Fuji X-T1 vs Olympus OM-D E-M1

The new Fujifilm X-T1 has been greeted with great enthusiasm. Based purely on specifications, the newer camera seems to be at the top in Japanese manufacturer’s line-up, at least until X-Pro2 comes along. That said, $1,299 is quite a lot of money for an APS-C camera, especially when it has some stiff competition to measure up against. In this article, I will compare the new X-T1 mirrorless camera from Fujifilm to Olympus’ top offering, the OM-D E-M1.

Fuji X-T1 vs Olympus OM-D E-M1

Please keep in mind that this comparison is based purely on official specifications as we have not yet had the chance to review either camera. Both cameras are priced very similarly and even look somewhat alike. Let’s see how they stack against each other on paper:

Fujifilm X-T1 vs Olympus OM-D E-M1 Specification Comparison

Camera Feature Fujifilm X-T1 Olympus OM-D E-M1
Sensor Resolution 16.3 Million 16.3 Million
AA Filter No Yes
Sensor Type X-Trans CMOS II CMOS
Sensor Size 23.6×15.6mm 17.3x13mm
Sensor Pixel Size 4.82µ 3.7µ
Dust Reduction / Sensor Cleaning Yes Yes
Image Size 4,896 x 3,264 4,608 x 3,456
Image Processor EXR PROCESSOR II TruePIC VII
Viewfinder Magnification (35mm equivalent) 0.77x 0.74x
Viewfinder Type Electronic (EVF) Electronic (EVF)
Viewfinder Resolution and Lag 2,360,000 dots, 0.005s delay 2,360,000 dots, 0.029s delay
Viewfinder Coverage 100% 100%
Built-in Flash No (external unit as part of the package) No (external unit as part of the package)
Flash Sync Speed 1/180 1/320
Storage Media 1x SD, SDHC, SDXC 1x SD, SDHC, SDXC
Continuous Shooting Speed 8 FPS 10 FPS
Shutter Speed Range 1/4000 to 30 sec 1/8000 to 60 sec
Image Stabilizer With OIS Lenses Sensor shift
Exposure Compensation Range ±3 stops ±5 stops
Base ISO ISO 200 ISO 200
Native ISO Sensitivity ISO 200-6,400 ISO 200-25,600
Autofocus System Hybrid AF (TTL contrast AF / TTL phase detection AF) Hybrid AF (TTL contrast AF / TTL phase detection AF)
Focus Points 49 AF points 81 AF points (37 phase-detect AF points)
Face Detection Yes Yes
Video Capability Yes Yes
Video Output H.264 H.264
Video Maximum Resolution 1920×1080 (1080p) @ 60p 1920×1080 (1080p) @ 30p
Audio Recording Built-in stereo microphone
External stereo microphone (optional)
Built-in stereo microphone
External stereo microphone (optional)
Articulating LCD Yes Yes
LCD Size 3.0″ diagonal TFT-LCD 3.0″ diagonal TFT-LCD
LCD Resolution 1,040,000 dots 1,040,000 dots
Built-in GPS No No
Built-In Wi-Fi Functionality Yes Yes
Weather Sealed Body Yes Yes
Operating Temperature Down to -10ºC Down to -10ºC
USB Version 2.0 2.0
Weight (Body Only) 440g with battery and memory card 497g with battery and memory card
Dimensions 129 x 90 x 47 mm 130 x 94 x 63 mm
Price $1,299 $1,399

With the exception of a few major differences, the two cameras are very similar indeed. Starting with the ergonomics and design, they are both contemporary remakes of old film classics and will appeal to those who prefer the now-popular retro look over the dull-but-safe modern one. Personally, I would have to say Fujifilm nailed it better – I find the grip on E-M1 to look out of place, as if it was taken from a completely different camera and stuck on the Olympus at the last minute. That said, design is completely subjective. If we look past styling details, though, the ergonomics are, again, very similar. Both cameras feature prominent EVF humps which are not only necessary to store all the parts of current state-of-the-art electronic viewfinders, but also give a rather obvious node to mainstream DSLRs and, possibly, are there to convince some photographers that EVFs are getting better and better each ear. Both cameras also feature an abundance of external controls and usefully large grips for better handling, especially with larger lenses. Olympus OM-D E-M1 and Fujifilm X-T1 are made of high quality materials and feature weather sealing.

There are more similarities to be found as we dig deeper. Save for the difference in aspect ratios, both cameras have sensors with pretty much the same resolution. Also, both emphasize improved EVF technology with high-resolution, high-magnification displays and short lag, as well as quick autofocus and response time.

Similarities are one thing, though. They do not make the task of choosing one over the other any easier. For that, we need to look at the list of differences starting off with all the points OM-1 wins over the X-T1. So, here are the major differences between these two cameras:

  1. Hybrid AF: I’d prefer not to speculate, but contrast-detect autofocus system of the E-M5 (read our review here) is one of the swiftest we’ve ever tested and, in some situations, quicker than that of the X-E2. Adding phase-detect autofocus could only improve it further, so unless Fujifilm has made some serious strides with AF performance with its newest model, there is a good chance E-M1 will be ever so slightly quicker.
  2. Speed: both X-T1 and E-M1 are impressively responsive cameras, and yet the E-M1 trumps its Fujifilm rival on paper. It has a slightly faster continuous shooting speed of 10 frames per second maximum (versus 8 frames per second for the Fuji). What I find to me more important in a camera that costs as much as one of these two is that E-M1 has a top shutter speed of 1/8000s – that is on par with high-end DSLRs. Sadly, X-T1 has to make due with 1/4000s, so if you shoot a lot outside wide-open, that extra stop in shutter speed is definitely an advantage to consider complimented further by a stop of ISO value.
  3. ISO range: even though low-light, high ISO performance of the E-M1 is not as good as that of the Fujifilm, Olympus offers a wider range when shooting RAW. And in those cases when a grainy image is better than a blurry image, the Olympus holds an advantage.

Overall, the Olympus OM-D E-M1 seems to be a very worthy rival to the new X-T1. However, now it is time to talk about its disadvantages, and thus X-T1′s strengths.

  1. Sensors: resolution might be the same, but pixel size is not simply because X-T1 has a noticeably bigger sensor. Now, the one used in Olympus is far from being bad. I think it would still be rather unreasonable to expect it to outperform the X-Trans of the Fujifilm in terms of high ISO noise at the very least. Shallow depth of field is another matter.
  2. Lens Modulation Optimizer: just like the X100S, the Fuji X-E2 also received Fuji’s proprietary Lens Modulation Optimizer – software that can use special algorithms to reduce diffraction and other optical problems.
  3. Layout Differences: naturally, camera layout is a very subjective matter and which one works best is really up to the person who wants to buy one of the cameras. That said, the dial-based system of the X-T1 might be the better choice, because the camera itself remains button-free for the most part.
  4. EVF: Both manufacturers boast about the technology they’ve put into the EVFs of these two cameras. Fujifilm X-T2 has a slight edge over the already hugely capable E-M1. First of all, it is slightly bigger at 0.77x 35mm equivalent magnification (although with 0.74x, the Olympus is still no slouch). Perhaps more importantly the Fuji has less lag – that’s 0.005s versus 0.029s of the Olympus.
  5. Dimensions and Weight: I did not expect this, but the X-T1 is smaller (even if just a little bit) in every dimension than the E-M1 despite featuring a much larger sensor. It is also nearly 60g lighter!
  6. Price: Fujifilm X-T1 is $100 cheaper than Olympus E-M1.

It is a very close call between the two cameras. Your choice will most likely depend on the sensor size you prefer. Interestingly, design might also nudge you towards one camera or the other. The best thing one can do, though, is hold both in hand and use for a bit before making the decision. We will be able to draw full conclusions after both cameras are properly reviewed.

The post Fuji X-T1 vs Olympus OM-D E-M1 appeared first on Photography Life.

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