The Fujifilm X-M1 is Fuji’s third retro-styled compact system camera. It has the same 16.3-million-pixel, APS-C X-Trans CMOS sensor as its older siblings, in the most affordable X-system body yet, but does this mean a compromise has been made on image quality? Read the Fujifilm X-M1 review to find out
Fujifilm X-M1 review – Noise, resolution and sensitivity
These images show 72ppi (100% on a computer screen) sections of images of a resolution chart, captured using the 16-50mm lens set to 35mm and f/8 . We show the section of the resolution chart where the camera starts to fail to reproduce the lines separately. The higher the number visible in these images, the better the camera’s detail resolution is at the specified sensitivity setting.
As it has no anti-aliasing filter, the Fujifilm X-M1 produces images with more detail than we would expect from a standard 16-million-pixel sensor. This does make a difference when viewing images at 100% on screen or when making large prints, but if you only ever print at 6x4in or view your images in a window on a computer screen, you really won’t be making the most of the extra detail that this sensor can produce.
Under the default noise-reduction settings, luminance noise is well controlled, with the first signs of noise reduction arriving at ISO 400. At about ISO 800, the noise reduction starts to take the edge off fine details, and when the sensitivity reaches ISO 1600 there is very little difference between the X-M1 and most other cameras with 16-million-pixel, APS-C-sized sensors.
The ISO 100 setting displays a level of detail that is indistinguishable from the ISO 200 setting. The very highest settings, ISO 12,800 and ISO 25,600, are available only when shooting JPEGs.
Images produced are about on a par with the equivalent settings from other cameras: they look quite speckled, and there is a significant amount of noise reduction taking place that reduces all the fine details to a blur.
That said, there is virtually no colour noise, even at the highest sensitivity settings.
I felt that setting the camera’s noise reduction to its low setting produced slightly better JPEG images. The noise reduction didn’t really appear to make much of a difference until ISO 800, and at sensitivities higher than this, more detail was visible than in a comparable image with the noise reduction set to default. Of course, luminance noise is more prominent in the low setting, but I feel this is a good compromise between noise reduction and image detail.
It is when shooting raw images that the level of detail resolved by the 16.3-million-pixel sensor really comes into its own. At low-sensitivity settings, raw images require very little, if any sharpening. At around ISO 1600, images can be adjusted so that colour noise is completely removed and luminance noise reduced, and with a slight nudge of the sharpening slider there is still a good level of detail.
Overall, the performance of the X-M1 is very good. Throughout the ISO range, images are usable, although perhaps the ISO 200-6400 range available with raw shooting should be the working range of most photographers. I would feel completely confident using the camera to shoot raw images at between ISO 200 and ISO 800, which is similar to the performance we have seen from other cameras with 16-million-pixel APS-C sensors.