Categories
Photography

Fujifilm X-M1 mirrorless camera review

Fujifilm X-M1 mirrorless with 18-55mm kit lens and 50mm pancake lens

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.

Fujifilm X-M1 mirrorless camera

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.

Fortune cookie at Great Eastern

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.

Fujifilm X-M1 with 50mm pancake lens

It all fits in a small bag

Small camera bag

X-M1 mirrorless camera fits in my hand

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.

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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.

Unfocused sushi

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.

Garden

Table football players

San Francisco from Treasure Island

Bullets in the floor

Rock lady in San Francisco

Categories
GNU/Linux Free Software & Open Source personal

Galaxy Nexus with Ice Cream Sandwich from Telcel

Galaxy Nexus box

I was lucky to get an online coupon to get the Galaxy Nexus phone on launch in Mexico (Telcel carrier) last thursday.

The software and usability

I wanted to give the phone some use before writing about it so I waited some weeks to post anything about it. I think it’s a very fast and elegant phone and the new operating system is key to its success. The good news is that the Galaxy Nexus was not altered by the carrier, so it has no crapware on it. It’s 100% Google’s Android Ice Cream Sandwich.

Having used for months the Samsung Galaxy Tab with Honeycomb, moving to ICS was not a big deal to me, but I can imagine that it would be a big leap for Gingerbread users. The interface is very different and they way you interact with apps has also changed. Since there are no “physical” buttons, or touchable buttons like in the Galaxy S and S2, all buttons are on screen. The menu button is gone, so for apps that use it you need to look for a button that has three vertical dots. That can be very confusing at first, but having used the Honeycomb’s Gtalk and Gmail apps, it was easy to figure that out immediately.

One friend once complained about Android taking too long to open the contacts list. On the Galaxy S it took a couple seconds to load. I don’t know if this is Samsung specific or all 2.x versions had this lag. On ICS there is no lag when opening the contacts list, it has a very fast scroll and it has a very nice and clean design.

For the security aware people, ICS now comes with an option to encrypt your phone, a feature that was present in Honeycomb as well for the tablets (but I hadn’t tried until now). The bad news about it is that once you decide to encrypt your phone, you can no longer use swipe, pattern or face unlock screens. Only PIN and passphrase unlock screens are available. I didn’t expect that but I don’t mind, I “ported” my pattern to a PIN and use that. I can’t imagine typing a passphrase everytime you want to unlock your phone.

Galaxy Nexus with Ice Cream Sandwich

The hardware and design

On the hardware design part, I like the fact that the headphone jack is at the bottom and not at the top like in the Galaxy S, this makes it more comfortable and a more natural movement when taking it out of your pocket without having to flip it around. I sometimes miss the front button that you could tap quickly to turn on the screen.

My surprise though, was that when I read the Galaxy Nexus official website, it says it has 32Gb of internal storage and no indication of any alternative options. The version I got, has only 13Gb and since it has no SD card slot to expand your storage, this can get quite limited.

The Galaxy Nexus has a multicolor notification LED that is very practical to see what type of notification you haven’t seen. The downside is that the LED blinks very slowly, so you have to stare at your phone for a couple seconds to see if there’s anything blinking. On the Galaxy S I used BLN notification and when I had a notification, the LEDS were always on. If only I could make the Galaxy Nexus LED blink faster it would be more practical.

Compared to the Galaxy S2, the phone’s camera is “smaller” on the Galaxy Nexus, and by that I mean that it has a 5 megapixel camera vs the Galaxy S2’s 8 megapixel camera. The good news is that it has a zero delay shutter speed so as soon as you hit the button, the picture is taken. Long shutter lags was one of my biggest rants on previous phone cameras, so for me this is a must have on every phone from now on.

Battery lasts longer than my Galaxy S, for which I’ve had to buy an additional battery because it drains so quickly. Still you have to take the normal battery saving considerations of turning off things that you don’t need, but it still lasts longer on idle. It’s a bigger battery as well, so it might be just that.

Conclusion

Having used the phone for a couple weeks now, I noticed that for me there was little difference in speed and usability to use the Galaxy Tab with Honeycomb or the Galaxy Nexus with ICS. But I could feel a difference when using the Galaxy S with Gingerbread. I went on a weekend trip taking only my phone and I didn’t miss my Tab or my laptop to do my causal browsing and information consuming “needs”. But I couldn’t say the same if I just had the Gingerbread phone, the larger screen and the commodities of ICS in the Galaxy Nexus makes it a very fast and comfortable mobile device. ICS is a very well built mobile operating system that is not designed as only a smartphone like the 2.x Android versions. I’m very happy with this new phone and I recommend it greatly.