On the whole the X-A1 is an attractively designed CSC, with its retro looks certain to impress its intended audience. It’s also a camera that generally handles well, although it’s not without a few handling issues.
For example, when shooting in any of the manual modes exposure variables are handled by a pair of dials on the top and rear plates respectively. Although these offer pleasingly prompt access to camera settings, the dial on the top plate has a loose feel and as a result is quite easily knocked during shooting, often without noticing. The result of this is it’s not uncommon to review an under or over-exposed shot before you realise the cause.
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Other controls feel better thought through, with a customisable ’Fn’ function button found on the front of the camera, accompanied with a “Q” button on the rear that, as you might expect, allows access to a ‘quick’ graphical menu that facilitates adjustment of common shooting settings.
The body of the X-A1 is certainly an attractive one from an aesthetic perspective, with its rangefinder looks and chunky buttons forming a solid package.
Despite these looks, the camera body itself is plastic and features a grip-patterned vinyl finish in parts. That’s not to say the camera isn’t sturdy, as it certainly feels solid when shooting, while the plastic finish has the benefit of making for a lighter camera body.
The presence of a small hand grip and thumb rest on the rear of the camera allow for a solid grip while shooting, while other small touches like the pop-up flash being mounted on a flexible linkage complete an attractive camera.
The X-A1 is certainly a competent performer, with very few areas of real weakness. One of these areas is the camera’s performance in low-light conditions. When trying to gauge focus in difficult lighting conditions, the Fujifilm X-A1 X-A1 struggles to lock on the desired target.
On the plus side, rather than continually hunting around it instead acknowledges that focus won’t be achieved and informs you as such, while the on-board AF lamp does go some way to assisting the situation.
The rest of the camera’s performance is impressive, with the X-A1’s operational speeds a particular highlight. The camera goes from off to ready to shoot in just over two seconds, while powering down in under that time.
The quoted continuous shooting speeds are 3fps and 5.6fps, and these speeds are generally met. When shooting in Raw JPEG mode the X-A1 manages around ten shots before the buffer fills, although if you’re going to be shooting just JPEG then the camera will continue until the card is full.
Shot-to-shot speed is also pleasing, and consistent between shooting ‘JPEG’ and ‘Raw JPEG’, at a little over 1.1 seconds between images. This shot-to-shot speed is also solid, in that it will remain at this rate until the card in full.
The X-A1’s battery life is another highlight – although Fujifilm quotes 350 shots on a single charge, during the testing period the real figure was nearer 400 including usage of the Wi-Fi feature and several shots with flash. If you were to be conservative with these aspects you should manage even more.