Hands On Review: Olympus OM-D E-M1X Camera


From the outset, the Olympus E-M1 series was designed around the concept of a camera for the professional photographer, particularly a pro on the go — someone who needed a rugged, reliable camera that was also extremely portable. The original E-M1 was a great camera, offering comfortable ergonomics, lots of physical controls, rugged construction as well as great image quality and good AF performance. All that inside a camera body that could pretty much be carried anywhere.

Olympus OM-D E-M1X: Features

  • 20.4MP Micro Four Thirds Live MOS sensor
  • 7-stop in-body image stabilization
  • New Tripod Hi Res Shot mode

In a world of high-resolution full-frame sensors, the 20.4MP Micro Four Thirds Live MOS sensor inside the OM-D E-M1X may seem a bit underwhelming, especially with its ISO ceiling of just 25,600 (while there’s an expanded low setting equivalent to ISO64).

Now, over two years later, Olympus has decided it isn’t necessarily time for a third-get E-M1 (although, that sure would be nice), but rather for a companion flagship model. A high-performance, professional camera that instead of prioritizing compactness and portability, focuses on handling, operability and overall extreme durability.

Put another way, the Olympus E-M1 Mark II is to a Canon 5D-series camera as the Olympus E-M1X is to a Canon 1D-series camera. It’s an OM-D camera that’s especially well-suited for professional sports and wildlife photographers who shoot with longer, heavier telephoto lenses — yet for those who prefer a camera system that’s much more portable than that in the full-frame DSLR camp.

The electronic viewfinder (EVF) may not have the highest resolution at 2.36 million dots, but it can boast the highest magnification of any camera with an EVF at 0.83x (35mm equivalent), while there’s a 3.0-inch vari-angle touchscreen with a resolution of 1,037K dots.

Olympus OM-D E-M1X: build and handling

  • Built-in vertical grip
  • Dust-, splash-, and freeze-proof
  • Shutter tested to 400,000 shots

In a first for a mirrorless camera, the OM-D E-M1X features a built-in vertical grip – something we’re used to seeing on professional cameras like the Canon EOS-1D X Mark II and Nikon D5. Olympus has been careful to mirror the controls on the vertical and horizontal grip, to make it a seamless transition when you swap between the two.

To help protect the sensor from the elements when swapping lenses, the OM-D E-M1X’s sensor dust reduction system now features an improved Super Sonic Wave Filter (SSWF) with special coating which vibrates 30,000 times per second, while the shutter in the E-M1X has a operational life of an incredible 400,000 shots.

Olympus OM-D E-M1X: autofocus

  • 121-point phase-detect AF system
  • AF algorithm has been reworked
  • Intelligent subject detection

Olympus has overhauled the 121-point all-cross-type on-chip phase-detect AF sensor that was used in the E-M1 Mark II, with the company stating that it’s been completely redeveloped for the OM-D E-M1X.

OLYMPUS have worked hard in order to improve their autofocus system and all in all it shows, as it is very easy to track action/faces in most lighting conditions. I encountered issues with focus consistency only when shooting high or very low contrasty objects. Anything in the middle worked well. It is worth noting that “dragging focus” between objects on the LCD screen is also possible and the addition of a knob/nipple at the back of the camera is a very welcomed thing! Placing the focus where you want it to be can now be done with a move of a thumb. Very easy.

Olympus OM-D E-M1X: performance

  • It’s possible to shoot at up to 60fps
  • 15fps with focus tracking
  • 870-shot battery life

It’s possible to shoot at a maximum of 60fps, provided you’re happy for exposure and focus to be locked at the first shot. For full AF performance and auto exposure, this drops to a still-impressive 15fps, with a buffer of 103 raw files. Silent shooting can also be used in both these modes if you wish.

The addition of a vertical grip has allowed Olympus to design a cartridge insert system for the OM-D E-M1X that can accommodate two BLH-1 batteries (also used for the E-M1 Mark II). This delivers a battery life of around 870 shots, which can be extended to an impressive 2,580 images if you enable Quick Sleep mode. The OM-D E-M1X also supports USB-C charging, with two BLH-1 batteries able to be fully charged in the camera body in approximately two hours.

Olympus E-M1X price and availability

Available in the US market from late February 2019, the Olympus OM-D E-M1X will be priced at US$3,000 or thereabouts, body-only. Our friends to the north in Canada will find a list price of CA$3,900 or thereabouts.


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