Impressions of the Olympus OM-D EM-5 II

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The Olympus OM-D EM-5 II launched as the successor to the EM-5, a camera that boosted micro-four thirds as a serious contender to DSLRs (and stoked my interest in MFT). The EM-5 was quickly overtaken by the flagship E-M1, which was faster and more robust.

The II edition took some of the original EM-5, added a dash of the EM-1 and introduced some features not seen so far in any Olympus, most notably a high-resolution mode that delivers 40-megapixel images of static subjects and video that doesn’t suck compared to the competition.

I used a rented EM-5 II for about a week, while I was spending most of my shooting time going after bald eagles at the Hudson river with my Canon DSLR and some rented lenses, about which more in another article.

To be honest, I don’t have much to say about the new Olympus. That’s actually a good thing, because I always thought the EM-5 ‘classic’ was already pretty good. The II is better, overall.

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My only major problem with it is the same one I had with the original model, which is that it’s too small to comfortably hold. When I still had the EM-5, I quickly bought the additional grip for better handholding and I dumped that camera the moment the larger EM-1 was announced. Despite the improved grip on the II, I still think it’s too small. I assume the grip would solve that problem, as it did for the ‘classic.’

I do like the adoption of the buttons, levels and dials of the EM-1. I don’t really care about the flip-out LCD, but it doesn’t hurt either. It’s handy for selfies, which I took abundantly in the early to late nineties, before the term ‘selfie’ was born, but which I stopped taking as I matured. An idea before its time, apparently.

Image quality is basically unchanged for stills, so I have nothing to add there. I do hope that Olympus will find a way to boost resolution of its sensors to 24 mp and improve noise capabilities, as these are the key drawbacks that make me not totally embrace MFT for all my photography. I hope that will come in the EM-2 or EM-1 II.

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I’m not going to comment on the video quality, as I don’t shoot video often enough to judge it.

Now, the high resolution mode intrigued me. I tried it with various subjects and it’s awesome. If the subject and the camera are truly static and you use the shutter delay to make sure the camera does indeed become motionless, the results are great. Looking at the files at 100% blew my mind, like it did with Sony A7R or Nikon D800e images.

If you do shoot still life, food or architecture, this is a great feature to have. Unfortunately, I don’t shoot any of that on a regular basis, so I’m just hoping that Olympus will succeed in speeding up the sensor-shift so it can be used for non-static subjects.

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All in all, I can recommend the EM-5 II. It’s a neat camera, delivering both a pleasant shooting experience and clean files. Like with all 16mp MFT cameras, the image quality is a bit lacking compared to the APS-C or full-frame sensors, especially noise-wise, but in reality for most uses, the quality is enough and the small high-quality Olympus lenses produce stunning files without overburdening the user with bulky or heavy gear.

 

Adobe Lightroom does not yet support the EM-5 II files, so images were imported into Olympus Viewer and then converted to JPGs. Further adjustments were made in LR.

The EM-5 II is available at B&H (affiliate links):

 

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Olympus OM-D E-M5 II – A Roundup of Previews & First Impressions

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On Thursday, Olympus announced its long-rumored successor to the OM-D E-M5 micro-four thirds mirrorless camera, the Mark II version. The new camera offers several small improvements and even better in-body image stabilization than its predecessor. The body is redesigned and adopted several pro features from the flagship E-M1 model. Headline news was the addition of a sensor-shift function that allows the 16-megapixel sensor to produce 40-megapixel images of static objects.

Several sites had access to early models and published their initial reviews, previews or first impressions of this camera. What follows is a roundup of those impressions.

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Wandering – The Bronx Zoo with the Olympus ED 75-300mm f/4.8-6.7 II Lens

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Will we ever know who’s watching whom in a zoo? Ever since I saw the movie ‘Zoo‘ by Dutch film maker Bert Haanstra many years ago, I cannot escape the feeling that we’re just as entertaining for those animals as they are for us.

In the 1961 movie, Haanstra put hidden cameras in the animal cages of Amsterdam’s Artis zoo and filmed the interaction between animals and humans with the human visitors pulling faces and generally being silly on the other side of the bars. If there was ever any doubt that we stem from monkeys, the movie does away with it.

It is with this in mind that I visited the Bronx Zoo with my kids a while back. Since 1961, zoos have put more space between people and animals and I’m not even sure to what extent the animals behind the modern glass walls can observe us. Doesn’t matter. I still feel that gorilla is watching me as much as I am watching it.

But I got a camera and a long telelens. Ah!

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Rubbing it in at PhotoPlus Expo

While Nikon and Canon as always steal the show at this year’s PPE, with their enormous booths and prominent speakers, the ‘little’ guys poked some fun at the big boys.

Samsung’s reps wore t-shirts promoting the new NX1 with ‘Ditch the DSLR’ emblazoned on the back:

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And Olympus went through the trouble of buying a Canon DSLR and some L zooms so it could show us how much smaller and lighter its solution is:

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Olympus USA Not Offering 40-150mm Lens-Converter Bundle

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Olympus USA is not planning to sell the newly-announced M-Zuiko ED 40-150mm f/2.8 PRO lens and the MC-14 1.4x teleconverter in one kit, the company told Photographic Wanderings.

A company representative said that “at this time this bundle is not being offered in this region.”

Customers had hoped Olympus would offer the lens and converter as one discounted kit. While Olympus USA will not offer the bundle, this does not rule out it will be available in other countries.

The lens is available for pre-order at $1,499 and the converter for $349. They are supposed to reach customers in November (affiliate links to B&H):

M.ZUIKO DIGITAL ED 40-150mm f/2.8 PRO Lens

MC-14 1.4x Teleconverter for 40-150mm f/2.8 PRO Lens