Fuji has produced a whole series of highly successful series of compact system cameras based around its X-mount interchangeable lenses. The top models in the range, including the X-Pro1 and X-T1, have been the headline grabbers, but at the other end of the scale the lower-cost X-A1 and X-M1 have offered an affordable introduction to Fuji's new camera system.
We predicted in our Camera Rumors 2015 article that Fuji would replace one or both of these cameras in 2015, and we opted for an X-M2 – we were half right!
In fact, Fuji has opted to replace the cheapest model, the X-A1. This camera is the only one in the range to use a regular CMOS sensor rather than Fuji's more advanced (and more expensive) X-Trans design.
The new X-A2 also uses this regular CMOS sensor design, which suggests that it's an economic decision rather than a technical one. As it happens, the X-A1 produced great quality images without the X-Trans sensor, so the users this camera is aimed at are unlikely to notice any real performance shortfall.
Tilt that screen
The original X-A1 had a tilting screen, but the X-A2 extends the tilt angle to a full 175 degrees to make it easier to grab selfies. When you tilt it fully, this activates the X-A2's new Eye-detection AF mode which focuses on your subject's eyes – the one part of any portrait that must be in focus.
The X-A also has a Multi-Target AF mode, though we have no further details on this at the moment, and an Auto Macro AF mode. This is backed up by a new version of the 16-50mm kit lens which can focus right down to a distance of 15cm – that's just 7cm from the tip of the lens, and around half the minimum focus distance of the average DSLR or CSC kit lens.
Fuji is clearly targeting the point-and-shoot market with the selfie mode, but this doesn't mean the X-A2 is just a simple snapper – it's not. It has full program AE, aperture-priority, shutter-priority and manual exposure modes, twin command dials for adjusting shutter speed and lens aperture independently, for example (a rarity on an entry-level camera), and Fuji's full range of Film Simulation modes.
The X-A2 (and X-A1 before it) also benefit from Fuji's effective dynamic range expansion options which, when activated, help its cameras to capture a much wider brightness range than normal.
Classic Chrome and Advanced Filters
The X-A2 also comes with the new Classic Chrome film simulation mode just introduced on the X100T and updated X-T1. This produces the deeper colours and richer tones associated with old-fashioned transparency film, and these film simulations are one of Fuji's strengths.
You can also apply a range of Advanced Filters, including Toy Camera, Miniature, Dynamic Tone, Pop Color, SFocus, High Key, Low Key and Partial Color effects – and you can combine two images with Multiple Exposure mode.
Wi-Fi is built in and it works alongside the free Fujifilm Camera App for iOS and Android for one-touch image transfer to your smart device and Fuji's Instax Share SP-1 smartphone printer.
You'll also be able to get accessories including leather cases, a screw-on grip and screw-on grip and 11mm and 16mm macro extension tubes to extend the X-A2's close-focusing abilities even further. It will also accept other lenses from the Fuji X-mount range.
The X-A2 and new 16-50mm kit lens will be available from March 2015 in two colors, black or brown, at a price of £450 (about US$686, AU$841)
XC 16-50mm f/3.5-5.6 OIS II
This is a new version of Fuji's existing 16-50mm (24-75mm equivalent) kit lens for the X-A1. The 'XC' denotes a lighter, more compact design optimised for Fuji's smaller X-mount compact system cameras, but it's fully-interchangeable with Fuji's regular XF lenses.
The key difference is the shorter minimum focus distance of just 15cm. It has 12 elements in 10 groups with 3 aspherical elements, 1 ED element and 7 rounded diaphragm blades, which is the same as the old lens.
XC 50-230mm f/4.5-6.7 OIS II
Fuji has also updated its XC-series 50-230mm (76-350mm equivalent) telephoto zoom. Again, this is designed specifically for Fuji's smaller and lighter CSC models, but can be used with any X-mount camera.
The basic specifications are unchanged – 13 elements in 10 groups, with 1 aspherical element and 1 ED element – but Fuji has improved the optical image stablization to offer a 3.5-stop anti-shake capability rather than the old lens's stops.
The new 50-230mm lens will go on sale in March 2015 at a price yet to be announced.