Fujifilm XH-1 review: Fujifilm’s contentious contender

Fujifilm XH-1
  • Fujifilm XH-1
  • Fujifilm XH-1
  • Expert Rating

    3.75 / 5

Pros

  • Great autofocus
  • Solid, tough build
  • Great photos in JPEG
  • Very good touchscreen LCD
  • Good operating system
  • Top LCD screen

Cons

  • Too big and heavy for a mirrorless camera
  • Doesn’t sit well in the hand
  • Pricey (1): For what it offers, the XH-1 is just a little too expensive
  • Pricey (2): Needs the Vertical Power Booster Grip + extra batteries
  • Rendering of RAW photos at higher ISOs is questionable
  • The APS-C X-Trans CMOS III sensor is already two years old
  • Battery life is pretty average with image stabilisation and Bluetooth on

Bottom Line

This X-Series flagship feels like a transitional step in the range. There are some excellent features but it also needs some tweaking.

Would you buy this?

Performance

Does it take good pictures? Yes!

Credit: Mike Gee

Does it take great pictures? In JPEG, yes.

How about RAW? Now there’s a question. The colour is very strong and satisfying at the lower end of the ISO spectrum but I found shooting and working photos above an ISO of 1600 in Adobe Photoshop didn’t deliver such great results or versatility as it did when processing photos shot at lower ISOs. And while the difference isn’t massive, it is noticeable. If you want very large versions of your shots then this might not be the camera for you. However, if online and general print use (magazines, brochures, A4 and A3 prints) are your main focus – as they are for most people, then the XH-1 will do fine.  

Another small but important gripe: Like Sony, Fujifilm  has its own version of RAW, and, again, I really do wish everybody would just agree to use the same version of RAW – it would make life so much easier!  The next problem comes down, I think, to hand size. I have relatively small, pudgy hands so I don’t have long fingers and a broad grip. This, for instance, makes playing a guitar difficult for me. It also makes operating the XH-1 a little difficult.

Great depth in the macro definition in the layers of this rusting boltCredit: Mike Gee
Great depth in the macro definition in the layers of this rusting bolt

Because of its size and the external placement of the ISO and shutter speed dials on top I found I had couldn’t reach them to manipulate while shooting in Manual and let’s face it the majority of using this camera will do so. And, unlike many mirrorless cameras at this level, the overall design just isn’t comfortable. Good looking, yes; comfortable, no.  That said, the XH-1 is extremely well made, solid and apparently water resistant and certainly feels – yes, this is important – like it is worth the dollars you are paying for it.  

It gets another plus for the autofocus which is very good indeed, particularly when using the macro lens. And I like the general flexibility of the camera which matches with a good range of quality lenses.

The Bottom Line 

I hope you can see by now what I mean about the XH-1 being a confusing beast. There’s plenty to like but there are also problems. I imagine that Fujifilm fans may well embrace the XH-1 but I also think the company will find some resistance to its new pack leader. It’s that kind of release.

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