Olympus OM-D E-M1X – Awesome features and my first impressions

The wait is over – here it is – the new addition to the Olympus E-M1 series.  The OM-D E-M1X!

So let’s get this out of the way, right up front…  in case you don’t know, I am an Olympus Visionary. So yes – I am sponsored by Olympus.  Olympus did not pay me to make this video.  They did give me this sample camera to try out.  All of the opinions and ideas in this video are my own.  My goal is to simply inform you about the new camera and, even more importantly, the cool technology that this camera brings to market. You’ll be able to see me use the camera and see my results in upcoming tutorial videos.

I am really excited about this camera.  The E-M1X joins the E-M1 Mark II as part of a duo of flagship cameras for Olympus.  This camera has been designed with a tremendous amount of input from professional photographers around the world.  I know because I was one of them.  Designed with working pros and serious to advanced amateurs in mind, this camera is probably the most feature-packed camera on the market today.

The E-M1X Specs

Download the full spec sheet here

Now I’ve seen a lot of comments online from people who are concerned about Olympus making a bigger camera.  I think you are missing the bigger picture.  Yes – this camera is the biggest Olympus camera on the market.  NO – it is not nearly as big as many of the rumor websites were claiming it is. It is just barely bigger than the E-M1 Mark II with the powered grip.

More importantly, if we look backwards – we can see the future.  The first computer took up a large room.  Now we carry computers in our back pockets and on our wrists that have much more power and ability than that very first one.  I believe that the cutting-edge technology that is being released in the E-M1X will eventually find its way into smaller and lighter cameras and allow all photographers to continue to create in ways that we haven’t previously imagined.

The big ergonomic feature of the E-M1X is the built-in vertical grip. Now the camera holds two BLH-1 batteries. Yes – the same batteries as the E-M1Mark II.

What I love about this grip design is that the Olympus engineers went to great lengths to make sure that the feel of the camera and the placement of the buttons and dials is exactly the same in both the horizontal and vertical grip positions.  Now in addition,  Olympus went to great lengths to make the controls of the camera more usable without having to look at them.  The shape and height of all the buttons is different so that you have a more tactile experience and can keep your eye on the viewfinder.

Oh – and about the batteries… you can charge the batteries even with the camera attached to a monopod or tripod. Better yet – you can charge the batteries in the camera using USB-C power delivery from a maximum 100 W USB-C standard power source with no special adapter required. This makes it possible to charge the two BLH-1 batteries in the camera body in approximately two hours.  How cool is that? No electric? Carry one of these in your camera bag and you’re good to go.

This camera is built like a beast.  It has a lightweight all-metal magnesium alloy body and it’s completely weather sealed.  The E-M1X has an IPX1 rating which means it’s been fully tested and certified to withstand direct contact with water for an extended period of time without fail.  The E-M1X is dust-proof, splash proof, and freeze proof to 14 degrees.

It features the same 20.4mp sensor as the E-M1 Mark II. However, it has Dual True Pic VIII image processors to allow for instantaneous start-up time, crazy fast processing power, and support for the two high-speed UHS-II SD card slots. Now this not only contributes to a faster camera, but also supports new camera functionality, including the Handheld High Res Shot Mode, Live ND, and Intelligent Subject Detection Autofocus features – more about those in a minute.  These two quad core processors – yes – I said two processors – allow the E-M1X to shoot at up to 15 frames per second with the mechanical shutter and an incredible 60 frames per second with the completely silent electronic shutter.

Now, Olympus has been known for incredible in-body image stabilization but in the E-M1X they’ve taken it to another level with a new gyro sensor.  The 5 axis image stabilization on the EM1-X – when paired with certain PRO lenses like the 12-100mm – will now give up to 7.5 stops of compensation.  This surpasses anything else on the market and with a little effort, it means that you can shoot hand-held stills up to 4 seconds without a tripod.

Auto Focus

Okay, let’s talk about one of the most amazing pieces of technology in the E-M1X: the autofocus. Like the E-M1 Mark II this camera uses 121-Point All-Cross-Type On-Chip Phase Detection AF. But that is where the similarities end.  The E-M1X features Intelligent Subject Detection Autofocus.  This is an Artificial Intelligence (AI) based Deep Learning technology that was utilized to develop new algorithms. Currently it detects three different types of subjects, including motorsports, airplanes, and trains, focusing on and tracking the optimal area. For example, it sets pinpoint focus and locks onto the driver’s helmet during a motorcycle race, automatically detecting the subject. The same goes for the cockpit of an airplane, even the front quarter panel of a race car – this stuff is amazing!  This improved autofocus precision allows you to focus on the composition of your shot with the confidence of knowing that the focus is accurate and where it needs to be.   I suspect that we’ll be seeing additional types of subjects added as the learning technology acquires more data.

Olympus also added two autofocus Area Multi Selectors. One for horizontal operation and the other for vertical.  These allow you to quickly shift the autofocus area while looking through the viewfinder.  Also – and this is cool – the AF Area Multi-selector allows for diagonal movement of the AF point, where most other cameras only allow for left, right, up and down movement, and in only one direction at a time. This feature makes it possible to smoothly shift AF areas during sequential shooting and video recording.

There are a bunch of new autofocus settings, including multiple AF Target Modes, AF area position settings – which means if your focus spot is in the upper right when you are holding the camera horizontally it’ll automatically move to the upper right when you flip the camera vertically.  There is a new 25-Point Group autofocus Target and Custom AF Targets have been added to allow you to create targets that fit the subjects that you are shooting for great autofocus accuracy.

Handheld High Res Shot Mode

In addition to the 80mp High Res Shot images that can be captured using a tripod, Olympus added a Handheld High Res Shot Mode that will allow you to capture 50mp images – handheld.  Now this is great for capturing high-definition shots in locations where it is impossible to use a tripod.

Live ND

Live ND allows you to shoot slow shutter speed effects without using a neutral density filter. Imagine the waterfall photo where the water is turned into a creamy wave of color because of a neutral density filter and slow shutter speed.  Similar to Olympus Live Composite, this new technology combines multiple exposed images in camera to attain slow shutter speed effects. It’s also possible to check the slow shutter effects in the viewfinder before shooting for improved efficiency.  The effect allows for up to five stops of neutral density compensation.

Olympus Capture

If you shoot tethered like I frequently do, Olympus Capture software now supports the E-M1x with wireless image transfer over wi-fi in both 2.4GHz and 5GHz bandwidths.

And there is more…. actually a lot more. There’s built in GPS, temperature sensor, manometer and compass.  There’s anti-flicker shooting and flicker scan where the camera will match the flicker rate of artificial light sources to suppress the striped patterns that we’re used to seeing.  There’s a new and improved viewfinder with higher magnification, a new sonic wave filter that improves the camera’s ability to remove dust from the sensor, video improvements and, well … I am not a gear reviewer so I am not going to cover every little element.  If you want that information – I can help you, though you can download the full spec sheet here

My thoughts

I love it!  I think you could hear the excitement in my descriptions of the camera.  But let’s be real…  this camera is not for everyone.  It is a camera with incredible technological advancements and clearly has great benefits for action and sports and wildlife photographers.

I do think there will be a lot of photographers like myself who aren’t sports and wildlife shooters who will embrace this camera and find benefit in a lot of its features.  For me the ergonomics, processing speed, autofocus improvements and wi-fi tethering are huge benefits to my workflow.

But at the same time, there are a ton of photographers who shoot Olympus for the small size and weight.  To those photographers I would say don’t worry – while I have no inside information – I am sure that Olympus hasn’t forgotten you and I am confident that we will see the advancements made in this camera in future smaller, lighter cameras.  Olympus has already given us their commitment to continue the development of the micro four thirds system.

Other Announcements

The one that is creating a lot of buzz is that there’s an M.Zuiko 150-400mm PRO lens with a built-in 1.25x tele converter that is currently in development.  We will be able to stretch that range to an astounding 2000mm equivalent focal length with the use of the MC-20 2x teleconverter, which is also being released later this year.   2000mm in a size and weight that you can hand hold – WOW!

Olympus is also releasing along with the E-M1X a new wireless speedlight – the FL-700WR.  Also weatherproof this flash has a guide number of 42 and a quick recycle time of 1.5 seconds on lithium batteries which is pretty amazing for a speedlight.

There is also going to be a Wireless Commander and Receiver that can control and fire multiple flashes from the camera using radio signals – not optical sensors.

Olympus is also releasing Olympus Workspace which is a new image management software that is greatly improved over the old Olympus Viewer 3.

So there you have it – the Olympus OM-D E-M1X.  My fellow Olympus Visionary Jamie MacDonald has posted a video talking about his first 30 days of shooting with the camera and sharing his thoughts and experiences.

Olympus will also be posting a series of videos on their YouTube channel in the coming weeks that will show you how many of the new features work.
And here on my channel you will see tutorials with me using the camera, also in the coming weeks.

Until next time, go pick up that camera and shoot something, because your BEST shot – is your NEXT shot. So keep learning, keep thinking, and keep shooting. Adios!