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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.

Tilting LCD

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.

Flash

On the opposite side of the X-M1's top plate is a pop-up flash, which is released manually.

The flash has a guide number of 7 meters at ISO 200.
With a little manipulation, you can hold the flash in a position that lets you bounce light off of the ceiling.

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's I/O ports can be found under a plastic door on its right side. These ports include Mini HDMI and Micro USB.
The tripod mount is not in-line with the focal plane, and is adjacent to the memory/card battery compartment. In other words, you won't be able to get at the memory card when the camera is on a tripod.

Operation

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.

The rear controller, to the lower-left, can rotate and be pressed inward to confirm a setting.

The larger dial on the top is a bit too easy to spin, which too often resulted in accidental setting adjustment.

The Fn button is customizable - see below for more details.

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:

Mode
Top dial
Rear dial
P Exposure compensation Program shift
A Exposure compensation Aperture
S Exposure compensation Shutter speed
M Shutter speed Aperture
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
• Self-timer
• Image size
• Image quality
• Dynamic range
• Film Simulation mode
• Metering
• 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).

Menus

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.

Displays

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.

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Comments

Total comments: 217
12
rsf3127

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

1 upvote
Kali108

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

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

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

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

8 upvotes
Total comments: 217
12