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Customer reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
Olympus OM-D E-M1 Compact System Camera Body Only
Style: Body Only|Colour: black|Change

on 8 October 2016
Excellent camera and good price. Very pleased with the pictures it takes. Full of helpful extras to get great photos. Small so not too heavy but very well made. Would recommend.
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on 5 August 2015
excellent. I am very pleased with the camera
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on 20 August 2014
A summary of key points
Compact but Powerful
Class leading stabilisation
Focus Peaking allows use of legacy lenses in MF mode
Live Time great for long exposures.

Grip is overpriced if not included
Complex menus take some navigating to set camera up before 1st use

Based on 10 months usage, as a wedding photographer.

I won't go into details on all the features, as the official blurb and other review sites will do that far better than I can. However, purchasing this shortly after an EM-5, and having used other Olympus DLSR's previously here are some observations:

Body/Build Quality:
Following on from the EM-5, the EM-1 is a sturdy thing. no creaks, no cracks, for flexing. It looks like it has built to last. Mine has taken some punishment over the last 10 months (plenty of weddings, family holiday to the seaside, wild camping) and not let me down once.
I own the grip (free as an early purchaser) but have barely taken it off. With a short prime the camera is well balanced without a grip, but with a larger zoom lens the grip definitely makes handling easier.

EVF (Electronic View finder):
These are the future. While many people say that they want to see through the lens themselves so they see what the camera sees, the EVF has too many advantages for Traditional viewfinders to be around much longer. The EVF displays what the sensor in the camera sees: including exposure information (brightness of the image). With a traditional viewfinder the photographer does not know if the exposure or white balance if perfect until a test shot is taken and viewed on the rear screen with a histogram. The Olympus EVF displays actual exposure of the image, and optionally a superimposed histogram. Shooting a wedding this is such a great tool, for example it allows me to tweak exposure of a white dress in the sun to avoid excessive burning out of the bright parts of the scene BEFORE taking the picture.

Focus Peaking:
In those rare moments when the auto focus struggles (perhaps in the dark for long exposures) or where I want manual control over focus this camera has a focus peaking mode. Using the custom button functions, I press one of the small buttons near the lens mount to activate focus peaking (the other is set to magnify the liveview, another focus aid). When activate, the LCF/Electronic viewfinder draws a line over sharp edges; for example in a portrait, one would typically adjust the focus so these are present around the eyes. This is a great occasional benefit with autofocus lenses, but comes into its own on manual focus lenses (e.g. legacy OM mount lens, or old Nikon/Canon/Minolta lenses one might want to put to use, with appropriate adapters.

Image Stabilisation:
A rule of thumb for sharp images is that the shutter speed should be faster than 1/35mm equiv focal length. e.g. for a 100mm lens (50mm on m4/3) a shutter speed of 1/100 of faster (1/200, 1/400) is required. Olympus claims that the EM-5 image stabilisation helps by 5 stops (so a on a 100mm (35mm equivalent lens) a shutter speed of quarter of a second is required. I am not going to claim this is flawless, but it is certainly very effective most of the time. As the stabilisation is in the camera (most manufactures stabilise the lenses, it is effective even when using a 50 year old lens.

The Olympus menu system is generally not considered intuitive. Having used several of their cameras I don't find it a problem. The first customisation to do is to activate the super control panel (SCP). Once activated, pressing a the OK button on the back displays all the commonly adjusted settings, for fast adjustment. Once that is done, and initial customisation complete, then I rarely delve into all the menus.

Most of the buttons/dials can be tweaked. In manual mode, I have the front dial controlling aperture, rear controlling shutter speed. A convenient button press then lets me tweak ISO via either of the dials without moving the camera from my eye. Another convenient button lets me scroll through white balance settings, again without taking the camera away from my eye.

Other buttons allow me to switch to manual focus, engage focus peaking and magnify the viewfinder in seconds while still watching my subject.

Taking the camera away from my eye I can engage bracket modes (an improved variety of options over earlier Olympus cameras), again without delving into menus.

Live time:
Long exposures can be tricky for camera exposure meters, as typically they are taken in low light due to ambient conditions or ND filters. Placing a 10 stop filter on the EM1 and engaging live view boost allows composition with the filter in place (in a traditional viewfinder the view is black). I choose my aperture and ISO, then open the shutter. As the exposure takes place over seconds/minutes the rear screen shows an image of the photo so far (e.g. starts off black, then slowly the details emerged). When the correct exposure is reached, another press of the shutter button closes the shutter and the image is captured. This is a great time saver of the trial and error methods required normally (sometimes the exposures are minutes long, and on a cold dark night another retake to perfect exposure is not fun).

I rarely used the clip on flash, normally working with speed lights, however it is useful in a pinch.
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on 11 December 2016
I purchased this camera fairly recently (through another retailer) and so far I'm very impressed with it and being a Micro Four Thirds user already I'd only used Panasonic cameras up until now, so this camera was my first foray into Olympus.

And I had only tried one other Olympus camera, the E-M5 Mark II, which I personally didn't care for its handling as I felt it was a pretty uncomfortable camera to hold and use. But I had read the E-M1's handling was far superior and I noticed that it had a more pronounced grip so decided to give it a try and I was not disappointed when I finally got it.

But for the rest of this review I will look at the camera's pros and cons.


Well for starters the camera's handling is great and despite being one of the heaviest MFT cameras out there (497g body only) its build is terrific and it has the feel of a quality camera given that it is weather sealed. The grip is nice and deep and more than pronounced enough to make it comfortable to hold and its definitely one of the best mirrorless system cameras for general handling.

The image quality is also excellent and it produces very nice JPEGs straight out of the camera with plenty of detail and images are very sharp and crisp and the colours are also pretty vibrant. The RAW files are also great and allow for a great deal of customisation in Photoshop or Lightroom, although typically for the RAWs the colours tend to be somewhat more flat and dull.

ISO performance is quite good too for an MFT camera and the images are pretty clean up to ISO 1600 although beyond that you do start to get noise creeping into your shots but this is pretty typical for MFT cameras given their smaller sensor it limits their performance at higher ISOs.

The user menu interface was something I was initially a little weary of but overall I was pleasantly surprised to find that the E-M1 menus are quite easy to use (or easier to use than its given credit for) and to get to grips with. And with the latest firmware updates you get a good layout of options to choose from when hit the "OK" button it brings easy to customise choices for ISO, Screen Ratio, Focus points, File quality settings etc. Navigating the menus within the "menu" button are also fairly well mapped out and not too difficult to get used to either so suffice to say if you like tinkering with menus you shouldn't have much trouble.

The EVF is overall pretty good and being an OLED viewfinder you won't get any rainbow tearing on the screen and its also a good size and the camera's screen too is good although I would have to say its not quite as good as the GX7's as the display isn't quite as sharp or crisp.

Another big bonus for me was also the E-M1's built-in 5-Axis image stabilisation, which works very well although I needed to upgrade to the latest firmware (4.1) to get the best out of it. But I did find myself taking steady shots at around 1/2 second that looked sharp and in focus that would otherwise have been blurry and riddled with camera shake at lowish ISOs e.g. 400 or 500.

I also think Olympus have really refined their image stabilisation alot more than Panasonic have as the IS is far quieter in operation on the E-M1 than the latest Lumix camera models e.g. on the GX80, which has a permanent whispy noise that can sound a bit annoying but the E-M1's IS only makes a noise when you press the shutter button, plus you can switch it off altogether. Perhaps Panasonic will eventally get around to resolving that issue with future firmware updates but we'll see.

Also on another plus note, Olympus deserve alot of credit for providing continual firmware updates for their cameras such as the E-M1 unlike say the Lumix GX7, which has been out for nearly the same amount of time (three years) and firmware support ceased for it in 2014! Poor show from Panasonic if you ask me!

The ergonomics of the camera are also great as the buttons are just all perfectly placed and even though Olympus decide to have the off/on switch placed on the left side of the camera, rather than the right side (like all other manufacturers!) its something you quickly get used to. The PASM dial also has a neat locking button if you press it down, it locks the dial in place and you can depress it again to unlock it and the button also has a reassuringly chunky click when you turn it. The front and rear command dials are also well placed on and they are pretty responsive and again feel quite substantial more so than the somewhat flimsy dials on the GX7 I have. Lastly the position of the SD card door is also a bonus as its positioned on the right side of the camera as opposed to inside the battery compartment like quite alot of other mirrorless cameras, which makes it far more accessible.

The camera also has a pretty good auto-focus system and it has alot more focus points than the GX7 with 81 focus points as opposed to the GX7's 23 so it gives you plenty of scope for focusing when out shooting sports or nature and the S-AF works pretty fast for the most part especially in good light and reasonably so in low light.


As for the cons, well to start off I think while the E-M1's image quality is very good one problem I did have with it is that it blows out the highligts in its pictures quite a bit especially in bright conditions. So to compensate for this I found myself having to reduce the shadows in camera (using the F2 button to access shadows and highlights) which is a minor nuisance but still one that I would have liked not to deal with.

I also found that while taking some pictures of certain textured surfaces such as buildings that it can produce some visible moire in the image that requires to be fixed in post-processing, which again is another annoyance but its not a major one as in most situations the camera still produces good results with this being a problem.

Another problem I had was also to do with the auto-focus in low light, which I found to be less effective than the GX7's autofocus was as quite often in low light situations, the E-M1 would continually hunt for focus before finding it. This makes it far less effective for shooting in low light scenarios although its ok once it locks on but for me its just not quite as good as it should be.

And while I think the E-M1's ergonomics are mostly spot on, the one area it does fall short in was the position of the playback button, which is strangely placed on the bottom right of the camera when I think it would be better placed on the far upper right of the camera as it just feels a bit awkward at times to press when holding the camera in certain ways.

And lastly while I think the camera handles very well with most of my lenses I did find it was a bit uncomfortable with using slightly bigger lenses such as the Olympus 40-150mm telephoto as I felt my wrist was a bit stiff after a short while of using it although perhaps its just getting used to using it with bigger lenses is the case. Regardless of that though I found the E-M1 was perfectly well suited to using my 14-42mm Lumix kit lens and my Olympus primes, which I use for most of my shooting.

Anyway overall I think the E-M1 is a great camera and it is well worth buying and given that its successor, the EM1 Mark II is just about to come out and that it has its own hefty price-tag, the E-M1 represents great value and one of the best mirrorless cameras out there.
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on 13 November 2013
Have used this for about a month now and have to say it has exceeded expectations, despite having previously read every review going. Upgraded from an E-M5, which I'm guessing a few will be considering. Points to consider vs. the E-M5 and generally are :-

i) yes it's larger, but I absolutely had to use the additional landscape grip on the E-M5 or it was ergonomically unusable in my hands. With the grip on the size difference is not significant and the E-M1 doesn't have the inconvenience of having to remove the grip to replace the battery. Also the controls are MUCH better placed (and spaced) on the E-M1, even with the grip added to the E-M5. The 2x2 control layout (the front and back dials have their function changed by flicking the switch next to the viewfinder) means you can easily change most major settings quickly with your right hand - with your eye fixed to the viewfinder. Speaking of which...

ii) the viewfinder is terrific. Large and very detailed. This, combined with the ergonomic control placement, make the camera a joy to use. I used to rely on the rear screen on the E-M5 for quite a few control changes and for reviewing shots, but the EM-1 viewfinder is so good and the control layout so intuitive that I hardly ever use the rear screen. Photos can now be reviewed through the viewfinder, which I prefer and which is not possible on the E-M5. It's a much improved experience. Anyone concerned about transitioning from an optical viewfinder really should go to a camera shop and try this camera before dismissing EVFs.

iii) 1/8000 shutter speed and ISO 100 combine to really help shooting wide open for shallow depth of field in bright conditions. The E-M5 was always maxing out at 1/4000 ISO 200 when using e.g. the Panaleica 25mm f1.4 or Olympus 75mm f1.8 wide open.

iv) depth of field preview button and focus peaking are useful additions.

v) in camera HDR is a little gimmicky for me (and frankly doesn't seem to work that well from the attempts I've made). You'll get much better results bracketing and creating the HDR composite on your computer. The inclusion of art filters and an iAuto mode on a camera aimed at enthusiasts/professionals is also questionable. I suppose if you wanted a friend to take a photo with your camera the iAuto would be useful...

vi) Wi-Fi implementation works well. The remote control function works very well (though it does gives a rather compressed and pixelated feed from the sensor) with the ability to change major settings (aperture, shutter, exposure comp, white balance, ISO, AF type, burst mode and switch between iAuto,P,A,S,M) and take shots by tapping on your chosen focus point on the screen. I initially thought this was a bit gimmicky but then I had a shoot where I needed a high vantage point. I strapped the camera to a beam 20ft up in the ceiling and was able to direct proceedings from ground level and take shots remotely using an iPad. Perhaps not so gimmicky after all. Download of photos from the camera to your phone/tablet is intuitive and once the connection is established first time, it's easy to reconnect, though the quality of the jpegs downloaded this way do not appear to be as good as the standard out of camera JPEGs (presumably to minimise download times). If you are shooting RAW only then you cannot download photos via WiFi.

vii) time lapse function is good to have, though I'm not sure how often I'll use it. The live bulb feature on the other hand, I can see being very useful indeed. It updates the image in real time on long exposures, so you can see exactly where you are up to. No more waiting five minutes only to find out you have over exposed the shot.

viii) general construction and design - fantastic. It feels great in the hand and having used an E-M5 for the previous year, when I now pick up the E-M5 it's really not in the same league. You can run this thing under a tap (as long as the lens is also sealed!) and it will just carry on working. You will definitely not be disappointed with the build quality. Another review suggests that the screen 'scratches incredibly easily' - either the guy has fingers covered in diamond encrusted rings, is incredibly clumsy or he's working for a screen protector manufacturer - I haven't got a single scratch after a months intensive use (though I'm fairly careful), and didn't have a single scratch on the E-M5 screen after a years use.

ix) picture quality. OK I'll have to admit here that any improvements in image quality over the E-M5 are incremental and not revolutionary. You'd be hard pressed to tell the difference in shots taken with both cameras using the same lens. If you only want to upgrade from the E-M5 to the E-M1 for improved image quality then I wouldn't bother. High ISO performance is maybe one stop better. I've done some quick tests and I wouldn't personally recommend going above ISO 1600, though 3200 and even 6400 can yield useable photos, particularly if you convert to B&W where the noise is much less offensive, or if you carefully apply noise reduction and are not printing beyond 5x7. With a fast lens like the 25mm f1.4 shot wide open you'll rarely need to go higher than 1600 anyway.

x) focussing - focus tracking is much improved and the phase detect pixels let me use some legacy 4/3 glass that I have. The 35-100 f2 is an absolute beast of a lens and it works a treat on this body, though you really need the optional vertical grip for the larger 4/3 glass.

xi) IBIS - this implementation of Olympus's five axis sensor shift image stabilising is slightly improved over the E-M5, which means that it is absolutely the best in the business. Great that you can use non stabilised fast lenses like the Panasonic 25mm f1.4 and Voightlanders and take stabilised shots. With good technique I can hand hold at 1/4 - 1/2 second. This, combined with any of the fast primes available, means available light photography is significantly enhanced. This really helps bridge the gap in high ISO performance between 4/3 and full frame sensors - just lower the ISO and let the IBIS do it's thing (as long as you are not photographing moving subjects!)

xii) shutter sound - this is bit subjective but to me it sounds very crisp. It sounds like it means business.

xiii) the tripod mount is off the lens centre, which is not ideal, but hardly a deal breaker. Adding the optional vertical grip sets this straight, as it did with the E-M5.

xiv) should you upgrade if you have an E-M5? If you are using the E-M5 without the landscape grip and small size is important to you, then no. Otherwise if the funds are available I'd say a resounding yes. If money is tight I'd recommend giving this camera a wide berth, because as soon as you hold one and look through the viewfinder, you'll have a hard time going back to the E-M5.

In more generalised terms, the picture quality is comparable to a DSLR for 95% of situations in which I use it. In my view it matches APS-C equipped DSLRs in all aspects of image quality. However if you are shooting a lot in low light then of course a full frame sensor will beat this hands down in high ISO performance. If you are predominantly shooting fast moving sport, then you should also probably go down the DSLR route. If you need really shallow DOF then there is some fantastic fast 4/3 and micro 4/3 glass that will get you great results - again not a match for a full frame, but do you really need to have just one eyelash in focus... As said before, in 95% of situations I find myself using a camera, this thing is just perfect, and the other 5% I can live without as a trade off - I'm far more likely to actually take this camera with me in the first place than I would a huge full frame DSLR with equally massive lenses.

All in all VERY highly recommended.
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on 6 November 2015
Brilliant camera, I have 2 other Oly's , this one is the best, very much a photographers camera, but a novice would be delighted as well cos the auto functions are excellent.
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on 31 May 2015
Great camera though I was used to the EM5 and am finding the changes (like the on-off switch) hard to adjust to as they are on the other side of the body and you can no longer turn it on and off with just one hand. However I ran into a problem with the EM1 (now fixed under guarantee) that is apparently common: the rear dial stopped working efficiently after only a few weeks. Rather disappointing. But all in all these are amazing cameras if you have someone who can help you figure out how to set them up to suit your style as the menu and its millions of configurations are hard to figure out. However, for size, ease and portability with high functions, these cameras can't be beaten.
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on 26 August 2017
Stunning four thirds camera. Lovely gadget, quality images. It's got the lot!
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on 17 December 2015
For best results with jpegs you need to make sure that the noise filter is set to "Off" otherwise the details will be lost in smearing. This is a problem even at ISO 200.
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on 29 March 2015
I have a number of Olympus 4/3 Pro lenses from my slrs. While the ones I use most would work on my M5 with an adaptor, focussing speed was not always of the best. the M1, along with its water resistant adaptor, the MMF-3 (important if you go out in the rain - this is England), allows me to use these excellent optics effectively on a much more portable camera. I got the free battery grip through an offer and the set up is better balanced as a result.
The result is that most of my old slr bodies and quite a few lenses are going (will keep one or two for sentiment) and the main shooting bags now contain OMD's with appropriate lenses including the best I have of the E series (and a 500mm OM cat since Olympus has not produced a good equivalent for 4/3 yet)
After nearly 49 years of shooting Olympus (with occasional purchases of Nikon or Pentax etc. slrs to see if I want a change) they still produce equipment that fits my photographic style. (Not everything from Olympus has been perfect over the years.)
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