Olympus E-M1 is pro M43 camera

EM1 topOlympus has introduced the OM-D E-M1. This is its new premium flagship camera and, hey, it’s a Micro Four Thirds model.

Details are on our companion site, but here are some observations, based on a meeting I had with Naoki Akamatsu, senior supervisor, SLR Product & Marketing Planner, Olympus Japan, and a short hands-on with the camera.

Olympus had initially begun work on a Four Thirds pro camera, the E7, making several prototypes, but felt the size was just too big, that a Micro Four Thirds variant would have more advantages. So the camera has a native MFT lens mount. But what about all those Four Thirds lenses already out there? There’s a new adapter allowing the use of FT lenses on the E-M1.

EM1 top 2Apparently the camera sets itself up for each specific lens that’s attached. Does this mean there’s a database of lenses somewhere in the camera’s innards? No, explained Mr. Akamatsu, the camera recognizes the light transmission capabilities of each lens and adjusts itself accordingly.

The engineers also came up with the idea of using Phase Detection AF for FT lenses and Contrast Detection AF for MFT lenses. In addition, Olympus created a new lens category, M.Zuiko Pro, specifically for the new camera (but of course the lenses can be used on other models).

Worth the price of admission alone is the E-M1’s viewfinder. This is a delight, delivering a huge image, equal in size to that of a full-frame DSLR. In fact, the Nikon D800’s viewfinder was the comparison.

There’s a new sensor, a new imaging engine (TruePix VII), and continuing the new trend, the camera does not have an anti-aliasing filter.

The camera is scheduled to be available next month. The pricing I’ve seen is US, and it’s about half that of the Nikon D800, about $500 less than the D600 – body only.


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