Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II Full Review - Performance

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Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II Performance

The performance section is where we look at the image quality performance of the camera. Additional sample photos and product shots are available in the Equipment Database, where you can add your own review, photos and product ratings.

Speed - We took a number of shots to test the camera's responsiveness, from switch on to first photo, shot to shot, focusing speed etc. We take a number of shots and then use the average to ensure accurate and consistent tests, making it easy to compare with other cameras.

Shutter Response <0.05secs
Wide - Focus / Shutter Response 0.1secs
Full zoom - Focus / Shutter Response  0.1secs
Switch on Time to Taking a Photo 0.7secs
Shot to Shot without Flash 0.1secs
Shot to Shot with Flash 1.2secs
Continuous Shooting - JPEG*
(shots before slow down)
15fps (120 shots) - mechanical
55fps (50 shots) - electronic
13-14fps (105 shots) - electronic with C-AF
Continuous Shooting - Flash 1fps (Low, mechanical)
Continuous Shooting - RAW 15fps (95 shots) - mechanical
58fps (49 shots) - electronic
13fps (82 shots) - electronic with C-AF

Focus is very fast at both the wide-angle, and telephoto ends of the lens. Tested with the 12-40mm f/2.8 lens, central focus point, and a Lexar UHS-II SD card in slot 1. *JPEG Fine used. The high-speed continuous shooting for the electronic shutter and Pro-Capture can be set to 60, 30, 20 or 15fps. The buffer is quite large for shooting a good number of shots, particularly when shooting at 15fps or less. When shooting at 10fps, you can shoot an unlimited number of JPEG images (until the card is full). 

Continuous AF Tracking peformance was good, and we were able to shoot at speeds between 13 and 14fps, although unfortunately we weren't able to get up to the 18fps that the camera says it's capable of. 


Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II Sample Photos

Sample Photos - The Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II offers the excellent JPEG output we've come to expect, and truly appreciate, from Olympus. Levels of detail are good, colour is excellent, exposure is reliable, and face detection (and eye-detection) focus makes every single portrait shot sharp and well focused. Anyone who's experienced low success rates with portrait shots with DSLRs should give this a try. You can recover shadows (and highlights) by processing the raw files, and it's also possible to retain more detail in images with more subtle noise reduction, or alternatively you can turn down the noise settings in-camera. Most of the time this won't be necessary as the JPEG output is very good straight from the camera.


Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II Lens test images

Lens Performance - The weather-sealed Olympus M.Zuiko 12-40mm lens performs extremely well, and gives very good close-up performance, being able to focus on subjects close to the camera, giving pleasing background blur and bokeh. Distortion is automatically corrected in-camera, and the lens is quite resistant to flare. There's an increasing range of premium Micro Four Thirds lenses available, although some people are still waiting for longer telephoto reach than is currently available, with the longest reach possible being 840mm (with the Olympus 300mm f/2.8 and 1.4x teleconverter), or 800mm with the Leica 100-400mm

5-axis sensor-based image stabilisation is impressive, with it being possible to shoot sharp images at 1/5th of a second handheld or slower, letting you create images that you would normally need a tripod for. Focus is reliable and rapid. 


Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II ISO test images

ISO Noise Performance - We are seeing slightly improved noise performance from this camera, compared to the 20 megapixel Olympus PEN-F. There's also a slight step up in noise performance over the original E-M1 at higher ISO speeds like ISO3200-ISO6400, so you get more detail from the 20 megapixel sensor, as well as better noise performance. Images are good up to around ISO6400, although using lower ISO settings gives you more detail and less noise. It's likely you'll want to avoid ISO12800, and above, although these may still provide useful if used on the web or as a last resort. Interestingly, the results at ISO12800 show better noise control (or processing), when compared to the 24 megapixel APS-C sensor Sony Alpha A6300.

Noise options available include: Noise Filter: Off, Low, Standard, High, and you can see the difference between these when viewing the "High Res" versions of the images above. You can safely set the noise reduction to Low for a little bit more detail in images, while only a slight increase in noise. 


Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II White-balance test images

White Balance Performance - Auto white balance (AWB) performs well under fluorescent or incandescent (Tungsten) lighting, with a warm result produced under the Tungsten lights. The presets give accurate results under Tungsten lighting, although the Fluorescent preset gave a magenta colour cast. You can choose what you want the camera to do when you are shooting using the AWB, so you can set "Keep warm colour" to on or off - with this on, results are warm, which is great for portraits, or with this off, results are more accurate, which is great for product shots. This mostly effects results when there is incandescent lighting involved, otherwise there isn't much of an effect. 

The high-res mode was used to take 50 megapixel images, and this uses an electronic shutter to take 8 images, and they are then combined in-camera. 


Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II Digital filters

Digital Filters - There are 28 different Art Filters you can select from - although a number of these are simply variations of an effect for example, you can shoot Vintage I, Vintage II, and Vintage III. The most useful feature of this is that you can also set up Art Filter bracketing so you can quickly show someone the results of an edited image, or you could set the camera to always take a black and white version of a photo. 


Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II Other sample images

Pro-Capture mode - This lets you shoot at 60fps, at full resolution, 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. Here we've used it to capture the moment an arrow hits a water balloon (above).


Video - The Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II can record 4K video at CINE resolution (at 24fps), as well as 4K (UHD) video with frame rate options of 30, 25 and 24fps. We have recorded a number of videos, with the new 12-100mm f/4 PRO lens, which uses Sync IS (Lens and Sensor Image Stabilisation) to produce impressively stable video results. The maximum length of videos recorded on the E-M1 Mark II is 29 minutes and 59 seconds, and videos are recorded as MOV files (with MJPEG available for HD resolution). You can watch additional videos on the ePHOTOzine YouTube channel.

Whilst video options available aren't as comprehensive as Panasonic's Lumix GH4 or GH5, there are a good number of options. 

  • Mode: P, A, S, M
  • Specification settings:
    • Size: C4K (24fps only, 237mbps), 4K (102mbps), FHD, HD
    • Bit rate (FullHD / HD): ALL-I, SF (IPB), F (IPB), N (IPB)
    • fps: 30, 25, 24fps
    • Noise filter: Off, Low, Standard, High
    • Picture mode: Off, On
  • AF / IS Settings
    • AF mode (S-AF, C-AF, MF, S-AF+MF, C-AF+TR, Preset MF)
    • Image stabiliser (M-IS 1 - sensor shift and digital, M-IS 2 - sensor shift only, Off)
  • Button / dial / lever
  • Display settings
    • Control settings
    • Info settings
    • Time code settings
      • Mode: Non-DF, Drop Frame
      • Count up: rec/run, free run
      • Starting time: reset, manual input, current time
    • Battery display (min/percent)
  • Movie mic (off/on)
    • Recording volume (built-in / mic)
    • Volume limiter
    • Wind noise reduction
    • Plug-in power
    • PCM recorder link (camera rec volume, slate tone, sync rec)
    • Headphone volume
  • HDMI output
    • Output mode (monitor / record clean out)
    • REC bit
    • Time code

The combination of 5-axis image stabilisation, which works with any lens attached to the camera, and the ability to use image stabilised lenses for additional stabilisation will be very appealing to both amateur as well as professional videographers. The battery life is now displayed in remaining time (in minutes) in the video mode, or you can switch this to show percentage if you want. Rolling shutter appears to be very well controlled, and audio quality is also good. 


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Photographs taken using the Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II

Lugger Falcon PortraitRemember the FallenZig-Zag ShadowsMill and MarshAutumn sunlight shines through trees on to a winding footpathDark clouds roll over the cliffs of Happisburgh beachThe River Selune at Ducy, FranceSunlight creeps across Borth-y-Gest harbour at low tideWalking in the fogLest WE ForgetAutumn in Batsford ArboretumNever forgetMemorials to the FallenGive This Show a Miss?Canada Geese

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balayage 4 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 3 278 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 12 2.8k 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
15 2.2k 4045 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.
ptox 3
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

CBumpkin 11 30 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 11 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?
m0rjc 2
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.
4 Jan 2017 12:19PM
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.
m0rjc 2
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
m0rjc 2
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.
7 Jan 2017 11:49PM
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.
m0rjc 2
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.


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
9 905 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:
ChrisV Plus
12 2.3k 26 United Kingdom
10 Jan 2017 1:10PM

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:

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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