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Fujifilm X-A5: Selfie-friendly set with fast autofocus

The X-A5 comes with the XC 15-45mm f/3.5-5.6 OIS PZ kit lens, Fujifilm’s first electric-powered zoom lens for its X-mount cameras.
The X-A5 comes with the XC 15-45mm f/3.5-5.6 OIS PZ kit lens, Fujifilm’s first electric-powered zoom lens for its X-mount cameras.

Priced just below $1,000, the X-A5 is the new low-cost model of Fujifilm's X-series interchangeable lens mirrorless cameras.

It has a retro, rangefinder-style aluminium body that is similar to its predecessor, the X-A3. In fact, the only difference is the addition of a 2.5mm audio jack on the left side of the new camera.

The button layout is virtually the same too. A mode dial, command dial and customisable function button sit at the top right of the camera. Dedicated buttons for functions such as video recording, autofocus (AF) and white balance are at the back.

I like that despite being a low-cost model, the X-A5 has two command dials - on top and at the back - for quick change of shutter speed and aperture in Manual mode. Most entry-level cameras lack such a convenient button layout.

The only downside is the lack of an electronic viewfinder. So you can use only the touchscreen display for composing pictures. But the display is tiltable up to 180 degrees, which is great for taking selfies.

The X-A5 improves on its predecessor by having phase-detection AF for supposedly faster AF performance, 4K video recording at 15 frames per second, and extended sensitivity to ISO 51,200.

Perhaps the standout feature of this camera is the new and bundled XC 15-45mm f/3.5-5.6 OIS PZ kit lens (used in this review). It is Fujifilm's first electric-powered zoom lens for its X-mount cameras.

  • TECH SPECS

    PRICE: $999 (with XC 15-45mm f/3.5-5.6 OIS PZ lens)

    IMAGE SENSOR: 24.2-megapixel APS-C Cmos

    DISPLAY: 3-inch tiltable LCD with 1,040,000 dots

    SENSITIVITY: ISO 100 to 51,200

    SHOOTING SPEED: Up to six frames per second

    CONNECTIVITY: Bluetooth, Wi-Fi

    WEIGHT: 361g (body with battery and memory card)

  • RATING

    FEATURES: 3/5

    DESIGN: 4/5

    PERFORMANCE: 3/5

    BATTERY LIFE: 4/5

    VALUE FOR MONEY: 4/5

    OVERALL: 3/5

Weighing just 135g, this compact lens provided a smooth, motorised zooming action during video recording. It took only 1sec to move the focal length from 15mm to 45mm with a twist of the len's zoom ring.

Operation-wise, the X-A5 is quite speedy. Powering up and shutting down each take about 1.5sec to complete. Most mirrorless cameras take 2sec for each of the operations.

Using an SDXC card with a writing speed of 45MB per second, the X-A5 shot eight RAW still images in 2.6sec before the buffer ran out. That is below the advertised six frames per second.

Thankfully, autofocusing was almost immediate in good lighting. Even in dim lighting, it took only about 1sec to get a sharp focus with the help of the AF assist light.

Image quality is great, with a nice tonal range and vibrant colours. I particularly like the Monochrome mode, which gives images a beautiful black-and-white film-like feel.

But noise performance could be better. I saw noise artefacts at ISO 1,600 and some clear detail loss at ISO 3,200, though the images were still usable. I do not recommend shooting at or above ISO 6,400 as there would be too many chromatic noise artefacts visible.

Battery life has improved. It is able to take 450 still images on a full charge, about 40 more pictures than the X-A3.

• Verdict: If you are on a budget, but still want the step-up from your smartphone to an interchangeable lens camera, the Fujifilm X-A5 is certainly one to consider.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 14, 2018, with the headline 'Selfie-friendly set with fast autofocus'. Print Edition | Subscribe