The third camera in the new entry level series is the Fujifilm XA5.
It looks almost identical to the XA3 or XA2 & 1 but there are some differences. The removal of the dedicated focus control on the front of the camera ( which only the XA3 had) has now gone.
The camera is also a few grams heavier, it is also a couple of millimetres taller to boot. The top and rear of both cameras remain the same. So what then do you get for your hard earned dollar.
Ordinarily you would say quite a bit, but the XA5 brings a few things to the table that really should have been in the XA3. Therefore this model is more of an upgrade of an already proven platform, rather than a completely reworked camera. That said the big pluses for me are the following,
- Phase detect AF ( A major step forward )
- Microphone jack
- Proper WI-FI remote app ( from the XA3 )
- Better battery life
- Improved film simulations
- Improved Ev steps to +/- 5Ev
All the above should make the XA5 a very nice stills camera & good for the selfie set as well.
Some of the new inclusions with the camera I’m less certain about are to do with the video.
While a mic jack is very handy, for vlogging with hot-shoe mounted mic makes the whole exercise a little pointless by obscuring the screen, necessitating the use of an off camera mic. Not the end of the world , but a sizeable annoyance none the less.
The inclusion of 4k video would be a nice addition, but why hobble the camera to 15 frames per second? If you are going to offer 4k video then you should offer the minimum that video bloggers and most people want. They would have been better to leave it at 1080p but make sure that the whole system was aimed at 30, 60 & 120 fps recording rates with good filters and focusing.
The XC 15-45 mm f3.5-5.6 PZ seems at first glance to be a real oddity. Let me state for the record I hate power zooms – period!! Yes I know that they are handy for video work, but Fuji would have been better in my opinion to improve the XC 16-50 lens by concentrating on making the lenses zoom silky smooth. When you add in the new phase detect AF you would have had a stellar MANUAL ZOOM lens that was also very good for video.
It is obvious that they wanted to reduce the overall size of the camera and lens and in this they have certainly hit the mark, and as the majority of these cameras sell in the Asian markets it would seem that this what people want most.
It remains to be seen just how well the PZ lens stands up against the XC 16-50 in terms of image quality. Knowing Fuji lenses it will in all likelihood be a perfectly adequate performer, whether it can be considered as a serious entry level lens remains to be seen.
If you already have a Fuji camera and a couple of lenses then XA5 would no doubt be a handy back up camera. Put an XF 18 -55 lens on it, coupled with the Bayer sensor and you should get very good images requiring little work to have them printable. I am a fan of the Bayer sensor, moreso than the X-trans as I find the the X-trans lacks a little of the warmth of the Bayer output. It is of course a matter of taste and I just happen to prefer slightly warmer tones.
Is this camera for you? Well only you really know.
With an as yet to be proven lens and crippled 4k video, video shooters may well be disappointed. However for the still photographer there is much to like about the upgrades as compared to the XA3. Whether its enough for you to shell out $1049.00 NZD is for you to decide. Considering the XA3 was $950.00 NZD at launch here approx two years ago the price tag of the XA5 doesn’t seem so unreasonable, until you consider what other options you have.
Unless you definitely want a small mirrorless camera the two new entry level DSLR’s from Cannon or the X-A10 at $698.00 represents a lot better value for money at the entry level point.
In conclusion is the Fuji XA5 value for money. In my opinion no. There isn’t anything radically new that would sway me to part with an XA2 or XA3 or the XA1 or an XM1 for that matter. As a stills photographer primarily the one real benefit would be the increased performance in the AF with the inclusion of a Phase Detect sensor, something that should have been implemented on the XA3. I will be giving the XA5 a miss until I see a substantial price drop. Then I may be tempted.