Oct 122013
 

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The Olympus OM-D E-M1 Full Review. The most versatile Mirrorless Camera ever.

Inspiration: a person or thing that inspires. 

The E-M1 with 17 1.8 at 1.8. Also ran through an Alien Skin Color Fading filter – click it to see it the right way

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Hello to all and once again I thank each and every one of you who have been reading my reviews, my raves, my rants and of course all of the amazing guest articles and posts that have been posted for the past few years. Without YOU, this site would be nothing and would have become one of the thousands that get lost every year in the sea of information we call the internet. I am truly blessed to even have this website doing what I love to do day in and day out.

So again, I thank you all.

It is strange, I have  recently been asked by a few people starting photo blogs how to make a successful blog or website. Well, besides writing an article on this subject HERE like I did quite a while ago I can state that when one writes from the heart, when one is honest, when one sticks to their guns and also injects their personality, emotion and passion into what they do, no matter what it is, then they will have the highest chance of success.

The E-M1 and 17 1.8 Lens at 1.8. Amazing Combo. The kid below was dressed up as a Zombie for the yearly Phx, AZ Zombie Walk :)

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I did not get into this nor am I in it for the money because if that were the case I would have gotten myself into big trouble a long time ago. Nope, this site was born and continues on due to my passion, your passion and the common love of photography, memories… AND cameras :)

The gentle transitions to an out of focus meltdown are beautiful indeed. The E-M1 with Voigtlander 25 0.95 at 1.4. This combo is incredible. 

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So long story short: Live life, love in life, and be kind to all you come in contact with. Enjoy what you do and do not worry about things in life that do not matter but the things that do. :)

WAIT! I thought this was a Camera Review? Yes, yes..the OM-D E-M1…

Lol, me too! Sorry about that but as some of you know, I sometimes get lost in a rant that has nothing to do with the article I am supposed to write so I apologize! So yes..the Olympus OM-D E-M1!

The new hot-shot on the block that promises everything and delivers on just about all of it.

Released in October of 2013 and the follow-up to the highly successful E-M5, the new E-M1 is slightly bigger, quite a bit stronger and subtly faster. After using the camera I thought Olympus must have been injecting the E-M5 with steroids for the past two years to give it some beef and the E-M1 was/is the result.

Don’t mess with this guy! Shot this at a horror convention with the 17 1.8 but did some PP tweaks to the background for more pop, so this one is a just for fun shot. 

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Yes all of my camera gearhead friends, the new Olympus is here and let me tell you this without hesitation (SPOILER ALERT) – This is the best Micro 4/3 camera ever made if Photography is your main use (rather than Video). But I will take it one step further and probably by saying this will irritate some but it is how I feel after extensive use.

The new E-M1 is the fastest, best built, best size, and most versatile mirrorless camera you can buy today as of the moment I am writing this (October 12th 2013). In APS-C land, Fuji can’t touch it, Sony can’t touch, Leica can’t touch it for these things:

Speed, Versatility, Size, Lenses, Features, Viewfinder Experience, in body IS, and so much more. 

My video from Castle Leslie with the E-M1

For Micro 4/3 video, the Panasonic GH series takes the cake. But for Photography, the reason these were made and built, this camera is the real deal and just does not get any better when it comes to Micro 4/3 . I can go on and on and on and on about the features, the history, the reasons why this is THE camera to own for those who want performance in a small package but most of you already know all of this. I wrote about this camera a couple of  times already here on these very pages.

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I was able to be one of the many who tested this camera in Ireland at the huge Castle Leslie Olympus launch event and I was wowed with the camera for sure.

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.

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This E-M1 is destined to be a classic and yes, it is a replacement for the full size E-5 (according to Olympus) and I applaud them for this because we get the speed, IQ, pro build and results all in a body that is smaller than those old 4/3 bodies.

You can see my 1st report of the E-M1 HERE

I added noise to this image during the B&W conversion. Lovely. The E-M1 and 17 1.8

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Remember the E-P1, E-P2, E-P3 and E-M5? 

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I do remember as I owned them and shot them all long-term so I could write about them and compare to competing cameras. Back in the E-P1 and E-P2 days Micro 4/3 had many challenges. The AF speed was awful, the IQ was full of noise and the usability was average. But back then we didn’t care because the technology we have today was not there yet. We were used to these flaws in most cameras and dealt with it and saw it as a challenge in many ways to do the best with what we had. We also only had the 14-42 kit zoom along with the 17 2.8 pancake, which I enjoyed but it was far from being a WOW lens.

Even then, I preferred those little PEN cameras to many others due to their style, charm and full on fun factor. I reviewed them all and by the time we got to the E-P3 things were looking pretty good. When the E-M5 came that is when I knew that this format was here to stay (contrary to what some “experts” have predicted) because with the E-M5 we have a camera that does so many things so well. The E-M5 has been my favorite Micro 4/3 ever but that has now changed with the introduction of the Pro Level E-M1.

Sir Jack Leslie, Ireland 2013 – E-M1 and 45 1.8

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So what has improved in the E-M1 over the E-M5?

When I reviewed the fantastic E-M5 I remember it being a very long 8000 word review. Some said TOO long. I was also recently told by one person that it took him a few days to read it :) So this time I will go lighter on the text and just write about what  you really need to know instead of yapping away about things that I already yapped about in that E-M5 review! So I promise it will not be 8000 words, maybe 5000 at most :)

So what is different? What is better? What is the big deal with this new E-M1?

Well, for me the OM-D E-M1 is THE  mirrorless camera to own right now. Since the beginning of Micro 4/3 there have been bashers and haters who hated for the sake of hating! Calling cameras like the E-M5 and even new E-M1 “Toys” and “Not Serious” and “Silly” and “The format will die” .. these individuals were ones who either never shot with the cameras, and if they did then they went in with that attitude or only used a kit zoom, which is NOT recommended by me at all.

The AF tracked this horse and rider from the water until she passed in front of me. Every shot I took was in focus. 

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In fact, if you are planning on buying any Micro 4/3 body, be sure to get a GOOD lens. The fast primes and new zooms are fantastic. In any case, those who bashed this system really were only bashing it due to the smaller sensor in the camera even though it was just as capable as larger sensors. Since I am not biased and only rave about the cameras or lenses I truly love and feel are worth it, no matter the sensor size, I was telling it like it “was and is” for years now.

Today, Micro 4/3 is as serious of a system as any APS-C format system. While not equalling full frame in image quality it can equal APS-C easily while being built better, while auto focusing faster/more accurate and while having the BEST mirrorless lenses available next to Leica. It’s a win/win and the only ones who dismiss this system in 2013 are those who are living in an alternate universe.

Full size file – click it. E-M1 with 17 1.8

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I have met and spoken with pros who shoot the E-M5 as their main cameras. They earn a nice living doing so. I have met some of the most talented street shooters and many of them use Olympus.

OM-D Users: Check out these two guys who shoot with an E-M5 – Thomas Leuthard and Adde Nakoseda

The facts are plain and simple. There are really are no limits with this system in 2013 . It may lose some in high ISO ranges from 6400 and up and it may not have that last 5% of bite that a Leica M has but it easily matches an APS-C and in many cases, exceeds in beauty of rendering and that is thanks to the lenses. But even if I have said it a million times, usability and joy of use go a long way, and this camera has it.

So fear not my friends. With a camera like the E-M1 or E-M5 you can take images in any situation. You can go for wide and large depth of field or get very shallow DOF. You can shoot with one of the best Macro lenses ever as well as an amazing Fisheye and Ultra Wide Zoom. You can use a fast 2.8 pro zoom or even one of the best portrait lenses made today. You can go as fast as f/0.95 in three focal lengths and get gorgeous results. It is absolutely amazing when you sit and think about it. A few years ago we had a couple of kit zooms and a couple of pancakes.

Today it really is limitless. Amazing.

Again, the lovely 17 1.8. This lens has become my fave lens for the E-M1

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But what has improved?

Oh yea, there I go again! Here is my list of improvements over the E-M5 that I realized while shooting:

  • Better build, pro quality feel and heft
  • NO Anti Alais filter on the E-M1. The E-M5 has one (from what I understand)
  • Faster AF with Dual Fast (contrast and Phase detect)
  • HUGE brilliant EVF (EVF-4) makes MF and composition a breeze!
  • Better control placement and more custom options
  • Shockproof and better Weather Sealing – also freeze proof!
  • Live Time rocks!
  • WiFi implementation is AMAZINGLY simple and app works great
  • Slight improvement to image quality..richer..sharper.
  • New Color Creator is interesting
  • Small improvements to 5-Axis IS
  • Improvements in high ISO over the E-M5 by one stop
  • The E-M1 has a dedicated microphone input jack for better sound quality with your video!

So for me, it is a no brainer. This is an amazing camera because the E-M5 is amazing the way it is. Add these improvements and you have something special that usually only comes around every 2-3 years. I do not know where Olympus can go from here except to make a “Pro PEN E-PX or even better OM-D E-MX” – still not sure what they could improve, though there is always something because no matter what, sensor technology is constantly evolving.

The Voigtlander 25 0.95 on the E-M1. Love this lens as it feels like you are shooting a Leica when using it on the E-M1. It may not always be sharp and perfect but it has character for sure :) 

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The Torture Test. How tough is it?

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I love this camera. :) So much so that I gave it a bath in my kitchen sink when it had some dust on it. You know, water gets dust off quite easily :) Lol. In reality, this camera is made to take a beating and keep on going. Freeze it, spray it down with heavy rain or drop it and Olympus says it will keep in going..and going..and going.

Yep, Olympus has been really pushing the toughness of this guy though and since I had a review sample with me for a couple of weeks I decided to give the camera a test and see if they are for real. But what if I do a torture test and it breaks the camera? Would I have to pay for it? Ahhh, what the hell. Why not. I sprayed it with water for 120 seconds while it was on, no problem. I buried it in ice for 30 minutes. No problem. I did NOT drop it as I did not want to damage a lens. But this camera is as tough as they come in the mirrorless world.

The cool thing though? While it is tough as nails, it is a gentle giant with gorgeous handling of color, highlights and details.

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ISO tests

Below is what you can expect from the camera at higher ISO’s. While I would not shoot it at ISO 12,800, I would go up to ISO 3200 no problem. The good news is that I never go over that with ANY camera and neither does 99% of photographers or enthusiasts. Remember film? ISO 400 is as noisy as what you will get with this camera at ISO 3200.

Looking at 100% crops is deceiving as at 100% you see more noise than you would in a print or resized image. The tests I have done show the E-M1 to match the GX7 and just about match the Fuji X-M1 as well. (you can see the E-M1 vs Fuji ISO HERE). If it can get close to the Fuji, then we know it is pretty damn good at higher ISO. It can not match full frame, no, but for 99% of us who shoot up to ISO 1600 or even 3200 it is just fine.

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ISO 3200 on the E-M1  with a Voigtlander Leica M mount 35 1.4 Single Coated classic

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and one at ISO 6400 in the worst conditions. Low light, indoor at night, normal house lamp in the room, zero NR

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Inspiration

Early on in this review, during the 1st line of text, I put up the definition of the word “Inspire”. Why did I do that? Well, I did that because the E-M1 is one of the few cameras made today that does just that. INSPIRES you to use it. There are not many cameras out there that have been made over the past few years that have inspired me to want to pick it up, to use it, to push it to the envelope, to learn with it and to have it be my constant companion. It used to be my Leica M but with the price of those things as well as them being fragile in the RF department (as in, the focus getting out of whack if you breathe on it wrong) I tend to baby the Leica M more these days. With a 50mm Lux, the M and lens will set you back about $11,000.

So while it was the same situation with the M9 a few years back (high cost), I always had my M9 with me because at that time nothing compared in that small size for usability or IQ. Nothing.

Using a VSCO Film Preset gives me that vintage vibe of color that takes me back a bit. 17 1.8 

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Olympus Colors are always pleasing – this is an OOC JPEG

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Another JPEG in Vivid mode..8mm Panasonic Fsheye at f/3.5

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Well today that is a different story.

While I love, adore and really enjoy the Leica M 240 (as you can read here, and SEE here), today there are cameras that not only compete with it in the small size category, there are cameras that are tougher, faster, and offer overall better performance in use and  “close enough” IQ  for 1/8th the cost. There are also some things right around the corner that may just put a dent in Leicas plans (the rumored Sony FF)  because at the price point of the Leica M there should be nothing to compare to it. With the M9, there wasn’t. With the M, due to technology, there is.

OOC JPEG – My son as we were out exploring in Prescott AZ – I added some B&W grunge via Alien Skin.

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I am not saying the E-M1 can touch the Leica M for IQ but it can get me 80-85% there, and in some cases, match it for beauty depending on lighting and skill.

So 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 and also makes me look at my wallet and bank account.

*Again, not saying in any way that the E-M1 beats the Leica M for image quality or high ISO. It does not. But how close is close enough?*

For some it does not matter, Leica is their life, their lifestyle and the camera they truly enjoy and bond with. For others, they will go with what gets them close enough and use that extra cash to travel, or save or buy a lens or two. Whatever works for YOU is the direction you should go or stay in. These days, you will never have to worry about the camera as mostly all decent cameras today are fantastic.

But as much as I love Leica (and I own one) I have to say I am not sure I will continue buying new Leica bodies because I just enjoy cameras like the E-M1 so much, while getting beautiful results and saving a ton of cash. Like I said, when the M9 was out there was nothing in its size that could compare. Today there is.

The Voigtlander 25 0.95 up close and personal with a Chameleon. Shot at 1.4 and ISO 640

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So will I leave my M and use the E-M1 as my #1 carry around? Probably not. But the more I think about it, the more I realize something. I do not take pro jobs any longer. I do not have the time to do so. The free time I do get these days I spend with my loved ones so these days, no more tours, no more paid portraits, no more paid weddings, no more paid photo work, period. So why would  a guy like me who gets to use every camera and lens made due to my profession need a $15,000 Leica M setup?

I don’t.

But the problem is that I am “bonded and attached” to the Leica M. I have been shooting with an M for many years starting with the M7. So not so sure I can just leave it, but the money is tempting. I can buy a new car with what I could get for my Leica set (though I would not as I do not need one).

So if I did, this E-M1 would be my daily shooter, or 2nd daily depending on what Sony has in store this month :)

ISO 1000, B&W conversion using Alien Skin Exposure – 17 at 1.8

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So that right there says a lot. The E-M1 is so good, it is making me think of no longer owning a Leica camera body! Me, the Leica “Fanboy”. WOW.

Also think of this..I use ALL cameras that are released. I review many of them but not all. If I could buy into ONE system camera today and start from scratch it would be the Olympus OM-D E-M1.

I would spend $4500 for an E-M1 setup before spending it on Fuji, Samsung, Nikon, Canon and possibly Sony NEX depending on what their full frame move is, and even so, I would just own both most likely, the Sony FF and the E-M1. :) 

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So Micro 4/3 is rocking in 2013. The Panasonic GX7 is fantastic, the OM-D E-M5 is still amazing, and the new E-M1 is the best yet. In fact, I could say that, feature for feature, build and speed and taking all into consideration, it is the best mirrorless camera made today. WOW, did I just say that???

Is Olympus the new Leica? I’d say they are the closest to Leica as you can get in a mirrorless body. 

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Compared to the Leica M. Can you get Shallow DOF? 

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Same lens – 50 Lux ASPH

This next test should be illegal because Leica owners always hate when I do these tests (and remember, I am labeled as a Leica fanboy). I did one once where I pit the E-M5 against the $8000 Leica Monochrom. Of course, two totally different cameras but hey, why not? Sometimes that underdog gets mighty close to big dollar results but we all know it is a totally different experience and state of mind (and results when viewing full size). Now in all reality, the Leica Monochrome is one of the most beautiful and unique cameras made today and it is in another league but again, you CAN get B&W with an E-M1 :) Not all of us have $8k lying around.

With that said, how about an image with the same lens  - one on the Leica M, one with the E-M1. Of course the E-M1 will double the focal length and make that 50 a 100mm but that is OK, we are just looking at color, rendering, bokeh, etc. All with the same Leica 50mm Lens.

COMPARE THE TWO for Depth of Field – Same lens, one on the M and one on the E-M1 – The M image was taken with the NEW firmware that corrected skin tones and it is improved over the previous FW for sure. 

leica

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Yep, the Leica has that full frame creaminess and the E-M1 looks more compressed due to the sensor crop but look at them closely. The color is fantastic from the E-M1 and also looks nice from the Leica though a little warm. The E-M1 file is basically a cropped full frame file due to the 2X crop of the Micro 4/3 sensor. The question: Does this come close enough? Some will say yes, some will say no and some will say the E-M1 is even better when considering the cost but the fact is that when you look at those two images, the E-M1 looks DAMN GOOD next to that $11k combo.

Micro 4/3 today in 2013 is FANTASTIC. It can not match the fine texture of the Leica M file, and it should not be able to, but it can put out a very nice pleasing and beautiful image that goes head on with any APS-C and gets 85% of full frame quality. Not too shabby.

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Other thoughts and tibits. Live Time, no AA filter, and all around awesomeness

No AA Filter on the E-M1

At ISO 1600 the E-M1 retains sharpness, even when shooting with the 17 1.8 wide open. Love that it has NO AA filter!

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Many may not be aware of this but the Olympus OM-D E-M1 sensor does not have an AA filter. I was not fully aware of this early on but it was told to me that indeed it does not where the older E-M5 does have one (supposedly, still not 100% on that). That would explain everything because the Olympus 17 1.8, while a great lens, was a little soft on the E-M5.On the E-M1 it is razor-sharp, even when wide open at 1.8 and at high ISO. THIS lens now is my #1 preferred for this focal length even over the slower focusing Panasonic 20 1.7 II. So without an AA filter we get more sharpness and pop. To me, this is a step in the right direction for sure. At times the output has that crispness that I remember from the Leica M8. Crisp and detailed while remaining very pleasing. To me, this is a BIG deal as I strongly prefer my cameras without an AA filter.

Art Filters

The art filters are still here and better than ever. You are either a fan or not but they only work in JPEG mode for that quick cool looking image. My fave is the grainy B&W mode. Not much has changed from the E-P5 or E-M5 in regards to the filters.

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Live Time

There is also much more about the E-M1 that should be talked about. One thing I did not even touch on in my E-M5 review is “Live Time” which I believe was called “Live Bulb” on the E-M5. To activate live time, just go into Manual mode and twist the exposure dial all the way until you see “LIve Time”. Then you can set your aperture and ISO. For really long exposures of the night sky you could set your aperture to f/22 and ISO to base ISO. Press the shutter and then watch as your exposure develops like magic right in front of your eyes. When the exposure is where you want, press the shutter again. There is nothing like it from any other camera manufacturer. I previously showed some light painting we did in Ireland with the camera and the possibilities are endless:

Live Time in Action

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In camera HDR mode

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I am not a fan of HDR but there is no denying there has been quite an HDR movement in the past few years. MANY love it and while 99% of the time, in camera HDR is lousy, on the E-M1 it is not horrible. I would never use it but for those that like to dabble in HDR, the settings here make it as easy as taking a normal photo. The sample above was shot in HDR1 mode.

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HD Video 1080p

While Olympus themselves say their video could be better, when mixed with the 5-AXIS IS it is amazingly smooth. I used the video on the E-M5 for a few productions and will also use the E-M1. I do not make hollywood or pro movies, so for what I do it is good enough. The 5-Axis is amazing!! I can not stress that enough. So for me, the video is great. The good news is that the E-M1 now includes a dedicated mic input jack so you can record with a better microphone :) This is not a camera one would buy for the video but for occasional or hobbyist or youtube use, no problem.

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Yep, the E-M1 is the whole package in one small compact powerhouse. The following two images were shot with the Voigtlander 25 0.95 wide open

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Focus Peaking for Manual Lenses

Olympus did implement focus peaking in the E-M1 and while I am happy to see it I found the peaking to work better in the Panasonic GX7 I reviewed a week or two ago. For some reason the peaking quality is not up to snuff yet. BUT, the good news is that due to the huge EVF you do not even need peaking and can easily manual focus just by eye, and if that is not enough, one button press and you can magnify the screen and do critical focusing.

I shot a few images with a couple of Leica lenses and did not even need the peaking or the magnification. Still, the peaking could be better. Sony still leads the way in focus peaking IMO.

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My Final conclusion on the OM-D E-M1

Well here we are in 2013 and the choices for all of us crazy enthusiasts are plentiful and excellent. We finally have a definitive Micro 4/3 camera body that is pro level and can do just about anything one needs it to do and do it in any weather. As always, I review cameras from an enthusiasts point of view in a real world way. There are things I do not even get into like Flash, because I have not used a flash in 14 years. I am anti-flash even though I know it is good to have on some occasions. But as an enthusiast and a passionate photographer who has seen it all and used them all, I can say with confidence that the OM-D E-M1 is one of the best cameras “as a whole” that I have ever reviewed. It is superb. Yes, there are others with better overall IQ and others with better high ISO but as a whole, speaking of the whole package, nothing else has come close.

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You have seen me rant and rave about a few different camera models over the year. Leica’s and Sony’s for the most part. Well as of today there is a new camera in town that offers the perfect mix of speed, usability, build, image quality, cost and lenses to place it at the top of the heap in the world of mirrorless cameras. Someone asked me today if I would take a Canon 6D and 85L or an E-M1 and 25 1.4. For me that choice is easy. The E-M1 only because it would go with me everywhere when the 6D would be left behind. It is just too large, too bulky and too heavy and the lenses, while fantastic are just too much weight wise for everyday use.

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The image quality of the E-M1 is an improvement over the E-M5 due to the new processor and lack of an AA filter. The files pop more and I feel they also have slightly different color that I prefer. Crisp. Beautiful. The exposure metering is fantastic, the AWB is fantastic, the out of camera colors are beautiful.

There will always be naysayers no matter what towards this Micro 4/3 system. But those who disregard or trash Micro 4/3 or the E-M1 have no idea what they are doing or saying. There is simply nothing to trash and that is fact.

It will not match full frame like the RX1 or M in all out flat out IQ but it will meet head to head ANY APS-C mirrorless and beat them on build, speed, and every other area usability area with ease. What it boils down to for me is..Olympus E-M1 or Full Frame? The answer for me is BOTH. One all out IQ monster and one usability and IQ monster. :)

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Also, let us not forget the lenses. Micro 4/3 has some of the best lenses made for any system, period. There are many highly recommended jewels in the lineup.  At the end of the day this camera gets my highest recommendation. Buy the E-M1 and a couple of nice fast primes and go out and use it and it will be hard to put it down. The Olympus E-M1 has the charm, the soul and the goods to Be my pick for Camera of the Year 2013. Not sure if it will as I hear Sony has something on the way but as it stands now, the E-M1 is at the top of the list. :) 

As of this writing (October 12th 2013) I can say that for me, the Olympus E-M1 is the best Mirrorless camera on the market today when looking at the “Whole Picture” of cost, size, build, speed, toughness, EVF, performance, features and lenses available. No one else even comes close and I should know, I have used EVERYTHING out there. Well done Olympus, you have indeed created a mirrorless masterpiece!

The E-M1 and 8mm Panasonic Fisheye at f/3.5

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Which would I take?

Panasonic GX7 or E-M1: E-M1 no contest.

E-M1 or Fuji X Body: E-M1 no contest.

E-M1 or new rumored Sony Full Frame: BOTH, one for the Full Frame IQ and look and one for all that I have raved about.

E-M1 or NEX-6: E-M1 due to the lenses and speed and build and IQ.

E-M1 or Fuji X100s: Close, but for me, E-M1

E-M1 or Pentax K3? The new Pentax looks amazing on Paper, but is still a DSLR. I can not say until I test the K3 :)

E-M1 or Leica M: Two different cameras for different audiences. End of story, so BOTH :)

The Exposure, the color, the sharpness, the lenses..wow.

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Where to Buy the E-M1?

If you are interested in the Olympus E-M1 you can buy it at the recommended links below, and THANK YOU for stopping by and spending some of your time to read my thought on this exciting camera:

Buy the E-M1 at Amazon HERE

Buy the E-M1 at B&H Photo HERE

Buy the E-M1 at PopFlash.com HERE

The cool thing is that you can pre-order and your credit card will NOT be charged until the camera ships, ensuring you a place in line. Pre-orders are also easily cancelable. With Amazon it takes one click. So if you want this camera, I suggest pre-ordering from one of the dealers above!

More Samples

I will leave you with a few more samples below. Enjoy!

Some JPEGS, Some from RAW, some High ISO, Some LOW – EXIF is embedded in all. Click them for larger.

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Recommended Lenses for the E-M1:

The Olympus 17 1.8

The Panasonic 25 1.4

The Olympus 12mm f/2

The Olympus 45 1.8

The Olympus 75 1.8

The Olympus Pro Zoom 12-40

The Voigtlander 25 0.95

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MORE TO COME!!

As I use the camera more I will be adding to this review with more samples including video, so stay tuned and check back every week or so to this page. 

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  333 Responses to “The Olympus OM-D E-M1 Full Review. The most versatile Mirrorless Camera ever.”

  1. Nice review Steve. The EM1 looks like a real fun camera. I previously owned the EM5 and bought your 25/1.4 had a lot of fun shooting with it and other m4/3 lenses. I’ve since got back into FF with a D600 and joying it at the moment mostly doing landscapes with a 16-35 VR and the Sigma 35/1.4 for everything else.

    Even though I’m a DSLR shooting, I’ve always enjoyed your site and format of reviews. Some people might give you crap for never pointing out the cons of cameras, but lets face it, the cameras coming out these days are all outstanding cameras and it all boils down to what you need. Some cameras might come close to filling all the needs, but it usually comes down to choosing what type of paint brush and paint you need to create your art.

    Keep up the great work Steve!

  2. THe OMD versus the Leica (woman portrait) to me shows a pretty big difference. I am a Sony and Canon user, so I have no dog in this fight, but the Leica seems much better to me. Look at the woman’s lower neck . . . on the Leica it’s sufficiently out of focus and on the OMD it’s well in focus. The colors on the OMD seems cooler and redder. The Leica is warmer and more natural, to me. Even the eye on the left has a little more saturation and contrast on the Leica.

    Is the Leica worth that many thousands more? Not to me, but I would love to see my NEX 5N and Voigtlander 35/1.4 thrown into this mix.

    • I guess you used the same lens on both cameras, so I shouldn’t have noted the Voigtlander 35. And to be fair, the reason I bought a Canon 6D is partly because the AF speed on my 5N is not always adequate. I am jealous of the OMD in that regard.

    • There’s more DOF in the EM1 because he had to step further back to get the same crop (because of the 2x crop factor). Being further away from the subject will give you more DOF. If he shot from the same distance as he did with the Leica, then he would have the same DOF rendering, but a much much tighter crop.

      • DOF depends on magnification (object size / image of object size) and on aperture size. One cannot expert DOF to be a function of distance, only, even if aperture is kept constant. Example: Fill out a Hasselblad frame and a Leica frame with a face, taken at same distance and at same aperture (pick lenses, that will do the fill), and the DOF will be different, allthough taken at same distance – DOF depends on aperture and magnification.

        • No, DOF is not a function of *only* distance – but DOF is a function of distance, aperture, and focal length. I mean that in the literal sense – subject distance is a term when calculating DOF.

    • Sean, I did a test once with an EP3 + PL25 f1.4 (summilux) an NEX5n + Leica 35mm f1.4 ASPH and a Leica M9 + 50mm f1.4 ASPH. All 3 summilux lenes giving almost the same field of view, 50mm. This was just to look at depth of field and the quality of the background. There was almost no difference between the Sony and the Olympus but a big jump in subject isolation from both to the full frame. That said, the Oly setup has AF and the pics are still very pretty! I reckon if someone brings out an m43 55mm or 60mm (eqv) 1.4 lens, I’ll be flogging my Leica 50…:)

      • Thanks Neil. I am surprised the OMD can compete so well with the larger APS-C sensor, which cannot likewise compete with a FF sensor. I tend to think of Sony as having the best sensors in the world (e.g., the Nikon D800), so it’s really amazing if this OMD is on par with the Sony APS-C sensors. I just hope Sony’s new FF mirrorless cameras get some of Olympus’s AF speed since Sony bought more than a 10% stake in Olympus to help them not go bankrupt.

    • Scott, you’re right. When I made my original comment, I assumed the “depth of field” test was using f/.95 on the OMD and f/2 on the FF with a 25 and 50 lens and that’s why I thought my NEX 5N with a 35/1.4 would fit right in. I followed up when I realized they used the same lens, thus I agree with what you noted.

      Neil, thanks for the perspective on the NEX and OMD. I do see a jump from my 5N to my Canon 6D, but I am surprised there is not difference between the NEX and OMD just because of the big difference in sensor size (rare to see a M43 match a recent APS-C or an APS-C match a FF sensor on DxOMark, for example). The OMD looks pretty slick. I hope Sony can improve the AF speed for the upcoming FF NEX cameras or I won’t even consider them. Perhaps Sony buying a stake in Oly will help them get access to the OMD AF speed secrets. ;~)

  3. Man, I just wanted to go to bed… Didn´t you say you´d need till monday/tuesday? Shame on you ;)

  4. Great review Steve. I was very close to pre-order the E-M1 but finally ended up with Nikon V1 with 10/2.8 and 18.6/1.8 and you are partially responsible for that (and partially the great price) :) We have our first baby on the way and I realised that the V1 should be great to record the family memories that are ahead of us – the E-M1 could even be considered an overkill for that.

    Now a whole new bunch of mirror less cameras in on the horizon – let’s see what will be your favourite mirror less camera in 6 months from now :)

    • I have both the V1 and the E-M1. The V1 is like a baby toy compared to the E-M1. Night and day difference.

    • Matus, I hope you get some great shots with your new “baby toy” for your new baby! I just picked up a 2nd body myself after realizing it’s probably all the camera I will ever need.

      • Jan, thank you, I will do my best.

        I am not saying that V1 is the only camera I will ever need, just all the camera that I need right now ;)

        • I have the V1, E-M5 and XE-1. The V1 was bought a firesale price and I love it. The E-M5 is the best overall mirrorless camera I have. It does everything very well. But the XE-1 has the best resolution hands down. It’s not as fast as the V1 or EM-5 but it’s my go-to camera most of the time.

          Each camera has its strengths and I use all three depending on what my needs are.

  5. Awesome review, Steve! Every once in a while a camera comes along that is a game changer. When I first started reading this site, that camera was the Leica X1. That seems like a long time ago and, boy, has technology evolved. Soon after, the other game changers were the Fuji X100, Olympus OM-D E-M5, and the Sony RX1. Now we have the Olympus OM-D E-M1. Besides being a mouthful to pronounce (Please simplify, Olympus?), I am just shocked with how beautiful and versatile this camera is. When I see an E-M1 on the street, I’m sure I will run up to and shock the person carrying it with my enthusiasm and giddyness to see this camera. For now, however, I am so very happy with my Fuji X100S and I am anxiously anticipating what Sony’s next move will be for a full-frame compact. There are just so many great cameras to choose from currently. And you know, Steve, that so many people were going to write in and ask you, “which camera would you take?” I loved that you included your preferences at the end of your review and I am hoping that you would consider making your preferences a permanent addendum in your future reviews too.

    • second that completely awesome review, and would love to see your continuing preferences of which cameras you would choose (but then maybe thats just because I am a smug soon to be owner of an EM1 if B&H ever get one to me!) The one thing I would really love a FF for is “social” shooting in low light, but then if I have to stop down to f4 to get a whole face in focus on a FF in low light, then I guess that king of removes the main thing I want to use one for :)

  6. That photo of the gheckos is fantastic.

  7. The best, you say! Oh no, here comes another G.A.S. attack.

  8. Pardon my ignorance but can this camera take a 75 MM Summarit Leica M lenses? ie: I have the lenses just sitting around and would love to marry it to a great camera. I had it on my Fuji PRO 1 but I sold the camera now I have this fantastic lenses doing nothing. Would it find a home on this rig.

  9. Brilliant review! I agree that it´s not mft “or” FF – it is “and”. Although I have a Omd Em1 Kit on order I will have a deep look into that new Sony FF BUT it won´t come with many lenses and the lenses coming are reletively slow and perhaps very expansive. I don´t own nice legacy lenses that I could use with the Sony. On the other hand, I own several mft primes and am very excited about the new Oly Pro lenses. So for me, it´s Em1 all the way :) (although I might get a FF with a few primes in the future – because of that look…)

    For me:
    First camera: Omd em1
    Second speciality camera: FF

    Good night and thx for these great reviews!

    • BOTH….I totally agree…in my case it is a 10-lens FF 5DIII Canon Kit…and an extensive MFT kit. I still love the files, options (like tilt-shift lenses), the fast AF etc. of a FF DSLR….but I hate the size and weight hence my MFT kit…these two kits complement each other perfectly for my needs.
      I pick up my MFT more and more. I have an EM5 with grip a recently purchased an E-P5/VF4 which I feel is even better than the EM5 with its new features, handling button layout and flexible customization. I just can’t put it down…the VF is fantastic.
      The M1 is pushing the envelope in a GREAT way…so I have decided to sell my E-M5 & grip and purchase an M1. Olympus has pushed the handling and performance up to a much higher level with this new body! I plan on picking up the new 12-40mm zoom as well. I just love all of the choices that we have now as photographers and there are so many choices out there for each persons particular photographic needs and we all have a different take on it.
      I too, will be watching the development of the Sony FF Mirrorless ILC’s with great interest and hope that, in time the AF speed and lens selection can reach the levels of what we have now with MFT!
      It’s all pretty exciting.

      • That´s really interesting because I think/thought about buying a Canon 6d with the Sigma 35mm and perhaps the Canon 135 2.0 :) I rented the Canon 6d 2x in the past and was very impressed with the colors, low light performance etc. It just was never enough to make me buy it. For landscapes I need deep dof, sharpness and good dr and any mft system can provide that – I even found that I could push the shadows a little more with the new mft cameras (like em5) before it gets noisy. And low light is a mixed bag too. If I use the Canon with the 50mm 1.4 at 1.4 it is really hard to get anything in focus. The lens is soft and has huge vignetting. With the Pana 25mm 1.4 I can shoot comfortably at 1.4 with enough dof and it has none of the shortcoming of it´s FF counterpart at 1.4. Add ibis an low light is no problem anymore. Well, these were my thoughts that kept me from buying the 6d. But who knows what might happen in the future. Weight is an issue too of course but I tend to forget about that until I hold a big dslr in my hands^^

        Fact is, that FF files have a certain look that is hard (or easier) to achieve with smaller sensor cameras – sooner or later I might pick one up. But to be honest, I´m glad that my funds are not sufficient to buy both cameras with lenses at the same time.

        Exciting times for us :)

        • “(or easier)” referres to the ability of FF to render thin dof

          • Yes…it is perplexing….and EXPENSIVE, LOL!
            I still feel my full frame files are sooooo rich and the high ISO files can’t be touched by MFT if I am going to make a largish print…..but it is getting betterer and betterer!!! I just love my small kit….I can bring EVERYTHING from fisheye, to macro, to tele….and it feels like I am carrying my lunch!
            This all sure is so much pure fun!

  10. Steve – I love my EM5s (I have 3 and use all 3, with a prime on each, for all my client work). Your sentiments are shared exactly with my review on the EM5s with respect to your allusion to the small matter that a camera is more than simply it’s sensor.

    I will be judging the EM1 for myself, very soon.

    For someone taken by the EM5 and producing some of my best work (and on occasion being frustrated that it doesn’t give me amazing images every single shot), it should be interesting to see if the additional elements, specifically the 1 stop improvement, wifi, extra buttons and EVF, are worth the upgrade price.

    The EM5 is now cheap as chips (as the saying here in the UK goes)….so do I even need to spend the extra cash for the EM1?

    I hear you….your enthusiasm is infectious….but as with anything….and an advice to anyone who simply wants to make a comment to knock this system….I say to you….go find out for yourself….put the camera in your hand with a fast glass and see…..

    I know how good the EM5 is……let’s see if the EM1 really is that next level up to justify the extra cash to “upgrade”. Your review, at least, has added fuel to the fire.

    Best wishes and with thanks for your time in producing these reviews (personally I know how long these things take to do).

  11. It’s so nice to experience the rangefinder in my M-E: no hectical jumps of brightness, no noisy autofocus hunting, no stand-stills of the viewfinder display, no flickering. Just a steady, nice, classical, calm, and concentrated view on the subject.

    Yes, I had a OM-D E-M5, with all those issues of the electro-mirrorless ones, and with the well-known Olympus issue of red color cast. I sold it, rapidly, and kept my M-E.

    Others may decide in their way.

    • How does that RF work when you want to use an ultra wide or longer telephoto though ? Likewise how well does it work in low light ?

      Not knocking RF’s as I did enjoy my M9 with certain focal lengths but needing an external finder for my 18mm, or having to mess with an add on magnifier for my 90mm Cron just to see enough of the patch to even focus was less than ideal.

      Same goes for when the light got low….

      Its a fun and good way to shoot some of the time, but its got limitations, just as EVF’s have their limitations but they also have some strengths

  12. Re. recommended lenses:

    I’ll add a shout for the Voigt 17.5mm f0.95 — the best m4/3 candidate for lovely bokeh at the wider end. To my eye, even smoother than the already righteous Voigt. 25mm.

    Great article, Steve — love your enthusiasm as usual!

  13. Thank you Steve, loved the review
    Thank you Olympus, loving your em5 and primes

  14. Damnital. After reading just your lead now I’ve got to find time to open the damn box. Time time time. Where art thou?
    But, Steve, what do you really think? Hahahaha.

  15. Wow… Steve, looks like EM1 is ticking all the boxes. I’m shotting only with Leica Monochrom for past 7 months and my photos scream for colour some times now a days. After selling both my Nex 7 and Fuji XE1 systems for next colour camera, I think I will take my chances on upcoming Sony FF. Thanks for this review today. Actually I can’t wait for 2 more days as you said before. Thanks again and very much looking forward from Sony announcement soon. Cheers.

  16. Great review Steve,. I only recently found your site when I purchased my Pen EP5 around a month ago. It is refreshing to come to your site as compared to Dpreview. You talk so much about the joy of photography as opposed to resolution charts etc, flash performance (who cares…lol). The amount of negative comments people post on there is so depressing sometimes.

    I am now a big fan of your style of review.

    Kind Regards

    Greg

    • Isn’t complaining about another forum’s user group and also making the assertion that flash performance is unimportant because its something that YOU don’t care about examples of the very behaviors you say you find depressing ?

      Its kind of like when my g/f complains about why she doesn’t liken a given women she works with…why ? because, and I quote, “she is always complaining about people and its so annoying to listen to” ahhh irony lol

  17. I’ve been skeptical of M4/3′s ability to survive in a marketplace that’s seeing smartphones erode small sensor cameras (Sony now has a smartphone with a 1/2.3″ BSI sensor, same as in some high-end compact cameras) … and larger sensors being placed into smaller mirrorless bodies. And if that trend continues, I’m still concerned about M4/3′s ability to hold onto its market as it gets squeezed from both above and below.

    That being said…

    Olympus is being quite strategic in their approach to all of this. While continuing with iterative improvements to the M4/3 sensor, they’re implementing every other bit of current tech to compensate as much as possible for any IQ shortcomings that the smaller sensor has.

    To wit: the new Zuiko 12-40mm f/2.8 zoom. That’s a brilliant move, IMHO. It gives you the same focal length as Nikon and Canon’s 24-70 f/2.8 pro lenses, adds a little extra bit of length at the telephoto end, and provides the same fast constant aperture.

    But here’s Oly’s advantage: you get to add 5-axis image stabilization to that equation. So now, in addition to a fast constant aperture, you ALSO get image stabilization.

    That combination is virtually unheard of in a wide-to-short tele pro zoom lens. It’s usually either/or … or neither.

    With a fast constant aperture zoom, combined with four extra stops of useful image stabilization, that can go a long way to preventing users from having to crank ISO above 1600 ― where the OM-D will begin to show a disadvantage against larger sensors ― and instead allow photographers to stay in the sweet spot of the OM-D’s M4/3 sensor.

    Given everything that’s gone on with Olympus over the past year, they needed to hit this one out of the park. Looks like with the E-M1 and these new Pro lenses they have.

    • Robert. My reasons exactly for ordering the new zoom. And dumping my Nikons with their silly G series lens barrels. That said I think I’ll shoot a comparison of this little bugger v. my un stabilized 24-70 f:2.8 Canon II and see at what point I can’t hold the Canon 5D mklll still enough. I’m thinking the larger 1DX is just too freaking heavy to balance.
      From my very informal use over the past year with the EM5 the even newer Oly is gonna run circles around the non IS Canon zoom.
      It’s also fun to aggravate my colleagues.
      Cheers.

      • Just to be clear, I would never dump my Nikon D3s and associated system and rely exclusively on M4/3. The D3s is just far too capable of a performer in a wide array of shooting situations. And I have too much Nikon gear going back a long time―much of which all still works together (which is a really nice advantage to roll out sometimes).

        The big question for me is whether or not to remain with Fuji. I love the files I get from the X-Pro 1 ― and I love that camera in very many ways, from the Leica form factor to the hybrid viewfinder ― but operationally it can be sluggish, most especially the autofocus (yes, even with the latest 3.01 firmware update).

        Meanwhile, Olympus has some tech that can really make a difference to the hit rate of one’s images (e.g. 5-axis image stabilization).

        However, next year’s XP2 will unquestionably address all these concerns plus take the X system to the next level, so I’m probably going to hold off and wait to see what Fuji brings us, since I already have a couple of XF lenses.

        Plus, I still hold the opinion that the X-Trans sensor will provide better ultimate IQ than even the E-M1. When the XP1 nails it, it REALLY nails it, with files that a number of photographers believe approach the D800 and 5D MkIII.

        Can I really justify a third digital system? It’s easy to get bloated from too much GAS. ;)

        • The X-series appears in all those ‘awesome’ reviews to be below par. We’ve heard the repeat of criticism a dozen times now, the colors are too flat, the AF is sluggish, the lenses are not fast and sharp, etc, etc.

          I can tell you one thing: judge by yourself, I never regretted my choice of the X-Pro1 and I still don’t do. I wouldn’t know why but an APS/C sensor that is at the same level of IQ that most FF’s will deliver you is not that common.

          The colors, sharpness and ‘pop’ are precisely what I love to see (my personal preference counts as much as Steve’s, I don’t like the E-M5′s or even Leica’s). That the very expensive MFT system can do all the same now, well… maybe, but using a crop factor that is too high and converting wide-angles into small tele’s. It’s not my cup of tea.

          If you want to change wait for the X-Pro1s/2, believe in your investment, Fujifilm is not exactly a niche company, they are having the largest lens manufacturing facility in the world, producing more high end Fujinon lenses than Nikon and Canon do together, and certainly Olympus.

          • My biggest complaint with the X-Pro 1 ― autofocus issues aside, which are annoying but not deal breaking for me ― is the operational delay.

            Specifically, if I’m in aperture priority, for example, I have to push the shutter button part way down in order to see the shutter display in the viewfinder, which means going all through the autofocus procedure each and every time. Then, if I twist the aperture to watch both it and the shutter change in real time, it doesn’t do anything. There’s no simultaneous real time display of aperture and shutter speed because of the way the camera has been designed.

            That’s my biggest quibble with the camera … and operationally the thing that frustrates me and slows shooting down the most.

            But again, this is not really a camera for working quickly or shooting fast action. And of course, neither is a Leica. So perhaps it’s a moot point.

            But the files that come from it are superlative, IMO. If anyone thinks they’re flat or lacking, have a look at the work of these guys >>

            http://www.boxedlight.com/xp1/

            http://www.davepiper.org.uk/blog/room-417

            http://www.prophotonut.com/2013/08/29/hollywood-portraits-remastered-with-the-fujifilm-x-pro1/

            There’s a reason why Zack Arias and David Hobby are shooting the X-System.

            Of course, several are shooting Olympus, too. Your mileage may vary. And frankly, the variable is you.

            Totally agree regarding Fuji as a company. While I don’t know if they make more high end lenses than Nikon and Canon combined (never seen stats to that effect) I do know that Fuji’s reputation with lenses is stellar, stretches back a long way, and includes making cameras/lenses for Hasselblad, along with broadcast quality glass as well.

            Also agree that the X-Pro 2 will be worth the wait. There have been some rumors that the next X-Trans sensor may employ the new organic sensor tech that Fuji has been developing with Panasonic … but I personally don’t think it’s ready yet. Still, I fully expect to see Fuji’s next generation X-Trans design with 24 megapixels. In addition to that, the camera will have faster processing, much improved autofocus, better weather sealing, and a host of other features, I’m sure. If they could add image stabilization into the mix, it might be the last camera I ever buy, actually.

          • My biggest complaint with the X-Pro 1 ― autofocus issues aside, which are annoying but not deal breaking for me ― is the operational delay.

            Specifically, if I’m in aperture priority, for example, I have to push the shutter button part way down in order to see the shutter display in the viewfinder, which means going all through the autofocus procedure each and every time. Then, if I twist the aperture to watch both it and the shutter change in real time, it doesn’t do anything. There’s no simultaneous real time display of aperture and shutter speed because of the way the camera has been designed.

            That’s my biggest quibble with the camera … and operationally the thing that frustrates me and slows shooting down the most.

            But again, this is not really a camera for working quickly or shooting fast action. And of course, neither is a Leica. So perhaps it’s a moot point.

            But the files that come from it are superlative, IMO. If anyone thinks they’re flat or lacking, have a look at the work of Jim Radcliffe over at Boxed Light, David Kai Piper and the Hollywood Portrait series at prophtonut.com.

            Plus there’s a reason why Zack Arias and David Hobby are shooting the X-System.

            Of course, several are shooting Olympus, too. Your mileage may vary. And frankly, the variable is you.

            Totally agree regarding Fuji as a company. While I don’t know if they make more high end lenses than Nikon and Canon combined (never seen stats to that effect) I do know that Fuji’s reputation with lenses is stellar, stretches back a long way, and includes making cameras/lenses for Hasselblad, along with broadcast quality glass as well.

            Also agree that the X-Pro 2 will be worth the wait. There have been some rumors that the next X-Trans sensor may employ the new organic sensor tech that Fuji has been developing with Panasonic … but I personally don’t think it’s ready yet. Still, I fully expect to see Fuji’s next generation X-Trans design with 24 megapixels. In addition to that, the camera will have faster processing, much improved autofocus, better weather sealing, and a host of other features, I’m sure. If they could add image stabilization into the mix, it might be the last camera I ever buy, actually.

            • The X-Pro1 was the first gen interchangeable X-trans. Fujifilm basically developed the camera from scratch, it doesn’t seem to be sure the X100 or the X-Pro1 was the first on the drawing board, there’s some discussion about this, but both camera’s used pretty much the same concept and likely control software.

              What I find absurd and excellent at the same time, is that Fujifilm took a look of effort to correct all the error and problems of the first firmware. It was not new to them, they did do basically the same for the X100. And they LISTENED to the users for improvement, a refreshment. Not to just to release new models but to make the old stuff work in exact the same way. That’s a clear plus.

              What annoyed me the most, was the unacceptable delay in all RAW support. Probably this has been a problem beyond Fujifilm, but even than it made me look to other systems at a certain moment in time. I stayed, and reinvested in some additional lenses, I didn’t regret this one single moment.

              There is a lot to be expected for the second gen of the X-series. It’s like all product managers do, look at the horizontal spread over the market, then revisit each branch of the range in more dedicated manner. The last one to come is always the best ;-) , but we cannot deny that competition is getting harder by the day, see Sony A7/A7r, this Oly E-M1, the Pana GX7 and should I mention it… also the Leica M.

              But there is something’s going on in the backstage. Why f.i. did Fujifilm stop with updating their lens roadmap, now showing the path until January 2014? Why is there this sudden replacement of the X E1, by ‘a just improved version’? Why is there no announcement yet for the X-Pro1s/2, unless something a while ago now that the current X-Pro1 wouldn’t be replaced soon and further firmware updates would follow (after the last one)?

              I think the answer is that Fujifilm wants to position the X-Pro1 on a higher level. They’re aiming for nothing more or less than a Leica M or Sony A7/A7r competitor. That could imply technically everything, from a FF-sensor (making likely most of the current lenses obsolete for this camera, something they are not going to show prior to the release of such a camera) until, maybe, the famous organic sensor. Q1 2014 seems to be the guess for the X-Pro1′s replacement, well, it’s still a gap of almost half a year,…

              No doubt, the X-trans means the survival or the end of Fujifilm ambitions in serious camera design. The X-Pro1 is a prosumer / professional photographer toy, I’m convinced they will take care, it will be worth to wait, as always. The ones jumping from one system to the other are always wrong.

              • I don’t think Fuji plans to go full frame for the foreseeable future. Their investment in the XF lens series demonstrates this.

                And improvements to the already-innovative X-Trans design may make it unnecessary, since the X-Pro 1 and X100s are already producing output that compares favorably to top full frame cameras.

                Either way, I expect an X-Pro 2 next year. And you may well be right: it may be positioned to really shake things up again could well be targeted at pros and the high-end market.

                If it employs organic sensor tech, it most assuredly will turn the industry on its ear … though personally I think any X camera is at least two more generations away from implementing this technology in a consumer camera.

      • Hi Jim…. I too am dumping Nikon in the near future. As I can only afford one system, it will be either a 5D3, or this new Oly EM1. Currently D7000, and the Oly kills the Nikon crops. I am interested in your thoughts about using either systems for wedding/portraiture shoots. I understand that of course the Canon has the image size/sensor in it’s favour, but is it needed? I have seen and used the EM1, and although it is smaller than the Canon, I would sooner be hit in the head with the 5D3 rather than the EM1. I expect ease of use and pristine results out of what I use. I am not really that excited over what Nikon is offering currently, although the D600/610 is probably the best (not allowing for the D4), and am really impressed with what the 5D3 produces. But this EM1 is really interesting and has somewhat questioning if full frame is really necessary for such things. Come on FF camp v’s M3/4′s! I have asked a few people, and some have said either one or the other, or both, but for me, there will only be one winner as I’m too broke to get both :( Cheers!

        • They’re apples and oranges. You’ve got to rent or borrow each one to determine for yourself which single system will work best. I doubt the technical results will be all that different for your intended point of sales but they act so different and one (the Oly) is so less intrusive you’ve got to personally compare them in a work-like environment.
          I’ve got multiple systems available and simply prefer the Oly if(!) it will produce the intended and required results. The Oly’s video sucks and the lens choices are for me pretty limited. Though I have 6 or 7 lenses and the new zoom coming. No great wide angles (except the 12mm f:2), no fast Oly branded 45 or 50 and certainly no tilt shifts. The focus acquisition and tracking is still wonky compared to the 1DX or the D4 or even the 5Dmklll though they’re all lightning like compared the the Hassie H series lenses.
          So ya just gotta borrow or rent the stuff to compare. No words will suffice. And of course how do the each feel in your hands.
          Good luck.

          • Thanks Jim….. I was trying to be lazy I think. You have mirrored what some of the others have said (professionals). I have no interest in the video side of things. I feel that a camera (DSLR) is to take stills, but that might just be my ignorance too. I like to capture beautiful pictures and emotions of a special day…… but don’t ask to see any…. they were on my laptop that died a terrible death. The Oly lenses that are basically the 24-70, and the 70-200 f2, plus a few primes primes would be all I needed and believe it or not, but the new Canon 24-70 and 70-200 lenses are lighter…… Your right! Better get off my butt and go see for myself! Thanks again mate :)

        • “…kills the Nikon crops.” In what way? Certainly not in image quality.

          Also, why would you switch from a D7000 to a 5D MkIII…? Wouldn’t it make more logical sense to go to the D610 or D800, the latter of which blows the doors off the Canon for IQ? And why does Nikon not “excite” you? If you already have an investment in any Nikon glass or accessories, you’re going to take a bath making a wholesale switch to Canon, when at the end of the day it isn’t going to put you any further ahead.

          The full-frame vs M4/3s is a different debate, and probably the more useful one to have. If weight is really a main concern, then going from a D7000 to a bigger camera (whether 5D MkIII OR D800) doesn’t make a lot of sense.

          What are you shooting mainly? Do you really need the quality the former provides? What is your end use? Do you make prints frequently, and if so, how big do you enlarge them? Do you shoot a lot in low light without flash? Etc, etc.

          If you don’t make huge enlargements and want to save yourself a lot of weight, then switching from your Nikon system to the E-M1 probably makes good sense.

          Sounds like you need to do some soul searching to figure out the most important reason(s) WHY you want to switch systems.

          • Hi Robert, Yes, your right. The next logical step would be to go to either the D800/E/600/610, but to be honest, even though the Nikons have the edge with pixels and depth of colour, personally I prefer the images that the 5D3 puts out. There’s not a great deal of difference between them, but I like them. It’s the very old “which is better” debate… neither really. I do prefer the Nikon’s button layout, but I’m sure the Canon wouldn’t take too long to get used to. As I stated to Jim, I would be using the camera for weddings/portraiture, both with and without flash. Printing size would be up to A1, but mainly A2 (I believe)…. Depends on what the client needs/wants.

            Now the contender…. The OMD…. The images are great, it blows my D7000 out of the water with sheer speed, accuracy, and it focuses exactly where I want it to within micro seconds, unlike my D7000 (with a good lens) and full frames that I have tried (the Nikons). That has been my observations and impressions with the OMD, as well the 5 axis stabilizer… That seemed quite impressive with my shaky hands. I first asked Jim about his thoughts as he is/was a Canon 5D3 user, and I was hoping that he could clarify things for me because of my infatuation with the little OMD. I think it’s great!!! But since I can’t afford 2 systems, I thought I’d ask quite a few people about their thoughts. Changing systems this time does not bother me at all, but I’ll have to stick with it.

            You, however, have given me a different perspective, or a way of approaching this subject. First I will tell you a little about myself….
            I am/was a truck driver. Twelve hour days, six days a week. I can put a semi trailer in places where I didn’t even know they would fit, and B-Doubles take forever to overtake another B-Double (allow between 5 to 30 minutes, depending on speed difference and arrogance). That gave me little time to play with my camera. But with a stroke of luck (or unlucky, depending on views), I was injured at work and doctors are certain I will never see the inside of a truck again. Don’t feel sorry… I’m not. I just miss the money. This has given me plenty of time to both study photography via a photography course offered part time by a local photography college, and play with my camera. Now I am attempting to change careers, even though photography will only be part time due to injuries. Now… what I have learn’t so far…. a great camera will not produce great pictures if used by me!!! But I’m getting there. I’m thinking this is a cheaper way to have a mid life crisis rather than buying a Corvette and dumping the wife to get a 21 year old girl friend as well.

            Thank you Robert for your input. I appreciate it

            • Oh, Yeah…. I forgot noise as well…. The D7000 is ok, BUT, the OMD is great!!! Plus, I have used the OMD EM1, so I’m not just going by what has been written on the net. I saw it for real. :) Noise is not comparable to FF cameras, but it does beat most APS C’s straight out of the camera. Not sure about the new 70D.

              • “Noise is not comparable to FF cameras, but it does beat most APS C’s straight out of the camera…”

                That’s a pretty bold claim. If it can beat the Toshiba sensor in the Nikon D7100 on noise I’d be pretty shocked. Though possibly pleasantly surprised. :)

              • 14-35 and 35-100 f2…? I’m not sure which lenses you’re referring to here? The Panny 35-100 is an f/2.8, for example.

                Maybe I’m confused.

                As to the Nikon 24-70 and 70-200 f/2.8 lenses feeling like toys, ahhhumm, nope. They’re big heavy beasts with metal lens barrels. They’re pro caliber and meant to take a beating…and frequently do. They’ll almost assuredly outlast ANY lens made by Panasonic.

                The lenses I mentioned are made by Olympus and they’re brand new. They look as if they’ll withstand some serious use. And as big as they are, they’re tiny compared to their Nikon/Canon counterparts.

                As to couples having concerns about the image quality from the OM camera, total non-issue, IMO. The E-M1 can absolutely do the job for weddings … provided you kit it out correctly (but that applies to any system).

            • For some reason, the post responses on Steve’s site are showing up with a delay … and last night out of chronological order, too, so I missed your reply, sorry.

              A few thoughts after reading your story…

              I would probably encourage you to consider the OM system. I’m a huge Olympus fan, and while I’m not convinced that ultimate IQ can surpass APS-C, I think the E-M1 may have reached a point where it’s so close that ― near as makes no difference ― your choice should be based on other factors.

              The fantastic size and weight advantage the OM offers shouldn’t be discounted. If you’re planning to shoot events like weddings, you’ll find that a nimble camera will be much appreciated after a long day.

              IQ aside, the tech is there in abundance, and bests APS-C cameras, no question about it. What I would probably consider, if you’re going to go the route of the OM-D, is the new 12-40 f/2.8 PRO lens, along with 75mm f/1.8 Zuiko prime. The 12-40 looks to be a fantastic event (and all around) lens, while the latter should enable you to get some nice soft portraits of brides―grooms typically don’t need to be shot that way. ;)

              If you can afford it, you might want to consider the forthcoming Zuiko 40-150 f/2.8 as well, assuming its performance is as good as the new 12-40. With those three lenses, you’re set.

              I only have one caveat in all of this. One word: flash. If you’re shooting events, flash almost certainly needs to be a part of your tool kit. And bar none, Nikon’s iTTL CLS system is the best in the business right now. And it beats Canon’s system all to hell. Full stop.

              Not sure about Olympus’ wireless system, but that would be the only reason I might hesitate on shifting to the OM. For wedding and event work, I wouldn’t hesitate to go to M4/3 at all, particularly not with the lenses I suggested above.

              Another option, if you have any Nikon Speedlights already, would be to keep them, get yourself some Pocket Wizards, and trigger the flashes remotely from the E-M1. Bit of a learning curve involved, but tons of flexibility once you sort it out.

              • Hi Robert, thank you so much with your follow up reply. The 14-35 f2 and the 35 100 f2′s were looking good, but heavy. Those lenses you mentioned also have my interest, plus they have a bit longer reach. I have currently been using Yongnuo flashes with Cactus trigger (all manual) prior to finding out about Nikon’s flash system, and have been sometimes impressed with the results. The light meter helps heaps! lol. My only concerns with the OMD was whether or not it could provide the desired results of what newly wed’s would expect. Apart from that, I can’t find anything wrong with the Oly. The image’s noise looks very much like grain rather than the unpleasant noise like my D7000. Thinking of getting a TTL flash for when there is no time to set manual ones, but that’s another story.
                Just a question….. are those 14-35 and 35-100 f2 lenses made for photography, or killing intruders??? I have not ever felt anything like them. Makes the Nikon/Canon 24-70 and 70-200 f2.8′s feel like plastic toys! But those one’s you have mentioned ….. are they actually made for the EM1, and those other ones were for something else??? I know… I’m being lazy. But I thought I’d ask someone who is not trying to sell me something rather than someone who is.

                Thank you again Robert

                Kinds Regards

                Jason

              • Steve I love the review of course, and equally the incredibly troll free discussion – either great admin work or attracting great people or both!!
                Love the oly flash system, specially the level of control on camera. I use with lumiquest ultimate bounce – awesome!
                Re heaviness of 14-35 and 35100 – they are F2 beasts! For me if I need f2 I switch to primes, inc the gorgeous 150mm f2 (also a beast in weight but worth it)

  18. All great cameras but I can’t get used to the EVF. I’m using my Ricoh GR with the updated firmware in 47mm crop and an old Leica 50mm viewfinder and really loving it.

    • I suspect EVFs are going to become the mainstay in a few years, since they offer so many advantages over an optical viewfinder, and their image quality is getting better & better with every iteration.

      Their biggest problem right now is power consumption. I wonder how the E-M1 is for battery life. Steve, how long is the battery lasting on a full charge…?

      • Another problem is with street photography. It is easy to miss a passerby with the electronic viewfinder. I love the hybrid OVF/EVF in the Fuji X100S. The OVF is perfect for street photography. I can see in live time people moving in and out of the frame.

        • It is easy to miss a passerby with an EVF? I’ve done a street photography project with a Panasnic G3 and a MANUAL focus lens for over an year and frankly don’t understand what are you speaking of…

        • I’ve never fully subscribed to the oft-touted rangefinder advantage, that being that you get to see your subject before he/she/it comes into the frame.

          It’s never been an issue for me, and I much prefer the advantages a WYSIWYG viewfinder offers.

      • Shot with it for 9-10 days and still has plenty of charge. Every image in this review (besides the older Ireland shots) were shot over 10 or so days on one charge. Have not even recharged it yet. That is not a tech explanation but I do not see the battery being an issue, even so, Id buy an extra one to be safe.

        • That’s impressive, as it sounds like the number could have been well over 1000 images. My D3s advertises 4200 images per charge (though in reality it only gets about 2800 RAW files) so that many days with a high res EVF I would call another big win for Olympus from a tech standpoint.

        • Really Steve?????? I have the OMD EM5 here in Japan and I have 3 batteries. They DO NOT last anywhere near that long. I can’t quite fathom how you can go 10 days on one charge.My camera might manage a day and a half’s shooting at best. That’s with all non essential battery draining features turned off.
          Can I have YOUR magic batteries please? Come to think of it even my V1 battery doesn’t go that long.

          • “Magic batteries”?! I’m renaming mine today! I’ve had both the Oly and Wasabi versions in rotation since the week the OMD came out in the US and Mr. Huff’s stated battery life totally mirrors mine. On the EM1 which I’ve only had unboxed a week maybe the pattern seems the same.
            That said I’ve never used the little gimme hot shoe mounted strobe that seems to come with these bodies.
            Otherwise I chimp and fuss and have nothing disabled.
            So I think the battery life is just dandy. Not on par with the D3 or D4 but those batteries alone weigh half of a OMD body!
            10-4

            • I do not shoot in continuous mode or fire away at random things. When I use the camera I only fire when there is an image to take. I do not chimp. I use center point single AF. Battery life is superb for me.

              • Same here Steve, no continuous mode, single AF set and no random shooting-…. I chimp a little but not much and use the EVF for shooting and viewing, not the rear screen Since Jim’s experience matches yours i can only guess there must be some batch variation in the camera units or batteries. I might do a controlled test to see exactly how many frames i get on a full charge. My experience is closer to Rick’s below.I often need the spare battery.Wish i didn’t.
                Except for that, it’s a fantastic camera ( and system).
                More than happy with the image quality.

              • I’ve had battery problems, lessons learned; light going off on oly charger does not mean truly fully charged, leave charging all night, off label batteries last less well but are ok, when I had a prob it was the charger that was faulty

      • For Robert: the E-M5 OEM battery is good for 400+ shots between charges and the aftermarket spares I have get less than that, perhaps 350. The E-M1 specs the same BLN-1 and should get similar results.

        For me this means carrying spares compared to my slrs, which get 2-3X as many shots.

        Thanks for the review, Steve. I can already tell the E-M1 is a must-have for my 4/3 lens collection, as the E-bodies are getting left behind performancewise.

    • The EVF on this camera is humongous – I prefer it to any optical I have used.

      • Mr. Huff. We all just know Canikon are freaking out about the now much predicted demise of the mirror box. To darn bad. Point and shoots got clobbered by these iPhones and now Oly and a few others are paving the way for the next future. I for one can hardly wait. I love seeming “better” with a high rez OLED eyepiece then barely sometimes with a mere optical system. And again the instant iPhone-like view and actual “seeing” ability is not going back in the genies bottle.
        Long live the mirror box. RIP.

        • I assume we all wear EVF instead of glasses in out face because we can see the world so much better through an EVF? I find EVF ok and they make sense on small cameras but personally I do not see how one would want to judge WB or exposure based on a EVF (with limited DR). Having said the above I found the EVF of the EM1 the best EVF I have looked through so far.

          • well the EVF also display the exposure comps and guides. You can follow it or use the EVF as a guide to decide at which point you may want to over or under expose the shot.

            I personally don’t use it to judge dynamic range or white balance. It’s real value is in the density of information and my ability to manipulate those settings on the fly based on those values and get immediate, realtime, relative response to my adjustments. I mean, you can’t use an optical viewfinder to judge white balance or exposure either. You follow the light meter; external or internal and hope the shot is what you expected it to be.

            ALso, you get a sense of how the EVF biases the same way you get to understand how your sensor will behave in any given situation or shot.
            In general, what you see in an EVF will be what your sensor will capture. the only time I chimp or check my shot is for focus. When I use my Canon, I spend far more time chimping because I have to check, not only focus but exposure (constantly) as well.

            Both finders have their pros & cons. It’s just a matter of which pros matter to you more.

  19. Fantastic review Steve!! your really making me want to jump onto micro 43 again. Even though I love Fuji x system I’m always intrigued by micro 43.

  20. Nice review Steve and I feel pretty much the same way. Right now I’m putting the M9 on Ebay and hoping the Sony FF will do a decent job with the 50 lux. I’ll no doubt have to wait and see your review to find out…..:) But until that day comes, I’m having a blast with the EM1

    Your very lucky to have such gorgeous subjects to practice on btw!

    • Hi Neil, you have done outstanding work with whatever camera you use. But your Sicilly shots with the M9 are probably the best of them all imho, there is a quality and “depth” to the Sicilly portraits mft can`t get close to. I`m surprised that you let the M9 go.

  21. Looks like another fantastic Olympus camera. Can’t say I’ll be buying – I’m waiting to see how the full frame Sony camera performs with rangefinder lenses. The winner by far here seems to be the Voigtlander 25mm f/0.95 lens. It’s image quality is amazing at such fast apertures. If I was a m4/3 shooter, it would be a must own lens!

  22. Great review but you left a gaping hole in it….what about us guys and gals that own eg 35-100 2.0 and 14-35 2.0 4/3rd lenses and don’t want to spend more $ on lenses when we get our new EM-1– there is no review on how these SHG lenses perform and IQ on this great camera….John

  23. G`day Steve,
    I too am a Leica nut, (for over 40 yrs) however, for a while now I`ve been looking at 4/3 mirrorless and each time I find one I think “right I will put some money asside for this”…….then another one comes out.

    Bugger me, you have done an incrediable review on this camera, as usual.

    However, I`am going to wait to see what happens next. But if Olympus does a FF camera simular to this one, its all over for Leica. Leica really needs to get their act together.

    They need to address whats going on out here in the real would. I love Leica and want to stay with them but I`am not going to buy one again, just because its a Leica.

    I know one can get very close results to Leica using Olympus if one understands their camera and lenses fully. Olympus is not far off and it wont take long before they overlap Leica. (I cant believe I`am saying this, but its true)
    What to do with my Leica`s?????…. bugger!

  24. Maybe I missed it, does it have focus peaking?

    • Yes.

    • It does..and somehow I forgot to touch on that. Will add that section tonight but yes, it has peaking. I found the GX7 to have better peaking though as the E-M1 is not as refined in this area. Still, with the huge EVF I do not even need to use it and do better without peaking.

      • I really love the focus peaking hack on the E-M5, I use it all the time, even for Infrared photography, it just nails the focus. I can’t imaging the E-M1 focus peaking not being as good as that, wonder if anyone can compare the two?

  25. I enjoyed the review Steve, thanks! I won’t be buying an E-M1 because I’m already invested in a different mirrorless system (Nikon V2 with 6.7-13, 18.5, and 30-110) but if I was starting from scratch I think I would be very interested in this camera.

  26. Hi Steve, thanks for another good review, and all the effort you put into it.

    I find it really interesting how much the m4/3 IQ has progressed over the past few years.

    I currently shoot a Pentax K5 and have a number of really good Pentax lenses. I am really looking forward to your K3 review – as you say, and exciting camera on paper – but how will it stand up in real life.

    With stunning cameras like this Olympus, Leica, Sony, and Fuji enthusiast photographers are really spoilt for choice at the moment.

  27. Does anyone know whether the E-M1 has the IBIS “hum” that the E-M5 has?

    • ..No-one now remembers the “hum”, Mike; it disappeared about a year or so ago, with the 1st firmware update for the E-M5 ..so the E-M5 doesn’t have a hum any more.

      Nor does the E-M1..

  28. Just like the EM-5 and those before it, Olympus nails it with their color output. Especially when it comes to the blue and greens…the joker photo is the perfect example. IMO, just a lovely rendering of colors.

  29. Colorful review, amazing pics & excellent read! Thank you, Steve..

  30. Well done Steve, great job as always with this review! This one look like a fantastic camera! Only one small objection from a film lover (and always with love): ISO 400 on film is grainy, not noisy. One of the little reasons I still stick with film. :-)
    Keep up those great reviews and crazy comparisons and daily inspirations!

  31. EM5 shooter here. Yesterday I stopped by Glaziers in Seattle to buy some film. I got to play with the EM1 a bit and WoW that viewfinder just blew me away. So much better than my little EM5 it isn’t funny. Now I will keep my EM5 for travel and hiking etc. However the EM1 left me completely in awe. I must have it. Oly addressed everything I personally was having problems with in my EM5, mostly the small buttons and poor ergonomics when shooting weddings or portraits. This camera is a little technological powerhouse .

  32. I just sold my a99 and Zeiss 24-70 f2.8 this minute on Craigslist. I had it since May and it only left the house twice and today on it’s third outting I just left it in the trunk of my car and only carried my OM-D E-M5 with the 75-300mm lens and the panny 25mm f1.4.

    I totally agree with you on the decision to buy an OMD over a 6D as well. The IQ on the EM5 is really good.

  33. Hi Steve!

    Hehe…”sounds” like you got yourself a new toy! Thx for your enthustiastic review.
    And NO – review has not been to long – read it on one pass.

    ;-)

  34. EVF

    Does anyone have burning eyes or adoption problems from using the EVF for some time? I had to sell my X Pro 1 because my eyes did burn using the EVF, during weddings. What a pity. I did not start from the beginning, but after a year or so. With optical viewfinders I have no problems. I can shoot a 12 hour wedding and no problem. But with EVF I get headaches.
    And I do not have eye problems.

    • My first Panny G-something EVF used to give me eye problems so I sold it, I’ve since used the X-E1, NEX-6 and X100s in EVF for a long time and they’ve never given me problems, maybe its the refresh rate and it affects people differently

  35. Yes, 4/3. I’m sure this is a very nice camera.

    But there are a few remarks about sensor size I want to make. I’m not believing at all that FF is better than APS/C than this would be versus 4/3. This is still a myth from the past and if there is regarding IQ maybe a little difference people still can see with pixel peeping but not truly on pictures, it will fade away by new technologies. They’re ready in the backstage.

    My concern is more about the lenses and crop factors. APS/C is still the most popular sensor size, close enough to 35mm to not skew the mathematical relationships and physical lens limitations too much, using this famous 1.5 crop factor. FF is far more a niche than a lot of people think, and in reality Canon and Nikon did propagate it in camera lines while sometimes having serious technical issues (they didn’t have with APS/C btw). I think the system will lose its interest due to form factor and weight, a disappointment for many purchasing this type of camera’s but… there is one reason of existence, if you want to maximize the DOF capabilities, FF is still the easiest way to go.

    But coming back to 4/3, there is a very serious crop factor of 2.0. A 35mm becomes a 70mm, a F2.0 lens… becomes a F4.0 in terms of DOF (I’m just using theoretical numbers). This is to get crazy, I don’t believe at all this doesn’t influence your IQ and lens performance. I’m not looking forward to play with manual 0.95 Voigtländers on such an high tech AF camera. I do not forget, apart of what is being told, 4/3 is not a cheap system neither, the good lenses come very close to some FF DSLR-equivalents.

    For me it’s a ‘no’, I’ve got more believe that APS/C will survive as a system than 4/3 will do and concerning Leica – everyone has his opinion, I’ve got mine – I’m not believing at all this is the magic ‘solution’ for having the best in class.

    Contrary to what is being highlighted on this forum so many times, I know more troubled Leica-users that the once that are fully happy with the system.

    • I agree. Additionally one thing is always left out: equivalence. To seriously compare m43 and FF its not enough to just compare the same lens at the same f-stop, as you pointed out correctly.
      A m43 28mm/2.8 at ISO 400 needs to be compared with a FF system and a 56mm/5.6 at Iso 1600
      (the ISO needs to be multiplied, too, if you have a different pixel pitch in order to get the same relative intensities, see http://www.josephjamesphotography.com/equivalence/light.htm or http://www.clarkvision.com/articles/dof_myth/index.html).
      Therefore, at equivalence it comes down to sensor design and electronics and new m43 sensors
      are very good here. Of course, you always have the possibility to increase aperture in FF
      giving you more options, decreasing DOF this way.
      For most users, I think, m43 is more than enough and the lenses are there, to get very close to FF
      (although the lenses are expensive, too). More is only needed by specialists or pros, maybe very advanced amateurs. FF doesn’t give you better pics out of the box, immediately, anyway.
      I used Nikon D5200 and D7100 before extensively. My wife got an OMD. I couldn’t justify investing in Nikon anymore after comparing the pictures, which were much better most of the time with my OMD. I only keep Nikon for macro work, since the 105mm gives me more working distance. But the Oly 60mm is more than a match in image quality. Nikon/Anon need to provide a mirror less camera being able to mount all the available lenses, otherwise they get into serious problems, imho.

      • Geez. If a handheld light meter says the exposure is F4, 1/500, ISO 400 that’s the exposure you use on a 35mm sensor, a Micro 4/3, or an iPhone. The light is the same.

        Just compare the prints at 16 x 20 and be done with it.

    • Looks like you’ve never shot with a m43 camera and tried any of the lenses.

      You’re suggesting that APS-C with a 1.5 or 1.6 crop factor is “close enough” to 35mm not to skew the mathematical relationships, yet the crop factor with 4/3 is “crazy”. I think your calculator is broken.

      First off, regarding the math, if you have a 70-200 f2.8 lens connected to a 1.4x teleconverter, mounted to a camera with a 1.6x APS-C sensor, what’s the maximum effective focal length compared to 35mm? If you can’t answer the question in less than three seconds, you’re just like most people. The 2x math for Micro Four Thirds lenses is drop dead simple. It’s just silly talk to suggest that the 1.6/1.5 math is easier.

      Next, APS-C has been with us for over a decade. How well supported is the format with native PRIME lenses (not FX lenses on a DX body, and not EF lenses on an EF-S body):

      OEM plus third party prime lenses:
      Canon EF-S: 5
      Canon EF-M: 1
      Nikon DX: 8
      Fuji X: 8
      Sony E: 19

      So other than Sony, who is actually interested in making smaller lenses designed for the APS-C sensor, nobody else is supporting the format with prime lenses.

      Micro 4/3: has 34 prime lenses to choose from. That doesn’t include the world of Leica M mount glass through adapters, either.

      • 4/3 is not my system, indeed.

        My calculator is not broken: a 35mm becomes a 52mm in APS/C, but a 70mm in 4/3 – this is the difference between a standard lens and a small tele while the design of the lens is still a wide-angle… If you want a 21mm wide-angle, you need to go to a 10-11mm designed lens (this is undeniable a fish-eye). In APS/C, this would become a 14mm (still feasible).

        To get the same bokeh of a F2.0 FF lens, you would need to get around F1.4-1.2 in APS/C for more or less the same result (which is still feasible), but in 4/3 even down to F0.8 (almost impossible in a commercial manner). I don’t say it’s a shame, but it’s neither my preference.

        For me, 4/3 pushed the physical and mathematical limits too far to become an optimal interchangeable system. But happily, R&D depts are clever and I understand the E-M5, E-M1 and GX7 pushes the IQ to the limits… be happy with it.

        Whether I have to calculations with 1.5, 1.6, 1.7 or 2.0 (it all existed), to get the 35mm equivalent, that’s all equal for me and of no importance as such. The story of the lightmeter by Robert Mark is right, F4 is F4, but the DOF will not be the same on a FF, APS/C, 4/3 or even smaller sensor camera. The look of the picture will be entirely different.

        The story about the primes is a bit simple to say.

        First of all, I can basically connect with adaptors any lens to any system. If I want to use a Hasselblad, Contax, Leica or whatever lens to f.i. a Fuji X, or any other mirror less even DSLR, no problem in 2013.

        Whether I want to do this all the time: a clear no. I just do it for fun, sometimes. I own 5 primes (4 system native and one old lens) and one tele-zoom, that’s enough for me, I don’t need 34 prime lenses. That’s not even an indicator of lens quality, even contrary, it looks more to me that manufacturers are trying hard in all directions to overcome the limitations I just mentioned. But likely I’m wrong, let’s hope so.

        About the 35mm F1.8 DX lens from Nikon: it has a lot of chromatic aberration. Not difficult to beat, in my eyes, I feeling a get more and more with them.

        Overall I left Nikon for more than one reason but they are clearly no longer the company that made the F and FM-series shine so much over anything else on the market and the D600 dust and oil-story is a real shame.

    • What you are saying about crop factors is absolute nonsense. If you scale the focal length, sensor size and flange distance together, nothing changes in the lens design.

      More importantly, the 1.5 crop factor makes APS-C lens manufacturers lazy and they push full frame lens designs onto their users (e.g. Nikon, Canon, Sony). This is detrimental to the resolving power of the lenses. From none of my Nikon primes can I get the same IQ as I get from my Olympus and Panasonic primes. Case in point: the IQ difference between the Nikon 35mm f/1.8 and Panasonic 25mm f/1.4 is night and day. The Panasonic blows this flimsy Nikon lens out of the water.

      Try it.

      • Why is pushing full-frame lenses onto APS-C bodies detrimental to those lenses? Using full-frame lenses on APS-C bodies actually yields an improvement in the overall performance realized by those lenses, because such things as vignetting, distortion, and corner softness are greatly reduced, while edge-to-edge sharpness is typically improved … because you’re staying within the central sweet spot of the glass, where the light pathways have more linear coherence.

        Or am I misunderstanding you?

        As to Nikon primes not equalling Panasonic primes―that’s a tough claim to make unless you have the capacity to actually test them scientifically on a case-by-case basis. Some of Nikon’s primes, the 85mm f/1.4 (both ‘D’ and ‘G’ variants) for example, are legendary … and industry leading.

  36. I got to handle the M1 last week at LCE in Manchester, I wouldn’t have even bothered had I not read your initial review, it handles so well, looking through the viewfinder is like going to the movies and you have to try it to believe how good it is, AF performance was also crazy quick.

  37. The whole EM-1 package looks awesome. I’m wondering if MFT is a good choice for landscape photography. I think FF and APS-C will deliver more detail especially in prints?!? Someone have experience with that?

    • A 16 megapixel and above full frame sensor will absolutely deliver more detail in prints. Particularly as your prints get bigger in size. More significantly, if your landscapes are taken in lower light conditions (e.g. twilight) you’ll see less noise in the full frame captures.

    • Thi is the situation that I am facing. I have an X-pro1 which I use to supplement my full frame/zeiss system I use for landscapes and occasional people stuff. Until now the Xp1 has been a good companion for the full frame gear. I like th IQ that I get from the system, even though processing the RAW files can be chore. I have played with the EM-1 on two occasions now and like the handling as well as the weathered sealing. But I keep worrying I will take a hit in IQ. Any thoughts would be appreciated? As far as the rumored FF NEX system goes, I won’t even look at it. I have had too many Sony products fail from both their consumer and professional divisions fail and had horrible experiences with their service dept., they will never get my business again. Garrison

      • First question to ask yourself is: why do you want to change from the Fuji to anything else in the first place?

        The response to whatever your answer is, is that there will be an X-Pro 2. It will be better than the X-Pro 1. Probably a lot better. And in 6 or 10 months it might even make you regret switching systems today.

        Steve may argue with this, but IMO the X-Pro 1 ultimate IQ unequivocally edges out the E-M1. Now I haven’t played with an E-M1 yet (hope to have time this week, when I think it hits dealer shelves), but given the technical specs between the two sensors, the Fuji should come out ahead.

        Simple answer: hold fast. See what Fuji does in 2014. Switch now, and again you may regret it later in the service of getting a quick “fix” today.

        Oh, re your Sony remarks. Yeah, Sony is not a camera manufacturer, they’re an electronics manufacturer. Their NEX cameras reflect that all too well. IMHO, of course. ;)

  38. Steve, great review as always. I have bought and own dozens of cameras and feel u are spot on with your reviews. I have every fuji x series camera and although I love them, find them frustrating at times. Focus being the main issue. Canon full frame 1Ds3 just got sold. I held and tested the Panasonic gx7 and loved it. Tempted to buy it. But I am going to wait and test the em1 first. Thanks and keep up the great work.

  39. Btw. I have also the gh2 and em5. I like them both and never miss a shot, unlike fuji where I miss many.
    The x100s has been an improvement but still not as good as em5. If the em1 trumps the em5 which I believe it will, Oly have done a great job. But for those looking at micro 43rds, give the gx7 a look. Love the swivel viewfinder and the menus system is easy to navigate, plus built in flash for those moments when u need or want it. I believe micro 43rds is as good as some as the early full frame (11 million pixel, canon 1ds) that I used nearly 10 years ago. It won’t match up to today’s full frame, but I am still using files from those days and am happy with those. Micro 43rds today, we can be as satisfied 95 % of the time. Way to go oly.

  40. The EM-1 is actually a 100 euro’s more expensive then a canon 6D (200 euro’s more then a nikon D600) where I live. The GX7 is a good 600 euro’s cheaper! I really cannot find any reason to spend 200 euro more on an EM-1 instead of the cheaper ff D600? Small size has gone out of the window here as well. And image quality of the EM-1 is decent but definetly not amazing…. Will be waiting for the A7 and A7r from sony before I make up my mind.

    • “I really cannot find any reason to spend 200 euro more on an EM-1 instead of the cheaper ff D600? ”

      If you cannot answer that yourself, then you really should buy a D600 it seems to fit your needs, the EM1 is not made for you.

      To others, the HUGE savings in size and weight is a big deal. Yes D600 body is small, but throw some FF lenses on there and see the size/weight difference.

      You are comparing an ENTRY LEVEL FF body to the Flagship PRO model M/43. Where does all the extra money go? to name a few…

      PRO build weather resistant, tough body for heavy duty work
      The best IB image stabilisation ever built – works on all lenses, even manual/adapted and video
      Focus peaking
      1/8000 shutter
      Best in class EVF

      But as a I said… if these features dont appeal to you then, better to to get the D600.

      • Yes the D600 with a quality FF lens is a BEAST in size and weight no matter how you look at it. Some will prefer a big chunky DSLR and others a sleek and small camera. The E-M1 is not overpriced. You get what you pay for with everything in life, and this is so with the E-M1 as well.

    • Some prefer a Lincoln Town Car and some prefer an Audi A4. Some put a higher priority on the expansive leg room in the back of the Lincoln, some prefer the way the Audi drives. But you don’t necessarily pay less for the smaller car.

  41. Just a comment regarding E-M1 vs APS-C. It seems like avery nice camera, beautiful in design and concept, but I am sceptical that the Oly can match cameras like Canon 7D/70D or Nikon D300s/D7100 for demanding action shooting, like indoor sports. AF-C with tight action shots and shallow DOF, viewfinder behavior when shooting the fastest series etc.

  42. Steve; the two samples with the 50mm lux – could you post them at full size? :-)

  43. Good rave. ;-)

    Has Olympus made ANY improvements on their dreadful UI?

    I’ve stayed away from Oly’s because of it… and the poor ergonomics. The EM1 seems better, but I’ve yet to try one.

    • The Olympus E M1 has excellent ergonomics. One you have set up the camera to you liking you can operate the camera without problems. All the main functions are accessible by buttons or wheels.
      Your conclusion is totally incorrect.

      • I have an E-M5, E-P5…..Love both cameras. (Will be replacing the M5 with an M1).
        I have owned and sold many Panasonics. My opinion is that Olympus makes a way better camera and Panasonic makes a way better UI. I also think the files from Olympus cameras are superior to the Panasonic files…talking Raw and jpeg. They have more depth, better color and are richer.
        Not much of a choice for me…I create an image with a camera, not a UI!
        After you “acquire” a taste for the Oly UI you just get used to it and honestly…if you take the time to set your camera up properly you really don’t need to go into the menu system that often.

  44. “Olympus E-M1 or Full Frame? The answer for me is BOTH. One all out IQ monster and one usability and IQ monster. :)”

    Thank you, thank you, thank you Steve! This is what I’ve been saying every time the whole m4/3 vs APSC vs FF debate is brought up. I am still so happy with my EM5 that I’ve not really been tempted with the EM1, although the 12-40 2.8 is another story :), but I still lust after the Nikon D800E for just unbeatable IQ short of medium format or larger.

    I’d eventually like to keep my EM5 with the 12-40 2.8, 25 1.4, 45 1.8 and 75 1.8 as a travel and daily use camera (bring out the EM5 and 25 1.4 at a party and nobody bats an eyelid but whip out a DX or FX DSLR and people just act differently) yet still save up and get the D800E with the Nikkor holy trinity and the 85 1.8. Two different systems, two different uses, two very different experiences.

    Cheers for the great review, looking forward to more articles with the EM1!

    Tony

  45. A quick comment about Live Time and Live Bulb modes. At least E-M5 has both of these. They work almost similarly, but the difference is that with Live Bulb you have to hold the shutter button pressed down and camera takes a picture when you release the button. In the Live Time mode camera starts exposure when you press the button once and stops it after you press it second time.

  46. Dear Steve, Is there a silent mode on E-M1 ? If no, either next Lumix GX8 should acquire E-M1 better qualities _ EVF, weatehr proof _ …or, E-M1«s» get the silent mode. I like the GX7 look better than E-M1′s … just a question of taste, though … . But I LOVE the silent mode. Rgds
    Jean-Philippe

  47. WHEW!

    I have been using the EM-5 as my primary camera for about a 10 months. I have moved through Canon crop sensors 10d , 40d, 7d to NEX-5 and -7. I started in m43 with the GF1 and a GH2. For me the EM-5 combined the best of all the these cameras with a device that is small and easy to carry. The lens selection gives me the range of tools to help me use the right tool for the job. Sometimes the buffet is too rich to choose from!

    I now have a better understanding of the EM -5 vs -1 and where the -1 would fit into my business and my art. I see how Olympus has improved their technology. I see that the -5 is still pretty high up the growing hill of quality. I understand how the -1 can help me in improving my images and process.

    Steve does us a great service by actually using the tools and producing art with them. He lets us see what he does with his cameras and how he uses them. I really enjoy his style and his process. His crazy comparisons are done without the arrogant flair that I see elsewhere. He really shows us what the tools do! Of course this does contribute to G.A.S.!

    RJF

    PS

    I have observed that anytime a new tool comes along it seems that there is a schism created around it. From HDR to the latest camera there seems to be a massive divide created. Sometimes it is fear or sometimes it is simply change. Or on the Internet there is the bully effect…..

    As I continue to grow, take classes, work with other photographers I come across an lot of mis-understanding and camera bigotry. Steve helps us see that effect for what it is.

    Thanks Steve

    …Time to go make Art and Preserve Memories!

  48. Regarding the percieved better sharpness from the Zuiko 17mm/1,8 on the E-M1 vs on the E-M5:

    I think it could as well have to do with the new processor in the E-M1 which is designed to add subtle sharpening, configurated for each Zuiko Digital (and Micro ditto) lens respectively, in the system.
    It would for example adjust for the lost sharpness due to diffraction, and correct softer rendering at edges, and do so variously for different apertures too.

    I think, but don´t know, this would be of a more notable (= viewable) dignity than if the AA filter is there or not. Since the AA of the E-M5 is very “thin” (does just a very slight softening, relatively) I think the difference vs the E-M1 in that regard would be pretty small.

    Well, also the new “lens configurated” sharpening algorithms may do a pretty slight difference, nevertheless I´d believe that would do more than the “AA difference” betw the E-M1 & the E-M5. Just my thoughts, though.

  49. I could add that the “sharpening thing” of the E-M1 processor is just one of its tricks:
    It will correct for Distorsion and for Chromatic Aberrations (purple fringing) and it would work its effects on jpegs only.
    Also, the Olympus software included with the camera would be doing the same if used to handle RAW-files.

    (If it corrects for vignetting I don´t know)

    • Well I shoot RAW 95% of the time and did not use the Olympus software. The sharper images are a result of the sensor having no AA filter.

      • Dear Steve,
        Just got the Em-1, (Oly should commission you..: – bought it from a sales clerk in Norway who had been in Dublin as well:)
        If you use RAW so much I assume you have this as standard setting. How do you change the setting for this to be default? (RAW alone or jpeg also?) I am leaving for a Kenya safari trip in a few days and looking forward to test the em-1, but i did not shoot much since Nikon FE days, so I am a bit taken aback with all the settings, do you have a standars set of settings you would recommend? Anyone?

  50. Steve, was the picture of the baby in the stroller and the lizards taken with the Voig 25 .95? They look incredible, and would love to know what setup was used to capture that.

    Thanks for your amazing review.

  51. Your enthusiasm is contagious. Wish you said a thing or two re. the shutter sound, in comparison to EM5, etc.
    Unfortunately, this #1-ranking will be short-lived, until the A7 A7R release next wk:

    http://i1266.photobucket.com/albums/jj524/picrumors/picrumors001/A7-pic_zpse75492de.jpg

    Did the two design teams sit next each other or what?
    Personally, prefer both have none or lower humps–they remind me of tank turrets, very militant. Although I still my first Canon film camera that has the same design.
    Look fwd to your reactions on Oct 16. Meanwhile, my purchase plan is on hold.
    Thanks.

  52. Maybe is good but the camera is very ugly ,big .

  53. Hiya, Steve –

    You’re probably the only reviewer who can answer this. How does the operating noise level of the E-M 1 compare to that of the E-M 5?

    This is important to me because I shoot a lot at museums, cabaret-style concerts, etc. I’m the person who commented on your GX7 review that I bought one, but sent it back because the operating noise (when not in “silent mode”) was too obtrusive. On the other hand, the E-M 5 is okay because its sound is low-pitched and draws little attention. Is the E-M 1 about the same, or louder? Thanks…

    • Side by side to me they both sound exactly the same. I actually went in a tiled lavatory and listened. Some test eh?
      I can’t imagine in a public setting anyone else would care. And of course you could use a support device and turn the IS off.
      Okay?

      • The tiled-lavatory test result sounds great (whoops, unintentional pun!) I routinely keep the IS set to be active only during the exposure, so it doesn’t add any sound anyway. So it sounds (oops, there I go again) as if I’d be good with the E-M 1 wherever I’m good with the E-M 5. Thanks!

  54. This is a great review that is done with full passion that I have come to expect from Steve. I love the images that are captured in both a professional environment and real time experience. Then to include them with the detail that allows us to decide for ourselves. The big game changers on this camera are the WiFi capability and inclusion of both phase and contrast detection.
    A question: Does the WiFI and apple app allow you to see the view finder in the phone? I’m sure a future a wish list item.

  55. How is the start up time with the EM1? Slow startup can be so frustrating

  56. How would you rate the user friendliness of the OM-1? And if one were to use the camera in Auto, would I still get great photos? I need a camera with a fairly easy menu (the more controls outside the camera, the better) but I also require excellent image quality. Thanks!

    • I feel it is one of the most user friendly cameras around in the mirror less market. Every button or dial can be set up to your preference. Quick easy change of ISO, Exposure, Aperture or anything. All controlled by dials and buttons. I never ever go into a menu. To those who say an Olympus is confusing, you just have not learned how to use it or to set it up. Menu not required after setup, and to set up is easy and simple. With that said, there is loads of customization options. I just set it up to where I can control the basics easily. :)

      • Steve if it wouldn’t be asking too much, could you share your custom settings plz? I have the E-M1 also and have been really enjoying it also but am very curious how you have your camera setup for easy access

        • I really do not use any custom settings. i flick it to Aperture Priority mode, Auto ISO..and fire away. I shooter RAW and JPEG and 95% of the time I choose the RAW file.

          • No kidding? Not a single fn button is configured differently from default settings? Wow, that’s brave, lol.

            • Why bother? Would one even remember the buttons newest use? I’ve not reprogrammed a button on either lasts years or this years OMDs. Maybe someday. But then I’d need to read the scimpy little manual. Or download the darn disc. Never going to happen.
              But, hey, if you do please let us know how that’s helped your shooting results! Okay?

              • Jim I’m going to assume that your sarcasm was unintentional and misplaced since I was under the impression that all questions and discussion here are for the good of the group not the one. So I’ll assume you genuinely don’t understand how programing your function keys can improve your shooting results, which, to be blunt I’d requested of Steve because of his experience, but no matter …

                Most importantly, and from a purely productive perspective it would seem to make sense for you to not need to take your eye away from the EVF to compose and set up a photo, particularly in photography other than portraiture like street photography. Most of the settings on the OMD’s are buried pretty deeply in many of the sub-menues on the camera. For others it may be a matter of familiar placement of functions from camera to camera for the benefit of finger dexterity. A lot of us have more than one camera, with different button and feature placement making it somewhat difficult to pick-up one camera then go to another and remember where your white balance, ISO, or exposure compensation controls might be from camera to camera. I assumed that in Steve’s position as a reviewer it might be beneficial to have features assigned in familiar locations when considering the sheer numbers of dis-similar cameras he has to look at over time.

                With a camera having the kind of feature sophistication that the E-M1 has and which required the investment it did to just get one I would think it would make good sense to be as familiar with the camera and it’s features, limitations and assets as possible so that you can be the very best photographer you can be when using it, other wise, why buy it to begin with? And yes, I did read mine, the dl’ed version not the included abridged version …

                Thank you Steve for indulging my commentary, I meant no disrespect to you or the other participants.

                Tim

  57. ^^^ Steve. I hate snakes! They’re evil! : )

  58. My Question to you is how large a print can you get out of M 4/3, I can get poster size out of my D700 and was looking for some light weight alternate, but the only thing standing if I can get that size a print >> Any thoughts any one… thanks

    • I’ve had some E-M 5 photos used on billboards for an ad campaign; is that big enough? :-) Seriously, a billboard isn’t very critical because it’s viewed at such a long distance, but it highlights the problem with saying “How big a print can I make?” It depends on so many non-camera factors including viewing distance, type of paper (rough art papers are more forgiving – I had a gallery show that included several 13×19 prints of images from an iPad!), type of subject matter, etc. Mathematically, a D700 is a 12-megapixel camera, so a 16-Mbps E-M 1 should certainly give you enough pixel count; choose a sharp lens (hard to go wrong with the 75/1.8) and use good exposure and post-processing technique, and I suspect your results might exceed your D700 standard at the same print size.

      • I used to make 20X30 from my D2h files years ago, they look gorgeous. Large prints from an E-M1 will be much better than the D2h and even E-M5. :) No problem.

      • I have made 100×150 from my D700 http://500px.com/photo/20213445 and it looks perfect even looking at 20cm from the print.
        I guess that with the E-M1 like with the E-M5, as the IQ is a little bit under, from too near we will see the fuzzy noise. But it should be ok at a normal distance of looking.
        I will make a print test in 60×90 with my first shot from my E-M1 at the end of this month. I keep you informed if you want.

  59. The EM1 has a 1/320 flash sync. Are there any restrictions to using that speed?

  60. I just read this from the Oly site
    “You can check the camera’s Live View on a smartphone, using the same operations as the camera for remote shooting.”
    If true, this is certainly a game changer for street photographers that love the candid snap everywhere.

  61. Steve –
    Thanks for the review!
    Can you elaborate on how the focus peaking let you down compared to the GX7? Was it the accuracy or the usability, etc?

  62. What about shutter shock? Kidding!

    • Why nobody replies to this comment? Shutter shock seems to be a very bad issue for m43 cameras, including the E-M1.

      I ordered one with the 12-40 f2.8, but I may go for the Fuji X-E2. It’s not what I want because I like the variety of m43 lenses and the very light setup of a m43 quiver.

      What do you think, Steve?

      Thanks.

      • I tried and tried to recreate “shutter shock” and could not, with any lens I own or any shutter speed. Sorry but it is either in certain cameras/bodies as a defect, or in a lens (defect) or user error.

  63. Great review! Could you share your settings(which you use) for C-AF tracking? Thanks in advance.

  64. I know he is now an Olympus employee but Robin Wong has a blog and recently talks about the KLPF Olympus SHOOT-OUT Challenge involving large printed posters with the EM1 vs FF cameras. He uses the EM5 to take the shots. I feel Olympus to arrange such an event has some faith in its print out capabilities.
    http://robinwong.blogspot.com.au/2013/10/moving-on-to-micro-four-thirds-and-klpf.html#comment-form

  65. Hi Steve,
    thanks for the review. Sounds like the EM1 is a major upgrade to the OMD. For me most welcome improvements would be: bigger&better viewfinder, better size (I allways used a grip on the OMD but found with grip the wheels would not be in optimum position), and better size/arangement of buttons. And maybe (I dont believe until I have tried myself) the first? usable C-Af in a mirrorless camera.

    Regarding your comparison of Leica M vs m43: I am convinced there is a visible difference in IQ. Maybe not so much pure resolution but more in overall smooth look(for example transition between focus plane and other areas, transition of color etc.) To me sometimes m43 images look a little harsh.
    But more important EVF are not for everyone. I can live with EVF as a solution to bring a good size viewfinder into a small camera. But I just feel disconnected. If I take an image I would like to see the real light, the real color, and realtime. Thats why I prefer OVF for many applications. Also I feel with the rangefinder I can exactly focus where I want to focus (as long as the subject is not too fast). My problem with many mirrorless cameras is that the focus points are too big IMO which can lead to focus slightly behind or in fornt of the desired point.
    I still like m43 a lot for a fast, weatherproof, flexible system. But the comparison with the M I dont find that useful and I dont agree that it is just a minor IQ difference. If it was – how minor is then the difference in IQ between a 50 Summarit and a 50 Summicron and a 50 Summilux (and many I guess inlcuding you pay the additional money for a 50 Cron or 50 Lux asph).

  66. Great shots. Just looking at the kids at the amusement park? Haunted house? Whatever. You look at that simple natural beautiful color and ask yourself why Leica can’t do that? I do anyway. Again, many great shots and a real eye opener and reality check for us Leica shooters. Good job, Steve.

  67. I am curious as to why you do not list the Panasonic 20mm II f1.7 lens as one of your favorite lenses to use with this camera. You gave it a very good review recently, and you even seemed to lean toward it over the Olympus 17mm f1.8 in some respects. Is it because you favor the Panasonic on the EP5 and the GX7 and the Olympus on the EM5 and EM1 because of their size and form factor?

  68. Hello Steve,
    thanks for the great review. What is your opinion of 12-40mm F2.8 PRO? Is there some IQ compromise? I think, that should be also good combination with E-M1. Thanks

    • I posted some shots with that lens from my ireland post. Seemed fantastic and I liked it better than the Panasonic 12-35 for sure. I wont be able to get a hold of one of those for a few weeks though. When I do, I will do a full review.

  69. I handled the EM1 briefly and couldn’t connect with it at all. I never really liked the EM5 in that regard either, despite the fact that it produced good image quality. I’ll stick with my DP Merrill for ultimate IQ and my X100S for ultimate fun factor. And for all Steve’s skill with breathless hyperbole (the check from Olympus must have been a monster to get this kind of review), I hope he’s not going to try and convince me that the EM1 can outresolve a Foveon coupled with a nearly flawless lens. I can handle a certain elasticity of truth, but saying that would be bending the elastic enough to wrap around the earth several times.

    • So, because Steve’s comments clash with your “ultimate truth”, Steve must be a crackpot… Your post is incredibly offensive. I think that no one is trying to convince you of anything, you can borrow an E-M1 and try for yourself… but hey, that could bring bad news for you…

    • BTW, for “trying” I mean go out and shooting your usual stuff, it is the ONLY way to judge a product.

      • Well said Mr Costa…. What I was thinking wasn’t so diplomatic. I won’t say what I was thinking because that IS offensive, and this site isn’t intended for such obscenities. One is always quite entitled to ones opinion however, but one must remember that not only Steve, but many other people on here are actual professional photographers who have been there, done that, and have constructive things to say about all brands of cameras. If one doesn’t agree, then one may need to go back to school and learn how to word their objections in a more appropriate way, which also may in turn be quite constructive and add depth to the discussions on here. Otherwise, go tell your cat.
        Whilst I may not be one of these professionals, I do have some understanding of how to press a shutter button. I am also not arrogant enough to think I know it all, and therefore appreciate the knowledge that people share on here. Most people on here are here to help others, or are here to ask for help from these kind professionals. NOT to insult others. Steve has done a fantastic job in presenting his findings on this little ferrari disguised as a tank, and I thank him for his efforts. So Jan…. please refrain from your negativity. If you find your system suits you better, then good. Stick to it. Otherwise, go away. Thank you.

        • You are so kindly in your carefully vetted response to utter drivel. Better man then I.
          Carry on, Obi-Wan.

        • Fair enough. I’ll rephrase what I said so that it is more in line with the general tone here. Then I will go away and leave you all alone.

          Steve is always right about everything and is the best photographer in human history.

          • Jan…. That is not what I, or anyone else has said. Steve actually puts his heart into these reviews and presents them to the best of his ability. Judging from his results, yes, he is a good photographer. But so are many other people on this planet. You may even be one of those people. I do not know. All I know is I am NOT one of those people yet, so I appreciate what other people like Steve does….. and even the answers that Master Jim Yoda have provided me personally. One thing to note especially….. Someone pointed out to Steve that one of his conclusions on here was “WRONG”. SHOCK HORROR!!!!! They even told him WHY he was. And guess what!!! Steve said that he WAS indeed wrong, and thanked the person. We are ALL humans here, and we all make mistakes. We are NEVER “always” right. But some people put more effort to help others than most of the world’s population does.
            Does that make you a bad person for believing in your Fovion chipped sensor??? NO!!! Does it mean that I’m a :dick” for not knowing a lot about photography??? No!!! Does it mean Steve is the best photographer in the world for making a blog dedicated to helping others??? NO!!! But if someone believes that they are RIGHT, then back it up like one other reader has done on here. Please don’t be rude about it. I can be a hot head sometimes, but I think before I react. It is all too easy to sit behind a computer screen and type whatever one likes, but remember, we are all human beings. We all have feelings. And when one puts themselves out there with the purpose of helping others, please don’t just shoot them down because of your personal feelings on the subject in question. Work together. We are photographers, not people at war with each other. We all share a passion together.
            Thank you

            Kind regards

            Jason Muir

    • I clearly spoke to soon about lack of trolls. If you don’t trust Steve, why are you wasting your time reading his review, and wasting our time reading your baseless accusation that he’s a paid liar. Go away troll!

    • Hey! The 1st troll! Maybe you should get a prize.

      I knew there would be at least one idiot to make some ridiculous comment. The Merrill is a one trick pony. Awful build, awful feel, horrendously slow to focus, the worst battery life of any camera I have ever tested, horribly bad high ISO, and I can go on and on. It is a camera only made for those who want to use a tripod and shoot static subjects at base ISO.

      As for your ridiculous comment on a “check from Olypmus”, that one cracked me up. Really. Hate to disappoint you but not only was there no check, I paid full price for my E-M1 (that has not even been delivered yet).

      My suggestion to you? Don’t come here if reading my reviews will make you such a bitter and hateful person.

      • Oh. Good one.
        To quote Robin Williams: “joke ‘em if they can’t take a f**k”…

      • I owe you the courtesy of a personal reply (even though you probably don’t want one) before I slink off back into my troll’s cave (I understand your reasoning now: anyone who disagrees with you is a “troll”): I’ve shot action, scenery, street, architecture and night scenery with the Merrill. It just takes a little imagination and technique, rather than relying on ISO 200000000 and image stabilization gimmickry. So your assertion that it is only usable on a tripod is as preposterous as your gushingly unbalanced “FACT. PERIOD.” praise of every “best EVA” new camera which comes along every few months.

        Anyway, I need to stop wasting time here and go get some MF-equaling resolution shots.

        • Jan, what you still don’t seem to get is that it is not your opinion that riled people here, it was your incredible rudeness in th way you expressed your view. Whether you meant it or not, your accusation of Steve accepting a large cheque from olympus, was directly calling him a liar as he is very open and forthright about NOT getting paid by them.
          You seem to feel in some way threatened by what Steve wrote – if that’s true, you really should nt be. All that matters for each of us is; is the equipment we use the best FOR US. If we are are happy then no purchase decisions necessary, if not then we read here for some great pointers, and Steve is great for this. Of course there is a best ever – every few months, because all these camera companies are working really hard to bring us ever better gear.
          If you are happy with your Merrill, why do you give a shit what anyone else thinks? Or even read this blog?

  70. I handled the E-M1 for a few minutes this afternoon, so a very superficial first impression. Nice build, excellent ergonomics though too small and too light for me to feel comfortable in my hands (IS will help for the long shutterspeeds, but the feel is just off), amazing EVF, though it’s still very noticeable an EVF. Very nice and compact 1.8/17 stuck onto to it too.

    This is coming from someone who finds his beloved FM2n (very comparable to the E-M1) just too small and too light, just. My Contax RTS (at 700 grs for the body), now that comes close to the ideal form factor… ;-)

  71. As usuall, a very good article!

    What are your experince about the fact that the 5-axis image stabilization is the same as in the PEN E-P5?As you probably know DPR have found big problems with the image stabilization in that modell at the most common used shutter speeds (around 1/125s).

    Have you noticed any similar problem with vibration, related to the shutter, in EM-1?

    • Olympus has siad they “tweaked” the 5-Axis for the E-M1, but not sure what that meant. As for the E-P5, I used one for 4 weeks and never saw an issue when shooting or in my image results. I have shot the E-P5 at various shutter speeds without issue. Used it for my 42.5 0.95 lens review as well, no issue. So for me, I have noticed no issues with either camera’s 5-Axis IS.

  72. It looks huge! But I’m sure it isn’t. Any chance you could post size comparisons of the cameras you have lying about?:) Would be fun to see this next to other m4/3, a Leica and a full-frame if you have it. And a can of beer, since they’re an international measurement standard;)

  73. I have the 35-100 f/2 shooting with the em-5 and it is slow; slower than my 85L! The image quality is amazing but it slow :( I hope the em-1 changes that!

    • MUCH faster on the E-M1. In fact, Olympus claims just as fast as if you were using an E-5. I think a teeny but slower than that but much much faster than the E-M1. That is why they say the E-M1 is the E-5 replacement as well.

  74. Hi Steve,
    I enjoy your long rambling rants and heart felt comments don’t be put off by the odd folks who are unwilling to use their brains, I’m sure they are in the minority. Your hands on approach is the best and why you are so popular. I don’t spend much money on gear but would like to support your efforts, have you thought about having a way of donating a modest sum towards your expenses. You are surely a better read than many magazines / periodicals that I could spend my money on.
    Keep up the good work
    TonyG4 Birmingham UK

  75. Hey Steve. In one of your earlier posts, you suggested the Panasonic 100-300 mm, if we wanted some extra telephoto reach. However, in your current lens list, the Panasonic is missing. Is it still recommended? Have you done any shooting with this combo? I’m off on an African Safari in April and am thinking that the E-M1 and 100-300 lens would be a great, light-weight combination for wildlife and (perched) birds (and travel in general!)…I also wondered if the features of the E-M1+ Pany 100-300 might suggest that trying for some birds-in-flight with this combination would not be totally hopeless??? Sorry for all the questions.

    Thanks for the great stuff you produce.

    Don S.

    • Look forward to Steve’s view on this. Personally I am deeply disappointed by the 100-300, I find it horribly soft, and v weird broken if your subject is not close to the background (taking shots of a cricket match produced such horrible bokeh I ditched he photos) it might be a quality control thing and I might not have a great example, but I think there are better options. I used crops from the 35-100 lumix x, and they were better than the uncropped 100-300. Since then I have used a 50-200 which is good, and if with the 2x or 1.4x converter gives much better results for me than the 100-300. I also have the 150mm f2 which is an absolute gem of a lens, and with the 2x converter gives an equiv 600mm f4. Which is heavy by m43 standards but is a match for the canon and Nikon long lenses, for a fraction of the size and weight – though it is till heavy. If iq matters he 150mm is just spectacular, for a lighter slightly less good option, the 50-200 (about 400$ on ebay) is a good bet. Have great fun, and don’t forget to take a beanbag, v useful for all shooting from vehicles!! Of course the em1 will focus those lenses much better than the em5 and allow you to do fast moving targets (I tested the em1 and 150mm on a fast moving car and it was flawless)

  76. Steve-

    I asked this question earlier, but did not get a reply, so I will ask again:

    I am curious as to why you do not list the Panasonic 20mm II f1.7 lens as one of your favorite lenses to use with this camera. You gave it a very good review recently, and you even seemed to lean toward it over the Olympus 17mm f1.8 in some respects. Is it because you favor the Panasonic on the EP5 and the GX7 and the Olympus on the EM5 and EM1 because of their size and form factor?

    Thanks. I enjoyed your review.

    • Because for some reason, which I think is the fact that the E-M1 has no AA filter, the 17 1.8 performs AMAZINGLY well and from what I see, much better than it did on the E-M5. Much sharper, crisper, and gives up NOTHING to the 20 1.7II. It is much faster to AF so when you add that it is now sharper, crisper, and super fast to AF I would now recommend this lens over the 20 for the E-M1 in this focal length range.

      • Thanks for your response. I use both the 17 and the 20 with the EM5 and the EPL-5, and tend to prefer the 20 for the reasons you described in your review of that lens. It sounds like you too still recommend the 20 for those cameras. I was thinking of selling the 17, but now (based on your review of the EM1) have decided to keep it in case I get the EM1.

  77. Sony full frame A7 just got out. 24mpx and 36Mpx

  78. I ordered my E-M1 in September from Amazon and I’m hoping to have it in late October or early November. I also just ordered the 12-40mm f/2.8. Couldn’t resist it especially with the $200 rebate. I shot a E-M5 this weekend with the Olympus 12mm f/2 and the Lumix 7-14mm f/4. I’m planning to start shooting real estate soon and I wanted to test four thirds with wide angle lens to see if it would work. The Olympus 12mm didn’t pan out, however the Lumix 7-14mm worked great although shooting at 7mm created too much lens distortion with rooms. I don’t want to pay for the Lumix so I’m probably going to pick up an Olympus 9-18mm instead then get the Olympus “Pro” wide angle whenever it comes out.

    Now I just need to sell my 7D, my Canon 24-105 L lens and my Canon speedlite 600EX-RT.

  79. I agree with your views on the E-M1. I’m one of the first to have gotten a pre-ordered copy a few weeks ago and wrote about my impressions on my blog (click my name)

  80. My question in regards to the new E-M1 is at base ISO what does a blue sky look like is there still noticeable noise? Having owned the E-M5 I used as my light weight easy to carry landscape kit when I didn’t want to shoot my FF DSLR, I owned all the olympus primes and the Pana 25/1.4 shot raw and always shot at F4 to F5.6 basically equivalent to F8-F11 FF. There was always noise in a blue sky. The only workaround was use ETTR with extreme care because blowing out highlights was easy to do and then do a pull in post.

    I ended up selling my Olympus kit and purchased an Fuji X-e1, Fuji 14 and 35 Prime, and 2 Zeiss ZM. Lenses the 50/2 and the 85/4. Is the AF slow? Yes, is the build not as good as the Olympus? Yes, is the EVF as good? No, yet bottom line for my needs do I get a better result for what I shoot? YES

    My whole point is different cameras for different kind of work. I am sure the E- M1 is probably the best all around best mirror less camera today. But for me I didn’t want a do all camera, with fast AF I was after which will provide me the best result.

    Fast forward to today and the eminent release oft he new sony a7, wow looks like my Fuji kit may go on the chopping block. LOL

    • That’s THE problem of the E-M5 and the E-M1 is keeping it quite the same way. As I shot mainly in B&W it’s not and issue (it looks like grain) but with pure colors it’s a problem. You have to reduce the noise in PP but then you loose a little bit in sharpness.

  81. Thank you Steve for this nice review. It’s always a pleasure to read your posts.
    I started using the E-M5 when it was released, since I divorced from my D700. I like it for what I can get from it: nice image especially with the 12mm, 25mm 1.4 (most used) and the 75mm 1.8 (my fave). But I was not so enthusiastic about the handling of the E-M5.
    I got one week ago the E-M1 and that’s THE answer. Better grip, better controls, shutter speed 1/8000, ISO 100. I LOVE it.

    IMO the IQ is better at ISO 100 than ISO 200. The noise is less fuzzy. It’s especially visible in the blurred backgrounds. So the bokeh looks more pleasant.

    Thanks again for your website that I visit everyday instead of the daily news quite depressing.

  82. A couple of details:

    Quote:
    “The art filters are still here and better than ever. You are either a fan or not but they only work in JPEG mode for that quick cool looking image.”

    For OOC pics, yes.
    But you can also in post apply any desired Art Filter to ORF-files in Oly Viewer during RAW conversion. That way you can, from the same RAW file, save different TIFF/JPEG files w/ different Art Filters applied to them, and then combine them via layers in PS. Works a charm! :)
    I.e. try a combination of the horizontal and the vertical Diorama filters for portraits…
    Or a neutral non-filtered one + Soft Focus, and brush in a bit of the neutral one… Nice!

    Quote:
    “One thing I did not even touch on in my E-M5 review is “Live Time” which I believe was called “Live Bulb” on the E-M5.”

    Time Live and Time Bulb are a bit different, and both exists in E-M5 and E-M1:
    In TL you press the shutter button once to start the exposure, and ends it by pressing it again.
    In TB you keep the shutter pressed for the duration of the exposure, and releases it when done.
    Both TL and TB will show the picture build up on screen.

    Thx for this elaborate IRL review!
    It’s reassuring, and I do look forward to my pre-ordered E-M1 + 12-40/2.8 PRO to arrive!
    Will be interesting to see how my Zuiko SHGs will perform on this (although small) beast too! :-D

    Regards,
    Erik Aaseth

  83. I’ve been shooting the X100 almost exclusively since it was introduced. Prior to that, I was a Canon DSLR guy. I recently purchased a Canon 7D to fill the telephoto gap left by the X100. I can tell you that after being so accustomed to using a small mirrorless camera, the 7D is unenjoyable to use and carry. So, I’ve pre-ordered the OMD EM-1 based on your review (and subsequent reviews of the available suite of lenses). For someone new to micro four-thirds, I found your recommneded list of lenses very useful. I plan to start with the 25 1.4. If I like the system, I’ll sell the X100 and Canon and will add additional lenses to the kit.

    Thanks for the great website…I’ve been a faithful reader for the past 3-4 years.

  84. First, Steve, this is my first time leaving a comment and a big fan of your site, I check it out everyday and to say it has been an influence in my camera & gear buying choices would be an understatement. Love the reviews and unbiased p.o.v.

    Second, I didn’t want to repeat something which may have already been covered and I’ve carefully read your review and looked through the comments so far to be sure I didn’t miss any comments about what I’m about to ask right now, but I my question goes to the video recording on the E-M1.

    Steve, you wrote “HD Video 1080 24 or 60 FPS”.

    I believe 1080 is correct, but almost all reviews say the video is limited to 30fps, only. I know it’s not Olympus’s focus on video, but on stills, and the 30fps (from what I’ve seen) seems more than adequate to produce some great video quality. But, is there a 24 or 60 fps video recording option, actually? Perhaps the camera you reviewed is different or you know something about the E-M1 that hasn’t been explored yet within the video capabilities of the E-M1?

    Does it really have 24 or 60 FPS video recording capability or did I totally misread what you wrote there?… If misinterpreted, my apologies upfront for not understanding that statement.

    Thanks and keep up the great work!

  85. Thanks for the EM5/EM1 comparison, it’s very helpful. I have the EM-5, it’s a great camera, but I never really bonded with the UI, it’s taken me about a year to get comfortable and I am still learning. I am wondering how difficult did you find the EM1 to set up? How would you compare the UI on the EM1 to the EM-5? By the way, your attached photos are wonderful, the best since the Monochrom (and the RX1)!
    Many thanks,
    CC

    • Christine, have you tried to use the Super Control Panel? On my E-M5 I have it slaved to the “ok” button, it makes all exceptionally simple if I want to change settings…

  86. Hi – Steve great to read your review. Like many of the other bloggers I’m addicted to your excellent web site. With regard to the EM-1, the pictures tell the story – they show how good the camera is, and how capable the native 4/3 and adapted lenses are. Frankly, all of the discussion about absolute IQ frustrates me. I judge based on the impact that images have on me. Many of the images from M43 users, like the couple you refer to in your article, Thomas Leuthard and Adde Nakoseda, are phenomenal. I liken the IQ discussion to that on high-end Hi-Fi. I have friends who ask me to listen to outrageously expensive equipment and show me the meters that demonstrate superiority, and reduced signal to noise ratios. I can never hear any difference with my ears between the top-end equipment and more sensibly priced, but very high quality gear. In the photography world for sure there are professionals that need the 35mm FF image quality – but most of us don’t. My daughter is a professional food photographer in London and shoots with a Hasselblad H5D in the studio and an EOS 5D Mk111 for location shots, but hey, her pictures get blown up to billboard size. I disposed of my Canon EOS 5D system and five high-end lenses some years ago and bought an Olympus E620 and some high quality lenses – the 12-60 (probably the best all-round zoom lens I’ve ever owned) and the 50-200, among others. Later, I could see the writing on the wall for mirrored Olympus cameras and guessed there’d be no upgrade path, so I moved to the EM-5 when it came out, and moved to M43 lenses. What a delightful camera – and what great results. I’m close to retirement age and can carry my Olympus outfit in a simple small leather messenger bag. Nobody would guess it contains a body and three lenses, plus other bits and pieces. I own half a dozen lenses, and the outfit I carry on any given day depends on my intended subject matter. I travel extensively, and love the portability of the system. I’ll check out the EM-1 when I can get my hands on it, and may well upgrade – or perhaps wait for it’s replacement when that comes along as most of the EM-1 improvements are nice-to-have for me, but not essential. I am, however, hoping that the 12 to 40 zoom is a worthy successor to my lamented 12-60. If it is, that’s where my money will go next. I look forward to your review of it. Sorry for the stream of consciousness but I thought I’d throw in my two penneth (as we say in the UK).

  87. I love my EM-5 but fast focussing (tracking) on a moving image is just terrible. I’ve be very frustrated by the shots I get of anything moving and I notice few action shots on this site. It’s the only thing that brings me back to DSLR…

  88. Hey All…… Just for fun, and for a different point of view, I decided to go onto a full frame page and ask the question of why would I need to go to full frame when this EM1 can out do my D7000. I did state that I was either considering the 5DIII, or the Oly EM1 just to give someone the idea that I was uncommitted to any brand as yet. Here was his response which someone here may find interesting. I just found it somewhat confusing!!!! PS…. I still believe that the Oly out does my D7000, and as far as noise goes, it out does EVERY Nikon up to the D800 in JPEG with equal print size and equal ISO. I used DPReview as my reference for that conclusion. I do agree with his very last line, as I have seen better photos than mine produced by the D7000.

    @JasonMuir Before commenting I watched a review on the OMD E-M1 and it was the author’s opinion that the OMD was the best micro 4/3 camera on the market. However, he added that a Micro 4/3 camera can’t match the image quality of a full-sensored camera.

    I personally would never consider buying anything less than a FF camera for serious use. For a point-and-shoot camera, sure the Micro 4/3, 4/3, and APS formats are perfectly fine and in some instances preferable to a FF camera. However, I’m not you and you’re not me so what we prefer to use is our own choice.

    Judging purely specifications, I’d say going from a D7000 to an OMD-EM1 is a step down in image quality and here’s why:

    1. Color depth of the Olympus is only 12 bits while the Nikon has a color depth of 14 bits. Most people don’t understand the concept of bits so I’ll explain. One bit is either a 0 or 1, it’s either on or off. Therefore 1-bit color has two shades from pure black (off) to pure white (on). Two-bit color depth has 4 shades, and three-bit has 8 shades. You can see that the number of shades goes up exponentially or doubles for each bit. The formula is 2^x where x= number of bits. So 12 bits = 4,096 shades and 14 bits = 16,384. So your current Nikon has four times the color depth of the camera you want to “upgrade” to. Sounds like a down grade to me.

    2. Crop factor on the Nikon is 1.6x while the Olympus has a whopping 2.0x. This means you’ll have to lenses with a much short focal length to equal the angle of view on any give focal length on your current Nikon. Read my post for why this is also, IMO, a down grade from your current Nikon.

    3. Although the pixel count is the same on both cameras, your current Nikon has a larger sensor with larger pixels. Larger pixels = better image quality especially in low light.

    Now comparing the Nikon D7000 to the Canon 5D3, well the Cannon is obviously the winner here, but I’d have to wonder why you’re not considering the D610, D800 or a used D700 which would be the best value. Any of these three would out perform the OMD or your current D7000 and the D800 would be the best of them all. Going with a Nikon would mean having a camera that you are already familiar with, so you wouldn’t have to re-learn how to use it as opposed to get a different brand. Plus you’d be able to use Nikon glass which arguably is the best in many (but not all) cases.

    Just remember regardless of your decision, it’s not what you have, but what you do with it.

    • … well thought out and presented counterpoint. Thanks.

      • Yeah David…. it took me a while to get my head around it though. Whilst I now understand the point he had made about colour depth between 12 bits and 14 bits, but when comparing images from my D7000, I really fail to see any difference in picture quality, except in some rare instances ( the odd head shot of either Asian of African people ). And that only shows on their forehead. So is this 14 bit colour just hype used by Nikon? Does Canon also use 14 bits? Can the human eye even resolve 14 bits of colour??? This is not deterring me from purchasing a OMD EM1, but it is just one other thing that I would like to understand. Personally, I feel that, although the OMD might fall behind with the depth of colour, it certainly more than makes up for with it’s handling of noise. The Nikons appear to have way more colour cast noise (hopefully I described that right), and the OMD looks much more like film grain.
        I thought I would prefer to discuss this topic on this site rather than a Full Frame site as the people on here are much more open, and are prepared to discuss these topics rather than just dismissing it and saying it’s full frame or nothing.

        • aramethcdJason, don’t forget the EM-1 has in-camera lens distortion correction which corrects things like chromatic abberation as well as that 5-axis IS among other things.

          With point 1, the difference between 12bit and 14bit may be noticeable up close but consider that many images, particularly ones to be displayed on screen, are still 8bit colour, the differences are not going to be practically noticeable except under lab-like conditions.

          Point 2 is a fair call. The 4/3 and u4/3 sensors do use a crop factor of 2, though it makes calculating the full frame lens equivalent pretty easy :)

          With point 3, you say larger pixels = better image quality. I can’t fully agree with you there. I think Nikon have proved that it’s sensor in the D800 can compete against the larger medium format sensors. How a sensor handles the light is what determines better image quality. Factors such as pixel noise also play a part. A sensor can be bigger, and it’s physical size may help reduce some of the pixel noise, but if the image processor can’t filter out the noise from neighbouring pixels then image quality is affected.

          With low light performance on larger sensors size does play a significant factor however, as more light can be absorbed by a larger sensor at once due to the larger surface area exposed to light.

          While your 3 points are good points, I couldn’t decide on a camera on those 3 points alone. Every single feature of every camera you consider, and what that means in terms of aiding you getting the shot you want, need to be considered. The EM-1′s other features need to be factored in too :)

          And to add more complexity to that, let’s not forget the lenses!

          Regards

          • Hi WillO, I would like to point out that these three points are not mine. I had asked on a dedicated full frame site, “Why should I pay extra for a full frame camera when something like the OMD EM1 can out do my D7000″, or something along those lines. I thought I would post that person’s response on here hoping for a counter response for further evaluation, which is what you have given me :)
            Personally, I have pretty much decided that the EM1 will fulfill what I require of it. Plus it is also cheaper which means more lenses can be purchased !!! Especially a voightlander or two!!!
            Thank you for your input into the discussion WillO…. Even with the new Sony A7/r’s out, I still think this EM1 is a winner!!! You get a lot for the money!!!

            Cheers

            Jason

            • Hi Jason,

              My bad ^_^! Thanks for the clarification.

              When my EM-1 arrives I’m looking forward to seeing how it goes underwater.

              Re the A7/A7R cameras, the large sensor comparable to the D800 will be a big selling point but I think it’ll be a case of “awesome, but not quite legendary”. The way they’ve handled lenses (http://www.dpreview.com/previews/sony-alpha-7-7r/) seems a bit fiddly though I suppose that’s what happens when you change sensor size.
              Still, much kudos to Sony. I would not be unhappy having one in my inventory considering the body costs about as much as I paid for my EM-1 kit with 12-40mm pro lens.

              Regards.

  89. Great review, I am looking for a camera with more flexibility than my trusty Sony R1, and I started with an OM10 so would love another Olympus. Would it be possible to use a f4 50mm Olympus lense on the EM-1?

  90. Hi Steve. Just two questions: why a smaller sensor (m4/3) should deliver better IQ than a larger one? I’m thinking about X100s X-Trans II APS-C sensor vs. m4/3 E-M1. I remember that the larger is the sensor, the better is. FF better than APS, medium format better than FF. Just considering IQ!

    Second question: Canon 7D vs. OM-D E-M1. I don’t use so much the 7D, I’m an amateur and when I shoot with the canon is mainly to shoot sports (snowboarding, kitesurfing, MTB). What about IQ and AF speed compared to the 7D?

    Thanks, your website is a reference worldwide!

    Riccardo

  91. What is your opinion about the E-M1 for bird photography?

    • I’ve used EM5 and 150mm f2 with tc2 for birding and it’s awesome except the focusing, (stunning pic quality – fraction of canikon lens sizes) super excited by EM1 which I tested with this lens combo and it’s awesome :)

      • O my, thats a $3000 combo… expensive…
        any samples?
        I did some experiments with the E-M5 and my EF 400mm f5.6L, see the following link:
        http://www.flickr.com/photos/yankl1/sets/72157636296804744/
        When the bird is not moving I could get some good results, but could not take photos of flying birds either with the EF 400 nor with the Oly 100-300.
        Jacob

        • nice shots with the EF 400mm but wow what a whopper of a lens! The 150mmf2 I got on ebay for $900. The EM5 was not good enough with the focusing to get flights well, but I tested the EM1 with this lens and a car moving fast down a side street, and it nailed it.
          I have been ill for a fw months, so not go that many samples yet, but have a look at the bird photos on this. The kingfisher was heavily cropped, as even at 600mm equiv, it was still a fair distance. The swan was much less cropped.
          https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10151883419901217&type=1&l=0c2ee33d2a
          Good luck!
          p.s. the kingfisher and the swan were both handheld! (got to love the five axis!)

  92. Thanks for the review Steve.

    Reading what you have to say about the EM-1, I’m really looking forward to it.

    My Olympus photographic journey has progressed for many years from the Tough 8000 P&S to the E-620 DSLR to the E-PL3 mirrorless. I’ve really enjoyed the pioneering spirit behind Olympus’ cameras. Next stop for me is the EM-1 with the 12-40mm f/2.8 pro lens. Had it not emerged when it did I might have taken the leap into Nikon or Sony space, both of which I also have immense respect for.

    What your review covers, which some other reviews do not, is how all of the camera features culminate to form the camera experience. 5 axis IS, dual AF, live time, large EVF, live colour adjustment, intervalometer, weathershielding, and lense distortion correction are just a few factors that can’t be ignored. Yes, the EM-5 and EP-5 have many of these features, but not accumulated like this. It begs the question: Where will they go from here?

    There’s a philosophy behind each brand and their cameras. These days there are no bad cameras which means choosing the right one is about finding one that matches your philosophy, your budget, and your [life]style.

    Regards.

  93. I just fetched my new EM1 from the postage office and have been fiddling with it for over an hour. Everything feels familiar to my EM5 but the improved ergonomics, placement of buttons (especially the on/off switch on the EM5 was annoying placed and small) and large EVF makes this camera a joy to use. I don’t care about megapixels, I prefer to enjoy the ease of use of a camera over pixel quality. The joy determines the quality of your pictures not the sensor these days.

  94. Steve, amazing pre and review…. i’m a huge fan of this site! I just Purchased the OM-D E-M1 and am very happy with it, i purchased it with the 12-40mm lens and this is my first 4/3rds camera. I was going to wait on the A7 but i already have a full frame camera as my workhorse (5D MKIII). i just needed a nice little camera i can go to parties and use around NYC with.

    Can you recommend any settings on this camera? any personal settings you;d prefer, etc? Do you use the Noise Reduction at all?

  95. Wow Steve, what a great write-up! I can hardly believe the quality of images that are coming out of this camera, especially the ones you took with the Voigtlander 25 0.95. Very good review, thanks for posting it.

  96. 2 small problems with EM1 ? I love my EM1 but I am having two problems. first is the BLN-1 batteries (non-olympus) that fit in my EM5 are slightly too big for my EM1 has anyone solved this problem? And secondly just a software thing, once used the colour changer or magnify, is there any way of tirning that off, without going through the menu system and touchscreen? I am finding it a pain to get out of the colour changer sub system so i have stopped using it :( anyone no of any solutions to either problem?

    • For your first issue it sounds like the (non-Olympus) battery manufacturer will have to be more exacting with their battery dimensions. Perhaps the M5s battery compartment is more accommodating than the EM-1′s.

      For your 2nd issue, check out Jamie MacDonald’s EM-1 feature review (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qok-PNHmDek) which shows features, like the colour adjustment and magnify, in use.

      • Has anyone made large 11″ X 19″ prints with the E-M1?

        • Saw prints larger than that at the photo expo in Melbourne. Couldn’t tell them apart from ones made by a FF camera!

        • I might also add to that, that they were more like 15″x 24″ (A2) in size, approx. As you may be well aware, the Olympus stand at these shows would have a shoot off between the EM1 and whatever camera wanted to challenge it. I did not see the medium format prints, but all those that came from the FF cameras, 5DMkIII, D700, D800, D800E, apart from some slight colour differences, there were no other differences that I saw. And that was with my nose almost touching the picture too! From a normal viewing distance there would be no hope of seeing any difference.
          Cheers

          • Thank you so much. I am definitely considering the E-M1 for a photo business where large prints are paramount to my success. You are the first person to comment on the printability of photos with the E-M1. It’s amazing that most people just look at digital files.

            • Also David, here is a reply to an inquiry that I had made which you may find rather exciting;

              Hi Jason, I am not a print expert but since I know a professional photographer who prints a lot, I asked him for some advice. He told me that you won’t have any problems in printing 100x70cm (39x27inches) with the X-pro file. He also gave me the advice of using the original file and size without post processing and leaving it to the person who will print the photograph and use the printer software. This is of course if you want the look coming straight from the camera. Since the E-M1 has the same resolution, I guess you can apply a similar advice for the Olympus file as well. Of course a good print lab is like a good film lab, it is important to know one that knows your work and can understand what results you are looking for in a printed photograph.

              • Thanks Jason,
                Yes, I make my own prints using a Epson R3000. I love this printer. I also own an X100S. I love the prints from this combo. I am just wondering if the quality will be the equal with the E-M1.

              • Yeah Dave….. Me too! But from what I have seen from the EM1, I am feeling rather positive that it will. This is the camera that I will be purchasing very soon to begin the wedding/portraiture venture :)

  97. Anybody know how will focus the E-M1, in PDAF or CDAF, with the old Pansaonic Leica D 25mm f1.4 (4/3) with mmf-3?

    • I have the answer, the PanaLeica D Sumillux 25mm 4/3 is working in PDAF on EM-1, and the focus in low light is faster than E-5. What is the big advantage compared with E-5 is the precision of the focus, on the E-M1 is working with no problem, on the E-5 it was an issue at f1.4, 30% of the shots where out of focus.

  98. Steve, Thank you so much for such a great review!! I am loving my EM1. Only thing I am struggling with is social photography in v low light, I was in aJazz club yesterday and the f1.8 simply was not bright enough. What is the better option; a Voigtlander 17.5mm 0.95 for my EM1 or to pick up an old Sony RX1 or Leica x1 or something else? any advice will be much appreciated!!

  99. Hi Steve,

    Enjoy your reviews and photos. One thing I’m curious about though: you seem to love the E-M1 but looking at all your photos I get the feeling that 4:3 is not your preferred aspect ratio. Most of your shots seems to be cropped “longer”, giving you less than 16mp in reality. Do you crop in PP or shoot at the cropped ratio (about 12mp I’d guess?)

    In any case, I have an E-M1 and the new 12-40 f2.8 Pro lens on order. But I did raise an eyebrow when the A7 and A7R were launched, but the choice process for me is easier than for most for reasons I can’t elaborate here. But I do admit that 4:3 isn’t really my preferred aspect ratio but I shall learn to work with it.

    • I always set my 4/3 cameras to 3:2 in camera so they output 3:2 in JPEG and RAW. It does not shrink it to 12MP though as it only crops some off of the top and bottom. You probably lose 1-2 MP of resolution. The size of the 4/3 file from an E-M1 is 4608X3456 – the res from a 3:2 file from the E-M1 is 4608X3072. I much prefer the 3:2 format and always shoot in that mode. I am not worried about losing that little but at the top as it is much easier to print or display 3:2 images than 4:3. 4MP is plenty to print quite large, so 14-15MP is more than enough for me :)

  100. Hi again Steve,

    I just ordered an E-M1 in bundle with the 12-40. I also own an X100S – that I love – but I’m going to sell my whole Canon DSLR quiver (7D, 70-200 f4, 17-55 etc.): I often leave it at home because of its weight, so a camera that stays at home is a useless camera…
    I held the E-M1 in my hands while I was at the shop, I like it very much, but I’ve only one, big concern: the depth of field and captured light. Do you think that the 12-40 has enough depth of field to separate background even in case of portrait shots? At the moment I cannot afford the Voigtlander 25 0.95…
    What do you think? Will I notice such a difference coming from an APS-C?

    Thank you so much for your help!

    Riccardo

    • Riccardo, as a cheap portrait lens, until you can afford the big V, the 45mm f1.8 is lovely and incredible value for the money, and tiny, and incredibly light, if you had that in your pocket you would not even remember its there till you want to separate background. You can get some separation with the 12-40 if you are at 40, and can position your subject a little bit in front of the background. I Loooooove my new EM1

  101. Thanks, Steve a lot for your detailed review!

    While majority of folks seem to be praising the E-M1, the unit I have received has a fundamental flaw. The sensor just doesn’t deliver in low light situations and when taking long (more than 40 seconds) exposures. The dark frame subtraction (or Noise Reduction ON in Olympus’s terms) isn’t the solution, because it takes twice as much time as the initial shot itself to cook jpg/raw, and is not suited for astro-photography. Pro body, flagship camera, DPreview Gold award? You must be joking! E-M5, Panasonic GH3 and even GX1 deliver way better results, according to tests made by M43 guys.

  102. Hi Steve. Need some help.

    This is driving me nuts. EM1 vs Pentax K-3.

    I know the K-3 technically have better IQ but the EM1 should be just as impressive. But..

    1. Which has faster and more accurate auto focus?

    2. Which is better built?

    I normally stay away form SLRs these days but am a big fan of Pentax and am willing to put up with the size and weight as long as focusing is reliable enough to shoot my highly mobile 2 year old . However all I hear is great things about the EM1 and as a owner of a EM5, I can only expect great things. The decision is killing me.

  103. Hi Steve, really enjoyed your review and now have my EM-1 with the 45 f1.8 lense and I am waiting for the Pro zoom to arrive. I love the build quality, IQ and the flexibility.

    I like composing and shooting using the EVF. Sometimes I would like to also be able to review the picture I have just taken on the EVF, but when I press the replay button it displays it on the LCD. The only way I can get it to display on the EVF is to press a second button to the left of the view finder. So my question is do you know a simpler way to do this?

    Thanks Harry

  104. I have found a strange thing, when I set the peaking option on of the optional buttons, the refresh rate of the EVF is going to normal, and there is no chance to change the refresh rate back to high, even if the peaking is not enable, I must deactivate the peaking from that button and set another function on it. Do you have any idea about how can I enable refresh rate enable on high when the focus peaking has a dedicated button?

  105. Steve, have you read the debate over the long exposure noise comparison between Em1 and Em5? What do you think about it?

    This is one of the link
    http://www.mu-43.com/showthread.php?t=53621

    Expect you’ll give a real word comparison between those two OMD

    Cheers

    • I think it is a non issue. I shoot 5 min exposures that are clean as a whistle with the E-M1 and E-M5.

      • I was looking at Gordon Laing’s flickr stream where he has a bunch of test shots with the E-M1. I was peeking to check sharpness with 12-40mm and I was not disappointed there. BUT, I came across the shot from the Castle where Gordon was sitting on the couch with some light painting behind him. I was amazed by the tons of little white flecks I found in the dark/shadow areas at original size. It’s not noise. It’s something else. The issue appears to be a problem for those of us who like to shoot long exposures at night. The NR “on” option might clean it up a little but it will double the time needed to take a shot because of the need to take a black frame to subtract from the first. That’s a pain if you’re taking a 60 second exposure. You need to wait another 60 seconds before you can use the camera. Seems like for the price, you should be able to take a 60 second exposure with NR set to “off” if you want to. Just my humble opinion. I REALLY want to like this camera, but that’s buggin’ me.

  106. Only thing thats preventing me from buy em1 is that it 4/3s vs. the FF Sony a7
    Sony a7 with 55mm 1.8 would cost me around $2600 USD
    &
    EM1 with 75mm 1.8 would cost me around $2400

    I like the benefits of the Sony Full Frame. But i also like the fast AF on the EM1.

    Could someone clear this dilemma for me.

    • If you miss a shot because of the slow AF, does the theoretical better IQ of FF counts, really?

    • Hey Dep…. After seeing the rather large prints from the E-M1 (A1 or A2, not sure),, and comparing them side by side with prints of the same size from D700, D800/E, 5D MkIII…… I couldn’t tell which was which, not even close up. Guess that answers the image quality problem then! :) For me it does! Add the 5-Axis IS and there’s really no contest. Hope this helps :)

      • sorry for my novice questions. My other question is regarding the 4/3s. which means i would have to step backwards more than i would have to on FF sensor to get a full body shot? Or can this be solved using wide lens.

        • That’s fine dep… we all start somewhere! To get a similar focal length as the one you mentioned with the Sony, you would be wasting your time with the awesome 75mm omd lens as it is equal to a 150mm lens in FF format. Therefore, you would be better to get something around the 27mm mark for the omd to get similar results. I can’t quite remember what omd have in that range, but generally companies work on getting their lenses to equal around the 50mm focal length for that particular focal length.
          The Pro kit lense with the omd is variable and constant f2.8 and offers exceptional IQ. But if you are wanting primes, then there are a few options which can result in superb images. It is all rather confusing at first, but the best thing to do is pick a good lens and just use it. Depending on what type of photography you are wanting to do will depend on which focal lengths you will require. Confused yet??? lol.

          • Confused indeed. Mostly i want to use it as a street “fashion” photographer taking full body shots for my blog. I really dont know what lens will serve this purpose on a 4/3s sensor. Definitely want primes for the IQ and fast AF.

            • 17mm is a popular choice for that kind of work for an OMD… sort of the workhorse lens for street shooting I believe. I will try find a link for you to check out from someone who uses OMD’s for their work :)

            • Not sure if my link is getting through to ya dep… I can’t see it….. But this guy’s name is Robin Wong. Google him and see what he does with his E-M5 and the Olympus range of lenses. Make’s ya wonder what the Full Frame fuss is all about….. Although Steve here does a fine job of that too, but I think he cheats by using those really expensive Leica lenses, lol. Jks… Love the street shot he has produced of the woman with with the green makeup all over her… think he used a Voighlander lens for that…. you want great results and don’t mind manual focusing, then there’s a lens you will want! I know I do!!! :)

              • Is it possible for me to use my existing canon 430exii flash with em1. If not how much are flashes for the em-1.

            • Hey dep…. You will be able to use your Canon flash as an off camera flash in manual mode, but I am pretty sure in saying that you will not be able to use any TTL features of the flash…. The Olympus top of the range flash is $790 approx. This will give you everything, from full manual to full auto TTL (FL50R), or about $350 for the size under (FL36R) which also does everything, but with a lower output….. Prices approx from Dirt Cheap Cameras in Sydney. Personally, I use Yongnue 560′s with Cactus V4 triggers in full manual. However, I will be getting an Olympus TTL flash for out and about where shooting conditions are continuously changing. I think it’s safe to say that your Canon flash will just become a full manual off camera flash for the Olympus, but a good quality one :) For more info, you can find many results on youtube for using off camera flash!

              • I heard the omd-em1 comes with 12-40mm f/2.8 as kit lens for $2000. Is this true. I cant seem to find it anywhere.

        • If you have an Apple device you can download a great app which lists almost all the 4/3 and m43 lenses with links to reviews. It is called “Olympus lense buddy”

    • Dep,
      If you are looking for about equivalent focal length (and auto focus) so you don’t have to step back for full body portrait, a better comparison would be:
      A7 + Sonnar T* FE 55mm F1.8 = $2700
      - Full frame, slower focus, shallower depth of field, probably better low light sensitivity
      E-M1 + Panasonic 25mm (50mm equivalent) F1.4 = $2000
      - overall smaller size, 5-axis image stabilization, fast focus, slightly deeper depth of field per F-stop.

      Tough choice,

  107. Can EM1 with a 100-300mm lens replace a dslr with similar lens for bird photos -especially BIFs?

    • please see the comment I wrote above. The simple answer is no. The EM1 is utterly awesome, the 100-300 my least favourite of all lenses. The 150 f2, with a 2x converter is truly awesome with the EM1 and bif is a breeze ( and the 150 f2 are often available 2nd hand on ebay) also the 50-200 4/3 lens is also good with a 2x converter, but not as sharp as the 150 f2, but miles better than the 100-300. Just my opinion

      • Thanks for the reply Richard. Hadn’t read through all of above. Your suggestions seems quite good, still the gear weight is my main problem. spondylitis!! This combo would weigh as much as my SONY A580 + SAL70-300.

        Looks I should leave my nature photos to the IQ level I get with my Fuji X-S1 and forget BIFs without shoulder pain. for still objects and un-cropped X-S1 is a good camera http://www.flickr.com/photos/64618899@N04/sets/72157629217920220/.
        Else photos worth the bin.

  108. Does the Oly beat the NEX in size? I think not.

    For example, will the EM1 fit in my bike jersey’s back pocket? No.

    Would I prefer the EM1 to a NEX to wear around my neck when I hike in the Sierra Nevada Mountains of California? I’d prefer the NEX.

    Can the Oly fit in the cargo pocket on my hiking pants? Nope. Can the NEX? Yep.

    Which camera will pack smaller in my backpack or daypack? The NEX.

    • Put a decent AF lens on your NEX and compare to the OLY with the equivalent lens …
      Yes the Oly combo is really smaller.

      • JF, that’s the corollary to the No True Scotsman Fallacy. ;-)

        For cycling and reaching the summit of a mountain, AF isn’t necessarily a primary concern.

        Anyway, isn’t one of the cool features of mirrorless cameras that we can use an array of optics on them, which won’t work in AF mode, anyway?

        There’s no doubt the Oly is the latest and greatest. However, that hump on the Oly top deck turns it into a whale for me, not to mention is not nearly as aesthetically daring as a NEX.

        • If ibis doesn’t matter to you, and weight/size is paramount then why not GM1?

          • Richard, why not a GM1? Because I’ve already got a NEX 7.

            The NEX has features I like, too, missing from the GM1. Like a 24MP sensor that’s a much larger sensor than the GM1. And the NEX has an EVF. And the NEX looks cool and has an awesome system of controls.

            I’d otherwise agree the amazing GM1 is a great camera for for hiking and cycling because it’s so small and light – half the weight of the NEX 7 – except for the features I like that are missing.

            The only really negative thing I have to say about the Oly, by the way, is that it’s too large, i.e, it won’t fit in a jersey pocket or the pocket of my cargo pants. Minor nitpicks: 16MP and it’s a few ounces heavier than my NEX.

            I certainly wouldn’t mind owning it and maybe I will one day, or it’s successor. I just won’t take it cycling with me. I might try the GM1 someday – I’ve already gone through many small camera, from iPhones to Panasonic LXs, etc.

            So for me, unlike Steve, the Oly is not the best mirrorless camera, at least for my particular personal needs.

  109. hi steve

    am a huge fan of your website. thanks for all the informative articles and the lively discussion forums.

    just got my Oly EM1and the 12-40 pro lens last week. its a beauty :)

    you were right about all the things you said about this camera. its awesome.

    now the horror story part.

    reached home from the showroom and took out the camera. and the lens. was inspecting the lovely equipment closely and i saw a 3-4mm long white thread like foreign particle inside the back element of the lens !! (saw it through magnifying lens-looks like a thread piece from the white inspection gloves they use in labs!)

    and this is a PRO lens from a company renowned for their optics !!

    a shocker !!

    called up the Olympus dealer i bought it from in New Delhi, India, first thing in the morning . they didn’t believe me – obviously ! i went over immediately and showed them and lo and behold they all saw it !

    well a replacement lens is on its way. still have the defective piece. another few days…can’t wait.

    i thought i would share this with you. just so that we all are aware that these things can happen with lax quality control… very sad.

    • Well, I bet you can use the lens without any effect of that thread..it will not show up in your photos or affect the lens so I would not worry about it as when your new lens comes in you can just swap it out :) Thing like that happen with Leica, Canon, Nikon, and all of the camera manufacturers.

      • I had a bad experience with Carl Zeiss too on their lens made for SONY. After about 10 months use in controlled environment in the Middle East (everything from car to houses to malls are a/c) took to India while on vacation. On return found white spots inside the front lens. It was fungal growth between the two cemented elements of front lens group triggered by the humid climate in South India!!! SONY promptly replaced the lens group for me though was about 11 months after purchase.

  110. I’m totally new to photography. Is the EM1 suitable for a complete beginner? I was considering the GX7 because its $650 cheaper.
    Thanks

  111. Steve,

    Love love love your site. So much actual useful information. Love the real world view you take. It’s both refreshing and extremely helpful and intuitive.

    I have been wanting to upgrade my V1 for some time now. This review clinched it for me. I have actually read it through 3 times and referred back several more times beyond that! So thank you. Also I used your amazon link as we’ll ;)

    One question. I was debating hard between this and the new Sony A7. I have a 5D mkII and lots of glass for it but just like you, the size lately has been a real drag and I found myself shooting with the V1 more and more. I figure if I jump into the A7 or possibly the Nikon Df I will probably sell all my canon stuff to do it. I’m just not happy with canon these days. There mirror-less was a waste and I am excited about what Nikon and sony are trying to do.

    Wait there was a question here? ;)

    My question is will I be able to share any glass with a future a7 purchase? Maybe when they get around to an A8? Or do you think sharing Nikon glass to be a better option? My concern is weight and size again. I plan on trying out a few of my eos lenses with M43 adaptor but as much as I love my 24-70 2.8L i have a feeling it will feel like a monster on that little om-d body :D

    Any thoughts from you or the community are greatly appreciated! Thanks so much!

    • Hello,

      You can use Nikon, Canon, Leica lenses and others on the A7 or E-M1 using adapters. The Sony is full frame so you will be using the lenses as they were meant to be used. The E-M1 will give you a 2X crop so a 50 will be a 100mm. The 24-70 would be 48-140.

      • Thanks for the response! I didn’t see the adapters for the A7 but now I see a bunch. Silly me. I went ahead and got the Oly 17 1.8 and the Pany 25 1.4 for the EM-1 based on your review. I probably should add the 12mm & 45mm but for now this should keep busy ;)

  112. well I guess I shouldn’t have doubted you Steve…but I am a convert…I listened to all the bad reviews about the 17 1.8…but Olympus just had it on sale so I grabbed one for Christmas…and it is just wonderful…took it to a first night celebration…shooting outside at night this locks focus quickly and nails the shot . this the 75 1.8…the 40-150 and the rokinon 7.5 is now my MFT kit…selling my 12-40 2.8…youare right the 17 is fantastic on the E-M1…rock on

    • I certainly agree about dumping your 12-40 f:2.8. It’s sadly too middle of the road for my taste. And a literal beast as it extends out far beyond what looks or feels reasonable. As is my 24-70 f:2.8 Canon l ll which I do (need to) appreciate as it’s already a beast on a beast so to speak.
      Have fun!

      • I’m glad to hear this too. I contemplated the 12-40 as I figured it would do the duty my canon did as well but I’m looking forward to working with small primes with this body. Very excited. Oh and I got the FD adaptor to play with some of my vintage primes as we’ll ;)

        • A pro photojournalist friend was intrigued by my OMD last Spring and has basically set aside his D4s and D800Es and uses two or three EM1s for everything. And like me loves the weight reduction, the fun factor and the far superior image stabilization Oly has. He emailed me a shot last night he did of a onstage opera singer shot with a FF 500mm hand held (!!!) and it was sharp enough. Stage lighting and 1000mm equivalent. Crazy use of a MFT adapter from Nikon to Oly. Totally manual but he shot wide open and so it did not matter at all. Silly but true.

  113. Hi Steve! I’ll try to be short: after some time in the photograph field, I’m trying to build a nice range of lens and a good camera body based on my needs, that are: small and light camera and lenses, up to 50mm. I already have a 50mm Takumar 1.4 and a 50mm Zuiko 1.4, and I want another lens, maybe a 35mm or less, but I have no idea on what to choose (depending on my body choice, I’d use adapters). Also, I own an Nex5N but I’m not quite happy with it, for two main reasons: I love to have everything on hand, like analog cameras (and in this matter, the fuji mirrorless cameras attracts me, specially the X-pro1) and I also like to have an actual viewer (and for that and other improvements, quality, etc, the Olympus EM1 catches my eye). I really respect and admire your work and experience, so I’d really like to know your opinion, based on my needs and on what I already own: what do you suggest? Keep it small and light, something to carry around any time.
    Thank you for your time! love your reviews.

  114. Steve,
    Thanks for the great review and photos. Amazing! Choosing an upgrade from EP3+VF2 to either EP5+VF4 or EM1. Normally, it’s a simple choice, but here in Canada, we have an amazing deal for EP5+VF4+17/1.8 for $150 less than the EM1 body alone. What’s your take?

    Also, I already have the followings: 7-14/4, 12/2, 45/1.8, and the kit zooms inherited fr the GF1 and EP3. If I plan to get the 17/1.8 plus one more lens, should I get the 12-40/2.8 or 25/.95?

    Thanks again for reviewing the camera for a real usage point of view rather just comparing apple to orange on the tech side.

  115. Hi, I have read some comments on the web saying that the menu system is rather baffling, is it any more complicated than any of the other new mirrorless cameras out there?

    • Sure it is an extensive menu, and rather like a reference book, you dip into it as the need arises or not as you wish.

    • I am a new owner of the EM1 and have had zero experience with Olympus digital cameras in the past. The menu is what you expect from a pro camera. Very thorough and complete. But I agree with Harry, you dive in as much as you need to and the menu is no more complicated then any other PRO level camera I have used. How many times are you going to change the Flash sync settings? The manual reads like stereo instructions so that was no help to me but I found some great demos on You Tube that really helped me more than anything. (Im a visual guy, go figure!)

      Now that I HAVE dived in, I’m very impressed with the level of detail they put into this camera to finely adjust almost every aspect to your needs. Almost every button and dial can be changed to do the most popular functions you could want and you can even do color/exposure/wb fine adjustments right in the camera (the later is less useful for me as I work in Lightroom, but they are there!). So after a couple a days and some time on you tube I pretty much can find anything I need rather quickly and with a little modification, I have every setting I could possible want within 1 button or dial move.

      • I have never needed to even look at the menu since day one of getting my E-M1. Using the quick menu (right side of the LCD) is all anyone would ever need and making any change you need takes seconds. But most settings are just done with the dials and buttons. Really there is never a need to go into the menu for anything once you set it up to your preferences.

  116. Thanks guys for the comments, that’s really reassuring. Could I please ask what lenses you are using with the camera. Prices here in the UK are quite high so I cannot make my mind up whether to go for the kit zoom (12-50mm or 12-40 would be nice) until I can afford further lenses, or go for 2 primes – I shoot mainly lanscapes and close-ups.

    • From your description there are a couple of options. The Olympus 60MM macro is a great close up lens that can do portraits, etc. I use it a lot for that kind of work. For landscapes I use the 12mm Olympus which is expensive but a wonderful lens. The Panasonic 20mm or the 17mm olympus are good alternates too.
      Just remember that you can zoom with your feet!!!

    • I think these questions are hard to answer because it really comes down to personal preference. What were you more comfortable with in the past? I started with primes and within the first week I have the 17 1.8 the Panny 25 1.4 and the 45 1.8. All absolutely wonderful glass, at probably the cheapest price points in the line. In fact the 17 and 45 have been around long enough that there are some real deals second hand in great condition. I love using these primes as it brings me back to my time shooting 35mm. I have fallen completely in love with my EM1 so much so that I sold one of my Canon L series for the 12-40mm Pro. I have small children and going out exploring with them with a zoom of this quality is just wonderful. I have been out with it 3 times and all I can say is wow. Who wouldn’t want a pro level zoom in the most widely used focal lengths in photography today, that also turns the em1 into a weather-proof beast. Yep it’s a big lens but not much bigger than my 35mm FD on my Canon A-1 and half the size of my 24-70mm on my 5D so it’s wonderful to me especially for the results I am getting. My opinion is if you can only afford one lens you can’t go wrong with the 12-40. I’d stay away from the 12-50 kit lens all together.

  117. And if you don’t want to fall off a cliff or be in a priests’ face you might want to think about the 14-35 or 35-100 4/3rd lenses. Not only will you have 2.0 through out but these lenses have better IQ then any M4/3rd lens…they are heavier cost more but well worth it….…

  118. Hello Steeve,
    Thanks for all the time you take reviewing cameras, and lenses. I just wanted to add something, I’ve heard the EM1 is not the real “successor” to the EM5; it is just like an improved/ parallel sister!! Have you read this? And not only that, I’ve recently read a rumor that a new OMD will be released and this will really be the EM5 successor; which one I am writing about: The OMD – EM10…. if this is true, can you imagine how this new model would be??

    • Well, Olympus told me directly that the E-M1 was the successor to the E-M5. By the time a new model is out it will probably be a successor to the E-M1. But I really have no idea. Guess we will find out eventually. Not sure what an E-M10 would offer that the E-M1 doesn’t though.

    • I assume “EM-1″ means the “E” (3/4) and “M” (m-3/4) united as “1″. : )

  119. Thanks. Yes I would love the 12-40 as I have read a lot of good things about it but after buying the camera it is a lot of money. I have the Olympus 9-18 in mind or the Panny 17mm. I just want something for lansdscapes to start with, but plan to get the Olympus 60mm macro and some sort of longer focal length later. Forgive the dumb question but as I have normally been used to W/A zoom lenses would the 17mm give me a wide enough angle for landscapes?

  120. Hi Steve. I’m very very happy about my E-M1, maybe even more than my X100s! I just read more than one article that state the m4/3 format will die in favour of full frame mirrorless. I think that FF can’t offer the same portability… What do you think? Is the OM-D and Oly lenses a bad investment?

  121. I’ve been following your articles for some time now, and have to say that I really appreciate the time, effort and quality of your postings. I have been using 4/3rds format cameras since I bought an E-1 back in 2005-6. My previous camera, was that ‘brick Latrine’ the Minolta Dynax 9, used in conjunction with a Nikon CoolScan III. I wanted a really wide angle lens, had tried the 12mm Heliar, but found that unless I used it with a circular ND, I had a fair bit of image editing on my hands. Then, Olympus brought out that fantastic 7-14mm zoom … which I promptly bought, and it’s taken 7 years for a comparable W/A lens to appear for APS-C cameras …. I’m just hoping that one day soon, you will be in a position to pass on your views of this ‘beast’ as it very rarely gets reviewed, as is also the case with the Lumix version. If you were in the Uk, I’d be very happy to let you try the one I have, but I suppose there is very little chance of that happening. I also have an OM-D and the E-M1, and though this optic is now over 7 years old, it still impresses me whenever I use it. As you quite rightly say, there are people out there who look at the size of the 4/3rds sensor and just dismiss it without actually giving it a decent work-out. I find it somewhat ironic that whilst the original 4/3rds cameras got a fair old pasting, as soon as the PENs appeared, their tune changed by a fair amount, and yet both use the same sensor! Whilst the OM-D and E-M1 are inherently a compromise, it should also be pointed out that APS-C and FF cameras are also, in other ways, but as far as i am concerned, the benefits these two cameras deliver, pretty-well outweigh the things that people slag it off for not delivering on.

  122. Hi Steve, thanks for your awesome review here. Thinking of swapping one of my D600′s for the E-M1 for some wedding work. Just one question: I like shooting in Manual + Auto ISO mode, do you know if exposure compensation is available in this mode? And how does the AF speed compare to say the Fuji E-X2 for capturing those quick moments & expressions? Thanks :)

    • Oops sorry, that’s 2 questions lol :)

      • Hi Steve, I shoot in manual and auto ISO all the time on the E-M1 and it produces greta pictures indoors particularly with the faster primes (45 and 75mm)

        • Thanks for that Harry, but what if you need to apply +/- exposure compensation? Is that possible in this working mode? Indoors you probably wouldn’t need to, but outdoors on a sunny day, definitely…

          • I can only guess that you have never read a review of this camera, or you would not bee asking this. The answer is that you can apply over and under exposure in any mode via one of dials on the right-hand side of the body and also apply the same compensation to the output of the flash, separately to that applied to the camea’s normal expoure ; eg, over-expose the meter-reading, whilst at the same time under-expose the flash output. Hope that answers your question comprehensively enough.

  123. Hello Steve………..thanks for (yet another) great review, awash with useful information and delivered with the inimitable, infectious enthusiasm that appears to be your default setting………I am late into the game with this and do not expect a personal reply, but as an enthusiast with limited experience, I am hoping for some advice from some of more knowledgable and helpful members of your audience; firstly, any news or rumors that Olympus might release a firmware update or even a subsequent model that will allow the menu functions to be viewed in the EVF………..as a wearer of glasses I find using an EVF with diopter adjustment, as I have done with a previous Lumix camera, really easy and satisfying, but with the EM1 I will need to put my glasses on to view the menu on the LCD and then remove them again to use the EVF (which is my preferred way of shooting) …. given the host of technological wonders housed in this camera, I find this quite frustrating, particularly as the EVF of this camera receives such good press……….

    Secondly, the possible deal breaking EVF issue aside, if I do buy this camera I am contemplating buying the Olympus M.ZUIKO DIGITAL ED 12-40mm 1:2.8 PRO Lens, and because I want to experiment with shallow DOF (something that I have not done before) I am considering either the Voigtlander 17.5mm f/0.95 or the 25mm, which I believe is a little bit smaller and lighter…………I appreciate that both of these lenses are quite large and heavy and that they are manual focus….I own a Leica D Vario-Elmar 14-150mm f/3.5-5.6, which I can use with an adaptor or because it is in pristine condition, I can sell it to fund another lens; but I have set myself a limit of 3 lenses for this camera and I do not need to go any “longer” than the Leica lens offers me…….any advice will be much appreciated……..
    Many thanks……….Alan Bryan ………London

  124. Steve, ordered the E-M1 through the link to support the website! Will pair with the 12-40 2.8 pro zoom mostly. Also looking for the best portrait lens with lots of bokeh. Would you go with the Olympus 45mm 1.8 (or even the 75mm 1.8), or should I look at the Voigtlander 42.5 0.95? What would you do if you had to choose 1 lens in this portrait category?

  125. HI
    Sorry for my English …I’m french! So i’m into the idea of changing my d700 and 24/70 2.8 for an Om d em1 or fuji XT1 but asked me a question cause of the ratio of the omd sensor : micro 4/3…
    Does that ratio isnt bad for landscape pictures ? Is the ratio 3/2 like the Xt1 better for that kind of picture ?
    I always read things about good performance on iso; noise, bokeh …etc …about sensor but never on the ratio that seems to me very important for the picture composition and the capacities to print it or look at it on 16/9 computer ??

    Someone can tell me some thingq about that ?

    Thanks for that interesting review….

    Oliver, Paris

  126. Thank you for this review. I am a recent ( amateur ) convert from long term Canon DSLR`s but became “comfortable” with the OM1 within hours or first use. I second your comments on lenses- the zuiko pro 2.8 12-40 is excellent and leaves the stock lens behind. In fact the stock lens may well be the reason that some dislike the 4/3 format. It has too much of a “toy” feel.
    I look forward to reading further reviews from you Sir.

  127. …amateur… (also useless speller this morning……)

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