I took advantage of a borrowlenses.com Independence Day deal to rent an Olympus OM-D E-M1 and Lumix G X Vario 12-35mmF2.8 II ASPH zoom lens (Equivalent to 24-70mm). Over 6 days starting July 1st I used the camera and lens in a variety of situations. I loved the kit and didn’t want to send it back. It took photos that looked excellent on a computer screen but still something felt lacking.
I had intended to use the kit to shoot some fireworks photos but, in a rush, didn’t read the manual. In my defence, I received the package from FedEx that same night. However, I didn’t get the OM-D E-M1 to pair with my iPhone via wi-fi and opted to shoot fireworks on my Nikon. I did get a few late evening photos of the open fields and my family, which was a good test of the low-light ability of the Olympus OM-D E-M1. As you can see, the camera performed admirably.
Since I had the camera the week, I got to experiment with the various features and menus. The E-M1 has an overwhelming number of menu options. It seemed daunting at first, but the different on-camera prompts helped me find my way through them. Unlike the Fujifilm X-T1 which has a lot of manual control knobs, the E-M1 is more like my Nikon. Changing camera settings required me to stare at the read LCD while turning a camera dial. It’s not a failing of the E-M1. This is how most DSLR cameras work. I like the knobs and dials of the Fujifilm X-T1 more.
I had a chance to shoot flowers, food, and people during the six days. The µ 4/3 12-35 mm lens present the same field of view as a 24-70mm lens on a 35mm FF camera — just wide enough for some landscape and groups photos but close enough for portrait shots.
The lens and the camera took excellent shots, but I felt that I was not too fond of the background blur quality (booked). Something didn’t feel right.
I experimented with the focus packing mode. The results were mixed, but I think the failure was in my skill, not the camera. It’s something that if I had more time with the camera, I could get better at.
Most of the reviews I have read about mirrorless cameras complain that auto-focus isn’t quite up to par with a DSLR. While there is some truth to that, I think most of the criticism is hogwash. I used the continuous autofocus mode with object tracking and was able to nail action shots just fine. I didn’t test the camera in high-speed sports situations, but in my experience, for most consumers, the camera will perform well.
These are action shots of my kids having fun at the Community Park Pool in Princeton.
As I mentioned, the bokeh was not attractive.
As with the Fujifilm X-T1, the Olympus OM-D E-M1 has built-in wi-fi and iOS software. Using the Olympus Image Share app I connected the E-M1 to my iPhone. I was able to control the E-M1, snap some photos, and download images to my iPhone (or iPad). I don’t recall the details, but I feel the Fujifilm app was easier to set up and use, especially when it came to geotagging.
I think all new DSLRs must include a Wi-Fi option. I loved taking photos, downloading to my iPhone, making slight adjustments in Photogene, and sharing them on social media. With my Nikon D5100, I use an Eye-Fi Mobi card to do the same trick but having it built-in to the camera means I can use any brand of SD card and access to a higher capacity.
So the OM-D E-M1 is a capable camera. That’s my opinion. With the Lumix G X Vario 12-35mmF2.8 II ASPH zoom lens, the entire kit gets quite expensive. More expensive than the X-T1 with a similar lens. The X-T1 body is slightly smaller and lighter (without a lens) and, in my opinion, produces better results. However, the E-M1 would be on my main camera if I owned micro 4/3 lenses.