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Olympus OM-D E-M1

see also:

dpreview.com's Best enthusiast camera for 2013 camera of the year 2013 and dpreview.com's readers' choice as Best Product of 2013!

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Image courtesy of dpreview.com.

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check out how good the IS and Color Creation control system is for doing B&W hand held videos as well as hand held 1.3sec flowing water stills!

check out the weatherproofing, and at last an intervalometer to 999 frames - but you may need the battery holder grip with it's AC adapter to run for very long periods

and check out how good the new focus peaking functionality is to help you quickly and accurately focus all those lovely manual focus and now also image stabilised lenses:

One of the highlights of the E-M1, is its beautiful large electronic viewfinder with minimal lag, 100% image coverage and beats most dSLR optical viewfinders, particularly in low light sich as composing star fields for astrophotography.

This image shows that the EVF is comparable in size to the Canon 1DX pro full frame dSLR optical viewfinder - it certainly is MUCH bigger and more useful in astrophotography than either the E-M5 or the Canon 1D Mark III pro 1.3x crop dSLR.

image courtesy of dpreview.com.

introduction

  • high end fully Four Thirds lens fast AF compatible camera with phase contrast AF for action
  • coming October 2013
  • would appear that it combines the best features of the Olympus E-P5 PEN (EP5/EP-5) and the Olympus OM-D E-M5 camera in a body similar to the E-M5 but with a larger grip to handle bigger lenses, the VF-4 technology EVF built-in and of course the hybrid phase/contrast AF sensor, but no AA filter (thus potentially more detailed images at risk of some moire)
  • the grip on current images does not look as aesthetic as it could have been, but when it comes down to it for the bigger lenses, ergonomics will trump aesthetics for most.
  • those who do not wish to use C-AF or Four Thirds lenses with fast AF may be better just as happy with more affordable cameras such as:
  • but for those who do own the superb Four Thirds lenses, this camera will at last allow them to capture images with a sensor that will extract the most from these awesome lenses with fast AF, plus give them the benefits of mirrorless live view shooting such as eye detect AF, 9fps burst rates, and 5 axis image stabiliser, which they have been missing in the Olympus Four Thirds dSLR system
    • of course some will gripe that there is no optical viewfinder but the quality and many benefits of the EVF should well and truly make up for this
    • will it be good enough to shoot birds in flight with continuous AF - we will have to see!
  • if you are an Adobe Lightroom user, you will need version 5.2 or later to edit the RAW files

pros

  • excellent image quality - good enough for most people, most of the time
  • generally sharper edge-to-edge than full frame cameras
  • quiet, non-intrusive, small, light, well built with good ergonomics for most people
  • nearly every button is customisable and the 2×2 switch effectively allows you to allocate an alternative mode setting to each button rapidly
  • very nice dual dials to control the main settings
  • small, light, relatively inexpensive high quality lenses (eg. the primes and f/2.8 zooms)
  • weatherproof and freezeproof - you can be confident in pouring water onto it!
  • fastest S-AF of any camera for slow moving or stationary subjects
  • unique ability to accurately AF on a subject's closest eye almost anywhere in the frame
  • usable C-AF tracking
  • better low light performance than most other cameras thanks to having the best image stabiliser of any camera
  • reduced need for tripod - you can hand hold down to 1-1.3secs for those wide angle running water shots!
  • no need for large, heavy stabilising rigs for run and gun style video - the image stabiliser is that good!
  • ability to use image stabiliser with any lens even full frame lenses
  • ability to use 0.7x Metabones Turbo adapter with full frame lenses giving additional 1 stop aperture and shallower depth of field (DOF)
  • ability to have fast AF with Four Thirds lenses
  • unique Live BULB and timed BULB modes
  • fast x-sync of 1/320th sec
  • shutter 60sec to 1/8000th sec
  • burst rate to 10fps but only 1st AF lock at that rate, otherwise 6.5fps with AF and image stabiliser
  • tiltable touch screen mode offers additional shooting options for AF and shutter release
  • full control with smartphones via WiFi could enable interesting remote control uses
  • new Toshiba EVF is excellent and offers enough advantages that most will not miss their optical viewfinder too much.
  • nice intervalometer mode up to 999 frames (don't forget to set camera to 16:9 beforehand if you want to create 720p in-camera movies with the jpegs)
  • jpeg gives great colours and the sharpening is now dependent upon lens used and only applied to in-focus regions leaving your lovely bokeh untouched
  • no need to lockup mirror to reduce camera shake as with dSLRs in high magnification work - also has option to use electronic 1st curtain shutter instead of mechanical shutter for speeds 1/320th sec or slower to further reduce image blur from the shutter (set AntiShock to 0secs).
  • can use same TTL off-camera flash cords as Canon

cons

  • no radio wireless TTL flash - please Pocket Wizard, add Olympus mode to your Canon units!
  • wireless TTL flash uses visible light not infrared, and no WiFi or radio option as yet
  • HD video mode only 30p - no 24p or 60p slow motion options
  • no headphone socket for monitoring audio during video
  • slightly less dynamic range and high ISO performance compared to full frame cameras
  • 1-2 stops less depth of field (DOF) versatility at 24-200mm ranges and with zoom lenses compared to what is possible on full frame cameras
  • C-AF tracking not as good as pro sports dSLRs
  • as with most mirrorless camera systems can't hear shutter in noisy environments or at a distance - could be an issue for models who listen for each shutter release - perhaps they should have added an iPhone-style shutter sound option
  • no fully silent electronic shutter mode as with the Panasonic GX7 camera
  • no optical viewfinder for those situations where this comes in handy
  • no exposure compensation functionality in manual mode with Auto-ISO (same as with previous Olympus cameras)
  • in-camera intervalometer movie creation only does 720p 10fps - most would prefer to do this on their computer and get 4K, 2K or 1080p at perhaps 24fps
  • BULB and TIME modes in intervalometer mode are set to 60sec which probably makes good sense, although it would potentially be nice to have a TIMED BULB working so you could stretch this to 2 minute exposures perhaps.
  • you need to buy the HLD-7 battery holder AND the AC adapter for extremely long intervalometer sessions
  • fastest x-sync resorts to 1/250th sec for “external flashes”
  • Metabones Turbo adapters may not physically fit due to the protruding EVF - these fit without issue on the Olympus OM-D E-M5 camera
  • has a lot more innate thermal image noise in long exposures than the E-M5 but these are removed with dark frame subtraction when NR = Auto, see these tests
  • linear band artefacts when shooting video in certain situations as these display the strips of the PDAF sensors1)

specs

  • 16mp sensor with PDAF, but no AA filter for more detailed images
    • apparently it uses a Panasonic sensor not a Sony as in the E-M5 2)
  • CDAF will be supplemented with phase detect for C-AF mode but in S-AF mode, will be only CDAF for MicroFourThirds lenses and only PDAF for Four Thirds lenses
  • ISO performance said to be 1 stop better than the E-M5
  • a fully automatic HDR mode
  • no popup flash but bundled flash as per E-M5
  • weatherproof body and freeze proof down to 14degF (minus 10degC)
  • 6.5/10fps burst rate
  • EVF is 0.029 seconds time lag, High magnification 2.36 million dots of 0.74 times 35mm conversion
  • 3“ 1m dot tiltable touch screen
  • 5 axis “5-stop” image stabiliser
  • optional battery holder, vertical grip (HLD-7)
  • ISO 200-25,600 (probably down to 100 extended as with the E-P5)
  • shutter speed to 1/8000th sec
  • 1080 30p 24Mbps HD video (.MOV) - very good but no where near the standards set by the Panasonic GH-3
  • excellent WiFi tethering and Live View camera control functionality with tablet devices / smartphones
  • 130.4 x 93.5 x 63.1mm
  • 497g (including battery media), 443g (body only)
  • uses the same batteries as the E-M5
  • RRP $US1399/$A1599 for the body; with 12-40mm f/2.8 lens = $A2399?

specs based on past

firmware v4.0 additions (late Nov 2015)

  • automatic focus stacking mode - takes 8 shots at different focus points then merges them into one with extra depth of field (DOF) for better macro shots
  • focus bracketing mode - takes up to 999 shots at different focus points
  • S-OVF (simulated optical viewfinder mode) - does not display exposure effect or white balance effect in EVF
  • advanced focus peaking - now 4 colors
  • silent electronic shutter mode
  • improved antishock mode
  • 4K timelapse movie
  • support for Live Composite via OI share on mobile devices
  • MF clutch disable setting
  • 24/25p movie mode
  • IBIS + digital IS in movie
  • movie Time Code support
  • synchronised PCM audio record

new features 1st seen in the E-M1

  • new Sony sensor with on-sensor 37 point phase detect AF
    • diamond-shaped array of 37 points that cover a reasonable portion of the image but not the full sensor
    • these phase detect sites do not give cross-style or double cross style phase detect points as do most of the latest dSLRs including the Olympus E5 dSLR, so one really can't expect it to perform as well as these dSLRs for phase detect AF mode with Four Thirds lenses, nevertheless, they are a much needed addition for those who wish to do C-AF or use Four Thirds lenses
    • AF fine tune compensation for individual lenses
  • no AA filter for more detailed images
  • further enhanced AF courtesy of the phase/contrast AF sensor functionality
    • fast AF with Four Thirds lenses via the old MMF-3 adapter (not as fast as the E-5 or Nikon D3 dSLR but very usable and C-AF is said to be closer in speed to a Nikon D200)
    • improved continuous AF: 6.5fps in AF-C tracking mode in conjunction with the PDAF system
  • higher capacity buffer: buffer is now 40 RAW frames at 10fps, or 51 at 6.5fps
  • awesome VF-4 quality EVF
    • 2.4m dots
    • faster refresh
    • less lag
    • dynamic brightness control
    • improved colour, tonality and detail
  • freeze proof to -10C (14degF)
  • more prominent hand grip to allow better ergonomics with Four Thirds lenses
  • even better WiFi live tethering functionality
  • new image processor (TruePic VII)
    • for jpegs, corrects for CA and lens distortion based on profiles generated for individual lenses
    • for jpegs, dynamic sharpening depending on lens’ resolving power to avoid oversharpening haloes
    • sharpening algorithm only sharpens in-focus areas leaving your bokeh areas untouched apparently
    • produces the best out of camera jpegs of any camera
    • 1 stop more dynamic range in the shadows, and noise seems better controlled by about 0.5 stops compared with E-M5
  • colour creator control to make it easier changing white balance and picture style
  • upgraded 5-axis image stabiliser system, “4-stop”
  • upgraded robustness and build quality – the entire camera is now magnesium alloy and the LCD screen is slightly thicker and presumably more robust
  • even more water and dust-proof - survived Ming's 10 minutes under a hot shower in 1cm water turned on!
  • PC sync port for studio strobes
  • improved HD video:
    • now 24mbps quality but only 30p mode
      • presumably Sony are not permitting more competitive HD video modes
    • new algorithm that reduces block noise in areas of gentle gradients/ solid colors, like skies
    • rolling shutter artefacts are almost entirely absent
    • even though it shoots 30p/60i, there appears to be no nasty artefacts from artificial light sources – the flicker reduction system is quite effective
    • standard 3.5mm mic-in port
    • firmware update v1.3 adds:
      • audio dynamic range has been expanded when using the external mic. The sound level adjustment has been changed to adjust to 21 levels.
      • function to turn the Volume Limiter on and off was added
  • dedicated drive mode/ HDR/ bracketing and AF mode/ metering buttons on top left
  • OM-like power ON/Off switch top left
  • exposure mode dial is now on the right and has a locking button
  • two new shortcut buttons in front by the lens mount
  • 1cm wider body and nice deep grip
  • intervalometer now up to 999 frames
  • optional HLD-7 vertical grip

features 1st seen on the E-P5 in addition to features of the E-M5

  • shutter speed to 1/8000th sec but louder and higher pitch than in the E-M5
  • the enhanced AF functionality of the E-P5 (even faster AF than the E-M5) and now adds:
    • 800 AF points
    • Small single target AF
    • Super Spot AF selectable from center of magnified view (0.02% – 0.16% in view image)
  • manual focus assist Peaking mode
  • Olympus's 'Photo Story' feature
  • short shutter lag mode reduces shutter lag to 0.044sec but requires more power consumption
  • ISO LOW of 100
  • new movie mode functionality:
    • you can now change the Picture Mode directly using the Fn button, and an especially welcome addition is the ability to magnify the view to check focus
  • flash sync: 1/320 sec. Built-in Pop Up Flash; 1/250 sec. External Flash; Super FP: 1/125-1/4000 sec
  • AE bracketing for HDR for up to +/- 6EV at 9fps: 3 or 5 frames in 2.0/3.0EV steps, 7 frames in 2.0EV step
  • 20Mbps 1080 30p .MOV HD video
    • 4x One-push Movie Digital Zoom
  • 720p MJPEG 10fps Timelapse movies
  • Intervalometer: Interval Time 1sec. – 24 Hours, Max 99 frames
  • WiFi control by smartphones
    • QR barcode easy connect to smartphone
    • GPS data recording
    • Live View, Rec view, Wireless touch AF shutter

the features of the E-M5

  • 5 axis “3.5 stop” image stabiliser
  • 9fps burst rate
  • Timed BULB
  • Live BULB
  • weatherproofing
  • tiltable 3” touchscreen
  • two top dials to control exposure settings
  • extremely fast AF for stationery subjects - the “fastest in the world” at release
  • ability to AF on a selected eye such as closest eye
  • remote TTL flash
  • bundled flash as no popup flash

astrophotography aides

  • excellent dynamic range
  • high ISO usable to ISO 3200 for shorter exposures
  • timed shutter exposures to 60sec not just 30sec as with most dSLRs
  • Live Time and Live BULB modes may be useful
  • Live Composite mode is great for meteor showers, simulated star trails and lightning as it just keeps adding new transient bright subjects to the image without burning out persistent bright areas
  • automatic long exposure NR for dark frame subtraction (can be turned off)
  • unfortunately it has poor long exposure thermal noise characteristics which practically limits ISO to 400 for > 15secs exposures (much worse than the E-M5)
  • Live View Live Boost mode even more effective than with the E-M5 (almost 2 stellar magnitudes better!)
    • allows you to visualise stars to magnitude 4-5 in the EVF when using an f/2 lens
    • allows you to visualise stars to magnitude 5-6 in the EVF when using an f/1.4 lens
  • magnified view manual focus for accurate focus of stars
  • relatively light for mounting on telescopes
  • weatherproof in case it rains
  • tilt out LCD for ease of viewing
  • ability to use additional battery or AC power for long sessions
  • smartphone remote timelapse control via wired TriggerTrap or via Olympus app via WiFi
  • image stabiliser allows reasonable hand held constellation shots to magnitude 6 or so using ISO 3200, 25mm f/1.4 lens at around 1/4 sec

potential issues

  • some have problems with the rear dial not responding
    • dial on some cameras only a few months old becomes intermittently unresponsive in that it does not change values until it is further rotated 3)
    • solution should be return to Olympus for repair under warranty
  • yellow/green spots suddenly develop in the EVF due to sun damage:
    • this is caused by sunlight entering through the rear of the EVF with the diopter set to a high setting which magnifies the sun's rays and permanently damaging the EVF
    • this is particularly a risk when the camera is on a tripod in the sun
    • it will need repair by Olympus and may not be under warranty
  • slight moire in finely patterned subjects
    • this is due to camera not having an AA filter (to gain higher resolution)
  • defaults to PDAF only mode with Four Thirds lenses:
    • even if supports CDAF such as the PanaLeica D 25mm f/1.4 lens

optional accessories

eBooks

reviews

    • new sensor gives ~0.5 stop better ISO than the E-M5 in RAW files up to ISO 1600 and probably beyond, especially in the red channel, and there is a definite gain in edge acuity and ability to resolve fine detail
    • C-AF now at level of Nikon D200 and usable
      • slightly less dynamic range and more contrast in jpegs and similar levels of details - perhaps more in E-M1 thanks to the lack of AA filter, better microcontrast and the IS
      • more accurate colour up to ISO 6400 which is perhaps the upper limit for both cameras for regular use
      • faster burst (10/6.5 vs 5.5) with greater buffer (51 RAW vs 14)
      • better build and environmental sealing
      • half the weight when using a 24-70mm f/2.8 equivalent lens with much better hand holdable low light performance (thanks to the IS) but 2 stops less shallow DOF control
      • full-time 81pt CDAF with really useful face detection AF with eye detection
      • better PDAF field coverage but C-AF not as good (yet)
      • more accurate AF thanks to AF sensor being on the main image sensor
      • shutter to 1/8000th sec instead of 1/4000th sec, and 60sec instead of 30sec
      • timed and Live BULB modes
      • 1/320 sec flash sync instead of 1/200th sec
      • tiltable touch screen LCD vs fixed non-touch LCD
      • focus 'peaking' display, HDR mode
      • no 24p HD video but at least it is image stabilised and the mic is stereo not mono
      • ability to be easily controlled by smartphones via WiFi
      • only 1 SD slot instead of 2 and battery life is much less (just bring 2 or 3 batteries, they are small enough)
      • better ergonomics, more configurable, smaller and cheaper
      • ability to use high quality very compact prime lenses
    • ISO improved over the E-M5 by about 1 stop
    • IS improved over the E-M5, can now hand hold 1-2sec exposures with a 7mm focal length lens!
    • the crowd had trouble picking which of the large prints were from the full frame or from the E-M1 the difference is so small even at 30“x40” prints
    • the in-camera video stabilization is nothing short of remarkable
    • hands-down the best stabilization for video that I've seen from any camera or lens to date
    • E-M1 video files are in unadorned H264 with a .MOV wrapper. These play beautifully in QuickTime and will edit smoothly out of the camera on almost any NLE.
    • in video mode, it has continuous tracking autofocus, but regrettably (for artistic work) it has no idea of what it should be focusing on, so best to turn AF off.
    • no manual focus peaking or magnification during video
    • The camera is small and light enough to be carried anywhere, for hours at a time and with a small / light shoulder bag full of lenses from 14mm – 600mm equivalent. That's the real benefit of the MFT format – lens size.
    • a 16 Megapixel file can produce an excellent 13×19“ print, and frankly, how many people need larger
    • MFT used to mean some compromises when it came to image quality, but those days are past. Only the most neurotic pixel peeper will find anything to kvetch about with files from the Olympus E-M1 and its contemporaries
    • “the most versatile Mirrorless camera ever”
    • “While it is no match IQ wise for a big fat full frame sensor, it easily takes on all APS-C and smaller challengers and beats them in so many ways it is not even funny.”
    • “While it is tough as nails, it is a gentle giant with gorgeous handling of color, highlights and details”
    • “the E-M1 is one of the few cameras made today that does just that. INSPIRES you to use it”
    • “when I see a $1800 combo getting close to an $11,000 combo but the $1800 combo is tougher, faster, more responsive and problem free..it makes me think”
    • “The Panasonic GX7 is fantastic, the OM-D E-M5 is still amazing, and the new E-M1 is the best yet.”
    • excellent review of the E-M1
    • ergonomics of controls better than the E series dSLRs
    • the EVF for all intent and purpose is a damn good replacement for an optical unit
    • in low light with a Sigma 30mm f1.4, the EVF is clearer and brighter than a OM4Ti fitted with the OM 55mm f1.2
    • AF speed in low light indoors with Four Thirds lenses varies with widest aperture of lens and tends to be a slower than the AF on the E-5 dSLR
    • AF speed in good light with Four Thirds lenses varies with lens and matches the E-5 although with some lenses is slightly slower than the AF on the E-5 dSLR, and much slower on some - macro lenses at macro distances, 70-300mm lens, lenses combined with teleconverters
    • for Four Thirds lenses, it does not 'beat' the E-5 AF system, but it is mighty close
    • some ZD lenses and the Sigma on the E-M1 were quite noisy - I could hear the AF stepping motor. This did not happen on the E-5.
    • none of the 4/3rds lenses will AF as fast as the latest m4/3rds native lenses (even when using an E-5)
    • image quality is fine up to and including ISO 3200
    • “This is a really fantastic camera. I'm very excited by its arrival. It's not often I get so genuinely enthusiastic. Olympus has delivered not only their promise here, but a staggeringly good camera. This is the true start of a new era.”
    • “if you want to feel like you're shooting with a DSLR, but still want the size and agility of a mirrorless camera, you'd be hard-pressed to find a better option than the E-M1”
    • similar image quality to cropped sensor dSLRs
    • “In most respects the E-M1 does a good job bridging the gap between a traditional DSLR and a Micro Four Thirds camera. Its controls and customizability may overwhelm less hands-on users, but those who don't mind tinkering will love its flexibility. The improved autofocus tracking and performance with original Four Thirds lenses adds to the appeal of a camera with blazingly fast AF acquisition speeds with its native lenses.”
    • overall, only about 1/3rd stop less sensor performance than the Sony NEX 6 (but the E-M5 sports the built-in IS which should easily make up for that).
    • for some reason the lab scores the ISO performance poorer than the E-M5 and E-P5 - I presume that is within the range of lab error given they are essentially the same sensors and most reviewers have reported better high ISO performance with the E-M1.
    • excellent performer in low light with very clean high ISOs in video mode up to 3200
    • use ProRes 444 export instead of H.264 video in Adobe Premiere to avoid image break up
    • the smoother frame rate of 30p compliments handheld shots using the 5 axis stabiliser giving flow to handheld movement where 24p looks choppier - however, it would be nice to have a 24p and 60p option
    • “Whether you’re a professional commercial shooter, single operator film artist or an enthusiastic amateur, the E-M1 is worth considering purely because of that stabiliser, small form factor and lovely EVF.”
    • “As for more casual users, you can do point and shoot video with the E-M1 better than most of the competition as well – again due to the stabilisation system”
    • “The main reason this camera is so useful for video is that it’s the only interchangeable lens camera I’d consider for handheld shooting with zero rigging, completely bare-bones as if shooting stills.” - the IS is even more effective in video mode than on the E-M5
    • the 5-axis IS beats all the optical image stabilisation on-lens systems for effectiveness in video mode
    • ISO 3200 in video is MUCH better than the new full frame Sony A7R
    • less banding on smoothly shaded areas and skies than there is on the hacked GH2 and less noise at higher ISOs
    • It has a crop mode which can be toggled during a shot which is SO COOL for documentary and run & gun shooters - you get to instantly re-frame without interrupting the clip. If you want to move to an area of interest or emphasis whilst rolling simply press the Fn2 button and bam – a rolling crop mode.
    • ergonomics are lovely
    • improved video codec compared to the E-M5 - 24Mbit rather than 20Mbit and slightly less moire and aliasing and much less than on the Sony A7R
    • 3.5mm mic socket (E-M5 does not have one)
    • “Metabones Speed Booster is working wonders for me, I no longer wish I had a full frame sensor on me at all times. I can get nigh on the same results from my OM-D E-M1 as I can with my Sony A7R, by using a 50mm F1.4 and Speed booster on it.”
    • “A firmware update to introduce 24p, live HDMI output, a higher bitrate mode and 720/120fps slow-mo would catapult this camera into the hands of far more videographers”
    • much better than his Canon 5DM3, loves the AF, prime lenses, EVF and WiFi but there are still issues with the E-M1:
      • relatively slow write time to a Sony SD card which prevents changing camera settings until complete
      • no accurate battery gauge only 25%, 50% warnings
      • not a fan of the HLD-7 vertical battery grip as no 4-direction AF movement pad and access to camera's battery requires removal of the grip
      • WiFi tethering with iOS requires shooting in jpeg+/-RAW, and you must disconnect any other WiFi from iOS
      • RAW files can't be pushed as much as larger sensor cameras
      • the above issues were important enough to him not to wholeheartedly recommend it as a wedding photography camera but then he is a newbie with Olympus cameras and is yet to learn how to get the most out of them, and used unnecessarily high ISOs of 2000 when he could have slowed the shutter speed and let the IS stop camera shake for the more static shots
    • pros:
      • takes fantastic photos
      • “focuses like nothing I have ever used. It produces excellent images during the day. In low light, it may focus much better than the competition”
      • excellent choice for travel or street photography
photo/olympusomdem1.txt · Last modified: 2015/09/15 14:05 by gary1