My E-M1X love has continued to grow unabated since I bought my first copy of this remarkable camera body over three years ago. Coupled with a good selection of M.Zuiko lenses, my E-M1X bodies have handled everything that I’ve thrown at them.
NOTE: Click on images to enlarge.
Obviously, every photographer should buy and use whatever camera gear best meets their individual needs. Not everyone will find that a M4/3 camera system is the best solution for them. And, some will not like the E-M1X’s full body, double gripped format. If the E-M1X doesn’t suit your needs… then you should buy something else.
Three years ago I initially was attracted to the E-M1X because of its cutting-edge technologies like Pro Capture, Live ND, in-camera focus stacking, Handheld Hi Res and Live Composite. To have that technology in a camera body with industry leading IBIS performance and IPX-1 weather sealing made it a compelling solution for my specific needs.
After three years of intensive use, my E-M1X love is such that I can’t imagine using any other camera. Being in the twilight of my professional career… I anticipate that my pair of E-M1X’s will be at my side well after my client assignments have ended.
My client industrial safety video business has gone through some transitions over time. A number of years ago I bought into the hype associated with full frame cameras. Shooting with a full frame D800 and a collection of Nikkor glass proved to be a mistake. The gear was very capable, but it was heavy, cumbersome and most importantly, very inefficient. Hauling around an assortment of studio lights and camera supports during a client shoot was tiresome and quite time consuming.
I stumbled into the Nikon 1 system back in the fall of 2013 and initially used it with an FT-1 adapter as a second video camera that gave me additional on-site options. It didn’t take long before I began to more fully appreciate the advantages of using smaller format, lighter camera gear.
As strange as it may seem, the quality of the video with V2 bodies was quite good and on par with the D800. While the D800 significantly outperformed my Nikon V2 when doing still photography, there was no discernable difference when shooting video up to ISO-800. In terms of video noise, both cameras were acceptable up to ISO-1600 and basically unusable at ISO-3200.
By the spring of 2015 I found that my full frame gear was collecting dust. I was doing all of my client safety video work with Nikon 1 gear. Being able to get the depth-of-field I needed shooting at f/2.8 rather than F/8 with full frame gear was a game changer for my video projects. I had no need to lug around a bunch of studio lights which saved a lot of onsite time. I sold all of my full frame gear in July of that year. After that point I used Nikon 1 equipment exclusively for 4 years.
The discontinuation of the Nikon 1 system in July 2018, and some of my clients enquiring about 4K video, led me to investigate Olympus and the E-M1X specifically. Starting in May 2019 I participated in the Olympus Pro Loaner program. Half way through the loaner period I was sold. The E-M1X was unlike anything else I had ever used and fit my needs like a glove.
Over the next year we made investments in our Olympus kit to fully flesh it out. Shooting video became a breeze. Not only did I not have to bring any studio lights with me… I could leave all of my camera supports in my gear closet. When shooting at higher ISO values, video noise performance of the E-M1X was superior to my D800. This gave me additional flexibility and latitude when working on projects.
I could show up for assignments with a medium sized shoulder bag containing an E-M1X body and 4 M.Zuiko PRO lenses. These included the PRO 7-14 mm f/2.8, PRO 12-40 mm f/2.8, PRO 40-150 f/2.8 and PRO 45 mm f/1.2. I could shoot everything needed for a video project entirely handheld. An overwhelming sense of freedom consumed me and has continued every time I pick up one of my E-M1X bodies.
It takes time to really become intimate with a camera so that it operates as an extension of oneself… and never gets in the way. It becomes a Zen-like experience. From a handling, ergonomics and comfort standpoint the E-M1X is simply the best camera I’ve ever owned. This is critical when putting in long days in the field or onsite with client projects shooting handheld video.
When OM Systems launched the OM-1 I had no interest at all. I knew from occasionally using my wife’s E-M1 Mark III that using a smaller body with larger lenses like the M.Zuiko PRO 40-150 f/2.8 or M.Zuiko 100-400 mm f/5-6.3 IS, was physically uncomfortable… often causing cramps in my right forearm.
There are a number of factors that have contributed to my ongoing E-M1X love affair. As noted above, the first is superlative handling, ergonomics and comfort.
The second is IBIS performance. Being able to shoot video completely handheld is incredibly liberating. IBIS performance also impacts still photography with multiple second handheld exposures an everyday possibility. The longest successful handheld exposure I’ve ever done is 8 seconds. For my handheld skill level this does push the envelope. I typically don’t go longer than 4 seconds, with exposures up to 2 seconds being pretty commonplace when using wide angle focal lengths.
Pro Capture H has allowed me to routinely capture action images that were almost impossible for me in the past. Photographing a bird or insect taking flight is a no brainer. I use Pro Capture H at 60 frames per second with my Pre-Shutter frames and Frame Limiter both set to 15 most of the time. I always use a single, small auto-focus point. I’ve had good success using this technology to photograph subjects like dragonflies taking off and landing.
I enjoy photographing birds-in-flight and the vast majority of my images are now captured using Pro Capture L at 18 frames-per-second with full continuous auto-focus, in combination with Bird Detection AI Subject Tracking. When using Bird Detection AI I always use a single, small auto-focus point. I appreciate that other photographers who use an E-M1X or OM-1 bodies may have a different approach with Bird Detection AI.
Doing handheld macro photography is another area where the E-M1X shines. The diminutive size of M.Zuiko 60 mm f/2.8 macro lens can be misleading. While it may be small and light, it is an excellent lens for handheld macro work. I will often use Handheld Hi Res or in-camera focus stacking when shooting macro subjects. There have also been occasions when I have shot handheld macro images one-handed while physically stretching out to get my composition.
Handheld Hi Res is something that I don’t use that often, but when I do, I’m always impressed with the results. Not only does this technology produce a 50 MP RAW file by combining 16 images in camera, it provides increases dynamic range and reduces noise.
You certainly don’t need to take my word for it. Visit the photonstophotos website and look at the dynamic range measurements when the E-M1X is shot using Handheld Hi Res. You’ll find that it is very competitive with full frame cameras at low ISO values, being at par or within 0.4 EV of the latest full frame cameras from Nikon, Leica, Sony, Canon and Panasonic.
When shot at ISO-6400, the E-M1X in Handheld Hi Res mode outperforms all of the full frame cameras noted by about 1.5 to 2 EV of dynamic range. Obviously, there are some practical considerations like the amount of subject movement when using Handheld Hi Res.
Misconceptions and misinformation about M4/3 are still being parroted around the internet. One of the most common one is that M4/3 cameras cannot create shallow depth-of-field. Sensor size is not directly associated with depth-of-field. Factors that impact depth of field are lens focal length, aperture, the distance to the subject, and the distance of the subject from the background.
Achieving shallow depth-of-field is very easy to do with a camera like the E-M1X. All we need to do is move in closer to our subject, use a longer focal length with a wide open aperture, and choose a shooting angle that provides good distance from the subject to the background. Due to the outstanding IBIS performance of the E-M1X we can do that while often still using base ISO-200. Using an extension tube with a longer focal length lens can further enhance a shallow depth-of-field effect.
One of the often overlooked benefits of using a camera like the E-M1X is being able to achieve deep depth-of-field when using open apertures like f/2.8. How many full frame camera owners would even think about shooting a landscape image at f/2.8 when they want deep depth-of-field?
I know I never did when I used full frame gear. I’d routinely stop down to f/8 or more which would often push my ISO higher, causing some loss of dynamic range.
Lenses like the M.Zuiko PRO 7-14 mm f/2.8 are incredible to use as the short end of the focal length range helps deliver deep depth-of-field when the lens is shot wide open. In many cases this helps maintain the use of base ISO-200, along with maximizing the available dynamic range.
How many full frame users would shoot at f/5.6 or brighter than that, when they want to achieve good depth-of-field with their handheld macro images? I never did. It was hard enough to just get a macro image to be in-focus and sharp when shooting handheld.
I found that I regularly used apertures of f/8 to f/11 along with a shutter speed of 1/320 or higher. Often this meant using higher ISO values, and losing some dynamic range. With my E-M1X I can shoot handheld macro images utilizing in-camera focus stacking at relatively slow shutter speeds, and often still shoot at base ISO-200 with apertures of f/5.6 or brighter.
One of my E-M1X bodies has its 4 Custom Modes set up for bird photography. This allows me to quickly respond to photographic opportunities as they present themselves. Being able to change a complete array of bird photography camera settings with a simple turn of the top dial has helped me capture images I would have otherwise missed.
Silent shutter really is silent which reduces the risk of scaring jittery birds, and Bird AI provides increased auto-focus reliability. Other than when using Pro Capture H, I use Bird Detection AI for all of my bird photography.
I never worry about weather conditions with the E-M1X’s IPX-1 rating. Knowing that the camera was actually tested to IPX-3 standards provides additional confidence.
I’ve been out in inclement weather that has caused virtually all of the other photographers in the area to run for cover… while I just kept on capturing images.
Cameras are more than the sensor that is inside and the resolution, level of dynamic range or colour depth that it delivers. Fundamentally none of those things matter in the slightest if we fail to capitalize on photographic opportunities as they present themselves.
Cameras that we deem to be indispensable tend to have specific attributes that are critical to the type of photographs we love to create. For me the E-M1X provides top drawer reliability, ergonomics, comfort, performance, and a wealth of creative flexibility.
I may be an atypical photographer, but I don’t feel compelled to use only the ‘latest and greatest’ camera gear that reviewers crow about. I’d much rather be using equipment in which I have 100% confidence… regardless of the challenge I may be facing.
At the end of the day my E-M1X love affair is grounded in a feeling of total confidence. Life… is very good.
Photographs were captured handheld using camera gear as noted in the EXIF data. Images were produced from RAW files or out-of-camera jpegs using my standard approach in post. Images were resized for web use. This is the 1,203 article published on this website since its original inception in 2015.
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15 thoughts on “E-M1X Love”
I have the EM1X and the EM1ii. And even though my hands are not large, the EM1X is my favorite to hold…of any camera I’ve ever used. That said, I do use the battery grip with the EM1ii which does improve it. There are also occasions where a smaller body works better. Sometimes you have to get the camera in a tight spot…macro comes to mind. I’m keeping the EM1ii even if I use the EM1X more often.
Thanks for sharing your experiences with your E-M1X and E-M1 Mark II. Your comment reinforces the idea that everyone has specific needs with their camera gear, and what works perfectly for one person may not be ideal for the next.
I have large hands and I don’t find my wife’s E-M1 Mark III comfortable to use. I’ve been doing more and more macro photography since I got my E-M1X specifically because I find it so easy and comfortable to use for this photographic genre. Although I don’t do it that often, I shoot handheld macro images with my E-M1X holding the camera single handed. I’ve yet to face a situation where the E-M1X was too large for handheld macro photography. I should mention that in almost 4 years of E-M1X use I’ve never used a tripod with it.
Well said, I love BOTH of my X’s
I love both of my E-M1X bodies too! One is set up for birding and the other one for other types of photography.
I would agree that larger lens on smaller body like EM1ii or iiii cause “strain” to the wrist and forearm. I recently got a EM1X to replace the EM1ii after reading your thoughts of OM-1. My M43 (300mmf4pro ) setup is mainly for birds and wildlife. The handling of the body is very important especially when we are out there shooting and I find myself getting better composition and photos with the EM1x combo.
I know a couple of people that use that same set-up and love it for nature photography. Good to hear it is working well for you.
Gee, Tom, after reading your review I feel like I need a cold shower to calm myself (;-)!
Thanks for yet another excellent posting.
Well… I did my best to warn readers upfront that the article was about ‘camera love’. I was attempting to share something much more visceral in nature, rather than write a typical technical review. 🙂
I feel incredibly lucky to have found a camera body and lens system that ticks all of my boxes and just feels ‘right’ when I use it. Regardless of the camera format, brand or model… I hope that everyone can find something that connects with them the same way my E-M1X and M.Zuiko lenses connect with me.
Bravo sir! Although I don’t have the E-M1X, I’m an Olympus shooter using an older model. The Olympus 100-400mm and 60mm macro are wonderful lenses and the ones I use most often. I feel sorry for full frame users who wouldn’t think of using MFT because of all the misinformation they’ve seen.
Photographers just need to choose the camera gear that best suits their needs. What works for one person… may not be the best choice for another.
First, I have to admit that I haven’t done my research. Now that that is out of the way… does the OM1 have the same options (in general) that the EM1X has? The EM1X is too large and heavy for my hands.
The reliability of Olympus cameras is phenomenal.
Yes, I believe that the OM-1 has the same options as the E-M1X. It also may have Starry Sky which the E-M1X doesn’t have. Some of the functions operate at somewhat faster speeds. For example it can shoot at 50 fps in full auto focus with compatible lenses.
Thanks for the info. Just might make the jump from em1 m2 to OM1 if big trips are on the horizon.
Well said Tom. Those of us who have used the M1X can appreciate what you are saying and how you feel. But I dont think I can ever reach the level of performance that you have reached for a number of reasons, not related to the ability of the camera. Age and not practicing as much as you do are at the top of the list. I am most appreciative of your posts over these years which have allowed me to shoot and enjoy this great camera as much as I have.
Thank you for your supportive comment. I’ve very much enjoyed experimenting with the E-M1X and sharing with readers.