Thanks to the rumour mill surrounding Fujifilm’s May 2022 X-Summit event, we thought we were getting a Fujifilm X-H2, but the X-H2S surpasses our expectations, especially when it comes to its impressive video specs. Read our Fujifilm X-H2S Review.
Fujifilm is a bit late to the high-speed party, having traditionally aimed its cameras squarely at the lifestyle end of photography – think food, portrait and travel. However, the manufacturer might now have done enough to be considered a serious contender among those who rate speed as a priority when it comes to choosing a camera. And to be honest, speed aside, the Fujifilm X-H2S is a brilliant camera in its own right.
Aimed at pro photographers who need high-speed performance for tracking wildlife, sports or action, the X-H2S is designed to pack all the features that a photographer could want or need when shooting at a race track or tucked away in a bird hide. It’s also a powerful machine, catering to the diverse needs of the modern content creator as well as hybrid shooters.
At the heart of the camera is a brand-new X-Trans CMOS 5 HS sensor. It has a signal readout speed that’s roughly four times faster than the Fujifilm X-T4, but the same 26.1MP resolution. The sensor has a stacked-layer structure, and this is what enables the photographer to achieve blackout-free continuous shooting up to a sort-of-ridiculous 40 frames per second. By comparison, the flagship Nikon Z 9 and Sony A1 both max out at 30fps continuous shooting when using the electronic shutter. You’ll actually get over 1,000 frames when setting the high-speed burst shooting mode to 30 frames per second in JPEG, or 20 frames per second in RAW mode.
To keep up with such speed, the camera features dual memory card slots that support CFexpress Type B and SD UHS-II cards, as CFexpress Type B can process high-speed data – allowing the H2S’s fast continuous shooting and video performance to reach its full potential. The Fujifilm X-H2S also shoots 10bit HEIF (High Efficiency File Format) files, which are more efficient than JPGs in terms of storage and colour depth.
In terms of autofocus, Fujifilm says that an “improved prediction algorithm for AF” has led to a big boost in the X-H2S’s ability to track a moving subject. The camera uses an Intelligent Hybrid AF system (a mix of through the lens contrast and phase detection). Continuous autofocus is imperative for sports and wildlife photographers whose subjects often move erratically, and the processor now features subject-detection AF that’s been developed with Deep Learning technology to improve tracking in Continuous AF mode.
This autofocus system can lock onto myriad subjects. The aim is that the photographer can focus on the creativity of the shot and the composition while the AF system will keep things sharp. With the AI learning, the camera uses information from a massive database and doesn’t learn from the user, but obviously that’s something that Fujifilm has the potential to update over time.
When it comes to video, the Fujifilm X-H2S represents a potentially massive upgrade for pros. The new sensor/processor combo enables recording of 10bit video at 6.2K 30p, as well as high-speed 4K/120P video, which will allow fast-moving subjects – birds, planes, runners – to be captured in slow-motion.
What’s more, the X-H2S supports three Apple ProRes codecs; ProRes 422 HQ, ProRes 422 and ProRes 422 LT. If you’re not familiar with Apple ProRes and why it’s important for many pros, it essentially streamlines the overall workflow from shooting to editing, as it’s a more efficient codec. F-Log2 capability is another new video feature on the camera, which preserves up to 14+ stops of dynamic range from the camera sensor.
In recent years the phenomenon of mirrorless cameras overheating and limiting video recording has been a source of contention, so what about maximum recording times? Well, the Fujifilm X-H2S has been designed with a built-in heat-dissipating structure, which increases maximum video recording time to 240 minutes of 4K/60P video. This is only the quote for reasonable temperature climates, and to ensure longer video recording in high-temperature conditions, photographers will probably have to buy and attach Fujifilm’s new optional cooling fan (FAN-001), which extends the video recording further – priced at £
“ The X-H2S is designed to pack all the features for shooting at a race track or a bird hide”
Build and handling
In many ways the X-H2S feels similar to the X-H1. However, it is slightly smaller, even though it uses a bigger battery with a capacity up to 720 frames in economy mode – a full day, in other words. It features a chunky and pleasing grip that works well to give you a secure hold even in smaller hands. Just like its predecessor, it has a monochrome LCD display on the top panel that displays at a glance the key exposure settings and camera modes.
Fujifilm has made some welcome changes that enhance handling, refining the modes and dials to improve operability. Some of the switches and dials from the X-H1 have been removed so that you’re more reliant on the custom buttons for control, but this leads to a less cluttered design.
For example, the focus select switch has gone, and a function button is in its place. The dials themselves feel more robust, and half-pressing the shutter button is smoother.
One obvious change is the addition of a dedicated record button on the top of the camera plate next to the shutter. This – alongside the 1.62-million-dot vari-angle LCD touchscreen – could cement the X-H2S as a more than decent hybrid camera.
The first thing you notice about the X-H2S is how tactile it is. The slightly larger grip allows you to grab onto it comfortably even when using it with very long lenses, such as the new Fujifilm XF 150-600mm F5.6-8 lens.
Although we didn’t get to test performance on the high-speed subjects it has been designed for, a quick romp around London’s Covent Garden gave some idea as to how effect the autofocus tracking is and could be.
That said, it’s the phenomenal burst speed that wows most. We’d like to test it with a CF express card, but even with our standard SD card it fired off frames at magnificent speed, and the shots were sharp and clear.
Although we know that the name of the game with the Fujifilm X-H2S is speed, it also handled portraits well. Fujifilm colour science and colour profiles are highly rated, and the camera rendered skin tones accurately and smoothly.
Thanks to the 5-axis in-body image stabilisation, we found that we were able to capture sharp handheld shoots indoors and as the weather turned grim, so we’d likely have no qualms about taking the camera on a low-light shoot without a tripod – especially given the ISO capabilities of up to 51,200.
Digital Camera early verdict
The Fujifilm X-H2S boasts the highest performance for stills and video in the history of the X Series. With double the processing power of its predecessor, it offers a class-leading 40fps continuous shooting with full autofocus functions. At 6.2K 30p uncropped, the video specs are spectacular and have the option of three Apple ProRes codecs. For sports photographers, bird enthusiasts and users who shoot a lot of on-location work and don’t want the size or price of a full-frame sensor, the Fujifilm X-H2S could be a terrifically powerful companion.
Sensor: 26.1MP 23.5mm x 15.6mm (APS-C) X-Trans CMOS 5 HS
Image processor: X-Processor 5
Mount: Fujifilm X-mount
ISO range: 80 to 51,200
Shutter: 30 sec to 1/8000 sec
Image stabilisation: 5-axis IBIS
Max image size: 6,240 x 4,160
Max video resolution: 6.2K 30p, 4K 120p, 1080 240p
Viewfinder: 5.76-million-dot OLED
Memory card: 2 x CFexpress Type B/SD UHS-II cards
LCD: Vari-angle touchscreen, 1.62m dots
Max burst: 40fps electronic, 15fps mechanical
Connectivity: Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, HDMI, USB-C
Size: 136.3 x 92.9 x 84.6mm
Weight: 579g (body only)