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(Pocket-lint) - With the release of the X-H2S, Fujifilm has made one thing clear: it's tired of being overlooked by the video crowd.

The mirrorless camera packs some serious video chops, including the ability to record ProRes 422 internally with no record time limits. At the same time, it maintains powerful photography features, including staggeringly fast burst shooting at up to 40fps.

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The question is whether it can compete with the likes of Sony, Canon and Panasonic, whose offerings have long been longstanding favourites of the hybrid-shooting world.

We got the chance to take the X-H2S around the Goodwood Festival of Speed - here are our initial impressions.

Our quick take

The X-H2S is one of Fujifilm's most impressive cameras to date. Huge strides in the video department make it a compelling option for hybrid shooters - particularly those who shoot a lot of sports.

Unfortunately, the added expense of the stacked CMOS sensor puts the camera up against stiff competition from the likes of the Sony A7 IV, with its full-frame sensor and superior autofocus.

Still, if speed is what you need, the Sony can't come anywhere close to the burst rate and high-speed video options offered by the X-H2S.

We loved shooting with it and hope to have a chance to further explore its capabilities down the line.

Fujifilm X-H2S initial review: A hybrid speedster

Fujifilm X-H2S

For
  • Incredibly burst shooting
  • Internal ProRes recording
  • 4K 120fps video looks superb
  • Excellent configuration options
  • Well designed body
  • Top LCD is very handy
Against
  • Expensive for an APS-C camera
  • 1080p 240fps videos aren't up to standard
  • IBIS can't quite match Panasonic
  • Autofocus can't quite match Sony

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Design

  • Body: 136.3 x 92.9 x 84.6 mm
  • Weight: 660g
  • Weather-resistant body
  • 1.28-inch monochrome LCD

The X-H2S is a delight to hold - the grip feels natural and secure while all the important buttons and dials remain within easy reach.

There's a sizable display on top of the camera that allows you to check your battery life, storage status and key settings. It's similar to the display on the older X-H1, but, this time, it's better placed, and the inverted colours make it look much more modern.

Pocket-lintFujifilm X-H2S initial review photo 3

It's been a while since we've used a camera with a status LCD like this, and we had almost forgotten how handy it is. It remains visible even with the camera powered down, and lets you quickly check your remaining battery and how many shots you've got left without having to turn the camera on. It's great stuff.

The design is understated, we'd say, but it's attractive and has a subtle retro charm about it. Of course, it's not the most crucial thing in the world, but photography is a visual medium, so it's fair to assume that lot of the target market will appreciate a good-looking tool.

Pocket-lintFujifilm X-H2S initial review photo 11

In a departure from its usual offerings, Fujifilm has done away with the vintage shutter speed and ISO dials, instead opting for a mode dial (with an abundance of custom presets) and a dedicated video recording button. We're sure some photographers will be less than pleased with this decision, but, for a hybrid shooter, this layout makes much more sense.

Connectivity and displays

  • Full-size HDMI, 3.5mm headphone and mic sockets
  • CFexpress and SD card slots
  • 3-inch 1.62 million dot LCD monitor
  • 5.76 million dot OLED EVF

As this is a bit of a video workhorse, having the right connectivity is crucial - and, thankfully, Fujifilm has done a great job here. There's a full-size HDMI port that's capable of outputting up to 6.2K RAW or 4K 4:2:2 with 10-bit depth. And this is joined by a dedicated 3.5mm microphone input and a headphone socket - all of which can be accessed without blocking the articulation of the flip-out screen.

It's a small detail, but one that's really appreciated.

Pocket-lintFujifilm X-H2S initial review photo 6

A CFexpess type B slot has also been added to handle the weighty new codecs (we're talking 2754Mbps for 6.2K ProRes HQ), but, for less intensive tasks, there's still an SD card slot. The camera has a USB-C connector, too, which can be used to power the camera, charge the battery or transfer files to a computer. As far as we can tell, you aren't able to record directly to an external SSD, though.

The day of our testing saw very mixed weather, from dark rain showers to bright sunlight, and both the EVF and monitor performed admirably throughout. Both offer plenty of clarity and allowed us to pull focus and review clips with ease - even in direct sunlight.

Pocket-lintFujifilm X-H2S initial review photo 8

One thing we did notice, however, is that the auto-detect sensor for the EVF was a little over-sensitive, often shutting the monitor off while we were attempting to frame a shot. Of course, this, along with pretty much everything else, is configurable in the menu system, but it's something to watch out for.

Photos and videos

  • APS-C stacked CMOS sensor - 26MP stills
  • Up to 40fps burst shooting / 15fps with mechanical shutter
  • Up to 6.2K 30fps/ 4K 120fps/ 1080p 240fps video
  • Internal ProRes 422, HQ and LT support
  • 7-stop IBIS

Seeing as we were at an event filled with blazing fast sports cars and high-flying stunts, we spent a lot of the day shooting high-speed bursts and super slow-motion video. Luckily, these are areas in which the X-H2S excels. We shot with a combination of the XF16-55mm f2.8 and the XF50-140mm f2.8, depending on the scenario.

Starting with the photo performance, we found ourselves shooting a lot of 15 fps bursts with the mechanical shutter and autofocus. There's something addictive about rattling off shots with that machine-gun sound, and while we're typically quite reserved with how many shots we take in a day, we quickly racked up thousands of images.

Autofocus is much improved over the XT4, particularly with the improved eye-detection algorithms for human subjects. It works with animals, too, which we're happy to see, but, unfortunately, there weren't any at the event to test it with.

As we've come to expect from Fuji, the colours are great and the images come out looking sharp and lifelike. There weren't too many dark spaces for us to test out the low light capabilities, but we managed to grab a couple of shots with the ISO in the low four figures and were impressed by the lack of noise and cleanness of the image.

Moving on to video results, the X-H2S continues to impress. We especially loved the 4K 120fps footage that we were able to capture, although it's worth noting that high-speed 4K videos are subject to a 1.29x crop. At 60fps, you'll get no such cropping.

In our case, with far-away subjects and the limited reach of our 140mm focal range, the crop worked in our favour. We didn't experience any overheating, either, but your mileage may vary in warmer climates.

We shot a lot of 240fps 1080p footage, too, and, while everything looks awesome at such a high frame rate, the image quality certainly suffers - and you have a larger 1.38x crop to deal with. We found that high-speed 1080p videos came out looking a little soft and with some unusual noise that wasn't too pleasing to look at.

We're not exactly sure why this happens and hope that it's something Fujifilm can address in future firmware.

In normal framerates, the video quality is excellent and produces superb colours and sharp, detailed footage. There is an abundance of codecs to choose from, including ProRes 422, so you can select the right bitrate for almost any project imaginable.

The autofocus for video is very good, as well, and the best we've seen from the brand so far - but it's not quite on par with Sony.

The IBIS is a similar story. It's great, but not quite on par with Panasonic. We think this will put the camera in a bit of a strange middle-ground for pure video shooters unless they're dead set on 4K 120fps with an APS-C sensor, but we'll be conducting some more thorough testing over the next few weeks in order to back up this initial suspicion.

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To recap

If you're looking for an APS-C camera for sports photography and videos, the X-H2S is one of the best around. This camera is all about speed, and if fast bursts and slow-motion video are high priorities then the X-H2S won't disappoint.

Writing by Luke Baker. Editing by Conor Allison.