Quick Review – Fujifilm X-M1

08Oct13

We recently received a Fujifilm X-M1 single lens kit instore, here is a  quick review of the camera. This is by no means a full on tech review, there are plenty of sites out there like dpreview who have done such awesome reviews and get into the nitty gritty of the camera, this is a quick hands on go with the camera and is an initial impression.

Fujifilm’s X series have garnered a reputation of being superb technology with excellent optics and classic looks that deliver superb images. The original X-100 started the run with its fixed 35mm lens and APS-C sensor, unique hybrid VF technology and stunning results.

Fuji launched the X- series of interchangeable system cameras in January 2012, and unlike many new systems, Fuji launched the X series with a range of high quality prime lenses with the X-Pro 1.

Since then Fujifilm have added more lenses, including some zooms and several more bodies, including the X-M1 that i’ll be reviewing here.

The X-M1 differs from the previous X- series cameras in that there is no eye level finder and the screen is tiltable, but Fujifilm’s unique and proprietary X-TRANS CMOS sensor.

For those who haven’t heard of the X-TRANS sensor, Fujifilm have developed the sensor so that the color filters over the diodes are not in a pattern that is linear and repeats quickly, this means that the sensor acts more like film did, and with that it also means that the sensor does not need the resolution hurting Optical Low Pass Filter that is on nearly every other sensor, which means better resolution and low light performance.

Enough of the tech speak, lets talk about the camera as a unit.

First thing you notice when you pick the camera up is that it looks and feels like an old camera from the 60’s – 70’s but it is most definitely a 2013 camera.

The camera feels well built in the hand, if a little small for my admittedly large hands, but even with my big hands, the controls are well placed, with the 2 control dials both accessible using only a thumb. The Mode dial is well placed on the top right of the body, but has very firm click stops so accidental shifting of the mode dial is greatly reduced.

The battery and SD card are housed under the one door on the base of the camera, right beside the tripod mount, this is not centered, and is off to the right of the lens, so panoramic shooters using pano tripod heads wont like this as the point of turning is not down the middle of the lens.  The other big thumbs down with this is that if you are using a tripod and need to change battery or memory card, you have to take the camera off the tripod, remove the tripod shoe to get at the battery and card… Not so good Fujifilm, a separate SD card slot would have been much better.

Using the X-M1 is fantastic, turn the power on and your ready to shoot in 1/2 a second,  settings are easily changed thanks to the twin control dials, and the customizable function button which by default provides a shortcut to ISO, but can be set to 1 of 14 other functions.

On the back of the camera, there is a button labelled Q, this is a quick menu button, this places the most important settings on one page and allows rapid changing of settings such as film simulation mode, Dynamic Range,  shooting resolution and quality.

One of the X-M1’s other features is built in Wifi, this allows you to send images to a computer, smartphone or tablet without cables to review. Fujifilm have developed the app for both Android and iOS devices, its pretty easy to use, go to Google Play or Apple app store and download the free app for the device.

Using the Android version as a reference, start the app, choose if you want to receive an image, browse the camera, or geotag. in the playback mode of the camera, push the fn button at the same time as the connect button on the device, choose the image and send to the device.  It is a little complicated, but for reviewing work on a bigger screen its not bad. Unfortunately we can’t control the camera on the device.

Image quality from the X-M1 is as per the X-Pro1 and other Fuji cameras using the X-Trans sensor, in otherwords, excellent, colors are rich, tone range pretty good and with the X series lenses,  sharp with little distortion.

The range of lenses for the X series is increasing all the time and the lenses are all excellent. The included XC 16-50mm f3.5-5.6 is image stabilized and delivers a 28-75mm equivalent focal length.

I do like the X-M1, its a really neat camera that despite some interesting decisions (such as the off center tripod mount), it  does lots, is really customizable, and will reward photographers with superb images with a little effort  yet is small enough and light enough to not be noticed.

 

 

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