It's been less than three months since Fujifilm introduced the X-M1, the least expensive entry into its excellent X-series of mirrorless cameras, but the company is now making an even more aggressive play for the lower end of the market. Fujifilm just announced the X-A1, an even more affordable X-series camera that includes nearly all of the features found in the X-M1. The highlight feature of the X-A1 is its price: $599.95 will nab you the camera body plus a 16-50mm F/3.5-5.6 lens. That's a full $200 less than the X-M1, but you're giving up a bit in the image sensor department. While the X-A1 comes with a 16.3-megapixel APS-C sensor, just like its more expensive counterparts, it lacks the X-Trans sensor that reduces the moiré banding effect and false colors that can crop up in photos. It's the first camera in Fujifilm's X-series to remove the X-Trans sensor, a move undoubtedly made to meet the X-A1's desired price point.
While the loss of the X-Trans sensor is disappointing, it appears to be the only compromise that Fujifilm had to make on the X-A1. It has the same EXR Processor as the X-M1, which gives the camera a half-second startup time and a lag of only 0.05 seconds between shots. The X-A1 also features the same ISO range (100 - 25,600) 3-inch, 920,000-dot LCD screen, and new Wi-Fi photo transfer features found in the X-M1, as well. Unfortunately, the X-A1 also foregoes a viewfinder — users will have to be content with the aforementioned tilting LCD found on the back of the camera. That omission isn't surprising for a camera in this price range, but it's still a bit of a letdown given how excellent Fujiflm's viewfinders typically are. Video features are identical, as well: you can shoot in 1080p at 30 FPS, and there's a built-in stereo microphone for capturing audio.
Identical to the X-M1 in almost every way but one: price
In addition to copying nearly all of the X-M1's features, the new X-A1 is almost identical from a physical standpoint. It features the same retro style as the rest of the X-Series, and as always it's an attractive look. The vintage feel still doesn't come across as dated in the least, though its not nearly as striking as it was when Fujifilm first took this direction with the X100 back in 2011. While we haven't gotten our hands on the X-A1 yet, it seems likely that the new camera will continue Fujifilm's tradition of extremely solid X-Series cameras. Its weight and control layout is identical to the X-M1, so it really feels as if Fujifilm simply cut the X-Trans sensor to bring the price down.
While the $699.95 (body only) X-M1 was priced pretty high for a camera without a viewfinder, the $599.95 X-A1 camera plus lens combo should compete favorably against other mirrorless cameras without viewfinders, like the Sony NEX-5T. Fujifilm's also adding to its lineup of X-mount lenses with a XC 50-230mm F/4.5-6.7 zoom lens, which will retail for $399.95 when it is released in November. While the maximum aperture range is fairly mediocre, this new lens is $300 cheaper than Fujifilm's existing 55-200mm F3.5-4.8 zoom lens, so it should make for a good entry-level telephoto option for those new to the X-Series. The X-A1 with its 16-50mm kit lens will be available in black and indigo blue finishes later this month.