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
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:
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
CINE 4K (24fps)
50mp Multi-shot mode
CINE 4K (60fps)
FullHD video (180fps)
Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, NFC
Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, NFC
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 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.
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 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.
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
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
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.
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)
A range of accessories are available for the camera, including the following:
HLD-9 / AC-5 - Power battery holder, arrow pad (adds second battery)
CBG-12 - Cabin approved bag carries 2 bodies and PRO lenses
Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II Handling
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.
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.
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.