Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II User review


spidey89

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#1
Introduction Skip the first 2 paragraphs to skip personal history ;)



When Olympus first came up with the concept of micro four thirds, I thought to myself "bah, it can't be that good, DSLRs are the way to go!". That's when I got rid of all my Olympus gear except for the Olympus E-1 and Zuiko Digital 14-54mm lens. I got myself a full frame camera with the necessary lenses required for work.

When the original PEN E-P1 was released, I got mine months after it was released and thought "Hmm... It's certainly smaller and more compact, but it's too new with too little lens, seems like a toy". Fast forward to a few years later when the original Olympus OM-D E-M1 was released, I thought to myself "hey, this is pretty good, it's nice to use, fast enough and gives good images". After a year plus of the original's released, I slowly invested in the original E-M1 kit with the M.Zuiko Digital 12-40 PRO, 40-150 PRO and finally the 7-14 PRO. I got to using the E-M1 for fun and photo walks and eventually take it on assignments. Events, weddings, portraits and it performed splendidly.

Today, the Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II is officially announced and having used it for a few days, I can say that while the Mark I was already a great camera, the Mark II redefined the meaning of what a great camera should be. The upgrade between the 2 is similar to when the E-1 was replaced with the E-3. It's not just an increase in resolution and image quality, it's essentially a redesign of a camera that was already great.

In a word, I would describe the OM-D E-M1 Mark II as speedy. Olympus, when designing the E-M1 Mark II, probably had an obsession with speed, and it has paid off. Certain feature highlights of this camera are:

  • 18 fps maximum sequential shooting in AF/AE tracking
  • Advance DUAL FAST AF with 121-point, all cross -type sensor
  • New Pro Capture mode for lag free shooting
  • 20.4 Megapixel Live MOS sensor with new High-Speed Trupic VIII image processor
  • Digital cinema standard 4k movies
  • Advanced in-body 5-axis Image Stabilization with approximately 6.5 shutter speed steps
  • Dual SD card slots
  • Ultra high-resolution image quality with 50MP high res shot
  • Dustproof, splashproof and freezeproof performance
  • High-magnification, high-speed electronic viewfinder
  • silent mode for noiseless shooting environments

Honestly, some features are impressive. The newly developed TruePIC VIII image processor has a double quad core system which is the main driving force behind the speed in this beast of a camera. Coupled with the new advanced dual fast AF, 121-point all cross-type sensor, this camera is capable of going toe-to-toe with other cameras out there on the market, and then some!

I like that the flip out screen is on the E-M1 Mark II, previously seen on the PEN F and E-M5 Mark II, I found this to be so much more useful than the tilting screen. I missed it on the old E-3 when they camera out with tilt screens. At first glance, the Mark II looks very similar to the Mark I, with some obvious physical designs. Holding my original E-M1, it felt good, holding the E-M1 Mark II, it felt better. I have very big hands, especially for an Asian person and Olympus has designed the grip to be bigger, giving a deeper feel to the grip and making it comfortable, even without the use of a vertical grip (but I'll still use a vertical grip when available).

The dual card slots, apparently something that many people have wanted for a VERY LONG TIME. I am unfortunately/fortunately, not one of those people but! It is a welcoming feature! It can write both RAW and jpeg to separate cards, backup one card or automatically switch when the card is full. The battery is new too! As of this writing, the camera battery is at 36%, after charging full and shooting for a few days, with the first day shooting the most, and then my normal day to day shooting after. I was told that the new battery will allow the camera to shoot 440 shots on a full charge. I've shot 673 images. How do I know this? Olympus now allows you to check the battery in percentage instead of the estimated bar look, it also has a shot counter and a battery health inspection feature! The new charger will cut the charging time in half. From 4 hours with the old Mark I's charger to 2 hours with the new Mark II's charger.

The new sensor with 20.4 million pixels, is more than sufficient to get large prints for your home, Olympus has incorporated the high res function to give you 50MP files in jpeg format which is very, VERY big! These improvements also brought high ISO improvements with auto ISO now supporting up to 6,400. Top ISO of the camera is 25,600 and the lowest in the form of "ISO LOW" is now at ISO64 equivalent instead of ISO 100 which is great news for landscape photographers. Speaking of landscape photographers, did I mention the tripod screw mount is lined up with the lens?

Videographers/Cinematographers, rejoice! For this is the first camera form Olympus with 4K video! Coupled with the 5-axis IS, you'd be able to capture cinematic quality video without the use of rigs for stabilization! It also features a HDMI monitor connection so you can view your footage as you capture on an external monitor! I could talk a lot more because there are so many other features and improvements but I'm gonna end the introduction with accessories for the E-M1 Mark II!
 

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spidey89

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#2
New accessories for the Mark II:
  • Power Battery holder, HLD-9
  • Flagship electronic flash, FL-900R
  • Release cable, RM-CB2
  • Macro Flash, STF-8, world's first with a dustproof, splashproof and freezeproof design
  • Underwater Case, PT-EP14 with waterproof up to the depths of 60m





 

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spidey89

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#3
As of this writing, no price or package has been announced for the camera yet. Continue monitoring this thread as I put this camera through tests and real life situations. Until then, here's a photo taken with the Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II, M.Zuiko Digital 25mm f1.2 and Fl-900R. ISO 64/low, 1/8000s, f1.2, flash nearly full power FP sync.(Image is an edited jpeg file)
 

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spidey89

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#4
I did a quick color rendition test between the Pen F and the E-M1 Mark II. Both were custom white balanced in camera using a x-rite color checker and both were metered using a handheld light meter. The Pen F is a calibrated image white the E-M1 Mark II's image is an OOC Jpeg with i-enhance selected. Personally, I found the color to be quite bright, saturated and pleasing though it is not exactly "accurate", but it's pretty close

 

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spidey89

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#5
Noise test

Noise test, something everyone will ask especially with a small sensor, how does it stack? I compared it to my FF camera which was once crowned king of high ISO but has since been dethroned but personally, any camera that exceeds it is more than good enough for me. I also compared images from the Mark II to the previously latest camera, the PEN F.



The difference between my FF camera and the 2 obviously advanced camera is clear and goes to show how far technology has taken us since. In terms of quality, I don't see a huge difference between the OM-D E-M1 Mark II and PEN F in terms of sharpness but in terms of noise control, it's clear enough that the OM-D has a smoother tone. Personally, I rarely go to ISO 3200 and I've only ever go past ISO 6400 twice in my entire career.


Image Stabilization

When I first touched the OM-D E-M1 Mark II, I was told that the stabilization is very very advanced. Question was, how advanced was it? Taking my FF camera with a 70-200mm f2.8 lens, compared it to the E-M1 Mark II with the newly released M.ZD 12-100 (review here). I did a comparison.

But some points to take note, I do not drink coffee, I have a large and heavy frame, I have extremely big hands and am used to carrying heavy stuff. Everyone differs, some can shoot better, some can't shoot as well, so it depends on individual, but here are my results from my own tests.


Under exposed, but at 1/25s, I am at my threshold with the combination of a FF camera with 70-200mm lens


I tried 1/2s and well... If it's important, it's decent enough IMO


At 1s, this can only be accepted in a modern art museum, as a photo, it's clearly rubbish
 

spidey89

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#6
So how does the OM-D E-M1 Mark II fair? Check it out


I didn't want to be too ambitious, so I tried 1/4s and it's sharp, cool


1s, already so much better than with my FF setup, let's push further!


2s, a little shake, still. Impressive considering it's at 200mm equivalent!


5s, just because, I saw Robin Wong from Malaysia do a 5 second shot, not that good, but sharp enough to see some things, which is impressive, what camera lens combination can give you a reasonably decent picture at 5s!? There's someone in the USA that apparently handheld shot 15s with the M.Zuiko Digital 15s, which is crazy but true!

Again, all these are based on individuality. If you're a young person with smaller hands, probably holding the camera at longer duration wouldn't be a problem. It is worth noting that all the images were shot handheld, standing straight up without any bracing. I am ashamed to say that even bracing myself, I couldn't compete with Robin's 5 second handheld IS shot :bsmilie:
 

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spidey89

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#7
Here are some sample shots, the following 5 were shot with the M.Zuiko Digital 25mm f1.2 pro









 

caldecott

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#8
It's no doubt an excellent camera, especially paired with that 25mm f1.2 Pro lens. However, the extra premium to pay for this over the original EM1 is hard to justify for me personally (maybe the used EM1 is worth less than 1K SGD but this camera is like 1999USD).
 

spidey89

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#9
It's no doubt an excellent camera, especially paired with that 25mm f1.2 Pro lens. However, the extra premium to pay for this over the original EM1 is hard to justify for me personally (maybe the used EM1 is worth less than 1K SGD but this camera is like 1999USD).
Depends on uses, like I've told some people before, it's generally aimed at professionals with the E-M5 Mark II aimed at enthusiasts and E-M10 Mark II aimed at beginners. Of course nothing wrong with people buying other models regardless of their skill levels or purpose of usage. It is true that the price for this camera is hard to swallow but again depending on what you do. Weekend dad shooting of kids then yes, it's near impossible to justify, as a working professional, it's a no brainer when it comes to justification, my 2 cents worth
 

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Bluesubm6

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#10
not sure what coffee does, but the camera is very impressive. Would there be a chance to see the M1m2 in action with STF-8 hand held as well?
 

spidey89

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#11
Coffee apparently causes shakes if you don't get a shot of caffeine or caffeine makes you vibrate or something, I don't know, I don't drink coffee and my last caffeine shot was in coke from years ago. Unfortunately, I don't have the STF-8
 

spidey89

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#12
The following 2 videos were shot to see if there was any rolling shutter effects and the good news is, I don't see any

[video=youtube;Y6UPpzNYNA0]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y6UPpzNYNA0[/video]
 

spidey89

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#14
Olympus says that their 5 axis IS is good enough to replace rigs so I put it to the test. Walking normally, it looks to be very stable, I can only imagine how much better will it look when you actually hold and walk properly during the process of shooting
[video=youtube;VxLXzneMqX8]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VxLXzneMqX8[/video]
 

spidey89

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#15
Shooting with the Pro Capture which is an interesting feature, I got shots I never thought I'd get, easily! The way it works is selecting Pro Capture H(High) or L (Low), it will start to capture into buffer but not record until you release the shutter, at that point, it'll capture a certain number of frames up to the point when your shutter was released. For example, a gif of a pro capture shot I captured consisting of 22 frames



This is the time I reacted and clicked, the ball had already bounced off her arms, I know it looks like it's coming towards her arms


This is the image I selected and then edited with Olympus Viewer 3 which is the only editor available to edit at the time of writing
 

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spidey89

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#16
I went out shooting with a friend and once again, just for kicks, we both tried to shoot handheld with just the IS on and see how long can we hold. Robin did 5, looking up, so that's what I did, initially I tried with 5, got it, did with 10, to my surprise, I got it too! Then I tried 12 and I failed. I did across the Singapore river and I got a 10s shot too. Here are 3 picture comparison and verification that I shot that at settings I said I shot at.











Something I didn't mention was, I was using the M.ZD 12-40mm PRO lens, meaning that the lens didn't have a built in stabilizer like the M.ZD 12-100mm PRO lens and I didn't get sync IS! It is very impressive that I manage to get it. And for the record, I don't drink coffee. So the question is, why would anyone want to do this? I saw someone comment on another site that he'd rather use a tripod, which I agree, I would rather use a tripod too!

But! what if I'm holiday and my tripod breaks? Gets stolen? Forgot to bring? Didn't think to bring? (Yes, the last one has happened to me a few times before). It's good to know I still can get something instead of nothing. And as another friend of my pointed out, having the ability to shoot one handed handheld in a weird angle in a place where tripod cannot be deployed, is a God sent. In places like a museum for example.

Would I shoot without a tripod for long exposure? When I have no choice. Will I do it often? I hope not, cause I want to have both hands free to check my phone hahaha

So again, it depends on individual, some will have a greater threshold, some will have a shorter one. My previous record for IS shooting was with the M.ZD 7-14 PRO at 1 second, so now it's a little over 3 stops stabilized.
 

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Oct 12, 2004
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So the question is, why would anyone want to do this? I saw someone comment on another site that he'd rather use a tripod, which I agree, I would rather use a tripod too!

But! what if I'm holiday and my tripod breaks? Gets stolen? Forgot to bring? Didn't think to bring? (Yes, the last one has happened to me a few times before). It's good to know I still can get something instead of nothing. And as another friend of my pointed out, having the ability to shoot one handed handheld in a weird angle in a place where tripod cannot be deployed, is a God sent. In places like a museum for example.

Would I shoot without a tripod for long exposure? When I have no choice. Will I do it often? I hope not, cause I want to have both hands free to check my phone hahaha
Precisely. It isn't a feature that forces you to use it all the time. It is an incredibly useful feature that increases the shooting envelope in countless scenarios.

Not all tripods are made equally as we all know. Even when shooting on a tripod there may be small amounts of vibration from the wind or the ground where the surface may translate vibration from nearby sources. Whilst I don't remember Olympus having a specific tripod mode for their IBIS, it certainly could be used to compensate in less than ideal conditions.

And handheld shooting of stationary subjects, it could mean the shutter speed can be extended that would allow you to shoot at base ISO or ETTR to maximise image quality.
 

Oct 12, 2004
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#18
Shooting with the Pro Capture which is an interesting feature, I got shots I never thought I'd get, easily! The way it works is selecting Pro Capture H(High) or L (Low), it will start to capture into buffer but not record until you release the shutter, at that point, it'll capture a certain number of frames up to the point when your shutter was released.
This is a feature that increasingly feels like it will be very useful in certain situations. Basically any unpredictable situation that requires a fast reaction time, which still might miss the start or peak of a sequence.
Sports: a fighter's strike, a fencer's lunge etc.
Wildlife: birds taking off, predator striking prey etc.
But tongue-in-cheek question, who owns the copyright for the pro capture photos? You or Olympus :p
 

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