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 – Build and handling
Fuji’s X100 premium compact camera was one of the models that kicked off the current trend for styling compacts and CSCs like vintage cameras. Fuji’s other X-series cameras have continued in the same vein, including the new X-M1. The camera looks fantastic, and would be as much at home in a display cabinet as it would in a photographer’s hand. However, cameras aren’t there just to be looked at, and while style is important for some, it is how the camera handles and the quality of the images it produces that really matter.
To keep the cost of the X-M1 down, the camera’s body is constructed from a rigid plastic rather than the magnesium alloy used for the rest of the X series. The retro style of the camera fools you into thinking that the camera will be of a reasonable weight, but when you pick it up it is actually far lighter than you anticipate. The construction of the camera presented no problems and I found it to be sturdy, with no rattles or creaks.
The general layout on the rear of the X-M1 will be familiar to most photographers, with a directional control and shortcut buttons providing access to the camera’s menu system. There is a separate quick-menu button, which gives direct access to the most commonly changed shooting settings. Image settings can also be accessed in this way, which is useful for changing options like dynamic range optimisation and image styles without having to navigate the main menu.
Two dials on the X-M1 are used to change the various exposure settings. The dial on the rear of the camera is the most commonly used, while the dial on the top-plate is set by default to adjust exposure compensation. I found that using these two dials allowed exposure settings to be changed very quickly. However, I did have an issue with the dial on the top-plate, which moved rather too easily. This meant that often I would remove the camera from my bag to find that the exposure compensation had been nudged slightly to a new setting. While this isn’t the end of the world, it did result in some overexposed shots before I realised the error and adjusted it back to the correct position.
In common with many cameras at this level, Fuji has included an articulated screen on the X-M1’s rear. A few years ago, these screens tended to increase the depth of the camera significantly, but improvements in technology mean that this screen is only 1-2mm shy of being completely flush with the back of the camera.
Overall, the X-M1 handles very well, although the lack of viewfinder means that it doesn’t quite replicate the experience of using a film camera in the same way that the other X-series models do.