The X-T30's hybrid AF system has been dramatically improved compared to its predecessor. It now has phase detect points that cover the entire frame along with improved low light sensitivity and face/eye detect performance, according to Fujifilm.

Key takeaways:

  • The X-T30 detects faces and eyes quickly, though it feels a bit 'jumpy'
  • Face detection always overrides your selected focus point, which can be frustrating. The best solution is to turn off face detection entirely in those situations.
  • The camera can track subjects pretty effectively but we found there's a definite benefit to tuning the AF system to match your subject's movement.

AF modes and face detection

The X-T30 offers four AF area modes: Single Point, Zone, Wide/Tracking and All (which is essentially an easy way to cycle between the other three). In Single Point you can manually select from 117 or 425 points.

Fujifilm claims that the face and eye-detection system has been overhauled since the X-T20. It's better, but still not great. The X-T30 can detect faces and eyes fairly well (except for those wearing glasses), though it sometimes rapidly jumps between the faces and eyes in the scene as it loses one face and finds another. It will often switch between eyes if it's set to 'Auto', unless your subject is still. When the camera loses a face, it returns to whatever mode it was in before (zone, single-point, etc.)

Face detection will always take priority over the AF mode you've selected

The X-T30 lets you move from face to face using the touchscreen or the joystick. In practice, it can be frustrating to use, since - at any given moment - the person you wish to focus on may or may not be detected as a face. The system will overrule your choice if the subject looks away, switching to any other face it can find. As before, the camera will go back to its previous AF setting (showing a box for the focus point) if the face disappears.

Speaking of overriding, face detection will always take priority over the AF mode you've selected. For example, if you've pre-selected a focus point and a face appears, the camera will focus on the face instead, regardless of how far it is from your selected point. You can use the joystick to get control back, but the camera will latch back onto the face almost immediately. The best option for normal shooting situations may be to turn face detection off entirely, and customize a button to toggle between whatever your current face-detect setting is and 'off'.

Continuous AF

To test continuous AF performance, we first try to shoot a subject approaching at a steady speed using the central AF point. This lets us see how good the camera is at assessing subject distance and whether it can drive its lens to that point quickly. We shot this sequence (and the one that follows) using the XF 50-140mm F2.8 lens at 1/1000 sec, with the aperture wide open.

We expect modern cameras to handle this test with ease and, except for one out-of-focus shot, the X-T30 did a fine job, even at 20 fps (using the electronic shutter). That 'jump' you see near the end of the sequence is where the buffer slowed down briefly.

We then have the subject weave across the camera's AF region in a way the camera can't predict. This has the advantage that the approach rate varies as the subject changes direction. For this test we use the X-T30's Wide/Tracking mode, so it needs to identify and follow a subject around the scene, as well as trying to keep it in focus.

At default settings the X-T30 isn't at its best at this test. It's able to track the subject as it weaves, but focus itself lags behind him just a bit due to the erratic changes in velocity. Like other mid-to-high-end Fujifilm cameras, the X-T30 has five presets (plus a custom spot) that use the best settings for the situation. They include:

Set Title Tracking sensitivity Speed tracking sensitivity Zone area switching
1 Multi-purpose 0 0 Auto
2 Ignore obstacles and continue to track subject 3 0 Center
3 For accelerating or decelerating subject 2 2 Auto
4 For suddenly appearing subject 0 1 Front
5 For erratically moving & accel/decel subject 3 2 Auto
6 Custom 0 - 4
(Quick - locked on)
0 - 2
(Steady - accel/decel)
Center, Auto, Front

For the 'weaving' portion of the bike test, we've found that custom settings with tracking sensitivity set to 4 and speed tracking set to 2 produced the best - but by no means perfect -results. The bottom line is that multi-purpose may not work for every situations, so you may need to adjust the settings above if needed.