OM System OM-1 Review

Camera Reviews / OM System Cameras i Now Shooting!
Basic Specifications
Full model name: OM System OM-1
Resolution: 20.40 Megapixels
Sensor size: 4/3
(17.4mm x 13.0mm)
Kit Lens: n/a
Viewfinder: EVF / LCD
Native ISO: 200 - 25,600
Extended ISO: 80 - 102,400
Shutter: 1/32000 - 60 sec
Dimensions: 5.3 x 3.6 x 2.9 in.
(135 x 92 x 73 mm)
Weight: 18.0 oz (511 g)
includes batteries
MSRP: $2,200
Availability: 03/2022
Manufacturer: OM System
Full specs: OM System OM-1 specifications

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20.40
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OM System OM-1 Hands-on Review

Is the OM-1 a worthy successor to Olympus's impressive legacy

by Jeremy Gray | Posted 02/15/2022

Updates:
03/01/2022: First Shots lab sample images added

Editor's Note: We noticed that OM-1 raw files can already be opened and edited in the current version of Adobe Camera Raw. However, we've been informed that this is unintentional, and Adobe has not yet updated ACR to full recognize and handle the OM-1 raw files. At this point, any ACR-edited images shown below are not necessarily indicative of final image quality.

The first OM System camera is here, and it's fantastic. The OM Digital Solutions OM System OM-1 is the first camera that OM Digital Solutions has released since its formation, following the transfer of the Olympus Imaging Business division to the newly-created OM Digital Solutions Corporation. The branding is a bit of a mouthful, so to nip any issues in the bud, the camera's manufacturer is OM Digital Solutions Corporation, the camera brand is OM System, and the new camera model is the OM-1.

OM M.Zuiko 40-150mm F4 PRO lens at 135mm (270mm equiv.), F4, 1/500s, ISO 500.
This image has been converted and processed to taste in Adobe Camera Raw. Click for the full-size image. Click here for the RAW file.

The OM-1 features Olympus branding on the front to further complicate things. However, this isn't a sign of things to come, but rather a final farewell to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the very first Olympus OM-1 35mm film camera. We've been told that the OM-1 will be the only OM System camera to feature the iconic Olympus wordmark. But rest assured, the OM System OM-1 will work with all your Olympus lenses. Yes, branding is different. Still, at its heart, the OM-1 is a continuation of a legacy, and there are no compatibility issues to worry about.

We were fortunate to go hands-on with the camera and a couple of new lenses ahead of today's announcement, so this OM-1 Hands-on Review is a combination of an overview of new features and an evaluation of the camera and new lenses. There's a lot of ground to cover, so let's dive right in.

OM M.Zuiko 40-150mm F4 PRO lens at 128mm (256mm equiv.), F4, 1/250s, ISO 200.
Click for the full-size image. Click here for the RAW file.

OM System OM-1 key features and specs

  • First OM System Micro Four Thirds camera
  • New backside-illuminated stacked 20.4MP CMOS image sensor
  • Native ISO range is 200-25,600
  • New TruePic X processor with 3x the processing power
  • Up to 120 frames per second full-res shooting with S-AF
  • Up to 50 fps with C-AF
  • Upgraded dustproof, freezeproof, and splashproof design with IP53 rating
  • IBIS with up to 8 stops of shake correction
  • 1,053 phase-detection cross-type AF points covering 100% of the image sensor
  • USB-C Power Delivery
  • Dual UHS-II SD card slots
  • 4K/60p video
  • 1080/240p video
  • Computational photography modes, including new ND64 Live ND option
  • New blackout-free EVF with 5.76M dots
  • $2,200 body only
  • Available in early March

OM-1 design and handling: Rugged and comfortable to use, plus a new EVF

The OM-1 is a small and lightweight system camera, much like its E-M1 Mark III predecessor. It's 134.8 x 91.6 x 72.7 millimeters (5.31 x 3.61 x 2.86 inches), and it weighs 599 grams (21.1 ounces) with its battery and an SD card. To give you a sense of scale, the APS-C Fujifilm X-T4's dimensions are 134.6 x 92.8 x 63.8 mm, and it weighs 526 g (without a battery or memory card). Pretty similar. The full-frame Sony A7 IV's dimensions are 131.3 x 96.4 x 79.8 mm, and it weighs 658 g with a battery and memory card. Three different sensors, three similar cameras in terms of size.

The OM System OM-1 looks a lot like previous Olympus cameras, and even includes Olympus branding, although that's a one-off for the OM-1. It's a tried-and-true style and design that works very well.

Where the overall OM-1 system becomes relatively smaller than other cameras with larger sensors is when you start using lenses. And, of course, you need a lens. The Micro Four Thirds image sensor's small size allows engineers to make smaller lenses, and this is where the OM-1 system shines. I used the camera with the new OM System 12-40mm M.Zuiko 12-40mm F2.8 PRO II and the new OM System M.Zuiko 40-150mm F4 PRO lenses, and these combine to cover a 24-300mm equivalent focal length range in a lightweight kit. You could never achieve the same focal length coverage in such a small overall kit with a full-frame camera, at least not with the same light-gathering capabilities and overall image quality. A smaller sensor doesn't just mean smaller lenses, too. It also means it's easier to achieve good image quality across the frame in a more compact lens. A full-frame image sensor is much more demanding and requires larger glass.

Alright, so the dimensions are dealt with, what about the actual feel and design of the OM-1? If you've used the Olympus E-M1 III, the OM-1 is immediately familiar. This is certainly a time when 'if it ain't broke, don't fix it' applies. The OM-1 has a refined design that fits very nicely into my hands. The front grip and rear thumb rest feel great. The front grip is narrow but deep, allowing for a strong hold on the camera. The rear thumb rest area is nestled between the autofocus point sub-selector joystick and a protrusion that includes the ISO button. It's all very comfortable.

The back of the OM-1 is similar, too, although the AE-L and AF-ON buttons are now independent, which is great news for fans of back-button autofocus.

All the important shooting controls are accessed using your right hand. Within thumb's reach are the AEL, AF-ON buttons and ISO buttons, the AF joystick, directional pad, OK button (which brings up a function menu when shooting), and info, playback and delete buttons. Your thumb also controls the rear command dial, with a distinct click with each small rotation. The separated AEL and AF-ON buttons are new to the OM-1 and a welcome change for fans of back-button autofocus (count me as one of those photographers). The Menu button and the EVF/LCD switch, button, on the other hand, sits over to the left of the EVF. The camera automatically switches between the EVF and rear LCD by default, so that button isn't too important. The menu button isn't critical when shooting, as most settings are accessible via buttons. And if not, you can press the OK button to access the quick function menu.

The OM-1 has a fully-articulating rear display. You can swing the touchscreen out and rotate it 270 degrees or tilt it for use in portrait orientation.

Your right index finger controls the shutter, of course, and the shutter release feels good. It also controls the exposure compensation and record buttons on the top of the camera. When shooting stills, the record button doubles as instant access to the HighRes Shot mode, which is convenient. Finally, there's the front command dial, which feels just like the rear command dial.

On the top of the camera is the mode dial, which you can technically rotate using just your index finger or thumb, although I prefer using both together as the dial is pretty stiff to rotate. You can lock the mode dial if you want, although you'd be hard-pressed to rotate it by accident. To the left of the viewfinder are the power switch and a pair of buttons that control AF mode and drive mode.

The top of the OM-1 is pretty straightforward. A nice change is that you can use the dedicated record button to access the High-Res Shot mode when in stills modes.

Some key changes to the OM-1's physical design improve usability. Perhaps the biggest improvement comes in the form of a new OLED EVF. The new EVF ups the resolution from 2.36M dots to 5.76M dots. Further, the EVF has a 120fps refresh rate, 0.005s delay and can support blackout-free shooting in certain shooting modes – more on that later. The EVF also has 1.65x magnification, up from 1.48x on the E-M1 III. In use, the OM-1's EVF is nice. It's large, sharp and bright. The fast refresh rate is nice, too, as the EVF looks smooth in use.

The rear display is improved, too. At 3 inches, it's the same size as the E-M1 III's display. However, it now features a higher-res display, going to 1.62M dots versus 1.04M dots. It's plenty sharp and bright and works well in sunny conditions. The display articulates 270 degrees and can be used as a tilting display in landscape and portrait orientation, which is excellent.

The OM-1 is launching alongside an optional grip. Like the camera itself, the grip is rugged and weather-sealed.

In terms of ports and memory card slots, the OM-1 includes a pair of UHS-II SD card slots, up from a single UHS-II SD card slot and a second non-UHS-II card slot in previous cameras. The OM-1 includes a headphone jack, mic jack, pin jack, micro HDMI (Type D) port, hot shoe and USB Type-C (USB 3.0) port that can accept USB power delivery.

The OM-1 has dual UHS-II SD card slots, another improvement over prior Olympus cameras.

Overall, the OM-1 is a well-designed camera that delivers excellent handling and ergonomics. The camera's grip feels great, and the camera, despite being relatively compact, doesn't feel cramped in use. There are a lot of key improvements that offer big benefits to usability, including a much-improved EVF.

OM M.Zuiko 12-40mm F2.8 PRO II lens at 40mm (80mm equiv.), F8, 0.8s, ISO 200.
This image has been converted and processed to taste in Adobe Camera Raw. Click for the full-size image. Click here for the RAW file.

Image quality: Same megapixels but much better image quality

The OM System OM-1 may not have more megapixels than the Olympus E-M1X and E-M1 III, but don't let that fool you. The OM-1 has a brand-new image sensor. The OM-1 features a 20MP stacked backside-illuminated CMOS image sensor. It's the first stacked sensor in a Micro Four Thirds camera and promises improvements across many aspects of the OM-1's overall performance, including image quality, autofocus and continuous shooting performance.

OM M.Zuiko 12-40mm F2.8 PRO II lens at 14mm (28mm equiv.), F8, 2.5s, ISO 200, Live ND64.
This image has been converted and processed to taste in Adobe Camera Raw. Click for the full-size image. Click here for the RAW file.

While it may be at first slightly disappointing that the OM-1 doesn't up the megapixel count from previous Olympus Micro Four Thirds cameras, that doesn't mean there's not a lot new to like with the OM-1. The new image sensor promises noise performance that is two stops better than the E-M1X/E-M1 III and an additional stop of dynamic range. We will put these claims to the test when we do full lab shooting soon. However, for now, my subjective impression is that the OM-1 produces images that are, simply put, cleaner and better than other Olympus cameras I've used.

OM M.Zuiko 40-150mm F4 PRO lens at 66mm (132mm equiv.), F8, 1/5s, ISO 200.
This image has been converted and processed to taste in Adobe Camera Raw. Click for the full-size image. Click here for the RAW file.

The OM-1's RAW image files are highly flexible, and you can perform a lot of highlight and shadow recovery to the files without harming overall image quality. I am also impressed with the overall tonality and depth of the images despite the small image sensor. Consider the image below, which was shot at ISO 1000. The image holds up nicely and offers good dynamic range despite the ISO setting and the very challenging artificial lighting.

OM M.Zuiko 40-150mm F4 PRO lens at 100mm (200mm equiv.), F4, 1/100s, ISO 1000.
This image has been converted and processed to taste in Adobe Camera Raw. Click for the full-size image. Click here for the RAW file.
OM M.Zuiko 40-150mm F4 PRO lens at 100mm (200mm equiv.), F4, 1/100s, ISO 1000.
Original JPEG image. Click for the full-size image. Click here for the RAW file.

The base ISO of 200 delivers sharp photos. However, if you want even better performance, the High-Res Shot mode is well worth using, which I'll discuss it a bit more later on. Still, the gist of the mode is that you can use the OM-1's stabilization to have the camera capture eight slightly shifted images and then combine them into a 50 megapixel or 80 megapixel file, depending upon if you're shooting handheld or on a tripod. It's a fantastic way to capture a larger image with greater detail that better rivals the performance of cameras with larger image sensors.

OM M.Zuiko 12-40mm F2.8 PRO II lens at 19mm (38mm equiv.), F6.3, 1/125s, ISO 200.
This image has been converted and processed to taste in Adobe Camera Raw. Click for the full-size image. Click here for the RAW file.

What about as you increase the ISO? The OM-1's native ISO range is 200-25,600. You can extend ISO to 102,400, whereas the E-M1X/E-M1 III tops out at ISO 25,600. Further, Auto ISO can go up to 25,600, whereas Auto ISO stopped at 6400 on prior cameras. At ISO 25,600, image quality is surprisingly good. There's noticeably less dynamic range and detail, but I still think images shot at very high ISO speeds remain usable, despite being quite noisy.

OM M.Zuiko 40-150mm F4 PRO lens at 117mm (234mm equiv.), F4, 1/320s, ISO 25,600.
Click for the full-size image. Click here for the RAW file.
OM M.Zuiko 40-150mm F4 PRO lens at 117mm (234mm equiv.), F4, 1/320s, ISO 25,600.
100% crop from original RAW file. Click for the full-size image. Click here for the RAW file.
OM M.Zuiko 40-150mm F4 PRO lens at 117mm (234mm equiv.), F4, 1/320s, ISO 25,600.
100% crop from original JPEG file. Click for the full-size image. Click here for the RAW file.

Overall, the OM System OM-1 promises impressive image quality. We will learn more about the new sensor following lab testing. However, early impressions from the field are positive.

Autofocus and performance

Autofocus: Excellent AI Detection AF and improved overall performance

Along with improved image quality, the new stacked image sensor greatly impacts autofocus performance. The sensor includes 1,053 autofocus phase-detect autofocus points, which are all cross-type. Since all the focus points are cross-type and cover the entire image sensor, the OM-1 can track various subjects across the entire frame. In use, it's highly impressive.

OM M.Zuiko 40-150mm F4 PRO lens at 140mm (280mm equiv.), F4, 1/800s, ISO 500.
This image has been converted and processed to taste in Adobe Camera Raw. Click for the full-size image. Click here for the RAW file.

The Cross Quad Pixel AF design, as OM Digital calls it, means that all pixels on the image sensor participate in autofocusing. The sensor data and color and contrast information help create a detailed depth map that powers the AI Detection AF. The AI-powered focus algorithms result in faster, more precise autofocus than prior Olympus cameras. Specifically, OM Digital Solutions says that the OM-1's AI Detection AF is twice as accurate and three times as fast. I can't speak to specific accuracy and speed gains, but I can comfortably say that the OM-1 focuses much faster than any Olympus cameras I've used.

OM M.Zuiko 40-150mm F4 PRO lens at 122mm (244mm equiv.), F4, 1/800s, ISO 400.
This image has been converted and processed to taste in Adobe Camera Raw. Click for the full-size image. Click here for the RAW file.

AI Detection AF previously worked for birds, trains, cars and motorcycles. For the OM-1, new subjects, including dogs and cats, have been added. Having tested the mode out with both animals, it works well and is a great inclusion. It should make the OM-1, which is already positioned to be a great wildlife camera thanks to impressive autofocus, fast shooting speeds, good image quality, a rugged design and great lens selection, an even better choice.

Low light autofocus is improved, as well. The OM-1 is rated to focus down to -8 EV (with an F1.2 lens), improved from -6 EV with the E-M1X and E-M1 Mark III. In my experience, low-light autofocus works well with the OM-1. However, a somewhat odd aspect of its performance is that when trying to acquire focus in low light, the camera's display – and EVF – can get grainy and look almost monochrome. The screen looks weird, for lack of a better word, for just a short time. However, it is still a bit jarring. Nonetheless, autofocus in low light proved accurate.

OM M.Zuiko 40-150mm F4 PRO lens at 135mm (270mm equiv.), F4, 1/60s, ISO 2000.
This image has been converted and processed to taste in Adobe Camera Raw. Click for the full-size image. Click here for the RAW file.

Continuous autofocus performance is also reliable. As is normal, the OM-1 may lose focus occasionally when photographing a moving subject, but importantly, it reacquires focus quickly. Even when shooting at 50 frames per second, the focus is steady and reliable for most frames. The performance here is excellent.

The OM-1 impresses across multiple fronts with autofocus. AI Detection AF works very well and is better than ever. Further, the entire sensor is covered with cross-type phase-detection autofocus points, which is a huge boon. Being able to track a subject across the entire frame is convenient. Sure, you don't often want your subject to be right at the edge of the image. Still, the OM-1 can track a subject across a larger area, improving overall performance and reliability and ensuring that you have more keepers. OM Digital Solutions has made great strides here with the OM-1, and it's undoubtedly a better performance than any previous Olympus M43 cameras.

OM M.Zuiko 40-150mm F4 PRO lens at 90mm (180mm equiv.), F4, 1/1600s, ISO 250.
This image has been converted and processed to taste in Adobe Camera Raw. Click for the full-size image. Click here for the RAW file.

Performance: Full-resolution shooting at up to 50 fps with AF/AE tracking

Everything I said about gains in autofocus performance applies to continuous shooting performance, too. The OM-1's new stacked sensor pays off here, as well. The OM-1 is significantly faster than the E-M1X and E-M1 III. Those cameras could shoot with AF/AE and tracking at up to 18 frames per second. That's fast. However, the OM-1 can shoot with AF/AE tracking at up to 50 frames per second, which is very fast. Faster even than the Sony A1 and Canon EOS R3, two full-frame cameras that shoot with AF/AE at up to 30 fps.

To achieve these speeds, the camera must use its electronic shutter, which has reduced rolling shutter thanks to the fast sensor readout. The camera also includes a flicker scan, which can be helpful when photographing action under artificial light. There's also no blackout when using the electronic shutter. You can use the electronic shutter to continuously shoot with AF/AE at 5, 10, 15, 20, 25 or 50 frames per second.

OM M.Zuiko 40-150mm F4 PRO lens at 106mm (212mm equiv.), F4, 1/1600s, ISO 640.
This image has been converted and processed to taste in Adobe Camera Raw. Click for the full-size image. Click here for the RAW file.

Olympus' excellent Pro Capture mode carries over the OM System OM-1. When using this mode, the camera continually buffers a batch of photos with a half-shutter press and then saves the most recent 60 frames as soon as you fully press the shutter and then continues to capture additional photos.

If you wish to use the mechanical shutter, you will experience viewfinder blackout and the maximum shooting speeds top out at 10 fps. The mechanical shutter speed ranges from 60s to 1/8,000s, while the electronic shutter speed ranges from 60s to 1/32,000s.

If 50 fps isn't fast enough, you can shoot full-res images even faster. In its "SH1" shooting mode, the OM-1 can shoot at up to 120 fps without blackout. However, the camera doesn't include AF/AE tracking in this mode. Capturing 20.4-megapixel images at 50 fps is a very impressive spec; 20.4-megapixel photos at 120 fps? It's incredibly fast.

OM M.Zuiko 40-150mm F4 PRO lens at 140mm (280mm equiv.), F4, 1/4000s, ISO 1250.
This image has been converted and processed to taste in Adobe Camera Raw. Click for the full-size image. Click here for the RAW file.

What about buffer performance? Recording RAW + Super Fine JPEG images to a ProGrade Digital UHS-II SD card with 250 MB/s write speed, which is a fast SD card, the OM-1 could shoot around 90 frames before the buffer filled. Buffer clearing took about 25 seconds, although while the buffer clears, you can continue to shoot at 50 frames per second, albeit with a reduced buffer. In the bottom right corner of the EVF (top left of the display), you can see an orange number that counts to your full buffer depth as the camera works through images. If you shoot 90 frames and wait a few seconds, you can grab another burst of 10 photos, for example. If you wanted to shoot only JPEG images at 50 fps, it's still a 90-frame buffer for me with this card, although the buffer clears much faster; in about 15 seconds.

Overall, the OM-1 is a speedy, capable performer. The new stacked sensor and improved processor combine to deliver significantly faster shooting speeds than prior Olympus cameras.

In the field: Computational photography features are terrific

Thanks to the OM-1's improved processing power and advanced technology, it takes existing computational photography features to new heights. The High-Res Shot mode can be used handheld or with a tripod and leverages the OM-1's impressive stabilization system to capture and merge eight images into a higher-resolution file. The sensor shifts one micron eight times and then combines the shots to produce a file with a higher pixel count. When using it handheld, the final image is 50 megapixels. Using a tripod, you can shoot an 80-megapixel image, four times the megapixel count of a single shot with the OM-1. The composite processing technology also reduces noise by approximately two stops. You can now access this mode by pressing the record button on the top of the camera, so it's easier to use than ever.

OM M.Zuiko 40-150mm F4 PRO lens at 50mm (100mm equiv.), F5.6, 1/100s, ISO 200.
80MP image. This image has been converted and processed to taste in Adobe Camera Raw. Click for the full-size image. Click here for the RAW file.
OM M.Zuiko 40-150mm F4 PRO lens at 50mm (100mm equiv.), F5.6, 1/100s, ISO 200.
100% crop from 80MP image. Click for the full-size image. Click here for the RAW file.
OM M.Zuiko 40-150mm F4 PRO lens at 50mm (100mm equiv.), F5.6, 1/100s, ISO 200.
100% crop from original 20MP image. Click for the full-size image. Click here for the RAW file.

The mode works well. I used both the handheld and tripod modes, and the OM-1 impressed me. While the mode itself isn't new, the improved sensor and processing power results in better images with High-Res Shot mode. Plus, processing times are faster. It takes approximately five seconds to merge the images, which isn't bad at all considering it's a mode well-suited to still life subjects, like landscapes, rather than action situations.

As far as image quality is concerned, you can do a lot more with an 80MP file than a 20MP file, even though optimal sharpness isn't that different. You have more flexibility with cropping an 80MP file versus a 20MP file. You can also make larger prints without seeing artifacts and image quality issues. There's also some value in using the 80MP mode for landscape photography and then downsizing the image. Using the High-Res Shot Mode, you get better noise performance, so it's a slightly better file, even if you ultimately make it smaller than 80MP.

OM M.Zuiko 40-150mm F4 PRO lens at 75mm (150mm equiv.), F8, 1/20s, ISO 200.
Live ND OFF. Click for the full-size image. Click here for the RAW file.

The OM-1 also includes the Live ND mode. The camera simulates a neutral density filter to allow for a slower shutter speed. It's very convenient not to need to carry ND filters. Plus, the OM-1 now has an ND64 option, which reduces the shutter speed by an impressive six stops. You can also check the effect in a simulation on the display or use the viewfinder before capturing an image. Like with High-Res Shot mode, the processing time is fast. When using the simulation, it's important not to jostle the camera around, though, as it results in a very blurry preview. I found it best to compose a scene before enabling the mode.

OM M.Zuiko 40-150mm F4 PRO lens at 75mm (150mm equiv.), F8, 3.2s, ISO 200.
Live ND64. Click for the full-size image. Click here for the RAW file.

The OM-1 also includes Live Composite, which you can use for different applications like light painting. As the composite image is built, only brighter sections are added. This prevents issues like blown-out highlights when shooting long exposures. With the OM-1, this feature now works with image stabilization and can be used handheld.

Focus Stacking is included, too. It works the same way as before. You select the number of images you want to capture, and the focus variation between frames and then the camera gets to work. While not new, the compositing time has been reduced. During my time with the camera, I tried Focus Stacking, and it was easy to set up and was fast to process the photos.

OM M.Zuiko 40-150mm F4 PRO lens at 49mm (98mm equiv.), F5.6, 1/20s, ISO 200.
Focus stacked image. Click for the full-size image.

Finally, the OM-1 includes HDR shooting. There's not much to say here, but it includes the typical options I've come to expect and works well. I like that the camera will record the original RAW files with the mode enabled.

Video

The OM-1 can record 4K and Cinema 4K video at up to 60 frames per second. Prior cameras could record at these resolutions, too, although at only up to 30p. The OM-1 promises improved handheld image stabilization, too, including at 4K resolutions.

OM System OM-1 C4K/60p video compilation- 4096 x 2160 at 59.97 frames per second.
Download edited video (469.8 MB .MP4 File)

If you require high-end video features, the OM-1 has you covered. You can record H.264 (8 bit) and H.265 (10 bit) video, but you can also shoot RAW video at up to 12 bit 4:4:4 when using an external recorder. The OM-1 also supports OM-Log, allowing greater flexibility when doing color grading. The OM-1 has an HLG (Hybrid Log Gamma) video picture mode for easier HDR recording, although you'll need to view the video on an external display, as the OM-1's monitor doesn't support HDR.

High speed video is improved as well. The OM-1 can record FHD video at up to 240p, up from 120p on prior cameras.

OM System OM-1 Hands-on Review Summary

Is the new OM-1 the best Micro Four Thirds camera yet?

What I like most about the OM System OM-1

  • Great design
  • Rugged camera
  • New EVF is much improved
  • Stacked image sensor results in very impressive performance
  • Better image quality
  • Useful computational photography modes
  • Excellent autofocus
  • New menus are a welcome change
OM M.Zuiko 40-150mm F4 PRO lens at 106mm (212mm equiv.), F4, 1/200s, ISO 200.
This image has been converted and processed to taste in Adobe Camera Raw. Click for the full-size image. Click here for the RAW file.

What I like less about OM-1

  • Display can get grainy in low light
  • While shooting speeds are excellent, buffer depths are a bit underwhelming

The OM System OM-1 makes a great first impression for OM Digital Solutions. For longtime Olympus fans, it's comforting to know that everything people love about Olympus Micro Four Thirds cameras is still here. In fact, not only is everything still here, it's better. The OM-1 is more impressive than any previous Olympus camera in just about every way.

OM M.Zuiko 40-150mm F4 PRO lens at 140mm (280mm equiv.), F4, 1/100s, ISO 250.
This image has been converted and processed to taste in Adobe Camera Raw. Click for the full-size image. Click here for the RAW file.

OM-1 pricing and availability

The OM System OM-1 will be available in early March in body only and kit configurations. The body only will cost $2,200 ($2,800 CAD). A kit with the new M.Zuiko 12-40mm F2.8 PRO II lens will be $2,800 ($3,600 CAD). The HLD-10 Power Battery Holder will be sold separately for $350 ($450 CAD). A wireless remote control featuring IP57 construction will also be available in early March for $100 ($130 CAD). The new BLX-1 battery will cost $100 ($130 CAD) and launch alongside the camera. By the way, the power battery holder does not include a battery, so if you want to take full advantage and double your battery life, you will need to purchase a second battery separately.

• • •

OM System OM-1 versus the Olympus E-M1X and E-M1 Mark III

The OM System OM-1 offers a lot of fundamental improvements over previous Olympus cameras, including the E-M1X and E-M1 Mark III. Let's look at some of the key enhancements.

OM-1 versus Olympus E-M1X and E-M1 III: Image sensor

When it comes to megapixel count, nothing has changed. The OM-1, like the E-M1X and E-M1 III, has an effective megapixel count of 20.4. However, the image sensor itself is dramatically different. The OM-1 includes a brand-new image sensor. It's a stacked, backside-illuminated sensor, whereas the E-M1X and E-M1 III's shared image sensor features neither of these technologies.

The OM-1 may not have a built-in grip like the E-M1X, but OM Digital Solutions is launching a new grip for the OM-1 that make the camera more comfortable to use and doubles the battery life.

A stacked image sensor offers significantly improved sensor readout speed. This allows the OM-1 to deliver significantly better performance in key areas, as we'll see shortly. A backside-illuminated image sensor, all else equal, offers better high ISO image quality. While we still need to test the OM-1 in the lab, early hands-on results show that the OM-1 does indeed deliver better high ISO performance.

OM-1 versus Olympus E-M1X and E-M1 III: Autofocus

The OM-1's new sensor delivers a new autofocus system, as well. The stacked sensor features a Cross Quad Pixel Design. The OM-1 now has 1,053 autofocus points covering 100 percent of the image area, and every point is cross-type. Compare this to the E-M1X and E-M1 III, which still included a cross-type autofocus system but with just 121 AF points covering about 70 percent of the image area. That's a huge difference for the OM-1.

OM M.Zuiko 40-150mm F4 PRO lens at 122mm (244mm equiv.), F4, 1/1600s, ISO 500.
This image has been converted and processed to taste in Adobe Camera Raw. Click for the full-size image. Click here for the RAW file.

Further, the OM-1's autofocus system is rated down to -8 EV, improved from -6 EV. In terms of autofocus modes, the OM-1's AI Subject Detection AF mode adds cats and dogs, plus improved algorithms that promise significantly improved tracking accuracy and speed.

OM-1 versus Olympus E-M1X and E-M1 III: Performance

The stacked sensor improves image quality and autofocus. Add performance to the list, too. The OM-1 can shoot full-res RAW and JPEG images with autofocus and exposure tracking at up to 50 frames per second. The E-M1X and E-M1 III topped out at 18 fps. If you need even more speed, you can shoot the OM-1 at 120 fps with fixed AF/AE.

OM-1 versus Olympus E-M1X and E-M1 III: Computational Photography

Computational photography modes are a big part of the Olympus camera experience. They carry over to the OM System OM-1. The selection of modes is the same, but the OM-1 adds a new Live ND64 strength, up from the ND32 strength on prior cameras. Further, Focus Stacking and High-Res Shot modes include much faster processing. And Live Composite can now shoot for up to six hours, rather than three.

OM M.Zuiko 40-150mm F4 PRO lens at 100mm (200mm equiv.), F6.3, 1.3s, ISO 200.
Live ND 64. Click for the full-size image. Click here for the RAW file.

OM-1 versus Olympus E-M1X and E-M1 III: Video

All three cameras are 4K-capable and can record at Cinema 4K and 4K UHD resolutions. The OM-1 can now do so at 60p, which is twice as fast as previous cameras. Further, the OM-1 offers 4:4:4 12-bit RAW output, something previous Olympus cameras don't offer. For even faster video, the OM-1 can shoot FHD video at up to 240p, which is twice as fast as the E-M1X and E-M1 III.

OM-1 versus Olympus E-M1X and E-M1 III: Body design and usability

The OM-1 looks a lot like previous Olympus cameras. The styling and overall size are basically the same. However, the OM-1 includes a new EVF that ups the resolution from 2.36M dots to 5.76M dots. Further, the magnification is improved from 1.65x to 1.48x. The rear display has the same great articulation, but the resolution is increased from 1.04M dots to 1.62M dots.

The OM-1 adds a separate AF-ON button, so the camera includes independent AE-L and AF-ON buttons. The OM-1 features a redesigned menu system that is easier to read and better organized. The OM-1 also includes an IP53 rating, an impressive accomplishment for a camera system that is already lauded for its weather sealing and ruggedness.

Another difference is a new battery. The form-factor of the new battery is different than the BLH-1 battery pack used in the E-M1X, E-M1 III and E-M1 II. However, the new battery promises about 20 percent more battery life and works with USB Power Delivery over USB-C. As an added convenience, the OM-1's firmware can be updated wirelessly using your smartphone.

OM-1 versus Olympus E-M1X and E-M1 III: Price

The OM System OM-1 is launching in March for $2,200 body only. Comparing launch prices, the E-M1X launched at $3,000, and the E-M1 III launched at $1,800. Granted, both cameras are now available for less than the initial launch prices. The point is that the OM-1 represents a notable price increase compared to the E-M1 III. Is it worth it? Well, there are a lot of improvements.

 

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