Olympus OM-DE-M1 The Olympus OM-D E-M5 took the mirrorless camera world by storm, and now Olympus has pulled out all the stops to create a successor that takes the crown of its best camera ever on test
Words by Ian Fyfe
Price £1299 body only Contact www.olympus.co.uk sensor 16.3 megapixels with TruePic VII processor image dimensions 4608x3456 pixels ISOrange ISO 200-6400 (100- 25,600 extended) autofocusmodes Single AF, continuous AF, manual focus with focus peaking Exposure compensation +/-5EV in 0.3, 0.5 and 1EV steps Shutter 60-1/18000sec metering patterns Digital ESP (324 area), centre-weighted average, spot with highlight/shadow control shooting speeds Single, continuous 6.5fps with AF, continuous 10fps, self- timer 2 or 12secs LCD screen 3in touch panel with 1037k dots VIEWFINDER EVF with 2360k dots Storagemedia SD, SDHC, SDXC, UHS-I compatible Dimensions (WXHXD) 130.4x93.5x63.1mm Weight 497g (including battery and memory card)
The wait is over. After the success of the Olympus OM-D E-M5, its highly anticipated successor has arrived in the shape of the OM-D E-M1. This new flagship for the Olympus Micro Four Thirds system keeps the retro styling, but inside and out there have been some major changes. The result is what Olympus considers its best camera ever. We’ve taken a look at it to find out how far Olympus has pushed the mirrorless camera. The perfect size The exterior of the E-M1 has had a major overhaul from the previous OM-D. It’s slightly bigger, but still much smaller than most DSLRs, and lighter too. A more substantial DSLR-like handgrip lets you wrap your fingers around so it feels balanced in the hand, and it provides extra space on the top-plate for better positioning of the two command dials. This is complemented by buttons that are bigger, less fiddly and much more positive. What’s more, there’s a great amount of flexibility in the controls: four programmable function buttons and the option to customise most of the preset buttons, as well as the same 2x2 control seen on the PEN E-P5 that gives the command dials dual functions. One other major upgrade from the E-M5 is the viewfinder. This is of course electronic, but it has a 35mm equivalent magnification of 0.74x – comparable to the 0.76x magnification of the Canon EOS-1D X. There’s a massive increase in resolution compared to the E-M5 viewfinder too – 2.36 million dots compared with 1.44 million – and the lag time of just 28 milliseconds is undetectable. At times, it’s genuinely difficult to distinguish from a full-frame optical viewfinder experience, and it’s superb in low light – colours remain realistic and vibrant. Best image quality ever Inside the OM-D E-M1 is a brand new sensor. It has the same 16 megapixels as the E-M5, but no optical low-pass filter for an instant boost in resolution.
ABOVE The OM-D E-M1 is slightly bigger than the E-M5, but this is in pursuit of a camera that Olympus says is the ‘perfect size’. LEFT The OM-D E-M1 sensor has no optical low-pass filter, and this makes for improved sharpness and resolution over the OM-D E-M5. This shot was taken with off-camera flash.
With Micro Four Thirds lenses, this still uses contrast detection, but takes it up a notch in terms of speed. It’s not only impressive in the context of contrast- detection systems, but seriously rivals DSLRs. But it has another trick up its sleeve – on-sensor phase- detection AF pixels allow more effective focusing when Olympus E-System Four Thirds lenses are mounted with an adaptor. The option of using these instantly expands lens choice to 63, and it means the mirrorless OM-D E-M1 also effectively succeeds Olympus’ E-System DSLR line. The OM-D E-M1 is designed to withstand extreme conditions. It’s retained the dust and splash proofing of the E-M5, and this has been enhanced with freeze proofing that guarantees it’ll work at -10˚C. We got to see the splash proofing in action, and the E-M1 continued to work after repeated soakings by horses splashing past in a lake. The OM-D E-M1 is also Olympus’s second camera to include Wi-Fi. In the E-P5, this was disappointing as it only allowed remote control from smart devices when in Intelligent Auto mode. In the E-M1, you can change settings, focus and release the shutter remotely when in any mode.
The sensor is also paired with a new TruePic VII processor that uses New Fine Detail Technology II to adjust processing according to the attached lens. Olympus claims these technologies combine to produce the best ever image quality from a Micro Four Thirds camera, and this is borne out in practice. In comparison to images taken with the OM-D E-M5, there’s a distinct improvement in image sharpness and resolution with the E-M1. The excellent 5-axis in-body image stabilisation from the E-M5 is also included, and this allowed us to get sharp images at 1/20sec shutter speed, even when hand-holding and using an effective focal length of 300mm. The E-M1 also introduces Dual Fast AF, a new generation of Olympus’s mirrorless focusing system.
Olympus claims the technology combines to produce the best ever image quality – this is borne out inpractice
Photography News | Issue 1
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