Enthusiast interchangeable lens camera roundup (2013)
Olympus OM-D EM-1
16MP Four Thirds CMOS Sensor | On-sensor phase detection AF | Built-in Wi-Fi
What we like:
- Great image quality
- Compact size (for class)
- Super-fast focus
What we don't:
- Complex customization
- Disappointing video
- Loses some of the format's size advantage
The E-M1 is the highest-end Micro Four Thirds camera so far - competing head-to-head with the best enthusiast-level APS-C DSLRs. It sits above the excellent E-M5 and offers even more direct control, as well as improved focus tracking and faster performance with Four Thirds lenses. Although large for a Micro Four Thirds model, it and its native lenses are considerably smaller than the likes of the Nikon D7100.
"The E-M1 has become one of our favorites in this class"
The E-M1 rivals the Fujifilm X-Pro1 for color rendition and generally its JPEGs are among the best in the business, with good tonal response and sensible noise reduction. Its smaller sensor means you need brighter lenses to match the depth-of-field control offered by its APS-C rivals, but its image quality in both Raw and JPEG modes is competitive by all other measures.
Being the largest camera in its range allows the E-M1 to offer plenty of direct control, and its '2x2 dial' interface offers one of the cleverer solutions to putting the settings you want at your fingertips, when shooting with the camera to your eye. Beyond this, the interface is highly customizable - sometimes maddeningly so - meaning a little effort on the part of the user is rewarded with a shooting experience tailored to your requirements.
Overall the E-M1, despite our concerns about whether Micro Four Thirds still made sense in a camera so comparatively large and expensive, has become one of our favorites in this class. It's feature-packed, its image quality is excellent and its improved focus tracking meant we rarely found ourselves missing anything a DSLR would offer.