Olympus E-M5 II Technical Info

Sensor

Olympus has based the OM-D E-M5 II mirrorless camera around a 16.1-megapixel, Four Thirds-format Live MOS image sensor, just as in the original E-M5. It's not the same chip, though -- the company describes it as having been redesigned, and the total pixel count has climbed from 16.9 to 17.2 megapixels.

Processor

Output from the new image sensor is handled by a TruePic VII-branded image processor, also an upgrade from the TruePic VI chip used in the original E-M5.

Performance

Together, the pairing of sensor and processor allow a manufacturer-claimed performance of 10 frames per second with focus locked from the first frame, or five frames per second with continuous autofocus tracking enabled. Both are noticeably swifter than the manufacturer-claimed 9 fps of the original E-M5 with focus locked, or 4.2 fps with continuous AF.

Sensitivity

By default, the Olympus E-M5 II offers a sensitivity range of ISO 200 to 25,600 equivalents, unchanged from the range provided by the original E-M5. Also unchanged is the ability to extend the sensitivity to ISO 100 on the low end, a feature that was added to the earlier camera via a firmware update in January 2014.

Optics

As you'd expect, the Olympus E-M5 II features a Micro Four Thirds lens mount, compatible with a wide range of lenses from Olympus and its Micro Four Thirds partner companies. In the US market, it will be sold body-only, with no kit lens options provided. (But of course, that just means you can choose whichever lenses would be most useful to you.)

Image stabilization

When the original Olympus E-M5 launched, it featured an interesting image stabilization system with five-axis correction capability. The E-M5 II builds on that with a greater corrective ability than in the past.

The original E-M5's stabilization system had a manufacturer-claimed five-stop corrective ability, but that was to an in-house measurement. To CIPA testing standards, the company tells us that the E-M5 would have merited a 3.5-stop correction.

Thanks to refined algorithms and a better gyro sensor, the E-M5 II can now manage a 5-stop correction to CIPA testing standards, greatly increasing your chances of a sharp, usable image at extremely low shutter speeds or longer focal lengths. Note that the CIPA measurement is made at 50mm equivalent, using the M.Zuiko Digital ED 12-50mm F3.5-6.3 EZ lens.

Focusing

Like the E-M5 before it, the Olympus E-M5 II relies solely on a speedy implementation of contrast-detection autofocus, branded as "Frequency Acceleration Sensor Technology," or "FAST" AF for short. Compared to the system used in the E-M5, there have been several improvements, however.

Perhaps most significantly for still image capture, the number of focus points available to the user has been increased from 35 to 81, allowing much finer-grained focus point positioning. As in the earlier camera, this can be increased to over 800 possible focus points with magnified-frame autofocus active. (You now have a choice of 3x magnification, as well as the existing 5x, 7x, 10x or 14x magnification of the E-M5, incidentally.)

For video capture, meanwhile, the focus algorithms have been altered so that they work in a more logical manner. The requirements of still and video capture autofocus are actually quite different, when you stop to think about it, so the change is quite logical. In still capture, you just want to focus as quickly as possible so that you don't miss a fleeting moment, but for video, an abrupt focus change with visible hunting is unsightly.

What Olympus has done with the E-M5 II's video mode is to use a slower, subtler hunting motion, with the slight wobble around the point of focus that's common to all contrast-detection systems now almost imperceptible. It takes just slightly longer to lock focus, so wouldn't be conducive to still imaging, but for video the result looks much better.

Don't take this to mean that the AF system is slow to respond for video, incidentally: The opposite is true. In our informal testing of the E-M5 II, AF response in video mode was still very quick indeed -- it's just the final hunting motion that's achieved over a longer time.

Other focus features of the Olympus E-M5 II include an AF assist illuminator to help with focusing on nearby subjects in low ambient light, an eye detection AF function (with the ability to select which eye to focus on, or simply the nearer eye), a choice of AF target size, and a peaking function with adjustable intensity and color settings.

Weather sealing

Another feature retained from its predecessor is the Olympus E-M5 II's robust weather and dust-resistant design. Although no specification is provided for the number of seals in its magnesium-alloy body, Olympus says the camera can safely be used in rain or dusty environments when coupled with one of the eight weather-sealed M. Zuiko digital lenses currently on the market or the company's lens roadmap. These include all M.Zuiko Pro lenses, as well as the M.Zuiko Premium ED 60mm F2.8 Macro, M.Zuiko ED 14-150mm F4.0-5.6 II, and M.Zuiko ED 12-50mm F3.5-6.3 EZ.

The Olympus E-M5 II body is also freezeproof to 14 degrees Fahrenheit / -10 degrees Celsius.

Dust reduction

Of course, even with a dust-resistant design, some dust is inevitably going to enter the camera body during lens changes, or when shooting with lenses that lack environmental sealing. To help handle this, the E-M5 II includes Olympus' Supersonic Wave Filter dust reduction system, which functions every time the camera is switched on using a piezoelectronic element to shake dust free from the sensor cover glass, from where it is then captured by an adhesive membrane beneath the image sensor.

Viewfinder

The Olympus E-M5 II's electronic viewfinder is a big step forwards from that of the original E-M5 in several important ways. First, the total dot count has been increased from 1.44 million to 2.36 million dots. Viewfinder magnification has also been increased, varying from 1.30 to 1.48x, depending on viewfinder mode. By contrast, the E-M5 II viewfinder had a magnification of 0.92 to 1.15x, depending on VF mode. And eyepoint has increased from 18 to 21mm from the rear lens surface, meaning that your eye needn't be quite as close to be able to see the entire viewfinder image.

The viewfinder eyecup is still removable, and can be swapped for the larger EP-16 eyecup if you're an eyeglass-wearer, while a -4 to +2m-1 dioptric adjustment is also available should you prefer to look through the finder directly without your glasses. And to help out in difficult ambient light, a +/- 7-step brightness adjustment is available, complete with an automatic setting that will vary the brightness for you as the camera deems necessary.

Articulated, touch-sensitive display

In place of the 610,000 dot Organic LED monitor used in the original E-M5, the Olympus E-M5 II uses a 3:2-aspect, 1,037k-dot LCD panel with the same three-inch diagonal measurement as that of its predecessor.

The articulation mechanism for the display has been completely rethought, and is now much more versatile. Impressively for a weather-sealed camera, it uses a side-mounted tilt/swivel design that allows for viewing from most angles -- even portrait-orientation images shot low to the ground or over your head, and (although it's probably not a huge use-case in an enthusiast-grade camera) also caters to selfie-shooters, since the screen can be swiveled for viewing from in front of the camera. One further advantage over the E-M5's tilt-only screen is that the display on the E-M5 II can be closed facing inwards towards the camera body, providing a degree of protection against minor bumps, scrapes and smudges.

As in the original E-M5, the E-M5 II's display is overlaid with an eletrostatic capacitance-type touch panel, much the same as you'd find on your smartphone. This allows for quick-and-easy focus point selection, and you can also control quite a range of features through the screen, including a touch shutter function. In video mode, there's a new slide-out touch panel which provides access to exposure, zoom (if using a power zoom lens) and focus controls during video capture.

Compared to that in the original E-M5, the Olympus E-M5 II's monitor provides finer-grained seven-step control over both brightness and color temperature. It still retains the vivid / natural color tone options from the earlier camera, as well.

Exposure

The Olympus E-M5 II offers a full complement of exposure modes include Program, Aperture-priority, Shutter-priority and Manual, as well as user-friendly Intelligent Auto and Scene modes. Also to be found on the Mode dial are a dedicated Movie mode, Art filter functions, and Photo Story modes.

Exposures are determined using 324-area Digital ESP Multi-pattern metering by default, with center-weighted average or spot metering options available. In spot metering mode, you can also opt for highlight or shadow-priority options. The metering system has a working range of EV-2 to 20, and +/-5.0EV of exposure compensation is available in 1/3, 1/2, or 1 EV steps for still imaging. (Movies have a curtailed +/-3.0EV compensation range.) An autoexposure lock function is also provided, using either a half-press of the Shutter button, or as an option on one of the configurable Function buttons.

Shutter speeds range from 1/8,000 to 60 seconds, plus Bulb or Time functions. In Time exposure, shutter speeds of one, twom four, eight, 15, 20, 25 or 30 minutes are possible. To reduce shock from the focal-plane shutter, you can select a silent shooting mode with electronic front and rear-curtain shutter, or an anti-shock mode with electronic front-curtain shutter which completes the exposure with the mechanical focal-plane shutter.

A total of 13 white balance modes are provided: either Auto, seven preset white balance modes (Sunny, Shadow, Cloudy, Incandescent, Fluorescent, Underwater and Flash), four Manual white balance modes, or a Custom mode set between 2,000 and 14,000 Kelvin. In all but the Custom mode, you can also tune white balance within a +/- 7 step range Amber / Blue and Green / Magenta axes.

Scene modes on offer include Portrait, e-Portrait, Landscape, Landscape+Portrait, Sport, Hand-held Starlight, Night, Night+Portrait, Children, High Key, Low Key, DIS mode, Macro, Nature Macro, Candle, Sunset, Documents, Panorama, Fireworks, Beach & Snow, Fisheye Converter, Wide Converter, Macro Converter, Panning and 3D. This last mode is for capturing 3D still images with the Panasonic LUMIX G 12.5mm / F12 (H-FT012) lens, which captures side-by-side images in a single frame using dual objective optics.

Flash

There is no built-in flash strobe on the Olympus E-M5 II, but a new FL-LM3 flash strobe that seats on the top-deck flash hot shoe is included in the product bundle. There's also a sync terminal on the front of the camera.

Priced at US$60 if bought separately -- although there's no need to do this unless you lose or break the bundled strobe, as it isn't backwards-compatible with older bodies due to the use of an extra pin to communicate with the camera -- this compact strobe has a guide number of 9.1 meters at ISO 100, and is both dustproof and splashproof.

Despite trim dimensions of just 1.7 x 1.9 x 1.5 inches and a weight of just 1.8 ounces, it nevertheless includes a 90-degree tilt and 360-degree swivel function for bounce flash. Coverage is 12mm (or 24mm-equivalent on a 35mm body), and no recharge time is stated.

The bundled strobe can be used to control either the FL-300R or FL-600R strobes wirelessly in four channels and four groups, with optical communications between the strobes -- that is to say, they communicate by low-powered pulses of the strobes themselves. Power comes from the camera body, with no batteries in the bundled strobe itself.

Flash sync is possible at 1/250 second, or as high as 1/8,000 second in Super FP mode. With wireless remote control, flash sync falls to 1/160 second.

Creative

The Olympus E-M5 II offers a generous selection of creative tools to help capture your artistic vision. Exposures can be bracketed within a two, three or five-frame range in 0.3, 0.7 or 1EV steps, or a seven-frame range with 0.3 or 0.7EV step sizes. You can also bracket three frames for sensitivity, white balance or flash, and bracket the camera's Art Filter functions.

A wide selection of Art Filters are provided, including Pop Art, Soft Focus, Pale & Light Color, Light Tone, Grainy Film, Pin Hole, Diorama, Cross Process, Gentle Sepia, Dramatic Tone, Key Line, WaterColor, Vintage and Partial Color. For each of these, a variety of options are available to further tweak results to your tastes.

You can also shoot and merge high dynamic range imagery in-camera, with two HDR effect types provided, or bracket images while leaving the merging process for your computer for greater control.

Olympus' unusual Photo Story function is also included. This essentially allows you to shoot multiple images and then combine them side-by-side in-camera to create a single image with one of a wide selection of different layouts.

Long-exposure fans will appreciate the Live Bulb and Live Composite functions. Live Bulb allow you to view the progress of a long-exposure as it's being captured, so you can judge the right moment to close the shutter at your desired exposure level, while Live Composite builds your exposure based on the brightest value recorded for any given pixel location, for example preventing brighter foreground subjects from washing out while you're capturing light or star trails in the background.

You can also shoot in interval mode (2 to 999 frames with an interval of one second to 24 hours), have interval sequences merged in-camera to create a time-lapse movie, overlay multiple images to create a multiple-exposure shot (optionally, from an existing raw file as a starting point), and correct for keystoning in-camera.

And if you're a stickler for level horizons or parallel verticals, the presence of a dual-axis level gauge will help you keep things on an even keel.

Video

Olympus has made some pretty significant steps forward on the video front with the E-M5 II. Perhaps key to these for consumer and enthusiast videographers, for our money, is its improved autofocus algorithms. We've already discussed these in the Focusing section above, but recapping briefly, new algorithms mean that despite the use of a contrast detection AF system, focus changes are smooth and confident, yet hunting is next to imperceptible.

The improved image stabilization, discussed above in the Image Stabilization section, is another nice boon that should yield noticeably less shaky video, reducing your need to rely on aftermarket solutions like Steadicams and their ilk. Autoexposure performance has also been tuned, and better reacts to sudden changes in scene brightness, such as when you move the camera from outdoors to indoors, for example.

Also new is a choice of All-I intraframe or IPB interframe compressions formats. This lets you prioritize image quality and editability with intraframe compression, or more compact file sizes with interframe compression. With that said, if you want to use the highest possible frame rates, the choice will be made for you. At the maximum resolution of Full HD (1,920 x 1,080 pixels), intraframe compression is only available at rates of 30, 25 or 24 frames per second, while interframe compression also allows 60 or 50 frames per second capture. At HD (1,280 x 720 pixel) resolution, you can choose from any of the above frame rates with either All-I or IPB compression.

Wireless connectivity

New to the E-M5 II is Wi-Fi wireless networking connectivity, allowing the camera to be paired to your Android or iOS smartphone or tablet. Once connected, you can control the camera remotely (including a live view feed), and you can also share images and movies with up to four smart devices simultaneously.

As it has done in the past, Olympus has forgone near-field communications tech for easy pairing, instead opting for the display of a QR code on the camera's display. To pair, you use the built-in camera of your smart device to capture the QR code, and the devices then pair automatically. It's perhaps not quite as elegant as NFC pairing, but it likely saves a little cost, and has the advantage that it also works on Apple iOS devices.

Although there's no built-in GPS receiver in the E-M5 II, you can piggyback off your smartphone's GPS radio if you want to geotag your shots (and don't mind reducing the phone's battery life, of course.)

Wired connectivity

Wired connections on the Olympus E-M5 II include USB 2.0 High Speed data, NTSC / PAL standard-definition video output (which shares the same connector as USB), Type-D Micro HDMI high-definition video output, a flash hot shoe and sync terminal, and 3.5mm stereo microphone jack. Courtesy of the optional HLD-8G external grip (included as part of the optional HLD-8 power battery holder), you can also add a 3.5mm headphone connector for audio levels monitoring, and a DC input connector to use the camera on mains power.

The USB terminal is compatible with the RM-UC1 remote release cable, and also allows tethered shooting via a Windows / Mac OS-compatible application called Olympus Capture.

Storage

The Olympus E-M5 II stores images and movies on a single SD memory card slot, compatible with higher-capacity SDHC and SDXC cards, as well as higher-speed UHS-I and UHS-II cards. It's also Eye-Fi card compatible, although with in-camera support for Wi-Fi wireless networking, there would seem to be little reason to use an Eye-Fi card.

Power

The E-M5 II draws power from a single BLN-1 lithium-ion rechargeable battery pack. Courtesy of the optional HLD-8 power battery holder, you can add a second BLN-1 battery pack for double the battery life, or connect an AC adapter for mains power.

Battery life to CIPA testing standards is 310 shots on a charge by default, but can be extended to 750 shots using the Quick Sleep mode which powers down the camera after several seconds of inactivity.



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