OM System OM-1 Camera - Front View
Olympus / OM System,  Photo Gear

Comparing the Olympus OM-1 (WOW Camera), OM-D E-M1 Mark III, and OM-D E-M1X. Should You Upgrade to the OM-1?

The new OM System / Olympus OM-1 (WOW Camera) has finally been announced.  The Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark III was released almost 2 years ago on February 28, 2020.  I use both names (OM System & Olympus) in this blog since both names are on the front of the OM-1 camera.

The OM-1 has a 3 times faster TruePic X processor and an updated 4/3” Stacked BSI Live MOS Sensor that is faster and has increased dynamic range. See below for some of the notable features and update to the OM-1 camera. There is a table at the bottom of the blog with a full specification and feature comparison.

Notable New Features and Updates for the New OM Digital / Olympus OM-1 (WOW Camera)

  • Increased resolution of the view finder to 5.76M dots from 2.36M dots on the E-M1 Mark III and E-M1X.
  • Increased resolution of the LCD Monitor to 1,620,000 screen pixels from 1,037,000 screen pixels on the E-M1 Mark III and E-M1X.
  • Improved dynamic range by 1 stop & 2 stop better noise performance
  • Increased AF Working Range down to -5.5EV
  • AF Points greatly Increased to 1,053 from 121 on the E-M1 Mark III and E-M1X
  • Max ISO Raised to 102,400, Low ISO was raised to 80 from 64
  • Increased the maximum number of sequential shooting frames to 120 fps without blackout [SH1 mode] from 60 fps on the E-M1X and E-M1 Mark III.  However, the buffer will fill up at 92 frames in SH1 mode.  That means you can only shoot at 120 fps for less than a second before the buffer fills up.
  • Increase to 50 fps with C-AF.
  • Independent AEL and AF-ON buttons
  • Added Dog and Cat tracking to AI Detection AF
  • Improved Face and Eye Detect AF
  • Live ND increased up to ND64 from ND32 on the E-M1 Mark III and E-M1X
  • Improved weatherproofing
  • Improved menu system with a feature that tells you why a menu item is grayed out.
OM System OM-1 Camera - Rear View
OM System OM-1 Camera – Rear View

OM-1 Features that I’m Excited About

  • 1 Stop improvement in dynamic range & 2 stops of better noise performance.  This will be great for early morning, low light photography.
  • Increase in the Pro Capture frame rate while autofocusing from 18 to 50 fps.  There is a lot of attention on the 120fps but the additional fps in what is currently ProCapture L will help to capture bird take offs.
  • Increase in the C-AF frame rate to 50fps for birds in flight photography.
  • Faster TruePIC X processor and new sensor. The faster processor and new sensor should lead to faster computational photography features (Focus Stacking, Handheld HDR, Handheld High Res Shot, etc.)

Features I’m Disappointed that Were Not in the OM-1

  • More Megapixels.  It would have been nice to get a few more megapixels (24mp).  This would be helpful if you are cropping in on bird and wildlife photographs.  I’m wondering if a larger image size would slow down the cameras Artificial Intelligence (AI) features and that is why it is not being upgraded.
  • Increased Buffer Size.  With the increase in frames per second (fps) to 120, it would have been nice to shoot longer than 1 second before the buffer fills up.
  • Astro Tracking functionality.  This was a feature that is in Pentax cameras that was rumored to be in the OM-1. There is no built-in GPS in the camera so this feature will not be coming via firmware update.
  • No battery charger in the box for the new BLX-1 lithium-ion battery. It can be charged via USB-C in camera.

Should You Upgrade to the OM-1?

Upgrading your camera is a personal decision.  It depends on how happy you are with your current camera and any limitations of your current camera that are preventing you from your achieving your photography goals.

The Olympus OM-1 is a nice camera upgrade with some exciting new features.  Two features really excite me about the OM-1 camera:

  • Increase in the Pro Capture fps with C-AF. This increase in the frame rate while focusing between frames should really assist in capturing bird take offs, bees in flight and other flying insects.
  • Increase in Dynamic Range & Noise Performance – I typically do nature photography early in the morning, just before sunrise.  The increase in dynamic range, improved AF working range, and better noise performance could be great improvements for low light photography.

Olympus OM-1 Specification Comparison with the E-M1X and E-M1 Mark III

FeatureOM-1E-M1XE-M1 Mark III
Image ProcessorTruePIC X  TruePIC VIII Dual Quad CoreTruePIC IX Quad Core Processor
Megapixels20.4 MP20.4 MP20.4 MP
Sensor4/3” Stacked BSI Live MOS Sensor4/3” Live MOS Sensor4/3” Live MOS Sensor
ISO Range200 – 102400.  Expands down to 80200 – 25600.  Expands down to 64200 – 25600.  Expands down to 64
AF Points1,053 Cross-type Phase Detection AF, 1,053 Contrast AF121 Cross-type Phase Detection AF, 121 Contrast AF121 Cross-type Phase Detection AF, 1,053 Contrast AF
AF Working Range-5.5 EV – 19 EV-3.5 EV – 20 EV-3.5 EV – 20 EV
WiFiBuilt-in (IEEE 802.11a / b / g / n / ac) + BluetoothBuilt-in (IEEE 802.11a / b / g / n / ac) + BluetoothBuilt-in (IEEE 802.11a / b / g / n / ac) + Bluetooth
Sequential Shooting Max SpeedSequential Shooting: 10 fps Anti-shock Sequential Shooting – 10 fps Silent Sequential Shooting (with blackout) – 20 fps Silent Sequential Shooting SH1 – 120 fps (without blackout) Silent Sequential Shooting SH2 – 50 fps (without blackout) – C-AFSequential Shooting Low – 10 fps Sequential Shooting High – 15 fps Silent Sequential Shooting Low – 18 fps Silent Sequential Shooting High – 60 fpsSequential Shooting Low – 10 fps Sequential Shooting High – 15 fps Anti-shock Sequential Shooting – 8.5 fps Silent Sequential Shooting Low – 18 fps Silent Sequential Shooting High – 60 fps
Pro Capture Shooting Max SpeedPro Capture – 20 fps Pro Capture SH1 – 120 fps Pro Capture SH2 50 fps (C-AF)Pro Capture L – 18 fps Pro Capture H – 60 fpsPro Capture L – 18 fps Pro Capture H – 60 fps
Shutter Speed60 seconds – 1/8000  (mechanical), 1/32000 electronic60 seconds – 1/8000  (mechanical), 1/32000 electronic60 seconds – 1/8000 (mechanical), 1/32000 electronic
AI Detection AFFormula Cars, Rally Cars, Motorcycles, Aircraft, Helicopters, Bullet Trains, Standard Trains, Steam Locomotives, Birds, Dogs, CatsFormula Cars, Rally Cars, Motorcycles, Aircraft, Helicopters, Bullet Trains, Standard Trains, Steam Locomotives, BirdsN/A
Image Stabilization7 Stops (In Body). Up to 8 Stops with Sync-IS.7 Stops (In Body). 7.5 Stops with Sync-IS7 Stops (In Body). 7.5 Stops with Sync-IS
View FinderEye-level OLED electronic viewfinder, approx. 5.76M dotsEye-level electronic viewfinder, approx. 2.36M dotsEye-level electronic viewfinder, approx. 2.36M dots
LCD3 inch vari-angle articulated LCD, 1,620,000 screen pixels3 inch articulated LCD, 1,037,000 screen pixels3 inch fully articulated LCD, 1,037,000 screen pixels
Weight (incl. Batteries)21.13 oz / 599g35.17 oz / 997 g20.46 oz / 580 g
Size134.8 x 91.6 x 72.7mm / 5.3 x 3.6 x 2.8 in.144 x 147 x 75mm / 5.67 x 5.79 x 2.95 in.134 x 91 x 69mm / 5.28 x 3.58 x 2.72 in.
Weather ProofingIEC Standard publication 60529 IP53, Freeze proof -10c / 14fIEC Standard publication 60529 IPX1, Freeze proof -10c / 14fIEC Standard publication 60529 IPX1, Freeze proof -10c / 14f
BatteryBLX-1 lithium-ionBLH-1 lithium-ion x 2BLH-1 lithium-ion
Battery Life520870420
Memory Card SlotDual UHS-II SD card slotsDual UHS-II SD card slotsDual (1 – UHS-1, 1 – UHS-II) SD card slots
Shutter Rating400,000400,000400,000
GPSVia Smartphone AppBuilt In. GPS, Compass, Manometer, Temperature Sensor, Acceleration SensorVia Smartphone App
High Res ShotTripod – 80mp Handheld – 50mpTripod – 80mp Handheld – 50mpTripod – 80mp Handheld – 50mp
Video4K: 60p, C4K: 60p4K: 30p, C4K: 24p4K: 30p, C4K: 24p
Other FeaturesStarry Sky AF, AI Detection AF, Eye Detection AF, Face Detection AF, Pro Capture Mode, In Camera Focus Stacking, Live ND Filter Mode (up to ND 64), Live Composite, Handheld High Res Shot, Super Sonic Wave Filter Dust Reduction, In Camera USB chargingAI Detection AF, Eye Detection AF, Face Detection AF, PRO Capture Mode, In-Camera Focus Stacking, Live ND filter mode, Live Composite, Hand-held Hi-res shot, Dual AF Joysticks, Built in Battery Grip, Super Sonic Wave Filter Dust Reduction, In Camera USB chargingStarry Sky AF, Eye Detection AF, Face Detection AF, Pro Capture Mode, In-Camera Focus Stacking, Live ND filter Mode, Live Composite, Handheld High Res Shot, Super Sonic Wave Filter Dust Reduction, In Camera USB Charging

Note:  This blog was written by studying and comparing the specifications of the Olympus OM-D cameras, and my experience using the E-M1 Mark III and E-M1X.  My Olympus OM-1 is on order and I’ll continue to update this blog and write new blogs from my experience using the new camera.

Written by Martin Belan

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