Rating: 4 stars ★★★★
Yes, it’s hard to get excited about yet another beginner-friendly mirrorless camera with a flip-up selfie screen, a choice of colours and a series of incremental improvements over the specs of the previous model. And yet the X-A5 does rather a lot of things right.
Serious photographers won’t like the lack of a viewfinder, but this camera is designed for smartphone upgrades, Instagramers and influencers who are used to interfacing with a screen, not an eyepiece.
What’s key is that the camera is small enough to fit in a bag, light enough to carry round all day and can deliver great shots time and time again without demanding any great technical expertise.
And the X-A5 does that very well indeed. Available in brown, pink or silver, it has an appealing retro look but very modern controls. That’s not new for Fujifilm, but what is new is the 15-45mm power-zoom kit lens. This retracts to half size when the camera is switched off, and makes the X-A5 far more pocketable and portable than any previous Fujifilm model with a zoom lens fitted. It’s light, too. The X-A5 and lens combined weigh just 496g.
The 24-megapixel APS-C sensor is regular CMOS type, not a Fujifilm X-Trans sensor, but it still delivers characteristically rich, saturated results, thanks to Fujifilm’s celebrated Film Simulation modes. And it’s worth switching on Fujifilm’s little-known dynamic range expansion mode, which captures a wider range of shadow and highlight tones than most rivals.
The new lens offers a 5cm macro mode at its shortest focal length, so close-up food shots are simple – as are selfies. You flip the rear screen up through 180 degrees and then slide it up another few millimetres to activate the selfie mode, together with the camera’s clever Eye AF system which automatically focuses on your eye. It’s a little tricky to hold the X-A5 one-handed for selfies, but the focus accuracy, sharpness and image quality are a million miles from a smartphone’s.
This is the most impressive thing about the X-A5 – its ability to capture sharp, well-exposed, colour right shots in all kinds of lighting and all kinds of conditions, and that’s exactly what a camera like this needs to do to woo people away from smartphones.
The only real disappointment is the 4K video mode, which offers a near-useless 15fps frame rate – you’re better off sticking to the full HD mode, which will at least give smooth video and can even capture smooth slow-mos.
Serious photographers will dismiss the X-A5 as a mirrorless lightweight, but for the market it’s aimed at, it’s just about perfect. It delivers the ease of use of a smartphone but with beautiful large-sensor image quality, and so reliably, too.
Fujifilm X-A5 specifications
Sensor: 24.2MP APS-C CMOS
Lens mount: Fujifilm X
Screen: 3.0-inch tilt-angle touchscreen, 1,040,000 dots
Burst shooting: 6fps
Autofocus: 91-point AF
Connectivity: Wi-Fi and Bluetooth
Battery life: 450 shots