Olympus OMD-EM1X High Resolution Mode Test
March 10, 2019
For absolutely no even-remotely justifiable reason at all, we picked up a copy of the newly-released Olympus OMD-EM1X and brought it with us to San Francisco to put through its paces, paired with the excellent Olympus M.Zuiko 12-100mm f/4.0.
We (may) share a full review of this camera at a later date, but so far, it lives up exactly to the first impressions most will have of it - a puzzingly gigantic body housing some interesting tech, seriously mind-blowing image stabilisation1, bad-ass weather sealing ultimately held back by the limitations of its Micro four-thirds sensor and priced about $1000 USD too high.
One of the features we were most excited to try was the high res shot mode - basically the latest iteration of a tech that has been around for a while on various cameras, this mode shifts the sensor around slightly to capture more data and process it into a much-higher resolution file than normal, which permits smaller sensor cameras to capture as much detail as massive megapixel monsters like the Sony A7RIII.
As mentioned, this tech isn’t necessarily new, but what is new is that while previous iterations required the camera to be precisely mounted on a tripod to work (which meant it basically was never going to be used since if we’re dragging a tripod somewhere we’re almost certainly going to be bringing our highest resolution bodies as well) the latest verison in the OMD-EM1X takes advantage of its striking 7.5 stops of image stabilisation to allow you to take 50 megapixel high-res shots… handheld.
We were really curious if it would work or not so we took it up to a couple of spots in SF (up by the Painted Ladies looking towards the bay, and then over by the Fisherman’s Wharf) and fired off a couple of handheld test shots in high res mode.
What can we say? We’re pretty damn impressed. It wasn’t perfect2, and there was some roughness when pixel peeping as you can see in the 100% crops above, but the files were very high resolution, very detailed and exhibited almost no-ghosting. Of course, we’ll need to kick the tires some more to see, but so far this feature is really living up to the hype.3
No, seriously. Mindblowing. We hand-held a shot for 4.5 (FOUR POINT FIVE!) seconds and it came out sharp and noise free. We’ve been impressed with the dual lens + body IS of M43 bodies for some time now (ever since we hand-held the Leica 100-400 f/4-6.3 at 400mm (800mm FF equivalent) on the teeny tiny Panasonic GX7 up in the Canadian rockies and walked away with sharp photos, but the OMD-EM1X takes this to a whole other level of disbelief when paired with the right lens (such as the 12-100 f/4.0) - it just doesn’t seem physically possible to hand hold a camera for > 4 seconds and walk away with not only usable photos but sharp ones as well. Insanity. ↩
Our biggest grip is that the camera basically freezes for about 7-10 seconds after each shot to process it - locking out the screen and all functions until it’s done. Yech. Also, bizarrely, it only shows the “busy” progress indicator in either the eyepiece or the back LCD, whichever you were using at the time when you took the high-res shot - so if you’re looking through the eyepiece, snap the photo, then take the camera away from your eye, the back LCD is just black - you have to peep through the eyepiece to see the progress bar which is just dumb. ↩
We only wish it were easier to turn on/off with a single button-press. The best we could figure out to do was map it to the ★ menu (“My Menu”) as a shortcut, which still requires us to: 1. press the menu button, 2. tab over to the “My Menu” 3. Click the High res mode to go in one level 4. Click to turn it on. 5. Half press the shutter button to go back to shooting mode. Turning it off requires the same steps in reverse, for a total of at least 10 button presses where just 2 should do. ↩