I’ll let you in on a little secret. I’m not a photographer! I’m a travel blogger that likes taking photos and up until recently relied mainly on my smartphone for images. Start talking metering with me and my eyes glaze over. I just want amazing photos!
Relying solely on my smartphone for images can be problematic: 1) it can take great photos, but the light has to be perfect and I find myself adapting the way I take photos to work with its strengths; 2) photos and videos drain the battery and it usually dies right when I NEED to take that perfect shot; and 3) once I was so eager to take a pic of a seagull on the beach in Santa Cruz that my iPhone slipped out of my hand and my screen shattered!
As photography becomes more intrinsic to what I do, I realise I need to up my game. Smartphones are great in many situations such as when I’m outdoors and the light is perfect, but they don’t cope well in low light (i.e. taking photos of food in a restaurant). I usually don’t even try to take pics with a iPhone in those situations – because I know from experience they won’t turn out.
A smartphone’s best feature is that it is always with you. Moving up I need a something small enough to be able to tote around easily, yet the quality has to be worth the tradeoff.
That’s where Fujifilm comes in. I’m trying out their new X-A3 to see how I got on my life as a travel blogger and mum capturing photos for family and friends, and social media of course!
On paper the camera looks amazing. The X-A3 is a mirrorless camera (one of the reasons it can take great pics but stay compact). It’s 24.2 megapixel sensor is much bigger than a smartphone which means photos will be sharper and the colours should pop more. (To compare, my iPhone 6 Plus is only 8 megapixels). It should also allow me to take those cool looking shots with a blurred background (shallow depth of field). The camera is good for shooting in low light situations, where a smaller sensor would give grainy images and muted colours. It sounds perfect for me.
The Modern Family all eagerly awaited its arrival. My teenage daughters were impressed. The camera has a retro look and comes in 3 colours (silver with black, brown or pink). I choose black though I nearly, nearly, nearly went for the pink.
My 11-year-old and I got it out of the box and working in about 10 minutes. She read the instructions as I found the parts – battery, strap, memory card, lens – which all went together very easily. I spent a bit of time looking for a battery charger, and then realised that the camera charges via USB cable which is convenient because it eliminates the need to lug around a charger! Very cool.
We set up all the basics, then started exploring the features.
The first thing we discovered was the Touchscreen Mode. This allows you to use the familiar pinch out, double taps, etc like Apple products. You can lock on to an image and take the photo just by touching the screen. It’s pretty cool.
If you don’t want to think about anything, the Advanced SR Auto mode (SR+) does all the work for you (shutter speed, aperture, etc) and it cleverly recognises 14 scenarios (Portrait, Snow, Fireworks, Flowers, etc) and selects the best one for your shooting situation. Some of these scenarios can be accessed very quickly via the mode dial. It takes a little practice to figure out where they all are, but once you know they can be accessed very quickly.
The camera automatically switches to Macro mode when you focus close-in on a subject (up to 7 cm). I was very impressed when my X-A3 automatically switched into Macro and Flower mode when capturing the lovely narcissi bouquet below.
I love how when you change settings, there is an example photo and description of what the setting is best for! For example, when I click to Portrait Enhancer and it tells me it “shoots face, skin appears smooth”. The setting softens skin tone and enhances a natural look.
It’s really easy to take high quality Selfies too. Selfies are usually something you rely on a smartphone for, but the X-A3 has a LCD screen that flips 180 degrees and automatically reverses the camera (you need to make sure the screen is pushed all the way up or you appear upside down). Then you can set the timer on Smile Mode – which automatically takes a pic when you smile. We had loads of fun doing this! Other options include buddy mode (3 people you recognise), group (3 people in a shot) and of course the usual timer.
Fujifilm is famous for its film tones and there’s a Film Simulation Mode, which has 11 simulations: Velvia for vibrant colours, Bastia and Classic home for softer, muted tones. At first I couldn’t find all 11 simulations (in SR+ mode I only got 6 options) but finally figured out you can access all 11 in P (Programme). I’m looking forward to playing around a bit more with this.
The camera also has 10 Advanced Filters; my favourites are Miniature, Partial Color (Red) and Toy Camera (another retro look). It can do sweeping Panoramic shots and artsy Double Exposure Pics. My 14-year-old, who’s an art scholar, loved playing around with several of these features.
But what good are photos if they stay in your camera or take an act of god to get them somewhere where you can use them? I found the Wireless Image Transfer is very easy to use. I downloaded the free Fujifilm Camera remote app, transferred pics to my smartphone and shared my first Instagram image within minutes. It can sometimes get interference from other phones/microwaves, but when this happened I just moved location and it worked fine.
Speaking of being able to use photos, the wireless function connects with the ultra cool Instax Share Printer. My daughters are dying to try this.
The camera takes Full HD Video.The simulation modes are available for movies, so you can customise your “look”. Stabilisation for a shaky hand, even if walking (or running after kids).
What else can I tell you? One battery charge will take 410 pics. I already told you this, but I love that you don’t have to lug around a charger.
The camera is available exclusively at Jessops.
I am definitely going to bring this camera with my on my travels. The quality of the food pics in low light is worth it alone. Plus I like the professional-looking blurred background pics, without having to figure out aperture on my own. Next time you see me taking pics, I’ll have it in hand!
I’m working in a paid relationship with Fujifilm showcasing the new X-A3. All opinions remain my own.