Even with the older, slower-to-focus lenses, such as the 23mm F1.4, the X-Pro3's focus can react pretty quickly
Fujinon 35mm F1.4 | ISO 160 | F2.2 | 1/750 sec
Photo: Richard Butler

Key takeaways:

  • Autofocus is generally good and highly customizable but not as good at subject tracking as its newest rivals
  • Face and Eye Detection is pretty effective though not quite as well integrated as on rivals. It's not available in optical viewfinder mode

The X-Pro3's autofocus system is essentially the same as that of the X-T3, which means it's very good but not quite as good as the best of its contemporaries. Autofocus technology has seen a surge of development in the past few years, which is why our assessment of the Pro3 isn't quite as fulsome as it was of the X-T3, despite the performance being broadly similar.

In most respects the X-Pro3's autofocus is the same as on other recent Fujifilm models: you have the choice of single point, zone or wide AF modes, or 'All,' which encompasses all three and lets you transition between the three modes as you vary your AF point size.

There are three main AF area modes, along with an 'All' setting that encompasses all three. Face detection is a separate option that over-rides your chosen AF area, but you can toggle back by pressing the joystick inward.

On top of whichever AF area mode you choose, there's also an Eye/Face Detection mode that can be toggled on and off with the tap of a function button, if you've defined one. The precise operation of this mode (Face, Auto Eye or a specific eye being sought) can be set up in the menus.

The major differences between the X-Pro and other X-Series models come in the optical viewfinder mode. For a start, the smallest AF point is much larger than you can use in EVF or LCD modes, reducing your ability to position your point with precision. Secondly, you can only select from 117 AF points using the OVF, whereas there's an option to choose from 425, more closely-spaced points in the other view modes. Perhaps the biggest difference, though, is that you don't get Face/Eye AF through the optical viewfinder. The camera will still indicate in playback where it detected faces in the image, but it won't attempt to focus on them while shooting.

AF Tracking

If you select the Wide (all area) AF area mode when shooting S-AF, the camera chooses a target for you. In C-AF mode, though, you're given a single AF box that lets you tell the camera what you want it to track. The tracking performance itself is beginning to fall a little behind the most recent Canon, Nikon and Sony models in terms of staying locked on a subject, and will not automatically transition to face and eye detection as some of those competing models.

Autofocus tracking performance is directly comparable to that of the X-T3.

The behavior of the AF system can be fine-tuned to match your subject's movement [AF/MF | AF-C Custom Settings], and there are five presets to make it easier to configure. We've generally found recent Fujifilms to give better results by setting up the AF behavior then trying to keep an AF Zone pointed at the subject, rather than relying on the camera to perform the AF tracking itself.

Given the X-Pro3's traditional/considered shooting approach, it seems unlikely that many X-Pro3s are going to see much sporting action, so this is unlikely to be a major drawback. That said, the camera's Sports Finder mode (which shows the full image but only captures a 1.25x crop) and its OVF both allow you to see subjects before they enter the frame, so can support this way of shooting.

Face/Eye Detection

The Face and Eye Detection system isn't quite as well automated and integrated as some other brands' cameras but it's pretty sophisticated. It's turned off by default but we'd recommend switching it on to Eye Auto if you ever shoot pictures of people.

Initially, Face/Eye detection appears to over-ride the AF area mode you'e selected and will prioritize any faces (or, occasionally, things it thinks are faces) in the scene, irrespective of where your AF point or zone is. However, if you press the joystick inwards, it toggles between the detected faces and your chosen AF point.

The X-Pro3's Eye-AF function isn't available when you're shooting through the optical viewfinder, but does a good job when you can use it, even when the subject has begun to look away from the camera.
Fujinon 18-135mm F3.5-5.6 OIS | ISO 8000 | F5.6 | 1/250 sec
Photo: Dan Bracaglia

There's also a Face Selection mode that can be applied to a function button. This needs to be turned on at the beginning of each shooting session and isn't found in the main menus anywhere. But, once engaged, this lets you use directional pushes of the joystick to select between multiple faces in a scene. As before, pressing the joystick inward returns to your chosen AF area mode, the main difference is that a directional push doesn't switch you back to moving your chosen area until you've pressed the joystick to ignore the detected faces.

Overall it's a pretty effective system. It's a little prone to identifying non-existent faces, and will always jump to another face if your selected subject turns away (which the cleverest rival systems won't), but once you're familiar with it, it's pretty powerful. Our only gripe is that Face Selection ties up a function button and needs to be re-engaged each time you use the camera. There's almost no disadvantage to having it on, so we'd prefer it to be the default behavior, with the option to turn it off in the main menu, if you find you regularly need to re-position your AF point without toggling to ignore detected faces first.