The Impressive 5th out of the 4 – A Review of the Fujifilm X-A5 and XC15-45mm OIS PZ F3.5-5.6 lens
In 2015 where it all began for me in my photography journey, I was given the opportunity to review the Fujifilm X-A2 and now fast forward to 2018, I am very humbled to have the opportunity to share on the newest offering from Fujifilm Singapore, the: X-A5 and XC15-45mm OIS PZ F3.5-5.6 lens
*note: there is no X-A4, it is typical to name the 4th model as the 5th instead as in Asian culture the number 4 (四, pinyin: sì; Cantonese Yale: sei) is considered an unlucky number in Chinese because it is nearly homophonous to the word “death”.
After reviewing the top-tier Fujifilm X-T2, X-T2, X100F, GFX50S models, there is an unspoken nostalgia holding the latest iteration of the X-A series, and this time its no longer the XC16-50mm II as the kit lens but instead a new kit lens : the XC15-45mm OIS PZ F3.5-5.6. This is actually Fujifilm’s very first power-zoom lens, and it comes equipped with OIS too.
The XC15-45mm OIS PZ lens comes ready for most of the situations one can encounter, going as near as 5cm in Macro mode and with a focus length range of 22mm to 68mm. The lens take a 52mm filter size.
The lens design comes with 3 aspherical lenses and 2 ED (extra low dispersion) lenses and at a very lightweight 135g.
Designed as a step-up from a point-and-shoot compact for the entry level photographic crowd, the X-A5 is Fujifilm’s answer to a reasonably priced and easy to operate camera packed with functions that works with an emphasis on allowing the quick transfer of images to social media platforms with a minimal need of edits.
It never ceases to amaze me how few know about this, but the SR+ mode is Fujifilm’s answer to the ubiquitous ‘Auto’ mode. Fujifilm’s SR+ mode will automatically select the optimum autofocus and exposure settings from 58 presets, including “Landscape”, “Night Landscape”, “Beach”, “Sunset”, “Blue Sky”, “Portrait” and “Moving Subject” etcetera.
Do note that Program-Aperture-Shutter-Manual modes are available for the mode advanced users and that the SR+ mode is only available on selected models (for example, the X-T2 , X-Pro2 and GFX50S doesn’t have this mode)
Though entry-level, the X-A5 is no slouch and it is equipped like most higher end cameras with a built in flash, 180 degrees tilt touch screen enhanced by a mostly effective ‘smile’ capture mode and the tested and excellent Film Simulation modes ensures that the enthusiast gets a full array of tools at his or her disposal.
The Fujifilm X-A5 features a reasonably large sensor – a 24.2MP APS-C sized Bayer sensor, similar in size to those in many DSLRs. While the resolution is identical to that offered by its more expensive siblings like the X-E3 and X-T2, there’s a subtle difference in the actual design of the sensor. Rather than getting Fujifilm’s X-Trans technology, the X-A5 here gets a more standard primary color filter design further enhanced by a select set of Fujifilm simulations (Provia etc).
For those who wants more exact details, the imaging processor in the X-A5 performs up to 1.5x faster than the X-A3’s so look forward to snappier performance.
Firmware wise, there are also some neat additions, with one which the X-A5 allows real-time viewing and comparison of how the image will look like with the selected Film Simulation applied, much like what the camera phone crowd and Instagrammers are used to seeing nowadays.
The X-A3 has a native ISO range of 200 to 12800 which is expandable to ISO100 – ISO51,200 if necessary. Of course I honestly don’t suggest going above ISO6400 unless getting that shot is a necessity. Using the built-in flash helps a lot in this sense.
Burst shooting gets one up to 6 FPS with post-view and 3 FPS with live-view, not that useful for serious fast paced sports but more than sufficient for nailing that daily life shot. A new 4K burst mode also takes 15 shots in quick succession and allowing one to pick the best for later use.
Like models higher up in the Fujifilm range, the X-A5 now is able to shoot 4K video and spec-wise, the X-A5 is capable of 4K recording at (3840×2160) up to 5 mins. This goes up to 27 mins at HD (1280×720).
One noteworthy addition to video capabilities is also ‘High speed movie‘ up to 4x, allowing one to playback noteworthy moments in slow motion.
The XC15-45mm lens is more than versatile enough to suit most for everyday photography. The wide end ensures ample coverage for selfies with a quick 180 degrees flip of the screen. And remember, the X-A5 is compatible with the full range of XF lenses in Fujifilm’s X-Mount, so you start off with choices from impressive optical monsters like the XF100-400mm down to the street competent petite XF18mm F2.
Handling the X-A5 with the supplied XC15-45mm kit was pretty enjoyable, with good autofocus performance enhanced by the touch-screen where one can tap to spot-focus. There is now improved low light AF performance with the addition of Phase detection. Like the recent X-E3, the X-A5 supports Bluetooth 4.1 and Wi-Fi.
A newly developed Multi-Focus mode “automatically composes multi images to generate a sharp image with deep depth of field.” works similar to Focus-stacking and will prove immensely useful for users doing close-up shots (product, food and macro photography)I did not get to try it but I hope to do so later and update my thoughts about it.
Yes, the touch-screen now also allows ‘touch to zoom’ function.
Of course, a full flip screen for the selfie lovers is now a necessity.
Battery and power wise, there is ease of compatibility with the X-A5 sharing the same battery with its other siblings, and out of the box comes included a USB-charger too. For the sake of fun and satisfying my curiosity, the X-A5 charged pretty fine with my Apple USB chargers for the iPhone or the ones from Samsung too.
One question about the supplied kit XC15-45mm I know some will want to know too will also be how much does it ‘zoom-out’ when powered on so what better to use Before and After photos here.
Here’s the compacted XC15-45mm compared to the XF23 F2 for size:
To move on, it will of course be customary to share some sample photos from this new camera kit.
I had the X-A5 , XC15-45mm kit to review for around 72 hours , and as per my habit, do take a quick look at the disclaimer before proceeding.
1. The X-A5 was returned at the end of the review period. I did not receive any payment in any form for this review so look forward to being honest.
2. This X-A5 is a pre-production model running seriously pre-production firmware and hence the final production model will only perform better.
3. All images are JPEG SOOC and only edited by cropping and exposure. There is no raw support yet for X-A5 files in LR CC as of today.
4. All images shared were shot using the kit XC15-45mm.
Starting up the camera is fast, at 0.4s in High performance mode, and the battery (cited as up to 450 shots with the XF35F1.4 lens) easily lasts beyond whole day of use for the casual user or enthusiast.
The X-A5 being a selfie focused camera also has its own Portrait mode located with the ‘face’ logo on its main mode dial. In simple words, the Portrait mode works hard at producing ‘smoother’ and more radiant skin tones. Some will take to it, some won’t but yes, it works as it should.
Lastly, what’s a review of the X-A5 without a selfie?
I apologise for the lacking-in-looks male model but a 180 degrees tilt screen, combined with a wide 22.5mm equivalent focal length enhanced by Fujifilm’s Portrait mode really makes taking selfies straightforward and hassle free.
Personally my take is that while the X-A5 will not wow the seasoned and professional user who seeks to eke every ounce of performance from their cameras, the X-A5 has evolved substantially over the X-A3 to eke out its own standing in the entry level mirrorless cameras arena.
Being reasonably small and lightweight, easy to use and – most importantly – being able to supply reliably detailed beautiful images allows the Fujifilm X-A5 and XC15-45mm kit to be a likeable, dependable and value for money camera, providing very good value performance at a budget.
The newly included functions such as 4K burst mode, High Speed movie and Multi-focus ensures the users get the variety of functions they need too for creativity flexibility.
If you are an user who wishes for the minimal need to edit images with beautiful color tones that you can directly transfer to your handphone through wifi or bluetooth for uploads into social media, the Fujifilm X-A5 will prove more than suitable. Remember , Fujifilm’s kit lenses has never disappointed (look at the XF 18-55mm F2.8-4) and the XC15-45mm won’t disappoint either.
Thank you for reading.
“A Father, Teacher and Fujifilm Photographer. Lives a life of positivism & seeks to photograph Life’s moments. Very humbled to share camera reviews and musings on his photography journey.”