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Olympus OM-D E-M1 First Look Preview
by Laura Hicks -  9/10/2013

Overview
Today Olympus introduces the OM-D E-M1. The new flagship camera is the successor to the Olympus OM-D E-M5 . Built for the professional photographer, the E-M1 promises image quality that will rival full-frame DSLRs. However, the E-M1 will give users all that power in a smaller, more lightweight body. The OM-D E-M1 features a new 16.3 megapixel Live MOS sensor and a new TruePic VII image processor. The TruePic VII image processor reduces noise and color fading at high ISOs while new Fine Detail Processing II technology configures image sharpness. Just like the OM-D E-M5, the E-M1's built-in 5-Axis Image Stabilization with Multi-Motion IS mechanism reduces the effects of camera motion and image blur from five directions.

The E-M1 offers both Contrast AF and On-Chip Phase Detection AF. The camera's autofocus selects the best of either method: either 37-point On-Chip Phase Detection AF or 81-point Contrast Detection AF. The TruePic VII engine supports 10 frames-per-second shooting with a 41-picture RAW buffer in single autofocus (S-AF) mode and 6.5 frames-per-second shooting with a 50-picture RAW buffer in continuous autofocus (C-AF) mode. If you love a great viewfinder like I do, you will not be disappointed. The E-M1 has an electronic viewfinder (EVF) that is fantastic. The E-M1's Electronic Viewfinder features a 1.48x (35mm equivalent of .74x) magnification factor. The EVF's LCD features 2.36 million dots. The EVF has a display time lag of only 0.029 seconds.

No longer will you need to attach an extra grip to the OM-D to get a great ergonomic feel, it has an awesome grip built in. The E-M1 has a durable magnesium alloy body, and weather-resistant seals and gaskets block moisture and dust for use in any environment, without sacrificing image quality. The camera-s Supersonic Wave Filter (SSWF) dust reduction system vibrates at a super-high speed of more than 30,000 times per second.

In addition to the same art filters seen on the E-M5, the E-M1 is equipped with two HDR options--HDR1 and HDR2. Photo Story mode enables users to capture a scene from multiple viewpoints and then combine the images into a single image to create unique collages inside the camera. Time Lapse Movie converts the series of pictures taken using interval shooting into a movie inside the camera. The Time Lapse Movie length has been increased to a maximum of 100 seconds. The number of possible shots that can be captured with Interval Shooting has been increased to 999. The E-M1 is also equipped with Focus Peaking. If that's not enough, the OM-D E-M1 includes built-in Wi-Fi.

In addition to the E-M1 announcement, Olympus is also unveiling two new lenses: the ZUIKO ED 12-40mm f2.8 PRO lens (24-80mm, 35mm equivalent) and the ZUIKO Digital ED 40-150mm f2.8 PRO (80-300mm, 35mm equivalent). This sends a huge message to users that Olympus is investing heavily into the professional lineup and is willing to expand their lenses to accommodate the high-end professionals and serious enthusiasts.

The M.ZUIKO Digital ED 12-40mm f2.8 PRO lens (24-80mm, 35mm equivalent) is the first model in the new M.ZUIKO PRO category and is scheduled for release at the same time as the Olympus OM-D E-M1. Like the camera, it is dustproof and waterproof. Its mount employs the same type of sealing as the camera body and is Movie & Still Compatible (MSC) with high-speed, near-silent autofocus during still shooting and high-definition (HD) video capture.

The M.ZUIKO Digital ED 40-150mm F2.8 PRO (80-300mm, 35mm equivalent) also joins the new M.ZUIKO PRO lens category. This lens is currently under development, with a planned release in the latter half of 2014. It will be a telephoto zoom lens with a constant f2.8 aperture and will feature a dustproof and splashproof construction rugged enough for professional use.

The Olympus OM-D E-M1 will be available, body only, in October 2013 for the street price of $1399.99.

First Impression
It's Fantastic! If you liked the OM-D E-M5, you are going to absolutely love the E-M1. This camera is beautiful! It has all the bells and whistles of a professional DSLR but in a more compact and very ergonomic body style. 

Even though I loved the E-M5, there were a few things that I would have like to have seen changed. Many of those changes were made on the E-M1. For example, I was never a fan of the placement of the on/off switch for the E-M5. On the E-M1, the on/off switch has been placed on the top left side of the camera. This is a much better placement. That being said, I really think I would prefer to have it on the right side. It would make for easier one-handed start-up of the camera. Olympus has also added a 1,2 flip switch that makes accessing shooting functions such as ISO even easier. The playback button is now in a much better location--on the back of the camera, in the lower right hand corner. The mode dial now has a lock button. But this one is better than ones that we see on most DSLRs because it can be activated by a touch of one finger.

The electronic viewfinder is better than ever. It is crisp, clear and can more easily keep up with a moving subject. The camera was able to respond quickly in low-lit situations and the ISO held up remarkably well. With the addition of the professional grade lenses, Olympus is clearly targeting the professional audience. I can't wait to take it on a professional shoot and show you the results! Below are some samples of images taken at and around the Olympus event this evening. I will be adding additional images to an image gallery. Click here to see more sample images.