Olympus E-M1 firmware update to address video mode – but will we get 24p and higher bitrates?

pal ntsc regions

The Olympus E-M1 is sitting on a goldmine. The 5 axis stabilisation system is heaven for video, but very little attention was given to video specs. The codec is only capable of recording in one frame rate, 30p, which is an NTSC rate completely unsuited to 70% of the world’s population living in Europe, the UK, China, Brazil and Australia. Consumers need 25p or 50p… and filmmakers are desperate for the 24p look!

Now Olympus are said to be working on a firmware update (source: 43rumors) that gives 21 steps of manual audio gain control (1 step more than the GH3).

Here is a summary of what else video users need.

Olympus please do not be conservative with this firmware update. Let’s at the very least bump the E-M1 up to Panasonic GM1 or GX7 standard and give us 1080/60p, 25p and 24p. Add an HQ recording mode at a higher bitrate to (36Mbit/s minimum), allow us to toggle between 4:2:2 and 4:2:0 and offer us more control over how the image is processed – the ability to turn off processing like noise reduction, especially in the magnified crop mode.

I believe the E-M1 uses a very similar Panasonic sensor to the one featured in the GX7 and GM1 which both shoot a higher standard of 1080p video, with crisper detail and more frame rates.

The other thing the Panasonic cameras have over Olympus for those interested in video (and stills) is the electronic shutter and uncompressed live & clean HDMI output.

But by far the most important thing is 24p and an increase in bitrate or overall video quality.

I know Olympus reps and staff do read this blog so please forward this list of firmware priorities from the video community to those responsible for making it happen…

  • At least one additional frame rate – 24p (and 25p for Europe / PAL regions)
  • Switch to enable 4:2:2 video recording mode for prosumers (maybe in MJPEG mode as JPEG engine is already 4:2:2)
  • If 4:2:2 switch applies only to MJPEG, increase the resolution of that mode from current 720p to full HD 1080p
  • Increase bitrate to at least Canon standard (36Mbit +)
  • Decrease noise reduction and processing in video mode to offer a finer noise grain – very important for a more organic ‘raw’ feel to video (like in raw stills when viewed closely)
  • 1080/60p mode (50p for PAL)
  • Optimise overall video quality increase from better debayer of the raw sensor data – to get at least Panasonic GM1 standard video quality

This firmware update would win many new fans and sales, and I know a LOT of commercial photographers now have clients who want top quality video too.

It makes sense – so let’s see it happen!

Read the full EOSHD review of the innovative OM-D E-M1 here