The annual Camera Magazine Imaging Awards recognise excellence in the design and execution of imaging products. This year there are ten categories and to be eligible, products had to go on sale around Australia from 1 October 2018 to 30 September 2019. All our categories for mirrorless cameras were hotly contested this year, but none more so than that for pro-level models. Yet, for us, one camera really stood out above them all…

 

Professional Mirrorless Camera Winner: Olympus OM-D E-M1X

Hang on! An M43 camera beating a bunch of models with full-35mm sensors. What’s going on? The OM-D E-M1X is what’s going on, arguably the most interesting and significant camera launched this year.

On a broader level, the E-M1X signals that Olympus hasn’t lost its mojo which is pleasing as the brand celebrates its 100th anniversary. And it also signals that Olympus hasn’t lost its edge for thinking outside the square and doing something different… and a bit daring, just like the original 35mm OM-1.

The E-M1X is a whole lot more than its sensor size, but it is also all about its sensor size as Olympus is exploiting the benefits of the smaller format across its OM-D system. The E-M1X may be the biggest OM-D model so far, but it’s a whole lot more compact than any sports-orientated D-SLR, and in another world as far as its capabilities are concerned. What’s most important here, though, is that all the new technology and features in the E-M1X translate into real in-the-field benefits, particularly when shooting sports, action or wildlife.

You see it immediately in a much improved ‘strike rate’ with fewer – if any – missed frames due to autofocusing issues, lag or simply a lack of speed. The traditionally challenging situations for autofocusing – such as a racing car heading for you at full tilt – are handled with impressive ease by the E-M1X. AI-based subject recognition is already available from both Sony and Panasonic, but neither offer the modes that Olympus does and neither have executed the implementation quite as effectively either. Aside from the key specs – which all boast impressive numbers, such as 60 fps continuous shooting – Olympus has built the E-M1X like the proverbial brick dunny. Everything is over-specced – including the weather protection – with the expectation that the camera is going to take a bit of a beating.

You can go back to our road-test in Camera magazine (March/April 2019 issue) to get the full effect of the OM-D flagship, but some noteworthy features are hand-held high-res multi-shot capture, ‘Live ND’ (very neatly executed in practice), up to 7.5 stops of IBIS-based correction, dual batteries and dual card slots, and not forgetting the amazing ‘Intelligent Subject Detection AF’ modes.

With the E-M1X Olympus is not only fully exploiting the benefits of the M43 sensor format, but also the benefits of the mirrorless camera configuration. Right now, there is no better interpretation of what’s possible with mirrorless when a bit of imagination, ingenuity and insight is brought to bear on a camera’s design.