The Olympus EM1X. Hail to the new Micro 4/3 King.

The Olympus EM1X. Hail to the new Micro 4/3 King. 

By Steve Huff

Pre Order the EM1X at B&H Photo HERE

It’s here! The brand spankin’ new Olympus Micro 4/3 EM1X and it sort of looks like a mini Canon 1dX series camera. A first for micro 4/3 as the vertical grip is now part of the camera. It is built-in, and integrated, or should I say it is “one” with the Camera.

The Olympus Pro 150-400 is coming…Oly is getting even more serious about sports, action and wildlife shooting. This lens will give you a 300-800mm equivalent focal length and could be shot handheld on the EM1X. With the new teleconverter you can go up to 2000mm equivalent, and still shoot handheld! THIS is the difference between a body like the EM1X and say a Canon 1dX. 

Olympus has built this new camera for toughness, for speed and along with the news of an upcoming 150-400 Lens, it seems Olympus is aiming at the sports and action markets with the new EM1X. That’s the bottom line. For street shooting, for casual shooting, for every day shooting the EM1 MKII is still to this day amazing and the more affordable option. For speed, for sports, for action or for wildlife when you are out in the elements, the EM1X is KING in the Micro 4/3 world. Yes it has the same old sensor, the same old EVF and AF has been improved but not in a HUGE way over the EM1 MKII. BUT, this is for those who want a seriously tough body with a larger grip (some prefer this) and better battery life.

Yes, I have one in hand but no I was not on the recent media trip with others who were testing it. I had a knee injury and could not make the trip but Olympus was kind enough to send me a camera to try out on my own, and I have only had it for 4 days at the time of this writing.

So this is not a review. I repeat, THIS IS NOT A REVIEW! (yet)!

Instead this will be my very 1st thoughts on handling, use and also some thoughts on Micro 4/3 in general and why it is a viable choice for so many of us no matter what we shoot. Some quickly trash M 4/3, and even I have had my doubts about its future but Olympus is showing here that they still have an Ace up their sleeve, and I feel many (but not all) who shoot Olympus or Panasonic M 4/3 will find the Em1X a very welcome addition to the OM-D lineup. It is just that, an addition to their current line up.

EM1X SPEC HIGHLIGHTS 

  • All new PRO model with integrated grip
  • 20.4 Megapixel Sensor
  • Dual Battery System delivers over 2800 shots on a charge
  • AF System (software upgraded) for speed and accuracy and tracking.
  • New IBIS with up to 7.5 Stops of compensation!
  • “Zero Lag” Pro Capture Mode
  • 60 fps High Speed Shooting
  • Silent Shutter Mode
  • Handheld High Res Shot mode (No Tripod Needed):
    Equivalent to 50 megapixels / 25 megapixels
    *Available in P/A/S/M mode, RAW+PPEG or PPEG.
    *PPEG: 8160 x 6120(50M) 5760 x 4320(25M) / RAW: 8160 x 6120
    *Flash can not be used
    *RAW data can be developed in-camera. You need to install Olympus Workspace to develop on a PC.
    *Electronic Shuter 1/8000 – 60 sec.
  • Redesigned button layout
  • Clear 0.83 Mag EVF
  • Improved Supersonic Wave Filter
  • Toughest Built OMD to date
  • 400,000 Actuations Shutter Life
  • Dual True Pic VIII Processors
  • Live ND filters built in:  (Shutter Priority and Manual mode only, flash can not be used, ISO up to 800, the maximum shutter speed is 1/30
    (when ND2 is set) and the speed drops if the number of ND steps is raised
  • Cinema 4K at 237 MBPS, Slow Motion 120fps in full HD..
    4096 × 2160 (C4K) / 24p / IPB (approx. 237 Mbps)
    3840 × 2160 (4K) / 30p, 25p, 24p / IPB (approx. 102 Mbps)
    1920 x 1080 (FHD) / 30p, 25p, 24p / ALL-I (A-I), IPB (SF, F, N)
    1920 x 1080 (FHD) / 60p, 50p / IPB (SF, F, N)
    1280 x 720 (HD) / 60p, 50p, 30p, 25p, 24p / ALL-I (A-I),

    29 Min time limit for recording video. 

  • OM LOG 400 for shooting video.
  • ISO up to 25,600
  • Dual SD Card Slots
  • Flip out LCD with touch focus.
  • Joystick and a touch focus LCD screen.

We also still get the art filters (which I would have dropped from this camera as I do not feel professionals use Art Filters), HDR shooting, and we also keep the live bulb, live time and the auto dust clean from the sensor which has been improved in the X.

Also note there is no 4k 60P option.

Surprise! 

The EM1X was a surprise to me when I saw it in a briefing weeks ago, and my initial thoughts, before I held one in the flesh, were mixed. Me, not being an action or sports guy and already owning the EM1 MKII and a variety of glass, well, I figured the X would be amazing but not for me personally. After shooting with one, well, no it is not for me.

I mean, the EM1 MKII is still to this day an amazing camera, over three years after its debut and it still delivers beautiful photos. The EM1 MKII is STILL fantastic. This new EM1X is more of a Niche camera though not sure how it can compete with Sony, Nikon and Canon who already own a large chunk of this space.

Now that I have the EM1X, and have held it, shot with it and experienced it there are areas where it has been improved over the EM1 MKII no doubt. It’s a quick little guy and while the images here may make it look huge it really isn’t that large. Quite a bit smaller and lighter than the full frame Canon 1dX MKII. If I were a wildlife, sports or action guy I would seriously be lusting after this new Olympus. While we have many options in this area (Sony A9, Canon 1D, Nikon D5) the only two that are built anywhere near this level (Canon 1dXII and Nikon D5) are much more expensive and larger. The Sony A9 is a killer speed demon of a camera with loads of tech but it is not built to a true pro level IMO, not when you set it side by side with the X. Yes the Sony is smaller and full frame but it is also $1500 more expensive and not a truly pro built camera when it comes to weather sealing and daily use and abuse. Also, try shooting 600mm on the A9 and keeping it small. ; ) So yes, the EM1X has advantages as a camera is not all about the sensor.

So if you want a camera that can be used, abused, rained on, frozen or dropped the EM1X is your most affordable option in this category. Let’s not forget the worlds best IN BODY IMAGE STABILIZATION, and yes, it is pretty amazing when in use, especially noticeable with video. The IBIS in the EM1X is pretty otherworldly and beyond anything in any current full frame body.

Next to the EM1 MKII – Much taller ; ) 

This thing is a mini tank. 

The EM1X is built very tough. As I eluded to above, it is freeze proof, shock proof, weather proof. Take it out in a hailstorm, rainstorm, blizzard or whatever the situation brings and the camera will survive it. Olympus has always been at the top when it comes to weather sealing and the EM1X is no exception. My EM1 MKII has been in rain, snow and extreme heat and cold. Never an issue. The new EM1X is even tougher.

To be clear, the Em1X is built a few levels above something like a Sony A7RIII, A9 or Canon EOS-R. If you need a TOUGH camera, it doesn’t get much tougher than this.

Feel and Handling

The EM1X feels great in the hand and due to its smaller and thinner size, it never feels cumbersome when holding it. It feels very “right” to me. Those who shoot the EM1 series will feel right at home with the X as it gives you the same feel, vibe and controls. Menu system is also similar to previous models.

Three quick snapshots with the X and 12-100 Lens. What is amazing is the 12-100 Lens, when used with the EM1X gives us 7.5 Stops of compensation! I have heard that one can take a 5 second handheld shot with this combo and get sharp results. Crazy! Click images for large, EXIF is intact.

AF tracking and Speed

I received this camera a day before leaving for a road trip and one of the stops on this trip was Disneyland (what I bought Debby for Christmas). I had the EM1X with me and took a few snapshots but this is not in any way a snapshot camera. In fact. this camera is built for speed much like a Sony A9 or Canon 1DXII and I can also see it being used by Micro 4/3 Wedding Pros or Portrait Pros. This is a true pro body and yes Micro 4/3 can hang with the big boys when it comes to IQ, as long as you use good glass and do not expect full frame f/0.95 Depth of Field or high ISO. Hmm, those dang cons of Micro 4/3 are still here.

Oh, and Olympus makes some amazing Glass. The f1.2 Pro Primes are stunning. See a recent video I did on a few of my faves below…

I managed to do some focus tracking tests and from my early testing it does seem the tracking is working very good but I will need to work with the camera more before I can really judge this. Again, I just received the camera and I am not one to whip up reviews in a day or two. Takes me some time using a camera to get used to the controls, the way it works and the various AF modes. I want to say the $899 Sony A6400 has better AF tracking but again, have to work more with the EM1X to be sure. 

So far the AF speed and tracking seems excellent for photos and even video. I will have a video review within 2-3 weeks.

It’s TOO LARGE?!?!?

I can hear it now, and have already seen it in the rumor forums from when this was just a rumor (I was under NDA and could not comment on the rumors). Some have said Olympus have lost their way with the X. It’s too large and is the opposite of what this Micro 4/3 system was to be about. Some think Micro 4/3 will go the way of standard 4/3, and even I was predicting a decline of M 4/3 just months ago due to the intense competition within the full frame mirrorless space.

Today there is serious competition for Micro 4/3.

We have mirrorless offerings from Canon, Nikon and Sony that are all housing full frame sensors, and come in for less than the Em1X. So how can this camera compete in todays camera world?

Well, again…the EM1X is made for speed. Cameras like the Nikon Z, EOS-R and even Sony A7III or RIII are not.

The EM1X is made to be tough and withstand the elements. The others are not built to nearly the same level or with this kind of weather protection.

The EM1X is made to give you power to last all day, or longer. With its dual battery system built into the camera we get two of those large EM1 MKII batteries in the X. My camera came in a retail box with TWO battery chargers. There will not be a dual charger from what I understand. While Sony has great battery life, the EM1X will last longer due to implementing two batteries.

The 1st image had the Grainy B&W Art Filter Applied. Dark room, ISO 1600, 12-100 f/4

The EM1X is smaller than a comparable camera like the Canon 1DX MKII and almost half the cost as well. I have shot with the 1DXII extensively and feel it is one of the best cameras I have ever shot with, but the size and heft meant it stayed home and did video duty. The EM1X is a camera I would take out (and will as I evaluate this body) anywhere as while it is larger than other M 4/3 cameras it is not a monstrosity.

The EM1X is less expensive than a Sony A9, and offers a more “Pro” build and feel. You will get less DR and more noise at high ISO with the Olympus though.

The EM1X is able to use some of the best lenses on the market, that are also much smaller than their full frame equivalents. Try shooting 600mm on a Sony. How much money will it take and how much size will you have to lug around?

While testing video shooting I found the AF to work much better for me than my Em1MKII does, unless it is the 12-100 lens making the AF faster (I have not shot much with this lens on the EM1 MKII). Even so, it was not shockingly good. I was hoping for better video AF than my Canon EOS-R but this doesn’t seem to beat the Canon dual pixel AF when it comes to video.

Yes it is true that we still have limitations with Micro 4/3. For me those have always been shooting in really low light when ISO above 6400 is needed. Due to the smaller sensor, there will always be more noise with a Micro 4/3 camera over full frame. Full frame will also offer a more shallow DOF with fast lenses but just how shallow do you need? I find the Olympus 17, 25 and 45 f/1.2 Pro Primes to be a solution to that limitation, and ever since those lenses have been released I have had no complaints about shallow DOF or “bokeh” with Micro 4/3 cameras. These are some of the nicest lenses I have ever owned regardless of cost or brand.

A few snaps with the 12-100, and these are JPEGS not from RAW. Again, I will write up a full review on this camera soon so be sure and check back for that.

HANDHELD HIGH RES SHOT

BELOW is a 100% crop from High Res Shot mode at 50 Megapixel. Click it to see the 100% crop. Yes you can handhold a 50 MP high res shot. A tripod can be used but due to the amazing IBIS in this body it is not needed. 


This is Pro Level. 

So make no mistake, the EM1X is a serious pro camera. I knew that the moment I took it out of the box and handled it and admired its amazing build and feel. I knew it when I charged the dual batteries and fired it up as this is one quick camera. I knew it when I looked through the viewfinder at that large EVF (but there are better EVF’s out there today) and I knew it when I saw experienced the world best image stabilization with 7.5 Stops of Compensation when using the incredible 12-100 f/4 lens.

This is the new King of Micro 4/3 when it comes to all I have mentioned here (build, speed, etc) and in fact there is nothing in Micro 4/3 that comes close to the capabilities or build of this camera. Wether it is for you is another question. Do you need the speed, the weather resistance and the bulletproof build more than you need a full frame sensor? Do you want or prefer a larger camera? While I am not 100% sure what to make of this offering, or how it will compete against the full frame giants, I applaud Olympus for releasing another Micro 4/3 model, showing their commitment to the format and offering yet another option to Micro 4/3 users.

The Olympus EM1X is priced at $2999 in the USA and $3899 in Canada. Will begin shipping in late Feb 2019.

PRE ORDER

You can pre-order the Em1X at B&H Photo HERE. 

I will have a full review of the camera soon as this is not a review, just an overview and hands on report. I have had the camera for only four days and need more time with it to test it and evaluate it as there is so much here to dig into.

I also HIGHLY recommend the 12-100 f/4 Lens. With this lens on the EM1X you will have the best image stabilization system on the market. It’s a highly versatile lens, great for photo and video and has outstanding IQ. It gets my highest recommendation for a Micro 4/3 lens. You can order the 120-100 at Amazon HERE. 

 


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66 Comments

    • That says it all right there! These Olympus cameras can hold their own and then some. As I always see, most cameras today, all of them over $1000 are better than 99.8% of US. That link has some of the most amazing wildlife photos I have seen, and shows the power of Micro 4/3 in the right hands. But most today think they need things they do not need. Thanks for the link.

    • Those are OMG!!! Images!

      I’m sure Steve doesn’t mind me quoting another reviewer who used to always say, “the camera doesn’t matter”

      Of course it does these days….in some ways…

      But quoting Steve….paraphrasing anyway….

      ALL pro level cameras these days can produce amazing quality images

      The Oly pro cams are not just good enough. They are as good as 99.9% will ever need

  1. Hi Steve!

    I am very much looking forward to your full review. You hint about a comparison between the EM1-X and you prograde Canon 1DX2. I look forward to read about that. Will you rent a 600 mm L lens and compare it with the EM1-X with a 300 mm lens? I would love to read about the user difference of those and would like to know if there still is a size advantage to the Olympus.

    Cheers!

    • I have to say, the EM1X is not anything like a 1DX. They may share the same shape, and the Olympus is smaller but they do not feel the same, shoot the same, nor have the same IQ (1dX wins here). The EM1X if I can be honest, confuses me. It’s really a niche camera. Sports, Action, wildlife or well, even Trains. I have been shooting it and I am not finding any capabilities it has that other cameras do not (besides using it with the 300mm lens and keeping it small). Besides the handheld high res (which to me is more of a gimmick) mode it’s a beefier EM1MKII with intelligent AF tracking modes added. Same sensor, same IQ, EVF is similar, and the 1DXII feels like a true pro camera in use, it’s truly astounding. The Em1X feels like a EM1II in a bigger body. Now, I am not a sports guy, or action guy nor do I shoot wildlife so I am not sure my review will do justice to the camera. I shoot live music, sometimes in low light clubs, and in this area it’s not a good choice. I shoot street sometimes, and for the money (for street) I would take a Leica CL and Lens over the Em1X. If I were a sports pro, I would take a Sony A9 above all. So I am not sure where this camera fits, unless one is within M 4/3 and wants to stay there and they need a camera for sports or wildlife in all weather. I guess I will say if I were a wildlife guy, this would be the camera I would choose. The EM1X and 300mm f/4 would be a killer combo for wildlife and withstand any weather.

      • Honest and to the point. I was hoping to buy one based on all rumors Olympus released before the actual camera. The rumors said “next gen sensor with quality that rival Fuji XT-3”, well not really as it turned out. Best in class AI supported AF that automatically identifies a locked subject and changes AF-point to suit the object. A huge viewfinder, etc. All these promises led me to expect too much and I have to admit that the hype got to me because my initial response to the actual camera when released was confusion and disappointment. I have taken up bird photography in the last few years and have the EM1-mk2 with batterygrip and the 300 mm pro. The AF struggles with birds in flight and if I use the 1.4X teleconverter it more or less breaks the C-AF. The lens gets too “dark”. The camera struggle way to much to keep a lock on the bird in anything but the brightest light. I am sure I have some more tuning to do of the AF but that´s one thing I hoped would be stellar in the new EM1-X.
        Also, the price is 3000$ in the US but here in Sweden it is upped to 3500$ (US) making it even harder to swallow.
        If Tamron or someone else made a great zoom like the 150-600 mm G2 lens for Sony E mount I would consider that just to get the AF. I can get that lens and an A7III body for almost 120$ less than the price for just the EM1-X body.
        I may just stay with my gear and stop lusting for better AF. I really can not fault the lenses or the pictures I get. But for birding I wish for a better combo.

        My dream camera would be a APS-C version of the A9 and a Tamron or Sigma zoom with an E-mount to get the focus speed, all for a decent price.

        Have a nice weekend!

        Stefan

      • Steve, your review (preview?) is the most objective I have seen thanks. Re your nightclub shooting, it is claimed the X has the lowest EV level of AF of any camera. Surely that would be a benefit for you?

        • Yea this was more os a preview. As for the AF, it’s great but the low light performance is not (when compared to full frame, or even something like a Fuji X-T3).

          • Hi Steve!
            A lot of us hang on your every word since you have an honest way to test and describe how you feel about cameras. A recommendation from you is in other words carrying some weight when we try to decide if a camera is worth buying. I wonder, do you plant to make a proper “review” of the EM1-X or does it lack the Mojo you need to bother with it? I am still curious about the camera.

            Keep up the good work!

            Stefan

  2. Alrighty I get that $3Gs is way more expensive than FF S1, A7xx, EosR, Z1.

    WILDLIFE “ALL WEATHER” LIGHTWEIGHT BODY SMALL 400mm LENS LARGE REACH
    : tough to beat E1MX + Panasonic Leica 100-400mm
    becomes 800mm, 1200mm with in body magnification.

    1200mm FF need a VAN !! $180Gs Yikes in B&H.
    800mm FF neck Ache back Ache Hernia. $10Gs = 10x price Panny 400mm $1G.

    8bit Video Biiig LET DOWN should been 10Bits.
    EVF Biiig LET DOWN should been 5MP EVF. SERIOUS OMISSIONS.

    IF EM1X had 10Bit Video 5MP EVF THEN :
    # EM1X + Panny 100-400mm would been THE WILDLIFE camera Antarctica, Alaska, Siberia, Amazon Rain Forest for me.
    # EM1X would been THE National Geographic camera with F1.2 Olympus Pro lenses for me.

    As it stands I shall WAIT until EM1Xii has 10Bit video 5MP EVF.

    • That Oly 150-400mm Pro F4 constant looks like THE WILDLIFE “ALL WEATHER” lens.

      I’d TAKE IT ANY DAY OF THE WEEK over Monster Hernia inducing Slipped Disc making FF 800mm.

  3. This camera has indeed very good IBIS but the price is crazy especially when the marketing strategy is to present it as a sport camera – When you need High shutter speed for indoor to forecast weather the High ISO of the m43 sensor is just not there IBIS or not.I don’t see any pro switching to m43 any soon.
    This system is great for travel or for hobbyist ( and so are the $2k A7III or $1400 XT3…) asking so much money is ridiculous IMO

  4. I just cannot imagine speed without excellent high-ISO-capability. Sport is not only about speed, many cameras are fast enough.
    Its of course about lenses with good or very good bokeh and most of all about gathering light. Many sport events are at night, sparely lit evenings or in rainy or grey conditions or even in not-so-well lit indoor Arenas.
    Stabilizer or not, you need very fast shutter speeds in all of those conditions.
    So what should i think about the OMD-EM 1X? Is it on par with the D5 or the 1DX II? Can it really help in those conditions? Or can i just say it is lighter and smaller so it was convenient when i took the photos?
    These are the questions for me when Olympus states that it is a competition to the field of sports cameras.

  5. The ‘standard’ press camera used to the 5″ x 4″ Speed Graphic then, along came the Rolleiflex 2¼” square, which took over because it did the job and was more convenient. Then along came the Nikon, which had the ruggedness, service support, and was more convenient. The size of the format was not the top consideration for pro photographers. IF the E-M1X proves to be able to do the job, have the technical support, and is more convenient (smaller lenses, no tripod needed) then it can find a place.

  6. I am tempted. Combine it with the 12-100 and there is the ultimate travelcamera. Compared with a Nikon D5 and the af-s 24-120/f4 I would definately go with the Olympus.

  7. I never got a MKII as the EM1 was a great camera for what I do. But my wife is already working the EMX into the budget. The bigger size will make in a much better camera with The 200/2.8 and 300/4. The balance should make tracking easier. I can see no better way to shoot long handheld. If besides vehicles it tracked jockeys and horses faces and most especially birds flying through woods, I would have preordered. I still think micro four third is the best way to shoot long. Just as in film days 35 was shot longer than large format and medium format. Olympus seems to know its niche. 2000 handheld is such a priceless dream. All cameras have capabilities and limitations. I think I have found my fit. Although of course another system is needed for its capabilities. Perhaps your readers can understand that better than my wife. 🙂

  8. Maybe there is some problem with your camera, IQ doesn’t seem to be on pair with other Oly pictures by you.

  9. I shoot in the street with an Olympus PEN with 135mm f/2 and no one notices me because the lens is only 100mml long. Full frame I’d need about a 300mm f/4, three times longer.

    I did a rock concert with the “crummy” Olympus 40-150 f/5.6, which retracted is about 70mm long. Great shots and again no one saw me using it.

    I shoot insects with a 200 mm macro, eq to 400mm, reproduction ratio up to 2:1. infeasible with full frame.

    MFT is fantastic. Why would I need full frame? I make very nice shots with a point and shoot with 12 megapix 4x6mm sensor size. Of course, if you print to ten feet large and want to scrutinize that print from six inches distant on sharpness,100 megapix may not cut it!!!

    The smaller the camera, the more flexibility and the more you actually carry it and the more good images you make. So much the better if that small camera is very, very good!

    Serious, what I want is a MFT camera with 16 bits per channel. Now THAT would make a difference!!! Far more important than sensor size!

    Dirk.

    • What you said is pretty much my sentiment. If I shot sports, or if I was a press photographer, I would be using something like this. “Muh image quality” is certainly not a trivial factor, but getting the shot is more important. Sports shooters did very well with 35mm for several decades.

  10. EM1x Hamburg Event Germany – been there.

    My thoughts on this one. Having Used E1 to E5 EM1 and now GH5:

    150-400 F4.5
    This lens is just a winner. The size comparison at dpreview is misleading. It is bigger then the 300mm but far less then you think. Definitely made for hand hold shooting. Mine! Will replace the 300mm straight away. Can’t wait. I would guess it will priced 3899,- EUR

    Now the EM1X

    Now there is lot to talk about. Ive been a long time Olympus User since the E1 as stated above, but switched to GH5 for Video and other improvements over the EM1

    Now body Design. Everyone who had an E3 / E5 will smile. It’s smaller but you will recognise. Otherwise it’s spot on. I personal love the size, but I use powergrips. And it’s way smaller in use compared to a D5 etc. Olympus done a great job here!

    EVF
    Now this one will be chocking . Compared with the GH5. The difference in resolution is noticeable. But the EM1x is faster, brighter, cleaner , more accurate. I would say for sports and action is the superior choice, otherwise I may give the EM1X a notch but not more.the 120FPS with full images is the reason why Olympus stayed withe the 2.4MP.

    Handheld Highres
    This is awesome and definitely something a lot will use. It takes maybe a five to ten seconds to calculate. Very very usable.

    LiveND
    Seems great but a bummer that’s not for Video..

    Else? Well you can charge from a powerbank.

    AF
    Well, you couldn’t test CAF – but the way it was explained with the CAF tracking it looked like a big improvement. Tested the 300mm and it was a very very fast in AF front to back. It felt like a good jump in the right direction.

    Final Thoughts:
    So for me, especially with the 150-400 this seems a no brainier price permitting…

    For video folks it’s not the Camera. It just lacks compared to the GH5.

    It’s an outdoor action wildlife camera and for that I think it’s spot on. 

    Yes there are areas for improvement but it does what it’s made for and once the price is about 2-2.5k it’s fairly reasonable. 

    B

  11. Wow, $3K for a camera that looks as big as my Nikon D5 and M4:3? IMHO, once Nikon fixes their issues regarding AF-C and tracking, their Z System is so much more desirable, although Thom Hogan believes it’s all user error, there are no issues. Another conversation, however. Slice the pie how one wishes, it’s micro 4:3. Sorry Oly, your trick bag is approaching empty. I do not see many putting significant money into this system.

  12. I own both Sony and Oly. I love my Oly system, em1mk2, and it is almost the go to camera when paired with the 12-100 f4. I do find myself picking up the Sony a7riii more due to its focus system being more superior. I wish this iteration can improve the basic continuous focus but seems not. The ibis of oly gives m43 huge advantages in many scenarios, such as low light on non moving subjects, like shooting NYC nightscape at the top of empire state with iso 200 at 1 sec. Many just haven’t used Oly and don’t understand

  13. Presumably from this will flow the EM1.3 ie launch the exciting technology developments for the pros who may or not be enticed based on the comments here….and then us amateurs will pick up the developments in the next incarnation the EM1.2. ie without the vertical and horizontal bulky grips. This will keep the series small.Give it 6 mths

    And I am looking fwd to that 150-400 zoom

  14. Interesting. I have a Pen F, EM1m2, Sony A9 and Sony A7rIII. We live next to a state park. From my perspective this camera + the 150-400 might be the perfect combo to snag the bald eagles next door. I’ve tried it handholding with the 300mm. The extra stops IS would just about nail it I believe and the flexibility of the long zoom could be a great combo. Adding the same capability to the Sony system would be cost and size prohibitive and still require a tripod.

    My wife loves the EM1 combined with the 12-100 on trips. Looks like the local dealer here in Indy has a factory dog and pony show on the 13th. I might pop on down.

    I do agree with many comments that this is a very niche offering and I’m not sure they are going to get the sports market. The larger sensor for indoor sport shooting events makes a real difference. Also, ultimate resolution favors lenses with FF in final output so not sure for the landscape side of what I do this camera offers a benefit over the Sony.

    It’d be interesting seeing some Olympus glass MTF curves in 50 megapixel mode. As a travel camera with the 12-100 lens combined with the new long zoom if the travel involves wildlife shooting (We’ve got an Alaska trip coming up in August) this might be a really effective combination.

    That 5 second handheld at 7.5 stops comes out to about 1/45 of a second. So hand held waterfall shots with build in ND filter built in at 1 or 2 sec exposure is really compelling as a hiking combo.

    Yep, I’m interested.

  15. My first thoughts? Too big and too specialized for me. I’m not really an action shooter so this amazing tool is not in my comfort zone

    BUT 50mp his res handheld is soooooo intriguing. Future of 43? Depends on what sells I guess. Seems to me thought that the question of better/worse is off the mark. 43 is not less than ff…if is different than ff.

    Lens size options are still an advantage. Do some crazy comparisons. The IQ of these cams are awesome.

    The differences between these and ff cams is more about characteristics than strengths/weaknesses.

    I may garb an emx1 just because it’s amazing and can do some amazing things.

    My preference though? PenF2….Em1mk3 w the 50mp hi res handheld

    …as an aside..I have the oly pro lenses but picked up the 17 1.8 today just for the size advantage. What a GREAT little lens.

  16. I was really hoping all those rumors were wrong and the em1x turned out to be a full frame camera! It appears to be nice camera, though I won’t be buying one…nevertheless I appreciate your review Steve!

        • They decided to go all in and partner with Leica, using their SL mount. Also with Sigma for lenses. Therefore we will already have lenses we can use, or even use M glass with the Leica adapter, with the S1. Olympus has not partnered with Leica or Sigma nor are there any plans by them to create a full frame system. They are all in on M 4/3. Panasonic could only do it with the help of Leica and Sigma and we have yet to see if it will be a success. I think the S1 will be very SL like, but in a Panasonic (ergo) form with improved specs and sensor.

  17. I’m sure this is a great camera, but I don’t see it doing well. The comparisons to FF will come whether people like it or not. Olympus hitched their horse to the M4/3 wagon and I think it will be their sword to die on. Even Panasonic saw the writing on the wall and has a FF camera coming.

    The tech in this camera looks amazing, as do some of the lenses. That said, my prediction is Olympus is out of business within 5 years if they don’t offer larger format cameras.

  18. I’m more interested in the forthcoming telephoto and converters for extreme reach for birding along with my E-M1.2 (which performs quite well).
    The size and weight of the EM1X is a big negative for me for air travel and longer birding hikes. For action sports and everyday shooting, I’ll take my A9.
    Thanks for the first look at the EM1X. I look forward to your full review. I have not yet made a buying decision for or against the EM1X. However, I don’t yet see that it provides a compelling advantage over the E-M1.2 for birding.

  19. This seems to be a final thrust for Olympus to be relevant in a photographic world where half frame is becoming less and less important. The idea that professional photographers are going to use this high price camera for their critical work is simply wishful thinking. Make no mistake, Olympus cameras and lenses are high quality. But the 4/3 world is shrinking and Olympus’s efforts to continue too be relevant will not be well served by a camera, such as this, which is too expensive for amateurs, and does not really fit the sensor size or pixel content needed by semi professionals and professionals.

    • There are many professional applications that do not require a higher MP count. Most content these days has switched to digital. For those that produce content for print the largest they may require is a two page spread which the MP count of this camera could easily handle. (Just my two cents as a professional photographer)

    • Yes, i think you are right.
      In my opinion Olympus will pay and equip Pros to make good pictures with that system. So they can sell the smaller cameras better when they say even at Top-Sport Events Olympus is used. That’s all about that camera.

    • I’m a working professional … Real Estate , Event and Theatre mostly and I ONLY use M45 Olympus …. don’t judge what professionals need. Its not all about the Olympics! I’m looking forward to getting my EM1x

  20. I am not sure why anyone would call this monster camera the king of MFT. If anything, this is the camera that marks the downfall of MFT. I can’t wrap my head around this thing. What did they smoke at Olympus? A one kilo body as large as a DLSR, with a forced battery grip. All the advantages of MFT (small, compact, light) flushed down the toilet. For what?

    I think I am done here with Olympus. Looks like I have to sell my gear and switch to Sony. I tried to avoid that as long as I could, but this direction Oly is heading to is just crazy. Crazy stupid.

    • It’s a specialized camera, just as the 1dX is to Canon. It’s built for sports and action and all out ruggedness. The EM1 MKII is still a current model for those who do not need this kind of AF tracking and speed. Simple. It’s another option among the sea of Micro 4/3 options.

    • I think people miss the point. The entire camera kit IS small and light, by a huge order of magnitude. Not compared to a PEN-F and 17mm F/1.8, but compared to a Canon 1DX with a 300mm F/2.8.

      http://j.mp/2Rhps2s

  21. Having ‘grown up’ since the late 1960’s as a pro photographer with heavy film gear – Rollei 6×6 , pentax 6×7 , linhof 4×5″ , Nikon F etc – I have little issues with a big heavy camera. But as my retirement is slowing me down a bit and I am focusing more and more on Panorama photography – stitching multiple photos together I quickly decided less than a day after official available this beauty is not for me. Primarily the cost – secondary the speed features are not needed in my work – and third: Olympus Australia offers a huge $400 rebate on a new OMD EM1 II on top of already big shop discounts- so I replace my aging original EM1 and EM5 for the still exciting EM1 II for the friendly sum of AUD$ 1498 – free delivery, a saving of AUD $3000 over the new price of the EMX . A no nrainer in my situation. But if you’re a serious sports or wildlive photographer : I would seel the kids and all their toys to buy this beast 🙂

    • where is the EM1.2 at that price? For that money I’d buy one. the cheapest I see is $2300AUD. Oly web site has it at $2799AUD

  22. A very exciting release. The price makes it a no for me..
    The comparison to Full Frame is so back to the past, as sensors are not film.
    Bigger may be better (sensor) but for majority of users pro, serious or totally fun,
    it makes no difference anymore! Sure if one shoots at those high ISO and makes those huge prints..I am a daily shooter with small sensors have more than sufficed.
    My tiny toy digitals give clearer images than my film cameras, with high scans..
    Canon, Leica, Nikon, Pentax cannot compete except in way less distortion..
    I have an early OLympus digital that uses that odd card..2GB tops!
    Beautiful colors but grain like pebbles in bad light.
    I love using it and producing.
    The big camera companies are hoping to “redo the 60’s and 70’s with systems.
    It ain’t gonna happen.Everybody who cares about making images wants smaller and lighter. Never forget the elephant in room.
    The superb images from cell phones..

  23. I was really hoping all those rumors were wrong and the em1x turned out to be a full frame camera! It appears to be nice camera, though I won’t be buying one…nevertheless I appreciate your review Steve!

  24. Thanks Steve. Interesting developments, I love the 4/3 format. I would like to see some RAW’s as the fringing around the tree limbs in the first shot in the twilight is quite distracting (well let’s say poor) – but am not sure how much of that is jpg artefact.

  25. I will be interested for you full review. Honestly, it looks like too much recycled tech from the E-M1 Mark II to warrant the high price.

  26. Like you predict in your article, I too have been seeing a lot of negative comments about this camera by people who do not use Olympus gear or who have never seen this new camera. Olympus keeps pushing a lot of the technological envelope in the photographic world, but no matter how much they give, the armies of fanboys out there will never cut it any slack. As an owner of the E-M1 Mark II, this new camera is not for me, but there is no denying that companies like Olympus are giving their customers technological innovations that the big players continue to deny theirs. Doesn’t seem to matter to fanboys, though, but I dare say that if any of them were riding on the back of a motorcycle in the Tour de France taking photos of the action, or hiking miles up snow-covered mountains to photograph action sports, what Olympus is putting today in the market will matter a lot. And like Steve says, if you couple these top Olympus cameras with their Pro line of lenses, a lot of those “advantages” of FF systems simply disappear. Fanboys can’t accept this and will hear none of it, but the facts are the facts. After all, no one turns down a meal at a classy restaurant because it was not cooked with a certain kind of cookware. The flavor speaks for itself, and so do the photographs.

    • I am not sure why you have to insult people as fanboys. I for one have been an Olympus MFT user for almost 10 years now, I basically own all of their pro lenses and three bodies. This new E-M1x is what will make me switch to Sony. Pushing the boundaries you say? You got that right. But into the wrong direction. Why would anyone buy a MFT camera (that’s supposed to be small and lightweight) that weighs a kilo, is as large as a full blown DSLR, and comes in at a price of 3000? It is ridiculous.

      • How does this camera in any way diminish the value of their other small cameras that they DO produce? This is a niche camera for those that are going to use the new larger lenses that they are coming out with. Those lenses are better served by a camera that is larger and has a built in grip. You don’t have to buy it or like it, they will continue to make the cameras you like as well. For those that will be shooting outdoor sports this camera might be a much lighter and more affordable option than a 1Dx and an 800mm lens and give results that would hardly be that much different. The advantage of M43 has really been about the lens size anyway. It’s about time they made a body that is actually a more manageable size.

  27. Given $5000 for camera gear – this camera and two $1000 lenses – I’m not sure this is the approach I would take. Micro 4/3 will become an increasingly small niche and regardless of Olympus quality, it doesn’t seem like a good investment.
    I’d probably be more interested in panasonic’s new full frame offering if we can ever figure out what it is. Olympus seems to have hit all the buttons – weatherproofing, dual card slots, etc., but they may be three years too late.

  28. Ahh how I miss those Olympus Colors. I chose to go with the Nikon Z7 and traded in my Olympus OMD-Em-1 mark 2 and the Pana/Leica 42.5 lens to help fund the purchase. I knew I would miss it the minute I traded it in but how many cameras does a hobbyist need or can justify to their spouse might be the better way to frame it. Anyway looking forward to the write up. My Olympus Mark 2 was faster than the Z7 so this one must be a speed demon. The Micro 4/3rd lenses are great as well, not too big just the perfect size. And it all looks pro….I had the 12-100 lens and it looked like a serious lens. Anyway thanks for the introductory write up to what no doubt is a great camera.

  29. Would like to see an upgrade to the Pen-F, a camera I really enjoy. This one is way to bulky for me.

  30. Honestly I’m more excited about that new 2000MM f2.8 Pro Lens (35 equiv). You’ll soon be able to buy a EM-1 II for about 1500. Add a grip and that is about all I’d be willing to spend on M43 body to accommodate that new lens. Three grand for an M43 body NO F’ING WAY. You can’t fight physics … and the Sony FF is just to damn good these days for 2 grand. Oly may have stumbled on this one and should have gone FF like Panny IMHO.

  31. Ill be frank- those 50 mp handheld shots not showing what I would expect 50 MP shots to be. Seem a bit blurry.

    Honestly, I just don’t think this addressed the top priorities of the system. And the Sony A9 could be had for just $500 more over this camera during Xmas.

    • there are reviews out there… or comparisons that the handheld 50mb is indeed a tad softer than when used on a tripod.. but handheld 50MP seems very useable in a pinch.

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