Review Date: September 28, 2015
Compare the large image sensor of the AIR A01 (at 17.3 x 13 mm) to the tiny image sensor used in the iPhone 6 (at 4.5 x 3.5 mm). Do the math, and you’ll realize that the much bigger image sensor of the AIR A01 is a big part of the reason why its image quality is not just better than what you can obtain from a smartphone camera, but can be exquisitely better in the right hands. The larger sensor also means that you can take great shots in low light where your smartphone can’t.
Since the AIR A01 uses the same image sensor and image processing technology Olympus uses in its professional and enthusiast mirrorless cameras, you can expect the same great image quality.
M.Zuiko ED 14-42mm F3.5-5.6 EZ:
The Olympus AIR A01 features its M43 mount that accepts lenses from Olympus and Panasonic, as well as from thrid parties. In addition, you can screw on an appropriate lens adapter to use lenses from other camera manufacturers as well as vintage lenses. The focal length multiplier is 2x. In the above picture, we show the coverage for the M.Zuiko ED 14-42mm F3.5-5.6 EZ [28-84mm equiv.] kit lens. This lens is not optically image stabilized.
Closest focusing distance for the M.Zuiko ED 14-42mm F3.5-5.6 EZ is 20 cm (7.87″) at wide-angle and 25 cm (9.8″) at tele. As you can see from the image above, this is not much of a macro. For real close-up photography, you would want to choose a dedicated macro lens such as the M.Zuiko ED 60mm f2.8 Macro.
AF is contrast-detect. It is fast and works very well in good lighting. In low-light, the camera may hunt a bit before locking focus, depending on the contrast of your subject.
As the above two pictures show, the White Balance settings are not quite accurate indoors under artificial lighting. There is no Manual WB.
You can set the ISO on the AIR natively from 200 to 12800, plus the ability to have extended output sensitivity equivalent ISO 100 (L). We find the overall image quality of the AIR A01 to be excellent at ISO 200 with low noise and excellent image detail. Image quality is very good up to ISO 1600. Noise starts to be visible at ISO 3200 and images are usable up to ISO 6400. At higher ISOs, the presence of noise is visible at full image size and with increasing loss of detail.
CA is well controlled. In the above photo, the top left area delimited by the red square, and reproduced at 100% crop at bottom right, shows minimal purple fringing.
Our Long Shutter Speed test is a torture test for digital cameras. Here we test whether (and how well) a camera can lock focus, provide accurate WB and obtain a correct exposure in extreme low light situations. The Olympus AIR A01 passes this test well.
The AIR A01 allows the use of a long shutter speed of 4 sec. This allows us to take some nice Night Shots. For this shot, I set the camera to Shutter-priority mode, selected a shutter speed of 4 sec., ISO 200 and the camera chose an aperture of F3.5. The AF has locked onto the eyes and the black background is nicely smoothened out.
Overall, the Olympus AIR A01 delivers very good image quality on par with what you’d expect from a dedicated Olympus mirrorless camera.