Fujifilm X-A5 Review: Excellent compact mirrorless camera for beginners

Fujifilm X-A5 is priced at Rs. 44,999 in the Indian market.

By Rohit Arora

    Fujifilm recently announced X-A5; the smallest and lightest mirrorless digital camera in the company's entry-level X Series designed for beginners' photographers. The affordable mirrorless camera works on a new 24.2MP APS-C CMOS sensor and features hybrid autofocus system for better contrast and phase detection mechanism. You also get an updated processor which allows a native ISO range of 200 to 12,800. The compact mirrorless camera can fit Fujifilm's X-mount lenses in its rangefinder-style body and ships with XC 15-45mm f3.5-5.6 X-mount zoom lens in the kit. There's a tilt type touchscreen LCD screen which can rotate to 180 degrees and can be used to capture selfies.

    Price 

    Rs. 44,999

    Fujifilm X-A5 comes with Fujifilm's signature twin control dials and can also record up to 5 minutes of 4K/15p videos, yes just 15fps, which seems of no use but the 4K burst feature comes handy. Besides, the new compact mirrorless camera comes with improved battery life and supports both Wi-Fi and Bluetooth for seamless photo sharing between smart devices such as smartphones, tablets, and PCs. The camera comes with a manual pop-up flash and has one microSD card slot.

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    I personally believe that the new X-A5 is designed for smartphone generation who wants a compact yet capable mirrorless shooter for everyday photography needs. Having said that, the specifications and feature list of the new X-A5 is impressive but what about the actual performance? Let's try to find this out with the following review.

    Design: Classic Fuji design which is retro and yet very modern

    The X-A5 is instantly recognizable as a Fuji X series product, which has a timeless classic look to them. It's a neatly designed compact retro mirrorless camera with aluminum styling and faux leather accents for a stylish look. You would simply love to carry it around everywhere as it is very compact and can easily fit in a small sling bag. In fact, it is the smallest camera in Fuji's X series product lineup with measurements of 117x68x40mm and a weight of 361g including battery unit.

    Compact body for a good grip in hands

    The Rangefinder styled mirrorless camera is quite compact. Even with the bundled XC 15-45mm f3.5-5.6 X-mount zoom lens, the camera is not very cumbersome for smaller hands. There's a sweeping curve at the face of the camera to offer a firm hold. You can click pictures while holding the camera in one-hand but the X-A5 feels a lot more secure and functional with two hands while shooting videos or when you want to experiment with modes using the mode dial. The camera's body is made out of reinforced plastic which feels like metal and gives it a robust feel in hands. The camera feels slightly heavy but not to the point where it cannot be used on a stretch.

    ALSO READ:FujiFilm X-H1 First impressions

    The four-way controller along with other important buttons such as media playback, quick menu, video recording, and display overlay/back are placed adjacent to the LCD screen. The right side of the camera houses the mini HDMI and ISB socket placed under a plastic flap. The left side has a flash button and a 2.5mm mic socket. The bottom of the camera has the housing for battery and storage card (one microSD card slot). The only thing that seems missing here is a viewfinder, which would have come very handy in outdoor shooting.

    Chunky Control dials for maximum manual control

    The top panel, which is a silver plate, has the regular Fuji styled mode dial that gives you full control to the camera's different modes. It allows you to switch between SR+ auto mode, Advanced filters, scene modes, dedicated scene mode positions, and Motion Panorama. The mode dial offers very good clicky feel and has good resistance. Besides, there's an on/off switch that surrounds the shutter release button, a reprogrammable function button and a second dial supporting exposure compensation for ± 5 stops in 1/3 steps. The second control dial can be used to control aperture and shutter speed in different modes.

    Touchscreen LCD display with 180-degree rotation

    If you were waiting for a compact mirrorless camera that can be used to capture selfies, X-A5 is the one. It features a 3-inch LCD screen that tilts up 180° to above the camera to help you capture selfies, which is a highlight feature of this camera as it is built for vlogging. Fujifilm has also added a tiny slide mechanism in the plate to increase the display tilt reach above the top plate of the camera for a better view. The eye detection AF function is enabled automatically when you rotate the LCD monitor to 180 degrees. The screen also tilts down to 45 degrees. You can use the touchscreen to enable touch AF, touch shutter and pinch to zoom to simply use the pinch-out finger gesture to zoom in on a subject. The touch to autofocus will come really handy if you are using the camera with a tripod or usually use your smartphones to capture images. You can also use the touchscreen in media playback mode to pinch-zoom and preview the captured shots.

    Still camera performance

    The quality of images produced by the 24.2MP sensor on X-A5 is impressive. The compact mirrorless camera produces well-exposed pictures and images show pleasing color reproduction, thanks to the X Series signature color reproduction technology. The 24.2-megapixel sensor is able to capture a wide range of color tones across a range of scenarios, even in the auto mode. There's a little bit of color noise while shooting in low-light but nothing major that will concern beginners.

    Crystal crisp image output

    The X-A5 produces very sharp and clear images where fine details are preserved very well. The sensor is able to tackle complex light and you always have manual control dials to control the image output. I was able to capture sharp-looking images with the bundled lens in the kit. The camera performs well in portrait, macro and landscape photography. It is also good at capturing indoor shots and will come quite handy during family meetups and parties.

    Bit inconsistent Hybrid Autofocus

    The 24.2MP APS-C sensor is equipped with a phase detection autofocus system, and a newly developed image processing engine, which is 1.5 times faster than previous models in the series. It is worth mentioning that the X-A5 is the first X-A Series model to feature phase detection pixels, originally developed for the X series' high-end models. The phase detection mechanism keeps the focus in check if you are using the camera in selfie mode. The focus only takes a hit if you are moving very fast and there's uneven backlight in the background.

    In standard mode, the autofocus feels a bit inconsistent. It works wonderfully in ideal conditions but as I mentioned, it is slightly sluggish if you are trying to shoot a fast-moving subject or you just expect the camera to respond quickly, especially in low-light.

    Low-light performance

    The low-light camera performance is good if not brilliant. The camera has a total of seven native ISO settings. The ratings vary from ISO 200 to ISO 12,800, for JPEG and RAW files, thanks to the updated processor. You can bring the ISO down to a good ISO 100 and scale up to impressive ISO 51,200 but only for images to be captured in the JPEG format. I set the camera to its best quality JPEG image settings at Aperture priority to evaluate the low-light performance. I was quite impressed to see that the sensor on X-A5 very well manages the noise levels. The noise starts affecting only at ISO 3200. Below that, the noise levels are pretty manageable. The low-light images come out good and show ample detailing with controlled noise levels.

    Video recording performance

    When it comes to video recording, Fujifilm X-A5 is a decent camera for everyday use. The bundled XC15-45mm F3.5-5.6 OIS PZ, the first electric-powered zoom lens for the X Mount is very useful if you are shooting product videos. It is fitted with a smooth electric-powered zooming mechanism that starts from the wide-angle 23mm end (on a 35mm format) to give a good control for both still images and video.I was able to zoom in and zoom out smoothly at a steadier rate; however, if you are shooting at the street and want to quickly zoom in and out on a subject, it might disappoint you. It is a manual zoom lens that takes its sweet time to function. Try panning and zooming at the same time and you can create some interesting video content.

    The camera can record in 4K, but it is not of much use as the frame rate is limited to just 15fps and for only five-minute clip duration; however 4K bursts comes handy. I usually recorded in 1080p, which is available up to 60fps for 14-minute clips.

    Filters and features

    Like any other Fujifilm camera, the company has also offered a variety of interesting modes and filters with the new X-A5 to help you make the most out of your camera experience. The X-A5 offers 11 variations of Fujifilm's unique Film Simulation Modes and 17 variations of advanced filters including the new Fog Remove and HDR Art. The modes and filters are easily accessible and can help you create some interesting content for your audience if you are into vlogging.

    Battery life and Connectivity

    The X-A5 has a long-lasting battery life. You can manage to shoot up to 450 photos per single battery charge. The battery can be refueled by simply plugging the camera with a microUSB cable. As far as connectivity is concerned, you can use the microUSB cable to transfer the data or can also use Bluetooth Low Energy technology to transfer data wirelessly. You can pair smartphones or tablet devices, using the free smart-device app FUJIFILM Camera Remote. Besides, the X-A5 is also compatible with FUJIFILM instax SHARE SP-3 printer.

    Verdict

    Summing up all, the Fujifilm X-A5 is a very good entry-level camera for anyone who is just starting out as a photographer or a vlogger. It is good at photography and can also deliver good videos, if not best-in-class. Like other Fujifilm cameras, the images are punchy and vibrant. The X-A5 captured good details and the overall output is very crisp and pleasing to the eyes. The sensor captures an impressive dynamic range and good contrast levels.

    The 180 degrees tilt LCD touchscreen is good for casual photographers and vloggers who like to experiment and create intersecting content for their YouTube channels and Instagram accounts. The camera is also very compact and looks every bit of stylish making it an ideal travel companion. A viewfinder and a standard microphone port would have made the X-A5 a real deal. Overall, X-A5 comes out as a high performing compact mirrorless camera that is a great buy for beginners who like to capture anything and everything on-the-go.

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