Fujifilm X-A3 Review
|Full model name:||Fujifilm X-A3|
(23.5mm x 15.7mm)
|Viewfinder:||No / LCD|
|Native ISO:||200 - 6400|
|Extended ISO:||100 - 25,600|
|Shutter:||1/32000 - 30 seconds|
|Max Aperture:||3.5 (kit lens)|
4.6 x 2.6 x 1.6 in.
(117 x 67 x 40 mm)
includes batteries, kit lens
|Full specs:||Fujifilm X-A3 specifications|
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Fujifilm X-A3 Review -- First Impressions
by Jeremy Gray
Preview posted: 08/25/2016
Updated: 08/26/216 (Newly developed processor)
If you're looking for a selfie-friendly mirrorless camera, then Fujifilm's new X-A3 is right up your alley. Featuring numerous improvements over its predecessor, the X-A2, the X-A3 includes a higher resolution APS-C CMOS sensor and additional selfie-friendly features. It's more than simply a fun selfie camera though, as it combines a newly-developed 24-megapixel sensor with an improved autofocus system in a compact, user-friendly body. The X-A3 strives to be a perfect entry point for photographers looking to get into the X-series without spending a lot of money.
Fujifilm X-A3 has retro-inspired, selfie-friendly camera body
The Fuji X-A3 has a retro-inspired, classic appearance which is designed to appeal to a younger generation while still presenting something familiar to more seasoned photographers. The top cover, front plate and top dials are all made of aluminum and the front of the camera has a newly-designed faux leather texture which now covers less of the front of the camera and gives the Fuji X-A3 a slightly different look than the X-A2 of 2015.
Looking at the top of the camera, the layout is the same. There's a mode dial, command dial, on-off switch, shutter release and function button. There is also a hot shoe centered on the focal plane between the built-in flash and the top dials/buttons. On the mode dial, there are Advanced SR Auto, P (program), S (shutter speed priority), A (aperture priority), M (manual), C (custom), Night, Sports, Landscape, Portrait Enhancer, Scene Position and Advanced Filter shooting modes available.
Moving to the back, the camera still lacks an electronic viewfinder, something we criticized about the X-A2, but its 3-inch 1,040k-dot touchscreen LCD has been improved with a slight resolution boost over the 920k-dot screen of its predecessor, and it allows 180 degrees of tilt versus the 175 degrees of the X-A2. Based on input from photographers, Fuji employs a slide and tilt mechanism for the rear display that allows users to see 100% of the display when it is tilted 180 degrees. The big new feature for the rear display is that it is now a touchscreen, offering touch autofocus, touch shooting and touch zooming capabilities.
Save for a change in how you deploy the built-in flash (which has a guide number of approximately 5m at ISO 100 and 7m at ISO 200) the rear button layout is identical to the X-A2. There are no longer nine raised bumps on the thumb grip, which we will have to wait and see until we have hands-on time with the camera to assess if this is an improvement or not. You might also notice the vertical command dial on the back of the camera. This is designed such that you can manipulate the dial to focus and capture images when taking selfies.
The Fujifilm X-A3 remains fairly compact, weighing 12.0 ounces (339 grams) with the battery and memory card included. This is a 0.3-ounce weight reduction compared to the X-A2. The X-A3 has gained a minuscule 0.4 millimeters in height and is otherwise the same size as the X-A2. Minimum depth is 1.2 inches for the X-A3 versus 1.3 inches for the X-A2, and yet again this is a very small difference.
Fuji X-A3 includes more megapixels, same ISO range
Whereas the X-A2 had a 16-megapixel sensor, the Fuji X-A3 ups its resolving power dramatically by incorporating a newly-developed 24-megapixel APS-C CMOS sensor. The X-A3 still doesn't include Fuji's fancy X-Trans sensor that it employs in its higher-end cameras, but users should appreciate the extra megapixels and we are looking forward to testing the sensor's image quality in our test lab. The Fuji X-A2 offered very good image quality and great high ISO performance; it will be interesting to see if the higher-resolution sensor continues this trend or even potentially improves on it.
Native ISO is still 200-6400 with extended ISO settings of 100, 12,800 and 25,600 also available. In addition to the higher resolution image capture, you can also record images in the Adobe RGB color space now, whereas the X-A2 recorded only in the sRGB color space. The kit lens for the X-A3 also remains the same, shipping with a Fujinon XC 16-50mm f/3.5-5.6 OIS II lens.
New Film Simulations and Filters: Modes aplenty for the X-A3
Metering is provided via a 256-zone TTL metering system, like with the X-A2, and you can meter using multi, spot and average metering. The Fujifilm X-A3 can now interlock the metering and focusing area though, so you can spot meter over the focus point. Exposure compensation is available for +/- 3.0 EVs in 0.33 EV steps. The Fuji X-A2 only offered two stops of exposure compensation.
Film Simulation modes, one of Fujifilm's most popular features, have been expanded with the addition of PRO Neg. Hi and PRO Neg. Std, joining Velvia, ASTIA, PROVIA, Sepia, Classic Chrome and Black and White film simulations. There are also two new Advanced Filters. In addition to the Toy Camera, Miniature, Dynamic Tone, Pop Color, Soft Focus, High Key, Low Key and Partial Color Advanced Filters found on the X-A2, the Fuji X-A3 adds Fisheye and Cross Screen to the creative arsenal.
There are new panorama and time lapse functions, which are sure to appeal to users, as well as new self-timer capabilities. When using the self-timer, you can set the camera to automatically shoot when it detects a smiling subject, you and a friend in the frame, or even for a specified number of people within the frame. Additionally, Eye Detection AF is automatically enabled when the rear display is tilted up for self-portraits. Portrait photos will also be easier to improve with the upgraded Portrait Enhancer functions, which now offer three-step adjustments using the touchscreen, including a new skin brightener function.
Regarding the new panorama feature, motion panorama is available in 120 and 180 degree fields of view with the former offering 2160 x 4600 and 6400 x 1440 resolution images for vertical and horizontal panoramas, respectively. 180-degree motion panoramas are 2160 x 9600 and 9600 x 1440 for the same panorama direction.
X-A3 includes improved autofocus specifications and features
The Fujifilm X-A3's new autofocus system now offers 77 focus areas, up from the 49-area AF system found in the X-A2. The camera still uses a contrast-detect autofocus system which typically offers slightly slower video autofocus performance than phase-detect AF systems, something we noted with the X-A2 as we found that its live view and video autofocus performance was sluggish. We are interested to see if there are any improvements to be found in that regard with the new X-A3, so stay tuned for more on that.
Fujifilm refers to their macro focus performance as "class-leading" with the X-A3 as the camera can focus to approximately 2.75 inches when using the included kit lens. The Fuji X-A3 includes multiple new focus functions, including "release priority / focus priority" and "AF + MF" options. Fans of manual focus will be pleased to learn that in addition to being able to pinch the touchscreen display to zoom in, you can also now change the camera's focus peaking color.
Improved burst speed offered by a new processor
Although the original press release stated the Fuji X-A3 used the same EXR Processor II found in the X-A2, we have since been told it's newly developed for the X-A3, and apparently doesn't have a specific name or version number yet.
Fujifilm's specs state that the X-A3 will be able to continuously shoot at up to 6 frames per second, a ~0.5fps improvement over the X-A2 despite the higher resolution. Perhaps due to the larger image file size, the buffer depth is said to be ten frames which is six frames less than we achieved during testing with the X-A2 when shooting highest-quality JPEG files. Continuous RAW shooting specifications are not available for the X-A3 and we will need to test its performance in the lab to get those figures for you.
The Fuji X-A3 introduces an electronic shutter to the X-A series. Both the Fujifilm X-A3 and X-A2 cameras have a mechanical shutter capped at 1/4000s shutter speeds, but the X-A3 has an electronic shutter that allows for shutter speeds as fast as 1/32,000s, which will likely come in handy for certain types of bright scenes or when you need ultra-quiet operation. You can also now process RAW files in-camera with the Fuji X-A3.
X-A3 introduces 60 frames per second 1080p video recording
Video resolution is still capped at 1920 x 1080, but Full HD video recording is now available at 60 frames per second compared to the 30fps of the X-A2. Video files are recorded in MOV format with H.264 compression and linear PCM stereo audio. When recording 1080p video files, continuous recording is available for 14 minutes. Dropping video quality down to 1280 x 720 resolution increases the continuous recording time to approximately 27 minutes.
Additional notes on the Fujifilm X-A3: better wireless, same battery
Like the X-A2 before it, the X-A3 has built-in Wi-Fi that allows for remote image transfer. In addition to image transfer, you can now remotely control the camera with a compatible smartphone and application, a feature lacking on the X-A2. The Fuji X-A3 is also fully compatible with the latest Fujifilm Instax Share Printer.
The camera includes USB 2.0 High-Speed and has a Micro USB terminal. There's also a Micro HDMI connector. Files are recorded to SD/SDHC/SDXC cards including UHS-I types, with a Class 10 SD card required for optimal video recording speeds. Battery life is unchanged at 410 shots and the Fuji X-A3 utilizes an NP-W126S Li-ion battery that is now charged in-camera with the included AC adapter and USB cable, instead of in the dedicated battery charger that came with the X-A2.
Concluding thoughts on the Fujifilm X-A3
Like the X-A2 before it, the Fujifilm X-A3 is designed for entry-level photographers to enter the X-series. Although clearly aimed at more casual photographers with its selfie-friendly display and features, don't let that fool you, the camera looks to follow in its predecessor's footsteps and offer very good image quality. The lack of an electronic viewfinder is still a disappointment, of course, but with more megapixels and performance features, the Fuji X-A3 appears to be a notable upgrade.
Without having put the camera through its paces in our lab, we cannot state yet whether or not the new 24.2-megapixel sensor will deliver better overall image quality across the ISO range. We also need to test how real-world performance will be affected by the larger, higher-resolution files and new processor. Performance was an area of weakness for the X-A2, so hopefully the Fujifilm X-A3 sees an improvement. Stay tuned for much more on the Fujifilm X-A3.
Pricing and availability: X-A3 hopes to be a great value this fall
The Fuji X-A3 kit with XC 16-50mm f/3.5-5.6 OIS II lens will be available for purchase for around US$600 in October in silver, brown and pink color options.
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