Olympus OMD E-M1 Hands-On Field Test

  By Jordan Drake

Olympus OMD E-M1 Hands-On Field Test

It’s been a while.  We know, we missed you too.


After Chris and I took our summer vacations, we wanted to come back with something special.  Fortunately, Olympus Canada obliged by setting us up with a review copy of their E-M1, which was just announced a couple hours ago.  We always struggle with pre-release videos, as we are generally prohibited from shooting images, but there were no such restrictions this time, so we were able to give the camera a proper field test before it was even announced!


After spending years shooting in Calgary, we’re always looking for new locations, so a giant rock in the middle of a field seemed like a riveting option.  Unfortunately, not the best subject to test the E-M1’s new autofocus system, so we took a detour into Millennium Skatepark in Calgary.  There was a lot of music being blasted at Millenium Skatepark, so I was able to use some music from our good friends the Robot Workers to cover the licensed music up.  Olympus representative Yannick Michaud was on hand to answer our questions (somewhat useful) and carry some gear (always useful). Unfortunately, his constant barbs directed at Anglophone Canadians grew tiring as the day went on.


I was excited for this shoot as I was able to film with my favourite camera, the Sony FS700 with the new S-LOG 2 firmware update and Atomos Samurai.  This combination gives an image so flat that I was constantly second guessing myself, but once I started editing, the files were a joy to work with.  There’s an amazing amount of dynamic range, and the skin tones are by far the best we’ve gotten out of any camera.  Alongside the FS700, I brought a Metabones Speed Booster for Canon lenses, the Tamron 24-70 F2.8 VC, and a Zeiss 35mm F2.  For support I used a Manfrotto 561BHDV Video Monopod.  For audio, we went with our Sony UWP-130 Wireless Lapel kit. This fairly compact kit did a fantastic job, I think this one of our best looking videos.


I had a chance to play with the E-M1 for a bit, outside of shooting some video clips, and I have to say it is hands-down the best Micro 4/3 camera on the market if you are primarily interested in still photography.  The images are very sharp with those great Olympus colours, and the handling is much improved over the EM5.  Chris had similar impressions, constantly commenting on what a pleasure the camera was to shoot with.  The locking knob on the mode dial alone is something every camera maker should implement immediately.  It’s also nice that owners of 4/3 lens finally have an upgrade path.  It’s not a revolutionary camera, more an evolution of an already great camera.  They should be shipping soon, so if this video caught your attention you should come try one out soon at the store.


It’s good to be back.