Image Stabilization

The Fujifilm X-H1 if the first X series camera to offer in-body stabilization, despite previous suggestions from the company that it couldn't be done. To get an idea of how well it compensates for real world hand shake, we ran it through our IS test at 24mm, 50mm and 200mm (equivalents).

Unlike other brands, Fujifilm doesn't gain an advantage when using in-body IS with a stabilized lens. In fact, the chart below shows that it is possible to get better stabilization with non-IS lenses, than with their IS counterparts.

Stabilization is a complex issue at the best of times, with different types (and differing extent) of movement playing a different role, depending on focal length. In this case there's an additional complication because most XF lenses weren't designed to project the slightly oversized image circle needed for in-body stabilization to work to its full extent.

Fujifilm's own claims show that IS performance is somewhat lens dependent and that the provision of lens IS doesn't necessarily lead to better performance.

This test is done by shooting 10 frames at our test target, starting with one over the focal length and working our way downward in intervals of 2/3-stops using a neutral density filter (to maintain the same aperture). We first did this with IS on, and then with IS off. The images were then assessed to the following standard:

Excellent Some softness
Noticeable blur Unusable

1) Excellent - the best the camera is capable of
2) Some softness - only distinguishable from Excellent by comparison
3) Noticeable blur - blur can be perceived without reference to another image
4) Unusable - significant motion perceptible

Before getting into the results, it's worth noting that the X-H1 offers two IS modes: 'Continuous' and 'Shooting,' the former is always on, the later engages when the shutter is half pressed. We tested both and found continuous gave marginally more effective stabilization, providing a greater number of 'Excellent' rated images, though presumably at the cost of battery life. For this reason our test results reflect continuous IS being used.

To get a representative result of what the system is capable of (and given our in-house selection of lenses) we tested 24mm and 50mm equivalents using the XF 16-55 F2.8 lens. For 200mm equiv. we used the XF 55-200mm F3.5-4.8 R LM OIS.

24mm Equivalent
50mm Equivalent
200mm Equivalent
Stabilization On (cont.) Stabilization On (cont.) Stabilization On (cont.)
Stabilization Off Stabilization Off Stabilization Off

To assess image stablization, we compare where the IS On and IS Off success rates show a similar pattern.

It's important to note that this is our own assessment of real-world performance and always gives results significantly lower than the CIPA test methodology.

Using this method, at a 200mm equiv., the X-H1 provided roughly 3.3-stops of IS. In our test, 1/13 sec was last shutter speed before the hit rate dropped below 50% with IS on compared to 1/125 sec with IS off. At a 50mm equiv. the X-H1 provided roughly the same, 3.3-stops of hand-hold-ability: a 50% usable photo hit rate of 1/5 sec with IS on vs 1/50 sec with IS off.

The X-H1's stabilization appears to be less robust when shooting with a wide angle lens or, at least, with this particular wide-angle lens. At a 24mm equiv. the X-H1 provided about 2 stops of image stablization: a 50% usable photo hit rate of 1/8 sec with IS on vs 1/30 sec with IS off.

This is a slightly odd result: in-body stabilization is generally pretty good at wide-angle correction (and, it's worth noting that Fujifilm claims 5 stops of correction for its 16mm and 14mm primes). This suggests the 16-50mm lens, along with the company's 10-24mm project image circles that are too small to allow the in-body system to use the full extent of its movement.

The takeaway

When shooting stills with the Fujifilm X-H1 using the continuous IS mode, users can expect about 3.3-stops of added stablization when shooting with normal to telephoto lenses: a very good result. However, with current wide-angle lens we tested, this figure drops to around 2-stops.