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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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…
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:
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.
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.
Sony launches the A6600 and the A6100 mirrorless cameras
Can focus on subjects in just 0.02 seconds!
Even with recent camera launches, Sony is already expanding its camera family once again. Announced today, the company will launch two new APS-C mirrorless cameras. The flagship Alpha A6600 will replace 2016’s popular A6500 model. Meanwhile, the lower-tier Alpha A6100 will succeed the A6000 model.
Like its predecessor, the Alpha A6600 sports a 24.2-megapixel APS-C image sensor. It also comes with in-body 5-axis image stabilization, Real-Time AF tracking, and Real-Time Eye AF tracking. With 425 phase-detect points, the camera can track subjects in real time for both photo and video modes.
More importantly, the Alpha A6600 will feature Sony’s AI-powered Z-Bionz image processing tech. With the new technology, the flagship model can focus on a subject in an astonishing 0.02 seconds. As such, it can shoot in a blazing-fast 11 shots per second. Inside, the camera is also speedy. The new BIONZ X image processing system touts almost twice the processing speed of its predecessor.
The Alpha A6600 is also armed with impressive video-taking capabilities. The camera can take videos in 4K resolution. For ease of use, it comes with a 180-degree rear touch screen and a headphone/microphone jack.
Finally, the camera will have a larger Z-battery inside the package. Supposedly, it will last much longer than the previous A6500. More specifically, the battery will shoot up to 720 shots on just one charge.
The Alpha 6600 will launch in November for US$ 1,400. It also comes in a package with an 18-135mm kit lens for a pricier US$ 1,800.
For the budget conscious, the upcoming Alpha 6100 will pack almost the same features as the Alpha A6600 — except for the headphone jack or the bigger battery. For a lesser package, the camera will retail for US$ 750. Like the flagship model, a packaged variant with a 16-50mm kit lens will retail for US$ 850. Finally, a larger 55-210mm lens package will retail for US$ 1,100.
Learning street photography with the Canon EOS RP
A picture is indeed worth a thousand words
Street photography has been around for decades — way back in the early years of World War, famine, hunger, and financial crisis. It even sparked several debates whether it’s legal or ethical to do so. Although these questions remain unanswered, a lot of people have been more invested in street photography of late.
It may have started that way but it didn’t stay for long. Today, it’s not just limited to photojournalists, it has even hits casual and creative photographers. But the real essence of this photography genre is still intact: it is thrilling, challenging, and takes a lot of patience because it should be candid and in perfect timing, not staged.
Canon Philippines gave us an opportunity to learn more about shooting in streets with the guide of popular photojournalist, Jilson Tiu. We roamed around the streets of Intramuros and got a glimpse of life inside the walls.
It hasn’t been long since Canon released the EOS RP in the Philippines. Just a refresher, it is the early successor of the EOS R, which is Canon’s first full-frame mirrorless camera. It is also their second mirrorless camera with a smaller body and introduced other cut-down features to make it (a little bit) cheaper.
Canon has come a long way in making and manufacturing cameras. My first camera is a 60D, which was a prosumer king during its time. My initial hands-on with their newest mirrorless camera felt familiar. They have managed to keep the design language in a smaller form factor.
Enough with the technicals. As someone who has been into photography since high school, I can tell that street photography is specifically not my forte. But this doesn’t mean I won’t challenge myself. I learned so many things during this photo walk — so I’m giving you eight tips when shooting around the streets, together with my EOS RP experience.
1. Learn the basics
They are called “basics” for a reason. You should not go to war without learning how to shoot a gun — the same principle applies in photography. Learning how shutter speed, ISO sensitivity, and aperture work before you shoot is essential because you will not (and shouldn’t) rely on Auto Mode, especially that you are going to use DSLR or mirrorless cameras when shooting, which is a lot more versatile than using point-and-shoot cameras.
Other photography jargons such as Depth of Field (DOF), focal length, white balance, exposure bracketing, should follow along the way. Composing shots is also part of the basics, including placing subjects within the frame, exercising Rule of Thirds and/or Golden Ratio, and more. With the existence and vastness of the internet, searching for tutorials shouldn’t be a problem for most.
More over, technicals should come along the way. Even the lens you pick affects the quality of shots you take. Prime, kit, telephoto lenses, you name them. Photography isn’t as easy as it seems, but trust me, knowing the basics will be one of your biggest achievements and advances as an aspiring photographer (or photojournalist).
2. Look for human elements
Imagine walking around the streets without any human element, do you think street photography would still make sense? Human element creates several stories in the shots you capture. Street photography isn’t literally talking about capturing the streets, it’s more about capturing the culture between people and the streets you pass by.
One misconception about street photography is when photographers take their posing models as subjects, and street as a background element — put simply, that’s not street photography.
3. Know one’s story
To whoever is reading this, I would admit that I’m socially awkward. A big chunk of me being an introvert holds me back from talking to people. If you are really focused on doing street photography, this tip is very important in establishing connections and making relationships as you shoot more individuals in the long run.
Once you find at least one (or several) human element/s you want to capture, it shouldn’t stop there. Talk to them. Ask them about life, how is their day going, other questions to follow. These questions may sound simple but it helps in creating a sense of belongingness, even if you are both strangers to each other. It would also feel authentic when you talk to them more, even when you are both focused on the different things you’re doing.
Taking the shot above as an example. Although he is busy with his job as a barber, he still entertained our group because we took the initiative to speak with him. Talking to people contributes to the candidness of the photograph. It did not disrupt the things we all did — he even enjoyed the small talk with our group. Let your single photograph say a thousand words to those who will see it.
4. Respect all things around you
Part of having moral ascendancy is respecting each and everything around you — not limited to life forms such as people, animals, and plants, even non-living things alike.
In this particular shot, an old man got mad at our group for suddenly capturing this dog. After trying to ask for permission, he then decided to let us shoot. There are times when people are not amused seeing cameras pointed at them nor at the things they own. If it happens to you, respect their privacy and decision. You should not argue and you definitely need to walk away before you get yourself in trouble.
5. Stop making poverty an aesthetic
I have seen a lot of street photographers who are making poverty as an aesthetic. In connection to tips two and three, showing one’s respect is not imitating the way they live or how they interact with other people.
Exhibit A: You want to do a staged photoshoot with models pretending they are beggars.
Exhibit B: You were awed when you saw two siblings sleeping along the footbridge. You decided to take photos of them and shared it on Social Media without their consent.
Social Media exposure would raise awareness about their situation, but do you think it would make them happy if they knew they were photographed without consent? If no talk or story-telling happened in between, it is not street photography anymore. The essence of knowing their life nor story never even happened. It is unethical to make one’s living condition a part of your Instagram or Bēhance portfolio — so is exaggerating one’s situation as a staged shoot.
6. Post-processing is normal, #NoFilter shots are not bragging rights
Cameras and lenses are not created equally. Although my experience with the Canon EOS RP is outstanding and its RF 28-70mm f/2L USM lens does the job well, there were times that the shot I took was not aligned to what I wanted the outcome to be.
Post-processing isn’t cheating. There’s nothing wrong with fixing your photography mistake (or worse, a hardware mistake). In fact, it already takes place the moment you press the shutter button on your camera — that is why people should not make #NoFilter shots a big deal. If you are one among the clumsiest users who forgot to set RAW shooting, you have no choice but to stick with your .jpg files.
Let’s say you forgot to adjust the Custom WB (White Balance) while shooting, post-processing apps can help you fix it. You can even do other processing techniques if you want to convey more feelings in your shots. It is a part of experimentation, and the values in each photo you edit are not something that’s always definite.
In this particular photo, I adjusted the curves that helped it achieve a faded look instead of deep shadows, making it feel softer with minimized shadows and contrast. I minimized the highlights because of the harsh sunlight hitting the tile bricks. I also moved the slider to the warmer side for it to look lively. Color science says that photos on the cool side feels melancholic and lifeless.
I suppose not everyone is computer-literate. There are mobile apps you can try when it comes to post-processing your shots — such as VSCO, Snapseed, and Lightroom Mobile, a toned-down version of the PC-based Adobe Lightroom. Take note that mobile apps may have limited functions, especially because they are free.
Reminder: Before all of you use (and abuse) the power of post-processing, you should have already understood the first tip. Not to sound like a broken record but it is about understanding the basics. Nowadays, a lot of people rely on post-processing without knowing the essentials — maybe it’s time to learn them properly.
7. Capture the scenery, too
Imagine you are trying to shoot on top of a building. You peeked at your camera’s viewfinder, adjusted the focal length, and tried fitting human elements within the camera’s frame. Suddenly, you realized that the scenery makes them stand out more — that’s what this tip is for.
Street photography should not be limited to street per se. As long as the background element does not overpower the human element or subject, you are good to go. The lush greenery along this golf course make the golfers stand out more. The differences in their movement make it feel dynamic, candid, and emphasizes their actions of playing golf.
8. Explore unusual elements to shoot
Last but definitely not the least is all about looking for odd elements that will make you and your composition different from others. Staged photographs can be imitated, but not the candid ones. That’s why learning the basics matter, so you can compose shots in a split second — every shot you take makes a lot of difference.
Use juxtaposition when possible in order to convey two contrasting elements in one frame. In the shot above, I was aiming to describe the situation of the Philippines (or other similar nations) today — the biker represents that Filipino citizens are freely moving around, while the window grilles represent that we are restricted to freely express ourselves due to government policies and sanctions (Threat to Press Freedom, anyone?).
I captured more than ten photographs in the same location just to get my desired composition. If you think this goes against the essence of shooting candid photos, it’s not. I do not personally know him nor directed him to pass by. Misconceptions like this can cause trouble among the photography community, and you should avoid that.
Another candid shot I took talks a lot about growing up and getting old. Having the same walking direction between the old man and the children tells us that time is constant. There is nothing that can stop us from accepting more responsibilities and having different kinds of interest as we grow up.
Photography throughout my years
I was born knowing what traditional film cameras look like and how they function. I was even there when VGA, 3-megapixel and 5-megapixel cameras in phones made headlines. Photography has come a long way, and they still keep improving. It’s not even limited to professional cameras anymore that newer smartphones with excellent mobile photography prowess can now be considered as contenders.
As I was saying, street photography is not my forte. But from my experience using the Canon EOS RP coupled with a new RF lens system (vs the old EF lens mount), capturing photos still felt like I was using my old 60D because of the familiar feel and function. After using different cameras throughout my creative journey, Canon still lives up to their name for creating a big name in the camera industry.
Fujifilm X-T30 Review: Remembering my love for photography
An ode to how I first fell in love
I fell in love with photography when I was around 10. There was a different kind of glee whenever my hands carried a compact camera. My younger self would capture photos that I find beautiful, even things with little to no significance like walls, sidewalks, and ugly buildings. It’s probably the reason why I pursued photography and made a career out of it. I just love photography so much.
Soon after joining GadgetMatch, I found myself using my camera less and less. I started leaning towards smartphone cameras, taking snaps to be uploaded on social media and sample photos for our smartphone reviews and camera shootouts. Everything became for work and I forgot why I love photography.
When I got my hands on Fujifilm’s latest camera, the X-T30, there was a yearning inside me — to go around, to see places, to take on an adventure. And I did.
An ode to my love for photography
The Fujifilm X-T30 made me remember why I fell in love with photography. It was like the days when I was 10 years old, carrying a compact camera innocently. The X-T30 felt like an invitation to try photography, once again.
Its vintage look is like a trip down memory lane. It brims with nostalgia and takes you to the wonders of your humble beginnings. No wonder I felt like a kid again, curious about the world and ready to explore.
But despite the classic approach, the Fujifilm X-T30 still has a modern and sleek feel to it. It’s something that youngsters would love to use during their travels; something that will let them flaunt their love of photography without appearing like a professional photographer.
Going back to where it first started
The X-T30 made me want to use cameras again instead of smartphones during my travels. When I went on an adventure, I kept my smartphone in my bag and focused on taking photographs. The X-T30 is lightweight at 383g and was made with portability in mind. Even though I have thin, fragile arms, I can carry the camera with just one hand.
Despite using a Fujifilm camera in my earlier trips, I found it confusing to navigate Fujifilm’s dials and other functions. It’s because I’ve been using Sony’s mirrorless cameras for more than two years already that I’ve grown accustomed to its design.
Nonetheless, you don’t have to be a quick learner to figure out Fujifilm’s cameras, especially the X-T30. Once you start getting the hang of it, you’ll be unstoppable in taking lots of photographs. It packs a lot of camera modes, complemented by easily accessible controls to suit different situations.
It’s also easier to grip and hold, with ample space for your hand beside the controls. It has a tiltable touchscreen LCD monitor too, so you can take amazing low and high angle shots.
With this camera, you will truly love to fall in love with photography again. I repeat: Photography, not mobile photography. There’s a difference.
Reminding you of your potential
Just like every mirrorless camera out there, the Fujifilm X-T30 can provide my photography needs. But what sets this camera apart from its competitors is its ability to be a beast in photography, despite being small. Some dubbed it a “Little Giant,” and I couldn’t agree more.
The X-T30 sports an even better sensor and processor, the latest X-Trans CMOS 4 and X-Processor 4, respectively. With the combination of these two, it’s easier to take photos quickly with outstanding quality. Your photos will look rich in colors and tones and you can now track a moving subject faster with its improved face- and eye-detection AF. It’s even more accurate as it can let you select faces and focus on them.
Additionally, you can take photos swiftly, too! The mechanical shutter will let you shoot continuously at up to 8.0fps in full resolution, while the electronic shutter allows a high-speed continuous shooting of up to 30fps. Oh, you can take 4K/30P videos too!
This camera just reminded me of my potential when I was just starting, and the potential that I can still achieve. How one can dream big and believe in itself that it can do a lot of things. Despite being small and compact, the Fujifilm X-T30 is one powerful camera.
To put my heart on my sleeve once again
In this age, photographs are meant to be shared. However, taking photographs with the X-T30 didn’t feel like I want to brag about my shots. Yes, I’m happy (and proud) that I didn’t lose my skill and passion, but the photographs I took felt too personal. It’s as if an array of emotions linger in every photo, and personal stuff makes me shy away from the spotlight since it makes me vulnerable.
It’s just like falling in love with someone. We’re afraid of showing off our emotions (or works, in this scenario) that we tend to avoid confronting these mixed feelings — ranging from joy, fear, bliss, and frustration.
Using the Fujifilm X-T30 made me take photos for my own consumption and keep it to myself — just like what I do when I love someone.
On another note, taking photographs with the X-T30 made it less about me and more about the world around me. When I was using a smartphone, I’ve always taken selfies and asked people to take my photo so I can post it on Instagram. This time around, it’s just me, the camera, and the moments waiting to be captured during my adventures.
Even our producer Vincenz focused more on his surrounding during his travels. Here’s an example of the night shot he perfected by being in tune with the world around him:
Knows how to match you (and your aesthetic)
What I love about Fujifilm is its unique Film Simulation modes. It lets me use a certain film as a preset to be applied to the photo I’m taking. For instance, my favorite is ETERNA, which subdues the color as if it’s a still from a movie. Take a look at the example below:
While it’s better to apply our favorite presets and our own editing style during the post-processing, Fujifilm’s Film Simulation modes made me feel like it knows me, my taste, preference, and aesthetics. And even though I have a particular set of style that I like, there are still a lot of films to choose from. I think what I’m saying is we all deserve something (or someone) that offers more than what else you want — and the X-T30 has that.
Some of the film simulations are Fujifilm’s very own photographic films: PROVIA, which delivers radiant colors exactly as you remember them, and Velvia, which provides high saturation and vivid colors.
There are also ASTIA offering soft tones for outdoor portraits, CLASSIC CHROME for creating subtle colors and muted tones, ACROS for a monochromatic shot that is rich in texture and deep blacks. Furthermore, PRO Neg. Hi and PRO Neg. Std both offers natural skin tones with the former creating high-contrast portraits while the latter produces realistic and softer tones in portraits.
There are stories that we can keep in our hearts forever
While on the boat looking out on the horizon, it dawned on me that I haven’t checked my smartphone in a while. I started living in the moment. One second, I’ll be stunned by the gorgeous landscapes we encountered along the way. Another second, I’m out shooting these vivid sceneries.
I’m astounded with how Fujifilm made me focus on capturing these wonders. It’s also amazing how it lets me keep these stories and it hit me: We can store these memories in different ways — it can be uploaded on social media, saved on our smartphones’ clouds and galleries, or for old souls, printed on a scrapbook and kept in a photo album.
Photographs, for me, are forms of moments translated into something tangible. Fujifilm lets you decide how to keep these memories. It remains modern in a way that it lets you transfer your photographs to your smartphone through its Camera Remote app and Bluetooth connectivity. It also has a micro USB cable for you to connect it to your laptop or PCs, since I’m sure some of you would opt to print your photographs the old-fashion way.
Is the Fujifilm X-T30 your GadgetMatch?
If you’re looking for a travel companion or getting back into photography as a hobby, the Fujifilm X-T30 is the right match for you. It’s basically a down-sized X-T3 complete with style and power.
The Fujifilm X-T30 starts at a retail price of PhP 52,990 (US$ 1,012) for its body only and PhP 75,990 (US$ 1,452) for the 18-55mm lens kit bundle. It’s now available in stores nationwide.
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