Fujifilm X-H2 vs X-H2S: how do they compare?DPR 14 September, 2022IntroductionWith the announcement of the Fujifilm X-H2, it becomes clearer how the company’s two flagship models compare and who they’re aimed at.We’re going to take a quick look at the two cameras’ specs, and where each is strongest. We also spoke to a senior figure within Fujifilm to get an impression of what the X-H line tells us about future X-T models.What’s the difference?Fundamentally, both cameras are stills/video hybrids, with the X-H2 offering high resolution stills and video, and the X-H2S delivering high speed stills and video.This relationship between the two cameras isn’t the video model / stills model distinction that some people seemed to be expecting (despite the ‘H’, for hybrid in both cameras’ names). The X-H2 shoots 40MP images and up to 8K video, while the X-H2S shoots up to 40fps and 4K video at up to 120p from a sensor with fast readout.In both instances, the specs look strong even if you plan to shoot just stills or just video, but are likely to be most compelling for people that plan to do a bit of both.Difference in image qualityA lot of the difference in image quality can be assumed from looking to the headline specs: the 40MP BSI sensor in the X-H2 promises the highest resolution of any mainstream APS-C camera, leapfrogging the 32MP models from Canon.Noise at the pixel level will inevitably be somewhat higher than its 26MP peers (smaller pixels receive less light), but we look forward to testing the differences at the whole-image level, where good high-res sensors can often deliver comparable noise while retaining some of their additional detail capture. The X-H2 also has a base ISO that’s 1/3EV lower, which the company says lets it achieve higher signal-to-noise ratio (cleaner images) than previous models.Fujifilm says only its more recent lenses can make full use of the additional resolution, but older lenses shouldn’t look any worse for being shot on the higher MP body.When we reviewed it, we found the X-H2S gives up a tiny fraction of its DR performance in return for its speed (a trend we’ve seen with fast Stacked CMOS chips before), but its image quality is generally consistent with what we’ve seen from the X-T4: very good indeed.What the X-H2S doesn’t offer (presumably to enhance the ‘high resolution’ distinction between the two cameras), is the X-H2’s 20-shot pixel shift high-res mode. When asked why external software was needed to combine the images from this mode, Fujifilm said that in-camera processing would take too long.Difference in video specsThe X-H2’s headline feature is that it’s the first 8K-capable APS-C camera we’ve seen, but our initial impression is that it’s the X-H2S that will be the more useful video camera for a lot of people.Both cameras offer the same impressive range of codecs and bitrates in which video can be saved, with both cameras also offering Raw video output of their highest resolution footage. But it’s the X-H2S that then backs it up with the very fast sensor readout that both allows it to deliver 4K footage at up to 120p (60p without a crop), and with very low levels of rolling shutter.The X-H2 beats it for resolution, and it delivers more scope for cropping and higher detail capture, even when downsized but with noticeable rolling shutter as a trade-off. The X-H2S’s 6.2K open-gate mode still provides some flexibility in terms of both cropping and detail capture, while the camera also offers significantly better slow-mo opportunities.Difference in speedBoth cameras can shoot at a very creditable 15 fps with their mechanical shutters, but the X-H2S can then reach speeds of up to 40 fps in e-shutter mode, with low-enough rolling shutter to make it practical for real-world action shooting.Of course it’s the X-H2S that excels in terms of speed. It can shoot Raw and JPEG images at up to 40 frames per second, using its electronic shutter, and has a buffer sufficient for >1000 images if you shooting 30 JPEGs per second or when shooting 20 Raws per second. This combination of speed and buffer make it Fujifilm’s most capable sports/action model ever.With that said, the higher-resolution X-H2 isn’t exactly tardy. It shares its shutter mechanism with the ‘S’, which lets it shoot at up to 15 frames per second in mechanical shutter mode. Strangely, this figure is faster than the 13 fps it can shoot full-sensor in e-shutter mode, but is faster than offered by pro sports models less than a decade ago. Its use of the same processor and CFexpress Type B card slot means it can comfortably shoot 1000 JPEGs, compressed or losslessly compressed Raws at its fastest mechanical shutter speeds.Also in terms of speed, the X-H2 can deliver exposure durations as short as 1/180,000 sec in its electronic shutter mode, wheres the X-H2S tops-out at 1/32,000 sec. Fujifilm says the additional speed is a feature specific to the 40MP BSI sensor, so won’t be extended to the high-speed model.Difference in AFThe X-H2’s eye detection AF has worked well for this samples, taken from our X-H2 gallery, but Fujifilm suggests it won’t quite match the X-H2S for moving subjects.Although both cameras use the same AF system, interface and processors, the company says there will be performance differences between the two. In a post-launch technical briefing, Fujifilm characterized the performance of the X-H2’s AF tracking of moving subjects and its subject recognition of moving subjects as ‘good’ rather than the ‘very good’ rating it assessed for its faster camera.This makes sense given the X-H2’s slower readout sensor means the AF system is receiving less frequent updates from the sensor about what’s changed (around 26 fps rather than 120 fps)However, the company does point out that the X-H2 has many more AF elements than the X-H2S, saying its 3.33M focus elements should deliver better focus on finely detailed subject such as fur and foliage than the 2.16 million elements on the X-H2S’s sensor.SimilaritiesIn every other important regard, the two cameras are identical. They share the same 5.76M dot (1600 x 1200 pixel) viewfinder and 1.62M dot (900 x 600 pixel) fully articulated rear touchscreens. Button layouts and grips are identical, with both bodies featuring the same customizable top-panel status screen and the same dust and moisture resistant body design.What that also means is that both models share the same command-dial-led user interface as used on recent GFX cameras, rather than the dedicated shutter speed, exposure comp and ISO dials that have been a feature of most X-T cameras. We’ve found it works well (other than some minor gripes about custom button behavior), with the big, firm-feeling command dials letting you respond quickly, without the risk of accidentally engaging another function, as can happen with the clickable, dual-mode dials on other X-series models.They’re the largest X-series bodies so far, but it’s hard to imagine them offering so much direct control or working so well with larger lenses, were they any smaller.Both cameras are compatible with the Fan-001 add-on fan unit, that helps extend their recording times in warmer conditions, and with the FT-XH Wi-Fi transmitter grip that significantly boosts their connectivity options. The VG-XH battery grip is also compatible with both, letting you add two extra batteries to the cameras, significantly boosting their endurance.What the X-H cameras mean for the X-seriesWe’ve seen a lot of Fujifilm users concerned that the X-H’s move to command dial control means the end of the dedicated dials in the X-series. We put this to Fujifilm’s Yuji Igarashi, Divisional Manager, Professional Imaging Group, who said that such users ‘have nothing to worry about.’When asked about what the X-Hs meant for the future of the X-T series, he told us:‘Obviously I can’t give a concrete answer today, but having the two H cameras changes things.The T series used to be our flagship, whereas now we have two flagships, which are hybrid cameras. This means T could be more focused for users who love the cameras we’re known for: the enthusiasts, the street photographers. They have nothing to worry about.The H series is for hybrid content creators, and professionals. Depending on the creative pursuit, we offer different platforms, each suited to a different use and different creators.It’s good to hear that people are asking this, because it shows they care about that type of camera.’SummaryThe X-H twins are the most ambitious members of the X-series to date. We can’t be entirely sure how much of their respective technologies will filter down to the rest of the range, yet, but their designation as ‘hybrid’ cameras should allow other models to be more photo focused.In continuing to both expand and update its lens lineup, it’s clear that Fujifilm believes APS-C can continue to deliver combinations unmatched by other formats, and that can only be good news for X-series users who aren’t in the market for a flagship camera.Neither camera is cheap, but if the X-H2, with its high-res superpowers, proves as good as the X-H2S at delivering it high-speed capabilities, they leave high-end shooters rather spoiled for choice. But, now they’re both placed side by side, we think the two new X-H models make a clear case for what they are and who they’re intended for.