Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark II

OM-D E-M5 MkII - Front

After many leaks over the last few weeks, Olympus have finally announced the replacement to the then revolutionary first digital OM camera – the E-M5, this is called the E-M5 MarkII. This helps keep the divisions between the three OM-D cameras.

Whilst a few of the features are simple updates that were first seen in the OM-D E-M1 and the OM-D E-M10, there is a whole lot more to this camera including a few firsts for the mirror-less market.

Ergonomics
It is no secret that I didn’t like the E-M5, I always thought that it was too small, the controls had no logic to them and the buttons on the camera were really spongy. Olympus have fixed the issue and the new buttons are a lot better, the controls are now very similar to the E-M1 that I own and include the mode dial push-button lock, as well as the 1-2 position toggle switch. The two control dials and Fn buttons are very similar to the ones on the E-M1 including the location of the On/Off switch just to the right of the faux pentaprism.

The front grip and rear thumb rest have been redesigned and look like they will allow a firmer and more secure hold of the camera, they have even re-posiitoned the camera strap lugs to make them more useful when a strap is attached.

OM-D E-M5 MkII - Top

The camera still uses the same battery as the E-M1 and the older E-M5 and yeah I like the fact that the battery and memory card compartments are separate.

Video enhancements
The camera now supports many frame rates including 1080/60pp and has a reasonable high 77Mbs throughput, the support for All-I rounds it out nicely. The slightly improved 5 axis image stabiliser can be used during video recording as can focus peaking. This camera puts to shame many of the DSLR cameras on the market today.

One addition I am very happy to see is a fully adjustable vari-angle rear screen – like the Panasonic G/GH series, this is still a touch screen too (Sony take note!). The camera also gains a microphone socket; a headphone socket is absent from the camera but fit the optional HLD-8G grip and then you have one, this allows you to set and monitor the audio whilst recording. It’s nice touches like this that I like Olympus for.

OM-D E-M5 MkII - Back

Olympus have removed the accessory port under the hot-shoe.

Accessory Flash
Like its predecessor and the E-M1, the new E-M5II does not have a built-in flash which given the fact that the E-M10 does is rather strange, I guess Olympus wanted to maintain the sleek lines from the previous OM-1 cameras. However instead of supplying the clip-on flash that comes with the EM-1 and EM-5 a more powerful and better featured FL-LM3 flash is now part of the standard kit. This flash not only has the ability to bounce but it can rotate too and is therefore a much better and useful flash to have.

As the accessory port is no more, Olympus had to find a way of powering the new flash so an extra pin has been added to the hot-shoe making the flash incompatible with any other Olympus camera. Interestingly the pin layout is now identical to Canon’s so any Canon E-TTL lead can be used to take the flash off camera.

1/8000 shutter and 1/16,000 electronic shutter
The camera has had it’s top shutter speed increased to 1/8000 sec just like the E-M1 and also has an electronic shutter that can go as fast as 1/16,000 sec. the electronic shutter is totally silent, the E-M5II also has a new silent drive mode which switches off all of the audible sounds. Rob Pugh is going to love this for weddings and it will be a good street shooting camera too.

Built-in WiFi
I didn’t realise this but the original E-M5 did not have WiFi so adding this ensures that the entire OM-D range now have WiFi and hence the ability to be wirelessly remote controlled; the WiFo also enables the transfer of images too.

40MP exposure mode
I have saved the best for last. The camera has an improved 5-axis sensor stabiliser and one of the features of this is that it can be moved a pixel at time up and down to take multiple shots and combine them into 40MP image; this is substantially higher than the native 16MP resolution of the micro-four-thirds sensor. You can have not only a 40MP JPG but you can have RAW versions too. Because the camera is taking multiple shots the feature is only suitable for static subject matter and you really need to be using a tripod but this is amazing technology – watch the Camera Store TV video as they demonstrate the feature.

Pricing and availability
The OM-D E-M5 is being released at £899 body only and two lens kits are being offered , one with the 12-50mm lens and one with the 12-40mm f2.8 lens. All kits and bodies are available in Black and Silver. The camera should be available in early March and there is a pre-order offer on that gets you a free Olympus messenger bag and free 5 1/2 year warranty if you pre-order before 1st March.

My thoughts
I have not handled the E-M5 yet and it seems that I’ll have to wait a few weeks before they are available in the UK. It may be that I have to wait until this year’s Photography Show at the NEC in mid-March before I can handle one.

From what I can gather from the videos, photos and documentation and previews out there this is very desirable camera and it has a lot of features that are not present on my E-M1, however my E-M1 still has a better focusing system and a faster frames per second rate. I also like the native size of the E-M1, the new E-M5II may still need a grip to work nicely in my hands – this is where physically handling the camera is needed to see if the size of this camera is just right for me. I could see me adding the new OM-D (most likely in silver) to my kit as a second body, I would like a better video camera and the 40MP feature would be fun to use.

The jury is still out on the image quality for RAW photographs and we now await Abode to update Lightroom.

I have one problem and this is one that Olympus need to fix and that is the price, the body is now the same price as the E-M1 body (at least in LCE it is), so when it comes to getting my second body I will have a tough time making a decision.

Details and Reviews
You can find more detail at the UK Olympus site: http://www.olympus.co.uk/site/en/c/cameras/om_d_system_cameras/om_d/e_m5_mark_ii/index.html

DPReview already have the first look preview that can be read here: http://www.dpreview.com/previews/olympus-om-d-e-m5-ii

And there is a lot of information out there at all of the other sites too – it looks like Olympus know how to treat their pros as well as the review sites.

Olympus also announced a new PRO fisheye lens, a firmware update for my E-M1 as well as a few other nice items. Hopefully I’ll write a post about them in a few days time.

I’ll finish this post with three Youtube videos, one from The Camera Store and a couple from Jamie McDonald who is an Olympus Trailblazer in the US:

Camera Store:

Jamie McDonald’s Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark II HANDS ON! (first look):

Jamie McDonald’s Menu Walkthrough:

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