on August 3, 2013
Update (1 Year):
After 1 year of use, I have to warn people about one thing:
(1) The Fuji X-Trans sensor/engine tends to smear details in skin tones. Skin can look very "smeared" almost like plastic. This makes me hesitant to use it for any important events where the primary subject would be people.
Shooting RAW eliminates the smeared skin details, but then I have to spend time massaging files in Lightroom, and RAW files are around ~32mbs each. At that size, I'd rather shoot D810 RAW files.
So, for the price, my X-M1 is relegated to travel snapshots. I still enjoy using it with the Q menu because it's so flexible and easy to change settings on the fly. But anytime people are the main subject, I will not pick the X-M1 as my first choice.
(Side note: because of the X-Trans sensor's tendency to smear details in skin, I returned the X100s since I already had the X-M1 for travel. I also reduced the rating to 4-stars because of this shortcoming.)
---- END 1 Year UPDATE ----
The Fuji X-M1 is an excellent camera. As the cheapest Fuji interchangeable lens camera, I was looking at the X-M1 as an introduction into the Fuji X system. This Fuji APS-C X sensor receives a lot of hype, and this camera does not disappoint. The build quality seems good and feels durable. The overall size with the kit lens is also much smaller than I had initially thought from pictures.
Out of camera JPEGS (with some slight tweaks) are very good. I'm glad that I don't have to spend as much time massaging RAW files in Lightroom.
If you're considering the following cameras, I think the X-M1 is better than the following:
* Olympus E-PM2, E-PL5.
* Fuji X20
* Sony NEX-F3, NEX-3N, NEX-6
* Panasonic GF5
The OM-D E-M5 has some unique features that may make it better for you (exceptionally good IBIS, weather sealing, EVF).
+ EXCELLENT out of camera JPGs
+ EXCELLENT control using dual dials
+ Useful Q menu
+ Easy to use regular menu
+ Good build quality
+ Fast focusing
+ Good fill-flash
+ Tiltable bounce flash
+ Fast operation
+ Customizable (I'll cover some tips later in the review)
+ Tilt Screen that can still be seen in sunlight
+ Small size
+ Custom settings on the mode dial
- No EVF/OVF
- WiFi apps don't allow control of the camera
- WiFi is pretty poor on both Android and IPhone.
- No sweep panorama
- No built in level (c'mon Fuji - this camera BEGS for a horizontal level)
Recommended Tips and tweaks:
* For faster AF, set the AF box size to the maximum and turn off the AF assist light.
* I recommend setting Sharpening +1 in any film mode.
* Fuji allows you to specify your tone curve. I prefer the flat look so I set Shadows -1, Highlights 0.
* If you want punchy, contrasty images, set Shadows +2, Highlights +2.
* For creamy noise free images to share on Facebook, set Noise Reduction to +2
* Be careful with Auto-ISO and DR. Auto-ISO at 6400 is useable, but DR400 will introduce noise into shadows. I stick to ISO3200 with DR200, or ISO 6400 with DR100.
* WiFi: Manual setup for PC Autosave is easier than "Simple" setup. I couldn't get "Simple" to work. "Manual" worked just fine.
* WiFi: If you use the Android app, remember you must follow the instructions on the camera EXACTLY. The modes are not interchangeable. Otherwise, the camera won't be able to connect to your device. I think Fuji can fix this and make their app more 'robust'.
* Portraits: Astia, Sharpening +1, Shadows -1, Highlights 0, Colors 0, Auto ISO 3200, DR200
* Landscape: Velvia, Sharpening +1, Shadows 0, Highlights 0, Colors +1, ISO 400, DR200
* Everyday: Provia, Sharpening +1, Shadows 0, Highlights 0, Colors 0, Auto ISO 3200, DR200
* Dramatic B&W: BW, Sharpening +1, Shadows +2, Highlights +2, EV Comp -2/3, Auto ISO 3200, DR200
vs. Sony NEX (NEX-F3 and NEX-6)
The Fuji X-M1 blows the NEX series away. Focusing on the Fuji is faster and far more accurate. The NEX-6 focuses faster than the NEX-F3, but both are still slow compared to the Fuji X-M1. Even more important, the NEX has a tendency to focus on the wrong thing. What I mean is, you can have people in the foreground (the subject) and the NEX will choose to focus on the trees in the background. I have no idea why. The NEX-6 has a very nice EVF which the X-M1 does not have. The NEX-F3 (and replacement NEX-3N) allow you to flip the screen 180 degrees for ''selfies''. The Fuji menu is significantly easier to navigate and the Q menu makes it quick to change settings, if you need to. [As a side note, the NEX menu is incredibly frustrating for advanced users. Options are under submenus, and you need to get back to the root level to change into submenus. Furthermore, if you customise your camera buttons in PASM, those customizations don't carry into some of the other modes, like auto mode. So when you switch modes, the experience of using the camera is frustratingly inconsistent. You'll find that the buttons you customized have reverted back to their default settings. I couldn't tolerate it.]
The NEX does have very nice Auto, Intelligent Auto, and Superior Auto modes which make it easy for beginners. But for advanced users, I would recommend the X-M1 over the NEX.
vs. Micro Four Thirds (u43)
I highly recommend the Fuji X-M1 over *most* of the u43 cameras. It's significantly better than than the E-PL5 and GF5. However, the newer Olympus u43 cameras (OM-D E-M5, E-PL5, E-PM2, and E-P5) have very fast autofocus. In outdoors bright light, the X-M1 is nearly as fast. In indoor low light, the Olympus is significantly faster. Keep in mind that the Fuji X-M1 is still faster than the NEX in both conditions. The X-M1 beats the u43 is in image quality. The GF5 shots were only useable up to ISO800, and I recommend shooting at ISO400 or lower. The E-PL5, I kept to ISO1600. The X-M1 can easily go to ISO6400 with better quality. Although the E-PL5 and GF5 have touch screens, I find that I don't miss it. I had too many accidental shots with the touch screen enabled on the E-PL5, so I usually turn the touch screen off. Note that Olympus has a fantastic touch to shoot feature that makes it great for stealthy street shooting if you tilt the LCD up. For people who really want a touch-to-shoot touchscreen, nothing can beat the Olympus.
The Olympus cameras also tend to produce a very "yellow" image in indoor tungsten light. The Fuji colors are much more natural and realistic. In outdoor light, the Olympus is fine.
However, if budget is important, keep in mind that you can buy an E-PM2 or E-PL5 with Olympus 45mm f.18 for the same price as the X-M1. The Olympus combo will allow you take wonderful street "cinematic" shots or portraits of your friends and family.
If budget isn't a concern, I recommend the X-M1.
vs. OM-D E-M5
This deserves its own subsection because the OM-D is an excellent camera that can do things that many other camera's cant. First, the OM-D has the best IBIS of any manufacturer. The E-PL5 IBIS, Canon IS, Nikon VR, Sony IS, and Fuji IS can't compare. The OM-D 5-axis IBIS is so good, it allows you to do things that you simple can't do with another camera. You can take handheld "macro" (close focus on the kit lens) video. You can shoot sharp images at 1/2 second, and relatively sharp at 1 second. Seriously. It's THAT good. That's why I can't say with certainty that the X-M1 is decisively better than the OM-D. The OM-D AA filter is relatively week, and you can get very sharp shots. This is especially evident when used with a quality lens like the Olympus 45mm f1.8 or Panasonic 25mm f1.4. Furthermore, the OM-D can be easily customized (you can even directly control your curves!) and the kit lens 12-50mm has a built in function button that allows you to set it to do useful things like 2x zoom. So in one lens, you can have 12-100mm (with 35 film equivalent of 24mm - 200mm). That's impressive.
Plus, the OM-D E-M5 has weather sealing. Although I don't use my cameras in inclement weather, it was nice knowing that the beach, dust, and rain didn't affect the OM-D.
Although the X-M1 can produce better image quality than the OM-D, the OM-D has so many features, that it needs serious consideration. The IBIS is amazing and will allow you to do things that you simply can't do with other cameras.
Between the OM-D and the X-M1, I don't know if the X-M1 is decisively a better camera. It's better in some ways and the OM-D is significantly better in other ways. I would recommend that anyone shopping for a u43 camera should consider the OM-D. Yes, it's much more expensive, but it'll give you so much flexibility and opportunity to do things that you normally wouldn't be able to do. Plus, the OM-D is built very well - it feels like small Tokina tank.
vs. Fuji X20
I wasn't impressed with the Fuji X20. I returned it. The small sensor didn't produce good enough results and I felt it was only good to ISO800. The focusing was equivalently fast between the X20 and X-M1, maybe slightly faster in the X-M1. For a few hundred dollars more, the X-M1 is clearly the better buy. For a pocketable camera, the Sony RX100 I/II is probably a better camera than the X20. (I never owned an RX100 though).
I recommend the X-M1 or RX100 for slightly more money.
Keep in mind that DSLRS can do things that the mirrorless cameras simply can't do (yet). Continuous focusing on a DSLR is much better than even the single shot focusing on the OM-D. If you want to take pictures of moving subjects, you need a DSLR. That being said, some entry level DSLRs (ie: Canon T3i, Nikon D3200) don't have as much direct control via dual dials as the X-M1. I'm not going to debate DSLR vs mirrorless cameras in this review - both have their advantages.
The main benefit of the entry level DSLR is that they are more affordable; and paired with a cheap prime like a 50mm 1.8 or Nikon's 35mm 1.8, can teach you a lot about aperture and depth of field. You'll need to spend much more on Fuji's system to be able to do something similar. Overall, I think a DSLR offers a better introduction into photography.
You'll need to get a D90 (or better, like the D7000 or D7100) to get dual dials. (Sorry, I don't know the equivalent Canon range). The JPGS from the X-M1 are better than the out of camera JPGs from the D90. I only use the D90 up to ISO1600 and even that requires extra work with DFine after Lightroom. The X-M1 can go to ISO6400 with better quality. The X-M1 requires fewer tweaks then the D90 in Lightroom.
85mm on an FX camera is beautiful. The X-M1 can't replace something like a D600.
Overall vs. the competition
If you're considering an NEX or u43 kit, keep in mind that neither those nor the X-M1 are pocketable. You'll likely carry those cameras in a bag. If you want something truly pocketable, you're probably better off looking at an RX100. So if you'll be using a bag anyways, I would recommend the X-M1 over the NEX or any of the smaller u43 cameras.
I hope this review helps you decide on the X-M1. Enjoy the camera!
on September 29, 2013
Background and context:
I currently own an old Canon DSLR - 1000D or similar - and had it for four plus years. So since last year I have been hunting for a replacement, one which lets me overcome the limitations of the current camera (more of that in a minute), leverages my investments in canon line-up (specifically: EF 17-40mm L, EF 50mm 1.8, EX 460 flash).
I will go through my experiments/purchases, coming from a DSLR user, share how did I end up buying the X-M1 .. and what I think about it
What was I looking for:
1. Shooting in low light - my current camera maxed out at a sort-of unusable 1600 ISO. I bought a flash and learnt how to bounce it etc - but with new cameras and capabilities, the point of flash in casual settings became less and less frequent.
2. I gained a decent bit of expertise on using manual controls - using AEV, aperture and shutter settings - and getting delicious bokeh. So advanced controls was another thing I wanted in my new camera.
3. Video capabilities: I saw sample videos of DSLR cameras - and wanted to be able to take videos with the bokeh in the background, and do low light videography with high image quality
4. More resolution: In-spite of what other people say about resolution - I like to blow up the image and look at it - admire tiny details that might be missed in the overall shot when looked on the overall photo. Obviously this depends on the shot.. but my 10MP felt limiting
5. Good image quality with JPEGs: I didn't know I felt I needed better quality at first other that low light - but didnt want to loose image quality. That said - I dont do RAW conversions - and I know I am probably not going to do it in the future either.
6. Compactness: This came in as a later requirement - when I started noticing that I would use my phone more and more, and DSLR less and less - since it just was too bulky to take around people's places or trekking. That said - initially compactness was not on top of my list
7. Compatibility with my Canon equipment: I have made a bit of investment from my perspective in Canon EF equipment from last several years - nice flash 460 EX II, EF 17-40mm F4.0 L, and my first prime - 50mm f1.8. Plus B+W MRC filters. So to me Canon was the company to go for
8. Sturdiness: I have dropped my DSLR a few times on hard surface, gone to beach-side, been in light drizzles - and that thing keeps on clicking away. Want my next one to be similarly sturdy since I seem to be getting clumsier with age.
What have I tried thus far:
I waited for a few years for a good camera. I didnt want the EOS T4i / 60D since they used the old sensor - in general if sticking with Canon - why not go full-frame, right?
So I got a EOS 6D with 24-105mm F4.0 L lens plus another full frame zoom. That thing took very nice shots - the smoothness of the image and tone of color was amazing. However, the camera system was immense, esp with three lenses to carry around, and that multiplied with the complexity - resulted in my not using the camera to even part of the potential.
The next camera I eagerly waited for was 60d's replacement - hoping for something that is sturdy and takes amazing pictures. I got the 70d soon after it was released, and tried it a bit. The camera felt better than my current camera, though nowhere as good as 6D, and images were just plain ordinary. So - returned that.
Why the XM1:
I have followed a lot of photo sites in the last several years. Steve digicams, stevehuffphoto, dpreview, dxomarks, kenrockwell... they all have different perspectives and preferences. But the Fuji X system seemed to come across as a good one to look at. I couldnt find sensor or lens ratings at DXO for the fuji system - but dpreview had great sensor ratings for jpegs, and stevehuffphoto and other sites had a lot of reviews. Many of them talked about the compactness as much as the image quality. Focus speed was an issue mentioned in all of them - so it is something I had to come to terms with.
The tough thing about the XM1 or XE1 was - there was no camera available to try out and see. Meant I had to buy it and try it out. After returning the 70d, I pretty much became open to trying out something new and compact. Along came XM1 with decent rating in dpreview, plastic body with a new cheap lens and reasonable price.
Initial impressions of XM1:
I have had it for several days now - here are my initial thoughts. Note that I will keep comparing it to Canon DSLRs time to time - though I will try to give stand-alone information on XM1 at the same time.
Handling: This camera is small and tough to hold in one hand - esp if you are coming from DSLR. There is no grip, and the plastic is a bit slippery. Even compared to point and shoot - it is tough to hold because you have the big kit lens to balance. Holding with two hands is required.
Viewfinder/screen: It obviously comes with the screen - and there is no viewfinder. That screen takes getting used to - the screen is a bit tight to manipulate and so far I have not found it as easy to move etc like say a camcorder or even the flippy screens on other cameras. The screen itself is nice and bright, and comes with good options for what kind of information would you like to see on it
Control: I am a guy - so won't read a manual - right :). Kidding aside - controls is one place that this camera is still taking a little getting used to. E.g. on P mode - how do I adjust shutter and aperture; how do I change shutter speed in movies; where was the ISO again; how do I go back to viewing pictures if I zoomed out.. This may be a factor of me learning new things when moving from DSLR, but definitely not very intuitive to operate.
OIS: The OIS works ok but not great. I consider myself a steady hand - taking photos from my hand with my DSLR with kit lens OIS with exposures around 1/8 to 1/4 seconds (maybe even 1/2 if lucky). It is not possible with this camera. Not sure if this is an OIS issue or focus issue - the OIS does not work great with video either - there is more shake when making video in this camera than Canon 6D with EF24-105 F4.0L.
Focus: Not easy to do perfectly - that's one thing I can say without sounding negative. Not having a viewfinder, and instead a small green box in the screen - takes some getting used to. The focusing itself takes time - maybe fraction of a second depending on light. It is not easy to just move quickly and take a snap - the subject has to be a little still to get a decent shot. Where to focus has also been challenging - I try to shoot a subject, but it ends up focusing on the wall painting behind. Learning to focus with this system is going to be important to getting usable shots - it is definitely way tougher to use for me than a DSLR.
Wifi: The software etc is not very friendly. On the canon - using the wifi was easy - not so here. I just use the card now. Seriously Fuji - please do a firmware and software update to get this right.
Compactness: It is tiny coming from DSLRs. Very easy to pack - though not pocketable with the zoom lens. Still - taking photos of people suddenly is not a scary thing for them. A compact holster for XM1 will be very handy - will search for it.
Sturdiness: Not tried it so far. Doesn't feel very sturdy though - I am not sure if it will survive a fall onto hard surface. So I bought an accident protection plan.
Image quality: You might be thinking - why has he given it 4 stars. This section is the reason. The image quality is worlds apart from my existing DSLR. Not surprising - since I am using a 4 year old camera with kit lens. But even then - it was a huge improvement from my original DSLR. Not just that, it is also better than the photos shot from the 70d (outdoor, indoor) which was double the price. The colors, tones, are just amazing. In fact, the quality was almost on par with the 6D with the kit L lens. Quality referred here is my own non technical judgement - blowing up the image and seeing each detail; looking at overall color of skin, sky, surroundings in the shot, seeing the clarity of the images at low light. Just the fact that I am comparing a ~700 dollar camera (the price I paid for the kit) with a $2500 kit and saying it is almost as good or better - should maybe explain what an awesome tool this is for capturing beautiful images. It definitely puts the other camera/kit lens combinations I tried in the same price point to shame.
These results are with the cheap plastic kit lens - this sensor has phenomenal reviews with prime lenses - so at some point I will get one or two of them (or maybe XF Zoom) and use those.
Overall - I am happy with this purchase, and while there may something to decide between this (XM1) and a camera three times its price (6D), for now I will happily use this camera.
on August 18, 2013
After using this camera for an entire day at my brothers wedding here is my review: (Note I used a Fujifilm XF 27mm F2.8 Compact Prime Lens the whole time.) (I am not a pro, most of my pictures are taken in automatic)
Pros: Photo quality, tilt flash, great lenses available, very cool filters built in, Fn and Q buttons, start up speed.
Cons: Occasional focus issues, grip does not feel very secure, repetitive menus,
This camera feels really well built, it feels like you have something great in your hand. The grip on this camera is not all that great, the camera just does not feel secure when you are holding it. I would like to get the additional grip handle but I do not want to increase the size of this camera. Speaking of size, even with my compact lens, don't expect to put this in any kind of pocket. I wish this camera was a little smaller. The battery on this camera lasted me most of the day, around 300 pictures. I really like the flash on this camera, you can tilt the flash up or down, so you can get very cool effects. The screen is good enough to use outdoors, and the tilt feature is great for taking overhead shots. The camera starts up quick and takes pictures very quickly as well. The pictures, when the camera manages to focus, are beautiful! I am absolutely in love with the picture quality. Well worth having compared to the drawbacks.
Update : October 5 --
So I have been shooting with this camera for a few weeks now, mainly with the 27mm lens, and I realized a few things.
Why I'm gonna keep it:
1. I love the quality of pictures, they are insanely wonderful.
2. Love some of the features - burst mode is good, Adv mode is super cool for shooting with selected colors, Q button and Fn buttons are great for switching and adjusting on the fly.
3. Wireless (once you figure it out) is cool, at a party I took a few shots and was able to send the pictures to my buddy in only a few minutes. He posted them on Facebook in no time.
4. Looks I get complements on the style of the camera and I like the look and feel now.
Why I can't wait for the XM2 or XE2:
1. No view finder is a huge issue for me, especially since the cameras focus is terrible. I tried all focus modes and they still miss the mark. Manual mode with magnification tries really hard to correct the issue but the human eye is probably best for making sure a picture is sharp. I missed some good shots and will continue to miss shots, I'm sure.
on December 26, 2014
The Fuji X-M1 sits in the entry segment of the X series models but this one has the unique X-Trans CMOS sensor (the X-A1 has a normal bayer sensor) in other areas though these models are the same (controls/functions etc)
Being an entry model there are a few compromises here, firstly the most obvious one is the lack of viewfinder, secondly controls have been streamlined over higher end models and this doesn't feature the newer on sensor phase detect autofocus of the X-T1 (contrast AF here) despite this the camera still manages to achieve a very small size (very similar to the X10/20 compacts in fact slightly smaller) and it has most of the important requirements aspiring shooter might want.
I've been testing the camera extensively for a while now and made up a quick fire list of some of the better points and weaker areas of the camera. The camera is a good one overall though like most cameras does have some areas that could be better.
+ Excellent image quality easily as good if not better than equivalent rivals (with a similar sensor size) Tonality is very appealing and attractive (very subjective but I like it)
+ Huge latitude in raw files both highlight and shadow end with outstanding low light performance very minimal noise
+ Build is solid despite being plastic feels well put together no poor joints or creaking at the seams
+ Full manual controls quite good customisation and menus
+ Autofocus is good for accuracy in most cases (it's reasonably quick though can't match DSLR's for speed)
+ Start up is quick and the camera is responsive with no signs of lag
+ Fairly good buffer around 10 shots raw and about 31 jpegs at full resolution, able to take some advantage of faster cards too
+ Continuous shooting rate of 5.6fps is decent (note the points about AF)
+ Large clear 3.0” LCD is the same aspect ratio as the sensor (3:2) and sharp with a 920k resolution as well as partially articulated (up and down positions) option to brighten it up for daylight shooting (it's a bit reflective though quite clear in most light)
+ Battery life is quite good for a compact sized camera (I got about 390 shots per charge) flash use will shorten this
+ Q menu is well laid out and avoids trips into the main menu system for most common settings
+ Fn button can be user set, C position on the mode dial allows for a memory of settings to be stored (shame it is only one)
+ Hot shoe allows the use of dedicated flashes or other accessories, built in flash extends a decent bit though power is a little low (GN 7)
+ Consistent metering and white balance required little intervention for most shooting
+ Excellent flash exposures (though will increase the ISO if you let it a little too much)
+ Manual focus “peak” is useful though could use more colours (red/yellow)
+ Video is acceptable for a consumer level camera reasonable details and resolution and decent microphone quality, limited options though (you can set aperture before you start but not adjust it during recording) see cons on “moire”
+ Good in camera raw conversions you can adjust quite a few settings too (this creates jpegs from raw files but it's handy to have)
- No viewfinder, and no option to add one, no AEL button (Fn can be programmed for this)
- Continuous autofocus/tracking is weak (cannot re-focus after the first shot on cont AF) not a good choice for sports/action shooters (though with pre-focus techniques and some skill it might work)
- Raw not available for ISO 100 or above ISO 6400 (jpeg only)
- Jpegs overly contrasty by default and don't exploit the dynamic range of the sensor (adjusting the shadow/highlights to -1/-2 helps quite a lot) tendency to crush blacks
- Macro button fairly pointless (would be better to have a Fn 2 custom button)
- Battery/memory card slot is covered when on a tripod you can't change either (poor location)
- Card write light covered by your thumb
- Video shows moire and false colours when repeating patterns are in footage
- No dedicated button for ISO (you can set the Fn button to this), movie button cannot be re-programmed
- No “sweep panoramic mode” and no level gauge both are strange omissions, black and white doesn't have the filters either (red/yellow etc)
- 3 scene modes on the mode dial are wasting space, better to put them all in the SP setting (where the other scene modes are) This area would be better reserved for extra user settings
- “Top” control dial is a bit easy to move (can mean exposure compensation is engaged by accident)
- Flash exp compensation buried in the main menu cannot be assigned to the Fn1 button
- Wi-fi has limited use you can send images to devices (even a pc if the software is installed) you can Geotag images too, you cannot control the camera via the Fuji remote app which is disappointing. No option to turn this off (which could conserve battery power)
- No electronic shutter (full mechanical) though it's not obtrusive sound wise
If you don't have any lenses the “kit” 16-50mm F3.5-F5.6 is well worth getting I've done a separate review on this lens it's very good optics wise and offers a nice wider angle field of view (equivalent to 24mm)
Unlike some compacts there is no built in memory so you'll need an SD card
Raw files average at around 24MB, which is on the large side for a 16mp camera
You have a choice of only two resolutions 1920 x 1080 @ 30fps this is for some reason limited to 14 minutes time
1280 x 720 is also @30fps but recording time is 27 minutes.
AF is available in continuous though it does fine don't expect miracles esp in lower light or tracking it's not unsatisfactory for this type of camera though. Moire and false colours are an issue so this isn't going to really suit very serious video shooters, but it does fine for quick clips.
The supplied strap is a thin “pleather” type affair it does the job (same as the X10/X20 cameras) but a fabric one is preferable.
Dynamic range modes:
There are Auto, 100%, 200%, 400%
The camera will raise the ISO levels up to ISO 800 for DR 400%, (and ISO 400 for DR 200%)
In most cases DR Auto does a good job, but DR 200% is fairly safe too the camera won't show massive noise problems at all even at ISO 800.
You do get some useful "one touch" controls if you press and hold the following buttons in:
DISP/BACK: this engages the "quiet mode" this disables the sounds/flash if raised and the AF assist light
Q Button: Brightens the LCD to high levels for use in harsh sunlight
Menu/OK: This locks the 4 buttons around the Middle Menu button (and disables the video button) to stop accidental button presses
When the X-M1 first arrived last year it was fairly expensive and that might have put people off trying one, however fast forward about to the present time it's now at levels similar to budget DSLR's. In terns of what's on offer this is a solid offering, but bear in mind that the main advantages of this are the smaller size compared to a DSLR, it can't offer the same autofocus performance and that's an important point for moving subjects, also the size advantage tends to disappear once you use larger focal length lenses (which are no smaller than their DSLR equivalents) Look at what you needs are. If you're a heavy phone user and want a big step up in quality, the sensor in this camera will destroy even the most expensive phone camera, with ease.
There is a 27mm f2.8 pancake lens which when paired with this body makes for a very compact machine (albeit with a fixed focal length) I've yet to test that lens but it's an option for some if you want to keep the size down.
The biggest attraction is probably the sensor which is very capable and responds well to raw processing, it's certainly a huge step up from a tiny sensor compact in image quality. Even premium compacts will fall behind this, but bear in mind when paired with the 16-50mm lens you don't have very good close up ability and the lens is slower esp the telephoto end. If you shoot a lot of macro or close up photos a premium compact with a fast lens might be a better choice.
On the other hand if you are into experimenting a little you can acquire a lens adapter and though manual focus and aperture control you can mount and use many lenses (there is an M mount Fuji adapter available and lots of third party ones for other lens mounts) this means that even if you are invested in an SLR system you could find a use for this body with your lenses. For newer users or those keen to keep the size down this is a very viable alternative to a DSLR, but it's not for everyone (action shooters) Grip wise a little small here I find a DSLR more comfy to hold for longer periods, everyone is unique though small suits some better than others.
Couple of odd points firstly leaving out the sweep pano and some of the newer film effects (and B&W filters) strikes me as strange considering the target market for the camera, it's also a shame to see no electronic level gauge this featured on the X series compacts. Controls are fairly logical though would benefit from an additional Fn button to program, you also can't turn off the “guide” which might annoy some more seasoned users (this describes the scene/modes on screen) Wi-fi is under exploited and Fuji could look at this not having remote control of a Wi-Fi camera is puzzling. The rear control dial is in an unusual location and takes a while to get used to, it also can be pushed for some settings as well as rotated.
At the default settings jpegs are a bit harsh for my liking (too much contrast and dynamic range is a bit weak) adjusting the shadow/highlight tone helps no end. It's also worth experimenting with the DR settings to get the best out of the camera. If you are working with raw then the X-Trans CMOS has some impressive latitude in both ends able to recover highlights and pull shadows aggresively without a major impact on images. Either way jpeg and raw shooters will be impressed with the camera
I would like to see a few things tweaked and maybe Fuji will get around to adding a sweep pano and some more film modes. The lack of viewfinder is a shame too even a basic one would be welcomed (or the option to add one) it’s down to personal use on that with lighter smaller lenses the lack of viewfinder isn't a massive loss (it's certainly easier to hold a camera stability wise with a viewfinder), but it becomes awkward if you start to use heavier or longer focal lengths.
Overall the X-M1 is a very decent offering and certainly likely to appeal a lot more at this price level, despite the flaws it's a capable camera and more than able to hold it's own image quality is as good as you can get with an APS-C sensor.
I got a Fuji X-E2 a bit ago and fell in love with the pictures it took, Fuji's design philosophy, and lenses. After using it a while (and buying those lenses), I yearned for a 2nd body to double the number of lenses that were ready to go. Upon reflection, I decided I didn't need a X-E2 (or X-E1), as I rarely used the EVF. I tried the X-A1, but that camera lacked Fuji's X trans sensor (which X-M1 and X-E2 have), so I returned it.
Coming from the X-A1, this was a breeze to learn (going from the X-E2 to the X-A1 took some getting used to), and I don't imagine those new to Fuji or photography will have any issues learning this camera. It's oriented more towards novices than the X-E2 and X-Pro 1, but the results can be stellar for novices and pros alike. Manual controls are buried a bit in favor of automated modes, but the automated modes offer better than average (which is pretty good anyway) results, so don't feel bad using these. I opted to use the dials to manually control things, which all in all works quickly. The image quality and results mirror my X-E2 (with similar lenses). Speaking of lenses, the 16-50mm lens included is rather nice, and I like the focal length they chose. It's neither as well built or as fast as the available fixed focal length lenses or the 18-55mm OS lens included in pricier Fuji kits, but both are better than what you typically get in Canon and Nikon kits.
This makes a compelling choice for beginners, advanced users coming to the Fuji system, and users of other Fuji bodies looking to add an extra body. It's not perfect, nor is it pocketable, nor will it match an SLR in continuous autofocus (it's getting close in single shot scenarios). The image quality and the high ISO performance are amazing, as are the lenses. Canon, Nikon, Pentax, and Sony all have made mirrorless systems, and none can match Fuji. Sony has the bodies but not the lenses, and Canon and Nikon really haven't figured things out (I'm not sure what Pentax was going for, but I'm clearly not in that market).
As a lifelong Canon/Nikon guy I can honestly say, go ahead and go for it and get this camera.
on July 26, 2014
To begin with I am a canon DSLR owner on my third DSLR 60d with a couple of prime lenses(50mm, 85mm) and a nice L lenses. I bought this specifically for a European trip with the kids because I did not want to lug my DSLR around. Overall I have to say this camera produced the some of the best ever pictures we have ever taken. Here is my summary:
Sharp throughout its range, I could not detect any defects in the images. The quality was on par with a L lens. Since this is a f3.5 the brokeh was not as nice as a 85mm, but it still produced very nice brokeh, the colors were nice and was almost as sharp as a 50mm prime throughout its range.
Amazing pictures, and I loved the pop produced by the Velvia effect. Amazing jpegs, and I can use 90% of the images produced without editing. The noise level was on par or even better than a DSLR. I also loved the usability and most of the layout of the menus. I was able to figure out most of the features,however I would recommend reading the manual because there are some weird quirks.
I used this with aperture primary mode with face detection. Focus was mostly quick and accurate. Not as quick as a DSLR, but then again since this is not using a viewfinder having a similar level of accuracy is probably not possible.
I initially thought that I would regret not getting the model with the EVF, but not so. I found that having the tilting LCD allowed me to compose quick, and take pictures at unusual angles at very crowded locations in Paris and Italy. An other advantage is that when you ask somebody to take a picture there is no explanation needed :D.
Its easy to accidentally change settings. Make sure you check the aperture, exposure etc before taking a picture. Its good practice to do so anyway.
If you select silent mode or any bracketing mode it will turn off the flash, the flash will not fire even if it is popped up. Focus and flash cycling is slower than a DSLR. But then again I am comparing this with a DSLR which it is not, so keep that in mind.
In AV mode during daylight I have to set meter + a few notches if not the images appear a bit darker. Note that when there is a lot of light the preview appears a lot darker than reality, so keep that in mind and don't overexpose too much because of that.
The wifi app works(tried on android) but it is a bit basic and has its own quirks. For example when you browse, view and image and go back it does not remember the location, which is quite annoying when there are 100+ images.
The only other con is the lenses are super expensive. Unlike Canon there are not $100 primes , etc, but judging by the quality of the kit lens, one is probably paying $$$ for some very good glass.
Hands down this is the best ever camera I have ever owned. Produces vivid, and stunning images straight out of the camera. I am almost considering selling my canon gear, because images out of this little thing is so good. Seriously looking at the x-t1 as the next camera.
Since almost everyone has a camera these days (including phone cameras) I see two groups of users here - those who want something lighter than a DSLR, and those who want to upgrade from a P&S.
This is my first mirrorless interchangeable lens camera, and I was really interested in how it performs compared to a DLSR. I've shot DSLRs for 8 years now, and while they have been wonderful to shoot, carrying around a 15 lb backpack everywhere I go is getting to be a pain.
Unfortunately, this camera is exactly what it appears to be - better (but larger) than a P&S, not quite as capable as (but significantly lighter than) a DSLR. I've brought it along on two vacations, and used it alongside with my DSLR (Canon 5D III). They are very different classes of cameras, so I won't compare things that are obviously different (like high ISO noise performance).
Fuji has 3 different classes of mirrorless interchangeable lens cameras, this being the lowest end. What this lacks is an electronic view finder. It's been some years since I've used a camera with an EVF (Nikon Coolpix 5700) and I've heard that the technology has improved significantly. Perhaps a model with EVF would be more suitable for me, as it would address most of what I'm dissatisfied with this camera.
First, what I like about this camera : it takes great pictures under the right situations. What are the right situations? When lighting is decent, when your subject is close by (due to the only lens I have - 16-50mm), when you and your subject is not moving quickly. Even for indoor with flash, with the included kit lens, it works very well. The color and sharpness is excellent. I shot in JPEG and compared the result with the JPEG output of my DSLR and it compares favorably - and in a number of photos gave me better results straight out of the camera (i.e. without adjusting in Photoshop). When shooting in low ISO, under adequate light, the result is very impressive. Even more so when you consider the difference between the lens included with this kit and the ones I'm using on my DSLR (24-105 f/4L and 70-200 f/2.8L II IS).
Other features of this camera - the built in flash is decent and can be used as a bounce flash (though a hot shoe flash would be even better) and LCD can be tilted up / down (but not sideways).
Now for what I don't like about this compared to a DSLR.
1. Battery life. I took way more photos with my DSLR. Even then, I only needed to change batteries once in 23 days. With this camera, and moderate use, I had to change batteries every 2 to 3 days. The obvious culprit is the need to keep the sensor on and the LCD running. An EVF would solve part of the problem by not having to light up a 3" LCD. Get an extra battery. You need it.
2. Auto focus speed. Contrast based AF used in mirrorless cameras (and DSLRs in video / live view mode) is slower than phase detection in DSLRs. They are getting faster, but I notice that AF takes 2 - 3 times longer than with a DSLR,
3. Ergonomics. Holding a DSLR with viewfinder to eye, elbows close to body, results in a much more steady posture. Looking through the LCD, I find that I have a tendency to sway slightly forward / backwards after focus is achieved and before I press the shutter release all the way. This will probably improve with practice.
4. Need reading glasses. This is not something I had thought about before receiving the camera. With a DSLR, I have no issues viewing the scene I'm shooting through the viewfinder. With an LCD, to see things accurately, I need reading glasses. Anyone younger than 40 probably doesn't appreciate this, but those who are older will know what I mean. This makes it difficult to frame accurately.
5. Usability under bright light. Under full sun, it is pretty much impossible to view the LCD properly (though it is much more usable than, say, my phone). Again, hard to frame properly.
6. Grip - I have large hands. Not excessively large (I wear L or XL gloves) and it is rather hard to grip. Fuji has a grip that improves this, but it will block the battery compartment. You'll need to remove the grip to change batteries. And since you will need to change the battery fairly often, that's a deal breaker for me. It also costs about $80.
There are other concerns I have about this, such as lack of choice of lenses (especially in the telephoto range), and minor annoyances such as the difficulty in attaching the lens hood - especially in reverse mounting it. The lens also zooms in a different direction from Canon (but same as Nikon).
Overall, it is not a bad camera, produces excellent images, but it all comes down to alternatives.
1. For a mirrorless, I would definitely prefer one with a good EVF.
2. For AF speed, battery life, flexibility in lens choices, I'll stick with a DSLR. The death of the DSLR has been announced over and over, but I think it still has a few years yet.
3. If an interchangeable lens is not of much interest to you, consider more compact cameras such as the significantly less expensive Canon S120, or the almost equivalently priced Sony RX100 II.
on October 7, 2014
I love this little camera, the silver body with silver 27mm lens is most stylish combination. A 4 star review is pretty darn high for me to give. (I'm not into "star-inflation") but this little camera earned all 4 stars. It's lightweight, fits in my purse, yet takes photos that look as good as those from my Canon 5DM2 -- that's a pretty good trick for such a small camera. I love the little onboard flash and the articulating LCD which is great for taking candids (you don't need to move the camera up to your eye, just hold it in your lap to shoot--your target has not clue.)
The lenses are nice, even the low-priced 27mm. What a bargain.
I'm a semi-pro with 20+ years experience from film to digital.
I know this is incredibly subjective, but I really like Fuji's retro look when it comes to a lot of their cameras. I enjoy this with the Fuji X20, and the Fuji X-M1 continues that tradition, looking nigh identical from the front (ignoring the large 16-50mm this package comes with!).
The X-M1 is one of Fuji's mirrorless SLRs, and it offers a significant image quality upgrade over the X20, of course (as it should!).
Here's the breakdown...
1.) After a small learning period, the menus are very simple to use.
2.) Picture quality is really excellent, even in the higher ISO modes. ISO 1600 is easily usable day-to-day, which is superb.
3.) I was surprised to see that all 49 AF points are extremely sensitive. You can adjust the size of the focus area on each point, and the Fuji was excellent at focusing on each one (yes, I tested all 49. I am a nerd).
4.) Camera start-up time is really excellent. By the time I hit the power switch and move my finger to the shutter-release, it's ready to shoot.
5.) 5.6fps, while by no means blindingly fast, is competently fast.
6.) Tiltable LCD is excellent. The hinging for the LCD is all metal, and even some pressing on the hinge resulted in no obvious flex, indicating this should hold up very well over the years.
7.) The pop-up flash is enabled by pressing the flash button which releases a physical clasp on the flash. I was nervous that continued use might wear this clasp out, but after closer examination I discovered the clasp and part the clasp attaches to are both metal, and very solid-feeling. This took a flashlight to see, but I'm confident the mechanism will last.
8.) Something the X20 lacks - the flash on the X-M1 is tilt-able. Bounce-flash is the way to go, and I'm so glad that even though it's a built-in flash, it's very useful indoors for bounce-flashing.
9.) You can take a picture without a memory card in the camera. This is handy if you're just practicing and want to see your results. You can even zoom and pan and check out the photo in the camera after you've taken that (single) photo without a memory card.
10.) Tracking Focus mode is excellent. I really enjoy this feature on the X20, and it's a great tool for focus/recompose without the small loss of focus that occurs without Tracking Focus enabled.
11.) In manual focus mode, you can click the sub-command dial in to digitally zoom in quickly on your subject to check focus. This is an excellent shortcut button.
1.) Wifi transfer is there, but right now it feels more like BETA software than fully functional. Unlike the Sony RX100 MKII, Wifi is limited to transferring pictures, but not to being able to actually take pictures. I understand that having manually zoomed lenses on SLRs limits what you can do remotely, but you should at least be able to set the picture up focally, and then take the picture remotely. This is a shame! I also suffered numerous issues getting photos to my iPhone 5s. The software is flakey. It does "eventually" work, but I found it to be more of a nuisance than anything else.
2.) The sub-command dial (that's the dial right above where your thumb is supposed to go) is constantly getting knocked by my thumb. This is especially frustrating since it's a multi-function button. In Aperture Priority mode, this changes my aperture without my noticing. In Shutter Priority mode, this changes my shutter speed. I have reasonably large hands, and I need to keep my thumb higher than the designated thumb rest because otherwise it feels like the camera is going to fall out of my hands. I imagine this issue would be less with a smaller lens than the 16-50mm that comes in the X-M1 lens/body package, but still, I found this to be more frustrating than I would like. I'm learning to adapt, but it's clear this setup won't be for everybody. The sub-command dial turns very easily, much more easily than the command-dial on the right edge of the camera (when looking through it). This, I'm sure, doesn't help with the accidental knocks of the dial.
I handed my wife the XM-1, and she has the exact same problem with the sub-command dial. She has quite small hands. She physically cannot hold onto the camera without her thumb resting above the thumb rest and right on the sub-command dial, which again - can lead to unwanted toggling left and right.
3.) JPEG processing: In the picture settings, noise reduction comes as standard set to "0." This is NOT off, though. +2 is high, +1 is medium high, 0 is standard, -1 is medium low, and -2 is low. So out of the box it comes set to standard. I found a little too much "smearing" of the details with the camera out of the box, so depending on your level of expertise you'll want to use -2 or avoid this issue altogether and shoot RAW!
Overall, in terms of actual picture quality, the Fuji XM-1 is an absolute winner. It produces lovely photographs, has more modes and features than you can imagine, has a tilt-able flash, excellent start-up/response times, and that wonderfully retro look coupled with modern-day build quality. Only some niggles with the ergonomics (and wifi software) leave me dropping a half star off the score, but either way this camera should be on your shortlist if you're in the market for a mirrorless SLR.
4.5 stars out of 5.
The Fuji X-M1 is an excellent mirror-less interchangeable lens camera. It's compact and lightweight and takes excellent quality photos, excelling at high ISO speeds.
Design wise the Fuji is retro and classy looking. The overall look is very similar to a lot of Fuji's other cameras, like the X100 and X20. I own both of those cameras as well, and while the X-M1 does look very similar to them, materials quality is nowhere near as high. The X-M1 is pretty much a completely plastic affair, whereas the others are made of metal. Despite this, the buttons and dials have a positive feel to them and everything is well assembled. Even better the plastic construction keeps the weight of the X-M1 light, even with the 16-50mm kit lens attached, and is easy to carry all day long. Let me put it this way, I recently came back from a week long vacation to Disney World and I had both the X-M1 with the kit lens and a Canon 5D Mk III with the 24-70mm f/2.8 lens with me and I found myself choosing the Fuji over the Canon more often than not since it was so much easier to carry throughout the day and photo quality is almost as good. One thing I'd like to mention is that the Fuji had a spot on the sensor that I had to clean off manually since it was showing up as a blob in photos.
Features wise the Fuji is well stocked. Its best feature, besides the excellent sensor, is the tilting LCD screen on the back. It's large, high resolution, and bright. I had no trouble seeing it outdoors or at night. I used it extensively while on vacation to shoot over peoples' heads. I missed having an optical viewfinder at times, but the tilting screen makes up for the lack of viewfinder. It has all of the requisite manual controls, but the maximum shutter speed is 1/4000. I prefer cameras that go up to 1/8000 so I can shoot with a wide aperture in daylight and not have to carry a neutral density filter with me. The auto ISO setting is very customizable, with options for slowest shutter speed and highest ISO available. For those who want the camera to do all of the work for them there is also an automatic mode and several scene / creative shooting modes. The Fuji lets you bracket by exposure, ISO, film simulation, and dynamic range. The small built-in flash is not very powerful, but can be pulled back to serve as a bounce flash. The Fuji also has built-in Wi-Fi, but it's pretty limited in that you can only transfer photos to a phone and geo-tag photos by borrowing your smart phone's GPS. Plus I found the Wi-Fi clunky to use.
Besides the clunky Wi-Fi the Fuji is very easy to use. The menu system is logical and easy to figure out. It's quick and simple to change shooting settings using the two command dials (which both easily fall to hand), and there are hard buttons for white balance, drive mode, and autofocus. Lastly, there is a customizable button, and Fuji's excellent Q menu to gives you quick access to many shooting settings. One thing to be mindful of is that it is very easy to bump the top command dial and change the exposure compensation. One button I didn't understand was the Macro button. Since the macro distance is determined by lens attached, I couldn't figure out the purpose of this button, and the owner's manual didn't explain anything. Speaking of, the Fuji actually comes with a pretty comprehensive printed manual.
The Fuji is a pretty quick camera overall. It turns on quickly, however, you have to wait a second for the exposure to "equalize" so you can see the image on the screen. Focus times are always around 1 second, and the Fuji rarely hunts. It achieves focus accuracy about 99% of the time. Maximum continuous shooting speed is 5.6 fps and the Fuji will take about 13 RAW images and many more JPEGs (I stopped at 35) before it starts to slow down.
Photo quality on the X-M1 is excellent. Color, detail, exposure, and the look to the photos are great. Overall, the Fuji creates very pleasing images. The sensor is excellent and shoots at high ISO with aplomb. I was able to shoot up to ISO 3200 without worrying about noise and detail destruction. Above ISO 3200 is OK, but I reserve those setting for emergency use only. Dynamic range is also great, and the sensor holds onto highlight and shadow details well. Taken as a whole, this sensor stands toe to toe with the best sensors in this class of camera. In fact, it's better than the sensor in my Canon 7D, and slightly better than the well-regarded sensor in my Fuji X100. I shoot all of my images in RAW and convert them using Lightroom, but even if you shoot JPEG you'll still get excellent images overall since the Fuji has a terrific JPEG engine. Video performance was good as well with fairly quick focusing and good sound quality.
The kit lens performs well and gives fairly detailed images overall with corners that hold up nicely, even when the lens is wide open. It also has a built-in optical image stabilizer. Included with the lens is a hood, but it's hard to get on and off, and you have to remove the lens cap first. Still, at least Fuji gives you one... I'm looking at you Canon.
Battery life is good and I was able to take a couple hundred photos, with extensive menu navigating and photo reviewing, before I half depleted the battery.
All in all... a terrific choice in the mirror-less interchangeable lens camera class, and there are some excellent Fuji lenses available for it as well.
P.S. Feel free to ask me any questions you may have and I'll do my best to answer them.
02/24/2014 Update: Fuji has updated the firmware for both the camera and kit lens. The camera now works better with Fuji's 56mm f/1.2 lens. The kit lens now has improved image stabilizer performance.