The selfie craze is in full swing, with all manner of devices getting in on the action. The Fujifilm X-A2, the company's update to the X-A1 from 2013, is the latest compact system to opt for a flip-forward screen. But does it strengthen the X-series line-up?
Handling the X-A2 for the first time at The Photography Show, Birmingham, and we're more impressed with the black finish than we are with the colour variants. The black doesn't utilise the faux leather with snakeskin-esque print, which we're not big fans of (just see the red X-A1). Instead it's a textured and solid exterior, despite its plasticky build quality.
As this is the most affordable entry-point into Fujifilm's system camera line-up, that's one of the biggest take-away points: unlike the high-end X-Pro1, X-T1 and X-E2 models, the X-A2 is all about being affordable, with a price tag of £419 with the 16-50mm lens included.
Its more playful selfie feature has moments of intelligence, others of questionable logic though. The way the 3-inch LCD screen flips around and can then be pulled further upwards on its bracket hinge is a clever way to clear the top plate protrusion of the camera so the screen is visible. But the panel isn't touch-sensitive, which for selfie-taking sakes doesn't make much sense - try handling the camera in one hand and reaching backwards for the shutter button and it feels wrong.
But that's unlikely to be the reason many will opt for this particular camera. It's all about price and, to an extent, looks. The shiny top panel with its exposure compensation and mode dials add to the old skool aesthetic, which is exactly what Fujifilm has built its X-series reputation on.
Lens-wise don't expect the 16-50mm to be outstanding - its f/3.5-5.6 maximum aperture limits the available light and control - and there's not the physical aperture ring of some of the better-specified XF-mount lenses. But you can upgrade if you wish, and there are plenty of pricier XF-mount optics out there to cater for upgrading.
However, and like its predecessor, the X-A2 sticks with a "normal" APS-C sensor, not the fancy-pants X-Trans CMOS II sensor of its superior cousins. Image quality is one and the same on paper - something we were limited to explore in its tethered-to-stand state - from the decent-enough 16-megapixel offering. That's befitting of the product's position in the range.
What is enhanced, however, is an updated autofocus system with Eye Detection AF to automatically focus on a subject's eyes for more precise portrait and selfie shots. That might go some way to countering the
twisted-hand selfie stance then.
In terms of autofocus speed, as is typical with Fujifilm, the system isn't the very fastest of all available compact system cameras on the market, but it'll give the likes of Canon's EOS M a run for its money. Shame there's no touchscreen though, which we would have found handy when shooting the motorcycle setup on the Fujifilm stand at the show.
Despite its selfie feature not standing out in a busying market, the Fujifilm X-A2 makes itself noticed by the way it looks and, perhaps most importantly, how much it costs. It doesn't set the X-series alight - we're bigger fans of the plusher, better built models higher in the range - but it finds its own self-centred space. Ideal for those on a budget.