Previous page Next page

Fujifilm X-M1 Review

September 2013 | By Jeff Keller, Andy Westlake
Buy on GearShopFrom $566.966 deals


Review based on a production Fujifilm X-M1 with firmware 1.0

When Fujifilm introduced its X-system back in January 2012, it took the unusual step of starting out with a top-end professional model - the retro-looking but technologically innovative X-Pro1, which features the company's unique 'hybrid' optical/electronic viewfinder. Nine months later it followed this up with the enthusiast-orientated X-E1, which offers much the same feature set in a smaller body, but makes do with a purely electronic viewfinder. Now, nine months on again, comes the latest model: the distinctly mid-range-looking, miniaturized X-M1.

On the face of it, the X-M1 is a very different camera to its higher-end siblings. Gone are the traditional shutter speed and exposure compensation dials from the top-plate, along with the aperture ring from the new XC 16-50mm F3.5-5.6 OIS kit zoom. Instead the camera uses a conventional exposure mode dial, along with twin electronic control dials on the top and rear to set exposure parameters. The X-M1 is also the first in the X system to feature a direct movie record button on the back of the camera to initiate recording at any time. In essence it's a thoroughly contemporary design.

Fujifilm X-M1 specification highlights:

  • 16MP X-Trans CMOS APS-C sensor, EXR Processor II
  • ISO 200-6400, expandable to 100 - 25600
  • Up to 5.6 fps continuous shooting
  • 0.5 sec startup time
  • 1920 x 1080 Full HD movie recording at 30 fps with stereo sound
  • Twin control dials, top and rear
  • Focus peaking (for setting focus before shooting)
  • 920k dot 3-inch 3:2 LCD display - tilts 120° upwards and 80° downwards
  • Built-in Wi-Fi for image transfer to mobile device or PC
The X-M1 uses the same 16.3 megapixel X-Trans CMOS sensor found in Fujifilm's other X system cameras. That's good news, since this sensor has drawn praise from DPReview and photographers alike.

One thing that the X-M1 has in common with its more expensive siblings is its sensor. We've been impressed with this 16 megapixel X-Trans APS-C CMOS sensor in our reviews of cameras like the X-E1 and X100S, with JPEG quality so high that you rarely need to use Raw. If you want to learn how X-Trans sensors work, head on over to our X-E1 review.

Unlike the other X-system cameras, the X-M1 has no eye-level viewfinder at all, nor any option for a plug-in electronic viewfinder. Instead it uses an articulating rear screen, which is a 3-inch, 3:2 aspect ratio unit with 920k dot resolution. It can tilt to face almost directly downwards for overhead shots, or upwards for waist-level shooting. The X-M1 also has a 'focus peaking' feature that highlights high-contrast edges to assist manual focus.

Fujifilm says the X-M1 is designed to attract a broader range of users than the enthusiast photographers targeted by the X-E1, and it gains an array of features to reflect this. So it offers a full set of scene-based automatic exposure modes, 'Advanced filter' image processing options, along with face detection and subject-tracking autofocus modes. It also offers built-in Wi-Fi for remote control, geotagging, and image sharing with mobile devices. Overall, the X-M1's feature set and form factor places it squarely up against cameras like the Sony NEX-5T and Olympus PEN E-PL5.

The X-M1 is still an X-system camera, of course and retains many of X-E1 and X-Pro1's best features. Most importantly it includes Fujifilm's 'Film Simulation' modes, which we think offer among the most attractive JPEG color rendition of any brand. However it doesn't have as many options as the higher-end models (the ProNeg and filtered monochrome options are omitted).

The X-M1 also offers Fujifilm's 'Super Intelligent Flash', which adjusts flash output according to the shooting situation. This is good news as Fujifilm's cameras have gained a reputation among users of offering especially good flash exposure, particularly for balanced fill-in flash. The built-in flash can also be used as a wireless remote commander for compatible external units.

Other features on offer include Fujifilm's excellent Q-menu for quickly changing key settings, and in-camera Raw conversion (which helps get the most out of the excellent JPEG engine). But inevitably a few features are missing - for example there's no microphone input for movie recording, and disappointingly no electronic level display.

Color options

The X-M1 comes in three color schemes; black, silver and brown. The brown version will be available a bit later than the other two - and in some markets will be exclusive to certain retailers. In addition, the two lenses announced at the same time - the XC 16-50mm F3.5-5.6 OIS and the XF 27mm F2.8 - will be available in black or silver, with the latter color providing a better match to the brown X-M1 in particular.

fuji
The X-M1 comes in brown, black and silver options

Kit options and pricing

The X-M1 will be sold as a kit with the XC 16-50mm F3.5-5.6 OIS (described on page 3) in all regions, with an MSRP of $799 / £679 / €799. In the US and Europe, the X-M1 will be also be available body-only for $699 / €679. In some regions other lenses may also be offered as kits, for example the tiny XF 27mm F2.8 or the XF 18-55mm F2.8-4.0 R LM OIS.


If you're new to digital photography you may wish to read the Digital Photography Glossary before diving into this article (it may help you understand some of the terms used).

Conclusion / Recommendation / Ratings are based on the opinion of the reviewer, you should read the ENTIRE review before coming to your own conclusions.

Images which can be viewed at a larger size have a small magnifying glass icon in the bottom right corner of the image, clicking on the image will display a larger (typically VGA) image in a new window.

To navigate the review simply use the next / previous page buttons, to jump to a particular section either pick the section from the drop down or select it from the navigation bar at the top.

DPReview calibrate their monitors using Color Vision OptiCal at the (fairly well accepted) PC normal gamma 2.2, this means that on our monitors we can make out the difference between all of the (computer generated) grayscale blocks below. We recommend to make the most of this review you should be able to see the difference (at least) between X,Y and Z and ideally A,B and C.

This article is Copyright 2013 and may NOT in part or in whole be reproduced in any electronic or printed medium without prior permission from the author.

Previous page Next page

Comments

Total comments: 215
12
rsf3127
By rsf3127 (7 months ago)

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 (7 months ago)

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 (7 months ago)

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 (7 months ago)

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
cantanima
By cantanima (7 months ago)

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 (7 months ago)

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 (7 months ago)

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 (7 months ago)

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 (7 months ago)

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 (7 months ago)

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 (7 months ago)

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 (7 months ago)

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

8 upvotes
Total comments: 215
12