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REVIEW: Fujifilm X-H2S

FUJIFILM X-H2S: Fujifilm’s X Series flagship features the first X-Trans BSI CMOS sensor to use stacked-layer structure, which provides quantifiable improvements in speed – for both image processing and autofocusing. It presents a nice balance between stills and video functionality and performance.
RRP: $4449 body only
The ‘HS’ tag in the name of the new camera Fujifilm’s X- H2S camera stands for ‘High Speed’, and the new camera makes a strong statement in favour of cropped sensor cameras with ‘blackout-free’ continuous shooting at up to 40 fps (when the electronic shutter is used, or 15 fps with the mechanical shutter). This is faster than the top speeds of the Nikon Z9 and Sony Alpha 1 cameras, making it very attractive to photographers involved in shooting sport, who rate speed as a top priority. Coupled with this is a generous buffer memory that can hold more than 140 frames at top speed, regardless of the file format.

Autofocusing is also faster and more accurate, thanks to a new algorithm for tracking moving subjects and subject detection for animals, birds, cars, motorcycles, bicycles, airplanes and trains in addition to the now-standard human face and eye detection. Five-axis IBIS can provide up to seven stops of shake correction, even with longer lenses.

Video capabilities are extensive and up to professional standards. The X-H2S can record 6.2K/30p video using a 3:2 aspect ratio, which suits the anamorphic lenses that are being released to cater for cinematographers’ needs. The HX-H2S can also record widescreen DCI and UHD 4K video at up to 60p along with high-speed video at up to 120p/100p 720Mbps for C4K and UHD 4K or 240p/200p/120p/100p 720Mbps for both formats of Full HD. A new F-Log2 setting takes advantage of 14-bit sensor readout to expand the dynamic range of recordings, producing slightly ‘flatter’ images than the existing F-Log setting. It’s currently restricted to 25/30 fps frame rates but we’ve already seen two firmware updates for the camera and Fujifilm is renowned for issuing regular product enhancements in this way.

The heat-dissipating design of the camera body offers continuous 4K/60 and 50p recording times of up to approximately 240 minutes. An optional FAN-001 cooling fan, which is powered by the camera’s battery, can be attached to the rear of the camera to extend high-resolution video recording times by up to 51 minutes at 40 degrees Celsius.

The camera body has the familiar Fujifilm styling with a large grip, a top panel LCD data display and an updated layout that replaces the ISO dial on the X-H1 with a mode dial and movie recording button plus three customisable buttons, the front two defaulting to ISO and white balance. Two customisable buttons, one of them replacing the focus control lever on the previous model, give users 10 customisable controls in addition to the seven custom banks on the mode dial. Shutter durability has been optimised to withstand 500,000 actuations.The rear panel has been ‘cleaned up’ with a larger, more accessible, multi-function joystick control and a more comfortable thumb rest. Dual card slots accept CFexpress Type B and UHS-II SD cards.

Purchasing Points:
1. The X-H2S boasts a robust, weather-resistant body that withstands heavy professional use.  Its body design has been improved with a larger grip and improved control layout that includes 10 customisable buttons plus seven Custom memory banks accessible via the mode dial.
2. The new 23.5 x 15.6 mm X-Trans CMOS 4 BSI sensor is the first of its type with stacked architecture. With an effective resolution of 26.1 megapixels, it combines with the new X-Processor 5 chip to support ultra-fast file capture and processing.
3. The performance and capabilities of the ‘intelligent’ hybrid TTL phase/contrast detection AF system have been improved with a new algorithm for tracking moving subjects that increases the number of AF calculations that can be performed per second. The phase-detection pixels are controlled separately from the image display, which enables high-speed focusing during high-speed continuous shooting.
4. Subject detection AF includes an advanced prediction algorithm for Zone AF that applies Deep Learning to move beyond the now-standard human face and eye detection. The updated system now includes detection of animals, birds, cars, motorcycles, bicycles, airplanes and trains. The camera’s ability to track moving subjects in low-contrast environments has also been improved.
5. In-body image stabilisation (IBIS) provides up to seven stops of shake correction to facilitate hand-held shooting, even with longer lenses. This feature makes the camera usable hand-held in sports arenas and other low-light conditions.
6. The electronic viewfinder uses a high-resolution, 5.76-million-dot OLED panel with a magnification of 0.8x. With a frame rate of approximately 120fps and suppression of the parallax error and distortion that can occur when the user’s eye position is displaced, it greatly improves usability as well as enabling accurate subject tracking.
7. The X-H2S supports internal recording of 10-bit 4:2:2 video at resolutions of up to 6.2K/30p and frame rates of 4K/120p and FHD/ 240p. Professional codecs supported include Apple ProRes HQ, ProRes 422, ProRes LT and ProRes 422 Proxy. It is also the first X Series camera to include the F-Log2 mode, which can encompass a dynamic range of up to 14 stops and will provide greater flexibility for post-production workflows.
8. Both mechanical and electronic shutter options are available, with the mechanical shutter supporting continuous shooting at up to 11 fps, while the electronic shutter supports up to 30 fps with a 1.25x frame crop. Buffer capacity has been expanded significantly for the mechanical shutter, allowing the camera to accommodate 145 high-resolution JPEGs, 42 losslessly-compressed RAF.RAW frames and 36 uncompressed raw frames. Capacities are slightly lower with the electronic shutter.
9. Dual memory card slots are provided, one for CFexpress Type B and one SD slot which is UHS-I/UHS-II compatible. The NP-W235 battery is the same as used in the X-T4 and is CIPA rated for 580 shots/charge when the monitor is used or 550 shots/charge with the EVF. Effective battery life can be extended by to 720 and 610 shots/charge respectively by selecting the Economy setting in the power modes menu. The camera can also be powered and have its battery charged from a suitable USB PD source.
10. Optional accessories include the dust- and moisture–resistant VG-XH vertical battery grip, FAN-001 cooling fan and CVR-XH cover kit for protecting terminals on the camera. A new FT-XH file transmitter with wired LAN connectivity and high-speed wireless communications will be available in September.

Distributor: Fujifilm Australia; 1800 226 355;
– Margaret Brown

For Margaret’s extended review of this camera, including performance charts, click here.

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