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Olympus OMD E-M1X pro sports camera


  • announced Jan 2019 as a high end pro sports camera with built-in battery grip to better compete with the professional sports / journalistic dSLRs
  • “The E-M1X is aimed straight at sports and action-shooting professionals, particularly those looking for lots of reach but not wanting to haul huge full-frame telephoto lenses around. In addition, it offers lots of direct control, durability, and highly configurable autofocus.”1)



Leaked images posted here

a bit of history

the Olympus OM-D E-M1 II

  • the Olympus OM-D E-M1 mark II was introduced in late 2016 and really gave the sports marketplace a big tilt with a number of advantages over the much bigger and much more expensive professional sports / journalistic dSLRs:
    • advantages of the E-M1 II for sports:
      • smaller, lighter, and less expensive camera and lenses for the same telephoto reach
      • faster burst rates (18fps with C-AF in electronic shutter mode, 60fps with fixed focus!)
      • wider image area coverage of AF points
      • individual lenses do not require microcalibration to ensure accurate AF
      • very effective IBIS for panning with any lens (Canon and Nikon relies on lenses with OIS built in - the Canon 400mm f/5.6 has no OIS, nor do the shorter primes such as 135mm f/2 or 200mm f/2.8)
      • much better image stabiliser for hand held video work
      • in-camera user adjustable focus range limiter for improving AF speed and avoiding AF locking on backgrounds and foregrounds - no other camera has this feature, even in 2018!
      • much better manual focus aids, including in-camera user configured preset manual focus
      • pro-capture mode which saves photos immediately PRIOR to shutter release to help avoid missing that critical shot
      • smaller RAW file sizes as 12bit instead of 14 bit RAW files
    • disadvantages of the E-M1 II for pro sports:
      • limited range of fast aperture pro super telephoto lenses (40-150mm f/2.8, 200mm f/2.8, 300mm f/4, 100-400mm f/4-5.6)
      • shorter battery life but this could be partly addressed by attaching an optional battery grip with a second battery
      • 1-2 stops lower high ISO performance
      • 1-2 stops less shallow depth of field (DOF) for subject isolation (eg full frame 400mm f/2.8 vs MFT 200mm f/2.8) but usually need at least f/5.6 for adequate levels of DOF so this may not be critical for most purposes
      • some mild rolling shutter motion artefacts with the 18fps electronic shutter and fast moving subjects such as a soccer ball
      • slowish start up time
      • EVF still has some blackout time and not quite competitive with a dSLR optical viewfinder for sports
      • C-AF still not quite as good as a Nikon D5 pro dSLR
      • much less effective worldwide pro support systems

features compared with the E-M1 II

  • built-in battery grip not only allows more built-in battery life with a 2nd battery but provides more real estate for additional controls and better ergonomics for the large sports lenses and is more likely to provide better weathersealing and robustness compared to an optional add on grip
    • new C-Lock is a position with the Lock lever that allows you to customize which features will be locked and which will remain unlocked when in the C-Lock position. It can also be used to lock the vertical position controls if choosing to shoot entirely with the horizontal orientation controls.
    • new integrated heat pipe helps to dissipate heat from the imaging components to benefit recording video and shooting sequential stills in hot temperatures.
    • improved sensor cleaning system now with a special coating and vibrates as 30,000Hz
  • further improved sensor, processor and electronics to give:
    • 2x processing speed of the E-M1 II thanks to DUAL TruePic VIII image processors
    • further improved image stabiliser to 7EV up from 5.5EV, giving 7.5EV Dual IS up from 6.5EV
    • new EVF with lag time of 5 msec for fluid and accurate movement rendering
    • new dual 8-way AF joystick multi selectors
    • more buttons
    • ?? even greater burst capacity: 103 RAW at 15fps
    • ?? further improved high ISO noise and dynamic range
    • even better AF tracking thanks to the new Intelligent Subject Detection AF algorithm
      • use selects which type of subject from the menu system option, initially there will be 3 options: Motorsports, trains and planes. Only works in C-AF+TR tracking mode. For example, it knows to focus on a motorcyclist's helmet, when it gets close enough that it's reasonable to make that distinction.
      • If you set the camera up to have a single autofocus area, you can place that area over a particular subject to manually choose which car or motorcycle you want the camera to focus on.
    • improved AF cluster / region options:
      • at last a new 25-point group, for moving subjects, such as birds and wildlife
      • new Custom AF groups, for working with specific numbers of focus points within the 121-point grid
      • new “adaptive mode” which changes AF regions according to subject type detected in the scene
      • new C-AF Center Start / C-AF Center Priority
        • whether the camera should initially focus on the center-most (rather than nearest) subject in the AF area and whether it should then prioritize the subject at the center of each AF Area type
    • automatic focus stacking mode now allows for double the number of shots that can be taken to generate a focus stack
    • even higher rated shutter mechanism now at 400,000 actuations
    • dual fast UHS-II SD card slots (E-M1 II's 2nd slot was not UHS-II)
    • new USB-C port with in-camera battery charging
    • new dedicated DC-In socket at the bottom of the landscape orientation grip can charge the batteries
    • video capabilities are similar to E-M1II
    • new OM-Log video profile to extend the effective dynamic range and afford a greater range of control during post-production color grading when used with the accompanying LUT file
    • Time-lapse Movie mode up to UHD 4K at 5fps
    • tripod HiRes mode gives 8 sequential images with sensor shift to provide a 50mp jpeg or 80mp RAW file but apparently without subject movement correction
    • new HANDHELD HiRES mode uses 16 sequential images with movement due to camera shake to provide a 50mp jpeg or RAW file and attempts to correct for motion that's occurred between shots (using the information from a single shot in the areas of movement)
    • new Live ND mode results in blurred subject movement by compositing exposures to replicate the look of a single image taken at a slower shutter speed. Particularly suitable for photographing moving water, five modes are available — ND2, ND4, ND8, ND16, and ND32 —to vary how movement is portrayed
    • Anti-flicker shooting automatically detects the frequency/flicker of artificial lighting and activates the shutter at peak brightness moments to render exposures with consistent exposure and color.
    • new built-in Field Sensor System sports an integrated GPS module (GLONASS and QZSS) along with an electronic compass, manometer, temperature sensor, and acceleration sensor
    • new customizable 'My Menu' tab, in which you can store the options you regularly need to access.
      • To add an option to My Menu, press the [Rec] button when you're viewing your chosen menu option.
      • When you do so, a sub-menu pops up, letting you rank the importance of the selection (1 to 5 stars).
      • The menu option will now appear in My Menu, arranged with other selections you've given the same star rating, meaning you can group and prioritize the options within My Menu.
    • new Olympus Workspace editing software
    • new Olympus Capture, a tethering application, now supports wireless tethering as well as USB tethering

NEW pro accessories

  • the first Olympus radio wireless flash system
  • a MC-20 teleconverter to join the MC-14 1.4x teleconverter
  • their updated time line for new lens now also includes:
    • a wide zoom pro lens perhaps around 10-30mm
    • a standard zoom pro lens perhaps a 12-40mm - maybe an f/2?
    • a telephoto zoom pro lens perhaps a 50-200mm
    • a telephoto zoom pro lens perhaps a 75-250mm
    • “bright prime lenses”
    • it also has a couple of planned consumer level lenses including a super telephoto zoom up to 400mm and a “high magnification zoom” to cover perhaps 14-200mm

expected introduction of further pro telephoto lenses

  • Olympus has a past history of these and got their fingers burnt with the Four Thirds lenses by developing some of the best lenses ever made including the Olympus ZD 300mm f/2.8 super telephoto lens, Olympus ZD 90-250mm f/2.8 super telephoto lens and the Olympus ZD 150mm f/2.0 super telephoto lens, but these lenses were let down by the poor camera technologies of their time 15 yrs ago, but now the camera technology has caught up and perhaps Olympus feels the current schism in the dSLR-mirrorless world is an opportunity to again attack this Canon and Nikon stronghold with new zeal.
  • Perhaps a new mirrorless version of these lenses with new AF motors will be considered?
  • Perhaps new optical technologies to further lighten the load such as Fresnel lens / Diffraction Optics technologies (which Canon and Nikon have used in their 400mm compact lenses) will be used.
  • perhaps a 200-500mm f/5.6, similar to the Nikon AF-S 200-500mm f/5.6E VR lens but obviously covering an effective 400-1000mm field of view with the 2x crop, or a 400mm f/4
  • for indoor sports, a pro short telephoto is missing, so perhaps a 70mm f/1.2 and 100mm f/1.4, or will they go back to a Four Thirds style zoom with something like the superb Olympus ZD 35-100mm f/2.0 lens
  • further incentive to expand global pro support systems


  • built-in battery grip allows two batteries giving 870 shots per charge (CIPA)
  • same batteries as E-M1 II (BLH-1 )
  • extensive, IPX1-rated weather sealing
  • 20mp sensor as with E-M1ii
  • extended ISO to 25,600
  • 5 axis 7EV IBIS giving 7.5EV in Dual IS
  • 2.36m-dot, 0.83x-magnification LCD electronic viewfinder with lag time of 5 msec for fluid and accurate movement rendering and four-element optical part of the finder includes an aspherical element to give edge-to-edge sharpness
    • less contrast than many competing cameras' OLED viewfinders, with darker tones that can appear washed out
    • 120Hz mode results in slightly reduced resolution
    • resolution will also visibly drop as the camera attempts to find focus
  • 3.0“ 1.037m-dot vari-angle LCD touchscreen
  • 2x faster processing power as E-M1 II
  • 18fps C-AF burst rate in electronic mode (60fps in locked AF) - as with E-M1ii
  • 10fps C-AF burst rate in mechanical shutter mode (15fps in locked AF) - as with E-M1ii
  • 121 PDAF cross-type points plus 121 CDAF points as with E-M1ii
  • at last a new 25-point group, for moving subjects, such as birds and wildlife
  • AF sensitivity now as low as -6EV
  • new Custom AF groups, for working with specific numbers of focus points within the 121-point grid
  • new “adaptive” and “expandable” AF region options
  • new “Intelligent Subject Detection AF” an algorithm that uses deep learning technology to automatically detect specific subjects, focus on them, and track them. This system has specifically been developed for photographing cars, motorcycles, airplanes, helicopters, trains, and locomotives.
  • Eye Priority AF (?as with E-M1ii)
  • AF limiter function as with E-M1ii
  • hand held HiRes mode to 80mp
  • DCI (4096 x 2160) 4k 24p video with IPB compression at 237 Mb/s bit-rate
  • UHD (3840 x 2160) 4K up to 30p at 102 Mb/s bit-rate
  • 1080HD 100Mbps 120p output at 50Mbps 60/50p or at 26Mbps 24/25/30p for slo-mo video
  • 1080HD 52Mbps 60p, 202Mbps All-I compression 30p
  • can can output a 4:2:2 color signal over HDMI, but it can't record or output a 10-bit signal
  • 1/24th and 1/48th second shutter speeds to allow shooting at 24p with a 180 and 90 degree shutter angles
  • choice of sensor-only IS (M-IS 2), which lets you shoot using the full width of the sensor, or a more effective sensor+Digital IS mode (M-IS 1) that imposes around a 1.18x crop
  • Movie autofocus with tracking with the ability to tune the tracking behavior
  • Time-lapse Movie mode up to UHD 4K at 5fps
  • Intervalometer as with E-M1II
  • Live modes as with E-MII but adds Live ND mode for adding motion blur without prolonging exposure
  • USB 3.0 Type-C port with 100W charging can be used for quick in-camera charging batteries within 2 hours
  • new dedicated DC-In socket at the bottom of the landscape orientation grip can charge the batteries
  • dual SD card slots
  • size 144 x 147 x 75mm
  • 997g
  • $AU4499
  • $US2999

why won't Canon and Nikon just make a full frame mirrorless version of their sports dSLRs?

  • Canon and Nikon are more than 10 years behind Olympus, Panasonic and Sony in the mirrorless R&D and while their sports dSLRs continue to sell well, this area is probably the last they will convert over to mirrorless - so I would not be expecting a decent sports mirrorless with lenses to match for at least 5 years - that would be 2023 - and a lot can happen in the camera world in that time!
    • that said, Sony brought out their Sony a9 full frame mirrorless camera with only one $US12,000 super telephoto to match, so perhaps Canon or Nikon may surprise us, but I doubt it as they want to give their dSLRs as much life as possible
  • could a full frame mirrorless pro sports kit be as compact as a Micro Four Thirds kit?
    • to achieve a similar lens length as Micro Four Thirds, a full frame camera could just go into 2x crop mode but then to achieve a 20mp output:
      • the sensor would have to be 80mp and this would defeat the advantage of a full frame as sensor image quality would be the same as Micro Four Thirds given the same pixel density and sensor technology
      • the lenses would have to be made as sharp as the Micro Four Thirds lenses and to do this for full frame would be much more expensive


  • for a pro sports camera, high ISO noise and ability to blur the background is NOT going to be as good as a full frame sports camera with a very expensive pro sports lens, BUT the trade off is, your lens will be much smaller, lighter, less expensive and far more portable and fun to use hand held
  • EVF is not as good as peers
  • rear LCD resolution is not as good as peers but at least it is full swivel, articulating unlike most of its peers
  • no easy single button method to turn face/subject tracking on or off
    • face detection and subject-recognition tracking both override your chosen AF area.
    • should you want to focus on something other than a face or detected object, you'll have use the super control panel or menus to change these settings.
    • hopefully they will address this with firmware
    • The machine-learned 'Tracking Subject' modes can only be accessed via the menu, not via the super control panel
  • no 10bit video
  • battery charge display on the LCD only shows one battery

firmware updates

  • Nov 2020 update
    • adds:
      • bird AF
      • 12bit RAW video
      • 'Focus Indicator Display' mode that provides a focus guide, based on phase-detection distance information, when manually focusing
      • improved image stabilization performance while shooting video especially during panning
      • focus-stacking mode with the new 150-400mm F4.5 TC1.25x IS PRO lens


photo/olympusomdem1x.txt · Last modified: 2021/07/02 11:25 by gary1

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