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Fujifilm X-H2S Review

Fujifilm X-H2S review
Review

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Our Verdict

The Fujifilm X-H2S demonstrates the impact of switching to a stacked CMOS sensor and boosting processing power. It has enabled Fujifilm to update the subject detection and AF speed significantly and boost the full-resolution continuous shooting speed to 40fps.

There are some handling changes in comparison with the X-H1, some of which will be less welcome than others, but anyone looking at the camera with fresh eyes cannot fail to be impressed by its build and capability. It could be exactly what Fujifilm wildlife photographers have been hoping for.

For

  • 40fps continuous shooting with AF
  • Subject detection at 40fps and during video
  • 6.2K video

Against

  • Change in control layout in comparison with the X-H1
  • Focus mode switch replaced with a button
  • No dedicated exposure compensation dial

What is the Fujifilm X-H2S?

The Fujifilm X-H2S reviewed here is the successor to the Fujifilm X-H1 and it’s designed for use by sport and wildlife photographers – or anyone who likes to photograph moving subjects. It features a brand new 26.1MP stacked sensor, the 5th generation of Fujifilm’s X-Trans CMOS chip and extends the range of automatically detectable subjects to include animals, birds, automobiles, motorcycles, aeroplanes and trains.

In addition, the Fuji X-H2S makes a significant jump up in video capability in comparison with the X-H1, with 6.2K video at 30p and 4K at 120p.

Fujifilm is aiming the X-HS2 at professional content creators and it’s the company’s flagship APS-C format camera.

Specification

  • Camera type: Mirrorless
  • Announced: 31st May 2022
  • Sensor: 26.16Mp APS-C (23.5 x 15.6mm) X-Trans CMOS 5 HS
  • In body image stabilisation: 5-axis giving up to 7EV shutter speed compensation
  • Processing engine: X-Processor 5
  • Lens mount: Fujifilm X
  • Sensitivity range: ISO 160-12,800 expandable to ISO 80-51,200
  • Autofocus system: Intelligent Hybrid with up to 425 points plus subject detection for humans, animals, birds, automobiles, motorcycles, aeroplanes and trains
  • Max continuous shooting rate: Electronic shutter: 40fps for 184 jpegs, 170 lossless compressed raw or 140 uncompressed raw, Mechanical shutter: 15fps for 1000+ jpegs, lossless compressed raw or 1000 uncompressed raw
  • Max video resolution: 6.2K (6240×4160) 29.97/25/24/23.98p, DCI 4K (4096×2160) 59.94/50/29.97/25/24/23.98p or 120/100p in High Speed mode, 4K (3840×2160) 59.94/50/29.97/25/24/23.98p or 120/100p in High Speed mode
  • Viewfinder: 0.5 inch 5.76 million-dot OLED Color Viewfinder with 100% coverage Eyepoint: approx. 24mm Diopter adjustment: -5~+3m-1 Magnification: 0.8× with 50mm lens
  • Screen: Vari-angle 3-inch LCD with 1.62-million dots
  • Dimensions: 136.3 x 92.9 x 84.6mm
  • Storage: Dual: 1x CFexpress type B, 1x DS/SDHC/SDXC UHS-II
  • Weight: 579g (body only), 660g with battery and card
Fujifilm X-H2S review

Features

Inside the Fujifilm X-H2S is the 26.1MP X-Trans CMOS 5 HS, the 5th generation of Fujifilm’s X-Trans CMOS sensor. It’s the first of these sensors to feature a stacked design and the change means that information can be read off the chip much more quickly than from previous X-Trans CMOS sensors or standard backside-illuminated (BSI) sensors. In fact, according to Fujifilm, the new sensor is 4x faster than its predecessor.

This sensor is paired with the 5th generation X Processor (X-Processor 5), which has twice the speed of the previous engine. Together the sensor and X-Processor 5 enable some impressive headline figures including a maximum continuous shooting rate of 40 frames per second (fps) at full-resolution with full autofocus (AF) capability, 6.2K video at 30p, 4K video at 120p, 120fps Live View and enhanced rolling shutter control with the full sensor being cleared in 1/151sec for stills and 1/180 sec when shooting video.

By default, the sensitivity range is ISO 160-12,800, but, provided that the electronic shutter isn’t in use, this can be expanded to ISO 80-51,200.

The new sensor has pixels that measure 3.76um, plus a phase detection system that uses 2.16 million pixels. Also, more data points are used to calculate the focus at 40fps that with the X-T4 at 20fps.

As well as being faster than past Fujifilm AF systems, the X-H2S’s is said to be more accurate thanks to an increase in the frequency of the calculations. In addition to the human face and eye tracking, there’s now the option to detect and track animals, birds and planes.

Fujifilm has update the five-axis in-body image stabilisation (IBIS) mechanism and thanks to the news processor and sensing control function, it’s said to deliver up to 7.0-stop shutter speed compensation to the new processor and a new sensing control function.

Fujifilm’s Film Simulation modes are on hand to give Jpegs and video a specific look. There’s a total of 13 Film Simulation Mode types, including Provia/Standard, Velvia/Vivid, Classic Chrome and Pro Neg. High and Standard. There are also two black and white options, Monochrome and the excellent Across, both of which can be set to ‘Standard’ or with yellow, red or green filter effects.

Video

The Fuji X-H2S builds on the X-H1’s video capability with the benefit of technological advances to give is greater resolution, a wider range of frame rates, greater bit depth and less rolling shutter (with full sensor readout in 5.4msec or 1/180sec), plus in-camera Apple ProRes (ProRes 422 HQ, ProRes 422 and ProRes 422 LT) recording.

For example, 6.2K 29.97p and 4K 4:2:2 10 bit video can both be recorded internally with no crop. Alternatively, DCI 4K video can be recorded at 120p/100p with a 1.29x crop while FHD 17:9 or 16:9 video can be shot at 240P/200p with a 1.38x crop.

There’s also F-Log2 for recording video with up to 14 stops of dynamic range, but this means using a sensitivity setting of at least ISO 1250. With the original F-Log, which is also available, it’s ISO 650 and there’s up to 12 stops of dynamic range.

At 25°C, you can expect to shoot 4K 60p video for around 240 minutes before the camera overheats. In hotter climes this drops to around 15 minutes, but Fujifilm has also introduced a fan that can be connected onto the back of the X-H2S to help keep it cool and extend 4K 60P recording to 51 minutes.

Incidentally, the X-H2S’s battery is claimed to last for 90mins when shooting 6K video and 70 mins when recording 4K 60p footage.

As you’d expect, video can also be recorded to an external device and the X-H2S has a full-size HDMI port.

Further good news is that there’s a new menu specifically designed for use when shooting video and both the subject detection AF and IBIS (in-body image stabilisation) work during video recording.

Fujifilm X-H2S review

Dual memory cards

Like the X-H1, the Fujifilm X-H2S has two memory card slots but instead of two SD-type slots, there’s one SD/SDHC/SDXC UHS-II slot alongside a CFexpress Type B card slot. When shooting at 20fps with the electronic shutter, the X-H2S can record over 1000 shots to a CFexpress card or up to 900 to an SD card. And at 40fps, you can expect to get 184 Jpegs to either an CFexpress or SD card, but once it reaches that maximum the rate drops to 20fps or 12fps until the card is full or the battery dies.

The maximum continuous shooting rate with the mechanical shutter is 15fps.

The Fujifilm X-H2S can record all of its video options apart from Apple ProRes to a UHS-II SD card, it’s the ProRes capability that demands a CFexpress card.

Fujifilm X-H2S review

Build and handling

Overall, the Fujifilm X-H2S has the same shape and feel as the X-H1 and it’s closer in looks to the Fujifilm GFX100S or Fujifilm GFX50S II than the Fujifilm X-T4. But in a move similar to the one that Fujifilm made when it introduced the GFX100S as the upgrade to the GFX50S, the shutter speed dial and metering (photometry) switch that are on the right side of the X-H1’s top-plate, plus the sensitivity (ISO) dial and drive mode switch on the left have gone. Instead, there’s a mode dial on the left side of the top-plate with PASM (program, aperture priority, shutter priority and manual exposure), Filter and video settings as well as 7 custom settings.

That’s a lot of custom settings, but the intention is to enable photographers to use them to switch quickly between the drive and metering modes as well as the exposure modes.

There’s another significant change on the front of the camera. The focus switch that’s next to the lens mount on the X-H1 and within convenient reach of your left index finger has gone and been replaced by a button. Pressing the button brings up the manual focus, single AF and Continuous AF options on the screen or in the viewfinder ready for selection.

Fujifilm X-H2S review

There’s likely to be a very mixed reaction to those changes. Photographers and videographers who use a camera with a mode dial are probably wondering what all the fuss is about, but there are lot of Fujifilm users who love the traditional exposure controls who will not be happy. While I like the traditional controls, it’s actually the aperture ring that I use the most and that remains a feature of the majority of Fujifilm’s X-mount lenses and can be used with the X-H2S.

Fujifilm X-H2S review

The Fuji X-H2S has two control dials which enable the shutter speed and exposure compensation to be adjusted quickly and they come more readily to hand than the X-H1’s shutter speed dial.

In addition, I keep the sensitivity set to one of the Auto ISO options most of the time, only changing to specific value if I’m not getting what I want from auto.

Also, in the age of accurate electronic viewfinders and screens, I rarely switch between the metering modes because I can trust the evidence of my eyes to get the image looking as I want it.

The focus selector switch is something I will miss because of its speed of operation, but to be fair to Fujifilm, it’s not a setting that I usually have to change frequently during the course of a shoot.

With the most controversial aspects of the X-H2S’s handling covered, I’ll move on to mention its solid build and beefy feel. The grip feels great with a nicely textured covering that gives excellent purchase. It makes the camera better-suited for use with long lenses than smaller Fujifilm cameras, it feels good with the new Fujinon XF 150-600mm F5.6-8 R LM OIS WR, for instance.

The buttons have also been made more durable and Fujifilm states that the X-H2S’s shutter life is rated at 500,000 cycles.

Like the X-H1, the X-H2S has a joystick on its back but the X-H2S’s is bigger, more like a GFX100S’s. It’s also higher up on camera’s back, just to the left of the AF On button. I find it more comfortable to use and easier to reach with my thumb than the X-H1’s joystick.

Fujifilm’s repositioning of the joystick means that the AF On and All (auto exposure lock) buttons are no longer next to each other. The AEL button is beneath the joystick. I think this is a good move because there’s less chance of pressing the wrong one when you’re looking in the viewfinder.

In another change, the Q button that activates the Quick menu has moved from the top of the thumb rest to below the AEL button and above the navigation pad. This is another change that I’m happy with because I find it more natural to reach across to the left with my high thumb rather than to the right.

Fujifilm X-H2S review

Viewfinder

Fujifilm has given the X-H2S the best viewfinder that it’s ever made and boosted the resolution from 3.69-million dots in the X-H1 to 5.76-million dots. It also has a maximum refresh rate of 120fps, but this drops to 60fps (Normal mode) when the highest resolution is used (in Resolution priority mode). There’s also an economy mode option that drops the resolution to 1544×1036 (1.6-million) dots at 30fps. Conveniently, the down navigation key is set to toggle through these options, so you can make the switch from shot-to-shot if necessary.

The X-H2S’s viewfinder’s magnification is 0.8x and it has a brightness of up to 800cd/m2 while the display lag is as low as 0.005sec.

After using the Fujifilm X-H2S extensively, I’ve concluded that its viewfinder is one of the very best around right now. It gives a very naturally view with the 120fps option making movement appear nice and smooth. Resolution priority mode is especially impressive, revealing a little more detail than the other modes, which could be useful for those occasions when you decide to focus manually.

There’s a long list of information that can be displayed in the viewfinder if you want it there. It’s just a case of selecting what you want to see via the Display Custom Setting options in Screen Setting section of the Set Up menu. The electronic level, however, is activated outside of this in the second Screen Setting page.

Fujifilm has also given the X-H2S a Natural Live View option in which any of the ‘processing’ is turned off to make the view more similar to that of an optical viewfinder. That might be handy on occasion, but I much prefer to see the impact of camera settings in the viewfinder and on the screen.

There’s also a Log Assist option that gives a more natural view when one of the Log modes is selected for shooting video. It’s designed to give reassurance that the settings are correct while still recording very flat-looking footage.

Fujifilm X-H2S review

Screen

Instead of the 3-way tilting screen of the X-H1, the X-H2S has a vari-angle screen that can be flipped out and rotated to face forward for vlogging. This means it’s useful when the camera is above or below head-height in landscape or portrait orientation.

In very bright sunlight, the viewfinder is preferable, but the X-H2S’s screen does a very good job and is very handy for high or low-level photography.

It’s great to see that the microphone port is above the top edge of the screen the monitor’s movement isn’t compromised when a mic is connected, but the same cannot be said of the headphone port.

As usual, the X-H2S’s screen is touch-sensitive and can be used to set the AF point or trip the shutter. It can also be used to select and set the options in the Quick Menu, but the main menu isn’t touch-sensitive.

Fujifilm X-H2S review

Performance

Fujifilm’s recent X-series cameras are very good and the image quality from the X-Trans CMOS 4 sensor in the likes of the Fujifilm X-T4 is superb. Consequently. I had high hopes for the X-H2S and its newer stacked sensor, and I have not been disappointed. It’s every bit as capable of producing attractive images and thanks to the new sensor and processor, it’s a bit ‘snappier’ all round.

Fujifilm X-H2S review

With the X-H2S set to use its electronic shutter and shoot at 40fps, I put a Lexar CFexpress Gold Series (1750MB/s) card in the CFexpress card slot and was able to shoot 228 Fine quality Jpegs in just over 5 seconds, beating the claimed 184 Jpeg burst depth. Switching to capture uncompressed raw files reduced the burst depth to around 138 images in a little under 4 seconds. Reducing the continuous shooting rate to 20fps extended the burst depth to 242 uncompressed raw files in around 12 seconds. And when I switched to shoot Fine quality Jpegs, the camera showed no signed of slowing down after 3 minutes during which it captured 4000 images.

Fujifilm X-H2S IBIS

The X-H1 was Fujifilm’s first X-series camera to feature in-body image stabilisation (IBIS) and its inclusion in the X-T4 is one of the main upgrades that camera makes on the X-T3. Naturally, the X-H2S also features IBIS and it comes with a better motion sensor which gives it a maximum shutter speed compensation of 7-stops. However, the degree of correction that you get depends upon the lens that’s mounted and with the XF 16-55mm f/2.8 R LM WR at 55mm and a shutter speed of 1/4sec, I got a hit rate of around 60-70%, that’s equivalent to around 5EV compensation.

Fujifilm X-H2S Autofocus Performance

Like the Fujifilm X-T4, the X-H2S has an Intelligent Hybrid AF (autofocus) system with up to 425 user-selectable points. This can be set to use individual points or for the points to be grouped and selected in different sized boxes. It works very well and is capable of focusing on fast-moving subjects and keeping them sharp.

There’s also the Face/Eye Detection that has been around for a while in Fujifilm’s cameras, however, in the X-H2S, this is joined by Subject Detection. The subject detection can be set to look for and focus on Animals, Birds, Automobiles, Motorcycles, Airplanes or Trains.

When the camera detects the selected subject, it puts a green box around it and follows it around the frame. If the body of a human, bird or animal is detected, the camera will look for the most important area and target that if possible, reducing the size of the green box to accommodate the head, face or eyes as it detects them.

Face/Eye Detection and Subject Detection have their own dedicated areas in the X-H2S’s main and Quick menus and they cannot be used together. If Face/Eye Detection is selected and you activate Subject Detection, the Face/Eye Detection is deactivated.

There are lots of customisation options available on the X-H2S, and by default, the unmarked button on the right of the top-plate is set to turn the Face/Eye Detection options on or off. When the Face/Eye Detection is turned on via this button, it will use whichever setting is selected in the main menu auto eye selection or left or right eye priority.

I set Function button 2 (on the front go there camera between the grip and the lens mount) to turn subject detection on and off. It’s not possible to specify the subject for detection via a button, it has to be done via the main or Quick menus. When Subject Detection is activated via customised button, it selects to detect the subject that is set in the menu.

As soon as I held the Fujifilm X-H2S to my eye in a room filled with people, I could see that the Intelligent Face Detection and Eye Detection is a big step up on what we have seem from any Fujifilm camera before. It’s very quick to spot a face and then an eye in the frame, but what has really impresses me is how small the face can be in the frame. On one occasion it picked up a person’s face and then their eyes when their whole body only occupied about 1/6th of the height of the image. What’s especially impressive is that the person was wearing spectacles and it didn’t throw-off the Eye detection at all. Also, the camera doesn’t just spot people in good light, I found it copes well with people in deep shadows as well. And when I was shooting from the 14th floor of a hotel, the X-H2S recognised and tracked people in the distance below.

The subject detection prioritises a subject in the centre of the frame, but once it’s latched on, it does a good job of tracking the subject if it moves away from the centre and towards or away from the camera. If there are several potential subjects in the frame, the X-H2S usually selects the most central one for focusing, but not always. It’s not possible to shift to another subject using the joystick on the back of the camera, but adjusting the composition quickly so the detection box is over it usually does the job. Alternatively, tapping on the screen on the subject you want to target gets the Subject Detection on track.

There were a few occasions when I was photographing a bird and the camera jumped to another behind it. Adjusting the AF-C Custom Settings in the menu to the highest Tracking Sensitivity improved this a bit, but didn’t eliminate it. That’s when it would be good to be able to shift the subject using the joystick or to be able to use the focus zones to restrict it to operating within a specific area of the frame.

Animals and birds come in a huge range of shapes and sizes, yet the X-H2S’s subject detection does a good job of spotting them and often manages to detect their eyes. It struggled a little with otters and kept highlighting an ear rather than an eye, but it quickly spotted a flamingoes eye when it peeped out from under a wing.

At the outset, it can sometimes help to use a focusing area or zone to direct the camera towards your intended subject, but equally it often detects the subject without any guidance.

Fujifilm X-H2S image quality

There are no surprises when examining images from the Fujifilm X-H2S, they are in keeping with what I’d expect from a 26Mp Fujifilm camera. As the viewfinder gives an excellent preview of the final image, I found no need to switch away from the standard Multi metering (Photometry) mode. However, when Face/Eye Detection or Subject Detection are activated, the camera prioritises their exposure, which is useful.

Fujifilm’s Film Simulation modes are widely respected and they deliver great colour in a wide range of situations – there always seems to be something to suit the scene. The Automatic White Balance system also takes most natural lighting conditions in its stride and there are few occasions when you need to stray from it.

Noise is generally controlled well by the X-H2S and it only starts to become visible at around ISO 1600. It continues to be kept in good check up to the standard maximum setting, ISO 12,800. If the situation really called for it, I might occasionally use the first high expansion setting, ISO 25,600, but as usual, the expansion values are best avoided.

The Fujifilm X-H2S is also a capable video camera and I will be adding some video to this review over the next few days.

Fujifilm X-H2S sample images

Follow the link to browse and download full-resolution images from the Fujifilm X-H2S.

Fujifilm X-H2S image gallery

Fujifilm X-H2S review

Verdict

While the X-H1 was seen as Fujifilm’s most video-centric camera, the Fujifilm X-H2S is the speed king. It’s also a capable video camera, but its high-speed shooting capability and clever autofocus system mean it’s most likely to attract the attention of sport and wildlife photographers. The subject detection system isn’t perfect, but it’s very good and major bonus in many situations. It’s also likely to be improved over time with firmware upgrades.

Fujifilm’s design changes are going to split opinion, but there’s no denying that the X-H2S is a very solid camera that feels great in your hands. All of the key settings are also within convenient reach and the exposure mode dial could give it appeal to a wider range of photographers.

The Fujifilm X-H2S is the camera that lots of enthusiast photographers have been dreaming of, high-end APS-C format camera with a robust build and excellent image quality. It’s exposure mode dial arrangement is likely to make it attractive to photographers using other brands, perhaps moving from a DSLR to a mirrorless camera, but it could also be a good upgrade for some X-T4 shooters. Take a look at our Fujifilm X-H2S vs X-T4 comparison to find out more.

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