Fujifilm's latest X marks a better-priced spot

With a friendlier price and some worthwhile trade-offs, the latest addition to Fujifilm's X series of interchangeable-lens compacts aims for the more mainstream photographer.

Lori Grunin

Lori Grunin

Senior Editor / Reviews

I've been writing about and reviewing consumer technology since before the turn of the century. I'm also a photographer and cat herder, frequently at the same time.

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Shop for Fujifilm X-M1 (Body Only, Brown)

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Fujifilm brings its interchangeable-lens camera line down another price notch with the addition of the X-M1. It's essentially a cheaper version of the X-E1, which swaps the viewfinder for a host of other features -- a move that's probably bound to confuse some buyers.

The X-M1 is based around the same antialiasing-filter-free X-Trans sensor as the X-E1, probably the new model's most notable feature compared with competitors. While the X-E1 has an electronic viewfinder and mic input, plus uses less metal in the body, in trade-off the much cheaper X-M1 has a larger, higher-resolution LCD, built-in Wi-Fi for image transfer, and an updated EXR Processor II from the X100S. Continuous-shooting specs are just a hair slower.

A closer look at the Fujifilm X-M1 (pictures)

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From a design standpoint, the X-M1 is a very different animal than the X-E1. With physical shutter-speed and exposure-compensation dials and a reliance on a manual aperture ring on the lens, the latter directly targets analog-shooting enthusiasts. The X-M1 is far more "digital," with a typical mode dial, frequently used shooting functions mapped to the directional navigation buttons, and an odd vertical adjustment dial on the back.

The new XF27mm f2.8 lens Fujifilm

Another trade-off is the new kit lens, which sounds like a typical 16-50mm f3.5-5.6 OIS. One of the nice things about the X-E1 kit is its relatively fast (f2.8-4) 18-55mm OIS lens. It will be interesting to see if retailers offer a custom kit combining the X-M1 body with the better 18-55mm lens; a lot of folks don't care about the viewfinder and are willing to forgo the all-metal body. If the street price of the X-M1 body eventually falls to about $100 below manufacturer price (which is quite likely) it seems like it's be an excellent matchup for the same price as the X-E1 kit.

On the flip side, if you like the EVF of the X-E1, the XF 16-50mm will be the cheapest XF lens yet -- though Fujifilm won't be selling it standalone, at least initially -- and might make a buy-in to the series a little more palatable for some. One of the biggest issues with the X series ILCs are the expensive lenses; they're good, to match the sensor, but make it hard for nonprofessionals to justify buying into the series. (However, at first glance I don't see an aperture switch or ring on the lens, which is pretty much a requirement to operate with the X-E1.)

And speaking of lenses, Fujifilm took the opportunity to announce its XF27mm f2.8 lens a (for them) rather modestly priced $449.95 pancake lens that, like the 16-50mm lens, uses the company's Super EBC coating and has a seven-bladed aperture. It also looks like it lacks an aperture control for operation with the X-E1.

Here are some comparative specs (will update with more complete X-M1 specs when they become available):

  Fujifilm X-M1 Fujifilm X-E1 Samsung NX300 Sony Alpha NEX-6
Sensor (effective resolution) 16.3MP X-Trans CMOS
16.3MP X-Trans CMOS
20.3MP hybrid CMOS 16.1MP Exmor HD CMOS
23.6mm x 15.6mm 23.6mm x 15.6mm 23.5mm x 15.7mm 23.5 x 15.6mm
Focal-length multiplier 1.5x 1.5x 1.5x 1.5x
Sensitivity range ISO 100 (exp)/ 200 - ISO 6400/25600 (exp) ISO 100 (exp)/ 200 - ISO 6400/25600 (exp) ISO 100 - ISO 25600 ISO 100 - ISO 25600
Continuous shooting 5.6fps
11 raw/15 JPEG
(10fps with fixed exposure)
Viewfinder None EVF
2.36 million dots
100% coverage
2.4 million dots
100% coverage
Hot shoe Yes Yes Yes Yes
Autofocus n/a 49-area
Contrast AF
105-point phase-detection, 247-point contrast AF 99-point phase detection, 25-area contrast AF
AF sensitivity range n/a n/a n/a 0 - 20 EV
Shutter speed n/a 30-1/4,000 sec.; bulb to 60 min; 1/180 x-sync 30-1/6000 sec.; bulb to 4 minutes; 1/180 x-sync 30-1/4,000 sec.; bulb; 1/160 sec x-sync
Metering n/a 256 zones n/a 1,200 zones
Metering range n/a n/a n/a 0 - 20 EV
Flash Yes Yes Included optional Yes
Wireless flash n/a No No No
Image stabilization Optical Optical Optical Optical
Video 1080/30p H.264 1080/24p H.264 1080/60p/30p; 1080 x 810/24p; 720/30p H.264 MPEG-4 AVCHD 1080/60p @ 28, 24Mbps, 1080/ 24p @ 24, 17Mbps, 1080/60i @ 17Mbps; H.264 MPEG-4 1440 x 1080/30p @ 12Mbps
Audio Stereo Stereo; mic input Stereo; mic input Stereo; mic input
LCD size 3-inch tilting
920,000 dots
2.8-inch fixed
460,000 dots
3.3-inch tilting AMOLED touch screen
768,000 dots
3-inch tilting touch screen
921,600 dots
Wireless connection Wi-Fi None Wi-Fi Wi-Fi
Battery life (CIPA rating) n/a 350 shots n/a 270 shots
(with viewfinder)
Dimensions (inches, WHD) 4.6 x 2.6 x 1.5 5.1 x 2.9 x 1.5 4.8 x 2.5 x 1.6 4.8 x 2.8 x 1.1
Body operating weight (ounces) 12.1 (est) 12.4 (est.) 10.9 (est) 12.3
Mfr. price $699 (body only) $999.95 (body only) n/a $749.99 (body only)
$799 (with 16-50mm lens) $1,399.95 (with 18-55mm lens) $649.99 (with 20-50mm i-Function lens) $899.99 (with 15-60mm PZ lens)
n/a n/a n/a n/a
Ship date July 2013 November 2012 March 2013 October 2012

The X-M1 jumps into a very competitive segment; there are a lot of cheaper, excellent ILCs, and the X-Trans sensor tends to be a little weak on video, so the camera might not appeal as much to the consumer crowd. And the Samsung NX300 comes in a similarly two-tone look with the digital feel. It seems nice, but only testing will tell.