Fujifilm seems to be hinting that the X-H1 wasn’t a one-off. But in a reality that’s still waiting for an X-H2, and given the X-T4 isn’t conceptually very distant from the original X-H1, it’s reasonable that some X-H1 owners might consider upgrading to Fujifilm’s newest image stabilized stills and video camera.
Alternatively, there do seem to be a few unsold X-H1s still available if you dig around.
So what does two years (and nine days) of progress look like, for Fujifilm’s most video-centric models? Is it worth the upgrade or is now the time to bag yourself a bargain?
Image stabilization is pretty much the defining feature of both cameras. The X-H1 was Fujifilm’s first attempt at in-body stabilization and is built on a larger system than the fully electromagnetic design used in the X-T4.
Initially Fujifilm used the optical stabilization systems to provide pitch and yaw correction when an OIS lens was attached to the X-H1, leaving the in-body system handling translational movements and roll. However, with firmware 2.00, this was changed to use optical and in-body stabilization simultaneously to correct pitch and yaw, which saw a huge increase in the rated correction with some OIS lenses.
The X-T4 builds on this, with the new system typically a roughly 1EV higher rating than the X-H1 can, with either a prime or zoom lens attached. Unless you regularly shoot at extreme shutter speeds, this is most likely to mean that more shots are steady, which is a benefit that’s sometimes difficult to appreciate, since it’s difficult to notice an increased absence of shaken shots.
In video, both cameras are somewhat prone to slightly ‘grabby’ motion if you try to pan slowly, as they aren’t always good at distinguishing between shake and intentional movement. This issue was partially addressed on the X-H1’s with firmware 2.00 and is now very similar to that of the X-T4 in this regard.
The difference that is likely to be noticeable is that the X-T4’s IS system is quieter than that of the X-H1, which can sometimes make its presence felt if you capture audio internally.
The X-T4 also has a ‘Boost IS’ mode, which attempts to correct all movement, helping to give more steady results for hand-holding what are supposed to be ‘locked-off’ shots.
Headline video specs
The X-H1 boasted a strong video spec relative to the time it was released, but the X-T4 significantly exceeds it.
The biggest change is that the X-T4 can capture 10-bit footage internally, whereas all the X-H1’s modes are 8-bit. This difference is most noticeable when shooting Log footage. Log gamma distributes the available data values relatively evenly between the brightness levels you’ve captured, to retain as much flexibility as possible when you color grade the footage. Having 1024 values (that’s the ’10-bit’ part) to encode your capture, rather than 256, gives you scope for more adjustment before posterization starts to appear.
The other obvious spec change is that the X-T4 can shoot 60p 4K footage, whereas the X-H1 tops-out at 30p. 60p can convey fast motion more effectively than slower frame rates, and can be slowed-down to give a 1/2 or 2/5ths speed slow-motion effect.
The X-T4 also gains an All-I compression option, which saves full data about each frame, rather than just the differences, maintaining better quality, especially in scenes with lots of movement. This includes a 400 Mbps H.265 option that’s just one of the higher bitrate modes offered by the X-T4, above and beyond the 200 Mbps H.264 capture of the X-H1.
Finally, the X-T4 has a means of monitoring audio, which the X-H1 body lacks. The newer camera comes supplied with a USB adaptor dongle for attaching headphones, whereas X-H1 owners need to buy a battery grip to gain this function.
One of the biggest changes in video capability might not be obvious from the spec sheet. The X-H1 uses a 1.17x cropped region to shoot its 4K footage, while the X-T4 uses the full width (there’s a similar crop to the X-T4’s 60p mode, but the X-H1 can’t shoot 60p).
This may not sound like a big deal, but it means that a 16mm lens on an X-H1 ends up behaving more like a 29mm equivalent lens than a 24mm equivalent. It makes it more difficult to find genuinely wide-angle options.
By contrast, the X-T4’s 4K uses an angle of view that’s much closer to the one in stills mode (the shift from 3:2 to video aspect ratio narrows things a little), meaning that the lenses designed to be wide for stills remain wide for video. In turn, this means less lens swapping and less need to buy wider lenses just for video shooting.
Better video interface
Fujifilm has been progressively improving its video interface since the introduction of the X-H1. Both cameras have an onscreen interface that can be controlled with the touchscreen, joystick or rear command dial, but the X-T4’s variant is larger, to make touchscreen operation easier. The X-T4 also lets use use the camera’s command dials to set exposure while in Movie Optimized Control mode. That may not sound like a big change, but it makes everything that bit quicker to use.
The X-T4 also lets you resize the AF point in video, allowing you to be more precise about which object you’re tapping to pull focus to.
In addition, the X-T4 gains a view assist mode that gives a Rec709-like preview when you’re shooting Log footage, making it much easier to visualize what the final result will look like.
But perhaps the biggest productivity benefit of the X-T4 over the X-H1 for anyone shooting both stills and video is the provision of a dedicated switch for jumping between the two modes. In part because it’s easier to operate quickly, without accidentally selecting the wrong drive mode, but also because it allows the complete separation of the stills and video menus, so that you only encounter stills-related settings in stills mode, and vice versa. This frees up space in both, allowing separate tabs for timecode and mic setup, rather than everything being bundled into a solitary video tab.
Another big difference that will be pertinent to both stills and video shooters is battery life. The X-H1 uses the older NP-W126S battery, which has a capacity of 8.7Wh. The X-T4 has a larger NP-W235 battery which offers 15.8Wh.
As those numbers imply, this makes a big difference. The X-H1 is rated for 310 shots per charge if shot using its rear LCD and 300 through its viewfinder. The X-T3, meanwhile, is rated at 500 shots per charge, despite having a higher-resolution rear screen. And, while it’s common to get many, many more shots than this, depending on your usage, we’d generally expect this roughly 5:3 ratio to indicate better endurance from the X-T4 for most people’s usage.
Another notable difference is that, while the X-H1 can be charged over its (Micro B Superspeed) USB port, the X-T4 can be charged or operated using power to its Type C USB socket.
The other power-related difference between the two cameras is the role played by the accessory battery grip.
On the X-T4, the grip provides room for two additional batteries, adds some portrait orientation controls and beefs-up the front grip of the camera. This extends battery life and provides a more solid foundation for portrait-orientation shooting, but isn’t needed to expand the camera’s core capability.
It’s a different story with the X-H1. In addition to those other benefits an add-on grip usually provides, the VPB-XH1 adds a headphone socket as the only way of gaining audio monitoring on the X-H1, and boosts the shooting rate of the camera from 8 fps to 11 fps when using its mechanical shutter.
On the stills shooting side of things, the X-T4 gains two generations of improvement in AF speed, eye-AF and focus tracking performance. This may not sound like a lot, in the light of our recent X-T4 review, but much of what counted against the X-T4 was that some of its peers have got so good. Side-by-side with its forebear, the X-T4 is significantly improved.
Beyond the improved algorithms, the X-T4 also benefits from having phase detection AF elements spread across its entire sensor, allowing depth-aware focus almost anywhere in the scene. By contrast (hah!) the X-H1’s phase detection is restricted to a central square covering just over a third of the width of the sensor.
The X-T4 also shoots faster than the X-H1: 15 fps with its mechanical shutter and 20 in e-shutter mode, as opposed to 8 fps and 14 fps for the older model. The X-H1 could up its game to 11 fps, mechanical, if used with the battery grip, but it won’t match the hit rate of the X-T4.
The one area in which the X-H1 isn’t outdone is in terms of handling, mostly because there are distinct differences in their outward design.
The older X-H1 has a more pronounced grip, making it more comfortable to hold with larger lenses. It also has a top-plate settings LCD, which some photographers really love. This comes at the expense of the X-T4’s dedicated exposure compensation dial, instead demanding you press a button or assign the feature to a command dial.
The X-H1 has an extremely sensitive shutter button that, again, some users love (and which can be adjusted, for a fee, if you don’t), mounted on a downward sloping platform, whereas the X-T4 has a vertically-facing shutter button with threading for a cable release.
Both cameras have AF-On buttons on the back, for those that like to ‘back-button focus’ but the X-T4’s is more prominent, whereas the X-H1’s sits next to a raised AEL button (the functions of these two buttons can be swapped, though, so it’s mainly the risk of accidentally pressing the wrong button that differentiates the two approaches).
One of the most divisive differences between the two cameras is the arrangement of their rear screens. The X-H1 (right, in the picture above) has a 1.04M dot (720 x 640) display mounted on a two-axis cradle, while the X-T4 has a 1.62M dot (900 x 600) panel on a fully articulating hinge.
The X-H1’s arrangement is excellent for photography, and can be tilted up towards the user both in the landscape and portrait orientation, while remaining on-axis with the lens. This is great for composing oddly-angled images with the camera positioned above or below your usual shooting position.
The X-T4’s fully articulated screen tends to be the preferred option for videographers or vloggers. Its position away from the axis of the lens demands better spatial awareness when aligning off-angle shots, but it also has the benefit that the screen can be folded in towards the camera for protection.
It’s impressive is how far Fujifilm has progressed in two years. And I don’t, personally, think that’s because of any shortcoming on the part of the X-H1.
There’s a sense in some quarters that the X-H1 was prematurely abandoned by Fujifilm when, as the last model of its generation, it didn’t get all the features introduced with the X-T3. But comparing its v2.00 IS behavior and performance to its original state, you could almost argue it got a taste of X-T4 tech, over a year early.
Overall, the X-T4 pushes things forwards in almost every respect, even if it’s not necessarily meant as a like-for-like replacement. And it does so with a list price $200 lower than the X-H1 at launch.
If you can find an X-H1, it’s still a fine camera, especially if it’s at an appropriately good price. But the X-T4 is more capable in almost every respect and to a degree that will be an appreciable improvement across a wide range of photographic and videographic situations.
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