Earlier this month, rumors emerged regarding the forthcoming offering from Olympus: the EM1X, due to be announced in January. No-one was expecting it to have one feature that makes it unique and yet no one wants.
In his inimitable deadpan style, Camera Conspiracies (aka Vegetable Police, aka Canadian War God, aka Kasey) offers his thoughts on the apparent prospect of the EM1X’s built-in battery grip. Given how much video and hybrid shooters enjoy having the option of throwing cameras onto gimbals and cranes, one has to wonder why Olympus would choose to add the significant additional weight of extra battery power given that most manufacturers deal with this problem by making a battery grip an optional extra.
Sure, the Nikon D5 and the Canon 1D X Mark II both have built-in battery grips, but these are big, expensive full frame, top-of-the-line cameras, not micro four-thirds, where size and weight is typically a huge advantage. If the rumors are to be believed, the new Olympus will measure 144 x 147 x 75 mm, just shy of the 1D X’s 158 x 168 x 83 mm. For micro four-thirds, that is huge.
As Camera Conspiracies points out, Olympus is known for creating cameras that offer solid video features with great stabilization. Is this sports and wildlife shooter (18 fps) going to keep that tradition, and how bizarre would it be to have such a huge body with a flip-out screen?
From what we’ve seen, this is not a concern for Olympus, which seems more interested in taking on Canon, Nikon, and increasingly Sony in the world of professional sports photography. A full-frame setup such as a 1D X or a D5 with a 400mm lens is a serious investment, both financially and in terms of the small car that you’ll need to carry it around. In the world of micro four-thirds, such a lens would be significantly lighter, making pro sports photography both more affordable and significantly kinder to your lower back, without a massive compromise in image quality.
However, with all of that said, how many truly fast, super telephoto lens are available to micro four-thirds shooters? The Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 40-150mm f/2.8 PRO is a solid option but offers a reach that is the equivalent of only 300mm in 35mm terms at its longest. Even Olympus seems unsure, allegedly cancelling the development of their 400 mm f/4 a few months ago.