UPGRADING FROM THE X-T3 TO THE X-H2: INITIAL IMPRESSIONS
September 6, 2023
Over the summer, I upgraded from my X-T3 to the X-H2. I didn't necessarily need to upgrade but the new 40-megapixel sensor was a compelling update that was hard to ignore. After spending ten days out on a photography trip to the Oregon coast and reviewing and editing the final images, I am pleased to say that the X-H2 is an excellent camera. Below is a summarized list of my notes from that trip on using the X-H2.
Disclaimer: Since I am primarily a landscape photographer, I rarely use tracking autofocus or capture video, so I don't have any relevant information to provide for either one of those. I am focusing exclusively on still performance and overall body design and handling relative to my five years using the X-T3.
- Image quality is superb. The sensor delivers excellent detail and dynamic range.
- I am using two lenses that have been rated by Fujifilm as being capable of realizing the maximum benefit from the 40-megapixel sensor: XF16-55 and XF100-400. My third lens, the XF55-200, is not. However, the images from the XF55-200 look fantastic, so I wouldn't be concerned about any image degradation if you happen to own an 'unoptimized' lens. The 40-megapixel sensor is going to provide excellent detail regardless of whether your XF lenses are considered optimized or not.
- With 0.80x magnification and 5.76 million dot resolution, the EVF is large, clear, and bright and can be further improved by enabling the 120fps refresh rate.
- A small detail but the shutter button is pleasant to use. While the X-T3's was crisp mechanically, the X-H2's shutter button has a spring-like response that feels more controllable. Also, the sound of the shutter is a very satisfying *shniiick*.
- While the X-H2 is not svelte like the X-T3, it is comfortable to use, which, I think, is due in large part to the grip. It doesn't get in the way of access to function buttons and other controls and feels secure in my hand. Your mileage may vary, of course.
- Due to the increase in size, the X-H2 weighs 660 grams (1.45 pounds) to the X-T3's 539 grams (1.18 pounds). On paper, the difference of approximately a quarter pound does not seem like a lot, but it is noticeable, especially with a lens attached. While the increase in weight doesn't bother me, I could see it being a consideration for others.
- Button layout is more or less where I would expect them to be. My only gripe is with the location of the joystick. Since I'm left eye dominate, my thumb is touching my nose when using the joystick with the EVF. If you're right eye dominate, then you won't have this problem. A small complaint but one where I feel the X-T3 had the better implementation.
- I don't miss having the dedicated ISO, shutter speed, and exposure compensation dials. In my original review of the X-T3, I was a convert, but having to use command dials again on the X-H2, I'm reminded that they do have their advantages. Namely, that all three dedicated dial settings from the X-T3 can be adjusted via two command dials and a function button without having to take my hand off the grip. In other words, on-the-fly exposure adjustments are easier to make on the X-H2.
- The top secondary LCD display is crisp and easy to read and can be configured to display different settings. It can also be configured to have a negative (black) or positive (white) display, which is a nice touch.
- I'm undecided about the flip out rear LCD display. The X-H2 is clearly intended for hybrid shooters, so they will likely benefit more from this style of display. For still photography, I think I still prefer the mechanics of the three-way tilting LCD on the X-T3. Also worth mentioning is that if you are using an L-bracket, you won't get the full flip-out articulation because the L-bracket gets in the way. The quality of the display, however, is excellent.
- IBIS is very effective. It has offered some photographic freedom that I wouldn't have considered with the X-T3 simply because I knew I wouldn't have been able to hold the camera still enough to avoid motion blur even with settings favoring shutter priority.
- Adobe's RAW 'Enhance' feature does not seem to extract the full potential of the X-H2's RAF files as compared to other RAW converters. Iridient's X-Transformer, for example, seems better at preserving details than Adobe's built-in Enhance feature. I did not experience this with RAW files from my X-T3 between Iridient and Adobe. The difference, to my eyes, was negligible. Not so with the X-H2. I don't know if it's more noticeable now because of the 40-megapixel sensor but it's worth exploring different RAW converters if you are primarily an Adobe user.
- It's disappointing that a proper external charging adapter isn't included as a standard accessory. To be fair, a USB C charger is included but it requires having the battery in the camera to charge over USB C. While it feels a bit like highway robbery, do yourself a favor and spend the extra $70 for the Fujifilm BC-W235 dual battery charger. It's reasonably fast and better than being tethered to the camera. It's also something you'll likely end up buying anyways once you get additional batteries.
- Instead of two SD card slots, the X-H2 has one CFexpress card slot and one UHS-II card slot. The CFexpress is blazing fast and a nice upgrade. Currently, I have not yet upgraded my UHS-I type cards to UHS-II type cards since the performance boost isn't essential for my landscape photography. If you are like me and have an existing collection of UHS-I type cards, use your money to buy the CFexpress cards first then think about whether UHS-II type cards are necessary. If you are wondering what CFexpress and UHS-II type cards to purchase, you should start by referencing the compatibility charts provided by Fujifilm.
As the title suggests, everything here is based on initial impressions, so some of these notes may be subject to change, but from a photography perspective the X-H2, so far, has delivered the goods. While the premium features offered by the X-H2 — build quality, high resolution EVF, for example — are excellent, the image quality is the star of the show. It's fantastic and proves itself a worthy upgrade from the X-T3.