The New Olympus OM-1 is Announced and it Looks Like a Photographic Revolution

The New Olympus OM-1 is Announced and it Looks Like a Photographic Revolution

Fifty years since the radical Olympus OM-1 SLR first appeared, the new OM System OM-1 is announced. It looks like another giant leap forward for photography.

The growing number of converts to Micro Four Thirds have long awaited a new flagship OM Systems model, and it has finally arrived. The new OM-1 looks as revolutionary as its film namesake was when it was released half a century ago. Built with the needs of the system’s users in mind, and not kowtowing to pressures of their competitors’ marketing departments, this camera appears an uncompromising leap forward from its predecessors.

This model will be the last camera bearing the Olympus name. It was kept because of OM Digital Solutions wanting to celebrate the legacy of this camera. Going back to the original film OM film SLRs, and then through to the Olympus E series, and OM-D models, they have always been innovative, packing cameras with new and unique features. Will this model be the same? The short answer from me is a definite yes.

The Robust Build, IP-53 Weather Sealing, and Weight Make It the Ideal Adventurer's Camera

Its recent predecessors were known for their sturdy, dust and splash-proof design, plus their lightweight. The OM-1 is no exception, its magnesium alloy body has been taken a step further, weather-sealed to the IP-53 standard to match the recently released and much-heralded Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 150-400mm f/4.5 TC1.25X IS PRO Lens.

The new OM-1 with the Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 150-400mm f/4.5 TC1.25X IS PRO Lens

The camera is also freeze-proof to -10°C, making it particularly attractive to landscape, wildlife, sports, and adventure photographers. Despite this, the camera weighs just 599 grams, including the battery and memory card. With the smaller, lighter lenses, I can see this is going to be the camera of choice for many outdoor photographers and those who carry their kit around with them

Will the Exceptional Performance, Features, and Functionality of the OM-1 Outshine its Rivals?

The OM1 is no slouch when it comes to all-round performance. The new TruePic X (pronounced X not ten) image processor has up to 3x faster processing power than its predecessors. It allows high-speed sequential shooting up to 50 fps with continuous autofocus, and 120 fps with single autofocus. To cope with this exceptional shooting speed, both card slots are now UHS-II SD compatible.

That extra fast processor will also speed the computational photography unique to this system. Current users of the OM-D cameras enjoy such features as the Live Composite mode that adds just new light to a single frame (great for light painting, light trails, and lightning), Live Time that allows you to watch a long exposure gradually develop on the rear screen or viewfinder, the digital Live ND filter that now has been increased to six stops; ND 64, plus a high-resolution mode. These will all perform faster, not to mention Pro-Capture, which I will come to later.

The electronic viewfinder is hugely improved on the previous models too, with approximately 5.76 million dot resolution, a viewfinder magnification of up to 1.65x, a negligible display delay of 0.005 seconds, and 120 fps high-speed display performance. Additionally, the viewfinder is blackout free

More big news is the sensor. It is a 20-megapixel stacked BSI Live MOS Sensor that increases maximum normal sensitivity to 25,600, expanded to 102,400, and the camera includes new noise reduction software. This backside-illuminated Quad Pixel Bayer pattern stacked CMOS sensor also gives a far wider dynamic range than its predecessors. That greater performance is far more important to most photographers than a higher pixel count, which for most of us just means bigger image files.

The Olympus cameras have always been renowned for their image stabilization. The upgraded “5-axis sync IS” gives seven stops of stabilization in the body, eight when coupled with a compatible lens. The camera includes a new “Handheld Assist” feature that helps capture slow shutter speeds without a tripod.

OM Digital Solutions say the autofocus has been redesigned and improved too. A quad-division photodiode configuration allows for On-chip Phase Detection in both vertical and horizontal directions. There are now 1,053 AF points, all cross-type.

The high-speed calculation capabilities of the new TruePic X processor and the new AF algorithm enable high-speed, high precision focusing on the subject no matter where it is in the frame.

The model is, of course, equipped with the system’s unique AI detection, and the subject recognition has been improved and new subjects added, with cats and dogs now recognized, along with birds, formula cars, helicopters and airplanes, motorcycles, and trains.

The fifty frames per second blackout-free AF/AE tracking is at approximately 20.37 Megapixel, with up to 120 fps AF/AE locked ultra-high-speed sequential shooting. When using Pro Capture, which is designed for capturing shots before the shutter button is fully depressed, it allows sequential shooting up to 50 fps (AF/AE tracking), and up to 120 fps (AF/AE locked). These speeds outperform such cameras as the Nikon Z9, the Canon R5, and the Sony a7 IV.

The new OM-1, of course, has the Supersonic Wave Filter dust reduction system that vibrates 30,000 times a second, cleaning the sensor of dirt.

The shutter is tested to over 400,000 actuations, well above most other cameras in the price bracket. The night view mode makes it easier to view subjects in the dark, and Starry Sky AF makes it easy to focus on the night sky. The camera also has separate AF-On and AEL buttons for back button focus.

The OM-1's Improved Video

Except for the image stabilization, which has been improved even further with this camera to what they describe as “industry-leading”, video was an area where the previous models were a little behind the competition. But this camera has been brought up to date with enhanced video functions: 4K 60p should give smooth, high-definition videos, and high-speed movies. Full HD videos deliver a maximum 240p.

The camera also supports H.264 (8bit), H.265 (10bit), and Multi-Frame Rate for recording video clips over 30 minutes in length.

In addition to RAW data output up to 12 bit 4:4:4 to external devices for advanced post-production tasks, the OM SYSTEM OM-1 supports OM-Log for a greater level of freedom over imaging expressions thanks to color grading, which allows users to capture highlights and shadows without overexposing or underexposing shots. The new HLG (Hybrid Log Gamma) video picture mode has been added for easier HDR video recording.

There's a New Menu on the OM-1 too

The menu system on Olympus cameras has met with criticism in the past, partly because it was necessarily complex; the massive number of customizable functions were the reason. Consequently, the menu screen configuration has been completely redesigned. Menu items have been split, merged, and reclassified, with simplified descriptions, making it easier to find the desired functions, and changing settings should be easier for first-time users. This makes sense as there are ever-increasing numbers of photographers migrating away from heavier, more cumbersome systems. Hints on the screen will not only tell you what a particular menu does, but why one is grayed out.

Two New M.Zuiko Professional Lenses Announced Too

It doesn’t stop there. OM Systems have released two new professional zoom lenses: M.Zuiko Digital ED 12-40mm f/2.8 PRO II and M.Zuiko Digital ED 40-150mm f/4.0 PRO.

Both lenses offer the same IP53 weather resistance as the new ON-1 body and are also operable to -10°C. In addition to water, oil, and dust repellence, the new fluorine coating on the lens front elements reduces friction, making them easier to clean with a blower

The shorter zoom lens offers improved optical performance on the Mark I version, which is a favorite of many Olympus shooters. It has a fixed maximum aperture of f/2.8.

This model uses an optical design with 14 elements in 9 groups (1 EDA lens, 2 aspherical lens, 1 DSA lens, 2 ED lens, 1 HD lens, 2 HR lens) with 4 aspherical lenses including a DSA lens effectively placed to achieve a compact, lightweight form and superior depictive performance of an M.Zuiko PRO lens.

Designed to give the best quality when using the High Res Mode on the OM-1, it is said to effectively compensate for aberrations that occur when zooming, results in high resolution from the center to the edges of the frame across the entire zoom range. It has a close-up shooting performance with a maximum image magnification of 0.6 x 1, and it supports the OM-1’s in-camera focus stacking.

Meanwhile, the 40-150mm f/4.0 PRO is a compact, lightweight mid-range telephoto lens that claims to be the most compact, lightweight model of its kind, with a fixed aperture of f/4.0. It’s only 99.4 mm long (124 mm long when in use) and weighs just 382 g. Considering this gives the equivalent angle of view as an 80-300 mm lens on a full frame camera, this is a compact and lightweight professional-grade lens that is comparatively tiny. It also has a close focusing distance, 70 cm this time, with maximum image magnification of 0.41 x.

Availability and Pricing of the OM-1 and New Lenses

The cameras and lenses will all be available at the beginning of March, and there are offers available on the pre-orders.

  • OM-1 Body Only: $2,199.99 USD; $2,799.99 CAD; €2199.99 Euros; £1,999.99 GBP
  • OM-1 Kit with M.Zuiko Digital ED 12-40mm F2.8 PRO II: $2,799.99 USD; $3,599.99 CAD; €2799.99 Euros; £2499.99 GBP
  • M.Zuiko Digital ED 12-40mm F2.8 PRO II: $999.99 USD; $1,299.99 CAD; €999.99 Euros; £899.99 GBP
  • M.Zuiko Digital ED 40-150mm F4.0 PRO: $899.99 USD; $1,149.99 CAD; €899.99 Euros; £799.99 GBP
  • HLD-10 Power Battery Holder: $349.99 USD; $449.99 CAD; €249.99 Euros; £319.99 GBP
  • BLX-1 Lithium Ion Battery: $99.99 USD; $129.99 CAD; £79.99 GBP

Pre-Order the camera or camera kit before March 3rd 2022 and a free Extra Battery & 3-Year Extended Warranty is included.

My Conclusions About the OM-1 Release

Despite the negative campaign aimed at damaging the brand, especially since Olympus cameras were rescued and turned around by JIP, OM Digital Solutions is clearly thumbing its nose at its detractors. It's releasing three top-of-the-range, feature-packed items that will please the current Micro Four Thirds users, who have been crying out for a new camera with an improved dynamic range. That decision to choose dynamic range over more megapixels is a good one; 20 million is more than enough for most photography, and many photographers are now clued into the pixel count myth.

It also will be attractive to those migrating from heavier, cumbersome systems. The improved usability and the choice of using AI to capture shots will also appeal to new photographers who are just learning the technicalities of photography.

Furthermore, Olympus was always known for the quality of their lenses, and they have pushed this even further.

In an increasingly competitive and shrinking market, this camera seems as if it really is revolutionary. Pushing the boundaries and being early adopters of new technologies is what the Olympus brand was always about. That is good for the photographers and the industry. What is more, they seem to be continuing to do this by offering top-class equipment at a fraction of the cost of other flagship models. I'm looking forward to getting my hands on the camera and putting it through its paces.

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Ivor Rackham's picture

Earning a living as a photographer, website developer, and writer and Based in the North East of England, much of Ivor's work is training others; helping people become better photographers. He has a special interest in supporting people with their mental well-being through photography. In 2023 he became a brand ambassador for the OM System

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The camera with that 150-400 lens is surely unbeatable for a compact wildlife setup? crazy reach, f4.5 aperture and stunning build quality.

I agree. I would love that lens, but it's way beyond my budget at the moment.

What an underwhelming camera. I always wanted to like the Olympus system but it consistently disappoints. If this is a Great Leap Forward for photography then Donald Trump was a great President. In a few weeks it will be forgotten about and will only be used by a few die-hards. If it was a successful system Olympus would not have sold it to a PE firm. Good luck to them but will the system still be here in 10 years? Of course not.

I guess you are entitled to your opinion, Andrew, but they don't cohere with all those in the industry I've spoken to. Your conclusions don't match the evidence to the contrary either. Additionally, all the other companies taken over by JIP are thriving. In Japan, Micro Four Thirds is the biggest system, holding nearly 22% of the market, with OM System being the largest of the 56 companies that employ the system.

I have to disagree. He’s dead on about Donald Trump being the biggest loser ever elected to political office. Other than that he’s way off base. Can’t wait to attach this new camera to the 150-400mm.

Oh, sorry, Daniel. I wasn't commenting on your former President, just the camera, and it's manufacturer. It will be great to see the results you get with that fine lens. I had the pleasure of trying one at the Camera and Video Show here in the UK. It was a fantastic piece of kit. Although my wife agreed with me buying this camera - I have pre-ordered it - I think I would be hearing from her lawyer if I bought that lens before our mortgage is paid off! :D

Donald Trump was a great president, and should still be. Not Diapers Biden. That being said since you brought it up first...........I looked into buying one of these because I loved my Olympus cameras, but the lack of support from Capture one for shooting tethered keeps me from buying it. The Pro Lenses are very sharp and well made. Support me in the studio and I'll consider dropping my Nikon.

Trump was a terrible president, Biden is a terrible president, obama was a terrible president, bush was a terrible president, clinton was a terrible president. This country hasn't had even halfway decent leadership in a VERY long time. Every administration as far back as forever has sold this countries future to the highest corporate bidder which in the grand view of their profits is a very insulting payout.

Let's keep it on topic please, guys. There are plenty of other forums for political debate and there already enough people getting hot under the collar over cameras.

Donald, I agree about the lack of support for tethering, not only through Capture One but Lightroom too. That's down to the manufacturers of the software not OM Systems/ Olympus. In think Gavin Hoey uses the Olympus software to tether in the studio and feeds the files into a watched folder in Lightroom. I think you can set up "Hot Folders" that do the same in Capture One. It's not an ideal solution, and it might be worth pressuring the software manufacturers to pull their fingers out and start supporting more than just two or three brands.


- the new OM is a great leap forward for photography;


- Donald Trump was a great president.

Dude, wut?!

Good photography as to do with the photographer not the camera !!!!

… or the President!

"HLD-10 Power Battery Holder: $349.99 USD; $449.99 CAD; €249.99 Euros; £799.99 GBP". I know the UK is expensive but I think this is a typo ?

£399 would be my guess.

Oops, sorry. It was a typo - £319.19. I'll get it corrected.

It's fixed now. Thanks for highlighting it Phil.

Some will still have megapixel anxiety, but 20mp is enough for anything today.

If the noise is manageable, this system could eat the lunch of the big names' current APS-C lines.

20mp at 18x13.5mm is really pushing the bounds of physics and manufacturing practicalities. As it is, each of those pixels is about the same size as a cone cell in the human eye. If you look at pixel density on this sensor (290 px/mm), it is more tightly packed than the Sony A7R IV (264px/mm) or the Hasselblad 100mp (217px/mm).

Every week for the last 15 years, we've been hearing that sensors are "approaching the physical limits".

Damn, Fuji better cancel those 40mp sensors then Scott, seeing as how they are 'pushing the bounds of physics'

Are they doing a 40mp micro four thirds, or are you thinking of the APS-C Fujifilm X-H2?

Why is that relevant? Your logic states that increasing the pixel density is beyond practical levels for manufacturing. A 40mp APS-C sensor is going to be much higher density than that Sony camera you’re referencing, which by the way, I wouldn’t own and use if you were paying me to.

A 40mp APS-C sensor has almost identical pixel density (i e. pixels per sq. mm) as a 20mp micro four thirds sensor.

So it matters a lot.

The pixels on this OM Systems sensor are going to be about as small as technological/physics limitations allow.

How do you know it’s about as small as physics limitations allow? Are you a sensor engineer or just guessing?

Do you think companies would release a newer sensor that performs worse than the previous generation? Haven’t people been saying this about higher res sensors for the last 15 years? And none of it has ever happened.

Samsung puts 200 million pixels on a smartphone sensor and laughs.

More seriously, though, keep in mind this is a quad Bayer sensor. There are actually a bit over 80 million independent pixels on this sensor. That's how they do PDAF acriss the whole chip without the masked-off PDAF pixels that bother everyone. Okay, well, everyone making the decisions at Panasonic.

Curiously, Panasonic is announcing the GH6 next week and it seems to have yet another new M43 sensor, and maybe not even a Sony sensor. Tower? That would be interesting. Tower is being bought by Intel, a company known for a single mission: just selling chips. If they see big camera sensors as a viable business, maybe we get nice trch war going with Sony!

If you watch this presentation from David Smith and Tesni Ward, you'll see there is a vast improvement on the noise control:

I wish my camera had all those long exposure modes

It's been a unique feature of Olympus cameras for a long time. I use Live Time all the while for nighttime and ND1000 seascapes. Watching the image gradually appear on the rear screen is like watching a print develop in the darkroom. Kind of magical.

Although Phase One IQ4 doesn’t show (yet) the live update on the display, it can take frame averaged simulated long exposure. And it is not limited to 64 readouts.

That's interesting, Tamas. Thanks. Is that what you shoot with?

When it is appropriate, then yes.
(disclaimer: I work for Phase One as a software engineer)

I’m not about to switch from Sony, but it sounds like there are some really cool and useful innovations in this that I hope make their way into other cameras.

Without seeing any details, it looks like downsized A1 sensor tech. If a stacked sensor doubles the light gathering, then this might outperform a Sony A7 IV in handheld low light. It could hold its own. No matter your system, advancements like this make cameras better for everyone.

I agree. Olympus have always pushed the technology - they were early adopters of mirrorless and quick to abandon optical viewfinders - and that pushes the other manufacturers forward.

The stacked or BSI tech improves the light gathering considerably. However, Sony has been using BSI and stacked chip for quite awhile. This is almost new to M43, the only BSI sensor has been the IMX299 in the Panny GH5s. Not everyone's cup o'joe at 10.7 megapixels. Fine for 4K video.

I wish the R5 would have this Por Capture mode… It would be very usefull for wildlife action photography.

All I can do is admire from afar. It looks and sounds like a terrific camera - but the cost is out of my league.

The features are amazing, it’s like a kids wish list just checked off line after line. Maybe in 10 years $1000 cameras will get most of these features, and until they do I’ll have to be happy with what I have.

I’m not saying it’s overpriced for what it delivers, but I’m not a professional and I cannot justify paying pro prices for my gear.

That makes sense. I drive an older small car, but would love something bigger and newer. There are always priorities and compromises to be made in where we spend our money. Upgrading our camera skills is more important than new cameras.

I still own my 1975 Olympus M1, the new camera are overpriced. To much for to little. Sorry, but I see no need to spend money on the new razzle dazzle stuff when my gear works just as good or better. Sell, sell, sell, or is it buy, buy, buy, So let's get ready to charge it!!! Now here's an idea from the old days, know your camera, know your camera, and use, use, use and shoot the holy crap out of what you have. Save your money and take your camera on a vacation.

Be Safe and Smart
Roger J.

I have an OM2 SP, and used to have an OM2n. They are still great cameras.

With inflation, what I paid for the OM2n in 1983 would be around £1500 GBP in today's money. The new OM-1 is more than that, but it is also a lot more camera, so it would be like comparing apples and oranges.

When I think about what other top of the range kit for my other pursuits I can buy for that money now, it is not far off what I would expect to buy a reasonable guitar for, or a decently specified computer. It would not buy me a decent dinghy or canoe.

But it depends on priorities. If you are happy with what you have, and it does everything you need it to, then I agree that there is no need to change from what you have. For me, my main camera (which I just took on vacation) is getting older and well-used, and I make my living from it. So, upgrading is a good option for me. The better image quality and dynamic range will make a difference to my nighttime and sunrise seascapes. So, I have pre-ordered one. Judging by the comments on social media, there are plenty of others who have decided it is a good choice for them.

Thanks for the comment.

The original OM-1 was $369 in 1972. That would be 2,482 in 2022 dollars. Overpriced? Really? Not to mention that your photos are now essentially free, versus about $0.50 each in the good old days.

My first camera was an OM-1 in 1974 and I still have it (and sometimes use it). I've used all of their 35mm OM's (up to OM-4Ti) also professionally. In the digital age I moved to other brands, but Olympus always had a special place. I'm very impressed with these specs and although I realize that M43 isn't for everyone's needs, this is as good as it gets. 20MP shouldn't be an issue for most of us. Some of my EOS-D1's barely reached half of that and the images still got published. Unless you consistently print 'poster-sized' 2880dpi fine-art prints, you're fine. Opting for better DR is a smart choice.

I'm very happy with the path Olympus has chosen and I truly hope that they regain momentum. These are amongst the best-build cameras and lenses I've ever seen.

Thanks for the great comment, Jacob. I am very much a believer in every camera brand and model having specific attributes that suit different photographers and different types of photography. The signs are that the brand is growing, which is good news for the industry and photographers.

While I agree with you that this will be a very cool camera, I disagree with you about resolution being a myth. Micro four thirds users love resolution as the sensors rely on super high pixel densities. Micro four thirds sensors are about 3.8x smaller than full frame. If you extrapolate the density of a 20 mpx m4/3 sensor to full frame you would be looking at around 76mpx. Just think of the om-1 as a 76mpx full frame camera cropped to 20 mpx.

It's amazing that with almost 4x more surface area to work with, the big name full frame manufacturers like Canon, Nikon, and Sony can't come up with image quality as good as the newer MFT sensors.

I am all about ultimate image quality, and don't care too much about size and weight. A big, heavy camera is just fine with me. Actually feels much more comfortable in my hands than smaller cameras.

But to think that my full frame gear is not giving me as good of an image file, with regards to noise grain, dynamic range, and fine detail resolution, is causing me to think about switching to something like these newer Olympus cameras.

If only these newer MFT cameras weren't so much more expensive than the FF stuff I use, I would start looking to switch ASAP. But a meagre budget for camera gear means that I will probably have to stick with the FF stuff I am using now, for at least another year. Maybe if I have a really lucrative firefighting season this summer, I will be able to afford to jump over to MFT by next winter. I better start looking at what super long telephoto lenses are available for the MFT system ..... which could be fun! I love to research new-to-me gear possibilties!

I would be surprised if the OM-1 outperformed modern, Nikon, Sony and most recently Canon(r3, 5&6) cameras in terms of image quality. Are you shooting an older canon by chance? Also, it’s important to remember (and please correct me if I’m wrong) that the longest Olympus lens is 400mm at the moment, which is equivalent to 800mm on a ff camera. Nikon and Canon are working hard to make 800mm lenses more affordable for their mirrorless cameras. Nikon has an 800mm pf coming soon and canon already has an 800 f11. An 800mm lens on a 46mpx full frame camera, has over 2x more cropping power than a 400mm (800 ff equivalent) lens on a 20mpx mft camera. All in all in terms of reach, and likely image quality, high res full frame is still king. Don’t get me wrong there are a ton of amazing features on this camera I think ff manufacturers need to consider but full frame is still the most versatile format as it has the best balance between available focal lengths and resolution.


Thanks for the thoughtful, insightful response.

The Canon DSLR that I primarily shoot with these days is the 5D Mark 4. It is relatively current, in that I don't think it has been discontinued yet. Although the model is several years old, and I bought mine in very well used condition, three years after the model was released.

I do shoot a lot at 800mm, with my Sigma 300-800mm zoom. So what you say about 400mm being the longest available lens for this new Olympus is a bit concerning. I know there's an "angle of view" advantage with the MFT sensors, but I don't know if that entirely makes up for having such a short focal length.

But a lot of people are writing articles and making videos that are saying that MFT is better than full frame gear, and that many people can't be all wrong.

There is something to be said for lighter weight, too. I do not like to shoot with small light cameras, as they are uncomfortable to use. But I am often carrying my cameras and lenses around, not actually using them. I mean, in some days of wildlife photography, it isn't uncommon to carry the camera for 10 hours, but only spend an hour or two actually using it to take photos. So the light weight would be an advantage for 8 or 9 hours out of the day, while the larger, more ergonomically comfortable body would only be an advantage for an hour or two out of the day. And that is a net advantage for smaller and lighter. Hence, the edge goes to the MFT in such cases.

Hi Tom, I’d like to see the articles you are referring to. I assure you, m43 is not better than full frame. There are a few advantages sure, but overall full frame is a much more versatile platform. There is a myth going around that resolution is meaningless, if you crop your images at all, this is NOT true! And for the record, in terms of reach, aps-c with adapted full frame glass (600mm or 800mm) has m43 beat by a long shot. Also, I highly doubt m43 will ever have enough resolution to shoot 8k. While 8k is overkill for most, it’s great for wildlife as it allows for a generous crop in post.

John Vander Ploeg said,

"Hi Tom, I’d like to see the articles you are referring to."

Hey, John

There is an immense amount of content, written and video alike, that is telling photographers that they would do much better by switching to MFT, because MFT is better in so many ways. The articles and videos are literally everywhere. Here are a few of the thousands that are out there:

Thanks for the videos! If you have your heart set on making the jump to m43 do it and I wish you the best of luck!

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