For the fans: $2,499 Fujifilm X-H2S is spinning with confidence

by | May 31, 2022 | News

Fujifilm fans (of whom I willingly disclose I’m one) have been waiting a long time for a replacement to 2018’s X-H1, the company’s first camera with in-body image stabilization (IBIS) and, some might argue, its one true flagship. Today, our patience has been rewarded with the announcement of the X-H2S, coming July 7, with a new 26-megapixel stacked CMOS sensor for faster readout, increasing both still photo burst rate and video frame rate while reducing rolling shutter distortion.

The specs — which include a host of cutting-edge video features aimed right at the heart of the Panasonic LUMIX GH6, such as 4K/120, internal ProRes recording, and RAW video output over its full-size HDMI port — are certainly not a joke.

But neither is the price: $2,499. That’s a $600 premium over the original X-H1. Yes, yes, inflation and supply chains and all that, but that’s still a nontrivial increase. That’s not to say it’s priced unfairly; I’m sure it will be a great value to the right customer, but that customer might not be the same person who bought a $1,900 X-H1 4 years ago. Let’s look at why.

All-in on video

Where the X-H1 was a decent video camera, the X-H2S looks to be nothing short of outstanding. Instead of “good for a Fuji” it’s “good,” full stop. If you don’t need such high-end video features, you probably don’t need the X-H2S. But if you’ve been waiting for a killer Fuji video camera, this is it.

Fujifilm is, as far as I can tell, targeting actual filmmakers with the X-H2S. In addition to everything mentioned previously, the camera can shoot “open gate” full-sensor video at 6.3K/30. That’s all 26 megapixels output as a 3:2 video file, great for 1.33X anamorphic lenses. Video is now processed from the full 14-bit range of the sensor for a claimed 14 stops of dynamic range when using the new F-Log2 profile (or, presumably, when recording external RAW video).

But I think the most surprising video feature is is the optional FAN-001 accessory, which is, as the name suggests, a fan.

Without the fan, Fujifilm claims the camera can record 240 minutes of 4K/60 at 77 degrees Fahrenheit, which is pretty great. But it seems the company so badly wants to avoid the Canon EOS R5 overheating fiasco that had reviewers giving some very hot takes (not me), that it came out with a $200 slap-on fan to ensure the X-H2S — and the comments section — would stay cool. With it, the same 240-minute 77-degree limit remains, but at 104 degrees, the camera can churn out 50 minutes of 4K/60 compared to just 20 minutes sans fan, according to Fujifilm.

I guess we’ll have to wait for all the YouTubers to tell us what happens between 77 and 104 degrees.

Still photo stuff

There are, of course, some solid still photography improvements thanks to both the stacked sensor and a new, more powerful processor.

The biggest thing for me might be the new EVF: 5.76 million pixels at 120 fps. An EVF upgrade has been a long time coming for Fujifilm, and I’m very glad to see this.

Continuous shooting hits 15 or 40 frames per second with the mechanical or electronic shutter, respectively. (Oh, and that mechanical shutter is now rated for 500,000 exposures and is, apparently, so whisper-quiet that Fujifilm had to add a fake shutter sound just so people could hear it.)

Keeping up with that speed is a new CFexpress Type B card slot. A standard UHS-II SD slot is also along for the ride, but you’ll get the best continuous performance with CFexpress. Go see DPReview or something if you want all the numbers. I’m tired.

The IBIS system, originally impressive just for its mere existence in a Fuji body, has been bumped up to a shocking (pun intended) 7 stops of shake reduction. Additionally, a new AI autofocus algorithm promises Fujifilm’s best-ever focus tracking performance and can now recognize a host of objects beyond human faces, such as animals and vehicles. So no more excuses for blurry handheld shots!

Another addition I was happy to see is support for 10-bit HEIFs, which offer a middle ground between JPEG and RAW. Despite being several years old now, few non-phone cameras have incorporated this modern image format, so it’s nice to see another manufacturer embrace it.

All of these features combine for a camera that is more capable in more situations than any X Series model that’s come before. But for the stills-first photographer, all those pros have to be weighed against the con of using a crop sensor. And with some capable full-frame cameras, such as the $1,999 Nikon Z 6II, coming in at hundreds less, it’s not a decision to make lightly. 

Those cheaper full-frame bodies can’t match the X-H2S’s video chops, but I feel for X-H1 users who don’t need such extreme movie capabilities. If you fall into that camp, Fujifilm is working on a camera that might be worth holding out for: a second X-H2 model with a 40MP sensor that’s more focused on still photography. Details will come at the next X Summit in September.

If Fujifilm is indeed splitting its customers into distinct still and video groups, then it makes sense the X-H2S wouldn’t seek to appeal to the same exact customer who bought an X-H1. And when looking at the whole photo/video package, the X-H2S might be the most bang-for-buck camera on the market. If you need a hybrid content creation machine with truly professional video features, it’s either this, the even-smaller-sensor LUMIX GH6, or something much more expensive from the full-frame world.

Plus, you can buy a fan for it. How cool is that?