Replacing your ageing Fuji superzoom…Pt1


and if so what ?

I have never known Fuji to be so tight lipped as they have been this year.

Their usual form is to let it be known some of what we can expect in the new year and to date even the best Photo Rumor sites have had little to offer other than the planned firmware updates for some X series cameras will be delayed.

It’s pretty obvious where Fuji thinks their camera divisions’ future lies, and at present that would appear to be the continuation of the X series cameras. A pretty smart move really as Fuji have been able to capture the “Retro Styled” range camera look very successfully. Couple that with very good performance and image quality and you have a recipe for success.

The X series exude style and class right across the range from the designed for the ladies handbag X-F1 to the top of the line X-pro 1.

If like me you are looking for a replacement for your aging Fuji, the way forward may not be all that clear cut. If one were to speculate as to the likely offerings for 2014, my feeling is we will see an HS50 upgrade, much like the HS20 to HS30 upgrade, minor improvements and one or two models continued in the Compact Travel Zoom range. All else will revolve around the X series.

This is not good news for those of us ( like myself ) who are hoping for a XS1 style hybrid camera to take us forward. The market place is definitely ready for quality bridge-cameras now more than ever. Not all of us want to go the interchangeable lens camera route. Had the X-S1 not been plagued by problems, better advertised, and come in a little under a entry level DSLR kit price-tag we would have seen a much better received camera.

The IQ and lens of the X-S1 is stellar, Iv’e seen images from competent photographers that rival DSLR’s. The sensor, once the bloom issue was sorted was excellent as is the lens.

FujiFilm-XS-1
Oh so close, what could have been brilliant.

If like me you really don’t want to tote round extra lenses, but want a camera for all occasions the X-S1 could have & should have been the logical choice for those of us wanting better IQ and performance from the HS20/30’s

With the advent of the HS50 were saw much better ergonomic performance ( really fast AF for example) but very limited sensor improvement if any. Having seen the results from many HS50 owners I remain unconvinced that the IQ is any better than my HS20. In point of fact I think the HS20 bests the HS50 marginally in EXR modes. This is one of many reasons why I never updated my camera over the past couple of years. I’m still waiting to see if Fuji are going to get it right with the HS series. If not what does that leave us with?

Leaving aside the X-F1 for now  as we are going to concentrate on Fuji’s that can offer us at least part of what the bridgecamera can do, whats the first model worth our attention.

We will start our searched based on price as our main criteria. In other words how much bang can we get for our hard earned buck? The yard stick for this project will be the $1000.00NZD an under category. Why this figure? Well remember that we are looking for a replacement zoom camera and traditionally they are in the sub $1000 range. All prices are in New Zealand dollars so you will need to convert it to your currency to get a better evaluation of the pricing.

First model off the shelf is the new Fujifilm X-A1. The basic package contains the X-A1 body and a 16-50 f3.5 to 5.6 kit lens, which is a nice lens as a starter. It would have been better if the range of the lens was f2.8 to f4.5 but that will jump the price.

The X-A1 really doesn’t lack in any area other than the lack of an EVF. You get an 16.3 APS-C Cmos sensor as found in many DSLRs’, stereo sound, built in Wi-Fi, 1080 video, excellent high ISO performance.

Watch this video for a more comprehensive walk through the X-A1’s features.

Be prepared to spend a little time watching this as they cover a lot and the video is 35 minutes duration.

This is a very nicely specced camera and provides a nice package at a very affordable rate. Photowarehouse has the list price including tax at $968.00 NZD and that’s a pretty sharp price considering the X-S1 when launched was $1295NZD.

There is however one problem with this camera and its the same for the entire X-series interchangeable lens cameras. Not enough zoom. The standard kit lens as seen is equivalent to 24 to 70mm on a full frame camera. So that’s not a lot of zoom. Because you have a larger sensor you could probably crop your images to the equivalent of a 150mm range but there is nothing like having a very crisp image at a higher zoom.

Fuji do make a range of lenses to suit these cameras. Good news I hear you say. Well not so fast, the Fujifilm XF55-200 f3.5-4.8R LM Lens at $1159.00NZD (and the price has dropped too), makes for a very serious jump in price, well outside our planned spend.

And this is the major drawback for anyone contemplating purchasing a newer generation X series camera, the basic kit may cost under a $1000 but the price of good lenses to get you somewhere into the region of what you are replacing is astronomical.

Consider that at today’s prices you can buy a Panasonic Lumix G3 with a dual lens kit for $998.00NZD and you are suddenly into whole other class of camera and image quality easily the equal of the X series Fuji’s.

All of a sudden we are into another class of camera, and as yet really haven’t found a all in one replacement for our aging Fuji. It doesn’t get any easier either as we will see in the future.

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