If there were ever a camera that’s received a fair amount of improvement, I’d say without a doubt it’s the OM System OM1. With just a few firmware updates, the company formerly known as Olympus has been working to improve things like autofocus. And over time, it has truly improved. With firmware 1.3 recently launching, we set to test it out and were happily surprised. So we updated our OM System OM1 review to reflect this.
Updated in January, 2023.
At this point, I think it’s fair to say the OM SYSTEM has done a very good job with continuously updating the autofocus capabilities of the OM SYSTEM OM1. Recently, they issued firmware version 1.3. According to the website, here are the big changes:
- Performance of C-AF when shooting still images has been improved.
- Performance of C-AF when recording videos has been improved.
- Stability of other operations has been improved.
To test this, we set up bird feeders again on the balconies, using a variety of seeds and suet to attract different species. Overall, I must say the OM SYSTEM OM1 has dramatically improved continuous autofocus capabilities. In fact, I think a photographer could easily switch between this and Pro Capture Mode to get fantastic images. Further, it’s much better with tracking subjects like birds moving in and out of the feeders. This worked very well once the sun was up, but the OM SYSTEM OM1 was having a bit of trouble during twilight hours. For the best delivery here, turn on Simulated OVF mode.
Where does it stand? Well, it’s still not as good as Canon or Sony. Staff consensus is that Canon is the top dog when it comes to continuous autofocus performance of animals in good lighting. Couple that with the fact that it, Panasonic, and Nikon are very easy to use, and you’ve got yourself a winner. To clarify that statement, only those three brands group birds and animals into one category to make them easier to autofocus on. Sony, on the other hand, categorizes them separately, as does OM SYSTEM and Fujifilm.
Behind Canon is Sony, which performs fantastically, but is annoying to use while in the thick of a dark forest canopy. Behind those two are Nikon and OM SYSTEM, which are neck and neck. Fujifilm is behind OM SYSTEM and Nikon both according to our most recent tests with the Fujifilm XH2.
Overall, OM SYSTEM’s market is wildlife and birding. I’ve photographed a ton of birds in various lighting situations. Continuous autofocus on the OM SYSTEM OM1 is fantastic when there’s a plethora of light. But if you’re walking in the middle of the forest trying to photograph hidden birds in the canopy, you’ll have more trouble with this camera. To be fair, every other camera system struggles with this too. But the biggest problem here has to do with the fact that you essentially need to shoot at ISO 6400 at a slower aperture. As if the darkness of a forest canopy wasn’t enough, the slower aperture can make performance more unreliable.
All this said, be sure to bring extra SD cards and perhaps even an extra battery. Pro Capture Mode is generally still the way to go to ensure you won’t miss a shot based on human error. But if you’ve trained your eyes to capture the moment before it’s in the viewfinder, then you’ll be able to rely on the continuous autofocus mode with no problems.