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

Canon EOS M100 hands-on: For your vlogging and #OOTD needs?

Compact and capable!

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If you’ve read any of my previous camera reviews (here and here), you’d know that I have specific needs for the shooters I use. I mostly use cameras for vlogging and #OOTD purposes so on top of the list of priorities are ease in use and having the perfect compact size that I can bring around hassle-free — again, there’s no way I’m lugging around a camera the size of my head, I’d rather spend that energy thinking up IG poses.

My camera research led me to try Canon’s EOS M100 camera, their entry-level mirrorless shooter that was released in the latter part of last year. I got a little hands-on time with this camera and here are some thoughts on it.

The M100 has a good size and weight, and when I say good size, I mean I’ll be able to fit it in most medium-size purses without trouble. It has a built-in flash, and the unit I got to try came with a 15-45mm lens which just means it’s a pretty versatile kit — and yes, you can achieve that bokeh effect with this.

If you decide to step up your shooting, you can also switch out this stock lens for something more to your liking since it has interchangeable lenses.

Up top is the power button, settings for either shooting photos or videos, a dial, and video record button.

The back sports a 3-inch LCD and more buttons to navigate through the camera menu. There’s also a dedicated button for the menu, camera connectivity, and playback.

Now, back to that screen. I love how it’s fully touchscreen. You can tap to focus, tap to take photos, and even use it to navigate through the camera menu (which isn’t a function that’s available in all cameras). The best part?

It rotates and becomes a flippity screen — perfect for vlogging! It shoots at 1080p and is capable of 60fps for those beautiful slow-mo videos. Unfortunately, there’s no audio jack on this camera so you’re stuck with the built-in mic for your vlogs.

This 24-megapixel shooter is also capable of Bluetooth, NFC, and Wi-Fi, meaning it connects to your phone so you’ll be able to control your camera remotely and seamlessly transfer photos which is the perfect setup for your #InstagramGoals. I shot a few quick samples with the camera and here they are in their unedited glory:

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Now, I’d have to spend more time with the M100 to be able to comment more on its performance but it’s looking like a real beginner powerhouse.

By the looks of it, the Canon EOS M100 might just be a great option for the casual users like me who’d want to shoot with more than just their smartphones for more on-point content. Priced at US$ 499 in the US, and PhP 41,998 (with two kit lenses included) in the Philippines, it may also be a pretty reasonable choice.

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Cameras

Moments: Mt. Maculot

Seen through the Apeman Camera A80

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Mt. Maculot is a popular mountain located in the province of Batangas in the Philippines, overlooking a picturesque view of Taal volcano, the world’s smallest active volcano.

Climbing this mountain means scrambling through rocks and steep obstacles — definitely an adventure you need to try for your next getaway.

See Mt. Maculot through the Apeman Camera A80.

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Cameras

Sony A7 III hands-on review

When the basic model is anything but

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The introduction of the A7 III follows last year’s 42-megapixel A7R III. Since this is the basic model, it’s a little cheaper, although nothing about it is basic, and we’ll tell you exactly why.

Design

The A7 III kept the basic compact look with a few but important changes. For one, we feel more confident holding the Sony A7 III now that it has a bigger grip than its predecessor’s. This is thanks to a bigger battery that extends its life significantly. More on battery life in just a bit.

Another thing we’re happy about is the use of a joystick for its autofocus point selection. Instead of using the rotating pad like its predecessor the A7 II, setting the autofocus point is now easier to do even on the fly. 

It has dual card slots with one slot rated for faster, high-performance memory cards. Just like the A7R III, the A7 III supports charging through USB-C.

A touchscreen display tilts both ways and works well for when you need a low-angle shot or when you shoot from above. However, it doesn’t flip over for selfies since it’s designed more for professional use.

This compact camera is not only built for photos — videographers are kept in mind just like in the previous series. I personally found the video record button on the previous Mark II a little awkward in the corner, but I’m happy to report that it has now been moved to a place that feels easier and more natural to reach.

Features

So what does the A7 III offer and how does it compare to its predecessor, the A7 II? Well, Sony still implemented the same resolution at 24 megapixels, but the A7 III now has a backside illuminated (BSI) design. This means it should do better in both low and bright lighting conditions compared to its CMOS counterpart. Sony’s 5-axis image stabilization also made its way here.

More importantly, the A7 III now features 693 phase-detection autofocus points that almost cover the entire frame just like on the higher-end Sony A9. For comparison, the previous A7 II only had a 117-point AF system.

With its BIONZ X image processor, the A7 III can shoot images faster. How fast? Its 35mm full-frame sensor can shoot still photos continuously at up to 10 frames per second.

Additionally, the ability to shoot up to 4K UHD makes the A7 III a well-rounded camera. There’s Wi-Fi, NFC, and Bluetooth on board for wireless connectivity.

Image quality

We’ve been using it to shoot both for our travels and work, and we like how its autofocus system is snappy and locks on to subjects quickly. Quality-wise, we’re impressed with its dynamic range maintaining details on both the bright and dark areas. Sony is proud that the A7 III can reach a max ISO of 204800. With that ISO range and the camera’s ability to reduce noise, we get nice photos even with the least amount of lighting.

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As mentioned earlier, the A7 III is an all-around shooter. It records at up to 4K resolution at 30fps, and for fans of slowing things down, the full-frame camera shoots up to 120fps at Full HD resolution. If you want more control over your footage, the A7 III can shoot on S-Log profiles just like the higher-end A7R III. In turn, this makes for easier and finer adjustments during post-production.

You can find video samples in our hands-on video embedded at the beginning of this article.

Battery

The same battery as the A9 and A7R III’s pumps life into the A7 III. Unlike from the Mark II series, the new battery has twice as much juice. Its updated processor also helps in making the battery more efficient. Sony claims that a single pack can shoot up to 710 shots before needing to be recharged.

In the real world, we were able to use it for more than one shooting session and as long as we start with a fresh pack, we didn’t experience problems running out of juice before our work was done.

Pricing

Here are the prices for the A7 III in the following countries:

  • United States – US$ 2,000 (body only)
  • Singapore – SG$ 2,899 (body only)
  • Philippines – PhP 115,999 (body only)

It’s half the price of Sony’s high-end A9, US$ 1,000 cheaper than the excellent A7R III, and costs just as much as Panasonic’s popular GH5 which has a much smaller Micro Four Thirds sensor.

Is this your GadgetMatch?

From the time we’ve spent with it, we could definitely say that it excels both in photo and video categories. It’s got a really fast autofocus system which eliminates wasted shots, an option for shooting 4K videos with impressive details, and an improved design that feels more ergonomic to use.

So if you’re looking for a solid all-around performer with a price that’s relatively affordable for what it is and what it does, the Sony A7 III might be for you.

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