The Olympus OM-D E-M1 II easily impressed us when it came out. We were blown away by the mind-boggling continuous shooting at 60 fps for stills (yes, I said stills, not movie!), improved 5 axis stabilization, and 4K video along with a whole host of new features. Read on to see all the new features in depth in our review and video.
Super Fast Auto FocusThe Olympus OM-D E-M1 II packs a new, very fast autofocus system, utilizing a hybrid 121-point cross-type sensor. The hybrid system means it detects both contrast and phase detection, while the cross-type sensor detects vertical, horizontal, and diagonal contrast for greater autofocus accuracy. In the past, most cameras only had these cross-type autofocus points in the middle of the sensor, whereas the Olympus OM-D E-M1 II has this feature on all 121 autofocus points, so it is extremely fast and accurate across the entire frame.
Fastest Continuous Shooting Speed of Any CameraThis camera also has a blazing fast frame rate. When using the mechanical shutter, it can shoot 15 frames per second with autofocus locked, and 10 frames per second with continuous autofocus engaged. The only camera that shoots faster than that is the Canon 1DX II at 16 frames per second, and which carries a $6,000 price tag compared to the $2,000 Olympus OM-D E-M1 II.
When using the electronic shutter, this camera can do 60 (yes, SIXTY) frames per second in RAW with autofocus locked, and 18 frames per second with continuous autofocus engaged. This is pretty awesome, and makes the Olympus OM-D E-M1 II the fastest shooting camera currently on the market. It also has a virtually unlimited buffer when shooting with a UHS-II speed SD card in the new UHS-II card slot.
The grouper swam into position on a moments notice, and the Olympus OM-D E-M1 II was up to the task of firing off a quick succession of shots to get the shot.
Incredible Image StabilizationIt also utilizes a 5-axis image stabilization system. The stability this provides allows you to shoot up to 5.5 stops slower than if you were not using it. This is a huge benefit for low-light operation and could potentially open up new opportunities for handheld macro video shooting when using an accompanying video light. Video footage will have the graceful quality of a steadycam, even when just handheld.
All new 20.4 MP SensorThe new sensor gets a 25% increase in resolution over the previous E-M1 camera but maintains the same high ISO and low light performance, which is to say was good, to begin with. The new sensor also lacks an anti-aliasing filter like its predecessor and leads to sharp, crisp images.
The Olympus OM-D E-M1 II has great color right out of the camera and holds foreground and background surface detail really well.
Now Shooting 4K videoWe also finally get 4K video out of an OMD camera. The Olympus OM-D E-M1 II will capture 4K at both 30 frames per second or 24 frames per second with a maximum 237 mbps data rate. Unfortunately an ambient light white balance is difficult to execute at depth, but does look great with a color correction filter, like a Magic Filter. Another complication is that a custom white balance cannot be executed in video more, only in photo mode. This makes executing a white balance for video more work, but it can be done.
Great Control Set and Customizable ButtonsLike the E-M1 Mark I, the Olympus OM-D E-M1 II has one of our all-time favorite control sets. This thing has a huge level of customization options for button mapping. You can easily assign focus to the AEL/AFL button for thumb operation. The 2x2 switch is also extremely cool, because it allows you to quickly and easily change the front and rear command dials from aperture and shutter speed to ISO and white balance, making your 4 most critical exposure tools available with just the flick of a switch.
Pro Capture Mode—Take Pictures From the PastThe new Pro Capture Mode is basically a pre-roll, allowing you to capture images BEFORE you take a picture. When activated, Pro Capture Mode will start buffering images upon a half-press of the shutter button. These images are not writing to the card, but are being buffered through the camera’s internal memory. When you then press the shutter button, whatever images you had buffered will also be written to the card, up to 14 frames. The idea behind this is to help capture that crucial action moment, so if you are just a split second late when some interesting subject behavior is on display you have an opportunity to still capture the shot. The major drawback to this feature is the obvious inability to synchronize with strobes but could be used with video lights instead.
Using an Olympus 60mm Lens with a macro diopter allows the Olympus OM-D E-M1 II to capture tight macro shots.
ConclusionOlympus carries on with another great camera to their line up. We’ve never seen something that shoots this fast, and on top of that with an unlimited shot buffer. And who ever heard of being able to take a picture before you took the picture? With Pro Capture mode this is now possible. There are a few limitations related to white balance for wide angle video shooters, but this does make a nice video macro rig with the 5.5 stops of image stabilization. In general we feel this camera is best suited for a stills shooter rather than a video shooter due to those limitations.
Olympus OM-D E-M1 II Camera
Aquatica AE-M1 Mk II Housing
Ikelite E-M1 II Housing
Olympus PT-EP14 Housing
Nauticam NA-EM1II Housing
Subal EM1MK2 Housing