Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark II Camera Review
Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark II – First Impressions
The Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark II is the updated version of a CSC that’s been around for three years. That the old E-M5 survived this long on shelves is testament to how well Olympus did with the design the first time around. It wasn’t a real top-end CSC, but was a smash regardless.
This second version doesn’t mess with the camera’s basic aims. It’s still a very capable but not range-topping model.
There aren’t core upgrades that slap you around the face, exclaiming what a next-gen camera the Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark II is, either. However, a long series of little improvements should make it a more satisfying camera all-round.
It’ll be available body-only from £899, for £1099 with a 12-50mm f/3.5-6.3 lens, or £1249 with a new, weathersealed 14-150mm f/4-5.6 II lens. We had a play with the camera ahead of our review to see what it’s about.
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Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark II – Design and Handling
Looks were never an issue with the original E-M5, so Olympus sensibly hasn’t changed the basic style too much. Retro charm is still the order of the day. However, the Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark II does offer plenty of little tweaks that owners of the original will notice instantly.
First, the grip is larger. It’s not huge, but it’s deeper and will be welcomed by those with bigger hands. There are two grip accessories planned too – one with a battery, one without – for those who want more of a DSLR feel.
The control layout has been altered as well. It’s much more Olympus E-M1-like: that’s the model up from this one.
The Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark II has deeper dual control dials than before, while the power button has been moved from the back to the top plate. The latter is still not as ergonomic as we’d like, but it’s an improvement nevertheless.
Olympus has gotten rid of the E-M5’s kinda-notorious D-pad. Known for being spongy, the new version is larger and offers better feedback. While you may get used to these little changes, they add up to a more comfortable camera.
Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark II – Screen and EVF
What you’re less likely to take for granted so quickly are the new EVF and screen. The electronic viewfinder benefits from those three years of progress since the E-M5’s introduction.
It’s now a 2.36-million-dot model, a huge upgrade from the 1.44-million-dot EVF of the E-M5. This EVF gets you a display size not desperately far off what’s seen in a DSLR. And for now at least, that’s the goal with an EVF.
The Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark II’s is three inches across like its predecessor’s, but it’s a good deal more flexible this time – literally. Instead of just flipping out, it’s fully articulated, making dynamic shooting that bit easier.
Resolution of the rear display has increased significantly too, from 610k dots to 1.037 million. As with the EVF, those whiffs of compromise have lifted a bit. Of course, this is arguably simply moving with the times: the quality of EVF units has improved across the board since 2012. It does make a big difference, though.
Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark II – Features
The brains of the Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark II are as sharp as we’d hope for. It uses the TruePic VII processor, the same seen in the E-M1, bringing 10fps fixed-focus shooting or 5fps with autofocus. That’s up from max 9fps in the first E-M5: not a huge difference but a step forward.
Other little elements have been improved as well, including the 5-axis optical stabilisation. That said, Olympus claimed the same 5-stop benefit back in 2012. This is one we’ll have to test at review, but it certainly makes handheld video look super-smooth.
The autofocus system has been improved more tangibly. There are 81 focus points, up from 39, although there’s still no phase detection, just contrast detection.
Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark II – Image Quality
With a 16-megapixel Micro Four Thirds sensor, just like its predecessor, we don’t expect a huge leap forwards in image quality from the first E-M5. However, it is a more versatile shooter.
The Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark II is better equipped for shooting with fast primes in daylight, with a fully electronic shutter mode letting you shoot as fast as 1/16000. You can shoot fully silent, too.
We’ll have to wait to see how the new image processor affects image noise, though.
In order to get the camera a quantifiable boost over its predecessor, the Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark II has a mode that lets you shoot 40-megapixel images that are composites of eight different shots. It uses the OIS motor to do this, moving the lens just fractionally to capture more image information. It’s not useful for regular shooting, though, as you’ll need a tripod and it’s not much use for moving subjects.
Olympus has made improvements to the video shooting side, too. There’s no 4K capture, but 1080p video goes all the way to 77Mbps bitrate and there’s a standard microphone jack. The original model needed a special adapter.
The Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark II isn’t a camera that’ll bowl you over with new features. That’s not what it’s about. Plentiful optimisations will subtly enrich what it’s like to use, making it altogether better than what came before in just about every respect.
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