The Fujifilm X-A7 ($699.95 with 15-45mm lens) is the latest entry in the company’s entry-level mirrorless camera series. It’s built around a touch-based interface, easy enough for casual snappers to use, but with manual controls to help you learn the craft. Image quality is excellent, autofocus is vastly improved versus the previous-generation X-A5, and 4K video recording is an option. Some will be turned off by the lack of an EVF, but if you prefer the rear screen, the X-A7 is worth a gander.
It’s clear at a glance that Fujifilm’s designers want the X-A7 to look as good as the images it captures. It’s a slim body, with a rectangular build—because there’s no electronic viewfinder, there’s no need for a hump at the top. If you like the idea of the X-A7, but want a built-in viewfinder, think about spending $100 more on the Fujifilm X-T200—basically an X-A7 with an EVF.
The image sensor is as big as you’ll get with a consumer SLR, but the mirrorless design cuts down on bulk. The X-A7 comes in at 2.7 by 4.7 by 1.6 inches (HWD) and 11.3 ounces without a lens attached. The bundled XC 15-45mm adds 1.7 inches of depth and weighs 4.8 ounces. Fujifilm doesn’t sell the camera without a lens in the US market.
You can pick your color. We received the basic silver-and-black edition to review, but you can also get it in a silver body with a Camel or Mint Green leatherette. A dark silver version with a black cover is also available.
All are bundled with the silver version of the 15-45mm lens; please note that we received the lens in black finish for review, so our product shots are a little different than what’s sold at retail.
Controls and Interface
There’s plenty of function to go along with the form. The handgrip isn’t huge, but it’s there. Fujifilm includes a shoulder strap, but with the kit zoom or a small prime attached, the X-A7 is a perfect fit for a wrist strap.
The top plate houses a pop-up flash; the release catch is on the left side. It’s mounted on a hinge, but won’t fire when tilted back, so there’s no way to light your subject indirectly. You can add an external flash via the hot shoe, though I imagine most who take the craft that far will invest in a camera with a built-in viewfinder.
There are three dials on the top. Mode is the largest, with fully automatic settings available for starters, and the expected range of shutter, aperture, and manual modes there too. The two smaller dials are used to navigate through menus or, if you venture out of automatic mode, adjust exposure parameters.
The shutter release for stills is just where you’d expect it, in the center of the forward control dial. There’s a programmable function button in the rear one; it’s the Record button for movies, as long as you don’t remap it. If you do, you’ll need to switch the Drive mode to the video function, but I only recommend doing so if you use video infrequently.
Drive is located on the rear, just behind Mode, and is where you’ll go to switch to 6fps burst capture or set the self-timer for group shots. It doubles as Delete during playback, and the Play button is right next to it.
The other rear controls are crammed in the bottom right, next to the LCD and below the thumb rest. There’s an eight-way joystick, a space-efficient way to set your active autofocus point and navigate through menus, along with Menu/OK and Display/Back buttons.
Front and rear control dials, the former with the shutter release at its center and the latter with a programmable function button, and the On/Off button round out the physical controls. For everything else you’ll use the touch screen.
The on-screen interface is a little different than with cameras aimed at more advanced photographers. Tapping the large arrow shown on the right opens a basic on-screen display with touch access to autofocus, color balance, film simulation, and other exposure settings.
You can dive deeper by tapping Q. It launches a more extensive, sixteen-entry menu. It’s customizable, so you can change what’s displayed if you prefer. Button setup, along with other more granular settings, are made in the text-based menu system.
Everything is viewed on the 3.5-inch vari-angle LCD. The 16:9 aspect display is bigger than you’ll find on most cameras, and it can swing out to the side and face forward, up, or down. It’s useful for capturing shots from low angles, or pointing the camera toward you for a selfie or vlog. We’ve no complaints about the quality of the screen—it’s sharp, 2.8 million dots, and bright enough for use outdoors.
Power and Connectivity
The X-A7 has a battery rating of 270 shots per charge. It’s definitely on the lower end of the scale, even versus other mirrorless cameras like the Sony a6100 (400 shots) and Fujifilm X-T200 (385 shots). The battery loads in the bottom, in the same compartment as the single UHS-I SDXC card slot.
Thankfully the battery is very easy to charge, even if you’re on the go. You can plug in a battery pack, or use your smartphone or laptop charger, assuming you’ve got one with a USB-C connector. If not, Fujifilm includes a power adapter and cable in the box.
You also get a 3.5mm adapter for the USB port; it doubles as a headphone jack, so you can monitor audio when using the camera’s video function. A 3.5mm microphone jack is included, as is a micro HDMI output port.
Wireless tech includes Bluetooth and Wi-Fi. The X-A7 works with the Fujifilm Camera Remote app, a free download for Android and iOS. You can use your phone as a remote control, either with a live feed via Wi-Fi or as a simple shutter release via Bluetooth, and you can copy images and video from the camera’s SD card to your phone.
Transfers are slow, at least with my iPhone 8 Plus handset. The app requires three minutes to transfer a 30-second 4K video clip, and while a batch transfer of five images went more speedily, about 20 seconds, half that time was spent getting the transfer going and sending the first image over. You’ll have a more pleasant experience if you skip one-off transfers.
Earlier entries in the X-A series were held back by inconsistent autofocus performance. The X-A7 does a lot to fix it, spreading its speedy phase detection pixels over a wider area of the image sensor.
There’s still a slight hesitation in acquiring initial focus. I clocked 0.1-second in between the shutter press and image capture with the kit lens. It’s a little slower than the X-T30 (0.05-second), but is decidedly more consistent than the X-A5, which could focus as fast when it used its limited phase detection coverage area, but slowed to as long as 0.5-second when focusing away from the central area of the frame.
By default, the camera checks the entire frame and prioritizes a subject closer to the lens. It’s aided by face and eye detection. If you want to take control over the area of focus you can select a single point or a wider group of points, either movable via a tap on the touch screen or using the rear joystick.
Subject tracking is available too. When the camera is set to continuously check focus (AF-C) there is a tracking mode available. It identifies a subject and keeps focus on it as it moves through the frame. When coupled with the X-A7’s 6fps continuous capture mode, it’s a fine choice for keeping up with moving subjects—think pets, sports, kids, and wildlife.
You will run up against a limited shooting buffer. The X-A7 is able to snap 10 JPG shots before slowing down, a little longer than a second of real-time action at 6fps, and clears all of them to a memory card in about 4 seconds. If you opt for Raw or Raw+JPG you’ll get fewer in a burst, about 5 images, and wait about 10 seconds to clear them all to memory.
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There are definitely better cameras out there for tracking fast action. If that’s your main purpose, it’s worthwhile to think about a camera with a faster shooting rate and deeper buffer. The X-A7 is fine for short bursts of quick action, but you’ll want to consider the X-T30 or a6400 if it’s your primary interest.
Imaging and Video
The X-A7 captures photos using a 24MP APS-C format sensor. Unlike more advanced Fujifilm models, the imager uses a standard Bayer color filter array. Fujifilm models with 26MP chips, like the X-T30 and X-T3, use a more complex color filter to make images, one that Fujifilm calls X-Trans.
The practical difference for most potential X-A7 owners is a slimmer selection of film simulation options. We’ve seen cool looks like Classic Negative, Eterna, and Acros black-and-white with X-Trans chips, but they’re absent here. Still, you get the Standard (Provia) profile, along with vivid (Velvia), soft (Astia), and slide film (Classic Chrome), and standard black-and-white options.
If you want to get a little artistic with your shots, the tools are there, and with in-camera Raw processing you can apply as many edits to shots as you’d like without ever touching the original file, assuming you turn on Raw capture.
The sensor can be set from ISO 100 (for use in bright light) all the way up to ISO 51200, an extended setting for use in very dim conditions when working in JPG format. If you leave it on automatic mode, the highest it will go is ISO 6400. You’ll still get good detail from JPG images there, not that far off from what the sensor is capable of doing at its best. Detail suffers a little bit at ISO 12800, and more at the extended ISO 25600 and 51200 settings.
Raw capture is available in the native sensor range, ISO 200 through ISO 12800. We’ve no real complaints about image quality. As you push higher there’s a bit more noise, an effect that’s not unlike film grain. Turning on Raw allows you to edit shots to your liking, either in-camera or with desktop software like Adobe Lightroom.
Video quality is quite good. The X-A7 supports 4K recording at up to 30fps—24fps is there if you want it—using the full sensor width. You can push the frame rate to 60fps for 1080p, and there is also slow-motion recording available at that resolution. The camera is able to record at 100fps for a four-time slow-motion effect at 25p.
All of the camera’s film simulation modes are available for video too. I used the vivid Velvia look for the clip above, recorded at 4K with a 24fps frame rate. Some pro options are missing—there’s no flat color profile—but they aren’t expected in an entry-level model.
There’s no in-body stabilization here, but the starter lens is stabilized and the camera offers some added digital help to keep footage jitter-free. There’s a slight crop applied, but I’d turn it on if you’re planning on recording without a tripod. You can use an external mic too, a plus for vloggers.
Big Screen, but No EVF
The Fujfiilm X-A7 packs a lot of camera power into a small form factor. We’ve little bad to say about its image quality—it may not have the latest and greatest sensor, but it holds up, and offers loads of good-looking JPG options, plus Raw capture for more serious photographers. Likewise, budding photogs and family historians can use automatic modes, while advanced users have access to manual exposure.
We think that most shutterbugs will want a camera with a built-in viewfinder, though. Think about the X-T200 if you like the idea of the X-A7, but want an EVF; it sells for $100 more. Also moving up the price range, the Fujifilm X-T30, Sony a6100, and a6400 all have built-in finders, and offer better autofocus and burst shooting.
But if you prefer interacting with a big, articulating touch screen, the X-A7 is very capable. It focuses quickly, is backed by a robust lens system, including wide angles, long telephoto, and bright primes for low-light and portrait shots. The front-facing screen, mic input, and 4K support make it a good fit for vlogs as well.