Fuji X-A1 First Impressions

flash

Veteran
May 6, 2011
Gordon
View attachment 2565

Well look what the cat dragged in. The new Fuji X-A1. I'd love to say it's mine and a little sibling to my X-E1 but it's a present for my daughter. That also goes someway to explaining why I have the blue one.

There's loads and loads, already about the difference between the XA1 and XM1 sensors. I don't think those arguements can ever be won. But I will say the normal bayer sensor will always be less of a challenge for the current batch of raw converters. The x-trans sensor does give some funky results occasionally. So, for a beginners camera there will be less issues with the XA1.

Blue isn't a colour I'd normally consider, but I really like the Fuji blue XA1. It's a really nice colour and not garish at all. It's a bit dark and rich in colour and looks a bit like a metalic sheen, even though it's paint over plastic. And it even looks nice with the black kit lens. I saw the Digital Rev review of the XM1 (same body as the XA1) and I disagree with the build quality. It's obviously plastic but it's put together really nicely. I'm sure the plastic helps reduce the weight and the camera is nice and light.

The kit lens is very light. Much lighter than the 18-55 2.8-4 lens. That's what a stop of speed and a plastic mount does. It's also smaller but has the same 58mm filter ring of the 18-55. No aperture ring of course.

The body has the flippy screen ala the Olympus E-M5 etc. It's nice and stiff so it doesn't have any self movement. It allows easy above head and low level shooting. I wish the X-E1 had this flippy screen. It seems bright and sharp although it's difficult in direct light, as all LCDs are. But I didn't expect an EVF or even the option in an entry level camera.

I haven't tried the wifi yet. But my daughter is very excited about that feature as she'll be able to transfer and share images via her iPad. Social networking is very important to teenage girls, apparently. Again I hope the next XE and XPro cameras have this feature. I occasionally use my phone for a shot that I'd like to share when I know I'd rather have that shot on a real camera. It's an occasional but useful feature.

It certainly is a lot smaller than the X-E1. And much lighter. This or the XM1 would be a great backup body because they really take almost no space in a camera bag. I think it has a better on/off switch. It didn't seem to be as easy to catch in a bag like the XE1 which is always getting switched on when hanging off my shoulder. There's no threaded remote for the shutter either. As a Leica owner I use this on the XE1 so it is missed. But I'm probably the only one.

The twin controls on the back give easy access to the aperture/shutter/exposure compensation. The criticism of them being to close is a bit overblown. It's possible to move both dials at once. But it seemed pretty easy to not do it accidentally. The dials have a nice feel. Not to stiff or too loose. But it's a very different feel to the XE1 and XPro. It's much closer to an Olympus Pen digital in feel. It actually feels more like an Olympus than a Fuji. There's nothing wrong with that, unless you were hoping for a tiny XE1, which it isn't. In operation it shares nothing with its bigger siblings other than the lens mount and the hotshoe.

If I get a chance I'll do some comparison shooting. But I don't expect to see any significant real world differences in image quality.

Overall I'm extremely impressed with this little gem. I'm actually a bit jealous of my 12 year old right now.

Gordon
 

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Mar 3, 2013
John Griggs
Nice evaluation.

I have the similar X-M1 as my backup and second shooting body and I concur on the build. Feels quite good to me but I don't have the 16-50 as I bought just a body.
 

wt21

Hall of Famer
Aug 15, 2010
Thanks for the notes.

Yeah, right. You bought blue for your daughter. uh-huh. You know it's for you ;)

My biggest question between XA1 and X-trans is not at all the sharpness or noise. It's color and saturation. I've tried the X100, XM1 and XE1 and I really preferred the color of the x-trans sensor over the X100 (which was a Bayer filter sensor). I thought the x-trans sensors more closely matched the richness of color I got on my FF sensor.

Any comparisons of color, especially from RAW, would be greatly appreciated :)
 

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