Cameras

Fujifilm X-A5 review: The perfect camera to up your social media game

Yep, I did an #OOTD challenge

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When the Fujifilm X-A5 was announced, I was beyond excited.

You see, I own and shoot with a pink X-A3 for my stuff outside of work and my personal vlogging.

Still from boyfriend’s vlog. That’s me shooting with the XA-3!

And sure, the fact that it was a pretty bright pink was part of what convinced me to get the X-A3, but it’s not just the color that drew me to this shooter. I wanted a small camera that I could bring on trips without being too bulky, something my frail arms could actually hold up for times I do decide to vlog. My non-negotiable was that “flippity screen” (yes, folks, I made that term up), the camera screen that flips upwards so you can see yourself as you shoot or record.

So, when the XA-5 came out, I was curious to see what improvements this new mirrorless camera had.

Quick specs

If you’ve already noticed by now, this will not be your typical camera review. For the benefit of those looking for camera specs, I’ll list them here, but know that this would probably be the last I mention them in this whole piece. This review will revolve around my experience with the X-A5 in the context of my needs when it comes to cameras.

Here’s a photo of me with the X-A5 for those of you who, like me, get bored with specs 😅

The Fujifilm X-A5 is a mirrorless camera — this means it’s lighter and more compact than DSLRs. It’s equipped with a 24.2-megapixel APS-C image sensor and is capable of reaching ISO 12800 (which may mean good things for low-light shots). It’s also the first X series camera with phase detection which means that this device will focus twice as fast as previous cameras, like my X-A3. The body comes bundled with an XC 15-45mm f/3.5-5.6 kit lens and it has a built-in internal flash.

Now that we got that out of the way, let’s move on.

Looks matter

In true Fujifilm fashion, this camera looks like a pretty Instagrammable itself. The body has clean matte aluminum-silver details that extend to the buttons and the back. The body itself is textured and comes in black, brown, or pink. Of course, I pushed for the pink one.

The pink on this camera is a little brownish. My X-A3 was a brighter pink.

Button placements are about the same: On/Off toggle with the shutter button, mode dial, exposure compensation dial, and a function key up top, and the usual buttons like menu, video record, playback, and other shortcuts are on the back of the camera. The display is also a touchscreen for easier navigation. Basically, if you’ve used an X series Fujifilm camera before, you’ll know where everything is. 

This camera, dubbed Fujifilm’s smallest mirrorless camera, is light and it fits my hands perfectly. Although, I’d have to admit: There isn’t much of a size difference between the X-A5 and my trusty X-A3, save for the X-A3’s bigger kit lens.

The thing is, there’s no way I’m lugging around a big camera on vacation trips and the X-A5 (as well as my old X-A3) is a size that I find acceptable — it’s not as bulky and it’s small enough to fit in my bag with everything else I decide to bring around on trips.

Pointing and shooting

Fujifilm is a beloved brand in photography and it comes as no surprise that this camera can capture stunning pictures. I mean look at these sample shots…

Like, look at them! They can be stock photos!

The hot cocoa looks super delicious!

The color and the blur is on point

Although I know my camera basics, I am not the best in shooting or handling cameras, mine or otherwise. The X-A5 was amazingly easy to use, especially since I’m already familiar with the past model. Honestly, I’ve had my share of crappy photos but these samples actually impressed me. Low-light photos, however, are a different story. Like many devices on the market now, you don’t exactly get the best photos when lighting conditions aren’t ideal.

The X-A3, my previous camera, only had Wi-Fi connectivity which means that it could only transfer photos when my phone is connected to the camera’s Wi-Fi. This process was a little cumbersome as that connection gets cut when you switch back to an actual network to get on the internet. That is now a problem of the past. The XA-5 is equipped with Bluetooth connectivity so that mean transferring photos from camera to your phone is so easy — you can even do it automatically and while connected to the internet through Wi-Fi.

Also, tourist selfies can go from this:

Shoutout to the photobomb couple at the back!

To this:

I’m controlling the camera with the phone in my hand through the Fujifilm remote app

Yep, connecting the camera to the app allows you to take photos and videos remotely. This means you don’t need another person to take your photos; you can control everything with your phone.

#OOTD Challenge!

Now, I generally suck at #OOTDs and posed travel content in general but I felt it was time for a challenge. I’d seen a lot of Instagram influencers tout their Fujifilm cameras so I wondered: Could I take the same photos with this thing?

Since I was traveling with the boyfriend when I was testing out this camera, I enlisted his help and had him be my token Instagram Boyfriend — ah the things we do for work!

I stood at random picturesque spots in Hong Kong and did the best travel/wanderlust/OOTD poses I could muster (which always translated to me looking up, for some reason). Since I’m not so big on editing, I only used the VSCO app on my phone to slightly adjust these photos and add a filter. Again, transferring photos to my phone for editing (and eventual posting) was a breeze because of connectivity functions. The results are as follows:

Needless to say, I was pretty happy with the pics, despite my awkward and repetitive posing. Expect these shots to be on my Instagram feed soon.

Videos and vlogging

One of the big things I use my camera for is vlogging. The fact that this thing is light is a big plus for me because it’s the weight my frail arm can handle as I hold out the camera to shoot myself. I mean, I have no idea how people actually shoot video with those humongous vlogging rigs, but that’s not a problem with the X-A5.

Although I’ve shot vlogs with this camera, my main gripe with this thing is that there’s no movie mode on it. This makes it a little hard to preview settings on the screen for shooting video — a problem I’ve grappled with on my X-A3 as well. The camera is capable of recording in 4K, which is literally bigger videos, but the camera display lags too much on that setting so I’d suggest sticking to a lower resolution like 1080p.

What’s great though is that there’s a touch-to-focus feature on video now, something only previously found on the photo mode. The X-A5 is also equipped with an audio port so you can now improve your vlog audio with an external mic.

Is the Fujifilm X-A5 your GadgetMatch?

Obviously, there are bigger, badder, and more expensive cameras out there that do a whole lot that this dainty thing can’t. But, that’s not the point (and those cameras are probably not pink). This shooter is designed for a certain demographic: those, like me, who want a simple, easy-to-use device in a light, compact, and stylish body. It’s not the best camera out there and at its price point, that would be pretty impossible. Nonetheless, it’s a camera that I really enjoy using.

If you’re like me and you’re looking for a more compact camera for IG photos and social media posts with great phone and app integration, you should consider the X-A5. It’s a great camera for beginners and enthusiasts who are just wetting their toes in the pool of content creation.

The Fujifilm retails for US$ 599 in the US and PhP 34,990 in the Philippines.

SEE ALSO: Fujifilm X-A5 is brand’s smallest and lightest mirrorless camera

Cameras

The Sony A7S III is a low light video beast

And then some

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Finally! After years of waiting, we now have the successor to Sony’s video-centric mirrorless camera — the Sony A7S III.

It’s been six years since the release of the Sony A7S II, and its successor carries on the many features that made it an absolute must-have for videographers both amateur and professional.

Taking professional video further

The A7S III offers in-camera 4K recording up to 120 frames per second(1), 10-bit depth and 4:2:2 color sampling. It has a more flexible and efficient post-production workflow with a variety of advanced movie recording modes such as All-Intra and MPEG-H HEVC/H.265 coding (XAVC HS).

If you’re worried about a mutli-cam production, the Sony Alpha team has taken that into account as well. It has three color gamut settings S-Gamut, S-Gamut3, and S-Gamut3.Cine that make it easy to match with footage shot with other cameras.

Footage taken with the camera is also ready to go as is. The S-Log3 gamma curves as well as support for HLG (Hybrid Log-Gamma) picture profile produces footage with a minimal need for post-production.

The A7S III also allows up to 4K 60p 16-bit RAW output to an external recorder via HDMI Type-A connector, offering additional post-production flexibility.

BIONZ XR for better image quality

The A7S III is equipped with the new CMOS image sensor and BIONZ XR image processing engine. This all in the service of producing that legendary S-Series sensitivity with significantly enhanced color reproduction and texture renderings for improved overall image quality.

The base ISO has been lowered to 80, resulting in a normal range of 80-102,400 (expandable to 80-409,600 for video and 40-409,600 for stills). This provides more flexible ISO plus wide dynamic range with low noise at all settings.

It also improves AWB (Auto White Balance) performance with a new “Visible light + IR Sensor” that helps to achieve more precise white balance under artificial lighting.

Advanced AutoFocus

AutoFocus (AF) has been one of the features that Sony just has been absolutely good at and that carries over to the A7S III. It offers Fast Hybrid AF by combining phase-detection and contrast-detection AF.

This means it can track subjects over a wide area with outstanding speed, precision and smoothness, even when using a narrow depth of field. This is further enhanced by Sony’s e-mount lenses capable of Fine focus expression.

For environments with a lot of movement, Real-time Tracking and Real-time Eye AF are available to maintain constant focus on the intended subject.

Sony’s advanced Real-time Eye AF improves detection performance by 30% over the previous system. It ensures accurate, reliable detection, even when the subject’s face looks away.

The A7S III is now touch screen so real-time tracking can be done in that manner. Real-time Eye AF is automatically initiated when an eye is detected.

The camera includes several AF features for professional users including AF Transition Speed in seven settings. It has rack-focus transitions and five AF Subject Shift Sensitivity settings to customize how easily AF will switch or stay with the locked-on subject.

It’s now also possible to Touch Focus during manual focus mode on the LCD screen or remotely from the Imaging Edge Mobile application.

Better cooling implemented

Naturally, this much power will generate plenty of heat. The A7S III’s design takes this into consideration.

A newly developed unique heat dissipating structure keeps the image sensor and image processing engine temperatures within their normal operating ranges. This keeps things cool even during extended continuous recording sessions at 4K 60p 10-bit 4:2:2 video lasting an hour or more.

The new heat-dissipating structure requires no fan or cabinet vents allowing Alpha 7S III to maintain dust and moisture resistance.

Maximum stability

A camera built video can’t be without proper stabilization.The Sony A7S III is the first Alpha series camera to include Active Mode with 5-axis optical in-body image stabilization to support especially difficult handheld movie shooting.

It’s the first Alpha series E-mount body to feature a side-opening vari-angle rear screen. It’s perfect for gimbal-mounted shots, complicated angles, handheld operation and more.

The screen rotates sideways, up and down, and features a 3.0 type 1.44 million-dot (approx.) touch panel LCD monitor, for optimal visibility even in bright outdoor environments. FINALLY.

Not a slouch in photography

Just because it’s video-focused, doesn’t mean it neglected still images. The A7S III has a fast Hybrid AF system with 759 phase-detection AF points covering 92% of the image sensor.

Users can continuously shoot more than 1,000 uncompressed RAW images at up to 10fps, or up to 8fps in live view mode, with either the mechanical or electronic shutter.

High speed transfer, redesigned menu

The A7S III features two CFexpress Type A compatible media slots. These support UHS-I and UHS-II SDXC/SDHC cards for high write-and-read speeds while keeping the camera body compact.

CFexpress Type A cards are ideally suited to high-speed continuous RAW still image shooting as well as 4K 120pi movie recording at high bit rates.

High-speed data transfer to a PC is possible at about 1.7 times faster than that of SD card. The dual slots can be set to relay mode for extended continuous recording of even the highest bit rate data as well as simultaneous recording and sort by format type recording.

The menu system, which some have noted to be somewhat of a black hole, has been redesigned for easier navigation. Switching to video mode automatically prioritizes video settings. Same is true for the various photo modes.

Pricing and Availability

The new Sony A7S III Full-frame Interchangeable Lens Camera will be available in September 2020 for approximately US$3,499.99. It will be sold at a variety of Sony’s authorized dealers throughout North America.

In Singapore and the Philippines, it will be available in October 2020. Pricing will be announced soon.

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Cameras

Associated Press will equip their journalists with Sony mirrorless cameras

Including all AP photographers and videographers around the world

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Renata Brito covering protests in the Spain-France border

Sony has been known as one of the leading imaging brands. Recently, they teamed up with Associated Press (AP) to bring Sony cameras and lenses to all AP visual journalists around the world. If you’re not familiar, AP is a renowned global news agency with journalists coming from 250 locations in 100 countries.

Originally, AP has been relying on one brand for their stills, while a completely different brand for their video footage. In an interview conducted by DPReview with J. David Ake, AP’s Director of Photography (DoP), he told how “excited” he is considering both teams can now work together well.

He also stated that the whole equipment transition will take a little over a year. Completely switching from DSLR cameras to mirrorless cameras will help them shoot more silent — which is favorable to avoid disruptions when covering a particular event or scene.

For photographers, they’ll receive the ultra-fast Sony a9 II, which will also be the standard kit for most journalists. Meanwhile, most videographers and entertainment shooters will have the Sony a7R IV with a massive 61-megapixel sensor.

Georganne Moline competes in women’s 300-meter hurdles at the Weltklasse ZŸrich Inspiration Games at Mt. San Antonio College on Thursday, July 9, 2020, in Walnut, Calif. Athletes competed from seven different locations around the world. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis)

Other than that, Sony is also offering AP 4K XDCAM handheld video cameras and a range of Sony’s 57 E-mount lenses including top-of-the-line G Master models. The switch is favorable as Sony is the only company that offers native long-telephoto prime lenses for mirrorless cameras.

Other brands that offer mirrorless models use a completely different lens lineup and usually require mounting adapters that add more hassle when working around the field.

Moreover, AP and Sony will work harmoniously to improve the workflow and efficiency of field operations by testing 5G capabilities through its Xperia line. However, it was unclear whether they’re talking about the Xperia 1 II or the top-tier Xperia PRO variant.

You can find out more about the collaboration through their short video here.

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Cameras

Moments: Liwliwa, Zambales

Beach breaks are good for your health!

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Moments: Liwliwa, Zambales

Whenever life throws me a curveball, I make it a point to book a weekend by the beach. As far as my personal experience goes, the answer to most problems is a quick beach fix. Even in films, we’ve seen how basking under sunlight and hearing the sound of the ocean can improve our well-being.

Luckily, the Philippines is a country where beaches and islands are just a few hours away be it via bus, car, ferry, or plane. So one sunny weekend before the country went on lockdown, I went to a beach break where surfers and beach rabbits can de-stress from the hustle and bustle of urban life.

If you’re considering going on beach vacations at some point in your lives, here are some reasons why:

Elevate your mood

ICYDK, being exposed to sunlight can help boost our mood since it increases the release of  Serotonin — a feel-good hormone in our brain which helps us feel calm and happier. But before you soak some sunshine, make sure you apply sunscreen to protect your skin from harmful UV rays!

Relax your brains

City life is bustling and crowded; there’s so much going on. When near any body of water, particularly the ocean, our minds start to relax and ease from its soothing sounds. It’s easy for our brain to process, which allows us to go into a meditative state allowing your mind to breathe, just like it would during a yoga session or mindfulness exercise.

De-stress by doing nothing

We’re all busy with jam-packed schedules, why not let yourself recuperate by doing nothing? Not all beach trips have to be filled with tight itineraries; that’s a fun way to ruin a weekend break. Sometimes, all you need is to nap and leave your phone behind while under a big, beach umbrella, listening to the ocean’s lull. In my friend’s case, it’s read a book while lying on a hammock.

Anything blue won’t make you feel blue

Unlike the common blues, the blue sky we see when we’re at the beach doesn’t make us feel down. Unbeknownst to many, colors have a big impact on our mood. This is true especially for blue, which has a calming and relaxing effect. It’s a restorative color that rejuvenates your heart, mind, body, and soul just by looking at it.

Sand helps with fitness

Working out is one of our favorite activities on the beach, whether it’s mastering yoga positions, running through dunes early in the morning, or playing volleyball during sunset. Our bodies work harder just by stepping on sand because the soft surface requires greater force. However, the sand also absorbs the energy exerted, which guarantees low-impact on any strenuous activity we do.

Taking beach breaks on a beach break

If you’re new to the jargon, beach breaks are surfable waves breaking onto a beach. It’s different from Point Breaks, which produces long, perfect waves you can ride.

Both beach breaks and point breaks are mostly found near surf towns. In the Philippines, there are three accessible surfing spots when you come from Manila: San Felipe in Zambales, San Juan in La Union, and Baler in Aurora.

Taking a beach break on a surfing spot with lots of beach breaks can do wonders for your well-being. It has everything you need: the sun, the sand, the blue sky, and the sound of crashing waves.

Wherever your next ride would be, always arm yourself with a compact camera to document your adventures, and have your friends tag along. Moments are best enjoyed when you have companions.

 

Video was taken using Sony RX100 VII at Kapitan’s Liwa Surf Resort, San Felipe, Zambales


Moments is a travel video series that aims to show that anyone, using any device — whether a DSLR or an inexpensive smartphone — can capture life’s moments and make something beautiful out of it.

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