Olympus OM-D E-M1 Review

November 13, 2013 | Zoltan Arva-Toth | Rating star Rating star Rating star Rating star Half rating star


The Olympus OM-D E-M1 is the second model in Olympus's OM-D series of compact system cameras. Designed as a fully-fledged professional photographic tool, the E-M1 boasts a tough dust-, drip- and freeze-proof magnesium alloy body and a vast array of features. Inside the camera is a 16-megapixel Four Thirds imager with on-sensor phase-detection auto focus, Supersonic Wave Filter anti-dust technology, a 5-axis sensor-shift image stabiliser and a TruePic VII processing unit. Featuring a Micro Four Thirds lens mount, the camera also sports a flash sync terminal, a hotshoe, an accessory port, a high-resolution electronic viewfinder and a tilting LCD screen. New features include a hybrid AF system, a focus peaking function, an innovative Colour Creator, a customisable self-timer, 10fps continuous shooting, Wi-Fi connectivity and in-camera HDR exposure blending. The Olympus OM-D E-M1 is currently available for £1299 / $1399 body-only in the UK and US, respectively.

Ease of Use

Announced in September 2013, the Olympus OM-D E-M1 is Olympus’s new flagship Micro Four Thirds camera. Building on the success of the Olympus OM-D E-M5 – which was one of 2012's most talked-about cameras, and for good reason –; the new E-M1 is a somewhat bigger and about 70g heavier model aimed at the professional/semi-professional market. While a lot of users were happy with the E-M5 providing a more than comprehensive feature set in a truly compact package, others complained about its tiny buttons and cramped control layout. The OM-D E-M1 addresses these issues by providing more real estate, bigger controls and a redesigned user interface.

The most easily noticeable difference is the much more prominent hand-grip. Where the OM-D E-M5 made do with barely more than a raised ridge on its front panel, the E-M1 sports a real grip that looks positively chunky in comparison. This has enabled the designers to relocate the shutter release, which was rather awkwardly placed on the E-M5, to a position where it falls a lot more naturally under your right index finger. The new grip means that the front plate of the E-M1 looks markedly different to that of the E-M5; an impression that’s further amplified by the use of a different texture and the presence of two new buttons next to the lens mount. By default these controls are assigned to one-touch white balance and depth-of-field preview but, like almost everything else on the OM-D E-M1, they can be reprogrammed to perform different tasks if you so desire.

The top deck of the camera has undergone a complete overhaul. To the left of the viewfinder housing (when viewed from above and behind) we find a new cluster of controls comprising two raised buttons and a power switch. Each of the two new buttons provides access to two sets of settings. Press the first one and you can adjust the camera’s drive modes and new HDR settings with the rear and front control dials, respectively. Hit the second and you can cycle through the various focus and metering modes offered by the camera. The placement of the on/off switch might well raise a few eyebrows as it means you will almost always need to use your left hand to turn on the camera, which is hardly an ideal solution. Actually, this is a design nod to the Olympus OM-1 film camera that had its power switch in virtually the same location – which is all nice and well, but we’d still prefer it to be in a position where you can easily reach it with your right thumb or forefinger.

Moving over to the other side of the viewfinder hump, we find a traditional mode dial with a not-so-traditional locking pin in the middle. On most other cameras that have a lockable dial, you need to hold down the centred button while turning the dial – on the Olympus OM-D E-M1, the mode dial locks with one press of the locking pin and unlocks with a second press, which is a clever idea. The dial itself offers the usual P, A, S and M modes, plus a dedicated Movie mode and separate positions for Scene modes, Art Filters, intelligent Auto and Photo Story. At first, it may seem like there are no direct-access points to retrieve custom settings banks – or “Mysets” in Olympus speak –, but actually you can assign any of the mode dial slots to a Myset group of shooting settings. This means that if you only use the PASM and Movie modes and cannot see yourself using iAuto, Photo Story, Scene modes or Art Filters, you can have up to four Mysets and access them all directly from the mode dial – which is nice.

Olympus OM-D E-M1 Olympus OM-D E-M1
Front Rear

The Olympus OM-D E-M1 inherits the 2x2 Dual Control system of the Pen E-P5. This comprises two top-mounted control wheels and a function lever that’s pretty easy to reach with your right thumb. (We would much prefer if the position of this lever and that of the power switch were swapped, but there you go.)  The function lever has two settings. In the first position, moving the control dial on the front of the camera adjusts the aperture while the dial on the back adjusts the shutter speed. On the second setting, the dials change the ISO value and white balance respectively. You can also configure the switch’s operation too – for example, you can turn it into a handy AF/MF toggle if that makes more sense to you. The remaining controls on the camera’s top plate include the already mentioned shutter release, plus a dedicated Movie Record button and a customisable function button. These last two controls were present on the E-M5 too, but they have both grown in size.

The rear plate features more or less the same controls as on the E-M5, but they have been redesigned, rearranged and joined by two new buttons. As with the earlier OM-D model, the camera's back is dominated by a large, articulated rear screen. Unlike the E-M5, this is not an OLED panel but an LCD – with a considerably higher resolution (1,037,000 vs. 610,000 dots) and capacitive touchscreen technology. Alas, the degree of articulation has remained the same – it tilts 80° upwards and 50° downwards –, which is somewhat disappointing for those who have been hoping for a fully articulated vari-angle display similar to the one found on the Olympus E-5 DSLR. The Info, Menu, Playback and Delete buttons have all been carried over from the OM-D E-M5, but all of them have become bigger – in the case of the Playback button, much bigger – and have been completely rearranged. The engineers have redesigned the navigation pad too, making it easier to use. The Fn1 button has  moved to the upper right part of the rear plate, where it's easier to locate and operate with your right thumb. There are two new controls, an AEL/AFL button encircled by the afore-mentioned function lever, and a Display button located to the left of the viewfinder.

The Olympus E-M5 had a pretty decent finder – with a resolution of 1.44 million dots,  1.15x magnification and an 18mm eyepoint –, but the EVF on the OM-D E-M1 is all-around better, offering a 2.4-million-dot resolution, 1.48x magnification and a 21mm eyepoint. All these specifications translate into a much improved viewing and framing experience that rivals – and in some respects outclasses – the best optical viewfinders found on any cropped-frame DSLR. This new EVF is based on the VF-4 external viewfinder, which was introduced alongside the Olympus Pen E-P5 compact system camera earlier this year, but apart from being permanently built in, it also benefits from the addition of Adaptive Brightness Control, which contributes to an improved viewing experience. As befits a camera of this class, the finder has an eye proximity sensor that allows the camera to switch from the LCD screen to the EVF automatically when you lift it up to your eye. Like the E-M5, the E-M1's electronic viewfinder “gains up” in low light, making it arguably more usable than an optical finder.

Olympus OM-D E-M1 Olympus OM-D E-M1
Top Side

Similarly to the E-M5, the Olympus OM-D E-M1 makes do without a pop-up flash but comes bundled with a tiny FL-LM2 flash unit, which clips into the external flash hotshoe and the accessory port, much like the flash on Sony's NEX cameras. Naturally you can also use more powerful system flashes with the E-M1 – such as the FL-36R, the FL-600R or the FL-50R – but these are of course sold separately. One novelty here is the inclusion of a Prontor-Compur flash sync terminal, which allows the use of mains flashes and other cable-contact flash units via a standard sync cable. Olympus specifies an x-sync speed of 1/320s with the FL-LM2 and 1/250s with other external units but our review sample was capable of fully syncing a third-party flash hooked up to the camera via a sync cable at 1/400th of a second. Even at 1/500s, the blacked-out part of the frame was so thin that when we used a cropped format – such as 16:9 – we were able to get a clean flash exposure across the entire frame. Do note that this might be down to sample variation, though.

The Olympus E-M1 features the manufacturer's second-generation accessory port beneath the hotshoe, which allows users to attach a variety of optional peripherals such as a Bluetooth adapter, an external microphone adapter kit or the MAL-1 Macro Arm Lights. As noted above, it is also necessary for mounting the supplied FL-LM2 flash. (You could theoretically attach an external viewfinder too, but the only benefit would be that it can tilt upward, unlike the built-in one – but given that the rear screen is articulated, there's little point in investing in an external finder.) Note that all of these accessories occupy the hotshoe too, so if you wanted to connect, say, a flash and a Bluetooth adapter at the same time, you would need to connect the flash via the PC sync terminal.

Focusing is one area where the Olympus OM-D E-M1 offers a clear improvement over the E-M5. For starters, the number of selectable AF points has been expanded to 81 versus the E-M5's 35. Low-light auto focus continues to be excellent – the system managed to focus down to -2EV (as long as there was something to focus on) even without the use of the focus assist lamp. This is seriously low light, about the same as a landscape lit only by moonlight and nothing else. The biggest news, however, is the inclusion of 37 on-sensor phase-detection auto focus points, which enables better continuous AF performance – especially with low-contrast subjects in low-contrast light – as well as fast focusing with “regular” Four Thirds lenses, mounted via an adapter. The continuous shooting speed has been increased too, to 6.5fps with auto focus (up from 4.2fps on the OM-D E-M5), and 10fps without. Manual focus enthusiasts will be delighted to learn that the Olympus E-M1 has a focus peaking feature, which enables precise focusing even without magnifying into the live view feed; although we would love to see a few more options for the outline colour.

Olympus OM-D E-M1 Olympus OM-D E-M1
Tilting LCD Screen Tilting LCD Screen

Cameras without wireless connectivity are increasingly at a disadvantage over competitors that offer this feature, so Olympus could not afford to launch a new flagship without Wi-Fi. The implementation on the OM-D E-M1 is actually quite good. You first need to download a free app for your smartphone (Android and iOS versions are both available), but after that, everything is pretty straightforward. You simply touch the Wi-Fi icon on your camera's display to set up a connection. The Olympus OM-D E-M1 will provide you with an SSID and password, but you do not need to type in either of them – just launch the app on your phone and scan the QR code displayed by your camera with your phone. This is nearly as fast as using NFC (Near-Field Communication), a feature that the OM-D E-M1 doesn't offer. Once the connection is established, you can download images from the camera to your smartphone, or use the latter to remotely control the E-M1. The level of control provided is quite good – you can choose from a variety of shooting modes, set aperture, sensitivity, shutter speed and white balance, choose a drive mode, and focus on practically any part of the frame, all remotely.

Like most digital still cameras these days – Nikon Df excepted –, the Olympus OM-D E-M1 can record Full HD movies. The highest bit rate has increased to 24Mb/s from 20Mb/s on the E-M5 – a welcome improvement, although nothing close to the 72Mb/s offered by the Panasonic GH3. The only frame rate option available is 30fps, which is quite disappointing and a little incomprehensible given that competitors tend to offer everything from 24fps to 25, 50 and even 60fps. On a more positive note the OM-D E-M1 – just like the E-M5 – can use its excellent 5-axis sensor-shift image stabiliser when shooting movies, unlike the Panasonic GX7, for example. This translates into surprisingly smooth hand-held footage, even when using a medium telephoto lens. Manual exposure can be enabled for videos, although you do have to rotate the mode dial to the Movie position to take advantage of this. (You can start filming in practically any other shooting mode too, but in that case, videos will always be recorded with auto exposure.)

The Olympus E-M1 has a time-lapse photography mode, which allows you to capture up to 999 frames at user-specified intervals. You can also tell the camera when to start the sequence, which comes in handy if you want to set up the camera well in advance. The E-M1 will save each shot in the format of your choice – ORF or JPEG – and can optionally create a time-lapse video in-camera, which you can play back on the rear screen, or upload to a website like Vimeo or YouTube. While shooting raw and creating a video afterwards on your PC gives you more control over grading, sharpening etc., the in-camera option is nice to have when shooting JPEG or raw+JPEG, as it is obviously much faster.

Olympus OM-D E-M1 Olympus OM-D E-M1
Memory Card Slot Battery Compartment

The menu system is similar to that of the E-M5, with a few new options for the new features. This is a complex, multi-level menu system that might not seem intuitive at first sight, so reading the manual is a good idea before starting to explore it. The good news is that these menus are mainly there to allow you to set up the camera exactly the way you want it to be set up – once you're done with that, you'll seldom need to delve into the menus again, courtesy of the large number of external controls as well as the excellent Super Control Panel, which is basically an interactive status display inherited from older Olympus cameras.

The Olympus OM-D E-M1 is powered by a proprietary BLN-1 lithium-ion battery, which may sound like a bit of a let-down for those who have been hoping that it would use the more powerful BLM-5 unit developed for the Olympus E-5 DSLR. On a more positive note, the BLN-1 is the same battery pack that's used by the OM-D E-M5 so those who upgrade from the earlier model will be able to use their existing spare batteries with the E-M1 too. The camera saves images and movies on SD, SDHC and SDXC memory cards (up to UHS-I speed class). Unfortunately there's only one memory card slot, so it isn't possible to make instant back-ups in the field by saving your shots on two cards simultaneously. Wired connection ports include a combined USB-A/V terminal, a micro HDMI port and a standard 3.5mm stereo microphone jack.

In use the Olympus OM-D E-M1 has turned out to be a very enjoyable camera. The slightly bigger size, contoured hand-grip and larger, easier-to-use controls make it vastly superior to the OM-D E-M5 in terms of ergonomics. We liked the E-M5 a lot, but the E-M1 is clearly a better choice for anyone with medium to large hands and/or long(ish) fingers, while still being smaller than most SLRs. The redesigned control layout is well thought-out and the level of customisability is extremely high. Setting the camera up the way you like it is not trivial, but there are precious few other cameras that can be better tailored to a photographer's individual preferences.

Once you've set it up you can pretty much forget about delving into the complex and long-winded menu system again, which is excellent news to anyone who has an aversion to using menus when shooting out in the field. The camera is robust, extremely responsive and very fast to focus. Thanks to a combination of contrast- and phase-detect AF, its ability to keep a moving subject in focus is quite close to that of an SLR, which is no mean feat given that the OM-D E-M1 is a compact system camera after all. The E-M1's operational stability is fairly good, although it did lock up once during the review period, with the only solution being the removal and re-insertion of the battery. That glitch aside, the Olympus OM-D E-M1 has proved to be one of the most enjoyable compact system cameras we have ever tested.

Image Quality

All of the sample images in this review were taken using the 16 megapixel Fine JPEG setting, which gives an average image size of around 9Mb.

During the review, the Olympus OM-D E-M1 produced images of excellent quality. In the Natural picture mode, colours are vibrant without being garish or over-saturated, while dynamic range is very good. From ISO 100 through to ISO 1600, noise is very well controlled, usually not becoming an issue until ISO 3200, which is an excellent result for a Micro Four Thirds camera. ISO 3200 and 6400 are still eminently usable, with only the two fastest settings of 12800 and 25600 really suffering. The image stabilisation system works very well indeed, even when hand-holding the camera at slow shutter speeds or shooting a hand-held movie. The presence of Art Filters may be unusual in such a high-end prosumer camera, but they do produce special effects that would otherwise require you to spend a lot of time in the digital darkroom. The camera is very well suited to infrared photography, with the Live View Boost option enabling you to frame your shots through an R72 filter, and even the auto focus system remaining operational.


There are 9 ISO settings available on the Olympus OM-D E-M1. The base sensitivity is ISO 200/24° but there is an expanded low sensitivity setting equivalent to ISO 100/21°. These crops demonstrate the image quality at each setting.


ISO 100 (100% Crop)

ISO 100 (100% Crop)

iso100.jpg iso100raw.jpg

ISO 200 (100% Crop)

ISO 200 (100% Crop)

iso200.jpg iso200raw.jpg

ISO 400 (100% Crop)

ISO 400 (100% Crop)

iso400.jpg iso400raw.jpg

ISO 800 (100% Crop)

ISO 800 (100% Crop)

iso800.jpg iso800raw.jpg

ISO 1600 (100% Crop)

ISO 1600 (100% Crop)

iso1600.jpg iso1600raw.jpg

ISO 3200 (100% Crop)

ISO 3200 (100% Crop)

iso3200.jpg iso3200raw.jpg

ISO 6400 (100% Crop)

ISO 6400 (100% Crop)

iso6400.jpg iso6400raw.jpg

ISO 12800 (100% Crop)

ISO 12800 (100% Crop)

iso12800.jpg iso12800raw.jpg

ISO 25600 (100% Crop)

ISO 25600 (100% Crop)

iso25600.jpg iso25600raw.jpg

File Quality

The file quality settings available on the Olympus OM-D E-M1 include Normal, Fine and Superfine for JPEGs, and you can also shoot in Olympus’s proprietary ORF raw file format. Do note that the Superfine setting must first be enabled from the menu in order to appear among the selectable quality options.

16M SuperFine (100% Crop) 16M Fine (100% Crop)
quality_superfine.jpg quality_fine.jpg
16M Normal (100% Crop) 16M RAW (100% Crop)
quality_normal.jpg quality_raw.jpg


The out-of-camera JPEGs are pretty sharp at the default setting but you can of course add some sharpening later in a program like Adobe Photoshop if needed. Here are two pairs of 100% crops – the right-hand images have had some post-capture sharpening applied.

Original (100% Crop)

Sharpened (100% Crop)

sharpen1.jpg sharpen1a.jpg
sharpen2.jpg sharpen2a.jpg


The  Olympus OM-D E-M1 offers exposure times as long as 60 second in a metered exposure or up to 30 minutes in bulb mode, which is excellent news for anyone seriously interested in night photography. Live Bulb mode allows you to view the progression of exposure during a bulb exposure in real-time and a live view histogram shows how the exposure is built-up across all points of the image. The following picture was taken at a shutter speed of 10 seconds, aperture of f/6.3 at ISO 200. We have included a 100% crop to show you what the quality is like.


Night (100% Crop)

night1.jpg night1a.jpg

Image Stabilisation

The Olympus OM-D E-M1 comes with a five-axis sensor-shift image stabilisation (IS) system, which allows you to take sharp hand-held photos at slower shutter speeds than with cameras that lack this feature. The following 100% crops are taken from images taken with a 100mm equivalent lens at a shutter speed of 1/4th of a second, with and without IS. The image stabilisation system also works during video capture, producing remarkably steady hand-held footage most of the time.

Focal Length / Shutter Speed

Off (100% Crop)

On (100% Crop)

100mm / 1/4th Second antishake1.jpg antishake1a.jpg

Art Filters

The Olympus OM-D E-M1 offers a dozen so-called ‘art filters’, which allow you to quickly apply an artistic effect to a photo before taking it. Art filters are easily accessible via a dedicated slot on the mode dial.

Pop Art

Soft Focus

art_filters_popArt.jpg art_filters_softFocus.jpg

Pale&Light Color

Light Tone

art_filters_pale+lightColour.jpg art_filters_lightTone.jpg

Grainy Film

Pin Hole

art_filters_grainyFilm.jpg art_filters_pinhole.jpg
Diorama Cross Process
art_filters_diorama.jpg art_filters_crossProcess.jpg
Gentle Sepia Dramatic Tone
art_filters_gentleSepia.jpg art_filters_dramaticTone.jpg
Key Line Watercolor
art_filters_keyLine.jpg art_filters_watercolour.jpg

Multiple Exposure

The Olympus OM-D E-M1 has a Multiple Exposure feature allowing you to combine multiple exposures to create a composite image in-camera.



The Olympus OM-D E-M1 is fairly sensitive to infrared light, allowing you to capture images through an R72 visible-light blocking filter. Turning on Live View Boost from the menu enables you to frame the shot on the rear screen or through the viewfinder, and the auto focus system also remains active. The photo below was taken at a shutter speed of 1.3 seconds, aperture of f/3.5 at ISO 100/21°. We have included a 100% crop to show you what the quality is like.


Infrared (100% Crop)

infrared1.jpg infrared1a.jpg

Gradation and HDR

The Olympus OM-D E-M1 has a number of ‘gradation’ options including Norma, Auto, High-key and Low-key. With Auto gradation enabled the camera lifts the shadows and tries to compress the sensor's full dynamic range into a JPEG file. (The High-key and Low-key options are for special subjects, typically a white subject against a white backdrop and a dark subject against a black background.) In High Dynamic Range (HDR) mode, the camera takes a number of photos  in rapid succession, at different exposure settings, and combines them into a single high-dynamic-range image. There are two options, HDR1 and HDR2. In our experience, HDR1 usually yields a credible image but HDR2 tends to produce flat, unrealistic results.



normalGradation.jpg autoGradation.jpg



hdr1.jpg hdr2.jpg

Time-Lapse Video

The Olympus OM-D E-M1  has a time-lapse photography mode, which allows you to capture up to 999 frames at user-specified intervals.  The E-M1 will save each shot in the format of your choice– and can optionally create a time-lapse video in-camera, which is played back at 10fps. The following video is an example of what you can expect.

Olympus OM-D E-M1 Time-Lapse Test Video from photographyblog on Vimeo.

Sample Images

This is a selection of sample images from the Olympus OM-D E-M1 camera, which were all taken using the 16 megapixel Superfine JPEG setting. The thumbnails below link to the full-sized versions, which have not been altered in any way.

Sample RAW Images

The Olympus OM-D E-M1 enables users to capture RAW and JPEG format files. We've provided some Olympus RAW (ORF) samples for you to download (thumbnail images shown below are not 100% representative).

Sample Movie & Video

This is a sample movie at the highest quality setting of 1920x1080 pixels at 30 frames per second. Please note that this 27 second movie is 82.8Mb in size.

Product Images

Olympus OM-D E-M1

Front of the Olympus OM-D E-M1

Olympus OM-D E-M1

Side of the Olympus OM-D E-M1

Olympus OM-D E-M1

Side of the Olympus OM-D E-M1

Olympus OM-D E-M1

Side of the Olympus OM-D E-M1

Olympus OM-D E-M1

Side of the Olympus OM-D E-M1

Olympus OM-D E-M1

Rear of the Olympus OM-D E-M1

Olympus OM-D E-M1

Rear of the Olympus OM-D E-M1 / Settings Screen

Olympus OM-D E-M1

Rear of the Olympus OM-D E-M1 / Menu Screen

Olympus OM-D E-M1

Rear of the Olympus OM-D E-M1 / Tone Mapping Screen


Olympus OM-D E-M1

Rear of the Olympus OM-D E-M1 / Art Filters

Olympus OM-D E-M1
Tilting LCD Screen
Olympus OM-D E-M1
Tilting LCD Screen
Olympus OM-D E-M1
Tilting LCD Screen
Olympus OM-D E-M1
Tilting LCD Screen
Olympus OM-D E-M1
Top of the Olympus OM-D E-M1
Olympus OM-D E-M1
Bottom of the Olympus OM-D E-M1
Olympus OM-D E-M1
Side of the Olympus OM-D E-M1
Olympus OM-D E-M1
Side of the Olympus OM-D E-M1
Olympus OM-D E-M1
Memory Card Slot
Olympus OM-D E-M1
Battery Compartment


Back in 2012, when we reviewed the Olympus OM-D E-M5 we called it the “best Olympus compact system camera to date, and also a strong contender for best compact system camera full stop.” It offered a very good sensor, fast auto focus and a compelling feature set in a compact package, a combination that earned it our highest 'Essential' rating and our Camera of the Year 2012 award. That being said, the E-M5 did have its share of shortcomings – for most people with medium to large hands and/or longish fingers, its controls were simply too small and cramped.

The slightly larger Olympus OM-D E-M1 addresses these issues by providing more real estate, bigger controls and a redesigned user interface. which works exceedingly well. The new control layout is well thought-out and the level of customisability is extremely high. The camera is robust – more so than the E-M5 –, and highly responsive. Thanks to a combination of contrast- and phase-detect AF, its ability to keep a moving subject in focus is quite close to that of an SLR (if not a pro grade one), which is no mean feat given that the OM-D E-M1 is a compact system camera after all.

The new EVF is among the best we have ever used, with great resolution, good colour rendition, fast refresh rates, a large apparent size and adaptive brightness control. The newly introduced Colour Creator is an ingenious tool to add, fine-tune and preview colour casts and adjust saturation and hue using a colour wheel. Other additions, such as a PC sync terminal for studio flashes and a 2x2 Dual Control system, will appeal to professional photographers; while the focus peaking feature will likely be welcomed by those who use legacy lenses on a regular basis.

Image quality continues to be excellent for a cropped-sensor camera. From ISO 100 through to ISO 1600, noise is very well controlled, usually not becoming an issue until you hit ISO 3200. We never longed for a camera with a bigger sensor, and you'd have to step up to a full-frame DSLR to see an appreciable leap in image quality. The image stabilisation system works very well indeed, even when hand-holding the camera at slow shutter speeds or shooting video without a tripod. We would, however, like to see more frame rate options and higher bit rates for movies, as the OM-D E-M1 does lag behind the competition in these areas.

Overall, our main criticism of the Olympus OM-D E-M1 lies not with its performance or feature-set, but with its price. £1299 / $1399 body-only is a lot to pay for a compact system camera these days. The combination of great image quality, an abundance of features, excellent auto focus, insane customisability and a robust dust-, drip- and freeze-proof body with a well-thought-out user interface do go a long way in justifying the cost, but with Sony soon releasing its similarly sized, full-frame Alpha A7 for the same price in the UK and a few hundred dollars more in the US, the OM-D E-M1 still seems a bit overpriced to us.

4.5 stars

Ratings (out of 5)
Design 5
Features 5
Ease-of-use 5
Image quality 5
Value for money 3

Main Rivals

Listed below are some of the rivals of the Olympus OM-D E-M1.

Fujifilm X-Pro1

The Fujifilm X-Pro1 is a new premium compact system camera. Building on the popularity of the X100, the retro, rangefinder-styled X-Pro1 offers a brand new sensor that's claimed to rival full-frame DSLRs, an improved hybrid viewfinder, and a new X lens mount with three prime lenses available on launch. Read our Fujifilm X-Pro1 review to find out if it can emulate the runaway success of the X100...

Olympus OM-D E-M5

Olympus have expanded their Micro Four Thirds family with the launch of the OM-D E-M5. Boasting the World's fastest autofocus system, the E-M5 brings the original design ethos of the 1970's film OM series kicking and screaming into the 21st century. Read our expert Olympus E-M5 review to find out if it's the best compact system camera on the market.

Panasonic Lumix DMC-GH3

The Panasonic Lumix DMC-GH3 is a new compact system camera that promises to offer both high-quality still images and movies. The exciting GH3 features Full 1080p HD video with bit rates up to 72Mbps, a 16 megapixel sensor, a 3 inch swivelling touchscreen OLED, built-in wi-fi connectivity, a weather-proof body, and an extensive ISO range of 125-25600. Read our Panasonic Lumix DMC-GH3 review to find out if it's the most complete video/stills camera yet...

Panasonic Lumix DMC-GX7

The Panasonic Lumix DMC-GX7 is an exciting new compact system camera aimed firmly at keen photographers. With a built-in tilting electronic viewfinder, 16 megapixel sensor, 3 inch tilting LCD touchscreen, pop-up flash, 60/50p high-definition video, integrated wi-fi and NFC connectivity, both lens and in-body image stabilization, and a stylish design, is the GX7 the ultimate interchangeable lens camera? Read our expert Panasonic Lumix DMC-GX7 review to find out....

Sony NEX-6

The NEX-6 is the latest compact system camera from Sony, slotting in between the mid-level NEX-5R and the top-of-the range NEX-7. With a 16 megapixel APS HD CMOS sensor, 1080p HD movies, high-res 3 inch OLED screen and built-in flash, the Sony NEX-6 also features 10fps burst shooting, wi-fi connectivity and downloadable PlayMemories Camera Apps. Read our full Sony NEX-6 review, complete with sample JPEGs, RAW files, and movies, to find out if it's the best Sony NEX camera yet...

Sony NEX-7

The Sony NEX-7 is a new compact system camera with a long list of photographer-friendly features. Offering a 24.3 megapixel APS-C CMOS sensor, 1080p HD movies, high-res 3 inch tilting screen, 10fps burst shooting, built-in electronic viewfinder and pop-up flash, the NEX-7 seems to be on paper at least a very exciting proposition. Read our full Sony NEX-7 review, complete with sample JPEGs, RAW files, and movies, to find out if this is the ultimate compact system camera...

Review Roundup

Reviews of the Olympus OM-D E-M1 from around the web.

imaging-resource.com »

The Olympus E-M1 builds upon the legacy of the outstanding OM-D E-M5, adding not only a ton of features geared for pros and advanced enthusiasts, but also an on-chip, phase-detect autofocusing system that delivers the responsiveness that Olympus Four Thirds DSLR owners have long been waiting for. The E-M1 offers a solid, weatherproof build, an outstanding electronic viewfinder, tons of physical controls -- which can be customized in countless permutations -- and an advanced Wi-Fi system for image sharing and remote control shooting. Most importantly, the camera delivers excellent image quality for its class, even at high ISOs, as well as blazing performance that rivals top DSLRs. The Olympus E-M1 might seem expensive for a Micro Four Thirds model, and perhaps even overkill for many shooters, but for the right photographer, this high-performing, pro-level camera is well worth the price.
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dpreview.com »

The E-M1 is the second model in Olympus's OM-D series and extends the range further into semi-pro/enthusiast territory. There are two main distinctions that set the E-M1 apart from its little brother (the E-M5) - a more sophisticated autofocus system and a 'buttons for everything' design approach. As such the two models will coexist, with the E-M1 sitting at the very top of Olympus's lineup.
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ephotozine.com »

With compatibility with Micro Four Thirds, the Olympus OM-D E-M1 has access to 16 Olympus Micro Four Thirds lenses, and 26 lenses from other manufacturers. There is also access to 23 Four Thirds lenses using the MMF-3 adapter, which provides auto focus for the lenses, bringing the total number of lenses available to 65.
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  • Body material

    Magnesium alloy body

  • Lens mount

    Micro Four Thirds

Image Sensor

  • Type

    4/3'' Live MOS sensor

  • Effective pixels

    16.3 Megapixels

  • Filter array

    Primary colour filter (RGB)

  • Aspect ratio & area

    4:3 / 17.3 x 13.0mm

  • Full resolution

    16.8 Megapixels


  • Type

    TruePic VII


  • Dust reduction filter

    Supersonic Wave Filter


  • Viewfinder type

    Electronical Viewfinder

  • Pixel number

    2.360K dots

  • Diopter adjustment

    Yes ‑4.0 ‑ +2.0 diopters / built‑in type

  • Field of view

    Approx. 100%

  • Magnification

    Max. 1.48x with a 50mm lens set to infinity at ‑1 dioptre (depending on selected viewfinder style)

  • Eye point

    21mm at ‑1 dioptre from eyepiece lens

  • Style

    3 styles selectable

  • Displayed information

    • Aperture value
    • Shutter speed
    • AF frame (super impose)
    • AF confirmation mark
    • AF lock
    • Auto bracket
    • Battery check
    • Exposure compensation indicator
    • Exposure compensation value indicator
    • Exposure level indicator
    • Exposure mode
    • Flash
    • FP flash
    • IS activating mode
    • Metering mode
    • Number of storable sequential pictures
    • White balance
    • Level Gauge
    • Highlight & Shadow
    • Live Pre-view function
    • Histogram
  • Brightness adjustment

    +/‑ 7 levels

  • Correction of colour temperature

    +/‑ 7 levels

Live View

  • Displayed information

    • Aperture
    • Shutter speed
    • Auto bracket
    • AE lock
    • Focus mode
    • Shooting mode
    • Battery check
    • IS activating mode
    • Internal temperature warning
    • Face / Eye detection mode
    • Record mode
    • ISO
    • Sequential shooting mode
    • White Balance
    • Metering mode
    • Exposure compensation value
    • AF frame display
    • AF confirmation mark
    • Shooting information
    • Spot metering area
    • Super FP
    • Flash status
    • Touch Panel Condition
    • Focal length
    • Eye-Fi condition
    • Flash mode
    • Histogram
    • Level Gauge
    • Highlight & Shadow
    • Focus peaking
  • AF type

    Contrast detection autofocus and phase difference detection autofocus

  • 100% field of view

    Approx. 100%

  • Magnification levels

    5 / 7 / 10 / 14x

Image Stabiliser

  • Type

    Sensor shift

  • Modes

    Five‑dimensional, vertical or horizontal activation

  • Effective Compensation Range

    Up to 5 EV steps

  • Up to 4 EV steps (CIPA)

Focusing System

  • Method

    High‑speed imager AF (Contrast detection / Phase‑difference detection)

  • Focus areas

    81 points / All target, Group target (9‑areas), Single target (normal), Single target (small)

  • 37 points / Phase‑difference detection AF ‑ All target, Group target (9‑areas), Single target (normal), Single target (small)

  • 800 points / Manual selection in Magnified View Mode

  • AF lock

    Yes , Locked by first position of shutter release button in single AF mode, AE/AF lock button (customised)

  • Modes

    • Manual focus
    • Single AF
    • Continuous AF
    • Single AF + MF
    • AF Tracking
  • AF illuminator


  • Full time AF


  • Manual focus

    Yes , With enlarged focusing area

  • Face Detection extension

    • Eye Detect AF: Off
    • Left side priority
    • Near side priority
    • Right side priority
  • Predictive AF


  • AF tracking

    Yes , Available in continuous AF mode

Exposure System

  • Modes

    • Programme automatic
    • Aperture priority
    • Shutter priority
    • Manual
    • Bulb
    • Time
    • i-Auto
    • Scene Modes
    • Art Filter
    • Photo Story
  • Exposure compensation

    +/‑ 5EV ( 1, 1/2, 1/3 steps )

  • Exposure bracketing

    2 / 3 / 5 frames ( +/‑ 1/3, 2/3, 1 EV steps )

  • 7 frames ( +/‑ 1/3, 1/2, 2/3 EV steps )

  • ISO bracketing

    3 frames ( 1/3, 1/2, 1 EV steps )

  • AE lock


  • My Mode

    4 settings storable

  • Enhancement function

    Shadow Adjustment Technology

Scene Modes

  • Number of scene modes


  • Modes

    • Portrait
    • e-Portrait
    • Landscape
    • Landscape with Portrait
    • Macro
    • Sports
    • Night Scene
    • Night Scene with portrait
    • Children
    • High key
    • Low key
    • Digital Image Stabilisation
    • Nature Macro
    • Candle
    • Sunset
    • Documents
    • Panorama
    • Fireworks
    • Beach and Snow
    • Fisheye converter
    • Macro converter
    • 3D
    • Wide converter
    • Hand-held Starlight


  • Max. number of frames

    2 frames (shooting)

  • 3 frames (editing)

  • Auto gain control


  • Frame assistance

    Live View

Light Metering

  • Method

    TTL open aperture light metering

  • Zones

    324 zones Multi‑pattern Sensing System

  • Detection range

    0 ‑ 20 EV (17mm f2.8, ISO 100)

  • Modes

    • ESP light metering
    • Spot metering
    • Centre weighted metering
    • Highlight
    • Shadow

Art Filter

  • Modes

    • Pop Art
    • Soft Focus
    • Pale & Light Colour
    • Light Tone
    • Grainy Film
    • Pin Hole
    • Diorama
    • Cross Process
    • Dramatic Tone
    • Gentle Sepia
    • Key Line
    • Water colour
  • Variation / Effect


Photo Story

  • Modes

    • Fun Frame
    • Standard


  • Auto

    ISO LOW ‑ 25600 (customisable, default ISO LOW ‑ 1600)

  • Manual

    ISO LOW ‑ 25600 in 1/3 or 1 EV ISO steps


  • Shutter type

    Computerised focal‑plane shutter

  • Self timer

    2s / 12s

Shutter Speeds

  • Shutter speed range

    1/8000 ‑ 60s (in 1/3, 1/2, 1 EV steps)

  • Bulb mode

    Up to 30 minutes (selectable longest time in the menu, default: 8 minutes)

White Balance

  • AUTO WB system

    Advanced detection system with Live MOS sensor

  • Manual White balance (One-Touch)


  • White balance bracketing

    3 frames / +/‑ 2, 4, 6mired steps

  • One-touch white balance

    2 custom settings can be registered

  • Custom WB

    1 setting can be registered at Kelvin temperature (2000K ‑ 14000K)

  • Preset values

    • Tungsten
    • Flourescent 1
    • Sunlight
    • Flash
    • Overcast
    • Shade
    • Underwater
  • Auto Flash adjustment

    Off / Auto WB / Flash

  • Keep warm colour

    On / Off

Sequence Shooting

  • Speed (H)

    Approx. 10fps

  • Speed (L)

    6.5fps (IS off), 3.5fps (IS on)

  • Max. number of frames

    50 frames (RAW)

  • Up to card capacity (JPG / Large Normal mode)

  • Conditions

    Memory card: Toshiba SDXC UHS‑I card R95 W80 model Premiugate series "Class 10" 8GB

  • Note: Depending on shooting conditions, the sequential shooting speed may reduce speed during shooting.

Image Processing

  • Colour space

    sRGB / AdobeRGB

  • Sharpness + Contrast

    5 levels

  • Contrast

    5 levels

  • Saturation

    5 levels

  • Black & White filter

    Yellow, Orange, Red, Green

  • Black & White toning

    Sepia, Blue, Purple or Green in Black & White mode

  • Picture mode

    i‑Enhance, Vivid, Natural, Portrait, Muted, Monotone, Art Filter

  • Gradation

    4levels (auto, high key, normal, low key)

  • Engine

    TruePic VII

  • Art Filter bracketing


  • Tele converter effect


Internal Flash

  • Modes

    • AUTO
    • Manual
    • Manual (Full, 1/4, 1/16, 1/64)
    • Red-eye reduction
    • Slow synchronisation with red-eye reduction
    • Slow synchronisation
    • Slow synchronisation 2nd curtain
    • Fill-in
    • Off
  • Type

    Detachable flash (bundled)

  • Flash compensation

    +/‑ 3 EV ( 1/3, 1/2, 1 EV steps )

  • Guide number

    10 (ISO 200)

  • X-sync speed


External Flash Control

  • X-sync speed

    1/250s / 1/4000s (Super FP Mode)

  • Type


  • Modes

    • Auto
    • Red-eye reduction
    • Slow synchronisation
    • 2nd curtain and slow synchronisation
    • Fill-in for exclusive flash
    • Manual
  • Intensity

    +/‑ 3 EV ( 1/3, 1/2, 1 EV steps )

  • Note: Some functions are only available if they are supported by the external flash.

Wireless Flash Control

  • Number of channels

    4 channels

  • Compatible external flash

    FL‑36R, FL‑50R, FL‑300R, FL‑600R

  • Control method

    Triggered and controlled by built‑in flash light

  • Group setting

    4 groups

  • Available when used together with cameras compatible with the Olympus wireless RC flash system.


  • Monitor type

    Tiltable LCD ‑ Touch Panel

  • Monitor size

    7.6cm / 3.0'' (3:2)

  • Resolution

    1037000 dots

  • Brightness adjustment

    +/‑ 7 levels

  • Colour balance

    +/‑ 3 levels Vivid (default) / Natural

Level Gauge

  • Detection


  • Display

    Rear display and viewfinder

Super Control Panel

  • Displayed information

    • Battery indicator
    • Record mode
    • Shutter speed
    • Aperture value
    • Exposure compensation indicator
    • ISO
    • AE bracketing
    • AF frame
    • Focus mode
    • AEL notification
    • Face detection
    • Number of storable frames
    • Metering mode
    • Exposure mode
    • Exposure level view
    • Flash compensation value
    • Colour space
    • Gradation
    • Colour saturation compensation value
    • Sharpness compensation value
    • Contrast compensation value
    • White balance
    • White balance compensation value
    • Noise reduction
    • Flash mode
    • Drive mode
    • Internal temperature warning
    • Histogram

Recording Formats

  • RAW


  • RAW & JPEG

    Yes parallel recording

  • JPEG


  • Aspect ratio

    4:3 / 3:2 / 16:9 / 6:6 / 3:4

  • MPO (3D)


Image Size

  • RAW

    4608 x 3456 compressed / 17MB / frame

  • 4608 x 3456 Fine (compression: 1/4) / 7.5MB / frame

  • 4608 x 3456 Normal (compression: 1/8) / 3.5MB / frame

  • 2560 x 1920 Normal (compression: 1/8) 1.1MB / frame

  • 1024 x 768 Normal (compression: 1/8) / 0.4MB / frame

Still Image Recording

  • EXIF


  • PIM


  • DPOF


  • DCF


Movie Recording System

  • Recording format

    MOV(MPEG‑4AVC/H.264), AVI(Motion JPEG)

  • Image Stabilisation Mode

    Yes Sensor shift

  • HD Movie quality

    Full HD 1920 x 1080 (16:9) 30p, 24Mbps (MOV)

  • Full HD 1920 x 1080 (16:9) 30p, 16Mbps (MOV)

  • HD 1280 x 720 (16:9) 30p, 12Mbps (MOV)

  • HD 1280 x 720 (16:9) 30p, 8Mbps (MOV)

  • HD 1280 x 720 (16:9) / 30fps (AVI Motion JPEG®)

  • Movie quality

    640 x 480 / 30fps (AVI Motion JPEG®)

  • 29min (17Mbps)

  • 14min (SD) / 7min (HD) (AVI Motion JPEG®)*

  • Max. file size

    4GB (AVCHD)

  • 2GB (Motion‑JPEG)

  • Exposure Modes

    • Aperture priority
    • Art Filter
    • Manual
    • Programme automatic
    • Shutter priority
  • * Some Art Filters are excluded

  • Movie effects

    • Multi shot echo
    • One shot echo

Sound Recording System

  • Internal microphone


  • Recording format

    Stereo PCM/16bit, 48kHz, Wave Format Base

  • External microphone


  • Image footage


  • Speaker


  • Microphone functions

    • Wind Noise Reduction
    • Recording Volume

View Images

  • Modes

    • Index
    • Calendar
    • Zoom
    • Slide show
    • Movie
    • Single
  • Light box


  • Histogram in playback mode


  • Shooting information

    Off / On

Erase / Protect / Copy Function

  • Erase modes

    Single, All, Selected

  • Image protect mode

    Single frame, Selected frames, All Frames, Release protect (Single/All selected)

Image Editing

  • RAW data edit


  • Red-eye reduction


  • Sepia


  • Black & White


  • Resize


  • Correction of saturation


  • Shadow Adjustment


  • Trimming


  • e-Portrait



  • Menu languages in camera

    English, French, German, Spanish, Italian, Russian, Czech, Dutch, Danish, Polish, Portuguese, Swedish, Norwegian, Finnish, Croatian, Slovenian, Hungarian, Greek, Slovak, Turkish, Latvian, Estonian, Lithuanian, Ukrainian, Serbian

Customisation Options

  • Fn Button


  • My Mode

    4 settings storable

  • Factory reset

    Full / Standard

  • Programmable button



  • Media

    SD Memory Card (SDHC, SDXC, UHS‑I compatible) Class 6 is recommended for Movie shooting

  • HDMI™

    Yes Micro connector (Type D) *

  • USB 2.0 High Speed


  • Combined V & USB output

    Yes NTSC or PAL selectable

  • Microphone jack

    3.5 ø mm mini‑jack

  • Connection

    Accessory Port 2

  • Synchro socket


  • Wireless connectivity

    • Bluetooth®
    • WiFi
  • * "HDMI", the HDMI logo and "High‑Definition Multimedia Interface" are trademarks or registered trademarks of HDMI Licensing LLC.

Wi-Fi Functions

  • Easy Connection

    QR code setting

  • Wireless Shooting

    • Live View
    • Power off
    • Rec View
    • Self timer
    • Touch AF & Shutter
    • P/A/S/M exposure modes
    • Bulb mode

Other Features

  • Weatherproof


  • Dustproof


  • Freezeproof

    Freezeproof down to ‑10°C

Power Supply

  • Battery

    Lithium‑Ion Battery

  • Sleep mode

    1, 3, 5, 10 min. and off selectable.

  • Live View shooting

    Approx. 330images (50% with Live View)


  • Temperature

    ‑10 ‑ 40°C operating temperature / ‑20 ‑ 60°C storage temperature

  • Humidity

    30 ‑ 90% operation humidity / 10 ‑ 90% storage humidity


  • Dimensions (W x H x D)

    130.4 x 93.5 x 63.1mm (without protrusions)

  • Weight

    497g (including battery and memory card)

  • 443g (body only)

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