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Fujifilm X-A2 Review: A capable performer for the budget conscious

By Katrina Canlas & Marcus Wong - 6 Jun 2015

Introduction, Design and Handling

Introduction

An update to 2013’s X-A1, the X-A2 is physically virtually identical to the original, with the exception of the rear LCD screen. Like most of this year’s releases, that now tilts up a full 180 degrees to facilitate easier selfies, though you’ll need to slide the LCD up to fully see yourself. There’s no viewfinder of any sort, but it does feature built-in Wi-Fi, so you can send images directly to a connected smart device.

As a quick recap, the X-A series for Fujifilm cameras is an entry-level line that’s targeted more at beginners and enthusiasts. The series still features a classic look that’s similar to a rangefinder and the X-A2 in particular uses the same body as the X-M1, but with a conventional APS-C sensor instead of Fujifilm’s acclaimed X-Trans sensor. With a kit lens, the X-A2 certainly offers an affordable entry point into Fujifilm’s X-series of lenses which offer you at least a taste of the quality you can get through the X-system.

 

Design and Handling

The rear LCD now comes up 178 degrees.

Measuring just 116.9 x 66.5 x 40.4mm and weighing just 350g (body only, including battery and memory card), the X-A2 just about fits comfortably into your hands. The light weight means longer lenses may feel a little unbalanced on this body, but the supplied XC 16-50mm f/3.5-5.6 OIS II lens seems to match up with it rather nicely.

Together, the X-A2 feels comfortable in the hands, and the new lens gives better play when focusing manually, which certainly is a boon. In fact, because the lens focuses by wire, you can even switch the direction of focus in the menu settings; handy if you’re coming from other systems. Also, the small tab below the main dials acts surprisingly well as a thumb rest while holding an extra control dial.

 

You can even change which direction affects the zoom.

Flip the rear LCD up a full 175 degrees, and the camera automatically goes into selfie mode, using face and eye detection to help ensure everything is kept in focus. That’s important, as the rear LCD isn’t touch enabled, meaning you’ll have to blindly fumble with the rear directional pad to shift focus point otherwise. Perhaps taking a leaf from the competition, the X-A2 also offers a new Portrait Enhancer mode to help you apply some basic smoothing and brightening to your selfies. Call it Make-up mode lite?

Coming back to the Eye Detect autofocus, we thought that while it seemed to work decently well in terms of locating and tracking eyes, it seemed a little slow to readjust when the subject turned away or adjusted pose. So, we’d probably use it for more controlled shooting situations where there’s greater interaction between you and your subject. Still, if later iterations of this feature can catch up to the speed of “normal” focus and consistently keep the eye closer to camera in focus, then it certainly will be a boon to portrait photographers.

The eye-detect AF allows to choose which eye to prioritize.

Two control dials and a mode dial make it easier to adjust settings.

We like that the X-A2 maintains two dials for better manual control of settings, but do wish that Fujifilm had a change of heart and placed one of their X-Trans sensors inside, as that really is the distinguishing feature of the X-series. Perhaps of some consolation though, is the fact that Fujifilm has added their film simulation modes to the X-A2 (including the newest “Classic Chrome” mode), so you can get somewhat closer colors to the other X-series cameras.

Shooting with the X-A2 is a fairly fuss-free affair. Focusing is fairly fast, but not always accurate if you’re using the Multi autofocus mode. Instead, we much prefer using the area mode as that lets you manually select the focus point using the selector. It’s not as easy as using touch, but we do like the fact that the sub-control dial allows you to adjust the size of the AF focus frame for greater accuracy.