Olympus OM-D E-M1 rear dial issue not always responding – mine is now in for repair under warranty by Olympus Australia

Written by Gary on April 19th, 2015

Many and perhaps most cameras have either design or manufacturing build quality issues which do not get noticed until mass production has already occurred.

Such was the case with the professional sports dSLR – the Canon 1D Mark III which I bought in 2007 for over $5000 to compliment my Olympus E510 dSLR which was not capable of fast C-AF tracking of fast moving subjects.

Unfortunately with the Canon 1D III, there was a major design fault with the C-AF system and despite returning it for attempted repair, the problem was not resolved fully, and Canon partly resolved it by releasing a new camera, the Canon 1D Mark IV although this did not compensate the many thousands like me who bought the faulty model.

Nikon had similar serious issues with their Nikon D600 full frame dSLR in which the shutter mechanism was allegedly causing dust and oil to contaminate the sensor causing granular spots on images. After much debate and testing, Nikon finally announced it accepted that it was a design issue and in Feb 2014 announced it would offer free replacement of the shutter mechanism, and allocated $17.7 million to address the issue. It then released an updated model, the D610 to resolve the problem for future buyers.

It seems that Canon may also have a major problem with their sensors on the Canon their latest cropped-sensor dSLRs – see here.

Apart from the Canon 1D Mark III, I have been extremely fortunate with my long run of cameras I have bought since the 1970’s, none of which have needed a warranty repair – these include, the Olympus OM-1n, OM-2n, Olympus C8080, Olympus E510, Olympus E330, Olympus OM-D E-M5.

But just over 2 months after I purchased a new Olympus OM-D E-M1, and well before my trip to South Australia, it started developing the well-documented issues with its rear dial requiring several clicks to change a setting instead of just the click. The camera is still usable but it is an extremely annoying fault, and if it did fail totally, one could always use the touch screen and also re-allocate important control to another dial such is the versatility and customisation capability of this wonderful little camera.

It seems the issue is not isolated to the E-M1 but has affected similar models such as the E-P5. I have also seen the top part of the rear dial just fall off on someone’s new E-M1 so there does seem to be build quality and perhaps design issues with this new dial which differed from the design on the E-M5.

Fortunately, this issue should be an easy fix and presumably just requires replacement of the rear dial, although there is a risk that the problem may return with a new dial if it is a more significant design issue – time will tell on that

Nevertheless, it was time to do the inevitable and take it back to the camera store to have it sent off for repairs to Olympus Australia who do the repairs in Sydney (or Perth), but unfortunately not in Melbourne.

I am thus posting this blog to give Australians a feel for the service provided by Olympus Australia, particularly given that Olympus no longer has world wide warranties, but regional – my understanding is that Olympus Australia only do warranty repairs themselves for cameras purchased in the Australia region which they have distributed to retailers.

Both of the above, on the surface could appear to be show stoppers for professional photographers who need fast turn-around times for servicing, however, this would be partly negated by the fact one could probably buy a spare body and lens and still have a substantial amount of money left over when compared to buying a full frame pro system. In this way a pro could risk manage the issue, although most pros would always have a spare camera body at least anyway.

I will update this post further once I have news on the outcome of my warranty repair, in the meantime it is back to using the E-M5 with the Canon 1D Mark III coming out of retirement.

When sending the camera in for repair via the retailer, all they need is the receipt and the camera body with body cap in place – no battery, no accessory grip, no SD card, no box.

Do NOT send in other accessories which are not needed for the repair, as with any service centre, there is a chance they could be lost amongst all the other repairs!

A quote from a fellow Australian who had the same issue “I sent it to the Olympus offices in Australia (they still do all the repairs in house, and are fantastic to deal with)” – so I am very optimistic the service will be excellent.


The camera store contacted me on 6th May to come and pick up and all looks good – Olympus Australia replaced the rear dial under warranty as expected, gave it a clean and it is working beautifully now.

Turn around time was about 3 weeks which included the postage to and from Sydney via the camera store.


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