Olympus OM-D E-M1 review

Olympus's best MFT camera to date and one of the best CSCs on the market, now with firmware update 2.0

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According to Olympus, the E-M1 is not intended to be the smallest camera available, but to be a good size for serious use. It's a very similar size to the OM-D E-M5, but the front and rear grips have changed shape.

The thumb grip on the back of the E-M1 is less pronounced than it is on the E-M5, but the front grip is bigger, giving a better, more comfortable hold. It feels very secure in your hand.

Sometimes big is taken to mean tough, but the diminutive E-M1 is also pretty durable. It feels nicely built and has seals to ensure that it stays dust and splash-proof. It is also guaranteed to work at temperatures down to -10C. Helpfully, all current Olympus lenses are freeze-proof.

Like the E-M5, the E-M1 has a three-inch tilting touchscreen, but the dot-count has been boosted from 610,000 to 103,700,000 dots. It provides a very clear view with plenty of detail. The electronic viewfinder (EVF) is also very impressive with natural colours (depending upon the camera settings), good contrast and lots of detail visible. It's about as close as you can currently get to an optical viewfinder for clarity and is a superb advocate for the technology.

Olympus OM D E M1

Disappointingly, Olympus has resisted the option to make the main menu navigable by touch, so you have to use the physical controls. It would be nice to have the choice of touch or button and dial controls. Like the original OM-D and the PEN E-P5, a Super Control Panel can be used with the touchscreen to make changes to key settings, such as white balance and metering.

The control layout of the E-M1 has some significant differences from that of the E-M5. As you hold the camera for use, the mode dial is on the right of the top-plate instead of the left. Meanwhile, the left-side has two semi-circular buttons on a shallow column which looks a bit like the film rewind unit on an old film camera - without the flip-up handle. The front-most button gives access to the drive mode and HDR options, while the rear one is used to access the metering and focusing options.

Olympus OM D E M1

When the HDR button is pressed, the up and down navigation controls scroll through the HDR options while the left and right controls run through the drive options. It's a similar arrangement with the AF and metering button, with the up/down controls scrolling through the metering options and the left/right controls navigating the focusing settings.

Pressing and holding the button immediately behind the shutter release, while rotating the rear dial scrolls through the Shadow and Highlight, Colour Creator, Magnify and Image Aspect modes. Once you've selected the mode you want, pressing the button again brings up the controls or options.

The basic features of the E-M1 are easy to find and adjust, but the feature set is extensive and it takes sometime to find and get to grips with everything. There are also lots of customisation options and its worthwhile experimenting with a range of set-ups to find the one that works best for you.

Olympus OM D E M1

Tech Specs

Product TypeMirrorless Camera Body Only
Battery Size SupportedProprietary Battery Size
Maximum Video Resolution1920 x 1080
Wireless LANYes
Effective Camera Resolution16.3 Megapixel
Product FamilyOM-D
HD Movie ModeYes
Memory Card SupportedSecure Digital (SD) Card, Secure Digital Extended Capacity (SDXC), Secure Digital High Capacity (SDHC) Card, Secure Digital Extended Capacity (SDXC UHS-I), Secure Digital High Capacity (SDHC UHS-I)
Image StabilizationOptical, Digital
Digital Zoom2x
Brand NameOlympus
DurabilityWater Proof, Dust Proof, Freeze Proof, Splash Resistant
FeaturesContinuous Shooting Mode, Live View, External Flash Shoe, Orientation Sensor, Time Lapse Function, Face Detection, Noise Reduction, Eye Detect
Screen Size7.6 cm (3")
Video FormatsMOV, MPEG-4 AVC, H.264, Motion JPEG (AVI)
Viewfinder TypeElectronic
Weight (Approximate)443 g
Image Sensor Size17.30 mm x 13 mm
Maximum Image Resolution4608 x 3456
Display Screen TypeLCD
Height93.5 mm
Width130.4 mm
Depth63.1 mm
Image FormatsRAW, JPEG
External FlashIncluded
Focus ModesAuto, Manual
ManufacturerOlympus Corporation
Product ModelE-M1
Product NameOM-D E-M1 Mirrorless Camera
Product LineOM-D
Exposure Control
  • Program AE
  • Aperture Priority AE
  • Shutter Priority AE
  • Manual
Aspect Ratio16:9
Manufacturer Part NumberV207010BE000
Manufacturer Website Addresshttp://www.olympus.co.uk
Marketing Information

E-M1: The whole package. In a perfectly-sized Package.

The new E-M1 gives you more freedom to take the shots you want, with all the image quality you expect. The new E-M1 is the most advanced compact system camera ever produced.
It is based on the Micro Four Thirds standard and comes packed with sophisticated technologies like the enhanced Live MOS sensor and TruePic VII image processor, the world premiere of DUAL FAST AF and extended WiFi controls from your smartphone - all delivering outstanding image quality and performance, raising the OM-D series to a whole new level. This superiority is matched by a body design that has the perfect dimensions with a portable weight. All things considered, it outperforms D-SLR cameras both in terms of its size and imaging excellence.

Package Contents
  • OM-D E-M1 Mirrorless Camera
  • BLN-1 Lithium-Ion Battery
  • BCN-1 Battery Charger
  • Detachable Flash
  • Micro Four Thirds Body Cap (BC-2)
  • Software Media
  • Shoulder Strap
  • CB-USB6 USB Cable
  • Operating Instructions
  • Warranty Card
Limited Warranty1 Year