’t come anywhere close to matching Fujifilm’s extensive APS-C lens range. Arguably the closest current competitor to the X-H2S is the OM System OM-1.

Fujifilm X-H2S top view

There’s a mode dial on top with seven custom memories, with a large status screen the other side

Rather than use analogue dials and switches like its predecessor, the X-H2S employs a conventional exposure mode dial (including seven custom modes), twin control dials for changing exposure settings, an AF-area joystick, and a top-plate LCD showing key settings. Fujifilm says that one of the advantages of this design approach is that it allows much greater customisability of the camera to suit different users or shooting scenarios, both stills and video. The X-H2S also boasts a large, comfortable handgrip and, of course, weather-sealed construction.

Fujifilm X-H2S articulated screen

Unlike the X-H1, the X-H2S gains a side-hinged screen that can be set facing forwards, or at almost any other angle

Fujifilm has equipped the camera with large electronic viewfinder that offers 5.76m-dot resolution, 0.8x magnification and up to 120fps refresh rate. It’s also said to offer improved optics, along with a more responsive eye sensor for switching with the rear screen. The latter is a 3-inch, 1.62m-dot touchscreen of the side-hinged, fully-articulated type. To be honest, we prefer the X-H1’s triple-hinged design for shooting stills, with the main advantage of the X-H2S’s screen in comparison being that it can be set facing forwards for video work.

40MP X-Trans CMOS 5HR sensor coming soon in Fujifilm X-H2 body

Fujifilm has also revealed that it’s developing a 40MP APS-C sensor. With a backside-illuminated (but not stacked) architecture, it’ll be known as the X-Trans CMOS 5HR (for ‘High Resolution’). As the name suggests, it’ll be the highest pixel count of any APS-C sensor, eclipsing Canon’s 32.5MP sensor that’s used in the EOS 90D, EOS M6 Mark II and new EOS R7.

Fujifilm X-H2S sensor

Fujifilm’s new high-resolution 40MP sensor will be used in the upcoming X-H2 camera

Fujifilm’s new 40MP sensor will be used in a variant of the X-H2 body, which will most likely be revealed in September. This will clearly be a pro camera for photographers who require higher levels of detail but don’t want to carry around the extra bulk of Fujifilm’s GFX medium format cameras and lenses.

Fujifim X-H2S: First Impressions

Fujifilm has identified a gap in its camera line-up, and pulled out all the stops to create the X-H2S for sports, wildlife and news shooting, both stills and video. On paper it looks extremely capable, and our first impressions hands-on with the camera are pretty positive, too.

Fujifilm X-H2S with 150-600mm

Fujifilm X-H2S with XF 150-600mm F5.6-8 ultra-telephoto zoom

You can’t, of course, shy away from the price. The X-H2S may well be the most capable APS-C format camera yet made, but at  £2,499 body-only, it’s also one of the most expensive. It’s not far off twice the price of the Canon EOS R7, with which it’ll surely get extensively compared, and which is capable of shooting 32.5MP files at up to 30fps. But with its stacked CMOS sensor, high-res viewfinder and pro-spec build, the Fujifilm X-H2S is an altogether higher-end model than the Canon newcomer.

As for whether the X-H2S is worth its asking price, that’s something we’ll only find out by testing it properly. Look out for our upcoming full review.

Fujifilm X-H2S: Full Specifications

Fujifilm X-H2S front view

  • Sensor: 26.2MP stacked CMOS, 23.5 x 15.6mm
  • Output size: 6240 x 4160
  • Focal length magnification: 1.5x
  • Lens mount: Fujifilm X
  • Shutter speeds: 15min – 1/8000sec (mechanical), 15min – 1/32,000sec (electronic)
  • Sensitivity: ISO 160-12,800 (standard), ISO 80-51,200 (extended)
  • Exposure modes: PASM, Movie, 7x Custom
  • Metering: Multi, spot, average, centre-weighted
  • Exposure compensation: +/-5 EV in 0.3EV steps
  • Continuous shooting: 40fps (electronic shutter), 15fps (mechanical shutter)
  • Screen: 3in, 1.62m-dot vari-angle touchscreen
  • Viewfinder: 5.76m-dot, 0.8x magnification
  • AF points: 425
  • Video: 6.2K 30fps, DCI 4K 120fps, 4K 120fps, Full HD 240fps
  • External mic: 3.5mm stereo
  • Memory card: CFexpress Type B, UHS-II SD
  • Power: NP-W235 rechargeable Li-ion
  • Battery life: Up to 720 shots
  • Dimensions: 135.3 x 92.9 x 84.6 mm
  • Weight: 660g
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