The Fuji X-M1 is yet another superb camera in Fuji’s X camera line. Built on the success of the X-Pro1 and X-E1 cameras, the Fuji X-M1 delivers the same outstanding image quality at a smaller and cheaper package. While it does not have the same magnesium alloy build as its bigger brothers, has a slightly slower frame rate and has no built-in electronic viewfinder, Fuji threw in a couple of new features to compensate for the loss. First, the X-M1 comes with an upgraded processor, the EXR PROCESSOR II that is used on the X100s. The 3″ LCD tilt screen with 920K dots is gorgeous (better than on the Fuji X-E1) and is very useful for photographing at odd angles and recording videos. The X-M1 is the first Fuji X-series camera to feature built-in WiFi, which can be used for transferring photos to phones, tablets, and computers, along with the ability to geotag pictures, although I was disappointed by the inability to control the camera. The design and layout of the camera are more user-friendly for beginners. And lastly, the X-M1 is both smaller and lighter than both X-E1 and X-Pro1.
Thanks to Fuji’s commitment to the X line, many of the autofocus issues have been ironed out through firmware updates and the X-M1 received all of those at launch. I found autofocus performance and accuracy of the camera to be very similar to that of the X-E1 and X-Pro1 cameras, which is great news. Autofocus speed is still a little sluggish when compared to current Micro Four Thirds cameras like Olympus OM-D E-M5, but it is still a world better than what it was when the X-Pro1 was released. And given the fact that the X100s has a hybrid AF system that uses phase detection, it is only a matter of time before it is added to other X-series cameras in the future. Hence, from the autofocus perspective, I am sure Fuji will soon catch up with the competition.
While usability, autofocus, and other features are great, it is the outstanding image quality of the X-Trans sensor that makes the X-series cameras stand apart from the competition. Fuji was able to achieve amazing performance results with the X-Trans sensor, which delivers beautiful out-of-camera JPEG images and superb RAW files that are comparable to the performance of full-frame cameras, as shown in the previous pages of this review. The only real issue today is Adobe’s inability to properly render RAW images. Although the quality has gotten better with the latest versions of Lightroom and Camera RAW, there are still issues with artifacts and outlines in different color channels. Hopefully, Fuji will collaborate more with Adobe in making sure that the RAW output matches the output of its SilkyPix software.
My biggest gripe with the X-M1 is the lack of an electronic viewfinder. Since I am so used to composing and framing shots using a viewfinder on my DSLRs and other cameras, it was hard to get used to looking at the LCD of the camera and having to extend the camera away from my face. Although the LCD’s brightness can be adjusted in daylight conditions to make it easier to look at, I still prefer having a built-in viewfinder. It might not be a big deal for many photographers out there, but it sure is for me. For that reason, I personally prefer shooting with the X-E1 instead, especially with only a $100 difference in price between the two.
Overall, the X-M1 is an excellent camera that is very intuitive and easy to use, with superb image quality. Despite the fact that it lacks an electronic viewfinder, it is still equally as addictive as other X-series cameras from Fuji.
- Build Quality
- Focus Speed and Accuracy
- Image Quality
- High ISO Performance
- Size and Weight
- Metering and Exposure
- Movie Recording Features
- Dynamic Range
Photography Life Overall Rating
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