Fujifilm X-H2S and XF150-600mm Lens

Published On: May 31st, 2022By Categories: Blog, FUJIFILM, ReviewViews: 10385

I’ve recently had the pleasure of photographing some native UK wildlife with a pre-production Fujifilm X-H2S and XF150-600mm lens.

The X-H2S was officially announced during the Fujifilm X-Summit on 31st May 2022. The XF150-600mm was added to the lens road map in 2021 but its official specification was also announced on 31st May 2022. I also used the FT-XH File Transmitter Grip with two additional NP-W235 batteries.

Fujifilm X-H2s and 150-600mm lens.

Fujifilm X-H2S and XF150-600mm lens (Legendary Bamburgh castle far in the background!)

It’s important to point out that:

  1. This X-H2S, FT-XH Grip and XF150-600mm I used were pre-production models each using early versions of their firmware. This means there have been further functional improvements made via regular developmental firmware updates for camera, lens and grip since my use and this will continue as they become commercially available. It’s less likely, but not impossible, that there may be small physical differences too.
  2. I had a limited time window to use these, so I stuck to the core of my work which is wildlife stills. I was keen to get as much use of this combination as possible, so I didn’t have the time to test other combinations of lenses and cameras. It also means I didn’t look at the video functionality and communications functions incorporated into the File Transmitter Grip.
  3. I am not a product photographer!

Because of these factors (well, apart from number 3 which I just point out before somebody else reminds me!), it is not correct to consider this a comprehensive review. It’s probably best looked upon as my opinions, thoughts and first impressions with a few photographs thrown in too. If you want a full list of specifications, it’s probably best to look at the Fujifilm website for those.

X-H2S FIRST IMPRESSIONS

Straight out of the box, I was pleased to see the X-H2S had kept the same general physical shape as the X-H1 with the deep set grip. But, there are a few significant user interface and feature changes.

Firstly, the top plate ISO and shutter speed dials have been removed in favour of a ‘PSAM’ mode dial. As much as I enjoy the tactile process of using cameras like the X-T series with their shutter speed, exposure compensation and ISO dials, I also feel the PSAM approach with custom settings banks is be more favourable to faster paced genres of photography.

A fully articulating rear monitor which we saw introduced on the X-T4 camera replaces the previous tilting mechanism. Since using the X-T4, I’ve preferred this as I find it much easier and quicker to deploy and a lot more versatile. I also prefer to keep the monitor folded inward for the majority of my stills photography. The 5.76 million dots aspherical EVF provides a superb level of detail when zooming in to review images and it’s also reflection free compared to the external monitor.

The ‘Q’ (Quick Menu) button has been moved towards the monitor alongside other buttons. I’ve always thought this was badly placed on the X-H1 as I kept pressing it accidently, so much so I disabled it and never used it!

The focus stick / lever has also been moved upwards making it feel more ergonomic for thumb placement. The CSM focus mode has been removed from the front of the camera and is instead accessible via the Q Menu or assignable to another custom function button.

Fujifilm X-H2s and XF150-600mm Lens

Fujifilm X-H2S and XF150-600mm lens

Beneath the hinged side covers, we have CF Express compatibility for one card slot with the other remaining as a SD slot. Videographers and filmmakers will be pleased to see a Type A HDMI output replacing the weak point micro HDMI output.

Fujifilm X-H2s and XF150-600mm lens

Fujifilm X-H2S and XF150-600mm lens

X-H2s AUTOFOCUS

It’s fair to say this is an area where many users have experienced Fujifilm cameras falling behind the standards set by competitors for consistency, speed and accuracy. Since I purchased my first Fujifilm camera, the X-T2, I’ve noticed model by model improvements through the X-H1 to the X-T3 and X-T4.

The X-H2S not only continues to build on these autofocus improvements, but does so with an update which immediately demonstrates significant gains in this area.

As well as massively increased speed at acquiring subjects and maintaining tracking accuracy in single point and zone autofocus, we also have a very effective animal tracking mode. Just like previous cameras, users will benefit from gaining an understanding of the fundamental and more advanced custom autofocus settings.

Here in northern England, I’m lucky to have the Farne Islands in my local area. Each spring, the islands become the temporary home to thousands of breeding seabirds including the enigmatic Atlantic Puffin. Thousands upon thousands of them!

Puffins are a great ‘acid-test’ for evaluating the efficiency of a camera’s autofocus. They fly very quickly and often, very erratically with abrupt changes in direction. To make it even more difficult, they are a similar size to a pigeon, a lot smaller than many people often expect.

Atlantic Puffin Fujifilm X-H2s and 150-600mm © Alan Hewitt Photography

Atlantic Puffin – Fujifilm X-H2S, XF150-600mm (1/3500 f/7.1, ISO1600, 451mm)

With this in mind, I took a boat trip limited to a one hour landing slot on Inner Farne. Amongst some other shots, I managed a few bursts of flying puffins using the 15 frames per second mechanical shutter.

The galleries below show consecutive photographs from four different ‘bursts’, each lasting less than one second. The accuracy of the autofocus is incredible and consistent results at high frame rates are achievable. It is certainly fair to say that the limiting factor here was me! My abilities to compose while zooming and panning appear to have become a bit rusty having been away from this sort of photography during the last couple of years!

Atlantic Puffin – Fujifilm X-H2S, XF150-600mm (All at 1/3200 f/7.1, ISO1600, 352mm)

Atlantic Puffin – Fujifilm X-H2S, XF150-600mm (All at 1/4000 f/7.1, ISO1250, 406mm)

Atlantic Puffin – Fujifilm X-H2S, XF150-600mm (All at 1/6000 f/7.1, ISO1600, 391mm)

Atlantic Puffin – Fujifilm X-H2S, XF150-600mm (All at 1/3200 f/7.1, ISO1600, 485mm)

Elsewhere around the Farne Islands, common guillemots provide the same challenge with their speed and movement but with added complexities. Firstly, dark dolerite cliffs covered with thousands of birds, their nests and years of guano staining all combine to add a very confusing background and subject for camera autofocus systems.

Guillemot Fujifilm X-H2s and 150-600mm © Alan Hewitt Photography

Common Guillemot – Fujifilm X-H2S, XF150-600mm (1/1600, f/8, ISO 1000, 340mm)

Furthermore, these two guillemot photographs and the grey seal below, were photographed whilst I was onboard a moving boat at the bottom of the cliff faces in the North Sea. We know tracking and panning with any small and fast moving subject can be challenging for an autofocus system. Throw in the complexities listed above, together with the unpredictable movement of being onboard a boat, well… Years of experience and a few too many deleted photographs than I would prefer, informs me that this is where autofocus systems really need to shine and reveal their value and the X-H2S absolutely does.

Guillemot Fujifilm X-H2s and 150-600mm © Alan Hewitt Photography

Bridled Common Guillemot – Fujifilm X-H2S, XF150-600mm (1/1500, f/8, ISO 1000, 340mm)

At this point, the benefits of how the X-H2S In-Body Image Stabilisation (up to 7 stops) and the XF150-600mm Optical Image Stabilisation (up to 5 stops) intelligently combine to play their part in acquiring correct focus deserves a mention.

When stability is activated, unwanted camera and lens shake is immediately eliminated. It actually feels quite astonishing, and the movement of panning, and in this case caused by being onboard a boat becomes very smooth and vastly more manageable. Without this assistance, swift and accurate autofocus is incredibly difficult to maintain while panning with a moving subject or keeping a single autofocus point on target while the photographer is also moving while using a long lens with such a narrow field of view.

Grey Seal Fujifilm X-H2s and 150-600mm © Alan Hewitt Photography

Grey Seal – Fujifilm X-H2S, XF150-600mm (1/900, f/8, ISO 640, 392mm)

Elsewhere, and in a completely different wildlife habitat, I was photographing red squirrels and woodland birds when a posturing male siskin caught my attention. One of the siskins began to repeatedly and rapidly move its head up and down in a threat display towards another male.

Quickly recomposing, with wide tracking enabled, the focus was immediate and the active autofocus point moved instantaneously and accurately with the siskin’s head. This moment of ‘micro-action’ lasted less than a couple of seconds. So quickly, I didn’t really have time to acknowledge if focus had been achieved as I took the shot and I had to review the images to check if I (well OK, the camera!) had hit the spot with sharp results!

Male Siskin © Alan Hewitt Photography Fujifilm X-H2s & XF150-600mm.

Siskin – Fujifilm X-H2S, XF150-600mm (1/1250 f/8, ISO1000, 579mm)

African Elephant, Masai Mara, Kenya

Red Squirrel – Fujifilm X-H2S, XF150-600mm (1/280 f/7.1, ISO1000, 378mm)

XF150-600mm FIRST IMPRESSIONS

It’s full name, the XF150-600mm f/5.6-8 R LM OIS WR. This all means we have a dedicated aperture ring (R), fast and near silent lens focusing motors (LM), Optical Stability (OIS) and weather resistant sealing (WR). The lens is f/5.6 at 150mm and f/8 at 600mm.

Fujifilm X-H2s and XF150-600mm Lens

Fujifilm X-H2S and XF150-600mm lens

I am used to handling a variety of telephoto lenses belonging to guests on workshops and safaris using different brands. At 1605g, it is immediately striking just how light and also, how compact this is for such a long telephoto / ‘super zoom’ lens. From the mount to the front element (not including the hood) it is just 315mm long and 99mm wide. Turn the zoom ring and nothing changes! Unlike the XF100-400mm, this is an internal zooming lens which is great for improved weather and dust resistance and balancing on gimbal type of tripod or monopod heads.

Robin Fujifilm X-H2s and 150-600mm © Alan Hewitt Photography

Robin – Fujifilm X-H2S, XF150-600mm (1/170 f/7.1, ISO1600, 451mm)

XF150-600mm FEATURES & ERGONOMICS

From the lens mount onwards, we see the eyelet for a lens strap next to the locking mechanism for the lens / camera orientation. Next, beneath the ‘Red Badge’ designation we have a focus range / limit selector for ‘Full’ and ‘5m to infinity’ (Minimum focus distance is 2.4m), aperture lock switch, options for the lens focus buttons and the focus preset button.

Fujifilm X-H2s and XF150-600mm Lens

Fujifilm X-H2S and XF150-600mm lens

Next we have the aperture ring. As the widest available aperture varies with the focal length, there are no aperture values marked on the lens.

Beneath these lens controls and the wide rubber zoom grip we have a removeable tripod foot which is of a different design to existing telephoto zoom lenses. Just like the XF200mm f/2 the foot is arca-swiss compatible which saves having to carry and attach an adaptor if your tripod or monopod head is compatible. The foot itself is substantial enough to be able to be used as a handle to carry the lens.

Beyond the aperture ring we have a suitably substantial zoom ring and a manual focus ring which is about half of the width of the zoom ring. Both are finished in rubber to aid accurate grip and subtle movement. The lens filter diameter is 82mm.

It’s also great to see focus buttons at the front of the lens. These buttons can be customised to activate autofocus as you would by the traditional half-squeeze on the shutter button, or to lock focus while in continuous autofocus, or to recall a stored focus distance preset.

I used to use this recall custom focus setting a lot with my previous lenses and it is something I have missed on my XF100-400mm lens. They are ideal for locations where you may have two different areas of action. A good example is a woodland hide where certain species may favour one area over another, or perhaps the same species in two different areas. Being able to lock focus distance in to the memory and activate it while recomposing for your subject is a valuable time saver when fractions of a second count.

Red Squirrel Fujifilm X-H2s and 150-600mm © Alan Hewitt Photography

Red Squirrel – Fujifilm X-H2S, XF150-600mm (1/600 f/7.1, ISO500, 468mm)

WAIT….f/8?

The decision between lens size and weight versus apertures and focal lengths is never going to please all users.

Of course I’d prefer it to be f/5.6, or ideally f/4! It’s also a given that I also want the optics to be tack sharp throughout the aperture and focal length ranges. But, I want it to retain internal zoom, be as lightweight as 1605g and as compact as 315mm so crucially, it can also pass the increasing scrutiny and strictness of Colonel Rosa Klebb’s cabin baggage weighing scales and bag dimension basket at airline check-in desks.

It’s not possible. The laws of optical physics dictate that compromises have to be made and where becomes the difficult decision.

With the excellent autofocus of the X-H2S, high ISO capability of cameras and brightness gain and versatility of electronic viewfinders, it isn’t the issue it would have been just a few years ago. Of course subject to background separation will be reduced so more care will be needed with backgrounds and composition, but at long focal lengths, depth of field can be very shallow anyway.

I don’t normally get into micro-analysis and detailed comparisons, but in this case, I think it is useful. Let’s take a look at how the aperture changes throughout the focal length range:

XF150-600mm *1
Focal
Length
150 186 316 539
Widest
Aperture
5.6 6.4 7.1 8

*1Based on a pre-production lens.

I think a lot of people considering the XF150-600mm will be either current XF100-400mm users, or perhaps trying to make a decision between the two lenses. Let’s also compare how the aperture changes with the XF100-400mm and also, with the XF1.4 teleconverter.

XF100-400mm *2
Focal
Length
153 183 280 323 347
Widest
Aperture
4.8 5 5.2 5.4 5.6

*2 Small manufacturing tolerances may exist.

XF100-400mm & XF1.4 Teleconverter *3
Focal
Length
150 186 317 521 560
Widest
Aperture
6.5 6.6 6.9 7.8 8

*3 Small manufacturing tolerances may exist. Multiple changes in aperture also occur between 186mm to 521mm. For comparison purposes to the XF150-600mm, I’ve only noted key changes.

IS IT SHARP?

Put simply, yes!

I’ll let the photographs do the talking together with 100% crops of areas of fine feather details…

Chaffinch Fujifilm X-H2s and 150-600mm © Alan Hewitt Photography100% Crop Chaffinch Fujifilm X-H2s and 150-600mm © Alan Hewitt Photography

Chaffinch, Photograph and 100% crop feather detail – Fujifilm X-H2S, XF150-600mm (1/950, f/8, ISO800, 600mm)

Moorhen Fujifilm X-H2s and 150-600mm © Alan Hewitt Photography100% Crop Moorhen Fujifilm X-H2s and 150-600mm © Alan Hewitt Photography

Moorhen, Photograph and 100% crop feather detail – Fujifilm X-H2S, XF150-600mm (1/640, f/8, ISO640, 420mm)

The XF150-600mm is also compatible with Fujifilm’s teleconverters. With the XF1.4 teleconverter we have a focal length of 840mm. Taking into account the Fujifilm APS-C crop factor, we have an effective field of view of 1260mm. Let’s take a look!

Nuthatch Fujifilm X-H2s and 150-600mm © Alan Hewitt Photography100% Crop Nuthatch Fujifilm X-H2s and 150-600mm © Alan Hewitt Photography

Nuthatch, Photograph and 100% crop feather detail – Fujifilm X-H2S, XF150-600mm & XF1.4x (1/850, f/11, ISO1600, 840mm)

Siskin Fujifilm X-H2s and 150-600mm © Alan Hewitt Photography100% Crop Siskin Fujifilm X-H2s and 150-600mm © Alan Hewitt Photography

Siskin, Photograph and 100% crop feather detail – Fujifilm X-H2S, XF150-600mm & XF1.4x (1/850, f/11, ISO1000, 840mm)

HAVE A LOOK FOR YOURSELF!

On 30th June and 7th October, I’ll be hosting a FUJIFILM UK ‘Xperience Day’ in Northumberland with some amazing birds of prey. I’ll be joined by a FUJIFILM UK technical specialist and you’ll be able to get hands on with the X-H2S and XF150-600mm lens.

For more information and booking, click here.

I’ll also be at Park Cameras in their London store on 2nd July and WEX in Glasgow on 16th July with FUJIFILM UK to talk about my wildlife photography and share my experiences with the X-H2S and XF150-600mm.

Park Cameras London – 2nd July | WEX Glasgow – 16th July

FINAL WORDS…

The new X-H2S and the XF150-600mm provides wildlife and sports photographers with a highly versatile and capable combination. Together they are lightweight, compact and ultimately provide the high image quality we have come to expect, greatly assisted by efficient and responsive autofocus, IBIS and high frame rates.

The XF150-600mm lens is incredibly sharp throughout and also with the XF1.4x teleconverter. There will be a lot of discussion over using the XF150-600mm or the XF100-400mm and XF1.4x teleconverter. At the wider end, the XF-150-600mm has slightly faster apertures, and as focal lengths increase, slightly slower apertures but there is very little in it. I’ve always maintained the image quality of the XF100-400mm & XF1.4x teleconverter is excellent, but the XF150-600mm is even better! Given the internal zoom and the ability to further add to the focal length with teleconverters I believe this offers so much more versatility as well as image quality.

Finally, I’m looking forward to upgrading my X-H1 to the X-H2S as soon as they get to the UK. Oh, and the 150-600mm which has certainly earned its place in my camera bag.

African Elephant, Masai Mara, Kenya

Robin – Fujifilm X-H2S, XF150-600mm (1/600 f/8, ISO1600, 600mm)

22 Comments

  1. John Hafner June 1, 2022 at 11:02 pm - Reply

    Hi Alan, great to hear your initial thoughts & experiences with the X-H2S and XF150-600mm! Great pics. I’m especially impressed by the results with the 1.4x TC! I’ve pre-ordered the camera and lens, and can’t wait to put them though their paces in my backyard in Montana. Curious … are you leading any Migration safaris in Kenya in 2022?

    • Alan Hewitt June 3, 2022 at 8:14 am - Reply

      Thank you John – I’ve sent you an email regarding Kenya.

  2. Vincent Hoang June 2, 2022 at 3:17 pm - Reply

    Thank you Alan , excellent review, beautiful photos. I’ve pre order them already.

  3. Steven Somers June 2, 2022 at 6:06 pm - Reply

    Great review, thank you! I’m a long time Fuji shooter and really look forward to both products being available.

  4. Rob June 2, 2022 at 7:52 pm - Reply

    Great review! Thanks for putting this together!

    • Alan Hewitt June 3, 2022 at 8:16 am - Reply

      Thanks Rob, I hope it is useful for you and of course, others!

  5. Marco June 3, 2022 at 2:44 am - Reply

    Thanks for your precious feedback on this new combo Alan, terrific work!

    ps: your shots are amazing!

  6. Marco June 3, 2022 at 2:46 am - Reply

    pps: what are your thoughs on XF150-600 build quality? How does the lens feels in hands? Thanks!

    • Alan Hewitt June 3, 2022 at 8:17 am - Reply

      It felt great – a good balance between being tough and lightweight. Certainly the internal zoom makes it feel more solid than the 100-400mm does.

  7. texasrancher June 3, 2022 at 3:53 am - Reply

    Thanks for the excellent review of the much anticipated FUJIFILM XF 150-600mm f/5.6-8 lens. Your images demonstrate that the lens offers the reach & clarity that I was hoping to see, plus the relatively slow maximum aperture did not appear to be a major impediment.

    • Alan Hewitt June 3, 2022 at 8:18 am - Reply

      Thank you. I didn’t see it as much of an issue as many are making it out to be. Plus, it helps keep the size and weight down significantly.

  8. Deon Harris June 4, 2022 at 9:45 am - Reply

    Hi Allen, thanks for you detailed review. I really appreciate it.
    I own some nikon gear 600mm f4 and 200-400f4. I have extensively compared the 100-400 fuji to them and love the combo with the XT3.
    How ever i do find that the 100-400 is sharp at 400 f5.6 but not as sharp as the nikon gear and has to be stopped down to f8 at 400mm to achieve the same level of sharpness. I would love to dump the heavy Nikon gear and buy the XH2s and 150-600.
    My concern is however is the sharpness at 600mm f8, will it be necessary to stop down to f11 to achieve optimum. sharpness like it is the case with the 100-400.
    As i see all your images bar one was shot below the 600mm mark. is that the reason why you never pushed the 600mm length?
    My other concern is that focus speed has always been affected by the amount of light entering a lens. So an f4 lens in most cases will obtain focus much quicker than a f8 lens in low light situations, just before sunrise or at sunset or just there after. I will be using mostly for wildlife and birding. I live in South Africa and visit the parks frequently.
    Your feedback would be appreciated

    • Alan Hewitt June 12, 2022 at 4:04 pm - Reply

      Most of the flying shots were less than 600mm as it was a little too tight field of view for panning with the closeness of the subjects. I’ve got plenty shots at 600mm and I’d say it is sharper than the XF100-400mm at 400mm.

  9. Mats June 4, 2022 at 10:50 am - Reply

    Thank you for the review and the great pictures.
    How is the handling with the zoom ring in sens of speed? Can you reach from 150-600mm with one movement or do you have to turn twice?

    • Alan Hewitt June 12, 2022 at 4:02 pm - Reply

      If memory serves, it felt similar to the XF100-400 and what we’d expect with a 4x zoom, one movement

  10. reiner voelksen June 5, 2022 at 2:42 pm - Reply

    Thank you very much for the first information on the test – the autofocus of the XH-1 on my lenses also bothers me from time to time, now I am very pleased that you can announce greater progress on this – I have been travelling with Fuji as a hobby photographer for almost 5 years, and do not regret my change from Canon, to in the APS-C area Fuji will bring even more in the next few years, I am looking forward to an X-H2, which will certainly come. Thank you very much.

  11. Martin Sinnock June 7, 2022 at 8:44 am - Reply

    Thanks for the excellent review. I particularly appreciate the aperture comparisons with the XF100-400. I have ordered the XF150-600. I traded in my XF100-400 and got a good price. I’ve thankfully kept the 1.4 teleconverter which I didn’t actually think I would use very often on the XF150-600. However seeing how it performs in your images I may well be using it frequently. I plan on using it on my X-Pro 3, or maybe X-E4 or XT20.

Leave A Comment

SOCIAL

RECENT POSTS

NEWSLETTER

We send out a newsletter a few times per year. If you’d like to receive it, please enter your email address here. We will never share it with anyone else and you can unsubscribe at any time.
Alan Hewitt Kenya South Africa Wildlife Photography Safaris

Join Alan for a bespoke wildlife photography safari in either Kenya’s Maasai Mara or South Africa’s Greater Kruger.

MORE INFORMATION
Go to Top