The OM System OM-1 was first announced on 15th February 2022 as a new flagship Micro Four Thirds sensor mirrorless camera.
It’s the first model to be released under the OM System banner, after Olympus sold their camera division to OM Digital Solutions GmbH in 2020.
Now that we know everything about the new OM-1 camera, it’s clear that it actually shares some similarities to the core specifications and features of the older E-M1 III and E-M1X, so which one should you pick?
We’re bringing you this in-depth OM System OM-1 vs Olympus E-M1 III vs Olympus E-M1X head-to-head comparison to help you choose between these three mirrorless cameras.
All three cameras have a 20 megapixel Micro Four Thirds CMOS sensor, so the new OM-1 doesn’t offer any increase in resolution, which may not please some.
What the OM-1 does offer is an increase in speed (more on this later), thanks to its new stacked sensor, and a claimed improvement in image quality thanks to the sensor also being BackSide Illuminated (BSI).
This is the first ever Micro Four Thirds camera to use a Stacked BSI sensor, a design that several full-frame cameras also use, notably the Canon EOS R3 and Nikon Z9 and Sony Alpha A1.
This should improve the image quality compared to a conventional CMOS sensor, increase the imaging speed for faster burst shooting, and increase the low-light-imaging capability.
The EM1X and EM1 III were both capable of shooting at an impressive 18fps with continuous AF/AE or 50fps without.
The OM-1 takes things to a whole other level by offering 50fps burst shooting with continuous AF/AE or 120fps without, making it one of the fastest, if not the fastest, cameras on the market.
Note that those impressive speeds are only achievable when using the electronic shutter. If you want to use the mechanical shutter. you’re more limited to a still very rapid 18fps, just like the E-M1X and E-M1 III.
The native ISO range of both the E-M1X and E-M1 III is 200 to 25,600, which can be expanded down to ISO 64.
The native ISO range of the new OM-1 is 200 to 102,400, which can be expanded down to ISO 80, so a slightly higher base sensitivity than the older models but significantly offering two stops more at the high end.
The OM-1 represents a big step forward when it comes to video specs and performance, an area where Olympus cameras have lagged somewhat behind the competition.
This new flagship camera can now record video at C4K/60p quality, compared with C4K/24p on the two older models, whilst Full HD now goes up to 240fps (up from 120fps).
The OM-1 finally also supports H.265 (10bit) as well as the H.264 (8bit) standard that the E-M1X and E-M1 III supported, as well as RAW data output up to 12 bit 4:4:4 to external devices and a new HLG (Hybrid Log Gamma) mode.
The new OM-1 features the most advanced version of autofocusing that the company has ever produced, with a whopping 1053 cross-type AF points covering 100% of the frame, capable of working down to -8EV low light at F1.2.
By comparison, the two older cameras use a 121-point cross-type system that only covers 70% of the frame, working down to a still impressive -6EV.
That’s not the whole auto-focusing story though, as the O-M1 can recognize motorcars, motorcycles, airplanes, helicopters, trains, and birds, as well as animals (dogs and cats) in both C-AF and S-AF modes. The new system is claimed to be 2x more accurate and 3x faster than the one on the E-M1 III.
Size and Weight
The OM-1 is ever so slightly bigger and heavier than the E-M1 III, measuring 134.8mm(W) x 91.6mm(H) x 72.7mm(D) versus 134.1 x 90.9 x 68.9mm and weighing 599g with a battery and memory card fitted versus 580g for the E-M1 III.
The dual-grip E-M1X is obviously much larger, weighing in at 997g and measuring 144.4 x 146.8 x 75.4mm.
Olympus cameras have also been well known for their high levels of weather-proofing, and the new OM System OM-1 takes things to the next level.
The E-M1X and E-M1 III are both IPX1 rated, so they can resist water that drips vertically onto the product, but the OM-1 ups the ante to the more stringent IP53 rating, which means that it is protected against spraying water when tilted up to a 60-degree angle.
Olympus cameras have always boasted a pretty incredible stabilisation system, and that’s equally true of the new O-M1.
Just like the two older models,. it features a 5-axis in-body image stabilisation (IBIS) that provides up to 8-stops of IS when using the camera with certain compatible lenses.
The new OM1 has exactly the same IBIS system – its 5-axis In-Body Image Stabilizer can combine with the optical Image Stabilizer in selected lenses to offer industry-leading performance worth up to 8-stops.
Of the two older models, the E-M1X is slightly better here than the E-M1 III – both have 2.360K-dot electronic viewfinders, but the E-M1X has a 1.65x magnification versus the E-M1 III’s 1.48x magnification.
The new OM-1 carries over the 1.65x magnification of the E-M1X but significantly increases the resolution to an impressive 5.760K-dots. It also uses OLED rather than LCD technology.
All three cameras offer 270-degree vari-angle touch screens, which provides greater flexibility of shooting angles than a fixed screen thanks to its ability to tilt and rotate into a range of different positions.
The key difference between them is that whereas the older E-M1X and E-M1 III both have 1.040K dot resolution LCD screens, the new O-M1 has a slightly better 1.620K dot screen.
All three cameras have dual SD card slots, but whereas both slots on the the E-M1X and OM-1 are UHS-II compatible, the E-M1 III only supports one high-speed slot.
The O-M1 provides up to 520 still images or 160 minutes of video from its new BLX-1 battery, an increase of 25% compared to the E-M1 III and its BLH-1 battery.
The E-M1X has is CIPA-rated for 870 shots or 170 minutes of video per charge, but then it does house two BLX-1 battery at once in its much larger body.
The price of the new OM System OM-1, body-only, is £1999 in the UK and $2199 in the US.
When it was launched in 2020, the E-M1 III cost £1599 / $1799 body-only in the UK and US, while a year earlier the E-M1X launched at £2799 / $2999.
Fast forward to 2022, and the E-M1 III now costs around £1499 / $1499 and the E-M1X is circa £1799 / $1699, reflecting the relative lack of enthusiasm from the buying public for the latter model.
It may not offer any more resolution, with the new owner of Olympus cameras resolutely sticking to 20 megapixels, but what the new OM-1 does offer in spades is Speed – it can shoot more frames per second, detect more subjects and focus on them more quickly, and process images faster than ever before. Video specs and performance have seen a welcome boost, whilst the class-leading image stabilisation and weather-proofing are present and correct.
Doe this all add up to the WOW camera that Olympus fans were widely predicting? What do you think? Based on what we know so far, would you choose the new OM-1 over the older, cheaper models, and why? Leave a comment below!