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It may be Fujfilm's entry-level compact system camera (CSC), but the X-A2 has a high quality feel and a metal body. It's also compatible with Fuji growing range of high quality lenses. It may not have the acclaimed X-Trans CMOS sensor of other X-series CSCs, but the 16.3Mp APS-C format CMOS sensor and the EXR Processor II engine put in a good performance and are capable of delivering high quality images.
The native sensitivity range of ISO200-6400 gives reasonable flexibility for those who want to shoot raw files, while those who are happy to shoot JPEGs (many of the target audience are likely to) will find that they can take things a bit further with a range of ISO100-25,600. I'd caution against using the uppermost value unless you are content to keep viewing or print sizes small.
Fuji's new selfie-friendly automatic focusing option is useful for those who like taking pictures of themselves (doesn't everyone?) and the fact that the new kit lens is capable of focusing at up to 15cm means that you don't have to have super-long arms or a selfie-stick.
While there are similarities between the X-A2 and models further up Fuji's CSC range, such as the X-E2, there are inevitable compromises in the specification to keep the price down. The most significant of these is the lack of a viewfinder.
Although there are a few occasional slips, the X-A2 generally delivers high quality images that have pleasant colors and nice contrast. The autofocus system also usually gets subject sharp quickly and low sensitivity images have a good level of detail.
The tilting screen provides a nice clear view and when the Sunlight Mode is activated it's possible to compose images even in quite bright sunlight. However, this can fool you into thinking that the images will be too bright and exposure needs to be reduced, so it's important to keep an eye on the histogram view – not all novices will appreciate this.
As I've said before, I like the results produced using Fuji's Classic Chrome Film Simulation mode a lot. They may not be 100% accurate, but they have a contemporary appearance and are ideal for lifestyle and portrait photography.
The X-A2's control layout is generally good and both the main and Quick menus are easy to navigate and use. It would be nice to be able to customize elements of them, however, so they could be tailored to your own preferences.
My biggest dislike about the X-A2 is that it doesn't have a viewfinder. There are plenty of other compact and compact system cameras that don't have a viewfinder, so it's not especially unusual in this regard. However, viewfinders seem to be making a comeback in compact cameras, so we may be returning to a time when it is considered a fundamental part of a camera.
As well as giving you a better view of a scene in bright conditions, a viewfinder enables you to cut out surrounding distractions and immerse yourself in photography more effectively than you can when shooting on a large screen on the back of a camera.
That said, there are times when a screen, especially a tilting one like on the X-A2, or even better a vari-angle screen, is a real godsend – when you're shooting from a low angle for example.
There's no level display to show if the camera is at an angle or not, however.
Fujifilm X-series cameras are premium models that generally appeal to experienced and enthusiast photographers. It's great that Fuji hasn't compromised significantly on the build of its entry-level compact system camera. The X-A2 feels very nice in the hand, the controls are responsive and easy to locate and image quality is good. If you're not bothered about having a viewfinder, it makes a good first interchangeable lens camera.