The New OM-D EM-1X and Macros!
It has been a little over a month since the new OM-D EM-1X has been released. Promising a camera covering all professional needs but mainly advertised for sports and wildlife photographers.
I had the chance to test the camera for a weekend. While everyone was raving about it’s benefits for sports and wildlife, I saw some potential benefits for macro photography that I wanted to check out. Especially if you are – like me – a handheld macro photographer.
I would like to share my experience with you.
As a macro photographer I was mainly interested in two features: Handheld high-res and handheld in camera focus stacking.
The high-res mode is a really cool feature that Olympus has introduced a while ago, it uses pixel shift technology to create an image with a medium format resolution. So far it only worked with a tripod. Now it is supposed to work handheld. For a macro photographer, having all those details in your photograph is an amazing prospect. Detail matters a lot in macro photography in general, but sometimes you aren't able to get as close as you want. High-res will give you that much more freedom to crop.
There is a difference between the tripod high-res and the handheld high-res mode: while the tripod version will give you a file size of around 60mb, the handheld version will create a size of around 30Mb. (compared to a normal Raw of around 16MB)
All pictures are absolutely unedited to give a true imrpression.
I took this picture twice: once in the high-res - tripod mode and once in the normal mode. Here you can see a comparison of the details which I find quite breathtaking:
The differences in detail are quite astounding. But will there be a differnce handheld? And does it even work?
- It does.
Of course if you shake too hard it won't be able to calculate properly. But I saw my hand shaking and most of the time the camera managed to get the pixel shift calculated correctly.
The original images are:
Already on the original Image you can see that there is more dynamic range on the high-res image to the right, but let's have a look at the details:
The normal raw file
The handheld high-res
I think the images speak for themselves in terms of details, noise, and cropping freedom.
Another great feature is the in camera focus stacking. Not everyone is willing to do focus bracketing and take 200-900 images to later painfully edit with a stacking programme. Still the benefits of stacking - keeping a soft background with an increased depth of field - are great.
Now this isn't new, however, with the camera models up to the EM-1X you can stack a maximum of 9 images compared to 15 images on the Em-1X. Besides that, there is a big difference in processing speed. It is incredibly fast!
The numbers don't really hold any meaning without images to compare. Therefore I took two similar images with handheld (!) in camera focus stacking.
9 images stacked:
15 images stacked
With 15 images you will be able to get a larger area completely in focus. Especially if you think about situations, where you for e.g want to take an image of the eyes of an insect, those 6 images more might make all the difference.
Unfortunately I didn't have time to check out all those situations due to the short time I had the camera, but I sure hope I can do so in the future.
The speed at which the stacking is done is crucial to me too, as it means you don't have to keep your hands still as long.
There is much more to the camera that makes it interesting also for macro photography, for example the improved image stabilization and autofocus. Opposite to my expectations, I didn't find the bigger size problematic. Reasons for that are the comfortable ergonomics and it's light weight.
The added control buttons prove to be very handy for macro photography. Especially if we deal with living beings, we have to change our settings fast to get a chance of a shot.
In conclusion I find there is a lot to gain from that camera for an macro photographer, but even more so if you work mainly handheld, it will give you increased image quality great options through high-res and a tool to react fast when hunting insects.