The original Four Thirds System was introduced in 2003 based around a 17.3x13.0mm image sensor that was smaller than the 23.6x15.6mm APS-C sensors used in most DSLRs of the time. The idea was that by designing a system around a smaller sensor, the camera and lenses could be considerably smaller and lighter than the APS-C cameras and lenses, while producing excellent image quality through lenses designed specifically for that sensor.
That first Four Thirds camera, the Olympus E-1 pro DSLR, wasn't all that much smaller than contemporary APS-C cameras. More than a dozen Four Thirds models followed, compact, but not so much more so that they dented the APS-C market share. So, in 2008, the Four Thirds consortium introduced Micro Four Thirds. Based around the same 17.3x13.0mm sensor, the MFT cameras did away with the SLR's bulky (and costly) mirror, mirror box, focusing screen and pentaprism or pentamirror finder, replacing them with electronic viewfinders or just the external LCD monitor. This cut down camera size noticeably. Two MFT body styles were available: "mini-DSLR," which looked like a DSLR, only much smaller; and "flat compact," which resembled a typical compact digital camera.
Back to the present, Olympus has announced the successor to the E-5, the last of the MFT DSLRs. And its replacement, the new OM-D E-M1, is also the flagship model in Olympus' MFT line: a "mini-DSLR" with a rugged freeze-, dust- and splashproof body, a state-of-the-art, 16.3-megapixel Live MOS sensor and powerful new TruePic VII processor, and a feature set that goes well beyond that of the E-5.
5-Axis Sensor-Shift Stabilization
The E-M1 incorporates the Olympus 5-axis sensor-shift image-stabilization system, which compensates for yaw, pitch and roll, as well as vertical and horizontal shift, and works with all lenses. The system allows you to handhold steadily at shutter speeds 4 EV slower than without, per CIPA measurement conditions.
Dual Fast AF
With this new AF system, the camera automatically engages 37-point on-sensor phase-detection AF when Four Thirds lenses are used and 81-point contrast AF when MFT lenses are mounted. When continuous AF is selected with an MFT lens, both AF systems work together to improve tracking performance. There are 57 Four Thirds and MFT lenses currently available, including 32 Zuiko and M.Zuiko Digital ones from Olympus, providing focal lengths from 9mm through 300mm, plus an 8mm fisheye. With the sensor's 2X focal-length factor, this provides users with focal lengths equivalent to 16mm through 600mm on a 35mm camera.
You can choose a single AF point or activate a 3x3-point group, or let the camera choose the AF area. Super Spot AF lets you pinpoint focus on a tiny subject or a tiny area of a subject. There's not only face-detection AF, but also eye-detection AF, which can be set for nearest-eye, right-eye or left-eye priority. You can also quickly focus anywhere in the image merely by touching the spot on the LCD monitor. For manual focusing, focus peaking is available.
There's a natural question about image quality when a number of pixels on the sensor are devoted to the AF system. Approximately 6% of the 16.3 million pixels are devoted to AF, and the Olympus engineers have developed highly effective algorithms for interpolating the date from those pixels. From the comparison images we were shown by Olympus, they've done an excellent job with the interpolation. Our observations were backed up by more rigorous testing. The OM-D E-M1's TruePic VII processor delivers effective noise reduction and lens aberration corrections, and the sensor produced the highest score yet (by a point) for a Four Thirds-format sensor in DxOMark.com's testing.
A new super-large eye-level electronic viewfinder features 2.36 million dots and a 1.48X (0.74X 35mm-camera equivalent) magnification, with a minimal 0.029-second display-time lag. The EVF is complemented by a 3.0-inch, 1037K-dot tilting touch-screen LCD monitor.
Easy Access To Key Controls
There are lots of control dials and buttons, making it quicker and easier to set many camera functions, and a lot of customization is possible. The BLN-1 lithium-ion battery provides 350 shots per charge (per CIPA standard); the optional HLD-7 Battery Grip holds a second battery and doubles shooting capacity.
Wi-Fi Built In. Wi-Fi, in conjunction with the Olympus Image App, lets you upload images to your smartphone wirelessly, operate the camera from your smartphone and geotag images using the smartphone's GPS.
Wi-Fi Built In
Wi-Fi, in conjunction with the Olympus Image App, lets you upload images to your smartphone wirelessly, operate the camera from your smartphone and geotag images using the smartphone's GPS.
HDR, Shooting Speed And In-Camera Effects.
Two in-camera HDR modes (HDR1 and the stronger-effect HDR2) automatically make four bracketed exposures, then combine them in-camera to produce an image with expanded detail from shadow through highlight. There's also auto-bracketing for postprocess HDR (3 or 5 shots at 2.0 or 3.0 EV intervals, or 7 shots at 2.0 EV intervals).
The built-in intervalometer will shoot 1 to 999 images at intervals from one second to 24 hours. The E-M1 can shoot at 10 fps with focus locked at the first exposure and 6.5 fps with continuous AF. A big buffer lets you shoot up to 41 RAW or 95 JPEG images in H advance mode. Twelve Art Filters and eight Art Effects provide easy creative opportunities (many can be applied to videos as well as still images).
Video capabilities include 1080p, 720p and 640x480, all at 30 fps. Sound is stereo via built-in or external microphone. There's also a 720p 10 fps time-lapse mode.