Fujifilm X-A3

      Photo Review 8.8

      In summary

      If you’re in the market for a point-and-shoot camera that uses interchangeable lenses, the X-A3 represents a good choice; it’s a solid performer in both stills capture and movie recording. The flip-up monitor works well for ‘selfies’ and the touch screen is easy to use.

      Socially-active snapshooters will appreciate the various self-timer options, while the auto modes will help the technologically challenged. The lack of a built-in EVF or any kind of viewfinder is likely to deter serious enthusiasts, even if they’re only looking for a ‘walkaround’ camera.


      Full review

      We didn’t review Fujifilm’s X-A2 camera, an entry-level model for snapshooters, which was released in early 2015 but, since simple-to-operate interchangeable-lens cameras are becoming increasingly popular, we thought we should review its successor, the X-A3. Released in October 2016 and featuring a ‘retro-styled’ body with a selfie-friendly flip-up-and-pull-out monitor screen plus a 24-megapixel CMOS sensor, it comes with an affordable price tag and is small enough to slip into a travel back or backpack.  


      Angled front view of the X-A3, silver version, with the XC 16-50mm f/3.5-5.6 OIS II lens. (Source: Fujifilm.)

      The main differences between the X-A3 and Fujifilm’s higher-featured X-series models are that it uses a traditional Bayer colour filter, rather than Fujifilm’s X-Trans arrangement and that it lacks a built-in viewfinder. The review camera was supplied as sold, with the XC 16-50mm f/3.5-5.6 OIS II lens.

      It is not sold in body-only configuration unless retailers choose to split the kit. The XC 16-50mm f/3.5-5.6 OIS II is a general-purpose lens that covers a 35mm equivalent focal length range of 24-76mm. This lens is reviewed separately.

      Who’s it For?
       With its trendy styling, multiple colour options (silver with black, brown or pink panels in textured faux leather), selfie-friendly monitor and Wi-Fi support, the X-A3 has been ‘designed with the younger generation in mind’, according to a Fujifilm press release. It provides plenty of automated settings, in the form of   scene pre-sets, 10 Advanced Filters and 11 Film Simulation  modes (but not the new ACROS settings).

      Face and Eye Detection AF are available, the latter engaged automatically when the monitor is tilted upwards. Each function automatically detects and focuses on human faces or the subject’s eyes, respectively. A new addition to the shooting mode dial is the Portrait Enhancer, which offers three-step adjustments for improving the appearance of subjects’ skins and includes a new  skin-tone brightening  function.  

      As well as the single and continuous shooting modes, the drive mode provides settings for Smile Detection, Buddy Timer and Group Timer modes, all provided to make it easy to take group portraits. New touchscreen-enabled settings such as Touch AF and Touch Shoot extend the camera’s ease of use functionality.

      However, serious photographers will miss the built-in EVFs provided in higher-featured models in the X-mount range. There’s not even an add-on EVF that can be fitted to the hot-shoe. That means facing frequent instances of point-and-guess framing on shots and movies in bright outdoor lighting.

      Video recording is limited to Full HD 1080p and HD 720p resolution with frame rates of 50 and 24 fps for PAL region users. Continuous recording times are 14 minutes and 27 minutes, respectively.

      Build and Ergonomics
       Like other X-series cameras, the X-A3 is well built for its type, with an aluminium top cover, front plate and top dials and textured faux leather cladding. Its ‘block of soap’ shape is moderated by a relatively shallow grip on the right hand side and the side panels are nicely rounded to provide a fairly comfortable fit in the hand. We’d like to have seen the grip a little deeper to suit users with average length fingers.


       Front view of the X-A3, brown version, with no lens fitted. (Source: Fujifilm.)

      The front panel is relatively free of controls, with just the lens release button and focus mode selector, which are positioned on either side of the lens mount. There’s a small LED just below the mode dial that doubles as a self-timer/AF illuminator lamp.


       Top view of the X-A3 with no lens fitted. (Source: Fujifilm.)

      The top panel is also relatively simple, with a control layout that replicates the 2015 X-A2 model’s. On the left side is a built-in flash, which is raised by a switch below the left side strap lug. To its right is a hot-shoe for mounting external flashguns (but not an EVF).

      The main controls are clustered on the right hand side of the top panel and include the mode dial, combined shutter button and on/off lever, the main command dial and a programmable function (Fn) button. The mode dial carries settings for   Advanced SR Auto (with scene recognition), Program, Shutter priority, Aperture priority, Manual, Custom, Night, Sports, Landscape, Portrait Enhancer, Scene Position and Advanced Filter shooting modes.  


       Angled rear view of the X-A3 showing the tilting monitor.(Source: Fujifilm.)

      Most of the rear panel is covered by the 3-inch touchscreen LCD monitor, which has a resolution of  1,040,000 dots and tilts upwards through 180 degrees as well as outwards by roughly 30 degrees. It supports touch autofocus, touch shooting and touch zooming.

      To its right lies the usual cluster of control buttons, which include an arrow pad with a central Menu/OK button and directional buttons for accessing the AF/Delete, WB, drive and self-timer sub-menus. Below lie buttons that access the  Display/Back and Quick menu settings, while above are the Playback and Movie buttons.

      There’s a nice thumb rest above this button cluster, with the sub-command dial half-inserted behind it. The right hand side panel has a compartment for the micro USB and HDMI   terminals with a hard plastic lift-up cover.

      In keeping with its entry level position, the X-A3 stores its battery and memory card in a single compartment within the grip moulding, accessed via a locking cover on the base plate. Both battery and card are easy to access and the battery is CIPA rated for approximately 410 shots/charge. A metal-lined tripod socket sits just left of the battery/card compartment, well off the optical axis of the lens.

      Autofocusing and Exposure Control
       The AF system in the X-A3 is contrast based, with 77 focus areas, up 49 in the X-A2.  Single, Continuous and Manual focusing modes are selected via the lever on the front panel, while users can turn to the shooting menu to choose between Single point AF, Zone AF and Wide/Tracking AF settings.  The Zone setting covers multiple focus points within a 7×7, 5×3, 5×5 or 3×3 array, selected by turning the sub-command dial.

       Fujifilm  claims a ‘class leading’ close-up performance for the XC 16-50mm f/3.5-5.6 OIS II lens, which can focus to within approximately seven centimetres. Other AF functions include an AE/AF lock, release priority and focus priority settings

      In manual focus mode, users can magnify the scene by a pinching gesture on the touch screen and access focus peaking with the ability to choose between high and low levels for white, red and blue outlining.

      Like most recent X-series cameras, the X-A3 has both a mechanical and an electronic shutter, the latter offering a maximum speed of 1/32000 second, which Fujifilm claims eliminates the need for an ND filter. The mechanical shutter has a range of 30 to 1/4000 second (with a low limit of 4 seconds in P mode), while the electronic shutter has a minimum speed of one second.

      Exposures of up to 60 minutes are available in the Bulb mode with the mechanical shutter and up to 30 minutes in the Time mode. With the electronic shutter, the longest exposure is one second. Flash synchronisation is at 1/180 second or slower.
      Sensor and Image Processing
       The sensor in the X-A3 isn’t the usual X-Trans chip found in Fujifilm’s other X-series cameras. Instead, it’s a conventional CMOS sensor with Bayer colour filters. With an effective resolution of 24-megapixels, this chip yields Fine quality JPEGs with an average size of roughly 7MB.

      The sensor is partnered with an EXR Processor II, which is a recent ““ although not the latest and greatest ““ chip. Together they enable the camera to support a native sensitivity range of  ISO 200 to ISO 6400, with extensions available to ISO 12800 and ISO 25600.  

      Continuous shooting is supported at up to six frames/second but the buffer memory is capped at 10 JPEG frames, although it expands to accommodate up to 50 frames when the slower, 3 fps shooting mode is selected.

      Both JPEG and RAF.RAW   files can be recorded as well as RAW+JPEG pairs. Three aspect ratios are available for JPEGTs, with three image sizes in each. Two Panorama modes are available for JPEG only with a maximum width of 9600 pixels for the L setting and 6400 pixels for the M setting.

      Movie options are fairly limited (in the modern context), with 60, 50 and 24 frames/second settings in 1080p and 720p resolutions.   Dual microphones just in front of the hot-shoe record stereo soundtracks.

      Playback and Software
      Unfortunately, nothing much has changed since previous models. No software is bundled with the camera but links are provided to the very basic MyFinePix Studio and ineffective raw file converter based on Silkypix technology. The latter is slow and we’ve demonstrated more than once that it doesn’t extract the best results from the camera’s RAF.RAW files. Fortunately, the X-A3 has been on sale long enough for the major third-party raw file converters to support it so you don’t have to be stuck with shooting only JPEGs.

       Subjective assessments of image files from the review camera with the supplied lens showed them to be colourful and detailed, particularly around the centre of the frame. JPEGs straight from the camera showed little of the usual softening but responded well to a small amount of unsharp masking in post-capture editing.

      We found a few instances of blown highlights in subjects with a wide brightness range, particularly with centre-weighted average and spot metering patterns. Multi-pattern metering tended to even out brightness levels, pushing exposures a little lower and reducing the incidence of blown highlights. For subjects with a relatively normal brightness range, multi-pattern metering generally worked as expected.

      Because the raw files from the X-A3 are supported in the latest version of Adobe Camera Raw, our preferred raw file processor, we have been able to assess both JPEG and RAF.RAW performance. Imatest showed the camera and lens to be capable of meeting expectations for the 24-megapixel sensor with quite a generous margin for JPEG files near the centre of the frame and doing even better with raw files converted into TIFF format with Adobe Camera Raw.

      Edge resolution fell a little short of expectations but was very satisfactory, with converted raw files delivering the expected higher resolution than JPEGs. Resolution held up well across the camera’s sensitivity range, with the expected slide as sensitivity was increased, as shown in the graph of our Imatest results below.


       Long exposures at night showed little visible noise at ISO settings up to ISO 3200 and the expected increase in the visibility of noise from ISO 6400 on. However, even the two highest ISO settings produced files that were usable at small output sizes, although they required a little unsharp masking to counteract the inevitable softening resulting from noise-reduction processing.

      The built-in flash under-exposed by more than a stop with the ISO 100 setting but produced evenly-exposed shots across the rest of the camera’s ISO range.The same loss of contrast and softening could be seen in flash shots at the highest ISO settings as we found for long exposures.

      White balance performance was slightly better than the results we obtained from other Fujifilm cameras we’ve reviewed recently.   The review camera came close to eliminating the warm cast of incandescent lighting and delivered close to neutral colours with fluorescent,   LED and flash lighting.

      There’s no preset for LED or flash lighting and it seems they aren’t needed since the camera provides adjustments for tweaking colour reproduction on the spot. The incandescent and fluorescent presets over-corrected slightly, with the various fluorescent lighting settings imparting slightly different colour casts. Manual measurement produced neutral colour rendition.

      Autofocusing performance was generally good, although it could slow a little in low light levels and with low-contrast subjects. The lack of a viewfinder made it difficult to assess AF speed in bright outdoor lighting and shooting became a largely point-and-hope exercise.

      The continuous AF was generally quick and accurate, especially when movies were being recorded. Focus tracking was generally good with the kit lens.

      Although the X-A3 is limited to Full HD 1080p quality, the movies we recorded were sharp, colourful and free of glitches and the face detection focus mode ensured the camera kept track of moving subjects. Audio quality was very good, given the size and position of the built-in microphones, although it lacked a little stereo ‘presence’.

      We carried out our timing tests with a 32GB Panasonic SDHC UHS-1 U3 card as we used for testing the Fujifilm X-T20 camera.  Marginally slower than its sibling, the review camera powered-up in just over a second but shut down almost instantly.  

      We measured a constant capture lag of 0.2 seconds, which was eliminated with pre-focusing. Shot-to-shot times averaged one second without flash and 1.8 seconds with flash. Going by the indicator light on the rear panel, it took just under one second on average to process each JPEG file and just over a second for each RAF.RAW file and RAW+JPEG pair.

      In the continuous high-speed shooting mode, the review camera recorded 19 high-resolution JPEGs  in 3.2 seconds before slowing, which equates to a capture rate of just over six frames/second. It took just 3.1 seconds to process this burst.

      Swapping to RAF.RAW files, the camera paused after six frames were captured in 0.9 seconds. Processing time for this burst was 6.6 seconds. The same number of RAW+JPEG frames were captured in the same time of 0.9 seconds but it took 7.5 seconds to process this burst.

       If you’re in the market for a point-and-shoot camera that uses interchangeable lenses, the X-A3 represents a good choice since it’s a good performer in both stills capture and movie recording. The flip-up monitor works well for ‘selfies’ and the touch screen is easy to use.

      Socially-active snapshooters will appreciate the various self-timer options, while the auto modes will help the technologically challenged. The lack of a built-in EVF or any kind of viewfinder is likely to deter serious enthusiasts, even if they’re only looking for a ‘walkaround’ camera.

      Because the camera has been on sale for a few months, discounting has become well established and even though Fujifilm cameras are seldom heavily discounted, you can pick up the camera plus lens for less than AU$800, a saving of $150 on the RRP, if you’re prepared to shop around.   The X-A3 is being sold online at US$599 (around AU$775) with the XC 16-50mm f/3.5-5.6 OIS II lens, to which you must add roughly AU$16 for the cheapest shipping rate. So you’re unlikely to get a bargain if you buy off-shore.



       Image sensor: 23.5mm x 15.7mm (APS-C) CMOS with primary colour filter, effective resolution 24.2 megapixels
       Image processor:  EXR Processor II  
       A/D processing: Not specified
       Lens mount: Fujifilm X-mount
       Focal length crop factor: 1.5x
       Image formats: Stills: JPEG, RAF.RAW, RAW+JPEG; Movies: MOV (H.264 compression, Linear PCM Stereo audio)
       Image Sizes: Stills ““ 3:2 aspect: 6000 x 4000, 4240 x 2832, 3008 x 2000; 16:9 aspect:  6000 x 3376,  4240 x 2384, 3008 x 1688; 1:1 aspect: 4000 x 4000, 2832 x 2832,   2000 x 2000; Movies:   Full HD 1920 x 1080   50p / 24p, Continuous recording : up to approx. 14 min., HD 1280 x 720   50p / 24p, Continuous recording : up to approx. 27 min.
       Image Stabilisation: Supported with OIS type lenses
       Dust removal: Ultra Sonic Vibration
       Shutter (speed range): 4 sec. to 1/4000 sec.(P mode); Mechanical – 30 sec. to 1/4000 sec.(All modes); Bulb mode(up to 60 min), TIME : 30 sec. to 1/4000 sec. Electronic Shutter – 1 sec. to 1/32000 sec. (P / A / S / M modes); Bulb mode : 1 sec. fixed, TIME: 1sec to 1/32000sec.; X-synch at 1/180 sec.
       Exposure Compensation: +/- EV in 1/3EV or 1/2EV steps (+/-EV for movies)
       Exposure bracketing: +/-2EV, +/-5/3EV, +/-4/3EV, +/-1EV, +/-2/3EV, +/-1/3EV
       Other bracketing options: Film simulation bracketing(Any 3 types of film simulation selectable),  Dynamic Range Bracketing (100% · 200% · 400%), ISO sensitivity Bracketing  (+/-1/3EV, +/-2/3EV, +/-1EV), White Balance Bracketing (+/-1 / +/-2 / +/-3)
       Self-timer: 2 or 10 seconds delay plus Smile, Buddy (LV.1 – LV.3), Group (1-4 subjects)
       Focus system: TTL contrast AF with Single point AF selection: 7×7 (changeable size of AF frame among 5 types),  Zone AF: 3×3 / 5×3 / 5×5 from 77 areas on 11×7 grid,  Wide/Tracking AF: (up to 9 areas)
       Focus modes: Single AF, Continuous AF, MF, AF+MF
       Exposure metering:  TTL 256-zone metering with Multi, Spot and Average metering patterns
       Shooting modes: Advanced SR AUTO, P, S, A, M, C (Custom), Night, Sports, Landscape, Portrait Enhancer, SP(Scene Position) / Adv.
       Film Simulation modes: 11 modes (PROVIA / Standard, Velvia / Vivid, ASTIA / Soft, Classic Chrome, PRO Neg.Hi, PRO Neg.Std, Monochrome, Monochrome+Ye Filter, Monochrome+R Filter, Monochrome+GFilter, Sepia
       Scene presets: Portrait, Sunset, Party, Night (Tripod), Snow, Flower, Fireworks, Beach, Text
       Dynamic range setting: AUTO, 100%, 200%, 400%; ISO restriction (DR100%: No limit, DR200%: ISO400 or more, DR400%: ISO 800 or more)
       Advanced Filters: Toy camera, Miniature, Pop colour, High-key, Low-key, Dynamic tone, Soft focus, Partial colour (Red / Orange / Yellow / Green / Blue / Purple)
       Other photography functions: Advanced SR AUTO, Eye detection AF, Face Detection, Interval timer shooting, Auto Red-eye Removal, Select custom setting, Motion panorama, Colour space, Setting (Colour, Sharpness, D-range, Gradation), Film Simulation, Advanced Filter, Framing guideline, Frame No. memory, Histogram display, Preview depth of focus, Pre-AF, Focus check, Focus Peak Highlight, Multiple exposure, Release priority / Focus priority selection, Fn button setting, ISO AUTO control, Interlock spot AE & Focus area, Edit/Save quick menu, Preview exp./WB in manual mode, Shutter Type, Touch screen setting
       ISO range: Auto (x3),   ISO 200 – 6400 in 1/3EV steps plus extensions to ISO 100, ISO 12800, ISO 25600
       White balance: Automatic scene recognition / Custom (x3) / Colour temperature selection (K) / Preset : Daylight, Shade, Fluorescent light (Daylight), Fluorescent light (Warm White), Fluorescent light (Cool White), Incandescent light, Underwater
       Flash: Manual pop-up flash, GN approx 5 (ISO 100. m)
       Flash modes: Auto/Forced Flash/Suppressed Flash/Slow Synchro/Rear-curtain Synchro/Commander; red-eye reduction is available
       Flash exposure adjustment:
       Sequence shooting: Max. 6 frames/sec.  
       Buffer capacity: Approx 10 frames JPEG
       Storage Media: SD, SDHC, SDXC cards (Compatible with UHS-I standard)
       Viewfinder: No
       LCD monitor: 3.0-inch tilting TFT colour LCD monitor with 3:2 aspect ratio, 1,040,000 dots, 100% frame coverage
       Playback functions: RAW conversion, Image rotate, Auto image rotate, Face Detection, Red-eye reduction, Photobook assist, Erase selected frames, Multi-frame playback (with micro thumbnail), Slide show, Protect, Crop, Resize, Panorama, Favourites
       Interface terminals: USB 2.0 High-Speed / micro USB terminal, HDMI Micro connector (Type D)
       Wi-Fi function: IEEE 802.11b / g / n (standard wireless protocol); Infrastructure access mode
       Power supply: NP-W126S Li-ion battery; CIPA rated for approx. 410 shots/charge
       Dimensions (wxhxd): 116.9 x 66.9 x 40.4 mm
       Weight: Approx. 290 grams (body only); 339 grams with battery and card

       Distributor: Fujifilm Australia; 1800 226 355; www.fujifilm.com.au  





       Based on JPEG files captured with the XC 16-50mm f/3.5-5.6 OIS II lens.


       Based on RAF.RAW files captured at the same time and converted with Adobe Camera Raw.






       Auto white balance with incandescent lighting.


       Auto white balance with fluorescent lighting.


       Auto white balance with LED lighting.


       Auto white balance with flash lighting.


      30-second exposure at ISO 100, 23mm focal length, f/4.5.


      15-second exposure at ISO 400, 23mm focal length, f/4.2.


      8-second exposure at ISO 3200, 23mm focal length, f/5.


      5-second exposure at ISO 6400, 23mm focal length, f/5.6.


      2-second exposure at ISO 12800, 23mm focal length, f/6.4.


      2-second exposure at ISO 25600, 23mm focal length, f/8.


      Flash exposure at ISO 100, 50mm focal length, 1/60 second at   f/5.6.


      Flash exposure at ISO 400, 50mm focal length, 1/60 second at   f/5.6


      Flash exposure at ISO 3200, 50mm focal length, 1/60 second at   f/5.6.


      Flash exposure at ISO 6400, 50mm focal length, 1/60 second at   f/5.6.


      Flash exposure at ISO 12800, 50mm focal length, 1/100 second at   f/5.6.


      Flash exposure at ISO 25600, 50mm focal length, 1/100 second at   f/5.6.


      Close up at 50mm; ISO 100, 1/450 second at f/11.


      35mm focal length, ISO 200, 1/150 second at f/5.


       Crop from the above image enlarged to 100% showing centre details.


      Strong backlighting; 35mm focal length, ISO 200, 1/800 second at f/16.


      50mm focal length,  ISO 100, 1/200 second at f/8.


      35mm focal length, ISO 400, 1/800 second at f/4.


      Wide brightness range subject showing blown highlights on the left side of the frame; 38mm focal length, ISO 640, 1/30 second at f/4.5.


      35mm focal length, ISO 800, 1/60 second at f/5.6.


      45mm focal length, ISO 320, 1/125 second at f/5.6.


       Still frame from Full HD (1920 x 1080 pixels) video clip recorded at 50 fps.


       Still frame from Full HD (1920 x 1080 pixels) video clip recorded at 24 fps.


       Still frame from HD (1280 x 720 pixels) video clip recorded at 50 fps.


       Still frame from HD (1280 x 720 pixels) video clip recorded at 24 fps.

      Additional image samples can be found with our review of the XC 16-50mm f/3.5-5.6 OIS II lens.



      RRP: AU$949; US$599.95 (with XC 16-50mm lens)


      • Build: 8.6
      • Ease of use: 8.6
      • Autofocusing: 8.8
      • Still image quality JPEG: 9.0
      • Still image quality RAW: 9.0
      • Video quality: 8.9