Six Months With The Olympus OM-D E-M1 X Camera

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Six Months With The Olympus OM-D E-M1 X Camera

I was one of the lucky fellows who received one of the pre-production models of the Olympus OM-D E-M1 X camera bodies. That was just about six months ago. I primarily ran tests with it the first six weeks I had it, partly because I had to keep it a secret that I had one. Once the camera was out in the wild, I began shooting with it almost exclusively, only using my Olympus OM-D E-M1 MK II as backup. Then, last month I traded in the MK II for a second Model X and that is all I use.

Six months is a good amount of time for someone like me to judge a camera. I am supremely confident in the images I make with this body and decided I would sum up some of my experiences after long-term use.

So here are my random thoughts…

The camera is a real workhorse. It hasn’t missed a beat since I got it. The build quality is amazing and the fit and finish very superior to other cameras I have tested.

The biggest area of concern for the Internet was the size and the weight of the camera. I chuckled when numerous “experts” (who had never even seen a Model X, let alone shot with it) had decided this camera was a failure from the start.

Nothing could be further from the truth.

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This camera fits better in my hand than the MK II with a battery grip did. The engineers at Olympus have really figured this out. While it is a larger and heavier camera than the MK II, it doesn’t feel like it – AT ALL! That is a neat little trick.

I use long lenses, so carrying an Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 300mm f/4 IS PRO Lens and the Olympus M.Zuiko Digital MC-14 1.4x Teleconverter, I am sporting a rig that will get me the same field of view as any similarly situated DSLR, but that is about half the size and weight of its DSLR equivalent. That is a good thing. I am free to work longer because I am not tired.

The camera is still remarkable to me in that it is blazingly fast. Everything about the “X” is faster than the MK II and it’s noticeable. Is this life changing? No – but it sure is convenient and desirable.

One of the functional improvements I really like is the ability to review images and make changes to the menu while the camera is buffering. I know most cameras already do this, but the Olympus cameras did not so this change is welcome.

I am absolutely addicted to the new joystick placement – when you shoot either vertical OR horizontal, it’s in the same place (Olympus replicates the joystick in two places on the back of the camera to make this possible.) Combining this new feature with an autofocus that is just a nit faster than before has caused my keeper rate to inch up about 10%. Not earth shattering but absolutely noticeable and very welcome.

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I haven’t done much to change my birds in flight settings although I do shoot with a tighter pattern on the Model X – I use five instead of nine AF points as my starting point and sometimes drop down to one and switch from TRACKING AF to CONTINUOUS AF with perched birds. I just get better results this way. I use TRACKING with larger birds against clean backgrounds or when in flight.

The files I get from the Model X are very easy to work with as long as I remember to expose to the right. (If you are not familiar with this concept try watching this video –  from Michael Breitung.)

One of the problems that newbies have with the switch to Micro Four Thirds is that they complain about noise. I don’t have a problem with noise. I expose to the right, and if the remaining noise is distracting then I remove it in post – with one or two clicks. No big deal.

You start to assimilate a camera when you regularly use it and then when you go back to the older body you are reminded why you like the new one. There’s no HUGE difference. Thankfully all the Olympus EVFs are great – even in the pro-super bodies, but I do notice the difference between the electronic viewfinder in the “X” and older cameras. Likewise, the ergonomics make SUCH a big difference to me on this camera. I am deadly accurate with that new joystick and when I pick up the older camera not having it there causes my thumb to completely stress out 🙂

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I am in a position to buy and use any camera I want. Yes I am an Olympus Visionary, but that is because Olympus found out I switched and asked me to join the program. I would consider using another camera if I really thought that there was anything out there that was better for me. But at this point, I don’t plan to ever look back. The Olympus gear frees me up to work better, smarter and longer – without pain or getting tired. The images I am making today are some of the best of my career, and with the glass that Olympus has coming up – i.e., the new 2X teleconverter and the new super zoom, I can imagine that things are only going to get better from here.

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6 Responses

  1. Have to agree with you Scott. I have had my M1X since after the New Year and have already noticed my keeper rate going up. I still have a lot to learn about the system, but am loving my results.

  2. After seeing your success, I too jumped on the OM-D bandwagon and can’t be happier. I now have (2) E-M1X bodies and a E-M1 Mk II that I got for a travel camera.

    I spent today updating the firmware of my cameras and lenses.

    I have to wonder, do you use a naming convention for your cameras? Does this extend to the memory cards?

    As I was updating firmware, it seemed convenient to give my camera names, so I knew “Hawkeye” was updated while I still needed to do “Trapper” and “Radar”.

    As I ingest photos from multi camera shoots I sometimes wonder which camera goes with the cards that I am ingesting.

    Is this something you do?


    1. Hi – thanks for your comment. I probably should do that but I am far less sophisticated than most. I just put a white sticker on each camera with a “1” – “2” and “3” 🙂

  3. Hi Scott.
    I have an E-M1 mk2 and 300mm f4 pro, 40-150mm f2.8, 12-100mm pro, both 1.4x and 2x teleconvrters, and a 100-400 Leica Panasonic zoom. I was a Canon shooter and still retain my 500 f4 IS mk2 , my 1DX , an EOS R, and a Sigma 150-600mm zoom – oh, and both Canon 1.4x and 2x mk3 converters. My point is – I stil feel that for most UK bird photography, the subjects are always too far away and using the Olympus gear and having to crop, doesn’t cut it with me at the moment IQ-wise, athough I continue to improve. To trade in my best Canon gear, would be like giving them away, so hanging on to them for the time being. I was toying with the idea of getting a second/back-up MFT camera, so was naturally looking at the MX, albeit it is pricey here in the UK, or Treasure Island as it’s known by photographers here. The problem is, how much better is the MX , than the E-M1 mk2? Yes, a really difficult question, I know. Do i get one, or another mk2, or do I wait for the E-M1 mk3, which i assume will be released sometime in 2020? Difficult decisions. A great deal of development and marketing is going into FF mirrorless, my EOS R was to enable me to have a decent ‘lighter’ DSLR-type camera, much lighter to carry round, than my DX, but sadly not as good, in terms of clarity from BIF stuff here in the UK. It is a good camera though and allows me to continue to use my large Canon glass, with a bit less pain in my shoulders. One of the issues I see you have commented on several times, is IQ from MFT sensors cf. those of a FF size. There is definitely a lot of pixel peeping goes off , especially on Flickr and FaceBook. As you say, most of your income comes from the ‘printed’ work and I have no doubt that comparisons here easily allow a 20MP image to compete with a 47MP image on the printed page. However, a great deal of my work is screen and web presentation, so pixels and screen IQ quality are also important. Just wondered what your thoughts were . I do know that it is inevitable at some stage, my E-M1 will falter, then I will be on another trip in Alaska without a back-up MFT, so i need to do something soon, before it reaches that point. E-M1 mk2 or E-Mx ? What do you think?

    1. Hi Richard – if you aren’t happy with the IQ of the MK II you probably won’t see a big improvement in the X – I have no problem getting close enough to make images with my 300 f/4 IS PRO Lens – especially with the 1.4 TC mounted. But to each his own. I am not allowed to discuss future releases of Olympus products nor do I know what the 2020 plans will be.

      As for the rest – I cannot imagine trying to shoot for the pixel peepers. They have never paid a dime for anyone’s photos so far as I know – but I try to approach photography from this position – if you believe Brand X is what you need – then shoot with Brand X – I never try to convince people to use what I use. I only get involved if I hear people recite conclusions not based on facts. For me, I have no problem making good income from the images I create with the Oly system and I post images every single day that speak to the quality one can obtain from the camera. Only you can decide if that quality meets your needs. I hope this helps.

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