Fuji X-A5 Image Quality


Color

Saturation & Hue Accuracy
Bright colors with good hue accuracy.

In the diagram above, the squares show the original color, and the circles show the color that the camera captured at base ISO using sRGB color space. More saturated colors are located toward the periphery of the graph. Hue changes as you travel around the center. Thus, hue-accurate, highly saturated colors appear as lines radiating from the center. Click for a larger version.

Saturation. The Fuji X-A5 produces images with fairly bright, pleasing colors using the standard film simulation (Provia) at default settings. The camera pushes reds by quite a bit, dark greens and blues moderately and most other colors by small amounts, but undersaturates yellow and aqua by just a bit. Default mean saturation at the base ISO of 200 was 114.2% (14.2% oversaturated), which is a little higher than average these days. You can of course tweak saturation and/or select a different film simulation if the default saturation is not to your taste. Most consumer digital cameras produce color that's more highly saturated (more intense) than found in the original subjects. This is simply because most people like their color a bit brighter than life.

Skin tones. The Fuji X-A5 rendered pleasant, pinkish Caucasian skin tones when using Auto white balance in the lab using default settings. Manual white balance produced skin tones that were a bit too reddish and Daylight white balance produced skin tones that were a bit too yellow. (Here, too, the X-A5's saturation and/or film simulation options may come into play for some users, letting them tweak the color of skin tones if they find the default rendering a bit too saturated for their personal tastes. Note that Fujifilm claims their Astia film simulation produces "true-to-life" skin tones.) Where oversaturation is most problematic is on Caucasian skin tones, as it's very easy for these "memory colors" to be seen as too bright, too pink, too yellow, etc.

Hue. The Fuji X-A5 produced a few color shifts relative to the ideal reproduction of hues, though it has good hue accuracy overall. The largest shift is in cyan toward blue, however we think that's a deliberate choice by camera engineers to produce better-looking sky colors. Average "delta-C" color error after correction for saturation at base ISO was 4.95 (lower numbers are better), which is good. Hue is "what color" the color is.

See full set of test images with explanations
See thumbnails of all test and gallery images

Sensor

Exposure and White Balance

Indoors, incandescent lighting
Auto and Incandescent white balance were quite warm, but very good results with the Manual setting. Average exposure compensation required.

Auto White Balance
+0.3 EV
Incandescent White Balance
+0.3 EV
Manual White Balance
+0.3 EV

Indoors, under typical incandescent lighting, color balance was quite warm using the Auto setting, with a fairly strong red/pink cast. Results with the Incandescent white balance setting were also very warm, with a strong yellow/orange cast. The Manual white balance setting was quite accurate, though, just slightly on the cool side. The Fuji X-A5 required +0.3 EV exposure compensation here, which is about average for this scene. Our test lighting for this shot is a mixture of 60 and 100 watt household incandescent bulbs, a pretty yellow light source, but a very common one in typical home settings here in the U.S.

Outdoors, simulated daylight
Very good color and exposure outdoors, though high default contrast.

Auto White Balance,
+0.7 EV

In simulated daylight, the Fuji X-A5 produced nice color at default settings, with pleasing skin tones that had a healthy-looking pinkish tint with Auto White Balance. Manual WB was a bit cool with more reddish skin tones, while Daylight WB was too warm with more yellowish skin tones. The X-A5's required +0.7 EV exposure compensation for our "Sunlit" Portrait shot. That's about average exposure accuracy as most cameras need +0.7 EV to keep the face bright for this shot, but that did lead to a lot of blown highlights in the mannequin's shirt and flowers while still producing some very dark shadows that abruptly clip to black. See the "Extremes: Sunlit..." section below to see how the X-A5's Highlight/Shadow Tone and D-Range settings help deal with harsh lighting like this.

See full set of test images with explanations
See thumbnails of all test and gallery images

Resolution
~2,800 lines of strong detail from JPEGs, about the same from ACR converted RAW.

Strong detail to
~2,800 lines horizontal
Camera JPEG
Strong detail to
~2,800 lines vertical
Camera JPEG
Strong detail to
~2,800 lines horizontal
ACR converted RAW
Strong detail to
~2,800 lines vertical
ACR converted RAW

Our in-camera JPEG resolution chart shot revealed sharp, distinct line patterns up to just over 2,800 lines per picture height in the horizontal direction, and to just over 2,800 lines per picture height in the vertical direction as well. Some may argue for higher numbers, but lines begin to merge and are not very distinct at higher resolutions, and some strong aliasing already occurred at as low as 2,300 lines. Complete extinction of the pattern didn't occur until about 3,500 lines in both directions. Adobe Camera Raw wasn't able to extract any additional resolution, however it did produce lower amounts of luma moiré near the limits of resolution (in part due to less aggressive sharpening), though it did produce higher levels of chroma moiré (false colors) than the camera's default processing. Use these numbers to compare with other cameras of similar resolution, or use them to see just what higher resolution can mean in terms of potential detail.

See full set of test images with explanations
See thumbnails of all test and gallery images

Sharpness & Detail
Very sharp images at default settings, with obvious edge-enhancement halos appearing around high-contrast subjects. Mild noise suppression is visible in the shadows at base ISO.

Very good definition of high-contrast elements, but with strong evidence of edge enhancement. Subtle detail: Hair Noise suppression tends to blur detail in areas of subtle contrast, though detail remains strong in the darker parts of the model's hair here.

Sharpness. The Fuji X-A5 produces very sharp images by default, with obvious and often obtrusive sharpening "halos" around high-contrast edges such as the lines and letters in the bottle label above left. This leads to very crisp and detailed-looking images that are sure to please less discriminating users, but we would recommend turning sharpening down and perhaps sharpening in post to reduce the haloing. Edge enhancement creates the illusion of sharpness by enhancing colors and tones right at the edge of a rapid transition in color or tone.

Detail. The crop above right shows fairly low levels of luminance noise suppression, as the darker areas of the model's hair still show a very good amount of detail. Some individual strands do merge together when local contrast is low and as shadows deepen, but performance here is excellent for an APS-C sensor. Like most recent Fujifilm cameras, the X-A5 also does a great job at keeping chrominance noise very low. Noise-suppression systems in digital cameras tend to flatten-out detail in areas of subtle contrast. The effects can often be seen in shots of human hair, where the individual strands are lost and an almost "watercolor" look appears.

RAW vs In-Camera JPEGs
As noted above, the Fuji X-A5 produces very crisp, detailed images but with obvious sharpening halos at default settings. Let's see how an Adobe Camera Raw conversion with relatively strong unsharp mask sharpening compares.

Base ISO (200)
Camera JPEG, defaults
RAW via Adobe Camera Raw

In the table above, we compare an in-camera JPEG taken at base ISO (200) using default noise reduction and sharpening (on the left) to the matching RAW file converted with Adobe Camera Raw 9.1 via DNG Converter 10.2 using default noise reduction with quite strong but tight unsharp masking applied in Photoshop. (In this case, we used USM of 400%, radius of 0.3 pixels, and a threshold of 0.)

As you can see, results from the Adobe Camera Raw are quite different than the X-A5's default in-camera processing. Colors from the camera are more saturated and contrast is higher, giving in-camera JPEGs more "pop". Although strong sharpening was applied to the ACR conversion, we get much less obtrusive sharpening artifacts. Fine detail is better from the ACR conversion as well, especially in our tricky red-leaf swatch where the camera's noise reduction has blurred away most of the fine thread pattern. The strong sharpening required to keep images sharp does tend to exacerbate noise, though, as can be seen in the background of the first set of crops, however that can be mitigated by experimenting with different sharpening settings and techniques, and/or by using some luminance noise reduction (default ACR NR used here).

Bottom line: the camera's default in-camera processing is likely quite pleasing to the target market for an entry-level model like the X-A5, however better detail and fewer sharpening artifacts are possible by shooting in RAW mode and processing them in a good RAW converter. Note that the X-A5 does not support RAW file capture for extended low (ISO 100) and extended high (25,600 and 51,200) ISOs.

ISO & Noise Performance
Excellent high ISO performance for an APS-C sensor.

Default High ISO Noise Reduction
ISO 100 ISO 200 ISO 400
ISO 800 ISO 1,600 ISO 3,200
ISO 6,400 ISO 12,800 ISO 25,600
ISO 51,200

The Fuji X-A5's images are quite clean and detailed up to ISO 800, with low, fine-grained luma noise and almost no chroma noise. At ISO 1,600, noise reduction efforts are a little stronger causing some minor smudging, but fine detail is still very good with almost no chroma noise. ISO 3,200 shows a stronger increase in noise causing more blurring and some subtle noise reduction artifacts, but fine detail remains pretty good, and chroma noise remains low. At ISO 6,400 luminance noise becomes more noticeable, though noise is still fairly fine-grained, and chroma noise is still well-controlled. Image quality drops off more rapidly at ISO 12,800 and above, with progressively more visible noise grain, stronger blurring and more noticeable noise reduction artifacts. ISO 12,800 is quite grainy but detail is not too bad, however ISOs 25,600 and 51,200 are quite soft with heavy luminance noise accentuated by sharpening artifacts, as well as chroma noise in the form of large but fairly subtle purple blotches in darker areas. Still, noise performance in high ISO JPEGs is excellent, among the best we've seen from an APS-C sensor.

We're pixel-peeping to the extreme here though, which isn't always representative of what you see in prints. As always, see the Print Quality section below for maximum recommended print sizes at each ISO.

Extremes: Sunlit, dynamic range and low-light tests
Mediocre dynamic range in JPEGs at default settings, though provided options help. Good low-light performance.

+0.3 EV +0.7 EV +1.0 EV

Sunlight. The Fuji X-A5 struggled with the harsh lighting of this test at default settings at the base ISO of 200 (which should be best case). We preferred the +0.7 EV exposure overall, because the default exposure and +0.3 EV were too dim in the face, and +1.0 EV exposure compensation was too bright with far too many clipped highlights. Even at +0.7 EV, quite a few highlights were blown in the mannequin's shirt and flowers. There are quite a few dark shadows as well, and very deep shadows are somewhat posterized and clip to black rather abruptly, likely in an attempt to hide noise. Overall, the Fuji X-A5's JPEGs performed below average here without any highlight and shadow adjustments, nor any dynamic range enhancement (see below).

The good news is the blown highlights and clipped shadows in the above test scene were easily recoverable in the RAF RAW files, even at +0.7 EV, so dynamic range captured in the X-A5's RAW files appears to be excellent.

Because digital cameras are more like slide film than negative film (in that they tend to have a more limited tonal range), we test them in the harshest situations to see how they handle scenes with bright highlights and dark shadows, as well as what kind of sensitivity they have in low light. The shot above is designed to mimic the very harsh, contrasty effect of direct noonday sunlight, a very tough challenge for most digital cameras. (You can read details of this test here.)

Face/Eye Detection
The Fuji X-A5 has the ability to detect faces and eyes, and adjust exposure and focus accordingly. Options available are Face On / Eye Off, Face On / Eye Auto, Face On / Right Eye Priority, Face On / Left Eye Priority and Face Off / Eye Off.

Face Detection
Aperture Priority
Face Off / Eye Off:
0 EV
Aperture Priority
Face On / Eye Auto
0 EV
Full Auto
Mode
0 EV

As you can see in the examples above, the center image with face and eye detection enabled is slightly better exposed for the face compared to the left image where face detection was not employed, as using it dropped the shutter speed from 1/80s to 1/50s. Full Auto mode (right) is is even better exposed, and the camera elected a much wider aperture of f/4, a faster shutter speed of 1/320s, a higher ISO (400) and used the DR Auto setting for lower contrast.

Contrast Adjustment
The Fuji X-A5 does not offer a traditional contrast adjustment. Instead, it offers Shadow and Highlight Tone settings, which let you adjust contrast in highlights and shadows independently. There are five settings each on the X-A5, ranging from -2 to +2.

Highlight and Shadow Tone Comparison
Highlight:
-2 -1 0 +1 +2
Shadow:
-2 -1 0 +1 +2

Shadow and Highlight Tone. Above you can see the effects the five settings for Highlight and Shadow Tone control on our high-contrast "Outdoor Portrait" shot. Mouse over the links to load the associated thumbnail and click on the links to visit the full resolution image.

Notice how the Highlight settings mainly affect the brighter portions of the image, while the Shadow settings impact the darker areas. Both settings can be used simultaneously, giving more flexibility to tune the tone curve at both ends compared to a single contrast setting. Nice.


D-Range Comparison

D-Range is Fuji's name for their dynamic range enhancement technology. D-Range designed to preserve hot highlights, by exposing for highlights and then boosting mid-tones and shadows. There are three levels: DR100 100% (default), DR200 200%, DR400 400%, as well as an Auto mode which can select DR100 or DR200. DR200 is available at ISO 400 and above, while DR400 is available at ISO 800 and above. Mouse over the links above to load the corresponding thumbnail image. Click on the links to get to the full resolution images.

As you can see the images above, the Fuji X-A5's 200% and 400% D-Range settings were effective at toning down highlights in "Outdoor Portrait" shot. As they say, though, there's no free lunch, because improved highlight retention comes at a cost of increased noise. This is because the camera's sensitivity needs to be raised to take advantage of the D-Range feature, though that's not much of penalty because the X-A5's high ISO performance is so good.

HDR Comparison

HDR. The Fuji X-A5 has an in-camera HDR mode which takes an undisclosed number of shots at different exposures and combines them to make a high dynamic range image. Options available are Auto, 1.0 EV, 1.5 EV, 2.0 EV, 2.5 EV and 3.0 EV. Mouse over the links above to compare the Auto and full EV settings, and click on the links to access full resolution versions. The X-A5 also offers an over-the-top HDR Art filter, which you can see by clicking here.


Low-light Autofocus
The Fuji X-A5's hybrid autofocus system was able to focus on our legacy low-contrast AF target down to about -1.9 EV unassisted with an f/2.8 lens. With our new high-contrast AF target, the X-A5 was able to autofocus down to about -2.5 EV unassisted, which is not bad for the class. The Fuji X-A5 also has a built AF assist lamp, which lets it autofocus in complete darkness as long as the subject is in range and has sufficient contrast.

NOTE: This low-light AF test is conducted with a stationary subject, and the camera mounted on a sturdy tripod. Most digital cameras will fail miserably when faced with a moving subject in dim lighting. (For example, a child's ballet recital or a holiday pageant in a gymnasium.) Thanks to its larger sensor and Hybrid AF, mirrorless cameras like the Fuji X-A5 tend to do better than point & shoots, but you still shouldn't expect a quick autofocus lock with moving subjects.


Built-in Flash
A small, weak built-in flash typical of the class.

Normal Flash Mode
f/4, Auto ISO (6400), +0.7 EV

Our Indoor Portrait test scene was well exposed with +0.7 EV flash exposure compensation using Auto ISO, though the camera boosted ISO to 6400. (Note that we used to shoot this shot with a 60mm lens, but the longer 90mm lens used here means results are not comparable.) The camera used a fast 1/125s shutter speed, but because of the high sensitivity, white balance was quite warm and pinkish from the ambient room lighting.

Output Quality

Print Quality
Very nice 30 x 40 inch prints up to ISO 400; Pleasing 11 x 14 inch print at ISO 6400; Usable 4 x 6 at ISO 51,200.

ISO 100/200/400 prints all look more or less identical and display tons of crisp, fine detail and vibrant, nicely saturated colors. With this level of detail and despite "just" having a 24MP APS-C sensor, the X-A5 allows for large, wall-sized 30 x 40-inch prints up to ISO 400. Even at ISO 400, prints show no visible noise and lots of detail. There is a hint of pixelation if you examine these large prints closely, but at typical viewing distances, it shouldn't be a concern. It therefore goes without saying that 24 x 36 inch prints up to ISO 400 look fantastic.

ISO 800 prints work wonderfully up to 24 x 36 inches. It's a tough call because the noise performance is really quite excellent here. Very little visible noise at all, and we only observe a slight decrease in fine detail. One might do fine with a 30 x 40 inch print with careful processing.

ISO 1600 prints begin to show visible evidence of noise and anti-noise processing with some detail reduction. That said, the X-A5 still manages to produce a very nice 20 x 30-inch print at this ISO.

ISO 3200 prints top-out at 16 x 20 inches. We see a little more detail degradation, particularly in our tricky red-leaf fabric (though we don't call the print size based on that fabric swatch alone). Elsewhere in the print, detail is quite impressive to this size, and colors remain vivid.

ISO 6400 prints show an expected increase in noise and noise reduction processing, thus reducing fine detail further. Overall detail, as well as contrast and color, all remain pleasing up to 11 x 14 inches.

ISO 12,800 prints are tricky! The image quality is quite good, all things considered, though it's clear that noise is taking its toll on fine detail. To our eyes, an 8 x 10 inch print at this ISO just passes the mark to be considered good.

ISO 25,600 prints are quite noisy and display a lack of fine detail. Still, we managed to get a usable 5 x 7-inch print from the X-A5 here.

ISO 51,200 prints are very noisy, and anything above a 4 x 6-inch print is not recommended.

Well, despite its entry-level positioning and price point, the non-X-Tran-based Fujifilm X-A5 does an excellent job overall in the print quality department. At lower ISOs, you're pretty much limited to the sensor's resolving power; the X-A5 tops our max print size of 30 x 40 inches up to ISO 400. At ISO 800, you can still get a very nice 24 x 36-inch print, which is still impressively large. As ISO sensitivity rises, we see only sublet increases in noise and drops in detail. The camera still manages a large 16 x 20 inch print at ISO 3200, and you can print an 8 x 10 at ISO 12,800 -- not many entry-level APS-C cameras can do that! Even the highest ISOs manage to just squeeze past the "good" mark, with the expanded max ISO of 51,200 offering a usable 4 x 6-inch print.

About our print-quality testing: Our "Reference Printer"

Testing hundreds of digital cameras, we've found that you can only tell so much about a camera's image quality by viewing its images on-screen. Ultimately, there's no substitute for printing a lot of images and examining them closely. For this reason, we routinely print sample images from the cameras we test on our Canon imagePROGRAF PRO-1000 printer, which we named our "Printer of the Year" in our 2015 COTY awards.

The Canon PRO-1000 has a lot of characteristics that make it a natural to use for our "reference printer." When it comes to judging how well a camera's photos print, resolution and precise rendering are paramount. The PRO-1000's more than 18,000 individual nozzles combine with an air feeding system that provides exceptional droplet-placement accuracy. Its 11-color LUCIA PRO ink system delivers a wide color gamut and dense blacks, giving us a true sense of the cameras' image quality. To best see fine details, we've always printed on glossy paper, so the PRO-1000's "Chroma Optimizer" overcoat that minimizes "bronzing" or gloss differential is important to us. (Prior to the PRO-1000, we've always used dye-based printers, in part to avoid the bronzing problems with pigment-based inks.) Finally, we just don't have time to deal with clogged inkjet heads, and the PRO-1000 does better in that respect than any printer we've ever used. If you don't run them every day or two, inkjet printers tend to clog. Canon's thermal-inkjet technology is inherently less clog-prone than other approaches, but the PRO-1000 takes this a step further, with sensors that monitor every inkjet nozzle. If one clogs, it will assign another to take over its duties. In exchange for a tiny amount of print speed, this lets you defer cleaning cycles, which translates into significant ink savings. In our normal workflow, we'll often crank out a hundred or more letter-size prints in a session, but then leave the printer to sit for anywhere from days to weeks before the next camera comes along. In over a year of use, we've never had to run a nozzle-cleaning cycle on our PRO-1000.

See our Canon PRO-1000 review for a full overview of the printer from the viewpoint of a fine-art photographer.

*Disclosure: Canon provided us with the PRO-1000 and a supply of ink to use in our testing, and we receive advertising consideration for including this mention when we talk about camera print quality. Our decision to use the PRO-1000 was driven by the printer itself, though, prior to any discussion with Canon on the topic. (We'd actually been using an old Pixma PRO 9500II dye-based printer for years previously, and paying for our own ink, until we decided that the PRO-1000 was the next-generation printer we'd been waiting for.)

 

The images above were taken from our standardized test shots. For a collection of more pictorial photos, see our Fujifilm X-A5 Photo Gallery .

Not sure which camera to buy? Let your eyes be the ultimate judge! Visit our Comparometer(tm) to compare images from the Fujifilm X-A5 with those from other cameras you may be considering. The proof is in the pictures, so let your own eyes decide which you like best!



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