CNET First Look
Olympus OM-D E-M1 packs a lot into its small bodyIt's a great, feature-laden and weather-sealed camera that's fast and delivers high-quality photos and videos.
Hi. I'm Lori Grunin, from CNET. And this is the Olympus OM-D E-M1. The E-M1 is a great Micro Four Thirds camera. It's got an entirely new 16-megapixel sensor that doesn't have one of those blurring antialiasing filters, and it has a new combo Phase-detection Contrast Autofocus System, that's designed to make shooting with the company's older Four Thirds lenses a lot faster. That of course does require a mount adapter. The magnesium-alloy body is freeze-proof down to 14 degrees, and weather-sealed. And though the buttons feel a bit mushy, the camera overall, feels really solid and substantial. With a grip big enough to make use in a mid-sized Four Thirds lens, pretty comfortable. I also really like the new 12 to 40 millimeter F28 lens that Olympus made to pair with this camera, and it's the first of its Pro line of lenses. And has great build-quality, and great image-quality, and a manual focus cuff that you slide, to enable, or disable manual focus on a custom settings button. The body design has some nice touches, like the toggling-locking mechanism on the mode dial that you don't have to hold down while you twist simultaneously. And the novel interface for fast color and white balance adjustment and effects, which the company dubs, Color Creator. There are tons of useful features including WiFi, Timelapse in Auto HDR, along with Olympus' nice 17 camera effects and filters. Both the EVF and the tilting touchscreen LCD are bright and contrast, they're very good. The camera could use a second card slot though. There are a gazillion ways to program the controls. Many of which can also take context sensitive settings based on, this lever. In fact, there are so many ways to program the body, it's hard to keep track if you're not using it constantly. Although the image quality is excellent, Olympus earns my double facepalm award for its default settings. Out of the box, Fine JPEG is your best option. And those are pretty disappointing. But there is a setting, hidden in the custom menus to enable a Super Fine JPEG. Given the price of this camera, that should be the default, and it's ridiculous that it's not even visible. Performance is excellent as well, though I really didn't get to test it with this best quality JPEG with effects on RAW, so it should be comparable. The autofocus system operates quickly and generally pretty decisively. And though using the slow Four Thirds lenses hold it back a little; it's still fast enough for most needs. You can even burst with about 40 shots, with full autofocus at 6.5 frames per second. The one disappointment is battery life, which is bane of interchangeable lens cameras. Thanks to power-sucking LCD's EVFs the name of systems. While it's really a great camera for the money, with excellent RAW photo quality, a host of useful features, and speedy performance, I ended up docking the OM-D, and wanna point in design for its needlessly complicated configuration options, and its support choices for defaults. I'm Lori Grunin, and this the OM-D E-M1.