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Olympus Q&A: Olympus OM-D E-M1 II Sensor Size Trip

We spoke to Olympus about the new Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II, camera technology and features.

|  Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II in Mirrorless Cameras
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Olympus OM D E M1 Mark II (6) (Custom)

We spoke to Olympus Imaging Global Marketing Manager Toshiyuki Terada, shown below, and European Marketing Manager Mark Thackara about the new Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II:


Toshiyuki Terada Olympus OM D E M1 IIQ - Regarding sensor resolution – Why did you choose a 20mp sensor?

We are always looking for the best balance between high resolution and noise performance, and it’s a balance. Total image quality is important.

At the moment 20mp is best, as going higher than 20mp would result in more noise in images. It’s possible that we may go to a higher resolution in future, if the image quality was there, but we are not interested in the megapixel race. The Olympus PRO lens line-up is certainly capable of more resolution, and gives us room to increase the sensor resolution in the future.


Q - The Hi-res shot mode has a 50mp mode, as well as a 25mp mode, do they both take 8 shots?

Yes, the camera has a 50mp high resolution mode, as well as a new 25mp high resolution mode, and both take 8 shots and combine them.


Q - Can you take hi-res shots handheld?

No, not yet, it has to be extremely precise, as it is moving the sensor as a sub-pixel lens. We know the demand from the market, but have not yet released this feature. We have introduced motion compensation so that any moving subjects are corrected in camera, and we have made this correct for movement smoothly, rather than producing artefacts.


Q - Can you tell us more about the 20mp sensor in the E-M1 Mark II?

The 20mp Live MOS sensor, different to the PEN-F, with Phase Detection focus on chip. There's a new processing engine, the TruePic VIII – giving higher image quality, there is a 1 stop noise performance improvement over the E-M1. Performance should also be better than the PEN-F due to the new image processing engine. The Auto ISO range is now up to ISO3200 (by default), when it used to be ISO1600, as we are happier with the noise performance. The camera also goes down to ISO64, although this is at a lower dynamic range. ISO3200 on the E-M1 is equal to ISO6400 on the E-M1 II.

On Dynamic range, we have compared the dynamic range to the competition, and the E-M1 Mark II at ISO200 gives 4.2 steps, which is better than the E-M1, (3.8steps), and APS-C cameras such as the Canon EOS 7D Mark II (3.5 steps), and Fujifilm X-T1 (3.5steps).


Olympus OM D E M1 MarkII Sensor (2)

Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II Sensor 


Q - The phase detection now covers a larger area of the sensor, do the phase detection pixels affect image quality?

No, it’s really impressive, they don’t have any negative effect on image quality. Also, the image stabilisation system has been improved, with up to 6.5 stops, when used with the new Olympus PRO 12-100mm f/4 IS lens. The sensor gives 5.5 stops on its own. It’s so good you can handheld and take a sharp shot at 2 seconds (at wide-angle).


Q - How did you improve the AF system?

We needed to change everything in the camera, change the EVF, and sensor engine, so that’s it’s possible for the shooter to track the subject. The EVF delay is normally a problem, but we have improved this with a 120fps refresh rate and response time of just 6ms. Making it very close to an optical viewfinder. You can shoot at 18fps, and we also show the image between blackout, so you can continue to see the live-view, not just the photo after it has been taken.

The E-M1 II has a 2x larger buffer than the E-M1, a processor that is 3.5x faster, plus a 3x faster readout from the sensor, as well as support for UHS-II cards so the images can be written to the card quicker. Normally an update would be just the sensor, or just the processor, or a few parts of the system, but we had to change it all to improve the performance.

We thought about changing the design, in the end the original design was kept, and there is only a minimal (3mm) change in size.


Q - Do all lenses benefit from the improved Auto Focus system?

Yes, all Micro Four Thirds lenses, including Panasonic lenses will benefit, although it will depend on how fast the lens’ focusing system is. Four Thirds lenses (when used with an adapter) will also benefit from the quicker focus system.


Q - Can you tell us more about 4K video?

HDMI output is possible at the same time as recording to the SD card, and supports sync start / stop. There was discussion about this, and we still see the E-M1 Mark II as a stills camera with video, and not a “Hybrid” as other’s are marketed as. 


Olympus OM D E M1 Mark II Menus (1) (Custom)


Q - Have the menus been updated?

Yes, we wanted to keep them relatively familiar to current OM-D users, but have also tried to improve them. You still browse them using the 4-way control pad on the back, and not the touch-screen. You can use the touch-screen with the super control panel.

We now show the % battery life remaining in each battery, as well as the health of the battery. We expect the camera to have better battery life than the E-M1, but it also uses more power due to the high speed, so we have not given out official figures yet. We also worked on improving the battery life, with better power management.


Q - There is a pre-shot mode, how does this work?

It can take up to 14 shots (raw or JPEG) before you press the button, as the camera is continuously recording the frames to its internal buffer. You can then continue to hold the button and keep shooting. You can choose how many shots are taken before you press the shutter (up to 14), and how many are taken after you’ve pressed the shutter button. In future we may increase the number of shots possible pre-shot.


Q - What market do you see as buying the E-M1 Mark II?

The DSLR user who wants a smaller system, and also wants to shoot at high-speed. It doesn’t matter whether they are APS-C or Full-frame users, they can still benefit from the E-M1 II. Even FF users will want to choose this, if they want a smaller system. We find a lot of people buy into the OM-D system and start trying it, and end up leaving the Full-Frame system at home.


Q - Do you know how much the E-M1 Mark II will cost?

Slightly more than the E-M1, depending on location, and global economics, for example, Brexit.


Olympus 30mm Macro (2)

Q - Why did you release an Olympus 30mm f/3.5 macro lens, when there is already a 30mm macro lens?

We have many customers who have asked for this lens, people like to have an Olympus branded lenses that match, and we also wanted to release an affordable macro lens.


Q - Would you consider a larger sensor size camera, such as APS-C?

We have no plans, this system is an excellent solution for a compact and portable system with high image quality.


Olympus PEN E PL8 Brown

Q - Do you have any plans to introduce a digital Olympus TRIP camera?

No, currently we feel that the Olympus PEN E-PL8 and PEN range of cameras meets that need, simply by putting a small lens on the camera. The Olympus TRIP 35 was a massive success in the UK, but not as popular elsewhere in the world. We do get questions about a large sensor compact, but again it would just be the same as a PEN with a different and fixed lens.


Further information, such as the price will be released soon. Read our Olympus OM-D E-M1 II hands-on preview.

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

Curvy GlassAlien AttackPhotobomber at Eleven o'ClockBad Weather ShoppingPower Boat MechanicPopeye Village (Mellieha)And a GullFisherman at workThe HubWoodanstone LighthouseTwo 'Common Blues' and a buttercup!a view along the River Nith in DumfriesGoose-stepping MusiciansDuskCalmness

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4k78l 5 278 1 New Caledonia
23 Sep 2016 7:19PM
There is room under my christmas tree this year *hint hint*
JJGEE 17 8.0k 18 England
23 Sep 2016 8:58PM

Quote:It can take up to 14 shots (raw or JPEG) before you press the button, as the camera is continuously recording the frames to its internal buffer. You can then continue to hold the button and keep shooting. You can choose how many shots are taken before you press the shutter (up to 14), and how many are taken after you’ve pressed the shutter button.

What is the usefulness of this. Surely, set to the maximum, one press of the shutter button results in 29 images being saved... or am I totally misunderstanding this concept ?
24 Sep 2016 7:15AM
It has big usefulness impact because you can capture the moment you missed with DSLR.

You get 14 raw now (possible future firmware update changed it to higher) that allows you to avoid average sports photographers 250-350ms reaction time delay to get a shot.

This leads to situation where you have far less non interesting photos in cards or missed shots, because you were required to anticipate action/moments before it has even happened and pray that high burst rate with luck gives you a moment that includes something interesting.

Panasonic 4K photo offers same, but with highly compressed 8Mpix JPEG file. Good for small prints and online use.

DSLR can't get this feature as they can't keep mirror slapping up or down.
But this is electronic shutter with Olympus instead mechanical so sports is questionable...
ChrisV 15 2.3k 26 United Kingdom
26 Sep 2016 1:53PM


DSLR can't get this feature as they can't keep mirror slapping up or down.
But this is electronic shutter with Olympus instead mechanical so sports is questionable...

I suppose while the shutter is half pressed it should be acquiring focus - whether or not [and how effectively] it will track is another matter. I also imagine it will be absolute murder on battery life. It is a big relief they have very sensibly gone for higher capacity units this time - I think it was oversight/missed opportunity they didn't last time - a larger grip is better, not worse and adds almost a negligible amount to the size .

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