Bird Photographer’s Field Review of the Olympus OM-D E-M1X

Intimate bird photography has usually been made possible by using some seriously hefty lenses paired with large pro DSLR camera bodies. Can a Micro Four Thirds system really be just as effective while physically being much smaller and easier to carry?

In this video from published bird photographer Tim Boyer, he reviews one of the more interesting camera releases in recent memory. The Olympus OM-D E-M1X is a souped-up Micro Four Thirds camera built to be rugged, fast, and versatile. On paper it sounds terrific, but it’s the results that matter the most. Boyer lists out the all the pros and cons with the camera for bird photography when paired with the Olympus M.Zuiko 300mm f/4 IS PRO lens and occasional assistance from the Olympus M.Zuiko 1.4x teleconverter.

While this field review mostly sticks to eyeing the results from shooting with the Micro Four Thirds combo, Fstoppers has you covered if you’re interested in a deeper dive of the OM-D E-M1X performance, image and video quality, and comparisons.

Would you ever give up the big guns and move to Micro Four Thirds for photographing birds or wildlife? A smaller kit that can be handheld all day absolutely has its advantages, but when it comes down to it and you are looking back at all your images I think the full-frame or even crop-sensor DSLRs will have the clear winning image quality that is too hard to give up. Let us know your own thoughts in the comments below.

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Black Z Eddie .'s picture

After seeing these side by side, I think I'll stay with full frame.

Gion-Andri Derungs's picture

It's a good example, that aperture has an effect to the bokeh on crop sensor cameras. How many times I've heard, it does not matter....

Alex Yakimov's picture

I agree. But with the reliance for ever-increasing computational techniques, it would be less of an issue sooner or later...

Dan PERSA's picture

When the bird stays still, Canon looks better. When the bird starts moving, you'll start noticing that you have an astonishing 3fps with the Canon :)

Jean-francois LE GUEN's picture

Sure the canon 600mm looks better but it is also 6 times the price which is a lot considering the Oly is already 2000 euros :D

Ken Barris's picture

I have more reach with my Nikon D7500 than my D750, but as long as the bird isn't too far, the full frame handles cropping and high ISO noise much better.

Sridhar Chilimuri's picture

I have this camera with the same lens. I think Mr. Boyer's conclusions in the end were very accurate and reflects my experience. It is extremely comfortable in your hands, easy to carry and has enough IS that you don't need a tripod.

Rk K's picture

A more appropriate comparison would be to a 400/500/600 ff zoom that's even cheaper.

Jon The Baptist's picture

I've got this combination, and I'd agree with pretty much everything except the noise. AF is better than my D4, the lenses are fantastic, the kit is so easy to use and carry, it's really a relief compared to shooting with a D4 for so many years. That being said, You've got to be at DEFCON 1 to be shooting Micro 4/3rds at ISO 6400. That I disagree with.

IMO it's great all the way up to 1600, after that, it's no-fly-zone territory.

Troy Straub's picture

Just a hobbiest, and more of a bug shooter than birds, but I love my Micro 4/3 system! I feel I'm much more limited by my own skills and experience than my sensor size. Price was right for my budget, and I can fit a lot of gear in a relatively small bag. Not saying I'll never go to a bigger sensor, but I'll wait until more people go to even bigger sensors and prices come down.

Justin DiScalfani's picture

Nice review. Keep in mind that the costs in the image comparisons for pixel peepers aren’t slight. The FF’s also come with a difference of about $5500 in price, 5lbs of weight and necessity of a tripod in most cases further increasing the weight. You can shave off another $1500 for the omd-em1 mark II instead of the x which uses the same image sensor. As an avid middle class hiker that renders the FF big guns with big price tags useless to me. So what good is IQ if there are no images? Depends on your goals.