Olympus OMD EM5 Mark II Review

The Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark II replaces the E-M5 with a much improved Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark II: Improvements to many details

At the beginning of 2012 Olympus put its own mirrorless Micro Four Thirds division on the road to success with the OM-D E-M5. Now, with the OM-D E-M5 Mark II, the successor, which has been improved in many respects, is ready to start. The still splash-proof and dust-proof camera is now also frost-proof, the improved 5-axis image stabilizer now achieves an even higher effectiveness of five f-stops according to the CIPA standard. In addition, the mobility of the display was too low for many customers, and the Mark II can now be turned and swivelled instead of just folded.

Short evaluation

Pros

  • Excellent image stabilizer
  • Arrow fast autofocus
  • Very good image quality
  • Quiet, gentle closure, optionally completely silent
  • High-quality workmanship with protection against weather influences

Cons

  • Video without 4K and Zebra
  • Fn1 key somewhat difficult to reach
  • No modern swivel panorama function

With the OM-D E-M5 Mark II Olympus replaces the first and very successful OM-D name E-M5 at the end of February 2015. Olympus wants to have improved the already very good mirrorless system camera in many respects, for example with frost protection in addition to splash water and dust protection, an improved image stabilizer, which is supposed to be the most effective worldwide, a new mechanism for the movable touch screen for even more degrees of freedom, a higher resolution viewfinder as well as numerous new video functions. We have already been able to test a model corresponding to the series in the laboratory and in practice.

 

Olympus OMD EM5 Mark II Review

The Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark II, which is now not only splash-proof and dustproof, but also frost-proof, is the successor to the OM-D E-M5. [Photo: Olympus]

Olympus OMD EM5 Mark II Review

The 16 megapixel CMOS sensor of the Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark II is supported by the TruePic VII. The sensor image stabilizer creates whole 5 EV levels and is therefore currently the most effective worldwide. [Photo: Olympus]

Olympus OMD EM5 Mark II Review

The Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark II now features the same 0.74x magnifying electronic viewfinder with 2.36 million pixels resolution as the OM-D E-M1. [Photo: Olympus]

Olympus has slightly revised the shape of the housing, so the handle is slightly more voluminous and the entire ergonomics has been revised with partially offset knobs and improved swivel wheels. The design is now based on the legendary OM-2, the viewfinder hump is a bit more pointed. The accessory port is now omitted, but the flash shoe has got another contact. This is required for the included FL-LM3 flash, because the E-M5 Mark II still has no built-in flash. The FL-LM3 therefore currently only works on the E-M5 Mark II. As a highlight, this guide number 9.5 strong flash offers a rotating and swivelling reflector (180 degrees each with six detents to the right and left and 90 degrees with four detents to the top). The program selector wheel is now optionally lockable and redesigned just like the two upper selector wheels. The Play button has moved down to the right to the back of the case, where it is easier to reach, especially when wearing gloves. Even in small details the design has been improved, so the small bayonet release button is “leathered” with the same material as the inside of the Pen E-PL7 as the rest of the camera body. Like the E-M5, the Mark II will also be available in black and in classic silver-black. The robust housing consists of metal and plastic parts and is sealed by means of seals against the penetration of splash water and dust. A new feature is frost protection down to -10 degrees Celsius.

The old E-M5 only offers a monitor that can be folded up and down. The Mark II, on the other hand, has a monitor that swivels to the side and rotates 270 degrees, allowing greater freedom of movement – even for Selfies. Although such constructions are usually more voluminous than a pure folding mechanism, Olympus has been able to keep the volume of the camera constant by using a flatter display unit. Like its predecessor, the screen is touch-sensitive, measures three inches (about 7.6 centimeters) in the diagonal and resolves fine 1.04 million pixels. The viewfinder has also changed: It now has a resolution of 2.36 million pixels and is the same large viewfinder as the one used in the OM-D E-M1. It enlarges accordingly small picture 0.74 times. Thanks to the proximity sensor, the viewfinder switches on automatically as soon as you take it to your eye. This switch is automatically deactivated when the screen is folded to the side.

While the OM-D E-M5 could already offer a 5-axis image stabilizer, which compensates for tilting movements to the left/right and up/down as well as shifts to the left/right and up/down and rotational movements, the latter cannot be offered by lens-based stabilizers due to the principle, Olympus has been able to further increase the effectiveness of this stabilizer. According to the CIPA standard, the stabilizer allows five EV levels longer exposure times without blurring than without the stabilizer. According to internal information from Olympus, the stabilizer should even scratch at the mark of 6 EV. Either way, it is currently the most effective image stabilizer on the market. The CMOS image sensor still resolves 16 megapixels, but no longer has a resolution-reducing low-pass filter. It offers a quarter of the area of a 35mm sensor, the focal length of the lenses doubles in relation to 35mm. The sensor is now supported by the TruePic VII image processing processor, which is already used in the E-M1 and E-M10. In the E-M5 Mark II, however, this is equipped with an additional component for video processing, more on this later. The E-M5 Mark II features the Fast AF with 81 focus measuring fields, which continues to be one of the fastest autofocus systems on the market. However, the Mark II still has no phase recognition and therefore, in combination with adapted Four-Thirds lenses, does not have the fast autofocus of the E-M1. The Mark II shoots up to ten continuous shots per second, while bracketing allows up to seven shots with different exposures, and there is also an HDR mode with its own button.

Olympus OMD EM5 Mark II Review

The Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark II’s rear 3-inch touchscreen with a resolution of 1.04 million pixels can now be swivelled and rotated. [Photo: Olympus]

Olympus OMD EM5 Mark II Review

Newly designed wheels on the Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark II are intended to ensure more ergonomic operation. [Photo: Olympus]

Olympus OMD EM5 Mark II Review

The Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark II has no built-in flash, but the guide number 9.5 strong FL-LM3 is included, which even has a rotating and swivelling reflector. [Photo: C. Andersson]

The new image stabilizer enables a special function: A 40 megapixel function can be activated from the tripod, in which eight images are combined to a high-resolution image in the camera, each with a minimally shifted sensor. The aperture can only be closed up to F8, the subject must be static in principle, i.e. must not move, even if the shot is taken within a blink of an eye. Olympus also wants to offer a raw recording option with this mode, but currently only Adobe Photoshop is capable of developing the 64 megapixel data volume with a special plug-in, and the Olympus software is to be retrofitted by autumn. Whether other raw data development programs will support this mode will have to be seen in the coming months. According to Olympus, the improved image stabilizer is required for this function, which means that the OM-D E-M1 cannot be retrofitted with firmware.

Also new is the closure of the OM-D E-M5 Mark II. This allows up to 1/8,000 second short shutter speeds, the infamous shutter-shock (shocks caused by the focal-plane shutter, which can lead to a slight image blur at certain exposure times, so that not only Olympus fights) should no longer occur. In addition, the new closure offers a significantly quieter and very pleasant, warm closure noise. Instead of “Klack-Klack” now a quiet buzzingcan be heard. In addition, the E-M5 Mark II features a silent shutter release using an electronic shutter with up to 1/16,000 short exposure times. The maximum exposure time is 60 seconds each, and the E-M5 Mark II Bulb also offers either B or T mode as well as live bulb, live time and live composite. With Live-Bulb and Live-Time you can see how bright the image is during the exposure, so that you can stop the recording at any time. For live composites, an exposure is repeated until the photographer stops taking the picture. The brightness of the image does not exceed that of the basic exposure time, but new bright light points can be added by the composite images. Ideal, for example, for recording star trails or other light trails without the overall image or background becoming too bright.

The video function still does not resolve 4K, but only Full HD, but the E-M5 Mark II offers many new video functions. These include the selectable frame rates of 24p, 25p, 30p, 50p and 60p for Full HD with three selectable bit rates and All-Intra, up to 77 Mbit/s are possible. Timecode is included, as is an output via the HDMI interface for external recording, which by the way is no longer bound to the 29-minute limit of the camera’s internal video recording. In addition, focus and exposure are now more smoothly tracked so that the videos look more pleasant. The five-axis image stabilizer is also active during video recordings and thus also offers the most effective currently available stabilization, for example the image is very stable even when walking. For video recordings, exposure parameters such as aperture, ISO, exposure time, white balance etc. can be set, and the E-M5 Mark II also has some video effects to offer. Since the E-M5 Mark II no longer has an accessory port for connecting the microphone adapter, it now has a stereo jack connection in addition to the integrated stereo microphone. On the display there is a level indicator, which can be controlled manually, also a wind noise filter is switchable.

 

Olympus OMD EM5 Mark II Review

From the end of February 2015 the Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark II will be available at a price of almost 1,100 Euro. The set with the EZ-M 12-40 mm 2.8 Pro costs around 1,800 euros. [Photo: Olympus]

Olympus OMD EM5 Mark II Review

The Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark II should not only be available in silver-black, but also in black. [Photo: Olympus]

Olympus OMD EM5 Mark II Review

The Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark II can be extended with a better handle and a headphone socket (both in the HLD-8G) as well as a second rechargeable battery including portrait handle/trigger by means of the two-part handle HLD-8 consisting of HLD-8G and HLD-6P. [Photo: Olympus]

For the E-M5 Mark II Olympus again offers a two-piece handle. The first part (HLD-8G) only expands the camera grip, making it more voluminous and slightly higher. This part of the handle is specific for the E-M5 Mark II and offers as a bonus a headphone output to control the video sound, the volume is adjustable in the camera. The lower part of the handle is identical to the lower part of the two-piece handle of the old E-M5 and can therefore be used further (HLD-6P). This handle offers a second battery slot, a power supply connector, a portrait handle and other controls. The two-piece handle can also be purchased as a bundle (HLD-8). New is another handle (ECG-2) that Olympus offers. It also only expands the camera handle and offers Arca-Swiss connections in portrait and landscape format and still allows access to the battery, the handle does not have to be removed; the headphone connection is also available. The portrait format connector for Arca Swiss can also be removed.

The OM-D E-M5 Mark II offers shooting functions in addition to the classic creative programmes P, A, S and M, each of which can be combined with the ISO automatic, as well as motif programmes and an intelligent fully automatic system including face recognition, etc. The well-known Art filters are also on board. In addition, the E-M5 has four individually storable user programs, which can be optionally placed on the program selector wheel and replace one of the other modes. In addition, the gradation or hue and saturation can be individually adjusted via the live function for creative recordings with the two rotating wheels. Even a keystone correction is controllable via the rotating wheels to compensate for falling lines without a shift lens. If you shoot in raw format, you can develop the images directly in the camera. WLAN is also built in so that not only can photos be transmitted wirelessly to tablets or smartphones, but also remote control of the camera using the OI.Share app is possible. The camera can also be remotely controlled from a computer via a USB cable.

The Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark II will be available by the end of February 2015. The price for the case in either black or black-silver, as with the E-M5, is just under 1,100 euros. The set with the splash-proof 12-50mm is about 1.300 Euro, the set with the 12-40 2.8 Pro costs about 1.800 Euro. The handle bundle HLD-8 consisting of HLD-8G and HLD-6P should cost 250 Euro, the HLD-8G alone 150 Euro. The Arca-Swiss-Griff ECG-2 also costs 150 Euro. Olympus also offers the PT-EP13 underwater housing, which is sealed to a depth of 45 metres, and the new EE-1 point sight (slid onto the hot shoe).

Ergonomics and workmanship

The Mark II can hardly hide the similarity to the OM-D E-M5, but some differences can be seen in the details. Perhaps the most conspicuous feature is the modified viewfinder hump, which is now slightly higher and more pointed, but flatter at the rear end – the accessory port is missing (more about this in the “Features” section). Olympus also slightly revised the handle, which is slightly more voluminous, but still very flat. As with the first E-M5, Olympus now even offers two different additional grips for 150 Euro each for fans of voluminous grips, which offer interesting additional functions such as a headphone socket or even an Arca Swiss record. Since the E-M5 Mark II offers a very good back support for the thumb, it can be kept quite passable with normal lenses, which are smaller in the Micro-Four-Thirds system than in SLR models or system cameras with larger image sensors, just like the camera. The housing consists partly of a magnesium alloy and partly of plastic. It makes a very robust impression, not least because it is not only sealed against splash water and dust, but also protected against cold up to -10 degrees Celsius. Adverse environmental conditions are therefore not a problem for Mark II.

Olympus OMD EM5 Mark II Review

The housing of the Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark II, made of magnesium alloy and plastic, is protected against dust and splash water. Even in frost temperatures as low as -10 degrees Celsius, the camera works perfectly. [Photo: Clara Andersson]

Olympus OMD EM5 Mark II Review

The Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark II now features the same 2.36 million pixel electronic viewfinder as the E-M1. It is as large as a 0.74x magnifying 35 mm DSLR viewfinder. [Photo: Clara Andersson]

Olympus OMD EM5 Mark II Review

The Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark II’s 1.04 million pixel three-inch touchscreen can be swivelled and rotated. [Photo: Olympus]

Also new is the rear screen, the most conspicuous of which is the now lateral stop of the movement mechanism. The three-inch (7.6 centimeters) display can now be swivelled and rotated instead of folding as before. This makes it less comfortable to photograph close to the ground or overhead in landscape format, but the degrees of freedom increase enormously, even self-portraits are possible. The screen is a 1.04 million pixel fine-resolution touchscreen, the focus can be set with the touch of a finger and even triggered if desired. Thanks to the very fast autofocus, this happens almost instantaneously (approx. 0.12 seconds).

But friends of the viewfinder will also get their money’s worth: Olympus has missed the formidable E-M5 Mark II viewfinder of the OM-D E-M1, which with 2.36 million pixels has a higher resolution than the old viewfinder and with a magnification factor of 1.48 is visibly larger. The viewfinder size corresponds to a 35mm DSLR with 0.74x viewfinder magnification and 100 percent field coverage; only that the E-M5 Mark II viewfinder displays significantly more information, such as all camera settings, live histogram, grid lines, exposure preview, two-dimensional spirit level, white balance preview, etc. The E-M5 Mark II is equipped with a 35mm DSLR with a 0.74x viewfinder magnification and 100 percent field coverage. Both the viewfinder and the monitor image can also be adjusted in color, brightness and contrast to suit the photographer’s personal preferences.

But back to the camera body: This is generously “leathered” with grained rubber, even the bayonet release for changing the lenses is equipped with this application. The memory card is removed on the right side of the handle, the lithium-ion battery on the bottom. The metal tripod thread has conveniently moved into the optical axis, and the distance to the battery compartment is sufficient, at least with small tripod plates, to be able to change the battery even when the plate is mounted. The interfaces are located on the left behind a somewhat dull rubber flap that is intended to keep moisture out. In addition to a microphone socket, there is also a micro HDMI output and the USB interface, which also accommodates an optional remote release cable. The E-M5 Mark II even has a studio flash connection at the front.

Ergonomically, the Mark II has also made some progress: The program selector wheel can now be locked, the knob locks in the locking and release positions so that it does not have to be pressed when the wheel is turned. The switch-on lever is now located below the program selector. The two adjustment wheels for thumb and forefinger are now also a little more accessible and, like the program selector wheel, of a higher quality and redesigned. The Fn1 button, on the other hand, which is normally assigned to the AE-L/AF-L function, is somewhat difficult to reach, and the above display is somewhat in the way. This is also where the lever, which is also not optimally accessible, is located, with which the occupancy of the two rotating wheels is switched. Instead of exposure parameters (aperture/exposure time/exposure compensation depending on the mode), white balance and ISO sensitivity are adjusted. This is very smart, especially since the rotary knob functions in the extensive, but also somewhat confusing menu can be adapted to your own needs.

Speaking of customizing: The Mark II has a few more freely assignable buttons to offer and even stores entire setting sets quickly retrievable. If you wish, you can even place the settings on individual positions of the program selector wheel and overwrite the motif programs or other functions of the program selector if they are not required or desired. There are almost no limits to individualization, even the exposure can be adjusted, for example. Thanks to the many control elements and the good quick menu, you rarely have to go to the still confusing main menu.

Equipment

Although the OM-D E-M5 Mark II with its creative programs and many adjustment options is aimed at ambitious photographers, it also offers beginners easy-to-use programs. In iAuto mode, it takes over all settings including scene recognition itself, but also offers manually selectable scene programs. The only thing the Mark II doesn’t have to offer is a modern panorama mode. With the art filters you can play wonderfully creatively and give the photos a very own look. These can even be combined with manual recording settings, even if this option is somewhat difficult to find.

But the camera can only really show off in the hands of a photographer who knows how to use the many functions or at least those that are important to him individually. Thus, for example, an ISO automatic can be activated with manual exposure, the working range of which can also be adjusted (only one exposure correction in M is still missing). In bracketing, the Mark II allows up to seven shots in bracketing, in HDR mode with a particularly wide spread of 3 EV for five shots or 2 EV distance for 7 shots, which adds up to 15 EV between the brightest and darkest shots. If you want, you can also have four HDR shots automatically composed by the camera. Also very innovative are the functions Live-Bulb and Live-Time. In contrast to other cameras, the screen does not remain dark during bulb shooting, but displays the current exposure status updated at intervals, allowing the photographer to specifically stop shooting.

Olympus OMD EM5 Mark II Review

Olympus has redesigned the knobs for the OM-D E-M5 Mark II. They are more ergonomic, the program selector can now also be locked. [Photo: C. Andersson]

Olympus OMD EM5 Mark II Review

The 16 megapixel CMOS image sensor of the Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark II has a movable bearing and allows up to five f-stops longer exposure times thanks to five-axis stabilization.

Olympus OMD EM5 Mark II Review

The tripod thread on the Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark II now sits in the optical axis and at a good distance from the battery compartment.

Olympus OMD EM5 Mark II Review

The interfaces (microphone input, Micro-HDMI and USB remote trigger input) are located behind a rubber flap on the Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark II.

Even more savvy works Live-Composite: You set a basic exposure time that the camera repeats constantly and puts the images together directly. Only the bright parts of the image are added, so that, for example, traces of light appear in front of a background without overexposing it as would be the case with a bulb image. With a little creativity you can achieve great effects. Which camera can record star tracks in front of an illuminated landscape without overexposing it?

The five-axis image stabilizer, which Olympus has further improved, deserves special mention. The movable, 16 megapixel resolution sensor (in contrast to the predecessor model without resolution-reducing low-pass filter) can move freely in the housing and is held in position by electromagnets. The sensor can not only be moved, but also rotated slightly – objective-based systems cannot compensate for this fifth axis due to their principle. An advantage is that the stabilizer works with every lens attached. The E-M5’s gyro sensor provides particularly fine resolution, so that the image stabilizer can compensate for up to five EV levels according to the CIPA standard. This also works surprisingly well in practice and allows handheld photography where a tripod is normally required. A special delicacy is a special function of the stabilizer: If you place the camera on a tripod and shoot a static subject, you can activate a mode in which the E-M5 Mark II takes eight shots in rapid succession, each with a sensor offset by half a pixel. These are combined to a 40 megapixel JPEG and optionally to a 64 megapixel raw. Due to the large amount of data (over 100 megabytes per image), the raw can currently only be developed with a plug-in from Adobe Photoshop.

Also new and worth mentioning is the closure. Despite short exposure times of up to 1/8,000 second, it works extremely smoothly and quietly. Although the OM-Ds don’t have a mirror-beat anyway and are therefore already quiet, the Mark II adds an extra touch. It is only a quiet, melodious “sieve-sieve” to be heard during the recording and no more clacking of the shutter. Also the shutter-shock, caused by the shutter slight shocks and image blurring at certain exposure times, should be a thing of the past with the new shutter. In addition to the mechanical shutter, the E-M5 Mark II also offers a completely silent electronic shutter, which even allows 1/16,000 short exposure times. Only the image stabilizer then reveals with its quiet noise that a photo is being taken. However, in the case of pans or fast-moving scene modes, the rolling shutter effect requires caution and, if necessary, better use of the mechanical shutter. By the way, Olympus takes series pictures at over ten frames per second. Even if the buffer is full after 18 JPEG Superfine or 13 Raw shots, it still runs at a reasonable 3.4 frames per second with JPEG, and at 2.9 frames per second with Raw it is hardly slower.

The OM-D E-M5 Mark II has also been upgraded in the video area, which has been rather neglected by Olympus so far. Although it only offers Full HD resolution and no 4K, it does offer significantly better quality. Up to 77 Mbit/s are possible at frame rates of 24, 25, 30, 50 or 60 frames per second; All-Intra can also be selected as the storage format instead of MP4. The timecode is also recorded, and if you wish, you can connect an HDMI recording device to circumvent the limit of 29 minutes per recording. Olympus also worked on the autofocus, which is now much smoother, the exposure is also adjusted smoothly and not so abruptly, which leads to more attractive videos overall. Above all, the five-axis image stabilizer, which offers a much quieter video image than its competitors, scores well again. Freehand shots give the impression of having been taken with a rig, the picture is so calm. The sound can be transmitted to the video either via the integrated stereo microphone or via an externally connected microphone. You can level it out and even control it via headphones, if you have one of the handles with headphone output mounted on the camera. Focus peaking is also displayed during video recordings, only one zebra function has been forgotten by Olympus – perhaps it will be retrofitted. It can be taken for granted that parameters such as aperture, exposure time, ISO and white balance can be adjusted in the video. The E-M5 Mark II also has a few effect filters to offer.

Also worth mentioning is the included flash. Like its predecessor, the E-M5 Mark II does not have a built-in flash, but the accessory port, which was previously used to connect the batteryless flash supplied, has also been omitted. For this purpose, the Mark II has an additional contact in the flash shoe that supplies the attached FL-LM3 with power. This small attachable flash has it all: Despite the separate guide number of 9.5 (corresponds to guide number 13 for the basic ISO sensitivity of the E-M5), it can be swivelled to either side and upwards, making indirect flashes possible without any problems as long as the distances to be covered are not too great. In addition, external system flash units can be controlled wirelessly with the clip-on flash. Functions such as long-term synchronisation, flash exposure correction or flash on the second shutter curtain are a matter of course with Olympus.

Olympus OMD EM5 Mark II Review

The handle of the Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark II is still quite flat, but in view of the compact and lightweight lenses it offers plenty of grip.

Olympus OMD EM5 Mark II Review

The Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark II even has a studio flash connector on the front.

Olympus OMD EM5 Mark II Review

Battery and memory card are removed separately from the Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark II.

The integrated WLAN should also be mentioned, via which the camera can be remote controlled via app. Tethered Shooting is also possible with the E-M5 Mark II as with the OM-D E-M1 via USB with the corresponding control software. This allows focus stacking, for example, as a special feature.

Picture quality

On the OM-D E-M5 Mark II the tested set lens 12-40 mm 2.8 ED once again proves its excellent quality. The sharpness of the 30 x 20 centimetre prints is formidable in any case with all tested apertures and focal lengths from the centre to the edge of the image. The edge darkening plays practically no role with its gentle rise and a maximum of half a f-stop in the outermost corners of the image. Distortion can only be measured in wide angle, but with 0.5 percent ton form it can confidently be neglected. Even color fringes in the form of chromatic aberrations are hardly worth mentioning with less than one pixel. It should be noted here that the Mark II calculates edge darkening, color fringes and distortion from the images, this job it obviously does well. The crisp pictures also show some sharpness artifacts, the highest we have seen with a Micro-Four-Thirds camera so far. The images are crisply sharp and can be printed directly. We can only recommend the raw format for intensive post-processing anyway, so Olympus is following a quite comprehensible path with the powerful sharpening in JPEG.

The resolution of the 12-40 mm is excellent. At short and medium focal lengths, it easily achieves over 50 line pairs per millimeter (lp/mm), a very high value for 16 megapixels. The maximum is even 58 lp/mm. In telephoto, the resolution is just under 50 lp/mm, but it is still very high. As expected, the loss of resolution to the edge of the picture is greatest in the wide-angle angle, at just over 30 percent. The resolution is around 40 lp/mm but still in a good range. At medium focal length the edge loss is lower and is lowest in telescope position. In absolute terms, the 12-40 mm with an average focal length of 25 millimetres has its best resolution both in the centre and at the edge of the picture. Even with an open aperture the resolution is very high and can even slightly increase to up to F5.6 when dipping down. Above that already the diffraction limits the resolution. With F11 the diffraction still remains within the range, only with F16 there are clearer resolution losses. The 12-40 mm is so good that in this focal length range you can save the fixed focal lengths if you don’t need their light intensity and compactness and lightness.

But Olympus also tickles out top performances from the image sensor. For example, the signal-to-noise ratio at ISO 100 reaches a very high 45 dB, up to ISO 400 it remains above 40 dB and thus in the good range. Up to ISO 3.200, the signal-to-noise ratio remains acceptable at over 35 dB, only above this does the picture signal no longer set itself off clearly enough from the noise signal. Olympus has color noise very well under control, brightness noise becomes visible from ISO 6,400 and increases further at ISO 12,800 and 25,600. Despite the noise suppression, the Mark II is capable of capturing the finest details up to ISO 6,400, but drops rapidly above that. However, it performs best up to ISO 800, where the strong sharpness artifacts in the measurement become clear again.

Since the Olympus attenuates the signal at ISO 100, i.e. ISO 200 is its basic sensitivity, the input dynamic here is “only” slightly above ten f-stops, a good value. From ISO 200 to 3,200, very good over eleven f-stops are achieved, even at ISO 6,400 it is only slightly lower. High contrasts in the motif can capture the Mark II as excellent. The output tonal range, on the other hand, is very good up to ISO 400 and good up to ISO 1,600. At ISO 3.200, less than 160 of the 256 possible brightness levels are already distinguished, but the Olympus remains within an acceptable range up to the highest ISO sensitivity. As already stated with the sharpness artifacts Olympus attaches importance to crisp JPEGs, this continues with the tone value transmission. The tonal value curve is strongly divided and provides crisp images with high contrasts at medium brightness levels, but gently tapering depths and highlights. Colours, on the other hand, are reproduced in a surprisingly neutral way, with larger shifts only in the yellow, orange and red ranges. Yellow and yellow-green are somewhat muted, red and orange somewhat yellow-blossomed. However, the colours are quite acceptable and underline the picture character rather than distorting the picture too much. Also the white balance works well, whereby one can choose for warm colours whether they should be as neutral as possible or a little more warm in order to capture the image mood better.

Olympus OMD EM5 Mark II Review

Especially clever: The small flash of the Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark II that comes with the camera has a rotating and swivelling reflector. [Photo: Olympus]

Olympus OMD EM5 Mark II Review

The Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark II can be extended with a two-piece handle. [Photo: Olympus]

All in all, the E-M5 Mark II sets a new record for Micro Four Thirds in terms of resolution, but in return also shows the strongest sharpness artifacts. The noise is low up to ISO 3,200, the dynamic range is outstandingly high with eleven f-stops and the detail reproduction can also be convincing up to high ISO 1,600 and even beyond. The 40-megapixel mode, on the other hand, was not convincing in the lab for the resolution measurement, but it was convincing in the images of our test image. Here, the E-M5 Mark II can actually pull to a level with the Nikon D810 in terms of resolution of the finest fonts and details.

Bottom line

With the OM-D E-M5 Mark II, Olympus has achieved another great success in the Micro-Four-Thirds-System, which should find numerous fans especially in this country among the “seeker fans”. The E-M5 boasts new functions, some of which even outperform its larger sister model, the E-M1. It’s not easy to decide which camera to take – or it’s best to take both. The image stabilizer is really impressive effective and the shutter is pleasantly quiet. The image quality sets a new record in the Micro-Four-Thirds system and does not need to hide behind system cameras with larger sensors, especially thanks to the good lenses. Video fans will also get their money’s worth much better now, even though some details are still missing, such as a Zebra function – but Olympus also shows that such popular functions can be retrofitted with firmware updates.

Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark II Limited Edition in titanium paint: 7,000 pieces worldwide as case or kit

Olympus likes to recall early camera models in the company’s history. The titanium-colored Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark II is a tribute to the titanium-finished OM-3Ti SLR camera introduced in 1994. In addition to an exclusive leather carrying strap, the scope of delivery of the special edition limited to 7,000 pieces worldwide includes an elegant premium leather case, a certificate with the edition number and a quote from OM designer Yoshihisa Maitani. It will be available from June 2015 for just under 1,200 Euro (housing only) or as a kit with the all-in-one zoom M.Zuiko Digital ED 14-150 mm 1:4.0-5.6 II for just under 1,600 Euro.

Olympus OMD EM5 Mark II Review

The Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark II Limited Edition (titanium painted) is available as a body or, as shown here, with the Olympus EZ-M1415 II lens (in normal black) [Photo: Olympus].

Fact sheet

Fact sheet
Manufacturer Olympus
Model OM-D E-M5 Mark II
Sensor CMOS 4/3″ 17.3 x 13.0 mm (crop factor 2.0
)17.2 megapixels (physical)
16.1 megapixels (effective)
Pixel pitch 3.7 µm
Resolution (max.) 4.608 x 3.456 (4:3)
Video (max.) 1.920 x 1.080 60p
Lens Olympus 12-40 mm 2.8 ED (EZ-M1240) (zoom lens)
Video viewfinder EVF, 100 % field coverage, 2,360,000 pixels resolution, 1.48x magnification (sensor-related), 0.74x magnification (KB equivalent), diopter compensation (-4.0 to 2.0 dpt), -4.0 to 2.0 dpt)
Monitor 3.0″ (7.6 cm)
Disbandment 1.037.000 pixels
tiltable
rotatable yes
swivelling yes
Touchscreen yes
AV connector HDMI Output Micro (Type D)
Fully automatic yes
Automatic motif control yes
Scene modes 20
Program automation yes
Program shift yes
Aperture priority yes
Aperture priority yes
Manual yes
Bulb long time exposure yes
HDR function yes
Panorama function yes, stitch panorama wizard (for external stitching)
Exposure metering Matrix/multi-field measurement (324 fields), center-weighted integral measurement, spot measurement
fastest shutter speed 1/16.000 s
Flash included attachable flash
Synchronous time 1/250 s
Flash connection Flash shoe: Olympus/Panasonic (also Leica compact camera), standard center contact
WLAN yes
NFC
GPS external, smartphone as GPS logger
Remote release yes, cable release, remote control via Smartphone/Tablet
Interval shooting yes
Storage medium
SD (SDHC, SDXC, UHS I)
Sensitivity
automatic ISO 100-25.600
manually ISO 100-25.600
White balance
automatic yes
manual measurement yes
Kelvin input yes
Fine correction yes
Autofocus yes
Number of measuring fields 81 Contrast sensors
Speed 0.12 s to 0.13 s
AF auxiliary light LED
Dimensions (mm) 124 x 85 x 38 mm
Weight (ready for operation) 496 g (housing only
)840 g (with lens)
Tripod socket in optical axis
Zoom
Zoom adjustment manual on lens
Battery life 330 images (according to CIPA standard)
– = “not applicable” or “not available”

This test of the Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark II with Olympus 12-40 mm 2.8 ED (EZ-M1240) was performed with DXOMARK Analyzer.

Short evaluation

Pros

  • Excellent image stabilizer
  • Arrow fast autofocus
  • Very good image quality
  • Quiet, gentle closure, optionally completely silent
  • High-quality workmanship with protection against weather influences

Cons

  • Video without 4K and Zebra
  • Fn1 key somewhat difficult to reach
  • No modern swivel panorama function

Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark II Datasheet

Electronics

Sensor CMOS sensor 4/3″ 17.3 x 13.0 mm (crop factor 2.0
)17.2 megapixels (physical) and 16.1 megapixels (effective)
Pixel pitch 3.7 µm
Photo resolution
5.184 x 2.920 pixels (16:9)
4.608 x 3.456 pixels (4:3)
4.608 x 3.072 Pixel (3:2)
4.608 x 2.592 pixels (16:9)
3.456 x 3.456 pixels (1:1)
3.216 x 2.144 pixels (3:2)
3.200 x 2.400 pixels (4:3)
2.400 x 2.400 pixels (1:1)
1.296 x 864 pixels (3:2)
1.280 x 960 pixels (4:3)
1.280 x 720 pixels (16:9)
960 x 960 pixels (1:1)
Panorama Stitch Panorama Wizard (for external stitching)
Picture formats JPG, MPO, RAW
Colour depth 24 bits (8 bits per color channel), 36 bits (12 bits per color channel)
Metadata Exif (version 2.2), DCF standard
Video resolution
1.920 x 1.080 (16:9) 60 p
1.920 x 1.080 (16:9) 50 p
1.920 x 1.080 (16:9) 30 p
1.920 x 1.080 (16:9) 25 p
1.920 x 1.080 (16:9) 24 p
1.280 x 720 (16:9) 60 p
1.280 x 720 (16:9) 50 p
1.280 x 720 (16:9) 30 p
1.280 x 720 (16:9) 25 p
1.280 x 720 (16:9) 24 p
Maximum recording time 29 min
Video format
MOV (Codec H.264)
AVI (Codec Motion JPEG)
Audio format (video) PCM

Lens

Lens mount
Micro Four Thirds

Focusing

Autofocus mode Contrast autofocus with 81 measuring fields
Autofocus Functions Single Auto Focus, Continuous Auto Focus, Tracking Auto Focus, Manual, AFL Function, AF Assist Light (LED), Focus Peaking, Focus Magnifier (14x)
Focus control Depth of field control, dimming button

Viewfinder and Monitor

Monitor 3.0″ (7.6 cm) TFT LCD monitor with 1,037,000 pixels, anti-reflective, brightness adjustable, color adjustable, rotatable 180°, rotatable 270°, with touch screen
Video viewfinder Video viewfinder (100 % field coverage) with 2,360,000 pixels, 1.48x magnification factor, diopter compensation (-4.0 to 2.0 dpt)

Exposure

Exposure metering Center-weighted integral measurement, matrix/multi-field measurement over 324 fields, spot measurement, AF-AE coupling
Exposure times 1/8,000 to 60 sec (Auto
)1/16,000 to 60 sec (Manual)
Bulb with maximum 1,800 sec Exposure Time
Exposure control Fully Automatic, Program Automatic (with Program Shift), Aperture Priority, Aperture Priority, Manual
Bracketing function Exposure bracketing function with maximum 7 shots, step size from 1/3 to 1 EV, HDR function
Exposure compensation -5.0 to +5.0 EV with step size from 1/3 to 1/1 EV
Sensitivity to light ISO 100 to ISO 25.600 (automatic
)ISO 100 to ISO 25.600 (manual)
Remote access Remote release, cable release, remote control via Smartphone/Tablet
, remote control from computer: all functions
Shooting modes Documents, Fireworks, Candlelight, Children, Landscape, Macro, Night Scene, Night Portrait, Portrait, Sunset, Sports/Action, Beach/Snow, 8 more scene modes
Picture effects Cross development, high key, pinhole camera, low key, miniature effect, monochrome, selective color, sepia, softer, 5 more image effects
White balance Auto, Cloudy, Sun, White balance bracket, Fine-tune, Shadow, Flash, Underwater, Fluorescent lamp, Incandescent light, from 2,000 to 14,000 K, Manual 4 memory locations
Color space Adobe RGB, sRGB
Continuous shooting Continuous shooting function max. 10.0 fps at highest resolution and max. 16 stored photos
Self-timer Self-timer with interval of 2 s, features: or 12 seconds
Timer Timer/interval recording with max. 999 recordings, start time adjustable
Shooting functions Mirror lock-up, AEL function, AFL function, live histogram

Flashgun

Flash no built-in flash availableFlash shoe
: Olympus/Panasonic (also Leica compact camera), standard center contactFlash connection socket
: F-plugFlash unit
FL-LM3 included in delivery (LZ 9.5), swivelling and rotating
Flash range Flash sync time 1/250 s
Flash number Guide number 9 at 50 mm focal length (ISO 100)
(flash supplied)
Flash functions Auto, Fill-in flash, Flash on, Flash off, High speed sync, Slow sync, Flash on second shutter curtain, Manual flash output (19 levels), Red-eye reduction, Master function (4 channels and 4 groups), Flash exposure compensation from -3.0 EV to +3.0 EV

Equipment

Image stabilizer electronic image stabilizer and sensor shift (optical)
Memory
SD (SDHC, SDXC, UHS I)
GPS function GPS external (Smartphone as GPS-Logger)
Microphone Stereo
Power supply no power supply connection
Power supply 1 x Olympus BLN-1 (lithium ions (Li-Ion), 7.2 V, 1,220 mAh
)330 images according to CIPA standard
Playback Functions Red eye retouching, video editing, image cropping, image rotation, image protection, highlight / shadow warning, playback histogram, playback magnifier with 14.0x magnification, image index, slide show function, zoom out
Voice memo Voice memo (PCM format) with max. 30 s recording time
Face recognition Face recognition
Picture parameters Sharpness, Contrast, Saturation, Noise Reduction
Special functions Electronic spirit level, grid display, pixel mapping, orientation sensor, live view, user profiles with 4 user profiles
Ports Data interfaces: USBUSB type
:USB 2.0 High SpeedWLAN
: available
AV connectors AV output: HDMI output Micro (Type D)
Supported direct printing methods DPOF, PIM
Tripod socket 1/4″ in optical axis
Case Splash-proof, frost-proof up to -10 °C
Features and Miscellaneous TruPic VII image processor, focus-peaking colors selectable, image stabilizer with five axes (up to 5 EV), Hi-Res-Shot with 40 megapixels, AF in 9 groups, multiple exposures (2 on capture, 3 on playback), ISO bracketing, HDR bracketing, Face recognition with page priority, silent mode, electronic shutter with 1/16000 s, black and white filter, movie effects (old movie, dramatic sound, sepia, grainy and 5 more), video stream output via HDMI (without sound, YCbCr 4:2:2), wind filter, audio level control

Size and weight

Dimensions W x H x D 124 x 85 x 38 mm
Weight 496 g (ready for operation)

Other

included accessories Olympus BC-2 (Case Cover
)Olympus BCN-1 Charger for Special BatteriesOlympus
BLN-1 Special BatteryOlympus
CB-AVC3 Audio / Video CableOlympus
CB-USB6 USB CableOlympus
FL-LM3 Other Flash DevicesCD-ROM
, Instruction Manual
optional accessory Olympus FC-WR (Radio Control Unit) Flash AccessoriesOlympus
FL-700WR Slip-on Flash with Swivel ReflectorOlympus
HLD-8 Product BundleOlympus
HLD-8G (Handle)
Panasonic Leica DG Vario-Summilux 10-25 mm 1.7 (H-X1025) Zoom Lens

Numerous firmware updates: Function enhancements and bug fixes

For the E-M5 Mark II, the new features of firmware 4.0 are also limited, because in addition to the above mentioned (new art filter and AF compatibility), there is only one new lens compatible with focus stacking: the Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 12-100mm F4.0 IS Pro, with which a total of eight lenses are now compatible with focus stacking.

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