How does the Olympus OM-D E-M1X compare with the competition? Is this a camera worth the money? We had the opportunity to spend several hours with the model, taking pictures in demanding conditions – at the skatepark. Here are our impressions.
At the invitation of Olympus Poland, I had the opportunity to go to Wroclaw to test the latest flagship bezlusterkowiec manufacturer: Olympus OM-D E-M1X . This camera can boast of ultra-fast and accurate autofocus, very fast mode of serial photos 18 fps, great mechanical stabilization matrix and finally innovative Hi Res Photo mode, so that we can take pictures with a resolution of up to 50 megapixels. The number of new possibilities of the camera is impressive, and the model looks completely different than its predecessor – Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II. It's a camera that implies that it's suitable for professional applications and hard work. No wonder that to test the new model Olympus prepared difficult, but very interesting conditions – photos we did in the Wroclaw skatepark. So the camera had to deal with the problem of grasping and sharpening people moving on boards, rolls or kick scooters in a fraction of a second. All photos taken with the camera can be found in full resolution in of our gallery .
The OM-D E-M1X is really a big mirrorless
What first hits the eye when we take the camera is its size. The camera looks like a SLR camera and it definitely is not the smallest and the lightest. The producer moves away from the retrodesign characteristic of his lower models. E-M1X is a typical utility model, dedicated to professional photographers , that's why the manufacturer does not put on the appearance, but on ergonomics.It's really good in her case. The camera weighs a lot, but it's great in the palm of your hand. The manufacturer has used an unusual solution because the camera has a built-in grip with a battery, which strongly affects its size, but also brings many interesting options. First of all, thanks to the great shape, the camera fits perfectly in the hand when photographing vertically. Then we can use the shutter on the grip. Of course, the device does not run out of a lot of buttons and you will need to spend some time to familiarize yourself with, but certainly advanced users a lot of buttons and knobs will be liked – the camera handles very comfortably when we get to know it. The menu is slightly worse. It looks completely different than in amateur models and in my opinion it is not too instinctive – I had to spend a lot of time finding each option. The large body also guarantees that instead of one battery, the camera can always be placed in two, in the built-in grip. This in turn means that we can make even more than 2,500 photos on a single charge. This is one of the strongest parts of the camera, because it is known that in journalistic photography and sports photography there is often no time to change the battery. The body also has space for two memory cards, which is a standard today for professional models. Both slots support SD cards.
High speed and great AF
The manufacturer is positioning his new model as a camera for sports shooting. So in his case, speed is what matters most. This is ensured by one of the fastest serial modes on the market. Within a second we will take 18 frames with full resolution and AF support. More, because 20, gives only Sony A9. So in this respect the speed of the camera is really impressive.For photos taken during sports events, capturing the most important moments requires reflexes. If we do not have it, Olympus will help us too. The Pro Capture function works well here. In this mode, the camera will take up to 35 pictures before pressing the shutter button and taking a picture. If this function is combined with a fast serial mode, the opportunity to miss an important moment drops almost to zero. Photographing ski jumping, although I had a quick camera, I often pushed the trigger too late. Pro Capture was created just to not miss the best moments and works great. In the case of sensational speed, the autofocus does the job. Olympus OM-D The E-M1X has been equipped with one of the best AF systems on the market, which only a few full-frame mirrorless cameras can currently compete with. In the case of sharpening quality, the camera can be aligned with the already mentioned Sony A9. In both cases we deal with intelligent units. Olympus not only has a lot of focus points covering almost the entire matrix, but also knows how to recognize objects. The system can detect not only human faces or eyes (including left and right separately), but also various items such as cars or airplanes (birds are also recognized by similarity with planes). All this makes us very confident that the object we want will be properly sharpened. In the case of shooting athletes performing various evolutions in the skate park, it was important that the camera was sharpening the helmet, and not, for example, the skateboard wheels, which is why most frames were sharp where it belongs.
Matrix – its advantages and disadvantages
So far, only two manufacturers have in their offer only models with micro 4/3 matrices – they were Olympus and Panasonic, but the latter has also recently been full-frame mirrorless cameras. Unfortunately, the small sensor carries some problems, and the main one is, of course, ISO. This can be raised in the standard mode to a maximum of ISO 6400, but unfortunately, at this value, the images will be noisy . In fact, even by half the value is already noticeable noise level. Returning to skijumping – when photographing jumpers, I had to use very short exposure times, which resulted in the need to use ISO above 6400. In the case of Olympus, some applications are unfortunately immediately excluded by problems with light. To get good photos, we have to photograph in good lighting. There's no other way.Thanks to interesting technical solutions, we managed to eliminate the second problem of small matrices – resolution. The camera has a special Hi Res mode, thanks to which we can take pictures with a resolution of up to 50 megapixels , which means that only some full-frame models guarantee. How is this possible? In this mode, the matrix minimally changes position, moves mechanically in different directions, so that it reads more details on the image and as a result it can save the image in high resolution. I also had the opportunity to test this function. As you probably guessed, since the matrix moves, both the subject and the camera must be stable. It is true. Therefore, we will use this function mainly for taking portraits and photographing static objects. The advantage, however, is that with this function the camera does not have to be mounted on a tripod, as I have seen myself. Stabilization Olympus is really a leading player on the market – it works with 7.5 EV power. I have always thought that in Olympus models we can find the best stabilization of the matrix, but in the OM-D E-M1X the manufacturer has gone over . After turning on the stabilization I felt like if I was putting the camera on the gimbal. The reduction of vibrations is really powerful and thanks to this Hi Res images will be done without a problem. Such an efficient stabilization is also useful when filming, and the manufacturer has tried this issue. The new model films at 4K at 30 frames per second and has a logarithmic profile, so that we can record films with more tonal dynamics, and then process them in the assembly program. Finally, it can be said that Olympus makes good films, because until now this function in the camera of the producer performed on average.
OM-D E-M1X is a successful model, though not for everyone
Undoubtedly, the Olympus OM-D E-M1X is an interesting model and it's good that the producer has in his portfolio such an advanced mirrorless camera. The price of 12,000 zlotys for a body is not a bargain, because at this price we will find models with a full frame. Olympus, however, makes up for the possibilities – very fast AF and serial mode are desired by many functions, high resolution of portraits is also useful.However, there is nothing to hide – a small matrix is very hard and makes the usefulness of the camera somewhat limited. Everywhere where there is little light, the camera will not work. And unfortunately, we often have to deal with such conditions. Due to its dimensions, the camera loses the advantage of mirrorless drivers, that is, handiness, and this excludes it as an attractive model for trips. Certainly there will be those who will use the possibilities of this model. The fact is, however, that in the face of the market situation, Olympus should think of a larger matrix in the future.