Fujifilm has turned heads with the retro styling of its X-series, but not everyone needs—or can afford—an X100T or X-T1. With the X-A2, Fuji is courting a broader user base, delivering a mirrorless interchangeable lens camera with a 16–55mm kit lens to market for just $550. We teamed up with New Jersey-based photographer David Patiño to see how low the X-series can go without losing its appeal.
The X-A2 sports a 16.3-megapixel APS-C-sized image sensor. You’ll enjoy a native sensitivity range of ISO 100–6400 that can be extended up to ISO 25,600.
You’ll find the full complement of Fujifilm’s coveted film emulation modes, including the new Classic Chrome. While the X-A2 bills itself as a budget shooter, it’s actually rather well-apportioned in the features department. You can tweak your image with tools for sharpness, highlight and shadow tone and noise reduction. There are specialized AF modes for identifying eyes (the better for selfie framing) and for switching to macro focus, which is quite useful since the bundled XC 16–50mm f.3.5–5.6 kit lens offers remarkably close focusing at just 5.9 inches.
Shutter speeds max out at 1/4000 sec, with the option for a 60-minute exposure in bulb mode. For street photography or other quiet occasions, you can drop the camera into Silent mode to shoot unnoticed. There’s also built-in Wi-Fi for sharing images but not, sadly, for controlling the camera.
The feature set dwindles dramatically when you switch to video. You can record 1920x1080p30 video, but there’s no 24-fps option for a more cinematic look, and no 60-fps mode to compensate for faster moving subjects. Also, there’s no ability to adjust exposure on-the-fly during recording. On the plus side, you can record videos using Fujifilm’s film modes.
The X-A2 feels every bit the entry-level interchangeable lens camera. It’s very light and insubstantial and, not surprisingly, lacks the premium feel of other cameras in the X series. It’s great for travel purposes, but we doubt it will stand up to too many hard knocks. That goes double for the lenses we tested—the XC 16–50mm f/3.5–5.6 and the 50–230mm f/4.5–6.7. They were shockingly light.
The X-A2 is unremarkable from an ergonomics standpoint. There’s not much of a contoured grip or hand rest, though it’s not uncomfortable to shoot with. There are external controls for adjusting shutter/exposure compensation, shooting mode and aperture. Esthetically, the X-A2 channels the sharp retro look of other X-series models, which we like.
The rear 3-inch LCD flips up and can be angled up to 175 degrees for framing selfies and difficult shots. This hinge, unlike the rest of the build, is reassuringly sturdy. There’s no viewfinder, but there is a pop-up flash. The memory card slot is wedged next to the battery bay at the bottom of the camera, and getting cards out proved rather awkward.
The images from the X-A2s were quite good at low ISOs, but the camera can’t be pushed past ISO 6400 with much success. Patiño described the image quality as decent for a budget-minded mirrorless camera, and especially liked that the JPEGs weren’t over-saturated.
Unsurprisingly, the kit lenses constrain your ability to achieve a shallow depth of field, as the aperture narrows as you zoom out. Still, with the 50–230mm lens attached, we were very pleasantly surprised by how little camera shake we experienced at 230mm. Stills and video didn’t suffer from the over-sensitivity to hand vibrations that would otherwise mar images at this focal length. AF responsiveness trails off significantly, however, as you zoom.
One gripe Patiño highlighted was the camera’s inability to accurately preview your exposure on the display past a certain shutter speed. While the camera will give a real-time exposure preview on the display, it will only kick on with a half-press of the shutter and not dynamically (read: more usefully) as you’re making settings changes.
The X-A2 clocks in at 5.6 fps, which is definitely on the slower side for cameras in this price range. The buffer of 10 RAW frames is also middle-of-the-road. And autofocus locks on the first frame, so tracking a moving subject is going to be tougher for the X-A2.
Battery life is rated for a very solid 410 shots per charge (per CIPA standards), beating out Panasonic’s GF7 and Sony’s A6000 in the endurance department.
There are many capable mirrorless cameras selling for about what the X-A2 is asking, and there’s no unambiguous winner. Sony’s A6000, for instance, offers a higher-resolution sensor, twice-as-fast continuous shooting and more versatile video capabilities for about the same price. For Fujifilm fans in the market for a low cost model that delivers some of the same aesthetic appeal—if not the durability—of the XT series in a body that’s super light, the X-A2 shouldn’t disappoint.
PROS: Good battery life; tilting display; video recording in Fuji film modes; close focusing with kit lens.
CONS: Insubstantial build; memory card difficult to dislodge; continuous shooting slower than comparable models.