Olympus has announced a new mirrorless Micro Four Thirds camera, the OM-D E-M1X, which further cements the company’s commitment to the platform, even as competitors like Canon, Nikon, and Panasonic are lining up to challenge Sony’s dominance in the full-frame mirrorless arena.
The OM-D E-M1X isn’t a true successor to the OM-D E-M1 Mark II. With an added vertical grip and a more modest set of updates over its 2016 predecessor, it’s closer to a variant model of the Mark II for photographers who need a slightly different set of features. (Olympus says that it’ll continue to sell the E-M1 Mark II alongside the E-M1X in its product lineup.)
Like its smaller cousin, the E-M1X has a 20.4MP sensor. It offers two TruePic VIII image processors, which Olympus says should allow the camera to boot almost instantly and enable some of the other new features on the camera. There’s also improved image stabilization (now with a maximum of 7.0 shutter speed steps of compensation).
The E-M1X uses the same 121-point autofocus system as the E-M1 Mark II, and it supports up to 60 fps high-speed continuous shooting with autofocus and automatic exposure locked and up to 18 fps continuous shooting with AF/AE enabled.
The biggest visual change is the new vertical grip, which is designed to make it easier to switch between shooting from landscape to portrait. Olympus has specifically designed the button layout to work with similar placement in both portrait and landscape, so actually using the camera should feel pretty similar no matter how you hold it. As an added bonus, the extra bulk also gave Olympus room to add a second battery, which is always a plus.
Performance-wise, Olympus has also improved the Pro Capture mode from the E-M1 Mark II. Previously, the mode would grab the last 14 frames buffered, but that’s been more than doubled to up to 35 frames on the E-M1X.
There are a few other improvements, too, including an updated LCD viewfinder and improved thermal dissipation to prevent overheating.
As an added bonus, the E-M1X switches to a USB-C PD port for charging, which Olympus says will charge both batteries in about two hours, thanks to the spec’s higher charging speeds. (See! It does make a difference!)
This all adds up to an interesting strategy for Olympus that sees the company deepening its lineup of Micro Four Thirds shooters with more options for photographers, instead of trying to cover the broadest slice of the market with cameras that fit into every format bracket. It’s too early to tell if this will pay off or of Olympus will sheepishly release a late-to-the-game full-frame camera in a few years. But for now, trying to establish market dominance in the smaller-frame format while everyone else is fighting to rule the full-frame roost seems like it could be a win.
The Olympus OM-D E-M1X is set to start shipping in late February for $2,999.99 (body only).
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