Autofocus

The X-H1 uses essentially the same AF system as the X-T2, which we found was capable of performing very well with two significant caveats: firstly that you use one of the faster-to-focus lenses in the system and that you can keep your subject in the central, phase-detection region of the sensor.

Fujifilm claims improved performance in low light and when working with small apertures for this camera but the underlying system and its configuration remain the same.

Like the X-T2 the X-H1 offers a series of parameters that allow you to fine-tune the behavior of the continuous AF and subject tracking to tune it to your subject's movement. Like the X-T2 it also restricts you to initiating AF from within the PDAF region when shooting in its highest drive speeds (which is potentially useful, since it makes you aware of the region that gives the best performance).

Long range AF

As usual we first check that the camera can successfully refocus fast enough to keep pace with a subject approaching the camera at a steady speed. This gives us an idea of how the camera would cope with, say, athletes running or the straight sections of motorsport shooting, but is primarily just a test that the camera can interpret changes in distance and drive its lens fast enough to respond.

As you'd expect of a modern phase-detection system it does very well.

Unpredictable subjects

We then test the camera's ability to track a subject: to follow it around the frame, as well as changing its distance. This is more akin to a small child running around a lawn. From the camera's perspective, the movement is unpredictable and the rate at which the subject approaches varies, making it a much more challenging test.

For this test we set the camera to its Wide/Tracking mode and specify the rider's high visibility jersey as the target.

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Given that on one occasion the focus had jumped, for a split second, to the background and that fine focus was lost as the subject-to-camera rate changed as the bike corners, we adjusted the Continuous AF settings.

Moving the tracking sensitivity towards locked-on seemed to eliminate the risk of the camera picking a different subject and changing the Speed Tracking Sensitivity to expect acceleration/deceleration improved the focus precision through the corners.

This suggests it's well worth considering which AF behavior pattern is best suited to the subject you're trying to shoot. Especially if the 'Multi Purpose' default isn't providing the results you want.

Let your subject venture beyond the PDAF area and there's every chance the camera will lose it and fail to re-acquire the subject thereafter.

Finally we repeated the test with the rider's arc extending beyond the camera's phase-detection region. In these instances, the camera lost track of the subject once it ventured outside the PDAF region and never successfully reacquired it thereafter.

As with the X-T2, this is a very good result but one that depends on you keeping your subject within the phase detection region and that you use one of the faster-to-focus lenses in the system.

Close-up / Low Light AF

We've regularly found that cameras being able to focus and subject-track in good light and at moderate distances doesn't always mean they can perform as well in lower light and at closer range: exactly the conditions that are common for social and event photography.

In this test we check how quickly the camera can refocus and how well it sticks to its initial subject in both Face Detection and subject tracking modes.

Face detection itself does a good job of recognizing and following faces as they move within the scene but the focus isn't always keeping up with these movements (with the focus settling a little further back than we'd like). And, although the camera offers an Eye Priority mode, this relies on contrast detection. So, while it should give precise results, it's not available in conjunction with continuous autofocus, which limits it to posed (or, at least, intentional) portraiture.

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Zooming into the images shot in the above video sequence shows all of them to be in focus but with the focus often further back than it should be.

Again we found that the camera's performance is significantly better when working within the phase-detection region near the middle of the sensor. However, in anything but the highest continuous drive mode, the camera doesn't indicate where this region ends, which makes it harder to keep the subject within its boundaries.

Overall a good performance but not up to the performance level offered by Nikon and Sony models at this price.