Reasons Not to Buy the Fuji X-H1

I purchased the Fuji X-T2 when it first came out, but haven’t used it much, since I’ve found it’s really not all that fun to shoot with. Just the same, i’m heavily invested in the Fuji lens system and perhaps a new, well thought-out video-centric Fuji could bring me back into the fold. With the X-H1, Fuji has introduced a number of improvements, including Cinema 4K 24p, higher bit rates, internal F-Log, a new film simulation called Eterna, a touch screen, a beefier build and IBIS – but is it a case of too little, too late? First, let’s talk about that top-panel LCD, which is about as useful as the touch bar on a Macbook Pro. One reviewer says he can’t count the number of times he’s forgotten to put an SD card in his camera and the LCD reminded him. That’s all well and good, if that’s all you expect from an LCD, but the implementation by Panasonic is incomparably smarter – just by touching the LCD screen, it’s possible to access a dozen key parameters and change them on the fly. And for a company not especially renowned for their aesthetics, the video info display on the GH5 is a genuine work of art. And speaking of SD cards, would it have killed Fuji to allow recording to both cards simultaneously? This is after all a flagship camera aimed at professional filmmakers for whom backup media is crucial. Can user settings all be stored on a card like they can on the GH5? Moving on to the rear LCD, the X-H1 doesn’t have even have tap-to-focus, the most basic of functionalities that make touch screens such a joy to use. Is there any reason why a headphone jack couldn’t have been included in the refurbished body? And if Fuji’s engineers were unable to supply zebras, why the blinking highlights? They have no known value and are not programmable, so virtually useless for judging proper exposure. No teleconverter mode either, which is invaluable when you need that extra reach: both Sony and Panasonic have systems that essentially turn each lens into two. Like landscape mode on my iPhone, it’s a feature I wouldn’t want to be without. No hybrid log gamma for those interested in quickly uploading HDR videos to the Web. A fully articulating screen isn’t absolutely essential if you’ve got a functioning remote app, but Fuji has neither: the highest resolution the app is capable of is 720p! Being able to record with an external microphone and the internal one at the same time is a clever idea, but where are the videos showing the UI? Does Fuji still incorporate the all but useless tiny level meters found on the X-T2, or is it possible to see the audio level meter on its own dedicated page on the LCD? As audio monitoring on the overpriced vertical power booster is distorted, filmmakers might end up having to wait months for a firmware update before being able to listen with headphones, one of the chief reasons for purchasing the battery grip in the first place. Maybe the most annoying bug, carried over from the X-T2, is that when a battery dies in the VPB, recording will come to a complete halt. And even though the power booster is an essential piece of kit, it makes flying on a gimbal or putting the camera in a cage all but impossible and makes carrying the camera cumbersome – not to mention that It is also just another source of possible malfunctions. The X-H1 lacks 4K 60p. It’s got a micro HDMI port, reviled by all filmmakers. Not only are proper exposure tools missing, but the information that is included in the display is inscrutably tiny, forcing you to squint to see critical information.The shutter speed and aperture dials are right at your fingertips on the Panasonic – no need to remove your eye from the EVF – whereas with the Fuji, it’s a two handed operation that ruins the shooting experience. And again, no shutter angle, which comes in so handy when you’re shooting at different frame rates and prevents you from inadvertently shooting at the wrong shutter speed. So no, I won’t be buying the Fuji X-H1.

Andrew Smallman, in his blog Camera Ergonomics, has some interesting observations about the design choices and handling of the X-T2, many of which apply to the X-H1.

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