Olympus OM-D E-M1: The 'mirrorless E-7' removes low-pass filter, intros new sensor with dual autofocus

Olympus has unveiled its new, top-spec camera, the OM-D E-M1. And boy, oh boy, does it look like hot stuff.

But it's not the replacement to the OM-D E-M5 as previously thought. Nope, the E-M1 is the embodiment of the would-be E-7 wrapped up in a compact system camera body. It sounds as though the DSLR line is no more - it's all about OM-D.

READ: Olympus OM-D E-M5 review

But Olympus hasn't shunned its long-time customers: the OM-D E-M1 comes with a brand new sensor, complete with a dual autofocus system - described as "Dual Fast AF" - to offer the best of contrast-detection and phase-detection worlds for both Micro Four Thirds and the older Four Thirds lenses (via an adaptor, sold separately) respectively. It's super-fast, too - just as good, if not better when it comes to continuous autofocus, than even the Pen E-P5.

READ: Olympus Pen E-P5 review

The 16-megapixel sensor at the heart of the OM-D E-M1 might sound the same as the E-P5, but it's not - the E-M1 uses an entirely new chip. Able to shoot up to ISO 25,600 the quality is said to be Olympus' "best ever". We've had a play around with the E-M1 ahead of its official announcement. Do such claims ring true? Check out the link at the base of this text for the full lowdown. 

Design-wise the E-M1 looks to be a little stunner too. It's laid out with all the dials and controls that advanced shooters will want, while keeping its size to sensible proportions.

On board is a 3-inch, tilt-angle, touchscreen LCD, complemented by a built-in 2.36m-dot electronic viewfinder (EVF). The EVF is as resolute as that found in the VF-4 accessory viewfinder - designed for use with the E-P5 - and is the first time Olympus has utilised such a panel built in to a camera. It also comes with auto brightness adjustment for a more natural feel in use - a feature that can be switched off if it's not for you.

Elsewhere the E-M1 is chock-full of high-end features: a 1/8000th sec mechanical shutter, 10fps burst mode able to capture up to 41 consecutive raw files, weather-sealed magnesium alloy body that's operational down to -10C, built-in Wi-Fi and plenty more.

The Olympus OM-D E-M1 is due to go on sale mid-October, with a retail price of £1,299 body only, or £1,949 with the new 12-40mm f/2.8 lens. Is it worth the cash? We've played with one for several hours, so check out our first impressions:

READ: Hands-on: Olympus OM-D E-M1 review