I had the opportunity to try out the Fujifilm X-M1 mirrorless camera for a week while visiting San Francisco and the Bay Area. I immediately enjoyed the small size and weight, being used to carry around my Nikon D7000 DSLR, switching to a small gear format was a noticeable change.
The X-M1 has a 16.3 megapixel APS-C CMOS X-Trans sensor that creates very sharp images. It can record 1080p video but lacks an external microphone to get better sound recordings.
What I liked
Coming from using a Nikon D700, the change was enormous. I’m used to have a big bag to store my DSLR, a couple lenses, a cleaning kit and extra memory cards. Also having either a long BlackRapid strap or, more recently, the wrist strap version, which means I’m carrying the weight of the camera at all times in my hand. All that weight at the end of a long photo walk is heavy. With the mirrorless camera, I had a small bag with an extra lens, extra battery, cleaning kit and extra memory cards, plus I got to store my sunglasses and still had room for more.
With its large screen, having a larger surface to view your shot is comfortable once you get used to not bring the camera up to your face. The Fujifilm X-M1 doesn’t have a viewfinder, so it’s all on the screeen. For most situations that is okay, but if you’re outside in a sunny day, even with the display set to brightest it feels uncomfortable. Also, you can’t have the camera turned on and ready to shoot at all times, since the screen will be always on and will train battery life. It doesn’t have a standby mode to quickly recover pressing the shutter button or some other quick way. It has an auto off timeout and to bring it back on, you have to turn the switch off and on again.
You are not able to see the colors and exposition very well and the most hard to see in that situation is the focusing. I missed several shots because I thought it was focused but it wasn’t.
Even though it has a focus notification turning green, you’re not sure if it’s focusing on the right subject. The good side of it is that you get to see the composition of your final image right there in the screen. When not under direct sunlight, you can see how your shot will be before pressing the shutter button the whole way. This eliminates the need for “chimping” and taking another shot.
On this trip I packed “light”. I didn’t carry my laptop, only my tablet and my phone and a docking keyboard for my tablet. The wireless transfers were a feature I appreciated because otherwise I would have to wait until I get back to get the images off the SD Card. The good part, is that you can transfer your photos to your mobile devices using the app. It needs WiFi, so if you’re on the road you can’t transfer your photos to your device right there. You need to wait to get WiFi to do it, unless you can create an ad-hoc wireless network. Oh and most hotels have a sign-in page after you’re connected to the WiFi, and it won’t work with those. There is no way to do the sign-in in the camera.
For a more professional and deep review of the camera, checkout Digital Photography’s review of the Fujifilm X-M1.
Here are more shots taken with the camera and all shots from my San Francisco visit post were taken with it too.