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Olympus E-M5 Mark II Underwater Photo & Video Review - First Look and Details

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Olympus E-M5 Mark II Underwater Photo & Video Review - First Look and Details

Olympus E-M5 Mark II Underwater Review-First Look

Olympus was kind enough to send us an E-M5 Mark II camera and PT-EP13 Underwater Housing to check out. Watch the video and get a rundown of the new key features and a first look at this camera and housing in this review.

Awesome Control Set

This is one of the largest differences compared to the original E-M5. The control set very closely resembles that of the EM-1, which we thought was one of the best control sets of any camera, period. The beloved 2x2 switch is carried over from the E-M1 along with up to 6 customizable buttons. The control set between these two cameras is almost identical, making the E-M5 Mark II one of the best controls sets in photography.

Olympus OMD EM5 MARK II top down
Olympus OMD EM5 MARK II Back Although the E-M5 Mark II and the E-M1 have different body shapes,
the 2 cameras share almost identical control sets.

Improved Sensor, AF Performance, and 5 Axis Image Stabilization

The sensor is all new with a faster readout to support faster live view refresh and 1080 60p video. This also helps the E-M5 Mark II have a slight increase in AF performance over the E-M1. Shooting speed is 10 frames per second in RAW, the same performance as E-M1. It also gets a bump in performance from the already crazy good 5 axis image stabilization of the E-M1.

Improved Screen Display

The new screen is 5 times brighter and has a much greater dynamic range over previous models. This makes seeing extremely backlit scenes like we have in underwater wide angle photography have much more detail, making wide angle compositions much easier to see.

Pro Level Movie Mode

The all new movie mode allows you to select up to a 60p frame rate for 1080 and options for higher bit rate video. An included option is to record a less compressed ALL-I format at 77 mbps bit rate. At the highest bit rate in 1080 60p I observed a 51 mbps rate, which is on par with professional level broadcast quality systems, and exceeds most other mirroless cameras on the market. On previous PEN and OMD models the highest bit rate possible was 24 mbps. Focus peaking is available for the first time during recording in movie mode. Combined with the 5 axis stabilization, novice movie shooters will be able to get good quality, stable footage with a minimal amount of image shake.

40 Megapixel Image - With a 16 MP Sensor

You have the ability to shoot super hi res images with the "Pixel Shifting" technology of the EM-5 II. It works by shifting the sensor to capture multiple frames and build a composite image. It's a bit like how HDR works by taking multiple shots-you'll need to be perfectly still (on a tripod) and the subjects in the frame need to be perfectly still. While this will be fine for topside landscape photography, due to the moving environment underwater, it's not a viable option for most shooting situations underwater.

PT- EP13 Housing

The PT-EP13 housing is a departure from previous housings in the OMD series. The housing includes an attached standard port, where before the flat port was always sold separately. The flat port accommodates the 14-42mm, 9-18mm, 12-50mm, and 60mm lenses. The port is removable allowing third party port options from Zen and AOI to be added to expand the range of lenses that can be used.

Olympus OMD EM5 MARK II Housing - PTEP13
The PT-EP13 housing for the E-M5 Mark II has large dials for shutter speed, aperture, and zoom, along with ergonomically placed buttons making it easy to quickly make changes underwater.

The housing has large dials for shutter speed, aperture, mode, and zoom/focus. The shutter release has a good feel. Extenders on buttons place the controls in easy to access ergonomic positions. The flash can now be operated in the down position without the need to use or dedicate a custom function button to underwater shooting mode. A pickup view finder is standard and allows viewing the EVF through the back of the housing.

Port Options From AOI

AOI makes multiple dome and flat ports to accommodate a wide range of lenses. Fisheye, wide angle zoom, and macro lenses are all supported making the PT-EP13 housing the centerpiece of a complete and affordable mirrorless camera system. Click here to see the range of port options for the Olympus PEN and OMD series housings. Please note this system uses the PEN series ports.

Port options for the PTEP13 - Olympus OMD EM5 MARK II
AOI has a range of ports available to greatly expand the number of lenses that can be used underwater.


The performance of the E-M5 Mark II matches or exceeds the E-M1 in almost every category. One area where it does not exceed is the flash sync speed. The E-M5 Mark II is 1/250 versus the E-M1 at 1/320. Overall the new E-M5 Mark II is arguably the best mirrorless camera Olympus has put out. With great still features, a vastly improved movie mode and a price of $300 less than the E-M1, makes the E-M5 Mark II one of the top mirrorless out today. Stay tuned as we take this system for a test dive and provide some real world samples from this camera.

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