Olympus has introduced a new flagship Micro Four Thirds camera. The OM-D E-M1X features an impressive spec sheet and seems to be designed with a very specific photographer in mind.
The camera’s major claims to fame will certainly be its sequential shooting and stabilization capability. The camera is capable of 60 fps with focus and exposure locked at the first frame, but is still able to pump out 18 fps with focus and exposure adjustments. Along with the high speed sequential shooting, “pro capture mode” is also available, which captures 35 frames before the shutter is pressed. When it comes to stabilization, the camera offers 7.5 stops of compensation. To support that massive frame rate, the camera has an integrated battery grip with support for two batteries.
The sensor can produce 20.4 megapixel images, and can produce 80 megapixel images via “High Res Shot." Also new is “Handheld High Res Shot”, which allows handheld shots at an intermediate resolution of 50 megapixels.
Autofocus is handled by a 121 point, cross-type phase detection array built into the sensor. AI-powered algorithms are supposed to improve AF performance, enabling things like detecting the driver’s helmet in motorsports or airplanes and trains.
The viewfinder is suitably high performance, with 120 fps progressive readout and a .005 second latency. Industry-leading magnification of 0.83x should make for a pleasant viewing experience.
Durability shouldn’t be a concern, as multiple aspects of the camera are optimized for ruggedness. Olympus claims the camera exceeds IPX1 water resistance, along with sealed ports which keep the camera dust, splash, and freeze-proof. Olympus is promoting these durability improvements with a free two year extended warranty
Given the feature set, Olympus is targeting sports and wildlife photographers, to whom the high framerate and durable body should be very appealing. The integrated vertical grip, spec sheet, and emphasis on performance all seem to justify Olympus’s claim that this is a pro-grade camera. Some of the features, including the handheld high-resolution shooting and image stabilization mechanism are pronounced technical accomplishments.
The specs come at a cost, however, as the body isn’t exactly suited to the micro moniker. This may be a hidden benefit, as I expect this camera to be primarily used with telephoto lenses, and the larger body should offer a more balanced handling experience. Despite the larger body, a complete sports kit is eminently more portable. A comparable full frame kit with a 600mm f/4 lens will be much larger than the Olympus equivalent 300mm f/4, as well as quite a bit more expensive.
Overall, the camera appears to be a technical accomplishment and should be very appealing to many sports and action photographers. Micro Four Thirds shooters have a pro-grade sports camera, with a spec sheet that appears to be competitive with top cameras from Sony, Nikon, and Canon. It features a price to match, however. It'll be interesting to see the level of demand for a camera with this specific feature set, especially in the Micro Four Thirds market.
The E-M1X is priced at $2.999.99, and is currently available for preorder from B&H.