I was recently the proud recipient of a brand spanking new silver Olympus OMD EM5 Mk II.
Got the green light to get it as a birthday present to upgrade my original EM5 to the new Mk II
As always, I shoot to the real world usage and to what I prefer and not to charts, or spec tests. None of that means anything to me if the overall experience of the camera doesn't work for what I want.
Olympus 25/1.8 1/60, f/1.8, ISO 400
First thing I noticed - build quality. As with the other OMD bodies, it is top notch. Feels very solid and has a good weight to it without feeling heavy. The grip on the right hand side is a bit more prominent than the previous EM5. The texture of the outer casing feels more grippy as well.
Olympus 12-40/2.8 PRO 1/80, f/5, ISO 800 @ 40mm
The extra buttons and placement of said buttons on the body are pleasing for me as well. The jury is still out on the fully articulating screen - some people like them some don't. I'm kind of liking the ability to spin it completely around and protect it - it just takes time to get used to in comparison to the tilt only of the previous OMD cameras.
If you just need to tilt it, it can get a bit fiddly, but having the ability to articulate the screen is better than not having any articulation at all.
Overall, I find the handling changes an improvement.
Olympus 40-150/4-5.6R 1/200, f/5.2, ISO 800 @ 111mm
The front and rear dials are thicker, which makes turning them easier. The shutter release feels more solid to me than the original EM5. It is remeniscent of my old film Yashica Electro rangefinder camera.
Olympus 12-40/2.8 PRO 1/200, f/5.6, ISO 200 @ 40mm
The sensor has not really changed from the other iterations of the OMD, so if you liked what you saw from the previous OMD cameras, you'll be getting that again. IBIS works great and is very smooth in operation.
Olympus 75-300/4.8-6.7 II 1/2000, f/5.7, ISO 250 @156mm
I've modified my JPG engine settings with a -1 sharpness and noise reduction on low. I found even the basic sharpness settings can be too aggressive for me, which could cause higher base ISO noise and artifacts. Adding a little extra sharpening and noise reduction in post works wonders on the files.
Olympus has kept the same contrast detect only AF for the Mk II, which works fast and sure in most situations shooting with S-AF. Still not the best option for C-AF, but I have not had a lot of use shooting continuous, except the surfer shots below. There are many more keepers than what I was getting with the Mk I. If you want good C-AF performance and stay within the m43 family, you'll want to look at the EM1/GH4 with phase detect AF or a DSLR.
With that being said, action is possible even with use of S-AF mode and a little planning, as seen below.
Olympus 75-300/4.8-6.7 II 1/2000, f/7.1, ISO 500 @ 300mm
Hi Res Mode
You will need to use this mode on a tripod and with a scene that has no movement in it to prevent artifacts from showing themselves in the final stacked image. You get the options to pull a 64MP RAW or 40MP jpg file. This provides you with enhanced resolution and truer color rendering. There are plenty of other places that have done extensive head to head images of a standard 16MP capture versus the hi res mode equivalent. There are even reviews that stacked the D800 series against the EM5 Mk II, showing some benefits of the EM5 Mk II method over the larger MP/sensor of the Nikon.
As with anything, there are specific use cases for this kind of feature, and used accordingly can be beneficial.
Olympus 75-300/4.8-6.7 II 1/2000, f/5.6, ISO 200 @ 124mm
I can see this being of use to product and still life photographers as well as urban exploration or cityscape captures.
Olympus 12-40/2.8 PRO Hi-Res Mode 1/400, f/5.6, ISO 200 @ 40mm
Not being a heavy video user, I am actually just now exploring it's use in my business use. There are better options out there for video, however, right now, the options are adequate for me to use as a learning tool.
Other Misc. Items Of Note
The EM5 Mk I had a top shutter speed of 1/4000. Mark II gives you 1/8000 mechanical shutter and electronic (silent) shutter mode up to 1/16000 shutter speed. You not only gain an increase in top shutter speed, but you also get the benefits of silent operation. Limitations of electronic shutter can be rolling shutter effects present themselves in fast moving subjects as well as issues with fluorescent lights or monitor refresh rates. You also lose the ability to use flash with the electronic shutter.
Shutter shock mode, electronic shutter and hi res mode are available as options in the drive mode, so no menu diving to activate it. Even continuous silent modes are available.
Olympus 75-300/4.8-6.7 1/1000, f/7.1, ISO 800 @ 300mm
The mechanical shutter is noticeably more quiet than the EM1/EM5. Those shutters were by no means loud, but the Mark II is a definite improvement. Put in context, not loud is in comparison to the cameras like Nikon D300/D700, which sound like pistol fire in comparison(exaggeration for proving a point).
The EVF is the same as what you'll find on the EM1, so definitely some visual goodness. Also present is the built in Wifi that can be used with the OI Share app.
Again, like in the EM1/EM5, you get the weather sealing and touch screen operations.
The new, detachable flash unit is another surprise upgrade. Differing from the flashes that came with the original EM5 and EM1, this flash has a fully articulating head, allowing it to be more easily deployed as a bounce flash. It has a low guide number of 9, but if you need/want that little pop for fill, this gives you more creative options and not just the pop of a in line with the lens built in flash.
Olympus 75-300/4.8-6.7 II 1/2000, f/5.7, ISO 250 @ 156mm
Is it worth the upgrade?
The Mark II brings a bunch of upgrades to the table, and I'm still experimenting with the viability of the hi res mode. I appreciate all the improvements that the new body offers and having as much fun shooting it as I did the original EM5 - maybe more so. It just feels more refined and polished to me.
I'd say if you are pressed for cash or on the fence, get or stick with the original EM5. Otherwise, take the plunge and pick up a Mark II - it is a great functioning camera.
Another thing that this camera reminds me - the feeling I get when I shoot with the Nikon Df. The feel, the look, the responsiveness - especially when shooting with prime lenses just makes me want to keep shooting with it. While the Df still is the supreme stills shooter for me, the EM5 Mk II has solidified itself to the #2 spot.
Olympus 75-300/4.8-6.7 II 1/2000, f/6.5, ISO 400 @ 258mm
The EM1, while a fantastic camera, feels more like a professional tool I would and do use for paying jobs. It is in the same line of thought I have using the Nikon D300/D700. They are tools with a purpose for making money or doing work. The Df and EM5 Mk II feel like tools I use to create art and express myself, have some fun with. It may not make a lot of sense on an analytical front, but from an emotional level, it makes all the sense in the world to me.