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Fujifilm X-M1 review

Ben Pitt
10 Sep 2013
Our Rating 
Price when reviewed 
672
inc VAT

Stunning photo quality makes it worth the high price, but additional lenses are expensive too

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Specifications

23.6x15.6mm 16.0-megapixel sensor, 3.1x zoom (24-76mm equivalent), 531g

Fujifilm seems to have a knack for designing truly luxurious compact cameras. We loved the Fujifilm X100S, which delivered the best ergonomics and image quality we've ever seen from a compact camera. The gorgeous retro design didn't harm its appeal, either.

The X100S's 35mm (equivalent) lens suits a wide range of shooting environments, but having a fixed lens with no zoom function isn't to everyone's tastes. That's where Fujifilm's X Mount compact system cameras step in. There are currently three models, all of which use the superb 16-megapixel sensor used in the X100S. The X-Pro1 (around £1,200 including VAT) sits at the top of the range, and includes the hybrid viewfinder technology that impressed us so much in the X100S. Then there's the X-E1, which costs around £900 and has a simpler electronic viewfinder.

Fujifilm X-M1

The most recent addition is the X-M1. It costs £672 and lacks a viewfinder or dials for direct control over the shutter speed, aperture and exposure compensation. Its body is made of plastic rather than aluminium, but there's enough retro style to make it look like part of the family.

HANDLING AND FEATURES

Considering this is the entry-level model, it's still pretty expensive – other CSCs are available for half the price (a cheaper X-A1 model is widely rumoured but not yet announced as we go to press). However, various features position it closer to mid-range models in other ranges. There's a hotshoe for an external flashgun, plus integrated Wi-Fi for transfers to iOS and Android devices. The articulated screen, dedicated mode dial and dual command dials also distinguish it from many cheaper rivals.

Even so, with no viewfinder – or option to add one – it falls behind on features to the similarly priced Sony NEX-6 and Panasonic G6. It's also relatively bulky for a CSC, at 531g with its 16-50mm kit lens. That's only a fraction lighter than the SLR-styled Panasonic G6. Most other CSCs weigh between 320g and 460g.

Fujifilm X-M1

There's no electronic viewfinder here, and no way to add one

The Wi-Fi implementation is relatively simple, with no remote shooting function. Transfers are managed either on the camera or the connected smartphone or tablet, with an option to resize photos to 3 megapixels before transfer. Rather than using a password, the connected device must be confirmed by clicking OK on the camera. This works well on Android devices, where the Fujifilm app can manage the Wi-Fi settings automatically. The iOS app was less successful, with numerous "Not Found" messages before we got the camera, app and iPad's Network Settings to work together at the same time.

Fujifilm X-M1

The app doesn't allow for remote shooting

The app can also use the smartphone's GPS radio to geotag photos. Rather than keeping a log, the app and camera must be synchronised manually each time you want to update the GPS position. Still, once we figured out what to do, it worked well with our Android phone.

CONTROLS AND PERFORMANCE

Taking photos was a pleasant experience. The controls are well laid out, with dedicated buttons for autofocus point, white balance, drive mode and ISO speed (the latter being the default for the customisable Fn button). Meanwhile, pressing the Q button reveals a grid of 15 functions on the screen, navigated using the rear pad and adjusted with either command dial.

Having dual dials pays off in priority and manual exposure modes, giving direct access to exposure settings. The dial on the top plate is easily adjusted by accident, though. We often found that exposure compensation had been inadvertently changed. The sharp 3in screen tilts up and down by 90 degrees for waist-height or overhead shooting, but not all the way over for self-portraits. We'd have preferred a touchscreen for quicker navigation of the Q menu and autofocus point adjustment, but the rear pad handles these tasks reasonably quickly.

Fujifilm X-M1

We noticed some odd behaviour during our tests. At one point the camera complained that it had run out of numbers to assign to photos, and refused to take any more until we reset the numbering system. We're told by Fujifilm that this is to avoid having photos with duplicate file names, but stopping taking photos altogether doesn't seem like a practical solution. Why not just use longer file names? Another problem was that adjusting the zoom sometimes caused the screen to go blank for about a second. We eventually narrowed this down to a small amount of movement between the lens and camera – simply twisting the lens barrel (rather than the zoom ring) had the same effect. We're assured that this fault hasn't been seen on other X-M1s and would be covered by the warranty.

Autofocus was responsive, taking less than half a second to lock onto subjects. We measured one second between shots in normal use – a respectable result but half the speed of the fastest CSCs. It fared better in continuous mode, capturing 42 frames at 5.5fps before slowing slightly to 4.4fps. Raw capture lasted for 11 frames before slowing to 1.4fps.