Steve's Conclusion

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Steve's SnapShot
    X-M1 275 pixels.jpg
  • 16.3 Megapixel APS-C X-Trans CMOS sensor
  • EXR Processor II
  • Full 1080 (30p) HD video with stereo microphone 
  • 3" (920K dot) tilting high resolution LCD screen
  • Full range of ISO 100 - 25600
  • Built-in Wi-Fi
  • Q Menu shortcut button
  • In-camera RAW processing
  • Multiple Exposure mode to superimpose a second exposure on the first exposure
  • Smaller footprint when compared to other X-series models 
  • Available accessories include: Leather Case, Hand Grip, and Clip-on Flash
Pros
  • Good overall camera
  • Stylish and retro look
  • Camera is very well built and sturdy
  • Smallest Fujifilm X series ILC camera
  • Variety of X mount lenses available
  • Large APS-C image sensor provides good results
  • Outside of shutter lag, X-M1 is fast performer
  • Plenty of buttons make camera easy to use
  • Q Menu provides great shortcut option for adjusting settings
  • High quality LCD screen can tilt 
  • Popup flash unit works well
  • Hot shoe provides option for adding an external flash
  • Reasonably good battery life
  • HDMI port included
Cons
  • Price is a bit high versus other entry-level interchangeable lens cameras
  • Wi-Fi feature is limited and somewhat confusing to setup
  • LCD doesn't fully rotate 
  • LCD has some glare problems, although you can increase the screen brightness
  • Movie options are extremely limited
  • Some issues with shutter lag as autofocus has a slight delay
  • No option for adding a viewfinder
  • No USB cable included for downloading photos
  • Even though menus are well organized, the large number of subcategories can be confusing at times
Timing Test Results
  • Power up to first image captured = 2.1 seconds (1.7 seconds with Quick Start Mode enabled)
  • Shutter lag when prefocused = less than 1/10 of a second
  • Shutter lag with autofocus = about 0.5 seconds
  • Shot to shot delay without flash = 1.9 seconds between frames with minimum review time On, 1.5 seconds with review Off
  • Shot to shot delay with flash = 3.1 seconds between frames with minimum review time On, 2.8 seconds with review Off
  • High Speed Burst Mode = 10 frames in 2.6 seconds @ 16M
  • Low (L) Speed Burst Mode = 10 frames in 3.8 seconds @ 16M
  • All tests were taken using a PNY Class 10, 4 GB SDHC memory card, Program Mode, Flash off, ISO Auto and all other settings at the factory defaults unless noted otherwise.
Bottom Line
The Fujifilm X-M1 camera is a stylish model, with an interesting retro look and a well designed set of controls. The X-M1 is smaller than Fujifilm's other mirrorless X series cameras, but it still has a sturdy build. The X-M1 compares favorably in terms of performance and image quality versus other entry-level ILCs, and it has a large image sensor. However the one area where the X-M1 doesn't stack up in this market category is a really important one -- price. This is an expensive camera compared to other entry-level DSLR and ILC models, so you'll have to decide whether the retro design and large image sensor is worth that premium price.
Pick This Up If...
You want an ILC that performs very well and has a nice mix of entry-level and advanced features, but you don't mind a camera that costs a bit more than others in its category. 
The interchangeable lens Fujifilm X-M1 is a stylish looking camera that combines a nice mix of advanced photography features with a large image sensor. The X-M1's price seems to be a little high versus some other interchangeable lens cameras, but this might be Fujifilm's best X series mirrorless ILC yet, joining the Fujifilm X-E1 and X-Pro1.

The star of the Fujifilm X-M1 is its large CMOS image sensor. The APS-C sized image sensor is quite a bit larger than what you'd find with point-n-shoot cameras, and it's similar in size to what you may find in a DSLR camera. (The X-Pro1 also uses an APS-C sized image sensor.) The large sensor provides good image quality, and the CMOS technology allows the image sensor to work well in low light.

To further showcase the X-M1's low light strengths, Fujifilm has included an ISO range of 100 to 25,600, although the extreme edges of that ISO range are not native. You won't notice many problems with noise until the ISO setting reaches 5000 or 6400.

The popup flash extends upward and outward from the camera body, which helps to provide pleasing flash photos. If you want an even better flash performance, you can attach an external flash to the X-M1's hot shoe.

To go along with its advanced image sensor, the X-M1 includes quite a few advanced shooting modes. You can shoot in full manual, aperture priority, and shutter priority. For those photographers who are a little leery of shooting in advanced modes, Fujifilm included quite a few automatic modes, too, making this a nice bridge camera for those looking to transition from a fully automatic camera to model with more manual controls.

You also can shoot in either RAW or JPEG with this camera, which is a nice addition to an entry-level ILC model. 

All of these features lead to the X-M1's ability to shoot some very impressive photographs. Colors are very bright and realistic, and you won't see flaws and blemishes in your image. You may notice a very slight fuzziness at times in the X-M1's images when you view them at extremely large sizes. However, this issue really doesn't cause significant problems the majority of the time.

If you're looking for some fun features with the X-M1, you can shoot with a selected color filter, in monochrome, or in sepia. There's also a variety of special effect modes available, including miniature, toy camera, and high key.

All of these options can be accessed through the various on-screen menus, which are well organized. However the menus use numerous subcategories, which can make it a little difficult to find the exact feature you want.

Fortunately Fujifilm included a Quick Menu button on the back of the camera. This well designed feature opens a screen filled with on-screen buttons that are shortcuts to changing the camera's various settings. The Quick Menu is a great option and is very easy to understand and use. The only way the Quick Menu would be better is if the X-M1 included a touch screen LCD.

Working through these menus is very easy thanks to the high-resolution tiltable LCD screen, which is a really nice feature of the X-M1. The LCD has 921,000 pixels of resolution, making it one of the sharpest screens on the market. Although the screen doesn't rotate completely to allow for self portraits, it does rotate up to 90 degrees horizontally to the camera body, which makes it easier to shoot photos with a tripod. You also can use the tilt of the LCD to combat the glare of the LCD screen when shooting in sunlight.

Some interchangeable lens cameras like this offer a viewfinder, but Fujifilm chose to keep the X-M1 camera body small by leaving the viewfinder out of the design.

In terms of its performance, the X-M1 has some areas where it performs quickly, while it's a bit lagging in other areas. The camera's 49-point autofocus system is accurate, although you will notice a little bit of a shutter lag in normal shooting conditions with this model. You can take shutter lag out of the equation by using manual focus. The X-M1 has a fast start-up, and its shot-to-shot delays are minimal, either with or without the flash. It also has a fast burst mode at full 16.3 megapixel resolution.

The model I tested included a 16-50mm kit lens (24-76mm equivalent) with a manual focus ring. It's also a manual zoom lens, and it's fully operational for shooting video as well as still images. The X-M1 can record video at full 1080p HD video at up to 30 frames per second. You can download your videos efficiently through the X-M1's HDMI port, but as with most cameras, no HDMI cable is included with the X-M1.

Fujifilm included Wi-Fi connectivity with the X-M1, making it the first X series mirrorless ILC to provide built-in Wi-Fi. The wireless connectivity option is primarily designed to be used with the Fujifilm app, allowing for quick sharing of photos between the X-M1 and a smartphone or tablet. It can be a little confusing to make use of this feature, and it has some limitations versus other cameras with built-in Wi-Fi, but if you're specifically looking to upload copies of your photos to your smartphone, it does work pretty well. There's even a command you can activate that automatically shrinks all photos to 3 megapixels of resolution before uploading to the smartphone, which saves storage space.

You also can download Fujifilm software to your computer, which will allow you to automatically upload images through your home Wi-Fi network to your computer as you shoot them. Although this is a handy feature, using the Wi-Fi in this manner does drain the battery relatively quickly. During standard shooting sessions, you can expect the battery to last for 300 or more photographs, but if you're using Wi-Fi extensively or increasing the LCD brightness to counteract glare on the screen, you'll have much less battery life.

It's a good thing that Fujifilm gave you multiple options for downloading photos because for some reason, the manufacturer chose not to include a USB cable with the X-M1. Unfortunately this is a trend that has been increasing among multiple camera manufacturers during 2013. When you're spending several hundred dollars for a camera like the X-M1, the fact that Fujifilm would skimp on including a USB cable that only costs the manufacturer a few dollars is difficult to comprehend. Certainly you can use the Wi-Fi feature to download photos or place the camera's memory card into a memory card reader to gain access to the photos, but if you want to use USB, you'll have to purchase a cable separately or use an old cable if it happens to have the correct-sized connectors. This is a silly object to leave out of any camera's box, let alone one that costs as much as the X-M1.

The lack of a USB cable seems to be the only area where Fujifilm skimped on the X-M1, though. This camera body is well built and there are no parts of it that feel cheap, although the included kit lens body is all plastic. 

The look of this model is going to draw attention as soon as you begin using it. This looks like a vintage film camera -- minus the large LCD screen of course. I liked the size of the camera's various buttons. Some users will be confused by the two command dials, which are key components for working through the menus and for making quick changes to the settings in advanced shooting modes. Once you figure out when and where to use these dials, you'll appreciate having them available. The large mode dial is a good part of this camera's design as well.

Some mirrorless interchangeable lens cameras can be so small that they're uncomfortable to hold, and they can have an unbalanced feel once you add the lens. However, the X-M1 doesn't have these problems. It's a sturdy camera that has good balance. The controls are well placed, and the slight right-hand grip area makes this camera comfortable to use.

Bottom Line - The biggest drawback to the X-M1 is its high starting price of about $800 with the kit lens. You'll be able to find more powerful and more feature-rich DSLRs and ILCs for well under that price range. However many of those models cannot match the stylish look and feel of the Fujifilm X-M1. The X-M1 is small enough to be used comfortably one-handed, yet the camera has a sturdy build. It's a comfortable model to use, and even though the camera body is small, the buttons are of a good size and are easy to reach and press. This camera's image quality and performance levels are pretty good too versus other entry-level ILCs, although those aspects of the X-M1 aren't quite as impressive when compared to all models in its price range. You can shoot in RAW or JPEG with this camera, which is a feature that doesn't appear in every ILC model. The X-M1 does a very nice job with low light photos too, thanks to its popup flash and good performance at high ISO settings, as well as a large APS-C sized CMOS image sensor. The X-M1 offers a high-quality, high-resolution LCD screen that can tilt away from the camera. A good LCD screen is needed as there's no viewfinder option with this camera. Fujifilm included a nice mix of automatic and manual control features, which makes the X-M1 a good option for a beginning photographer who's looking to improve his or her photography skills by steadily learning how to exert more manual control over the scene. There's a lot to like about the X-M1, but its high price tag makes it a tricky sell. If you want a stylish design in a camera and can find this model well below its starting price, you'll be very pleased with your choice.


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