Olympus E-M1X Launch Event

Flock of Olympus OM-D E-M1Xs - Austin, Texas

Flock of Olympus OM-D E-M1Xs – Austin, Texas

Just over a week ago, I attended the local Olympus E-M1X launch event at Precision Camera. It’s part of the North American retail tour that Olympus started right after the unveiling of their new flagship camera. Naturally, I wanted to check out the new beast of a camera and say hi to the folks from Olympus. Over a half-a-dozen Olympus employees from around the U.S. came, along with a manager from Japan.

After a short presentation, we all got to play with the E-M1X at four stations designed to showcase its strengths. There were about a dozen cameras, some of which you can see in the beauty shot above. Olympus was clear that they have no intention of producing a full frame camera and they are doubling down on the strengths of a fast compact camera system. I agree with their approach. If they join the full frame fray, they’ll be just one of four other camera companies (five if you include Leica) trying to distinguish themselves. And, as I wrote about a month ago, technology and AI may make Olympus the winner in the shrinking serious camera market.

What are my impressions? The E-M1X is certainly large, by micro 4/3 standards, but not compared to other camera systems. It’s well-built, serious and enticing in its own way. Designed as an action and landscape camera, I’m not the target audience. I prefer the smaller more unobtrusive cameras which I use for travel and street photography. That said, there are certainly features that I covet. The seven stop in-body image stabilization is my favorite.

The beefy body works well for the Pro lenses. The 12-100mm f4 Pro, which I find too large for my E-M5 Mark II or PEN-F, works perfectly on the E-M1X. The 12-40mm f2.8 Pro looks downright small. The irony is, when I use the 12-40mm f2.8 Pro on my camera, it’s a two-handed operation. My camera and grip is too small to balance the lens. With the E-M1X, single-handed operation is a breeze. All of the f1.2 Pro Prime lenses, the 17mm, 25mm and the 45mm are about the size of the 12-40mm, and they too would work well on the E-M1X.

I’m not used to using the vertical, portrait grip but it’s equally comfortable for large lenses. Interestingly, the feel of the horizontal and vertical grips are different, though the placement of all the buttons are identical.

While all Olympus lenses work on all Olympus bodies, there is now a two tiered system. The smaller bodies works well with the consumer zooms and f1.8 – f2 prime lenses. That’s the setup I’ve been using. The E-M1 Mark II and especially the E-M1X balance really well with the Pro lenses. While the “Pro” tier is certainly more expensive and more capable for certain types of photography, the smaller consumer tier has its own advantages. The reality is, image quality wise, the two tiers are not very different.

What both tiers have in common is that Olympus (and Panasonic micro 4/3) has the most capable camera size to image quality ratio. While the full frame cameras ultimately have higher image quality, they don’t have the speed and size versatility of Olympus. And, depending on how you output your photographs, the increased image quality of full frame may not even be visible.

While I keep telling myself that the E-M1X is not designed for me, it hasn’t stopped me from “contemplating the possibilities”. It’s always a fun exercise to justify another camera. I’ll talk about that in an upcoming post.

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8 thoughts on “Olympus E-M1X Launch Event

  1. I am lusting for the E-M1X but the only justification for me is “just because I want it”. It is barely larger than my E-M1 Mk II with battery grip and the E-M1X is not that much more expensive than the MK II with battery grip. The extra new features, especially the dual processors easily cover the remaining cost difference. I use the battery grip on the Mk II mainly with the heavier zooms but remove it for the 1.8 primes. In addition to the E-M1 Mk II, I have the original E-M1. I don’t have a PEN-F but I’m waiting for a PEN-F Mark II.

    1. Hi Tom, I understand exactly what you mean. For me, I have the added hurdle of a much larger camera. For someone using a E-M1 Mark II, especially with a grip, I agree that the E-M1X’s size is no big deal.

      So are you going to give into your lust?

      1. I purchased both my E-M1 and E-M1 Mk II used 18 to 24 months after their initial introductions so it will probably be the same for the E-M1X. I probably won’t wait that long for a PEN-F Mark II, if it ever shows up. I’m thinking that’s not going to happen considering how long it has been since the PEN-F hit the market. I never bought the PEN-F because that front dial isn’t programmable and I don’t use ART settings and the follow focus is too slow.

      2. That’s a wise approach, Tom. I’ve bought some used gear and it almost always works out great.

        I wish there is a PEN-F Mark II, who knows. Before that, I’m sure they will release a E-M5 Mark III. The E-M5 Mark II is even older than the PEN-F.

  2. Your observations about how the Pen F as too small for a number of the PRO lenses is somewhat different than mine. I too have the Olympus grip attached to my Pen F, which gives me a better spot to hold on the right as well as the built-in ARCA-Swiss plate on the bottom. With that grip both the 17mm and 12-40mm PRO lenses are nicely balanced for me. The 12-100mm PRO is a bit long for that kind of body. For that lens I have both a GH4 and G9. With the 12-100mm on the GH4 I’ve got a nice image stabilized video camera, while the G9 is the “Goldilocks” size for everything I own.

    I got the idea for purchasing the 12-100mm as well as using it with Panasonic bodies reading of Kirk Tuck’s experiences with his GH5/GH5s/G9 setups.

    And although I am a staunch Olympus user, it’s the Panasonic G9 that harkens back to my E-3 days and reminds me of what I lost when my E-3 and HG 50-200mm where stolen. In turn it’s the E-3 experience that makes me look longingly at the E-M1X. I had the E-3 plus the grip, and I found for me it had absolutely perfect handling. I even liked (and still like) the images I got from the E-3’s 10MP sensor.

    1. Bill, the big difference is, you have the Olympus grip attached to your PEN-F, which helps a lot for larger lenses. I don’t have the grip.

      I actually do have the Olympus grip for the E-M5 Mark II, which does balance very well with the 12-40 Pro. However, I don’t usually have this connected. And, I find it fiddly to attach, so I don’t end up using it often.

      Looks like you got a lot of new lenses and bodies since we last met. Quite the collection.

      1. Well, if memory serves, the last time we met was back four years ago in 2015 when I was on travel to Ft. Hood. So I suppose I have picked up a few new lenses and bodies since then 😁

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