Category: Mid Range Interchangeable Lens Camera / DSLR
Fujifilm X-M1 Review
Conclusion - Pros
- Excellent image quality; top-notch JPEG engine reduces the need for Raw
- Low noise until the very highest sensitivities
- Solid build quality, despite composite construction
- Sharp, tilting 3-inch LCD has wide viewing angle
- Quick startup, shot-to-shot speeds
- DR, highlight, and shadow tone tools brighten shadows and restore highlights
- Handy focus peaking feature
- Numerous bracketing modes
- In-camera Raw processing
- Good quality kit lens
- Wi-Fi allows easy photo sharing
Conclusion - Cons
- AF speeds a bit slower that mirrorless competition
- Areas of fine green detail can be 'mushy'
- Awkwardly placed rear dial takes getting used-to
- No electronic level
- Camera cannot be controlled via Wi-Fi
- Moiré, rolling shutter can be an issue in videos
- Lacks HDR, panorama features
- Can't access memory card when using tripod
While the X-M1 is Fujifilm's 'low-end' X-Trans mirrorless camera, it sure doesn't feel like it. It doesn't have the electronic viewfinder, metal body, and a few relatively minor features from the X-E1 (which, by the way, only costs $100 more), but the most important trait - excellent image quality - remains the same.
Design & Handling
At first glance, the X-M1 looks a lot like the slightly more expensive X-E1. Pick it up and you'll notice that it's lighter, due to the nearly all-plastic body. Thankfully, the body doesn't feel 'cheap', save for the power switch / shutter release combo. Like other rangefinder-style cameras, there's not much of a grip on the X-M1, though it's good enough. The faux leather is a bit slippery, though.
The most obvious differences between the X-M1 and the X-E1 can be found on the back of the cameras. The X-M1 loses the electronic viewfinder of its big brother, but gains a tilting 3-inch LCD in return. The LCD, which has a 3:2 aspect ratio and 920k dots, offers a wide viewing angle and impressive sharpness. Outdoor visibility isn't great at default settings, but turning the brightness up a stop or two takes care of that issue.
The X-M1 has a simple and accessible control layout. There are dual control dials: one on the top plate, the other on the rear. The rear dial is flush with the back plate of the camera, and takes some getting used-to. Settings can be adjusted quickly with the direct buttons on the rear of the camera, or using the Q Menu that should look familiar to anyone who has used a higher-end Fuji camera in recent years.
The built-in pop-up flash pumps out enough light to brighten nearby subjects. Redeye was not a problem, as long as the camera detects a face (and uses its digital removal tool). For more flash power you can attach an external flash to the hot shoe, or cut the cord and take advantage of the X-M1's wireless flash control feature.
The X-M1 is a full-featured mirrorless camera, and keeps up well with similarly priced cameras. You'll find an Advanced SR Auto mode with automatic scene selection, a good selection of scene modes, and plenty of special effects. The X-M1 has the core set of Film Simulation modes, but loses some of the options found on the X-E1. Two things you won't find are HDR or panorama shooting modes. The electronic level from the X-E1 didn't make its way to the X-M1.
If you're an enthusiast, there's plenty to like here. The X-M1 has full manual exposure, white balance fine-tuning, numerous bracketing modes, and focus peaking. Naturally, you can shoot Raw images, and the in-camera processor is one of the best you'll find.
There are several tools that can be used to restore highlights and brighten shadows. The highlight tone and DR correction tools work in different ways - with the latter requiring an increase in minimum ISO - but both are effective. The shadow tone feature works just as well, with a minimal increase in noise.
A feature that's new to the X-series is Wi-Fi. While you can use Fuji's smartphone app to download and share your photos, there's no way to control the camera remotely - a big disappointment.
The X-M1's movie mode is similar to that of the X-E1, with the ability to record 1080/30p video with stereo sound and continuous autofocus. The dedicated movie recording button makes it easy to start taking a video in any shooting mode. While you don't have full manual control when recording videos, the aperture can be adjusted priority to shooting in 'A' or 'M' mode. Video quality is decent, though don't be surprised if moiré or rolling shutter effects make an appearance.
Performance and Photo Quality
While not best-in-class, the Fujifilm X-M1 is still very responsive in most respects. The camera powers up in under a second, though waking it from sleep requires a one-second-long press of the shutter release button.
Focusing performance isn't as snappy as, say, the Panasonic Lumix DMC-G6, but most people won't notice. The camera focuses well in low light, and took less than a second to acquire its subject. You'll wait for just over a second before you can take another shot, regardless of the image quality setting. Adding the flash into the mix increases the delay to two seconds.
The X-M1 can shoot continuously at roughly 6 fps for up to fourteen shots (depending on image quality setting). The buffer flushes quickly, so you can enter playback mode or the menus with only a minimal delay.
Using the CIPA standard, Fujifilm claims that the X-M1 can take 350 shots per charge (with Wi-Fi off). In real world shooting, the battery seemed to drain a lot quicker than you'd expect given that number.
As with the X-M1's X-Trans siblings, photo quality is very good. The included 16-50mm kit lens surprisingly good sharpness at wide-angle and telephoto, with minimal corner blurring and no noticeable vignetting. To really see what the camera can do, attach a prime lens and you'll be blown away by the sharpness and detail it can capture.
Exposure is accurate in most cases, with occasional overexposure and clipped highlights (the latter can be reduced by using the DR Correction feature). Fuji cameras are well known for their very vivid colors, and the X-M1 carries on that tradition. One thing we did notice is that areas of high frequency green detail can be a bit smudged, possibly due to the X-Trans color filter.
The X-M1 keeps noise at bay until the very highest sensitivities (ISO 6400 and higher). Even then, the highest settings are still usable for small prints and web sharing. With many cameras, additional detail can be gained by shooting Raw and post-processing but that's not the case with the X-M1, as the JPEG is engine is excellent. The main advantage to using Raw is to adjust white balance, or fine-tune things like chromatic aberration removal.
The Fujifilm X-M1 is a stylish, well-built mirrorless camera that doesn't skimp on features and takes excellent photos. It takes everything that made the X-E1 such a great product and adds a tilting, higher resolution LCD and Wi-Fi, but that's at the expense of an electronic viewfinder. Still, most of the X-M1's buyers will be stepping up from compact cameras, so the lack of an EVF won't be a huge issue.
The best thing about the X-M1 is its top-notch photo quality. While the bundled 16-50mm lens produces good results, photos taken on Fuji's prime lenses - some of which cost as much as the camera itself - are truly stunning. Since noise isn't a problem until the highest sensitivities, you can shoot with confidence in low light.
Whether you're making the leap into the mirrorless, or just want a second camera with great photo quality, then the Fujifilm X-M1 earns our highest recommendation.
Scoring is relative only to the other cameras in the same category.
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Ergonomics & handling
Metering & focus accuracy
Image quality (raw)
Image quality (jpeg)
Low light / high ISO performance
Viewfinder / screen rating
Movie / video mode
Those seeking a relatively inexpensive mirrorless camera with top-notch photo quality and a wide selection of manual controls.
Not so good for
Electronic viewfinder lovers and video enthusiasts
The X-M1 is Fujifilm's entry-level mirrorless camera with its unique X-Trans sensor. While it lacks the build quality and EVF of the more expensive X-E1, it adds a sharper, tilting LCD and Wi-Fi. The X-M1 is capable of taking incredibly sharp photos with very little noise. Performance is very good, although AF speeds are not as quick as the best-in-class mirrorless cameras. The camera is missing a few other handy features, like an electronic level and remote control via Wi-Fi.
Real World Samples
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