The X-H1 appeared to be the start of a more video-centric line of cameras from Fujifilm. However, we’ve subsequently seen the release the X-T3 and X-T4, both of which provide similar or better levels of video performance.
Does the X-H series still have a future? In a recent interview with DPReview, Toshihisa Iida, General Manager of Fujifilm’s Optical Device and Electronic Imaging Products Division, confirmed that the company plans to keep the X-H line, stating only that ‘the concept will be very different to the X-T series.’
Assuming Fujifilm intends to keep the series video-focused, we decided to contemplate what features would be required to make the X-H2 the undisputed class-leading camera for video. The APS-C/Super35 format remains very popular among videographers for a variety of reasons: fast readout rates, less rolling shutter and relatively compact lenses among them.
Recent Fujifilm cameras delivered great video quality, but lacked important exposure tools designed for videographers. Histograms are great, but we’d like to see waveforms and vectorscopes.
Waveforms help visualize exposure across the entire frame. They tell you how many pixels have a given brightness value as well as where those pixels exist in the image, useful for judging exposure in a specific area of the frame, such as on a subject’s face. Vectorscopes can be used to assess hue and saturation, particularly important given that most video isn’t recorded in Raw format.
To really impress, Fujifilm could even add false-color overlays, which make it easy to quickly judge exposure anywhere in the frame at a glance. Equally important is a workflow that makes video scopes easy to use – accessible at the tap of a button for evaluating exposure.
Video-centric exposure settings
Exposure settings used for photography work fine for video, but they don’t always represent the best workflow for videographers.
We’d like to see an option to set shutter angle as an alternative to shutter speed. Of course, you can always set your shutter speed to replicate a 180° shutter, but each time you switch frame rates you’ll have to update the shutter speed as well. In contrast, a constant shutter angle means you’ll always get the appropriate shutter speed for the frame rate at which you’re shooting. (The ability to lock shutter angle to prevent accidental changes would also be welcome.)
A bonus would be explicit dual gain states, similar to what’s found on the Panasonic GH5S and S1H. This would allow users to expressly determine whether they want to prioritize the widest dynamic range or use the higher-gain step to reduce shadow noise at the expense of some dynamic range. It might also clear up confusion around ISO values that may appear to change when using different modes (e.g. Standard vs Log gamma) even when the underlying amplification remains the same.
A full suite of ports
Video work often requires cameras to be rigged with external accessories, so connection points are crucial.
We don’t expect the X-H2 to embrace the SDI connectors commonly found on pro video cameras, but do hope for a full size HDMI port. Standard HDMI cables are easy to find, and a full size port is going to hold up better over time than the small micro HDMI ports found on other Fujifilm bodies.
We’d also like to see dedicated 3.5mm microphone and headphone jacks. Recent Fujifilm models have relied on a 3.5mm-to-USB-C adapter for headphones, but on a video-centric camera we’d prefer a standard headphone port. Not only does it eliminate a potential point of failure, but we have some other high hopes for that USB-C port.
XLR microphone adapter
In many cases, a simple hot shoe mic with a 3.5mm connector to the camera is just what you need, but what if you want to record high quality audio, possibly from a couple different sources such as lavalier mics, straight into camera? For that, we may want XLR connections.
Panasonic provides a solution to this in the form of its XLR1 adapter (pictured above), which sits in the camera’s hot shoe and provides two XLR inputs with independent controls. Similarly, Sony has its XLR-KTM adapter for mirrorless cameras. It would be a strong statement to videographers if Fujifilm were to introduce a similar product alongside a future X-H2.
Improved video codec
When introduced, the X-H1 set a new bar for video on a Fujifilm camera, but its maximum resolution of 4K/30p, along with 4:2:0 8-bit color and reliance on the H.264 codec, is dated by today’s standards. In contrast, the newer X-T4 shoots internally up to 4K/30p All-I at 400 Mbps, with 4:2:0 10-bit color, using the H.265 codec. (And even goes to 4K/60p, albeit at a lower 200 Mbps.)
At a minimum, we’re hoping to see the X-H2 capture both 4K/60p and 6K/30p internally, with 4:2:2 10-bit color, a high bit rate, and using the H.265 codec.
There have even been suggestions that Fujiflm might use a rumored 8K-capable, 43MP Sony sensor in the X-H2 that’s capable of capturing video at high bit rates. Is it a stretch? It might be, but if true it would be a major differentiator between the X-H2 and Fujifilm’s other models, not to mention the rest of the APS-C mirrorless camera market.
Raw video options
Thanks to recent firmware updates, some mirrorless cameras support ProRes Raw recording when paired with a Atomos recorder. We would expect to see that on the X-H2 as well, but for truly class leading performance we’d like to see Fujifilm go further.
The often overlooked implication of Raw video is that output resolution should match sensor resolution, otherwise it’s necessary to line or column skip to capture a Bayer-like array of data (as occurs on the Nikon Z6). Raw video with an approximate resolution of 6K would closely match the 24MP or 26MP sensors used on recent Fujifilm bodies. If the rumors of a higher resolution, 43MP sensor turn out to be true, such an approach might be required.
Also, remember the USB-C port we didn’t want to use for headphones? How about using it to write Raw video directly to an attached SSD, similar to the Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera or Sigma fp? Design the body with a means to attach it securely and it would fit on a gimbal without fussy rigging.
If Fujifilm wanted to go all-in on video, it could even offer internal Raw recording with selectable compression, similar to the Blackmagic camera. It also raises an interesting question: whether it would make sense to use Apple ProRes Raw or BlackmagicRaw. A popular camera with internal Raw recording could tip the industry in one direction or another.
Though videographers often prefer to use manual focus, autofocus is becoming increasingly important. Recent Fujifilm models have demonstrated impressive autofocus capabilities, though important gaps still exist.
In particular, as improved as Fujifilm’s subject tracking is, there’s still no subject tracking in video. To achieve class-leading status, that’s a pretty important feature we’d want to see added. Additionally, the AF interface could use a revamp; the addition of a tap-to-track feature, similar to the the one found on many Canon cameras, would make the system even more useful.
It’s probably a no-brainer that we’d like to see a fully articulating screen on a video-focused camera. Fortunately, Fujifilm is already doing this on models like the X-T4 and X-A7, so it shouldn’t be a heavy lift to do it on the X-H2. What we’d really like to see is an even more innovative design, maybe along the lines of the one found on the Panasonic S1H, which puts the screen’s articulating hinge on a tilting platform. This allows it to tilt out and avoid interfering with the ports on the side of the camera.
Another upgrade we’d vote for is a move from the 3.69M dot panel found on the X-T4’s EVF to the newer 5.76M dot panel used by several other cameras. The extra resolution would be especially helpful when using tools like video scopes with the camera to your eye.
Improved 5-axis IBIS
Fujifilm introduced in-body image stabilization on the X-H1. While effective for stills, it had some quirks when shooting video. The system had a tendency to overcorrect for intentional movement, and when it hit the limit of its travel would reset in a clumsy way. Fortunately, Fujifilm was able to improve it through firmware.
The 5-axis system in the X-T4 can stabilize video effectively, particularly using its ‘Boost IS’ mode, which provides the maximum correction possible to compensate against any camera movements when taking a static a shot; it works well and can be tripod-like. However, the system still has difficulty distinguishing between intentional and unintentional camera movement, such as pans, resulting in hesitation or jerky video. It’s also noticeably less effective than the sub-full frame video leader, the Panasonic GH5.
We’d like to see a more refined image stabilization algorithm in a future X-H2 for best-in-class handheld video shooting.
Separate menus and settings for stills and video
Separate menus and settings for stills and video is another one of those problems that’s mostly been solved on the X-T4. It even has separate ‘My Menu’ tabs for stills and video. Fujifilm, just port this to the X-H2 and videographers will thank you.
Oh, and throw in a hardware switch between video and stills modes, like the X-T4, while you’re at it. Because it just makes sense.
Unlimited recording time
Wouldn’t it be great if the X-H2 had unlimited recording time?
It would be even greater if you could record continuously while powering the camera via the USB-C port.
Eterna in-camera LUT display
When shooting Log video, Fujifilm’s F-Log View Assist function lets users apply an in-camera F-Log to Rec.709 LUT, which displays an approximation of graded footage while recording in Log.
It would be great to see Fujifilm extend this functionality to include its Eterna film profile. Eterna has proved to be popular among videographers, and Fujifilm has a lovely F-Log to Eterna LUT. Making it available in the View Assist function would be a great addition to the camera.
Anamorphic lens support
Admittedly, we’re getting into niche stuff here. Most people probably won’t be shooting anamorphic lenses, so this is probably a nice-to-have rather than an essential feature. However, if Fujifilm wants to establish itself as a class leader in video, it’s an opportunity.
What does anamorphic support entail? Primarily, the ability to display a desqueezed image in the viewfinder while continuing to record a squeezed anamorphic image in-camera. Anamorphic support would ideally include full-sensor desqueeze, allowing one to use the entire surface area of the sensor when shooting video.
If the camera’s image stabilization could take anamorphic squeeze into account, it would join the Panasonic GH5 and S1H as the only stabilized platforms for anamorphic shooting. As most anamorphics are built for Super35 coverage, this would be a standout feature.
We don’t expect to see all these features on a new X-H2: it’s a pretty big list, and even we’ll admit that some of the items are a bit of a stretch. However, if Fujifilm is serious about putting a stake in the ground with video enthusiasts, this would be a heck of a way to do it.
Of course, it’s entirely possible that Fujifilm has a completely different vision for the X-H series in mind. As we mentioned, there are rumors that a future X-H2 might use a higher resolution (43MP?) sensor. This would allow Fujifilm to significantly differentiate the X-H2 from the rest of its product line for still photography as well, similar to the Nikon Z6/Z7 or Panasonic S1/S1R models. That it might also allow for 8K video would be a significant upside for video enthusiasts.
Anything’s possible, but since the X-H1 had a video bent our gut tells us that, whatever form the camera takes, video will be a significant focus. We’re holding our breath as we wait to find out.
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