A Hike with the Fuji XH-1. By Mohamed Hakem

A Hike with the Fuji XH-1.

By Mohamed Hakem

After the announcement of new Fuji XH-1, which I consider Fuji’s new flag ship over the XT-2 and the Xpro2, I was Interested. I’ve been a Fuji owner for 6 years since the release of X100 and two years later fully migrating from Nikon full frames, I’ve watched how Fuji have developed itself and matured with every camera release. 

I sold my Xpro2 after pre ordering the XH-1, the XPro2 was my least favorite Fuji camera. Don’t get me wrong it’s a very good camera but I just didn’t find myself in it. The lack of articulated LCD was my major disappointment after I got used to in the XT-1. But also I wasn’t very happy with the view finder, despite having the impressive hybrid optical and digital view finder, I still didn’t fall for it, the optical finder with zoom lenses is all but useless, and the digital finder is not as large as the old XT-1. Finally the video was not as impressive, I will not jump into the technical details but other camera brands and even the XT-2 were far superior in that aspect.

I didn’t get the XT-2 but I’ve used it on many occasions and it’s an impressive upgrade over the XT-1 and in the mirrorless segment in general.

After the announcement of the XH-1 I was confused, is this a replacement for the new Xt-2? Why not an XT-2S? But after buying it I immediately knew everything. Being at a high price point same as the Sony A7III, the Fuji XH-1 should offer something new. At first when opening the box I was dazzled by the ruggedness, how solidly and uni-bodly it is. It is not a small camera but still in the range of 700g in weight. The Grip is fantastic and the overall feel is truly amazing. Makes the Sonys look much cheaper. Secondly you will find that unlike the Xpro2, Fuji Engineers thought of everything with no compromise, they threw lovely features in that body. It really is a camera with soul, not just many junk features but the overall feel is fantastic. If the Term H stands for anything then it should be Hybrid as the video capabilities is amazing and on par with the big players. And oh the stabilization IBIS works very well too. 

So having a package of amazing photo quality, solid and rugged feeling, mature lens line up and a competitive video capability is an all in one solution to my needs. Some people argue with the size, but being APS-C will still have the advantage in terms of lenses size compared to the full frame, so the overall package is still much less.

I decided to go on a hike with the camera and I took it through some tough conditions in the deserts of Sinai,Egypt, it experienced heat, dust and small bumps along the way. Switching from photo to video is easy, the high customizability was fantastic and the knobs and buttons were perfectly placed. I just didn’t much like the shutter button as it is too buttery. The touch screen didn’t add anything for me and I think that its something that still needs to mature. As for the usability, after the five days hike through the deserts of sinai, with high mountains of freezing conditions to deep canyons in hot weather, the camera was part of my hand and I was very happy using it. It was an intensive real time test of the XH-1 having it lugged around my bag strap or in my hands from the moment I wake up to the moment I sleep. the obvious feature of charging through the micro USB is finally available and thats how I survived the 5 days with 3 batteries and a power bank. The images were fantastic right out of the camera and I have to admit the post processing was 95% done on Lightroom with basic editing. My next step is diving more into the video capabilities thats good so far .

 So in conclusion:

Pros: Incredible build quality – Fuji photos quality – very capable video camera – highly customizable and the second LCD is amazing – IBIS really works!

Cons: with the battery grip becomes really big and heavy – the battery life is below normal when shooting videos (the grip solves the problem as it cycles through batteries)  – shutter button is too buttery 

My website: www.hakemphotography.com

My instagram: instagram.com/moh_hakem

Purchase the XH1 at Amazon or B&H Photo

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30 Comments

  1. A lovely set of images. I’m locked into Fuji and use it for work. This article was great as for me your images did the talking. I found myself rethinking how I would have framed your images, but that is not a criticism, rather a compliment really as I found myself invested enough to imagine I was there too. I am very interested in picking up an XH1 with grip as I do enjoy shooting primes. PS, Stevehuff.com is looking fantastic, haven’t been enjoying the articles in a while and the layout is really appealing.

  2. Absolutely breathtaking images. Some of the best I’ve seen recently. How have you found the XH1 for astrophotography. Your astro image is splendid. What were your settings for that shot? And did you use any accessories, like light pollution filters or focusing aids? Your photos make me want to try Fuji in addition to my normal Canon and Sony gear. Any advice would be most helpful.

  3. Sorry I’m late to the party, but this post is a gift in so many ways. Your observations regarding the varying experiences across the line are concise and informative. You come across as someone who becomes one with their brush during every stroke on the canvas. But for me, the real treat, is your gorgeous collection of images. Thanks for taking the time to share your passion. It is contagious.

  4. It’s the best Fuji APS-C by far. Grip is amazing and gives a day’s power. For the first time, with a substantial build, and superb IBIS, I can get the best out of the Fujinon lenses. An all round winner. Don’t understand the lukewarm reviews and internet hate its received – totally unjustified. Good choice for your trip and outstanding pictures.

  5. These are nice pictures, good light also nicr colors. But imo, with that kind of money the sony A7III with batis 25, 85 and Zeiss 55 is my prefered choice. Better stills, video and comparable weight..

    Love the XE series from the Fuji though, discreet for street stuff

    • Hi Reza, I travelled with the an ultrawide 10-24 f4, 12mm F2, 56 1.2 and the 16-55 2.8 – if the setup was an equivalent fullframe ot would have broke my back in a 80KM hike for non of any better IQ.

  6. images are great
    looks like the camera suits you well
    it’s important to have camera/lens that suits you, isn’t it? well it’s not enhancing your (already good) skill, but it’s affecting the mood 🙂
    thanks for sharing

  7. As a new Fuji owner (X-T20) I was interested to see your photos and read your account. Both your landscapes and your portraits make a great impact, though how much that is Fuji, how much Lightroom and how much you only you can know!

  8. Great post, amazing photos. The XH1 has potential, I traded mine due to the poor battery life but I’m hoping Fuji will give it a large battery next time around when the new sensor is out.

  9. Very nice shots and the scenery really proves what beautiful images that camera can produce when utilised by a quality photographer. Nice work

  10. Hi Mohamed, I love your images! Definitely love the low light shots, specifically the one with lots of stars. Anyways, battery life has always been the issue with mirrorless cameras, but what they lack in battery life, they deliver through their stunning images. When you say the button is too buttery, what comes to mind is that the finger doesn’t find it right away when clicking it or slips off easily, correct? Would putting a textured sticker on it help? like a stick on carbon fiber sticker, which has texture. Thanks again for sharing your experience With Fuji XH-1, it has monumented my desire to own one.

    • H|i Bethzy! yes the battery life is not impressive at all, with the grip and extra 2 batteries I shot 900 shot.
      No by buttery I mean that sometimes you loose the sense of locking focus and exposure and jump directly to capturing.

  11. A really nice set of images from your hike through the Sinai. They lead me to trust your observations on the three Fuji cameras you discussed. I’m still with my X-T1, so your comments are valuable to me in deciding how to move forward. Thanks!

  12. Hi Mohamed – I like these snaps, and yes I do like the Fuji’s SOOC Jpegs. Though I do shoot JPEG/RAW. I own the same camera and find your comments spot on. These days most cameras do ISO pretty good and I find Fuji’s latest stuff pretty good, regardless of some very not so inciteful comments on the ISO. I do lots of low light city landscapes, and find ISO performance quite good, without too much worry about the dreaded noise. I am happy to hear the camera withstood some harsh conditions, and I find the quality of build very solid. I look forward to many happy photos taking times and actually printing the images, rather than worry about brand, ISO, sensor type, etc.

    • actually the cooked ISO’s of fuji cameras is well documented. I first noticed it when I was metering my fuji xpro2 in the studio. Meters don’t lie……lol

  13. You’re welcome!! I took the 16-55 and the 10-24 for the canyon shots, the night shots were taken by the samyung 12mm f2

    If I had to only choose one it would be the 16-55

  14. Yes, they through lovely features into it…an old sensor and processor. The same old crappy battery. ISO 200 on the Fuji is actually iso 100 on every other camera. So when you think that iso 3200 is pretty close to FF. It is inactuality iso 1600.

  15. Mohamed,
    Great images and thanks for sharing your experience in the Sinai.
    What lens did you take and find most useful during your hike?

    • You’re welcome!! I took the 16-55 and the 10-24 for the canyon shots, the night shots were taken by the samyung 12mm f2

      If I had to only choose one it would be the 16-55

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