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
|And I'm feeling all fingers and thumbs by Dutch Newchurch|
from Your City - Coffee Break
|Stitch that - macro by Beatsy|
from Household objects- Macro only
|Fiddling Around by garyjb|
from Concert musician playing
|wet red by George Veltchev|
Meet the HP ZBook x2. The so-called 'world's most powerful and first detachable PC workstation,' it was built with creative professionals in mind, and is being debuted at Adobe MAX.
PDN sat down with Ahmed Fakhr, director of photography at RollingStone.com, to talk about how the famed publication is adapting to the changing photo and video needs of the modern era and how he 'evaluates the skills of potential contributors.'
Kudos to Canon. Earlier today, the camera giant announced that it had produced its 90 millionth EOS camera and 130 millionth EF-series lens.
The ROV Slider is a portable, motorized slider that promises to bring 'beautiful cinematic video and time-lapse' shooting to anybody with a smartphone, GoPro or DSLR that weighs less than 5lbs.
The new Surface Book 2 laptops come with Intel's 8th generation quad-core processors and NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1050 and 1060 GPUs. In other words: they pack a serious punch.
Leica is resurrecting a portrait lens from the 1930s: the Thambar-M 1:2.2/90. This lens features just 4 lens elements, and was famous for its spherical aberration that creates extremely soft images.
Google's Visual Core is an Image Signal Processor designed to power and accelerate HDR+ processing and other imaging tasks in the new Pixel 2 devices (and beyond).
The Google Pixel's camera is among the best we've reviewed, and its successor has already been hailed as class-leading. With expectations set high, the Pixel 2 has nonetheless left a very good first impression on us as we shot some initial sample images.
Leica is one of the oldest names in photography, and has long been one of the most prestigious. Recently, we had the opportunity to visit Wetzlar, to see for ourselves how Leica's lenses are put together.
Canon went and put an APS-C sensor in a G series compact. The result is a mighty tempting camera for travel.
Google Photos is adding a few pet-friendly features that will make it easier to find photos of your favorite pooch. Now, you can organize your pet photos by facial recognition, and you can even search your library by breed.
Colorful tripod maker MeFOTO has launched a new tripod... and a whole new brand name. Meet the GlobeTrotter travel video tripod, the first product to be released under the MeVIDEO brand.
If you own a Moto Z, you'll soon be able to attach a Polaroid instant printer to it. Check out the unreleased Moto Mod, which was leaked earlier today.
DJI has developed a technology called AeroScope that allows law enforcement to identify and track airborne drones that are breaking UAV regulations, while simultaneously addressing privacy concerns.
The Nikon D850 is a 45.7MP full-frame DSLR with an autofocus system lifted wholesale from the pro-sports focused D5. 4K capture, continuous shooting at 7 or 9 frames per second make it sound like the ultimate all rounder. Is it all that these specs suggest?
The Mate 10's Kirin 970 chipset with integrated AI processing allows for object recognition, motion detection and automatic scene selection in the camera app.
DxO has announced version 3.0 of the iOS app for its 'One' connected camera. It adds support for multi-camera Facebook Live broadcasting and both time-lapse still and video capture. Android users will be pleased to hear that a One for their platform is on the way, as well. Several new accessories are available, including a battery pack.
Canon has introduced the PowerShot G1 X Mark III, which borrows the 24MP APS-C sensor and Dual Pixel AF system from the company's recent mirrorless and DSLR cameras, adds a 24-72mm equiv., F2.8-5.6 lens and puts them into a lightweight body – but it'll cost you quite a bit.
It's not often that we see a genuinely interesting compact camera, and the Canon PowerShot G1 X Mark III is one such beast. We've pulled out the top features of the camera and tell you why they matter – and put the Mark III up against the competition.
Apple's HDR effect in the iPhone 8 Plus is on by default and more aggressive than in previous generations. It's also good enough to convince DPR contributor Jeff Carlson to leave it on all the time.
Canon's 28mm F2.8 IS USM may be small in size, but it's big on fun. We wrote about our experience using it as our only lens in Big Sur, California, but in case you missed out on our full gallery, take a look to see what this little lens can do.
Travel photographer Elia Locardi tells the story behind this gorgeous (and rare) panorama of the Dubai cityscape draped in fog.
Bison, drift cars, horseback riders, antelope – from the beach to the race track, the Sony 100-400mm G Master is one versatile piece of kit.
"Wildlife photography in Yellowstone National Park is an incredible opportunity, yet some bad photographers are giving all photographers a bad name by not following the rules."
Casio's bionic-looking new action camera, the GZE-1, is built with extreme sports in mind. The little camera is drop-proof, freeze-proof, dust-proof, and waterproof to 50 meters.
Yashica recently released the digiFilm Y35: a camera that tries to simulate the "experience" of shooting film... and it's just the worst.
Western Digital has revealed some interesting new technology that, it claims, will allow them to develop 40TB hard drives by the year 2025.
Photographer Micael Widell wanted to see just how affordable it could possibly be to get into digital photography—so he bought a full DSLR kit with battery grip and 50mm lens on eBay for just $80.
Confused about DxOMark's scoring system? This straightforward video by Marques Brownlee breaks down how DxO gets its scores, and why you should always look beyond that "overall" number.
It's not exactly a revolutionary device, but the iPhone 8 Plus does promise some evolutionary updates in the camera department. DPR contributor Jeff Carlson has been putting the 8 Plus to the test in some everyday shooting situations – take a look at how it fared.