E-M1X Long Term Review

After almost 5 years of extensive first hand experience, and rigorous use, it’s time for me to do an E-M1X long term review. This review follows a number of other E-M1X reviews that I’ve done over the past number of years. These include: E-M1X 4 Year Review, E-M1X Love, E-M1X 2 Year Review, E-M1X Twelve Month Review, and E-M1X 6 Month Review.

This is a hands-on, real life review based on years of in-the-field experience. You won’t have to read any specifications regurgitated from a manual or spec sheet. If you want that material, it is readily available on the internet.

You also won’t be subjected to any kind of sales pitch about Olympus/OM System camera gear. It doesn’t matter to me what brand of camera gear you own or are in the process of buying. Unlike the vast majority of photography related websites I don’t have any affiliate relationships, and I don’t make any click-through sales commissions on the equipment you buy. This website is sustained by reader donations and by the sales of our various eBooks.

This will most likely be my final review of the E-M1X as I expect that this particular camera model will be discontinued by OM Systems in the not too distant future. I doubt that OMDS will be replacing the E-M1X with an updated model.

Be that as it may… I’ll be very happy to keep shooting with this remarkable camera for many years to come. In an earlier article I explained why shooting with a smaller Olympus/OM body makes no sense for me as I find this style of body very uncomfortable to use.

NOTE: Click on images to enlarge.

OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko PRO 40-150 mm f/2.8 @ 57 mm, efov 114 mm, f/8, -1.0 EV, 1.3 seconds, ISO-800, handheld Live ND

Time has a way of accelerating as we age. The past 5 years or so have been an absolute blur for me. It is hard for me to believe that I made the switch to Olympus almost 5 years ago. I’ve now spent more time shooting exclusively with my Olympus gear, than I did with my much beloved Nikon 1 kit.

OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko PRO 12-100 mm f/4 IS @ 24 mm, efov 48 mm, f/8, 1/13, ISO-200, focusing distance 2.9 metres

Time marches on. We found new homes for all of my Nikon 1 bodies, lenses and accessories. I also sold the majority of my tripods/heads and camera video supports like my slider, skater dolly, and jib. My gear closest has a somewhat barren look to it now. What hasn’t been barren are my experiences with the E-M1X. They’ve been rich and rewarding.

OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko PRO 12-100 mm f/4 IS @ 12 mm, efov 24 mm, f/8, -0.5 EV, 1/1500, ISO-200, handheld HRD2, full frame capture, focusing distance 2.2 metres

The introductions of the OM-1 and OM-1 Mark II have motivated a number of readers to ask me if I’ll be ‘upgrading’ my camera bodies. The summary answer to those queries is a simple “No”.  This E-M1X long term review will provide insights on the reasons why I have no interest at all in changing my cameras from my pair of E-M1X bodies.

OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko PRO 12-100 mm f/4 IS @ 16 mm, efov 32 mm, f/8, 1/250, ISO-200

Comfort, Handling and Ergonomics

Above all else, what I love most about my E-M1X cameras are the outstanding comfort, handling and ergonomics that they provide. From the very first time I held an E-M1X in my hand back in May 2019 it felt like it was custom made for me.

OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 75-300mm f/4.8-6.7 II @ 300 mm, efov 600 mm, f/6.7, 1/4000, ISO-1250, Pro Capture H, cropped to 3228 pixels on the width, subject distance 5.8 metres

I’ve found the E-M1X to be incredibly comfortable to use for extended periods of time… especially when using heavier lenses like the M.Zuiko 100-400 mm f/5-6.3 IS.  All of the E-M1X’s controls are positioned exactly where they need to be, which delivers great handling and ergonomics. I have no problem wearing gloves during the winter, and effortlessly adjusting my settings as needed.

OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 100-400 mm f/5-6.3 IS with M.Zuiko MC-20 teleconverter @ 800 mm, efov 1600 mm, f/13, 1/800, ISO-1250, cropped to 4489 pixels on the width, subject distance 3.1 metres

Further enhancing the handling and ergonomics of my E-M1X bodies was the programming of the four Custom Modes on the camera’s top dial. These allow me to rapidly and completely change my settings for a different type of image capture, with a simple click or two on the top dial.

OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko PRO 40-150 mm f/2.8 with 10 mm and 16 mm extension tubes @ 100 mm, efov 200 mm, f/7.1, 1/30, ISO-400, uncropped out-of-camera jpeg, handheld in-camera focus stacking

After almost 5 years of intensive use, the E-M1X has become a part of me. The camera never gets in the way of my creativity… but rather encourages and facilitates it. I can change camera settings quickly with the various on-body controls… by unique touch textures… without losing sight of my subject.

OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 100-400 mm f/5-6.3 IS @269 mm, efov 538 mm, 1/1600, f/6.3, ISO-250, cropped to 4556 pixels on the width, Pro Capture L, Bird Detection AI, subject distance 31.4 metres

In-Field Performance

After much experimenting and pushing of boundaries… both mine and my E-M1X’s… I’ve discovered how to use this camera in ways that best supports my shooting style.

I know that newer bodies like the OM-1 and OM-1 Mark II have faster continuous auto-focus frame rates. And, that some folks attest that these bodies can do a better job tracking with a bird-in-flight and create longer C-AF image runs. To be frank, I couldn’t care less about those purported advantages.

OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 100-400 mm f/.5-6.3 IS @ 276 mm, efov 552 mm, f/6.3, – 1.0 EV, 1/2500, ISO-800, Pro Capture H, cropped to 4481 pixels on the width, subject distance 14.6 metres

I don’t care… because that’s not how I shoot. My style is to capture short bursts of images with the intent of photographing very specific in-flight actions. I would much rather capture 3 or 4 short bursts of a particular bird in-flight performing specific actions, rather than trying to capture one long uninterrupted C-AF image run of it.

What is important to me is that my E-M1Xs can grab focus quickly and deliver the short image bursts I need.

OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 100-400 mm f/5-6.3 IS @ 400 mm, efov 800 mm, f/6.3, -0.7 EV, 1/5000, ISO-2500, Pro Capture H, cropped to 3721 pixels on the width, subject distance 2.4 metres

Since my main birding lens isn’t capable of shooting at 50 frames-per-second in continuous auto-focus, having a camera body with that ability is a moot point for me. I use Pro Capture H at 60 fps with the first frame locking focus and exposure, to capture birds and insects taking flight. My confidence level is at 100% when using my E-M1Xs in this manner. If I somehow miss my shot it is always my fault… not my camera’s.

OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 100-400 mm f/5-6.3 IS @ 300 mm, efov 600 mm, f/6.3, 1/2500, ISO-250, Pro Capture L, Bird Detection AI Subject Tracking, cropped to 3700 pixels on the width, subject distance 9.8 metres

For birds-in-flight I use a combination of Pro Capture L and Bird Detection AI Subject Tracking, with a single, small auto-focus point engaged. This approach did feel awkward and counterintuitive at first… and it did take some time for me to reorient my shooting style and shutter release timing.

OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 100-400 mm f/5-6.3 IS @ 400 mm, efov 800 mm, f/6.3, 1/1600, ISO-250, Pro Capture L, Bird Detection AI Subject Tracking, cropped to 2999 pixels on the width, subject distance 63.1 metres

Committing images to my memory card after the action has already happened, now feels completely normal and natural. It has helped enable me to better anticipate what is likely to happen with the subjects that I’m photographing. It puts me out in front of the action that is about to happen. This fundamentally changed me from being a reactive photographer to a proactive one.

OM-D E-M1X with M.Zuiko 60 mm f/2.8 macro, efov 120 mm, f/4, 1/40, full frame capture, ISO-200, handheld in-camera focus stacking, subject distance 515 mm

IBIS Performance

How a camera is rated in terms of its IBIS performance isn’t nearly as important as what one can actually achieve with it. While my wife’s E-M1 Mark III has the same 7 EV stop IBIS rating as my E-M1Xs, I am able to consistently achieve handheld shutter speeds 1 to 1.5 EV stops better with my E-M1X. The IBIS performance difference for me is even more pronounced when shooting vertical compositions.

OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 60 mm f/2.8 macro, efov 120 mm, f/5.6, 1/40, ISO-200, handheld in-camera focusing stacking, full frame capture, subject distance 290 mm

Being able to confidently capture handheld, in-camera focus stacked macro images at slower shutter speeds is incredibly liberating. It has broadened my appreciation of this photographic genre.

Knowing I can shoot 10 consecutive frames with my E-M1X adjusting the auto focusing point between each frame, then combining them in-camera for me… gives me more latitude in the field. And, saves me a lot of time in post processing.

OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 60 mm f/2.8 macro, efov 120 mm, f/7.1, 1/15, ISO-200, in-camera focus stacking, subject distance 460 mm

I’ve even pushed my handheld in-camera focus stacked macro images to quite slow shutter speeds of only 1/15 of a second.

OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 60 mm f/2.8 macro, efov 120 mm, f/6.3, 1/800, ISO-6400, photographed one-handed, subject distance 270 mm

Excellent IBIS performance encourages me to try unusual image captures. For example, when needed I’ve even shot handheld macro images one-handed with my body and arm stretched out over a flower display area.

OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 12-100 mm f/4 IS @ 50 mm, efov 100 mm, f/4, 1/5, ISO-200

Shooting at slower handheld shutter speeds in a range of indoor environments allows me to regularly shoot at base ISO-200 without the hassle of carrying a tripod. This allows me to fully leverage the dynamic range available with my E-M1X.

OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 100-400 mm f/5-6.3 IS @ 400 mm, efov 800 mm, f/6.3, 1/60, ISO-400, handheld in-camera focus stacking, subject distance 1.3 metres

The IBIS performance of my E-M1X is so reliable that I’ve had the in-lens stabilization of my M.Zuiko 100-400 mm f/5-6.3 IS zoom permanently turned off for a few years now.  Being able to capture an in-camera focus stacked image handheld, like the turtle above, at 1/60 of a second when using a focal length of 400 mm (efov 800 mm), extends my photographic potential considerably.

Olympus OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko PRO 12-100 f/4 IS @ 24 mm, efov 48 mm, f/5.6, 4 sec, ISO-200

Being able to shoot handheld using shutter speeds as slow as 4 seconds changes how I approach creating images when visiting museums and historical sites.

Olympus OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko PRO 12-40 mm f/2.8 @ 22 mm, efov 44 mm, f/5.6, 3.2 seconds, ISO-200

Under calm conditions IBIS performance also enables extended handheld shutter speeds when creating early morning or late day landscape images… like the scene above captured at Grimsby harbour handheld at 3.2 seconds.

Olympus OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko PRO 7-14 mm f/2.8 @ 7 mm, efov 14 mm, f/4, 5 seconds handheld, ISO-200

Or, the photograph above created at Grindstone Creek that was captured handheld at 5 seconds.

Olympus OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko PRO 40-150 mm f/2.8 with M.Zuiko MC-20 teleconverter @ 104 mm, efov 208 mm, f/8, 1/60, ISO-1600, Handheld Hi Res, full frame capture, subject distance 700 mm
Olympus OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko PRO 40-150 mm f/2.8 with M.Zuiko MC-20 teleconverter @ 104 mm, efov 208 mm, f/8, 1/60, ISO-1600, Handheld Hi Res, full frame capture, subject distance 700 mm, 100% crop

IBIS performance can also affect useable dynamic range. If I need some additional dynamic range and detail in my images I can use Handheld Hi Res technology at slower shutter speeds when needed. In darker conditions this technology allows me to shoot at ISO-1600, and still get the same level of dynamic range as when I shoot my E-M1X in standard mode at ISO-200.

When I use Handheld Hi Res at ISO-200 the dynamic range produced is in the same range as full frame cameras. Rather than take my word for it, you can check out the data on the Photonstophotos website.

Olympus OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 12-100 mm f/4 IS PRO @54 mm, efov 108 mm, f/5.6, 1/50, ISO-5000, Hand-held Hi Res Mode

Using Handheld Hi Res technology at high ISO values has the added benefit of significantly reducing noise, while still delivering a 50 MP RAW file with excellent detail.

Olympus OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko PRO 40-150 mm f/2.8 with M.Zuiko MC-20 teleconverter @ 300 mm, efov 600 mm, f/5.6, 1/500, ISO-6400, subject distance 3 metres

Low Light Performance

The advances in post processing software in terms of noise reduction have broadened the shooting parameters for all cameras, and have significantly improved what is possible when using smaller sensor cameras like M4/3. Since my early days of E-M1X use I’ve regularly used ISO values as high as ISO-6400 without any hesitation.

E-M1X + M.Zuiko PRO 40-150 mm f/2.8 with M.Zuiko MC-14 teleconverter @ 210 mm, efov 420 mm, f/5, 1/400, ISO-16000, subject distance 2.3 metres

As my experience with the E-M1X has increased throughout the past number of years, so too has my willingness to shoot at even higher ISO values… as we can see with the image above, captured handheld at ISO-16000.

E-M1X + M.Zuiko PRO 40-150 mm f/2.8 with M.Zuiko MC-14 teleconverter @ 210 mm, efov 420 mm, f/5, 1/400, ISO-16000, subject distance 2.3 metres, 100% crop

Even when looking at a 100% crop from an ISO-16000 image, the results have been more than acceptable for my purposes.

OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 100-400 mm f/5-6.3 IS @ 285 mm, efov 570 mm, f/6.3, 1/4000, ISO-16000, Pro Capture H, cropped to 3855 pixels on the width, subject distance 4.1 metres

Although not my standard practice, I will shoot as high as ISO-16000 to capture subjects in motion if the lighting conditions are appropriate.

OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 100-400 mm f/5-6.3 IS @ 200 mm, efov 400 mm, f/6.3, 1/3200, ISO-16000, Pro Capture H, cropped to 4153 pixels on the width, subject distance 7.2 metres

In summary, I’ve never felt ‘hard done by’ when shooting in lower light conditions with my E-M1X. IBIS performance, technology like Handheld Hi Res, or modern noise reduction software provide me with a number of low light options that almost always do the trick for me.

Splash from waves hitting retaining wall about to hit my Olympus OM-D E-M1X and M.Zuiko PRO 40-150mm f/2,8 with MC-20 teleconverter

Weather Sealing

Over the past 5 years or so my E-M1X and I have been well soaked a number of  times by waves crashing against rock break walls and cascading on us. Or, by a good volume of water hitting us from above. For example, wind blowing a significant amount of water off an overhead tarp on which it had pooled.

OM-D E-M1 Mark III + M.Zuiko 14-150 mm f/4-5.6 II @ 36 mm, efov 72 mm, f/8, 1/60, ISO-400

During a photography tour of Newfoundland in late May/early June last year my wife and I spent 11 of our 15 days on the ground in rain, fog/mist and snow. All of our Olympus gear performed flawlessly. It is true that other camera gear claims to be weather sealed, but as of the writing of this article, only Olympus/OM System gear is certified to IPX1 or IP53 standards.

I’ve never had to worry about using my E-M1X and appropriately weather sealed M.Zuiko lenses in inclement weather. That also broadens my photographic potential.

OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko PRO 12-100 mm f/4 IS @ 54 mm, efov 108 mm, f/4, 1/6, ISO-200

Super Sonic Wave Filter Performance

During the past 5 years or so I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve shot in windy/dusty conditions, or had to make lens changes on the fly with my E-M1X. Through all of that, and capturing hundreds of thousands of images, the sensors on my pair of E-M1X bodies (and my wife’s E-M1 Mark III) have never needed to be cleaned manually, or sent in to a camera shop for cleaning.

Every time we turn on one of these cameras the Super Sonic Wave Filter inside vibrates to remove any potential dust. Its just one more thing that I never have to worry about… or even think about for that matter.

OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko PRO 40-150 mm f/2.8 with M.Zuiko MC-20 teleconverter and Kenko 10 mm extension tube @ 300 mm, efov 600 mm, f/6.3, -0.7 EV, 1/1250, ISO-800, cropped to 3155 pixels on the width

Heat Dissipation

Over the years I’ve shot my E-M1X cameras very intensively for extended periods of uninterrupted time, and they have never had an issue with heat build up inside the body. The heat pipe embedded inside the body of the E-M1X does an excellent job dissipating heat, which is another factor that contributes to the E-M1X being a reliable, workhorse of a camera.

OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 100-400 mm f/5-6.3 IS with M.Zuiko MC-14 Teleconverter @ 560 mm, efov 1120 mm, f/9, 1/3200, ISO-3200, cropped to 2972 pixels on the width, Pro Capture H, subject distance 12.7 metres

Working with a 4:3 Ratio

When I initially moved over the the Olympus M4/3 system I had some minor concerns about shooting with a 4:3 ratio sensor rather than a typical 3:2 ratio sensor. All of those concerns were quickly eradicated.

OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 100-400 mm f/5-6.3 IS with M.Zuiko MC-14 teleconverter @ 140 mm, efov 280 mm, f/7.1, 1/1600, ISO-1600, Pro Capture L, Bird Detection AI, cropped to 3962 pixels on the width, subject distance 13.4 metres

I quickly learned that a 4:3 ratio sensor is much better suited to bird and wildlife photography as the added height to width ratio better captures wing extensions.

OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 100-400 mm f/5-6.3 IS @ 244 mm, efov 488 mm, 1/2500, f/6.3, ISO-640, cropped to 4232 pixels on the width, Pro Capture L, Bird Detection AI, subject distance 29.4 metres

There are far fewer wasted pixels with a 4:3 ratio sensor as bird-in-flight images don’t require as much horizontal cropping… if any at all.

OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 60 mm f/2.8 macro, efov 120 mm, f/5.6, 1/50, ISO-200, handheld in-camera focus stacking

I also found that my handheld macro compositions worked very well with the 4:3 ratio format and seldom required any cropping.

Olympus OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko PRO 12-40 mm f/2.8 @ 12 mm, efov 24 mm, 1/10, f/5.6, ISO-200

Since working with a 4:3 ratio sensor is much closer to a standard 8″ X 10″ print orientation I discovered that I also preferred this sensor format for landscape and travel photography.

Olympus OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 60 mm f/2.8 macro, efov 120 mm, f/2.8, 1/250, ISO-2000, subject distance 325 mm

Depth-of-Field Considerations

The amount of misinformation on the internet about depth-of-field can be frustrating to say the least. As we know, depth-of-field depends on four basic factors: aperture, lens focal length, distance to subject, and the distance from the subject to the background. These four factors apply regardless of the camera format that you may own.

Olympus OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko PRO 40-150 mm f/2.8 zoom @ 150 mm, efov 300 mm, f/5, 1/250, ISO-2000, subject distance 705 mm, Handheld Hi Res mode

All of the claims on the internet that it is impossible to achieve shallow depth-of-field with a small sensor like M4/3… are not only false… but demonstrate a lack of understanding about basic photographic technique.

OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 60 mm f/2.8 macro, efov 120 mm, f/2.8, 1/160, ISO-160, handheld in-camera focus stacking, subject distance 270 mm

Unfortunately some online trolls are so caught up in full frame rhetoric that they think that everyone who owns a small sensor camera thinks about how to compose their photographs by starting from a full frame orientation. This nonsense dropped out of the back end of a bull.

OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko PRO 7-14 mm f/2.8 @ 7 mm, efov 14 mm, f/2.8, 1/2000, ISO-200

The worst thing that anyone can do is think about using their camera gear based on some previous format that they owned in the past. Would a full frame camera owner use an aperture of f/2.8 when trying to get deep depth-of-field in a landscape image like the one we see above? I doubt it.

Most full frame folks would likely be stopping their lens down to f/8 or f/11. So what makes the deep depth-of-field in the image above possible at f/2.8? Lens focal length.

OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko PRO 7-14 mm f/2.8 @ 7 mm, efov 14 mm, f/2.8, 1/1200, ISO-200

When we use a shorter (i.e. wider angle) focal length the lens will deliver deeper depth-of-field when compared to a longer focal length (i.e. telephoto) shot from the same position, using the same aperture. If we want shallower depth-of-field, we would choose a longer focal length. These lens attributes apply regardless of the size of the sensor in our camera.

OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko PRO 7-14 mm f/2.8 @ 7 mm, efov 14 mm, f/4, -0.5 EV, 1/45 ISO-200, handheld in camera HDR1

From a landscape photography standpoint I have more creative options available to me to achieve deep depth-of-field now with my E-M1X, than I did back in my full frame days when I shot with a D800. I own the M.Zuiko PRO 7-14 mm f/2.8 zoom so I can get very good depth-of-field when using the 7 mm end of the zoom. This allows me to shoot at a more wide open aperture, and at a correspondingly lower ISO value… often base ISO-200. And, most critically, I can still create the deep depth-of-field I want in my composition.

OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko PRO 12-100 mm f/4 IS @ 21 mm, efov 42 mm, f/8, -0.5 EV, 1/1000, ISO-200, handheld HRD2, full frame capture, focusing distance 2.3 metres

Computational Photography Technologies

The majority of images that I create are done through the use of computational photography technologies that are resident in my E-M1X. These include Pro Capture Low/High. In-camera focus stacking. High dynamic range… typically with HDR2. Live ND. Handheld Hi Res. Digital Teleconverter. And, on occasion Keystone Compensation.

OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 12-100 mm f/4 IS @ 86 mm, efov 172 mm, f/10, 1/2, ISO-64, Live ND

I appreciate that newer OMDS camera bodies like the OM-1 Mark II have these same computational photography technologies, but they have been bumped up a bit in terms of their performance. I view those improvements as being incremental. I’m not willing to give up the comfort, handling and ergonomics of my E-M1X bodies for those slight improvements.

OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko PRO 12-40 mm f/2.8 @ 12 mm, efov 24 mm, f/2.8, 1/3200, ISO-200, handheld in-camera focus stacking, out-of-camera jpeg adjusted in post

The Importance of Freedom and Creativity

My E-M1X long term review is ultimately all about the importance of freedom and creativity… being delivered in a package that has outstanding comfort, handling and ergonomics. Based on my personal needs and my shooting style, buying my two E-M1X bodies back in 2019 was akin to being dealt a Royal Flush. It just doesn’t get any better.

OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko PRO 12-100 mm f/4 IS @ 21 mm, efov 42 mm, f/5.6, 1/640, ISO-200

Technical Note

All images featured in this article were captured handheld using camera gear detailed in the EXIF data. Images were produced from either RAW files or out-of-camera jpegs using my standard process. This is the 1,360 article published on this website since its original inception in 2015.

OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko PRO 40-150 mm @ 150 mm, efov 300 mm, f/8, -0.7 EV, 1/2500, ISO-2500, Pro Capture H, cropped to 2761 pixels on the width, subject distance 1 metre

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19 thoughts on “E-M1X Long Term Review”

  1. Hi Thomas,

    Thank you for the great write up and the positive energy you place on the E-M1X!! Everything you wrote resonated with me and my own E-M1X, which I love using. I love the grip and the ergonomics, so much so that I also shoot with an E-M5 Mark II alongside it with an HLD-8 battery grip, making it my mini E-M1X and second body. I had played with the OM-1 and recently announced OM-1 Mark II and while the OM-1 Mark II is a slight improvement over the Mark I, improving on the front and rear dials (the Mark 1 feels plastic, while the Mark 2 feels rubbery like the E-M1X) still isn’t up to E-M1X class. I didn’t see any substantial image quality improvement at all on the OM-1 Mark II, other than the most improved and more sticky Bird AI AF, which beats the E-M1X’s own Bird AI. But I’m happy with the 1X’s Bird AI, so despite how nice the new Mark II was, I didn’t buy it. I also played with the Panasonic G9 Mark II and I like the ergonomics of that body better with better dials. Image IQ has a slight improvement with slightly better color tonality and depth, being a new 25MP dual gain sensor, but again still, it just didn’t scream BUY ME. So you see, it’s very hard to replace my E-M1X with something else. That camera is so good! Also, it’s hard to replace my E-M5 Mark II with a HLD-8 grip either as Olympus or OM System no longer make an HLD-8 like battery grip and the later OM-5 model doesn’t support a battery grip anymore. I think it was a grave mistake, because without the HLD-8 grip, it is difficult to balance the camera with either my 100-400 or my 300mm IS Pro. I also played with the OM 150-600 and I don’t understand what all this fuss about the lens being as heavy as full frame, because it is an adaptation of the 150-600 Sigma Sport lens. Having said that, after a brief period of using the 150-600, I can say that the optical IQ is just as good as the 100-400, plus it has Sync IS. I was told by OM Systems rep, Joel, who represents the Canadian market that OM Systems have several lenses in the pipeline and will be releasing them in the near future. I won’t be surprised that OM Systems will release a 500mm f/5.6 prime based on the Sigma 500mm lens. The OM-1 Mark II is just a side upgrade. The future camera will be a leap forward; hopefully in an OM-1X shell. One can only hope.

    I also agree with you that there is a shift from people being interested in using OM Systems cameras. I see a few people using the OM-1 with the 150-400 (big white) and the 100-400. Incidentally, the 150-400 and the 100-400 are OM Systems best sellers, outstripping the forecasted assumed demand.

    1. Hi David,

      Thanks for taking the time to post your detailed comment. I found it quite interesting, especially your interaction with Joel from OM Systems.

      I noticed the Sigma Sport 500 mm f/5.6 prime and my immediate reaction to it was “hmmm… that would make an excellent addition to the OM System line-up”. I’d have no interest at all in that type of lens personally since I don’t shoot with primes, but I imagine a fair number of nature photographers would be interested in a 500 mm (efov 1000 mm) prime at f/5.6 that was only 235 mm (9.2″) long and weighed 1.4 Kg (~ 3 lbs.). This would easily be handholdable. It would be an interesting prime that folks who already like the 300 mm f/4 PRO may want to add to their kit as it would give them more reach than using the 300 mm with an MC-14 teleconverter.

      There’s little doubt in my mind that OM Systems is pursuing a niche market differentiation strategy and going after birds/nature/wildlife shooters as their primary target… with extreme adventure/travel photographers and macro shooters as a secondary target niche markets. It will be interesting to see what unfolds over the next 12 to 18 months.

      When my wife and I were assessing what camera would make sense for her we seriously looked at both the latest E-M5 at the time, and the E-M1 Mark III. It made the most sense to take advantage of the additional capabilities of the E-M1 Mark III and also leverage a common battery for all of our cameras.


      1. Hi Tom,

        OM Systems definitely picked the right strategies and are so enthusiastic about its own future. They have a multiple year plan, but Joel wasn’t willing to elaborate on those, rather than telling me to wait and see! Finally having a Canadian presence is nice from OM Systems, even if Joel is an American and is based out of California and previously had ran a camera store in the past. So his knowledge and expertise in the camera industry is invaluable.

        He wants to do more in Canada, but needs to figure out the logistics in shipping equipment over to Canada for demo work. I think having more prime lens selection is nice. The 500mm, if OM Systems does make one, would go hand in hand with my 300mm IS Pro, though so far, I don’t really need anything longer than 400mm. If I need more, TCs on the prime would do me fine. Having the 500mm without TC would obviously be a nice touch, but again may appeal to some shooters who find the 300mm IS with 1.4xTC a bit short.

        Anyhow, I started with an E-P5 more than 10 years ago and then upgraded it to the E-M5 Mark II, because I could make it small without the grip or make it large with an HLD-8. Previously, I worked professionally with NPS using the Nikon D3 and D4 and the D800, so I like chunky bodies. The E-M5 Mark II with the HLD-8 felt at home. When the E-M1 Mark II came out, I never quite gel with it even with the HLD-9 grip. It just feel strange; not as glove like as my E-M5 Mark II and HLD-8 or my previous Nikon D3 and D4. But when I went to the Pro event in 2019 and tried the E-M1X, it was like they say love at first sight! I loved it ever since.

        1. Hi David,

          I had some good connections at the Olympus Camera Division before JIP entered the picture, and I certainly had some interesting communications with some of the managers. Before the JIP transfer Olympus had a number of people resident in Canada including some excellent technical people. Unfortunately none of them were asked to join the new organization.

          I can understand that if you liked double gripped Nikon bodies like the D3 and D4, the E-M1X would really be a good fit for you.

          As OM Systems continues to push into the birding/wildlife niche I think we will see a very good selection of wildlife/birding lenses being added to the OM System offerings. Interesting times ahead!


      2. Batteries, batteries, batteries. I now have 3 sets of batteries. EM-1, Em-1 mark2 and OM-1. And did I mention 3 different charger systems? Taking different bodies on the road also entails all the battery paraphernalia. Ugh.

        1. Hi Lewsh,

          I agree… Ugh. When my wife and I had our extensive Nikon 1 kit we had different chargers and batteries for 3 different camera models… V3, V2 and J5. Plus the battery life was fairly modest with those cameras. It was common that I could go through 3-4 batteries during a busy travel day and my wife may go through 2. When I was shooting video projects with my V2s I’d easily go through 4 batteries and sometimes more in a long duration onsite shooting day. Not to mention V2 bodies overheating periodically during video work so I’d have to change bodies to keep shooting. So, I used to travel to client assignments with three V2 bodies and 6 batteries just to be on the safe side.

          Having one common battery/charger set up for all three of our Olympus cameras (E-M1X, E-M1 Mark III) is a real bonus for us.


  2. I bought an EM1x at its introduction. It proved to be wise choice for me for the reasons you articulate. Its ergonomics & fit to my hand works to my advantage in my preferred approach in the field. It simply just ‘fits’ physically & in my mobile fieldcraft approach. I prefer it to my OM-1 with battery grip. The OM-1\grip does not, in my case, solve the cramped button\dial landscape issue of the OM-1.
    So I hope you’re wrong ( 🙂 ) & OM System introduces a EM1x ii with the OM-1ii sensor & processor. I wouldn’t see this as an introduction of a new ‘flagship’ but simply a different packaging of the core technologies which I do think are an upgrade to the EM1x. I think this would suit a significant number of the customer base that would prefer the integrated dual grip & layout. The approach would also balance better with the 150-400 & 150-600 which would help offset their ‘weight’ issues.
    But being realistic, OM Systems has other pressing priorities than addressing a niche within a niche.
    Thanks for the thoughtful & objective review of a, in my opinion, very misunderstood camera.

    1. Hi Steve,

      Thanks for sharing your experiences and evaluation of the E-M1X.

      I bought my first E-M1X in May 2019 and loved it from day one. Later that year when it came time to buy a back-up camera for my client safety video business I toyed with the idea of purchasing an E-M1 Mark II for that purpose. It only took me a few hours to realize that I’d never be happy with the E-M1 Mark II because of its handling and ergonomics… so I bought a second E-M1X in the fall of 2019. At the time there were all kinds of rumors about the Olympus camera business going bankrupt and disappearing so the second E-M1X was also to future proof my system.

      I think we’ll see more long telephoto lenses from OMDS in the next while, and perhaps even a longer prime with an f/4 or f/5.6 aperture. Something like a 400 mm f/4 and/or a 500 mm f/5.6. If that happens and the lenses develop a following we may see an OM-X down the road. At this point I think its a bit of a long shot that it would happen… but one never knows.

      My first three years shooting with my E-M1X locally I usually only saw one other photographer with an Olympus/OM birding set-up. Last year three of the folks I regularly see at area birding sites moved over to OM Systems. All of them were former full frame shooters. This is only anecdotal information of course… but change is starting to happen.


      1. I really have my heart set on a 50-200 f2.8. I have all the reach that is practical in the field (most of the year I’m in 90% humidity) but sure would love more light in forest settings & extra minutes at dawn or dusk. I know it would be ‘big’ & there would be immediate criticisms of not keeping with the m4/3 ethos but the total kit would be smaller & lighter than an ‘equivalent’ FF kit. Plus I would have all my favorite features, in particular fast raw file ProCapture.
        I share you observation about more Oly\OM Systems in the field. Interestingly, it’s not just old folks like me. I’m seeing a lot of young, high adventure bird\nature photographer embracing OM System kit. It fits their free & mobile ‘ethos’.

        1. Hi Steve,

          Yup… the size and weight of camera gear is relative to the reach it provides. All of the trolls slagging the new 150-600 about being the same size and weight of a full frame lens totally ignore the efov of 300-1200 mm.

          I tend not to go out to birding areas on weekends and holidays so I can avoid crowds, so I likely do not observe a representative sampling of folks using OM System gear. I think it’s great news if younger folks who are interested in outdoor adventure/travel are using OM gear. That will help create a future market for OMDS.

          I have the PRO 40-150 f/2.8 and find that it is very useful in low light situations in forests etc. The challenge of course is the 150 mm on the long end. Something that was 200 mm or perhaps 250 mm with an f/2.8 aperture would be embraced by a lot of nature photographers. As you noted, it would be a larger and more expensive lens.


  3. Great article. I have an OM1 with battery grip and an M1X. No doubt for me the M1X is more comfortable to hold. I mainly use the OM1 to photograph sports car races.

  4. Tom
    Wow what a post!
    Thanks so much for explaining your approach and experience.
    I appreciate the importance of enjoying my camera, even if I cannot achieve your results.
    Thanks again for sharing some gems.


  5. Tom,
    Thank you so much for taking the time to put together such a detailed and amazing post. It is so refreshing to hear from someone you respect that ‘the latest and greatest’ is not the way to go.
    Learn to use what you have and, if it ever reaches the point that it is not doing what you want maybe something new is what you need.
    However, before you do that, you really have to ask the question ‘Have I truly mastered all of my camera?’ Because, frequently, that extra time spent with what you have is what you really need.
    Often, what is the key to better images is in mastering your own equipment not buying what others are trying to sell you.

    1. Hi Ron,

      Thanks for supportive comment… much appreciated!

      It is important to remember that an equipment decision that I make, may not be the right decision for other photographers. As you can tell from the review article I’m one of those photographers that puts a very high value on comfort, handling and ergonomics. Other photographers may find the that OM-1 or OM-1 Mark II could be ideal for their needs.

      Your point about taking the time and making the effort to master what we already own… is sage advice. I found that it took me a couple of years to really build competency with the E-M1X. I’m still refining my skills almost 5 years later. Perhaps I’m a very slow learner 🙂


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