Olympus E-M5 II Conclusion

Pro: Cons:
  • Great handling after an initially-steep learning curve
  • Very compact, considering its comprehensive feature-set
  • Side-mounted tilt/swivel screen is much more versatile than E-M5's tilt-only screen
  • Dust and splash-proof body is extremely solid, with not a hint of panel flex or creak
  • Large, sharp and accurate electronic viewfinder
  • Very good image quality, among the best from Micro Four Thirds cameras
  • Excellent dynamic range for its class
  • Pleasing JPEGs with great color and excellent skin tones, though slightly oversharpened at default settings
  • High-Res mode producing stunning resolution with very few false color artifacts
  • Fast startup for a mirrorless camera
  • Very fast autofocus
  • Very low prefocused shutter lag
  • 10fps full-res burst mode (but needs a fast UHS-I Secure Digital card to extract full performance)
  • Fast 1/8,000 second shutter speed, or 1/16,000 with electronic shutter
  • AF works well in low-light
  • Extremely feature-rich for video capture, including uncompressed HDMI, timecode, excellent stabilization / autofocus / autoexposure for movies, and even mic / headphone jacks (but latter needs optional accessory grip)
  • Both Wi-Fi wireless networking and tethered shooting support are included
  • Front and rear control dials are too easily bumped, changing settings by mistake
  • Speaker is poorly-placed, making it easy to cover with your thumb
  • Below average battery life has fallen further since E-M5 (but very good with Quick Sleep Mode enabled)
  • Buffer depths when shooting raw have fallen slightly since E-M5, and fall further when using fast UHS-I II Secure Digital cards
  • 16-megapixel native resolution is a bit low these days (but resolution is good for a 16-megapixel camera)
  • Default Auto White Balance is very warm under Incandescent light
  • High Res mode is only usable for static subjects taken on a sturdy tripod, and only supports up to ISO 1600 despite noise benefits
  • No built-in flash; bundled flash is weak and has narrow coverage (but is tiny, can tilt and swivel, and you can opt for a bigger strobe if you want)
  • Single flash card slot
  • Strong jello effect with M-IS1 hybrid stabilization mode during movies

In early 2012, Olympus ignited a passion for mirrorless cameras in many photographers with the debut of the Olympus E-M5. Resurrecting the company's historic OM-D brandname, the E-M5 positively packed in the features in a compact body that truly delivered on the promise of a mirror-free design. Although it was later bumped from its flagship position by the top-of-the-line E-M1, the E-M5 hs left its successor with some might big shoes to fill.

With the OM-D E-M5 II, Olympus has clearly not shied away from that task. Although its sensor seems quite closely-related to that in its siblings, the E-M5 II has brought some very worthwhile upgrades in other areas. Key among these for many will be its headline-grabbing multi-shot high-resolution mode, which while a bit obscure to enable for the first time is very easy to use and extracts an amazing amount of detail from your subjects. It's a bit of a shame to realize that you're limited only to shooting static scenes from a tripod in this mode, but when your subject is completely still and you've the time to set up your tripod, it really is worth the effort.

The E-M5 II's overhauled electronic viewfinder, through which you'll likely be doing most of your shooting, is roomy and crystal-clear. No, it's still not quite the equal of the optical viewfinder on a DSLR, but it's surprisingly close and offers some significant benefits of its own, such as the ability to preview exposure or tweak settins with the finder to your eye. And when you're shooting at arm's length, the side-mounted tilt/swivel LCD monitor is incredibly versatile, helping you frame from almost any angle.

Add in features like Wi-Fi wireless networking and tethered shooting support, and it's clear that the E-M5 II packs in all the features your heart could desire, whether you're an experienced photographer or an enthusiastic amateur looking for room to grow. But then, that's obvious even just at a glance: The dust-and-weather sealed body is absolutely packed with no less than 24 external controls. At first, that can seem a bit intimidating, but once you get to know this camera, it's ergonomics are for the most part excellent -- all save for a couple of too-easily-bumped dials, anyway. Shooting with the Olympus E-M5 II quickly becomes second nature.

And it's not just a great stills camera, either. The Olympus E-M5 II has some surprisingly good video chops, as well, packing in everything from impressively capable image stabilization, autofocus and autoexposure controls during shooting to external microphone and headphone connectivity. (Albeit, with the latter requiring you purchase and mount an external grip.)

Perhaps where the Olympus E-M5 II impressed us most was when we had to crank up the sensitivity to shoot in low light, though. Its high ISO performance belies its Micro Four Thirds sensor size, and actually manages to rival some APS-C sensor-based cameras! All things considered, this is one heck of a package, and at a very competitive price as well. It is, perhaps, one of the best arguments yet we've seen for the rise of the mirrorless camera!

No two ways about it: If you're shopping for a capable all-rounder camera that doesn't skimp on features, and you want a tank-like build without the size and weight of a high-end DSLR, the Olympus E-M5 II should definitely be near the top of your shortlist. A clear Dave's Pick, the Olympus E-M5 II takes the OM-D series to the next level!

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