Olympus OM-D E-M1 Review
The E-M1 is the second model in Olympus's OM-D series and extends the range further into semi-pro/enthusiast territory. There are two main distinctions that set the E-M1 apart from its little brother (the E-M5) - a more sophisticated autofocus system and a 'buttons for everything' design approach. As such the two models will coexist, with the E-M1 sitting at the very top of Olympus's lineup.
The biggest technological step forward on the E-M1 is the addition of on-sensor phase detection elements, giving the camera two distinct focus modes. The phase-detection system is used when lenses from the original Four Thirds system, which were designed for use that way, are attached. With native, Micro Four Thirds lenses, the camera will mainly stick with the contrast detection system that has proved so fast and accurate on the E-M5. Only if you use tracking AF will the camera utilize phase-detection information with a Micro Four Thirds lens.
The E-M1 also gains the excellent 2.3M-dot electronic viewfinder panel we first saw as the VF-4 accessory for the PEN E-P5. Not only is the resolution very impressive, but the viewfinder optics give a viewfinder with magnification of up to 1.48x (depending on display mode), which puts it only a fraction behind the 0.76x viewfinder in Canon's 1D X and ahead of Nikon's pro-grade D4 DSLRs.
There's also a more advanced 'TruePic VII' processor in the E-M1 that conducts a variety of lens corrections, when creating JPEGs, leading the company to proclaim the best image quality offered by one of its cameras. Not only can the E-M1 remove the colour fringing caused by lateral chromatic aberration, Olympus says that it also tunes its sharpening to take into account the lens's sharpness, and to combat any softening due to diffraction (particularly at very small apertures).
The biggest difference between the E-M1 and the E-M5, though, is the degree of direct control on offer. We really liked the E-M5's twin-dial control system, but the E-M1 goes beyond that by providing button-and-dial combinations for quickly changing almost every imaginable setting on the camera. It's the kind of approach you don't usually get until the very top of manufacturers' lineups - it means you have to get used to where every function is, but can shoot fluidly once you have.
The E-M1 inherits the '2x2' dial approach Olympus previously used on the E-P5 - flicking a switch on the camera changes the dials from controlling shutter speed, aperture or exposure compensation to changing ISO and white balance. However, all this direct control doesn't come at the expense of the potentially slower but easier to find touch-screen interface - the E-M1 has this too. Overall the camera can be operated pretty much however you fancy.
Olympus OM-D E-M1 specification highlights:
- 16MP MOS Four Thirds format sensor with no low-pass filter
- On-sensor phase detection elements
- Twin control dials (front and rear) with '2x2' dual-mode option
- '5-axis' image stabilization with automatic panning detection ('S-IS Auto')
- ISO 'LOW' (100 equiv) - ISO 25,600
- Up to 10fps continuous shooting (6.5 fps shooting with continuous AF)
- 1.04M-dot 3" LCD touchscreen display - tilts 80° upwards and 50° downwards
- Electronic viewfinder: 2.36M-dot LCD, 0.74x magnification (equiv.), eye sensor
- Built-in Wi-Fi for remote shooting and image transfer to smartphone or tablet
- Dust, splash and freeze-proof (to -10 °C)
Gained over the E-M5
- True Pic VII processor, with lens corrections
- 1/8000 sec top shutter speed, 1/320 sec flash sync
- Built-in microphone socket (rather than optional accessory adapter)
- Flash X-sync socket
- Built-in Wi-Fi
- Focus 'peaking' display
- In-camera HDR blending (two modes), previewed in viewfinder
Four Thirds is dead. Long live Four Thirds.
As well as representing the highest-end Micro Four Thirds camera yet, the E-M1's role is also about offering continued support for users of the original Four Thirds SLR system. Olympus created some very nice Four Thirds lenses, but the company struggled to make enough impact in the SLR market to justify the cost of continuing development for both systems in parallel.
The company claims to have studied what the E-M1 and a hypothetical 'E-7' SLR could offer, and concluded that, while image quality, durability and speed would have been the same, the OM-D design allowed both a substantial size advantage and a much greater viewfinder magnification than would be possible with an optical finder. As such the E-M1 should be considered the successor to the E-5.
We'll look at the performance of the camera with Four Thirds lenses in a little more depth later in this article. But in principle, the on-sensor phase detection autofocus system should be much more effective than contrast detection when it comes to controlling Four Thirds lenses, all of which were primarily designed to be driven by phase detection-based systems.
The Camera Store has reported that on May 15, 2019 their store was robbed of a Sony lens and camera, and an employee subsequently sprayed with bear spray while attempting to apprehend the suspect.
Voigtländer's 21mm F1.4 Nokton lens for the Sony E mount has been officially announced.
Google complies with an executive order and resulting blacklists that prohibits US companies to do business with certain foreign entities.
Dutch public broadcaster VPRO has published a documentary called '#followme' that takes a behind-the-scenes look at how some Instagram influencers game the system trough shady tactics.
Nikon says it will fix affected Z6 and Z7 camera units free of charge (including shipping), even if the camera is out of warranty.
Looking to get in on the instant camera fun? We tried every model and think the Fujifilm Instax Mini 70 strikes the right balance between price and features – the Instax Wide 300 is our choice if you crave a larger format.
We talked to executives from Ricoh about the company's broad portfolio of imaging products, the GR III's warm reception and what they make of the surge in popularity of mirrorless cameras.
A new week, a new special edition Leica.
Reuben Wu's ethereal landscapes are lit by drone-mounted light sources rather than the sun or the moon. We talked with him about his process, the equipment he uses and what inspires him.
Earlier today, the Federal Aviation Administration issued a notice stating that recreational drone users are limited to where they can operate.
Chris and Jordan take a look at Canon's latest, tiniest Rebel and get a serious sense of déjà vu as they take a look at its still and video capabilities.
Nature photographer Erez Marom shares his experience shooting the famous Ijen volcano in Indonesia – from the best time to begin the hike to the crater to the equipment needed to withstand the toxic environment.
While Canon and Nikon have lost double-digit percentages year-over-year for their respective imaging divisions, Sony has managed to come out in the green, albeit not by much.
Photo software developer On1 has introduced an update of its raw processing application that it claims is up to 50x faster than the previous version and which includes a host of new features.
Don't expect any new features or functionality. These updates are simply to improve the overall stability of eight Sony camera systems.
A rotating mechanism on the Asus ZenFone 6 does away with the need for a front-facing camera.
Canon's diminutive Rebel SL3 (also known as the EOS 250D and EOS Kiss X10) is currently the smallest DSLR on the market, but it comes with a proven sensor, an updated processor, and more. We've taken our review copy to New Orleans and back, and put it in front of our studio test scene – see how it stacks up.
Instagram has brought live the update to its Explore tab that brings more content and better organization to the forefront of the user interface.
No one ever said 1TB of storage in a form factor smaller than your thumbnail would come cheap.
Honor has already revealed some sample photos including EXIF-data from its upcoming 20 Pro flagship phone.
The latest in a line of celebrities caught using pictures without permission, singer Ariana Grande is being sued over images she posted on Instagram.
Now that we've wrapped up our final review of Sony's mid-range a6400, we're taking it into account as a whole; here's how we think it stacks up for some common photographic use cases.
Nikon has released firmware version 2.0 for its full-frame Z6 and Z7 mirrorless cameras, and its all about autofocus. The update adds Eye AF, improves performance in low light, and allows for full-time auto-exposure subject tracking at 12 fps.
Adobe has released an update to Adobe Lightroom CC, Adobe Lightroom Classic CC and Adobe Camera Raw that includes a new tool it calls 'Texture.'
DJI has strayed away from drones and gimbals to unveil what might be one of its worst-kept secrets, the Osmo Action.
The latest high-end smartphone from OnePlus comes with all-new camera modules for rear and front.
Profoto has released the A1X, an upgraded version of its A1 speedlight that features improved battery life, faster recycling times, an updated display and up to 20 channels.
The Osmo Action is DJI’s first entry into the action cam space. The 4K rugged action camera utilizes DJI’s built-in stabilization technology, offers dual screens, and like the Osmo Pocket, is simple to use. Take a closer look.
Researchers in China have created a camera that can record through the atmospheric pollutants of Shanghai to pick out objects just 60cm (2ft) high at a distance of 45 kilometers (28 miles).