Olympus E-M1 review: First impressions and samples from the new OM-D flagship that also succeeds the E-5 Four Thirds DSLR


posted Tuesday, September 10, 2013 at 12:01 AM EDT

With the announcement today of the Olympus E-M1 (see sample photos here!), two birds have been killed with one stone. The E-M1 is both a new flagship for the OM-D series, and a replacement for the long-in-the-tooth Olympus E-5 digital SLR. In one smooth move, Olympus has given the OM-D series a new aspirational benchmark, and answered the concerns of photographers shooting with its Four Thirds-series SLRs, who've long wanted to know the future of their seemingly-dormant format. And it's answered in style, delivering a camera that combines the best of both the SLR and mirrorless worlds, and adds some significant, brand-new features, as well.

And that's not all. Alongside its new enthusiast (and arguably, professional)-friendly mirrorless body, Olympus has also announced a brand-new high performance Micro Four Thirds lens series, and a raft of accessories related to the E-M1 body. We'll come back to those in a moment, but first, the camera itself.


The 16-megapixel E-M1 is the first Olympus mirrorless camera with on-chip phase detection autofocus, resolving performance issues when shooting with Four Thirds lenses. It has a mighty-impressive electronic viewfinder which is, in essence, a refined version of the well-received VF-4 viewfinder accessory. It also boasts a higher-resolution tilting monitor, and adds freezeproofing to its roster of outdoors-friendly shooting features. And acknowledging that sharing is key, it sports in-camera Wi-Fi connectivity, although this too has been refined since we first saw it in the PEN E-P5 compact system camera. And there's plenty more, besides.

As well as the new flagship mirrorless body, Olympus has revealed a new, high-performance Micro Four Thirds lens line. It debuts with one model, and another is to follow in the latter half of 2014. The first product in the line is the M.ZUIKO Digital ED 12-40mm F2.8 PRO lens, which yields a 24-80mm equivalent range in use. This will be followed by the M.ZUIKO Digital ED 40-150mm F2.8 PRO lens (80-300mm equivalent). Both have constant apertures, and are dustproof, splashproof, and said to be rugged enough for professional use. The 12-40mm lens is also badged as a Movie and Still Compatible model, for near-silent autofocus. (It isn't yet clear if the same will be true of the 40-150mm lens, which is still in development.)

And then there are the accessories. These include the HLD-7 Power Battery Holder -- an addon grip that yields roughly double the battery life, and offers duplicate controls for portrait-orientation shooting -- as well as the PT-EP11 Underwater Case, GS-5 Grip Strap, CBG-10 Camera Bag, CS-42SF Soft Camera Case, and CSS-P118 Shoulder Strap.


Available from October 2013, the Olympus E-M1 will ship body-only, with a pricetag of US$1400. Pricing for the new lenses hasn't been disclosed, and nor has pricing and availability of the various accessories.

Want to know more about the new Olympus OM-D series flagship, and how it will bring E-series DSLR owners into the mirrorless fold? Or perhaps you're just looking for sample photos shot with the E-M1. We've got both, so either way, read our hands-on Olympus E-M1 review for our first impressions of what looks to be one very impressive camera.

Just want to get your Olympus OM-D E-M1 as soon as possible? Get your preorder in with trusted Imaging Resource affiliates Adorama and B&H now, and reserve your place in queue: