Performance

Overall Performance

The E-M1, like the E-M5, is a quick overall performer and is ready to shoot in under a second after startup.

AF performance, as discussed in more detail in the Auto Focus page, is very good with native Micro Four Thirds lenses using contrast detect AF. With the lovely (and costly) 12-40mm F2.8 Pro, focus speed is extremely fast. Using Four Thirds lenses, it uses phase detect auto focus with mixed results - outside in good light focus speeds are good, but moving to dimmer indoor conditions will challenge this new system.

Shot-to-shot the E-M1 is very quick. While the camera is writing to a memory card shooting is still available, and is happy to let you keep doing so with only slight hesitations from the buffer.

Continuous Shooting and Buffering

The E-M1 promises a maximum 10 fps continuous shooting rate (H mode) with a couple of stipulations: I.S. must be turned off, and focus is locked from the first frame, as is exposure. Olympus engineers claim the E-M1 will meet these claims with either the 12-50mm F3.5-6.3 or 12-40mm F2.8 Pro lens. In the slower L mode, the E-M1 will shoot at up to 6.5 fps with continuous auto focus (although it's set to 6 fps by default).

There are a couple of important differences between H and L modes, which aren't necessarily immediately obvious. In L mode, the camera maintains a live view feed and can refocus between frames, which means it's better for shooting moving subjects. In H mode focus is fixed once you start shooting, and rather than showing a live view feed between frames, the camera plays back your recently shot images. This helps you to maintain framing just as long as the subject isn't moving too much, but isn't so good for panning.

We tested the E-M1's continuous shooting rates with a 16GB Class 10 UHS-1 SanDisk memory card and the 12-40mm F2.8 Pro lens.

Sequential H

Timing
JPEG Large/Fine
RAW
RAW+JPEG Fine
Frame rate 10.0 fps 10.0 fps 10.0 fps
Number of frames 67 shots 40 shots 35 shots
Buffer full rate* ~2.7 fps ~2.1 fps ~1.6 fps
Write complete 8 secs 14 secs 20 secs
* Frame rate will 'hiccup' on occasion when buffer fills up

Sequential L

Timing
JPEG Large/Fine
RAW
RAW+JPEG Fine
Frame rate 6.0 fps 6.0 fps 6.0 fps
Number of frames 134 45 39 shots
Buffer full rate ~4.9 fps ~2.3 fps ~1.6 fps
Write complete 10 secs 14 secs 23 sec

The E-M1's continuous shooting rate exactly matches its specification in our tests. The buffer is pretty impressive too - the camera will keep on shooting for several seconds at 10fps, even when recording RAW. It will continue to shoot at a reduced rate when the buffer is full, too, with the exact speed dependent upon whether you're shooting JPEG or RAW. Overall we can't see much to complain about here.

Battery life

The E-M1 uses the same BLN-1 lithium-ion battery as the OM-D EM-5 and E-P5. This battery packs 9.3Wh of energy, which translates into a CIPA rating of 330 shots per charge (perhaps a touch low for an 'enthusiast' camera, but about standard amongst mirrorless models). The included BCN-1 external charger takes a leisurely 3 hours to bring the battery to full charge.