Home Cameras/Lenses Leica Olympus OM-D E-M1X: What a whopper!

Olympus OM-D E-M1X: What a whopper!

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Last week, John Shingleton likened the rump of the Panasonic Lumix G9 to the overstuffed rear of the latest Porsche 911.

Now it looks as though Olympus is about to take the crown for the fattest backside in micro four-thirdsdom. The OM-D E-M1X has a built-in battery grip. No add-ons for the new Oly, it’s the complete package and this could be the start of a new trend, turning small-sensor cameras into DSLR lookalikes.

The E-M1X makes the G9 look positive petite, but again illustrates the professional demand for a substantial, grippy camera to support all those longer lenses. Even if they are shorter than their full-frame equivalents.

The Olympus web site shows the new camera in all its glory. It is the antithesis of the original m4/3 concept of small camera, small lenses. It seems that professional shooters, especially those who need a long reach, require a certain size of camera. The Leica SL looks more reasonable by the day.

In fairness, the new Olympus isn’t all that different from the current OM-D E-M1 Mk II, it’s just bigger to meet that demand that manufacturers are beginning to identify. Users of smaller lenses still have the option of buying the more compact version.

Yet size isn’t the only thing that is growing with m4/3 pro cameras. The price is keeping pace. And at £2,799, body only, the E-M1X is competing with full-frame cameras. Unlike Panasonic, which is hedging its bets with the L-mount full-framers, Olympus has only m4/3 to work with, so it has to offer a complete range of options, from the compact PEN to this new and mighty monster.

As I have said on several occasions recently, we live in interesting times.

16 COMMENTS

  1. I really don’t get this camera. Why on earth would you spend 3000€ for a m4/3 sensor in a big fat body when you can get a Sony A7III for 500/700€ less and enjoy a full frame sensor? Or if you want a DSLR body you can get a Nikon D850 for a little bit more and again get a bigger sensor.

    • I also don’t understand. But there must be a demand or they wouldn’t have made it. I also don’t understand why someone wouldn’t just buy the E-M1 Mk2 and add the battery grip. That sounds a more versatile solution to me. I suppose the only possible advantage is the relatively compact zoom lenses when compared with their full-frame equivalents. I do wonder if m4/3 is getting a bit bloated, though. As you say, there are other choices for even less money.

      • First let me say that I have not handled the new Olympus so I do not know if my comment is relevant to the discussion. Adding a battery grip to a camera can adversely affect the handling when used in Portrait mode. I used to shoot Canon 1D’s when photographing London Fashion Week. These bodies handled almost identically whether used in Landscape or Portrait mode. When I went back to shooting catwalk with a 5D Mk iii I rapidly realised I needed to get a battery grip so that I could use the camera in Portrait mode in the confined space that is the photographer’s pit at these events. The additional width caused by the depth of the camera body combined with the depth of the winder made it much more difficult to access the thumbwheel on the back of the Canon in order to adjust the aperture of the lens as the models came down the catwalk – due to variation in lighting levels. It affected it so much that I found it painful to use. In addition the add-on grip is fatter in order to accommodate the batteries, again making the handling awkward. Last year I bought a Panasonic G9 and, because I purchased it on announcement, I go a free battery grip. I have never used it because for me, once again, it adversely affects the handling. More recently I have purchased a Canon EOS R. I tried it with the battery grip and found the handling compromised – I don’t think this camera will be used seriously by photographers shooting catwalk (maybe the ‘professional’ one to come will address this issue). The new Olympus, with the combined grip, does seem to address this issue and will be useful for those who routinely shoot a lot in Portrait mode. Once again, I repeat, I have not seen/ handled the new camera so my comments may not be relevant but nevertheless I hope they might be helpful.

        • Good point, Ian. I had simply assumed that a camera+battery grip would be similar to the new Olympus. Now you mention it, though, Olympus does make a play about the ease of use in portrait mode and your comment underlines this.

  2. Had I the money for the size I’d rather buy a leica S or a fuji middle format. What’s the use of m4/3 in a body that just looks like a nikon D5 or canon eos 1, I wonder?

  3. Cameras are tools, just as hammers: If you wish to buy a tack hammer, with a BUTT, the size of a SLEDGE: Go for it! After all, you are the mule which will, carry it! But if, as I , who carried, “BIG ASS WW II FILMO AND EYEMO CAMERAS IN THE VIETNAM 🇻🇳 WAR: If you think it’s FUN to lug, Big But cameras around-I KNOW YOU HAVE , little credibility!
    I find it entertaining to read comments from persons, who write without personal experience, but are mystical Word Smiths! My 50 + Years in Photography Pales in comparison with thier collective, ONE YEAR, experience!

  4. Price seems steep but for its intended market with the long telephoto glass its size makes sense – remember the long telephotos and zooms are a fraction of the size and weight of full frame so makes more sense for hiking and so on. I have the Panasonic Leica 200mm lens and it has a gorgeous sharpness and rendering and is comfortable to carry compared to full frame. Make sure you try out a system before you critique it and then criticize it against its intended usage. There are lots of smaller options if you want small. I am glad we have choice.

    • But a 400mm in m4/3 format is the equivalent of a 200mm full frame. You can shot the same picture with full frame at 200mm and crop and get the same results.

      • Yup, "..crop and get the same results.." ..except that if you make the resultant crop as large as – the same size as – the original, you’ll then have lost much of the original’s ‘resolution’ and will end up with a ‘grainier’ or ‘noisier’ (digital noise) and less sharp picture. That’s the idea behind shooting with a 400mm instead of a 200mm. If one could just "losslessly" crop and enlarge, then all one would need would be, say, a 14mm lens – to get a really wide view – and then simply crop whatever you wanted out of that. But cropping a 200mm-equivalent view out of a photo shot with a 14mm lens would deliver just incomprehensible mush.

        Actually, regarding "..a 400mm in m4/3 format is the equivalent of a 200mm full frame.." er, no; the other way around: a 400mm in m4/3 format is the equivalent of an 800mm full frame lens, hence part of the attraction of m4/3: smaller, lighter lenses to deliver a similar photo as larger, heavier "full-frame" lenses ..I much prefer my lightweight Panasonic (or is it Olympus?) 14-150mm lens on m4/3, instead of lugging my enormous and extremely heavy Canon 28-300mm cast iron ‘boat anchor’. The image seen by the m4/3 14-150mm looks just like the image delivered by the full-frame 28-300mm ..apart from slight differences in (greater) depth-of-field from the m4/3 version.

        • David B.
        • Simon, let me give you an example..

          Say you’re taking pictures with a 200mm lens – on, say, a full-frame 4×3 sensor, such as with a Sony A7S camera. The sensor has 4000 pixels across its width, and 3000 pixels up or down the side.

          That’s a total of 4000×3000=12,000,000 pixels: twelve megapixels.

          Now you want the picture – after you’ve shot it – to look as if taken with a 400mm lens ..that’s to say, you want everything magnified 2x ..to be two times closer or two times bigger.

          So if you crop the centre so that the width is only HALF the original width, and the height is only half the original height, you’ll have a photo in which everything looks 2x bigger, two times closer.

          But you’ll have halved the original number of horizontal pixels resolution to 2000, and also halved the original height of 3000 pixels to 1500 pixels.

          2000×1500=3,000,000 ..you’re left with only three megapixels-worth of picture.

          So you started with 12 mpxl, and by cropping off the edges of a 200mm photo to look like a 400mm photo, you’re left with just 3 mpxl.

          You have thrown away 9 megapixels ..by doubling the size of the centre of the photo you have thrown away not half, but THREE QUARTERS of the original picture!

          That’s why ‘digital zoom’ generally looks so poor; because every time you zoom in 2x you’re throwing away three quarters of your resolution!

          Exactly the same thing happens if you crop, say, a 50mm picture to look as if it was shot with a 100mm lens; three-quarters reduction in quality, resolution, detail.

          If you want to shoot with a big, heavy, wide-aperture 400mm lens – for taking photos of birds in flight, maybe, or of animals in a safari park – but you use micro-four-thirds instead of full-frame, then you need only buy or use a 200mm lens, as the smaller sensor (..behaving as if it’s just the small central portion of a full-frame sensor..) needs only a 200mm lens (..to deliver the same picture as a 400mm lens on a bigger sensor).

          That means that you can use a LIGHTER lens, which isn’t so big, bulky and heavy. It’s got smaller-diameter chunks of glass inside, so it’s lighter to carry.

          Both the full-frame sensor and the m4/3 sensor may both be, say, 20 megapixel sensors, or more, but the m4/3 is physically smaller.

          As the pieces of glass inside the lens are also smaller and lighter, the m4/3 lens will generally auto-focus FASTER, as there’s less weight and volume of glass inside to shift around.

          The m4/3 lens will generally be cheaper, too – because it has physically less glass inside.

          • David B.
  5. One may be able to purchase a full frame DSLR for similar price, but one cannot purchase a full frame DSLR with similar handling for similar price. And one cannot purchase comparable full frame lenses for similar price or size. I think therein lies the appeal for the camera; those who want the rugged comfortable handling, maybe the smaller and more affordable (than full frame format) long lenses, and do not insist on full frame sensor size.

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