I was first introduced to the Fujifilm XT-1 in 2015 when Karlien Murray from AtPhoto brought her body for me to try out. Having seen many positive reviews on the colour rendition of the model, I found myself really impressed by what this little camera could deliver. I promptly ordered one alongside the f1.2 56mm lens - the combination was incredible, and I loved shooting personal projects with the combo.
Unfortunately, since I photograph families and quite often running children, I felt that the X-T1 wasn’t fast enough for professional use. The ergonomics of the body also wasn’t my preference as I have been photographing with another high-end brand for the past 12 years. In my heart and mind, I really wanted something that resembled the ease of use of a DSLR.
As I continued shooting professionally with my regular DSLR kit, I ran into a problem. Having suffered twice from tennis elbow and the debilitating pain in my arms affecting my work, I found it incredibly difficult to continue working with my accustomed large lens and body. The combined weight simply did not give me a chance to recover.
A chance of luck changes my photography
Luckily for me, during Easter this year I was at the Rand Show where I accidently caught up with Eslie Basson and the Fujifilm team. Eslie promptly placed the new X-H1 in my hands and told me to take a few shots. Well, the look and feel of the mirrorless X-H1 is everything a DSLR is and more. It fired like an automatic rifle which is exactly what I was looking for in terms of speed. Plus, it was larger and better suited to my ergonomic preferences.
After reading a number of really positive reviews from well-respected photographers in South Africa, I knew I needed to get my hands on a loan unit for a product shoot. It confirmed my suspicions as I absolutely loved the operation of the X-H1, especially with the f1.2 56mm attached.
While the jpg files were as near as dammit to exactly what the products looked like, how would it perform when shooting newborns? I photographed babies in both RAW and JPG and split the file types afterwards. Once again, the jpgs were superb, and especially suited for the type of workflow I use for my newborn sessions. The Fujifilm X-H1 was exactly what I had been waiting for since I got the X-T1 all those years back, and I was convinced that I needed to make the move.
A change for the better
Having now shot with the X-H1 for a few months, I can say that the electronic viewfinder is life-changing. You don’t need to know your camera inside out since you can immediately see what your results are going to look like. With DSLR cameras, you learn what your preference is in terms of exposure and light metering. The fact that you can take your shot by simply touching the rear LCD screen is a huge bonus when shooting products in studio and mounted on a tripod. I also love that you can use the LCD like your phone screen, swiping left and right to move to the next image, and pinch to zoom so you can view your image with a closer crop. The shutter is extremely quiet, and you can turn it off, which means that you can capture incredible candid moments during a shoot - it’s far less invasive than the louder shutters from the DSLRs.
Upping my workflow
In terms of size (and relating to my tennis elbow), the X-H1 isn’t much smaller than a DSLR body. Importantly though, the Fujinon lenses are less bulky and not as heavy as typical DSLR lenses. Talking of which, the Fujinon optics are as good – if not better – than some of the professional series lenses and 3rd party lenses for the DSLR high-end brands.
Another plus is that the colour rendition from the X-H1 in jpg format is absolutely gorgeous. Skin tones are as close to real as you can get. This means my workflow has speeded up considerably and I have far less work to do to neutralise colour cast. There is simply nothing I’ve used on the market that can match the true colour rendition as the results I’ve received with the X-T1 and X-H1.
Finally, a typical conversation I see all over the web is full frame vs. crop sensor, and in my opinion it really doesn’t make a difference. Because of the incredible optics from the Fujinon range, the depth of field is spot on compared to the DSLR full frame sensors. Also, all the lenses in the professional range have image stabilisation and the sensor has loads more focus points and focus area options.
All in all, switching to the Fujifilm X-H1 has been the best move I could have made considering the genres of photography that I cover. I couldn’t be happier with the colour and sharpness from the X-H1, and to top it all off, it’s far better bang for your buck!