The Fuji X-A7 is a mirrorless interchangeable lens camera and the replacement to the X-A5. As such, it’s aimed at novice photographers looking to buy their first interchangeable lens camera.
The X-A7 maybe Fujifilm’s most entry-level camera but it still looks good and has nice build quality. Rather than the tradition exposure controls found on Fujifilm cameras like the X-T3, X-T30 and X-Pro3, the X-A7 has a mode dial on its top-plate and dual adjustment dials. There's also a clever 'Smart Menu' that makes adjusting some of the key parameters very easy for anyone who is new to photography. Crucially, this uses non-techy language and responsive touch-control. I think the Fujifilm X-A7 is well-judged. A viewfinder would be nice, especially in bright summer sunshine, but the vari-angle screen is very good, the autofocus system is capable and the stills and video are very good.
- Good build quality for the price
- Excellent image quality and attractive colours
- Vari-angle touchscreen
- No viewfinder
- Kit lens power zoom isn't very responsive
- No dedicated Quick menu button
What is the Fujifilm X-A7?
Price and Availability
At launch the Fujifilm X-A7’s price is £699/$699 for the camera body and the 15-45mm f/3.5-5.6 lens kit.
It went on sale in October 2019.
In a key difference from Fujifilm’s higher-level X-Series cameras, the Fuji X-A7 has a Bayer pattern colour filter array over its newly developed 24.2Mp APS-C format sensor. That’s unlikely to be an issue for the X-A7’s target market, but existing Fujifilm X-series photographers looking for a smaller alternative to their X-T3 etc, may want to know.
As there’s copper wiring in the X-A7’s sensor, its data readout is faster than the X-A5’s. Consequently, Fuji claims this improves the noise control at high sensitivity (ISO) settings by a stop (1EV).
In addition, the sensor has 8.5x as many phase-detection pixels as the X-A5’s chip. This should be good news for subject detection and tracking, leading to a boost in the Face/Eye Detection performance and focusing in low light.
There are a total of 425 user-selectable AF points available for use. The camera uses both phase and contrast detection for focusing.
Like the X-A5, the X-A7 can shoot continuously at up to 6fps (frames per second) with continuous autofocusing.
As we’ve come to expect from a new camera, the X-A7 is capable of recording 4K video with a frame rate of 30fps. The X-A5 can only record 4K video at 15fps and the change means that the new camera produces smoother, more natural-looking footage with fewer rolling shutter artefacts.
Further good news is that the X-A7 has a mic port to connect an external microphone. It’s a 2.5mm port but Fujifilm supplies a 3.5mm adapter in the box.
There’s also an HDMI port in case you want to connect an external storage device or monitor.
Build and Handling
The Fuji X-A7 maybe the company’s most entry-level camera but it still looks good and has nice build quality. Unlike higher-level X-Series cameras, the X-A7 is made from polycarbonate (plastic) rather than metal, but it still feels reasonably solid.
It’s also quite compact and weighs just 320g.
Fujifilm sells the X-A7 with its XC 15-45mm F3.5-5.6 OIS PZ lens. This has an effective focal length of 22.5-67.5mm, which is a nice range for everyday photography.
While the lens may seem a logical pairing with the X-A7, I’m not a fan of the optic. The zoom ring isn’t very responsive and changing focal length seems more of a performance than is should be. A manual zoom ring would be far better.
Making a small and more affordable camera naturally calls for a few compromises. One of the compromises made by the X-A7 is that it doesn’t have a viewfinder. However, in a first for a Fuji X-Series camera, the 3.5inch 2,760,000-dot screen is mounted on a vari-angle hinge. That means the screen can be flipped out to the side and swivelled for viewing from in front of the camera.
The screen gives a good, clear view but it’s a little disappointing that the mic port is on the same side of the camera as the screen hinge. This means that the mic cable/adapter prevents the screen from tilting fully. There’s just enough movement to give a reasonable view when the camera is at waist-level.
Naturally, the cable also blocks a little of the view when you have the screen turned forwards for vlogging.
This dial has markings to set the exposure mode to Advanced SR Auto, program, aperture priority, shutter priority, manual, panorama, Night, Sport, Landscape, Portrait, Scene (Portrait / Night / Fireworks / Sunset / Snow / Beach / Party / Flower / Text / Multiple Exposure / Light Trail) and Advanced Filter.
To the right of the mode dial, there are two dials for adjusting the camera settings. That’s a nice feature for a camera of this level, often there’s just one dial. It means you can adjust the aperture and shutter speed settings directly in manual exposure mode without having to press a button as well. Similarly, in aperture priority or shutter priority mode, you can set the aperture or shutter speed directly and use the other dial for adjusting the exposure compensation.
As the image above shows, the Fuji X-A7 has an uncluttered rear. In fact, there are just four buttons and the mini-joystick.
Although you can set the AF point with a tap on the screen, it’s nice to have the joystick to nudge it along if you need to.
Helpfully, the touch-control extends to the main and Quick menus, so you can select settings with just a tap.
What I miss, however, is a direct route to the Quick Menu (above). There’s no Q button, nor can you customise a button to access the Q menu. Instead, this is reached by tapping an arrow the the screen to reveal a collection of ‘Smart Menu’ icons, and then tapping the Q.
Fujifilm has done a great job of making the X-A7 easy to use by inexperienced photographers. As I said a moment ago, tapping the on-screen arrow reveals a Smart Menu. Tapping any of its icons gives you control over some aspect of the image. What’s more, these operate in whatever exposure mode you have selected, although the selection varies a little.
Oddly, in auto, aperture priority, manual and panorama exposure mode, there’s an option to adjust the aperture setting, but in shutter priority, manual and sport mode, there isn’t control over the shutter speed.
Tapping the ‘Depth Control’ icon (a figure in front of a mountain) reveals a simple sliding control that adjusts from ‘Sharper’ to ‘Blurred’. As you move the slider, the aperture value changes.
I really like the way the X-A7’s Smart Menu previews the Film Simulation modes. When this option is selected, the screen is sliced in half with one side showing the impact of the current Film Simulation mode and the other showing the latest selection.
You can even drag the dividing point across the screen with your finger.
Despite my misgivings about the 15-45mm kit lens, it performs pretty well optically. There’s some softening towards the corners of images, but it’s not a major issue.
Fujifilm claims that the X-A7’s autofocus (AF) system is a step up from the X-A5’s and it performed well in our tests. If there’s a bit of contrast, it gets subjects in focus very quickly, even in pretty low light. It struggled to focus on a distant hedgerow in the late afternoon gloom of an overcast day in December, but shifting the AF point to an area of greater contrast resolved the problem.
The Eye/Face Detection AF system is good in Single AF mode. It spots faces and eyes very quickly and gets them sharp.
As, the X-A7’s screen gives an accurate preview of the image, you can adjust the exposure to get everything looking right before taking a shot. However, exposure metering system does a good job of assessing the scene in most instances.
The X-A7 has Bluetooth and Wi-Fi connectivity built in. I found the Bluetooth pairing easy and once that’s done, you can reconnect quickly to browse and download images or control the camera remotely.
It’s not especially clear in the manual if the X-A7 is supposed to transfer images automatically to a paired smartphone. However, from my experience I think it isn’t. Although Fujifilm’s Cam Remote app shows the Auto-Transfer function is set to on, no images were transferred automatically at any point during my testing.
The Fuji X-A7 controls noise well for much of its sensitivity (ISO) range. However, by ISO 6,400, the Jpegs start to get a little too smooth. They’re not terrible, but they can look a bit unnatural. The raw files look better but they have a slight texture of luminance noise. I prefer that to the smoother Jpegs.
I like the colours and contrast that Fujifilm cameras capture in their various Film Simulation modes. My current favourite mode is Classic Neg, which was introduced with the Fuji X-Pro 3. Sadly that’s not available with the X-A7, but I find the Standard (Provia) and Classic Chrome work well in many situations. The Monochrome filters can also be very good, but invariably I make a raw file conversion at my computer after shooting.
A frame rate of 30fps is much more acceptable for video than 15 and consequently the X-A7’s 4K capability is much more attractive than the X-A5’s. The results are very good, with plenty of detail and colours and exposure that match the stills.
In some situations, the AF system is fine for video, but it can be a bit jerky sometimes and there’s no control over the speed.
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Entry-level cameras aren’t supposed to have every feature currently available. They are supposed to be an affordable introduction to photography. They should enable you to capture nice images, better than you can get from a phone, and fire your interest in capturing the world around you.
I think the Fuji X-A7 fulfils its brief very well. Okay, a viewfinder would be nice, but the vari-angle screen in an attractive bonus. That’s something that a smartphone doesn’t have and it can really help you be more creative with your shots.
Fujifilm’s Smart Menu system is very good. It enables inexperienced photographers to take control of the X-A7 whatever exposure mode the camera is set to. It needs shutter speed control adding, but I like it’s not technical terminology and ease of use.
It doesn’t have the same 26Mp sensor as the Fuji X-T3, X-T30 or X-Pro3, but the X-A7 is capable of capturing very attractive images and video.
I don’t like the kit lens that it comes with. Its optical quality is fine, it’s the way it feels and the action of the zoom ring that I’m not so keen on. However, but it’s reasonable starting point and there are lots of great Fujifilm lenses available if you get the photography bug.