Fujifilm has brought its interchangeable-lens camera (ILC) 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 when compared with competitors. The X-E1 has an electronic viewfinder and mic input, and uses less metal in the body, but 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.
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 analogue-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.
Another trade-off is the new kit lens, which sounds like a typical 16-50mm f/3.5-5.6 OIS. One of the nice things about the X-E1 kit is its relatively fast (f/2.8-4) 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.
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 stand-alone, 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 non-professionals to justify buying into the series. (However, at first glance, we 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 f/2.8 lens, a rather modestly priced AU$599 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.
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.