Entry-Level Mirrorless Camera Roundup (2013)
16MP X-Trans CMOS Sensor | Tilting 3.0-inch Screen | Built-in Wi-Fi
What we like:
- Excellent JPEG image quality
- Tilting LCD
- Wi-Fi connectivity
What we don't:
- Occasional overexposure
- Limited control in video mode
- Priciest in the class
The Fujifilm X-M1 carries the same 16MP X-Trans APS-C sensor as Fuji's more advanced X-series cameras - a chip we've praised for its excellent image quality. While it doesn't have the viewfinder that some of the more expensive models do, it offers a tilting 3.0" LCD panel. It also lacks the traditional shutter speed and aperture dials of its thoroughly-retro siblings, but still offers twin control dials (helping it stand out in this class). Sitting just below it in the lineup is the Fujifilm X-A1 with the same hardware except for a conventional Bayer array 16MP APS-C sensor.
"X-Pro1 image quality in a much less-expensive package."
The X-M1 is sold as a kit with the 16-50mm F3.5-5.6, offering a wide 24mm equivalent angle of view, and as kit lenses go it's respectably sharp. Like other X-Trans Fujifilm cameras the X-M1 produces relatively noise-free JPEG images even up to ISO 3200 - very good indeed for this class. It turns out images with great default color and exposure, and JPEG processing is so good that many users won't feel the need to shoot Raw.
Although it's a step down from the X-E2, the X-M1 offers a number of features that enthusiasts will be pleased to find at this level. The twin dials are useful for anyone who wants to take control quickly over exposure, and the tilting LCD is useful for creative composition and video recording. Those moving up to the X-M1 from a point-and-shoot likely won't mind the lack of viewfinder, and enthusiasts who don't consider LCD-only shooting a deal breaker will be happy with the 920k dot screen.
On top of its core features the X-M1 includes Wi-Fi, which is limited to image sharing only with no option for remote control, but works reliably well. There's also 1080p HD video recording, though manual control is limited to aperture priority only. The JPEGs are good, so it's nice to have an in-camera Raw conversion option to re-process files if you want to try different settings.
Overall the X-M1 is a solidly built, thoughtfully engineered camera with several useful features that are hard to find in this class. Beginners may be intimidated by a somewhat serious-looking camera, but will find themselves happy with the JPEGs it produces. Enthusiasts who don't mind the loss of the viewfinder will like X-Pro1 image quality in a much less-expensive package.