Fujifilm X-A2 Review - The X-A2 adopts classic rangefinder styling and presents some subtle improvements over the X-A1. Is this enough to make it stand out as one of the best options in a saturated entry-level market?
Fujifilm X-A2 Review – Performance
Although the X-A2 can’t quite match the 8fps continuous shooting speed as offered by the Olympus E-PL7, the 5.6fps speed at which it shoots is in keeping with other close rivals that include the Panasonic Lumix GF7 and Sony A5100 that shoot at 5.8fps and 6fps respectively.
Set to Fine JPEG, the X-A2 rattled out a burst of 35 frames before showing any sign of slowing – a figure that dropped to 12 frames when recording Raw&JPEG (Fine). Files were written to the Lexar Professional 2000x 64GB SDXC UHS-II memory card that was used for testing in quick time and the control dial on the corner of the body makes for an excellent way of scrolling through a sequence of shots quickly to pick out the best. Though the performance figures above are impressive for a camera of the X-A2’s pedigree, one thing to watch out for is that both the exposure and the focus are set based on the first frame, meaning it’s not particularly well suited to tracking fast action in variable lighting.
A rather nice touch on the X-A2 is the silent mode – just like a silent mode on a smartphone – allows you to quieten the camera more easily than hunting to find the beep disable function in the menu. In hindsight, this could be made even better by being added to the list of settings that can be assigned to the function key. With silent mode enabled it also locks out use of the X-A2’s bright white autofocus assist beam that can be particularly useful in low-light scenes where there’s not enough contrast for the autofocus system to easily acquire focus.
On the topic of autofocus, the X-A2 has a claimed AF speed of 0.3secs, which on paper and in real-life conditions isn’t as fast as the 0.08sec AF speed as offered by Fujifilm’s latest X-series models. Though by no means sluggish at acquiring focus in high-contrast conditions, it became obvious over prolonged use that the X-A2 doesn’t have quite the same instantaneous lock-on speed as models higher up the range that feature a Hybrid AF system with over 100,000 phase-detect pixels built-in to the surface of the sensor.
There were also a few occasions when I found the camera struggled to acquire focus in low light – a case of the environment being extremely dark and the subject being too far away for the AF assist beam to make a difference. As for the setup and layout of the AF points, it’s not quite as an intuitive to use as a CSC that features a touchscreen, which allows you to pin point the precise position of focus on screen by touch. Having said that the coverage of 49 AF points in a 7×7 grid is fairly broad and the size of the AF point can be set to one of five settings or returned to its default size by depressing the small recessed wheel above the thumb rest.
Out in the field, the exposure metering system demonstrated that it’s capable and reliable. I found myself using exposure compensation only in instances when the exposure conditions were extremely challenging – such as when shooting directly towards the light when the camera had a tendency to underexpose ever so slightly.
The camera’s Wi-fi functionality also works a treat. Although it’s with regret that the Fujifilm camera app doesn’t support remote shooting and the ability to change camera settings on the fly from your smartphone, the process of sending images from camera to phone directly from the playback menu on the camera is effortless and there’s the choice of either sending an automatically resized 3-million-pixel image or the full size image.
Against the stopwatch it took 27 seconds to transfer ten 3-million-pixel images across to our smartphone via Wi-fi, as opposed to 53 seconds to send ten full size images. Images are automatically transferred directly to the smartphone’s camera roll ready for applying further treatment in camera apps such as Instagram or VSCOcam or posting to social media.