Introduction

The X-H1 came as a bit of a surprise to me. Not really in terms of feature set. Anyone who’s paying attention would assume there’d be trickle-down from the GFX, albeit, maybe not so quickly. No, the surprise has come in terms of body shape and styling. The X-H1 is a bit of a betrayal of what the X Series started out as way back in 2011, or when Zack declared “the DSLR was dead” in 2013.

I’ve gone from having two small rangefinder-style cameras to compare on my desk to two hulking, gripped, DSLR-style cameras, and little desk room to spare.

It’s a huge shift in strategy for Fuji, and one that I would have thought would bring frustration from their fanbase. This is true to some degree in my experience. I’ve seen comments suggesting Fuji should be putting the engineering time and effort into making the X-Pro “the top of the line again.” That’s not really how it works at Fuji as I understand it. Each camera has its own team, but I can understand the sentiment. The X-Pro used to be Fuji’s biggest camera, and its compact size is a big part of what we bought it for. Hell, that’s what I left Nikon for. I could easily end up with more weight in camera gear on my back on my next trip than I had when I became fed up with lugging so much gear around with me on 8+ hour hikes.

On the other hand, the added size and weight allows Fuji to cram a few features, niceties, and necessary heat sinks into the camera today, rather then spending more time engineering a smaller version, releasing an inferior version, or worst of all, a version that malfunctions or leads to overheating. I personally trust Fuji’s decision-making on feature compromises like this.

I’m clearly of mixed emotions here. Emotions I’ll endeavour to do my best to set aside as I review this new, largest-in-the-X-Series-line-up camera from Fujifilm.

As with the X-T2, I believe no X-H1 review is complete without full coverage of the VPB-XH1 Vertical Booster Grip. Stay tuned after the Conclusion for a full review of that accessory, or use the table of contents above to jump there immediately.

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Unboxing

The nearly cube box that the X-H1 ships in is a bit of a step up. The “drink tray” material the camera sits in has been bleached white instead of the usual recycled newspaper colour.

It’s nowhere close to X-Pro1 or X100 level unboxing, but it must be said that these changes in unboxing are sure to be better from an environmental perspective. At the rate Fuji releases cameras, a lot of these boxes must end up in garbage or recycling. On an emotional level, I loved the unboxing experience of of early X Series. On rational level, I prefer where Fuji is now.

Supplied Accessories

The X-H1 will ship with the usual NP-W126S battery and charger, body cap, strap clip attachment tool, metal strap clips, shoulder strap, and covers for the hot shoe and sync terminal.

The VPB-XH1 kit however ships with three NP-W126S batteries. I really wish I knew that since I ordered two extra batteries along with the kit to fill the grip’s battery chamber. Extra batteries never hurt anyone, but they aren’t exactly inexpensive.

Set Up

Anyone who’s owned an electronic device in the last decade will be familiar with the initial set up process. The “Start Menu” requires language selection, date format, and time input, then you’re ready to shoot.

What’s new for the initial release is the opportunity to immediately pair the camera with a mobile device, which is nice. You can either pair, ask the camera to remind you on restart, or ignore and find pairing in settings later.

Build Quality

It feels like I write this every time, but the X-H1 is another incremental step up in build compared to the X-T2. It’s a solid-feeling camera, and I would say the most “Professional” feeling in Fuji’s X Series lineup. The chassis is indeed thicker, and Fuji says is almost twice as strong. That’s a Versus I’m not prepared to execute, so we’ll just have to take their word for it.

Body Finish

The rubber feels similar to the X-T2, but the metal coat has changed. The grain on the “hammer tone finish” is larger on the X-H1. This is visible to the naked eye, but should make the X-H1 more resistant to scratches. I haven’t noticed much in the way of scratching on my X-T2, but I just got a bad one on the top plate of my X-Pro2.

Shutter

The shutter on the X-H1 has been completely reworked, and is one more feature that brings it closer to DSLRs. Fuji calls it “Feather-touch” and they aren’t kidding. With previous cameras, it’s easy to dismiss image review with a quick tap of the shutter release. With the X-H1, I find myself accidentally snapping photos instead.

This has it’s advantages though. Steady handheld shots will be easier to get without introducing camera shake, as will the quick capture of carefully-timed photographs. It will take some getting used to and will ultimately come down to preference, but for the most part, it’s an improvement.

Another consideration is your backup body. This shutter could be reason enough to use two X-H1’s as opposed to having an X-T2 as your second body. It really is that different.

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Weather Sealing

68 points of weather sealing on the body—5 more than the X-T2—plus another 26 on the VPB-XH1 battery grip. The X-H1 can withstand temperatures at least as cold as -10˚C, but do keep in mind that batteries do not like cold, so be sure to keep them in a warm place.

Magnesium

The X-H1 features a solid, all magnesium chassis that’s 125% thicker than the X-T2 or X-Pro2. Multiplied across the X, Y, and Z axis, we get a chassis that has almost twice the metal volume.

Bottom Plate and Tripod Mount

Another seamed baseplate. This is one area I hoped the X-H1 would have outdone the X-T2, but nope.

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Size and Weight

When looking at the X-H1 on its own, it doesn’t seem much larger, but it unquestionably is in every dimension. It’s bulkier with bigger protrusions. It’s not a terribly elegant camera, or particularly beautiful as an object. Whether or not it is too large is subjective. A gripped X-H1 would be way too large for my liking if were my only camera.

Weight is a similar story. Body only you’re looking at a 170g weight gain over the X-T2. With both grips added, the X-H1 is up an additional 24g for a total of 194g.

These incremental gains don’t seem like much on their own, but in aggregate, it is significant. It’s a departure from the original motivations behind X Series, but the added size and weight allows for added features so it’s tough to get too upset with Fuji for making a camera like the X-H1. The question we need to ask ourselves is whether the features are worth the trade off. I’ll have more to say on that.

Memory Card and IO Covers

These feel as good as in recent Fuji cameras. I wish Fuji had found a way to cover these doors with the rubber compound that’s on the rest of the main body.

General Fit and Finish

Overall, it’s another incremental step up, but mostly in the presumed toughness and durability of the camera as opposed to feel.

Buttons, Dials, and Switches

Here we have my usual button by button, dial by dial, and switch by switch notes on all the ways one might interface with their X-H1. This section will focus on operation quality, with handling notes thrown in for good measure where I can’t help myself.

Power Switch: The X-H1 features an all-new power switch. Anyone who has used a DSLR will be right home. I like it.

Shutter Release: By far Fuji’s most DSLR-like shutter release. In fact, the “Feather-touch” of this release is even more sensitive than DSLR releases I was familiar with. It’s almost like the shutter is a capacitive touch screen. A meaty enough index finger could likely acquire focus just by resting on the button. The slightest additional pressure releases the shutter. Accidental captures are sure to happen, at least initially, but I quickly got used it.

Exposure Compensation Dial, er, Button: Nice and clicky. Sensibly placed and with the right amount of play given it’s location and potential frequency of use. More on this in Handling.

Shutter Speed Dial: Once again, this is a great dual. Curiously, we’ve lost two rows of knurling as compared to the X-T2, and moved back to dials the height of the X-Pro2. The “Dial Lock Release” is fully convex—missing the flat tops of the X-T2—and once again a bit spongy when depressed to prevent accidental presses, and the click is even more sure than previous cameras. The dial features full rotation, and has “250X” marked for easy maximum flash sync speed selection.

Metering (Photometry) Dial: This is a step up from the X-T2. Far more accessible. A large-handed person may still have trouble moving the switch away from Spot metering, but with the shutter release moved and a bit more space to play with, it’s much better. It’s actually possible to move the dial by one setting now.

ISO (Sensitivity) Dial: Great, exact same commentary as the Shutter Speed Dial.

Drive Dial: Functionally identical to the Metering Dial, the Drive Dial is accessible except possibly for when it is set to “Panorama,” which likely won’t be often, if ever.

Sub-monitor Lamp Button: Nice, new little button with a bit of play to it.

Diopter Dial: A good dial, nice and clicky making it easy to “dial in” your preferred setting. I wish the dials were lockable though. Pull out to adjust, then press in to lock like a watch crown. The X-H1 helpfully includes rotation arrows.

Command Dials: Fuji sure likes playing with these dials. They feel different from any other X Series camera. In this case, I wish they’d have left things alone.

I’m not a fan of the rear dial. It has a tendency to sink in when enough friction is applied to get it to turn, otherwise your thumb can easily slide right over it. The dial is spongy, and then eventually clicks satisfyingly.

The front dial is easily the loudest part on the camera. In a quiet setting, I could genuinely understand not wanting to use it for fear of being a distraction. That aside, it turns precisely, and functions reasonably well as a button, requiring a bit more force to engage than I’d like.

Focus Stick (Focus Lever): There seems to be more refining here. Pressing to click feels about the same, however the directional clicks have more tactile feedback than any other Focus Stick I’ve used from Fuji.

D-Pad (Selector): Functionally identical to the X-T2, but it’s position relative to the increased grip is such that accidental presses are sure to be non-existent for all but those with very large hands.

Q-Menu Button: I’m having big issues with the placement of this one. My thumb hits it all the time, invoking the Quick Menu. Likewise, with my camera strap worn in a sling style, if the camera is on, bumping against the side of my body will also invoke the Quick menu, which can not only drain the battery, but it can actually cause missed photographs as I have to dismiss the Quick Menu before I can actually compose my image.

What’s worse is it’s not even particularly accessible. I either have to use the inside of my thumb knuckle to press it, or contort my thumb somewhat uncomfortably if I want to use the tip of the thumb.

I can think of at least two better places for this button; the first is either just above or below the Focus Stick, with the Stick moving slightly to accommodate. Above would bring consistency with the X-T2, but either would essentially line up all the controls the are right of the LCD. The second is just to the right of the rear Command Dial. This would alleviate all accidental presses for me.

To date, the Q Menu button is my biggest source of frustration with the X-H1. Maybe that’s not such a bad thing, but it’s a big enough annoyance that I’ve disabled the button via software, and it was such an unnecessary change.

As a button, it’s fine.

Rear Buttons: I’m very pleased to have labels on the buttons. X-T2 owners are going to have to contend with differently-placed AE-L and AF-L/ON buttons, but otherwise the placement is consistent.

LCD Tilt Release: A button replaces the tiny slide release that was on the X-T2. Big improvement. I’d still add a stroke of white here to make it more discoverable.

Focus Mode Selector: Nothing to say here. Same switch as we’ve had before. It’s good, and it works.

Front Function Button: Really like this button. Perfectly positioned, great clickiness.

Lens Release Button: Same as always. Spongy, and I have yet to engage this one accidentally on any Fuji camera ever.

Autofocus

Autofocus has come a long way since the X Series debuted, but perhaps equally as far in the last 18-24 months. The X-H1 doesn’t feature any new hardware, rather, it’s the software and algorithms that have been improved. Looking back at my review of the X-T2, there were still some frustrations and inconsistencies. Fuji have made huge improvements to the consistency of the autofocus in subsequent firmware updates to the X-Pro2 and X-T2, which have been nothing short of remarkable. So remarkable in fact, that I’ve had a really hard time keeping my Versus articles up to date without working exclusively on body content.

The long and the short of it is that the X-H1 enjoyed faster autofocus performance through software for about 2 months when Fuji kindly released Firmware Version 4.00 for the X-T2. My use suggests it has been updated with the new algorithmic information found in the X-H1. Now, this does not mean X-T2 owners can scoff and turn away from the X-H1 altogether when it comes to autofocus. As noted, the X-T2 is on version 4 of it’s firmware, and closing in on 2 years old. It is sure to reach end of life before the X-H1 does, and there’s no telling what software improvements Fuji has in development.

AF-C Custom Setting

The X-H1 of course features the same AF-C Custom Settings that debuted with the X-T2. For much, much more on that, check out the Autofocus section of my X-T2 review here.

Lens Choice

As previously written, your lens selection will make a difference in AF performance. Newer lenses like the XF 16-55mm F/2.8 WR have “microcomputers” that can be updated to fully realize the benefits of newer hardware.

In Body Image Stabilization (IBIS)

If the marquee feature of the X-T2 was Continuous Autofocus, “In-Body Image Stabilization” or “IBIS” has to be it for the X-H1. Fuji spent a long time touting that IBIS would never be available for X Mount, citing compromises in image quality,1 and the superior performance of lens-based image stabilization. Fuji are backtracking on the former.

5.5 Stops

Fuji claims 5.5 stops worth of image stabilization with the X-H1 when using the XF 35mm F/1.4, and 5 stops with “many other lenses”. Excluded lenses of note are the XF 10-24mm F/4 OIS, XF 18-55mm F/2.8-4 OIS, and XF 55-200mm F/3.5-4.8 OIS. I have not found information detailing how many stops we can expect from these lenses, or if we are to assume the len’s OIS takes over.

I haven’t been able to confirm with any sort of scientific accuracy the claim of 5 stops, but the difference in mounting a longer, unstabilized lens like the XF 56mm F/1.2 is striking. You are sure to feel much more confident that fewer photographs will be missed due to camera-shake.

Personally, my XF 16-55mm F/2.8 WR has pretty much been sitting on a shelf waiting for this camera to arrive. My current plan is to make a lot of use of this lens for travel photography, provided I’m able to deal with the overall size and weight of the package.

That said, for the stills photographer, if you find yourself often on a tripod anyhow, this is a feature you might safely ignore altogether.

Handling

Grip

If you’re a fan of Fuji’s MHG-XT Large grip for the X-T1, or how the grip on the X-T2 feels with the VPB-XT2 attached, you are sure to love the built in grip on the X-H1. It’s remarkably comfortable, and will definitely inspire confidence. It’s a big change from previous X Series cameras.

I still can’t quite dangle the camera from my middle and ring finger like I could with my D700, and if the grip wasn’t needed for the sub monitor and new shutter release, I could do without it.

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Sub Monitor

Borrowing from Fuji’s Medium Format line, the X-T1 sports the GFX’s Sub Monitor”. DSLR owners will also be very familiar with this feature.

It’s super responsive—you can watch your exposure values change in real time—and can be backlit with the press of a button. What’s even nicer is the Sub Monitor is contextual. With the camera off, it shows your number of shots remaining, and your exposure compensation nice and large. Two features which are really great to know at a glance before you turn the camera on. With the camera on, all 8 fields can be changed to suit your needs for both still and video modes independently.

The Sub Monitor is the kind of feature I could quickly get used to and miss on other cameras. The battery level indicators in particular.

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Focus Stick (Focus Lever)

In my X-T2 review, I lamented that the Focus Stick and Q-Menu button were swapped in part because the Focus Stick feels a bit lower for where my thumb naturally wants to find it. In the case of the X-H1, the added grip and slightly higher position of the Focus Stick makes its placement excellent.

It could stand to be moved up just a little bit higher, and I really wish it had been to make room for the following.

Q Menu

This is easily the worst handling decision Fuji made with the X-H1. The position of the Q Menu button is terrible. It is accidentally triggered constantly, and not particularly comfortable to access.

If the Focus Stick was moved up slightly, the Q Menu could sit just below it and the handling of this camera would be just about perfect. Shame.

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Weighting

Despite the difference in weight, the X-H1 will balance with X Mount lenses in a similar fashion as the X-T2, however, the added grip will make lenses like the XF 16-55mm F/2.8 WR much more comfortable to use without having to add grip of any kind.

Command Dials

Once again we have menu access via the Command Dials. It used to bother me that it’s not quite the same as Nikon’s menu navigation, but I think I would prefer Fuji implementation if they just made one small change; when navigating the menu, pressing the rear command dial behaves as pressing the “OK” button. But once you’re a second level deep in the UI, there no way to get back outside of pressing the “DISP/BACK” button. The front Command Dial press—which currently does nothing in menus—should be the same as pressing “DISP/BACK.” That way one could fully control the menus without ever leaving the dials.

The front dial is strangely overlooked when it comes to camera controls in general. As I’ve griped about before, the front dial still can’t be used for Q Menu selection as it could on the X-T1, as far back Firmware Version 1.31. Selecting items with the front dial is quicker as you aren’t moving your thumb to and from the rear dial. I’m still hoping Fuji will correct this in an upcoming update, but I’m starting to lose confidence.

Exposure Compensation

Exposure compensation is access via a button press and turning the rear Command Dial. For me, this is a huge improvement over the dial. Others will really miss the dedicated dial. The biggest issue for me will be consistency across bodies. At least there almost no chance my exposure compensation will be changed accidentally.

Dual SD Cards

Two slots, and both are UHS-II ready., as they should be.

Fuji has provided a number of options under the Set Up Menu > Save Data Set-up:

  1. Sequential: Once card 1 is filled to capacity, the camera will write to the card in slot 2.
  2. Backup: This provides redundancy of all your captures.
  3. RAW/JPEG: RAFs are written to one slot one, JPEGs are written to the other.

I typically select RAW/JPEG so I can copy JPEGs to my iOS devices, and both JPEGs and RAFS to my Mac, but I choose backup when on a big trip.

Viewfinding

Further refining to how we compose. Lots of welcome features here, but less earth-shattering than I would have expected.

Higher Resolution EVF

3.69 million pixels, over 1 million more than previous EVFs. This was a feature I was really excited about, but if I’m honest, I don’t really notice the difference. I can make out fewer pixels in the UI for sure, but otherwise I wasn’t blown away.

0.75× Magnification

Ever-so-slightly lower than the X-T2 at 0.77×, but still way larger than the X-Pro2.

1.6× As Bright

Compared to previous models, the X-H1’s EVF is just over one and a half times as bright. This is immediately evident when pointing the camera at something bright and noting how much brighter the UI elements are.

Faster Eye Sensor

Twice as fast according to Fuji. I have to say I didn’t realize the difference at first, but switching back to another camera now, the transition from EVF to LCD feels interminable now. It really is much quicker.

Eyecup

The viewfinder in general protrudes back much further than previous cameras, but the eyecup is also a fair bit more concave like the EC-XT L Long Eyecup,→ for the X-T1. There is yet another accessory “Wide-eye cup” the EC-XH-W, → which works for both X Series and GFX cameras.

LCD

The otherwise standard 3 inch tilting LCD features a capacitive touch screen to access more controls, tough to focus, or even tap to take a photograph. I like being able to swipe up to get my RGB histogram, and down for the electronic level.

Happily, the UI on the LCD rotates like the EVF’s does. This was long overdue.

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Frame rate

Every once in a while, I notice the frame rate on the both the EVF and LCD drops down to unusable levels. A quick tap of the shutter release to focus corrects this, but it’s still a little disconcerting. I see the same behaviour on the X-T2 running Firmware Version 4.00. This seems to have improved with the latest Firmware Version 1.10.

Image Quality

New body, same sensor, same imaging chain entirely. Don’t expect the X-H1 to improve the actual quality of your photographs if you’re coming from another X-Trans III camera. X-Trans II owners will see an improvement which you can read about here, in my X-Pro2 vs. X-T1 or X-Pro2 vs. X-Pro1 articles.

ETERNA

A new Film Simulation Mode that is literally on the opposite end of the spectrum from Velvia. It’s primarily built for video, but works just fine for photographs. I recently moved to PRO Neg Std. for a lot of my product photography, but if you thought that Film Simulation had detail in its soft shadows, you haven’t seen anything yet.

ETERNA is a film simulation I may very well use when bracketing as it will get me the dynamic range I need, and a nice neutral starting point for creative post processing. This way I can still enjoy all the in camera processing Fuji does with their JPEGs, which is often something I really miss when dealing with RAFs.

Video

This is where things get interesting as far as output is concerned. Fuji has put a ton of work into the video capabilities with this camera. So much so, that it has genuinely piqued my interest in capturing video. I am seriously considering packing my photography bag to be video ready for my next trip, and the X-H1 is going to be central to that.

DCI 4K

Proper 4,096 × 2,160 pixel recording.

200 Mbps

The only area in which the output from the camera has improved. Capturing high frequency video in particular sees an improvement in quality.

F-Log

It’s not just for for HDMI output anymore. F-Log can be sent straight to your SD card.

Battery

When the X-Pro2 came out, I was one of the few reviewers who said it was a miss for Fuji to have stuck with the NP-W126(S). I still think Fuji was out to lunch not moving to a higher capacity battery then, and I think it’s really hurting them now. Battery life is one of the biggest issues with these cameras now, and with IBIS and 4K video recording, the NP-W126S is struggling so much it’s what makes the VPB-XH1 almost a requirement for me.

The only thing that makes this somewhat bearable is, as I will discuss below, the VPB-XH1 kit ships with two NP-W126S batteries, which brings the cost down substantially, and will battery life from poor to good.

Hopefully Fuji takes a page out of Sony’s playbook and move on to a new battery when the fourth iteration of X-Trans is released.

Conclusion

This is a tough one. The X-H1 is a great camera. The best performing camera Fuji has ever made. Still, it feels like a betrayal of what X Series stood for. Remember that “Evolution to Revolution” graphic mirrorless fans used to shove in DSLR owners’ faces? It’s really starting to feel like the figure second from the right ought to be duplicated and moved to the front of the line with a gripped X-H1. Everything Fuji with the exception of the F2WR lenses has been getting bigger and heavier, and the X-H1 is obviously no exception. That’s not what I signed up for when I decided to “ditch the DSLR” and switch to Fuji.

Of course they still make and sell the compact mirrorless cameras, and a quick look at the spec sheet proves we are not missing out on image quality if we choose to go smaller outside of video bitrates. But it’s still research and development time going towards the big and heavy rather than the small and light.

Would I Buy One?

The X-H1 has already replaced the X-T2 as my big, planned shooting camera. My X-T2 will likely see very limited use in the future. If I were buying today having not already owned an X-T2, I would likely choose the X-H1 even with the price difference accounted for.

Personally, my beloved X-Pro2 is still my go-to camera with little hesitation, but I also know some photographers who posted their X-Pro2 and/or X-T2 for sale to fund the purchase of two X-H1s for 100% consistency across two bodies.

I really wish Fuji would bring ETERNA to their other X-Trans III/X-Processor Pro cameras. They don’t have the processor as an excuse this time around like they did with ACROS, and I would really like to use it for stills as much or more than for video.

Should You Buy One?

Depends on your use case. Video? Absolutely. Looking to upgrade from an X-T1 and haven’t already purchased an X-T2 for some reason? If you are ok with the slight increase in size and weight, you will certainly be happy with the upgrade, but with Firmware Version 4.00 having dropped for the X-T2, it too would be a substantial upgrade.

The answer there could also come down your currently lens selection, and whether it could benefit from IBIS. DSLR owners looking to for the most DSLR-like experience available in a mirrorless package should definitely look at the X-H1.

Finally, consider whether the latest and greatest feature-set is worth the trade-off on size, weight, and money. As alluded to in the Introduction, the features are in the X-H1 only for now. They are sure to continue trickling down the lineup eventually.

You Might Want Two

If you are a pro looking to upgrade and you need a backup body, I would suggest getting two X-H1’s rather than backing the X-H1 up with an X-T2. The X-H1 handles differently enough that moving back and forth between the two could get frustrating. This is hardly essential—I may be travelling with a combination of bodies myself—but it is certainly ideal. Again, especially for my readers who shoot video.


If you’d like to purchase the X-H1, or anything else for that matter please consider using one of the affiliate links below. The price is the same for you, but a small percentage of the purchase price goes to me, which helps keep this site going. Thank you.


But wait, there’s more...

Bonus VPB-XH1 Vertical Power Booster Grip Review

Fuji calls the VPB-XH1 Vertical Battery (or Power Booster, depending on if you read the website or the kit packaging) Grip “an essential accessory,” and they might not be wrong. The problem is it could be considered essential because it includes at least a couple features many believe should be included on the camera; the headphone jack, and better battery life.

Readers of my X-T2 review will be familiar with my strategy of purchasing the grip and keeping it permanently affixed to the body. The problem with a gripped X-H1 is it is so big and so heavy that I’m not sure I would want to carry it around all day. As of this writing, I haven’t yet decided if I want to buy an L-plate for the body and grip, or just the body. I’m leaning towards just the body, and suffering through regular battery changes.

Aside from that, the features are so similar to the VPB-XT2, it makes it almost impossible not to repeat myself in some areas. Here’s what you get with that VPB-XH1.

A Flaw (Again)

Like the VPB-XH1 the VPB-XH1 ships with an AC-9VS Power Adapter, which makes charging the grip batteries a breeze. In fact, I hardly even use chargers anymore thanks in part to the grip and AC-9VS Power Adapter. The problem is the grip does not offer pass-through charging to the battery that’s in the camera. This means you have to unscrew the grip to charge the battery that’s in the camera, or bring a second cable for USB charging and find somewhere to plug it in.

“Boost Mode” will result in the internal battery draining as opposed to both the grip batteries.

 You’re looking at nearly1.8 kilograms, or almost 4 pounds of camera here.

You’re looking at nearly1.8 kilograms, or almost 4 pounds of camera here.

Weight

Back to weight, with three batteries loaded, and the XF 16-55mm F2.8 WR attached, the total package weighs in at nearly 1.8 kilograms, or almost 4 pounds. And that’s before adding an L-plate.→ Once again, for anyone who entered the Fuji ecosystem via the X100, that’s a shit ton of camera.

This time, I’m not sure I’m prepared for the weight gain. At least not all the time.

Size

DSLR-style Fuji bodies just keep getting larger, and the gripped X-H1 is another step up in size from a gripped X-T2, as it was from a gripped X-T1. This time, it’s a bigger increment though. For me, this is just too large. I feel like I might as well be using a Nikon D5.

It’s nice the the VPB-XH1 doesn’t have the extra grip protrusion. Makes it easier to pack in a bag.

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VPB-XH1 Vertical Power Booster Grip Features

So what does on this weight actually get you? It takes the performance of the whole camera up a notch by drawing extra juice from multiple batteries simultaneously.

Literally Up To Eleven

High-speed continuous shooting jumps from 8 to 11 frames per second with the mechanical shutter. For sports photographers who can have an assistant or editor to wade through their frames, this could certainly be a good thing. For me—when shooting wild life for instance—8 frames per second ended up being too much and I wish I had knocked my frame rate down.

Faster Autofocus

From 0.08 seconds to just 0.6 seconds. 0.02 seconds doesn’t sound like much, but that’s 25% faster.

Faster Shooting Interval

From 0.019 sec. to 0.017 sec. A 0.002 second difference.

Faster Shutter Lag

From 0.05 sec. to 0.045 sec. A 0.005 second difference.

Even Less Blackout Time

From 130 milliseconds to 114 millisecond. A 16 millisecond difference.

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VPB-XH1 Vertical Power Booster Grip Handling

The horizontal and vertical grip feels of a gripped X-H1 are much closer than they are on a gripped X-T2.

Second Stick

Fuji incorporated a second Focus Stick on the VPB-XH1, which is really nice. This is a no-compromise implementation.

Second Q-Menu

This one won’t get triggered accidentally like the one on the body will, but it’s really uncomfortable to reach with my index finger unless I change my grip.

Second Set of Command Dials

Both as loud as the front dial on the body, and otherwise equally functional. Little spongy with obvious clicks.

AE-L and AF-ON

Sadly not the same button style as on the body, these instead mimic the old X-T style buttons. They’re positioned vertically rather than horizontally as well. This is out of necessity, but something to watch out for.

Happily, the grip now intelligently mimics whatever setting the photographer changes these buttons to on the body.

Boost Switch

Convenient access for when you don’t require the performance increases the VPB-XH1 provides, and/or don’t want the added battery drain.

Is It Worth It?

This time around, I’m mostly interested in the battery life, and if I do take the plunge into more video, the headphone jack.

At $300 more for the kit, it’s actually a really good value in no small part because it include two NP-W126S batteries, which would cost $130 on their.

If you’re even vaguely interested in the grip though, get it with the kit if at all possible. As an add-on, you’re looking at another $30 for grip, and the batteries are not included, bring the total add-on cost to $160 more. That’s rough.

  1. This is true even for the Optical Image Stabilization (OIS) found in lenses. If you do not need stabilization via adequate shutter speeds or a proper stable tripod, image stabilization of any kind should be turned off for maximum sharpness. ↩︎