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Olympus goes pro with the OM-D E-M1X

Create: 02/01/2019 - 11:03
Olympus OM-D E-M1X

HIGHLIGHTS

  • Integrated battery grip allows for double the shot capacity
  • Can shoot at up to 15 frames per second with mechanical shutter and 60 frames per second with electronic shutter
  • Has two slots for full-size SD memory cards.

Olympus continues to set higher goals for its Micro Four Thirds mirrorless camera, and the Olympus OM-D E-M1X is the latest evidence of that effort.

It's been a long time since professional photographers opted for a camera that had Olympus on the viewfinder, and Olympus wants to change that. Olympus clearly states that this camera is intended for professional photographers, as well as those who want a pro-level camera, and its specifications clearly support that. The camera is Olympus’ largest and most expensive in the Micro Four Third era.

For starters, this is the first Olympus Micro Four Thirds body that has a built-in battery grip. That’s right. There is no need to purchase a secondary grip. Using the two included lithium-ion rechargeable batteries, the camera has a shot capacity of 870 or up to 2,580 when using the “Quick Sleep Mode.” More on that later. It can operate with only one battery installed, which can be useful if you need to charge one but still need to take photos.

At the heart of the OM-D E-M1X is a 20.4-MP Live MOS sensor that sends images through Olympus’ Dual TruPic VIII Dual Quad Core processors. The ISO range is 64-6,400, which is extendable to 25,600.

The body has five-axis image stabilization that Olympus says can provide up to 7.0 stops of compensation. The body can work in synch with image-stabilized lenses, including Olympus' own line of optics, which now include the premium PRO series.

The OM-D E-M1X can accept any Micro Four Thirds lens from Olympus, Panasonic or third-party lens maker. As well, there are a prolific number of adapters that permit the use of legacy manual-focus lenses. Expect the camera to take full advantage of the camera and the Micro Four Thirds format when an Olympus PRO lens is mounted to the body.

In addition to the electronic viewfinder, there also is a fully articulating touch-enabled 3.0-inch LCD monitor that provides Live View shooting, as well as a quick way to navigate the many menu items for setting up the camera’s many functions. When shooting with Live View, the photographer can select focus points by touching the screen and take the photos. When reviewing photos, the photographer can enlarge a portion of it with the pinch-zoom technique that is part of smartphone technology.

DUAL MEMORY CARD SLOTS

As evidence of its intent to attract professionals, the OM-D E-M1X has dual slots for full-size SD memory cards. With two cards, images can be written redundantly to both cards or sequentially so that when one fills, the camera switches automatically and writes to the other card. The camera also can copy images from one card to the other. Still images are saved as either RAW or JPG.

Like many cameras, the OM-D E-M1X has both manual and electronic shutters. The range of the manual shutter is 1/8,000 to 60 seconds plus B, while the electronic shutter’s range is 1/32,000 to 60 seconds. The manual shutter is rated for 400,000 actuations.

Flash synchronization occurs at 1/250. The camera does not have a built-in flash but it does have a hot shoe, as well as the ability to synchronize via cable.

The body is weather-sealed against dust and moisture, which will be good news for the pro shooter.

15 OR 60 FPS – YOUR CHOICE

High-speed shooting is possible with the OM-D E-M1X. With the manual shutter, the photographer can take as many as 15 frames per second. When using the electronic shutter, that jumps to a movie-like 60 frames per second. Actually, that is twice the rate at which movies traditionally are recorded (29.97 frames per second).

The OM-D E-M1X can record 4K movies, as expected. A variety of quality and frame rates can be selected. Movies are saved as MOV (MPEG-4AVC/H.264) files. To assist movie makers, the body has both a microphone input and a headphone jack. No single clip can be longer than 29 minutes.

The body has buit-in GPS, as well as Bluetooth connectivity for sharing images. The camera can be controlled remotely wirelessly via WiFi, as well as allowing for tethered control.

Olympus uses USB Type-C and Micro-HDMI Type-D connectivity.

The two lithium-ion batteries can be charged in the camera (must be turned off) via USB or with the AC charger that plugs into the camera. The AC charger does not come with the camera and needs to be purchased separately. However, included are two traditional chargers that require removal of the battery from the camera. Each charger holds one battery.

ABOUT QUICK SLEEP MODE

To conserve battery power, Olympus offers “Quick Sleep Mode,” which is available on some of its other mirrorless cameras. With many cameras, the body shuts off after five minutes. In “Quick Sleep Mode,” the camera can power off most function after as few as three seconds of inactivity. Lightly tapping the shutter release awakens the camera. This allows the camera to further conserve battery power. However, if you can’t afford that fraction of a second that it takes for the camera to return to shooting mode, Quick Sleep Mode can be ignored. By default, it isn’t turned on.

Because this is a Micro Four Thirds mirrorless body, all of this comes in a smaller package, but not as small as its previous cameras. Olympus is stepping outside of its comfort zone with the OM-D E-M1X.

The body is 5.7 x 5.8 x 3.0 inches (144.4 x 146.8 x 75.4mm) and weighs 2.2 pounds (997 grams). That makes it Olympus’ largest and heaviest camera to date. Keep in mind that some of the extra size and weight is because of the integrated battery grip.

Olympus has set a retail price of US$2,999.99 with a release date of late February 2019. At this time, Olympus is selling the body only. It is not offering a package with a body and lens.

About the Author

Mike Elek is a longtime journalist and was one of the original editors for The Wall Street Journal Online. He also has worked as a reporter and editor in Pittsburgh; Philadelphia; Vineland, N.J.; Poughkeepsie, N.Y.; New York City; and Hong Kong. He is a U.S. Air Force veteran. He shoots with film and digital cameras.