Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II Preview

UPDATE: for a more in-depth write up with sample images, be sure to check out our Hands-On Review with the E-M1 Mark II over at our blog.

"Image quality is not a feature; it's an expectation."

Photokina 2016 is brimming with exciting news and today Olympus delivered a whopper, announcing a new flagship Micro Four Thirds camera designed to out perform and provide more "overall value" than APS-C sensor DSLRs. When you think about the Olympus, particularly the OM-D, brand words like rugged, compact, light, and reliable come to mind. The OM-D series blends classic camera design with innovative features and its new flagship is the best OM-D Olympus has ever made.

The Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II is all about SPEED, RELIABILITY, QUALITY, and PERFORMANCE. Thanks to an all new Advanced Dual FAST AF (AutoFocus) with 121 cross-type on-chip phase detection focus points, TruePic VII image processor, and 20.4MP Live MOS sensor, the E-M1 Mark II can shoot up to 18 frames-per-second in FULL RESOLUTION, RAW with Continuous AF enabled. Turn off AF + AE lock and that figure jumps to a staggering 60fps in full resolution RAW still images. All of which makes the new E-M1ii one of the fastest ILCs in the world. The new Live MOS image sensor offers 25% more resolution than the outgoing E-M1 and lacks a low-pass filter to give it more high dynamic range, while an anti-reflective coating will enhance contrast. Also, Olympus has developed a Pro Capture mode to help you get the perfect shot every time; in this mode, the E-M1ii starts taking full resolution RAW images as soon as the shutter is depressed half-way, taking up to 14 images before the shutter releases.

Splashproof, dustproof, and freezeproof down to 14°F (-10°C), the E-M1ii has been designed for extreme environments, something to which I can attest personally. Having traveled with Olympus to frozen mountaintops and blistering deserts, or while Live Composite light-painting during downpours, these cameras deliver where many digicams would give up the ghost. Along those lines, the E-M1 Mark II's mechanical shutter is rated to 200,000 shots, and battery compartment is larger to incorporate a new Lion Battery that should last 37% longer and charge 50% faster.

ISO has been improved to ISO 64 on the low side, ISO 25600 on the high. AUTO ISO can now run all the way up to ISO 6400, which is great for the new Lowest Shutter Speed setting, which allows users to select a minimum Shutter Speed, after which ISO will rise. This is perfect for lower lighting conditions where the camera's 5-Axis in-body Image Stabilization gives you 5.5 extra steps (6.5 with certain Olympus lenses) allowing you to go handheld in less light than ever before. High Res Shot Mode comes over from the rest of the OM-D line as well, an awesome feature for portraits or product shots where the E-M1ii's sensor will shift in-body and stitch multiple exposures for a up to a 50MP JPEG or 80MP RAW image. That's better than some Full Frame DSLRS, though it is limited to fixed subjects and tripod shooting, which is rare for an OM-D cameras. Because, outside High Res Shot, a OM-D's main advantage is being able to shoot handheld at 600mm without any arm fatigue.

While 5-Axis IS has been in the OM-D Series for a couple years, there's big news on the video side of things. Olympus is finally (finally!) offering 4K video recording in the Digital Cinema Standard (4096 x 2060 pixels for a 1.85:1 aspect ratio vs 16:9 with "Ultra HD") at 24p and up to 237 Mbps. Even better, the E-M1ii offers HDMI out in 10-bit 4:2:2 for external monitors and/or recording to an external drive. Granted, it's not 12-bit uncompressed, but unlike some high-end APS-C DSLRs that are stuck in 8-bit SDR, cinematographers will be able to grade E-M1ii footage for HDR and wide color gamut.

To help with framing, Olympus has improved its Electronic View Finder (EVF) with a 120fps refresh rate and 6ms lag; it's so clear and lifelike, some Pros asked if it was optical during E-M1ii beta testing. The E-M1ii will also be the first OM-D camera to offer dual memory card slots, with Slot 1 supported UHS-II and USH-I cards. You can select to record to one card or the other, allow the camera to jump to a second card when the first fills, or set each card to record a specific image quality.

We'll have more details and thoughts on the OM-D E-M1 Mark II in the next month or so, but it seems like it's taken direct aim at Nikon's incredible D500 DSLR. Time will tell to see how it measures up, but on paper at least, and given our time shooting with the OM-D series, the E-M1ii promises to be an excited ILC. Stay tuned for more updates and thoughts and sample images as we get them.

Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II Features

  • Dustproof
  • Splashproof
  • Freezeproof down to 14°F (-10°C)
  • 20.4 megapixel Live MOS sensor
  • TruePic VIII Image Processor
  • High-speed EVF
    • 120fps
    • 6ms lag time
  • 1.48x magnification (35mm equivalent)
  • ISO 64 - 25600
  • 14fps Continuous Shooting in C-AF (Continuous AF + AE Tracking)
    • 60fps Continuous Shooting in S-AF (AF + AE lock)
  • Digital Cinema Standard 4K video capture
    • 4096 x 2060 pixels
    • 24P frame rate
    • up to 237 Mbps
    • HDMI monitor connection and recording synchronization
    • 4:2:2 external output
  • High Res Shot Mode
    • 50MP JPEG
    • 80MP RAW
  • Dual FAST AF
    • 121 cross-type on-chip phase detection focus points
    • Customizable C-AF Tracking Sensitivity
    • AF Scan
    • Preset MF
    • AF Home Settings
  • 5-Axis Image Stabilization
    • 5.5 shutter speed steps of compensation
    • 6.5 steps with compatible Olympus I.S. lenses
  • Silent Mode
  • Focus Stacking
  • Focus Bracketing
  • Live Composite / Live Bulb
  • Supersonic Wave Filter (SSWF) dust reduction system
  • Keystone Compensation
  • Lowest Shutter Speed setting
  • Customized Settings Backup
  • Specify Folder
  • Date/Time/Second Display
  • USB 3.0 Type C
  • Olympus Capture Version 1.2
  • Dual Memory Card Slots
    • Slot 1 supports UHS-II & UHS-I
    • Slot 2 supports UHS-I
  • BLH-1 Lithium-ion Battery
    • 37% more capacity than the BLN-1
    • 50% faster charging time

Optional Accessories

  • HLD-9 Power Battery Holder
  • FL-900R Weatherproof High-Intensity Flash
  • STF-8 Weatherproof Macro Flash
  • RM-CB2 Release Cable
  • PT-EP14 Underwater Case
  • CBG-12 Large-Capacity Backpack

Price & Availability

The Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II is available for pre-order now on Amazon.com (click HERE to reserve yours) with a $1,999.99 body-only MSRP.

Visitors of Steves can visit the stores below for real-time pricing and availability. You can also find hot, soon to expire online offers on a variety of cameras and accessories at our very own Camera Deals page.