Best Compact Interchangeable-Lens Cameras: Olympus OM-D E-M1

Sections: Point and Shoot

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Olympus-OM-D-E-M1-reviewTo answer the demand for a compact system camera as powerful as a professional DSLR, Olympus unleashed its flagship OM-D E-M1—a worthy Micro Four Thirds-format successor to its E-5 DSLR. A high-performance tool in a take-anywhere, lightweight body, the E-M1 is designed for incredible speed and the image quality to rival full-frame DSLRs.

The camera works seamlessly with all Zuiko Digital lenses, in addition to working with Micro Four Thirds M.Zuiko Digital lenses, so you can choose from 32 Olympus lenses and 57 lenses from other Four Thirds consortium members. With its new 16.3-megapixel Live MOS image sensor, dual autofocus that combines contrast- and phase-detection AF, 1/8,000-sec mechanical shutter, and 10-frames-per-sec sequential shooting, you’ll never miss a shot.

The new “Dual Fast AF” system selects the ideal method for you, depending on lens type and settings, to maximize the performance of both Zuiko and M.Zuiko lenses. And you can select group target AF for a variety of situations, small target AF for pinpoint shooting, or super spot AF for capturing small subjects or specifying a small focus area during macro shooting.

For fast action, the camera shoots at a top speed of 10 frames per second, while its 1/8,000-sec mechanical shutter freezes fast-moving subjects and works in bright conditions to create pictures with dramatic blur.

You’ll appreciate the camera’s 2×2 dial control system to easily adjust four often-used functions with the camera’s lever or two dials: aperture/shutter speed, exposure compensation, ISO speed, and white balance. A built-in grip makes shooting with Four Thirds lenses more comfortable, and all frequently accessed buttons are logically laid out. A dedicated mic-in jack supports an external microphone when recording Full HD movies, and a built-in X-sync socket easily connects to studio strobes.

You’ll marvel at the E-M1’s electronic viewfinder (EVF) that is as large as a full-frame DSLR’s viewfinder and has added creative control. With the 1.48x magnification, high-resolution EVF, tracking moving subjects is completely natural—with a display time lag of only 0.029 second. And with the effects of camera settings viewable prior to capturing the finished image, you can experiment with aspect ratio, magnification, color, and highlight and shadow, to take your photography to the next level.

The E-M1 also offers a new color creator tool that fine-tunes hue and color saturation using its GUI and live view screen, enabling you to create original images imbued with your choice of colors. The hue can be adjusted in 30 steps, and color saturation can be adjusted in eight steps.

Other features include: built-in five-axis image stabilization with a multi-motion IS mechanism that reduces the effects of camera motion and image blur from five directions, for stills and video; Diorama II, which adds to the popular range of Olympus art filter effects; two variations of HDR (high dynamic range) shooting that automatically merge two shots into a single HDR high-contrast image or super-high-contrast image; photo story mode that lets you capture a scene from multiple viewpoints and combine the images into a unique collage in-camera; and time-lapse movie that converts a series of pictures taken using interval shooting into a movie inside the camera.

The OM-D E-M1 is also equipped with a built-in Wi-Fi function. When using the Olympus Image Share app, the remote function lets you fully control the camera’s shutter speed, aperture, ISO, live bulb shooting and more all from your smart device. Images can easily be shared, and location information obtained with a smart-device can be added to images.

The magnesium alloy OM-D E-M1 offers dustproof, splashproof, and freezeproof capabilities down to 14°F—for the best environmental resistance of any Olympus interchangeable-lens camera.

The Olympus OM-D E-M1 sells for $1,399.99, body only. It is available in black.

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