The OM-1 is back – almost fifty years after the introduction of the classic Olympus chandelier, the name OM-1 suddenly returned to the debut mirrorless camera from OM Digital Solutions.
It may be called the OM-1, but the new Micro Four Thirds camera really is a sequel Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark III from the beginning of 2020. That means it lacks the vintage style of its original predecessor, but the new OM-1 brings a lot of its own innovations.
Wait, aren’t Olympus cameras dead?
Yes, or so we thought. In June 2020, the company sold its imaging unit to an investment fund. This foundation created the new OM Digital Solutions company, which created a new OM System subbrand for all of its new cameras and lenses. That was the end of Olympus cameras – to this day. Since the original Olympus OM-1 SLR, released in 1972, is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year, the new owners have been able to use the Olympus brand on the latest camera. This explains why the new OM-1 has the names Olympus and OM System on its case. But this is definitely the latest camera under the Olympus brand (we think).
The OM OM-1 system, which is based on the new BSI Live MOS sensor with 20 MP resolution and TruePix X engine, improves the performance of the Micro Four Thirds camera by a step or two and is mainly focused on landscape, wild and macro photographers.
Because the sensor is a “folded” chip design that provides fast read speeds, the OM-1 can shoot series without dimming at 50 frames per second with continuous autofocus (via electronic shutter), and records 4K / 60p video from 10 -Inner color depth of bits 4: 2: 2.
The small Achilles heel of the previous E-M1 series cameras, autofocus performance, has also been significantly updated. The OM-1 has 1,053 phase AF points and promises Quad Pixel AF with software tracking for a variety of objects, from birds to motorcycles. There is even AF tracking for trains and helicopters.
So what other sweets does the new Olympus bring, or rather the OM System, the OM-1? Read on to learn all about this exciting mirrorless camera and our first thoughts on its prospects.
Release date and price OM System OM-1
The OM OM-1 system will be available for purchase in early March for $ 2,199/1999 (approximately A $ 3,800) for the body only.
This is a pretty big jump over the price Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark IIIwhich was launched for $ 1,799.99 / £ 1,599.99 / AU $ 3,099, but the OM-1 also inherited features from Olympus OM-D E-M1X (which had a starting price of $ 2,999 / £ 2,799).
You will also be able to purchase the OM OM-1 system with a complete M.Zuiko Digital ED 12-40mm F2.8 PRO II lens. This set will cost $ 2,799 / £ 2,499 (about AU $ 4,750) and will also be available in early March.
Overall, this price is about what we expected from the OM OM-1 system, although it puts it in a potentially challenging position among nearby competitors. The Fujifilm X-T4for example, currently only $ 1,699 / £ 1,399 / 1999 Australian dollars just for the body, which is an attractive price despite the old technology.
Full-frame cameras like Canon EOS R6 ($ 2,499 / £ 2,499 / AU $ 4,499) is also not too expensive than the OM-1. Of course, the size of the sensor is not all, but the performance of the OM-1 should reinforce its claims if current voters are not going to choose one of these competitors (if they have not already done so).
OM System Design OM-1
The OM OM-1 system is physically almost identical to the Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark III, except for the upgraded electronic viewfinder (EVF) and rear screen.
Because the E-M1X does not have a built-in battery handle, it is a small lightweight camera that weighs only 599 g (without lens). It is slightly thicker than the E-M1 Mark III, at a depth of 72.7 mm, but only a few millimeters.
The main differences between the controls and its spiritual predecessor are the dials – instead of being located on the top plate, you will now find them on the front and back of the camera. This is a more traditional setup that will be well known to professionals. There is also a new AF-On button on the back.
The big improvement of the E-M1 Mark III is the OLED EVF OM-1, which has a resolution of 5.76 million pixels (or 1600×1200) with a magnification of 1.65x and a refresh rate of 120 frames per second. On paper this puts his viewfinder on a par with such cameras Canon EOS R5and outperforms competitors like Fujifilm X-T4 and Canon EOS R6.
OM OM-1 system: cut off the chase
* What is it? A new generation Micro Four Thirds camera
* How much will it cost? 2199 US dollars / 1999 pounds (about 3800 Australian dollars) for the body only.
* When will it come out? Beginning of March.
Olympus cameras have always been known for their durability, and it’s also one of the OM-1’s calling cards. It is the only camera in the world with an IP53 rating, which means that it is highly resistant to water splashes, dust and cold. In fact, OM Digital claims that the camera is completely frost-resistant if you want to make a timelapse in Antarctica.
Although the OM-1 unfortunately does not support new CFexpress cards, you will find two slots for UHS-II cards. OM Digital has also made a new battery for the camera called the BLX-1, which is a large case with a capacity of 2280 mAh that can capture up to 520 images from charging. Theoretically, you should be able to get much more than this in the field, although we will need to test this.
Autofocus and OM OM-1 system functions
The key to improving the performance of the OM OM-1 is a combination of a 20-megapixel BSI Live MOS sensor and a TruePix X processor. Together, this gives it a shot that in most parameters is bigger and more expensive than the 2019 E-M1X.
So what exactly can he do? Olympus claims that the OM-1’s burst shooting can reach an impressive 50 frames per second with continuous autofocus when you use its electronic shutter. Use a mechanical shutter, and this is still the usual limit of 18 frames per second, but you can also achieve 120 frames per second with a single AF focus (when using system professional zoom lenses).
However, the speed of continuous shooting is only part of the story when it comes to sports and wildlife.
For example, the OM-1 buffer reaches 96 raw files (at 50 frames per second) and 92 raw files at 120 frames per second. So it’s less than two seconds of burst shooting or less than a second at top speed before you see a significant slowdown. In other words, you have to be careful when pressing the shutter.
Another important factor is autofocus. The latest Olympus cameras, such as the E-M1X, have proven themselves well in this department, but the OM-1 promises to reach the top level thanks to the design of the Quad Bayer sensor. This means that each photo site is divided into four, giving the OM-1 1053 cross-complete autofocus points throughout the frame (a major upgrade over the E-M1X and E-M1 Mark III).
Combine that with what OM Digital says, it’s improved AI autofocus algorithms for tracking birds, dogs, cats, cars and trains, and you’ll get what should prove to be a very powerful autofocus system. The new OM-1 sensor also apparently provides excellent focusing in low light (up to -8EV), as well as an additional dynamic range stop and even a two-stage noise improvement.
Finally, the OM-1 doubles what was two traditional Olympus products: powerful body image stabilization (IBIS) and computational techniques. Like the E-M1X and E-M1 Mark III, the camera body promises seven stabilization stops (or eight stops combined with the right lens). This no longer overshadows competitors, as the full-frame Canon EOS R5 meets this maximum stabilization, but helps maintain some clever shooting techniques in the OM-1’s camera.
Among them are some familiar favorites that got a boost. For example, the Live ND feature, a virtual neutral density filter that helps you create long shutter speeds without having to screw up real NDs, now goes up to ND64 (about six stops). The Live Composite feature, which is often used for light painting, can now be used by hand.
Smartphone-style processing is also included with built-in focus, which now makes up 15 images in about five seconds for macro-style shots. High-Res Shot processing time has also been reduced: 50-megapixel handheld shots appear to take five seconds. Use a tripod and this mode can also create 80 MP images, although you need to be very careful with the movements in the scene.
OM OM-1 video system
Although the OM OM-1 system offers several video upgrades compared to previous Olympus cameras, it is unlikely that this will be a video power that will interfere Panasonic GH6. This is a camera designed for photographers who also shoot video, not for full-time videographers.
The biggest mistake is the 4K / 120p slow motion mode, but the OM-1 can shoot uncut 4K / 60p video with 10-bit 4: 2: 2 color depth and autofocus. You can also shoot slow motion with 240p resolution in 1080p resolution (with small framing), which can be useful for some b-roll or cut scene videos. The multi-layer sensor means that the shutters, according to OM Digital, need to be significantly reduced.
If you’re ready to use an external monitor like the Atomos Ninja, there’s also a 12-bit raw ProRes video option, and OM Digital also includes an HLG (Hybrid Log Gamma) recording option along with the regular OM-Log400 and Flat. color grader options.
Other minor nuisances, such as the Micro HDMI port and 29-minute recording time, can also annoy filmmakers, but the OM-1 certainly looks more capable than its spiritual predecessors when it comes to video.
Analysis: Worth the name OM-1?
The new OM-1 may share its name with the legendary 1970s film camera, but in all other respects it is the successor to the camera Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark III. And it improves the camera in almost every way.
Of course, this was to be expected, given that two years have passed since the release of the E-M1 Mark III. But is OM-1 enough to stand out in the world of 2022 cameras? Eventually, all of his big competitors fled the threat of smartphones by jumping on a life raft of full-frame cameras.
On paper the OM-1 is definitely competitive for photographers of a certain type, namely for those who love long nature trips to capture landscapes, wildlife and occasional videos on YouTube. It is a camera that combines speed, weather sealing and useful processing techniques in the camera, all in a relatively light system.
This means that it definitely continues the spirit of the original OM-1, a small camera that helped bring film photography to the masses. But it is a pity that the camera does not have some features such as CFexpress card slot and 4K / 120p video. And with stiff competition from the Fujifilm X-T4, Canon EOS R6 and (soon) Panasonic GH6, it may be hard to attract those who aren’t yet fans of Olympus or Micro Four Thirds.
However, we are certainly looking forward to testing its new multi-component sensor and burst capabilities soon.