Best Camera to Buy!*

*This story takes place in Best Buy. Yes, laugh at my pun.

Fiancé and I had nothing to do a couple weekends after having tried a bridge camera. I decided to just stick with my smartphone, but I really wanted a good tripod for it (I had so far been using a flimsy Nexxtech one). I even gave myself a BIG budget for it and everything ($40!)!

Hands happily grasped around the last Joby Griptight in the store, we coincidentally both decided we must go to the washroom before leaving. I did not want to let go of my loot, so we took turns going. And we both happened to browse the camera department for fun.

And I saw this funny looking… not-quite-dslr, not-quite-point-and-shoot, not-quite-semi-dslr camera sitting there, costing $300.

Fujifilm X-A1
It was like a point-and-shoot with a giant nose.

At this time, we were very cautious about dslr-like cameras. Why was the body so small, but the lens so big? It was also an open box floor model – did that matter? We’re such noobs.

In our typical fashion, we stood around the camera department researching everything on Fiancé’s smartphone. Ultimately I had to figure out whether I will make enough use of the camera to justify the hefty price tag. I had a bad track record – when I borrowed my dad’s Canon Rebel T3i, I stopped using it after a couple of weeks. We went home empty handed (yes, I put the Joby Griptight back).

But I couldn’t stop thinking about you and your tilting LCD, and all your dials and buttons that felt so good in my hands.

Dials and tilting LCD on Fujifilm X-A1
After a week or so of use, the tilting screen and the many dials have become my favourite features.

I also couldn’t stop thinking about it being an open box floor model. Not only did that mean someone had used it before, but in its second life on the floor it had its LCD and dials and buttons played with by numerous people just like me. To make deliberation even harder, there was another open box camera of the same model that had been on the floor for almost a month longer, but it costed $50 more. What was wrong with the first one we were looking at? Will it last a third life under my care?

We returned the next day freshly researched and armed with questions like whether they could provide a more detailed history (e.g. was it just a floor model, or was it refurbished? How long did the previous customer have it?), whether they could check the shutter count, and how this camera was different from the more expensive (but same model) one.


Reasons We Ended Up Buying the Fujifilm X-A1

  • The reviews were great!
  • Raw shooting capability (this was a big deal after the Sony DSC-H300)
  • Its specs were comparable to newer X series models (X-M1, X-A2)
  • Refundable within 14 days, no restocking fee (this was also a big deal because I was worried about pre-existing wear and tear)
  • Once we leave, it will cost $350 (as opposed to $300!)
    • When we asked Best Buy employees about the price discrepancy between the two exact cameras, I heard one mutter to the other, “If they don’t buy today, change the price [to $350]”
    • It’s $699 new on Amazon as of time of writing. $300 is a steal!

I have a camera now. But I held back from loving it. The open box + floor model status meant we still had to test everything before deciding to keep it.

Things to Test

  • Dead pixels: Take a photo at lowest ISO setting, with the lens cap on (i.e. black / underexposed photo). Examine on computer at 100%.
  • Sensor issues: Take a photo of a clear sky (i.e. white / overexposed photo) at the highest f setting. Again, examine on computer at 100%. Look for dust particles, spider web patterns (indicates fungus).
  • Autofocus: Check whether the focus on the resulting photo was what the AF had focused on.
  • Wear and tear on lens: Examine for scratches.
  • Shuttercount: Upload a jpeg (eg at Camera Shutter Count) and it will get that info from the EXIF file
    • Unfortunately, the shuttercount metric wasn’t available for the X-A1

While testing, we did encounter some issues.

Things to Solve

  • Autofocus couldn’t focus on anything: Updated the firmware, issue resolved.
  • Flash didn’t work: Turned off silent mode, issue resolved.

She’s a keeper!

afrilly


References

 

 

 

Fujifilm X-A1 review

 

 

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