I've been using the OM-D E-M1 for around 5 months now and have finally got around to writing a user review.
I shot with an OM-D E-M5 before changing to the E-M1, and the E-M1 is a much improved camera, its size and performance are on another level compared to the great camera the E-M5 is.
I'll make the point early on that this is a user review, and not a labs test. This review is about my time and experience with the camera. Hector Martinez and the guys over at DXO Labs are the leaders in lab testing, they take cameras apart and write lab reports from component level up.
So why write a review after 5 months, well why not? Ive had plenty of time to use the camera and its travelled extensively throughout Europe, The Middle East and Australia.
Moving from using the E-M5 to the E-M1 was pretty painless, with a very small learning curve. The cameras function buttons are well laid out and intuitive to use. The body is slightly larger than the E-M5 which makes it easier in the hand, and has a perfectly placed hand grip formed as part of the body which is natural and comfortable in the hand.
The buttons and dials are laid out very well, and all have a good solid feel and are useable wearing gloves. The thumb and index finger dials on the right hand side of the camera affords changing camera values (dependant on what shooting mode is selected) and exposure bias to the index finger dial. A switch to the rear of the camera when selected changes the two dials to control ISO and white balance. This simple arrangement I find very easy and intuitive to use without needing to take my eye away from the viewfinder. Its the best dial control system I have used on this class of camera. The dials have a solid feel to them and notched graduated positions. Olympus named this dial configuration 2x2 switch.
The separate shooting mode dial has a lock button, that can be locked or unlocked by pressing the lock button on top of the dial. This camera has clearly had a high input from a photographer that actually shoots, rather than an engineer. There are several other buttons and dials on the exterior of the camera, all well laid out, and easy to use. There is an AF point activation button which again is a really well though out inclusion.
The rear screen on the E-M1 is clear bright and sharp, and the ability to angle the screen makes shooting at awkward angles a breeze. The touchscreen which allows touch focus and actuation of the shutter is another added feature which is ideal for shooting stills or video without having to hold the camera to the eye.
The E-M1 specification list is impressive. These are the key features that are most important to me:
- The flash X synch speed is 1/320th second, shooting manual off camera flash this is important to me, as it gives me more flexibility than quite a lot of other cameras.
- The 10fps is also more than adequate and matches the best DSLR equipment in that respect.
- 1/8000th second maximum shutter speed, this again matches top end DSLR cameras.
- AEB Bracketing. Being able to bracket up to 7 exposures also beats a lot or DSLR cameras.
- ISO Rating 100-25600 Again this matches the best of DSLR equipment. the ISO100 of the camera actually matches the standard ISO100, again not something I would have thought of before shooting another brand of camera, but did come to my attention.
- Image Stabilisation. Olympus have this nailed, the 5 axis IS is brilliant, it allows not only for shooting at much slower hand held stills, but the video quality is almost as if its been shot on a rig. Being built into the body of the camera, every lens fitted to the camera benefits from the image stabilisation.
- RAW shooting at all ISO values. Until recently I would never have though of this as being a big deal, but after shooting another brand of camera and finding out that that one doesn't do this, its made me appreciate the Olympus even more.
- Bult in WiFi. A handy feature which seems to work well with out any drama or setup complications. Lacking is the ability to connect to a laptop, the WiFi is designed for a phone or tablet connection.
- Flash control. The flash control system on the Olympus is well though out
The E-M1 is totally customisable, and in this review I am not even scraping the surface of how much the camera can be customised to suit the user, but Im only commenting on what I use, but the system is so flexible there are many combinations of user controls and buttons to suit the most demanding control freak.
The E-M1 uses what Olympus call "Dual Fast AF" This means the camera can use either the legacy focussing system of contrast detection, or the new on chip phase detection focussing method. This system promises a lot, and it delivers well. The E-M1 offers magnified live view and focus peaking when shooting in manual focus mode, another great well thought out addition to the camera.
What I really like about using The Olympus E-M1, and also the E-M5 before it, is the cameras ability to sometimes deliver an image which is totally different, I believe this is in part due to the size of the camera and the ability to get angles and viewpoints using the moveable screen on the camera. The E-M1 is a very versatile camera which facilitates a lot of creative options.
The camera exposes well, and delivers good well exposed pictures. With the on camera flashgun fitted, the lighting is very well controlled, and it is very easy to get a good balance between the ambient and flash light for good balanced natural looking pictures.
I use the E-M1 for lightness and portability, the E-M1 is always my go to camera and is the ideal street photographers camera. Small discreet and fast enough to get a picture without any drama.
In my opinion the The E-M1 is the best micro 4/3rds camera on the market today. Its a solid build, with well thought through and laid out controls.
If ever Olympus needed another fan, they have one in me, a forward thinking company making fantastic cameras. See my other post about how Olympus appreciate their existing customers. Olympus Stand - Professional Imaging - Holland 2014