First look: A new pro, Olympus OM-D E-M1X
There’s been a lot of chatter about full-frame mirrorless cameras, but there’s a new Micro Four Thirds model from Olympus that deserves attention, too. Lest we forget, Olympus has introduced a number of firsts to the photographic industry, including the first camera with live view, the first with a “shake off the dust” system, and more. And, let’s face it, the Micro Four Thirds 2X crop factor is a boon for wildlife and sports photographers to get a 600mm reach with a much lighter weight 300mm lens.
The newly announced 20-megapixel OM-D E-M1X sits at the top of the Olympus line, along with the OM-D E-M1 Mark II. Like its sibling, the E-M1X is aimed at the professional market. You’ll find a lot of the same features in the new model, including in-body 5-axis image stabilization—improved for the new model—and Olympus’ effective Super Sonic Wave Filter to help remove any dust that gets on the sensor.
It’s always fun to have hands-on time with a new camera, and the Olympus OM-D E-1MX is no exception. Images accompanying these first impressions were shot with pre-production firmware. But thanks to a recent firmware update, we’ll be able to better comment on image quality for our full review in the April issue of Professional Photographer.
Initial impressions of the camera are quite good. The body with its integrated vertical grip is slightly larger and heavier than anticipated at nearly 2.2 pounds for the body, batteries, and memory cards. But having the vertical grip is well worth it, and you’re going to save on weight with longer lenses because of the 2X crop factor. The body is extremely well built, weatherproof, and has a new, deeper grip that provides a solid and comfortable handhold.
The camera is equipped with a 3-inch, fully articulated LCD with touch focus, but Olympus has also added two joysticks (one is on the vertical grip) for selecting focus points, which is a great feature.
My first experience with the camera’s performance was based on pre-production firmware, but I was still impressed with the OM-D E-M1X’s speed and autofocus accuracy. One of the most interesting features is the new C–AF Tracking mode. AI-based, this mode allows you to select motorsports, airplanes, or trains. The camera then locks in on, say, the helmet of a motorsports subject and continues tracking.
During the press trip to test the camera, I spent some time at Baker’s Factory supercross training facility photographing riders. It was raining, but thanks to the O-MD E-M1X weatherproof body (and some rain ponchos), the shoot went off without a hitch. It was my first time shooting this sport, but the camera helped me get some of the shots you see here. It was a fun experience and a good way to put the camera’s tracking capabilities to the test.
I didn’t get to explore all the camera’s extensive features, especially the vast array of custom options, so those will be covered in the full upcoming review.
The Olympus OM-D E-M1X is slated to ship in late February for $2,999.99 (body only).
Theano Nikitas has been writing about photography for more than 20 years.