Performance and Image Quality

Seeing how the X-M1 uses the same X-Trans sensor as the other cameras in the X- series, one would expect few differences in image quality. One area in which the X-M1 may differ from the X-E1 and X-Pro1 is performance, and we'll take a look at that right now.

Overall Performance

While Fujifilm offers two choices for how quickly the camera starts up (found in the Power Management menu), we found no appreciable difference in startup speed. The X-M1 starts up in just under one second. If the camera has gone into power saving mode, you must hold the shutter release down for a second to wake it up, which is too long in our opinion.

Naturally, autofocus speeds will largely depend on your choice of lens. In good lighting, the bundled 16-50mm lens locked focus in 0.3 secs at wide-angle and 0.6 secs at telephoto. When light levels drop, we found that focus times were roughly 0.8 seconds, regardless of focal length. It's not quite as snappy as, say, the Panasonic Lumix GF6, but it's pretty close.

Shot-to-shot speeds hung around the 1.1 second mark, regardless of the image quality setting. The flash recharges quickly, so you'll be able to take another photo in two seconds.

There are a pair of continuous shooting modes on the X-M1, aptly named high and low speed. Fuji advertises burst rate of 5.6 and 3.0 fps, respectively.

Low Speed
High Speed
RAW+Fine JPEG 17 shots @ 3.0 fps, then 1.7 fps 12 shots @ 5.9 fps, then 1.6 fps
RAW 24 shots @ 3.1 fps, then 2.0 fps 13 shots @ 6.5 fps, then 2.0 fps
Fine JPEG Unlimited @ 3.1 fps 14 shots @ 6.0 fps, then 2.4 fps
Tested with a SanDisk Extreme Pro UHS-I (95MB/sec) SDHC card

As you can see, the X-M1 is capable of exceeding the advertised burst rates - sometimes by quite a margin. While the camera is writing images to the memory card you can continue to take pictures or enter the menu. There is a delay of a few seconds before you can go into playback mode. In either continuous mode, the camera doesn't show a live view feed but instead replays your just-taken images. This makes subject tracking difficult, but not impossible.

The X-M1 uses the same NP-W126 lithium-ion battery pack as the X-Pro1. This battery holds 8.7Wh of energy, which translate to 350 shots per charge using the CIPA standard. Since that number is derived with Wi-Fi turned off, expect shorter battery life if you use that feature often.

In the real world, the battery seemed to die quicker than one would expect given the CIPA numbers, even with Wi-Fi turned off. It might not be a bad idea to keep a spare battery handy if you buy the X-M1.

Image Quality

As with its more-expensive family members, the photo quality on the Fujifilm X-M1 is exceptional.

While many kit lenses are nothing to write home about, the XC 16-50mm F3.5-5.6 left a positive impression. Its 16mm (24mm equiv.) wide end is a nice change from the usual 18mm (28mm equiv.) found on most APS-C kit lenses. The amount you gain at the wide-angle end of things is much more significant than the slight loss of reach at the telephoto end.

The bundled 16-50mm lens isn't super-sharp (see above-right), but it's fine by kit lens standards.

As you can see on the lower-left, corner blurring is relatively minor.

16-50mm lens, ISO 200, 1/450 sec; f/6.4

The 16-50mm has pretty consistent corner performance, even at its widest apertures. There is quite a bit of chromatic aberration at full wide-angle, though you'll only see it in Raw images, as the camera does a good job of removing it in JPEGs.

Sharpness is also surprisingly good, with similar performance from a wide-open aperture to the point at which diffraction starts kicking in. The lens is slightly sharper at wide-angle than at telephoto, which is to be expected.

At full telephoto, the 16-50 offers good sharpness and no visible vignetting.
16-50mm lens, ISO 200, 1/450 sec, f/8

To see the X-M1 at its best, you'll want to attach one of Fuji's excellent prime lenses, which produce truly impressive sharpness. See for yourself:

When equipped with one of Fuji's better X-mount lenses, such as the XF 35mm F1.4 R, the amount of detail captured by the X-M1 is simply stunning. The kit lens is still very respectable.

35mm F1.4 lens, ISO 200, 1/4000 sec, f/2.8

The camera meters well for the most part, with occasional overexposure. It doesn't hurt to use a higher DR Correction value (200% or 400%) to reduce highlight clipping which can appear at the base 100% setting.

Fujifilm cameras are well-known for having 'punchy' color, and the X-M1 is no exception. If you want colors to 'pop' even more, let us direct you to the Velvia Film Simulation mode that was mentioned earlier in the review. The X-M1 did a fine job with skin tones, though it can be a little over-the-top with greens, as you'll see below, and in our test scene in a few pages.

Since the X-Trans sensor has 'blocks' of four green pixels, areas of fine green detail can get a bit mushy, as you can see above-right.

16-50mm F3.5-5.6 lens, ISO 200, 1/450 sec, f/7.1

There is very little noise on the X-M1, with luminance noise making its first appearance at ISO 3200 in JPEGs. Higher sensitivities are totally usable until you reach ISO 12,800, which is the point at which detail loss becomes really obvious. ISO 25,600 is still usable for small prints and sharing on social networking sites.

Even at ISO 6400 in dim tungsten light, the X-M1 still retains an impressive amount of fine detail.

27mm F2.8 lens, ISO 6400, 1/60 sec, f/2.8

The X-M1 holds its own as light levels drop. Even at ISO 6400, there's enough detail for mid-sized prints, not to mention e-mail or web sharing.

In our review of the Fujifilm X-E1 (one level up from the X-M1), we praised the quality of the camera's JPEG engine. The results are the same on here: the JPEG engine is solid enough that you really only need Raw if you want to change the white balance or fine-tune lens aberrations. The X-M1 has a very capable in-camera Raw converter (shown earlier in the review), so you don't even need to open Photoshop to make adjustments.

Built-in flash

The built-in GN 7 (at ISO 200) is powerful enough to illuminate nearby subjects. It performed well in both low light and strongly backlit scenes. If you've got face detection turned on (and the camera locates the face), the an automatic redeye reduction system will combine a pre-flash and digital removal. We found that this feature was effective in our tests.