After the XA1 was launched, we saw the arrival of the Xm1 with the X-Trans sensor. The Xm1 was essentially just the same as the XA1 except for the sensor. I wondered at the time as to the logic of this approach, and it seems that Fuji has as well. While being well received by enthusiasts, it appeared to lack broad appeal and being more expensive than the XA1, it really didn’t seem to serve any purpose other than to confuse users wanting to upgrade their cameras.
It seems logic has prevailed and the XA line continues with the XM1 being another Fuji camera that just didnt quite hit the mark. Shades of the very good but poorly received XS1?
One of the most important new features of the XA3 is the addition of the new 24mp sensor. On the surface this might seem to be nothing special, but the new sensor brings improved resolution, increased AF speed and focus points, better contrast detect AF performance just to add a few things. Sadly no Phase Detect Af , it would be nice but would seriously bump up the price, and the XA3 is pitched at the new user and prices need to reflect this.
That being said the XA3 sports some very nice additions, and while the XA2 was a nice if minimalistic upgrade to the XA1, the XA3 could just about be considered as a wholly new camera rather than an upgrade.
Coupled with the new sensor, the EXR Processor II has been given a small boost as well, with shooting intervals a low as 0.4 of a second the speed and transfer rate from the new sensor is excellent, very much on par with entry/mid level DSLR’s.
The standard range ISO of the sensor (24mp ) of ISO200 to ISO6400, expandable to ISO25600 means theres no problem shooting low-light. The XA2 was the same in this regard and as it was a very quiet sensor even at ISO6400, and showed little noise even with higher ISO. The Bayer sensors used in the XA2’s to date have been excellent, with no discernible weak points and I would expect the new 24mp Bayer sensor of the XA3 to continue this trend.
Another big feature is the increased Ev range, up from +/-2 Ev to +/-3 Ev, a very welcome addition, and one I have often wished for those difficult lighting days.
Another big addition is the inclusion of the electronic shutter system. Great for street shooting where you dont want any camera noise, and for Macro shooters like myself, the ability to use high ISO and couple it with high shutter speed is going to make freezing the motion of a bee or hummingbird so much easier to achieve. For sports shooters this will be a very welcome addition to the feature set. Another great feature is the 60 min open time when using the camera in bulb mode. Excellent for doing astrophotography work, especially if mounted on a drive tripod.
A small increase in frame rate is another addition, although only slight,up from 5.6 fps in the XA2 to 6 fps in the XA3. Coupled with the increased sensor size and sensitivity , is the expandable Dynamic Range ( Dr) 1/2/400% being the normal but now expandable to Dr 800% or higher. Very much in line with the EXR based HS series of cameras.
Perhaps the biggest additions to the feature set ( apart from the new sensor ) are the AF modes. One of the nagging frustrations I have with the XA2 is the inability to customise the AF areas and match them with metering modes. While the range of options isn’t as large as some of the higher X range cameras it still gives a lot more customisation to to AF control. In keeping with the improvements in focusing modes is the inclusion of a dedicated Focus mode switch on the front of the body of the XA3, a nice touch and one I would find myself using a lot. The standard 49 point AF mode is still there but both zone and wide tracking modes can take advantage of the 77 points available when shooting in these modes. The addition of MF + Af is another nice touch although this is of more interest to manual only shooters. The ability to interlock a Metering setting with the AF mode is very nice touch and one I would have liked on my XA2.
The addition of a touch screen is another welcome feature and will no doubt make some of the XT series users grumble. One assumes that this feature will be added to the next gen of XT cameras. As well as getting a touch screen the screen resolution is now bumped up from 920k dot to 1040k dot. More resolution here as well, a very nice addition.
Known for their excellent Film Simulations, Fuji has added to the suite with those found on the higher specced Xt series. Unfortunately no Acros+ for the XA3 but the standard B&W was always very good and with the addition of 3 monochrome simulations you wont want for choice.
- CLASSIC CHROME,
- PRO Neg Hi,
- PRO Neg. Std,
- MONOCHROME+Ye FILTER,
- MONOCHROME+R FILTER,
- MONOCHROME+G FILTER, SEPIA
Included WiFi communications now with remote control via wired remote or smart phone.
Panorama and time lapse settings, both very welcome inclusions.
Many advanced photography filters now including “Fish Eye”
Improved Selfie composition modes, now including group photo. It should be noted that the new LCD also flips up a full 180 degrees now.
Increased timer release options as well as the std 2 & 10 second options.
To Sum Up
As well as all the features outlined above there are a few others that come into play when selecting differing modes, as well as the full complement of features those of us that have XA1&2’s are familiar with.
At approx $950.00 NZD it isn’t cheap but you get very good value for money. For those of us who prefer a smaller form factor with all the features of the larger XT series, coupled with excellent Fuji X series lenses, this camera makes a very nice compact mirrorless backup unit or an extremely well featured entry level mirrorless camera for a beginner or for those wanting more than a point and shoot option.
So is it a welcome upgrade or a new camera?
Given what you get with the XA3 I’m inclined to think its more in the new camera arena than a progressive upgrade. A very welcome one at that, and shows Fuji isn’t forgetting about the compact mirrorless sector or beginners stepping into their first multi lens camera. There is so much here to like that I have no difficulty in saying that for an XA2 user this has a huge attraction and is now firmly on my wish list.