Fuji X-A10: A selfie snapper for Generation Snowflake
Do you ever feel that something just isn't for you? Baseball caps worn back to front still bearing the size label, for instance, eyelashes for car headlights or the cross-cultural culinary abomination that is the stuffed-crust duck, spring onion and hoisin sauce pizza?
The fact that such things exist however means that there must be someone out there for whom they are the sine qua non of fashion, automotive and gustatory excellence respectively. That I don't "get" that is my problem, isn't it?
It’s sort of how I feel about the new X-A10. This latest addition to the Fuji X-Series, I fully confess, leaves me cold. Looking at the landing pad on the Fujifilm.com portal gives a strong hint as to why. Under "Features" the main headings are: 1) Retro Design and Operability, 2) Selfie and Macro, 3) Wireless Communication, 4) Image Quality, 5) Versatile Functions.
Just read that again. I'll wait here for you.
Yes, your eyes do not deceive you. Image Quality comes in fourth in line to the throne. The Overview is in the same vein: "Compact and Stylish" narrowly beats "180-degree tilting LCD and Portrait Enhancer for Selfie" for top selling point. Judging from the images that accompany the write up, Fuji have even gone so far as to provide a wireless remote control kitten to enable you to take really cute selfies. I clutched at the straw of macro being a featured capability but of course, silly me, that is so that you can take pictures of your dinner.
At least the flash is billed as "Super Intelligent" which is probably more than one can say for the target audience...
Did someone breathe the word "curmudgeon"? Yes, probably. But I'm making a serious point while having a bit of fun. The extent to which I am not in the target demographic for this camera is similar to the extent to which I am light years away from being best mates with a small green fuzzy photographer on a planet orbiting Proxima Centauri. I'm simply not by any stretch of the imagination a photogenic young self-obsessed over-sharing girl. No, I'm not being sexist, but it is clear from the press release copy and the images on the Fuji portal that the intended market for these cameras is in their 20s, is interested in photography as a means of social communication and doesn't care about f-stops or shadow detail. What they do care about, Fuji is hoping, is getting better results than they can with the woefully inadequate cameras built into their portable telephones.
So this is a camera tailored for Generation Snowflake. It is stylish, chic, simple to get good results from and light and easy to carry. It makes selfies and snack snaps simple. There's no viewfinder, no touchscreen (well, I like that bit) and only limited control. It's a friendly, Hello Kitty, fluffy bunny non-threatening piece of kit that will make you feel good about yourself every time you use it. It probably even has a rainbows and kittens mode.
Where life does get interesting is that it is now, secondhand market notwithstanding, the cheapest entry point to the whole extensive X-System. I wrote back in August that Fuji's discontinuation of the X-A2 left them without an entry level camera and this is their answer. I argued at the time that as a maturing system they didn't need one but Mr. Fuji clearly disagrees, and good luck to him. I acknowledge that there's a place for cameras like this, not only in the hands of post-Millennials but also as a cheap backup in the corner of gadget bags belonging to old farts of my ilk — that's what I used the X-M1 for. Don't underestimate the benefits of a small, inexpensive body. It may not be able to do all the party tricks that your X-Pro2 or X-T2 can perform with aplomb but don't forget the ability of that tried and tested 16mp sensor to deliver, particularly when married to decent glass.
I'll be honest, I can't see the X-A10 being fitted anytime soon to a Fujinon 100-400 and carried to the Antarctic to shoot penguins by a Wildlife Photographer of the Year finalist but I can see it selling like hot cakes to the aforementioned target market and giving them a lot of fun and satisfaction in use. And let's not forget that today's selfie-snapper is tomorrow's Cartier Bresson — okay, perhaps that is stretching things a little, but you know what I mean.
So welcome the new kid on the block, maybe give it a try. Don't expect miracles — but everyone has to start somewhere and tomorrow's photojournalists could do worse than start with an X-A10.