Photo Gear

Should You Upgrade to the Olympus OM-D E-M1?

Olympus just announced their next generation OM-D E-M1 Micro Four Thirds camera.  The OM-D E-M1 is also a replacement for the Olympus E-1 Four Thirds camera.   As of now, Olympus plans for the E-M1 and E-M5 to coexist in their Micro Four Thirds lineup.

The E-M1 has an innovative Dual Fast Autofocus that uses contrast detection for Micro Four Thirds Lenses and phase detection autofocus for Four Thirds lenses for faster autofocusing.  Four Thirds lenses still require a lens adapter on the OM-D E-M1.  The Olympus OM-D E-M1 also uses phase detection autofocus for Micro Four Thirds lenses which should improve the continuous autofocus tracking from the E-M5.

Olympus OMD EM1 Front

Other main features of the OM-D E-M1 over the smaller E-M5 is a built in grip and more buttons and controls on the top of the camera versus using the Super Control Panel on the LED.

Other improvements over the Olympus OM-D E-M5 are:

  • Built-in Wi-Fi
  • In-camera HDR blending with two modes
  • Max shutter speed of 1/8000 of a second vs. 1/4000 of a second for the E-M5
  • Focus Peaking.  The addition of focus peaking should help with manual focusing over the E-M5.
  • New True Pic VII processor with lens corrections
  • Built-in microphone socket
  • Flash X-sync socket
  • Freeze proof body to -10C
  • 10 fps in continuous shooting mode with 6.5 fps with continuous autofocus between shots.  The OM-D E-M5 has 9 fps in continuous shooting mode with 4.2 fps in continuous autofocus.

Olympus OM-D E-M1 Top

Some of the other features of the camera were not significantly improved from the OM-D E-M5.

  • The ISO range was lowered to 100 on the low end but the high end remained at 25,600.
  • 16 megapixel resolution on the new E-M1 vs. 17 MP on the E-M5.
  • The weight of the OM-D E-M1 is slightly greater than the E-M5.  The E-M1 weighs in at approximately 1.09 lbs while the E-M5 is only at 15 ounces.
  • The Olympus OM-D E-M1 is also larger than the E-M5. The E-M1 is 5.1 x 3.7 x 2.5 inches while to OM-D E-M1 is smaller at 4.8 x 3.5 x 1.7”.

Summary

The Olympus O-MD E-M1 has introduced some nice new features.  The use of phase detection autofocus, higher frames per second, built-in Wi-Fi, and focus peaking are the features that most interest me for nature photography. 

The camera also didn’t get too large or heavy for travel photography.  Although, the size of the camera did increase over the E-M5 and is starting to creep up to crop sensor size.

Overall, I think I’ll wait on purchasing the Olympus OM-D E-M1.  The key to me is testing the improvement in the quality of the continuous autofocus tracking with the use of phase detection autofocus. 

I’m also disappointed that Olympus did not include built in GPS in the camera.  The addition of GPS would make the OM-D E-M1 a terrific travel camera.

Olympus also raised the price of the E-M1.  The camera body only is going for $1399.  The OM-D E-M5 was recently selling for $1,299 with the 12-50mm lens included.  I think it’s worth waiting for the price to drop.

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