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Fujifilm X-A7 Review: Improving On Basics For Good Overall Performance
It was in September 2018 when we reviewed the Fujifilm X-A5. The rangefinder-style compact shooter proved to be an impressive beginner camera for someone making a shift from a smartphone platform to a dedicated camera. The X-A5 offered crisp image/video quality, and decent battery life.
- Brilliant Flip Touchscreen
- Impressive Autofocus Capabilities
- 4K @ 30fps Now Available
- Premium Aesthetics
- Crisp Image Quality
- Good Color Reproduction
- Lacks Built-in Stabilizer
- No EVF
- Low Buffer Size
- Not Suitable For Serious Videographers
Now, we have the successor to the X-A5 in the form of the X-A7 which brings some noticeable design and performance upgrades. The new entry-level APS-C mirrorless camera is priced at Rs. 59,990. We are testing the camera with the Fujinon XC 15-45mm lens kit which is offered in the box.
Fujifilm XA-7 Key Specifications
Sensor- 24.2MP APS-C CMOS Sensor
Lens- Fujifilm X-Mount
Standard ISO- ISO200-12800
Focus- Face / Eye detection AF
Display- 3.5" TFT Color LCD Touchscreen, 16:9, approx. 2,760K-dot vari-angle type
Video Recording- 4K (29.97P/25P/24P/23.98P Continuous recording: up to 15 min)
1080p (59.94P/50P/29.97P/25P/24P/23.98P Continuous recording: up to 30 min)
720p High Speed (1.6x / 2x / 3.3x / 4x)
Connectivity- Wi-Fi IEEE802.11b/g/n, Bluetooth Ver.4.2, USB Type C, HDMI Micro connector, 2.5 mm 3-pole mini jack
Weight- 320g (including battery and memory card), 100g Kit lens
Design- Compact And Well-Made
Like its predecessor, the Fujifilm X-A7 is also compact and lightweight. The mirrorless camera weighs 450g including the kit lens, battery, and the memory card. This makes the X-A7 a great travel companion and a perfect shooter for street photography. As far as the looks and feel are concerned, this is a classic Fuji camera with a splash of new colors. The camera is available in five color variants - Camel, Dark Silver, Mint Green, Navy Blue, and Silver. The mint green color variant is simply a head-turner.
We received the dark Silver variant that looks sophisticated. I don't understand why the box offers a brown strap. A black color strap for the black-silver color variant would have made more sense. The camera feels solid and well-made, like the premium Fuji cameras. The kit lens extends when the camera powers up but it doesn't affect the compactness of this mirrorless shooter. The lens has a motorized zoom control which can be controlled via the larger ring.
Flip-Out Touchscreen Is A Delight
As there's no built-in EVF, Fujifilm has designed a wonderful display for the X-A7. Despite the compact form-factor, the X-A7 features one of the biggest screens on a compact camera in the market. The camera flaunts a large 3.5-inch LCD touch monitor with 16:9 aspect ratio and 2.7 million pixels.
It is crisp and has a maximum luminous intensity of approx. 1,000 candelas making it fairly usable outdoors. Combine it with the joystick and you get a display that makes for an excellent medium to interact with the camera.
The flip-out screen allows you to frame interesting shots in challenging situations. It's a damn god display for vlogging but has one shortcoming. Due to bigger size and lack of built-in EVF, you have to hold the camera at arm's length mostly to frame the perfect shot. Now, with no in-body stabilization, the camera can be a bit unstable and result in blurry shots. Having said that, a mini tripod would make things much easier if you are shooting a vlog on the X-A7.
Controls- Redesigned Top Panel, Useful Joystick And Control Dials
The Fujifilm X-A7 comes with a redesigned top panel. There's a new recessed on/off button positioned just behind the front control dial. The second control dial is placed on the right side and within it resides a customizable function button. The two control dials really come in handy and allows you to control the shutter speed and the aperture simultaneously.
The big circular dial on the left of the power button allows you to change modes manually. It's the same old and familiar mode dial with all the camera's scene modes and filters. A joystick control is also placed at the back of the camera for menu navigation. It is useful but the placement is slightly off. All the buttons and control dials offer good tactile feedback. Overall, the X-A7 has a decent button setup to operate the camera.
Fast And Accurate Autofocus
The Fujifilm X-A7 has a snappy and accurate autofocus. With 8.5X more phase-detection pixels than its predecessor, the camera can instantly detect and track eyes and face even in challenging lighting situations. The contrast-detection autofocus system works on 425 autofocus points and uses copper wiring to enable high-speed data readout. The phase-detection pixels are spread across the entire surface of the sensor. This enhances AF speed and accuracy while shooting fast-paced moments. In daylight, the autofocus works as a delight.
Autofocus In Low-Light
I was also able to capture some good panning shots in low-light with the X-A7. The camera maintained a pin-sharp focus on the speeding vehicles even in uneven lighting; however, it's not always consistent. It often struggles and forces you to capture multiple pictures to get that one perfect shot. Overall, you shouldn't forget that the X-A7 is an entry-level mirrorless camera and for the price, it does a fine job in low-light situations.
New Interface Caters To Smartphone Users’ Needs
Fujifilm has also tweaked the camera interface. It is designed by keeping in mind the smartphone users. For instance, you can control the depth with just a slider, something we all have been doing on our smartphones. The before and after scene view in film simulation modes is another welcome addition to the interface and makes it easier to review compositions before applying the effects and filters.
The interface menu activates by pressing the arrow button on the touchscreen. The main menu gives the most-used options for fast access. Other options and features are tucked inside sub-menus. If you have been relying on manual and more conventional camera interfaces, the X-A7's new interface might confuse you at first. For someone making a transition from a smartphone to the X-A7, the interface will not be much of a problem.
Image Quality- Good Contrast And Impressive Details in Daylight
The Fujifilm X-A7 has thoroughly impressed me with its still image performance. The camera performed very well in different lighting conditions. The images captured in daylight show good contrast and clear details. The camera maintains accurate colors and perfect white balance in almost all instances. This compact camera also captures a respectable dynamic range that matches the performance of some high-end mirrorless cameras.
You can make colors in shots appear more vibrant by enabling ‘Pop' filter if you prefer highly saturated output. One area where the X-A7 lets you down is the buffer size. The low buffer rate is a problem and really affects the continuous shooting process. The camera can shoot up to six raw files on a stretch before its buffer limit is reached. Sometimes the camera only reached 4 shots in RAW burst mode which is a big letdown. Taking consecutive shots on this camera is a big pain.
Low-Light Camera Performance
The X-A7 is a decent low-light shooter and shows much better results than the predecessor. The camera can shoot JPEGS with ISO levels ranging from as low as 100 to as high as ISO 51,200. The RAW shooting is limited to ISO 200-12,800 though. The sensor keeps noise in check even at higher ISO levels. There's no loss in colors' vibrancy either even in low-light scenarios.
Use Tripod For Better Results
The above camera samples came out noise-free at ISO 6400 and shows accurate colors. I would recommend using a tripod for best results as the camera lacks in-body stabilization. The kit-lens isn't a good option for wide-angle photography but the fact that it is stabilized; you can capture some decent shots even in challenging lighting. A tripod will come handy if you want absolute crisp shots of subjects moving swiftly within the frame.
The X-A5 felt short of performance while capturing videos as the camera only shoots in 4K @ 15fps, which was just unusable. The X-A7 can shoot uncropped 4K videos at 30fps with a 15-minute record limit, which is a big improvement. Additionally, the 4k @ 24fps is also offered to help you get the perfect cinematic look. Now, add the flip touch-screen and the 2.5mm microphone jack and you get a powerful vlogging camera.
As far as video quality is concerned, the footage looks crisp and vibrant. However, the camera has some serious heating issues. The camera starts heating up within 10 minutes of continues video recording even at 1080p 60fps. The base ISO 400 can also be an issue for serious videographers. Overall, the X-A7 is only good for amateur videographers and once again falls short of expectations for serious video related jobs.
Battery Life And Connectivity
As far as the battery life is concerned, the X-A7 can last for up to 350 to 400 still shots depending upon your usage type. The mirrorless camera's battery life dropped to one point with just 70 still shots and 30 minutes of 1080p 60fps video recording. The camera's body also heated up while recording the footage. The X-A7 supports Wi-Fi and Bluetooth. The camera also has a Type-C port and a 2.5mm microphone jack. You can charge and transfer data from the camera to the phone via Type-C charging port.
The X-A7 is a good overall entry-level mirrorless camera. The newly developed contrast-based autofocus system and the 3.5-inches flip touchscreen are the biggest upgrades when compared to the predecessor.
The budget interchangeable lens camera also improves on video recording capabilities making it a good option for vloggers. The lack of in-body stabilization, EVF and low buffer size are some letdowns that you have to adjust with if you are planning to buy this camera.