Conclusion

What we like What we don't
  • 18 fps continuous shooting with AF
  • Good buffer depth
  • Minimal EVF blackout and a fast refresh rate make it easy to follow fast subjects
  • Sticky subject tracking in stills and video
  • Pleasing JPEG color
  • Good resolution and dynamic range for Micro Four Thirds
  • Hand-held high-res mode for added resolution of stationary subjects
  • Good quality Cinema 4K/24p
  • Excellent image stabilization in stills and video
  • Comfortable grip, good ergonomics, handling and customizability
  • Robust build with extensive weather-sealing
  • Minimal rolling shutter when using e-shutter
  • Two batteries provide adequate shooting time
  • Two UHS-II card slots
  • Microphone and headphone ports
  • USB charging
  • AF-C performance a bit behind competition
  • Larger sensor competition offers better dynamic range and noise performance
  • Log video capture includes less dynamic range than most rivals
  • No easy way to check charge of second battery without digging through menus
  • Menus can be overwhelming (and have lost some labels for navigation)
  • Can't use 'Live ND' during interval shooting
  • Headphone/Microphone gets in way of LCD when flipped out

Overall conclusion

'Let's not join 'em, let's beat 'em!' - is what I imagine someone at Olympus shouting when the E-M1X was conceived. Because while other brands seem busy prioritizing large-sensor systems, Olympus put its efforts into launching the ultimate Micro Four Thirds body: one with professional-level aspirations. Calling this supercharged, dual-grip body a niche camera is entirely accurate: at $3000, it's the most expensive Micro Four Thirds camera currently on the market by a decent amount, and also the largest. Still, the E-M1X's speed, handling and viewfinder experience make it the best Micro Four Thirds camera for sports, action or wildlife photography, period.

For starters, the E-M1X is fast - it can shoot at 10 fps with its mechanical shutter and 18 fps with the electronic shutter, both with continuous autofocus. That second number is faster than the Nikon D5 (12 fps) and the Canon EOS-1D X II (14 fps), and with a deeper buffer than Panasonic G9's 20 fps mode. Autofocus performance is good (especially when AF-C sensitivity is maxed out), but it's not quite as reliable as the aforementioned cameras.

Image quality is excellent for a Four Thirds sensor: Olympus JPEG colors are definitely a favorite. 4K video is also solid as long as you're shooting Cinema 4K/24p, though the camera never quite hits the advertised bit-rate, leading to some artifacts.

Out-of-camera JPEG.
ISO 200 | 1/320 sec | F5.6 | Shot using the Olympus 12-100mm F4 Pro at 92mm equiv.
Photo by Carey Rose

While other mirrorless cameras offer higher resolution and higher contrast electronic viewfinders, the E-M1X's outshines them with how it responds during burst shooting; there's no noticeable lag and only minimal resolution loss during burst shooting. The camera's dual-grip design offers enough space for two batteries, providing adequate shooting power for a day's work. Plus, both enthusiasts and pros can appreciate the camera's twin UHS-II SD card slots.

The body is almost comically large given the sensor size, especially with a small prime like the 45mm F1.8 attached. But all that room makes for a very comfortable grip with easy button access. The cameras construction is impressive, it's also one of only a few cameras on the market with an IP rating (IPX1). And though menus are a bit intimidating, the learning curve isn't too steep.

Ultimately, this camera is probably too niche for most customers, aside from those already heavily invested in the Micro Four Thirds system. If you've got the glass, the E-M1X is the best body in the system for sports, action and wildlife photography, which is why we've given it a silver award. But if you don't need twin grips, the E-M1 II should serve you just as well. And if you're starting out fresh and looking for something to shoot fast-moving subjects, larger sensor cameras with more reliable autofocus can be had for less money.


What we think


Carey Rose
Reviews Editor
The E-M1X is a truly impressive camera. It is - somehow - even better built than the E-M1 II, and comes with capable autofocus, incredible stabilization, good battery life and a lineup of excellent lenses. I still don't think it's the camera that most of the Olympus faithful were really asking for (cough, E-M5 III), but it demonstrates the company's continued commitment to making the Micro Four Thirds system work for photographers of all walks of life.

Compared to the competition

The Panasonic G9 is the E-M1X's closest competitor in terms of speed, sensor size and resolution, and it can also be turned into a dual grip body with the DMW-BGG9 attachment. The G9 has a slightly faster top burst speed (20 fps vs 18 fps), while the E-M1X has a slightly deeper buffer (60+ frames vs 50 frames). The G9 has slightly better AF performance but we far prefer the E-M1X's EVF experience during burst shooting, so much so that we'd choose it over the G9 for any fast-moving subject. But for general photography, the two offer similar image quality and we prefer the G9's size and also its price tag.

But let's be honest, the E-M1X is not just trying to compete with other Micro Four Thirds bodies, it's also competing with other dual grip cameras. And though it can shoot at 18 fps with AF - faster than the Nikon D5 (12 fps) and Canon 1D X Mark II (14 fps) - that speed is achieved using the e-shutter, which might lead to rolling shutter distortion or banding. Still, the camera's top mechanical shutter burst rate with AF is 10 fps, only 2 fps behind Nikon's...for half the price. The again both the Canon and Nikon offer slightly more reliable AF plus the image quality benefits of much larger sensors.

Another logical competitor for those seeking to photograph fast moving subjects is the Nikon D500, which we prefer. For a thousand dollars less you get a bigger sensor, more reliable autofocus system, the same mechanical burst speed with an even deeper buffer, and the option to add dual grips controls and a second battery (MB-D17). It doesn't have any equivalent of the E-M1X's subject specific tracking modes, if you enjoy transport photography, though, and the Olympus offers better video.


Scoring

Scoring is relative only to the other cameras in the same category. Click here to learn about the changes to our scoring system and what these numbers mean.

Olympus OM-D E-M1X
Category: Professional Interchangeable Lens Camera / DSLR
Build quality
Ergonomics & handling
Features
Metering & focus accuracy
Image quality (raw)
Image quality (jpeg)
Low light / high ISO performance
Viewfinder / screen rating
Performance
Movie / video mode
Connectivity
Value
PoorExcellent
Conclusion
The E-M1X is the only twin-grip Four Thirds camera on the market squarely aimed at pros - it's large, fast and tough-built. But its price tag puts it in a tricky position, as plenty of other larger-sensor cameras can be had for considerably-less coinage - many even offer more reliable AF.
Good for
Current Micro Four Thirds shooters who want a twin grip camera to photograph fast-moving subjects.
Not so good for
Anyone not already heavily-invested in Micro Four Thirds glass. Those seeking a small, light camera.
85%
Overall score