DPReview Gear of the Year Part 3: Olympus OM-D E-M1
16 MP sensor | Large high-resolution EVF | Weatherproof construction | Wi-Fi
One of the privileges of working for DPReview is that we get to shoot with all of the latest and greatest cameras. Over the past year I've got my hands on most of the top-end SLRs and mirrorless cameras, and used some pretty exotic lenses. All have their own strengths and weaknesses, and inevitably a couple of inexplicable design decisions too. But of all this year's top cameras, my favourite has to be the Olympus OM-D E-M1, especially when paired up with its M.Zuiko Digital ED 12-40mm F2.8 PRO 'kit' lens.
Olympus OM-D E-M1 - What I love
- Excellent image quality in both JPEG and RAW
- Extensive array of external controls
- Superb electronic viewfinder - large and high resolution
- Tilting touchscreen
- Weatherproof construction
- 12-40mm F2.8 zoom is optically superb
As a disclaimer, I'm naturally predisposed to like the E-M1. I started using Micro Four Thirds shortly after reviewing the Panasonic 20mm F1.7, initially buying the DMC-GF1 with this tiny pancake lens as a complement to my SLR. But over time I found myself using it more and more, and when the OM-D E-M5 appeared last year I bought one to use as my main camera for personal shooting. I love this camera because it offers image quality that's good enough for most of what I want to do, in a small, lightweight and highly capable package (and crucially, with equally compact lenses).
The E-M1 takes the E-M5 and improves on it in almost every imaginable way. It's more pleasant to hold due to its large, comfortable grip, and has a comprehensive array of external controls to place almost every shooting setting at your fingertips. It has built-in Wi-Fi to share your pictures, or use your phone as a remote control complete with onscreen live view - a surprisingly useful feature. Overall it just feels like a genuinely serious photographic tool, giving up nothing compared to high-end APS-C SLRs like the Nikon D7100 or Pentax K-3. Crucially, it's simply a great camera to pick up and take out shooting.
What else does the E-M1 have going for it? Its electronic viewfinder is excellent - large and high resolution - and personally I find it to be the best of any mirrorless camera yet. Indeed, perhaps for the first time, I really don't feel it's in any way worse than shooting with the optical finder of an SLR, just different (and in some ways better). The E-M1 is also genuinely fast and responsive, and its autofocus is unerringly accurate. It includes Olympus's somewhat under-appreciated trick of taking face detection a step further and being able to focus specifically on your subject's eyes. This may sound like a gimmick, but it genuinely seems to work.
Seven years ago, before I started working at DPReview, I shot almost exclusively with an SLR, taking everything in RAW and post-processing my shots until they were just so. But in the intervening years I've really come to appreciate the value of high quality out-of-camera JPEGs for everyday or social shots (not every image has to be tweaked to perfection), and the E-M1's are very good indeed. I also really like the portability offered by mirrorless systems; the E-M1 itself may not be the smallest of its type, but I can fit a comprehensive Micro Four Thirds lens set into a bag that I would otherwise use to carry an SLR with just a couple of zooms.
|Olympus OM-D E-M1 + M.Zuiko Digital ED 12-50mm 1:3.5-6.3 EZ|
Of course I'm something of a lens geek, so have to talk about the E-M1's premium 'kit' lens - the M.Zuiko Digital ED 12-40mm F2.8 PRO. This offers a really useful range (24-80mm equivalent), lightning fast and silent autofocus, and well-implemented manual focus (not traditionally a strength of lenses for mirrorless systems). But crucially, I've been really pleased with its image quality, and found barely anything to complain about at all so far. A high-end camera needs a high-end lens to shine most brightly, and the 12-40mm certainly fits the bill.
Mirrorless cameras have really come of age over the past few years, and indeed reached a point where the size advantage of the overall system has, for me, really started to outweigh any disadvantages compared to SLRs. There are still subjects that SLRs are better for, of course, but I don't tend to shoot them. Picking the best of the current crop of high end mirrorless models isn't easy - I'm also a huge fan of Fujifilm's X-Pro1 - but if I was selling every camera I own and starting afresh, the E-M1 would probably be the one I'd buy.
This is part 3 in a series of articles where DPReview staff will be highlighting their personal standout products of the year.
Olympus OM-D E-M1 Sample Images
Dec 28, 2015
Feb 28, 2016
Dec 30, 2015
Dec 23, 2015
|Nectar Dancing by Lensmate|
from A Big Year - birds
|Sad clown by PEB|
|Mtl Gen X 2015 DP by MarioSS|
from - Gen X - (In Full Colours+ Border)
In this article, expert macro photographer Thomas Shahan shares advice for successful closeup photography of bugs, insects and small animals.
DJI's new firmware makes it difficult to fly in restricted airspace, even when you have proper clearance. Is DJI placing themselves between professionals and the FAA?
Go behind the scenes with National Geographic photographer Renan Ozturk and see what it takes to capture a dangerous, harrowing, stunning Nat Geo photo essay.
Erez Marom tells the story behind this ominous photo of the sand 'reaching up' towards the mountains at Skagsanden beach in Norway. He calls this photo 'Torment.'
DPReview staffer Carey Rose has taken the Panasonic Leica DG 15mm F1.7 along for everything from a city-side boat ride to a bachelor party across the mountains. Find out how the little Leica fared.
Canon just unveiled the largest 12-ink printer on the market. The new imagePROGRAF PRO-6000 printer can make prints from 17 all the way up to 60 inches wide.
"Standing in one of the holiest places on earth, I felt uneasy," writes Wired's Jason Parham. "Most of my fellow visitors, I realized with a brief bloom of nausea, were taking selfies."
Christopher Nolan's Dunkirk has been receiving great reviews, but it's a challenge to see it in its full glory. This handy infographic reveals the aspect ratio chaos that is wrought as the industry retreats from film.
Anti-bullying organization Ditch the Label's Annual Bullying Survey 2017 reveals yet again that Instagram, more so than any other social network, has a the worst effect on youth mental health.
It's been a crazy day for innovative patent news. Apparently Sony is thinking of developing a medium format curved sensor camera.
An update to the Silkypix Raw converter fixes some bugs and adds support for several popular new cameras.
This crazy custom-built underwater camera shoots 8x10 large format film. It's supposedly "the first successful underwater 8x10 ever made," and it can be yours for $5,800... plus shipping.
Blackmagic just reveled a new accessory for their Cintel Film Scanner. The Cintel Audio and KeyKode Reader can capture KeyKode data and high-quality audio from film in real-time as it is being scanned.
A new Nikon patent shows a lens designed for a curved full-frame sensor. Could this be the high-end Nikon mirrorless camera people are hoping for?
The ability to shoot images at 1,000 fps first appeared in a Sony smartphone sensor. Now the Japanese manufacturer is using the same feature for industrial applications.
Astronomy expert and photographer Dr. Tyler Nordgren thinks you should "see your first eclipse, photograph your second." But if you do plan on taking photos this August, here are a few tips from someone who's been there.
How confident are you that you can spot a manipulated photo? A recent study at the University of Warwick shows that many people are pretty bad at it.
If you purchased a Leica TL2, do NOT attach Leica's Visoflex electronic viewfinder. Leica is working on a fix, but for now, it's possible the viewfinder will break your camera.
Google just released Motion Stills for Android. Unlike the iOS version, the Android app uses a redesigned video processing pipeline that processes each frame of a video as it is being recorded, creating instant results.
A huge copyright lawsuit between photography firm VHT and Zillow Group is heating up again, as both sides appeal a court ruling that granted VHT $4 million in damages.
European Space Agency astronaut Thomas Pesquet spent 6 months on board the International Space Station where he worked with Google capturing spheric panorama images that are now available in Street View.
It's official. PDN has confirmed with parent company Aurelius that 94-year-old lighting company Bowens is indeed going out of business.
The newly launched firmware version 1.06 fixes AF-issues that can occur with some lenses that are not officially compatible with the MC-11 converter.
Voyager is a waterproof smart light stick you can control entirely from your phone. The light has already blown past its $300K funding goal on Indiegogo.
2018 is the last year Photokina will take place during the traditional end-of-September dates. In 2019, Photokina will take place from the 8th to the 11th of May.
The Canon IXUS 50 (known as the SD400 Digital ELPH in North America) was one of a string of high-performing, pocketable PowerShots of the mid-2000s. In this week's throwback Thursday, Barney casts his mind back to 2005.
A close look at the EOS 6D II's Raw files suggest its dynamic range has taken a significant step backwards compared with the company's recent DSLRs. We look at how much difference this might make for your photos.
With a full-production review unit in our hands, we've got over 100 production samples from the new Canon EOS 6D Mark II to share.
Need a break from your day? Kick back and watch the making of a somewhat unconventional mojito filmed on Canon's new EOS 6D Mark II.
The Bonfoton Camera Obscura Room Lens can turn any room into a camera obscura, projecting the view from your window onto the walls of your room.