My pick for Camera of the Year 2013! The Olympus OM-D E-M1!

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My pick for Camera of the Year 2013! The Olympus OM-D E-M1!

So here we are at the end of the year 2013 and boy did this year fly by just as they all seem to do. Last year I remember sitting down to write about my pick for  “Camera of 2012” and back then I chose as the Sony RX1 due to its amazing IQ, small size, beautiful lens and overall awesomeness. I still love the RX1 and it is just as good today as it was last year. I expect it to be just as good in 5 years from now or as long as the camera stays alive.

This year there were MANY cameras released that were drool worthy. The Leica M did not start getting into most peoples hands until 2013, the Olympus E-M1 hit mid year and the Sony A7r and Nikon Df JUST hit in these past couple of weeks. Sure there were other cameras released this year but for me, these are the four that stand out for 2013 without question.

underthetree

And the winner is…

Yes indeed..for me, pound for pound, dollar for dollar, the Olympus E-M1 takes the prize for camera of the year. Why? Well, there are MANY reasons, so many in fact that it made the decision quite easy for me. Sure, the A7 and A7r from Sony are top-notch IQ machines, but a camera is so much more than just IQ alone. Sure the Leica M is a masterpiece of German design and in the hand it feels amazing and it is a joy to shoot with. The lenses are second to none. Sure the Nikon Df is a retro inspired low light king but it is still a DSLR and has those huge lenses that go along with it.

Nope, for me the E-M1 is it. It has everything one could want in a camera. It is a joy to use, to handle, to frame with. There are so many amazing lenses available for it that the choice is nearly unlimited in what you can do with it, and there are some flat-out astounding lenses for this camera, not just average quality lenses. The E-M1 “just works”.

The AF is blazing fast and accurate. The 5-Axis IS is the best in the business. The build is solid and pro. Weather, freeze and shock proof, and it really is. The EVF is the best in the entire digital camera world right now. The color it puts out is beautiful and the sharpness is very good, even for large prints. The lifetime and live bulb feature is one of a kind. The LCD is big and sharp and swivels.  It is also the least expensive of the lot of cameras I have mentioned here. $1399 for a pro quality bullet proof body with the lenses available to do whatever you need. Olympus thought of and gave us their all, in one hell of a camera body.

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Yes, the E-M1, for me, is indeed the best camera that was released in 2013 due to everything that it offers. It is more than a one trick pony, it offers everything. No, it is not up there in flat out IQ when pixel peeping against a Leica M or Sony A7 file, and the highest of ISO’s is not as good as what we get from full frame but the E-M1 holds its own in all areas.

It is one of those cameras that when you pair it with the right lens it is hard to take a bad shot with.

I love the Sony A7 and A7r, I love the Leica M 240 and I really like the Nikon Df but the E-M1 is one of those rare cameras that has the ability to “bond” with me, and it did.

So to all of you who look past this little guy due to the smaller sensor, I urge you to slap on a 25 1.4 or 17 1.8 or 45 1.8 or 75 1.8 or even a 12 f/2 or 25 0.95 or 42 0.95 and go out for a day and shoot. There is just no way you would be disappointed. I have shot with them all and still love and use the E-M1 the most right now. Like I said, it works and works well :)

Of course many will be arguing and disagreeing with me but I call it like I see it and like I say over and over and over…a camera is MUCH more than image quality (of which none of these cameras are lacking). A camera needs to have the ability to inspire you to take it out and shoot..a constant companion. One that delivers time after time, one that is versatile and one that is problem free. A bonus for the E-m1 is the 5-Axis, the EVF, the Build and the other one of a kind features. Easy choice for 2013.

As for the other cameras that were out this year, the Fuji’s, the Canons and the Samsung NX…well, those were all good as well but for me the four above are the creme of the crop of 2013. If I had to pick an order for these four it would be:

  1. Olympus E-M1
  2. Leica M 240
  3. Sony A7r
  4. Nikon Df

Where to Order these hot cameras? 

You can order the E-M1 at Amazon or B&H Photo or PopFlash.com.

You can order the Leica M 240 from Ken Hansen ([email protected]), The Pro Shop, PopFlash.com or Leica Store Miami

You can order the Sony A7 or A7r at B&H Photo or Amazon

You can order the Nikon Df at B&H Photo or Amazon

A few shots with the Olympus E-M1, click them for larger! 

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OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

 

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261 thoughts on “My pick for Camera of the Year 2013! The Olympus OM-D E-M1!

  1. I’ve settled (for this year at least) the the E-M1 with the Lumix 12-35 and the Lumix 35-100 as my primary camera outfit; with the Olympus 17mm, 45mm, Lumix 25mm & a Lumix GX7 & Sony RX100 for occasions when I need smaller and more inconspicuous gear; and today I was down at the LA camera show where I was able to compare my E-M1 against the Sony 7s, and I admit; when each was equipped with the regular shorter zoom, I had some GAS, since the Sony at $2400 is just about the same price as the M1 with the Lumix 12-35. But the GAS attack quickly passed when I compared the size and weight of of my 25-100 with Sony’s 70-200 lens….forget about carrying it — or even holding it without a tripod!!!

    The Sony RX100 III is another story, however! It is a sweet piece of work and I’ve already ordered mine from B&H. It’s this year’s best bargain!

  2. Hello Steve, I am going to Norway in December to chase the northern lights. I have been recommended to purchase the E-M1 by one sales person and a Nikon D5300 with Tamron lens for low light by another sales person. I use a very modest Fuji JZ for family and holidays and really am just a point and shoot camera operator. We will be on a ship for most of the time in Norway. It would seem from the comments I have read so far that the E-M1 can handle a bit of movement and still take a clean shot…is this right? Also, given that Norway at that time of year is in twilight most of the day and the northern lights come out in the dark of night, would the E-M1 be the most appropriate camera to take pictures in low light and night time and hopefully the northern lights which from what I understand move around the sky…sometimes like a curtain raising and falling? Another question I have is that I believe the weather will be well below 0…maybe up to -30, is the E-M1 still the best option? Any advice you can offer would be most appreciated, including any additional lenses etc :-)
    Thanks, Ros.

    1. The E-M1 is amazing. Each time I use it I am reminded of just how special it is. Still the best overall camera available IMO. It does everything so well and is a powerhouse.

  3. Steve, still can’t decide between the Olympus E-M1 and the Sony A7r for my new go to system. I mostly shoot the family on vacation as well as at special events that sometimes require speed. Also enjoy portrait work as well as landscape shots on my vacation travels, and the ability to make enlargements for those special shots. The E-M1 seems to do it all so well and with the 5 axis stabilization it looks like almost every shot is a keeper. But also intrigued by the full frame sensor and resolution power of the A7r. Is the focusing of the A7r too slow that I might miss some of those special family moments? Now that you have had even more time with the cameras and feedback, any thoughts on which way I should go?

  4. Hi Steve. I bought an E-M1 and I’m very happy.

    But…. There are several articles on very reliable sources like Reuters and the NY Times, that state Olympus, Fujifilm and Panasonic are going to quit their mirrorless sectors.

    Only Nikon, Canon and Sony will survive.

    What do you think about these statements?

    I’m a bit concerned.

    Thanks.

    Riccardo

      1. I agree with you because, from the inside of the camera market, Olympus and Fuji (thanks to the OM-Ds and X-Series) are getting more and more clients, both on the pro and amateur sides.

  5. Good choice. It’s the Nikon D300 replacement everyone has been waiting for. Never expected an Olympus D400, but here it is . . .

  6. Thanks for the information. I am sure if she knew I was on here she would say thank you for liking her photos. She has millions more, but without her having a decent camera it is impossible to blow up the images that she has without loss of quality. In fact most of her photos were taken on a phone.

    Before I posted here I was looking at different lenses and accessories. This is what I came up with. Hope the links work.

    http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/1003635-REG/olympus_v314060bu000_m_zuiko_digital_ed.html

    http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/1003633-REG/olympus_v207010bu000_om_d_e_m1_mirrorless_micro.html

    http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/1003637-REG/olympus_v328140bu000_hld_7_battery_holder_black.html

    As per your suggestion I will leave out the battery holder as I think the camera will be large enough. Is this the other lens you suggested?

    http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/768816-REG/Panasonic_H_X025_Leica_DG_Summilux_25.html

    Please advise.. and thanks for the information.

    Kind regards,
    Stephen

  7. I love her photography the she deserves an E-M1. I’ve been shoot with one for more than a month now and there’s nothing to compare to it. For $3,000 I would definately get the E-M1 and the 12-40 f2.8 lens. I use it about 95% of the time. My only other 2 lenses right now are the Lumix 25mm f1.4 and the Olympus 75mm f1.8. For cost and weight, I’d go the 1.4. I’m have the JB grip on order, but since my hands are very small, I may not use it very much. I wouldn’t consider the Olympus grip since it’s too heavy and bulky. It’s easier to slip 2 or 3 batteries into your pocket. By the way, the other way to go is to stop at the E-M1 and 12-40 lens, and get a Sony RX100 with the “change.” Because of its size, it’s the ideal complement to the E-M1 and it’s saved my bacon more times than I care to remember; especially at night when my E-M1 or E-M5 just wouldn’t have been appropriate or convenient to carry.

  8. Hello there,

    My wife has started to take some photos with her point and shoot camera and I wanted to get her a decent camera for Christmas. I was wondering if you could tell me if this camera would be a good choice, if so then also let me know which lens I should get as well. Also, interested to know if I should get the grip listed here or the camera grip for 199 at B&H. These are the types of images she take and has the most interest in. I know they can be improved but I figure for a point and shoot they are well.. okay..

    Please advise. I want to do the entire package for her, camera body, and a decent lens. My price ceiling is 3000.00

    Can you please put together a decent kit, suggestions or even consider another camera and lens. I just want to get it right from the start.

    Kind regards,
    Stephen

  9. Largely on the basis of this article and your excellent review I’ve gone ahead and ordered an OM-D from B&H (via your link, of course – pity you don’t get extra credit for the shipping costs!). Ordered last Friday – I hope that if UPS maintain their usual high standard, it might get here in time for this weekend :-D
    If companies like Olympus and Sony are going to start chipping away at the dominance of Canon and Nikon they need to do a much better job in markets like the Middle East. Olympus is barely sold here and only “mass market” Sony’s are available in most shops.
    The good news is that B&H’s mail order service, backed up by UPS, is very good. Shipping is not cheap pf course, and I have to pay import duty, but at least I don’t have to wait until I travel home to the UK.

  10. Hey!

    Sorry if this was already asked…but just wondering where is X-E2 in this list? Why didnt you included?

    Anyway great article and nice thoughts :). Take care!

  11. I just shot with my E-M1 at an annual Christmas party yesterday. The event is in a hotel ballroom with conditions not unlike a wedding. Last year I shot with a Nikon D700 and normal f/2.8 zoom. I have to say that the E-M1 shots with the 20, 45 and 75mm primes blow away the output from the D700. The ability to shoot wide open on the Olympus due to the greater DOF and superior AF with face detection totally negate the bigger sensor. I had to shoot with f/4 and use flash on a lot of shots with the FX body whereas I didn’t need flash with the E-M1 getting more natural looking images.

  12. For the last 4 years I have done Help-Portrait for a local recovery center. We make some great images for the women and their families and have always had the Kelby Media group there to edit/print the images on-site. Its an amazing day and I cannot recommend enough getting involved in this if you are not already.

    We had four shooters this year. 3 using full frame Nikons (a d700, d3s and the new Df). I used my new E-M1.

    I had a chance to go back to the editing room and saw that Scott Kelby was editing one of my images

    I asked him point blank how the images held up compared the tons of FF images he’s been working on all day. He told me he had no idea they were from a MFT system and that if I hadn’t have told him he wouldn’t have known. He was doing a ton of fine zoomed in retouching and saw no difference. Was a definite win for the MFT today. Also note that after 6 hours of shooting I had the least amount of back pain! :)

    1. That’s a great story and means a lot because it comes straight out of the field. Reminds me of the Olympus-sponsored event in Malaysia where they invited photographers with any other brands and sensor sizes to come out and shoot them against the E-M1. Olympus printed everything out poster sized…and the results were a bit surprising; many couldn’t tell the difference…echoing what you’re saying here.

      Was this in Florida, per chance?

      1. Robert – Yes – was in Largo, FL. The Kelby group has been working with the same recovery center for the last 4 years. Scott brings his top editors and a ton of equipment for printing. Really a special day for all involved.

  13. Loving the OMD E-M1 Steve. Definitely a worthwhile upgrade over it’s predecessor. From what I recall, your opinion on the 17mm lens has changed with this camera. I’ve been using the 25mm but tired of the size of the lens and hood. Had tried the 17mm on the E-M5 but returned it due to less than stellar performance even though I love the compactness as compared to the 25mm.

    Any new opinions on the 25mm vs 17mm now on the E-M1?

  14. I have been reading your adventures for a while, and your comments/opinion on the EM-1 had an influence in my choice between the Olympus and the GX-7.
    Just came back home with it tonight, set it up, now ready for a ride.

    Thanks for sharing all of this.

  15. You are so right. After lugging my D800E everywhere, now an old man can enjoy taking photos again. I am having so much fun with the EM-1 and with a lot of the lenses that are available. Just good photos all of the time. The D800E has gone into hibernation.

  16. Gotta say that the Oly does not rock me either. I hate the small buttons and plasticky mushy feel they have. If you have larger hands the camera feels all cramped and fiddly. And the Oly interface isn’t great either. Its just not an easy thing to like, for me at least.

    Camera of the year for me is the Fuji X100S. A simply amazing machine that has changed everything for me. The IQ is simply breathtaking and the JPEGs are stunning. The OVF/EVF is fantastic and the camera is completely silent. The fixed lens is sharp, sharp, sharp. The AF is massively better than the old X100 ( nearly Olympus fast ! ) and the whole package is pretty much perfect.

    1. I do not think you ever held an E-M1. The X100s buttons are smaller, more mushy and plasticky by far. The E-M5 had small buttons and controls but the E-M1’s are much different – solid, larger and much better made than the X100s in all areas. The E-M1 is sharper than the X100s when shooting fast primes wide open, much faster to AF, has better video, is much better made, much more versatile, EVF is so much nicer, the feel and usability are better, the lenses available are the best there is for mirrorless..the list goes on. Usually those who trash the E-M1 never went out and used one. As for the interface, the Oly has one of the easiest there is (once you know how to use it). Never a need for the menus, ever. Had to chime in as it sounded like you were describing the E-M5, not the E-M1.

      1. Hi Steve! Granted, the EM1 is a better feeling camera than the EM5 that I really didn’t get on with at all, but for me at least it’s still a bit “meh” while the little X100s has blown me away.

        And while you no doubt love the EM1, for me you ain’t gonna beat having a shutter speed dial on the top and aperture on the lens and a silent shutter. The X100s is the camera Leica should have made. I sold my M9 and haven’t looked back.

        I’m with Zack Arias in loving the little Fuji but, hey, it’s all subjective and experiences vary !

  17. In October 2012 I sold all Canon dslr gear, including full-frame + some fine lenses. Bought myself an OM-D+grip and of course several HQ lenses from Olympus and Panasonic. Is this a perfect system…? No it isn’t. Nor are any other brands out there. It lacks soms stuff a big dslr can do maybe. Vice versa it also can do stuff, the others can’t. I’d never looked back to dslr and don’t think I will anytime soon. But a A7 or Nikon DF looks tempting.

    Last week I’d pick up a D800+24-70/2.8 lens. What the hell…. This is large, heavy, bulk… It looked and felt like something from another decade. And I use to work with this kind of gear(Canon). I got frontpage on the local newspaper I shoot for. Taken with an Olympus OM-D + 45mm/1.8

    Only complainant is the lack of really wide-angle fast lenses! The 7-14/f4 is super, but it is f4.

  18. Hi Steve,
    Is there a reason you chose to include the A7r as a finalist over the A7? You say right in the video that you prefer the A7 so I found it odd. I have just bought the A7 but keep having a nagging feeling that maybe I should have bought the A7r even though I will be doing a lot of handheld portraits and the A7 should be more forgiving.

  19. Well done, Steve; for a moment you got me concerned we weren’t going to hear back about this great product after Sony’s double hit. Just the other day two of my friends had been asking for a system camera able to be controlled by a tablet or smartphone.

  20. I went into b&h the other day looking to purchase a Fuji XE2 but before I actually got in hand I checked out the Olympus EM 1 needless to say this camera is a little monster and I left without anything. I’m stuck between these two.

    Steve, are you going to review the Fuji XE 2? it seems they stepped their game up even though I found it the camera kinda austere.

    Thanks

  21. Mmmh, still don’t get it. The ergonomics suck in my opinion, the viewfinder is not fast enough (wobbles when you reframe) as any EVF is for me these days. I went a different route:
    I changed to a different strap – a sunsniper – and don’t feel the weight of my D800 anymore, even after a whole day of walking through a city (with 3 primes in total). I hated the weight on my neck as well and mostly that my camera would hit my kids right in their face all the time. But these Olys just don’t rock my boat. AF is surpringly quick, but this EVF and those small buttons kill the whole camera and concept for me. X100 (not the s, the ooo JPGs render skin like plastic and are overdone imho) does it for me if it really needs to be smaller, the viewfinder and aperture setting make the difference for me over this Oly.

  22. I realize that ‘camera of the year’ is a subjective thing…but I just don’t get the whole love affair with the EM1. For me it’s about as uninspiring as it gets as far as camera gear goes….but hey, to each their own.

    1. Exactly, what you like I probably do not and vice versa. My pick is MY pick..what I like/love. The E-M1 is amazing and has inspired me more than almost any camera out there in 2013. It does it all and does it all superbly without problems, issues, or anything else getting in the way. Lenses are plentiful and some of the best made next to Leica glass. To those who have never took one out for a day with some good primes and shot with it for taking photographs..well, they will never get it. But it is full deserving of the title, and I am not the only one who picked this one for 2013.

      1. Well as you said…it’s your choice for camera of the year, and obviously you’re entitled to your opinion, especially since this is your site:) Personally I think it’s pretty cool that we have so many great gear options out there…it’s nice to have the choice!

    2. “For me it’s about as uninspiring as it gets as far as camera gear goes”

      Just curious: Why do you feel this way? What specifically don’t you like about it? Design? Ergonomics? Haptics?

      Personally I find it has the best control ergonomics outside the Nikon DSLRs. Moreover, it’s lightning fast, quite intuitive, and offers a terrific suite of tech in a very small body.

      For myself I wouldn’t shoot with it without the grip, but even with that attached, it’s still incredibly light (yet solid feeling).

  23. Hello Steve!

    Thank you very much for your E-M1 review. Being an E-M1 owner myself I feel good about my choice of “Camera of the year 2013” according to Steve, “Gold Award Camera” according to DPreview etc.

    However, most of respectable reviewers seem to be consciously omitting one hardware flaw E-M1 has – its sensor performance in low light situations when taking long exposure shots without dark-frame subtraction. This has been reported as a major issue with E-M1 sensor that performs much worse then its E-M5’s predecessor. Even worse than GH3 and GH1’s sensors in similar situations! Olympus claimed in their pre-launch hype that E-M1’s sensor would be better in all aspects of its performance vs E-M5. This claim has been proved false. I’ve taken many shots with NR (Noise Reduction) OFF and witnessed how horrible E-M1 performs in the mentioned above conditions, while E-M5 battles with noise reliably if not perfectly.

    So, why, Steve, you seem to be avoiding mentioning this issue in your review?

    Thank you!

    1. I do not wrote about it because for me it is a non issue. I have taken 5 minute exposures with the E-M1 that are as clean as a whistle without a spec of noise. What is there to complain about? For me, nothing at all. If you want to shoot long exposures on a tripod, use NR to get rid of the noise. Works like a charm. 90% of cameras use NR for long exposures and if you do not, it will be a mess. If the E-M5 works for you and you mainly shoot long exposures then stick with the E-M5 for that niche. But it is a non issue for 98% of shooters. Like I said, I get clean and clear long exposures.

      1. Thanks, Steve!

        I am perfect with my E-M1. My main point is that Olympus should’ve tested their Flagship and Pro camera better, and avoid misleading folks claiming that E-M1 beats its predecessor in every aspect of sensor performance.

        Or… at least explain why E-M1 is defeated by E-M5 in low-light-long-exposure situations with NR OFF. If Olympus said something along these lines: “it’s an inevitable trade-off because of Dual-Fast AF implementation” or “the new sensor is more susceptible to internal heat” etc, that would be fine. Olympus, however, doesn’t give any definitive answer.

  24. http://gizmodo.com/the-last-days-of-the-dslr-1465327158?utm_campaign=socialflow_gizmodo_facebook&utm_source=gizmodo_facebook&utm_medium=socialflow

    Read u FOOLS who stick up for Nikon & Canon I said this before and I say it again BYE BYE DSLR
    One crazy on here said Nikon sells more cameras that Olympus.Yes the do BUT Nikon’s point and shoot sales are down WHY iPhone’s and other brands of smartphones. This is the first year their DSLR sales are down Why Because people now have other options. Olympus m4/3 Sony FULL frame mirrorless and Fuji x100s and other Fuji cameras Just because U prefer a dslr that doesn’t mean other’s want a DSLR. Nikon’s DSLR sale’s are down and will continue to dropThere are much better choices out there now. Also people no longer have to upgrade as often. Dslr’s have matured.How many megapixels do u really need?
    If Nikon doesn’t get the [email protected] together they will be the next Blackberry

  25. I haven’t tried any of the 4 cameras but as this is the internet that’s not going to stop me expressing my opinion (!)

    From everything I’ve seen, the E-M1 is absolutely the right choice for COTY. The main stumbling block for many who disagree is sensor size, more specifically image quality (or ‘IQ’ as we have to call it these days). ‘The sensor is tiny’ they cry. ‘I need better IQ than the EM-1 can give’. To which my response would be ‘WHY do you need ‘better’ IQ?’ Is it because you suddenly need to print much larger than you used to? Are your clients / spouse demanding that instead of 16×20 prints they now need 20×30 prints? Do you suddenly have the need to crop aggressively and make giant enlargements of small areas of the image? Or morel likely is it because the internet TELLS you that you need more IQ? The crazy thing is that the megapixel count is increasing at a time when fewer and fewer people are actually making real prints any more. On the computer screens that the majority use to view images in 2013, anything more than about 6mp is basically redundant so why on earth people say they ‘need’ 36mp just boggles me.

    Of course there are exceptions to this. Some pros need to make gigantic enlargements and for them it makes complete sense to go for a higher pixel count. But for 99% of people it’s totally unnecessary. It’s like deciding that the 180mph Ferrari isn’t good enough because the next model will do 220mph. Since most people will never get anywhere near either of those speeds, what’s the point?

    There was an earlier post expressing concern about the future of MFT because they thought sensors in the system would eventually top out at ‘only’ 36mp. I think the lunatics have finally taken over the asylum…

    1. I don’t know about this 20×30″ print argument…. I can tell the difference on a 13″ retina display between these different formats. I’ve seen some Leica S photos that were simply jaw dropping gorgeous. There’s no way I’m going to be paying that kind of money at this point in my life…. Full frame is a luxury for sure. For most things, heck, a story can be told with an iphone.

      1. Michael,

        Is that a 100% resolution? I have stepped away in firm way from judging picturequality on any display be it retina or otherwise.

        The only thing that counts to me is how it looks on paper…..that is printed on my R2400….by me. And I can see the difference between a drum scanned 6×8 velvia 50 slide (about 70 Mpixel and more since I’ve had it scanned on a professional machine, a Heidelberg Tango) and a 16 Mpixel photo on a 13 x 19. But having said that…..I’ve taken pictures with the nimble Oly I would never take with the GX680 (and vice versa). In the end indeed Michael it does not matter. FF is just a nice to have, not an obligation and if I have to go big I stitch, a much underrated technique that can give you great results if used wisely.

        Greets, Ed.

        1. Hi there Ed,
          Not 100% at all. I do agree that the screen can lie in a big way… but it’s gotten SO SO SO much better over the past twenty-five years. In graphic design, it was anyone’s guess what the printed version would end up looking like based on the screen without getting multiple proofs and having your monitor professionally calibrated, Pantone books, ahh! Now my screen is correct often enough I don’t have to sweat TOO much.

          The screen is becoming more important, for better or worse… Screen time is growing exponentially too.

          Maybe I have been bamboozled by marketing, but to my eyes, I can see a big difference in things like saturation, contrast, tonality, depth of field, maybe not detail at low ISO’s… I think I see a more film like quality, a more magical pop. There’s a photographer on Flickr who switched from the RX1 to the XE1 and I swear before I even knew she made the switch I was wondering why her pictures started looking so flat, so digital. Marketing has transformed my brain’s way of interpreting images now. hah!

          Best,
          Michael

    2. You’re forgetting one other advantage of larger sensors. Generally speaking you can recover more highlight and shadow detail from the RAW file of a larger sensor.

      So if you didn’t nail exposure in the field, you have more latitude in post.

      And that CAN make a significant difference when you to to print, even if only to 16×20.

      So you can see, this is all a complicated business with many factors to consider.

  26. Hi Steve,
    The pictures you took with the A7 & A7r are not just slightly better than your pics with the OMD, in my opinion. I’m pretty sure you have said as much, you’ve never claimed that the OMD competed with the Sony in image quality.

    I do prefer the near film DR quality the sony senor gives photos versus the very digital look of the OMD.

    Would you say that one wins on process (OMD) and the other the end product (A7)? In that case, I bet if you were to give an award for those two qualities, process and end product, the best of 2013 would go to the Leica, for those who can afford? I had the OMD EM5 and Sony RX1 from lens rentals last year and the RX1 simply destroyed the OMD in image quality (IMO) and the process was a toss up to me. I didn’t like the lack of EVF and slow focus with the RX1 but I found the OMD to be like a bad remote control with tiny squishy overkill button hell. That soured me on Olympus right there (not to mention those effects modes, yuck!).

    I think Sony is getting very close to creating their own look, unlike Fuji, which is too retro. Leica is not retro, because they’ve really never changed. The new OMD EM1 does look the best… next to Leica. I wonder if that isn’t also part of your rational for choosing the OMD this year, the looks. Hmmmmm.

    Anyway, thanks for giving me a place to ramble and for all of your effort exposing me to these awesome toys. I used your link to buy the A7 & 35mm. Happy holidays.

    1. Hi Michael,

      Having played with both … Steve is absolutely bang on with his assessment. The E-M1 is the best bang for the buck and most versatile camera available today. Period.
      But when you say IQ, what exactly do you mean by IQ? Are you talking dynamic range? Tonal range? Colour reproduction? Noise at low ISO? Noise at high ISO? resolvable detail? High resolution for bill board prints?
      In terms of dynamic range at normal working ISO’s of 200 – 1600 the E-M5 / E-M1 has dynamic range that is about a stop and a half better than that of the 5d mark iii.
      http://www.techradar.com/reviews/cameras-and-camcorders/cameras/digital-slrs-hybrids/olympus-om-d-e-m5-1075717/review/5
      compare that with heavy weighs such as the D800 and 5d here…
      http://www.techradar.com/reviews/cameras-and-camcorders/cameras/digital-slrs-hybrids/nikon-d800-1074183/review/5
      So in terms of dynamic range compared to the 36mp monster in the D800/A7r, the 4/3 sensors that Olympus uses in the older E-M5 and newer E-M1 can easily keep apace with top of the line FF sensors at normal working ISO’s. The gap only noticably starts to widen when you start going above ISO3200 on E-M5 or ISO6400 on E-M1. Even there, images are very usable and can be blown up fairly large.
      Ming Thein did a recent review comparing the IQ of D600 (same sensor as the A7) and found that the E-M1 has better behaviour towards the highlights, with a much gentler, more film like roll off the highlights compared to the more abrupt clipping on the E-M5 and D600. I would agree with this.
      Where the E-M1 looses out / gains massively depending on perspective is with regards to it’s ability to exploit it’s full IQ potential a lot more easily than any other camera largely because of the IBIS technology. Hand held shots at slow shutter speeds are all of a sudden possible without the need for a tripod. So looking at reviews which compare high ISO sensor performance between formats does not always tell the entire picture, when the OMD is able to keep working away within it’s optimum IQ ISO range.
      In terms of resolution, personally I don’t need the 36mp of the D800 or A7r for the type of shooting I do (general, landscape, portrait, street), in fact the file size is a massive turn off, as is the fact that such high resolution without any in body stabilization means the camera is going to be even less forgiving for camera shake… have a look at the real world comments from those with D800’s who shoot on the street without a tripod. Sometimes too much of a good thing is a bad thing!
      Often times the 5d mark iii / D600 end up producing sharper journalistic style images when shot without image stabilisation or a tripod. The A7r sensor is phenomenal but demands absolute perfect technique to actually see that super sharp potential. I would imagine that in real world general purpose shooting the A7 will see sharper end results for 90% of non specialist situations. Steve any comment?
      In terms of colour reproduction, Olympus gets colour. I love their muted colour profile for skin tones. Sony also has beautiful colour and really great white balance.
      In terms of noise, I think we should differentiate between noise that harms detail and noise that actually gives an image texture and a less sterile look. I’ve seen great prints from the OMD at 30 X 40 up to ISO1600 and also seen A3 prints that looked great up to ISO6400. At ISO6400 , yes the Sony will give a better IQ in terms of less distracting noise, more detail retained but how often do people actually shoot at these super high ISO’s? Maybe the only time you will shoot at such a high ISO on the OMD is when you need to shoot a fast moving basketball game indoors at night. Most other times the IBIS will allow you to keep shooting at lower ISO’s for longer.
      Finally in terms of consistent colour reproduction, the OMD does not suffer with colour fringing at super wide angles. Something to consider if you shoot landscape with an A7r with wide angle lenses and intend to stitch in post.

      Finally the main reason I bought into the m43 format was for the same reason that I bought a Leica M3 and M6 years ago. Glass. Glass. Glass. As Steve always says, the glass on the m43 system is second only to Leica. Glass like the 75mm, 45mm, 25mm are corner to corner sharp wide open and have abundance of character. If you need the razor thing DOF you also have the Voigtlander holy trinity for that Classic Leica IQ look and feel.

      Sure it’s not the absolute pixel peeping out and out champion in terms of IQ, but it’s IQ is right up there nipping at the heels of the top dogs and you will only really notice a difference when pixel peeping at stupid high ISO’s or blowing up to billboard. Even in terms of billboard, the corner to corner sharpness of most m43 lenses allow for much easier stitching in post…

      Haven’t even talked about the build quality, flash synch speed, feel in the hand, minimal shutter lag, blazing fast AF etc…
      Without a doubt it is camera of the year.

      Great review Steve. Thanks for all the hard work and passion that you put into this site.

      1. Hi Steve,

        I appreciate your enthusiasm for the OMD and my opinion is my own subjective assessment. I come from a fine art not photography background, so there are others who could speak more to the technical questions you have asked me.

        I have an MFA and have spent a lifetime using my eyes in a critical way. Not even talking about pixel peeping, 100% views, the Sony files, again, in my subjective opinion have a greater range between darks and lights, hold more subtle detail and have a more realistic richer color and a more pleasing depth of field manipulation. I assume and have read that these qualities are primarily because of the sensor size and Sony’s technology with it. I have been a graphic designer for several years and the files our photographer sends me from her D800 are incredible. I get a real thrill out of seeing them.

        I have no doubt the OMD has great haptics and from what it sounds like an overall better user experience than the Sony. I was 100% impressed with the Olympus lenses I tried, small and well built, sharp. But, like I said, the EM5 was not to my liking in user experience, so I’m leery about the EM1, but curious for sure. Anyway, for the photography I do, I’m more interested in both portability and squeezing every last drop of image quality I can afford out of my camera. I realize this does not necessarily make a “camera of the year.” I may end up having to upgrade in a year once Sony works out the kinks. I think, for me it came down to, wanting to invest in the lenses for full frame sensor. :) It’s a gamble!

        Anyway, that’s all I got for ya. 1st world dilemmas hey?

        1. Correction, I have doubts about the EM1’s haptics, given my experience with the EM5… But everyone else seems to love it, so who am I to say? Even the A7 has too many buttons for me. I wish all cameras were made with Apple or Leica’s sensibilities… But, that’s another thread maybe.

      2. “Hand held shots at slow shutter speeds are all of a sudden possible without the need for a tripod. So looking at reviews which compare high ISO sensor performance between formats does not always tell the entire picture, when the OMD is able to keep working away within it’s optimum IQ ISO range.”

        This is true, and is a great example of how Olympus is combatting the high ISO limitations of M4/3 using technology.

        But the caveat here is that image stabilization only stops camera movement, not subject movement. So, once again, if the light falls, and your subject is in motion at all, we see that high ISO performance is more globally valuable.

        On the other hand, a couple of months back I was shooting in lower light on a pier, which was pitching and rolling ever so slightly (only proper vantage point I had for my subject). In this circumstance, image stabilization would have been far more valuable than high ISO, because I wanted a slower shutter speed to turn the water to glass.

        As to resolution, unless you’re selling fine art prints to discerning galleries, or do an awful lot of cropping (not the best use of technique, frankly), most people don’t need anything past 12 to 24 megapixels (depending on the sensor size). In fact, we hit the sufficiency point for 90% of applications with the 12 megapixel full-frame sensor.

  27. I’ve been shooting with the A7R for a few days now. I love the E-M1 for it’s amazing performance and handling characteristics but I’m sorry it simply does not come close to the A7R for image quality IMHO. Admittedly there is more of a learning curve with the A7R as it is very unforgiving to anything but near perfect technique however, once you get yourself dialed in, the 3D POP, detail, color and sharpness of the files are quite a bit more satisfying than those that the E-M1 produces. The A7R is clearly this years camera of the year for me. All due respect Steve.

  28. Great decision Steve. As a committed Olympus user (OMD EM5 & EM1 and various PENs) I think m4/3s offers a fantastic blend of size, weight & image quality with a choice of lenses for every need & budget. But any of those four cameras are capable of great results – we are just so lucky to be photographers at this point in time and have those options available to us.

  29. It had to be a difficult decision choosing from those four contenders. Personally, I was impressed with the EM1 after spending a two hour try out with it but eventually settled on the EP5- an amazingly compact IQ machine. But if I won the lottery, I’d have all four of those cameras AND the EP5. Enjoyable read. Thanks, Steve.

  30. Steve; A7R and the FE 35mm; vignetting: How big is this issue in your opinion? And compared to the Rx1? On my 35mm at 2,8 it seems to be quite a lot of vignetting…

    1. I have the Panasonic 25/1.4 and the 14/2.5. Don’t usually use the 12-50 mm kit lens that came with the EM5. Awaiting the 75/1.8 the new 12-40 mm lens to show up. Most of the time I end up shooting landscapes unlike my current India trip where I am shooting lot of close quarter shots with family and super crowded streets.

  31. Just wanted to chime in. I am an average hobbyist type photographer who uses cameras mostly during trips and travels. I started with OM-1 (which i still have) many years ago and passed through Nikon N90, D70, D40, D90 and D600. I never really had the balls to buy premium Nikon lenses. After the D600 fiasco and the way Nikon dealt with me left be irritated and little bit bitter about Nikon, which I still use. But last year I felt nostalgic and got the EM5 and got a couple of nice lens. I have to say I have been very very happy with the results under various situations (currently visiting India with it) where I could never get similar results with my Nikons. It is probably the person behind the camera and may be if I had $$ Nikon lenses I would have gotten comparable results. I am feeling emboldened now to spend more $$, but seeing the EM5 results I am going to do that on Olympus going forward even though i feel tempted to get one or two premium Nikon lenses. Waiting for my EM1. Now wondering if I should invest money on 3/4 SHG lenses or stick with MFT lenses. Just chiming in with my personal feelings. No critical words of wisdom here. Just that EM5 results during my current trip got me a bit too excited. lol .. Deep

  32. Thanks to your reviews, and others, I just sold my Canon DSLR system and lenses and picked up an Olympus OM-D EM-1 and am *very* happy with it. It is the most amazing camera I have ever used, and I absolutely love it.

    While the Sony seems very attractive too, because of the FF imager, the system just doesn’t seem quite as mature yet, and the images I’m getting out of the Olympus are just stunning.

    Thank you!

  33. It’s a pity that it was released so late, just a couple of weeks ago, but I would add the Lumix GM1 to that list. It’s been my biggest game changer this year, because its diminutive size has allowed me to bring it with me to places where I would otherwise never carry a bigger body. Love the EM-1, GX7 and X100s as well!

  34. I am not surprised at your choice at all, Steve. After seeing the finalist list, I knew the E-M1 was your choice because of its versatility…

    What I am surprised by, however, is the overwhelmingly positive responses from your readers! I expected tons of naysayers, but there were few and far between…

    Just think of how far the M4/3 system has come along… Well done, Olympus, and, of course, well done, Steve!

  35. Thanks, Steve – really interesting. I have a selection of Sony Alpha cameras and lenses and an NEX-7 with a couple of lenses. When the A7r was released I was initially excited about the prospect of having a single camera that has the same or better quality than anything I have now, but smaller then the alphas and easier to use than the NEX7. But there’s one big problem: lenses. Of course I can use the E mount lenses but he pictures will be vignetted at best or cropped at worst. I could use the A mount lenses but by the time I have fitted the adaptor I end up with a combination that’s not much lighter than the Alphas. I am sure that other lenses will come along in due course, but for now the choice is just one native lens – the Sony FE 35mm.
    Back in the days when I shot film and did my own developing and printing my cameras were Olympus, starting with an OM-10 and ending up with an OM-4. They were light, quick and easy to use, had an awesome selection of small, light, bright lenses and took awesome photos.
    Your article opened my eyes to the fact that the OM-D could be worth more than a second glance.
    I just need to track one down here in Dubai. I hope the Olympus dealer is better than the Sony one.

  36. I certainly agree that the Olympus is a little gem and a worthy choice. (Just ask about my OM-4Ti if you wonder what I think about Olympus.) The problem remains much the same…will enough people actually buy this fine little camera to allow Olympus to continue development of sensors with Sony to advance m4/3rds against the competition? In the mean time, enjoy this.

  37. Hi Steve. I am on holidays in Hong Kong. Bought my canon 6d. & 24-105. So bloody heavy to lug around. I end up just using my sony rx100. But then I what the image quality of the 6d. I had a play with the sony a7 in a camera shop. I wish I had that to walk around with. Actually I have discounted the e-m1 because of sensor size as I need it for work & I couldn’t understand why I would swap a 6D for a smaller sensor. But in the end I will probably go for the sony A7. I’ll just wait for the lenses to start coming our before I change from canon.
    Marketing Australia

  38. I was a Nikon guy since 2004. Back in Nov 2012, I had D300 and i liked it. Though, there were couple of times, i didn’t take my camera due to size and missed out some nice shots of my daughter. i wanted a smaller camera which is better than point and shoot. I was looking for Nikon 1 system and never even considered Olympus. It sounded weird and expensive. Saw rave reviews of Olympus OMD on Amazon and thought to give it a try with Oly 45 mm f1.8 lens since it was relative cheap lens with amazing reviews again. I took 3 pictures and opened in my computer and oh boy, i was hooked. i couldn’t believe this small camera took these sharp pictures. The colors and bokeh that came out in the picture were amazing too. Combined with 5 axis stabilization, i can take blur free picture which i don’t even think about any more and was alway in back of my mind with Nikon. After couple of months, i actually sold all my Nikon DLSR system.

    When EM1 came out, it was no brainer. Less shutter lag, focusing is even faster though EM5 is fast enough anyway, bigger EVF which i actually use more now, inbuilt grip, the only thing is missing is sexy silver look of EM5.

    Yeah Oly can put more video frame rates and higher bit rate, but video quality is still good enough for me for home & family occasions. One thing people forget is what difference 5 axis stabilization makes in the video. I never worry carrying around tripod or worry about movies will be shaky.

    In the end, olympus has made cameras which are small, superb lens with wide variety + Panasonic Lecia lens, the stabilization is best in the world. These cameras are fun to use and takes amazing pictures. I use my OMD and EM1 every day or 2. I love taking pictures & movies of my daughters and they come out great. That’s all i care :)

  39. I came from my precious E-5 and wanted an E-7…However after I month with the EM-1 I am also a believer…If you own the 3/4 lenses..14-35, 35-100, 50mm 2.0, 7-14 and Lieca 1.4 as I do I would get over your frustration with no new DSLR and think about buying the EM-1…I have shot 2 weddings, shot at night light parades, macro focus stacking, portrait fashion sessions, but sorry no BIF with this little beauty…….I have never used any m4/3rd lenses but the SHG 3/4 lenses really show what they can do on the EM-1–color, contrast, sharpness is quite impressive…The three big things that are advantages of his camera over DSLR’s is manuel focusing is much better, EVF exposure control BIG advantage, and less weight when I have my 35-100 on(thank you God)……..Cheers John

    1. Wanted to ask you (John and others) a question. I am a EM5 user moving on to EM1. I am considering getting a used 3/4 Zuiko 7-14mm SHG lens for landscape use. I come from Nikon background. So no 3/4 legacy lenses here. Any thoughts on whether that is a good move or should i hold off (not sure how long) for some MFT ultra wide pro lens from Olympus?.. Thanks

  40. I fully agree with your choice! I just got back from a cruise to New Zealand and Australia and whether it was shooting glaciers on the South Island; wallabies in the bush in total darkness except for a single spotlight miles from the nearest road; or street scenes in the rain in Sydney, the Olympus M1 was always the perfect camera for the job. Further, I found that the 12-40mm f2.8 lens was nearly always the perfect lens for the job! That’s right, I ended up using my beloved Olympus 75 mm 1.8 for less than 25 shots, and I didn’t use my Lumix 25mm 1.4 at all, since I used the 12-40mm for well over 1,000 shots. It never faltered despite spray, rain and dust; and it never exhibited any fits of temperament or idiosyncrasies. Nearly all the shots are perfectly focused despite about 95% of them being done on auto focus; and the exposure and color balance was either spot-on, or easily correctable in Lightroom. Consequently, while they were nearly as good, both my Olympus M5 and Nikon V1 are now up for sale; and my Fuji X100 and X100S has already been sold.

  41. Great camera no doubt but so damn butt ugly it’s untrue, don’t know who designed that grip but they should be fired :) Thankfully for Olympus beauty is in the eye of the beholder – as those using the camera don’t have to look at it! Te he
    My best camera(s) of the year are a Nikon V1 (£170 new with 10mm lens) and Konica Hexar AF (yes film) – both were not launched this year but were new boxed when I got them :) The Hexar despite it’s slow top shutter speed still leaves nearly all other similar spec’d cameras in it’s wake – the viewfinder is truly world class – still.

    1. I’ll mention it then, the K-3 was my camera of the year as in the end it was the only one I bought in 2013. Not the coolest camera release, or the smallest, or the best IQ, but it is a complete package that is unbelievably capable. A jack of all trades camera for those that can’t afford multiple system cameras.

  42. My rental copy just showed up. I’ll be testing it for 5 days, if I love it after that I may buy one.
    First impressions –
    1. The silver finish is nice. Not as nice as the chrome on my Fm2n but better than I thought it would be.
    2. Feels light but very fat. All my Leicas feel so much thinner in hand, as well as my Nikon F2as and Fm2n. They all are much more pleasant to hold.
    3. It feels almost delicate compared to my other cameras. i think this is what has kept the weight down.
    4. I was surprised as to how much smaller the viewfinder is compared to my film Nikons. I expected similar as it is an OVF
    5. Seems easy enough to focus, but I will find out once I download the images as to how accurate.
    6. Love love love the manual controls. For me really simple to use, did not have to open the owner’s manual.
    7. Love that all my old manual AIS lenses work perfectly.

    1. Just shot the 50 1.2 AIS and 55 2.8 Micro AIS on the DF
      While the 1.2 is great on film, the DF really shows it up at max aperture. Subjects have a halo glow, which could be great if that is what you want.
      The 55 Micro works beautifully on the DF. Pin sharp.

  43. Get something that speaks to you is what it is all about. The Nikon Df interest’s me. The image that you create so depended on you being comfortable with your choice of tool. Even if do like the format, the Olympus E-M1 does what it does, the best. Excellent review!

  44. Steve, reading your reviews has been disastrous–financially. I now have all of your four selections of 2013. I just spent a month on a cruise going through Turkey, Greece, Israel, Jordan, Oman and UAE; I took Olympus OMD M1 (pancake lens) and M240 (21, 35, 50, 90 and 120); phenomenal results from Olympus with great convenience; unfortunately on a bumpy horse carriage ride in Petra the battery cover popped opened and I lost the battery. I now have the grip as well. By the way, the grip on Sony 7R works very well as well. Thanks for keep draining my budget and learning to hide these gears from my wife. The best comment of yours that I translated is: when a camera makes you feel like shooting it, then that is the camera to have. The Olympus indeed is.

  45. Yes! I love your choice for camera of the year for 2013! … ok, maybe I’m a little bias because I own an E-M1. But, the reasons you compared to the other nominations and why the E-M1 comes out as your pick are all basically the same reasons I would pick the E-M1 as 2013 camera of the year. With so many awesome choices in new cameras offered in 2013, I decided to stick with the choice upgrade my E-M5 to the E-M1. With all the things it can do so well, huge choice of excellent lenses and the value it offers all this at, the E-M1 was almost a no brainer… especially if you want the best bang for your bucks.

    The performance improvement (over my E-M5) is exactly what I expected. Ergonomically and design-wise, everything is spaced and positioned just right and you have more than enough access to more commonly used controls and settings…probably more than you can think of actually needing to use, but at least you have more than enough options.

    The image quality on the E-M5 was already great to begin with and the E-M1 improves upon it just a bit more with the aid of it’s new sensor and Truepic7 image processor to further correct image distortion and CA and optimizing the final image based on each individual lens used (the ones which have electronic connections of course, not manual).

    Regarding the lens corrections in the E-M1, I know a lot of the initial talk has mentioned that it only corrects for Olympus lenses only, but I’m not sure if that’s still the case. There was a recent firmware update 1.1 for the E-M1 and it says it can help correct CA in Panasonic’s LUMIX G VARIO 14-140mm 1:3.5-5.6 ASPH/POWER O.I.S (H-FS14140).. if this is true, then does the E-M1 also lens correct other Panasonic lenses and not just Olympus lenses?.. It would be interesting if anyone who has a mix of Panasonic lenses to try with an E-M1 to shed some light on their findings.. has there been an improvement in lens correction for Panasonic lenses using the E-M1? Along with that detail, other welcomed updates for firmware 1.1 include: Live Bulb image quality while noise reduction is on has been improved (this is great as there has been some noted complaints that too much noise during long exposures), Image stabilisation in sports, children mode and C-AF has been improved, and Improved AF operation (I would argue that the E-M1’s AF is already pretty damn good, can it get that much better?… like having more RAM in a computer, there’s never too much RAM or speed, so, I guess yes, ever improving AF can only be a good thing).

    True, for me, the IQ was marginally improved, but still welcomed.. however, the most captivating features of the E-M1 that motivated me to buy it was the overall feel and user experience when taking photos. As I’ve mentioned, the design and ergonomics just fit and feel right and you have quick and easy access to nearly everything you could possibly want to make a photo you want to make. The EVF is so much larger and better than on the E-M5 and focus peaking helps ensure the quickest and easiest way to dial in manual focus. The camera just works and feels more responsive. I just love the solid all magnesium build in the body. Have you seen how much metal was used in the body? So much more embodying the entire camera of almost all other cameras I’ve seen. It’s a very cool and secure feeling knowing how structurally sound the E-M1 is.

    I recently also purchased the new Olympus 12-40mm f/2.8 pro zoom lens and 75mm f/1.8 lens for the E-M1 and I am very happy with the current setup and lens options. Both offer fast high quality performance and the build on both are equally impressive…. all metal and glass, they are weighty, but not overly. IMHO, I think I prefer some heft to the build of the lenses (in addition to the body).. it just feels solid and nice and high end, and though it doesn’t have anything to do with giving you the best image quality, it’s a tactile experience and part of the process and experience of taking the photo and for me that equates to a big factor in my camera choice and wanting to hold and take photos with my camera of choice. The E-M1 with a nice lens like one of the ones I have just described, the camera system is still relatively compact and solid… it feels like holding a gun.. strange analogy?.. maybe not if you’re a gun person like I am. It’s a pretty cool feeling to have such a hard engineered photo taking machine in hands.

    Steve, thanks again for your passion and hard work keeping your site running. I agree with your choice for camera of the year 2013 and I think you did a great job in your youtube video that goes with this post to pick your 2013 camera of the year… it wasn’t so much about the cons of the cameras, you obviously love them all in different ways and they are all very good in their own ways. But, you stuck to comparing the main reasons why you like the top 4 cameras and which one ultimately made the pick because of overall value score.

  46. The E-M1 finally convinced me to sell off my bulky, Nikon DX DSLR gear. Now I’m rocking the E-M1, a GH3 (primarily for video) and the 12, 20, 45, and 75mm primes as well as the slower zooms. I couldn’t be happier and have no regrets.

  47. I totally, totally agree with your assessment, Steve.

    The feel,weight, responsiveness, and form factor result in the most enjoyably useable camera I’ve experienced yet.

    It’s very discrete on the streets, too, being so small and quiet. Great results hand-held at night with the amazing IBIS, negating my 5Dmk3’s noise advantage. I am also a fan of the bokeh-but-not-too-much look from MFT that allows more context-depth to be included in an image.

    Incidentally, I’m one of those people who thinks it looks absolutely great, too.

  48. I have just receivd my A7 last night and have not even shot anything with it yet. It seems like a nicely made camera. Of the four Steve compared, I can’t afford the M240 and don’t like the Df at all. So choosing between A7 and Oly, I went with the bigger sensor. I know Oly always makes cameras with the best ergonomics, Sony is never know for that. But having owned the oly E-3 once, i thought the small sensor could never compete with the big boys in the IQ department. For some of the users out there like me, we use the iphone 85% of the time, and only use a “real” camera for serious stuff. I was worried that the 4/3 sensor maybe OK for the honeymoon period, but will not keep me happy in a long run. That’s what I experienced with the E-3, i liked it alot at first, but then as sensor technology evolved, the sensor just trailed competitors by a big margin and quickly became the weakest link for the camera. I could be wrong this time, and only time will tell if this 4/3 camera will hold its appeal. You can always buy newer and better lenses when they become available, but you can’t change the sensor. At the moment, i am siding with the bigger sensor.

  49. Hi Steve. Thought you might want to know that the video seems corrupt at 19:22 in. It just freezes up. I’ve tried it on 2 different computers, and my iphone. Same result.

  50. Looks like a great camera. Price is steep with 12-50 f2.8 lens. if it has 180 flip screen then it will be a perfect travel camera for me.

  51. Hey Steve – I wish you could get over your Fuji-itis! (I know, I know… you “like” the X100S. LOL)

    You should have included the Fuji X-E2 and incredible 23mm f/1.4 combo in this group. I’ve been around the block camera-wise, and have shot with everything from a Leica M6, Pentax, Contax, pretty much the whole Canon D-SLR line (including a 5DII for 2 years), and happily shot with M4/3rds for a few years, starting with the GF1 and ending with an E-M5.

    The E-M5 was a breakthrough camera, and with the Olympus 75mm/1.8 it is a fantastic combo but, since I switched to the Fuji X system this year, I have NEVER been happier or more satisfied. Like finding the right woman. There is a “magic” to the Fuji files that I have never seen in any other system. It’s not just about IQ or sensor size, it’s a “look” that is hard to explain, but those that see it know it. And any concerns about X-Trans developing have been squashed with the X-E2 and LR 5.3beta. It’s a whole different ballgame now.

    When you have a sec., pick up an X-E2 and 23mm with an open mind. I think you will be pleasantly surprised at how much the system has matured in the last year. Noticeably faster AF, better handling, a growing collection of stellar lenses. And just wait until the 56/1.2 is released next year. ;-)

      1. I completely agree too. Ex 5D3 and M9 user here. Tried the EM-5 but returned it. Tried the EM-1, returned that too.

        Converted to Fuji with X100s ( What a amazing keeper that is ) and now Santa is bringing me the XE2 and the 23mm.

        Fuji has matured SO much since the first XPro launch. Loads of new lenses and firmware updates that continue to transform the camera.

        File quality is simply amazing. I’m a very hard person to please but Fuji have really nailed it. And they’ve only just started.

        Photographers like Mike Kobal show what can be done with Fujis in skilled hands. I’ve not been as inspired by gear for years.

  52. Steve — HELP! You dug a ditch filled with great camera options and I jumped in! Now I’m trying to climb out…

    What would be your recommendation for someone who shoots with a full-frame Leica rangefinder for street/urban with great pleasure, but is looking for a second camera to handle indoor and outdoor events (family, kid parties, perhaps even a wedding) with AUTOFOCUS (primarily at focal lengths of 70-200mm)? If it matters, I generally shoot at max ISO of 800, but for indoor events, might go to ISO 2500 or thereabouts if the image is usable. I also shoot 90% black and white with the Leica, and with the second camera would plan to use black and white and color equally, and a little bit of macro if the .

    Being spoiled by my relatively light and compact Leica system, it sounds like the A7 and EM1 could wrestle for this position over the Nikon Df. So the dilemma: The A7 has the full-frame sensor and will play relatively nicely with my manual focus Leica lenses at their native focal length, but has a poor selection of autofocus lenses. The EM1 has a full selection of relatively small and light autofocus lenses, but has the smaller sensor. I originally ordered the A7 (just arrived!) on the theory that it was a “no-brainer” — it is full frame and takes the Leica lenses I already own. But now I’m finding myself influenced by the praise of the EM1 and the fact that now that my A7 arrived, I can’t really find a good lens option for my autofocus needs. Do I start with the A7 and use adapters to bridge the gap over the next two years, or do I get the EM1 and take a leap of faith on the smaller sensor?

    For some reason I keep going around in circles with this: It seems like both cameras are evenly matched based on my criteria, with the edge going to the A7 if I were planning to shoot at shorter focal lengths, and didn’t need to get autofocus, and the edge going to the EM1 if I plan to shoot longer focal lengths, and images will be usable at ISO 1600 or thereabouts.

    1. I have the E-M5 currently and E-M1 on order. I’m happy with moderate sized prints up to ISO 6400. I don’t print large right now (A2 or more). The Panasonic 35-100 exactly matches your 70-200 range and the lens is great. I think the focusing is better on the m43s cameras in lower light than the A7 from the bit I’ve played with it. I’d love to see Steve chime in. I think the E-M1 with the 35-100 or any of the primes would meet your requirements. The A7 would have some advantages in raw image quality over the current m43s.

      A7 is a nice camera. Sounds like you’ll have to wait a bit for the lenses you want.

  53. Hi, my first time to post here. I do not want to offend any E-M1 fans, I am just too excited after receiving the Sony A7 last night. Combining with Summilux 50mm on this full frame camera, I am no longer “shortchanged” by those multipliers, I do not have to only feel what the real 50mm is by playing my inherited Pentax Asahi. Once the customized buttons for peeking and magnifying were set up, manual focusing via EVF was pretty quick and accurate even at very low light. I expect to have this combo for another 10 years:), fyi, my Canon 10d lasted that long. Can’t wait to get off work.

  54. Having bought the EM-1 with 12-40mm F2.8 pro lens, and now fitted with the HLD-7 battery grip, it is my new “go to” camera. With the add-on grip it feels even better to shoot with and my other u4/3 lenses feel new again.

    Olympus have done something remarkable with the EM-1. While this is exciting I’m also a little worried.

    Having risen so high with this camera, where can Olympus go from here? With two great OMDs in a row, each successor will have an increasingly tough time to “wow” us like these cameras have.

    It also begs the question: How much further can digital photography (in general) go in its current form?

      1. Yes because FF lenses will always be much larger than MFT lenses, negating to some extent the advantages of smaller FF bodies.

    1. Where digital photography goes next is a big question these days. The tech has more or less reached a plateau … and point & shoot buyers are opting for the convenience of the smartphone (which continues to evolve).

      I, too, have concerns about M4/3s lifespan. Yes, full-frame cameras require larger lenses … at the moment. But Leica proves that FF lenses can be very small and compact, and it’s likely that miniaturization will enable autofocus capabilities to be built into M-sized lenses eventually (though I don’t think you’ll see Leica do it on actual M lenses).

      This is a very difficult industry to predict, but I do agree that the trend is towards bigger, higher-capacity sensors in smaller bodies. Remember, too, 8K televisions are coming… Can M4/3 keep up with the resolution gains? I dunno. I suspect M4/3 will top out at 36 megapixels in a few years.

      1. I think that, if there is going to be a number of years before big changes happen, so long as there is an upgrade path or the benefits FAR outweigh the drawbacks, we needn’t worry too much.

        If imaging gets flipped on it’s head in the next few years and isn’t just the seemingly perpetual grind of bigger and faster versions of the same hardware we use now, then everyone will be in the same predicament.

        It’s never too early to start saving :)

    2. I own an E-PL5, and I love it (mostly). The one thing that always frustrates me about it (and my E-PL1 before it) is the inadequate autofocus tracking for sports and wildlife. Even an entry-level DSLR works so much better for these functions. My E-PL5 is fast, and the burst rate is top notch. But if it doesn’t track accurately and my shots come out blurry, all that speed is wasted. The E-M1 has the Dual Fast AF (with phase detect), and the E-M10 has the Fast AF system…but are these actually substantial improvements or just marketing hype?

      I’m a hobbyist on a pretty tight budget, and I can’t afford to have multiple camera systems. So, does Micro 4/3 catch up (at least in the same ballpark), or do I sell my gear and get an entry-level Canon/Nikon DSLR for better action tracking?

  55. I have never tried any of the other cameras listed here so can’t comment on which I would ultimately prefer but I have tried, bought and love the Sony A7. My limitations were cost. I didn’t want to buy a whole new system but did want a small travel camera that had great IQ. I already own a nikon D600 and a few primes so bought an adaptor slapped on a pancake voigtlander 40mm ultron and wow. Focus peaking makes this lens a dream to use. outstanding quality. in a fairly small package. absolutely love it

    Steve, over the past few years I’ve been checking out this site on a regular basis and have to say its one of my favourite photography based site’s on the web. In particular ive really enjoyed the last year, from the readers photos to your reviews. it has a really cool feel and look, kudos bro

  56. This is the Best Test I have seen. Yes all 4 camera’s has my interest and the Olympus does have the biggest collection of lenses. Steve didn’t mention the noise of it’s shutter but I hope it’s very quiet.
    I just hate shutter noise, slow focus and slow/bad light measurements !

    I’m an old (from Nikon F) user and still waiting for a smaller Nikon body with No noisy shutter + mirror.
    Love the big tilting screen on the Olympus E-M1

    Question Steve;
    Is there an adapter for Nikon lenses and …. what are the side effects (Pro & Cons)

    1. The E-M1 does not have a loud shutter. It is sweet – I love it. If you want to hear a loud clickety-clack shutter (awful), check out the Sony A7.

  57. I read about its “Disappointing video quality” so it won’t be an option for me. I need a camera that does both stills and video very well. The pics you took with it look fantastic so if I was only looking for a stills camera this would be on the short list. Thanks for your great review and feedback.

    1. For IQ M240 or NikonDF not Sony if you look to Sony’s files closer you’ll find too much artifacts and some color abnormal smearing, after ISO 400 they loosing there IQ even Fuji’s looks better than A7 files.
      IQ 1. EM-1 (because of lenses, colors and AF combination)
      2. M240 (overall image quality)
      3. Nikon DF (Clearest files)
      4. Fuji X-Pro1 (overall image quality if you don’t use Adobe PP)

  58. Looks very good, feels great in the hand. But to me APS-C images are lacking vs FF, not only in resolution, but in overall feel. So I don’t want to get an even smaller sensor, no matter how sexy the body is.

  59. I’m waiting impatiently for B&H to ship mine. Thank you Steve for the thorough reviews and opinions as they helped in my decision to buy this camera. I was happy to see you picked it as number one, it makes that wallet emptying purchase that much easier to take! I’m switching from an old Canon Digital Rebel so I’m excited to finally step up to a camera with pro capabilities.

  60. New M 4/3 convert here. I sold off my 5d MK 11 with Canon lenses a few weeks ago and took the plunge with the EM 1. Steep learning curve with the customization but such a joy to use. Your blog was one of the ones that made the decision easy. Thanks!

  61. I agree with all you said but would have included the RX-10 in the top candidates list. For the price of the E-M1 package you get an “all you’ll ever need” package.

  62. You need to be really congratulated this year Steve. 2013 has been a year full of ground breaking lenses, cameras and real time reviews. The original being the best STEVEHUFFPHOTO.
    If my finances could afford or my EM5 was dead the EM1 would be my choice to be under my Christmas tree this 2013.

  63. Bravo!
    Excellent choice as the Sony is overkill in some ways and underwhelming in others and in my opinion a damp squib – a rich boys toy which has left its Minolta Konica heritage and is basically a Sony gadget toy
    The Leica is a Leica and the Nikon a nikon DSLR so are Great in their own ways.
    For most shooters who take pictures and want quality – why go bigger than the Oly? It ticks all boxes and has everything one could want in the best package.

  64. I shoot mostly with film, and an digi cam will be mostly for night shots/high ISO situations. As such, a camera that can take my M mount lenses will be what I need. Maybe an om-D like A7 one day that is quiet, affordable, weather sealed ? One can only dream yeah?

    1. ok, here is my camera of 2013: its dx-sensor and NOT mirrorless: k5iis

      in the end its a very personal thing which camera works for you. In my case I just prefer OVF, and I beliefe dx to be a very good compromise for good iq and still allows lenses not to be too large.

      as nice as mirrorless are I dont think the mirrorless-hype reflects real world…there is still a high percentage of photographers who prefer slr for good reasons.

  65. Leica M for the RF shooting experience. Sony A7R for best overall image IQ. Olympus for most versatile camera. Nikon DF for high ISO performance. I did enjoy the read and I understand your choice based on your preferences. But truth be told, it really depends on what preferences you have as a photographer. BUT… How lucky are we in this day and age with all these beautiful cameras at our disposal… Merry Xmas and thanks for all your hard work.

  66. ” I love the Sony A7 and A7r, I love the Leica M 240 and I really like the Nikon Df but the E-M1 is one of those rare cameras that has the ability to “bond” with me, and it did.”-stevehuff- and this is it …

    first, it feel strange, i took the camera to the bathroom, i took it every where i go in the house, i took it to the office that i work, i never let to far from reach of my hand, it can get me a little bit odd if i not touch my camera, and take just few snap, and put in on table, starring at it, smile …, and grab, took some picture again …

    that feeling, an “addicted” for a shot, and the “mood” … yeah … don’t forget the “mood”, that really give the big impact for best result … :D sure did, and the camera give vib of the good mood … :)

    that is the feel when i use the Olympus PEN E-PL5 + Lumix 20mm 1.7 … just one lens … but that is more than enough for me to love the photography world … :)

    Don’t worry, i have taste the full frame ability, and the IQ file … but

    the question is,
    do u need a fantastic file that a camera can give ? or
    do u need a camera that can make u a good, or really good photographer coz she (the camera) inspire u ? :)

    thx steve …

  67. 2013 was a great year for cameras. I went and replaced my beloved E-P2 with the E-P5. What an incredible surprise. I chose the E-P5 over the E-M1 because I love the PEN form factor and because I feel that – if you don’t own 43 glass – they are essentially the same camera.

    What blew my mind is that the E-P5 completely blew away my Nikon D7000 in terms of image quality, stabilization, focus speed and most importantly focus accuracy. Add in the amazing lens selection, the E-P5 is a dream camera.

    I haven’t touched my D7000 since I got my E-P5, so I decided to sell the Nikon and replace it with a better camera. I tried the D600 and 6D (which we own at work) extensively and was very unimpressed. So I went with a Sony A7 which I got a week ago. Man oh man what a joy to use (currently with my Nikon 50/1.4G and 85/1.8G).

    First of all, I don’t understand why everyone keeps saying the Sony EVF is not as good as the Olympus VF4. I find the Sony viewfinder much more pleasant to use. The contrast is better, the colors more natural. The VF-4 is great but with the Sony I forget that I’m using an EVF and get tricked into thinking I’m using an OVF.

    Secondly, what I love about the Sony is what a joy it is to manual focus and use in manual mode. With the shallow DOF and amazing EVF, it’s super easy to focus manually. With all the dedicated dials and buttons, and the live feedback in the EVF, it is so much easier to use in manual mode than my Nikon. I absolutely love it!

    Since my E-P2, I cannot live without a PEN camera anymore. It is the ultimate travel companion. And now with the new Sony, I also have a tool for that ultimate image quality to get excited about.

    1. I share your feelings ;) I owned an EP-1 before switching to Fuji, and when I recently tried the EP-5 with the 17mm (and the EM1) I just realized what I had missed and lost : a small, well made, reliable camera to always carry with you. Now the IQ is as far as I am concerned (I compared both in the shop) in normal light very impressive and on par with Fuji, but the Pen was just a joy to use (I tried to misguide the AF, but I couldn’t).

  68. Great article Steve. After reading your reviews of the new Sonys I wondered what you’d choose for COTY, and I’m delighted with your choice. I am an Olympus EM-5 user, having traded in my Canon EOS 5D and L Series glass for an Olympus mirrored 4/3 camera and lenses a few years back. I switched to mirrorless when the EM-5 came out as I could see the writing on the wall for the mirrored cameras. I sold my Oly 12-60mm FT lens with great reluctance as it was too bulky for the EM-5, but it was the best all-round lens I have ever owned. I’m now looking forward to its spiritual successor – the 12-40mm MFT lens and an EM-1 body as soon as supplies start coming through. What a great system Olympus and Panasonic have created, and so compact I rarely leave the house without my EM-5 and a couple of lenses – all in a compact leather messenger bag that’s smaller than my wife’s handbag!

      1. Good point, and I did consider keeping it at the time, but one of the things I like most about the Olympus MFT system is its compactness. The 12-60 with an adaptor is quite bulky – and considerably larger than the 12-40 which itself is at the limit of how big a lens I’d like for everyday use. Compared to the 12-60 with MMF-3 adaptor, the 12-40 is 10mm narrower in diameter, 26mm shorter, and over 400 gm lighter!

  69. Yes we know it is subjective…but the E-M1 is one fine camera. The a7 has great IQ but I need a fast camera with reasonably good IQ …I can print 24 x 36 without hesitation using the E-M1 . If Sony decides to get its act together and truly develop a nice assortment of lenses and increase the focus speed and accuracy then they will be the frontrunner…but I know in the past they have been lacking in these areas . I’ll wait til they work out the bugs .My 2 favorite things to shoot are street and sports ( ice hockey and rugby) the a7 cannot handle these…the E-M1 rocks it…I find the tracking with good glass to be fantastic. I know it broke your heart to not have the leica as number 1 Steve…and we all appreciate your honest opinion…have a great Christmas season and all the best to you in the new year

    1. It’s ni as in “nit” then kon as per “con”.

      Nikon is short for Nippon Kōgaku Kōgyō KK, the “ni” being “Nippon” ( which is “Japan” in Japanese ) shortened. I’ve only heard it pronounced “n-eye-kon” by Americans. In Japanese, Nikon is written ニコン which is “ni” “ko” “n”, all vowels being short.

  70. Having tried the EM-1 I totally get why it would be your camera of the year, oh what a joy to use, it just falls into your hands, personally I just see other cameras delivering more appealing image quality

      1. I have both the Fuji X-E1 and Oly E-M5 and E-M1. The Fuji is a fine camera, but the OMDs hold their own just as well with IQ and noise. So, I don’t agree with you. The X-Trans is an excellent sensor but not hugely better than the latest sensors from Oly and Pany. Sorry.

        1. Sorry, disagree. I shoot with an X-Pro 1 and also the E-P5. Under normal daylight conditions at moderate ISOs, it’s true, the differences are all but indistinguishable (though I’ve never tried big enlargement comparos).

          Once those ISOs climb to 1600 and above, however, the X-Trans sensor quickly outdistances the E-P5. In fact, the X-Pro 1 is only about a stop behind my D3s, which is actually pretty remarkable for an APS-C sensor.

          At these levels the E-P5 is in the rearview mirror, I’m afraid.

          1. You really DO hate the choice of em1 as camera of the year, don’t you?
            You could disagree with it of course, but why putting a such big effort showing that your fuji is way better and “destroys the om d over 1600 iso”?
            You sound a bit frustrated

          2. Fuji’s can not even come close to the Oly in use, build, speed, feel, lens choices, weather proofing, EVF, video, IS, ..ect ect. Not even close. Sony and Nikon and Leica easily beat the Fuji in IQ..so for me, the Fuji bodies were not even in the running. Still a long way to go IMO.

          3. yes, Fuji can come close and even be better than the Oly in use…due the simplicity and the approach it takes to photographs! You have your own rights as anybody to prefer the Oly over the Fuji but picture quality from the Fuji is just superb. Weather proofing yes clear advantage of the Oly…yes. Video….hmmmm…few people cares. Lens choices are limited from Fuji but the lenses are just super! And yet not overlay overpriced. And do you remember the limitations of the m43 glass yet few years ago? So the winner choice to me is right but your further comments about Fuji were just ridiculous.
            I have no idea what the Nikon is doing here in your winners list? Surely is the best in bringing tons of nostalgia do some old mans with big hands ;)

          4. “destroys the om d over 1600 iso”

            I don’t recall using the word “destroy” anywhere.

            No frustration here; I’m just being analytical. It is what it is. No sense getting bent out of shape about it.

            Truth is, I like the OM-D E-M1 a great deal…and am even toying with selling my Fuji kit to get one. But I have no illusions that I’m going to sacrifice a bit of ultimate image quality vis-a-vis the XP1 if I do.

            The reason I’m thinking about it is that I want a faster, more responsive, high-tech system camera that emulates much of what my D3s and Nikon system offer…but in a package that is 40% of the size and 30% of the weight. This would be ideal for me right now.

            Re IQ, I think the Oly is “close enough near as makes no difference” for the ways in which I would use it as a second system. But, again, there will be tradeoffs. Where I could shoot the XP1 at 3200 or even sometimes 6400 quite confidently, I would not want to go past 1600 (at most) with the E-M1. You can pull more recovery out of an XP1 RAW file than you’ll be able to pull from a M4/3 camera, so the former is probably better for landscapes, too.

            “Sony and Nikon and Leica easily beat the Fuji in IQ…”

            As a Nikon shooter ― and one who has spent considerable time with the Df ― that’s a blanket statement that’s rife with problems.

            If you don’t believe me about the Fuji, have a look at the work of Damien Lovegrove, Dave Kai Piper, Zack Arias, David Hobby, Olaf & Kasia Sztaba, and Jim Radcliffe.

            As to IQ tests, you might want to read this >> http://photographylife.com/reviews/fuji-x-pro1/7

  71. AWESOME STEVE –

    have had my em-1 , 12-40mm and 45mm prime for a month now! life changing! M 4/3 is here to stay:) im a traveler, skier , climber…ect , if you or know someone who is an adventurer you/they no longer have to take low quality point and shoot cameras. thanks Olympus!

    1. I do a lot of my photography in undeveloped, wild caves under difficult conditions. I use my E-M5 with multiple strobes. Great camera. I may eventually do the same with my E-M1.

  72. Olympus has given us a camera we REALLY wanted Nikon and Canon keep pushing the same crap telling u its REALLY what u want I love my Olympus OMD I sold all my Nikon equipment and NEVER looked back

    1. Well, just to be clear, Nikon and Canon’s “crap” is outselling Olympus’ cameras by factors of five to ten times.

      So if you were a Nikon or Canon shareholder, you wouldn’t be screaming, “Hey, let’s do what Olympus is doing!”

      1. This is an “argomentum ad populum” – “If many people do it, it can’t be wrong”. It is good for the producer of an item, but no assurance about its real value.

        1. “Argomentum ad populum” notwithstanding, you have to operate from the world the way it is, not the way you’d like it to be.

          If you want Canon and Nikon to build different cameras, vote with your wallet; stop buying their products and buy more mirrorless gear.

          When that tide shifts, you’ll see a change. Until then, they’re going to follow the money.

          As to Canon and Nikon’s gear being “crap” or not offering “real value”, that’s an argument of a different stripe, and I suspect one you’ll have a tough time making.

      2. Maybe in America, but for how much longer? The big two will soon have to respond with more than just iterations before we all die from the tedium/boredom of endless repetitious Rebels and D3000/5000/7000 series cameras that Joe Public seems to think is the only way to go. Asia it seems is more astute.

        1. Here’s the reality of the situation: in the coveted $500 to $1000 market segment (which is the majority of “serious” buyers) there are DSLRs in that range that offer more features and capabilities for less money.

          Case in point, compare the specs of the Nikon D5300 against the Olympus E-P5…beginning with a 24 megapixel APS-C sensor against a 16 megapixel M4/3 sensor, then work your way down the list, including everything from built-in wifi and GPS to CLS.

          The Nikon body costs $850 CDN, the Olympus E-P5 body costs $1000 CDN.

          That’s a simple argument for a salesperson in a camera shop to make to a buyer already preconditioned to believe that DSLRs are more “serious”. And a simple equation for John Q. Public to understand.

          Hard to push a mirrorless camera that offers less HP but costs more money.

          1. I understand the point you are trying to make but to me it does not make a lot of sense. 16 mp M4/3s versus APSC 24 mp- isn’t the pixel density/resolution almost the same?

            The EP5 is a well crafted small camera with a great selection of small / light and fast prime lenses super fast focus , touch screen, auto focus with video, can use a state of the art EVF now available for free in the UK currently on special offer. M4/3s is developing into a great flexible system, topped by the GH3, EM1, EM5 ,EP5 with the newly released and incredibly small and handy GM1 at the other end of the size scale but amazingly with the same sized sensor , not forgetting all the other model variations in between. So, a fantastic choice of body form /size / spec optimised for both stills and video (GH3) all within the one system. All this plus some great and possibly classic lenses which work well wide open and more to come in 2014.

            Nikon DX offers none of these things,- no contest. Cost to me is simply a red herring ,a non issue in this context. Nikon DX simply does not deliver what I seek, bodies or lenses, however the Pentax K3/K5 series plus the Ltd. lenses does fit the bill.

            Bottom line , Nikon appesars to have lost interest in their own DX product line and so have I !

          2. .. and I forgot to mention the other great benefit of the EP5 over the D5300 – 5 way in body image stabilization, that really seals the deal for me.

  73. A camera of the year pick is very subjective and personal and thus beyond any critique or disagreement. Time to update your “my gear” tab ;)

  74. i pre-ordered one, never expecting it to be this good. I already had the sweet primes for it.. The combination of the E-M1 and the Olympus 75mm is especially good. I normally carry two bodies. It goes well with the RX1R, which is “my precious.”
    I agree with your choice, because the Olympus is so versatile and great handling.It really delivers a high percentage of shots that are right on. I think the IBIS has a lot to do with it. Thanks for your initial views on it, Steve. Your article got me thinking of this camera, even though I wasn’t lured by the E-M5 on its release. I also wanted a camera with a little more size because I wanted to get the Olympus 150/2 for my system. Plus, I needed the new AF system for that lens. It works!

    1. Hi Rick. As the 150mm f:2 Oly is equivent fo practical use to the Nikkor 300mm f:2 (hahahaha try lifting it!)
      I’m wondering how well it tracks and focuses in your opinion. Compared to whatever you’re familiar with otherwise.
      Thanks.

  75. Hi Steve,
    Love this post. Probably one of your most succinct and direct-to-the-point post. What I like about your site is you don’t try to be too clever and are direct to the point.

    Keep up the good work & Merry Christmas.

    Cheers,
    Mo

  76. As an former X100s owner, I fell in love wih the E-M1 as soon as I picked it up and looked through that big, luscious finder. Bring on the Pana/Leica 15mm…

  77. Certainly Sony made some fantastic innovation in the past years. But they are a little bit all over the place – they are competing in pretty much every system (including point and shoot, ultrazoom, etc). But none of their systems is really mature.

    In comparison, I think Olympus delivered an extremely focused product, that combined all previous 4/3 and m4/3 Oly lenses. The range of lenses available is just absolutely mind-blowing (although, I still crave for a fantastic 8mm prime). With Schneider (i.e. 30mm F1.4) coming along as well, seriously, how many amazing lenses will this system have? The only drawback is the price, I admit that. It could be cheaper. But when you get an Oly/Leica/Schneider/Voigtlander prime, you know you will use that lens for 20 years.

    Also quite amazing the waterproofing of the EM-1 and the 12-40mm f 2.8. How amazing is to have a reliable camera like this when you travel/live in a tropical/sub-tropical country, and you just don’t have to worry about all that rain.

    It has been a fun year, and certainly us consumers have gained the most this year :)

    1. After having the EM1 for a little under 2 weeks in Singapore, it go hosed 3 times by flash storms. By the time I could get out of the rain, I was already completely soaked through. The camera just kept shooting during all 3 drenchings. This last weekend I did a shoot at a garden, not realising how wet It was going to be. Camera shot through that as well, no issues.

      It’s one of a very few cameras outside of more expensive pro bodies where I just don’t worry about if it’s going to work or not.

  78. I have shot with all 4 of these cameras, and I personally own the M240 and the A7R, and i have to say that all around, considering everything you listed here, I think you made a great choice. Steve, you call it like you see it, and I am a daily reader here because of it. Thank you for your clear and unbiased thoughts.

  79. At this time I have to agree. What a fantastic little blast of a camera to use. But I must say, in the few days I have had the FF Sony A7, I’m really liking it as well. I totally understand whey it does not top the list as it lacks a good choice of lenses at this time. Add in body image stabilization and a selection of better lenses and the gap narrows. Additionally improve on focus speed and olympus could be in trouble. The next series could give everyone a real run for their money. If Sony isn’t already.

  80. E-M1 meets all my criteria and lacks no feature that is important to me – a good choice for camera of the year. I shoot two cameras now 90% of the time: the Canon 5D3 and the Olympus E-M1. Both provide a complete package. Fast and responsive is what I like.

    1. Agree; everybody seems to be happy with the IQ – I think it is overrated. But the handling is very nice indeed. Look at some full size pictures before you buy…

    2. Nevertheless and according to last DPrview Live program 2 days ago there a lot of people using if for professional work.

        1. Yeah, everybody knows that Damian McGillicuddy (Five UK Master Photographer of the Year titles, eleven UK Awards of Excellence, fifty-nine Fuji Professional Awards, Official Olympus UK photographer) is very famous for his “kid’s pictures”… or Kirk Tuck, Ming Thein, Robin Wong…
          Please, try at least to be informed before speaking… :)

          1. BTW, a precisation: the OM-D is the ONLY camera of McGillicuddy for almost all his works, the same can be said for several Tuck’s work. But oh, well, now you can say that they are not pros because they don’t shoot sports… but wait, Damian has shoot rally!!! ;)

          2. I’m a pro commercial and media photographer (rarely shoot kiddies) and shoot canon 1D MKIVs and 5D MkIII’s and occasionally hire in Hasselblads.

            I have been an EOS 1 fan and user as my main camera since the first film version…. yet my OM-D’s are also always in my bag and I regularly put down the Canons these days and shoot with the OM-D’s particularly in low light still life situations where the Image stabilisation means I don’t need to mess around with tripods etc and means I can work much faster and freer.

            My OM-D images now regularly feature in magazines both as full page images and covers and after shooting tandem with my Canons for about a year now I am going to make my EM1 kit my standard for all the big event shoots and reportage shoots now and keep cut down my canon bodies for studio and those instances where IQ is the key to the shoot or where the client is still too dumb to realise big camera doesn’t always = best camera.

            Apart from the Image Stabilisation it doesn’t excel at any one thing but is more than good enough at everything but critically you can go into almost any situation and pull out great pictures and that versatility is a wonderful thing for it to excel at.

            Also its size makes it tremendous for getting good candids at events etc and I can carry a decent amount of lenses without looking like I’m on a six week trek in the Himalayas.

            Best of all its fun…. when I first got the EM5 it re-invigorated my photography no end the EM1 gives me that feel with the extra features to make me comfortable with it as a working camera… when I pick up my canons I think work…. when I pick up my OM’s I smile and think FUN even if I am working…

            EM-1 gets my vote!!

    3. There are only 1 area where I consider the IQ to be of lesser quality than the other cameras: higher ISO. But these are, for me, minor points. I happily shoot at 3200 ISO without issue, even up to 5000 ISO for wedding/events. The difference between the top line APSC cameras & the OMD at high ISO is so small as to be pointless to even try to compare.

      The IQ is good enough for reportage, wedding, events and various different types of photography.

      If based on pure IQ alone, no, it’s not worth that high price. However, based on the whole package and system, it’s exceptional.

      One can’t honestly make a value judgement by taking any single part & saying it’s not worth that price. Take it in as a whole; otherwise you could pick, at random, any feature of any camera & say that alone is not worth the price of entry.

      1. Excellent points – no camera is perfect – but some are perfect for some people and the way they shoot – if somebody actually tried one prior to buying they might end up with something totally different than what everyone ( who hasn’t used one ) is raving about….

      2. “The difference between the top line APSC cameras & the OMD at high ISO is so small as to be pointless to even try to compare.”

        That’s not true in all cases. There have been comparos done online between the OM-D E-M5 and the X-Pro 1, and above ISO1600 the XP1’s IQ annihilates the OM-D.

        1. that’s entirely correct in my view, and from what I have seen in others Fuji images, I have never shot one, and dont like the traditional rangefinder brick for ergonomics. I would not let my EM5 go over ISO 800 without my permission, and the EM1 1600. However if you are shooting still things with good quality fast lenses and stabilisation from the body, the Oly cameras are hard to beat and you’ll not need to go any higher. Also IF you are not printing greater than A3 (16″ by 11″ ish for those reading in imperial sizes) I’d think the EM1 is hard to beat.

          I got an A7r for manual focus and taking my time, but like everyone else here, I have an illness. Normal, amateur, relatively sane people should be satisfied with an OlyEM1/5 EP5 whatever really.

          ..and the EM1 is a beautiful thing to use.

          1. Olympus’ speed, ergonomics and operability beat the Fujis all to hell. No question.

            But don’t kid yourself, while they’re probably good enough for “most people” and many applications, technically the Fuji X-Trans sensor produced better IQ. Period.

          2. On the shots it does not miss, it does (I recently compared files of my Fuji set with a borrowed EP-5), but in normal light not by so much. But as you mentioned, this is technically, because by the time I have checked if the Fuji’s loose lens aperture ring did not accidentally change it’s position in the bag or around my shoulder, and the camera agreed to focus, and the speed it chose in A mode is not way too low, the image is often gone.
            Of my last year and a half of pictures I took while traveling with the Fuji, I have a few nice landscapes/architecture pictures when I had plenty of time to compose. The pictures I remember though were taken with my back-up, old EP-1, “technically” light years away from the X-Trans sensor. So in the end, for me, my old EP1 is the better camera, and it would win the contest against my Fuji, as it took street scenes and pictures of precious moments and people without missing or infuriating them. It worked in situations where the Fuji was completely lost (snow scenes in a park : completely off WB and impossible to get the camera focus on anything – trees or people), and it did so well.

  81. I respect the choice, but

    (1) the performance and speed seems to require a lot of hardware around the tiny sensor;

    (2) the designers did not tell the colleagues of their parent company their secrets;

    (3) can you imagine Porsche in 1963 had put a fake radiator bonnet on the iconic 911 (rear engine, air cooled)?

    1. It is NOT a tiny sensor. When will some of you understand that? If you owned a Pany or Oly m43 camera, you would understand what many of us already know.

  82. Thanks sooo much for your reviews. Sold my 5Dmk2 a couple of months ago, been on the fence with the A7’s , but with their ultra-wide , and focus issues, I have been leaning more to the OMD in the last week. And… for the same price as A7r you can get more lenses in the OMD system. (Plus reminds me of when I taught myself photography on an OM-1 back in the day… fond memories return :-)

  83. Steve would you pick this camera over the rest if all you were shooting were landscapes and you did not want a rangefinder??

    1. Not sure..if my main thing was landscape and that is all I really did, and I printed them very very large I would probably go for a larger sensor. If I did not print large I would happily stick with the E-M1. Landscapes are about dynamic range, detail and a deep rich color. In that case a D800E would be the best bet.

  84. I wish the E-M1 was just a little bit cheaper. Whilst i trust that it is quite possibly superior to the A7s and DSLRs for its size whilst also considering the far smaller lens outfits. I just have a problem dropping £1500/$18,000HKD on a M4/3 camera! The OMD became much more attractive once it was in the 8-9K pricerange, but then this came out!

    1. The price will drop the longer the camera is out.Its still a bit pricey for me as well. I love my 2 OMD EM5 Body’s.Once the price drops a bit I will own this camera.

    2. £1500 may be the price in the u.k., but i highly doubt its $18,000 in hong kong. I bought mine in taipei for nt$42,000 which is i believe is about HKD11,000.

  85. I totally knew hence my earlier comment in the other post
    The 17 1.8 and 45 1.8 are great lenses. I used to have a 25 1.4 that I sold with the EM5. Is that really required? Rather would save for the 75

    1. I LOVE my 75. It can be tough to frame because of the focal length, especially indoors or with moving kids. However, it gives me better shots than any other lens I have ever shot. And it does this consistently. Tack sharp, and very bright.

  86. I think your choice is wise Steve. The E-M1 is a perfected evolution of the E-M5.

    I have an E-M5 and have shot the crap out of it and it has never failed me.

    The ability to put any lens on it and still get the 5 way axis stabilization is so far beyond any other camera’s ability that it is silly.

    Now that Leica is releasing a 15mm wide and Schneider a 14mm wide it seems the M4/3 world will finally see a real “high quality” Wide Angle.

    Tried the current M4/3 wides from Oly and Panny and they just don’t stack up, they are not up there with the Voigtlander 15mm Heliar or Zeiss film lenses.

    Also consider that the top lens makers in the world are spending a lot of money and time designing incredible lenses for M4/3 and you realize they know something we don’t about this format.

  87. I have to admit I am surprised by your pick after all your praise for the Sony’s recently. I think a reality check is going on about the A7 and A7r…. Seems like a good camera, but it definitely is not a Leica M9 or M replacement. With no lenses made for it..and with Sony’s very poor tradition of support for camera lines …..I can’t imagine spending that kind of money on it. I think everyone’s hopes have returned to Fuji again. Back to the OMD, the opposite of Sony, a very refined mature product that you can purchase and know there is a lens choice for whatever need you may have. Bravo! (FYI, I shoot an m6, x100 and d7100 primarily). My only criticism of the OMD is that it is getting a bit to close to my Nikon in size…

    1. I may have praised the Sonys and they deserved every bit of it, but I praised the E-M1 even more (in case you missed my posts on that camera, go back and take a look). Fuji, I am not a fan but oh how I have tried to be. The OM-D close to what Nikon in size? The E-M1 is smaller than any Nikon DSLR, by a bug margin, let alone the lens size. But they are all fantastic. The A7, the Leica, the Oly and the Nikon Df.

      1. I’m sorry if my comment seemed to be criticize, my intent was to applaud your choice. I love that we have so many great choices lately, and I don’t think any of them (even fuji :-p) would be wrong. Even Canon, whom seem to get a lot of critism here despite dominating the camera market, came out with the SL1 this year and the 70d. There is more than one way to skin a cat!

        1. Lost of great stuff available today. There are also things that each does that others either don’t, or don’t do as well. For instance the Canon 6D is very underwhelming in most specifications, but nothing at any price can accurately focus in lower light. Nothing else can give you the tonality of the Leica M Monochrom and that new Olympus is probably the smallest and lightest pro camera out there.

          What is important to you?

      2. I agree on the x100 In my opinion it was the most overhyped camera I ever purchased and the BIGGEST disappointment as well. I never could get to like it.I sold it 2 months after purchasing

        1. That’s too bad. If you had kept the camera (X100) and upgraded the firmware to the current version, you would be loving it. A very different camera now vs. initially.

          1. It’s been a long time coming, but the x100 finally came into its own with the last firmware update. No longer the exercise in frustration it once was.

      3. Steve, I just don’t understand why you don’t show the OM-D in its stock configuration for this comparison.

        One of the main advantages of the OM-D is its relatively small size yet you have that odd base on it and a big lens hood that make everything seem bigger than it needs to be. :-/

        It’s the only camera of the four you show that is not stock. Why? It would have been so easy to remove those extra things for the review.

  88. Been a Leica user mostly and got the E-P5 in the end as the E-M1 looks just doesn’t cut it for me, that’s one realistic barrier of bonding with a camera in my books. The first morning I went for a walk with E-P5 it shocked me how fun the camera is. The IS, AF, controls, experience and EVF blew me away. I have to agree with you how good these Olympus cameras are in build, flexibility, and lenses choice. I still can’t believe the amount of features they jammed in this little body. Looking forward to playing with M glasses on it, too.

    1. I made the same choice….as you, I was also surprised how fluid that the E-P5 is in my hands…so much so that within a month I sold my EM5. The IQ coming out of the EP5 is the same as the M1 and is a much more personal camera for the type of images I create. I just don’t need all that speed, larger body and the expense….although I have no problem with M1 being so popular…It is a GREAT image making device, and certainly deserves all the alcolades!

      1. What expense? Add on the ext. VF to the E-P5 and it is as expensive or more expensive than the E-M1. And the E-M1 has on sensor PDAF for CAF, and works great with my 43 lenses. The E-P5 does not have this feature, nor is it weather-proofed like the E-M1.

        1. I am glad that the M1 is the right camera for you. Truly.
          I got m E-P5 kit with VF4 & 17mm for $1345 . Sold the 17mm for $400 so I picked up E-P5 and VF4 for $945 ..that would be $455 LESS than the M1.
          I like the smaller size and handling of the E-P5 better than the M1.
          I do not own any 4/3 lenses and do not plan to. I really don’t shoot in the rain and flat light and I do not shoot sports. I find the E-P5 to be an AMAZING feature-packed camera with amazing image IQ for the size of the camera. There is really no IQ advantage with the M1.
          I said that M1 is a GREAT camera…it is just not the camera for me.
          Photography is a very personal experience and we all enjoy it differently…that is one of the things that makes it so cool! :-)

  89. Just to share my experience with Olympus. I’ve been using Oly system ever since the E-410 and I owned the 410, 620, E-3, E-5, E-M5. When I ordered the E-M1 I didn’t even care about the previews/reviews/specs out there since I just trust Oly – they have NEVER disappointed me even once. Most if not all of the Zuiko lenses are extremely well made (even the kit lenses), focusing is fast, body is durable and solid. Other than the not so perfect high ISO performance and being a cropped sensor, I really don’t see why people shoot Canon/Nikon. Just what I think personally. Love Oly!

    1. People shoot Canon and Nikon (and Sony, and Leica, etc) because not everybody wants the same thing. I shoot Leica and full-frame Canon, example, and both are VERY different. Neither could replace the other, and Olympus or any other m43 also could replace neither.

  90. good assessment…and I couldn’t agree more. I’ll be back in NYC this Christmas to put the EM1 and those lenses you mentioned through their paces and I know it’s going to do everything I ask of it and help me pull off some great shots! some killer lenses coming out next year too;)

  91. Hey Steve,
    I own a RX1 and recently traded in my OMD-5 for E-M1. I so agree with your every single point. The RX1 is the most amazing camera for landscape and street. I’ve already blown up an image to 6 feet long and it’s razor sharp and grainless. Took my new Olympus out to Malibu this weekend for some pics of my almost 1 year old. These pictures are astonishing. I don’t care if you have the highest pixel count in the world. If you don’t have a fast camera engine and fast focus you’ll miss 35-50% of your moving or action shots. The pics I got of him in motion are incredible. And color out of the camera is just scrumptious. And you know, putting all the tech stuff aside, it just damn fun to shoot with. Small, carry it around all day and as you said the lenses are some of the sharpest I’ve ever used. I see the reflection of drool coming off his mouth. Eyelashes are sharp as a tack. So, I think you made a wise decision my friend. This camera puts the most fun and least amount of frustration into going out and just shooting for the hell of it. It always surprises you.

    1. I loved my EM-5 for shooting my kids. The AF is so fast and the IBIS is so good that I can move, aim, and shoot with a second to get an in focus tack sharp picture out of the 25mm. I never worried about holding the camera steady and carefully pressing the shutter (I put the lowest shutter shock setting at .08). I use a function button to get rid of it when taking shots of kids jumping though. 99% keeper rates but it wasn’t a full frame camera :(

      Hope Sony FF will have Oly IBIS one day and super fast AF lock.

  92. I totally agree with this choice, actually.

    The OM-D is light, yet well-constructed, powerful, ergonomically well-designed, lightning fast … and loaded with some great technology.

    Let’s just hope the M4/3 consortium can survive the increasing squeeze play they’re going to find themselves in going forward. And that Olympus’ imaging division can survive. They’re betting the farm on it.

    I’m certainly rooting for them…

    1. I like your thinking Robert , pity more American punters cannot see the light (pun intended) and embrace mirrorless in general – Olympus / Fujifilm in particular.

      1. ….above comment from David V. not the other David i have just noticed commenting . I had a long discussion with you recently on this forum Robert F. re Nikon etc.!

      2. David, it’s not that Americans don’t see the light, it’s that most of them have never heard of good Fuji or Olympus cameras. Their marketing here is shabby, at best, and near nonexistent. Pentax (Ricoh) too. If one walks into the typical large electronics store to buy a “serious” camera, one is greeted with several Canon and Nikon choices, but almost *nothing* else.

        1. Hi Smitty ,thanks for you response.This is why I find it so odd that some people are down on these great cameras/systems for lack of sales by comparison with the duopoly twins. N and C seem to spend more cash on promoting their old wares than on their r and d budget for new products. It is becoming a chicken and egg problem – not enough stimulated interest to stock the other brands, therefore no stock = no sales!

          What about the big specialist camera retailers , surely they stock all the non Canikon brands in depth.

  93. Amen.
    And someday Nikon and/or Canon will get with the program. What, leadership?
    Ain’t of course we ain’t seen nothing yet from those leaders in proctology endoscopy.
    Be well. (As you’re gonna get a poo-storm of whining)!

    1. Unfortunately the Olympus OM-D E-M1 flagship, like it’s predecessor, is plagued by shutter shock. I was so disappointed to see blurred pictures at ‘safe’ settings (i.e. 12mm f/5.6 ISO200 1/250s). And that’s with or without stabilization and with Olympus primes and the new (excellent) 12-40mm f/2.8 zoom. It’s such a great camera and I really would have loved to keep it, but the shutter shock makes it an unreliable tool for anything but occasional snapshots. Shutter shock really is something to consider when you’re in the market for a new mirrorless camera. It’s no myth and not a fiction made up by trolls and mirrorless haters.

      1. What on earth are you talking about?
        It’s not a mid-sixties Bronica!
        I’ve shot handheld down to 1/2 second with both OMD models with primes only since they’ve each been the markets AND NEVER EXPERIENCED “SHUTTER SHOCK”! No idea what the heck you’re even talking about. Nada. Zip.
        And the few times I’ve used these little buggers with a tripod same exact results. Plus I only shoot in RAW and the resulting files never have any weird “blur” visible at any level of magnification in LR5.
        Do you have a defective in body image stabilizer? Has Oly seen this in your camera body? Are you shooting with Panasonic lenses with their stabilization on too? Not supposed to you know. Conflict.
        What say you?

      2. My experience is similar to others here – I have been able to take photos handheld with my E-M1 in conditions where other cameras would be crying for a much higher ISO setting and/or a tripod, and the images show no evidence of blur caused by camera shake at all.

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