(Pocket-lint) - With the release of the X-H2S, Fujifilm has made one thing clear: it's tired of being overlooked by the video crowd.
The mirrorless camera packs some serious video chops, including the ability to record ProRes 422 internally with no record time limits. At the same time, it maintains powerful photography features, including staggeringly fast burst shooting at up to 40fps.
The question is whether it can compete with the likes of Sony, Canon and Panasonic, whose offerings have long been longstanding favourites of the hybrid-shooting world.
We've been putting it to the test in a variety of conditions, and here's what we've found.
Our quick take
The X-H2S is one of Fujifilm's most impressive cameras to date. Huge strides in the video department make it a compelling option for hybrid shooters - particularly those with the need for speed.
Unfortunately, the added expense of the stacked CMOS sensor puts the camera up against stiff competition from the likes of the Sony A7 IV, with its full-frame sensor and superior autofocus.
Still, the Sony can't come anywhere close to the burst rate and high-speed video options offered by the X-H2S, so it targets a somewhat different audience.
For sports, wildlife and event shooters, this might be one of the best all-rounders available today.
4.5 stars - Pocket-lint recommended
- Incredible burst shooting
- Internal ProRes recording
- 4K 120fps video looks superb
- Excellent configuration options
- Well-designed body
- Top LCD is very handy
- Expensive for an APS-C camera
- 1080p 240fps videos aren't up to standard
- IBIS can't quite match Panasonic
- Autofocus can't quite match Sony
- Body: 136.3 x 92.9 x 84.6 mm
- Weight: 660g
- Weather-resistant body
- 1.28-inch monochrome LCD
The X-H2S is a delight to hold - the grip feels natural and secure while all the important buttons and dials remain within easy reach.
There's a sizable display on top of the camera that allows you to check your battery life, storage status and key settings. It's similar to the display on the older X-H1, but, this time, it's better placed, and the inverted colours make it look much more modern.
It's been a while since we've used a camera with a status LCD like this, and we had almost forgotten how handy it is. It remains visible even with the camera powered down, and lets you quickly check your remaining battery and how many shots you've got left without having to turn the camera on. It's great stuff.
The design is understated, we'd say, but it's attractive and has a subtle retro charm about it. Of course, it's not the most crucial thing in the world, but photography is a visual medium, so it's fair to assume that lot of the target market will appreciate a good-looking tool.
In a departure from its usual offerings, Fujifilm has done away with the vintage shutter speed and ISO dials, instead opting for a mode dial (with an abundance of custom presets) and a dedicated video recording button. We're sure some photographers will be less than pleased with this decision, but, for a hybrid shooter, this layout makes much more sense.
Connectivity and displays
- Full-size HDMI, 3.5mm headphone and mic sockets
- CFexpress and SD card slots
- 3-inch 1.62 million dot LCD monitor
- 5.76 million dot OLED EVF
As this is a bit of a video workhorse, having the right connectivity is crucial - and, thankfully, Fujifilm has done a great job here. There's a full-size HDMI port that's capable of outputting up to 6.2K RAW or 4K 4:2:2 with 10-bit depth. And this is joined by a dedicated 3.5mm microphone input and a headphone socket - both the HDMI and mic socket can be accessed without blocking the articulation of the flip-out screen.
It's a small detail, but one that's really appreciated.
A CFexpess type B slot has also been added to handle the weighty new codecs (we're talking 2754Mbps for 6.2K ProRes HQ), but, for less intensive tasks, there's still an SD card slot. The camera has a USB-C connector, too, which can be used to power the camera, charge the battery or transfer files to a computer. Unfortunately, you aren't able to record directly to an external SSD, though, which we found a little disappointing.
We've tested the camera in very mixed weather conditions, from dark overcast days to bright sunshine, and both the EVF and monitor performed admirably throughout. Both offer plenty of clarity and allowed us to pull focus and review clips with ease - even in direct sunlight.
One thing we did notice, however, is that the auto-detect sensor for the EVF was a little over-sensitive, often shutting the monitor off while we were attempting to frame a shot. Of course, this, along with pretty much everything else, is configurable in the menu system, but it's something to watch out for.
Photos and videos
- APS-C stacked CMOS sensor - 26MP stills
- Up to 40fps burst shooting / 15fps with mechanical shutter
- Up to 6.2K 30fps/ 4K 120fps/ 1080p 240fps video
- Internal ProRes 422, HQ and LT support
- 7-stop IBIS
We initially tested the camera at an event filled with blazing-fast sports cars and high-flying stunts, and as such, we spent a lot of the time shooting high-speed bursts and super slow-motion video. These are areas in which the X-H2S excels. We shot the event with a combination of the XF16-55mm f2.8 and the XF50-140mm f2.8, depending on the scenario.
Starting with the photo performance, we found ourselves shooting a lot of 15 fps bursts with the mechanical shutter and autofocus. There's something addictive about rattling off shots with that machine-gun sound, and while we're typically quite reserved with how many shots we take in a day, we quickly racked up thousands of images.
Autofocus is much improved over the X-T4, particularly with the improved eye-detection algorithms for human subjects. It works with animals and birds, too, but we found that it was much more reliable with a human subject. We found it a little fiddly to go into the menu and choose your subject type, we wished there was a mode that would automatically detect the subject type without user input.
As we've come to expect from Fuji, the colours are great and the images come out looking sharp and lifelike. We enjoyed shooting with the various film simulation modes, too, which is something that's less common on high-end cameras but can produce great results without the need to tweak colours in post.
In low-light conditions, pushing the ISO into four figures, we were pleased with the results. Of course, it's no match for a full-frame body, but you can expect similar performance to the X-T4, with up to ISO 5000 or so looking fairly clean. Higher ISOs are usable, in a pinch, but are best avoided where possible.
Moving on to video results, the X-H2S continues to impress. We especially loved the 4K 120fps footage that we were able to capture, although it's worth noting that high-speed 4K videos are subject to a 1.29x crop. At 60fps, you'll get no such cropping.
For our testing, we were often dealing with far-away subjects and the limited reach of our 140mm focal range, so, the crop worked in our favour. We didn't experience any overheating, either, but your mileage may vary in warmer climates.
We shot a lot of 240fps 1080p footage, too, and, while everything looks impressive at such a high frame rate, the image quality certainly suffers - and you have a larger 1.38x crop to deal with. We found that high-speed 1080p videos came out looking a little soft and with some unusual noise that wasn't too pleasing to look at.
We're not exactly sure why this happens and, unfortunately, it's not an issue that has been addressed since release. For slow motion, 4K 120fps is where you'll get the best results at the moment.
In normal framerates, the video quality is excellent and produces superb colours and sharp, detailed footage. There is an abundance of codecs to choose from, including ProRes 422, so you can select the right bitrate for almost any project imaginable.
The autofocus for video is very good, and the best we've seen from the brand so far - but it's not quite as robust as it is in still shooting modes. Nor is it on par with Sony's offerings.
The IBIS is a similar story. It's good, but not quite on par with Panasonic. We often found that, particularly with panning shots, the stabilisation would stutter for a second and then quickly move to catch up.
We think this will put the camera in a bit of a strange middle-ground for pure video shooters unless they're dead set on 10-bit 4K 120fps with an APS-C sensor, which is exclusively offered by the X-H2S, as far as we can tell. And certainly looks impressive in its own right.
If you're looking for an APS-C camera for sports photography and videos, the X-H2S is one of the best around. This camera is all about speed, and if fast bursts and slow-motion video are high priorities then the X-H2S won't disappoint.
Writing by Luke Baker. Editing by Verity Burns.