Olympus OM-D E-M1 Review

November 13, 2013 | Zoltan Arva-Toth | |

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#1 Ben

I have heard good things about this particular camera but I am partial to Canon. Since seeing the good reviews and comments I may give this camera a shot.

6:30 am - Thursday, November 14, 2013


My goodness, how you guy test the noise? Anyone will think this camera is very very noisy!

7:48 am - Thursday, November 14, 2013

#3 Yaj

The idea of the Sony A7 as a challenger to this Olympus is all well and good, but the Sony is a first try. There are limited lenses for the A7. At least on the units I’ve handled, the shutter is incredibly loud (like think Nikon D3 loud). And now that Adobe DNG Converter 8.3 beta will extract the files from the A7/R system, it’s pretty clear that Sony is not getting as much as Nikon does out of those sensors.

So for now the Olympus seems like better bet–excellent image quality through ISO 3200, quiet, good to extraordinary lenses; now this all may change in 12 months time.

1:22 pm - Thursday, November 14, 2013

#4 Yaj


The raws I shot, through ISO 6400, had no real problem. I’m not saying there was no noise at ISO 6400, but the images were perfectly useable.

If you mean the other kind of noise, the shutter is very quiet, not as quiet as say the Fuji XE1, but in that area.

1:29 pm - Thursday, November 14, 2013

#5 Joel

I really wish you would shoot the entire iso range with the books on the shelf for all of your reviews so that we can compare apples to apples.

3:57 pm - Thursday, November 14, 2013

#6 Jörg


@Yaj: Please keep in mind that the A7 is a FF Sensor camera, and the Olympus is FourThirds!
Which means, that the sensor has only a fourth of the sensorsurface….

So, the noise performance of the EM1 is absolutly stunning for that.

4:22 pm - Thursday, November 14, 2013

#7 LRothman

Having owned one now for several weeks with the amazing new lens, the 12-40 f2.8 Pro, all I can say is they have come a very long way indeed. I sold a EM5 to get this one, and having owned pro Nikon and Canon bodies before along with their pro glass, they have nothing of note over the EM1 that the EM1 won’t print to at least 22x17 easily matching the sharpness, definition and color of the rest of the pack. The build is just amazingly tight and solid. The feature set and custom settings capabilities are astounding. This camera is destined to be another classic.

3:06 am - Friday, November 15, 2013

#8 Paul

People are lauding the customization of this camera and I’m certainly intrigued by the dual controls dials. What I’d like to know is if it offers functionality equivalent to the TAv mode of Pentax/ Ricoh.

So can you use one dial for the aperture, the other for shutter speed, while the ISO is automativally adjusted for correct exposure? The Rioch GR is the only camera I know where you can do that with thumb and middle finger (index on shutter). It’s hugely liberating.

11:13 am - Friday, November 15, 2013

#9 Zoltan Arva-Toth


It’s not such a rare feature, actually. While other manufacturers don’t have a dedicated shooting mode like TAv on the mode dial, basically any camera that allows you to use Auto ISO in M mode gives you the same functionality (including e.g. most Nikon DSLRs).

On the Olympus OM-D E-M1, you first have to make Auto ISO available in manual exposure mode by going to Custom Menu E, and setting ISO-Auto to ‘All’ (the default is ‘P/A/S.’) Having done that, you will be able to pick Auto ISO in M mode, which enables you to set the aperture and shutter speed manually via the dials while allowing the camera to adjust the ISO speed automatically.

2:08 pm - Friday, November 15, 2013

#10 Serge

Some OM-D people who used to own E-M5 and switched to E-M1 start regretting about their haste decision.


Because they found out that E-M5 was way better compared to E-M1 in low light situations with Noise Reduction function turned OFF. Moreover, E-M5 yet again shows better results at high ISOs vs E-M1 when both cameras have NR turned ON.

Olympus has not provided any definitive answer to why this issue exists and if it’s going to be ever fixed.

4:26 am - Sunday, November 17, 2013

#11 LRothman

Serge, I have the impression you are just parroting some of the absurd comments I too have read on the internet regarding the EM1’s lowered low light capabilities. I had the EM5 next to it before releasing it for sale having run it through it’s paces. I did NOT find this to be the case. The EM1 has about 1 stop better IBIS performance and is virtually on par with the EM5’s low light performance. However there is NO question the EM1 is more willing to lock focus (accurately) in lower light than the EM5 ever would, which is a real plus. I do NOT get shutter shock with the EM1 either. The ergonomics are another zip code as well as the fit and feel. Needless to say one wouldn’t want to try to compare viewfinders, the EM5 is in the dark ages by comparison. I even prefer the higher rez LCD as well. Buttons are larger and sure not squishy. The shutter is snappier and of course built to higher usage standards. So don’t be misleading to the public, you’re statement has NO truth to it.

10:41 pm - Saturday, December 7, 2013

#12 Eric

I second the previous post: having used both the EM5 and the EM1 extensively, I can confirm that there is nothing that makes me regret the EM5. I have used all my life Nikon FF system and can litterally capture equally attractive photos with this little gem of MFT camera with superb Olympus primes such as the 75mm f/1.8.

The EM1 is definitely a step up to the EM5 in every respect: ISO, IBIS, sharpness with same Olympus lenses, WB, AF, ergonomics, built, EVF, focus peaking, color management, external flash, etc….
People who report the opposite have probably zero field experience with these two cameras and are probably parroting some blog posts of “couch potato” self proclaimed experts.

Many samples are available at this link:

10:07 am - Monday, January 27, 2014

#13 Oliver

I notice that my EM1 always chooses to use a high ISO when it’s set to Auto ISO.  If I put a it side by side another camera (in this case, a Canon 5DMK3, same scene, same aperture and shutter, both cameras on Auto ISO, the Canon may use ISO640, whereas the EM1 ends up using something like 5000.  In one case, the Canon chose ISO ISO2000 while the EM1 chose 25600 and it’s even blinking the figure (!).  I asked the Olympus centre here and the guy said I should set the limit on the EM1 to 1600 as the camera is programmed to choose the highest ISO possible if left in Auto ISO mode.  I wonder if anyone else has this experience with their EM1?

3:04 pm - Thursday, March 13, 2014

#14 L Rothman

Yes that is normal. The OMD will automatically shoot for the stars with higher ISO’s if it feels it needs it. Sadly this won’t result in the best image quality. You have to take the bull by the horns where this is concerned. Best to shoot with the OMD from ISO100-ISO800 which is where it shoots prior to a drop in resolving power due to it’s noise reduction induced as well as the sensor noise taking over.

4:39 pm - Thursday, March 13, 2014

#15 Francesca

There is a lot on the web about poor quality long exposures with the em1.
How much of an issues is this?

8:16 am - Wednesday, April 9, 2014

#16 Diego

Could not disagree with this review more. The camera produces photos of abysmal quality, as it can be seen from the sample images here. ISO 200 already smudges the photos with grainy texture. Something you will not see on much cheaper photos in this category (compact digital cameras). This is an average camera at best. Compare the samples with Sony Cyber shot DSC RX 100II and you’ll see what I mean. Sony wins hands and pants down. And it only costs a half the price of Olympus. I love Olympus cameras, this is not some cheap bashing fit. It is just that this camera is just not up to the scratch even for a weekend photographer (hi mum!).

1:26 pm - Monday, May 5, 2014

#17 Steve

You trollers are never happy until you piss into every forum on the next. I just this week printed off a series of pics at every ios possible. There was NO color smudging at the lowest iso’s. But you know that. I agree with the masses; noise at medium ios is more pronounced than many dSLRs but the noise is more film like. The olympus DOES smudge starting from ISO 2000, (although at 2000 it’s not Always evident)

3:28 pm - Monday, May 12, 2014

#18 Diego

Steve, learn some english first, and try to be less of a smartarse along the way. I am not the only one who is complaining about the cameras being noisy, and I am refering to low ISO’s too, not the high. But a dumbfuck like you, who thinks he knows everything wouldn’t understand that. This camera is known for being either outright shocker, or excellent. I was among the many unlucky who bought it and then had to return it for that particular defect. So, stop trying to appear smart because you only look just like this camera: noisy. Probably something to do with the low IQ you command there. Look at the photos here, by the way and you’ll see that these are too VERY noisy at low ISO’s.

But, I am throwing the pearls to the pigs, I know…

As for english, it’s trolls, not trollers. You know you are outright stupid when a Spanish-speaking person is correcting you in your own language.

4:07 pm - Tuesday, May 13, 2014

#19 dcisive

I have to agree the all iso noise got me to sell my EM1 for a Fuji XT-1 now I’m much happier

4:59 pm - Tuesday, May 13, 2014

#20 Steve

Diego . Oh that Spanish blood boils !!!
‘Trollers’ is a laughable mistake. Mucho Gusto.
I understand 100% why many prefer the apc sensor compacts to a M4/3. I personally found the noise to be more film/like than my Nikon D7000 and just prefer the whole system’s size and weight. My personal tests show no nasty noise at low ISO ‘s and even Popular Photgraphy magazine review which are very critical with noise. In any case in the hundreds if reviews and personal comments in hundreds of blogs an posts, almost none aw as critical as you. Makes one wonder . That’s all. The main point Diego, is that you enjoy your camera and take pride in your work. Ps. Just spent 10 days in Barcelona. Spent lots of time at La Sagrada (sp?). Absolutely amazing !!!! And my daughter spent a month in Valencia , working for a family to enhance her Spanish. We love that country.

5:22 pm - Tuesday, May 13, 2014

#21 sugar

Hi smart people out there. Can i submerge this baby in the water or river or falls? Thank you

11:17 am - Friday, July 11, 2014

#22 JYC2

I have used E-M1 for some months. I had owned many APS-C DSLRs before using E-M1. (I also own E-P5. But, that is another story.)

And, last month, I bought another E-M1 as my second camera. Both of older one and new one are the cameras for my professional work.

5:41 pm - Thursday, September 11, 2014

#23 Samwise

The E-M1 suffers from shutter shock, badly.

7:20 pm - Monday, December 15, 2014

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