Is the Olympus E-M1 X right for you?

The E-M1X isn't for everyone. Sure you could use it for casual photography, but given its size, weight and emphasis on high speed burst shooting, we'd call it overkill, unless you're really trying to impress friends. Below are some use cases it actually does make sense for.


Sports and wildlife

Out-of-camera JPEG.
ISO 320 | 1/4000 sec | F2.8 | Shot using the Olympus 40-150mm F2.8 Pro at 90mm equiv.
Photo by Dan Bracaglia

This is the camera's primary target audience, those in need of a rugged body with super-fast burst speeds and reliable autofocus. So how does it stack up? The camera can shoot up to 18 fps with autofocus (using the electronic shutter) or 10 fps using the mechanical. The latter is a better option if you're concerned about rolling shutter when shooting fast subjects or banding under artificial lighting. The buffer is also fairly deep at about 60 frames and AF tracking is impressively sticky. All that said, there are other bodies with better AF-C performance.

Pros

  • Fast burst shooting with AF: 10 fps (mechanical shutter) and 18 fps (e-shutter)
  • Good buffer depth
  • Sticky subject tracking
  • Good EVF experience during burst shooting
  • Built-in vertical controls
  • Lots of Micro Four Thirds telephoto glass
  • Rugged and IPX1-rated weather-sealed
  • Nice JPEG color

Cons

  • Other cameras offer more reliable AF-C performance
  • Other cameras offer higher resolution files
  • Noisy at higher ISOs / shadow noise

Landscape photography

Edited to taste in Adobe Camera Raw.
ISO 64 | 1/160 sec | F5.6 | Shot using the Olympus 25mm F1.2 Pro
Photo by Scott Everett

Though its Four Thirds sensor doesn't have the same resolution as some of the competition, a 50MP handheld high-res mode and 80MP tripod high-res mode should help even the playing field in terms of both detail capture and tonal quality, as long as your scene has minimal movement. Plus, its build quality and weather-sealing is unlikely to let you down in nasty conditions.

Pros

  • Good JPEG color
  • 'Live ND' for long exposure simulations
  • Rugged and IPX1-rated weather-sealing
  • High-res modes: 50MP handheld, 80MP tripod
  • Fully-articulating touchscreen
  • In-camera time-lapse functionality

Cons

  • Large and bulky
  • High-res modes not ideal for scenes with lots of movement
  • Less sensor resolution than many competitors
  • Can't use Live ND for time-lapse

Wedding and event photography

Out-of-camera JPEG.
ISO 2000 | 1/60 sec | F4 | Shot using the Olympus 25mm F1.2 Pro
Photo by Carey Rose

Vertical controls aren't just handy for sports and wildlife, many wedding and event photographers also prefer them, especially when it comes time to shoot portraits. A truly silent shutter can also be handy.

Pros

  • Vertical controls for portraits
  • Good battery life
  • E-shutter is silent
  • Face Detect works well
  • Eye AF
  • High-res mode for still-life shots
  • Compatible with Olympus' flash system

Cons

  • Larger sensor cameras offer better resolution and low-light performance
  • Bulky

Portrait photography

Out-of-camera JPEG.
ISO 64 | 1/1000 sec | F1.2 | Shot using the Olympus 25mm F1.2 Pro
Photo by Scott Everett

While the E-M1X may not offer the same resolution as some of the competition, portrait photography is often more about the glass than the camera. And there are plenty of excellent Micro Four Thirds portrait lenses.

Pros

  • Good Raw image quality
  • Good JPEG skin tones
  • Vertical controls for shooting in portrait orientation
  • Lots of good Micro Four Thirds portrait glass
  • Face Detect works well
  • Eye AF

Cons

  • Lacks resolution of some competitors

Video

The E-M1X is fairly well-spec'd for video, but there are better choices for serious filmmakers. It's the first Olympus camera to offer Log capture, but dynamic range is limited compared to competitors like the Panasonic GH5S. Still, its sensor + digital image stabilization is the best in town, even if it comes with a crop.

Pros

  • Good-looking Cinema 4K footage
  • 1080/120p mode for slow motion
  • Headphone and microphone ports
  • Fully-articulating screen
  • Excellent stabilization when using sensor+digital
  • Sticky video AF tracking
  • Flat profile and Log option (only 8-bit, compared to 10-bit in on some peers)

Cons

  • Too heavy to hand-hold for extended periods of time
  • Headphone/mic gets in way of LCD when flipped out
  • Other cameras offer more dynamic range
  • Slight crop when using sensor+digital IS