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Comparison: Fuji X100s, Fuji X-T1, Olympus OM-D


Andrew L (gryphon1911)

You may have read that we sold off all our Fuji X cameras and got the Nikon Df. We are happy to report that we are still very much pleased with the Nikon Df and use it whenever we can.

The Df is my daily carry camera – it is with me 95% of the time. So what about the other 5%. Those are usually those times when having the Df is not practical. I’ve been wanting/lusting after what the Fuji X100s has to offer. I’ve only passingly handled the X100 and thought with all the improvements the X100s had to offer, it would be that much better.

Walking into my favorite camera store this recently, I had every intention of leaving with the X100s. However, my friends there gave me the opportunity to use and handle the following cameras:

Fuji X100s, Fuji X-T1, Olympus OM-D-EM-5 and the Olympus OM-D E-M1. I’ve been hearing a lot of good things about all these cameras and I could not pass up the opportunity to work with them all head to head.

I do not have sample images from all of the cameras, as this report is not as much about image quality as it is handling and performance speed. If we are honest, I think we know that the Fuji will have the IQ edge, especially in the realm of the hi ISO. We will concede to that right now.

One of my main issues with the Fuji system has always been the speed at which the camera performs. This includes powering up, waking from sleep, accessing menu items and AF speed and acquisition.

Let us have a quick rundown of the positives.

X100s_pic_additional_01.jpg

Image © Fujifilm

Fuji X100s

Feels great in the hand.

Solid build.

OVF is nice, clear and bright. EVF is a great alternative to have.

Upgraded MF(compared to the X100) is much better to use.

Great 23mm f/2 lens

fuji+x-t1_img_main01.jpg

Image © Fujifilm

Fuji X-T1

Solid build.

Fit my hands like it was custom made for me.

EVF was comprehensive and responded quickly to orientation changes.

The top dials were solid and had a nice click to them. I did not think that I would accidentally knock any of them out of their position by accident.

It seems to be the fastest responsive Fuji X camera to date(accessing menus, powering up, waking from sleep).

Very quick AF in comparison to the other X cameras.

Great prime and zoom lenses.

em5_hero_black.png

Image © Olympus

Olympus OM-D EM5 and EM1

Very quick AF.

Solid build quality.

Good EVF.

Nice feel in the hand.

Great prime lenses.

Now let’s talk about what everyone wants to know – which is, when compared to each other, what do I think?

We need to level set/full disclosure and let you know what the shooting conditions were.

When using an ILC, the kit zooms were used(The ones that claim “world’s fastest AF” in the ads…lol). For the Fuji, it was the 18-55mm f/2.8-4 OIS…the Olympus used the 12-50mm f/3.5-6.3.

Images were taken/AF performance tested inside the camera shop, which had fluorescent lights. It was dim, but probably a little brighter than your average indoor environment.

Also, this is not a scientific test. It is my learned observation and experiences that I am reporting on.

We are going to start with the Fuji cameras since the X100s was what I thought I wanted the most and the X-T1 is what everyone is currently talking about. The AF speed on the X100s was still about the same as the X100, maybe a little faster. It did seem a little more sure, but it did have quite a bit of front to back shuffle before locking into focus. Once it got focus, it was almost always 100% accurate. Unfortunately, the X-T1 suffered from the same front/back shuffle before locking focus. Yes, it is very fast – probably the fastest AF I’ve seen in any X camera to date….but Fuji still seems to have a way to go on getting the AF to something great and not just adequate. I was disappointed in this behavior…which is sad because I so much wanted Fuji to be better than what it was. On the plus side, it is nice that the X-T1 can track focus in a continuous shooting mode.

One of my biggest handling issues with the Fuji X cameras are AF point selection. I’ve gotten so used to my DSLRs and the 4 way pad being dedicated to picking the AF point – it was one of the reasons I had for deciding to drop my X-E1. This still is an issue here for both the X100s and the X-T1.

Both the X100s and X-T1 felt good in the hand, albeit they have different ways of gripping them. The X-T1 is beefier and felt very natural to hold, especially coming from using a DSLR.

Moving on to the Olympus offerings of the OM-D EM-5 and the OM-D EM1. I want to begin by saying that I was never a fan of m43 in the past. I always had a preconceived bias against it because of the smaller sensor size. That has all changed now that I was able to handle one and see what it is all about.

Yes, we cannot get around physics and there are just some things that a smaller sensor just cannot do. I’ve noticed that there does not seem to be as large a dynamic range as the Nikon or Fuji cameras I’ve shot in the past. I will say that I was impressed at just how useable the files were from the Olympus cameras up to ISO 2000. It starts getting a little rougher around ISO 3200/6400…but if you nail exposure and don’t have a lot of pitch black areas….you can still have a good JPG to work with.

Now… getting to what really impressed me on the EM5/EM1. The AF performance was almost instantaneous. I mean…I could not believe what I was seeing here. Same lighting conditions and with a slower (aperture wise) kit zoom lens, the Olympus nailed focus immediately and without any back/front dance as was seen in the Fuji offerings. I bounced all over the place grabbing focus at different distances and at different focal lengths. It did not seem like I could trip up the Olympus AF. Even with the contrast detect only AF of the Olympus OM-D EM-5 it was direct, to the point and accurate. I was surprised here…but in a very good way. I heard people before praising the AF performance, but I did not think it to be this good.

The speed also moves over into the menu usage and boot up times as well. The menu systems run very quick and smooth. They are a bit deep, lots of options and they are not in any way similar to what I’m used to with my Nikon or Fuji menus. Startup from power off to on was very quick. Not DSLR instant, but way better than the Fuji cameras – not including the X-T1. Fuji listened and boosted the start up time for the X-T1. Good job on that.

At the end of the day, what does all this mean?? It means that I walked out of the camera store with anOlympus OM-D EM-5 and 12-50mm kit.

omd_front_lens_flash-down.jpg

Image © Olympus

Do I still want a Fuji X100s? Well, yeah...maybe in the future. However, by the time I am ready for that - Fuji may very well have a full frame X200 to replace the X100s....at least I'm hoping that is the inevitable direction.

03-09-2014_EM5_COSI_P3090041-Edit.jpg

E-M5 12-50/3.5-6.3

1/30, f/5.3, ISO 2000

Want more information? OK…lets talk about it.

When comparing the above systems, the Olympus was the most DSLR like in looks and control. The only thing that the Fuji X offerings had a resounding lead on over the Olympus was in sensor size and hi ISO image quality. The Olympus was better in almost every respect beyond that. And at base ISO - the Olympus m43 sensor is doing just fine. The image examples on this page should let you see that.

03-09-2014_EM5_COSI_P3090028-Edit.jpg

E-M5, 12-50/3.5-6.3

1/20, f/6.3, ISO 2000

Add to this, the fast prime lenses for the Olympus system are way smaller, and can be found cheaper never hurts. I even preferred the EVF of the Olympus over that of the Fuji X-T1. Yes, the Fuji has more unique features, but I thought the smearing of the Olympus was not as pronounced in the low light shooting conditions as the Fuji. Honestly, I still prefer an OVF…but those seems to be looking more and more like a feature we will see less of as we progress into the future.

In my mind, and for my way of shooting, if I need extreme low light, super high ISO performance, I’ve got my Nikon Df/D700 to choose from. The Olympus gives me a very responsive performance machine in a smaller package.

03-15-2014_EM5_olytest_P3150008-Edit.jpg

E-M5, 17/1.8

1/640, f/2.8, ISO 100

I was honestly surprised I walked out of there with an m43 camera. I’ve shot with it for only a few days, but I am so happy with this cameras performance at this point. I did have a slight moment of regret at first, when I ran through an initial set of images. For some reason, I was not getting that "pop" or "wow factor" that I expected from the images. I thought that I was perhaps missing something as this is a new camera system to me. After a few days of research, I did realize 2 things:

1 - optics on the OM-D matter. The kit 12-50/3.5-6.3, while convenient and weather sealed is not the sharpest or most contrasty lens. I noticed an immediate increase in IQ when I put on the 17/1.8 or the 45/1.8 prime lenses.

2 - for some unknown reason, Olympus gives you the OM-D cameras setup as base as possible. I mean, they have a higher jpg compression on by default and the default noise reduction is a bit much as well.

03-09-2014_EM5_COSI_P3090047-Edit.jpg

E-M5, 12-50/3.5-6.3

1/80, f/5.6, ISO 1600

Keep an eye out for a future post where I discuss how I setup the OMD EM5 to be optimized for the way I shoot. There are quite a few steps, but once its done, you never have to do it again.

03-15-2014_EM5_olytest_P3150050-Edit.jpg EM5, 17/1.8

1/60, f/4, ISO 640

And to end this all out - here is a random thought from me about mirrorless and the US market. This is just my theory and is in no way scientific.

When I look at the mirrorless camera offerings, the majority of them looked a lot like the point and shoot style cameras we have been seeing for years. I think this hurts their perception because for years "professionals" used DSLRs and they have a certain look to them.

Now that entry level DSLRs are sometimes less expensive than some point and shoots, no one wants to have their "pro" camera mistaken for a point and shoot...thus the mirrorless cameras don't get the marketing credibility that the DSLR still has here.

03-15-2014_EM5_olytest_P3150057-Edit.jpg

EM5, 17/1.8

1/1250, f/4, ISO 100

I think Olympus saw this and when they went from the PEN design to the OM-D design, they will get a lot more of the casual users accepting it a "pro" level body because of the design. I think Fuji has understood this too and thus the look of the X-T1 will make it a more attractive option.

Once the everyday folk understand that the mirrorless camera can come in many shapes and sizes, they will be more widely adopted. Again...just a theory, and a fraction of the reason that mirrorless is having a rough go of it here in the states.

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Andrew, I have not used an E-M5 for any length of time but have used the E-M1 extensively for 2-months (borrowed from my brother).  I will likely  get an E-M1 when the Olympus 40-150mm f/2.8 is released.  What made you choose the E-M5 over the E-M1?

 

On the matter of the dSLR's advantage in the ease with which AF point is designated or selected, I agree on this.  The E-M1 rear control buttons functions equally well as the D700.  Does the rear control buttons of the E-M5 allow you to do this as easily as you could with the D700?  How was it with the XT-1?

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Andrew,

 

Thank you for taking the initiative to post your impressions of these cameras. I was intrigued at how your response to a particular camera actually deflected you from what you had previously (emotionally?) selected. That is always good information and a good reminder that in a technical space that is not all that well differentiated the feel and response to something is worth a lot in a field that is about confidence in the tools and artistic expression.

 

Was there any particular reason why you picked the EM5 over the EM1?

 

Regards,

Roger

Edited by streetsntravel

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Andrew, I have not used an E-M5 for any length of time but have used the E-M1 extensively for 2-months (borrowed from my brother).  I will likely  get an E-M1 when the Olympus 40-150mm f/2.8 is released.  What made you choose the E-M5 over the E-M1?

 

On the matter of the dSLR's advantage in the ease with which AF point is designated or selected, I agree on this.  The E-M1 rear control buttons functions equally well as the D700.  Does the rear control buttons of the E-M5 allow you to do this as easily as you could with the D700?  How was it with the XT-1?

 

I chose the EM5 over the EM1 for several reasons.  First, I liked where the controls on the camera body were placed better on the EM5.  Second, I liked the smaller, sleeker body design.  I plan on using this camera as a ultra light weight option.  Most of the time, I'm going to be using my Nikon Df, but for times when I need to go ultra light - this with the 17 or 45/1.8 will be the one that I choose.  I can put it in a coat pocket or I also have a small belt pouch that I can put the EM5 in.

 

I like that fact that I can also add on the additional grip and/or battery separate to give me the larger bulk if I want it.  The EM1 has the shutter release further forward and the built in grip.  I couldn't slim it down if I wanted to.  If I were to get rid of all my DSLRs and go m43 - the EM1 would be the primary shooter.

Last point is the price.  I did not want to spend the extra money on the EM1 body, when I would rather spend it on more lenses.  So far, this 17/1.8 is one of the best prime lenses I've ever used.  Unbelievable sharpness at f/1.7 and for the price!!  If I want that from my Nikon primes, I'm paying $1000 o $1500 for them.  I was considering a PEN style body and the EP5 ticked all the right boxes except one - no built in EVF.  For me an EVF/OVF is a must have.

 

Regarding the controI pad on the back, I think that my thumb rests more naturally to the position on the Nikon D700 and Df.  That being said, it doesn't take me long to get used to where the control pad is located on the EM5.  The buttons are a bit mushy from the weather sealing and they are a bit small.   I've gotten used to them quickly though.  In comparison to the X-T1, they feel the same size wise.  What I liked about the Olympus is that once I press one of the direction pads, it accepts that as input to move the AF point.  The other thing I like is that the control wheel can also be setup to control the AF point.  I personally would not use it this way, but a nice option to have.

 

I think Fuji botched up the AF point selection on their mirror less when they require you to press either a AF activation button or press up on the control pad on the rear, then move your AF point.

 

Bottom line for me though is that Fuji is still missing the mark on speed of control and AF acquisition speed.  

So far, Olympus has been the only mirror less camera maker that I could honestly say has given us as close to DSLR performance as we have seen yet.  The new Nikon V3 might be getting there...but Nikon has FUBARed that poor thing.

 

Hope I covered everything you asked about.

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Thanks Andrew.  I now better understand your choosing the EM-5 over the E-M1.  I have not spent much time with the E-M5 and am wondering whether there might be something there that I missed.  

 

What surprised me is how the XT-1 AF-point designation is still a 2-button press process.  This is how I understand it from my reading the blogs and you have now also confirmed it.  The X-T1 is intended as a faster dSLR mirrorless substitute and this 2-button press to designate the AF-point considerably slows down the shooting process and is thus puzzling to me.  Thank you again Andrew.

Edited by Larry

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Thanks Andrew.  I now better understand your choosing the EM-5 over the E-M1.  I have not spent much time with the E-M5 and am wondering whether there might be something there that I missed.  

 

What surprised me is how the XT-1 AF-point designation is still a 2-button press process.  This is how I understand it from my reading the blogs and you have now also confirmed it.  The X-T1 is intended as a faster dSLR mirrorless substitute and this 2-button press to designate the AF-point considerably slows down the shooting process and is thus puzzling to me.  Thank you again Andrew.

 

Glad I could clarify your questions.

 

I too am unsure of why Fuji would not allow for AF point selection to be a primary function.  If you are a "set and recompose" type of shooter, I guess it doesn't bother you.  However, I've tried that in the past, and especially when I was using wide open apertures, I noticed I was not getting the critical sharpness I was wanting because the focal plane shift was just enough to miss the mark.

 

Fuji is getting there.  I just have some trepidation with them at the moment as the latest rumor to come out is that there will be another X series body released in a few months.  Dallas pointed this out before and I think it is a good point.  The Fuji OEM lens lineup needs more TLC than adding new bodies.  They still don't have a full range of optics

 

I mean...right now these are the current X cameras on the market:

 

XF1

XQ1

X-E1/X-E2

X-Pro1

X-T1

X-M1

X-A1

X10/X20

X100/X100s

 

Now there is going to be another??  I hope it is an update to the X-Pro1 because if they add another new body design into the mix....it just doesn't make a whole lot of sense as there is a ton of overlap that doesn't need to be and I think has the potential to confuse consumers.

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I would put my money on an update to the X-Pro1, likely using the same 24mp sensor that Sony used in the A6000 but with the same color filter array that Fuji used with the X-trans.  Given what Fuji was able to do with the XT-1 AF even while making do with the same sensor used in the XE-2, this new model would be even better in AF performance than the XT-1.  I expect this no earlier than late 3Q or even 4Q this year.

 

Given the very good market response to the XT-1 as a dSLR substitute, Fuji hopefully will hopefully make the necessary firmware changes to allow the photographer to directly choose AF points using the rear panel button to make it as fast as a dSLR instead of the current 2-steps process.

 

Edit: I forgot to extend to you my compliments for the very nice sample photos you posted at the start of this thread.  These are very nice photos.  These were taken using the B&W setting of the E-M5 or converted in PP?  

Edited by Larry

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A Q3 or Q4 launch of an X-Pro2 would point to a Photokina announcement by Fuji.

 

The opportunity to directly change AF focus point on the Olympus is indeed excellent and it shows up a grid while you do it, so it's easy to orientate oneself what one is doing as well.

 

The "OK"-button has a sensible use in that it brings up many controls in the viewfinder. Same for the 2x2 control system.

 

Andrew, thanks for posting some great images. I think you capture situations and human interactions very well.

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I would put my money on an update to the X-Pro1, likely using the same 24mp sensor that Sony used in the A6000 but with the same color filter array that Fuji used with the X-trans.  Given what Fuji was able to do with the XT-1 AF even while making do with the same sensor used in the XE-2, this new model would be even better in AF performance than the XT-1.  I expect this no earlier than late 3Q or even 4Q this year.

 

Given the very good market response to the XT-1 as a dSLR substitute, Fuji hopefully will hopefully make the necessary firmware changes to allow the photographer to directly choose AF points using the rear panel button to make it as fast as a dSLR instead of the current 2-steps process.

 

Edit: I forgot to extend to you my compliments for the very nice sample photos you posted at the start of this thread.  These are very nice photos.  These were taken using the B&W setting of the E-M5 or converted in PP?  

 

 

Thank you.  I shoot in color and then use Lightroom and onOne Perfect B&W 8 for my post processing.

 

I sometimes shoot in B&W in camera, but rarely.  I'm still experimenting with the monochrome mode in the Olympus to see if I can get a B&W look that I like.

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A Q3 or Q4 launch of an X-Pro2 would point to a Photokina announcement by Fuji.

 

The opportunity to directly change AF focus point on the Olympus is indeed excellent and it shows up a grid while you do it, so it's easy to orientate oneself what one is doing as well.

 

The "OK"-button has a sensible use in that it brings up many controls in the viewfinder. Same for the 2x2 control system.

 

Andrew, thanks for posting some great images. I think you capture situations and human interactions very well.

 

Thank you!

 

I'm not sure why I'm drawn to street photography, but I really enjoy it as a personal/side project to the event and portrait work I do professionally.

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Guest jramskov

Posted

Quite interesting, thanks. I have an X-T1 arriving hopefully today or tomorrow. The quick test of AF I've done before ordering was satisfying for me so I hope and expect that it will replace my D700 for my usage.

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Quite interesting, thanks. I have an X-T1 arriving hopefully today or tomorrow. The quick test of AF I've done before ordering was satisfying for me so I hope and expect that it will replace my D700 for my usage.

 

The X-T1 is a great camera.  I'm sure you'll love it.  

 

Depending on how you shoot and what requirements you have, the AF speed may very well be exactly what you are looking for and need.

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Hmmm. I seem to be a member here now.

 

I am thinking of the X-T1, from a slightly different perspective: when I had an X Pro-1, I used adapters to enjoy some Nikon manual focus lenses. Results were good not great.

 

I no longer have that camera, nor those lenses, but I do have the adapters, and some pretty good Zeiss lenses. And some Voigtlander, which are quite good, and small. So my thoughts are to get the X-T1 and uses the mf lenses on it. The new viewfinder on this camera should make manual focusing much easier...

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The m43 adapters are not that expensive, so I would not really factor that into the decision, but that is just me.  Either the Fuji or m43 cameras are good tools.  The trick is finding the one that fits your style of shooting the best and responds in an acceptable fashion to you.

Edited by gryphon1911

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I use m43 and a couple of 43 lenses with my OM-D E-M1, so that's my AF system. For adapting manual focus F-mount lenses, which are Nikon, Zeiss and Voigtländer glass, I use a Sony A7, since the viewfinder of the A7 is the best option for manual focus glass. After I got the Sony A7, I sold off all my Nikon DSLRs. This means that I use full frame Nikon, Zeiss and Voigtländer lenses on a full frame Sony A7, and I thus use all my lenses on their native format. Leica SLR lenses can just as easily be used on a Sony A7 as any F-mount lens.

 

Manual focus Nikon super tele lenses can with advantage be used on either a Sony A7 or a Sony Nex-7 with electronic first curtain (EFC) on the shutter, since you then get rid of almost all vibration issues when shooting from a tripod. EFC is the most important important feature to be added to the live view function on cameras like the D800/E.

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Thanks Andrew.  I now better understand your choosing the EM-5 over the E-M1.  I have not spent much time with the E-M5 and am wondering whether there might be something there that I missed.  

 

What surprised me is how the XT-1 AF-point designation is still a 2-button press process.  This is how I understand it from my reading the blogs and you have now also confirmed it.  The X-T1 is intended as a faster dSLR mirrorless substitute and this 2-button press to designate the AF-point considerably slows down the shooting process and is thus puzzling to me.  Thank you again Andrew.

 

 

Assigning each of the four-way toggles to AF in the menu means that it becomes as near as makes no difference an instant selector. Just start pressing the direction you want to go and after the first push which turns on the points selector overlay the point starts to move. Sure you lose the different functionalities that the other three come with as default, but I guess that's the whole idea of customisable menus - you make the switches do what you want... :) (So: in Set-Up menu 2, assign the "Focus Area" to Fn3, 4, 5 & 6, and each of the 4-ways becomes dedicated to shifting the focus point - simple.)

 

Using my camera with the Fn thus allocated to the four-way switches is every bit as quick as was selecting the points on my D3s or D600 - except that the selectable points extend right to the edge of frame, not clustered together in a paranoid huddle in the centre of frame. One of the advantages, I guess, of having a sensor that is both CDAF & PADAF enabled.

 

Of course "losing" the three extra function switches by doing this is really a moot point - I'd imagine that not many cameras come (or came) with six programmable Fn switches each with 17 programmable choice options.

 

To centre the point when focus brackets are displayed, hit the "Disp Back" button just below the 4-way rather than the centre button of the 4-way as it is with the Nikon.

 

Like anything, it just takes getting used to the camera, and sometimes thinking just a bit outside the square (something that is often not intrinsic to the "reviews" and blogs out there).

 

(Edit: to expand on what I originally commented - it was late when I wrote that :) ).

Edited by Alan7140

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Of course I was looking at the Sony A7r, but scared off due to the shutter vibration issue. Reluctant on the A7 because of the smaller sensor and more plastic in construction.

 

What Nikon to Sony adapter would you recommend?

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Of course I was looking at the Sony A7r, but scared off due to the shutter vibration issue. Reluctant on the A7 because of the smaller sensor and more plastic in construction.

What Nikon to Sony adapter would you recommend?

The Sony A7 sensor is not smaller than the one in the A7R, but it is 24 megapixel compared to 36 megapixels in the A7R. Both sensors are "full frame". The Nex-7 is an APS-C on the other hand. Both the A7 and the Nex-7 ofer electronic first curtain (EFC), making them much more well suited for using tele lenses on tripods with shutter speeds from 1 sec - 1/125 sec compared to traditional focal plane shutters.

The build quality of the A7 is good and hasn't caused me any trouble so far. I do however think that the Olympus OM-D E-M1 is a better implemented camera than either of the A7 or the Nex-7, particularly with respect to controls and menu layout, even though Olympus menu system must be regarded as "comprehensive".

The Voigtländer Nikon F to Nex adapter works fine for me, but works only with lenses that have an aperture ring.

Edited by bjornthun

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Andrew:

 

Just reread your original post. Your photographs are terrific, I must say. I do, however, have a question:

 

It seems that your preference for the Olympus is seriously impacted by the AF, particularly, the ability to readily move AF points. Yet the sample photos do not seem to be those which require that feature.

 

For myself, I never move the AF point, shoot single shot on my D800, and take my time about it. (Though nothing I do approaches your efforts.) I also shoot mostly in full manual, with MF.

 

Therefore I am leaning to a Fuji XT-1 or a Sony A7 as a mirrorless addition to my kit, using my current lenses, where possible, with adapters. It just seems to me, your pictures not withstanding, that going to a m4/3 sensor is backing down on technology...

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I use AF-S almost exclusively on the EM5, but I am not a center point focus lock and recompose kind of shooter.  I have not shot that way since I stopped using my Nikon N90s years ago(it only has one AF point).  I frame the subject the way I want it and then move the AF point to the subject.

 

I started doing this, especially when shooting fast glass wide open and I had found that sometimes, even a small shift in the sensor plane at a wide open aperture can make a huge difference in sharpness and where the AF rests.

 

For example,

Image of the masks, was composed as you see it, and I moved the AF point to the mask on the left.

The meat counter image was focused on the customer to frame left.

The last image with the stairs and guy carrying the box was a good example of the benefit of having the AF point immediately available.  I hard originally intended to just take a picture of the stairs and had the middle AF point selected.  When I saw the guy carrying the box, I immediately selected the bottom middle AF point and got this shot.

 

Regarding, your "backing down on technology" comment...I guess I do not fully understand what you mean by that.

 

I have no problems carrying my Nikon gear with me when I know I am going to go out and shoot.  Generally, that is now with the Nikon Df.  I also wanted another kit that I can keep with me all the time for those unexpected moments.  I tried using the Fuji gear, and they provide great image quality - no question....but the speed of function and AF was an issue for me.  I need something that doesn't get in my way.  The Olympus OMD seems to have fit that bill for me better than the Fuji.  The OMD functions fast and with the 17mm/45mm primes, AF is almost instant.  The 17 and EM5 can be placed in a coat or cargo pant pocket if I need to go ultra light.

 

I'm still wanting a Fuji X100....someday....but that will most likely be a side acquisition - something I get used, kind of thing.

 

I guess I am a very "in the moment" type shooter, and feel most comfortable when I put myself into the chaos and find then cull the shots I want from the chaos.  I've camped street scenes before and have had some success there, too....its just not my favorite thing to do.

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    • By Dallas
      Olympus South Africa very kindly loaned me an E-M1X for my recent Photo Safari to Sabi Sabi and while I only had a few days before leaving on the trip to become accustomed to the camera, I did manage to produce some great images (by my standards) while using it in conjunction with the Olympus 300mm f/4.0 PRO.
       
      The first thing that struck me about this camera when taking it out of the box is the sheer size of it. It is huge. If you’ve been using Micro Four Thirds bodies to get away from the bulk of traditional DSLR’s then you will not want this camera. I was quite shocked at its size initially, especially when compared to my gripped E-M1 (original) which I have been shooting since 2014. The Nikon D5 is only 15mm bigger in terms of depth, height and width all around, so for a small sensor camera to be so close in size to a flagship 35mm camera begs some serious questioning of the makers.
       

      Side-by-side view of the E-M1X and the original E-M1 with its grip
       
      So why did Olympus make this camera so big? When you begin handling it the answer falls into place. It’s designed for sports and action photographers who are used to the speed and heft of cameras like the Nikon D5 and Canon EOS 1D series. That’s the user market Olympus are targeting with this machine. It feels substantial in the hands and the ergonomics are such that if you’re used to a bigger camera, moving across to the E-M1X will be much easier for you to adapt to, especially since the Olympus is so highly customisable that you could easily set it up to pretty much emulate the ergonomics of your big DSLR. Well, maybe not the Canons which often require simultaneous button presses to activate certain things, but most certainly it would be easy for a Nikon shooter to make the change.
       

      Not much in it, dimension wise, is there? 
       
      So we now have a giant MFT camera that feels like a Nikon D5. Why didn’t they do what Panasonic has done and make a bigger sensor too? Good question. Why stick with MFT sensors if you want to attract the sports and wildlife shooters of the world? This is where the concept of MFT begins to make sense. The main advantage to be had when shooting this small format as opposed to 35mm is that MFT lenses are comparatively diminutive. For example, on my safari I packed in the Olympus 300/4.0 PRO as well as my older 50-200/2.8-3.5 SWD and a third un-gripped body with the Olympus 12-100/4.0 PRO. I also had the Pan/Leica 8-18mm lens in my bag because I wanted to make some photos of the lodge while I was there. Those items I took as a carry on in the ThinkTank Airport Advantage roller and while the bag was not exactly light once my laptop and other peripherals were in it (about 15kg total), had I wanted a similar focal range shooting a 35mm system, I would have had to pack a 600mm f/4.0, 200-400mm f/4.0 and a regular camera with professional wide angle and ultra-zoom lenses. There is no way you could take that as a carry on with 35mm, so you’d have to bring a hard case and pay for the extra baggage. You then also have the added stress of wondering if your precious gear will make it to its destination. Having been in this exact situation many times before moving across to MFT from Nikon 35mm I know exactly what the challenges of travelling with large lenses and heavy gear are.
       

      This is the gear I took on the safari in the ThinkTank Airport Advantage.
       
      Conversely travelling with MFT is easy. Even with the giant E-M1X body, the space and weight savings of the incredible Olympus PRO and Panasonic/Leica lenses is a Godsend. Also consider the additional overhead of having to bring along a support system for your big 35mm glass because I doubt you’re going to want to hand hold a 600/4.0 lens if you’re going on a photography trip where such a lens is wanted. You’ll also need to pack a monopod and probably a gimbal head too. MFT systems like Olympus don’t require any support other than your hand, even when shooting the 300mm f/4 PRO. The IBIS and lens IS combine incredibly well.
       
      Given its considerable girth, for the E-M1X to make sense as a photographic tool that is intended to win over 35mm users it also needs to have some other things going for it. It will need to have seriously fast and accurate auto-focus, plus it will need to offer decent image quality in low light. This is where things get interesting. Read on!
       
       
      Auto Focus
       
      I’m not a back-button focus photographer. I can understand the principle behind this method and I have tried it a few times, but I have been using single point AF-S for so long that trying to change that deeply ingrained behaviour is really hard for me. I’ve also never set up any of the cameras I have ever owned to work in AF-C mode with any degree of success, so I tend to stab at the shutter button rapidly to keep slow moving things in focus (it’s very rarely that I will find myself photographing fast moving subjects). This method has worked for me for quite a long time now. So when I started reading the autofocus section in the E-M1X manual (which itself is a gargantuan 680-odd pages long in just English alone!) I was staggered by the array of setup options for the AF system of the E-M1X. I simply didn’t have enough time before my safari to comprehend all the options it offers, let alone try them out in practical situations.
       
      As mentioned I always set up AF to use a single point in AF-S mode and I recompose once I see the green dot. I don’t use the grouped points, so for me learning something as sophisticated as the AF system on the E-M1X is going to require a specific set of applications, which currently I don’t have in my work. For people who shoot birds in flight, aviation, motorsport and fast action sports such as soccer, ice-hockey and the like, this is probably going to be a winner, especially since they have built in subject recognition for certain things like cars, trains and planes. Apparently these subjects will be added to in firmware as they build up better data on new ones. I can imagine that leopard detection might be a thing in the future.
       
      One feature that I didn’t try but thought was interesting is the Len Focus Range. This setup allows you to define the distances that the AF system should work in. It basically allows you to tell the camera not to focus on objects that are a certain distance away from you. For example, if you are shooting a sport like boxing or ice hockey, you could set this up to avoid focusing on the ropes and/or plexiglass between you and what you’re trying to shoot. Some lenses will have these limits built in, but with the E-M1X you can specify exactly how many metres you want to work within.
       
      Another thing I liked about the X is that you can assign the Home position for the single AF point to be in a different position when shooting in the portrait orientation. This is really handy for events when I find myself having to shift the AF point between shooting people at a podium and then switching to the audience in landscape orientation. Very nice feature.
       
      What I can tell you about the AF system as I used it, is that it’s reassuringly lightning quick and accurate for the wildlife subjects I was photographing. There’s no hunting unless you miss a contrast point, like all cameras I have ever tried. Focus is almost instantaneous, even when subjects are not so close.
       
      In summary, I don’t think that anybody coming from 35mm will be disappointed with the AF capability of the E-M1X. If anything they might be pleasantly surprised given the sheer array of options available to control how the system works.
       
       

      Wildebeest in the misty morning, no problem with auto focus here in spite of the grass
       

      Using my "repeated stabbing" AF technique I managed to get a moderately sharp image, but I reckon had I used the camera's AF-S mode here the shot would have been better. 
       
       
      Speed
       
      One of the biggest advances Olympus made with this camera is the CPU speed. This is a very fast camera in terms of how quickly it processes and reads off data from the sensor. It’s so fast that you can do sensor shift high resolution images handheld. I didn’t really try this out properly, plus Lightroom can’t read the resulting .ORI files so the handful of shots I did take with this mode active, I have to process in Olympus Workspace, which I am completely new to. Sorry! As such I can’t formulate an opinion right now on how useful it is based on such a small sample of images, but what I can say is that on stationary subjects I think it can work quite well. I’d love to try it out in studio doing product photography, but I think there might be some issues syncing it with studio strobes.
       
      Getting back to the intended sports user of this camera, there is the not-so-insignificant Pro Capture mode to consider as a lure for the photographers who want to simplify their lives and get great action every time. Basically with the mode active the camera writes continuously to the buffer while you are holding the shutter button halfway down. As soon as your critical capture moment arrives you trip the shutter and the camera will record whatever it has currently in the buffer to the card(s). This is kind of like shooting fish in a barrel really, especially if you have the patience to sit with your finger on the trigger waiting for a bird to take flight. You can’t miss the shot. Unless you’re like me and you get tired of waiting and the bird chuckles at you as you put down the camera just before it flies away.
       

      I'll settle for stationary birds
       
      On the subject of Pro Capture, this mode is set by changing the drive mode in Super Control Panel (SCP). However, the thing is you may (like me) forget to switch this back to a regular drive mode after failing to record the wretched lilac breasted roller taking off, and then at your next sighting you will end up with dozens of images of a stationary buffalo. Or worse still, you’ll be wanting to shoot a sequence of something happening, but after you accidentally trigger Pro Capture you will have to wait for the camera to write its buffer onto your card. If you have a not-so-fast card like me this could be a few seconds, followed by several more trying to remember where to switch off the Pro Capture mode. Ideally I’d love to be able to have Pro Capture activate by holding down a custom function button together with the shutter button. A Fn button on the PRO lenses would be an ideal setup for this pretty cool feature. While I had the E-M1X I couldn’t see a way of being able to assign that particular feature to any of the custom function buttons, so hopefully Olympus’ engineers will read this criticism and work out a way of doing it in future firmware upgrades. I did manage to set up a quick switch between normal and Pro Capture by using the Custom Modes, but that requires remembering to change modes between sightings. Duh.
       
      Regarding Custom Modes there are four of these that are assignable to the PASM dial, so if your memory is better than mine you can set up each custom mode for a different type of shooting simply by changing the mode. However, you’re going to have to have a Gary Kasparov like mind because the sheer number of custom settings on a camera like the E-M1X is mind-boggling. There are pages and pages and more pages of custom settings in the menus and if you’re not used to the way Olympus does menus, you’re either going to go stir crazy or require a lot of patience (and batteries) to get the better of it all. It’s not insurmountable though and experienced Olympus users will probably be able to set up their custom modes quite easily after a few weeks with the camera in the field.
       
      One thing I really liked about the X is that there is a Custom Menu area where you can save up to 5 pages of menu items that you regularly need to access. Storing an item in there is as simple as pressing the Record video button while the item is selected in the menu. That’s a very big plus for me and goes a long way towards personalising the Olympus menu system.
       
       
      Stabilisation
       
      The IBIS and lens IS combine in the E-M1X to create an extraordinary amount of stabilisation. I was using the 300/4.0 PRO on this body almost exclusively for the duration of our 7 days in Sabi Sabi and occasionally I would shoot birds sitting on nearby branches. When I do my focus and recompose technique the subject does what I can only describe as a “moonwalk” glide from one part of the frame to the other. There is absolutely no camera shake at all handheld, which when you consider that you are using a 4.1˚ angle of view is bonkers! Olympus claim a 6 stop advantage in handheld photography and I have no doubt that this is true. Given my sloppy technique this is yet another Godsend to make my images look much better than they should.
       

       

      Stabilisation with long lenses is incredible.
       
       
      Battery
       
      Battery life was pretty decent. The camera comes with two batteries and typically I only exhausted about 50% of the one each day. Granted I don’t shoot as much as everybody else. On this safari I took a total of 1726 images with the E-M1X, averaging 288 per day. So, assuming I were to exhaust both batteries in a day I would be able to shoot over 1000 frames before having to recharge them.
       
      However, it is also possible to charge the camera via USB-C, so if you did get trigger happy enough to shoot that many in a day on safari, you could recharge from a  power bank between sightings. Or just buy more batteries.
       

       
       
      Low Light
       
      Right, this is where the rubber hits the road as far as getting 35mm power-users interested in switching to MFT. I’ll say it at the outset, I was disappointed in the low light performance of the E-M1X sensor.
       
      For starters, it doesn’t seem possible to be able to set Auto-ISO to go above 6400 on the X. None of the expanded ranges are available when using the auto mode while shooting RAW, which I think is just silly. This is how I shoot these days. I always use Auto-ISO. On the original E-M1 I sometimes let this go as high as 12800 and while the images may appear grainy they have a certain film-like charm to them. You can’t do that on the X. You have to set ISO 12800 or above manually.
       
      As far as graininess goes, 6400 on the E-M1X is very grainy and there is also a major loss of colour fidelity. To be honest I was expecting much better performance from the sensor at high ISO, so for me this is a deal breaker. Since the camera is intended to compete against the likes of the Nikon D5 and Canon EOS 1D series (where higher ISO is a forte), it sadly falls well short in this area.
       
      Having said that, I think that if you buy this camera and invest some time in learning how to deal with the grain and colour issues in post production you could probably get some very good results.
       

      Shot at ISO 6400, you can see the grain in the background, plus there has been a general loss of colour saturation.
       

      But then in good light you'll get rewarded.
       

      Gorgeous colours from the Olympus. No adjustments in post.
       
       
      Cool Things I Liked
       
      The sound of the mechanical shutter is really soft. It’s a lot quieter than my old E-M1 and if you are in the business of shooting in quiet places (churches, meetings, etc) you may not even have to switch to electronic shutter and risk the rolling effects thereof. It’s nice and quiet.
       
      I really appreciated the built in GPS and weather sensor on the E-M1X. This camera will tell you what the barometric pressure, altitude and ambient temperature was on every shot you take. I wish Lightroom would pick up those EXIF fields, alas you have to use the Olympus Workspace software to read them.
       
       
      A Couple Of Nit Picks
       
      There are a couple of things that I didn’t like, most notably there is no loop for a grip strap in the base of the camera so you would have to put a plate onto there to accommodate one (I used the Peak Design Clutch with its little plate). That seems like a daft omission to me because the moment you have to put a plate on the grip you lose the comfort of shooting with it in portrait mode.
       
      I was also a bit disappointed with the EVF. The refresh rate and colour was all good, but it just seemed to lack a bit of bite. The EVF on my old original E-M1 seems sharper to my eyes, which is a little weird. I did try adjusting the diopter a few times, but it didn’t seem to improve things. It could have been a contrast setting in the menus that I missed?
       
      The one thing I really don’t like (and I have expressed my dislike of this before) is the flip out LCD screen. This is something video producers want, but as a stills photographer I truly don’t want this as it’s a very weak point of the camera just waiting to snap off in the right circumstances. I much prefer the tilting screen of the original OM-D’s. Olympus should make it an option for this kind of premium camera: which type of LCD screen would you prefer, Mr. Customer?
       
       
      Conclusion
       
      I wish that I could have kept the camera for just a little bit longer as there are many other areas I would have liked to explore its performance in, especially my daily bread and butter work of property and product photography. Alas, they are in short supply around here so it had to go back post haste.
       
      My overall impression is that it is quite an impressive machine. It offers the photographer a lot of very cool features, excellent customisability and ergonomics. It is a specialist camera, however, and as such I think that the intended market for it is going to be a hard nut for Olympus to crack, especially given its lack of high ISO performance, which is something the sports photographers demand.
       
      If you’re a day shooter or you shoot action in well lit arenas then the advances this machine brings in terms of auto-focus and customisability, plus the sheer plethora of outstanding MFT lenses available for the system makes it a very attractive option, especially for those who travel a lot for photography. You get the ruggedness, heft and weather proofing of a pro body and the lightness and compactness of much smaller lenses.
       
      For me personally I would love one, after all I got more keepers on this most recent safari than in all the 10 years of safaris preceding it, but… there is the matter of that eye-watering $3000 price tag to consider. With the recent firmware upgrade to the E-M1 Mk II now bringing its feature set closer to that of the X, it is going to be much harder for Olympus to pitch this camera at the wider market and existing MFT users with that price tag. If it were closer to $2000 I might be a lot more interested in buying one.
       
      My final advice? If you want the very best camera that MFT can currently offer you for stability, video features, ruggedness, crazy feature set and customisability, get the E-M1X. If you are expecting par performance with a 35mm pro camera for low light, rather save $1500, wait for the sensor technology to improve and get the E-M1 Mk II for now.

      View full article
    • By Dallas
      Olympus South Africa very kindly loaned me an E-M1X for my recent Photo Safari to Sabi Sabi and while I only had a few days before leaving on the trip to become accustomed to the camera, I did manage to produce some great images (by my standards) while using it in conjunction with the Olympus 300mm f/4.0 PRO.
       
      The first thing that struck me about this camera when taking it out of the box is the sheer size of it. It is huge. If you’ve been using Micro Four Thirds bodies to get away from the bulk of traditional DSLR’s then you will not want this camera. I was quite shocked at its size initially, especially when compared to my gripped E-M1 (original) which I have been shooting since 2014. The Nikon D5 is only 15mm bigger in terms of depth, height and width all around, so for a small sensor camera to be so close in size to a flagship 35mm camera begs some serious questioning of the makers.
       

      Side-by-side view of the E-M1X and the original E-M1 with its grip
       
      So why did Olympus make this camera so big? When you begin handling it the answer falls into place. It’s designed for sports and action photographers who are used to the speed and heft of cameras like the Nikon D5 and Canon EOS 1D series. That’s the user market Olympus are targeting with this machine. It feels substantial in the hands and the ergonomics are such that if you’re used to a bigger camera, moving across to the E-M1X will be much easier for you to adapt to, especially since the Olympus is so highly customisable that you could easily set it up to pretty much emulate the ergonomics of your big DSLR. Well, maybe not the Canons which often require simultaneous button presses to activate certain things, but most certainly it would be easy for a Nikon shooter to make the change.
       

      Not much in it, dimension wise, is there? 
       
      So we now have a giant MFT camera that feels like a Nikon D5. Why didn’t they do what Panasonic has done and make a bigger sensor too? Good question. Why stick with MFT sensors if you want to attract the sports and wildlife shooters of the world? This is where the concept of MFT begins to make sense. The main advantage to be had when shooting this small format as opposed to 35mm is that MFT lenses are comparatively diminutive. For example, on my safari I packed in the Olympus 300/4.0 PRO as well as my older 50-200/2.8-3.5 SWD and a third un-gripped body with the Olympus 12-100/4.0 PRO. I also had the Pan/Leica 8-18mm lens in my bag because I wanted to make some photos of the lodge while I was there. Those items I took as a carry on in the ThinkTank Airport Advantage roller and while the bag was not exactly light once my laptop and other peripherals were in it (about 15kg total), had I wanted a similar focal range shooting a 35mm system, I would have had to pack a 600mm f/4.0, 200-400mm f/4.0 and a regular camera with professional wide angle and ultra-zoom lenses. There is no way you could take that as a carry on with 35mm, so you’d have to bring a hard case and pay for the extra baggage. You then also have the added stress of wondering if your precious gear will make it to its destination. Having been in this exact situation many times before moving across to MFT from Nikon 35mm I know exactly what the challenges of travelling with large lenses and heavy gear are.
       

      This is the gear I took on the safari in the ThinkTank Airport Advantage.
       
      Conversely travelling with MFT is easy. Even with the giant E-M1X body, the space and weight savings of the incredible Olympus PRO and Panasonic/Leica lenses is a Godsend. Also consider the additional overhead of having to bring along a support system for your big 35mm glass because I doubt you’re going to want to hand hold a 600/4.0 lens if you’re going on a photography trip where such a lens is wanted. You’ll also need to pack a monopod and probably a gimbal head too. MFT systems like Olympus don’t require any support other than your hand, even when shooting the 300mm f/4 PRO. The IBIS and lens IS combine incredibly well.
       
      Given its considerable girth, for the E-M1X to make sense as a photographic tool that is intended to win over 35mm users it also needs to have some other things going for it. It will need to have seriously fast and accurate auto-focus, plus it will need to offer decent image quality in low light. This is where things get interesting. Read on!
       
       
      Auto Focus
       
      I’m not a back-button focus photographer. I can understand the principle behind this method and I have tried it a few times, but I have been using single point AF-S for so long that trying to change that deeply ingrained behaviour is really hard for me. I’ve also never set up any of the cameras I have ever owned to work in AF-C mode with any degree of success, so I tend to stab at the shutter button rapidly to keep slow moving things in focus (it’s very rarely that I will find myself photographing fast moving subjects). This method has worked for me for quite a long time now. So when I started reading the autofocus section in the E-M1X manual (which itself is a gargantuan 680-odd pages long in just English alone!) I was staggered by the array of setup options for the AF system of the E-M1X. I simply didn’t have enough time before my safari to comprehend all the options it offers, let alone try them out in practical situations.
       
      As mentioned I always set up AF to use a single point in AF-S mode and I recompose once I see the green dot. I don’t use the grouped points, so for me learning something as sophisticated as the AF system on the E-M1X is going to require a specific set of applications, which currently I don’t have in my work. For people who shoot birds in flight, aviation, motorsport and fast action sports such as soccer, ice-hockey and the like, this is probably going to be a winner, especially since they have built in subject recognition for certain things like cars, trains and planes. Apparently these subjects will be added to in firmware as they build up better data on new ones. I can imagine that leopard detection might be a thing in the future.
       
      One feature that I didn’t try but thought was interesting is the Len Focus Range. This setup allows you to define the distances that the AF system should work in. It basically allows you to tell the camera not to focus on objects that are a certain distance away from you. For example, if you are shooting a sport like boxing or ice hockey, you could set this up to avoid focusing on the ropes and/or plexiglass between you and what you’re trying to shoot. Some lenses will have these limits built in, but with the E-M1X you can specify exactly how many metres you want to work within.
       
      Another thing I liked about the X is that you can assign the Home position for the single AF point to be in a different position when shooting in the portrait orientation. This is really handy for events when I find myself having to shift the AF point between shooting people at a podium and then switching to the audience in landscape orientation. Very nice feature.
       
      What I can tell you about the AF system as I used it, is that it’s reassuringly lightning quick and accurate for the wildlife subjects I was photographing. There’s no hunting unless you miss a contrast point, like all cameras I have ever tried. Focus is almost instantaneous, even when subjects are not so close.
       
      In summary, I don’t think that anybody coming from 35mm will be disappointed with the AF capability of the E-M1X. If anything they might be pleasantly surprised given the sheer array of options available to control how the system works.
       
       

      Wildebeest in the misty morning, no problem with auto focus here in spite of the grass
       

      Using my "repeated stabbing" AF technique I managed to get a moderately sharp image, but I reckon had I used the camera's AF-S mode here the shot would have been better. 
       
       
      Speed
       
      One of the biggest advances Olympus made with this camera is the CPU speed. This is a very fast camera in terms of how quickly it processes and reads off data from the sensor. It’s so fast that you can do sensor shift high resolution images handheld. I didn’t really try this out properly, plus Lightroom can’t read the resulting .ORI files so the handful of shots I did take with this mode active, I have to process in Olympus Workspace, which I am completely new to. Sorry! As such I can’t formulate an opinion right now on how useful it is based on such a small sample of images, but what I can say is that on stationary subjects I think it can work quite well. I’d love to try it out in studio doing product photography, but I think there might be some issues syncing it with studio strobes.
       
      Getting back to the intended sports user of this camera, there is the not-so-insignificant Pro Capture mode to consider as a lure for the photographers who want to simplify their lives and get great action every time. Basically with the mode active the camera writes continuously to the buffer while you are holding the shutter button halfway down. As soon as your critical capture moment arrives you trip the shutter and the camera will record whatever it has currently in the buffer to the card(s). This is kind of like shooting fish in a barrel really, especially if you have the patience to sit with your finger on the trigger waiting for a bird to take flight. You can’t miss the shot. Unless you’re like me and you get tired of waiting and the bird chuckles at you as you put down the camera just before it flies away.
       

      I'll settle for stationary birds
       
      On the subject of Pro Capture, this mode is set by changing the drive mode in Super Control Panel (SCP). However, the thing is you may (like me) forget to switch this back to a regular drive mode after failing to record the wretched lilac breasted roller taking off, and then at your next sighting you will end up with dozens of images of a stationary buffalo. Or worse still, you’ll be wanting to shoot a sequence of something happening, but after you accidentally trigger Pro Capture you will have to wait for the camera to write its buffer onto your card. If you have a not-so-fast card like me this could be a few seconds, followed by several more trying to remember where to switch off the Pro Capture mode. Ideally I’d love to be able to have Pro Capture activate by holding down a custom function button together with the shutter button. A Fn button on the PRO lenses would be an ideal setup for this pretty cool feature. While I had the E-M1X I couldn’t see a way of being able to assign that particular feature to any of the custom function buttons, so hopefully Olympus’ engineers will read this criticism and work out a way of doing it in future firmware upgrades. I did manage to set up a quick switch between normal and Pro Capture by using the Custom Modes, but that requires remembering to change modes between sightings. Duh.
       
      Regarding Custom Modes there are four of these that are assignable to the PASM dial, so if your memory is better than mine you can set up each custom mode for a different type of shooting simply by changing the mode. However, you’re going to have to have a Gary Kasparov like mind because the sheer number of custom settings on a camera like the E-M1X is mind-boggling. There are pages and pages and more pages of custom settings in the menus and if you’re not used to the way Olympus does menus, you’re either going to go stir crazy or require a lot of patience (and batteries) to get the better of it all. It’s not insurmountable though and experienced Olympus users will probably be able to set up their custom modes quite easily after a few weeks with the camera in the field.
       
      One thing I really liked about the X is that there is a Custom Menu area where you can save up to 5 pages of menu items that you regularly need to access. Storing an item in there is as simple as pressing the Record video button while the item is selected in the menu. That’s a very big plus for me and goes a long way towards personalising the Olympus menu system.
       
       
      Stabilisation
       
      The IBIS and lens IS combine in the E-M1X to create an extraordinary amount of stabilisation. I was using the 300/4.0 PRO on this body almost exclusively for the duration of our 7 days in Sabi Sabi and occasionally I would shoot birds sitting on nearby branches. When I do my focus and recompose technique the subject does what I can only describe as a “moonwalk” glide from one part of the frame to the other. There is absolutely no camera shake at all handheld, which when you consider that you are using a 4.1˚ angle of view is bonkers! Olympus claim a 6 stop advantage in handheld photography and I have no doubt that this is true. Given my sloppy technique this is yet another Godsend to make my images look much better than they should.
       

       

      Stabilisation with long lenses is incredible.
       
       
      Battery
       
      Battery life was pretty decent. The camera comes with two batteries and typically I only exhausted about 50% of the one each day. Granted I don’t shoot as much as everybody else. On this safari I took a total of 1726 images with the E-M1X, averaging 288 per day. So, assuming I were to exhaust both batteries in a day I would be able to shoot over 1000 frames before having to recharge them.
       
      However, it is also possible to charge the camera via USB-C, so if you did get trigger happy enough to shoot that many in a day on safari, you could recharge from a  power bank between sightings. Or just buy more batteries.
       

       
       
      Low Light
       
      Right, this is where the rubber hits the road as far as getting 35mm power-users interested in switching to MFT. I’ll say it at the outset, I was disappointed in the low light performance of the E-M1X sensor.
       
      For starters, it doesn’t seem possible to be able to set Auto-ISO to go above 6400 on the X. None of the expanded ranges are available when using the auto mode while shooting RAW, which I think is just silly. This is how I shoot these days. I always use Auto-ISO. On the original E-M1 I sometimes let this go as high as 12800 and while the images may appear grainy they have a certain film-like charm to them. You can’t do that on the X. You have to set ISO 12800 or above manually.
       
      As far as graininess goes, 6400 on the E-M1X is very grainy and there is also a major loss of colour fidelity. To be honest I was expecting much better performance from the sensor at high ISO, so for me this is a deal breaker. Since the camera is intended to compete against the likes of the Nikon D5 and Canon EOS 1D series (where higher ISO is a forte), it sadly falls well short in this area.
       
      Having said that, I think that if you buy this camera and invest some time in learning how to deal with the grain and colour issues in post production you could probably get some very good results.
       

      Shot at ISO 6400, you can see the grain in the background, plus there has been a general loss of colour saturation.
       

      But then in good light you'll get rewarded.
       

      Gorgeous colours from the Olympus. No adjustments in post.
       
       
      Cool Things I Liked
       
      The sound of the mechanical shutter is really soft. It’s a lot quieter than my old E-M1 and if you are in the business of shooting in quiet places (churches, meetings, etc) you may not even have to switch to electronic shutter and risk the rolling effects thereof. It’s nice and quiet.
       
      I really appreciated the built in GPS and weather sensor on the E-M1X. This camera will tell you what the barometric pressure, altitude and ambient temperature was on every shot you take. I wish Lightroom would pick up those EXIF fields, alas you have to use the Olympus Workspace software to read them.
       
       
      A Couple Of Nit Picks
       
      There are a couple of things that I didn’t like, most notably there is no loop for a grip strap in the base of the camera so you would have to put a plate onto there to accommodate one (I used the Peak Design Clutch with its little plate). That seems like a daft omission to me because the moment you have to put a plate on the grip you lose the comfort of shooting with it in portrait mode.
       
      I was also a bit disappointed with the EVF. The refresh rate and colour was all good, but it just seemed to lack a bit of bite. The EVF on my old original E-M1 seems sharper to my eyes, which is a little weird. I did try adjusting the diopter a few times, but it didn’t seem to improve things. It could have been a contrast setting in the menus that I missed?
       
      The one thing I really don’t like (and I have expressed my dislike of this before) is the flip out LCD screen. This is something video producers want, but as a stills photographer I truly don’t want this as it’s a very weak point of the camera just waiting to snap off in the right circumstances. I much prefer the tilting screen of the original OM-D’s. Olympus should make it an option for this kind of premium camera: which type of LCD screen would you prefer, Mr. Customer?
       
       
      Conclusion
       
      I wish that I could have kept the camera for just a little bit longer as there are many other areas I would have liked to explore its performance in, especially my daily bread and butter work of property and product photography. Alas, they are in short supply around here so it had to go back post haste.
       
      My overall impression is that it is quite an impressive machine. It offers the photographer a lot of very cool features, excellent customisability and ergonomics. It is a specialist camera, however, and as such I think that the intended market for it is going to be a hard nut for Olympus to crack, especially given its lack of high ISO performance, which is something the sports photographers demand.
       
      If you’re a day shooter or you shoot action in well lit arenas then the advances this machine brings in terms of auto-focus and customisability, plus the sheer plethora of outstanding MFT lenses available for the system makes it a very attractive option, especially for those who travel a lot for photography. You get the ruggedness, heft and weather proofing of a pro body and the lightness and compactness of much smaller lenses.
       
      For me personally I would love one, after all I got more keepers on this most recent safari than in all the 10 years of safaris preceding it, but… there is the matter of that eye-watering $3000 price tag to consider. With the recent firmware upgrade to the E-M1 Mk II now bringing its feature set closer to that of the X, it is going to be much harder for Olympus to pitch this camera at the wider market and existing MFT users with that price tag. If it were closer to $2000 I might be a lot more interested in buying one.
       
      My final advice? If you want the very best camera that MFT can currently offer you for stability, video features, ruggedness, crazy feature set and customisability, get the E-M1X. If you are expecting par performance with a 35mm pro camera for low light, rather save $1500, wait for the sensor technology to improve and get the E-M1 Mk II for now.
    • By Dallas
      We have not reviewed this lens yet. If you have tried it, please enter your comments below.
    • By Dallas
      We have not reviewed this lens yet. If you have tried it, please enter your comments below. 
    • By Dallas
      I just got word that Olympus has updated the firmware in the E-M1 Mk II and this sees it now getting a lot more of the features that the E-M1X has, including improved AF, expanded ISO range (down to ISO 64) as well as some other stuff that I didn't even know these cameras could do. Here's Robin Wong to run through some of the details.  
       
       
       
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