Just now, Olympus unveiled a new flagship for their system of mirrorless cameras. The Olympus OM-D E-M1 brings high-end features and performance aimed at professional photographers. Its all-new 16 megapixels CMOS sensor features built-in Phase-Detect autofocus, a first among Micro Four-Thirds cameras, and improves image-noise over the already-excellent OM-D E-M5 reviewed here. The sensor is mounted on the same ultra-effective 5-axis image-stabilization system as the E-M5, providing stabilization for all lenses. The OM-D E-M1 has durable body designed to handle like a DSLR and becomes the very first freezeproof mirrorless digital camera.
The OM-D E-M1 is the most feature-rich mirrorless camera to date and is designed to match the autofocus performance of the Olympus E-5 DSLR when using Four-Thirds lenses with a mount-adapter. It automatically switches between Contrast-Detect and Phase-Detect autofocus, depending on whether the lens attached is Micro Four-Thirds or Four-Thirds, respectively. The Contrast-Detect AF system is amazingly fast and highly optimized for Micro Four-Thirds lenses while the Phase-Detect AF system works with existing Four-Thirds lenses which were designed when that autofocus system was most prevalent.
To maximize lens performance, the 16 megapixels sensor does not use an anti-alias filter. The OM-D E-M1 uses an newly-developed TruePic VII processor which removes moire, lateral chromatic aberrations and vignetting based on properties of each lens. The 37 pixels replaced by Phase-Detect AF sensors are spread out and interpolated from neighboring pixels to minimize their impact on image-quality. When continuous autofocus is enabled with Micro Four-Thirds lenses, Phase-Detect pixels assist the Contrast-Detect system to speed up performance.
While this new mirrorless is much lighter than a DSLR, it offers a comparable handling experience with a deep hand-grip for stability and a built-in EVF. This extra-large viewfinder has 0.74X magnification, matching the size of the largest full-frame OVF, and – of course – shows 100% coverage. It has a class-leading 2.4 megapixels of resolution and offers improved color-accuracy and dynamic-range. It is Display-Priority in PAS modes and Exposure-Priority in M mode. The EVF is paired with an Eye-Start sensor which automatically switches between the EVF and tilting 3″ touchscreen LCD.
Professional handling would not be complete without dual control-dials, a traditional mode-dial and highly customizable interface, all of which the OM-D E-M1 offers. A hot-shoe for external lighting and stereo audio-input for video is also included.
This new mirrorless features a high-speed mechanical-shutter with a maximum shutter-speed of 1/8000s. The shutter allows for timed-exposures and bulb exposures down to 30 minutes with the same unique Live-Time and Live-Bulb display as the OM-D E-M5. These unique modes allow the camera to show an exposure progressively build-up which is extremely useful for light-painting and fireworks photography. The mechanical shutter can sustain speeds up to 10 FPS and the OM-D E-M1 has a deep buffer to accommodate 95 JPEG images or 41 RAW files. Continuous drive manages a respectable 6.5 FPS with continuous autofocus.
The Olympus OM-D E-M1 offers built-in HDR with two styles of tone-mapping from 4 bracketed exposures, taken with 1 or 2 EV increments. The new interval timer can capture up to 999 images which are optionally merged into a video 100s long, cropped to a 16:9 aspect-ratio when saving at an HD resolution.
The professional-grade body is fully weather-sealed, when used with a compatible weather-sealed lens or weather-sealed mount-adapter plus weather-sealed lens. It is freezeproof to -10C, matching the cold-resistance of the more rugged digital cameras. Olympus is also launching a compatible case which is waterproof down to a depth of 45 meters. WiFi connectivity is built right into this mirrorless. A new Android and iOS application offers remote-control and image-sharing features.
The Olympus OM-D E-M1 is scheduled to become available next month for a suggested retail price of $1399 USD or CDN. Along with this camera, Olympus is launching a new high-grade constant-aperture zoom lens, the M.Zuiko 12-40mm F/2.8 PRO, sold separately for $999 USD or CDN. It will be available bundled with the E-M1 for a suggested price of $2199 USD or CDN. Additionally, Olympus announced the development of a M.Zuiko 40-150mm F/2.8 lens to be released in the second half of 2014.