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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.

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).

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