Olympus OM-D E-M1 review

Olympus OM-D E-M1 review

T3 4
  • The Olympus OM-D E-M1 is "the best Olympus camera ever", says its maker. Can it possibly live up to the hype?

    Olympus OM-D E-M1 review

    Love

    • Solid chassis
    • High-res tilting LCD and EVF
    • DSLR-esque images

    Hate

    • Could be more intuitive
    • Fiddly controls

    The 16 megapixel Olympus OM-D E-M1 is currently both the latest and most expensive Olympus camera you can own.

    And it's one in which its manufacturer has invested a massive amount of faith, promising that it delivers the best quality of any Olympus camera ever. That's 'ever'.

    Just as well then that the mirror-less, interchangeable lens model had us uttering a series of wows upon taking delivery.

    Firstly, for the deluxe-looking box/packaging it arrives in. Secondly, for the eye catching classic shape of the camera body, and thirdly for the lens supplied. The kit bundle includes a 12-50mm f/3.5-6.3 zoom that's an all-encompassing starter option equivalent to 24-100mm in 35mm film terms, and features both zoom ring and manual focus ring.

    For those who slavishly follow numerical sequences, it might seem odd that an E-M1 follows last year's Olympus E-M5. But the brand is simply expanding its OM-D compact system camera (CSC) line up rather than upgrading what's gone before.

    This new range-topping camera now sits above the still current E-M5, and is its maker's most determined wooing yet of current DSLR owners and professional photographers.

    While the OM-D E-M1 looks very cool, it can also handle the cold, maintaining full operability down to -10°C according to Olympus. Additionally it's dust proof and splash proof; basically British winter proof, if not quite fully waterproof like the Nikon AW1. What's more it can be operated remotely via the aid of built-in Wi-Fi, an iPad and a free downloadable Olympus app.

    Where this pricier camera also differs from the earlier E-M5 is that it has an all-new sensor plus a latest generation TruePic VII image processor, as well as prior innovations like a tilting LCD screen that also offers touch panel control. Outwardly retro, but at the same time thoroughly modern; that's the OM-D E-M1 in a nutshell.

    The cost of body plus the lens we had to play with is an initially sizeable sounding £1,500, though if its 'body only' you need the cost is £200 less.

    Alternatively go for a bright f/2.8 aperture 12-40mm zoom bundled with the E-M1 instead and expect to shell out just under £1,950.
    But, first things first, is the Olympus OM-D E-M1 worth spending upwards of £1300 on?

  • The Olympus OM-D E-M1 compact system camera is a compact system camera that also works with DSLR lenses. Could this be Olympus's best camera yet?

    Olympus OM-D E-M1 review

    Love

    • Solid chassis
    • High-res tilting LCD and EVF
    • DSLR-esque images

    Hate

    • Could be more intuitive
    • Fiddly controls

    The new flagship Olympus OM-D E-M1 compact system camera sits above the existing Olympus OM-D E-M5 and has been designed to work with both Micro Four Thirds and Four Thirds DSLR lenses.

    While some of the brand's previous Micro Four Thirds models were compatible with DSLR lenses, the autofocus system was't really designed to work with both. That's not the case on the OMD-E-M1, which sports a new Dual Fast autofocus, effectively giving you access to a huge selection of 65 lenses.

    Olympus OM-D E-M1: Size and build

    Olympus has paid lots of attention to the design, going for a sleek look with all the lines on the model "pointing towards the subject", we were told. The chassis is totally black for a very slick, premium look, while the large front- facing handgrip (combined with a modest thumbgrip on the back) gives the camera the look and feel of an SLR.

    There are a few changes to the familiar Olympus control layout, with the main mode dial moving from the left to the right-hand side of the camera top, while the power switch is now on the left.

    Olympus OM-D E-M1: Features

    Olympus has removed the low pass filter from the the 16MP Live MOS sensor so it should be capable of capturing more detail that the sensors on previous models.

    Built-in Wi-Fi means that you can upload images direct to the web using the brand's dedicated smartphone app, and you can also use your phone's screen to compose shots and fire the shutter release remotely.

    Dustproof, splashproof and freezeproof to -10 degrees C, while all compatible lenses are also freezeproof. Other new features include an arty filter called Diorama II, which enables you to get a tilt-shift effect on portrait shots.

    Olympus OM-D E-M1: Viewfinder

    There's no optical viewfinder, but you do get a 2.36-million dot LCD electronic viewfinder. Based on the ambient light and the size of the user's pupil, the viewfinder will automatically adjust its backlight (although you can turn this setting off if you choose).

    Olympus OM-D E-M1: Picture quality

     

    According to the maker, the E-M1 sports the best image quality to date on an Olympus camera. Given our short time with the model, it's impossible for us to make a call on that just yet, but we'll get stuck into testing this out more thoroughly as soon as we get our mitts on a full review sample.

    Olympus OM-D E-M1: Verdict

    So far we've only seen a pre-production model of the Olympus OM-D E-M1, but we were very impressed with what we saw. The DSLR-style design will appeal to enthusiasts looking for top-notch picture quality rather than those looking for a space-saving compact system camera, while the inclusion of Wi-Fi, and the ability to use two different lens systems are also compelling reasons to shell out your hard-earned cash. Stay tuned for a full review.

    Olympus OM-D E-M1 release date: October 2013

    Olympus OM-D E-M1 price: £1299 (body only), £1499.99 (with M.ZUKIKO DIGITAL 12-50mm 1:3.5-6.3 lens) £1,949 (with M.ZUIKO DIGITAL 12-40mm 1:2.8 lens)

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  • Olympus OM-D E-M1

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