Review Date: September 3, 2013
Category: Beginner to Serious Amateur
Photoxels Gold Award – Beginner Interchangeable Lens Camera
This Fujifilm X-M1 Review is based on a production model [Firmware versions: body and lens v 1.0]. All sample images are unretouched, except where specified.
Beginner excellence. If you are planning to upgrade from your point-and-shoot camera to an entry-level DSLR, STOP! You can now have the same features, performance and image quality in a body a fraction of the size and weight in the Fujifilm X-M1. The X-M1 retains the X-Trans CMOS image sensor that has received high praise in its bigger brothers, the X-PRO1 and X-E1, as producing images with the same — or even better — quality than many top-end DSLRs, while simplifying (but not dumbing down) the controls.
While the X-M1 officially targets beginner photographers, it is also fully featured and therefore also interests advanced users who desire to travel light but are not willing to compromise with excellence in image quality. Its XC16-50mm kit lens is currently the best kit lens available, but the X-M1 will accept all premium XF prime and zoom lenses.
The X-M1 may lack some of the more current features such as a touchscreen LCD, an EVF, auto panorama and filters during movies, but there’s no other APS-C interchangeable lens camera (except the X-E1 and X-PRO1) that can give you outstanding image quality in such a compact package. It does, however, include AUTO modes, Scene Modes, Film Simulation, and filter effects for still photography to help the beginnner photographer. (Sometimes, I feel that less gimmicky features allow the photographer to concentrate more in actually composing and taking pictures.) Fujifilm has a history of listening closely to its camera users, and this is readily seen in the firmware upgrades it puts out regularly, even for cameras that are a couple of models old. So, based on the X-M1 owners’ input, it may at some point add some of the most requested features through a firmware upgrade (though, of course, I can’t guarantee that it will).
However, make no mistake, the X-M1 is not just a camera to upgrade to from your point-and-shoot; it’s for those who are seeking a bit more than that. It’s for those who do not want to compromise with image quality, who wants a camera to take still pictures, first and foremost. If all you want is to keep all the gimmicky features on your point-and-shoot but upgrade to a camera that takes better pictures, there are lots of other cheaper models to choose from. At its price point, the X-M1 discourages lots of these snapshot shooters. It is marketed as a premium entry-level mirrorless DSLR.
The X-M1 looks beautiful in its classic retro stlying reminiscent of a 35mm rangefinder camera, feels solidly built and handles well for its compact size. I also love the fact that, though its lens collection for the X-series cameras is currently limited (to 5 prime and 3 zoom lenses), what lenses it does have are excellent and recognized among the very best, and the number of premium lenses is growing each year.
The Fujifilm X-M1 is a camera that I can easily recommend to anyone who wants to start learning about photography. You can start with AUTO and scene modes, but at some time in your learning you will want to take control of the exposure settings, and this is where the X-M1 will make it easy to understand with its twin command dials. For many of you considering a purchase, its outstanding image quality will be the deciding factor for it stands right up there with that of top end DSLRs. All in a beautiful, solid and compact package. Highly recommended!