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Olympus’s next camera has finally been officially outed after a long, drawn-out series of strange, politically charged leaks. There’s not a whole lot we can tell you about the camera that you don’t already know, but if you’re in the dark still, please read our news piece on the OM-D E-M1 (MSRP $1399.99 body-only). While not a replacement for the OM-D E-M5, the E-M1 is instead a clean-sheet design with vastly improved ergonomics, and a 2x2 customizable control system like on the E-P5. It’s aimed at pro users, going up against some pretty stiff DSLR competition in the same price range.
The E-M1 is also how Olympus is trying to keep the business of its legacy Four Thirds users. With on-sensor Phase Detect Autofocus (What Olympus calls “DUAL FAST AF,” since you get phase detect and contrast detect autofocus depending on the circumstances) and the already-available MMF-3 adapter, the Micro Four Thirds mount-based E-M1 is said to focus as quickly as on a real 43 camera. Whether or not the old-school E-5 owners out there will forgive Olympus for three of years without a new camera body remains to be seen.
In our brief time with the E-M1, we can confidently say that it’s easily the equal of Panasonic’s GH3--it’s compact, feels solid and has a heft that inspires nothing but confidence. Physical controls are wonderful to use, responsive, and plentiful. The only complaint we have right out of the gate is that the E-M1's elegant hardware is burdened with the typically clumsy Olympus menu system.
Below, find a link to a gallery of straight-out-of-camera JPEG images. Keep in mind that the promising M.Zuiko Digital ED 12-40mm f/2.8 Pro isn’t ready for its moment in the spotlight quite yet, so we were limited to a few other lenses, including the Olympus M.Zuiko 17mm f/1.8, 75mm f/1.8 and 9-18mm f/4-5.6. We've also included a series of images—one at every ISO so that you can compare how the E-M1 handles noise at high sensitivities.