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Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II Full Review

Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II Full Review - We review the new Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II, with 60fps continuous shooting at 20mp, 18fps C-AF raw shooting, CINE 4K video, 5-axis IS and more.

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Category : Mirrorless Interchangeable Lens Camera
Product : Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II
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OM-D E-M1 Mark II

Introduced at Photokina 2016, the Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II is Olympus' flagship Micro Four Thirds camera, updating the Olympus OM-D E-M1, with an impressive specification, making it the quickest interchangeable lens camera currently available, with high-speed shooting, a 20 megapixel sensor, 5-axis image stabilisation, 4K video recording, a new battery, dual SD card slots and a professional weather-sealed body. Available now, the Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II has an RRP of £1849 body only. 

Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II Features

Olympus OM D E M1 Mark II (8) (Custom)

With the O-MD E-M1 Mark II, Olympus are promising significantly faster auto-focus (AF) performance, with 18fps continuous shooting with AF, at 20 megapixels. 

In order to deliver this, almost everything in the Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II has been changed compared to the Olympus OM-D E-M1, with a faster EVF, new sensor engine with faster readout, larger buffer, faster processor (3.5x faster), UHS-II card support, and a new battery. Olympus say they "had to change it all to improve the performance". We spoke to Olympus about the OM-D E-M1 Mark II, in our Olympus Interview.

The camera can shoot at 60fps at the full resolution of 20 megapixels, or 18fps with continuous AF tracking, using an electronic shutter, and up to 15fps shooting with a mechanical shutter. Video has been improved with the camera offering 4K video at CINE resolution, with bitrates up to 237Mbps. The camera has 5-axis Image Stabilisation (IS) that is sensor-based, plus a new "Sync IS" feature, that syncs the sensor image stabilisation with lens optical image stabilisation to give an impressive level of stabilisation. The E-M1 Mark II has been introduced with a new 12-100mm lens, with optical image stabilisation, and when used with the E-M1 II, can give up to 6.5 stops of stabilisation.

The Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II puts the Micro Four Thirds system at the forefront of high-speed shooting with an unmatched specification.

There are five main cameras released recently that offer high-speed shooting, professional camera bodies, and 4K video, so here's a comparison of the main features and specifications with the Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II, Panasonic Lumix GH5, Nikon D500, Fujifilm X-T2, and Sony Alpha A6500:
 

Sony Alpha A6500 Fujifilm X-T2 Olympus OM-D E-M1 II Panasonic Lumix GH5 Nikon D500
         
24mp 24mp 20mp 20mp 20mp
APS-C APS-C Micro Four Thirds Micro Four Thirds APS-C
5-axis IS (sensor) Lens based IS 5-axis IS (sensor) 5-axis IS (sensor) Lens based IS
3inch touch, tilt,
921k dots
3inch multi-angle,
1.04m dots
3inch touch vari-angle,
1.04m dots
3.2inch touch vari-angle,
1.62m dots
3.2inch touch, tilt,
2.36m dots
0.7x EVF, 2.36m dots 0.77x EVF, 2.36m dots 0.74x EVF, 2.36m dots  0.76x EVF, 3.68m dots 1.0x OVF
200,000 shutter rating N/A 200,000 shutter rating 200,000 shutter rating 200,000 shutter rating
11fps with C-AF

 
14fps*
8-11fps**
 
15fps
18fps with C-AF*
60fps fixed AF* 
9fps with C-AF
12fps fixed AF
30fps 6K photo (18mp)*
10fps with C-AF

 
425 AF points 91 AF points 121 AF points 225 AF points 153 AF points
ISO100 to ISO51200 ISO100 to ISO51200 ISO64 to ISO25600 ISO100 to ISO25600 ISO50-1640000
4K (UHD)
High-speed video
4K (UHD)
 
CINE 4K (24fps)
50mp Multi-shot mode
CINE 4K (60fps)
FullHD video (180fps)
4K (UHD)
 
Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, NFC Wi-Fi Wi-Fi Wi-Fi, Bluetooth Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, NFC
MicroUSB USB3 USB3 USB3 USB3
350 shots 340 shots 440 shots 410 shots 1240 shots
453g (body**) 507g (body**) 574g (body**) 725g (body **) 860g (body **)

* Electronic shutter ** 8fps, or 11fps with optional battery grip. *** with battery and SD/XQD card

Improved on the Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II is the new battery, which is significantly larger than previous Olympus batteries, and the camera will display the remaining battery life on screen at all times as the percentage remaining. You can get further battery information in the battery menu item. USB connection is with a USB Type C connection, which is great news, as it means Olympus are no longer using the proprietary Olympus USB cable on this camera. 

Olympus OM D E M1 II Front

Olympus has completely re-developed the focus system for high speed focus, and 18fps continuous shooting with continuous AF. To enable this, Olympus had to use a new low-power consumption high-speed sensor, a new TruePic VIII (8) double quad-core image processor, and phase detection focus on the sensor. There's also a new Pre-MF feature, that will let you measure the distance to a subject using the AF system (the distance is displayed on screen), and then fix the focus at that distance.

 

Olympus Om D E M1 Mark Ii

The phase detection focus area has been increased noticeably compared to the E-M1, as shown above, with it covering 75-80% of the sensor. There are now 121 AF points (all cross-type), compared to 37 phase-detection points on the E-M1. 

We've taken a macro shot of the Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II sensor, showing where the phase-detection pixels are located on the sensor:

Olympus OM D E M1 MarkII Sensor Detail3

Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II Sensor Detail - The darker green is showing the sensor area, and the 5 rectangles in the middle (lighter green) are the areas where there are phase-detection pixels.

Using the camera's 5-axis sensor based image stabilisation, Olympus are able to move the sensor at a sub-pixel level to produce a high resolution 50 megapixel image. The camera takes a number of shots (8) and then combines them in-camera, giving you an ultra high-resolution photo. The camera must be mounted on a tripod for this to work, and there is also the option to shoot a 25mp image, if you don't need the full 50mp resolution.

Art Filters are continued to be featured on the camera, and there are over 25 available. Whilst these may seem like an unnecessary feature, the OM-D E-M1 Mark II lets you use Art Filter bracketing, so you can setup the camera to quickly produce the original photo, plus images that have been processed with the Art Filter, or other colour setting. This becomes particularly useful when taking portrait photos, as you can have the camera automatically produce a black and white and a sepia version straight away, letting you can quickly show previews of the edited photos straight to the model or client. 

Olympus Pro Capture mode - This lets you shoot at 60fps, with up to 14 shots taken before you press the shutter, and up to 99 shots after you've pressed the shutter. You can use this mode when shooting JPEG, as well as when shooting raw. 

Key Features

  • 20 megapixel Micro Four Thirds CMOS sensor
  • 5-axis Sync IS - sensor and lens based IS for 6.5 stops
  • 200,000 shutter life rating
  • 15fps continuous shooting with mechanical shutter
  • 18fps continuous shooting in raw with C-AF (Silent mode)
  • 60fps continuous shooting in raw with fixed AF (Silent mode)
  • 121 AF points (all-cross type) covering 75% vertically, 80% horizontal
  • TruePix VIII - double quad-core image processor
  • 3inch vari-angle touch-screen, 1037K dots
  • 2360K dot, high-speed (120fps, 6ms) electronic viewfinder, 0.74x magnification
  • ISO200 - ISO25600, Low (ISO64) also available
  • Updated menu system (see below)
  • New battery with fast charging, and 1720mAh rating
  • Improved noise performance by 1 stop
  • 50mp / 25mp high-res shot mode
  • HDR in-camera, Live Time, Live Composite shooting
  • Weather-sealed
  • Dual SD card slots - UHS-II (slot 1)
  • USB3 Type C connection, Wi-Fi

Whilst Olympus OM-D cameras have not been the choice of professional videographers, for those that have used Olympus cameras for video, they will have no doubt been impressed by the 5-axis image stabilisation, which has been impressing people since the Olympus OM-D E-M5. The Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II is the first OM-D camera from Olympus with 4K video, and with 5-axis IS the results are bound to impress. They give the ability to produce video results that look professionally stabilised, but without the need for a tripod or (expensive) gimbal or Steadicam solution.

Olympus OM D E M1 MarkII Sensor (2)

Video Features

  • 4K video recording at CINE resolution, 24p (at 237mbps), UHD at 30, 25, 24fps
  • Microphone / headphone sockets on camera
  • 5-axis sensor image stabilisation + digital stabilisation
  • Clean HDMI output (Micro HDMI connection)
  • Sync start/stop

A range of accessories are available for the camera, including the following:

  • HLD-9 / AC-5 - Power battery holder, arrow pad (adds second battery)
  • FL-900R GN58 weatherproof flash, 10fps sequential compatible
  • RM-CB2 remote cable
  • PT-EP14 UW case - waterproof to 60 meters
  • STF-8 Twinflash - first-ever weatherproof macro flash
  • CBG-12 - Cabin approved bag carries 2 bodies and PRO lenses

Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II Handling

Olympus OM D E M1 Mark II (17) (Custom)

The design of the E-M1 Mark II and grip makes the camera look like a high-tech Digital SLR, and the handgrip feels excellent in the hand, with a large rubber grip around the front of the camera, and a rubber grip on the back for your thumb. There's a good size protrusion on the back for your thumb, and this makes holding the camera with one hand feel secure. The buttons feel a little "spongy" (most likely due to the camera's weather sealing) but they are large enough and easy to find. The camera design and layout will immediately feel at home to those who have been using the original E-M1, as little has changed, except for a slightly larger handgrip.

Customisation of controls and buttons is a good idea, as this can help you use your camera more effectively. It's likely you'll want to do this to get the best out of the camera, and it may take some time studying the manual before you fully get to grips with all of the controls and options available. There are three custom settings on the mode dial, so if you do want to remember the setup you can go back to it quickly. 

For general shooting, the super control panel remains a good way to change settings, and you can use the switch next to the EVF to switch what the two command wheels do, for example on default settings switching this to No 2 means the dials let you quickly change ISO and WB.

Build quality is excellent, with the camera having a solid magnesium alloy body that is weather sealed. The dials on the camera are reassuringly solid being made out of metal, and the knurled metal makes them easy to turn with good grip. 

Olympus OM D E M1 Mark II (19) (Custom)

The focus points cover a wide area of the screen (75% vertically, and 80% horizontally) making it easy to select what you want to focus on. You can use the touch-screen or the 4-way controller for this, as well as use the touch-screen as a touchpad to set the AF point when the camera is held up to your eye. If you're not a fan of using the touch-screen in this way, you can switch off these features. The screen is extremely clear and bright, with very good colour, as well as a quick refresh rate. With a vari-angle screen that flips out to the side, care needs to be taken if you want to use the side ports on the camera at the same time. 

When using manual focus and the electronic viewfinder (EVF) the camera shows you a magnified view, and thanks to the 5-axis image stabilisation the view in the EVF is excellent, with the stabilisation giving you a steady and stable view of your subject. The EVF has an "Optical viewfinder simulation" mode, called S-OVF (Simulated OVF), and this expands the dynamic range shown in the viewfinder, as well as showing more accurately what the camera sees, including any colour temperature before correction. The EVF has a fast refresh rate (of 120ms, 6ms), and when using the "Low" continuous shooting speeds (upto 18fps electronic and 10fps mechanical shutter), you are shown the in-between live frames, rather than just the photo after it's been shot. 

 

E-M1 Mark II Menu System - The menu system has been updated and designed to be "easier" to navigate, with each section of the Custom menus now labelled, for example, instead of there being two pages of "A" options, these are now labelled "A1", "A2", "A3" and so on. Unfortunately, these are no longer colour coded, and the menus remain difficult to navigate. An improvement can be found in the video options - which are now kept in their own video section, and we go through the options available later. 

The High-Res shot mode and Pro-Capture modes are selected within the drive mode settings, whereas they would be easier to find, and make more sense, by being one of the mode dial options, or alternatively Olympus could implement a drive mode dial on the top left of the camera, like others have.

Wi-Fi features - Built-in Wi-Fi lets you connect the camera to your smartphone or tablet, and the Olympus O.I. Share app is one of the better apps out there. It's available for Android and iOS devices. Setting up the connection to the camera is easy, as you can simply scan a QR code displayed on the back of the camera. You can remotely control the camera (with live view), you can import photos, edit photos and add Geotag information to photos.

Olympus OM D E M1 Mark II (9) (Custom)

Battery life - Battery life is rated at 440 shots according to Olympus / CIPA test results, or up to 950 shots using quick sleep mode. This is doubled with the use of the optional battery grip. We took over 420 shots, and the battery life was still showing as 38% remaining. In continuous shooting modes, you should be able to get well over 440 shots.

Occasionally, when the battery life was getting lower (under 35%) the battery would show as a red flashing light to show a low battery warning, other times it would not. This is a shame, as we'd still appreciate having the battery life displayed as a percentage, even when the battery is showing as red or low.

Battery Life for Movie Shooting is rated at Approx. 90 minutes* (under standard JEITA testing), or Approx. 150 minutes* (when zoom and other operational functions are not used). *When repeatedly recording at the maximum time of 29 minutes.



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Comments


balayage 2 1 Canada
19 Sep 2016 9:59PM
This is my next camera. Anybody want to buy my old system? Smile

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4k78l 278 1 New Caledonia
19 Sep 2016 9:59PM
Canon M5 just got KO'd by a long shot. This new Olympus met everything I was hoping for and more. I just got to have it!
20 Sep 2016 10:31AM
When will it be available?
Want Need Want
20 Sep 2016 3:39PM

Quote:When will it be available?


Early 2017.
lemmy 9 2.7k United Kingdom
20 Sep 2016 4:27PM
Interesting and detailed piece, thanks. The dual cards. better battery life and professional service are the biggest attraction for me. Those are the things that might make more professionals take it seriously. I'd also be very happy if the focusing is as snappy as the Panasonics already are.

That menu still looks a dogs breakfast, unfortunately but as is said in the write up, that may not be finalised yet. I wonder how they'll price it? About 1200 I'd guess.

What's exciting is all the development that's going into mirrorless cameras now. Throwing computing power at a problem like autofocus might be crude but it is very effective, witness Panasonic's DfD and focus tracking and Olympus's stabilization.
banehawi Plus
12 1.6k 3615 Canada
20 Sep 2016 8:42PM
The M5 and this are two entirely different cameras. Think twice balayage about having to replace your canon glass which you could use on the M5, which will outperform the Oly image quality and noise levels very easily.

Many Oly OM users buy a Metqbones converter to use Canon glass also, so think carefully.

The increased shutter reliability is good news, as replacing OM shutters currently due to wear is very common.
20 Sep 2016 11:28PM

Quote:The M5 and this are two entirely different cameras. Think twice balayage about having to replace your canon glass which you could use on the M5, which will outperform the Oly image quality and noise levels very easily.

In terms of noise and DR, Canon's image sensors have been lagging Sony's for many years... and the M5/80D sensor is still not on par with Sony's latest chips.

As such, although it's somewhat smaller, Sony's 20mp 4/3 sensor gives up very little to the M5's sensor in terms of noise performance. Resolution is somewhat lower, yes, and DoF control is limited by physics as always... but overall IQ is broadly similar.

Now... Olympus claims that the sensor used in the E-M1 Mark II has 1 stop better noise performance than the current chip. If that's true, then DoF control will be the M5's only advantage, sensor-wise, over the Olympus camera.

In other words, "booyah".
22 Sep 2016 3:34PM
The 80D sensor actually surpasses all m43 sensors with regards to DR and noise , though I will bw sticking with m43 Smile . Given that there has been literally zero advance in high ISO on m43 since Feb 2012 I will be shocked if the Olympus claim is a true RAW noise gain of one full stop, I suspect it will just be more/better nr on the jpeg engine


https://www.dxomark.com/Cameras/Compare/Side-by-side/Canon-EOS-80D-versus-Panasonic-Lumix-DMC-GX8___1076_1041
CBumpkin 8 13 United Kingdom
22 Sep 2016 10:04PM
Portability is a key issue to me. Had a FF Canon, the D5, that was way too bulky, so switched to M4/3 and got the same IQ at 12x16ins prints on the wall. That was a 16mpx sensor, so the 20 with hi-res option will be better. If you want DR then the Sony A7RII is good, if you can afford the system price-tag. If not, maybe some enlargement software and the M4/3 is a cheaper option?
Rees 9 14 Wales
9 Nov 2016 1:00PM
I understand if you pre-order, you will have the camera in December 2016, 1849 body only.
What I do not understand is, this digital, electronic camera, why does it have a mechanical shutter as well as an electronic shutter?
20 Dec 2016 6:15PM
It looks like it has the same little strap lugs as the EM5. I've had reliability issues with those as they were held by small screws and don't trust them with heavy lenses. I'd hope the EM1 Mk2 was more robust.

I've experimented with the FL-900R on my EM5 and had pleasing results in automatic, but I do still miss flash spot metering lock from my old Nikon D90. Please Olympus

* Flash Spot Metering Lock, so I point at my subject and it fires a test flash and locks flash power based on the result. Then I can recompose and shoot at that power.

* Show on the exposure readout graph the resultant exposure of background as a result of flash low speed limit having been applied. Example you'd normally want 1/30s f/2.8 to expose without flash but it's limiting at 1/60s so that's 1 stop under.
Strap lugs are said to be heavy duty now.

That said, I can't of a serious 'tog who hangs a heavy camera around the neck for more than a few seconds.
Not since grip straps appeared in the 1980s. They are brilliant, difficult to drop the camera and it's always ready.

Get a Spider Pro, or Peak Design Capture Camera Clip - there are many other such solutions.

I rarely unpack the straps from the boxes.
I might this one, as it is apparently very pretty and has as much advertising as a CaNikSon strap on it!

https://photohounds.smugmug.com/browse - mostly MFT ... with a few RB-67 shots thrown in.
4 Jan 2017 2:25PM
That's good. After failure of my EM-5's strap lugs I'd been nervous even about using them with the lightweight 17mm prime lens on - just in case.

Concerning my comments on flash, I'm finding the auto flash exposure to work and balance well. Maybe my old habit of more manual flash exposure comes from an older time when it was more necessary to do so, and things have moved on. A good job as my old flash meter seems to have gone walkies (probably like other things that go walkies somewhere under my 4 year old's bed).
7 Jan 2017 1:37AM
Expensive and hardly lightweight . Regards
7 Jan 2017 8:50AM
It is a concern.

For the cost of this body I can buy a Sony A7ii body and, if they do their trade in rebate bonus again which is likely some time, the 28-70f4 zoom. This gives me a package of similar size to my EM5 and 12-40f2.8 but full frame.

I take a 1 stop penalty at maximum aperture so noise comparison is 1 stop offset, 2 stops for situations where I'm stopping down the OLY to achieve adequate depth of field for my subject (group shots). This may make the noise differences less significant, though the Sony still achieves great dynamic range which can help if I'm having to photograph something like a group outside an office in bright sunshine. I'd need to increase ISO on the Sony to maintain sufficient depth of field and shutter speed to freeze fidgety kids. Even outside, as it's winter, I'm pushing the Olympus up to 400 or 800 to do this, so Sony would be up to 3200.

Olympus offers that amazing speed, but I don't use it. Fuji has the lovely control interface and niceties like depth of field indication in viewfinder, but no in body stabilisation. So it comes down to lenses really. The Olympus PRO lenses are really nice if expensive. I currently have the 12-40 and the non-pro 17mm and 45mm primes which I'd have to sell to buy Sony replacements. I'd also need to replace my flash.

It does leave me torn. I think I'll hire a Sony for a weekend to play with and see what difference it makes. I've been unhappy with skin tones from the EM5 at times, but I wonder if that's my technique or just bad lighting in the real world. At the sizes I print quality difference may be invisible. (I print up to 12x15 for myself, though I've seen my images on corporate banners. The latter are viewed at distance though, from the floor of the trade show not close up, and are not there for the art in itself).

Most likely result is that instead of looking forward to the upgrade and staying with Olympus my current plan is to cease investment in expanding my kit because there is chance I'll want to sell it before too long.
7 Jan 2017 6:08PM
A review that doesn't test CAF in high speed bursts?

BTW it only does Pro Capture with M. Zuiko lenses.
No problem folks, I have plenty M. Zuikos
Others have tested the CAF - it isn't hard to find
Good ergonomics (important if you use a cam for an extended period and a portable SYSTEM are more important to me.

That (pricey) new Zukio 25/1,2 completely mashes the "quality' of any full MARKETING frame 50-60mm f/1,2 "standard' lens. And Gimmick shots aside, I mean grinds them into the dust

DOF is not the only important lens quality, Corner to corner sharpness, the shutter speed an extra stop gives you (less movement blur) and portability are all important considerations. Portability means the camera fits INTO your activities better.

Different if you use mainly fixed studio cameras - than that nre 33x44mm Fuji, or the Pentax etc. begin to make sense.

It pays to remember that the sensor is effectively the "FILM" and you can change "film" by twisting a few dials Smile
Anyone who ever pushed Tri-X for a living will realise how much we've gained.

Don't like the system? Use something else - there's no point wasting your time here.
8 Jan 2017 7:55AM
Indeed, my reason for choosing Olympus and Micro 4/3 in the first place was that I wanted a portable system that I could put in an already full backpack along with radio kit and emergency shelter when I'm doing communications work in the hills. My Nikon was bulky and I was afraid of taking it out in bad weather, so EM-5's weather sealing was a winner.

301635_1483861725.jpg



This is the older EM-5 Mk1 and the 12-40 lens.

(I've pushed T-Max, also had grainy but good photos off T-Max 3200. Kodak was less grainy than Ilford, especially Ilford 400 - though I've also marvelled at the abilities of Fuji's slide films when projected up to a "print" size of a meter or two. I'll have to dig out some old slides to see how things do compare. I think we have gained in the digital world in comparison with old 35mm film. The black and white films did give very good dynamic range if you were willing to dodge and burn in the dark room. I don't know what those shots would be like if I tried again in digital. Maybe I ought to.)
8 Jan 2017 9:12AM
What the Procapture limit means is that the best supertele isn't available for it.
joshwa Plus
6 803 United Kingdom
9 Jan 2017 7:55AM

Quote:A review that doesn't test CAF in high speed bursts?


On the performance page, you can see the continuous shooting speed with C-AF active:
https://www.ephotozine.com/article/olympus-om-d-e-m1-mark-ii-full-review-29936/performance
ChrisV Plus
10 1.6k 26 United Kingdom
10 Jan 2017 1:10PM

Quote:
Quote:A review that doesn't test CAF in high speed bursts?


On the performance page, you can see the continuous shooting speed with C-AF active:
https://www.ephotozine.com/article/olympus-om-d-e-m1-mark-ii-full-review-29936/performance



Hi Josh, I think the question is probably more about how effectively it tracks rather than how fast it shoots in C-AF. Personally I'd like to see it up against the 7DII and D500 in a shoot-out tracking wise. I wouldn't expect it to compare with the D500 [but there again, I doubt anything would], but if it can get anywhere near close, it will be impressive. In fact it would be great to see a 5 way shoot-out including the three mentioned along with the Sony A6500 and the Panasonic GH5 once available.

Any chance - at least of a one-on-one?
14 Jan 2017 12:31PM
Fuji has 325 AF points not 91

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