DPReview: Fujifilm interview: ‘We want the X-H1 to be friendly for DSLR users’ – COMMENTARY

https://www.dpreview.com/interviews/6430541330/fujifilm-interview-we-want-the-x-h1-to-be-friendly-for-dslr-users

“… How did you decide on what video features to include in the camera? Some expected features – like zebra – are missing.

Honestly, we couldn’t add zebra because of hardware constraints. The processor cannot support it. It requires too much processing power. At this time, we’ve achieved the best possible performance for the processor….

Is 8-bit capture enough, for F-Log recording?

There are 10-bit cameras on the market, but we recommend using Eterna to short-cut the recording process. We think 8-bit is enough for good quality….”

fujifilm_xh1_rear_battery_grip_1024px_60%
Fujifilm X-H1 with Fujifilm VPB-XH1 Vertical Power Booster Grip

Commentary

With the X-H1 Fujifilm has successfully pulled off the in-body image stabilization that we were told was simply not possible, and what a success Fujifilm’s IBIS appears to be with a maximum of 5.5 stops for non-stabilized lenses like the Fujinon XF 35mm f/1.4 R.

The X-H1 specifications list includes other useful new features including feather-touch shutter button, internal F-Log, Eterna movie film simulation, touchscreen, flicker reduction and 68 weather resistance sealing points on the camera body with a further 26 on the battery grip.

With the X-H1 positioned as a hybrid for stills photographers and independent moviemakers, the camera’s other specifications are something of a compromise and that is also due to being equipped with the same X-Trans CMOS III APS-C sensor and X-Processor Pro used in its older Fujifilm siblings such as the X-Pro2 and X-T2.

fujifilm_mhg-xpro2_hand_grip_x-pro2_01_1024px
Right now the Fujifilm X-Pro2 fills many of my documentary photography needs and I am looking forward to the next versions of Fujifilm’s X-Trans sensor and X-Processor Pro coming to the X-Pro3 as well as the X-T3 and X-H2. I have been hanging out for a companion for my X-Pro2 for wider lenses than 18mm and longer lenses than 56mm, but if the X-H2 comes with the essential features left out of the X-H1, then I may choose an X-H2 instead. Time will tell.

The rumor sites have reported, though, that the Fujifilm X-T3 DSLR-style camera will be announced later in the year at photokina and will have a new X-Trans sensor of between 24 and 30 megapixels, and a new X-Processor Pro, although no IBIS.

With a more powerful processing engine on the way, Fujifilm may be able to add three crucial features missing from the X-H1 – exposure zebras, 10-bit 4:2:2 4K video and 4K 60fps – to its successor, presumably to be named the X-H2.

I am hoping that this new sensor and processor will find its way into the successor to my beloved X-Pro2, probably to be named the X-Pro3, along with a much improved electronic viewfinder (EVF) to match the already high quality of the X-Pro2’s Advanced Hybrid optical viewfinder and monitor.

The X-Pro2 is the almost perfect, affordable documentary photography and photojournalism rangefinder camera and I am looking forward to adding wider and perhaps longer Fujinon X-Mount lenses to my kit for use with a brighter, clearer and more colour-accurate EVF on a zebra-equipped X-Pro3.

The X-H1 is a remarkable advance in Fujifilm’s DSLR-style offerings and will be snapped up by those of us still able to work commercially or with large enough budgets to acquire each new camera that appears.

Being a self-funded documentarian nowadays, I have to be more cautious with new gear and so am looking forward to the X-H2 and especially the X-Pro3.

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Fujifilm X-H1: DSLR-Style Stills Camera on Steroids, 5-Axis IBIS 8-Bit 4:2:2 Video Contender, or Both? – List of Links and Videos

Fujifilm has announced the Fujifilm X-H1 photography and video hybrid APS-C Super 35 DSLR-style camera, and it comes with a range of new features and features yet to arrive and that may appear in firmware updates later in the year or not at all. 

Fujifilm also announced the long-awaited X-Mount versions of its first two affordable parfocal cinema zoom lenses for use with its X-Mount Super 35/APS-C cameras and especially the X-H1, the Fujinon MKX 18-55mm T2.9 and Fujinon MKX 50-135mm T2.9, 

fujifilm_xh1_front_battery_grip_18-55mm_1024px_60%
Fujifilm X-H1 with the excellent Fujinon XF 18-55mm f/2.8-4.0 R LM OIS kit zoom lens and Fujifilm VPB-XH1 Vertical Power Booster Grip

Fujifilm X-H1

Fujifilm Fujinon MKX 18-55mm T2.9 and Fujinon MKX 50-135mm T2.9 parfocal cinema zoom lenses

Articles & Reviews

Articles or reviews by female moviemakers or photographers with pre-announcement access to the Fujifilm X-H1 = 1 (one)

Press releases

Product Pages

Videos by Fujifilm

Fujifilm videos about female moviemakers or photographers = 3 (three), as part of the Markus&Koala celebrity and fashion photography duo.

Fujifilm videos featuring actresses portraying non-professional moviemakers or photographers = 1 (one)

Videos by Retailers, Reviewers and Vloggers

Videos by female moviemakers, photographers or retail store staff members with pre-announcement access to the Fujifilm X-H1 = 1 (one)

Image Credit

Header image concept and hack by Carmel D. Morris.

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  • Fujifilm EC-XH Wide EyecupB&H
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  • Fujifilm MKX50-135mm T2.9 Lens (Fuji X-Mount)B&H
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Fuji Rumors: Fujifilm X-H1: Full English Press Release and More Images with MK Lenses

https://www.fujirumors.com/fujifilm-x-h1-full-english-press-release-images-mk-lenses/

“In case you missed it, I have google translated to English the entire press release leaked in German as well as manually translated the full specs sheet (see below). You can also download the specs sheet in English here at my dropbox….”

fujifilm_rumor_x-h1_battery_grip_white_01_1024px_60%
Fujifilm X-H1 with battery grip and Fujinon XF 18-55mm f/2.8-4.0 R LM OIS kit zoom, image released by Nokishita and republished at Fuji Rumors.

Commentary

fujifilm_rumor_x-h1_fujinon_cine_zoom_square_01_1024px_60%
Fujifilm X-H1 with Fujinon MK 18-55mm T2.9 X-Mount Cinema Zoom

Fuji Rumors has outdone itself on the Fujifilm X-H1 with heavily detailed specifications lists, press releases, images and size comparisons between the X-H1 and other hybrid stills/video cameras whether mirrorless or DSLR, in advance of Fujifilm’s official X-H1 product announcement on February 15.

That announcement will no doubt also include the X-Mount versions of Fujifilm’s MK Series 18-55mm T2.9 and 50-135mm T2.9 cinema zoom lenses, previously released in E-Mount versions for Sony cinema and Sony Alpha hybrid cameras in the α7 and α9 series.

I will be publishing official product photographs, specifications, and links to articles and videos by moviemakers and photographers who have been working with pre-production versions of the Fujifilm X-H1 and X-Mount versions of the Fujinon MK Series zoom lenses after Fujifilm’s announcement on the 15th and no doubt that article will be a lengthy one.

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Samsung NX1 with Samsung Premium S 50-150mm f/2.8 ED OIS zoom lens, still the benchmark for up-to-date Super 35mm hybrid video cameras, though it missed out on a fully-articulated monitor and 10-bit 4:2:2.

With the leaks by DigiCame-Info, Fuji Rumors and Nokishita, there has been much discussion and speculation at online moviemaking fora, much of it comparing the X-H1’s video specifications to Panasonic’s Lumix DC-GH5 and DC-GH5S Super 16/Micro Four Thirds cameras, and Samsung’s discontinued but still revolutionary Super 35/APS-C NX1.

All three cameras raised the bar for mirrorless video very high indeed.

This is the set of video-centric features I have been hoping to see appear in the X-H1:

  • 4K UHD and 4K DCI 200 Mbit
  • 4K 60p
  • 5-axis in-body image stabilization (IBIS) that works in conjunction with optical image stabilization (OIS)
  • 10-bit 4:2:2
  • Battery grip with full controls for vertical/portrait orientation
  • Decent battery sizes
  • Decent body grip
  • Decent set of of well-spaced colour-matched native X-Mount prime and zoom lenses with manual clutch focus or at least linear focus-by-wire
  • Dual memory card slots
  • Exposure zebras with ability to set percentages/IRE levels
  • External recording via HDMI 2.0+
  • Full 10-bit internal F-Log
  • Fully-articulated monitor
  • Fully-customizable picture profiles
  • In-body audio-monitoring aka headphone port
  • Unlimited recording duration
  • Viable eye and face autofocus
zeiss_contax_n1_b&h_square_1024px_60%
Is this the camera that inspired Fujifilm’s X-H1 designers? The Contax N1 autofocus analog SLR, last in a long line of Kyocera-made Contax cameras licensing the Contax brand from Zeiss, released in 2000. Kyocera also made Yashica brand cameras.

How many of these boxes, as it were, will the DSLR-style Fujifilm X-H1 tick and how much will any non-inclusion of essential features mitigate against the X-H1 in being a viable, up-to-date video camera for the sorts of productions that warrant Super 35 image quality?

Or, will that good old Australian saying, “close enough is good enough”, be applicable enough in the case of the Fujifilm X-H1?

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Fujifilm… I’m Cross Over Your Aversion to Zebras

While awaiting Fujifilm’s next firmware update for the X-Pro2, version 4.0.0, the one that will finally bring the 4K video mode staffers believed would arrive soon after the release of the X-T2, one’s mind turns to other necessary video features unmentioned in Fujifilm’s press release on the subject. 

A confession: I have shot far less video on the X-Pro2 than I had anticipated when I placed the order for mine.

The X-Pro2’s pre-4K 1080p HD video certainly has its uses – I suspect that more documentaries are being shot in 1080p than 4K at the moment – and I have no problem with the idea of clicking my X-Pro2’s video-programmed Fn button should a video-worthy moment arise.

Photographing for SOOC JPEGs with Fujifilm’s X-Pro2 is not unlike using colour reversal aka transparency films during the analog era. You need to get your exposure dead accurate as there is only so much you can do to refine it in post. The X-Pro2’s EVF is one of the most inaccurate in showing how the final shot will look of all my current cameras so there is a long, trial and error learning process. The histogram is only so useful. Exposure zebras would be a far better option but Fujifilm is deaf and blind to the necessity of adding them to all its cameras’ firmware. Why?

But the more I explore SOOC (straight out of camera) JPEGs using custom settings shared online, the less attractive is X-Pro2 video shot using its current firmware.

Try it for yourself if you have an X-Pro2.

Go to Thomas Fitzgerald’s article How I shoot with my X-Pro 2 and input the lovely customized Provia look that he shares there.

Allocate video to a function button if you have not already done so – I chose Fn for its proximity to the X-Pro2’s release button.

Find something nice to stand in front of, shoot a JPEG then some video footage, and compare.

Some difference.

While it is possible to improve the footage in your nonlinear editing to colour grading software, the disappointment lingers and there is no excuse in this day and age why the X-Pro2’s video functionality did not receive the same customizability options as JPEGs from the camera’s inception way back when.

The other big disappointment of video on the X-Pro2 and Fujifilm’s other cameras is their lack of exposure zebras.

Firmware update after update comes and goes with none receiving one of the most essential core shooting functionalities for cinematography and stills photography, zebras.

Five months ago Fujifilm released a video on photographer-turned-cinematographer Richard Blanshard who related that he had shared a list of videocentric improvements some of which may find their way into future firmware upgrades.

I cannot imagine that Mr Blanshard’s list did not include exposure zebras.

Another item I hope was in that list is the ability to record F-Log in-camera.

I have been relying on Panasonic cameras for video for some time now and their exposure zebras functionality has proven vital when shooting movies and photographs.

Panasonic’s Lumix GH5 is an outstanding stills and video camera and Fujifilm can learn more than a few lessons from their Super 16/Micro Four Thirds mirrorless rival.

Besides their Super 35/APS-C sensors, Fujifilm’s cameras have another advantage Panasonic will never possess, Fujifilm’s 80-year history and deep knowledge of analog film stocks and digital film emulation.

Imagine if Fujifilm properly implemented that on the X-Pro2 then combined it with finally getting exposure right via zebras.

I am enjoying the pleasures and challenges of simulating some of the greatest analog film stocks on my X-Pro2 with Mr Fitzgerald’s Provia-based custom setting but the experience is sullied by having to rely on the X-Pro2’s tiny histogram and judging correct exposure on its less-than-stellar electronic viewfinder (EVF).

The star of the X-Pro2 concept is its advanced hybrid multi viewfinder (HMVF) especially when using its electronic rangefinder (ERF) located at lower right of its optical viewfinder (OVF) that shows exactly what the camera’s lens is seeing.

Imagine getting exposure perfect for raw and JPEG photographs or video via zebras in the ERF window, or the EVF or LCD monitor.

Now that would be stellar and tempt me over to shooting Super 35 4K video with beautiful film simulations or F-Log on my Fujifilm X-Pro2.

Fingers crossed that Fujifilm gets it right in late December’s firmware version 4.0.0 for the X-Pro, as well as in firmware version 3.0.0 for the X-T2 late November.

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Image Credits

Image concept and hack by Carmel D. Morris.

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How to Make the X-T2 a Credible Filmmaking Camera, A Letter to Fujifilm from Paul Leeming

Director/cinematographer Paul Leeming of Leeming LUT One and Visceral Psyche Films recently put Fujifilm’s X-T2 to the test alongside a range of other hybrid stills/video cameras, and believes that the X-T2 has the potential to be one of the best small, affordable Super 35 video production cameras on the market. 

Mr Leeming comes from a classical feature film background and for some years owned and hired out several RED Super 35 digital movie cameras. In recent years he has adopted the Panasonic Lumix DMC-GH4 Super 16 camera as his mainstay, due to its advanced, near-complete moviemaking feature set.

The GH4’s successor, the GH5, due to appear sometime early 2017, looks set to acquire even more advanced moviemaking features. Meanwhile, there is a clear gap in the market for production-ready Super 35 cameras with Samsung discontinuing its very promising Samsung NX1 4K hybrid in 2015.

_2230589_hdr_hollywood_800px
Fujifilm X-T2 with Røde VideoMic Pro, Sennheiser noise-cancelling earphones and Peak Design Cuff and Clutch straps.

Unlike Samsung, Fujifilm has a long history of producing high-end video camera lenses, excellent stills lenses of all formats, and top quality integrated camera and lens systems in a number of formats under its own brand name and in collaboration with Hasselblad.

Add all that to Fujifilm’s achievements in making stills and movie film and the Japanese company has what it takes to produce one of the most sought-after Super 35 movie production cameras, if it wishes.

Fujifilm’s best first step would be to take on board Mr Leeming’s firmware and other suggestions, below, consult on a range of suitable lenses and commence work on an even more video-capable X-T2 successor, the X-T3 or X-T2S.


Fujifilm X-T2 Suggested Improvements, by Paul Leeming

Having tested two X-T2 cameras now, there are several fairly glaring omissions which would need to be added and/or fixed in order to present a credible filmmaking camera to the community.

1. White Balance in Video Mode

There is currently no way to set a custom white balance while in video mode, whereby you use a spectrally neutral white or grey reference card to balance out the RGB channels, then save that balance to one of the C1, C2 or C3 colour slots. Given that maximum dynamic range and colour tonality in 8bit 4:2:0 depends on extracting the fullest range out of each RGB channel, it is imperative that a Custom White Balance be easily achievable in any video mode, ideally able to be mapped to a Custom Function button so that a shooter can hit the function, auto white balance in video mode, and have the subsequent slot kept in operation until otherwise updated or changed.

2. Zebras

To accurately judge where overexposure occurs, there is a need for zebras being active in all video modes. These zebras should ideally be adjustable, such that the user can set, for example, 70% IRE, and have it accurately reflected on screen. To judge overexposure, 100% IRE or 100% zebras should show where the clipping point is occuring in real time, so that the user can adjust iris, ISO or shutter as required to reduce exposure to the point where it is no longer clipping. For log-based shooting using F-log, the zebras should still accurately indicate where the clipping point is, even if it occurs before 100% IRE (for example, 79% IRE).

3. DCI 4K

The camera is very close to achieving this already. DCI 4K is 4096 x 2160 x 24.00fps. I’ve tested two different cameras and one had 24.00fps and 23.98fps listed separately; the other did not (different firmware I guess). Both of these however only allowed 3840 x 2160, not 4096 x 2160 as defined by DCI 4K. Having used the DCI 4K feature of the Panasonic GH4 camera previously to match cinema standards fully, the addition of 256 pixels of width plus the 24.00fps framerate would set the X-T2 in a rarified class of filmmaker cameras which actually support the full DCI 4K spec, as only a couple currently support that combination. Supporting the DCI 4K spec with the X-T2’s Super 35 size sensor would actually push it over the GH4 in terms of sensor size and capability, since the GH4 is a M43 sensor only.

4. Histogram

The histogram does not show up in 4K shooting modes that I can see, but it should, along with the zebras mentioned above. Between the two, the filmmaker can easily judge exposure and adjust to maximise dynamic range without clipping anything in the shot. It needs to be a selectable option in all video modes.

5. Unlimited Recording Time

There are two things here that need addressing – first is the 10 minute limit without the added battery grip, and the second is the 30 minute limit even with the grip attached.

First off, there are basically no other cameras that limit their recording to under 30 minutes without needing an additional expense of a battery grip, which also adds bulk and weight to the camera. If this is really a hardware problem with not having enough power, then offer an option such as external power through a dummy battery or USB power input.

Second is the 30-minute artificial limitation to avoid taxing the camera as a video camera. This is purely arbitrary and given that most filmmakers often use their cameras for documentaries and interviews, etcetera, should be something that can be offered as an option, or at least done by region so that in the US, for example, you can sell the unlimited recording model (such as the Panasonic GH4 again, whose US and GH4R models offer unlimited recording time, limited only by the SD card or power running out).

6. F-Log Preview

Currently, I cannot view F-Log colourimetry until hitting record, which causes all sorts of issues with external monitoring using LUTs, etcetera. F-Log needs to show up in the colour space it natively uses, at all times, not only when hitting record.

7. F-Log Internal Recording

I am very aware of the potential issues for 8 bit 4:2:0 log recording to cause unwanted artifacts (see the GH4 for what NOT to do here). However, it should be something the user can choose to enable or not, for testing purposes and for those who don’t have an external recorder handy.

8. F-Log 10bit HDMI Output

The GH4 offers 10bit 4:2:2 HDMI output in full DCI 4K, and has done since it was released over two years ago. This should be the minimum standard going into 2017, and would definitely raise the X-T2’s filmmaker credibility.

There are probably more things I could suggest with further testing of the camera, but getting most of the above things fixed would go a long way to putting the X-T2 close to the top of the mirrorless APS-C camera pile for early 2017.

You have probably noticed I refer to the Panasonic GH4 a lot. That’s because it is the most well-designed consumer-facing mirrorless camera I’ve used and tested in depth (and the GH5 looks to best it in some significant ways in early 2017). It has ergonomic controls, a good monitor and lots of other features which make it easy to use on film sets. It really should be the minimum to aspire to in terms of all of the above, for the X-T2 and future cameras going forward.

Closing with my ultimate wishlist for a mirrorless camera in early 2017, in case you want to blow the industry wide open…

  • Full Frame sensor with no video mode crop.
  • DCI 4K (4096 x 2160 x 24.00fps) recording internally to 10bit 4:2:2 in whatever format/media works best.
  • Rolling shutter of less than 14ms.
  • 13-14 stops of dynamic range minimum.
  • 60fps maximum framerate using DCI 4K at full 10bit 4:2:2 internally.
  • Zebras, histogram, false colour mode to judge exposure.
  • No internal recording time limitation.
  • External power using either a dummy battery with cable or USB-C power delivery spectrally.
  • Fully rotating monitor like that on the Panasonic GH4.

Feel free to contact me with feedback or questions, as I would dearly like to see this camera become a real alternative to the GH4 and soon GH5, given its larger sensor and potential colour rendition.

Hope this helps!

Regards,

Paul Leeming
Director & Cinematographer
Visceral Psyche Films
www.visceralpsyche.com


Image Credits

Header image concept and hack by Carmel D. Morris.

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