Review EM1mk2 with FW3.0 versus the EM1X

AussiePhil

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I have been asked via a PM what are the differences and similarities between the EM1mk2 with FW3.0 and the EM1X as i own both. (Well that's the wording i will use)

FW3.0 has given the em1mk2 nearly all of the photographic functionality of the EM1X but not all.

Of course this has already been done by the pros as a quick google search turns up multiple comparisons with this one looking comprehensive with lot's of images showing the differences
Olympus OM-D E-M1X vs E-M1 II – The Complete Comparison

The following is my own thoughts and i compiled these before finding the comparison directly above, I'll be interested in what others with both cameras think as well.

These are only in the order they come to mind.

Size:
EM1X - yep it's bigger, it's wider, the grips are a little bit bulkier, enough that you notice it but they are still comfortable. the extra width gives clear space for your thumb and spaces buttons controls out to be more ergonomic, i have larger hands but short fingers so whilst the grips are great the buttons become just a slighter greater stretch than i'm used to. This is a camera that doesn't look out of place in a crowd of Canon/Nikon shooters if that means something.

EM1mk2 - With the grip on it's just more compact, note that we are not talking big differences but noticeable when you use both back to back but that compactness now feels less ergonomic, buttons feel cramped together. Take the grip off and you get a far less tall camera, it no longer looks like some pro body and becomes rather discreet, not em5/10 invisible just less obvious. Using the mk2 with the grip so often without the grip i find it too short, my little finger doesn't sit right.

If you coming from a small camera regardless of brand both of these may feel large but use and hold them for a bit and they will feel good. If you are coming from a larger DLSR body them these may feel just right or even compact. A side story, I handed my EM1X to a young guy shooting a basic Canon DSLR as he was interested ... he's comment ... "wow that is not heavy and it feels really good" then he fired of a couple of 18fps bursts and the look of surprise and pleasure was sort of priceless :)

Sensor:
The reviews call it the same. Olympus tells us the 1X has a better anti reflective filter. is there a difference, I can't quantify one though i do think the EM1X is better at ISO6400, just a little but enough to push the 1X into the hand first.

AutoFocus:
EM1X - major difference now is the AI modes. personally i've only tested the motosport mode and only on cars but the experience is it works! it works so that you can concentrate more on technique and composition. I briefly played with planes a couple weekends ago and it seemed the same. Trains? none around here that matter :)

EM1mk2 - missing the AI modes but so far the mk2 feels very similar to the 1X for CAF/TR and SAF. I don't use just CAF for what i shoot.

For both the addition of MF when in CAF modes is really good.

Ergonomics:
EM1X - the large size gives slightly larger buttons, fully mirrored control layout H/V, two joysticks and other subtle changes. I hate the menu button going to the left side.

EM1mk2 - this always felt great till the 1X came along, it still feels great just not as ergonomically nice.

At least for me this is a clear win for the EM1X.

People call out the power switch location on the left and for people coming from say nikon where it's around the shutter will find it inconvenient and a pain, i came from the other way with 15+ yrs using a Canon T70 film camera that had it's power switch on the left hand side. I find it better to let the camera just go to sleep when shooting somewhat consistently and just half press shutter to wake the cameras up. when treking around for a day i just flick the power off then back on every 30 minutes or so so the the camera is just sitting in sleep mode.

Battery:
EM1X - uses two batteries in a battery cradle that must be removed as a single unit to change even one battery. The fact i can change both without removing the grip is good, the bad is the camera must be powered down when doing so.

EM1mk2 - gripped, you get two batteries, the one in the grip can be changed on the fly with the camera powered up, even down it whilst shooting. It's an edge case i know but useful. However use both batteries up and you have to remove the grip to get at the camera battery.

Battery Life:
Despite the EM1X having the additional processor and sensors i'd say that in active sports shooting it's effectively a wash between them. Doing travel/trip day trip type stuff i actually feel the 1X is more frugal with it's battery use but haven't quantified it yet.

One thing with the ability to get into menus or review images whilst the card is still writing with both cameras now, you are likely to do more image review and hence impact your battery life.

Speed using the camera:
The two truepic8 processors give a clear win to the EM1X, it is significantly more responsive in reviewing images moving around images, menu access and use.
This doesn't make the EM1mk2 deadly slow, it's pretty damn fast compared to other cameras just not in the same league as the 1X

Viewfinder:
Olympus documents it at the same specs but with a larger view and progressive scan for the 1X, is it better? YEP it is. I can still follow action with the mk2 but like so many other things between the two cameras the 1X is just a bit better.

GPS and environment sensors:
EM1X - inbuilt and seem to have no real impact on battery life. the usefulness will depend on your needs, personally i like the GPS but i find the environment sensors to be not accurate or more accurately they should allow for local setup such as pressure requires adjust based on height.

EM1mk2 - need to geotag then you need to use the IO-Share app and do it afterwards, too hard too painful could never be bothered personally.

HI-RES
EM1X - you have both tripod based and hand held based
EM1mk2 - tripod only

Handheld works surprising well and people need to put their own value on this.

Weathersealing:
Definitely no issues with either in my experience but the unibody construction of the 1X should provide more confidence.

Video:
I do minimal to no video but reports have been very positive that FW3.0 has brought significant improvements and likely made the gap close to zero between the two cameras.


---------

Let's see if I can wrap a summary in any less words and no i won't be using a pros/cons table.

Summary thoughts:
Firmware 3.0 for the mk2 has actually made the decision harder in many ways as the camera's are closer in functionality than ever. Overall the EM1X is the speedier and more ergonomic option. It is nearly impossible to quantify but a host of little things give an edge to the EM1X when compared to a gripped EM1mk2. For me the generally instant response, mymenu and joysticks stand out for the EM1X.

Now remove the grip for any valid and logical reason on the mk2 and get a less obvious camera, lighter to carry all day and better balance with smaller lenses unit. If this is something that is a big factor then the mk2 becomes the better choice regardless of other things.

The EM1X is more than a professional camera for sports, it is ideal for any situation where you have a combination of portrait and landscape images.

With both camera's being similar it will come down to the remaining feature differences and what is important to you.

You have got this far and wonder why i haven't mentioned price...... well price considerations are for each and every individual to consider as part of their overall valuation. I personally think that even with FW3.0 coming out the premium paid for the EM1X has been worth it for my use.


Please lets keep the replies constructive and NOT price focused.
 

ac12

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Good write-up.

I AM glad that technology from the 1X has flowed back to the mk2.
This shows how much the cameras can be improved after delivery.

I wish some of the mk2 technology would flow back to the mk1.
Maybe it has and that is all there is.
 
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djtaylor7

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Good write-up.

I AM glad that technology from the 1X has flowed back to the mk2.
This shows how much the cameras can be improved after delivery.

I wish some of the mk2 technology would flow back to the mk1.
Maybe it has and that is all there is.
There were significant enhancements when it was the flagship, through to Firmware V4.
Over time after that updates will be to fix issues, especially compatibility issues, rather than new functionality. This seems to be the way with most electronic devices, or operating systems.
Writing this on a Lenovo Android tablet, which will never see any update beyond 6.0.
 

Robstar1963

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@AussiePhil
Many thanks for a superb write up and for me very well timed
Due to the fw 3.0 being released I’m probably going to give the EM1/2 another try having previously sold my last one due to trying out the Fuji X system which I am still using
I sold my Olympus 300mm f4.0 PRO but kept some M43 lenses including the PL200mm f2.8 as I’ve never wanted to leave the M43 System
Despite preferring the ergonomics, EVF and some other features of the G9 I would now expect the EM1/2 to have a clear advantage with CAF focussing for Motorsports vs the G9
The EM1/2 always had an advantage but it wasn’t huge but I would now expect it to be significant vs the G9
I find the XT3 with 100-400 to be a bit heavy for my use for longer focal lengths and awkward for fitting into my bag etc so the EM1/2 with the PL200 + 1.4 and 2.0 TCs which I also have should be a better and versatile kit for longer telephoto use
Since I’ve updated to FW 3.0 on the XT3 I’ve found that CAF performance has dropped from previous fw so focussing for MSports shouldn’t be a million miles away on the revised fw of the EM1 Mk2
Coincidentally there has been a great offer on Amazon for the EM1/2 due to it being out of stock so I’ve provisionally purchased one for delivery between end July 2019 and early September - so plenty of time to change my mind if I need to and time to sell something to fund it :biggrin:
I expect the delivery date to be brought forward in any case and hopefully in time for some of the remaining season but if delivery stretches on too long I may cancel and purchase next year
@ijm5012
 

AussiePhil

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Many thanks for a superb write up and for me very well timed
thanks Rob, appreciated and glad it's been of some help. I have an equestrian event this Sunday where i will have both cameras in use with essentially identical focus setups so it will be interesting using them back to back.
My next hill climb event is the following weekend i think and as they normal run four passes i'll try and get one full pass with the mk2 as a test. between these two event i should get a good idea just how close (or not) they really are.

Cheers
 

Robstar1963

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thanks Rob, appreciated and glad it's been of some help. I have an equestrian event this Sunday where i will have both cameras in use with essentially identical focus setups so it will be interesting using them back to back.
My next hill climb event is the following weekend i think and as they normal run four passes i'll try and get one full pass with the mk2 as a test. between these two event i should get a good idea just how close (or not) they really are.

Cheers
@AussiePhil
Those comparisons would be extremely interesting to read and I look forward to them
As you know I’m not a huge fan of the EM1 X and not that bothered about the Intelligent AF - I’m quite happy trying to capture using standard CAF techniques
I’ll be very appreciative of your comparisons
Hope you have a great time at the events
PS I’ve always wanted to have a go at shooting horse racing but don’t really get the opportunity living on the Isle of Wight and I can’t justify visiting more events on top of my MSports events - perhaps one day ?
Regards
Rob
 

whumber

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Due to the fw 3.0 being released I’m probably going to give the EM1/2 another try having previously sold my last one due to trying out the Fuji X system which I am still using
I sold my Olympus 300mm f4.0 PRO but kept some M43 lenses including the PL200mm f2.8 as I’ve never wanted to leave the M43 System
Despite preferring the ergonomics, EVF and some other features of the G9 I would now expect the EM1/2 to have a clear advantage with CAF focussing for Motorsports vs the G9
The EM1/2 always had an advantage but it wasn’t huge but I would now expect it to be significant vs the G9
This matches quite closely with my experience. With FW 2.0/2.1 the E-M1ii still has better C-AF than the G9, but there were definitely stills situations where the E-M1ii could flake on you and in certain scenarios it wasn't a clear win vs the G9. Now with FW 3.0, it seems the E-M1ii is pretty close to the E-M1X and the C-AF is head and shoulders better than the G9 for anything other than a subject moving at a very constant speed where the G9 does quite well.

I find the XT3 with 100-400 to be a bit heavy for my use for longer focal lengths and awkward for fitting into my bag etc so the EM1/2 with the PL200 + 1.4 and 2.0 TCs which I also have should be a better and versatile kit for longer telephoto use
Since I’ve updated to FW 3.0 on the XT3 I’ve found that CAF performance has dropped from previous fw so focussing for MSports shouldn’t be a million miles away on the revised fw of the EM1 Mk2
That's disappointing. I had an X-T3 rental for a week before the E-M1X came out and I was quite impressed with it. It has (had?) two things that are still lacking in the E-M1ii/E-M1X: excellent C-AF performance while racking zoom and C-AF during high speed video. I would be extremely happy if Olympus could add those two to the E-M1X via a firmware update; the blackout free mode is also really great and definitely something I'd love to see Olympus bring to their cameras.
 
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horsth

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........... I would be extremely happy if Olympus could add those two to the E-M1X via a firmware update; the blackout free mode is also really great and definitely something I'd love to see Olympus bring to their cameras.
Just use ProCap L and you have the blackout free mode. It's there forever !
 

horsth

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That's not blackout free shooting though as you lose liveview. That's blackout free the same way the E-M1 MK1 was blackout free, aka slideshow mode.
Wrong, you are not up to date:
User Manual E-M1mk2 P47:
"When you are using Pro Cap L, live view is displayed. When you are using Pro Cap H the image shot immediately before is displayed".

Cheers Horst
 

whumber

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Wrong, you are not up to date:
User Manual E-M1mk2 P47:
"When you are using Pro Cap L, live view is displayed. When you are using Pro Cap H the image shot immediately before is displayed".

Cheers Horst
I get that they claim that, they say it about the E-M1X as well, but it's at best stretching the truth. It's not equivalent to normal live view during burst and is nothing like the blackout free EVF you get from an A9/G9/X-T3. I like Olympus, but their marketing department is really one of the scummiest in the business.
 
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The older E-M1 models had a high EVF refresh rate option that reduced blackout at the sacrifice of resolution. On low burst rate, I thought it did the job well enough. I haven’t delved far enough into the manual to see if the E-M1X does the same thing.

As for the original topic... I just got my E-M1X through the trade-in event, and I can’t help but wonder if I would have pulled the trigger if the E-M1 MkII update had already occurred. Not that I’m mad that this happened. Of course I consider the update a good thing, and technically the E-M1X replaced my old E-M1 — so really it’s a huge upgrade. That said, I’ll still be using the E-M1 MkII often.

My experience with the E-M1X is just beginning, but my thoughts so far...
  • I feel like the control options are so different, I will probably use this camera very differently than with the E-M1 Mkii:
    • Maybe back-button focusing and more Manual mode, using the ISO and exposure comp buttons — both of which I would normally access differently.
    • I’m not seeing the attraction of the joystick yet. I find it far more fiddly and less precise than the d-pad. Maybe it’ll grow on me as I get used to it.
    • This camera is meant to be held with two hands. I don’t find the power switch (or menu button) on the left to be bad design at all. If anyone feels differently, they can always reprogram the function lever to be the power switch.
  • The ergonomics are fantastic. Despite being larger and heavier, I think I could hold this camera just as long as the MkII, if not longer. I’m not sure how I want to attach a strap to it, yet, but i’ll figure it out when I get my RRS L-plate (and decide how that changes the feel).
  • The build quality is definitely a cut above the E-M1 Mkii. There are little things like the stronger doors and stronger hot shoe that are really nice.
  • I am very impressed with hand-held high res. HUGE difference from a regular shot. I may not even bother with tripod mode anymore. Haven’t tried the Live ND Filter yet.
  • The EVF hasn’t bothered me at all. My initial impression was that it would. I’m sure it’s not as good as some of the other brands, but it is a step up from the E-M1 MkII. I haven’t yet tested its usability in action shooting.
  • The first thing I did with the E-M1X was shoot a wedding in Malaysia (not as a job, but as a guest), and accidentally had the camera on LF JPEGs rather than RAW. Big facepalm, typical of me! I was surprised with how well they came out. The only shots I didn’t like were of the sunset. They had that banding effect JPEGs sometimes show on dynamic skies (due to the lower bit rate, I guess), and the highlights were blown out. But, they were better than I feared and the detail priority setting now available on both cameras is very welcome. Resolution and detail were excellent. Nothing to test the AF, though...
 
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AussiePhil

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Firstly Thank you Loren for contributing the experience so far. Across a range of threads about FW3.0 it seems to be common it's a great improvement.

I feel like the control options are so different, I will probably use this camera very differently than with the E-M1 Mkii:
  • Maybe back-button focusing and more Manual mode, using the ISO and exposure comp buttons — both of which I would normally access differently.
  • I’m not seeing the attraction of the joystick yet. I find it far more fiddly and less precise than the d-pad. Maybe it’ll grow on me as I get used to it.
  • This camera is meant to be held with two hands. I don’t find the power switch (or menu button) on the right to be bad design at all. If anyone feels differently, they can always reprogram the function lever to be the power switch.
Just to respond to the quoted text above.

I have the two front buttons on the body on the 1.2 set to give quick access to EC and ISO and despite having dedicated buttons on the 1X i deliberately set the 1X to match the 1.2.
Muscle memory issue solved :) and i just re purposed the other buttons to other functions.
I'm using M and EC a lot more now and the front button for ec stops the reach for the EC on top and keeps finger on the shutter.

Joystick ... mmmmmm best thing since chocolate, it falls nearly directly under my thumb and is perfect for scrolling images during review, tap and hold to reset home point for AF this also gives access to scroll the focus grids.... i now find myself reaching for something that doesn't exist on the mk2 ..... Try it for image review and marking when using the viewfinder, thumb on joystick, finger on record button, fast and easy.

I have no issue with the power switch as I carry the camera on a cross body strap (black rapid style) and either flick the switch with my right hand prior to grabbing the grip meaning by the time the camera is up to the eye it's ready to shot or i move the left hand and flick the switch with the thumb and then move the hand forward to support lens.
It is this placing the hand in the lens support position... muscle memory again from film and focus/zoom with left hand that means at least for me any buttons on the left of the camera are out of reach, Ln button exempted.

The one wish list item would be 3 front body buttons set so they fell under the three fingers of the hand around the grip
 

horsth

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I get that they claim that, they say it about the E-M1X as well, but it's at best stretching the truth. It's not equivalent to normal live view during burst and is nothing like the blackout free EVF you get from an A9/G9/X-T3. I like Olympus, but their marketing department is really one of the scummiest in the business.
Don't be so negativ. ProCap L is an outstanding feature for wildlife shooters and even for some sports/action in order to catch the decisive moment. And the live-view in that option is quite adequate, especially with the E-M1X.
 

whumber

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ProCaptureL is indeed a great feature, but that doesn't mean that the claim by Olympus that it offers blackout free shooting with liveview isn't complete nonsense. Olympus marketing has a long history of making dubious claims like this. I don't take issues with the cameras themselves, it's only their marketing department that are scummy.
 

Angus Gibbins

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I agree 100%. I will add.

  • AussiePhil mentioned battery life and GPS in his OP, by default the E-M1 X GPS is set to high accuracy, you can set this to less accurate to preserve batteries, although he is right, battery life is unheard of compared to a few years ago.
  • The E-M1 X feels a lot better in the hand than the E-M1 II with battery grip. I feel like the E-M1 to E-M1 II was a massive leap, the E-M1 II to E-M1 X wasn't such a big leap except in terms of ergonomics.
  • One thing I didn't expect. In a lot of cases, I prefer the E-M1 II without a grip to the E-M1 X. When I go for my afternoon walk I'll usually grab the E-M1 II. A fair bit lighter and easier to carry. Don't get me wrong though, I love my E-M1 X.
My answer to the question is whether or not should upgrade is, is the E-M1 X worth twice as much as an E-M1 II? When the E-M1 was first released, in Australia you could get an E-M1 II with a free battery grip for about half the price of an E-M1 II.

I knew I would get one eventually, but the only reason I did when I did was because I got a good deal with a monopod (which I sold to a friend), 2x32GB UHS-II cards and an SD Card wallet on 24 months interest free.
 
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wjiang

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I can think of another reason... Having tried an HLD-9, it bugged me that the buttons for AEL/AFL and Fn1 were in slightly different places between the E-M1 Mk2 and the HLD-9. This difference is problematic for muscle memory. The E-M1X looks to have placed them identically between orientations which is an improvement.
 
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