Olympus E-M5 II Image Quality Comparison

Below are crops from our laboratory Still Life target comparing the Olympus E-M5 II vs. the Olympus E-M5, Olympus E-M1, Panasonic GH4, Nikon D7200 and Sony A7. These models include the E-M5 II's direct predecessor and its most fully-featured sibling, the nearest Micro Four Thirds rival, a similarly-priced APS-C DSLR, and the most affordable full-frame mirrorless camera (which has, of late, been selling at a similar price to that of the E-M5 II).

NOTE: These images are best quality JPEGs straight out of the camera, at default settings including noise reduction 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-M5 II, Olympus E-M5, Olympus E-M1, Panasonic GH4, Nikon D7200 and Sony A7 -- links to the RAW files appear beneath those for the JPEG images, wherever we have them.

Want to compare the feature-set of these cameras? We've prepared A vs. B comparisons for you -- click these links to see the Olympus E-M5 II vs. Olympus E-M5, Olympus E-M5 II vs. Olympus E-M1, Olympus E-M5 II vs. Panasonic GH4, Olympus E-M5 II vs. Nikon D7200, and Olympus E-M5 II vs. Sony A7.

And remember, you can always go to our world-renowned Comparometer to compare images shot with the Olympus E-M5 II side-by-side against any camera we've ever tested!

Olympus E-M5 II vs Olympus E-M5 at Base ISO

100% crop from Olympus E-M5 II test image taken at ISO 200100% crop from Olympus E-M5 test image taken at ISO 200
100% crop from Olympus E-M5 II test image taken at ISO 200100% crop from Olympus E-M5 test image taken at ISO 200
100% crop from Olympus E-M5 II test image taken at ISO 200100% crop from Olympus E-M5 test image taken at ISO 200
Olympus E-M5 II at ISO 200
Olympus E-M5 at ISO 200

Although its sensor is newly-designed, the Olympus E-M5 II shares the same 16.1-megapixel resolution as its predecessor. Hence, we weren't expecting a big step at base sensitivity, and nor is there one.

There's perhaps a touch more sharpening than the E-M5 applied, and the E-M5 II has slightly lower contrast in the difficult red fabric swatch, but all things considered these cameras are very similar at ISO 200.

Olympus E-M5 II vs Olympus E-M1 at Base ISO

100% crop from Olympus E-M5 II test image taken at ISO 200100% crop from Olympus E-M1 test image taken at ISO 200
100% crop from Olympus E-M5 II test image taken at ISO 200100% crop from Olympus E-M1 test image taken at ISO 200
100% crop from Olympus E-M5 II test image taken at ISO 200100% crop from Olympus E-M1 test image taken at ISO 200
Olympus E-M5 II at ISO 200
Olympus E-M1 at ISO 200

Much like the E-M5, the Olympus E-M1 has the same sensor size and resolution as does the newer E-M5 II, but again, it's a different sensor. The E-M5 II looks to use a touch more aggressive sharpening, but otherwise there's little difference at base ISO.

Olympus E-M5 II vs Panasonic GH4 at Base ISO

100% crop from Olympus E-M5 II test image taken at ISO 200100% crop from Panasonic GH4 test image taken at ISO 200
100% crop from Olympus E-M5 II test image taken at ISO 200100% crop from Panasonic GH4 test image taken at ISO 200
100% crop from Olympus E-M5 II test image taken at ISO 200100% crop from Panasonic GH4 test image taken at ISO 200
Olympus E-M5 II at ISO 200
Panasonic GH4 at ISO 200

Panasonic, too, uses the same sensor resolution for its competing Micro Four Thirds camera. To our eye, there's more of a difference than there is between the Olympus models, however.

Most notably, the Panasonic GH4 defaults to a much lower level of sharpening than does the E-M5 II. Its image also looks just a touch muddy, with lower contrast overall. It handles the red swatch a little better though, yielding more contrast in this hard-to-render fabric, but shows a bit less detail in the pink swatch.

Olympus E-M5 II vs Nikon D7200 at Base ISO

100% crop from Olympus E-M5 II test image taken at ISO 200100% crop from Nikon D7200 test image taken at ISO 100
100% crop from Olympus E-M5 II test image taken at ISO 200100% crop from Nikon D7200 test image taken at ISO 100
100% crop from Olympus E-M5 II test image taken at ISO 200100% crop from Nikon D7200 test image taken at ISO 100
Olympus E-M5 II at ISO 200
Nikon D7200 at ISO 100

With the Nikon D7200, we have a more interesting comparison on our hands. With 24.2 megapixels versus the E-M5 II's 16.1 megapixels, Nikon picks up quite a bit more detail. The result is an image that looks sharper even though the level of sharpening is actually a bit lower.

Olympus E-M5 II vs Sony A7 at Base ISO

100% crop from Olympus E-M5 II test image taken at ISO 200100% crop from Sony A7 test image taken at ISO 100
100% crop from Olympus E-M5 II test image taken at ISO 200100% crop from Sony A7 test image taken at ISO 100
100% crop from Olympus E-M5 II test image taken at ISO 200100% crop from Sony A7 test image taken at ISO 100
Olympus E-M5 II at ISO 200
Sony A7 at ISO 100

The same is also true in comparison to the Sony A7, which gives a crisper, less sharpened result than does the E-M5 II. However, while the full-frame Sony does a much better job with contrast in the red swatch, it also shows a fair bit of moiré.

Olympus E-M5 II vs Olympus E-M5 at ISO 1600

100% crop from Olympus E-M5 II test image taken at ISO 1600100% crop from Olympus E-M5 test image taken at ISO 1600
100% crop from Olympus E-M5 II test image taken at ISO 1600100% crop from Olympus E-M5 test image taken at ISO 1600
100% crop from Olympus E-M5 II test image taken at ISO 1600100% crop from Olympus E-M5 test image taken at ISO 1600
Olympus E-M5 II at ISO 1600
Olympus E-M5 at ISO 1600

Jumping up to ISO 1600, there's a little bit more difference between the E-M5 II and its predecessor. Both cameras show the effects of noise processing, with some blotchiness especially visible in the fine patterns of the mosaic label.

To our eye, the original E-M5 holds onto just slightly more detail than does its successor. And once again, the E-M5 II shows lower contrast in that troublesome red swatch.

Olympus E-M5 II vs Olympus E-M1 at ISO 1600

100% crop from Olympus E-M5 II test image taken at ISO 1600100% crop from Olympus E-M1 test image taken at ISO 1600
100% crop from Olympus E-M5 II test image taken at ISO 1600100% crop from Olympus E-M1 test image taken at ISO 1600
100% crop from Olympus E-M5 II test image taken at ISO 1600100% crop from Olympus E-M1 test image taken at ISO 1600
Olympus E-M5 II at ISO 1600
Olympus E-M1 at ISO 1600

At ISO 1600, both the E-M5 II and flagship E-M1 lose some detail in the mosaic label. Both also lose most detail in the red fabric swatch. We'll call this one a draw.

Olympus E-M5 II vs Panasonic GH4 at ISO 1600

100% crop from Olympus E-M5 II test image taken at ISO 1600100% crop from Panasonic GH4 test image taken at ISO 1600
100% crop from Olympus E-M5 II test image taken at ISO 1600100% crop from Panasonic GH4 test image taken at ISO 1600
100% crop from Olympus E-M5 II test image taken at ISO 1600100% crop from Panasonic GH4 test image taken at ISO 1600
Olympus E-M5 II at ISO 1600
Panasonic GH4 at ISO 1600

Again, there's a pretty clear difference between Olympus and Panasonic's processing. The GH4 still looks a little muddy and lower-contrast overall, but holds onto more detail in the mosaic label. Its treatment of the fabric swatches is slightly better, too. However, the E-M5 II cleans up the bottles and background a little better, with chroma noise a bit more noticeable from the GH4.

Olympus E-M5 II vs Nikon D7200 at ISO 1600

100% crop from Olympus E-M5 II test image taken at ISO 1600100% crop from Nikon D7200 test image taken at ISO 1600
100% crop from Olympus E-M5 II test image taken at ISO 1600100% crop from Nikon D7200 test image taken at ISO 1600
100% crop from Olympus E-M5 II test image taken at ISO 1600100% crop from Nikon D7200 test image taken at ISO 1600
Olympus E-M5 II at ISO 1600
Nikon D7200 at ISO 1600

Raise the sensitivity to ISO 1600, and the Nikon D7200's larger sensor area is offset by its greater resolution. The result is a surprisingly similar performance to that of the Olympus E-M5 II. To our eye, Olympus derives just a little more detail from the fabric swatches, but Nikon does just slightly better with the mosaic label.

Olympus E-M5 II vs Sony A7 at ISO 1600

100% crop from Olympus E-M5 II test image taken at ISO 1600100% crop from Sony A7 test image taken at ISO 1600
100% crop from Olympus E-M5 II test image taken at ISO 1600100% crop from Sony A7 test image taken at ISO 1600
100% crop from Olympus E-M5 II test image taken at ISO 1600100% crop from Sony A7 test image taken at ISO 1600
Olympus E-M5 II at ISO 1600
Sony A7 at ISO 1600

Pit the E-M5 II against the Sony A7 at ISO 1600, and the advantage of that roomy full-frame sensor becomes clear. Olympus simply can't keep up with the Sony here, extracting far less detail. However, the Sony A7 still has difficulty with moiré in the red swatch.

Olympus E-M5 II vs Olympus E-M5 at ISO 3200

100% crop from Olympus E-M5 II test image taken at ISO 3200100% crop from Olympus E-M5 test image taken at ISO 3200
100% crop from Olympus E-M5 II test image taken at ISO 3200100% crop from Olympus E-M5 test image taken at ISO 3200
100% crop from Olympus E-M5 II test image taken at ISO 3200100% crop from Olympus E-M5 test image taken at ISO 3200
Olympus E-M5 II at ISO 3200
Olympus E-M5 at ISO 3200

By the time we reach ISO 3200, the Olympus E-M5 II and its predecessor have lost almost all fine detail in the fabric swatches, and the difficult red swatch in particular is almost flat. The E-M5 II does just slightly better with the bottles, and the original E-M5 has a slight edge in the mosaic label. Really, though, this has to be called a tie.

Olympus E-M5 II vs Olympus E-M1 at ISO 3200

100% crop from Olympus E-M5 II test image taken at ISO 3200100% crop from Olympus E-M1 test image taken at ISO 3200
100% crop from Olympus E-M5 II test image taken at ISO 3200100% crop from Olympus E-M1 test image taken at ISO 3200
100% crop from Olympus E-M5 II test image taken at ISO 3200100% crop from Olympus E-M1 test image taken at ISO 3200
Olympus E-M5 II at ISO 3200
Olympus E-M1 at ISO 3200

The same is true when compared to the E-M1: At ISO 3200, there's no significant difference in rendering between these cameras.

Olympus E-M5 II vs Panasonic GH4 at ISO 3200

100% crop from Olympus E-M5 II test image taken at ISO 3200100% crop from Panasonic GH4 test image taken at ISO 3200
100% crop from Olympus E-M5 II test image taken at ISO 3200100% crop from Panasonic GH4 test image taken at ISO 3200
100% crop from Olympus E-M5 II test image taken at ISO 3200100% crop from Panasonic GH4 test image taken at ISO 3200
Olympus E-M5 II at ISO 3200
Panasonic GH4 at ISO 3200

The Panasonic GH4 still seems to have a very slight detail advantage at ISO 3200, but it's not one we'd write home about. And overall, given the lower contrast of the GH4's image, we'd have to say we prefer the E-M5 II's shot overall.

Olympus E-M5 II vs Nikon D7200 at ISO 3200

100% crop from Olympus E-M5 II test image taken at ISO 3200100% crop from Nikon D7200 test image taken at ISO 3200
100% crop from Olympus E-M5 II test image taken at ISO 3200100% crop from Nikon D7200 test image taken at ISO 3200
100% crop from Olympus E-M5 II test image taken at ISO 3200100% crop from Nikon D7200 test image taken at ISO 3200
Olympus E-M5 II at ISO 3200
Nikon D7200 at ISO 3200

The comparison between the E-M5 II and D7200 is surprisingly close at ISO 3200. Its larger sensor allows it to hold onto just a little more detail in the mosaic label, and perhaps a touch more in the fabric swatches. It's impressive just how close Olympus comes to matching its rival despite its deficit in sensor size, though.

Olympus E-M5 II vs Sony A7 at ISO 3200

100% crop from Olympus E-M5 II test image taken at ISO 3200100% crop from Sony A7 test image taken at ISO 3200
100% crop from Olympus E-M5 II test image taken at ISO 3200100% crop from Sony A7 test image taken at ISO 3200
100% crop from Olympus E-M5 II test image taken at ISO 3200100% crop from Sony A7 test image taken at ISO 3200
Olympus E-M5 II at ISO 3200
Sony A7 at ISO 3200

Once we reach ISO 3200, there's simply no contest between the Micro Four Thirds-based Olympus E-M5 II and the full-frame Sony A7. Yes, there's still a little moiré in the red crop for the latter, but in every other respect the Sony's huge advantage in terms of sensor size bests its rival.

Olympus E-M5 II vs. Olympus E-M5, Olympus E-M1, Panasonic GH4, Nikon D7200, Sony A7

100% crop from Olympus E-M5 II test image taken at ISO 200100% crop from Olympus E-M5 test image taken at ISO 200100% crop from Olympus E-M1 test image taken at ISO 200100% crop from Panasonic GH4 test image taken at ISO 200100% crop from Nikon D7200 test image taken at ISO 100100% crop from Sony A7 test image taken at ISO 100
100% crop from Olympus E-M5 II test image taken at ISO 3200100% crop from Olympus E-M5 test image taken at ISO 3200100% crop from Olympus E-M1 test image taken at ISO 3200100% crop from Panasonic GH4 test image taken at ISO 3200100% crop from Nikon D7200 test image taken at ISO 3200100% crop from Sony A7 test image taken at ISO 3200
100% crop from Olympus E-M5 II test image taken at ISO 6400100% crop from Olympus E-M5 test image taken at ISO 6400100% crop from Olympus E-M1 test image taken at ISO 6400100% crop from Panasonic GH4 test image taken at ISO 6400100% crop from Nikon D7200 test image taken at ISO 6400100% crop from Sony A7 test image taken at ISO 6400
Olympus
E-M5 II
ISO 200
ISO 3200
ISO 6400
Olympus
E-M5
ISO 200
ISO 3200
ISO 6400
Olympus
E-M1
ISO 200
ISO 3200
ISO 6400
Panasonic
GH4
ISO 200
ISO 3200
ISO 6400
Nikon
D7200
ISO 100
ISO 3200
ISO 6400
Sony
A7
ISO 100
ISO 3200
ISO 6400
Detail comparison. Save for the Panasonic GH4's lower contrast, which is easily corrected in Photoshop or by tweaking settings, all of these cameras turn in a good performance at base sensitivity. With that said, the larger-sensored D7200 and A7 give the best results, with less noticeable sharpening halos. As sensitivity climbs, the Sony A7's big full-frame sensor gives it a clear edge, but the D7200 falls back within reach of the Olympus cameras. And really, it's difficult to say any of these three Olympus models betters its siblings, despite the slight differences in their sensors.

 

Olympus E-M5 II Print Quality

Excellent prints up to 24 x 36 inches at base ISO and extended low ISO 100; impressively large 30 x 40 inches and larger for the special High-Res Mode at ISO 200; at ISO 1600, the camera produces a nice 16 x 20 inch print; and acceptable prints are viable all the way up to ISO 25,600 topping out at 4 x 6 inches.

Canon PRO-1000 Printer ImageISO 100/200 images both display excellent detail and vibrant colors, and can be used for prints up to 24 x 36 inches. The 16MP Four Thirds sensor is pushed to the limit at this print size, and you can see some minor pixelation upon very close inspection, however at a normal viewing distance for such a large print, the resolution is more than capable.

High-Res Mode, ISO 200: As expected, the extra detail captured by the E-M5 Mark II's High-Res Mode allows for some very impressive prints. At ISO 200, 24 x 36 inch prints are no sweat and look fantastic. We'd go further and say prints at 30 x 40 inches and larger are definitely suitable, with tons of fine detail and practically zero pixelation, even at close inspection.

ISO 400/800 both look very similar and make fantastic prints up to 20 x 30 inches. ISO 400 shows crisp fine details and vibrant colors. While ISO 800 displays perhaps a hint more luminance noise in the shadows, it doesn't affect the print size capabilities at this ISO.

ISO 1600 prints look great up to 16 x 20 inches. Higher contrast fine detail still looks really nice, as do colors, however, lower contrast detail is softened somewhat by noise and noise reduction processing.

ISO 3200 images are capable of producing nice 13 x 19 inch prints, with 11 x 14 prints looking even better. Visible luminance noise is still well-controlled, but NR processing does reduce fine detail further.

ISO 6400 prints look great up to 8 x 10, and still display a good amount of detail with pleasing colors.

ISO 12,800 images start to look a bit soft in terms of fine detail at close inspection, however prints up to 5 x 7 inches are still acceptable.

ISO 25,600 prints display noticeable noise and noise reduction processing, which makes any prints larger than 4 x 6 inches too soft and too low on detail to get the acceptable mark from us.

The new Olympus E-M5 Mark II maintains the high marks we gave its predecessor when it comes to print quality performance. We're able to push the 16-megapixel sensor to the limit and still get some excellent large and wall-mountable prints from this compact, Micro Four Thirds mirrorless camera. At base ISO and the expanded low ISO 100 setting, the E-M5 II manages excellent prints up to 24 x 36 inches. With the new High-Res Mode introduced on this camera, however, the resulting files let us really crank up the print size, with superb prints up to 30 x 40 inches and larger. At the mid-range on the ISO scale, such as ISO 1600-3200, the camera produces very nice 16 x 20 and 13 x 19 inch prints, respectively. Finally, even at the extreme ISO sensitivities, the E-M5 Mark II still manages to produce usable prints, with an acceptable 5 x 7 inch print at ISO 12,800 and a 4 x 6 at ISO 25,600.

About our print-quality testing: Our "Reference Printer"

Canon PRO-1000 Printer ImageTesting hundreds of digital cameras, we've found that you can only tell so much about a camera's image quality by viewing its images on-screen. Ultimately, there's no substitute for printing a lot of images and examining them closely. For this reason, we routinely print sample images from the cameras we test on our Canon imagePROGRAF PRO-1000 printer, which we named our "Printer of the Year" in our 2015 COTY awards.

The Canon PRO-1000 has a lot of characteristics that make it a natural to use for our "reference printer." When it comes to judging how well a camera's photos print, resolution and precise rendering are paramount. The PRO-1000's more than 18,000 individual nozzles combine with an air feeding system that provides exceptional droplet-placement accuracy. Its 11-color LUCIA PRO ink system delivers a wide color gamut and dense blacks, giving us a true sense of the cameras' image quality. To best see fine details, we've always printed on glossy paper, so the PRO-1000's "Chroma Optimizer" overcoat that minimizes "bronzing" or gloss differential is important to us. (Prior to the PRO-1000, we've always used dye-based printers, in part to avoid the bronzing problems with pigment-based inks.) Finally, we just don't have time to deal with clogged inkjet heads, and the PRO-1000 does better in that respect than any printer we've ever used. If you don't run them every day or two, inkjet printers tend to clog. Canon's thermal-inkjet technology is inherently less clog-prone than other approaches, but the PRO-1000 takes this a step further, with sensors that monitor every inkjet nozzle. If one clogs, it will assign another to take over its duties. In exchange for a tiny amount of print speed, this lets you defer cleaning cycles, which translates into significant ink savings. In our normal workflow, we'll often crank out a hundred or more letter-size prints in a session, but then leave the printer to sit for anywhere from days to weeks before the next camera comes along. In over a year of use, we've never had to run a nozzle-cleaning cycle on our PRO-1000.

See our Canon PRO-1000 review for a full overview of the printer from the viewpoint of a fine-art photographer.

*Disclosure: Canon provided us with the PRO-1000 and a supply of ink to use in our testing, and we receive advertising consideration for including this mention when we talk about camera print quality. Our decision to use the PRO-1000 was driven by the printer itself, though, prior to any discussion with Canon on the topic. (We'd actually been using an old Pixma PRO 9500II dye-based printer for years previously, and paying for our own ink, until we decided that the PRO-1000 was the next-generation printer we'd been waiting for.)

 



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