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Olympus OM-D E-M1 review




  • Recommended by TR

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  • Olympus OM-D E-M1


Our Score:



  • Superb electronic viewfinder
  • Responsive AF system
  • Good image quality
  • Sturdy build


  • JPEG files somewhat over-processed

Key Features

  • 16.3MP Micro Four Thirds Live MOS sensor; 3-inch, 1,037k-dot tiltable LCD touch panel; 81-point AF system; ISO 200 – 25,600; Mini flashgun supplied with camera
  • Manufacturer: Olympus
  • Review Price: £1,299.00

What is the Olympus OM-D E-M1?

The Olympus OM-D E-M5 was one of the most popular cameras of last year, owing to the combination of an impressive specification, attractive retro looks and excellent image quality.

The E-M1 looks to pick up where the E-M5 left off. Furthermore, it sits above the E-M5 in the manufacturer’s line-up, and as a result it offers a specification more in line with its previous range of DSLRs – headed by the E-5 – yet still in a CSC body.

The question, therefore, is does it manage to combine the best of a DSLR and CSC in an attractive body?

SEE ALSO: Best Cheap Compact System Cameras under £500

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Olympus OM-D E-M1: Features

As the OM-D E-M1 is due to sit above the E-M5 at the top of Olympus’s CSC range, you’d expect there to be a raft of improvements, and on the whole that’s certainly the case.

Foremost among these new features is implementation of a new type of AF system. The system incorporates an on-sensor phase-detect AF system that facilitates a hybrid AF set-up, or the DUAL FAST AF system according to Olympus.

The on-sensor phase-detect is combined with a contrast-detect system to offer improved AF performance on the whole. The DUAL FAST AF system also promises improved performance when using standard Four Thirds lenses with a lens adapter.

Previously, attaching Four Thirds lenses meant that you would lose the camera's continuous and tracking focus modes, and general AF performance would take a noticeable dip. However, the new system enables both those modes and promises to retain the impressive general AF performance seen with Micro Four Thirds optics.

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The presence of on-sensor phase-detect technology is the not only way in which the Olympus OM-D E-M1’s sensor is different from the E-M5’s. The 16.3MP chip also sees the removal of the low pass filter in much the same way as Nikon’s recent D7100 and the Pentax K-5 IIs.

The idea behind the removal of the low pass filter is to ensure sharper images than previously seen on the OM-D E-M5, although there is the risk of increased moiré issues when shooting uniformed fine detail.

This is obviously an issue Olympus is aware of, as the model’s new TruePic VII image processor offers a dedicated Fine Detail Technology II feature that should eliminate this threat, while also looking to remove chromatic aberration as well.

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Another area of improvement is the E-M1’s electronic viewfinder. While that on the E-M5 featured an entirely respectable 1.44-million dot resolution, the resolution of the E-M1’s EVF jumps to some 2.36-million dots.

This resolution is identical to the optional VF-4 external EVF, and as such you’d have to think that it’s the same EVF unit employed. The EVF also features dioptre adjustment and a built-in eye sensor, while the viewfinder offers a 100% field of view as you’d expect.

The E-M1’s LCD screen is another area of improvement, with a resolution boosted to 1.04-million dots up from 604,000 dots previous, and now offering full touchscreen capabilities while maintaining the vari-angle capabilities.

Much like the recent E-P5, the E-M1 now offers full wireless connectivity, allowing for the wireless transfer of images between the camera and a compatible smartphone or tablet, as well as wireless control of the camera in the field.


October 28, 2013, 1:20 pm

So good - it gets 1 out of 10!


October 28, 2013, 5:07 pm

1 out of 10. Not bad for such a great camera


October 28, 2013, 5:46 pm

Ooops that should be a 9 recommended. Gremlins in the system. Should be fixed now. Thanks


October 29, 2013, 10:08 am

I am surprised that the reviewer did not touch on the video capabilities.

Video quality is usually a factor when rating a camera these days and on the E-M1 it is very poor. Also, it also has only 30 P, which is not PAL compliant and creates terrible flicker is artificial light and makes its video clips difficult to edit with other 25/50 P cameras.

Second, TR usually is more harsh on the price/value of a camera in its ratings.
This is not only of the most expensive m4/3 and in fact the most expensive mirrorless cameras.

I have no doubt it is a great camera with terrific IQ with an excellent available lenses and the rating assigned is justified. But its weakness should also be highlighted.

Dieter Martin

October 31, 2013, 11:13 am

For sure the EM-1 is a great camera. However, for those who consider getting one to use with the gorgeous FT lenses, it is probably better to stick with the E-5. I truly believe that FT lenses cannot be used on MFT bodies without serious IQ loss until a better adapter than the current MMF2/3 is available. The material/build-quality of the MMF3 will for sure cause misalignment, flex and movement. Have a look at Roger Cicala's findings and the discussion here: http://www.dpreview.com/for...


October 31, 2013, 12:54 pm

This is a very lightweight reveiew. There should have been a lot more details


October 31, 2013, 3:29 pm

You are a troll. You posted the same comment at DP Review. And read the responses to Cicala - clearly his findings are IRRELEVANT and THEORETICAL at best.


October 31, 2013, 7:07 pm

To be fair, if you want great video, buy an E-M1, and take your collected m4/3 lenses and put them on a Black Magic Pocket Cinema Camera (with m4/3ds mount) for truly pro video. Try THAT with your Sony or Pentax or Canikon... And that is precisely what I have decided to do myself. NO DSLR can compete with the Black Magic video cameras...and the Pocket Cinema is rather cheap for what you get. And you will have real broadcast quality video if you know what you are doing...and leverage the outstanding m/4/3ds lenses.


October 31, 2013, 7:13 pm

I don't know what your technique is like, but my normal hold is to have my left hand supporting the lens (and working the MF if need be) while my right holds the body and pushes the shutter, at least for critical exposures. I shoot a lot with the heavy 50-200 4/3ds, and you just get used to that technique, even on an E-5 or E-3, because of the weight. I imagine I will just continue that same technique, and not worry too much about theoretical flex caused by bad camera handling.

Dieter Martin

October 31, 2013, 7:57 pm

How do you know These findings are irrelevant??? Have you done tests? Have you ever had a MMF3 Adapter in your hand and seen how flimsy it is? Of course this will cause flex and misalignment with the heavier lenses (such as the 2.0 14-35).

Dieter Martin

October 31, 2013, 8:00 pm

Well, while your suggested technique may help. I just wish Olympus would provide a better Quality (metal) Adapter than the current MMF3.


October 31, 2013, 10:54 pm

Sure. But this was not a review of Black magic cameras.
It is very usual not to discuss the video options when reviewing cameras today. In fact it is a major weakness of this camera and it was not mentioned.

Nor was there any discussion of its price which was very unusual.


November 1, 2013, 3:14 am

Just another troll. How about some real tests that show an adapter with plastic is inferior to one of all metal? You are just another troll spreading FUD. If anything plastic might be superior. Metal is more likely to bend slightly under heavy use than high quality plastics.

Dieter Martin

November 1, 2013, 12:45 pm

Do you own a MMF2/3 adapter? If so, compare it to older Olympus gear like the ET-25, Which one Looks/feels more stable, better made and more solid?

Neville van Eerten

November 5, 2013, 2:47 am

I have used the E-M5 with the MMF3, or whatever the water resistant one was ( I have sold it) and in conjunction with the 50-200 and 12-60 there was no evidence of stress on the MMF3, or loss of IQ. I found the adapter to be of excellent quality


November 18, 2013, 5:16 am

I have an E-P3 which broke, the mode dial fell off, two days within warranty. Customer (Dis)service at Oly is pathetic. I'm afraid that I'll get a Refurb and I'm not willing to inherit someone else's problems. I called Amazon, where I purchased the E-P3, and their Customer Service is amazing! I was told to try calling Oly 1st, but if for any reason I was not pleased (and I wasn’t), Amazon would do whatever it takes to resolve the issue to my satisfaction. Now that’s real service.

Since I have Oly prime lenses & other accessories, I would stay with Oly. Three more professional type Oly cameras have since come on the market, and my intent is to use Amazon’s offer to upgrade to one of them. I am only interested in the camera body. I am considering the OMD-E-M1; OMD-E-M5 and the E-P5 . I’ve been a serious photographer since the 1960’s and prefer to have as many dedicated knobs and switches as possible, I am not into having to drill through menus to adjust aperture, for example. I also shoot mostly in manual mode for exposure and focus. My lenses are all prime fixed focal lengths (non-zoom). I love the retro look of the above three cameras and better sensors than the E-P3.

Any comments about the above three cameras, would be greatly appreciated. I’ve read DP Review and there are definite areas where the Olys fall flat; like video. I would love to hear from anyone with hands on experience. Please keep in mind that I am trying to get as close as possible to the feel of my SLRs, I prefer dedicated controls and shoot 90% manual exposure and focus.

Thanks to all,

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