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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
  • MoirĂ©, rolling shutter can be an issue in videos
  • Lacks HDR, panorama features
  • Can't access memory card when using tripod

Overall Conclusion

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.

Features

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.

Final Thoughts

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.
Click here to learn about the changes to our scoring system and what these numbers mean.

Fujifilm X-M1
Category: Mid Range Interchangeable Lens Camera / DSLR
Build quality
Ergonomics & handling
Features
Metering & focus accuracy
Image quality (raw)
Image quality (jpeg)
Low light / high ISO performance
Viewfinder / screen rating
Performance
Movie / video mode
Connectivity
Value
PoorExcellent
Good for
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
Overall score
77%
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

There are 37 images in the Fujifilm X-M1 review samples gallery. Please do not reproduce any of these images on a website or any newsletter / magazine without prior permission (see our copyright page). We make the originals available for private users to download to their own machines for personal examination or printing (in conjunction with this review), we do so in good faith, please don't abuse it.

Unless otherwise noted images taken with no particular settings at full resolution. Because our review images are now hosted on the 'galleries' section of dpreview.com, you can enjoy all of the new galleries functionality when browsing these samples.

Fujifilm X-M1 Samples

37 images • Posted 11 September 2013 • View album
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Comments

Total comments: 217
12
rsf3127
By rsf3127 (Sep 17, 2013)

I don't get all the hype about these fuji cameras. The image samples look dull, mushy, without contrast and unsharp when compared to NEX and the 100D either in RAW or JPEG. The ergonomy is ok and the build quality is nice, but this does not compensate for the IQ problem.

6 upvotes
AndreaV
By AndreaV (Sep 17, 2013)

Well, I own a Fuji x-Pro1 and a Sony NEX-5... the quality of the Fuji is definitely superior (most of all at high ISO) and I would say is on par with at least some FF cameras (I compared with a friend's Nikon D600) and with my Canon 1D mark III. Have you ever tried to use one of these Fujis yourself?

14 upvotes
D1N0
By D1N0 (Sep 17, 2013)

That is probably why dpreview have scored the iq higher than any of the examples you have given. They must be utterly incompetent. Either that or you are.

10 upvotes
TrojMacReady
By TrojMacReady (Sep 17, 2013)

I think a lot people put large emphasis on high ISO.

But I agree that at low ISO it does come a bit short compared to most of its peers, due the X-Trans design. A bit softer RAW files (for which you can partially compensate), a bit mushy greens in general due to the different color filters and moiré problems with diagonal lines (see test charts). And even at high ISO, you should substract about half a stop from indicated ISO's compared to most of its peers for the camera being a bit too optimistic in this regard.

Comment edited 1 minute after posting
4 upvotes
unknown member
By (unknown member) (Sep 17, 2013)

Quite a few stories are suggesting that the most widespread tools (Adobe, etc.) don't process the RAW files nearly as well as they could. From what I read, Iridient seems to do the best job by far. If dpr is using Adobe, that could be a problem.

3 upvotes
Northgrove
By Northgrove (Sep 17, 2013)

Agreed, I strongly recommend professionals to look at the RAW import. There's quite a difference especially with this new X-Trans technology. Here's a DPReview user who has compared Lightroom 4.4 with Iridient 2.1.1 output, clearly showing the better clarity with Iridient: http://www.dpreview.com/forums/post/51732276?image=3

3 upvotes
mas54
By mas54 (Sep 17, 2013)

The IQ from my x100s is as good as it gets. Where have you seen prints from these cameras? I can make a 40x60 that is sharp all the way to the corners.
Contrast? That comes during processing.

1 upvote
AlpCns2
By AlpCns2 (Sep 17, 2013)

The "IQ problem" got the Gold Award. Odd, isn't it. Or maybe there is no real problem. Ah, choices, choices...

1 upvote
Kali108
By Kali108 (Sep 18, 2013)

The Fuji "hype" for me is...having the IQ of a Nikon D600 (I've now sold mine) in a small, light weight package. Allowing me to get images from subjects I would not get otherwise, due to the intimidation factor, etc of a larger DLSR / lens combo.
Also, now I have this IQ potential with me every single day. No way I would carry a D600 kit with me at all times. Fuji makes this a joy.

I understand why dpreview needs to use standardized tests, yet unfortunately, this results in veiling the IQ potential of the x trans sensor. Iridient Developer, C1P7 or the free supplied SilkyPix do not suffer from "mushy" greens and certainly not any lack of detail resolution.

Is the Fuji perfect? Of course not, nor is my D800 or Mamiya RZ67 ProII with a Leaf Aptus 33MP digital back.

My Fuji XP1 (with the incredible 14mm, 23mm soon, 35mm, 60mm lenses) is my favorite photographic tool. Period.

Comment edited 6 minutes after posting
1 upvote
Asylum Photo
By Asylum Photo (Sep 18, 2013)

Like every other camera, there's pros and cons. One system might fit your needs, while another doesn't. Yet both systems could very well be high quality.

0 upvotes
thx1138
By thx1138 (Sep 18, 2013)

I'm not knocking the Fuji high ISO IQ, but it's clearly doing NR even on RAW. They have not overcome the laws of physics and have not discovered miracle low noise sensor and associated electronics.

0 upvotes
D1N0
By D1N0 (Sep 17, 2013)

It takes photo's as good as the x-pro1 so the gold award is deserved.

8 upvotes
Total comments: 217
12