Olympus E-M1X Review
|Full model name:||Olympus OM-D E-M1X|
(17.4mm x 13.0mm)
|Viewfinder:||EVF / LCD|
|Native ISO:||200 - 25,600|
|Extended ISO:||64 - 25,600|
|Shutter:||1/32000 - 60 sec|
5.7 x 5.8 x 3.0 in.
(144 x 147 x 75 mm)
|Full specs:||Olympus E-M1X specifications|
In a sense, it's a bigger, burlier, slightly more specialized version of the E-M1 Mark II. It's an OM-D camera tailormade primarily for sports, wildlife and other photographers use use long telephoto lenses. Sporting the same 20MP sensor as the E-M1 II, the overall image quality is very good, but mostly unchanged. However, improvements abound with regards to AF performance, especially with AF tracking. There's also more advanced video features. Yes it's big, and yes it's expensive, but the E-M1X offers high performance and improved operability while remaining true to the characteristic portability of a Micro Four Thirds system.Pros
Terrific overall image quality for a 20MP 4/3" sensor; Very good high ISO performance this sensor size; Very impressive & improved AF performance; Extremely fast, responsive overall performance; New Intelligent Subject Detection AF feature works well; More video features; Outstanding IBIS.Cons
Image quality not improved from (updated) E-M1 II; Faces tough competition with image quality at this price point, especially at higher ISOs; EVF feels somewhat outdated; Expensive for a Micro Four Thirds camera.Price and availability
Available in the US market since late February 2019, the Olympus OM-D E-M1X is priced at US$3,000, body-only.Imaging Resource rating
5.0 out of 5.0
Olympus E-M1X Review
Capturing wildlife with the Olympus OM-D Camera System
|Note: Please be aware that while Olympus sponsored this project, we conceived of the piece in its entirety, wrote the script, and were given complete editorial freedom throughout the process.|
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An in-depth tour of Olympus' super-rugged, high-performance OM-D camera
From the outset, the Olympus E-M1 series was designed around the concept of a camera for the professional photographer, particularly a pro on the go -- someone who needed a rugged, reliable camera that was also extremely portable. The original E-M1 was a great camera, offering comfortable ergonomics, lots of physical controls, rugged construction as well as great image quality and good AF performance. All that inside a camera body that could pretty much be carried anywhere.
Yet, it was the E-M1 Mark II that really took things to the next level. Featuring a newer 20-megapixel Four Thirds sensor, a pair of dual quad-core image processors, souped-up sensor-shift image stabilization, vastly-improved continuous autofocus performance and speedy burst shooting, the E-M1 Mark II ticked pretty much all the boxes for an extremely capable, versatile, professional-level field camera. Also boasting a beefier design and better controls, dual card slots and a bigger, longer-lasting battery, it was a major improvement over the original E-M1 on pretty much all fronts, save for the price tag.
Now, over two years later, Olympus has decided it isn't necessarily time for a third-get E-M1 (although, that sure would be nice), but rather for a companion flagship model. A high-performance, professional camera that instead of prioritizing compactness and portability, focuses on handling, operability and overall extreme durability.
Put another way, the Olympus E-M1 Mark II is to a Canon 5D-series camera as the Olympus E-M1X is to a Canon 1D-series camera. It's an OM-D camera that's especially well-suited for professional sports and wildlife photographers who shoot with longer, heavier telephoto lenses -- yet for those who prefer a camera system that's much more portable than that in the full-frame DSLR camp.
The E-M1X is Olympus' crown, a final "rounding out" of the OM-D family, and their super-pro camera. The E-M1X does not technically supercede the E-M1 Mark II, however. Both cameras target professionals, and indeed they both share a number of similarities. However, the E-M1X goes beyond the Mark II in a number of areas, particular when it comes to performance and autofocus capabilities as well as image stabilization and video shooting capabilities.
The new Olympus E-M1X packs a lot of cool new features, performance and lots of impressive technology into a very rugged, superbly weather-sealed body. Let's dive in to see what the camera has to offer...
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|Note: Please be aware that while Olympus sponsored this project, we conceived of the piece in its entirety, wrote the script, and were given complete editorial freedom throughout the process.|
A brand-new body with duplicate controls for portrait shooting
Olympus has, once again, crafted an entirely brand-new metal body for the OM-D E-M1X. Body-only, it's about 1.7 times the weight of the E-M1 II, due in large part to the fact that it includes a built-in portrait grip and an array of duplicate controls for shooting in that orientation, which makes it a much taller camera. Loaded and ready to shoot -- but without a lens -- the weight difference between the Mk II and M1X is even more noticeable, because the newer, larger flagship supports two batteries in-camera instead of one for its more compact flagship sibling.
But that's not necessarily a bad thing. The E-M1X is a camera you're going to choose when you don't mind a bit of extra heft, but want the best possible ergonomics and shooting experience. And by allowing itself some freedom in placing controls on the much larger body of the M1X, Olympus has certainly provided a better shooting experience than had it tried to retain the exact same control layout as on the smaller camera.
Better accessibility beats more customizability for pros
So you get more controls -- and more direct access to features, rather than programmable buttons which make you choose which few functions to prioritize -- with buttons intentionally designed to be easy to differentiate by touch, and a shooting experience that eventually becomes second nature. And there's no risk of unintentionally bumping portrait controls, either: You can use the C-Lock switch to either lock all portrait controls, or to lock specific controls you have chosen while leaving others in use.
The only real downside of the new layout is that the control layouts now differ significantly between the Mk II and M1X, which will make it harder to switch back and forth between both pro-grade bodies, should you want to do so.
Extensive weather sealing.
A splashproof, tanklike body that fears neither hot nor cold
And as you'd expect of an Olympus camera, this thing is a tank. Crafted from magnesium alloy, it's easily capable of passing IPX1 water ingress testing -- Olympus tests in-house to its own, higher standard that's closer to IPX3 than it is to IPX1 -- and that's true even with the remote, microphone and headphone jacks in use! And as well as being splashproof, is also dustproof and freezeproof to 14°C (-10°C), the body now sports an internal heat pipe designed to channel heat from the image sensor and out of the camera, using its own metal body as a radiator.
The same image sensor we loved in the E-M1 II
At the heart of the Olympus E-M1X is the exact same image sensor seen previously in the E-M1 II. Compared to the original E-M1, it's higher resolution, faster, and yet has low power consumption, greater dynamic range and better noise performance. Effective sensor resolution is rated at 20.4 megapixels, for a maximum image size of 5,184 x 3,888 pixels. (The total pixel count is 21.8 megapixels.) Sensor size is 17.4 x 13mm, and the E-M1X has a 4:3 aspect ratio.
The Olympus E-M1X's image sensor is not overlaid with an optical low-pass filter, so per-pixel resolution should be maximized, although this will be at the expense of an increased risk of moiré and false color artifacts. An anti-reflective coating has been applied to both surfaces of the sensor's cover glass.
Uprated dust removal compared to earlier cameras
The E-M1X features an upgraded variant of Olympus' Super Sonic Wave Filter dust reduction system, which operates via a piezoelectric element that vibrates the cover glass overlying the sensor to shake dust particles free. They're then captured on an adhesive membrane beneath the imager. We've subjectively found piezoelectric systems like these to be significantly more effective than those using lower-frequency motion from a sensor-shift assembly.
So what's new in the E-M1X's Super Sonic Wave Filter function? Olympus says that it has improved the cover glass coatings and increased the system's frequency to 30,000 Hz, and that dust removal is now 10% more effective than in past Olympus cameras.
High-Res Shot mode goes handheld!
If you need more detail than the 20.4-megapixel native resolution of the E-M1X can muster, you'll be glad to hear that it retains Olympus' clever High-Res Shot mode. You'll still need a tripod and a relatively static subject for best results, just as does Pentax's competing Pixel Shift Resolution mode, although like that technology the E-M1X can detect moving subjects within a largely static scene and correct for them.
And also like the Pentax tech, Olympus' current iteration can now operate not only on a tripod, but also handheld. Instead of taking eight exposures while moving the sensor with perfect subpixel shifts, the E-M1X will instead allow the image to move on the focal plane between exposures, and will then microalign them. One important difference from Pentax's function, though, is that the E-M1X's handheld high-res shot mode captures not just four exposures, but sixteen of them, giving it a lot more data to work with in the first place.
High-Res Shot mode in the Olympus E-M1X will yield a 25 or 50-megapixel JPEG, and/or an 80-megapixel raw file for processing on the desktop. Handheld, the function has the same resolutions with the exception of the raw files, which are capped at 50 megapixels too.
Not one, but two TruePic VIII image processors
The earlier E-M1 II debuted a new TruePic VIII image processor, but the larger E-M1X goes it one better with a pair of TruePic VIII processors for double the power. Not only that, it also allows for dual UHS-II compliant SD card slots. (Each TruePic VIII processor can only sustain a single UHS-II slot by itself.) TruePic VIII sports a dual quad-core design, giving the E-M1X a total of four quad-core processors to play with. (That added power doubtless comes in handy for functions like the handheld high-res shot mode we just discussed, as well as some other new features we'll be coming to shortly.)
With two processors instead of one, you might expect an increase in performance from the (admittedly, already very swift) E-M1 II. However, while its buffer depths have changed, the E-M1X sports exactly the same selection of burst capture rates as does its elder flagship sibling.
With focus and exposure locked from the first frame, burst speed tops out at 15 frames per second, and even if they vary between frames, the E-M1X can still manage 10 frames per second. And all of these are with a mechanical shutter; switch to an electronic one and you'll manage 60 full-res raw files per second with focus and exposure locked from the first frame, or 18 with AF and AE between frames.
But while none of that differs from the earlier camera, the manufacturer-rated buffer depths do. At the maximum mechanical shutter burst capture rate of 15 fps, the E-M1X can capture 103 raw files or 132 large/normal JPEGs in a burst, up from 84 and 117, respectively, in the E-M1 II. (That's about a 22% improvement for raw capture, and a more modest 13% for JPEGs.) However at the maximum electronic shutter burst rate of 60 fps, the buffer depths are rated at 49 raw or 49 large/normal JPEGs, only one frame more than the E-M1 II was rated at. (Interestingly, in our lab tests, the E-M1X generally produced slightly lower buffer depths than our E-M1 II.)
Pro Capture buffer gives your reflexes a shot in the arm
One clever way in which Olympus took advantage of the E-M1 II's spectacular level of performance was with a new shooting mode it referred to as Pro Capture. When you half-pressed the shutter button, the E-M1 II would capture frames as fast as it could and buffer them, continuously discarding the oldest frame as needed to fit the next frame in the buffer.
This function allowed the E-M1 II shooter to reach back in time as many as 14 frames (up to 35 frames with firmware v2.0) before the shutter button was fully depressed, perhaps saving them if their reflexes missed the crucial moment in time by just a little bit. The E-M1X also offers a 35-frame pre-roll buffer in Pro Capture mode.
Sensitivity is unchanged from the E-M1 II
By default, the Olympus E-M1X has a sensitivity range of 200 to 25,600 equivalents, identical to that of the original E-M1 and E-M1 II. The lower end of this range can be extended to ISO 64-equivalent, while there is no expansion function at the upper end of the range.
If you're wondering why sensitivities below ISO 200-equivalent are not available by default, that would be because images at lower sensitivities are being intentionally overexposed at capture. Once finalized, the exposure is then corrected, allowing a longer exposure time but with reduced dynamic range in the highlights. You can do much the same thing yourself in post-processing, and many other cameras (including the original E-M1) also use the same trick to achieve their expanded low sensitivity settings.
The E-M1X also offers an Auto ISO function, which chooses the sensitivity for you when metering the exposure. This has a default range of ISO 64 to 6400-equivalents, and only the upper end of the range can be manually adjusted. Just as in the earlier E-M1 II, you can't boost that limit beyond ISO 6400-equivalent. (The earlier E-M1 could allow its Auto ISO function to roam all the way to ISO 25,600-equivalent.)
A Micro Four Thirds lens mount with adapter support for Four Thirds, too
The Olympus E-M1X features a Micro Four Thirds lens mount, and will accept Four Thirds and many other lens types via optional adapters. Just as did the E-M1 and E-M1 II before it, the E-M1X supports Four Thirds lenses much better than earlier OM-D and PEN models, thanks to the presence of on-chip phase detection autofocus. (Lenses that weren't designed for contrast-detection autofocus tend to be quite slow to focus with that system, so the presence of phase-detection AF is a definite boon.)
Same point-rich hybrid autofocus system as before
The Olympus E-M1X includes a Dual FAST AF-branded autofocus system, just as in the E-M1 II. It offers up a generous 121 contrast-detection AF points and 121 phase-detection AF points, and every single one of the latter are cross-types, sensitive to detail on both the horizontal and vertical axes. AF point coverage is 75% vertically and 80% horizontally.
Like the E-M1 and E-M1 II before it, the Olympus E-M1X can actually provide even more contrast-detect AF points across the image frame when the extra granularity is needed. In Magnified Frame AF mode, a total of 800+ focus points are available across the entire image frame, the same number as in the earlier cameras. The system works down to light levels as low as -6EV with an F1.2 lens.
The autofocus system now boasts artificial intelligence smarts
Although the layout and design of its phase-detection autofocus pixels is unchanged, the Olympus E-M1X nevertheless brings with it a major improvement in the autofocus department. Achieved courtesy of its more powerful pairing of twin TruePic VIII processors, the E-M1X now sports an Intelligent Subject Detection AF function which can recognize formula racing and rally cars, motorcycles, aircraft, helicopters, bullet and standard trains or steam locomotives among your scenes, and then take account of them in setting focus. (For example, focusing on the helmet of a motorcycle rider.)
This new capability is, in a way, a natural outgrowth of another we're more familiar with (and which the E-M1X also boasts): Face and eye-detection autofocus. Here, you have a choice of whether eye detection should prioritize the left or right eye of subjects, or simply that which is nearer to the camera.
The Olympus E-M1X provides a choice of automatic AF point selection (complete with the aforementioned intelligent subject detection), 5, 9 or 25-area grouped point selection -- that last being a new addition since the E-M1 II -- and single-point selection. You can also select any odd number of points from 1 to 11 on horizontal and vertical axes to specify your own area of the image frame which you want the camera to be able to track across.
And you can also customize AF tracking sensitivity and to limit your lens' focus range in-camera. And if you prefer manual control, you'll find a Preset Manual Focus mode in the E-M1X, as well as a choice of 3x, 5x, 7x, 10x or 14x zoom display modes which help lend you a closer view of your subject while manually focusing. The E-M1X also retains an AF assist lamp and focus peaking function, and offers in-camera focus stacking and bracketing functions.
A big improvement when it comes to point selection
The camera will decide by itself whether to use the phase-detection or contrast-detection AF points, depending upon the lens in use, scene being photographed and camera setup. To choose which points to use, the touch-screen display can serve double-duty as an AF targeting pad, a function which is called up or dismissed by double-tapping on the screen.
If you prefer an interaction with a little more tactile feedback, you will also find a pair of new AF area multi-selector joysticks, which fall nicely under your thumb in either the landscape or portrait orientations. These are unusual in allowing selection not just horizontally or vertically, but also on the diagonal axes, and let you shift the focus point even during burst capture or video shooting.
Mind-blowingly powerful image stabilization
When Olympus launched the E-M1 II, we were told that its updated five-axis image stabilization system -- which was capably of a 5.5-stop corrective strength -- had reached the limits of then-current gyro sensor technology, which was now being limited by earth's own rotation.
New gyro assembly.
Well, it seems that gyro sensor technology has since improved sufficiently -- with some cooperation between Olympus and Epson -- to enable correction far in excess of that which the E-M1 II could provide, as the E-M1X can now yield a truly staggering 7.0 stops corrective strength using the same 12-40mm f/2.8 PRO lens as tested with the E-M1 II.
If combined with lens-based IS -- a pairing which Olympus refers to as Synchronous Image Stabilization, or Sync IS for short -- this can be boosted still further to a staggering 7.5-stop correction (tested with the 12-100mm f/4.0 IS PRO lens) for yaw, pitch, roll, and both vertical and horizontal translational motion.
The E-M1X's IS system has four operating modes. It can stabilize on both axes, horizontally only, vertically only, or choose between the three as the camera deems appropriate. If using a manual lens or a lens adapter, you can dial in an appropriate focal length manually, or choose from one of ten predefined lens types.
Mechanical image stabilization can also be used for movie capture, unlike some cameras which limit you to digital image stabilization for movies.
5-axis Sync IS.
An uprated, even swifter and roomier viewfinder
The Olympus E-M1X's sports a new four-element optical system for its LCD electronic viewfinder, which still has a high resolution of 2.36-million dots. It has a refresh rate of 120 non-interlaced frames per second and now has a magnification of 0.83x if you enable info overlays (Finder Style 3) instead of displaying shooting info below the image to maximize the viewfinder real-estate consumed by the live view feed. (If not, you'll get the same 0.74x magnification as the E-M1 II did in its maximum magnification mode.)
With the earlier camera, Olympus already slashed viewfinder latency -- that is, the delay between something happening in the real world, and being shown on the viewfinder -- from 29 to just six milliseconds. With the E-M1X, it pares off another millisecond, allowing a display time lag of just five milliseconds.
As you'd expect in a camera aimed at enthusiasts and pros, field of view is manufacturer-rated at 100%. There's a diopter correction function, too, which spans a range from -4 to +2 diopters. Eyepoint is 21mm from the viewfinder lens.
Same monitor and great tilt/swivel articulation as before
The E-M1X's LCD monitor has the same three-inch diagonal, 1,037,000-dot resolution and capacitive touch-screen overlay as found in both the original E-M1 and E-M1 II. And as in the latter, it also has a side-mounted tilt/swivel articulation mechanism, rather than a tilt-only type as is more typical in interchangeable-lens cameras.
We greatly prefer it over a tilt-only design because it's useful not only when shooting in landscape orientation over your head or low to the ground, but also in portrait orientation. Tilt-only screens are of no help in this scenario, especially if shooting over your head, leaving you struggling to see an off-angle LCD that's obscured by reflections of the sky above. For added bonus points, the tilt/swivel screen can be closed facing inwards, protecting the LCD from minor knocks, scrapes and smudges.
As in the E-M1 and E-M1 II, there's a +/- 7-step control over both brightness and color available, and two color-tone selections -- vivid or natural -- so you can tune the display to your tastes, as well.
No on-camera or bundled flash; pros doubtless have their own
Like the E-M1 and E-M1 II before it, the Olympus E-M1X forgoes a built-in flash strobe altogether. But unlike those models, nor is a flash included in the product bundle, either. Instead, Olympus promises compatibility with its optionally-available FL-50R, FL-36R, FL-20, FL-14, FL-300R, FL-600R, FL-900R, STF-8 and FL-700WR flash strobes.
Strobes used on the E-M1X will be limited to a sync speed of 1/250 second. Super FP-capable strobes can sync at 1/125 to 1/8000 second. Flash is still supported with the electronic shutter; you can sync at 1/50 second if you stay below ISO 6400-equivalent, but will be limited to 1/20 second if you raise the sensitivity any higher or enable ISO bracketing.
Flash exposure compensation is available within a range of +/-3EV, in steps of 0.3, 0.5, or 1EV. The E-M1X also supports four-channel wireless flash with one external strobe acting as a master, and a multitude of off-camera flash strobes configured in up to 4 groups.
A new long-life shutter mechanism that's twice as durable as before
The shutter mechanism has a rated lifetime of around 400,000 cycles, which is about twice as long as the mechanism used in the E-M1 II. (No rating was provided for the shutter in the original E-M1.)
The Olympus E-M1X offers shutter speeds ranging from 1/8,000 to 60 seconds, set in 1/3, 1/2, or 1EV steps. When using electronic shutter, you can access a much wider range of 60 to 1/32,000 second. A Live Bulb mode is available (bulb mode also now having its own location on the mode dial), and so is a Live Time mode which defaults to an eight minute exposure, but which allows anywhere from one to 30 minutes. A Live Composite mode has a three-hour maximum shooting time.
A new Live ND mode does away with the need for neutral-density filters
There's also a new Live ND mode. This allows for slow-shutter effects without using a neutral-density filter, and its effect is also simulated in the viewfinder. You have a choice of five strength levels for the function: ND2 (1EV), ND4 (2EV), ND8 (3EV), ND16 (4EV) or ND32 (5EV).
The function works by compositing multiple exposures in sequence and then combining them to yield a single image equivalent to a long-exposure shot of the scene. This could prove particularly nice with lenses where it's challenging or impossible to attach a neutral-density filter.
Exposure modes on the dial include Program (with Program Shift), Aperture-priority, Shutter-priority, and Manual, plus Bulb, Movie and four Custom modes. Quite sensibly reasoning that this is a camera for pros, Olympus has dropped the Intelligent Auto and Art Filter modes from the E-M1 II, though Art Filters are still available via the Super Control Panel.
Exposures are metered using the image sensor, and are considered as 324 distinct multi-pattern areas. The Digital ESP metering system also provides Center-weighted Average, Spot, Highlight Spot, and Shadow Spot metering modes. It has a working range of -2 to 20 EV at ISO 100 with a 17mm f/2.8 lens.
Exposure compensation is available within a generous +/-5EV range, set in 1/3, 1/2, or 1EV steps. You can bracket exposures, too, with a choice of 2, 3, 5, or 7-frame bracketing in 0.3, 0.7, or 1EV steps. (The largest step size is only available for five frames or less, though.) And bracketing isn't just limited to exposure: you can also bracket ISO sensitivity, white balance, flash, art filters and focus distance.
Creative options aplenty as you'd expect
The Olympus E-M1X also offers a generous selection of creative effects. These include 16 Art Filters, each of which can be coupled with a selection from nine different Art Effects. There are also two in-camera HDR modes, a Time Lapse Movie function and a Multiple Exposure function. All of this is much the same as an E-M1 running on current firmware. However, there's at least one new feature: an anti-flicker function which times exposures to peaks in ambient light levels, preventing your exposure varying from shot to shot under some lighting types.
A dual-axis level gauge helps avoid unsightly tilt
The Olympus E-M1X retains its predecessors' dual-axis level gauge, which helps ensure both level horizons and parallel verticals -- at least, if that's what you want. Camera tilt can be indicated either in the electronic viewfinder, or the rear-panel LCD.
Ultra-high def video capture with new log color space, AF point selection during videos
Like its sibling, the Olympus E-M1X can shoot ultra high-def video. Most video features are unchanged from the E-M1 II, although new capabilities include an OM-Log400 color space for those who want to preserve shadows and highlights, then color grade in post. There's also a new ability to change autofocus points during video capture using a dedicated joystick control, and a new maximum frame rate of 120 fps for Full HD or HD capture. You can shoot 4K video (3,840 x 2,160 pixels) at 24, 25 or 30 frames per second, and Full HD or HD (1,280 x 720 pixels) at 24, 25, 30, 50, 60 or 120 frames per second.
4K video has a 102 Mbps bitrate, and Full HD video offers 18, 30, 52 or 202Mbps bit rates, with the highest rate also using ALL-I intraframe instead of IPB interframe compression schemes. (Intraframe video compresses every frame separately; interframe compresses multiple frames based on difference from key frames which are inserted every so often in between.) Finally, HD video has a selection of 10, 14, 26 or 102 Mbps, again with ALL-I compression at the highest rate, and IPB at the lower rates.
There's also a C4K video mode, which opts for the DCI 4K standard instead of the UHD standard. If you're not familiar with DCI 4K, it's used in the movie industry, and has a slightly wider-aspect 4,096 x 2,160 pixel resolution with a fixed 24 fps framerate and a fixed, very high bitrate of 237Mbps to ensure good quality in-camera.
The E-M1X allows automatic, aperture priority, shutter priority, and manual exposure, autofocus both before and during video, and records audio from either an internal stereo or external stereo microphone, complete with optional wind noise reduction. It also sports a 3.5mm headphone jack so you can monitor your audio. Movies are restricted to 29 minutes in length.
There's also a Slow / Quick Movie function in the E-M1X, which allows you to vary the capture frame rate of video for slow-motion and speed-up effects; audio is not recorded. Full details weren't available at press time.
A built-in Field Sensor System makes the E-M1X location and environment-aware
Fans of geolocation and data mining nuts alike will love the E-M1X's new Field Sensor System, which makes the camera both location and environment-aware. Alongside your photos, the camera can note the current location, elevation, direction and temperature at the time of image capture in the EXIF headers of each image. This data is provided courtesy of a built-in GPS, temperature sensor, manometer and electronic compass.
Updated support for Wi-Fi 5 (aka 802.11ac)
Like its smaller flagship sibling, the Olympus E-M1X supports Wi-Fi wireless networking connectivity. This makes it quick and easy to get your photos and videos off the camera, and onto your smartphone or tablet for sharing on social networks. But where the E-M1 II supports only 802.11b/g/n networks (aka Wi-Fi 1, 3 and 4), the E-M1X adds 802.11ac (Wi-Fi 5) to the list, for even faster tether-free connections.
Like the E-M1 and E-M1 II, the E-M1X forgoes an NFC antenna for simple pairing with Android devices, instead opting for either Bluetooth pairing or a Quick Response code -- a type of two-dimensional barcode -- which is shown on-screen when the camera is ready to pair via Wi-Fi. After installing the free app for Android or iOS devices, you scan this QR code using your smart device's camera. The connection is then configured between both devices for you, automatically. If you don't have a camera on your smart device, of course, you'll need to pair manually.
Once connected, you can not only download movies or images, but also control the camera remotely (via Wi-Fi only, not Bluetooth). As in the E-M1, this includes a live view feed, remote shutter release capability and support for adjusting basic exposure variables, drive modes and focus remotely.
Wired connectivity is all as in the E-M1 II
The Olympus E-M1X can establish a fast USB 3.0 SuperSpeed data connection with your computer via a standard USB Type-C port. Third-party adapters and cables are available if your computer doesn't already support this new standard, which removes the need to determine cable orientation before plugging in. The USB connection, incidentally, also supports tethered shooting, in-camera charging and powering the camera itself via the USB connection, but not both power supply tasks at the same time.
The E-M1X also provides a Micro Type-D HDMI port which supports clean, uncompressed 4:2:2 video output at up to C4K resolution. Both 3.5mm microphone and headphone jacks are supplied, along you to record sound externally and to monitor audio levels during video capture. Other wired connectivity includes both flash hot shoe and flash sync terminals, and a 2.5mm remote jack compatible with an optional RM-CB2 remote control.
Two UHS-II slots means some serious storage performance
Like the E-M1 Mark II, the E-M1X stores images and movies on Secure Digital cards in dual slots. But in a nice upgrade from its predecessor, both card slots are now compatible with high-speed UHS-II cards, while only one of the E-M1 II's slots supports UHS-II. They're also both still compatible with the higher-capacity SDHC and SDXC cards, as well as with UHS-I types (which have less performance than UHS-II, but more than vanilla cards would.)
The dual card slots can be used in several distinct ways, if both are filled with SD cards. You can either choose which card slot to record to, have the camera automatically switch to the second card when the first becomes full, independently record to both cards simultaneously with images sequestered by file type, or record identical files to both cards simultaneously, essentially using one slot as a backup of the other.
Two batteries/chargers for double the life, and USB charging for convenience
The Olympus E-M1X draws power from the same proprietary BLH-1 lithium-ion battery packs as did the E-M1 II, but where the smaller camera could fit just one, the battery sled for the E-M1X will accept two packs at a time, for almost double the battery life. Olympus predicts some 870 shots on a charge, without flash usage and to CIPA testing standards. Power saving mode can extend this to as many as 2,580 frames.
The really big news on the power front is charging, though. You'll not only be able to charge batteries in-camera using USB Power Delivery, but also to power the camera externally using a USB-C compliant battery pack. You just can't do both at the same time, and you do need a battery pack with a smidgen of charge left in it to be able to power the camera on with power drawn from the USB cable.
The E-M1X ships with a generous pair of BLH-1 batteries and a pair of dedicated BCH-1 battery chargers.
Olympus E-M1X price and availability
Available in the US market from late February 2019, the Olympus OM-D E-M1X is priced at US$3,000 or thereabouts, body-only.
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Olympus E-M1X Hands-On Shooting Experience
A not-so-micro Micro Four Thirds flagship sports & wildlife camera
Design, Handling & Usability
For starters, let's talk about the elephant in the room: the E-M1X's size. Yes, it is a big camera. The biggest Micro Four Thirds camera that Olympus, or perhaps any MFT manufacturer, has made to date. In a way, it feels slightly odd and almost humorous to know that it's a Micro Four Thirds camera, as there's nothing really "micro" about this camera body! However, with the larger-sized design comes not only increased durability but also better balance and handling characteristics when using larger, longer lenses, such as the 40-150mm f/2.8 Pro and especially the 300mm f/4 IS Pro. In hand, it certainly feels like the Olympus equivalent to a Canon 1D-series camera body, for example, which is to say a good thing.
Olympus E-M1X Hands-On Part II
Handheld High Res mode, pushing the limits of I.S. and more
Our Senior Editor William Brawley has already given youone initial lookat the camera's image quality and performance from the field with initial beta firmware, and I wanted to add to his report with a Part II with full production-grade firmware in order to start delving into some of the additional features prior to full field testing. These include an initial exploration of the reported (and whopping!) 7.5 stops of Sync I.S., and also a quick look at some of the new modes available exclusively on this new camera such as Live ND and Handheld High Resolution.
So... let's dive in!
Olympus E-M1X Field Test Part I
Olympus' new flagship camera delivers an excellent user experience
One of the unchanged components is the image sensor, which is the same 20-megapixel Four Thirds sensor as in the E-M1 II. With nearly every major brand offering full-frame cameras (or medium-format cameras in the case of Fujifilm), the E-M1X's sensor seems smaller than ever nowadays. There are advantages and disadvantages of a smaller image sensor, which I'll discuss in this Field Test, but the point remains that some people will always scoff at the idea of a $3,000 Micro Four Thirds camera. I understand the sentiment, but there is, of course, much more to consider with a camera than just its sensor.
In this first Field Test, I will be focusing on the camera's design, overall shooting experience and discuss how the E-M1X performs within the context of both wildlife and landscape photography. Part II will focus on image quality and video performance and tie up some loose ends.
Olympus E-M1X Field Test Part II
A closer look at the E-M1X's image quality and video performance
Given that the E-M1X has the same 20-megapixel image sensor as the E-M1 II, there are not many surprises here in terms of image quality. The E-M1X has a native ISO range of 200 to 25,600, which can be expanded down to ISO 64, although the top limit of 25,600 is set.
Like the E-M1 Mark II, the E-M1X delivers solid image quality across much of its ISO range. From ISO 200 through ISO 1600, image quality is really good and certainly up to the task of making high-quality prints. At ISO 3200 and 6400, the camera begins to show a bit more noise, although you can still work raw files into usable form.
Olympus E-M1X Field Test Part III
In its element in the elements, shooting NASCAR at a stormy Daytona Speedway
Note: My photos throughout this article, as well as those from motorsports pro Jason Reasin, have all been edited to the photographer's tastes using Adobe Photoshop Lightroom. For my images, you can click the links beneath each photo to see a 1:1 Lightroom-edited version, or JPEG / raw files straight out of the camera.
Why Daytona? The Olympus E-M1X is a motorsports specialist
Last January, just days before the launch of its latest flagship, the OM-D E-M1X mirrorless camera, Olympus announced its sponsorship of the Photographers' Room in Daytona's Infield Media Center. The subsequent E-M1X launch a few days later made sense of the news, as Olympus' new offering not only offered top-notch burst-shooting performance, but specifically targeted motorsports shooters (amongst others) with its deep learning-based Intelligent Subject Detection autofocus mode.
Olympus E-M1X Image Quality Comparison
See how the E-M1X's image quality compares to rivals
NOTE: These images are from best quality JPEGs straight out of the camera, at default settings including noise reduction ("noise filter" in Olympus parlance) and using the camera's actual base ISO (not extended ISO settings). All cameras in this comparison were shot with our very sharp reference lenses. Clicking any crop will take you to a carrier page where you can click once again to access the full resolution image as delivered straight from the camera. For those interested in working with the RAW files involved, click these links to visit each camera's respective sample image thumbnail page...
Olympus E-M1X Print Quality Analysis
But how does it look on paper?
The Olympus E-M1X delivers one of the best performances in the Print Quality department that we've yet seen from a Four Thirds sensor. Base ISO and extended low settings yield superb 30 x 40 inch prints, while even ISO 1600 can deliver a quality 16 x 20 inch print. After that and in somewhat typical fashion the quality level and usability for printing purposes does fade rather quickly, but you'll be in good hands at ISO 1600 and below, and can even get by at ISO 3200 if you're not printing super-large. A fine job once again from Olympus in providing superior quality for enthusiasts and professionals from a relatively small sensor.
Olympus E-M1X Conclusion
A bigger, burlier, more specialized version of the E-M1 Mark II
And the E-M1X has a number of tricks up its sleeve, too, despite its seeming disadvantage of a smaller sensor size. For one, the entire system is still inherently smaller thanks to the Micro Four Thirds system as a whole, as MFT lenses are much smaller than full-frame DSLR counterparts. Plus, the E-M1X packs a lot of horsepower and technological features under the hood that simply aren't offered over in the flagship DSLR camp.
In the Box
The Olympus E-M1X U.S. retail package contains the following items:
- Olympus OM-D E-M1X body
- 2 x BLH-1 lithium-ion battery
- 2 x BCH-1 battery charger
- Battery cartridge
- Body cap
- Hot shoe cover
- EP-17 eyecup
- CB-USB11 USB cable
- CC-1 cable clip
- CP-1 cable protector
- Shoulder strap
- Basic instruction manual
- Warranty card
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