Olympus E-M1 II Review
|Full model name:||Olympus OM-D E-M1 II|
(17.4mm x 13.0mm)
|Viewfinder:||EVF / LCD|
|Native ISO:||200 - 25,600|
|Extended ISO:||64 - 25,600|
|Shutter:||1/32000 - 60 seconds|
5.3 x 3.6 x 2.7 in.
(134 x 91 x 69 mm)
|Full specs:||Olympus E-M1 II specifications|
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E-M1 II Summary
Packed with a new 20MP sensor, revamped AF system, faster image processor (two, in fact), 4K video and more, the E-M1 Mark II addresses the performance and C-AF shortcomings of the original E-M1 and pushes the envelope even further to truly provide professional photographers and multimedia producers with a capable, high-performance DSLR alternative. Excellent image quality, top-notch performance and all-around fantastic build quality and features makes the E-M1 II worthy of consideration for those upgrading from the E-M1 or moving from another mirrorless camera or a DSLR.Pros
Excellent image quality; Very good dynamic range & high ISO performance; Fantastic C-AF performance; Incredible burst rates, even with RAW; 4K UHD & Cinema 4K (DCI) video; Clean HDMI; Dual SD card slots.Cons
Expensive; Menus still confusing; UHS-II support only on one card slot; No optical low-pass filter means greater risk of moire; No built-in flash.Price and availability
The Olympus E-M1 Mark II began shipping in December 2016 in a body-only configuration for a suggested list price of about US$2,000. Black is the currently the only color offered, and the FL-LM3 external flash is included.Imaging Resource rating
5.0 out of 5.0
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Olympus E-M1 Mark II Review
09/21/2016: Technical Info posted!
11/02/2016: First Shots, Image Quality Comparison and Print Quality posted!
11/02/2016: Gallery Images posted!
11/02/2016: Field Test Part I posted!
11/29/2016: Field Test Part II posted!
01/13/2017: Review Conclusion posted!
Last edited: 02/07/2017
Update: The Olympus E-M1 Mark II earned multiple accolades in our 2016 Camera of the Year Awards, including our pick for the Overall Winner as 2016's Best Camera of the Year. It was also awarded Best Professional Mirrorless Camera and Best High-Speed Capture Camera. For more on how this camera pairs with the award-winning Olympus 300mm f/4 I. S. Pro, please click here!
• • • • •
At the Photokina 2016 trade show, Olympus announced the development of its latest flagship Micro Four Thirds camera, the Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II. This high-end mirrorless camera features a lightweight yet durable, compact design and a wide array of impressive shooting features, with many upgrades over the earlier E-M1 model that launched back in late 2013.
At the heart of the OM-D E-M1 Mark II is a new 20.4-megapixel Live MOS 4/3" sensor which is equipped with 121 on-chip phase detection points, all of which are cross type. Working with the newly-developed TruePic VIII image processor -- which is stated to be 3.5 times faster than previous TruePic processors -- the E-M1 Mark II can record full-resolution images at up to a whopping 60 frames-per-second with both AF and AE locked and up to 18fps with continuous AF and AE when using the camera's all-electronic shutter mode.
The TruePic VIII image processor has a double quad-core design with one of the quad-cores dedicated to autofocus and the other to image processing. Continuous shooting specifications are particularly impressive with the OM-D E-M1 II. When using the mechanical shutter, the camera can shoot at up to 15fps with locked focus and exposure. In the slower, mechanical shutter sequential shooting L mode, the camera can shoot at up to 10fps. There is also a new "Pro Capture" function which comes with maximum shooting speeds of 60 and 18fps in H and L modes respectively. In this mode, the camera captures up to 14 full-resolution frames as soon as the shutter button is half-pressed and then captures additional frames up to buffer capacity when the shutter is fully-pressed.
Regarding the Live MOS sensor itself, not only has resolution increased from 16.1 to 20.4 megapixels, but Olympus notes that it has been optimized for lower power consumption, faster data readout, better noise performance and better dynamic range. Noise performance is claimed to have been improved by a stop, although we believe Olympus included the effects of refined JPEG noise processing to arrive at that figure. The extended ISO range is 64-6400 when using Auto ISO and 64-25,600 when using a manually-selected ISO. The new ISO LOW (ISO 64 equivalent) setting should allow users to shoot with wider apertures in bright settings. And like the E-M1, the Olympus E-M1 II's sensor has no optical low-pass filter for maximum per-pixel sharpness.
Of course the OM-D E-M1 II gets Olympus' famous High Res Shot mode which utilizes the 5-axis image stabilization system's voice coil motor system to shift the sensor in precise half pixel increments. After capturing a total of eight shots, the images are composited into a single 50-megapixel JPEG frame and/or a 80-megapixel RAW file. In combination with the TruePic VIII processor, the High Res Shot mode can now suppress blur due to situations such as slightly moving grass or moving water. In addition, it is possible to select a smaller 25-megapixel JPEG file size.
Weighing in at approximately 20.2 ounces (574g) with the battery and memory card included, the OM-D E-M1 II has dimensions (width x height x depth) of about 5.3 x 3.6 x 2.7 inches (or about 134 x 91 x 69 mm). That's a little heavier, wider and deeper than the E-M1, but slightly shorter. (The E-M1 weighs 17.5 ounces / 497g and its dimensions are 5.1 x 3.7 x 2.5 inches / 130 x 94 x 63 mm.) As you'd expect, the weather-sealed body is dust, splash and freeze-proof and can be operated in temperatures as low as 14°F or -10°C.
The durable shutter is rated for 200,000 actuations. As a side note regarding the shutter, it is actually isolated from the body which has allowed Olympus to put shock absorbers between the shutter and the body. Good thing too, given the camera's 15fps shooting using the mechanical shutter.
The Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II body now includes dual memory card slots allowing users to use two SD cards when shooting. There are four options for how to utilize the dual card slots: Record to the specified card, automatically switch to the second card when the first becomes full, independently record to both cards according to specific image quality assigned to each slot, and finally recording identical files to both cards simultaneously. The two card slots do not include the same card support, but rather slot 1 supports UHS-II and UHS-I cards while slot 2 supports only the latter.
The Mark II's electronic viewfinder features the same 2.36M-dot resolution, 1.48x (0.74x 35mm-equivalent) magnification and 100% coverage as its predecessor's, but is noticeably faster with a refresh rate of 120fps and a latency of only six milliseconds, which makes keeping track of fast-moving subjects much easier.
Taking a look at the rear of the camera, we find a 3-inch touchscreen monitor with the same resolution of approximately 1,037K dots, but it now has a more versatile, fully-articulating vari-angle design instead of the tilting-only LCD found on the E-M1. Touch control allows you to release the shutter, magnify a selected area, select AF area, change AF area size, utilize AF touch pad, move frames forward and backward, magnify playback, view Live Guide, access Super Control Panel, establish Wi-Fi connection, access movie controls, use movie teleconverter, and use selfie controls (release, e-portrait, custom self-timer).
Image stabilization is of course included in the E-M1 Mark II body, and the camera is equipped with the latest version of Olympus' in-body 5-axis image stabilization system. The correction algorithm has been optimized to provide a reported 5.5 stops of vibration reduction. If you combine the camera with Olympus' optical image stabilization-equipped lenses, you can achieve up to 6.5 stops of image stabilization compensation for both stills and video recording.
Olympus E-M1 II has many more PDAF points than its predecessor
As previously touched upon, autofocus specs and features have been greatly improved with the OM-D E-M1 Mark II. The advanced Dual FAST AF system automatically selects between contrast and phase detection autofocus depending on the attached lens, camera settings and the current lighting conditions. Continuous autofocus performance is improved due to a new moving subject tracking algorithm as well. There's also a new in-camera autofocus limiter which allows you to limit the focus range of the lens, resulting in less focus hunting and faster overall autofocus speeds. Continuous AF tracking sensitivity can also be customized.
The 121 cross-type on-chip phase detection AF point spec is much improved compared to 2013's Olympus O-MD E-M1, which had 37 on-chip phase detection points and 81 contrast detection points. AF coverage is now 75% of the frame vertically and 80% horizontally, versus 66% and 60% for the E-M1 respectively. And unlike the E-M1, the Mark II's phase-detect AF works with Micro Four Thirds lenses in both single AF and continuous AF modes (as opposed to the E-M1 which used PDAF primarily for supporting Four Thirds lenses, only using it to assist during continuous AF with Micro Four Thirds lenses).
As expected, there are a number of autofocus functions in the E-M1 II including AF target mode, face/eye priority AF and the AF targeting pad. The targeting pad feature allows you to use your finger on the touchscreen display to select the AF point while simultaneously looking through the viewfinder.
Olympus E-M1 Mark II offers numerous shooting modes
Special shooting modes include silent (which utilizes the electronic shutter; the electronic shutter has a shutter speed range of 60s to 1/32,000s when shooting in silent mode), focus stacking/focus bracketing and Live Composite/Live Bulb shooting modes. Focus stacking allows you to stack eight shots at different focus points and composite them into a single frame. Focus stacking is available with seven M.Zuiko Digital ED lenses: 60mm f/2.8 Macro, 12-40mm f/2.8 PRO, 40-150mm f/2.8 PRO, 30mm f/3.5 Macro, 7-14mm f/2.8 PRO, 8mm f/1.8 Fisheye Pro and 300mm f/4 IS PRO. Focus bracketing allows you to capture anywhere from 3 to 999 shots with adjustable focus steps using any Micro Four Thirds lens. Live Composite and Live Bulb keeps dark areas of frames constant while updating light areas as you shoot multiple frames, combining shots of subjects such as stars and fireworks into a single frame.
Creative features include multiple picture modes, gradation effects, filter effects, picture tones, art filters, art effects and a selective color-oriented color ring mode. There are 14 art filters including Pop Art, Pin Hole and Cross Process. There are nine art effects including Pin-hole, Star Light and Shade effects. While not so much a creative mode as much as it is a new form of correction, the E-M1 II includes keystone compensation, ideal for photographing architecture. Trapezoidal compensation can be applied simultaneously in both horizontal and vertical directions.
In addition to these special shooting features and modes, the OM-D E-M1 Mark II has a standard assortment of shooting modes including P, A, S and M. In these shooting modes and others, the camera utilizes Digital ESP metering which has a 324-area multi pattern metering system. Metering modes also include center-weighted average and spot metering modes. Spot metering also has optional highlight control and shadow control variants. Spot metering can be used with AF target spot metering too. The metering range is -2 to 20 EV and exposure compensation up to +/-5 EV is available.
Olympus E-M1 II Video: Shoot Cinema Standard 4K at 237 Mbps!
The Olympus O-MD E-M1 Mark II supports Digital Cinema Standard 4K (4096 x 2060 pixels) video capture at a frame rate up to 24 frames-per-second with a bit rate of 237 Mbps. The 20.4-megapixel Live MOS sensor has a read speed three times faster than its predecessor which helps the camera to produce sharper, clearer image quality with less distortion. The camera also includes a "flat" picture mode which is designed for color grading and post-production work on the resulting video files.
Uncompressed video, including 4K video, can be viewed or output live via the camera's HDMI port. When recording to an external device, video recording can be started and stopped via the camera. Output is 4:2:2, allowing a wider color correction range.
Video files are recorded in MOV and AVI file format and available video recording resolutions include 4096 x 2160, 3840 x 2160, 1920 x 1080 and 1290 x 720. While Cinema 4K is capped at 24fps, you can record 4K UHD video at up to 30fps. Full HD video recording is available at up to 60fps. It is also worth noting that you can utilize the OM-D E-M1 Mark II's in-body image stabilization system even when recording Cinema Standard 4K video.
Olympus E-M1 II gets improved battery, ports and accessories
The Olympus E-M1 Mark II comes with a new, larger BLH-1 lithium-ion battery pack. The new battery is larger and has 37% greater capacity than the old one, with a CIPA rating of 440 shots per charge (versus 350 for the E-M1). The E-M1 II also has a quick sleep mode which boosts battery life to 950 shots. Olympus also notes that charging is "much faster", although it doesn't say precisely how much. The camera has a USB 3.0 Type-C port, a 2.5mm remote jack, a Type-D Micro HDMI connector, hot shoe, PC sync terminal, 3.5mm mic and headphone jacks, as well as built-in Wi-Fi.
Optional accessories for the E-M1 Mark II include the HLD-9 Power Battery Holder which holds an additional BLH-1 battery and includes a directional pad, two control dials, two function buttons and a shutter release resulting in the camera handling the same way in the vertical orientation as it does in the standard horizontal orientation.
There's also a new FL-900R weatherproof high-intensity flash, STF-8 weatherproof macro flash, RM-CB2 release cable, PT-EP14 underwater case and CBG-12 large-capacity backpack.
Compared to predecessor, E-M1 Mark II is much faster in many ways
When comparing the E-M1 Mark II to the E-M1, the new flagship camera brings with it a lot of impressive improvements. The Mark II's sensor has a 25% higher pixel count and the new processor and memory brings with it roughly double the RAW buffer capacity and three times faster internal data writing speed. When considering both shooting and autofocus speeds, sequential S-AF shooting is six times faster and C-AF shooting is two times faster.
The new autofocus system includes 3.3 times more AF points. The improvements to the electronic viewfinder result in a 63% faster EVF response rate. And with the introduction of Digital Cinema Standard 4K video shooting, the OM-D E-M1 Mark II has four times the video resolution of its predecessor.
The E-M1 II's mechanical shutter still tops out at 1/8,000s with a 1/250s flash x-sync, but as previously mentioned the electronic shutter's exposure range is now 60s to 1/32,000s, up from 1/8s to 1/16,000s on the E-M1.
There are a lot of significant improvements and features in the Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II. When compared to its predecessor, the new camera is a dramatic upgrade. Considering how well-received the original E-M1 was, Olympus shooters are sure to be pleased with the new E-M1 Mark II.
Olympus E-M1 II Field Test Part I
Rain, snow & hail: The Olympus E-M1 Mark II takes on Iceland
The bigger, better E-M1 Mark II sets sail for a week in Iceland
Back at Photokina I was able to get some brief hands-on time with an early model of the Olympus E-M1 Mark II. From a physical standpoint, the overall design is not drastically different than the original model. Instead, the Olympus team made small, yet important tweaks to improve handling comfort and customization of the camera controls. The grip is slightly larger, and, for example, you can now re-map the power switch over to the lever switch beside the EVF, letting you power the camera on and off one-handed. The camera also better addresses the needs of multimedia creators with the addition of a vari-angle LCD, 4K video, and a headphone jack. If you haven't yet read our initial impressions on the E-M1 Mark II's design and ergonomics, please click here.
Olympus E-M1 II Field Test Part II
Putting it all in focus: Testing C-AF, High-Res Shot & I.S.
Get a move on: Testing performance with the E-M1 Mark II
In my first Field Test on the Olympus E-M1 Mark II, I definitely felt like I put the camera's build quality and weather sealing to the test. I didn't drop it on the ground or anything to "thoroughly" test the durability, but the camera clearly withstood some very harsh and wet weather conditions. I was also able to assess the camera's image quality at a variety of ISOs, with which I am quite pleased.
One of the E-M1 Mark II's hallmark new features is its upgraded performance and autofocus technology, which is something that didn't receive much attention during my whirlwind trip to landscape-heavy Iceland. I did flip over to C-AF for a few shots, such as the bird-in-flight photo shown above, but for the most part, I stayed in S-AF mode for my first Field Test. In this second Field Test, therefore, I focused primarily -- no pun intended -- on continuous AF performance and burst shooting. I'll also discuss High-Res Shot mode and the camera's improved (and shockingly good) image stabilization.
Olympus E-M1 II Image Quality Comparison
See how the E-M1 II's image quality compares
Here we present crops from our laboratory Still Life target comparing Olympus E-M1 Mark II image quality to its predecessor, the E-M1, as well as against several high-performance interchangeable lens cameras at similar resolutions: the Canon 7D Mark II, Fuji X-T2, Nikon D500 and Panasonic GX8.
NOTE: These images are from best quality JPEGs straight out of the camera, at default settings including noise reduction ("noise filter" in Olympus parlance) and using the camera's actual base ISO (not extended ISO settings). All cameras in this comparison were shot with our very sharp reference lenses. Clicking any crop will take you to a carrier page where you can click once again to access the full resolution image as delivered straight from the camera. For those interested in working with the RAW files involved, click these links to visit each camera's respective sample image thumbnail page...
Olympus E-M1 II Print Quality Analysis
But how does it look on paper?
Print quality and image quality are similar but not identical, because what you see on a print isn't always the same as what you see on the screen. Our print quality analysis answers the important question: "Just how big can I print my photos at higher ISOs?"
The Olympus E-M1 II delivers solid performance in the print quality department. Expanded ISO 64 and base ISO 200 offer superb results with an incredible amount of detail and pop at 30 x 40 inches. You can expect large print sizes up to a 16 x 20 at ISO 1600, after which the sizes trail off in typical fashion for this sensor size. And it's nice to know that you can even achieve a good 5 x 7 at ISO 12,800, which allows you some ISO freedom for when larger prints are not needed. We recommend avoiding ISO 25,600, as the prints just aren't quite good enough for most purposes, but otherwise the camera does a nice job overall for print quality.
Olympus E-M1 II Technical Insights
A deeper look under the hood
Olympus has crafted a brand-new metal body for the OM-D E-M1 Mark II. Loaded and ready to shoot -- but without a lens -- it's just slightly (2.7 ounces; 15%) heavier than the original E-M1. Width and depth have also increased by 0.1 and 0.2 inches (3% and 9%, respectively), but height has simultaneously been reduced by 0.1 inches (3%). One reason for the increase in depth, incidentally, is that the E-M1 II has a reprofiled handgrip aimed at improving handling.
Like its predecessor, Olympus says that the E-M1 II is dustproof, splashproof and freezeproof to 14°F / -10°C. But unlike the earlier camera, the company's press materials no longer refer to the E-M1 II as being shockproof.
Olympus E-M1 II Conclusion
A top-notch, high-performance, professional-level camera
After receiving rather high marks, including our pick for Best Professional Camera of 2013, the original Olympus E-M1 left large shoes to fill for its successor. That camera sparked a revolution in the mirrorless camera world, being built and designed for professional photographers yet still with the characteristic compactness of the Micro Four Thirds system. The E-M1 was a big hit for a lot of folks, but some performance issues made it less than ideal for certain subjects, namely sports, wildlife and other fast-paced events that required fast and accurate C-AF. The Olympus E-M1 Mark II therefore aimed to address the drawbacks of the original model, and it certainly does just that, and then some.
Olympus has clearly pulled it off with the E-M1 Mark II, creating a stunning, high-performance workhorse camera that certainly gives even the most stalwart DSLR die-hards a reason to give Micro Four Thirds -- and the mirrorless world as a whole -- another look.
In the Box
The Olympus E-M1 Mark II U.S. retail package contains the following items:
- Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II body
- Rechargeable Li-ion battery BLH-1
- Battery charger BCH-1
- Flash FL-LM3
- USB cable
- Cable clip
- Shoulder strap
- Instruction manual
- Limited 1-Year Warranty
- Large capacity SDHC/SDXC memory card. 32GB should be a minimum, and we highly recommend a fast UHS-II card.
- Spare battery BLH-1 for extended shooting sessions
- Power battery holder HLD-9
- M.Zuiko lenses, especially the M.Zuiko Pro 12-40mm f/2.8
- Remote cable release RM-CB2
- Medium camera bag
- Micro HDMI cable
Olympus E-M1 II
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