OLYMPUS OM-1 OVERVIEW
If you've been around for a while, there's a high chance that this particular name rang you a bell. The first time Olympus presented a camera under the "OM-1" name was in 1972's Photokina, and of course it wasn't a Micro Four Thirds Mirrorless Camera System. But interestingly enough, the current OM-1 went off-road with the old-school look approach some other brands have taken while reviving old models (like the Nikon Df which highly resembles the Nikon F3 series to name one).
Is Olympus Still a Thing?
Now that's a good question, and answering it requires some dust to be removed from the table. Around the mid-days of the unspeakable year 2020, Olympus sold its camera division to focus mainly on medical equipment and solutions. And this isn't something strange as we can see that companies like Fujifilm and Nikon also have medical imaging divisions as well.
After such an event, OM Digital Solutions was in charge of business, and photographic equipment became a nice chapter in the company's history book. Or that's what we thought until this recent announcement was made. A release which feels symbolic and quite victorious if you ask us about it. The brand-new OM System OM-1 feels like a friendly wink to the original Olympus we mentioned before, a camera which was released 50 years ago and which also had nothing to do with this interesting piece of gear. In a nutshell, this new Micro Four Thirds camera relies on computational photography and claims to be the fastest camera on the market so far.
But beyond that, we are not sure about the effort these folks destined towards the design on this camera. The new Olympus OM System OM-1 looks pretty similar to the Olympus E-M1 Mark III released in the last days of Olympus as the photographic brand we are used to. On the outside both look so alike that one could easily confuse them both, so be careful if buying one online from a third-party vendor on Amazon or any retail like such.
If we look closely, the nuances between them become notorious, and on the inside they are two completely different cameras for sure. Within, the computational photography technology with a new stacked back-illuminated sensor which delivers higher ISO values with less noise. Summed with a 3x faster processor and a burst speed which overcomes many other brands.
The OM System OM-1 is the perfect example of how far the Micro Four Thirds system can go with the help of nowadays technology. And if this isn't just some isolated event for commemorating our aforementioned old-timer, then we might still witness some interesting cameras in the years to come. It is always a joy to see companies (like Fujifilm or Leica) going away from the current and still delivering great imaging solutions that go beyond full-framed sensors filled with countless megapixels inside.
Getting Closer to the Perfect Moment
The OM SYSTEM OM-1 was designed to respond to passion towards life and our surroundings. We photographers are in the constant pursuit of the sublime, and this camera has all the elements that make true creativity something possible to achieve.
If something is certain about Olympus, or now OM System, is that image quality overcomes sensor size expectations. The brand new 20M Stacked BSI Live MOS sensor and new TruePic X engine make the most out of high-resolution M.Zuiko Digital lenses, giving stunning detail and hard to detect noise. Something worth mentioning about this camera is that it exceeds the level of image quality that the sensor size would imply, delivering results approaching those of a full-frame camera. In simple words, it is the optimal camera in terms of portability and high image quality.
With stunning detail, the new image processing algorithm excels the high-speed processing power of the new TruePic X engine, faithfully capturing elusive details like birds' feathers, reptiles' scales and fur from animals in the wild.
The admiring noise-efficient 20M Stacked BSI Live MOS sensor and TruePic X engine combine to reduce resulting static from high sensitivities, achieving a high ISO sensitivity range of ISO 25600. This is capable thanks to the hundred times more image processing capabilities than a general-purpose processor. And if one needs to capture something at mighty fast shutter speeds, then high sensitivity settings are available up to ISO 102400.
The latest image processing technologies of the new Stacked BSI Live MOS sensor and new TruePic X engine give us a broad range of tonal expressions from shadows to highlights. And the high-performance image stabilizer comes with up to 7 stops of shake compensation with the body alone for shots with zero camera vibration. Enjoy capturing images that can only be shot with a slow shutter speed without the need of carrying a tripod on your back. The OM-1 is equipped with Handheld-Assist, a nice feature that promises to help while shooting at slow-shutter speeds.
What's Computational Photography to Begin With?
Despite the fancy name, there's something interesting going on about this feature. Since the early development stages OM SYSTEM has furnished compositing technology, which traditionally required a computer, inside the camera. The result is a more advanced digital expression with less time to be spent behind a computer screen.
According to them, this works by creating 80M high-definition shots by compositing 8 images when shooting on a tripod. But as said before, this camera is pretty handheld friendly, so one can also shoot with the Handheld High Res Shot for creating 50M high-definition shots by compositing 12 images. The new TruePic X engine gets everything done in the camera at a pace of 5-seconds per composite. Therefore, the new OM-1 meets the needs of users demanding high-definition for landscape shots.
Also convenient, a movie button is set to High Res setting in default configuration to allow quick access to Handheld High Res Shot. High Res Shot can also composite multiple images to reduce noise by approximately two stops. High Res Shot delivers stunning image quality and low noise. Additionally, High Res shooting features (Tripod High Res) can be used in combination with interval shooting, which enables creating high-resolution Time-Lapse Movie videos easier than ever.
A built-in ND filter might not sound like much, but having such a broad scope of densities is something worth checking out. Live ND comes with 6 levels from ND2 to ND64, so now we can composite multiple images to simulate extended exposure times and reproduce slow shutter speed effects even under very bright conditions. To a certain point, this feature empowers us to reduce the need for dedicated ND filters, but it also makes it possible to achieve slow shutter speed effects in highly bright conditions even on ultra wide-angle lenses that cannot be fitted with ND filters. The slow shutter speed effects can also be checked in Live View before shooting.
And for those in the need of perfect focusing, focus stacking shifts the focal point to capture and composite multiple shots for efficiently recording photos that are in focus from foreground to background. It also gets rid of the need for excessively stopping down the aperture to get a suitable depth of field. From macro to landscape, this feature can be used for everything. Composite time is also significantly reduced on the OM-1 so users can select from 3 to 15 shots to composite depending on the subject. Guiding lines are also displayed on the screen for identifying the area after compositing and focus bracketing is a pretty useful feature when compositing more shots (up to 999) with the aid of OM Workspace.
Unlike long exposures which collect all the light while the shutter is open, Live Composite blends the zones that have gotten bright in multiple shots. This feature makes it possible to capture different zones at the correct exposure on a single screen, such as star trails which require long exposures, and city lights that require a comparatively quicker shutter speed.
And last but not least, HDR shooting for a wide dynamic range allows us to capture everything from shadows to highlights. Some inspiring scenery filled with subjects with differences in contrast that cannot be captured in a single shot. The OM-1 is provided with HDR shooting for easily capturing natural images with a wide dynamic range by compositing multiple shots at different exposures.
OM SYSTEM 0M-1 Stands for Serious High-speed Performance
The state of the art Stacked BSI Live MOS sensor uses a Cross Quad Pixel AF mode for precise shooting no matter the subject:
- Single is perfect for finer pinpoint focusing.
- Small is great for shooting still or small fillings on the frame, like subjects in landscapes or such.
- Middle is what you want to select when shooting moving subjects across the frame like airplanes or any average sport.
- Cross comes in handy when "middle" is too wide for moving subjects.
- All has been thought of as quick shots and when subjects move around the entire screen.
- Large is for moving subjects when "All" is too wide like birds and other small animals.
- And Custom gives us four settings depending on the subject size and movement.
A quad division photodiode configuration enables the acquisition of On-chip Phase Detection information in both vertical and horizontal directions. This design has made it possible to focus on various patterns of subjects across all pixels and the entire shooting range.
Autofocus is available for us anytime no mattering where our subjects might be in the frame. On-chip Phase Detection is available across every pixel, dramatically improving detection precision. In addition, the high-speed calculation capabilities of the new TruePic X engine and the new AF algorithm make it possible to accurately track and continue focusing on the subject.
High-precision focusing is possible even in darker scenes and on low-contrast subjects, delivering an AF low light limit of -8 EV*. In line with multi-point AF Target and, in addition to the full-frame, Single (1x1), Small (3x3), Medium (9x7), Large (15x11), Cross Area and custom settings, AF area can be set to match the subject's size and movement.
The Final Cut
What about video performance on the brand new OM-1 you might be wondering as well. You got us! We reserved this for the end. The OM-1 is pretty capable of delivering high-quality video. Record in 4K60p for reaching smooth, high-definition imaging expressions; and get up to 240p high-speed movie. Although, this last thing comes with a 60% cropping price. Thanks to the high-performance image stabilization and compact system design, this model is perfect for mobile creative video production for everyone from professional videographers and Vloggers out there.
RAW video data output to external tools is now available, enabling advanced post-production tasks for video production pros. RAW video data can be output in a 12-bit RGB palette. Additionally to the conventional HDMI monitor connection, the color correction range has also been extended. Video is recorded in Apple ProRes RAW format on the supported external output device. With HDMI monitor connection, video can be output at 10-bit and 8-bit YUV format. Not only can we check the recorded video on an external monitor, but it's also possible to use external devices to record output images.
In addition to H.264, H.265 is available too, and the OM-Log supports a great level of autonomy over imaging expressions thanks to color grading, which allows users to capture highlights and shadows without overexposing or underexposing shots. An LUT (Look Up Table) file for grading tasks using Blackmagic Design's DaVinci Resolve and OM-Log400 are also available.
Automatic White Balance is well-known for sometimes changing the color according to surrounding changes in light, especially when panning during video recording. The OM-1 can lock AWB via an assigned button, and toggle it back on by pressing the same button again. AWB can be locked and unlocked during video recording so we can determine optimal operation timing according to our subjects in frame.
And in case you were wondering about the OM-1's price and availability, body-only is $2,199.00, and still flagged as "coming soon". So yeah, this camera has a very special target in mind.