Two superb new cameras, but which variant of the new flagship Fujifilm X-H2 should you be looking at, and what does each have to offer that could make it a game changer for your business?

YES, WE ALL KNOW that joke by now: you wait so long for a dynamic new Fujifilm X-Series flagship and then two come along together. Well, not quite together as it happens, but within a couple of months of each other, and the exciting thing is that the X-H2S and the X-H2 both come with their own set of attributes that makes them perfect for a particular type of photographer/filmmaker.

One of the key shared features is the NP-W235 battery, which has been designed to work across both X-H2 variants.

However, this wonderful degree of choice has also meant that decisions have to be made in terms of working out which variant is the one to go for. Quite deliberately, although both cameras look identical and come with a raft of shared features, there are some fundamental differences between them, and if you’re pondering which one might best suit your requirements then it’s time to take a closer look to work out which feature set most closely aligns with the genre of photography you happen to be specialising in.

Common Elements

First of all, let’s take a look at the features that are common to both of the new cameras, and which help to make them such high performing professional machines. Both the X-H2 and the XH2S share the same image processing engine, body design and operability, weather sealing, electronic viewfinder, variangle LCD, dual-card slots and the same NP-W235 battery, and they both share accessory compatibility.

They also both come with 5-axis inbody image stabilisation of up to 7-stops, together with a hybrid AF system with 117/425 points, plus subject detection. There’s also a microphone input and headphone output on board, together with a full-size HDMI port and 10Gbps USB-C. A stand-out set of features in other words, and there’s enough similarity between the pair to ensure that, if you were to pick one model up immediately after the other, you would feel completely at home and be ready to start shooting.

Spot the Difference

The first fundamental difference is the sensor at the heart of each of the cameras. Since the main remit of the XH2S model is to deliver speed, it’s not been found necessary to fit it with an ultra-high-resolution chip.

Indeed, many sporting professionals these days vastly prefer something in the 26.1MP range in any case, since it enables much faster transferring of images from a remote location, such as pitch-side. Being stacked also means that the sensor in the S model comes with more readout speed.

Also identical are the on-board connections on the two cameras, which includes a full-size HDMI port plus 10Gbps USB-C.

For those shooting subjects where there is less need for ultimate speed – say a fashion or portrait shoot, or a commercial still life in the studio – there could be a much more pressing requirement for the highest possible resolution instead, and here what the 40MP the sensor in the X-H2 can deliver is at the absolute edge of what’s available right now, the model boasting the highest resolution in the history of the X-Series, in both stills and video.

There are also fundamental differences to note between the two cameras in terms of video capability. The high resolution of its sensor allows the X-H2 to record a stunning 8K up to 30p, while you can also select 6.2K video up to 30p. In 4K, you can work up to 30p with oversampling from 8K, or up to 60p with sub-sampling. In Full HD, meanwhile, the frame rate goes up to 240p if the High Speed mode is selected.

The X-H2S isn’t capable of reaching 8K, but is still a highly capable hybrid camera, coming with the ability to record 6.2K 30p in the 3:2 aspect ratio (open gate), as well as 4K 120p, albeit with a 1.29x sensor crop. Both cameras offer a multitude of codecs, including H.265 and Apple Prores, and you can record 10-bit 4:2:2 internally or 12-bit RAW via HDMI and an optional recorder. Meanwhile the good news is that neither camera comes with the 30-minute recording limitation, and they are both set up to cope with the demands of the professional who might be looking to also offer a video service to their clients.

The Need for Speed

The credentials of the X-H2S as a camera that’s been built for action become all the more apparent when you compare its shooting speed to that of the X-H2. Using its mechanical shutter the X-H2 can manage a highly respectable 15fps, the same as the X-H2S, but when you switch to electronic shutter the difference is marked. Here the S model is capable of a phenomenal shooting speed of up to 40fps while maintaining full AF and AE tracking, and there is no sensor crop or any other limitation to worry about as a trade-off. The X-H2 can reach 20fps, but this involves a 1.29x crop on the sensor, reducing resolution to 24MP.

So, it’s clear that the S variant is the winner here if you’re the likes of a sports or a wildlife photographer, who might be having to work around whatever a fastmoving subject is willing to give them. However, if you’re looking to produce a file that comes with the capability to go huge then the X-H2 is the one you need, and there is one further trick up its sleeve that will give you yet more bang for your buck.

This is the feature known as Pixel Shift Multi Shot, the first time that it’s been included on a Fujifilm X-Series camera. This is the ability of the camera to composite multiple shots to create more resolution, with the X-H2 coming with the capability to shoot 20 images in a row, moving the sensor by half a pixel in-between shots. These are then subsequently combined in Pixel Shift Combiner software to create a mighty 160MP DNG file, plenty to keep even the most demanding of advertising clients more than happy.

At the end of the day the choice is down to the individual, with the X-H2S being the more expensive model by around £400-500. For some there will be clear reasons to go for one over the other, and that’s exactly what Fujifilm had in mind when bringing them to market. However, for others the decision will be one that’s harder to make, with the feature set on offer from one of the models suiting some jobs, while perhaps the rival model would be a better fit for others.

The fact is that, whichever camera you go for, you know for sure that you’re going to find yourself with a machine that’s capable of delivering top professional results. And if you decide that you need to go for both cameras you also know that their ultimate compatibility ensures that they will be the perfect A and B camera in your line-up!

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