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With its unusual form factor can the Tourbox aid the editing process? Will its price and variety of tactile controls appeal to photo and video editors who would like to streamline their workflow?
|Product photography by Richard Butler|
The Fujifilm X-A7 is an entry-level APS-C camera with a 24-megapixel sensor, a fully-articulating 2.76M dot 3.5” touchscreen, a hybrid autofocus system with nearly 100 percent coverage, and Bluetooth and Wi-Fi connectivity inside a lightweight and compact body that comes in a variety of colors. It replaces the X-A5 and although the camera bodies may look very similar, the X-A7 features some substantial upgrades on the inside and out.
If we look at the X-A7 compared against its immediate peers, you can see its specification is competitive with similarly priced cameras. The Sony offers a viewfinder and simpler/more powerful autofocus for around $150 more. If it's the viewfinder you need, Fujifilm's own X-T200 adds one to an otherwise similar spec at a $100 premium over the X-A7.
|Fujifilm X-A7||Canon EOS M200||Olympus PEN E-PL10||Sony a6100|
|List price||$699 with 15-45mm||$599 with 15-45mm||$699 with 14-42mm||$850 with 16-50mm|
(369 sq mm)
(332 sq mm)
(225 sq mm)
(367 sq mm)
|Autofocus system||Phase detection||Dual Pixel||Contrast detection||Phase detection|
|Image stabilization||In-lens only||In-lens only||In-body stabilization||In-lens only|
|Video||Full-width 4K up to 30p||Full-width 4K up to 24p||Full-width 4K up to 30p||
Up to 30p
|Rear screen||2.76M dots
This entry-level APS-C camera is a low-priced option with a 24 Megapixel sensor and a pretty impressive hybrid autofocus system. It has a large fully-articulating touchscreen interface for beginners that is bright and 1/2 inch larger than the screens found on other cameras in this class. It's much closer to the look and feel you'd get from a modern smartphone.
Without an EVF, the X-A7's touchscreen becomes extra important because it doubles as the camera’s viewfinder. The body also features twin command dials on the top plate and an 8-way joystick on the back right side of the camera if you prefer to navigate menus and settings the old fashioned way.
|The X-A7's large, high resolution touchscreen is the primary way for interacting with the camera but, unusually for this class of camera, there are twin control dials and a joystick for more direct control.|
There's a pop-up flash that does a decent job in low-light situations and the ability to attach an external flash via hot shoe. The camera features a mic input, a USB-C port for charging, and an HDMI port. But, like its peers, there’s no way to connect headphones to monitor audio.
The body is made of plastic, but the control dials have the same tactile feel as higher-end Fujifilm bodies. Although the X-A7 is certainly a budget camera, it doesn’t feel overly cheap.
We’ve spent the last month using the X-A7 with the Fujinon XC15-45mm F3.5-5.6 OIS PZ lens and the XF 23mm F2 R WR lens. The XF 23mm is a mid-priced fixed focal length lens and its fairly bright maximum aperture lets you exploit more of the camera's capabilities.
The Fujifilm X-A7 got a major design overhaul on the inside and out, but the 16:9 aspect ratio fully-articulating touchscreen display is the most obvious change to the camera. This is the first entry-level Fujifilm ILC to feature a fully-articulating screen, which is often favored by videographers and makes it easier to snap selfies. At 2.76m dots, that large screen is substantially higher resolution than its competitors.
The 24 Megapixel sensor is new, too. According to Fujifilm, its copper wiring reduces digital noise and is the reason that the camera is capable of shooting uncropped 4K/30p video. The X-A7 features 425 autofocus points spread out across the frame. The algorithms for face and eye detection have been improved and, while not class-leading, the AF is significantly faster and more reliable than previous X-A cameras.
The dials on the camera’s top plate also see an overhaul. The camera now features front control and rear control dials flat to the top of the camera, for easy thumb and forefinger control. The four-way control found on the X-A5 has been replaced with a smaller 8-way joystick to make room for the larger LCD screen.
|The fully articulating rear screen has the advantage that it can be turned-in for protection. Note also the easily accessible twin control dials on the camera's top plate: something usually reserved for more expensive cameras.|
The battery is the same NP-W126S version found in the X-A5, but only has a CIPA rating of 270 shots per charge – a substantial drop from the 440 rating of the X-A5. The X-A7 can achieve 440 shots in an economy mode that darkens and slows the image preview after a few seconds, so you can get the long-lasting but less pleasant X-A5 experience if you wish.
Either way, if you are planning to be shooting stills for a full day you will definitely need to bring a spare battery along. If you are taking advantage of the camera's 4K capabilities expect that battery to drain even faster. You can at least charge the camera over USB, though, so there's also the option to top the camera up using an external battery pack while traveling.
|The X-A7 has a built-in flash. It's not especially powerful but can make for a good fill-flash: helping to balance out a nearby, backlit subject.|
The new 4K/30p video mode is smooth and good looking. A new feature called Countdown Video mode records footage in 15, 30 or 60 second durations, making it easy to get something shot and uploaded to social media. Unfortunately there isn't a way to transfer those video clips directly from the camera to your phone so you will still need a laptop for social sharing.
The camera’s redesigned articulating touchscreen is one of its biggest strengths. A 20MP 16:9 (widescreen) ratio is default and if you want to take advantage of the full width of the screen you'll want to shoot your stills at that size. You still have the option to use the full 24MP 3:2 region of the sensor if you prefer.
Like most modern ILCs, we found the image quality to be extremely high. The pictures it produces generally look very good with color response being a particular strong point: even in the pale light of March in New York, the X-A7 produced attractive, vibrant images. Detail capture levels are high and well-judged sharpening and noise reduction make the most of this.
In general you can leave the camera to do its own thing, with white balance generally giving a fairly natural-looking result without obliterating all the 'atmosphere' of the scene. Our only real concern was that Face Detection mode prioritizes the exposure of faces rather heavily. It means the people you're photographing look good but you'll need to stop to think about where the sun is, or which DR mode you're in, if you don't want to risk over-exposing the background.
The touch interface is the quickest way to access and change settings while shooting and is incredibly responsive. It takes just two swipes to access settings like focus mode, the Q menu, white balance, and film simulation modes. When selecting a film simulation mode, the camera offers a side-by-side comparison of what the film simulation will look like before you commit to making a change. A slider in the middle of the screen lets you move the simulation back and forth over your frame.
It’s a handy feature that we never asked for, but found to be particularly useful when shooting with the X-A7. The menu system on the back of the camera is well-organized and responsive as well.
|The camera's simplified user interface is very visual in its representation. When you change Film Simulation mode the camera lets you preview the effect it will have.|
During our time with the X-A7 we found the face and eye detection to be responsive with human and animal subjects. Although it’s typically easier to use these features with a viewfinder, the screen on the X-A7 is large enough and bright enough that it was easy to tell when the camera had detected a face or an eye in the frame. The touch-to-focus feature on the X-A7 is also speedy and accurate.
Skin-softening, depth of field effects, exposure compensation and a feature called Bright Mode that tries to stop highlights and shadows getting overwhelmed, can all be accessed through the touchscreen and give images quick in-camera enhancements that would usually be found on a smartphone.
|Even at full intensity the skin softening has a subtle and realistic look.|
We have slightly mixed feeling about the Fujinon XC 15-45mm F3.5-5.6 OIS PZ that often comes bundled with the X-A7. We find the zoom control to be a bit too sensitive – even with the slightest touch of the zoom ring the lens tends to zoom to its full 45mm or back to its widest 15mm view. This makes it difficult to precisely frame an image using focal lengths in the middle of the spectrum. We really appreciate the focal length coverage, though: it's appreciably wider than you usually get in this type of camera. The results are impressively sharp, too.
Using the X-A7 with the XF 23mm F2 R WR lens is generally a more engaging, pleasant and tactile experience. We especially liked the dedicated aperture ring that it offers, which the XC lens lacks.
|The X-A7 has a USB-C port that can be used for off-loading movies or battery charging. Unlike the slightly more expensive X-T200, it can't be used with an adapter to connect headphones.|
The camera features both Wi-Fi and Bluetooth and transferring images through the Fujifilm Camera Remote app was a breeze on iOS. As this is a camera aimed at entry-level users, the ability to shoot and quickly share is very important.
One of our favorite aspects of the X-A7 is how it handles color. The film simulation modes inside the camera make it easy to capture cinematic-looking stills and video, while settings like skin softening and depth of field control make it easy to shoot and share without ever having to drop the files into an editing program.
Our early impressions of the X-A7 were overwhelmingly positive and now that we’ve spent time shooting with a production model of the camera we are happy to say that this is in fact the best entry-level mirrorless ILC that Fujifilm has released. This is enough to make it one of the stand-out cameras in its class. Although having the option of an EVF accessory would have been nice, the LCD is large and bright making it perfectly capable for capturing friends and family.
The new sensor inside the camera helps deliver best-in-class video and, combined with an updated processor, substantial improvements to face and eye detection autofocus.
The redesigned top plate, the variety of color choices and the compact form factor make it a lot of fun to shoot with as well, with twin dials giving you some room to grow into, if you want to learn the basics of photography. That may seem frivolous, but given the target market for this camera, the fun factor is actually quite important. The best camera is the one that you have with you, and the X-A7 is stylish, easy to use, and small enough that it won’t weigh you down on vacation or when you are out with friends.
Scoring is relative only to the other cameras in the same category. Click here to learn about the changes to our scoring system and what these numbers mean.
Category: Entry Level Interchangeable Lens Camera / DSLR
Ergonomics & handling
Metering & focus accuracy
Image quality (raw)
Image quality (jpeg)
Low light / high ISO performance
Viewfinder / screen rating
Movie / video mode
The X-A7 is a small, affordable mirrorless camera whose interface makes it easy and enjoyable to use.
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