The new OM-System OM-1 is here. Are you familiar with the camera, but the name isn’t there? That’s because it’s a brand new line of cameras by OM Digital Solutions, which bought the struggling Olympus Imaging division in 2021. The OM-1 is the natural replacement for Olympus and OM-D E-1 Mark III. The OM-1 is the last camera with the Olympus logo across the frame. This is also what we’re hoping to be the first model to feature the brand modern OM-System branding.
A touching tribute to the fifty-year-old Olympus OM-1 35mm SLR and a fitting celebration of the Olympus brand, the OM-1 is a robust camera that is a delight for photographers. Everything we’ve loved about this Olympus Micro Four Thirds system throughout the years has been upgraded to a level that results in a noticeable improvement in every area, such as the speed, handling power, and speed of the AF (and the precision) computing modes.
Notably, it is the very first stacked Micro Four Thirds CMOS sensor. It packs the exact 20MP resolution as previous Olympus sensors – which will be disappointing for some – but the new BSI (backside-illuminated) stacked design offers faster readout speeds and features Quad Pixel AF with 1,053 cross-type AF points that cover the entire sensor. This results in enhanced AF speed and precision as long as you select the correct AF setting for the situation played out before you.
The tracking AF system is far from perfect. Like most cameras like it, the OM-1 allows you to select the kind of subject you wish to track. However, there is a reason why people do not – and face detection isn’t included in the menu. For ease of use, we prefer Nikon’s auto-subject-tracking approach. Additionally, although subject acquisition is more efficient, tracking AF isn’t as stable as other systems when the line of sight is damaged.
OM Digital Solutions claims the new TruePix X image processor is three times more efficient than the earlier versions employed in the Olympus E-M1 Mark III model. We’ve seen the advantages in shooting scenarios, including the twice as rapid HD shot COmputation mode. The readout of the sensor is two times more speedy than the E-M1 III, which reduces the effect of rolling shutters. However, top-of-the-line cameras with full-frame sensors like Nikon Z9 and Sony A1 have better performance. Nikon Z9 and Sony A1 are more efficient.
Continuous shooting with C-AF could be as fast as 10fps with an electronic shutter. It can also be up to 50fps when you are in the silent electronic mode and as high as 120fps when using fixed focus. The increased processor power clears the buffer speedily and allows you to start playing quicker. This is a powerful hit.The stacked camera opens the door to better quality images, especially in low-light and dynamic performances. This is an excellent thing since it’s precisely in these situations when the Micro Four-Thirds camera generally falls short of full-frame.
Use the new sensor, which has been redesigned and improved the camera’s AF technology with a fantastic image stabilization system made possible by sensors capable of reaching 8EV. You’ll have a compact camera which is ideal for handheld photography. Remove the tripod, and then remove the lens filters on the tripod. Bring the camera and lens.
Despite improvements to picture quality but it’s still a typical Micro Four Thirds issue compared to larger formats, like full-frame. This is because you’re taking single photos without any stacking calculations. As with smartphones with algorithmic modes, the OM-1’s algorithms can help close the gap. Like High-Res photos can increase the resolution to 80MP and produce sharp images; however, it’s intended for still ideas only.
For many amateur photographers, particularly those who shoot wildlife or action, Micro Four Thirds as a Micro Four Thirds format makes the most sense due to super-telephoto lenses, which are sharp and pin-sharp. They can bring you closer to the action without straining your back (or the bank). There is the best lens for any photographer, and its lightweight and compact dimensions are a relief and let you have freedom and flexibility to create. It is among the top cameras sporting a unidirectional design that you can buy and is also one of the best cameras to travel with.
Overall, the cost is quite reasonable for the capabilities it has. OM-System OM-1 offers, but it also means that it’s located between its closest rivals. Fujifilm X-T4, as an example, is being sold for $1,699 or PS1,399 or AU$1,999 body-only, which is an affordable price even though it’s an older model.
Full-frame cameras like Canon’s Canon EOS R6 ($2,499 (US$3,999 PS2,499, or $2,499 in Australia)) are also affordable when compared with the Canon OM-1. The size of the sensor isn’t a factor (as we’ll discover in this post); however, full-frame cameras deliver better quality images without any algorithms and are currently equipped with contemporary lenses.
OM-System OM-1: Design
- Small and comfy design reminiscent of DSLR
- Weatherproofing IP53-rated
- Impressive 5.69m-dot EVF
It’s difficult for you to come across a camera constructed better or more comfortable to hold than the O-1. Its design is similar to that of Olympus’s E-1 cameras. It has a DSLR-like compact design and an oversized handgrip that fits your hand more comfortably than cameras.
If you’ve shot with a camera that belongs to the E-M1 series, you’ll feel familiar with the OM-1’s ergonomics and layout for controlling. This body has been redesigned to have sleek, curvy edges and with a new shutter button and concave AF/Drive modes buttons that could be designed to reduce the chance of pressing them accidentally.
If you require gloves, you may be unable to use the buttons compared to the robust E-M1X camera. It also feels more balanced in hand with the super-telephoto lens. However, the OM-1 is a fantastic all-purpose model and is excellent for super-teles. The addition of the vertical grip will increase its size to the appropriate degree.
This OM-1 is also described as a camera with a muscular build that is compact and small. In contrast to most cameras, it features a weatherproofing function demonstrated by its IP53 ratings. With a professional lens, we weren’t hesitant to shoot with the OM-1 during torrential rain and in the dark streets of London; however, we’re not able to talk about the effects of prolonged exposure to extreme temperatures.
Both models receive an impressive increase in the resolution. For instance, its EVF (electronic viewfinder) is the latest 5.76-million dot on the screen, and the 3-inch vari-angle touchscreen boasts an impressive 1.62-million dot. The EVF is extremely fast to refresh, with 120 frames per second, and is a delight to the photographer. We’d love to see the touchscreen be used as a menu system, but the absence of this function isn’t exactly a good thing; it’s simple to use and great to use to focus on touch.
For menus, the OM-1 introduces an entirely new horizontal layout that uses color codes that permit users to navigate into the menu next by using the dial on the front or browse through the various options on the dial on one side. In general, Olympus users will find the new menu layout simpler to navigate than the previous layout. The items are organized logically, but they don’t contain subheads, so you’ll need to know the sub-groups.
Perhaps as a hint of the future and as a signpost to what OM-System believes is essential to OM-1 shooters. The second choice of menus is dedicated to the computational modes. The menu offers High-Resolution Shot Live ND, Focus Stacking, HDR, and Multiple Exposure modes. We’ll talk about the improvements to these options later in this review.
The curving thumb grip, that’s a stunning design feature, in my opinion, is one of the SD slot card slots. The door is secured by locks that open with ease, and both slots are compatible with UHS-II. The entry is clear OM Digital Solutions believes there’s no need to use the more strong CFexpress type B slot.
The battery’s lifespan is increased by 25% compared to the E-M1 III, with the new BLX-1, which can hold 520 images with a full charge. The camera was in use for quite a while before seeing a drop in the battery’s longevity. It’s a remarkable level of performance, and the OM-1 can be charged when moving around or even when operating by using its USB-C ports. It’s a pity that a fast-charging device isn’t offered, and, aside from one thing, it’s USB charging.
OM-System OM-1 Features and Performance
- Stacked sensors can support up to 50fps high-speed bursts
- Subject-tracking for human animals, birds, as well as vehicles
- Body stabilization, which can offer up to eight stops for compensation
The well-known minor aspects of the OM-1 are the groundbreaking TruePix X image processor and the stackable sensors. Its processor has been improving the capabilities of cameras similar to those used in the Nikon Z9 to the next level. The processor in the OM-1 is believed to be three times faster than its predecessor. When used in actual usage, it was discovered to be over double the speed of E-M1 III in numerous areas.
Images are processed much faster, which means the OM-1 is better than its predecessor, the E-M1 III, for serious action photography. Furthermore, the algorithms are practical as well. If you’ve attempted techniques such as High-Res Shot previously, you have probably experienced waiting to see the final image appear before the user’s eyes. This waiting time has been cut to just a quarter.
Speeds of shooting bursts using continuous AF or AE are now up to 10 frames per second for the mechanical shutter. This can be increased to up to 50fps with electronically controlled shutters. When you don’t need continuous Affinity, then 120fps is achievable. This is quite a bit of power, and it allows sequences to be processed more quickly, and your camera can be prepared to shoot at full speed again with less waiting time.
In addition to processor capacity, The model of computation can be altered with the ability to read at faster speeds. The stacked sensor has a readout speed of 1/122 seconds, which is about half the speed of the sensor inside the Nikon Z9. It is less than half the Nikon Z9 but twice as fast as the one found on the EM-1 III and therefore reduces the impact of rolling shutters by only one stop.
Use it in using the High-Resolution Shot mode. The speed boost can increase resolution from 20MP up to 50MP shooting handheld and up to 80MP with the aid of a tripod (we’ve conducted tests with handheld cameras camera, and it’s a tripod), and the adverse effects of motion are diminished in half.
There’s plenty of room for improvement advantage of High Res Shot is the best to capture still subjects. However, an increase in the speed at which sensors read out can make them more able to adapt to the movement of issues and, theoretically, reduce resolution limitations to obsolete in the future.
Olympus was the first to introduce a range of camera computing modes, and the performance of the methods has increased through the introduction of advanced processing abilities. Since these modes are fundamentally alternatives to the limitations of sensor size, we can think of this as an area in which OM Digital Solutions will look to improve over the coming years.
With the brand new stacked sensor, there’s the Quad-Pixel AF with an all-new 1,053-point, cross-type phase-detect AF array that spans all of. It’s a massive increase in regards to AF areas and the coverage. It also improves overall AF effectiveness by a substantial amount.
Face- and eye-detection AF is already a proven technology in E-M1 cameras, reliably delivering sharp focus on the important features of subjects, but what about tracking AF performance, which has historically had limitations?
To get the most out of tracking AF, the photographer needs to correctly assign the AF area and subject type, for which there’s a choice of birds, animals, people, planes, trains and cars. Separating ‘people’ from the Subject Detection menu, though, seems like a strange choice.
From our experience of photographing people, birds, badgers and deer, the OM-1’s tracking AF is sticky when there’s a clear line of sight to your subject. An ever-morphing box surrounds the body of your subject, with a second box over the eye, giving assurance that all is working well, and checking captured images confirms sharp AF in the majority of cases.
Problems arise when the line of sight is disrupted. We’ve found that tracking AF loses its stickiness when the subject is partially obstructed – for example, a bird surrounded by tree branches. In such cases, we opted for a smaller autofocus area for more accurate focus, which is easily done using the rear joystick or touchscreen.
For all its bells and whistles, we can’t shake the feeling that we haven’t gotten the most out of the AF system and need more practice with it. It somehow doesn’t feel as intelligent as others, and right now the OM-1 doesn’t live up to the best tracking AF systems from Nikon, Sony and the like, although the progress is there to see.
Still, it’s an excellent all-round performer, complemented by one of the most effective image stabilization systems on the market. Now rated up to 8EV (depending on the lens in use), the OM-1 can give you sharp handheld photos at ridiculously slow shutter speeds. Letting you capture more light by extending your shutter speed is one of many ways that the OM-1 can counter the performance limitations of its Micro Four Thirds sensor in low light.
OM System OM-1: image and video quality
- 20.4MP stacked Micro Four Thirds sensor
- ISO range of 200-25,600 (expandable to ISO 80-102,400)
- Shoots 4K-60p with 10-bit color depth
It’s been many years since we first saw a 20MP Micro Four Thirds sensor, which is the resolution of the sensor in the E-M1 III and now the OM-1. So have we reached peak Micro Four Thirds image quality? Well, resolution isn’t everything, and the new stacked sensor and latest processor indirectly improve image quality, especially by way of the multi-shot modes.
The ISO 200-25,600 sensitivity range can be extended to ISO 80-102,400, though for single-shot images we’d approach the OM-1 in a similar way to the E-M1 III, happily shooting up to ISO 6,400.
You’ll get best image quality by staying between ISO 200 to ISO 1,600, and you’ll see a slight improvement over the EM-1 III in handling noise up to ISO 25,600. Another welcome improvement is that JPEG noise reduction appears less aggressive and more refined than before.
Multi-shot modes potentially offer the biggest leap forward in image quality, and have whetted our appetite for more.
These modes combine several pictures for various effects; for example, Live ND ‘fakes’ a long exposure now up to 6EV, while Focus Stacking increases depth of field. And while you may use High Res Shot primarily to improve resolution, it also increases dynamic range significantly.
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To gain the best video image quality from the OM-1, the H.265 format unleashes 4K 10-bit up to 60fps. In this format, you get the choice of OM-Log or Hybrid Log Gamma, and we didn’t notice any drop in quality between 30p and 60p recording. It’s impressive stuff, and a solid upgrade. If you engage image stabilization – crucial for smooth handheld videos – then a small crop is applied to the 4K image area.
The OM-1 may not offer the same level of video handling features as a camera like the Panasonic Lumix GH6, but outright video image quality is excellent, and this is a supremely capable hybrid camera.
Should I buy the OM System OM-1?
If our OM System OM-1 review has you wondering about alternatives, here are three rivals to consider.