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OM System OM-1 introduced

Now it is official. One year ago announce The OM System OM-1 is officially introduced. With the OM-1 OM Digitalsolutions fading the Olympus ear out and introduce not only an impressive camera but also a new product naming. Exactly at the 50th anniversary of the OM-1, the digital grandson is introduced to the market. As in the seventies is also the digital version of the OM-1 compared to cameras, which offers a similar performance, small and lightweight. Nevertheless, it is equipped with technical possibilities, which are so far not available in the market.

Kingfisher taken with the OM-1

Lightning fast time machine

Pro Capture has been introduced together with the E-M1 Mark II back in 2016 and supports you as a photographer shifting back in time. While pressing the release button halfway down, the camera already records images and saves them in buffer storage. As soon as you fully press the button down this buffer storage will be stored on your SD card. This supports you to shoot unforeseeable incidents easier than without Pro Capture.
The OM-1 brings this function to a totally new level. With up to 120 images per second, you are able to record finer details of movement which enable you to catch the perfect moment. At this speed, the camera focuses and makes the exposure metering with the first image and keeps it with the following. In case the subject you would like to capture is moving towards or away from you, the camera should adjust focus and exposure in between. Also in this mode, the OM-1 sets new standards. The OM-1 offers 50 frames per second. This speed is unmatched by any camera on the market. This enables you to shoot any small detail in movement. Of course, you have these speeds also in the normal sequential shooting mode as well.

Starting kingfisher taken with the OM-1
Starting kingfisher taken with the OM-1

New intelligent autofocus system

Such speed values are only possible if your focusing system is blasting fast as well. The autofocus system of the OM-1 is based on a so-called Quad Pixel AF Technology. This technology divides each pixel into 4 sub-pixel, which can be controlled separately. Therefore it is possible to control those Subpixel diagonals, which enables the camera to realize cross-type phase-detection AF points. 100% of the sensor area is covered. Because the sensor can be read out very quickly, the data can be sent to the image processor very quickly. The new, very fast image processor Truepic X does the rest.

This new technology is also the base for improved intelligent subject detection. OM Digitalsolutions is calling it AI detection AF. The subject detection is based on machine learning and is able to detect airplanes, cars, birds also cats, and dogs. There is not only a big leap in the speed and accuracy of recognition, but also a lot has happened in terms of functionality. In the past subject detection was only available in C-AF + Tracking mode, now it is also available in S-AF and C-AF. In S-AF and C-AF the cameras show, as with C-AF + Tracking, if a subject is detected. However, in those modes, the camera only focuses on subjects, if those are within the focusing fields. Especially experienced photographers will be happy about it, as they are getting better control over this functionality.

In case you would like to know more about AI detection AF please read my short blog post “OM System OM-1 AI detection AF”

OM-1 in the forest

Image Quality

in the general opinion pixel count of sensors is equaled with resolution. The OM-1 shows, that this is not correct. Although the pixel count has not been increased, the completely newly developed sensor offers a better detail reproduction than the E-M1 Mark III. This is not surprising as the sensor is a backside illuminated sensor and has a much better noise performance than its predecessor. Most visible is this in high sensitivities, but also visible in the base sensitivities, which offer better data handling. This results in a better detail reproduction in fine structures, which is generally called resolution.

Noise performance

As already mentioned the noise performance of the OM-1 has been massively improved. The OM-1 is roughly 2 f-stops better compared to E-M1 Mark III. My personal impression is that it is even slightly better than 2 f-stops. This means that images taken with 25600 ISO do have roughly the same noise performance as images of the E-M1 Mark III at 6400 ISO. You could say that the light sensitivity has been improved by four times. If you have in mind that the sensor area of a Micro Four Thirds sensor is four times smaller than the area of a 35mm camera, you could say that the OM-1 is on the same level as a 35mm camera with a similar pixel count.

But not only noise performance has been improved compared to E-M1 Mark III, also the dynamic range is larger. Roughly 1 f-stop more dynamic range is now available. This enables you to shoot better images of a gorge, which is very bright in the background.

All in all, is the image quality improvement larger than you can expect from a new camera generation and I would say the image quality of this Micro Four Thirds camera is now on the same level as 35mm cameras.

Robin in a bush

Reliability personified

Olympus aka OM Digital Solution has been the market leader in dustproof and splashproof cameras since a long time. The OM-1 is even better. It offers an IP53 standard certification and could be used in nearly all weather conditions you can imagine. In addition, it is guaranteed that the camera works down to -10°C. However, this is only the official value as I used the camera in much lower temperatures as well. But this is not all. In addition, the OM-1 comes with a supersonic wave filter, which removes dust from the sensor. For this purpose, the OM-1 is equipped with a mechanical shutter that is specified for 400,000 releases. More than you will need as an ambitious photographer.

Everything is new

Not only sensor and processor is new developed, but also the menu has got a new design. Even more important it also goes a new structure. In my opinion, the redesign is a complete success. Functions are arranged much more logically and the layout means you only have to look to the left when searching. Once you have found the parameter you are looking for, you can see the setting that is currently being used on the right-hand side. The Super Control Panel has also been streamlined and adjusted. The result is a much simpler overview and you can make settings faster.

Conclusion

The OM SYSTEM OM-1 is a thoroughly wonderful camera. The engineers have not only taken the image quality a considerable step forward but also brought the speed of a camera into previously unimagined spheres. Anyone who still misses something here will be surprised with a completely new operating concept that is very easy to understand for owners of an OM-D and new users can learn very quickly. From my point of view, there are only small things that could be improved.

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