Fujifilm has developed some really great mirrorless camera bodies. The XT-3, XT-30, and X-A5 have all reviewed and performed very well. Fuji even has the GFX 100, a 102MP medium format beast (although $10,000).
Outside of their medium format line, they currently do not offer a full-frame mirrorless option. They have established themselves in the APS-C market and have excelled in the creation of new camera bodies. They also have a fantastic lightweight lens line that pairs well with their bodies. And just as a refresher, a full-frame camera has a sensor that is equivalent to a single frame of 35mm film, which measures 36 x 24mm. APS-C sensors generally measure 22 x 15mm but can vary according to the manufacturer. Thus, in general, this means a full-frame sensor has more than 2.5 times the surface area of an APS-C sensor. You will sometimes hear APS-C sensors referred to as ‘crop sensors’.
The Fuji XT-3 has become known as one of the best APS-C cameras ever made. It’s a do it all camera and it has unique features that set it apart from competitors. However, Sony has noticed and is currently doing its best to lure Fuji customers over via the new A6100 and A6600 release (two additional Sony APS-C cameras). In previous articles, I mentioned that competition in the mirrorless market is good for us consumers. It means that new cameras will be better for all manufacturers and we will see more innovation. Fuji knows it needs to continue to battle Sony (as well as Canon and Nikon who have rumored APS-C mirrorless bodies on the way). Fuji last introduced an X-A model (the X-A5) 19 months ago, and traditionally, Fuji has released a new X-A model every 18 months or so. Hence, Fuji was due for a new release and ta-da, just this week they announced a new addition to their X-A line, the Fujifilm X-A7. This will be Fuji’s first major redesign of their X-A series as well, which is notable.
Fujifilm X-A7 – Available for Pre-Order at $699.99
- Includes Fujinon XC 15-45mm F3.5-5.6 OIS PZ Lens
- Carrying Fujifilm’s own APS-C CMOS sensor in a stylish camera body weighing just 320g
- Professional video features included smooth 4K movies and high-speed capture for epic playback
- Large 3.5″ 16:9 wide touchscreen LCD
- Compact and lightweight design weighing only 455g with the kit lens
- Advanced video performance and functions that cater to the growing demands for movie shooting
- Diverse shooting modes that help produce photography with a creative flair
- Lens Included: 15-45mm Lens
- Sensor Size: APS-C Camera
- Resolution: 24 MP
- Max Video Quality: 4K 30fps
- Wifi: Wi-Fi: Yes
- Special Features: Bluetooth
One of the major redesign points lies in the sensor on the X-A7. The sensor has undergone some big changes when compared to its predecessor the X-A5. Fuji has developed a totally new in-house sensor for this one. It is a 24.24 MP APS-C sensor, which features Fuji’s one of a kind color reproduction technology. Fuji says the sensor produces vibrant and realistic colors that are exactly how they would have appeared to the eye in the field (Fuji calls this ‘memory colors’, seriously).
Fuji has also engineered the sensor with copper wiring, which enables high-speed data readout. The X-A7 features 8.5 times more phase-detection pixels than the X-A5. Those pixels cover the entire sensor surface and should substantially improve autofocus speed and accuracy over the previous model. That improvement will go a long way in three categories – AF tracking of moving subjects, Eye-AF performance, and low light focusing. It seems like autofocus was a key issue for Fuji to address with this camera, and it looks like they made improvements. The question for me is, how do the sensor and AF improvements stack up against the just-announced Sony models.
Outside of that, Fuji claims that noise handling is much improved, but we don’t see a change in the ISO values offered versus the X-A5. The X-A7 has a standard sensitivity range of ISO 200 to 12,800, which is expandable to ISO 100 to 51,200. Burst is also the same as the X-A5 model at 6 fps. As mentioned, the new sensor should lead to some improvements in noise handling and dynamic range.
At first glance, the X-A7 body looks very similar to the X-A5. But, turn the camera around and check out the back and it is obvious that there are some big differences. The big glaring improvement is the LCD on the back, however, the rear control layout is altered as well.
Even though the general design of the body looks similar, the X-A7 is 41 grams lighter than the past model (it weighs 320 grams). With the included kit lens, the whole setup only weighs 455 grams. Fuji prides itself on being super lightweight, and this release will be no different. The X-A7 is a compact, lightweight setup that still captures high-quality images.
Battery life is very good, expect 440 shots per charge. The new Sony A6100 was right around 420 frames per charge, so the X-A7 battery life should allow you to get the most out of the camera in the field.
One of the big upgrades for the LCD monitor. The rear LCD boasts a maximum luminous intensity of approximately 1,000 candelas, that is very impressive. The LCD is definitely bright and beautiful, and it really helps your process in the field because, on mirrorless cameras, we do the majority of our framing and composition work via the LCD. In fact, the X-A7 doesn’t even offer an electronic viewfinder, which is a big negative to me. EVF is a must in my opinion, and I think Fuji removed it to make the LCD as impressive as possible, which it is…but no EVF, we’ll see.
The large 3.5-inch 2.76-million-dot LCD monitor feature a wide aspect ratio of 16:9 on its rear panel. It provides a touch-response performance equivalent to or better than that of smartphones in general, enabling easy camera operation.
Fuji says this is also the first X Series model that features a “vari-angle” monitor. The monitor can be adjusted to any angle, and that is a huge benefit when you are shooting in tight spaces or unique angles (which happens a lot in landscape photography). Overall, the lack of an electronic viewfinder is a downer, but the LCD on the back is beautiful and it does have some great features.
The X-A7 also gets some video upgrades. The X-A7 can capture high quality 4K video at 30 fps (double the frame rate of the X-A5). According to Fuji, the X-A7 reads data from all the pixels on the sensor and uses the ample information equivalent to 6K to produce 4K video. Tone down the resolution a bit to full HD and it can record at 60 fps. There is no unlimited mode like we saw on the Sony’s. The X-A7 can only do 15 minutes of 4K video or 30 minutes of full HD video.
Other Notables Features
Fuji has introduced a ‘Smart Menu’ in this camera, which seems to be a pretty cool and intuitive feature. It enables quick camera operation, allowing users to adjust shooting settings with ease while checking the picture’s brightness, bokeh level, Film Simulation effect and aspect ratio on the screen, per Fuji. The X-A7 also supports Bluetooth and wired connections to phones/tablets.
This camera might be lacking some of the features of the new Sony releases, but it is WAY cheaper. At $700, you can grab this body with a kit lens, which is a great deal. The Sony A6100 body alone will cost you $750. I think this is a solid additional to the Fuji lineup. My main concern is the lack of a electronic viewfinder. It is generally a feature seen at this price point, but Fuji decided to trade the electronic viewfinder for an impressive LCD. That is my biggest question. If you use Fuji now, especially the X-A5, this is a worthy upgrade. If you are shooting with a higher end Fuji, like the XT-3 or XT-30, this camera would make as an excellent back-up or secondary body.
Matt Meisenheimer is a photographer based in Wisconsin. His artistry revolves around finding unique compositions and exploring locations that few have seen. He strives to capture those brief moments of dramatic light and weather, which make our grand landscapes so special. Matt loves the process of photography – from planning trips and scouting locations, taking the shot in-field, to post-processing the final image. Matt is an active adventurer and wildlife enthusiast as well. He graduated with a degree in wildlife ecology and worked in Denali National Park and Mount Rainier National Park as a biologist. He also spent 6 months working in the deserts of Namibia before finding his path in photography. Matt’s passion for the wilderness has taken him to many beautiful places around the world. As a former university teaching assistant, Matt is passionate about instruction. It is his goal to give his students the technical and creative knowledge they need to achieve their own photographic vision. He truly enjoys working with photographers on a personal level and helping them reach their goals. You can see Matt’s work and portfolio on his webpage at www.meisphotography.com
Don’t Miss the Next Session of BCJ “Live”
Backyard Bird Photography: Simple Techniques for Wildlife Close to Home
with Russell Graves
Tuesday, March 9th, 2021 at 11 am (Mountain)