OM Digital Solutions - OM1 - This Could Be The Best Landscape Photography Camera On The Market

OM Digital Solutions - OM1 - This Could Be The Best Landscape Photography Camera On The Market

May 21, 2022

The OM Digital OM1 - This Could Be The Best Landscape Photography Camera On The Market - 2022

Recently I decided to upgrade my Olympus/OM Digital EM1 Mark 3 for the brand new OM Digital OM1. This "wow" camera has been in the making since the Olympus division of cameras sold to OMDS (OM Digital Solutions) in September 2020. 

The decision to upgrade to a camera that was the newest, and thus far, only release from OMDS, wasn't the easiest decision to make. Considering the new OM1 had the same megapixel rating as the EM1 Mk3, it could appear redundant to drop some $3K plus on this new body. But, I am very happy I did, and very happy that I have continued to support the brand that I have been shooting with for over 20 years.

What is exciting is that the sensor is all NEW, stacked Back-Illuminated Live MOS Sensor that OMDS claim to increase Dynamic Range (DR) by 1 stop and better ISO noise performance.

In this blog I will tell you why I am very happy, and why, if you are a Landscape photographer and not considering this camera, how you might be missing out on a hell of a lot of cool stuff that can only help improve your landscape photography.

Before we get started I must disclose that although I am not an Olympus Ambassador, I do get supported by OM Digital in way of helping me host OM Digital days here in Tasmania - a day where we have a collection of Olympus/OMD cameras and lenses that people can come along to try out, try before they buy, or just generally have a nice day out with like-minded photographers. This opinion on the OM1 is not paid for or requested by OMDS... I have purchased the OM1 for my personal Landscape Photography work, putting my hard earned into this OM1 camera. So with that out the way, let's discuss why the OM1 is the best camera for Landscape photographers.

 

OM OM1 w/ 8-25mm - 0.6sec - f16 - Cosy Corner - East Coast Tasmania
1. Size and Weight

I conduct many photography trips all around Australia and the number one thing that I see so many other photographers struggling with now is the weight and size of their camera kits. It’s a constant complaint and one that stops people from shooting or moving to a new composition - "this camera is just too heavy.."

Coming in at 511g for the body, the OM1 is one of the lightest rigs on the market. Compare this with your mirrorless Full Frame bodies like the Canon R5 that comes in at over 700grams, or the Nikon Z6 at close to 600g, then adding your full frame lenses onto these mirrorless full framers, you are pushing weight well over the 1500gram mark. Full Frame mirrorless sounds good, but in theory you are still needing full frame lenses, hence the continued limit of weight you end up carrying on your shoulder each time. 

The OM1 with its mirrorless designed Zuiko lenses already give your a very handy weight and size advantage over the others.

Why is this important for a Landscape Photographer? Simply, you can go further and faster (and lighter), to more amazing locations without the need to lug 5-7kgs of camera gear. You shoot more. You can get an OM1 body and handful of lenses easily in your pack, and well under the 5kg weight level. It's a god send for places I go such as hiking the Overland Track for 6 days. To be able to carry multiple lenses, and a small compact body, allows me to have amazing flexibility along these hikes, without compromising quality. Sounds corny, but it's true. 

OM OM1 w/ 12-40mm - 1/60th - f11 - Overland Track - Tasmania
2. Weatherproofing like nothing else

When you're a landscape photographer, and you are serious, then you will more often than not find yourself in weather conditions that are more suited to eskimos or animals; not humans.

The secret to creating and capturing interesting and beautiful landscape images, in my opinion, is to really immerse yourself in your environment. Whilst sunny, blue sky days seem appealing, it's the wild weather days that I find best. It’s where I create my best work. To be capable of withstanding these conditions you not only need the right drive to walk these places, the right clothing and safety, but you also need the right gear. The OM1 is bullet-proof and seems to thrive in such conditions.

I have lost count how many times I have been caught out in blizzard conditions in Tasmania's world heritage wilderness area, where the snow is coming in sideways, the wind is howling and you are just struggling to get one foot in front of the other. But one thing that is constant for me on these adventures, is the fact that the Olympus/OMD cameras can withstand anything Mother Nature throws at us, and then some.

Over the last decade or so, I have owned most of the Olympus range of bodies and the weatherproofing on these models has only improved with each release. This is also true of the OM1 - these cameras are just built to last, work and perform in any conditions. A rating IP53 for weather and dust proofing is simply  insane for a camera system. 

This image below was taken only a week ago in 100km/h (plus) winds in North East Tasmania atop the Peron Sand Dunes. Sand, wind, cold, the OM1 just keeps clicking. It's incredible. It feels wrong to have a camera out in these conditions and many customers have noticed that my camera never goes away. And when I got back to my room (after the sand blasting), a quick rinse shower to get clean is all it needed*. 

The ability to work at -10c in freezing conditions is also a game changer for all alpine/snow shooters. 

OM OM1 w/ 8-25mm - 1/30th - f11 - Peron Dunes - North East Tasmania

 3. Image Stabiliser

Tripods! Geez they can be the absolute pain the ass when you are trying to set up for a long exposure shot, or that super steady landscape image. There are all types of things I see go wrong with tripods, mine included. I hate the bloody things. It is the one piece of kit that I always fight with and get to a point where I would rather not use them for sake of keeping my sanity. You can miss shots, miss compositions, the works, all because of a tripod leg that won't play nicely. 

Having a camera that has the market leading Image Stabilisation inbuilt in both cameras and selected lenses, opens up an entirely whole new world of enjoyment when shooting landscapes with the OM1. 

My recent trip along the Overland Track (April 2022) I was able to significantly reduce my carry weight by leaving the tripod at home. In over 20 years of hiking, this is the first time I have left the tripod at home. And did it make the cut? You bet your sweet behind it did. The OM1 has some incredible image stabilisation (IS) onboard. With the typical 5 axis system, you are rewarded with an incredible 7 stops of IS, available when using the 12-40mm f2.8 PRO, and even more amazing, 8 stops when coupled with lens such as the 150-400mm IS lens. That's nuts!

Being able to shoot in low light without the need of a tripod is an incredible freedom to move around your location without restriction. But just how long can one hand-hold a shot for??? 

This shot below was taken in super low light conditions for 2 seconds. Hand held after sunset on a windy coastline. It's sharp, and it works. The freedom to walk away from your tripod is one that is a game changer for me when out shooting. It should be for you too! 

OM OM1 w/ 8-25mm - 2sec - f8 - Binalong Bay - East Coast Tasmania

4. Viewfinder and LCD Display

A very welcomed improvement for the OM1 was finally the updating of the Viewfinder and the LCD display.

The EM1 Mk3 was still using an outdated VF and LCD resolution so the newer OM1 upgrades are super impressive. Hosting one of the markets highest Viewfinder resolutions at 5.76m dots, the new VF is one that makes viewing a very lovely experience. Super sharp, full of detail and colour, the new VF is one factor that made me upgrade to the new body. 

The VF also continues with the super handy additions of inbuilt information right at your eye point. Some of the features I love best would have to be the following:

  • Display shooting grids - super handy for composing your shots.
  • The new level display is a great improvement on the previous EM1 Mk3 - smaller and easier to observe without taking your eye off your subject.
  • 100% view - this is the same as previous models but a feature I just love.
  • Live Histogram - amazingly handy for a landscape photographer - you should be using it.
  • Clipping Display - to see if you have clipped highlights/shadows.
  • Fast response time and no blackouts.
  • The LCD has also had a face lift too.

A whopping upgrade in fact from the previous model of 1037k dots to now on the new OM1 over 1.62M dots. With the ongoing inclusion of touch screen, the new screen is a joy to review your images as you snap away. While I have never been a huge fan of touch screens on cameras, I find this screen touch great for pinching in to view images - it's responsive and smooth. I have found myself using the LCD more and more, without compromising the battery life. 

One factor that I have always loved about any of the newer OMD cameras is the LCD screen and swivel. The fact you can pretty much move this screen to any angle helps a truckload if you are using some of the other features like image stabilisation to take a shot from a wicked angle. You can swing that LCD to meet your eye from any angle and I find I do this quite a lot when hand holding a shot. Even today, there are still some cameras, towards the high end of the game too, that simply don't have a screen that moves in all directions... some don't move at all... WTF? Get with the times big camera brands. 

5. Built-in Neutral Density Filters

Before the introduction of in-built ND filters on the EM1-X model, I was probably one of Australia's only landscape photographer that was sparingly using, if at all, using ND filters.

I religiously use a circular polarising filter on most of my shots, but I was never one to get into the world of using ND or even Graduated ND filters. Perhaps that was the NISI flooding market effect when every Tom, Dick and Harry was getting free filters. There was a massive influx of looooong exposure images and I decided to stay away from that world. Instead I was more prone to add a ND Grad in post production, on the back of capturing the correct exposure and ensuring the highlights of skies had enough detail in them to use the ND Grad feature of Lightroom. 

With the new OM1 you have all the wonders of the Neutral Density world at your finger tips. With in-built ND filters of up to ND64 - (6 stops) and the ability to see these ND effects LIVE in the VF or LCD, the OM1 is another game changer for Landscape photography.

Why do I think this? Along with the added benefits of not having to carry a case of very expensive glass filters around everywhere (some costing over $400) you go, it once again frees you up to be more flexible with your shooting. No need to stop and put a whole set up of filters on your lens or worse, drop a $400 glass filter on the rocks at your feet. You can dial in your desired ND effect and away you go. It's three button presses to engage and turn off the ND features of the OM1. Brilliant. Or even better you can customise that feature onto a button on the OM1. Double Brilliant OMDS!

You also don't have to worry about the very common bugbear of having big filters on your lens, that is subject to dust and water droplets. A 150x150mm filter collects a lot most attention from dust and drops then an in-built option. 

The ND filters work extremely well. Yes, they are a digital affect through computational magic, not an optical adjust via a dark filter, but they work perfectly. For still life landscape images they work as well as any expensive filter kit. Moving water, clouds or the like will render exactly how you would expect with the use of the in-built filters. Trust me, it's not a gimmick, it works very, very well. So much so, I now use ND filters... they're just in-built. 

OM OM1 w/ 8-25mm - 10sec - f11 - ND32 In-Built Filter - St Columba Falls - North East Tasmania

6. High Res Shot Mode

So the OM1 has a small mirrorless 20MP sensor hey?

"You can't shoot landscapes with such a small filter!" - "I need Full Frame to Crop" - this would have to be one of the biggest miss-truths I hear on my travels and across all brands when asked why people buy full frame etc... 

Why can't you shoot on a 4/3rds sensor that only has 20MP? In my experience you can easily shoot great images on these sensors, and now with the added NEW stacked Back-side Illumination (BSI) sensor of the OM1 you can produce super lovely images, and print them to BIG sizes. I have printed 20MP images from the previous models of EM1 camera to over 1.5 metres in length, and they look fantastic from all angles. The OM1 improves even more on these older models. 

But... just in case 20MP isn't cutting it with your full frame mates, then the OM1 can easily accomodate this as well.

The OM1 has two levels of  High Res Modes that allow you to shoot either a 50MP file hand held or a 80MP file on tripod mode. The OM1 achieves these feats by using a pixel shifting technology that allows the 20MP to shift and create/capture more pixels of light and combine into either a 50MP or 80MP file. It works incredibly well and I find myself shooting both 20MP and 80MP on a tripod to give myself a great range of options when producing the images in post. And if I have poorly framed or composed my image, or used the wrong lens, I can just crop away on the 80MP file...

I have no issues whats so ever in matching my OM1 up against my other cameras such as the Leica M10R 40MP camera and printing images to large sizes for customers of the 20MP stacked BSI sensor. They hold up. And when you look at the details on the 20MP they are still lovely and sharp, great contrast and colour rendered as expected. After-all, you don't sell photos to photographers... you know the ones that love to pixel peep. You sell photographs to art lovers and people who have connections to the locations we visit. They couldn't give two brass razoos on how many megapickles you use, so why should you?

OM OM1 w/ 8-25mm - 8sec - f16 - 80MP High Res (10368x7776) - Cape Tourville Lighthouse - East Coast Tasmania

7. No Dust, No Worries

One thing that does my head in more than most others... DUST! 

On my other cameras I have owned and used over the years, dust is like that drunk mate that keeps on ruining the party. Hand on heart, I can honestly say that dust on the OM range of cameras is rarer than hens teeth. I simply don't have to worry about dust on the sensor at any time. There's never dust. 

Like all previous OMD EM models, the OM1 also maintains the Supersonic Dust sensor that allows the dust to be vibrated off the sensor both on shut down and start up. It's a simple but super effective feature that I feel is overlooked by many.

If you find yourself constantly dust spot removing, then you need to consider the OM1. It might seem like a simple feature, but it can save you loads of time in post, and it give you more confidence to change lenses when you are facing some intense weather on your adventures. 

Another example of why there are no limits with the OM1. 

8. Some other honourable mentions...

So I have listed a load of amazing features on the OM1 that I think make this the best landscape camera on the market. But there is still loads more that I simply cannot fit into a single blog. So i’ll mention just a few more game changing features that the OM1 possess:

  • Starry AF - the ability to autofocus on stars. No more manual focus to try and get focus right, or zooming in on LCD to check focus. The OM1 has the ability to find, focus and lock in star focus.
  • Dust and weatherproof lenses - PRO lenses are all weatherproof to a rating of IP53.
  • In built Focus Stacking.
  • Live Bulb, Live Time & Live Composite.
  • Up to 120 frames per second High-speed Sequential shooting.
  • Pro-Capture - the ability to NEVER miss that shot.
  • Wireless control and wireless firmware updating.
  • USB charging.
  • High capacity battery.
  • C4K and 4K video (3840x2160) - I have no idea what C4K is!! LOL.
  • -10c Freeze-proof.
  • the list goes on....

Conclusion

In simple words... I find it hard to find another camera that does this all-round. Yes, there are cameras that have some of these incredible features and functions, but none have it all in the one small, light weight, high quality unit like the OM1 does. 

This camera is in my opinion the complete landscape set up. Couple the OM1 with the super sharp Zuiko PRO lenses and you will see why this camera sits on top of my list.

Yes, there is absolutely higher resolution cameras out there, and yes there are lenses such as Leica's that are off the charts sharp or Fuji that has medium format sensors. But who has the $$$ to buy them and when you put all the requirements of a landscape photographer on paper, you can't go past this camera. 

...and I know... I know... it's a 20MP mirrorless, small camera made by a company that has taken over Olympus... “so what” is what I say! The brand of camera has nothing to do with the ability to create stunning images, consistently across a range of genres and scenarios. It has everything to do with YOU... you just need the right tool to get the best out of your visions, and the OM1 is literally visionary in a 511g weatherproof, very smart, lightproof box.

You just need to have the vision to see what this camera can do, and step into this camera system; you won't regret the change, and you'll probably save a bit of money too. :)

Thanks for your time - Happy Shooting

Cam Blake - OM1 Lover

*I do not suggest you wash off your camera in the shower - this is something that I am confident to do with my OM1 - but I strongly suggest you don't do this with your own. 

#OMDIGITAL

 

 



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