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Olympus OM-D E-M1 Review - Image Quality and Verdict Review


Olympus OM-D E-M1: Image Quality

The Olympus E-M1 employs the same 324-zone metering system seen on a host of other PEN models, as well as the E-M5. The result is the same impressive level of performance as seen on those other cameras when it comes to exposure, especially when shooting in the E-M1’s ESP metering mode.

Click on individual photos to access the full gallery and full-res shots

Olympus OM-D E-M1
1/50 sec @ f/2, ISO 500, Custom white balance; Olympus M.45mm F1.8

The ability to judge exposure through the excellent EVF, as well as account for any discrepancies from the exposure compensation controls located around the camera body, mean you should rarely ever miss an exposure.

Olympus OM-D E-M1
1/1600 sec @ f/4, ISO 800, Custom white balance; Olympus M.12-40mm F2.8 @ 24mm

If you are struggling with shadows and highlights, then the presence of a pair of HDR modes – one more subtle with the other more extreme – will aid detail retention.

The E-M1’s Auto White Balance is another pleasingly reliable facet of the model’s image quality performance, producing an even colour palette in a variety of conditions.

Olympus OM-D E-M1
1/80 sec @ f/11, ISO 200, Daylight white balance; Olympus M.12mm F2.0

The E-M1 also delivers pleasing colours straight out of the camera, with a range of custom colour settings should you require a different look and feel to your images.

Olympus OM-D E-M1

In terms of handling image noise at higher ISO settings, it must be said that the E-M1 delivers the goods here as well. There’s very little noticeable noise through the lower ISO settings, right up to ISO 1600, at which point noise impinges on detail in the darker areas of the images.

Performance remains impressive through the ISO settings up to ISO 6400, at which point luminance noise does become more pronounced although not to such a point when fine detail really suffers. Above this point, however, noise does become problematic.

Olympus OM-D E-M1 7

Should I buy the Olympus OM-D E-M1?

Although the E-M1 certainly isn’t a cheap camera, currently coming in at over £1,200 body only, the specification alone does a lot to justify that high price tag.

It’s launched to compete with the E-5 at the top of Olympus’s camera line-up and it certainly does that, with its weather-sealing and robust body, adding to the premium feel of the camera.

Throw in a class-leading EVF, image quality that’s a match for some high-resolution APS-C sensors and AF performance as good as any CSC on the market and you have to say that the Olympus E-M1 will be at the top of many a shopping list


The Olympus E-M1 delivers the goods across the board, with an impressive specification, fantastic build quality and a level of performance to match or better almost any CSC on the market. All of which combines to make to E-M1 not only one of the best CSCs currently available, but one of the best cameras of any type on the market today.

Next, read our 10 Best Cameras round-up

Trusted Score

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Score in detail

  • Value 8
  • Design 9
  • Features 9
  • Image Quality 8
  • Performance 9

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