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Fujifilm X-M1 Digital Camera Review

fujifilm20140728ca.jpgDigital Camera Review by: Paul Burgess 


There is a certain feeling of nostalgia that this style of camera evokes, the distant memory of a camera sitting on my parents coffee table back in the late 70's and early 80's next to a couple of rolls of FujiColor. The classic shape, the silver and black styling, the feeling of anticipation you got when you popped the back of the camera open, after having wound the film back of course.  While I wasn't actually allowed to use my parents camera a lot due to my age at the time, it was these memories that came flooding back when I opened the box revealing the new Fujifilm X-M1.

 

Appearance / Functionality


The X-M1 looks to be the entry point for the X series cameras that have the 16 Megapixel

X-Trans based image sensor.  This style of camera is typically targeting those who are wanting all the functionality, flexibility and quality of a Digital SLR bundled into a smaller package. Externally the X-M1 has a nice neat, clean design. It feels great when sitting in your hand, all the buttons you need to access are easy to locate and the menu system is simple and clear.  The model I received for review was the X-M1 in silver.  Personally I am a fan of the classic black and silver look however my wife loved the look of Fujifilm's X-A1 in red faux leather with a silver lens. The X-M1 units are available in silver, black and brown and come standard with a 16-50mm lens as a part of the kit.


fujifilm20140728cb.jpgAll the dials require visible movement and give a solid click when positioned so you know it has been moved and repositioned even without actually eye balling the change. The shutter button has a light and responsive feel.  Personally I loved the traditional feel of this cameras dials.  These combined with the more modern buttons you use to operate the menu system and cameras shot options give you a camera that is easy to find your way around and importantly take photographs with.  Reviewing the photographs or replaying a video is simple and accessed via a single play button on the back of the camera.  There is a dial wheel sitting at the top, rear aspect of the camera that is used to zoom in and out of photographs making it easy to check out your shots. The Q(uick) menu button gives you icon driven access to all aspects of your shot selection and customisation options with the press of the button.  Video recording is performed through a dedicated movie record button which means you dont need to mess around in a menu system to locate movie mode.


During shooting you are able to alter the point of focus in the image to any one of the 49 auto focus points available easily through the  AF button on the back the camera. This invokes the auto focus selections on the display and you simply then pick the AF point you desire. The shot bracketing options supplied in the XM-1 give you the traditional Exposure Compensation along with ISO, Dynamic Range and Film Simulation bracketing.  The rather interesting option of bracketing using the film simulation effects includes the Fujifilm Provia, Astia and Velvia traditional film types.  All the standard shooting options including shutter priority, aperture priority, full and a host of other automatic modes are available. Fujifilm has also supplied an advanced SR Auto function which allows the camera to automatically detect the type of scene and expose according to one of the 58 in built scene types.  Of course there is a full manual option as well for those of us that really want to get our hands dirty.   If you want to get creative there is even an option that allows you to shoot two different images and combine them into a single photograph something I used to do many years ago when shooting film. And for reference, we used a SanDisk memory card during testing for reliability and speed.

 

Image Quality


fujifilm20140728cd.jpgThe X-M1's 16.5 million pixel X-Tran APS-C sensor (23.6mm X 15.6 mm) is the same size as you will find in most Digital SLR's other than those at the upper end of the market where a full frame sensor is provided. The X-Trans sensor array however distinguishes itself from the traditional sensors seen in a regular Digitial SLR through the archtitecture of the sensor itself.  Fujifilm has figured out a way to eliminate the need for the traditional optical low pass filter which in other sensor tends to soften an image and was corrected in software during post production. The X-Trans sensor in combination with the EXR Processor II produces images with  resolution and clarity that rivals those of the sensors in much larger and more expensive Digital SLR's.  The ability for this this camera to produce sharp images in dim lighting conditions without camera shake or noise appearing was very impressive and a testament to the camera body, image stabilisation and lens quality.


Throughout the testing of this camera I was capturing both a raw image and a JPEG.  The jpegs the camera produced have plenty of contrast, colour saturation and reproduce lovely skin tone. Skin tone reproduction is definitely a highlight of this camera.  You will be able to print straight from camera and achieve great results.  I really did like the raw files produced and a correctly exposed image produced a file that maintained great detail in the dark areas of the image with a lot less contrast than the jpeg created at the same time.  This is great for those wanting do their own development of the images in the Fujifilm supplied SilkyPix raw processor or through Adobe Camera Raw or Lightroom.  Furthermore, these can be easily retouched and viewed at their best if you’re lucky enough to own an EIZO monitor.

 

View street test images via our Facebook page 

 

Lens Quality


fujifilm20140728cc.jpgFujifilm has bundled the X-M1 with its standard 3.5-5.6 16-50 mm lens. Setting a focal length between 20-50mm and apertures between 5 and 11 the images are sharp and crisp with a nice soft feel to the areas of the image beyond focal depth of field.  At 16mm you are able to capture great wide angle shots and the lens performs beautifully provided you keep your apertures between 5.6 and 13.  Composing images with interest in the foreground and allowing the mid ground to also remain in focus is a breeze. When you start to really push the extremes of the lens shooting at 16 mm and smaller apertures (16-22 ) the images do start to soften at the edges. This is an not unusual phenomenon and also occurs in many of the wide angle SLR lenses out there in the market.  The lens is well constructed, compact and light enough to not detract at all from the cameras portability.


During the review of this camera I was fortunate enough to also have access to the Fujinon XF55-200mm F3.5-4.8 lens.  Personally I was blown away by the ability of this lens to produce  sharp images even under difficult conditions including low light and extended exposure times.  The performance of this lens is amazing given its price point.  The array of lens options available under the X-Mount system is numerous indicating Fujifilm is clearly committed to this format.  New to an already impressive range are the XF55-200mm F3.5-4.8, XF23mm F1.4 and the ultra portable pancake XF27mm F2.8.

 

LCD Screen / Viewfinder

 

fujifilm20140728cf.jpgThe display for this camera is a 3inch 920,000 dot LCD tilt screen supplying 3:2 aspect ratio the same as the sensor. What you see is pretty much what you get with this display.  The flexibility of the moveable display and being able to view it from above and below the camera will save your knees when you are shooting low to the ground and allow you to get above all those heads at the next crowded event you attend.  The mechanism holding the panel in place feels really solid boding well for the longevity of the camera.  The display itself is bright and clear producing slightly warm skin tone and nice colour.  It is easily viewed in strong light and if you find there are reflections preventing you from viewing the image during shooting it is easy to reposition it to eliminate this as a problem.
 

Video

 
The X-M1 can record video in 2 formats, Full HD 1920 by 1080 at 30 frames per second or 1280 by 720 at 30 frames per second using H.264 compression and .mov format.  Full HD continuous recording is available for a maximum recording time of 14 minutes and the 1280 by 720 resolution recordings can be extended out to 27 minutes.  The X-M1 will continuously adjust its focus during video recording.  Fujifilm recommends at a minimum an SD Class 10 card or better. An SD card like the Sandisk Extreme Pro 280MB/s SDHCII memory card used during the evaluation of the camera is the perfect solution to your video recording requirements. Connectivity to TV's and receivers is performed through the cameras HDMI port.
 

 

 

 


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Conclusion

 

The XM-1 is quality camera mixing the latest and greatest in image capture technology Fujifilm has to offer with the lens quality of its X-Mount range. It is packed with features that let you get creative with your photography. The only limit is your imagination.  Whether you shoot taking advantage of the numerous automatic modes, in built scenes or prefer to operate in full manual mode this camera will not disappoint you. I would have loved to have spent another month shooting with this camera as it constantly surprised me with the quality of the images it was able to produce.

 

Recommendations 

 
Camera House Click Through
SanDisk Click Through
EIZO Click Through
   

Ratings

 
 
Appearance rating 4 stars
Functionality rating 4 stars
Image quality
4.5 stars
Video quality
4
Lens quality
4.5 stars
LCD screen 3.5 stars
Value for money 4 star
Street Price - Body
$999 (AUD)
Street Price - Lens Kit $1,099 (AUD) (With 16-50mm & 50-230mm)
SPACER.GIF  
Effective Pixels 16.3 megapixels
Sensor Type
23.6mm x 15.6mm (APS-C) X-Trans CMOS with primary color filter. 
Image Sizes 9 Sizes / 3 Aspect
Lens Interchangeable
Lens Mount
Fujifilm X-mount
Resolution Settings - Stills 1920 x 1080 30p, Continuous recording: approx. 14 min.
1280 x 720 30p, Continuous recording: approx. 27 min.
Resolution Settings - Video 1920 x 1080 30p, Continuous recording: up to approx. 14 min.
1280 x 720 30p, Continuous recording: up to approx. 27 min.
Face Detection Yes
Manual Focus Yes
Auto Focus Yes
Aperture Priority Yes
Shutter Speeds Focal Plane Shutter.
Advanced SR AUTO mode: 1/4 sec. to 1/4000 sec.
All other modes: 30 sec. to 1/4000 sec.
Bulb: max. 60 min.
Synchronized shutter speed for flash: 1/180 sec. or slower
Shutter Priority Yes
ISO AUTO / Equivalent to ISO200 - 6400 (Standard Output Sensitivity)
Extended output sensitivity: equivalent to ISO100 / 12800 / 25600
LCD Monitor 3.0-inch, Aspect ratio 3:2, Approx. 920K-dot Tilt type TFT color LCD monitor (Approx. 100% coverage)
Viewfinder -
Flash Manual pop-up flash (Super Intelligent Flash)
Guide number: Approx. 7 (ISO200·m), approx 5 (ISO100 · m)
Hot Shoe Yes
White Balance Auto / Custom / Preset (Fine / Shade / Fluorescent light (Daylight) / Fluorescent light (Warm White) / Fluorescent light (Cool White) / Incandescent light)
Self Timer 10 sec. / 2 sec. Delay
Stills Format/s
JPEG (Exif Ver 2.3)*2 / RAW (RAF format) / RAW+JPEG (Design rule for Camera File system compliant / DPOF-compatible)
Video Format/s Movie File Format: MOV
Movie Video Compression: H.264
Audio: Linear PCM Stereo
Video Recording Time/s -
Storage Type - External SD memory card / SDHC memory card / SDXC (UHS-I) memory card
Storage Type - Internal
-
Connectivity Digital interface: USB 2.0 High-Speed
HDMI output: HDMI mini connector (Type C)
Others: Remote release terminal for RR-90 (sold separately)
Power Source Battery Charger BC-W126
Battery Options NP-W126 Li-ion battery
Battery Life Approx. 350 frames (with XF35mmF1.4 R lens)
Dimensions 116.9mm (W) x 66.5mm (H) x 39.0mm (D)
Weight Approx. 330g (inc battery / memory card)
Approx. 280g (excl battery / memory card)
















 


 

 

 
 

 

 

 

About Fujifilm

 

FUJIFILM brings continuous innovation and leading-edge products to a broad spectrum of industries, including electronic imaging, photofinishing equipment, medical systems, life sciences, graphic arts, flat panel display materials, and office products, based on a vast portfolio of digital, optical, fine chemical and thin film coating technologies. The company was ranked number 15 for U.S. patents granted in 2006. Fujifilm is committed to environmental stewardship and good corporate citizenship.

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