After reading several great reviews over the past week I couldn't wait to head over to Dublin in Ireland to test the new Olympus OM-D E-M1 for myself. The venue for the mystery tour was Castle Leslie, where Olympus had arranged 4 main stations to test the camera. On arrival I was handed an Olympus camera bag equipped with the new flagship OM-D E-M1, battery grip, the new 12-40 F/2.8 lens and the 75mm f/1.8 lens.
For the purpose of this blog all the images I have shared are out of camera jpeg's
They say that a lot of people will decide on which camera to purchase just by the look and feel of it, so let me start right there. On opening the bag and reaching for the OM-D the first thing that I noticed was the new grip. The shape of the grip allowed your fingers to wrap nicely around (similar to a traditional DSLR), with little chance of slipping. The body itself on first glance with the additional portrait grip looked a fair size bigger than the E-M5 yet still a lot smaller than any Pro DSLR. With the Portrait grip off the camera could almost be mistaken for the E-M5. I have to say I love the look of the E-M5 and I believe Olympus has done it again as the E-M1 looks and means business. Time for a test drive.
EVF (Electronic View Finder)
Having tested the Olympus Pen E-P5 early in the year I was amazed by the new VF-4 viewfinder, so I presumed that Olympus had used the same technology in the E-M1 and they had. At this stage I have to say that in my opinion the EVF in the OM-D E-M5 it better than any other on the market, but the new EVF in the E-M1 really sets a new benchmark. After shooting with this EVF I really cannot see why anyone would want to stay shooting through an OVF. Olympus has increased the size of the view finder whilst improving quality. It also adjusts depending what conditions you are shooting (outdoor or indoor). You really need to try it to believe how good thw E-M1 EVF is.
The new Olympus 12-40 lens has a constant aperture of f/2.8, it is dust and splash proof and at last the lens hood is included with it. The build quality is of very high standard including a manual and auto focus ring similar to the 12-50 kit lens you get with the E-M5. This is a serious piece of kit, the AF is extremely fast and with automatic macro function built in you can get as close as 20cm from the sensor. Olympus also announced a longer pro lens that is due out next year with a focal range of 40-150 constant f/2.8.
The E-M1 comes with a lot of new features and technology and I know others have already written about them. So let me just summarise some of these that I noticed during the day.
Sensor: The E-M1 has a new sensor (True Pic VII) with contrast and phase detection, so you are now able to use 4/3 and Micro 4/3 lenses on the E-M1 body. I tested a few of the 4/3 lenses out during the day and the performance of these lenses on the E-M1 were fantastic. With a total of 65 compatible lenses now in the range this system will appeal to a wider audience.
WIFI: Built in WIFI (at last) this is one area that I haven't quiet understood why this is not default in all cameras. But at last we have it and controlling the E-M1 from the iPad was easy. The app is clear and easy to use, and is very responsive. I look forward to using this feature so I can also share images straight from camera without the need of Eyefi cards. Below are a couple of light painting images captured using the Ipad App and Live time function.
Autofocus: Olympus confirmed continuous shooting was 10fps without AF and 6.5fps with AF. at one of the locations there were horses running through the shoreline, a perfect situation to test out the 6.5fps with AF. The results were great nailing the focus each frame.
Colour correction: The Shadow and Highlight control in the E-M5 is a great tool in certain situations, so I was very curious to see the new Colour Correction control they had included. First thing that I noticed was how well the colour correction tool was laid out making it easy to adjust saturation or hue using the dials. This function in addition to the art filters gives you more creative power in camera.
AF points (and peaking): One small dislike on the E-M5 is the size of the AF square and the fact that if you zoomed in to decrease the size it would not hold. I am pleased to say that Olympus has changed this and you can now select smaller AF points. Along with this Olympus has introduced focus peaking which enables you to see what areas of the frame are in focus. I am sure this feature will be useful especially when shooting with a manual focusing lens.
HDR: Yes the E-M1 comes with two built in HDR modes, whilst I only done a couple of test hoot handheld I was amazed at the results. This is a great addition to the functionality of the OM-D.
Just arriving back in the UK it was hard parting with the E-M1 in Dublin. Through my eyes Olympus now has a full line-up that will appeal to every photographer be it the Olympus Tough, Pen or OM-D. The E-M1 is certainly their flagship professional camera.
I wanted to finish this blog by sharing a few photos of the beautiful Leslie Castle captured during the day.