<wonglp> User review of Olympus New Flagship OM-D E-M1X


Staff member
Jul 20, 2007
Bukit Batok
24 Jan 2019, a milestone in Olympus imaging history, with the launch of the EM1X. A camera that's pitched for the Professional sports and wildlife photographer. This new flagship is not meant to replace the EM1.2, rather it runs parallel to it, and a class above it in fact. EM1X is akin to it's competition Canon 1DX Mark II, Nikon D5, Sony A9 category. It would be safe to say this is the most technologically advanced Olympus camera to date that's built to last and perform in the harshest environment.

31556 01 19 Olympus NDA Launch EDM FC_5.jpg

31556 01 19 Olympus NDA Launch EDM FC_4.jpg

31556 01 19 Olympus NDA Launch EDM FC_3.jpg

The review will cover several areas from my personal point of view as mostly a landscaper photographer as well as general street photography.
- Live ND and applications
- 5 axis stabilization with 12-100mm F4 lens and in general
- High resolution mode both Handheld and Tripod
- Ergonomics and new menu features and hardware
- AF tracking

I will also attempt to (with limited capacity/experience) to test the AF for tracking capabilities.

While reading some reviews and comments on forums, there had been numerous negatives about this camera, possibly safe to say more than positives.

A new dawn, a new challenge or a big mistake? Fact is this isn't a camera for everyone, myself included. So do read on and decide for yourself.

Feature Highlights:
1. The world’s highest image stabilization performance - 7.5 shutter speed steps of compensation
2. Double TruePic VIII image processors provide high-speed responsiveness
3. Intelligent Subject Detection AF – Deep learning
4. Handheld High-Res Shot to 50MP
5. Advanced DUAL FAST AF with 121-point all cross-type sensor
6. Pro Capture mode for lag-free shooting
7. Digital cinema standard 4K movies with OM-Log400 Compatibility
8. Dual UHS-II SD Card Slots
9. Dustproof, splashproof and freezeproof performance
10. Live ND
11. Multi-selector for both vertical and horizontal shooting

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Live ND is a new feature in Olympus camera that allows up to 1-5 stops (EV) of exposure reduction, which they achieve by capturing 2-32 shots depending on "strength" of ND chosen and stacked them into a singular file. The end result is one that simulates a much longer exposure than a single shot.
The limitation is max shutter 1/2s if using ND32, and 60sec for any ND strength. The shot comes out almost immediately, aided by the dual processor of the camera.

The following example is used for street photography to slow down the capture of the shots. Live ND32 is used and IBIS can still function concurrently which makes this function so useful for such situation, where tripod can be a problem to be setup. On a bright day like what we had last couple of weeks, it's still possible to achieve close to 1sec of shot with ND32, and ISO64.

There's also a live preview feature, which I find it more useful if I am using on tripod, else the whole screen is moving, and it can become rather fuzzy to look at the preview.

ISO64, 100mm, 1.6sec, F22

ISO64, 100mm, 1.6sec, F22

This feature doesn't allow combination of features like High Res mode, Live Comp/Time/Bulb.

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Continuing Live ND feature, this time for landscapes.
Some settings restrictions:
1. 1/30s (ND2, 1 stop), to 1/2s (ND32, 5 stops) fastest shutter speed once can set.
2. 60s slowest shutter speed possible with any ND setting
3. Cannot be used in conjunction with other live features (bulb, time/composite), and it's only available in S or M mode.

I set it to be in the favourite menu, which is a new menu to add quick accessible settings without diving into the menu


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Using Live ND for Bluehour shooting.

ND32 is particularly useful when the sun sets and you want to extend the long exposure. Below shot shows turning ND32 to allow 60sec of exposure. Good thing about the live ND is that it does not need do any Long exposure noise reduction which takes another shot of the same exposure for a dark frame subtraction to reduce hot pixels. So immediately after shooting, I can continue doing more long exposures. I do hope they extend the 60sec to much longer timings though.

Using Live ND for sunrise

Live ND32 is more useful for predawn/post sunset. When the light comes up, the exposure just becomes a couple of sec based on F8, ISO200. One could choose a smaller aperture or reduce ISO to 64, but diffraction and loss of dynamic range is not a favourable option for landscape photography (imo). The shots below are all unedited, when the sun comes up, to get much longer exposure, I still have to use physical ND filters to reduce exposures further. In the below, another 3 stops ND was used as well as a soft grad ND for the last shot.


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#LIVE ND Feature...need to revisit this again as found some contrasting shots.
Previously, i found the LIVE ND producing very clean shots, but with some details lost. But did some tests again, so need to recheck and update here again.

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High Resolution mode.

In the high res mode now, there's an option to use handheld or tripod.

Using Handheld churns out 50MP of raw/jpeg files. How the camera does so is by taking 16 rapid shots and using IBIS to ensure stabilised shot. Should there be a lot of movements due to handshake or many objects are moving, then the screen will show that the process had failed but it should still capture 1 single shot. This is a very useful feature to stretch the limits of 20MP into a 50MP. And it really works. It does take about 10sec to process a shot, which for some people maybe too long a wait.

Using Tripod mode , the output is still the same 80MP Raw + 50MP.

The same limitation of using high res previously is F8 aperture minimum aperture you can.

A few examples of high res mode, all handheld. With 300mm F4 MC1.4. No sharpening or post process, just a crop for 2nd shot.

I find the jpegs to be sharper than the Raw, which is unusual. Below both shots are jpeg file, no editing.

A crop of the above shot.
There's no editing apart from cropping.

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A high res shot today on tripod mode, 80MP. I do find there's better stitching of the 8 shots (less pixelation) so far.

EM1X + 12-100mm F4 Pro.
ISO64, 13mm, F8, 20sec high resolution 80MP tripod mode. Raw file Edited in Lightroom.

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One of the best features of all time for me has to be the in body image stabiliser (IBIS). With Em1 Mark II it was groundbreaking at 6.5 stops with the 12-100mm lens when coupled with it's Lens Sync IS,, groundbreaking because firstly there's possibly no other system that is able to achieve as good handholding all around the world people are noticing several seconds, even up to 10s of handholding. And Olympus themselves did say that the limit of 6.5 stops max is theoretically the limit due to earth rotation.
See article below.

But with EM1X, they just outdid themselves and the theoretical limit to 7.5 stops with 12-100mm lens.
Personally, EM1X gave a sense of confidence to do a couple of seconds of shots without having to double check if the shots is sharp. So just shoot and go. I remember for EM1.2 i still do check it quite often just to be sure.

At the wide end, about 3-4sec easily. Tele end 1-2sec.

Had an evening walk of EM1X to do iLight 2019 at Marina Bay, some of the shots i did using 12-100mm F4. would say there's really high hit rates of sharp shots, slightly lower if i swop to Olympus 7-14mm F2.8 Pro. Mostly from F4-F8 and ISO200. I bring my tripod all the time for long exposures, but to walkabout and shoot without setting up a tripod is liberating, whatever catches my eye, just shoot and go.

All shots below are Raw files edited in Lightroom.
12mm, F6.3, 3.2sec, ISO200, LIve ND32 was used.

31mm, F6.3, 1.6sec, ISO200

12mm, F6.3, 2sec, ISO200

47mm, F8, 2sec, ISO200

12mm, F6.3, 4sec, ISO200

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Wonderful pictures..very appropriate if it is from $2K camera.

E-M1X for almost 5k will only be for a very very niche market