Autofocus and performance

For casual snaps and static scenes with plenty of contrast, the XF10 autofocuses well enough.
Out-of-camera JPEG with the Provia profile | ISO 200 | 1/340 sec | F5.6

Unfortunately, this is where things really start to come apart for Fujifilm's XF10. Just like we noticed on the X-T100, autofocus is slow at best, and downright inaccurate at worst. Operational speed is another shortcoming, but battery life is at least competitive.

Key takeaways:

  • The 91-pt autofocus system is prone to hunting and backfocus, even occasionally on static subjects with plenty of light to work with
  • Lens movement while focusing is very noisy
  • Face tracking isn't bad, but it overrides your other AF settings and hunting is still too slow if your subject is moving
  • General operational lag is frustrating
  • Battery life is competitive

In depth - autofocus

The XF10 struggles mightily with moving subjects.
ISO 200 | 1/180 sec | F5
Photo by Wenmei Hill

Due to the Fujifilm XF10's fixed wide-angle lens, we aren't able to assess its autofocus system for tracking mid-distance action, which is really beyond a reasonable use case for this type of camera anyway. Instead, we've taken a look at how it performs with more casual use in day-to-day situations. Unfortunately, it's got some problems.

Even with a point directly over your chosen subject, the autofocus system can mis-focus - often onto the background

First of all, using the XF10 in the automatic 'SR+' mode results in the camera automatically determining which subject to focus on, and it's not often the one you want. Oddly, your chosen AF setup - zone, single point, etc. - is still there, but the camera will override that when it decides its found a subject of some sort. Focusing on this chosen subject results in tons of hunting and a fair amount of missed focus. You can tap to choose a subject yourself, but the camera will often mistake another subject for the one you meant to choose.

Switching out of Auto mode, face detection works fairly well on the XF10, but it still overrides your underlying AF mode entirely, and you have no way of choosing a face if there are multiple people in a scene. The lengthy focus acquisition time also guarantees that this just isn't a great option for children or other subjects that won't sit still.

Even if you can get your subjects to sit still, the XF10 will sometimes back-focus without any rhyme or reason we can find.
ISO 200 | 1/125 sec | F4.5

'Okay,' you might say, 'I'll just put it in single point, disable face detect and choose my subjects myself.' No problem, that's a perfectly serviceable way of working with a camera of this type. Unfortunately, the autofocus system can (and will) still mis-focus, often onto the background, even with a point directly over your chosen subject. If this hybrid autofocus system is using distance information (from its phase detection pixels), it doesn't seem like it's working all that well.

One final point - the AF motor is very noisy, and you'll be hearing it a lot. After considering all of the above, I'm really thankful for the Snapshot snap focus modes for street shooting.

In depth - performance

We've mentioned this earlier, but let's just say it here unequivocally: the Fujifilm XF10 responds slowly to your inputs. This isn't new for a budget Fujifilm, but it really takes the sheen off of what looks at first glance to be a sweet little camera.

As a casual in-your-pocket snapshot camera, the XF10 will produce nice images with fairly low noise. But the fact remains - it requires a degree of patience in actual use.
Processed and cropped in Adobe Camera Raw | ISO 3200 | 1/100 sec | F4

Using the AF joystick to move your point around is laggy. Tapping to move the point is laggy. Navigating the menus takes forever (and you can't use the touchscreen in the menus to speed things up). Settings take a beat to catch up after you turn the control dials - though oddly, if you assign a custom button to ISO, turning the dial to change that value is instant. It simply feels underpowered.

I can't help but wonder how much of this could be fixed with some software streamlining in a firmware update, but it hasn't happened with the likes of the X-A5 and X-T100 which suffer similar performance issues. So much of these cameras is reminiscent of using an original Fujifilm X100 (after the firmware updates, thankfully); you get really lovely photographic results, but my goodness, you need some patience.

In practice, we found the best way to use the XF10 was to set it to the F5.6 at 5m snap focus mode (assuming enough light), and keep it in Shutter Priority to select your preferred shutter speed and let Auto ISO take care of your exposure from there. The camera is much more responsive without having to wait for autofocus - though when light levels drop and you need a wider aperture than F5.6, disable snap focus, pick your own AF point with the joystick and don't rely on face or eye detection.

On the bright side, the XF10 gets decent battery life. You can USB charge it and the batteries are small enough that it's not a huge burden to have an extra in your pocket. For the type of camera it is - one that encourages occasional shooting of one or two shots at a time - you can expect the battery to last several days of use in this manner.