Shortcut Shooting: Working with the Fujifilm X-M1
I’ve been wanting to try the mirrorless experience for a while, so today I took the Fujifilm X-M1 for a test drive around Midtown Manhattan. Coincidentally, there was a veterans parade going up 5th Avenue, so I put the camera to the test photographing anything and everything that caught my eye, from the parade to junk on the street. Here’s my take on the camera.
The Fujifilm X-M1
To give a quick rundown of the camera, it’s got a 16 megapixel APS-C sensor, 49 points of focus, and standard ISO from 200-6400, with extended sensitivity up to 12800 and 25600.
The Fujifilm X-M1 lacks a viewfinder, but I keep holding it to my eye anyway, before I realize my mistake and adjust the tilting LCD screen to mimic a waist-level viewfinder. I keep making this same mistake because I keep getting lost in the experience of shooting with the X-M1. Like a point and shoot on crank, and packing some next-level sensor tech, I’m blown away by the ease and resulting quality of my smallest attempts.
A Preponderance of Presets
The ease doesn’t come from my own photographic skills, though. Right out of the box, users will find the Fuji X-M1 childishly easy to operate, due in no small fact to the overwhelming presence of presets designed to mimic everything from film effects to High Dynamic Range, and even 12 shooting modes.
Of those twelve modes, macro is not one of them. I found it surprising that macro mode could only be enabled by selecting it in camera menu (there is a macro button on the back of the camera, but pressing it will then require the user to select the macro mode from the camera menu).
with macro turned on
A Manual Mess
When I move into manual mode, the camera becomes more difficult to use. To give Fuji credit, the X-M1’s aperture and ISO are easy to change. And the presence of a dedicated exposure value dial sweetens the package. However, it was a headache to find and change shutter speed. Much easier, it seemed, to simply switch back into one of those twelve shooting modes and give up trying to make the camera work for me.
Filter Field Day
The presets offer some eye-pleasing photographs. The toy camera preset is especially entertaining. I’m a holga/lomo/lo-fi junkie, you see…and I experiment with a lot of my shots in post-processing, but this camera takes this to the next level by shooting in a designated style to begin with. Other cool preset effects include the soft focus filter, and the color pop filter, which offer tailor-made images for those of us who are too lazy to learn these effects in detail. Even budding professionals will have something to add to their already-hackneyed repertoire: a filter that removes all color except one (users can choose between red, yellow, orange, blue, green, and purple).
The X-M1 has a built in flash that pops up and lurches forward over the camera. For it’s rickety-looking construction, it performs well.
The resolution is stunning, and even with the kit lens, you can crop your images closer than you should with a shot from a 50mm lens.
The camera itself is light, and looks ultra-stylish. It’s very easy to hold and operate, and the menu can be navigated, given some time. Another bonus? Shooting in Fine JPEG (which delivers some near-RAW results in this camera) will free you up to shoot longer FPS, and this puppy delivers. Just pressing and holding the shutter, and watching those crisp photos take themselves, is a joy to behold.
I miss the viewfinder, but love that waist-level experience. The presets of the Fujifilm X-M1 will definitely appeal to people who want to take hi-res photos with cool visual effects, but photographers hoping to go manual with this model are in for a confusing blunder.