Olympus OM-D E-M1 Full Resolution JPEG and RAW Sample Images

Here some quick first impressions after I played bit with the Olympus OM-D E-M1. Talk evolution rather than revolution. While the body is slightly larger than that of the original OM-D, the E-M5, it doesn’t feel that much bigger. With the battery grip and 12-40mm F2.8 attached it’s a comfortable package. Less stylish than it’s predecessor and apart from the looks an all along faster, better, more advanced successor. But if the E-M5 wasn’t right up your alley in terms of ergonomics, the E-M1 is not a completely different beast. Personally, I don’t want this newest OM-D a millimeter larger. But if size matters to you, this slightly more futuristic looking OM-D is just another rock solid OM-D, and a very impressive one for that.

And beware, not all that shines is gold. Alongside the E-M1 I played as well a bit with Panasonic’s new Lumix GX7. While the Lumix’ design is much less spectacular, I must say the Panasonic felt more comfortable, more intuitive, more natural in my hands. This E-M1 sports some bold design and might not satisfy everyone’s taste and needs. It does, however, mine. The Lumix is just very different. Less loud, more classic.

The Olympus OM-D E-M1, world's probably most compact "pro" system camera, feels comfortable in the hand. Despite being slightly bigger than the E-M5, this still is a very compact camera and might not be your tool of choice if you prefer more solid, weighty gear.
The Olympus OM-D E-M1, world’s probably most compact “pro” system camera, feels comfortable in the hand. Despite being slightly bigger than the E-M5, this still is a very compact camera and might not be your tool of choice if you prefer more solid, weighty gear.
First real world shooting impression? The E-M1’s auto white balance wasn’t too reliable in the artificial light of a mall. Had to go look for some natural light, but no surprise then, with the right amount of correct light this sensor nails skin tones. Now imagine how those Olympus colors shine outdoors in daylight.

Add the exceptionally big and bright viewfinder. What a pleasure. You still can tell it’s not an optical VF, but the hints of lag and minimal flicker in dim light don’t obstruct the kind of F2-Titanesque experience.

Plus: the kit lens. This 12-40mm F2.8 might be a reason for many to switch to the Olympus camp. Not only the metallic build quality of these “pro” optics feels excellent. The bokeh is smooth and buttery with only a slight hint of nervousness. It’s no Leica Lux glass, but in a very compact package you get an all-rounder that could well replace a whole DSLR lensarium…

Below are some straight out of camera JPEG and ORF files in full resolution for you to download and play with.

To challenge the combo a bit more and test corner performance, the zoom is wide open. All settings ex factory with AWB, handheld, no distortion correction and firmware 1.0 of a production E-M1.

With the battery grip added, the E-M1 looks distinctively bulkier and more DSLR-like than its E-M5 predecessor.
With the battery grip added, the E-M1 looks distinctively bulkier and more DSLR-like than its E-M5 predecessor.
BTW, in addition to these E-M1 sample images I tested the GX7 with the Lumix 14mm F2.5 pancake. Will post a follow-up article with comparison files soon.

For now, my head wants the Oly, the heart likes the Pana. Has to be seen whether this still is the case after I compare the files. And is the E-M1 another Olympus marketing hype? Yet again, as with every major announcement, Olympus is praising this camera’s “world’s fastest” and “fastest ever” AF system. To be taken with a grain of salt? In the past such promises didn’t really live up to expectations raised. We’ll see about that.

Still, considering the size of the sensor, this E-M1 output is pretty impressive, to say the least. Who says bigger is always better?

Below are first two portrait samples, then the uncropped ISO comparison test scene followed by 100% crops of each ISO step.

BTW, why I chose a well-lit scene? It’s a common misconception that dimmer light shows more noise. The intensity of light is irrelevant to the amount of noise. The reason why dim light shows more noise than bright sunlight is simple: it’s not the intensity of light, photos taken in dim light tend to be underexposed to a greater extent than those in good light.

It’s maybe a matter of taste, but in good light noise-related problems and artifacts, aliasing and other typical issues that arise in digital cameras images seem more pronounced.

Anyways, E-M1 conclusion for now:

The E-M1 is a true flagship camera.

For Olympus.

Don’t know yet if for me.

No, they don’t give me any free lunch. I get loaners, that’s it.

But they always have these huge claims. Fastest, bestest, whatever.

As said, AWB wasn’t very spot on in difficult light.

But in a very compact package you get an overall class leading performance that questions whether sensor equivalence matters any longer.

The E-M5 already was a stellar camera. The E-M1 gives you an improved, already unmatched 5-axis stabilization, an improved 16.3MP sensor (glad they don’t cramp in more pixels), better customization, improved handling, Titanesque viewfinder, etc.

So far the E-M1 excites me very much. But as ergonomics, mojo and overall feel are as least as important as technicalities, I have to put this combo to the test first.

Today nearly every camera is able to offer good performance in capable hands. Whether a camera is “good” or not depends more than ever on individual preferences and needs.

Must admit, I love Olympus. But not to the point to whore for them. Loved the E-1 with it’s CCD Kodak sensor and may have made a mistake by selling it. I’m sure that camera could still perform reasonably well today.

The E-3 was a disappointment.

The E-M1 looks very promising. As said, Olympus is good in making huge marketing promises. Not that the camera is a total breakthrough, but another OM-D engineering marvel that certainly solidifies Olympus’ position and draws more well-deserved attention to maturing Micro Four Thirds.

For full resolution JPEG downloads click the cropped image. For RAW downloads click “Download ORF” in the respective caption box.

+++ You can order the Olympus OM-D E-M1 and the new fast 12-40mm F2.8 PRO zoom from Amazon (dedicated page/body/lens), B&H (body/lens) and Adorama (body/lens).

ISO 500 --  F2.8 -- 1/80 Download ORF
ISO 500 — F2.8 — 1/80 | Download ORF
ISO 500 -- F2.8 -- 1/80 | Download ORF
ISO 500 — F2.8 — 1/80 | Download ORF
ISO Comparison Test Scene
ISO Comparison Test Scene

Now here the successive ISO sample crops:

ISO 100 -- F2.8 -- 1/20 | Download ORF
ISO 100 — F2.8 — 1/20 | Download ORF
ISO 250 -- F2.8 -- 1/50 | Download ORF
ISO 250 — F2.8 — 1/50 | Download ORF
ISO 660 -- F2.8 1/125 | Download ORF
ISO 660 — F2.8 1/125 | Download ORF
ISO 1,000 -- F2.8 -- 1/200 | Download ORF
ISO 1,000 — F2.8 — 1/200 | Download ORF
ISO 1,600 -- F2.8 -- 1/320 | Download ORF
ISO 1,600 — F2.8 — 1/320 | Download ORF
ISO 2,000 -- F2.8 -- 1/400 | Download ORF
ISO 2,000 — F2.8 — 1/400 | Download ORF
ISO 3,200 -- F2.8 -- 1/640 | Download ORF
ISO 3,200 — F2.8 — 1/640 | Download ORF
ISO 5,000 -- F2.8 -- 1/1,000 | Download ORF
ISO 5,000 — F2.8 — 1/1,000 | Download ORF
ISO 6,400 -- F2.8 -- 1/1,250 | Download ORF
ISO 6,400 — F2.8 — 1/1,250 | Download ORF
ISO 10,000 -- F2.8 -- 1/2,000 | Download ORF
ISO 10,000 — F2.8 — 1/2,000 | Download ORF
ISO 12,800 -- F2.8 -- 1/2,500 | Download ORF
ISO 12,800 — F2.8 — 1/2,500 | Download ORF
ISO 16,000 -- F2.8 -- 1/3,200 | Download ORF
ISO 16,000 — F2.8 — 1/3,200 | Download ORF
ISO 20,000 -- F2.8 -- 1/4,000 | Download ORF
ISO 20,000 — F2.8 — 1/4,000 | Download ORF
ISO 25,600 -- F2.8 -- 1/5,000 | Download ORF
ISO 25,600 — F2.8 — 1/5,000 | Download ORF
Downsized, straight out of camera, it's hard to tell the difference between this maximum ISO 25,600 image and a cleaner lower speed.
Downsized, straight out of camera, it’s hard to tell the difference between this maximum ISO 25,600 image and a cleaner lower speed.

+++ You can order the Olympus OM-D E-M1 and the new fast 12-40mm F2.8 PRO zoom from Amazon (dedicated page/body/lens), B&H (body/lens) and Adorama (body/lens).



  • Robert Mark

    I spent a hour pixel peeping the studio scene RAW files from dpreview.com yesterday. Compared the OM-D E-M1 to Canon 5D Mark III and Fuji X-Pro1. (Flame suit on)

    Results: up to ISO 800, the images are almost indistinguishable among the three bodies. Yes, a slight resolution advantage to the 5D3. At 1600 and up, the Fuji and Canon have a one stop advantage in noise suppression. But honestly, the $1400 Oly at 6400 looks the same as the $3500 Canon at 12800. Same results for X-Pro1 vs E-M1 — virtually identical images up to 800, then a one stop advantage for Fuji over 1600.

    Given the fact that the sensor is smaller, this is nothing short of remarkable. FF fanboys can talk all they want, but the results speak for themselves. I suppose that plenty of fanboys equate big and heavy with better, but that’s just nonsense. When I started learning photography, high end gear like Nikon F2 (in glorious FULL FRAME film) weighed half as much as today’s pro gear.

    I’m looking forward to a full kit with OM-D E-M1 and lenses soon, and yes, I’ll be getting paid for the images I make with it. I’ll be paying my chiropractor less.

    • Moore’s law may finally be on Olympus’ side!

  • Bengt Nyman

    Thanks Dan !
    The images are good. They do not break rank as far as cost and quality, but the Olympus M1 certainly offers a worthwhile price point in the upper medium quality range.

  • Drazen B

    You’ve got a large hand, Dan. I could see how handling an M1 without a battery grip could pose a challenge to you and the rest of us with slightly larger hands and longer fingers.
    My only ‘issue’ with this camera is that while not as small as m43 could/should be, it’s not near as big enough to be in the DSLR league in fit, hold and ease operation.

    Hybrid is a fitting moniker, I agree. It remains to be seen yet who will end up being a target audience, though.

    • Got rather small hands, Drazen. Smaller than my 14-year-old son’s. Guess it’s a distorted perspective.

      • Drazen B

        Oh sorry…that unfortunately highlights to me the size-to-comfort ratio of this camera even more.

        BTW, my distributor has signaled they have one display M1 on hand for a week, I may need to go down and try one in person. Cheers.

  • Trackback

    Reviews und Hands-On über Olympus OM-D E-M1, Nikon 1 AW1 und Co. – Systemkamera Blog

    […] Olympus OM-D E-M1 (THEME) […]

    http://www.systemkamera-forum.de/blog/2013/09/reviews-olympus-e-m1-nikon-1-aw1/