FUJIFILM X-A5 Hands-on Review : First Impressions

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Following in the footsteps of the affordable X-A3, the Fuji X-A5 is aimed at entry-level photographers wanting a reasonably capable camera on a tight budget. It might look a whole lot like its predecessor externally, but a major update awaits on the inside, as we’ll soon find out!

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A very familiar body with a couple of changes

The only externally-obvious changes from the earlier camera are a new cover on the left side of the X-A5’s plastic body — behind which you’ll find a new 2.5mm mic / remote jack — and the lack of a focus mode switch on the front deck. (If you look more closely, you’ll also spot a new Motion Panorama position on the mode dial, replacing the earlier camera’s Custom position.)

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A brand-new power zoom kit lens shoots wider and closer

On the front deck of the 24.2-megapixel Fuji X-A5, you’ll find a Fuji X-mount on which to attach the bundled Fujinon XC15-45mm F3.5-5.6 OIS PZ lens, an optic which replaces the earlier 16-50mm OIS II kit lens that shipped with the X-A3. This new lens has the same maximum aperture as did its predecessor across the range, but its focal length ranges a little wider. Shooting with the new lens on the X-A5 yields an effective focal range of about 23-68mm, as compared to the 24-77mm-equivalent range of its predecessor.

More importantly, though, it now features not just optical image stabilization, but also a power zoom function, a first for a Fuji X-mount lens. And it boasts a minimum working distance of just two inches, with a slightly improved 0.24x maximum reproduction ratio compared to 0.2x for the 16-50 II for closer macros. It will be sold separately as well, priced at US$300 / CA$380.

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It’s still selfie-friendly, and now the display’s a touchscreen, too!

And while its body looks much the same as before, the X-A5 offers a better shooting experience courtesy of a touch-screen user interface on the 3.0-inch rear-panel LCD. The screen itself can still fold upwards some 180 degrees to allow for selfie shooting, a feat many more expensive cameras can’t manage.

Here, too, ease of use was clearly key. Simply folding the screen upwards puts the camera in selfie mode automatically, with the rear command dial controlling zoom and shutter release functions, and with eye autofocus enabled for you. And if you’re concerned about your selfie appeal matching up to the X-A5’s image quality, you’ll be happy to hear that you can add a three-step portrait enhancer effect for more attractive results.

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A brand-new image sensor and faster processor allow hybrid autofocus

But it’s on the inside where the most important changes can be found. We already alluded to the Fuji X-A5’s 24.2-megapixel resolution, which is unchanged from that of the X-A3. However, the APS-C-sized, Bayer-filtered CMOS image sensor is actually a new design featuring on-chip phase-detection autofocus pixels. That allows the addition of a hybrid autofocus mode, a first for an X-A-series camera and likely a noticeable step forwards from the earlier, rather sluggish contrast-detection system.

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And results from the new sensor are handled by a brand-new image processor said to have about 1.5x the performance of that in the X-A3. This allows the X-A5 to start up around 0.3 to 0.5 seconds faster than before, the larger figure being recorded when high performance mode is disabled. And according to Fuji, this new processor coupled with the hybrid AF system has allowed autofocusing times to be slashed in half! Burst capture rates are unchanged, however, at a moderately swift 6.0 fps max. to manufacturer ratings.

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Another stop of sensitivity for the low-light lovers

Image quality, too, is said to have been improved, especially in terms of skin tone reproduction and a more accurate scene recognition system can now better take advantage of that greater image quality. Where the X-A3 offered a sensitivity range of ISO 200-6400, expandable to encompass ISO 100-25,600, the upper end of that range has been expanded by one stop. (That’ll take you up to ISO 12,800 by default, or ISO 51,200 with expansion enabled.)

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As you’d expect of a Fujifilm camera, the X-A5 includes a generous selection of 11 film simulation modes that replicate the look of classic Fuji emulsions. And there are also 17 Advanced Filter functions, including two new additions: Fog Remove and HDR Art. You can now adjust exposure compensation across a wider +/-5 stop range. And if you like to shoot raw but want an occasional JPEG after the fact, you’ll be happy to hear that you can still process raw files in-camera, a feature added in the X-A3.

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4K video capture, but with a major catch

Admittedly, with a clip length of just five minutes and a capture rate of just 15 frames per second for ultra high-def capture, you’re not going to want to use it as a video mode unless you’re a fan of slideshows or quick-motion video.

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Its real utility is actually for stills, not video: It could still prove very useful to still shooters thanks to what Fuji is terming the Burst Function, an analog of Panasonic’s 4K Photo mode. What this does it to record 15 fps 4K video — hopefully, with a shutter speed suitable for still capture — and then allow you to simply extract high-res 8.3-megapixel still frames. You can also stack 4K images with variant focusing distances in multi-focus mode, again for an 8.3-megapixel final result.

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And while 4K video is a decided disappointment for video shooters, in other respects the Fuji X-A5 does look to be improved. There’s a new mic jack as mentioned previously, and touch autofocus based on a hybrid system is also available, so we’re equally expecting a big step forwards for the utility of Full HD and HD video capture. (Both of which allow frame rates of 23.98, 24, 50 or 59.94 fps.)

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Better battery life and easier wireless sharing

The Fuji X-A5 still draws power from an NP-W126S battery pack, but battery life has been improved by around 10% to some 450 frames. Like its predecessor, the Fuji A5 includes a Wi-Fi radio for wireless image transfer, but this is now supplemented with a Bluetooth 4.1 Low Energy radio for quick-and-easy pairing as needed. Once the Bluetooth radio is used to establish a Wi-Fi connection, you can use the Android or iOS-compatible Fujifilm Camera Remote app to transfer images and control the camera remotely.

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Full model name: Fujifilm X-A5
Resolution: 24.20 Megapixels
Sensor size: APS-C
(23.5mm x 15.7mm)
Kit Lens: 3.00x zoom
(22.5-67.5mm eq.)
Viewfinder: No / LCD
Native ISO: 200 – 12,800
Extended ISO: 100 – 51,200
Shutter: 1/32000 – 30 seconds
Max Aperture: 3.5 (kit lens)
Dimensions: 4.6 x 2.7 x 1.6 in.
(117 x 68 x 40 mm)
Weight: 17.5 oz (496 g)
includes batteries, kit lens
Availability: 02/2018
Manufacturer: FUJIFILM

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Fuji X-A5 price and availability

The Fujifilm X-A5 will be available in three colors in the US market, all of them silver bodied, and varying only in the color of their black, brown or pink faux-leather trim. Set to ship from February 8th, pricing for the X-A5 kit with 15-45mm lens will be in the region of US$600 (CA$750).

(imaging-resource.com, https://goo.gl/wAq4SC)



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