Photography News 01

Camera review

25

ISO performance

OLYMPUS OM-D EM-1

The OM-D E-M1 has the same ISO sensitivity range as the E-M5, but a new sensor and processor promise improved performance. To assess ISO performance, Raw files were converted in Lightroom 5 with no noise reduction applied. Noise was no problem up to ISO 800, and although it becomes noticeable at ISO 1600, it’s not a real issue even at ISO 3200. Above this, there’s a distinct increase in grain that increases up to ISO 25,600. Performance of the E-M1 and E-M5 were very similar. The E-M1 benefits from grain that’s slightly less coarse, so impacts less on fine detail, but this difference has little impact until you’re up into the expanded settings of ISO 6400 and above.

ISO 1600

ISO 3200

ISO 100

ISO 6400

ISO 12,800

ISO 25,600

OLYMPUS OM-D EM-5

ISO 6400

ISO 12,800

ISO 25,600

User’s view

Peter Hartland LRPS is a member of the Andover Split Image Photograph Society, the Bristol Photographic Society and a

committee member of the Southern Region Royal Photographic Society. He’s been using the Olympus OM-D E-M5 for nearly a year alongside his Canon EOS-1D MkIV. He snapped up an OM-D E-M1 the instant it went on sale – we asked him why. “Customising the E-M5 let me get the best out of it, but it had some shortcomings in handling for me,” he says. “As soon as I got the E-M1 in my hands, it fitted like a glove. “The inclusion of a grip was magic, and the whole balance of the camera is similar to my Canon. I can do almost anything with one hand, and the build quality is excellent. The major buttons are better placed and larger, making the camera easy to use whilst looking through the viewfinder. The addition of two extra programmable buttons on the front is a real bonus. To get the best out of the camera, you need to run through the menus and set the function buttons for how you want to use them. I’ve seen a number of people fall over here because they haven’t done this and aren’t getting the pictures they want. “The viewfinder is brighter and bigger, similar to the ones on the Canon bodies I own, and gives you a 100% field of view – it’s crisp and clear, a joy to use. Images are certainly sharper than those from the E-M5, especially if you use the good prime lenses like the 45mm or 75mm. “My favourite features on the E-M1 have to be the extra function buttons, the big viewfinder, the high-resolution monitor and focus peaking. Also, the faster shutter speed of 1/8000sec and lower ISO of 100 give me two extra stops – great when using fast lenses. “One reason I got an Olympus OM-D was to reduce the weight of my backpack on my trips to Scotland and the Lake District, but I was always concerned whether the weatherproofing on the E-M5 was up to the weather there – it was too risky not to take the Canon gear. The E-M1 solved that – I’ve kept the E-M5 as a second body, so even carrying a bag full of lenses and a second body, I’ve reduced my camera load by many kilos.”

The only time when both contrast- and phase-detection AF mechanisms are active together is during continuous AFwithMicro Four Thirds lenses. This continuous focusing can be combined with continuous shooting of up to 6.5 frames-per-second. In nearly 200 photos we took in several continuous bursts with AF, the number that weren’t pin-sharp could be counted on your fingers. Continuous AF and drive

The verdict

olympus OM-D e-m1

the Micro Four Thirds lens system is the biggest out there, and it includes a number of premium, large-aperture lenses. Alongside the E-M1, Olympus added to the lens line- up with two new professional M.Zuiko f/2.8 optics with 35mm equivalent focal lengths of 12-40mm and 40-150mm. The only potential sticking point is the price – the E-M1 body only is £1300, and a kit with the new 12-40mm lens totals £1950. This price tag is in the realms of the most affordable full-frame cameras – it’s a serious investment, but for the combination of size, useability and performance, it’s one worth considering.

The OM-D E-M1 isn’t just a small upgrade from the previous E-M5. It feels as though it’s been designed from the ground up, and the result is a camera that feels a lot more like a DSLR and is much easier to use. It’s retained everything that was so good about the E-M5 and built on it – it’s more durable, easier to use, and there’s a noticeable step up in performance. All this comes in a body that’s well sized for comfortable use and easy carrying. If the OM-D E-M5 was top of the Olympus tree before, then the company’s claims that it’s made its best camera ever in the E-M1 must hold true. What’s more, when it comes to CSCs,

24/25

Features

Very highly specified Handling 25/25 Feels good, easy to use and customise Performance 24/25

A step up from the E-M5 Value for money

23/25

Worth it if you’re willing to pay

OVERALL

96/100

An excellent CSC that seriously rivals DSLRs

Pros Size, handling, viewfinder, image quality Cons Price, one SD slot

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