Fujifilm's X-H2S Shows What’s Next for Camera Sensors

The X-series has a model for everyone

  • Fujifilm’s X-H2S has a radical new sensor with no extra pixels.
  • The dial-free design is weird for an X-series camera, but also its strength. 
  • Expect this sensor to come to other X cameras in the future.
Fujifilm X-H2S camera


The Fujifilm X-H2S is impressive in every aspect, apart from its impossible-to-remember name. But the real standout is its brand new sensor, which trades megapixels for—well, for everything else. 

Fujifilm's X-series cameras run from the cute-but-amazing X100V, though the I-can't-believe-it's-digital X-Pro3, up to high-end pro cameras, like this new X-H2S. As we shall see in a moment, the X-H2S strays from one utterly key characteristic of the X-series: the mechanical dials. In context, it makes sense, and when you see what the sensor can do, all will be forgiven. 

"For our photo and video projects, I am most excited about the X-H2S for the speed of its sensor, which allows for faster shooting and higher frame rates at high quality," filmmaker Michael Ayjian told Lifewire via email. "The improved autofocus, which now integrates [animal] eye detection, will save time with second-guessing and give the freedom to compose the best portraits yet."

Sense and Sensor-bility

The X-H2S is a mirrorless X-series APS-C camera, which means it has a sensor smaller than "full-frame" cameras. It uses all the existing X-series lenses, looks more like a DSLR than most of Fujifilm’s cameras, and will retail for $2,499 when it goes on sale on July 7. 

For our photo and video projects, I am most excited about the X-H2S for the speed of its sensor.

The sensor is a 26.16-megapixel unit, which is virtually the same, pixel-wise, as the 26MP unit it replaces. What is new is its speed. The sensor is both stacked and backside-illuminated, meaning it has its electronics on the back, out of the way of the light path, and that it’s made up of two or more stacked layers. The practical result is that the data can be dumped from all pixels simultaneously, making it incredibly fast.

In the X-H2S, this allows tricks like 40 frames per second shooting continuously, while autofocusing, and without the viewfinder blacking out. Or shooting at 30fps for over a thousand frames. And remember, these are full-resolution stills we’re talking about here, not video.

Fast AF

Which is neat, if you need it. More practical are the improvements to autofocus. Now, the camera can auto-detect subjects and then track them through the frame. This might be fast-moving sports or just kids running around the backyard. More impressive is that the camera can do this in low light, low-contrast situations, which are usually hell on autofocus. 

And then we get to actual video, which supports all the high-end formats and codecs you need, and can shoot 4K at up to 120fps. 

diagonal rearview of the Fujifilm X-H2S


It might seem that this camera isn't for you. It certainly isn't for me, and I'm an enthusiast who prefers to carry a camera over using a smartphone and who develops B&W in their kitchen. The price, the features, and the overall design are aimed solely at demanding professionals.

"The camera's features, design, performance, even the battery grip and how it's positioned as an almost essential accessory, all are squarely aimed at photographers and filmmakers looking for power, without compromise," says photographer and Fujifilm superuser Patrick LaRoque on his personal blog

The Future

And yet, this is still a very interesting camera. It shows where Fujifilm is going next. The X-series cameras all share the same sensor, barring older models that sometimes stick around for a while. This means that even the sequel to the small X100V will almost certainly end up with this X-Processor 5 sensor and get the benefits of its low-light performance and its autofocus capabilities. 

Fujifilm X-H2S camera focusing on a person


Which brings us to the one weird aspect of this camera. It uses buttons and wheels to dial in settings instead of manual-style dials. One of the standouts of the X-series is that it mimics film cameras by giving you dedicated dials for shutter speed, ISO, and a ring around the lens to set the aperture. This makes it easy to use the camera without thinking.

The X-H2S’s method is probably better for professional use because it allows you to use complex presets that save the state of pretty much every parameter, so you can have one preset for shooting motorsports and another for portraits, instantly switchable. 

Which is also fantastic if you need it. In fact, that might be the catchphrase of Fujifilm’s X-series. The same sensor, but with radically different camera designs, focused on different kinds of photographers.

Was this page helpful?