Design & Handling
The Fujifilm X-M1 has the same 'Leica-inspired' design that should look familiar to anyone who have been following the compact mirrorless market recently. Like the Panasonic GF6 and Sony NEX-5T, the X-M1 has a decent-sized grip, articulating LCD display, a pop-up flash, and twin dial control. It's substantially more expensive than these though, largely due to its X-Trans sensor (the X-A1 with its conventional Bayer sensor is much closer in price).
Build quality on the X-M1 isn't as nice as its slightly more expensive sibling (the X-E1), though it's about average for this class. The X-M1's body is all plastic (with the silver/black version having a metallic-look coating), and it's wrapped with a faux leather material. We found this material to be a bit slippery, which doesn't give you a lot of confidence when you're holding the camera.
|The X-M1 fits well in the hand, though some will want to pick up the optional grip for extra support.||While it's not huge, the thumb rest on the back of the camera keeps your finger away from buttons, but still within reach of the control dials.|
Two other design-related things we weren't huge fans of include the very plasticky power switch / shutter release and the top control dial, which turns too easily and can result in accidental setting adjustment.
|Like many midrange mirrorless cameras, the X-M1's LCD can be tilted up and down.|
One of the nice features of the X-M1 - which separates it from the X-E1 and X-Pro1 - is an articulating 3-inch LCD. This screen can be pulled away from the back of the camera and tilted upward 120° and downward 80°. Thus, you can shoot over the heads of people in front of you, or compose photos on a tripod without having to strain your neck.
|The X-M1's tilting LCD has 920k dots and a 3:2 aspect ratio. The refresh rate is high, and the display is easy to see in a variety of lighting conditions.|
Since the X-M1 lacks an electronic viewfinder, you'll compose and review all of your photos on the LCD. The one here is very good, with 920k dots and the same 3:2 aspect ratio as the pictures you're taking. The refresh rate is high and the screen has good outdoor and low light visibility. If you're having difficulty using the display outdoors, you can turn on the 'monitor sunlight' mode, which makes things a little too bright.
The pop-up flash features Fujifilm's 'Super Intelligent Flash' system, which adjusts flash output based on the shooting situation. While the built-in flash has a 'commander' mode for off-camera flashes, it's a 'slave' setup only. As you can see from the above photo, the X-M1 also has a hot shoe for attaching an external flash directly to the camera. The maximum x-sync speed is 1/180 sec.
Odds and Ends
Two other design-related items that need mentioning include the X-M1's I/O ports and tripod mount.
The X-M1 offers twin dial operation, which is something usually not found on inexpensive mirrorless cameras. The rear dial essentially 'pops out' vertically from above the thumb rest, and takes some getting used-to. Once you're comfortable, you'll find that you can quickly adjust settings using that dial, and the larger dial located just above it, on the top of the X-M1.
In most modes (aside from manual and full auto) the top plate dial controls exposure compensation, and in manual it sets the shutter speed. This actually makes the shooting experience surprisingly similar to using the X-E1 or X-Pro1. Meanwhile, the clickable vertical rear dial takes control of the other main exposure parameter. Here's what the two dials control in each mode:
|P||Exposure compensation||Program shift|
|S||Exposure compensation||Shutter speed|
|Scene||Exposure compensation||No function|
|Auto||No function||No function|
The Function (Fn) button shown above the table can be customized to your liking. The available options include:
| • DOF preview
• ISO sensitivity
• Image size
• Image quality
• Dynamic range
• Film Simulation mode
| • AF/AE lock
• Instant AF
• Focus mode
• Intelligent Face Detection
• Location info search
• Movie mode
• Raw/JPEG toggle
We'll be covering many of those options later in the review. Two more things worth mentioning: First, if you want to change what the Fn button does without diving into the menus, simply keep the button pressed until the menu comes up. Second, if you're in playback mode, the Fn button will activate the camera's Wi-Fi feature, which will be discussed later in the review.
|The X-M1's rear controls are tightly packed, so you'll need to be careful where you place your thumb.|
The main way in which you'll be adjusting settings is via the controls on the back of the camera, to the right of the LCD. The buttons worth pointing out include one for dedicated movie recording (in red), another for drive mode ('down' on the four-way controller), and 'Q' (which opens the Quick Menu described below).
The X-M1's menu system should look familiar to anyone who has picked up a Fujifilm camera in recent years. It's not the prettiest menus out there, nor is there a 'help' feature, but it gets the job done relatively quickly.
|The main menu is divided up into a series of tabs, with five available for adjusting shooting settings.||The Quick Menu, activated by the 'Q' button, lets you adjust settings relatively quickly using the directional controller and dials.|
As you can see, the Quick Menu is packed with virtually every major option, and then some. We'll cover the most interesting menu options on the following page.
|An example of what you can see when composing images in custom display view, with just a few items disabled. The X-M1 lacks an electronic level.||The Display Custom Setting menu is where you select what's shown on the LCD when you're in custom display view.|
Fuji gives users a number of ways to customize their shooting experience, going way beyond turning grid lines on or off. Virtually everything you see on the LCD when composing photos can be turned on or off, for a truly custom experience. There are, of course, default and 'off' views available.
Something you won't find on the X-M1 is an electronic level. You'll need to step up to the X-E1 if you want that feature.
|The available views in playback mode include basic info, no info, image rating (using 'stars'), and full details.
Naturally, you can enlarge the image and make sure the image is properly focused. The X-M1 can also zoom in on any faces it detected.
The X-M1 has a pretty standard set of views in playback mode, including one with basic shooting information and another with tons of detail and a histogram. Playback mode is also where you'll find the X-M1's Raw editor, which we'll cover in a bit.