Review: Fujifilm X-A3 for travel & family pics #ad

Jenography testing the X-A3

Using the X-A3 on a day in the country

I few years ago I started keeping an old-fashioned scrapbook of my travels, the kind with paper pages and photo corners. Inside are ticket stubs, bits of menus and loads of pictures, beside which I write descriptions of the day, anecdotes and memories. I’ve become more and more devoted to actual printing and keeping photos. I love to look through my albums, and the moments captured in my scrapbooks are the ones I remember most vividly. As my daughter’s and stepson’s childhoods rush by, I find I want to cement those memories more than ever.

Like many avid travellers and aspiring amateur photographers, I have a choice when on holiday, taking pictures with the family or just capturing day-to-day moments: to either haul out my massive DSLR kit that make me feel like a paparazzi hunting Kardashians or whip out my camera phone and look the teensiest bit lightweight.

Now I have something that sits between the smartphone and full-on DSLR kit: I’ve been trying out the Fujifilm X-A3, a mirrorless digital camera with a proper lens and a large sensor (for crisp images), using it with an eye to creating keepsake day-to-day pictures as well as travel pictures I’ll cherish or use on my blog or social media.

 

Fujifilm X-A3

The kit fresh out of the box

 

Some quickie stats if you like that kind of thing

  • 3” screen
  • 24.2 megapixel resolution
  • touch-sensitive tilting screen (you can pinch and scroll like with an iPhone)
  • in-built Wifi
  • HD video recording
  • comes with 16-50mm f/3.5-5.6 OIS II kit lens
  • shoots from ISO 100 to ISO 6400
  • built-in flash

What does the camera do for me?

First and foremost is the crispness of the images. I’ve been increasingly dissatisfied with the results I’m getting from my iPhone 6S. I always have to go into an editing app to sharpen, lighten and heighten contrast, and frequently pictures that I want pin-sharp – on the Gorge Bridge in Taos, a portrait of the kids playing cards – come out soft. With the X-A3, I get images I can print, post or blow up without worry.

Westminster Abbey taken by X-A3

Detail of a picture of Westminster Abbey, taken from street level

 

girls with hounds taken with X-A3

The portrait setting detects faces and smooth skin tones

 

depth of field with X-A3

Playing with depth of field while hunting for designer charity shop finds

 

closeup of cards with X-A3

Extreme closeups demonstrate the nice depth of field effect (e.g. one area in focus with other parts blurred

 

Sport setting on X-A3

The Sport setting captures fast action. I like the blur on the feet but sharpness on the face

 

dog pic with X-A3

I found the X-A3 reacts quicker than my phone, making shots like this possible

 

 

I love the flexibility of the filters and effects. There are loads of these – I’ve heard them described as “Instagram on steroids” and the moniker fits. There are filters that pick out one colour and make rest of the image monochrome, a toy camera effect, fish eye, plus “film effects” which are based on the look of traditional film, such as sepia, high-contrast and Velvia, which resembles the saturated classic Kodak Kodachrome.

 

Dad with peanuts monochrome with blue

The kids love playing with the pops of colour. They snapped this shot of Dad with peanuts

 

red accent picture X-A3

With the monochrome + red filter

 

X-A3 picture with yellow accent

With the yellow accent, picking up the lemons in my drink

 

Peter Jones taken with X-A3

Peter Jones with the saturated colours of the Velvia filter

 

Here are others settings I can’t wait to fully explore over time:

  • Text – effective for clearer shots of lettering; perfect for pictures of menus as well as hotel and restaurant signs
  • Portrait – will be great not just for blogging but also pictures of the kids while they still allow me to capture their image
  • Fireworks – look out, Guy Fawkes Night!
  • Snow – for shooting in the high-contrast environment on the slopes
  • Beach – yes, please! Presumably taken with one hand while holding a mai tai in the other

Finally, a great feature for both family pictures and social influencers: one-touch video recording.

I’ve grown disenchanted with the quality of the video I’m getting from my iPhone, which isn’t producing the vibrant colour and picture crispness that I want. I can shoot video with my DSLR, but the settings are buried in the menu somewhere that I can never find.

With the X-A3, the video button is situated right on the back. You push it and you’re off. Push it again to stop. It’s that easy.

Other things I like about the X-A3

The look

Shallow? Nay, vital! If you’re going to invest in a camera, why not make sure its profile pleases you? The X-A3 has retro styling with an accent of colour: pink, silver (black) or brown. The brown leather-look accents on mine had more of a burgundy cast that I anticipated but I love the overall appearance. I’ll look great with it while riding a Vespa!

The Fujifilm X-A3 review on Jenography

 

The size

The physical size and the weight really do make this a camera I can take anywhere, slung over my shoulder, round my neck or tucked into my purse. A DSLR uses a single lens reflex, with a little mirror that flips up when you press the shutter and exposes a sensor. With the mirrorless X-A3 — these are also called compact system cameras or CSCs — you look at a back-viewing screen instead of through a viewfinder and there’s no mirror. It’s an arrangement that makes the X-A3 lighter and simpler.

The ability to change lenses

The X-A3 comes with a 16-50mm but there are an array of lenses you swap out. This kind of flexibility really lets a camera grow with you the more you use it. I can see investing in a wide-angle lens to allow for beautiful shots of castles, beaches and rolling hills. (Of course, I could also use the existing panoramic setting – did I mention the panoramic setting?)

 

flower shot by X-A3

First I took this shot in Auto mode

 

close up picture of flower with X-A3

Then I moved in closer, and the camera automatically switched to macro, remaining in focus and capturing the delicate colours

 

Some other great extras – effects, selfies, Wifi

The in-built Wifi means you can connect to your phone via a special app and move images across for sharing on social media or print directly to a Fujifilm Instax printer (I’m already saving my pennies for one of these).

The back screen flips up and clicks into place to allow you to take high-quality selfies, a nice touch especially when taking family pics with the kids.

There are a few really fun effects that we loved playing with, including the ability to create double-exposure images. While I’m not sure I’ll have much use for it for the blog, for family hi-jinks, it’s ace!

selfie with X-A3

A silly-looking selfie taken with the X-A3 (for demonstration purposes only!)

 

selfie taken with iPhone 6S

A selfie taken with my iPhone 6S. The colours are muted and it’s a bit dark for my taste

 

double exposure with Fujifilm X-A3

A Man-Ray-esque double exposure, with daughter and peanuts (again!)

 

What I didn’t like about the X-A3

Fiddly lens cap

Here’s the scene: Walking along the Kings Road, I would stop, smoothly remove the cap from the lens, snap away merrily, then walk on, fiddling with the cap as I squeezed and re-squeezed the handles to make it grip. It wasn’t a huge deal. I got better at it. I’d like it if the lens cap seated a bit more securely so I’m not fearful it will fall off while I walk or in my handbag.

And…not much else.

Would I recommend the X-A3?

Absolutely. For someone looking to move on from a smartphone camera but still wanting something powerful yet portable, the X-A3 is a great versatile camera. Its stylish look also appeals — whenever I brought it out with friends, they ooh’ed, ahh’ed and wanted to have a go.

I’ve had the camera for a couple of weeks and I keep discovering new features and other flexible ways to take pictures in different settings. I like that I can play around and even get ridiculously creative with the results, or use a few favourite settings to get reliable images for the blog or as keepsakes. I can print images straight from the camera or card without having to sharpen them in an app beforehand. The only problem I can see right now — with all the new images I have — is freeing up time for more scrapbooking.

The Fujifilm X-A3 is available exclusively at Jessops and retails for £549.

I was provided an X-A3 camera to try and keep and am working with Fujifilm in a paid relationship. All opinions are my own.

 

Look out for my upcoming picture post, highlighting what the X-A3 can do

 

 

I’m a journalist and blogger. Previously I was The Times’s online lifestyle editor and Alpha Mummy blogger. Now I’m co-founder of BritMums and BritMums Live! – our annual blogging conference that draws hundreds. Follow me on Pinterest, Instagram, Twitter and Google Profile+
Follow:

17 Comments

  1. March 26, 2017 / 7:13 pm

    Love that double exposure shot and the single colour ones are very cool. There’s nothing like a proper scrapbook to bring back the memories too…

    • March 27, 2017 / 7:23 am

      My daughter loves looking through them and we always end up laughing about funny things that happened.

  2. March 26, 2017 / 8:27 pm

    What a great review, Jen – for someone not very technical like me, you’ve given me a real sense of what the camera can do.
    I should really put all my holiday memories in a scrapbook rather than an acetate folder!

    • March 27, 2017 / 7:55 am

      I’m with you — I like to have a bit of technical control but don’t want to be forever fiddling or studying my camera when there are moments to be captured. I’m intrigued about the acetate folder!

  3. March 26, 2017 / 9:21 pm

    Loving the colour pop! I’m particularly fond of the film filters – I love the idea of having a consistent style of photos done so easily.

    • March 27, 2017 / 8:00 am

      Maria, I agree. I also discovered the Q button on the back, where you can check your settings with one push of a button, then adjust as needed.

  4. March 26, 2017 / 10:15 pm

    Oh gosh, I love it! I need to get a new camera that also does video. I’m definitely going to go and have a good look at this one somewhere, I think it might be just what I’m looking for.
    Nat.x

    • March 27, 2017 / 7:26 am

      Nat — It’s really worth looking at! I’m starting to leave my smartphone in my pocket and rely on my X-A3.

  5. March 27, 2017 / 2:40 am

    Oh this so nds perfect I’m looking for a more travel friendly camera that I can use that has a flip it screen. I love my dslr but it’s too big for my handbag

    • March 27, 2017 / 7:28 am

      Jaime, Couldn’t agree more. How many shoulder aches have I gotten from carting around my much-loved but *very* heavy DSLR? Even when I wear the X-A3 around my neck or like a cross-body bag, it feels light and inconspicuous.

  6. March 29, 2017 / 9:15 am

    Wow, you can really see the difference between the smartphone photo and the Fujifilm X-A3 photo – that’s brilliant. I’ve been loving playing around with this camera – so many features.

    • March 29, 2017 / 10:03 am

      Absolutely. When you compare just looking on the phone screen versus camera screen you notice the difference, but when I uploaded to the computer it was much more dramatic.

    • April 3, 2017 / 10:00 am

      Catherine, the more I use it, the more I discover its flexibility along with the portability. x

  7. April 4, 2017 / 3:56 pm

    What a great review Jen, the images from the X-A3 look so sharp. That’s always the challenge isn’t it, having a camera that takes great quality photographs which is more portable than an SLR and lenses.

    • April 5, 2017 / 8:59 am

      Thanks, Charly! Compliments about my pics from you is quite flattering. x

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *