Guest post: why the Olympus OM-D E-M1X was the best choice for me

Why the Olympus OM-D E-M1X was the best choice for me

By Thomas Stirr (check out also his previous guest posts)

Choosing camera gear is always an intensely personal decision. What works for one photographer, may not be a good fit for another. This article discusses why I chose to move to the Olympus OM-D E-M1X along with a selection of M.Zuiko PRO lenses.

Olympus OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko PRO 40-150 f/2.8 mm @ 150 mm hand-held, efov 300 mm, f/3.5, 0.5 sec, ISO-400

I should state upfront that my main client work is producing safety videos. I need more, rather than less depth-of-field, for the client work I do. Smaller sensor cameras are an excellent fit for me. Since selling all of my full frame gear back in July 2015, I had been using Nikon 1 equipment exclusively for my client and personal work without issue. Recently my camera requirements shifted in a number of ways and I needed to look at producing 4K video, as well as some other factors. This led me to investigate some options, and ultimately deciding on the Olympus OM-D E-M1X.

Olympus OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko PRO 40-150 f/2.8 mm with MC-14 teleconverter @ 210 mm hand-held, efov 420 mm, f/6.3, 1/1600, ISO-200

From a business perspective, the Olympus OM-D E-M1X is a perfect fit. The IBIS system on the E-M1X is incredible, giving me the potential to shoot my video productions entirely hand-held. This is a huge time saver and keeps the hours spent on location to a minimum. It makes productions more time and cost efficient. Now I can do my work with Olympus camera gear that fits into a single shoulder bag. An OM-D E-M1X along with M.Zuiko PRO 7-14 mm f/2.8, PRO 12-40 mm f/2.8 and PRO 40-150 mm f/2.8 zoom lenses, as well as a 60 mm f/2.8 macro. I leave all of my camera supports and lights in my gear closet. Not counting my shoulder bag, my Olympus gear weighs less than 3 KG in total, making it very portable.

Olympus OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko PRO IS 12-100 mm f/4 @ 100 mm hand-held, efov 200 mm, f/5.6, 1/320, ISO-1600, Hi Res Hand-held Mode

It is true that a full frame sensor has better dynamic range, colour depth and low light performance than a micro four thirds sensor. The performance of the 20.4 MP sensor in the E-M1X is excellent for its size and is more than sufficient for the work that I do. I have no interest in wasting time processing huge RAW files with high resolution that I very seldom need. Nor do I want to clog up my computer hard drives with unneeded, mammoth-sized files. My computer system is already running 50 TB of hard drive space, including back-ups.

Olympus OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko PRO IS 12-100 mm  f/4 @ 100 mm hand-held, efov 200 mm, f/4, 1/20, ISO-6400, Hi Res Hand-held Mode

When I do need to print image enlargements in-house, E-M1X files can produce excellent 24” x 32” prints, and could easily go larger if needed. On occasions when I do need high resolution image capability I can create 50 MP RAW files using the E-M1X’s Hi Res Hand-held mode. I find this very easy to use and very effective for a wide range of subject matter. It is also possible to produce 80 MP RAW files using the Hi Res Tripod mode. Thus far I haven’t had the need to use this feature for any client work.

Olympus OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko PRO 40-150 f/2.8 mm with MC-14 teleconverter @ 210 mm hand-held, efov 420 mm, f/5.6, 1/500, ISO-6400

The IBIS system with the OM-D E-M1X also allows for multiple-second hand-held exposures. This is an important issue for me as I hate being slowed down by tripods. When needed, I’ve successfully shot up to 8-second hand-held exposures with the Olympus OM-D E-M1X. Depending on subject matter and end use, I never hesitate shooting my E-M1X up to ISO-6400. RAW files respond well in post. I can’t comment on jpegs as I never use them.

Olympus OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko PRO 40-150 f/2.8 mm @ 150 mm hand-held, efov 300 mm, f/2.8, 1/8000, ISO-1000, Pro Capture Mode

Having dual UHS-II SD card slots is important to back-up client work and important personal projects. When using appropriate memory cards I’ve not had to even think about buffer size. Images write quickly even when shooting at 18 frames per second in AFC. Battery life is outstanding. I regularly shoot more than 3,000 bird-in-flight images on one charge of the dual battery system. The E-M1X has an IPX1 weather sealing rating. Professional bird photographers like Tim Boyer can attest to how important that can be.

Olympus OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko PRO 40-150 f/2.8 mm with MC-14 teleconverter @ 210 mm hand-held, efov 420 mm, f/5.0, 1/4000, ISO-320

The E-M1X has received a lot of negative comments because of its ‘large’ size. No doubt it is the largest Olympus camera available. The ergonomics, handling, comfort and customization of the E-M1X are superb. When out shooting hand-held for 6 to 8 hours at a stretch these issues are critically important. From my perspective, there is no point in owning a camera that causes fatigue. I had an OM-D E-M1 Mark II from Olympus to test and quickly ruled it out. I just didn’t find it comfortable to hold and use for extended periods of time. For me that is a deal breaker.

Olympus OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko PRO 40-150 f/2.8 mm @ 70 mm hand-held, efov 140 mm, f/5.6, 1/30, ISO-2000

Outside of client work my photographic passions are eclectic and include bird, flower, macro, architecture, cars, aircraft, and travel photography to name a few. The E-M1X has a host of capabilities that are well suited to my interests. Pro Capture and the fast frame rates of the E-M1X are ideal for the type of bird photography I do. Having a built-in GPS/Field Sensor System is important for both travel and nature photography. Live ND is a great feature when shooting landscapes that involve waterfalls and streams. Keystone control is very handy when doing architectural photography. Olympus software is needed to access RAW files when using this function. The auto-focusing of the E-M1X is absolutely solid. It is the only camera I’ve owned that made me feel confident when trying to photograph swallows in flight.

Olympus OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko PRO 40-150 f/2.8 mm @ 150 mm hand-held, efov 300 mm, f/2.8, 1/200, ISO-200

Before deciding to invest in the Olympus OM-D E-M1X I spent almost 2 months hands-on, shooting with some loaner gear provided by Olympus Americas. It takes time to understand the capabilities of a camera and lens system. I also read articles and watched videos created by working professionals like Joe Edelman, Kelley L. Cox, Tesni Ward, Chris Eyre-Walker, Tim Boyer and Joe Ellis. Gaining real-world insights from these individuals was important in the decision making process.

Olympus OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 60 mm f/2.8 macro with 16 mm Kenko extension tube, hand-held in available light, f/8, 1/200, ISO-6400

Photography enthusiasts have a luxury not afforded to working professionals. They can buy the latest and greatest gear and change it out as often as their whims and budgets allow. Working professionals view their camera gear as depreciating assets. They see cameras as tools with which to generate revenue and profits. Ergonomics, handling, comfort, durability, and specific creative features can all be far more important than sensor size.

Only you can decide what camera gear best meets your needs. For me, investing in an Olympus OM-D E-M1X with a selection of M.Zuiko PRO lenses came down to choosing efficiency, flexibility, durability and innovation over sensor size.

Article and images are Copyright 2019 Thomas Stirr. All Rights reserved. No use, duplication or adaptation of any kind is allowed without written consent. This article was produced for use by  If you see this article reproduced anywhere else it is an unauthorized and illegal use. Posting comments on offending websites and calling out individuals who steal intellectual property is always appreciated!

Thomas Stirr

If you have an interesting idea for a guest post, you can contact me here.

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