Andy Westlake investigates Olympus’s innovative new flagship camera: a pro-focused, rapid-shooting Micro Four Thirds powerhouse
Olympus OM-D E-M1X: Verdict
With the OM-D E-M1X, Olympus appears to have given its designers free reign to build the best camera they can, regardless of price. The result is an innovative and highly accomplished camera that’s built like a tank and packed full of clever features, with its intelligent subject detection autofocus being particularly impressive. But the question is, how many photographers will be prepared to shell out £2800 for a large, high-end Micro Four Thirds body?
Indeed in terms of value proposition, I suspect few cameras will polarise opinion quite like the E-M1X. In reality it’s a niche product that will appeal mostly to photographers who shoot fast-moving, unpredictable subjects in demanding outdoor conditions, especially those who need to carry their kit long distances to get the shot. But one problem is that there aren’t many high-end telephotos to match: just a 40-150mm f/2.8 and 300mm f/4 from Olympus, while Panasonic offers 100-400mm f/4-6.3 and 200mm f/2.8 optics.
Of course, it’s impossible to get away from the fact that the relatively small sensor limits the image quality, especially if you want to shoot in low light or make very large prints. But the flip side is that Olympus’s PRO lenses offer superb resolution in relatively small, lightweight packages, backed up by the E-M1X’s astonishing stabilisation. I had no trouble shooting hand-held with the 300mm f/4 and 1.4x teleconverter, which give an 840mm equivalent combination. Try that with full-frame.
Ultimately the E-M1X doesn’t deliver quite as high image quality as its APS-C or full-frame rivals, and that’s got to be a concern given its price. But for many purposes it’s plenty good enough, and it might just let you capture shots you simply wouldn’t otherwise get. Hopefully Olympus will be able to provide many of its eye-catching features in a smaller, more affordable body later this year.