Fujifilm X-A5: Smart, Stylish & Facile

 

Does the Fujifilm X-A5 fulfill the needs of a beginner wanting to enter the world of mirrorless cameras? Conchita Fernandes finds out.

Fujifilm X-A5

With its X-A lineup of cameras, Fujifilm has catered to those looking to enter the mirrorless segment. The X-A5 is its latest iteration, succeeding the X-A3 that was launched last year. Going by the promotional video of the camera (that emphasises on)—‘Whenever, whatever, whichever, however, wherever’—you get the impression of a device that is effortless, and one that can be used by absolutely anyone. Let’s find out if this is so.

Features
Going by its specs sheet, the X-A5 doesn’t show a massive difference in comparison to the X-A3. The camera retains the 24.2MP APS-C CMOS sensor that was there in the X-A3, but this time it includes phase detection autofocus with 91 points that extends to most of the screen. This is one of the major additions to the lineup, and a step-up from the contrast-based systems from its predecessors. The camera offers 6fps continuous shooting, an ISO range of 200-12,800 (extended to 51,200), a mechanical shutterspeed range of 4sec to 1/4000sec in the Program Mode and 30sec to 1/4000sec in the other modes, an electronic shutterspeed range of 4sec to 1/32,000sec in the Program Mode, and 30sec to 1/32,000sec in all the other modes. The high shutterspeed is however not applicable for movng subjects, and is instead best used for portraits or macros that require a shallow depth of field, and that are shot in bright light.

Catering to selfie enthusiasts, the camera features a 3-inch 1040K-dot tilt-type, TFT colour touchscreen LCD, which flips upwards to 180°. The Portrait Enhancer feature on the mode dial can be used here for a better effect. The X-A5 offers 11 film simulation modes to choose from—Provia/Standard, Velvia/Vivid, Astia/Soft, Classic Chrome, Pro Neg Hi, Pro Neg Std, Monochrome, Monochrome+Ye Filter, Monochrome+R Filter, Monochrome+G Filter and Sepia. There’s also the Advanced Filter mode that offers the following effects—Toy camera, Miniature, Pop color, High-key, Low-key, Dynamic tone, Fish-eye, Soft focus, Cross screen, Partial color (Red/Orange/Yellow/Green/Blue/Purple), Fog remove and HDR Art. Additionally, there’s an Advanced SR Auto mode that decides the camera settings for you, depending on the scene. While it more or less identified the nature of the scene, it wasn’t as fast as I’d expected it to be. At times it was a little glitchy too. Even with the camera steady, it would identify movement in the stationery object in front of it.

One of the other important additions to the X-A5 is the inclusion of 4K video recording, but at 15p, with no crop factor. While this may not be ideal for videos, the feature is handy for high resolution stills in the form of the 4K Burst Mode. There is also a 4K Multi Focus Mode, which basically stacks a set of photographs and then lets you decide the focus point in the scene. However, if you’re still keen on videos, the Full HD 1080 60p feature is a more practical and efficient option.

Other new additions include Bluetooth and a microphone output on the side. Using WiFi, you can transfer images or shoot remotely using Fuji’s Camera Remote app.

In anticipation of the men moving forward towards the sea, I selected the Zone AF feature. The camera was super quick to focus and shoot. Exposure: 1/2000 sec at f/5 (ISO 320). Photograph/Conchita Fernandes

Handling
The X-A5, along with the 15-45mm f/3.5-5.6 kit lens and its aluminium body makes it a lightweight and compact device. There’s a right hand leather grip (not as pronounced as I would have liked it to be) on the front, and a thumb pad on the rear. All the dials on the camera are positioned on the top right of the camera, and were easy to access and operate. Even navigating through the menu was simple and straightforward. The LCD, after flipping it upwards, needs a little extra push to get the entire screen in view.

The only aspect of the camera that I found a little cumbersome was the extent of the touchscreen functionality. The touchscreen option extends to only only the following areas—AF, focus area, focus mode, digital zoom, Film Simulation mode, Advance Filter mode, Protrait Enhancement level and touch AF in movie, as well as, pinching, enlarging and swiping through photographs in the playback mode. I would have ideally preferred for it to be available throughout the camera settings and menu.

I was very pleased with the accurate colours rendered by the camera of the places I shot at. Exposure: 1/160sec at f/8 (ISO 200). Photograph/Conchita Fernandes

Performance
The 91-point phase detection auto focus is the main star feature in the X-A5. What I liked about it was that I was able to customise it depending on what I was shooting. The Single Point AF lets you be very precise with what you want to focus on, the Zone AF is great if you more or less know where your subject is going be present, and the Wide-Tracking AF lets the camera decide what to focus on. Moreover, by using the black wheel on the rear (above the thumb pad), I was able to increase the size of the focus point as well. All of this aided me in my photography endeavours.

I primarily enjoy street photography, but not necessarily the action-packed moments that we associate the genre with. I prefer the quieter and sedentary moments, and the X-A5’s AF speed was great, as I almost never missed a shot. However, this being the month of festivities, I photographed the Ganpati processions and immersions, and here, the AF was a little sluggish because of the ample of movement present in the scene. Even in some instances that I was shooting in low light, the AF was a little slow.

On the other hand, I was quite impressed with the quality of the JPEGs, which rendered colours that were true to the scene, and retained details. The center-to-edge sharpness in the images were good as well.

The camera retains a good amount of detail in the scene, even in the areas that are in shadow. Exposure: 1/500sec at f/6.4 (ISO 500). Photograph/Conchita Fernandes

Conclusion
For someone graduating from a smartphone to a mirrorless camera, the X-A5 is great because of how effortless and easy it is to operate. Even if you leave it up to the camera to decide the settings for you, you will receive good pictures. And if you want to experiment, there are enough of advanced options to play around with. The camera is however priced at Rs. 49,999, which might seem a little steep considering that the Canon EOS M100 is priced at Rs. 37,995. But what you get with the X-A5 is the chance to shoot 4K stills, a great range of lenses to choose from, an external mic jack for video recording and a longer battery life.

FINAL RATINGS
Features
Phase detection autofocus, 4K 15p video, 3-inch touchscreen LCD, bluetooth
25/30
Performance
Good image quality and battery life, satisfactory AF performance
25/30
Build Quality
Compact, lightweight and sturdy
18/20
Ergonomics
Optimally placed controls, not so prominent right-hand grip
14/15
Warranty & Support
Wide service network
 4/5
MRP Rs. 54,999
OVERALL 86%
VALUE FOR MONEY 4/5
Who should buy it? Amateur photographers, bloggers and video bloggers looking for a camera that’s not just easy to use, but has a variety of features.
Why? Light and compact body with a friendly interface, as well as plenty of features for beginners to experiment with, and good image quality.

 

Tags: better photography, Camera review, Conchita Fernandes, Fujifilm, October 2018, X-A5