Olympus OMD-EM1 mini Review

Started 5 months ago | User reviews thread
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Andrew Ellis
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Olympus OMD-EM1 mini Review
5 months ago

Thought I would do a quick review of my OMD-EM1 after owning it for a few months and most importantly, having recently used it in anger as my main camera for my 2 weeks holiday in Crete (over 700 shots taken).

Normally, I would take one of my Nikon DSLR bodies (Either my D800 or D4), and whilst their quality of images is pretty much unsurpassed and stunning, taking either of the bodies away with their inherent size and weight disadvantages (especially combined with full frame lenses), as well as the obvious “hi I’m a tourist with a really expensive camera” syndrome, made me what to take another “travel” camera that wasn’t so “blingy” (and expensive). I recently bought into M4/3 to test the waters, with a Panasonic GX7, which whilst really nice with great image quality, was just a touch too small for me, so started looking again and dropped upon a great deal on a new OMD-EM1 with the 12-40 F2.8 Pro lens.

I must admit, having since purchased quite a bit of M4/3 kit, I was in a bit of a quandary as to what to take with me, but in the end settled on the following:

Olympus OMD-EM1 Body (no grip) as main camera

Panasonic GX7 (as back up)

Lens wise I took the 12-40 F2.8 Pro, the Panasonic 7-14 F4, 35-100 F2.8, 20mm F1.7 II and the Olympus 60mm F2.8 Macro.

Looking at my photos when I got back, I think I could have got away with just the 12-40, as according to imageplot, over 80% of the photos were taken with that lens, only 25 with the 7-14 and just 6 with the 35-100.

Anyway, reading the on-line reports about EVF damage due to sunlight shining in the eyepiece and damaging it did, I have to be honest, make me a little concerned, as the Mediterranean summer is very hot and bright. In the end, for me at least, there was no need to worry as the camera performed just fine, and in the end I gave up worrying about it and just slung the camera over my shoulder as I would any other, and it never missed a beat. One surprise was battery life. I had taken 3 batteries with me everyday, and never needed to change the first one out at all. That’s despite plenty of photos, lots of chimping the screen and quite a few HD videos. Obviously not as good as a DSLR, but my MILC standards, not too bad at all.

One thing I really liked was that the camera went pretty much unnoticed by most people and that’s just what I was hoping for. Also, as mentioned in the 38 deg sunshine of the island of Santorini, it was a doddle to carry around all day and I never once bemoaned the weight or complained of aching shoulders (try that with a D4 and 24-70 F2.8 all day!). The camera overall performed brilliantly, and the EVF with it’s instant playback of exposure changes was a godsend in the harsh sunshine.

Back at our holiday Bungalow, I downloaded the images to my MacBook Pro and they looked stunning (something about those Retina screens that seems to make every camera look their very best). Of course proof of the pudding is printing. Since I’ve returned I’ve made 3 off A3 (16’”x 12”) prints of my favorite images, and to be honest at that size, I doubt even the D800 or D4 would look much better. Images were sharp as a tack, with lots of DR, lovely subtle graduations in the blue skies, and noiseless. Yep, even for a M43 camera, at ISO200 on an A3 print without any noise reduction at all, skies were completely noise free.

Could it be better… yes I suppose after all, no camera is perfect. I did miss the swivel screen of my GH3 a few times when shooting at low angles, where the just titling screen of the OMD didn’t afford the best of views. GPS built into the camera (or at least via an add on device) would be nice, as I think the current set up of using a cell phone’s GPS then syncing is clunky, and means having your phone with you at all times. Finally, one weird issue is that I had the blinkies set to warn me of clipping during exposure, and quite a few times, I ended up with up to 1ev negative EV compensation to retain the highlights. However when imported into LR (5.5), those images looked really dark, and I was using the exposure slider and ending up nearer +1ev compensation to make it look OK and even then the highlights were still OK. So I don’t know what’s going on in camera whether its over sensitive of not, but in the end I just left at -1/3 EV compensation and all images from that point looked great.

So that’s it really, the OMD-EM1 passed all my expectations (and even superseded some of them), and have me some of my best memories from a holiday in many a year. It’s light, relatively small, goes unnoticed, yet still punches above it’s weight image wise. For anyone on the fence, I would suggest you go out and try one – it might just surprise you ! Will it replace my full frame Nikon kit – No, but it’s a perfect addition to it.

Thanks for reading.

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Lets make pictures, not war........

 Andrew Ellis's gear list:Andrew Ellis's gear list
Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ3 Nikon Coolpix P7100 Nikon D3 Nikon D200 Nikon D300 +12 more
Andrew Ellis's score
4.5
Average community score
4.8
bad for good for
Kids / pets
great
Action / sports
okay
Landscapes / scenery
excellent
Portraits
excellent
Low light (without flash)
okay
Flash photography (social)
excellent
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= community average
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