Hi this is Phil from Make Tech Easier and welcome to this review of the Fujifilm X-A3 digital mirrorless camera. Of course many cameras don’t have mirrors in them using either an optical or LCD viewfinder but the word mirrorless describes a certain class of cameras, those which have a decent sensor, of the kind you would find in a DSLR, and interchangeable lenses.
Mirrorless cameras tend to be a lot smaller than their DSLR counterparts and as such have found favor amongst street and travel photographers where weight and size of equipment are a definite issue. Anyway that’s enough preamble let’s get into it! Introducing the Fujifilm X-A3.
The Fuji film X-A3 is a capable little everyday carry camera, with quality glass and enough megapixels to satisfy even the most picky specification nerd. It’s easy to use right out of the box and simple to get started taking pictures but it also has hidden depths that make it grow with the user from full auto to full manual and also has a range of lightly concealed modern features to ensure that you use it all the time and for a long time.
Plus it’s really pretty, smooth aluminium body with either black brown or pink leatherette. The initial impression of the camera is of how small it is. If you’re used to handling a DSLR it feels small but not tiny.
Those of you with big hands might be afraid that a compact camera no matter how professional and capable might be lost in your hands. But you never get the feeling it’s tiny, just small. This is brought about by the very well-placed grips on the body that fit the fingers and thumb of your right hand as you grip the case.
The perfectly placed controls (especially the feature wheels that operate under and over exposure and aperture and shutter speed) fall right under your fingers even when you’re not looking at the camera and it doesn’t take long before you can even find them without looking or even in the dark.
As a photographer you want to know for creative control that you can adjust the exposure a little under or over, especially with the camera that runs mostly on automatic. The big silver wheel on the top of the camera takes care of this allowing you to select a few stops over and under when you’re shooting into or away from the light.
This makes sure that you can not only capture a well exposed shot but you can fine-tune it on the fly to really bring out the lighting of the scene that you see with the naked eye. This is what makes the difference between a snapshot camera and a photographer’s camera.
Then clearly this is intended as a camera from people who love photography but don’t want to lug a lot of gear. The kit lens provided with the camera is an X mount 16-50mm lens in a smooth silky silver finish.
This is in keeping with the retro styling of the camera which mimics the look of gorgeous old vintage rangefinder cameras of the 20th century. Fujifilm were very good at this. It’s a good all-round lens and copes well with landscapes and portraits equally well.
It also has a very nice macro focus as close as 7cm in wide-angle mode which makes for some very intimate and close-up shots. The wide-angle is suitably wide and the telephoto zooms in quite far to help you frame shots.
Obviously this is not meant to be a one-size-fits-all lens and like all kit lenses compromises have to be made. If you need to get closer or take advantage of the artistic benefits of telephoto lenses like flattened perspective and shallow depth of focus you’ll have to get a longer lens but for most workaday photography the kit lens is fine! It’s a lovely sharp little lens and the autofocus snaps in really nice and fast.
Obviously in low-light you have some issues with this not being an especially fast lens and by that we mean it’s aperture range is f3.5-f5.6, about average for kit lenses. Low light means longer exposures so you need to brace the camera on something or put it on a tripod in low light.
Again if you want better low-light performance you’ll need to get a faster lens like an f1.4 prime (or non-zoom). For more information about camera lenses check out our upcoming beginner’s guide to photo lenses.
So yes you should if you can afford it buy some prime lenses in the Fujifilm x mount range to go with your lovely new X-A3. But you can if cost is a problem buy X-mount adapters which enable you to fit lenses from other makers onto the camera.
Okay so the autofocus won’t work but if you’re fitting classic lenses then you’re in the realm of manual photography anyway and god bless you for that. There is also a built in interval timer which is a fantastic feature to have.
What this means is that you can set up the camera on a tripod and tell it to take a photo every 3 seconds for a total of say 150 frames. Then if you combine those frames to an animation you have a gorgeous 24 megapixel time-lapse video.
Obviously you’ll have to crush it down to video resolutions but wow, what a great feature. What else? The LCD angles outwards tilting both up and down for easy viewing at odd angles. In fact it’s so clever it’s even articulated on little arms so it can flip up right up to face front so that you can take selfies whilst looking at the viewfinder.
The camera also has a bang up-to-date face and eye tracking so it will keep your face in focus as you film. Wi-Fi comes as standard, so you can get your pictures off the camera into your phone or tablet without plugging it in you can also print pictures wirelessly to the Fujifilm Instax printer which also kind of makes it a retro instant camera – how very sociable! Also there’s a carefully concealed built-in flash which pops up when you put a lever at the side.
Stowing it away involves gently pressing it back into place, although you have to be super careful about not leaving it out and bending the delicate arms which pop it out. The lever which releases the flash is very hard to activate accidentally so as long as you remember to stow it away after you use it it should last you a long time.
It’s surprising powerful for a little flash too. Another thoroughly modern feature is the LCD is a touchscreen, meaning you can touch for focus, touch to zoom and even touch to take a picture. Luckily you can set these modes in the menus because having the touchscreen active all the time might take a lot of accidental pictures which would be a bit of a pain.
Also down in menus there’s a film simulation mode giving you access to some gorgeous Fujifilm looks which mimic actual film. You can get classic film looks like print film or reversal film and monochrome, but also monochrome with colored filters, a classic real film technique for manipulating tonal curves.
All the looks are lovely and happen in real time so they show you what you’re going to get right there in the viewfinder. There are also some amazing special effects filters for toy camera (like their classic plastic Chinese and Russian cameras), miniature (which makes scenes look like tiny little models), dynamic tones and simulated fisheye lens effect.
There’s also a soft focus filter on what we’d call a starburst filter. But best of all are the partial color filters which pick out a single color and the rest of the picture is monochrome very cool. Conclusion.
Okay that’s about everything . . . well not everything but as much as we can cram into this video anyway. So bottom line what do we think? The Fujifilm X-A3 is a fabulous addition to the X-series, a gorgeously retro looking camera but with smart 21st century features and materials.
It has a great APS-C sensor, of the kind you find in DSLRs, and 24 megapixels which gives you a huge detailed image. The color rendition on the default settings is lovely and there are lots of options as we say for you to tailor the image quality and color to your liking.
It’s easy to get into with the default feature set right out of the box and yet it has plenty of deep features if you drop down into the menus. The interval timer is a great feature for you YouTubers to get creative “b-roll” footage and the reversible LCD and smooth stabilization makes it a perfect choice for a vlogging camera.
There aren’t many downsides to this camera as far as we can see, only things you’d miss if your use for it was very specific. For example the flash is quite sturdy and packs away quite neatly but it is a little bit delicate looking.
It’s not really an issue as there is also a hot shoe (something missing from a lot of small cameras) so you can add proper flash if you need it. There’s also no external mic input so for video you have to go with onboard sound or use a separate recorder.
In fact in general we found the movie mode lacked a few features we’d really want in a movie camera although it’s possible you could solve these problems by setting everything manually. Here’s the thing though, this is not meant to be a pro movie camera or a pro stills camera.
It’s not a specific tool it’s a really great general use camera with a lot of features; the still photos are sparkling and detailed, the videos pretty steady and sharp and let’s face it . . . it’s really pretty.
🙂 And unlike a lot of good-looking cameras which usually sacrifice looks for features it’s really not just a pretty face. It’s a stylish addition to anyone’s camera bag and if you’re a photographer, this would be the one you take on holiday with you when all the more Pro gear gets left behind.
Ok that’s it! As always thanks for watching and if you liked this video please feel free to like, subscribe and leave your comments and questions below. See you next time!