Fujifilm X-A1 camera: The X-M1, but cheaper

For its entry-level ILC, Fujifilm swaps out the X-Trans sensor and gives the camera a less snazzy finish.

Lori Grunin

Lori Grunin

Senior Editor / Advice

I've been reviewing hardware and software, devising testing methodology and handed out buying advice for what seems like forever; I'm currently absorbed by computers and gaming hardware, but previously spent many years concentrating on cameras. I've also volunteered with a cat rescue for over 15 years doing adoptions, designing marketing materials, managing volunteers and, of course, photographing cats.

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3 min read

Fujifilm continues to float its X Series cameras downstream, chopping specs as they drift. For the new X-A1 interchangeable-lens camera, what's gone is the X-Trans sensor, the primary highlight of its more expensive sibling the X-M1. It also has a cheaper, single-color finish -- all-black or all-blue. In all other respects, it's pretty much the same as the X-M1. That said, the sensor and the stylish two-tone bodies are really what makes the X-M1, so I'm not quite sure what the attractions of the A1 are relative to the competition.

Here are some selected alternatives:

  Fujifilm X-A1 Fujifilm X-M1 Olympus PEN E-PM2 Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF6 Samsung NX2000 Sony Alpha NEX-5T
Sensor (effective resolution) 16.3MP CMOS
16.3MP X-Trans CMOS
16.1MP Live MOS 16MP Live MOS 20.3MP CMOS
16.1MP Exmor HD CMOS
23.6mm x 15.6mm 23.6mm x 15.6mm 17.3mm x 13mm 17.3mm x 13mm 23.5mm x 15.7mm 23.5mm x 15.6mm
Focal-length multiplier 1.5x 1.5x 2.0x 2.0x 1.5x 1.5x
Sensitivity range ISO 100 (exp)/ ISO 200 - ISO 6400/ISO 25600 (exp) ISO 100 (exp)/ 200 - ISO 6400/25600 (exp) ISO 200 - ISO 25600 ISO 160 - ISO 12800/ ISO 25600 (exp) ISO 100 - ISO 25600 ISO 100 - ISO 25600
Continuous shooting 5.6fps
8fps (with AF/exposure fixed on first shot and IS off)
19 JPEG/15 raw
4.2fps (with AF fixed on first exposure)
unlimited JPEG/7 raw
11 raw/15 JPEG
(10fps with fixed exposure)
Viewfinder None None Optional bundled None None Optional
Hot shoe Yes Yes No No Yes No
Autofocus 49-area
Contrast AF
Contrast AF
35-area Contrast AF 23-area
Contrast AF
21-point Contrast AF 99-point phase detection, 25-area contrast AF
AF sensitivity range n/a n/a n/a -3 - 18 EV n/a 0 - 20 EV
Shutter speed 30 - 1/4,000 sec.; bulb to 60 min; 1/180 x-sync 30 - 1/4,000 sec.; bulb to 60 min; 1/180 x-sync 2 - 1/4,000; bulb; 1/250 x-sync 60 - 1/4,000 sec.; 1/160 x-sync 30 - 1/4,000 sec.; bulb to 4 minutes; 1/180 x-sync 30 - 1/4,000 sec.; bulb; 1/160 sec x-sync
Metering 256-zone 256-zone 324-area 1,728-zone 221-segment 1,200-zone
Metering range n/a n/a 0 - 20 EV 0 - 18 EV 0 - 18 EV 0 - 20 EV
Flash Yes Yes Included optional Yes Included optional Included optional
Wireless flash n/a Yes No No No No
Image stabilization Optical Optical Sensor shift Optical Optical Optical
Best video 1080/30p H.264 1080/30p H.264 1080/30p @ 20Mbps H.264 QuickTime MOV 1080/30p H.264 MPEG-4 1080/30p; 1,080x810/24p H.264 MPEG-4 AVCHD 1080/60p @ 28Mbps, 1080/ 24p @ 24Mbps
Audio Stereo Stereo Stereo Stereo Stereo; mic input Stereo, mic input
LCD size 3-inch tilting
920,000 dots
3-inch tilting
920,000 dots
3-inch fixed touch screen
460,000 dots
3-inch tilting touch screen
1.04m dots
3.7-inch fixed capacitive touch screen
1.2m dots
3-inch tilting touch screen
921,600 dots
Wireless connection Wi-Fi Wi-Fi Optional Bluetooth Wi-Fi, NFC Wi-Fi, NFC Wi-Fi, NFC
Battery life (CIPA rating) 350 shots 350 shots 360 shots 330 shots 340 shots 430 shots
Dimensions (inches, WHD) 4.6 x 2.6 x 1.5 4.6 x 2.6 x 1.5 4.3 x 2.5 x 1.3 4.4 x 2.6 x 1.5 4.7 x 2.5 x 1.4 4.4 x 2.4 x 1.6
Body operating weight (ounces) 11.6 (est.) 12.8 9.5 (est.) 11.4 (est.) 8.5 (est.) 9.7 (without flash)
Mfr. price n/a $699 (body only) n/a n/a n/a $599.99 (body only)
$599.99 (with 16-50mm lens) $799 (with 16-50mm lens) $499.99 (with 14-42 power zoom lens) $599.99 (with 14-42mm lens) $649.99 (with 20-50mm i-Function lens) $699.99 (with 18-55mm lens)
n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a
Ship date September 2013 July 2013 October 2012 April 2013 June 2013 October 2012

There are a lot of options at $600 and based on past experience, I'm not sure Fujifilm's traditional sensors can match Sony's or even Samsung's quality. However, it will be an interesting experiment to compare the X-A1 and the X-M1; since the two cameras have the same EXR II processor and lens, we'll actually be able to compare apples-to-apples on the image quality.

Fujifilm also adds another lens to its stable, the XC50-230mm fF4.5-6.7 OIS. This type of slow, telephoto zoom is typical of a third-alternative kit-quality lens offering (after a 55-200mm) that typically shows up in dual-lens bundles. It's scheduled to ship in November for $399.95.

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