Wednesday, November 02, 2016

Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II Review

IMPORTANT NOTES:
1. I am an Olympus Malaysia employee.
2. This is a user experience based review, based on my personal opinion which can be subjective.
3. All images were shot in RAW and converted directly to JPEG (High Quality) via Olympus Viewer 3
4. General camera settings, Noise Filter = OFF, Contrast/Saturation/sharpness = 0, White Balance = Auto (with an option maintain warm color = OFF), Gradation = Normal
5. Minimal post-processing applied to the images, with slight brightness/contrast balance tweak. All images were almost as good as straight out of camera, with minimal cropping for better presentation.

Note: E-M1 Mark II Blog Extension (click) is now published, covering 50MP High Res Shot, Electronic Shutter improvements, Cinema 4K shooting and upgrades of camera features. 

Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II (which was originally announced as "in development phase" in Photokina 2016) is the much anticipated successor for the 2013 flagship E-M1.

I have had the chance to shoot with the E-M1 Mark II extensively over 3 days in various real life conditions covering as many tests as I can. It is difficult to post all my findings and results in one single blog entry, so for this particular blog review I shall be focusing on the most important points of my review. There are just too many things to say about this E-M1 Mark II, and so many sample photographs I want to share here. I shall cover the other parts which are not mentioned here in my coming review extension.





The new Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II is an ambitious camera on specifications, surpassing the original E-M1 by quite a far margin in all aspects and also addressed it's many shortcomings.
The key specifications of Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II are highlighted as follows:

1) NEW AUTOFOCUS SYSTEM
The AF system has undergone a major improvement, especially when it comes to continuous AF. Olympus used 121 full cross phase-detect AF points alongside the contrast detect AF system for much better continuous subject tracking. The E-M1 Mark II is able to shoot all images in RAW at the sequential burst mode of 60 frames per second (single-AF, electronic shutter), 18 frames per second (Continuous-AF, electronic shutter), 15 frames per second (Single-AF, mechanical shutter) and 10 frames per second (continuous AF, mechanical shutter). The buffer limit has been increased to 77 RAW files before the camera slows down in operation. The image sensor readout rate AF processing speed in the camera is claimed to have been dramatically increased to eliminate jello/image stretching effect when shooting high speed in electronic shutter mode. The behavior of the Continuous AF can be further fine-tuned for tight and loose framing to suit different subject moving conditions. Furthermore, the new AF system includes the Pro Capture Mode that starts to capture images immediately as the shutter button is half-pressed and storing 14 full RAW images before the shutter button is fully pressed, minimizing the chance of missing the actual moments.

2) 5-AXIS IMAGE STABILIZATION IMPROVEMENTS
The built in camera 5-Axis Image Stabilization system is also improved, allowing 5.5 shutter speed steps of compensation with any lens attached on the E-M1 Mark II. If you use the new Olympus M.Zuiko 12-100mm F4 PRO lens, you can get up to 6.5 steps of shutter speed compensation. This benefits both stills and movie recording.

3) NEW 20MP IMAGE SENSOR WITH NEW TRUEPIC 8 IMAGE PROCESSOR
A new 20MP Live MOS image sensor is used in the E-M1 Mark II, and Olympus claims this is not the same as the one used in the Olympus PEN-F body. The E-M1 Mark II's 20MP image sensor also has the phase detect AF points built onto it, and has much faster data readout rate to enable 4K video recording, thus it should not be the same as the one used in PEN-F. To accompany the new image sensor and 4K video recording capabilities, a new processing engine was introduced: the Truepic 8. According to the detailed specifications, the new Truepic 8 chip has double Quad Core system: 4 CPU cores and 4 image processing cores. 

4) OTHER IMPORTANT FEATURES/IMPROVEMENTS
- full weather-sealing (freezeproof down to -10 degrees Celcius, dustproof and splashproof)
- improved Electronic Viewfinder with super short 6ms delay and 120fps refresh rate
- larger battery capacity
- dual SD card slots
- improved video capabilities, now with 4K recording
- all other original Olympus specific features such as live bulb/time/composite, art filters, highlight & shadow control etc are also included in E-M1 Mark II

For full specifications please visit the official Olympus website here (click). 
Let's jump right into the review.

HOW MUCH IMPROVEMENT IN THE IMAGE STABILIZATION?

With the original Olympus OM-D E-M1, I could hand-hold and shoot confidently at half a second, or even stretching to a low 1 second slow shutter speed using a wide angle lens (7-14mm F2.8 PRO). Then came along the amazing M.Zuiko 300mm F4 IS PRO lens, I can handhold at 300mm at about 1/10sec shutter speed, which was quite an incredible feat. When Olympus E-M1 Mark II was announced, I did not expect any surprises at all, since we all have known, tried and proven the effectiveness of the Olympus 5-Axis Image Stabilization system.

Suddenly there was the M.Zuiko 12-100mm F4 IS PRO lens, which also has the 5-Axis Sync IS (lens 2-Axis IS working in sync with the 5-Axis IS system in the body to better stabilize the camera) and should compensate to about 6.5 steps of shutter speed. The 12-100mm F4 PRO lens was designed to work optimally on the E-M1 Mark II, so I brought them out for some slow shutter speed torturing.

Prepare to be mind-blown. 

I am not kidding.

Here are the results.

12-100mm PRO, F/9, 5s, 12mm, ISO64

The image of the Kuala Lumpur Twin Towers looks normal right? 
Take a closer look at the shutter speed. 
It was 5 seconds shutter speed. HAND-HELD. 

No tripod was used for this shot. I initially started shooting at 1 second shutter speed, I got away with sharp results, so I kept pushing to 2 seconds, 3.2 seconds, and finally 5 seconds. Images started to show signs of blurring at 6 seconds. My limit was at 5 seconds, hand-held. If this 5-Axis Image Stabilization does not impress you, I seriously do not know what will!

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12-100mm PRO, F/11, 5s, 12mm, ISO64

12-100mm PRO, F/6.3, 5s, 12mm, ISO200

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Please bear in mind that every one has different tolerance and capabilities when it comes to hand-held slow shutter shooting. I personally have abstained myself from drinking coffee or any caffeinated substance for 3 days before doing this image stabilization test, and believe me I am a chronic coffee drinker and when I have had 5 cups of coffee a day I will not be able to show you these results. Likewise, I strongly believe those with better hand-holding steadiness than me will be able to get even better results, no doubt about that. 

I also must be honest that, if I were standing freely, without any support, bracing myself against anything, I can only shoot at about 1 to 2 seconds shutter speed. Anything longer than 2 seconds, my legs started to wobble! Hence for the 5 seconds shots shown in this blog, I was either sitting down on the pavement (twin towers) or braced/leaned myself on a wall or something. The hand-holding part was still 100% valid. 

Then it hit me, if I can actually shoot at 5 seconds long shutter speed, I can do light trail photography without using a tripod!

So I did. 

12-100mm PRO, F/11, 6s, 12mm, ISO200

I could never have imagined the possibilities of doing such long exposure, light trail shooting, purely just hand-held! I saw the results. I am still working on believing it. I am still working on understanding the sorcery behind this. 

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I also got curious about how the 5-Axis Sync IS would stabilize at 100mm telephoto-end at the 12-100mm F4 PRO lens, so I did some torture tests with 100mm framing as well. 

12-100mm PRO, F/5.6, 3.2s, 100mm, ISO200

12-100mm PRO, F/5.6, 3.2s, 100mm, ISO200

12-100mm PRO, F/7.1, 1/2s, 100mm, ISO200

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CONTINUOUS AUTOFOCUS PERFORMANCE

Before I dive into the Continuous AF tests, let me clarify a few important things. I am not a sports shooter and I rarely shoot moving subjects or action photography. The autofocus mode I use 90% of the time is Single-AF, and the remaining 10% is manual focus. I never had a need for Continuous AF in my photography scenarios, hence I will admit upfront that I may not be the best person to review the performance of the Continuous AF of the E-M1 Mark II. In addition to that, I have never had extensive use of high-end cameras with highly-praised AF capabilities such as Canon 1D-series, or Nikon D4/D5 series, and I have not even used the latest APS-C champions such as Sony A6300/6500, Canon 7D Mark II and Nikon D500. Without having prior experience in C-AF from all these important "benchmark" cameras, it is difficult for me to draw any conclusions. I strongly suggest that you seek other online reviewers who are better qualified to do more meaningful tests of the E-M1 Mark II's Continuous AF capabilities.

Nonetheless, since Olympus made such a huge deal about their AF improvements, I thought it would be too easy for me to just skip it, and I thought why not give it a try. I may not be an expert, but I believe I am also experienced enough in handling Olympus cameras to get some good results. I have tested the E-M1 Mark II in Continuous AF shooting within my own shooting capabilities, and if there are shortcomings in the results, it could probably be due to my own inexperience in such circumstances.

A few technical information about the C-AF and sequential shooting of E-M1 Mark II:
1) Rolling Shutter effect/Jello distortion due to high speed shooting is greatly minimized by having a 1/60s curtain shutter speed (the speed of scanning the entire frame) in electronic shutter mode. E-M1 had only 1/13s curtain speed.
2) There is a lens focus distance limiter built into the camera, which can be used if necessary
3) The Continuous AF behaviour can be fine-adjusted to best match the subject movement pattern (tight and loose AF lock)
4) The AF targetting area options now include the "cluster group" option, which is already available in other manufacturers' cameras

AF Cluster Area for C-AF tracking as well as many other AF adjustment options for different shooting conditions. 

C-AF TEST 1: THE FLYING MACAW

I went to the Bird Park and it was not a productive testing ground for me. It was probably not the best idea to start shooting birds as a test for C-AF, considering my inexperience. The camera can lock focus very quickly on the moving birds, that one I can pretty much guarantee, but as the birds flew randomly at such crazy speed, my brain and hands failed to move the lens to follow the birds flight paths! They often flew out of the frame and I lost the birds, and this was my explanation of not having enough skills to execute successful Continuous AF tests. It was frustrating knowing that the camera can perform considerably well, and the failure was due to my own lacking of knowing how to fully utilize the camera. This is one area which I must emphasize, getting a powerful camera can only get you so far, without the expertise to use it, the camera is just as useless as the photographer. Give me a Canon 1DX or Nikon D5 and I would probably miss any of the flying birds too.

Out of the many, many failed attempts of me following the birds, I did get one successful one, which was during the bird show. This one I could nail it, because, let's face it, that Macaw was quite a large bird, and I knew exactly where the bird was flying too (they had 3 rounds of same tricks). I managed to nail it on the second round!

C-AF, Silent Mode, Low Sequential 18 frames per second, total 48 photos.
12-100mm PRO lens used at 100mm telephoto end, F4, 1/5000sec, ISO800

The tracking was spot on for all frames except the last 3 frames.
Tips: Click on image to enlarge




C-AF TEST 2: MARC MARQUEZ (93) VS VALENTINO ROSSI (46) 

Coincidentally we had the Sepang Moto Grand Prix 2016 happening in Malaysia last weekend, and I was fortunate to grab a ticket at last minute, though the shooting position was not ideal. I have never been to any racing or motorsports events before, and I have never shot anything moving that fast before also. I have no idea about the mechanics of the race and I did not even know the important players of the game. I went to the Sepang Circuit knowing I shall shoot some crazy fast bikes in action and pray to the photography god I will be able to come home with just a handful of usable images.

My friend Robert who has been following the racing scene updated me on few important details as I was reviewing the images that I have shot. He was particularly excited when he saw the series I am displaying here, as I was tracking the number 93, Marc Marquez from Spain, with a trailing number 46, Valentino Rossi who is a legend in the motorsports world. I guess I was lucky, and that is one important factor, sometimes if luck is not on your side, no matter how much you have planned and how prepared you are, you just don't get the shots!

C-AF, Mechanical Shutter, Low Sequential 10 frames per second, total 55 photos.
300mm PRO lens, F4, 1/1600-1/2500sec, ISO200

Tracking success was about 90%. About 5 photos were noticeably out of focus, though C-AF of E-M1 Mark II did a good job at recovering focus fairly quickly.
Tips: Click on photos to enlarge



C-AF TEST 3: SKATEBOARD

This one was totally unplanned, I was walking out from a live band performance and I chanced upon
the Rakan Muda sports center, and during Sunday afternoon there were some youngsters practicing their skateboarding (unfortunately none of them were very good at it). This was a good test to show how effective the E-M1 Mark II tracks subjects moving toward the camera.

C-AF, Mechanical Shutter, Low Sequential 10 frames per second, total 50 photos.
12-100mm PRO lens, F4, 1/800-1/1250sec, ISO800



C-AF TEST 4: MAN WALKING TOWARD CAMERA

This final test I am showing here is probably the easiest for the camera to handle. It was a straightforward test of the camera's tracking of a man walking toward me. I think this is the most popularly encountered situation when C-AF is needed (outside of sports/action photography) in usual photography needs by most photographers in many situations.

C-AF, Mechanical Shutter, Low Sequential 10 frames per second, total 44 photos.
12-100mm PRO lens, F4, 1/200-500sec, ISO800

Tracking success was about 90%. About 5 photos were slightly out of focus.





PRO CAPTURE MODE

I think the introduction of Pro Capture Mode in the E-M1 Mark II is a brilliant idea, and trust me when I say this concept will be used by other manufacturers, especially cameras that can employ electronic shutter (I do not think it is physically possible wth DSLR cameras, with moving mirror mechanism). Pro Capture Mode allows full RAW images to be captured even before the shutter button is fully pressed. That means, as you half press the shutter button, the E-M1 Mark II is already starting to shoot images and record them in the buffer. As you fully press the shutter button to capture the decisive moment, you are also effectively capturing 14 frames before that shutter button was fully pressed. Ultimately, even if you have missed the moment due to slow reaction time responding to the scene, you can be assured that the Pro Capture Mode has already shot 14 images prior to that. Take note that Pro Capture Mode functions only in electronic shutter (silent mode).

There are two Pro Capture Modes:

1) Pro Capture Mode High 
shooting at 60 frames per second, single-AF only,

2) Pro Capture Mode Low 
shooting at 18 frames per second, Continuous-AF or Single AF

Take note that Pro Capture Mode can capture a limit of 25 frames in total only. This mode is useful to nail that one specific moment.

I think it is important for me to tell you that when Pro Capture mode is enabled, you will experience drop of frame rate in the EVF or the LCD monitor on your camera backscreen. This was due to the camera already actively capturing the images as you started to half-press the shutter button. The view on the EVF and Live View is still pretty much in real time, you do not have to worry about lag in judging the right moment to shoot but the not so smooth view may put some people off. Nonetheless, I still feel that the sheer advantage of Pro Capture Mode guaranteeing you shots even before you fully press the shutter button outweighs the slightly laggy view in EVF/LCD monitor.

PRO CAPTURE MODE HIGH TEST

I do not have fast reflexes when it comes to shooting fast objects, hence Pro Capture Mode did come in handy when dealing with the need for quick reaction. I rarely shoot birds hence it was difficult for me to predict when the bird was going to take flight. When the bird actually started to move, I pressed the shutter button and that was already too late and the bird caught in my frame was already mid-flight! However with the Pro Capture Mode, I managed to save 14 shots taken BEFORE I press the shutter button, hence I nailed the precise moment the bird was taking off. Quite a neat trick and surely shooting action will be much better now.


This image was the one that I shot when I press the shutter button fully. The 14 images before this were captured by the Pro Capture Mode High. Take note that the bird was already slightly out of focus, since at 60 frames per second, only Single-AF is used (first frame only in perfect focus). Image appeared slightly grainy becaused I used ISO6400 for these shots.




PRO CAPTURE MODE LOW TEST

I was invited by the awesome Bihzhu to catch her performance live, which happened at TPC, Bukit Kiara, at an after party for LGPA 2016. It was a golf tournament. Since I was there for the after party I did not bring along the 300mm F4 PRO lens, which was a HUGE HUGE mistake. When I arrived, little did I know the golf tournament was still going on! I could have had a solid 1 hour shooting time, but I only had 100mm longest telephoto end with me. I took this opportunity to test out the Pro Capture Mode Low. I could not shoot the first swing since that usually happened super, super far away from where the crowd is located. I could only shoot the Golf Players when they came in closer to the hole.

Now here is an interesting observation, since the hole was quite near where the spectators were standing, the photographers were NOT allowed to use their cameras (typically loud noisy DSLR) that could distract the players in concentration. There were guards on duty holding up the large signs reading (no camera no phone) when the player was about to take her shot. Thank goodness for silent shutter! And the Pro Capture Mode was using electronic shutter so I could just fire away without worries. This is one of the important reasons why Mirorrless Cameras are the future.






This was the first frame I shot when I fully pressed the shutter button. Nothing too dramatic as golf is not exactly a fast moving sports. I purposely shot this as the ball was already a little bit ahead to show much the Pro Capture Mode can recover the "missed moments". The ability to capture that few extra shots before the actual action is something I strongly believe sports shooters will seriously treasure




SINGLE AUTOFOCUS PERFORMANCE

I do not have any comments when it comes to Single-AF, as I do feel that the performance is similar to the E-M1 or PEN-F, and that is not a bad thing because to me the Single-AF from previous incarnations of Olympus camera is already excellent and I never had any complains in actual shooting practices. I have tested the single AF (well, I used single AF in my own shooting needs) extensively and it has never once failed me, even in extreme low light conditions.

I think having quick and accurate Single-AF is still the most important criteria, and after speaking to many photographers, the general conclusion is that Olympus does an excellent job in this area. Some other manufacturers have claimed to have superior AF or even dared to boldly say "world's fastest AF" but in practical shooting situations, what truly matters is whether the AF worked or not, it is as simple as that. There is just that confidence in using Olympus Single-AF that only those who have experienced it will understand.

In many instances, I have successfully just pointed the lens at the subject and immediately captured the image. I shall be showing a few of such instances in the following images.

12-100mm PRO, F4, 1/125s, 21mm, ISO1000

12-100mm PRO, F/4.5, 1/320s, 25mm, ISO200

12-100mm PRO, 1/400sec, F4, 28mm, ISO6400

GENERAL IMAGE QUALITY 

I am glad to find out that the image sensor used in the E-M1 Mark II is not the same as the one used in the PEN-F, and there is a new corresponding image processing engine, the Truepic 8 to accompany the new image sensor. At this point, it is difficult to gauge exactly how much the image quality has improved because there is no RAW compatibility with third party post-processing software at this moment, and Olympus Viewer 3 basically reproduces what the camera JPEG can do. Therefore, the image quality tests are solely based on JPEG quality only in this blog entry.

I did most of my tests with the M.Zuiko 12-100mm F4 PRO lens, and I know many of you have been waiting for me to write about this lens. You will see plenty of samples taken with this lens here, but I shall do a proper, full blog review for that lens separately. I did enjoy using the 12-100mm PRO lens and I am impressed by the built in IS, lens sharpness and overall performance.

At lower ISO settings (below ISO1600), with good lighting conditions, the E-M1 Mark II produces images with excellent sharpness and beautiful true to life colors. The rendering of fine details is noticeably better than previous cameras, and I have a feeling that this was largely due to the improved image processing Truepic 8. The fine details are better shown, and the JPEG compression artifacts (that many suspected was due to the default over-sharpening of JPEG) was visibly reduced.

I did not notice any improvement in dynamic range (if there was, I would think it is negligible) but the highlights roll-off is much better handled in the E-M1 Mark II, with smoother transitions. The overall color profile is slightly different than what we have seen in Truepic 7 previously, perhaps the colors are a little less aggressive, not as "punchy" and high in contrast as previously, more neutral but still maintaining good balance and looking natural.

300mm PRO, F/5.6 1/50s, ISO200

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12-100mm PRO, F4, 1/250s, 100mm, ISO200

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12-100mm PRO, f/5.6, 1/500s, 50mm, ISO200

12-100mm PRO, F/8, 1/250s, 100mm, ISO200

12-100mm PRO, F/5.6, 1/160s, 13mm, ISO1600

12-100mm PRO, F/4, 1/125s, 100mm, ISO500

12-100mm PRO, f/4, 1/80s, 100mm, ISO200

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12-100mm PRO, f/4, 1/160s, 34mm, ISO320

12-100mm PRO, F/4, 1/200s, 12mm, ISO1600

12-100mm PRO, f/4, 1/250s, 100mm, ISO200

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12-100mm PRO, f/4, 1/250s, 35mm, ISO200

LOW LIGHT SHOOTING WITH HIGH ISO

One of the most popular questions about E-M1 Mark II is definitely the capabilities in low light shooting with high ISO use. The ISO range remains the same, from ISO200 (native) all the way up to ISO25,600, and Olympus did not indicate specifcally at which high ISO limit was the starting point of ISO expansion. My guess is either ISO3200 or 6400. I am sure many are curious how the new image sensor combined with the new Truepic 8 processing engine helped in managing high ISO noise and retaining details in the shots done by E-M1 Mark II.

An important point worth re-emphasizing is that we are comparing in JPEG images, though I did convert these images in Olympus Viewer 3 (which gives me the same JPEG as camera anyway). There is no third party solutions to convert the RAW files from E-M1 Mark II at this moment so please do not be unreasonable by asking me for RAW samples. Even I do not have the ability to judge how the RAW images perform under third party software. We shall leave that comment to a later stage, in the future.

I have done direct side by side comparisons shooting high ISO between the new E-M1 Mark II against the older E-M1. All exposure settings were carefully set to mitigate any inconsistencies. Focus was also done manually so there was no shifting between shots, the only variable in the comparison is the exact positioning of the camera (i put the camera on the table), but this should not be an issue since we are examining the high ISO noise pattern in this particular test.

HIGH ISO TEST - DEADPOOL COMPARISON (E-M1 VS E-M1 MARK II)

For the comparison series shown below, images on the left were from the E-M1 (2013) and the images on the right were from the new E-M1 Mark II

ISO1600

ISO3200

ISO6400

ISO12800

Looking at this simple side by side Lego Deadpool comparison series, it is obvious that in the JPEG output, E-M1 Mark II images shows significantly less noise, appearing less grainy and with better detail retention in comparison to the E-M1 (2013). I cannot tell you how much of this improvement is due to the new image sensor capabilities alone, or the work of the new Truepic 8 processing power. If you ask me to give a measurement of how much improvement based on my own observation, I'd say easily, the E-M1 Mark II has approximately near one stop high ISO advantage over the E-M1. This is a subjective measurement of course. 

Both E-M1 and E-M1 Mark II suppressed chroma (color) noise fairly well, leaving only luminance noise, which the E-M1 Mark II seemed to be able to produce cleaner looking image. The high ISO images from the original E-M1 (2013) did appear sharper overall, probably due to the Truepic 7 processing adding sharpness to maintain the "structured" look, but this also added to the "processed look and unwanted sharpening artifacts" that many also have complained, resulting in less natural look. The new E-M1 Mark II took a less aggressive approach when it comes to sharpening, and this was even more apparent in their high ISO images, yet maintaining useful level of details. 

Image on the left: E-M1 at ISO6400, and Image on the right: E-M1 Mark II at ISO6400. 
E-M1 Mark II has about one stop advantage when it comes to shooting in High ISO. 

The lego test was a controlled environment test, so as usual, I would toture the camera I was reviewing in real shooting conditions. I went to a live band show in Merdekarya, a location known to be extremely dim lit, with uneven lighting. I needed to use ISO6400 on average for the shots I have done there! Nadir, a local band I have been following was performing, so it was a night of having fun with the Olympus E-M1 Mark II, as well as enjoying awesome music. 

Here are more high ISO samples from the E-M1 Mark II. 

12-100mm PRO, f/6.3, 1/30s, 100mm, ISO1600

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12-100mm PRO, f/4, 1/100s, 100mm, ISO1000

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12-100mm PRO, f/8, 1/80s, 66mm, ISO3200

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75mm F1.8, f/1.8, 1/320s, ISO4000

12-100mm PRO, f/4, 1/80s, 17mm, ISO6400


45mm F1.8, f/1.8, 1/160s, 45mm, ISO6400

75mm F1.8, f/1.8, 1/80s, ISO3200

75mm f1.8, f/1.8, 1/200s, 75mm, ISO12800

75mm F1.8, 1/500sec, ISO6400

CAMERA HANDLING

Although the E-M1 Mark II's overall design is quite similar to the older E-M1, the E-M1 Mark II has several huge improvements in terms of ergonomics, design for comfortable hand-holding and also better placements of buttons and dials. 

The beefier hand gripping area (made deeper and larger than the E-M1) was the first one to stand out, a major welcome now, considering we are getting more larger sized lenses, eg the 40-150mm F2.8 PRO and 300mm F4 IS PRO. The larger hand gripping area also houses some important additional improvements and features, such as larger battery (with much longer capacity, we will get to that soon) and dual SD card slots that will surely benefit some serious shooters. In addition, the thumb rest area at the back of the camera has also changed, for better thumb hooking. 

I have always said previously that for Olympus the E-M1 (2013 version) has the best overall handling for Olympus cameras and would highly recommend it to any serious photographers especially those used to DSLR-like handling. 

Now, that crown goes to the new E-M1 Mark II. 

I was shooting ALL day, continuously almost non-stop, for hours and hours long, and I never felt any strain on my wrist or any pain or discomfort in any other body parts. I have shot with various lenses, 300mm F4 IS PRO, 75mm F1.8, 45mm F1.8, and about 90% of the time during this review as evidently seen in the amount of photographs taken, I used the 12-100mm F4 IS PRO lens. 

The grip was that good!

The camera did not feel that much larger than the E-M1 (2013), yet the ergonomics improved a lot. The buttons on the camera back are much larger now, and the "overly-sensitive" shutter button issue is now gone. The camera with especially the 12-100mm F4 PRO lens felt just right on hands, and I do not wish for any more improvements in this area. I think Olympus has hit the perfect spot in terms of performance to size/weight ratio and if you make the camera smaller, I won't be too happy with the compromises. 

Unfortunately we do not have a fully functional sample of the HLD-9 battery grip that goes with the E-M1 Mark II in Olympus Malaysia office yet, so I cannot comment on the add on battery grip, which I think will be useful for handling much larger lenses. 

ELECTRONIC VIEWFINDER AND CAMERA LCD SCREEN

One of my few disappointments with the E-M1 Mark II, is the use of the exact same LCD touch panel as the older Olympus Micro Four Thirds camera! You cannot fully operate the menu from the touch screen, and it is still a single-touch operation. That means, you cannot do pinch to zoom (like what you can do on smartphones), which would have been really useful when previewing images. That feature is already available in most of other manufacturer's cameras with touch screen capabilities, I just wish this was implemented in Olympus' Flagship camera! Come on, how difficult is it to have a multi-touch capable LCD screen, and more icon-driven menu system for simpler touch screen operation? We live in a world of smart devices now, the camera has got to get smarter somehow.

The electronic viewfinder promises two things: much better response time at 6ms delay only, and 120fps refresh rate. Indeed the EVF was a joy to use, large enough for framing comfortably and I did not experience any eye strain shooting long hours with the E-M1 Mark II through the EVF. The black out time while shooting continuously (18 frames per second C-AF tests as shown earlier) was quite minimal and I could still effectively track my subjects visibly and clearly. My only complain, which is not a big problem and I needed some time to get used to, is the more saturated than normal EVF colors in comparison to the E-M1 (2013). The EVF on the E-M1 has more neutral, almost natural looking colors which was something I am proud to show people who are not using Olympus EVF (you should have seen how different he color profiles are at "other" manufacturers' EVF).

The hand gripping is beefier now, deeper and taller than E-M1. Also the thumb hook area has been improved as well. 


E-M1 Mark II's battery on the left vs E-M1's battery on the right

Now, the battery indicator shows actual percentage remaining!

BATTERY LIFE

As shown in the image comparison of two batteries above (E-M1 Mark II the black one, and E-M1 using the grey one), you can tell that the much chunkier E-M1 Mark II's battery means serious business! I am so glad, after so many constant complains I have given review after review on not getting sufficient battery life out of the Olympus OM-D and PEN cameras, FINALLY they made a new battery for the new E-M1 Mark II. This is huge.

One battery charge could last me an ENTIRE day, coming home with more than 1500 shots, yet I still have about 20% battery life left! On the day I was shooting the Sepang Moto GP 2016, I came home with about 3000 shots (I used sequential shooting most of the time) before the battery flattened. It is difficult to estimate how much improvement there is over the previous E-M1, but I can confidently say the new battery lasts at least TWICE as long on the E-M1 Mark II. With the exception of the Sepang Moto GP race shooting, I never needed to reach for a second/spare battery to get me through the day.

A tiny, but useful change is that the battery now has a percentage indicator! I am sure many Olympus OM-D and PEN shooters suffer this: you do not know how much battery power if left but judging by the mysterious 2/3 bars battery indicator you thought you could get maybe 150 or more shots, but about 5 minutes later the battery started blinking red and it shuts down the next 2 minutes. With the exact percentage indicator, now that won't be an issue anymore!

4K VIDEO RECORDING

After so many requests and customer feedback, FINALLY, there is 4K video recording in E-M1 Mark II.

DISCLAIMER: Now I shall politely excuse myself from commenting on the video capabilities of the E-M1 Mark II. I am not a video shooter, and I seriously have very little experience when it comes to video. I shall leave this part of the review to the actual pros.

Nevertheless I did have a 4K video, recorded at Ultra HD (3840 × 2160) and have that uploaded to Youtube. Please understand that Youtube does some funky compression for faster loading time so please do not judge the video quality. The E-M1 Mark II can record in full Cinema 4K, but I thought it was pointless to do so since I won't be able to showcase the capabilities through Youtube.

What you can judge from this video, was that the video was shot at an incredibly challenging lighting condition, fully hand-held. The 5-Axis Image Stabilization does a great job at steadying the video, even when I was walking around to frame some of the difficult to reach musicians hiding in far corners of the stage. Also, C-AF was used, but not entirely successful all the time, falling short at areas with very low contrast (the two ladies in front, who stood in the shadows), and the C-AF in the video will somehow go to areas with much stronger/bolder contrast. Other than that, I do think the C-AF is quite reliable if not encountering such complex situations. And I know all the video shooters that I know who know their game well, will shoot in manual focus only.


NADIR (FEATURING BIHZHU) - WHY DO WE CRY

Nadir performing their original song "Why Do We Cry" live at Merdekarya on 29 October 2016, with lead vocals by guest singer Bihzhu. 
Check out Bihzhu at her Youtube Channel (click) and Official Website (click)

The first thing I immediately noticed when I was playing the video on my PC was the dramatic difference in audio recording! That was something I least expected, but such a great improvement nonetheless. Do bear in mind that I was shooting a live band performance, and I was standing quite near to the loudspeakers. Knowing this I intentionally dialed down the volume control (audio recording level) and the audio recorded came out superb! No distortion at all, and the bass and treble were beautifully rendered. The sound was so full of detail and the vocal was clearly recorded in the midst of all the loud, messy, clashing of other musical instruments.  I am not expecting audiophile quality, surely this cannot replace dedicated microphones or voice recorders, but in situations both are absent, you can rest assured the built in microphone can do a decent job on it's own. Since Olympus does manufacture high quality voice recorders, it was about time they finally incorporated their expertise of voice recording into their OM-D camera! 

The 5-Axis IS worked like a charm in video. I am not skillful enough for smooth maneuvering, but you can tell from my crudely recorded video that the IS worked effectively in steadying the video. The only part which suffered in the video was the focusing, but I believe experience and know-how are important too, both I seriously lack of. In the Youtube video, you may also see in the darker shadows, there are artifacts, and this is most likely due to heavy compression by Youtube. I do not see them in the original video. 

300mm PRO, f/11, 1/125s, SO64

300mm PRO, f/18, 1/200s, ISO200

12-100mm PRO, f/4, 1/1600s, 100mm, ISO320

 12-100mm PRO, F/4, 1/60s, 70mm, ISO800

12-100mm PRO, F/8, 1/20s, 41mm, ISO200

FULL RESOLUTION IMAGE SAMPLES 

I have uploaded 30 sample images as seen in this blog review to Google Photos for your pixel-peeping pleasures. You may view the full resolution image samples here (click). 

CONCLUSIONS

What I like about the E-M1 Mark II?
1) Incredible 5-Axis Image Stabilization, especially combined with the M.Zuiko 12-100mm F4 IS PRO lens
2) Significantly improved Continuous AF hit-rate and accuracy, with useful features such as Pro Capture Mode that starts recording images as you half-press the shutter button to prevent missing important split second shots
3) Improved overall image quality and better JPEG output straight out of the camera
4) Phenomenal battery life, I used only one battery for a full day out shooting, giving me about 1500 shots in a single charge
5) Enhanced ergonomics and camera handling, with beefier hand-gripping area
6) Superb audio quality in video recording - I shall not comment much in video recording performance and leave this to the actual pros. 

What I wish was improved in the E-M1 Mark II?
1) The LCD Touch Screen still does not have multi touch capability. It is 2016, we need to be able to operate better from the touch screen!
2) Electronic Viewfinder showing more saturated colors, which appear unnatural. I guess I need some to time getting used to this
3) I seriously have run out of negative things to say about E-M1 Mark II. 

Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II has exceeded every aspect of my own initial expectations of the camera. From my review testing sessions, I found that the E-M1 Mark II (in comparison to the older 2013 E-M1) has better image stabilization capabilities, improved continuous AF performance, more comfortable camera handling and most importantly new 20MP image sensor and Truepic 8 processing engine that deliver greater image quality. 

I was particularly surprised to be able to hand-hold the camera for long exposure photography up to 5 seconds long at 12mm wide angle (with the 12-100mm F4 IS PRO lens), which was an incredible feat that I never thought was possible without a tripod, or resting the camera on a surface. The 5-Axis Image Stabilization also greatly benefits video being recorded hand-held. Autofocus performance has also been drastically improved especially when it comes to Continuous AF shooting, getting high hit-rates in my tests. I cannot tell you how the Continuous AF compares with competition since I have had no prior experience using other cameras with high performing Continuous AF capabilities, I am sure there will be other more qualified reviewers covering this. I particularly liked the noticeable improvements in image quality, about one stop advantage when it comes to shooting high ISO compared to the older E-M1, as well as more refined, pleasing looking JPEG output with the new Truepic 8 engine. Shooting all day with the E-M1 Mark II, at times a few hours continuously was quite a fun experience, handling was comfortable and I never felt the need to put the camera away to rest. 

I acknowledge that there are some aspects and features of the E-M1 Mark II which I have not covered, eg 50MP high resolution mode, more detailed explanation on how the Continuous AF works, and all the other improvements. I shall cover these improvements in my coming review extension entry soon, and rest assured I will be shooting more sample images to share here as well. Also, I want to start talking about that beautiful M.Zuiko 12-100mm F4 IS PRO lens! 

If you are looking for a high performing mirrorless interchangeable lens camera, I strongly believe Olympus OM-D E-M1 mark IIIIis quite a tough choice to beat at this moment!

Note: E-M1 Mark II Blog Extension (click) is now published, covering 50MP High Res Shot, Electronic Shutter improvements, Cinema 4K shooting and upgrades of camera features. 

Please support me by liking my Facebook Page here (click). 

205 comments :

  1. Very nice review Robin. Cheers~

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    1. I just saw your blog review. Nicely done!

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    3. I suppose the pictur quality is equal on Pen F and EM 1 mkII?

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    4. E-M1 Mark II has better image quality than PEN-F, visibly when it comes to high ISO and dynamic range. I did not test the dynamic range since we are looking at JPEG. In my comparison of PEN-F vs E-M10 Mark II, I notice only very slight improvement in high ISO shooting.

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  2. With these performance, i think it's worth for the price tag. :)

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  3. Thank you for the very comprehensive review.
    I have the OMD 5 Mk11. which is a fantastic camera. Would there be a marked advantage in now moving to the OMD 1 Mk11?
    Secondly is any pricing available and when will it be in the shops.

    Thank you
    Peter










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    1. Hey Peter
      Everything in the E-M1 Mark II is improved drastically from E-M5 Mark II. 4K video, 5-Axis is better, more reliable C-AF, improvement in image quality, ergonomics, etc. Depends on what kind of photography you do, but if you want an upgrade (I still believe E-M5 Mark I is an excellent camera by itself) E-M1 Mark II is a good jump.

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    2. Best pics I have seen with this camera. Sort of muted colors, but wonderful crispyness. Thanks a lot.

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    3. The color profiles are a little different in this E-M1 Mark II, but I do feel the signature colors remain the same.

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    4. Thanks Robin. Just also received the latest press release from Olympus re the Mk 11 - and the prices - eeek. !!! 3 x times Omd 5 MK11. I can see the differences though and they seem to be considerable. I now need one.
      Question - what size are the jpegs in SF mode?

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    5. Not really Peter, the JPEGs were converted from RAW via Olympus Viewer 3, so it is in LF only.

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    6. Robin, I really want to thank you for being so responsive. I wrote to you a while back with a question and you got back to me straight away. We know you work for Olympus and obviously want to encourage people to buy Olympus but whether they do so or not is their own decision. It's about brand loyalty and if owners think they are being looked after they will stick with the brand and what you do is provide incredible real life examples of how the Olympus system works and it's reassuring to know that the views of owners are respected. I moved to Olympus a couple of years ago as I wanted a better quality travel camera, but one small enough to be unobtrusive. I've used DSLR's and they are just big to carry around overseas.I was previously using the Canon G1 X Mk 2 which is by the way a terrific camera and would fit in my pocket. I love the Olympus system and the pro lenses are fantastic. My last buy was the 40 mm to 150 mm 2.8 pro and I am amazed how sharp it is. So thanks again for doing such a good job in letting us all know how the Olympus system works and particularly giving actual examples of what is possible with these cameras.

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    7. Thanks Peter, I think you are being too kind with your words.

      I share what I can on this blog, whether it is about the review stuff, or when it comes to photography in general. I make myself available because I am accountable for what I have written. I do not necessarily push Olympus all the time, I am the believer of using the right tool for the right job. And I am glad you have found that the Micro Four Thirds system works for you. 40-150mm F2.8 PRO lens is one amazing lens, I myself am saving up for one!

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  4. I'm glad they've finally produced a better successor to the E-5. It reminded me of waiting for the Nikon D500 to replace the D300.

    It sounds as though they've smashed most of my objections with the E-M1. I'm glad to see that they've improved the image quality at ISO 3200 and ISO 6400. I find ISO 3200 the most I'll use on micro Four-Thirds from any of the bodies I have. That said, I'd restrict myself to ISO 4000 with the Nikon D7200.

    I hope that they come get me for a few hours and replace my E-M1 with the newer model, at least, for a while.

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    1. Hey Sakamoto,
      Indeed, it is a huge improvement over the E-M1, surely E-5. We can't conclude the image quality yet, at this moment we only have JPEG samples. Nonetheless from what I observe so far the results are promising. I am sure there are Olympus events to allow consumers to try the new E-M1 Mark II in your area? Do give it a go.

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    2. I'm not even in the market any longer. I'm giving away my equipment before I die. I continue to try to shoot, but my low blood flow is so bad that I'm no longer steady that often.

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  5. Wow! Thanks for the info. This is a very exciting camera. I am curious about a very specific thing though. If you shoot different aspect ratios in raw, will it result in a smaller raw file or is the full 4x3 image always recorded in raw. I know most cameras record the full frame in raw regardless of aspect ratio settings, but I've noticed that the Panasonic G7 actually crops the raw image and results in smaller files. This would be a simple way to increase the raw buffer depth if you're already planning on shooting in a different aspect ratio. Thanks.

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    1. Hey Andy,
      If you choose different aspect ratio, you will still get the full original 4/3 format in the RAW file, uncropped. The crop information is embedded for JPEG post-processing in Olympus Viewer 3.

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    2. Thanks Robin! Too bad. I'd love to get a bit more out of the buffer in 16x9.

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    3. Hey Andy, I also wish there was more buffer. Nonetheless, I think if you shoot JPEG (I cannot imagine the nightmare of dealing with thousands and thousands of sequential burst RAW files) you do have quite a bit of leeway to deal with!

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    4. Good point. I'd imagine the JPG buffer is extremely deep, maybe even infinite, depending on the jpg quality settings. That is unless there's something else that might bottleneck the system.

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    5. Just as an update. I've found official specs on an Olympus site and it's kind of a let down for me. This camera looks amazing, but the buffer for 60fps, even in jpg, is much less than I would have thought. I guess I was hoping for too much. Still a great looking all around camera.

      http://asia.olympus-imaging.com/product/dslr/em1mk2/feature.html

      Maximum of approx. 60 fps,
      Max. no. of frames: RAW 48, JPEG (LN) 48

      Maximum of approx. 18 fps,
      Max. no. of frames: RAW 77, JPEG (LN) 105

      Maximum of approx. 10 fps,
      Max. no. of frames: RAW 148, JPEG (LN) until card is full

      All of the other sequential shooting modes have a higher number of jpgs that can be captured than raw, but in 60fps it's the exact same number. Looks like there is something else limiting it.

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  6. Hey Robin
    Thank you very much for your first review. I hope in future you will have time to test older 43 lenses with this camera and give us your opinion.

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    1. Hey Peter,
      Yes surely that is in my list of things to do. I cannot fit any more to this entry it is already over-bloated as it is!

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  7. Hi Robin,

    Thanks for your review. Did you test EM1 MK II with the old ZD lens for the autofocus? I would like to know if the performance is better than EM 1.

    Felix

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    1. Hey Felix,
      Not yet, but I shall come to testing the old 4/3 lenses a bit later. It is definitely in my list of things to do.

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  8. Thank you for this great review Robin, the camera seems amazing and can't wait for more of your photos using it. It seems also the new 12-100 lens is great and looking forward to your impressions on that as well :) Keep rocking

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    1. Thanks for the kind words. Yes I do want to shoot more with the E-M1 Mark II, it felt as if the review is still incomplete, there are still things I want to say. And yes that 12-100mm f4 PRO lens deserves its own standalone review.

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  9. Hello Robin, very good first pass review.

    I would like to know if the silent shutter can be used at iso 6400 in the mark II...... in the original EM1 it was limited to iso 3200 (limiting when shooting ballet peformance) ....

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    1. Oh yes, with the new E-M1 Mark II, you can use all ISO settings (up to 25600) with the silent mode.

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    2. woohoo.... now that i know my next cam and lens, its time to earn the money to buy it.... Thanks for the fast reply Robin.

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    3. No worries, Stan, glad I could help.

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  10. Very interesting review, thank you.
    I am little worried about the rolling shutter, still. But your parrot shots were great example but raised a question, electronic or mechanical shutter? Same for the bikes etc?

    I don't see any other flaws in E-M1 than the rear display being FAS. And it might be a deal breaker for me that puts me to return camera (I have it pre-ordered) as I heavily use it.

    The few things I would like to ask like, is it possible to get camera so that it is Wake (not sleep) and have a rear display turned Off (not just dimmed very low as in E-M1) while EVF turns on/off based proximity sensor? Sometimes it is needed, but as now the screen is FAS, I think it gets permanently parked to closed as it becomes "useless".

    Oh and if you set camera to adjust ISO in 1/3 EV steps, then you can find what is the maximum native ISO. On E-M1 native is ISO 5000. And this might explain why Olympus changed max ISO in video from 3200 to 6400 via firmware 4.0.

    Oh and a question, does the focus bracketing/stacking support now a timer for release? As it is required to release it on tripod and now requires to use a touchscreen or a phone instead just shutter button (wintertimes are bad, you know) with 2-3s delay.

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    1. Hey Paristo,
      Thanks for the kind words. I shall try my best to answer your questions.
      As I have stated, the flying Macaw shots were electronic shutter at 18fps, if you were referring to the red parrot that was also electronic shutter at 60fps. The bike shots were mechanical 10fps.

      I don't think you can permanently turn off the LCD display, unfortunately. You may of course close it fully as you have e suggested.
      The Native ISO should now be ISO6400 based on my understanding. I could be wrong though.
      I have no idea about the focus bracketing/stacking with timer. Shall have to get back to you on that one.

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    2. Thank you from your reply.
      The parrot shots has diminished or even removed many doubts about usefulness of that electronical shutter capabilities and the speed truly is amazing, great work that Olympus has done.

      I even think that it could be possible to come fairly good results with many sports with electronical shutter, mayby not a golfer swinging with driver fully, but the moments just before swing or after the swing becomes super easy with a silent shutter (and wide open so even aperture opening/closing doesn't generate noise). I have enjoyed from firmware 4.0 on E-M1 a lot because the electronic shutter and can't wait to get hands on Mk2 because your samples!!!

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    3. Oh and one favor to ask, could it be possible in 12-100mm review to show the focus limiter operation? Would be interesting to know well it works example on indoor situations or casual portraiture to avoid focusing problems in low light like events and such?

      Olympus says it is estimation for ranges, but being able limit it to like 1-3m and quickly enable/disable it would be great!

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    4. Will try to remember to do that when I do get the time to review the 12-100mm F4 PRO lens. Life has been soooo busy lately, my weekends are filled with Olympus consumer events.

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    1. No worries! My pleasure to do the review.

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  12. Hi Robin, thank you for the great review. Will you be sticking on some 4Thirds lenses soon? I still have a 50-200 SWD and that lens is not too great on my EM1. I'm wondering what kind of beast will the EM1 MKII make out of this lens. Will the 50-200 SWD finally be able to shoot real sports like a EOS7 or Nikon D500? I'm not even hoping it can shoot like a Canon 1D or Nikon D5 but that would certainly be intriguing! You still have a 50-200 (non SWD) right?

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    1. I do want to test out the older four thirds lenses, but that will have to wait. I will try to squeeze in some time to test and write about it in my extension part soon. I also need to review the 12-100mm F4 PRO which a lot of people are asking now.

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  13. Nice review and nice camera... my only concern is the price! 2000-2100 euro at same par with Nikon D500 and above Fuji XT2 and Sony a6500 ... with lower IQ and less effective AF (although it is much improved from EM1 mk1) than competition. I think pricing of mk2 is a big mistake by Olympus

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    1. Thanks for the compliments. I won't be so quick to say it has less effective AF. That is just too soon of a conclusion to draw. In terms of IQ, if you talk purely about resolution and high ISO then go for full frame, there is no reason to look for micro four thirds. I would say, with the advantage of 5-Axis IS, and great lenses, the IQ should be on par with competition. You have got to take those into consideration as well. those you need ISO1600 on a Full Frame you can get away with ISO400 on a Micro Four Thirds.

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  14. Robin, thanks for another great review and beautiful set of photos.
    I look forward to the extension of it!
    Will you be also reviewing the new 25mm PRO?
    And do you know if there will be a silver version of the EM1 mk2 in the near future?

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    1. Thanks for the kind words. I have reviewed the 25mm F1.2 PRO. You can read it here: https://robinwong.blogspot.my/2016/09/olympus-mzuiko-25mm-f12-pro-lens-review.html

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  15. My only question is (cause I am impressed with the AF in sports) does it crop the sensor in 4K? My OMD M5 Mark II is a phenomenal camera, I have used it for some high speed shots with lots of success, so I think this one will blow it out of the water. Thanks

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    1. I am not too sure myself, but what I do know is, in Video, if you enable Movie IS 1 (mechanical + electronic IS), it will be cropped. If you use Movie IS 2 (mechanical only), there should be no crop.

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  16. You say 5 axis is better, but did you compare the EM1 v1/v2 together with non-stabilised lenses?

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    1. In my test, I mentioned clearly that together with the 12-100mm F4 PRO, the 5-Axis Sync IS allows me to handhold 12mm wide angle at 5 seconds shutter speed. I can never do this with any other cameras before.
      With the E-M1 (2013), the slowest shutter speed I can hand-hold was 1 second only. There is no need to compare. I used E-M1 so extensively over the years, I know my limit.

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    2. I disagree. If I can achieve a 3 second handheld shot with the new camera combined with non-is lenses, it interests me far greater than if the mkii "only" performs as well as the mk1. Your review is great, and I see where you've added bias but your information is helping me to decide on spending around £2000GBP, so I feel it's a totally valid question. I won't be buying the 12-100mm as it's too large, and the f4 aperture doesn't appear to create any background blue for the most part, so I won't have a lens with IS to combine with the Mkii and achieve the maximum stability.

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    3. "I see where you've added bias"

      Wow. Such accusation. You can leave any time you want. You don't have to read if you disagree and certainly, I am not here to please everyone. If you want so much background blur just get a full frame, or better, buy a medium format.

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    4. In what way was my comment an accusation?? It was a compliment! You must be worn out and touchy from hand-holding all those 5 second exposures pal. My question was simple and you answered in an aggravated manner; You've used it so I just wanted a simple answer that's all. Oh and for reference, I've come from FF to M43, having had the A7Rii, Leicas and everything else in between. I'm happy with the depth of field my m43 primes and f2.8 zooms provide; I also prefer the fastest shutter speeds possible. Occasionally, I'd like to hand-hold for longer periods than I can currently achieve, hence my original question!

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    5. Wayne, I hope you understand that accusing me of "adding bias" is not something that I take lightly. I took extra care of how I test the camera, making sure everything was done accurately, and I share information only when I am certain of the results, backed with plenty of evidence. I do not just "add bias" to any of my claims. I am sure you can see why I was insulted.

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    6. I can't, but if you see it as that, then fine; it wasn't my intention to come across like that. I simply asked you if you've tried the EM-1 v1/v2 hand-held without stabilised lenses. This IMO is a standard test that should have been performed to see how much the lens stabilisation is adding vs the camera body. I can achieve 1 second with a GX8 if I tried hard enough, so although 5 seconds is groundbreaking, not everybody is going to buy THAT lens.

      IMO, it's funny how the only reviews we've seen are the EM1-ii with the only two stabilised lenses in the entire range. This either means Olympus directed how the cameras are reviewed (with which accessories), as, let's face it would benefit them. OR, it means none of the reviewers don't own any other lenses besides these two, which is doubtful. It could also be construed as the EM1- v1 vs. v2 to be similar in their results when it comes to this scenario. Finally, I could be totally wrong and it's much better in the new version, even without lens-IS, but without proof, how do we know? Olympus are really pushing the new lenses just as much as the camera body; they're a company who want to make sales of course.

      The stabilisation could make huge differences to my work, but as I can't find any reviews with non-IS lenses, I guess I'll have to do my own tests when I can get my hands on one.

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    7. Wayne, or maybe Mk2 comes with 12-100 that so many is egor to use and test and as well improve the review visibility as people are searching info about it too?

      They are both new things and will generate discussions as well.
      And even if Olympus recommends to use 12-100, it is after all amazing lens by its own!

      And let's face it, 12-40+40-150 pro combo is great, now you get with one lens for most situations from portraits to landscapes and small details, leaving just some wildlife or sports out. So now you can have light weight single camera combo for many, many situations. And optically something that no one else has done (8.3x!) with that sharpness.

      The problem for many is how to get both, mk2 as 12-100 or whichever first?

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    8. Thanks for the reply Paristo. I see that a lot of people are interested in the 12-100, but would you really replace the f2.8's with it? Even f2.8 sometimes feels too slow on M43 in low light. The IS won't help in certain situations, for example if you want to freeze the motion of things in darker situations, without ramping up the ISO.

      I'd like to see separate reviews of the lens and body. That way everybody sees what would benefit them, rather than everybody sees what Olympus wants us to see.

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    9. Since you are being persistent, I will just give you my honest reply here, Wayne. I have also followed your discussion about this in the forum. You are putting in way too much of your own assumptions.

      I have three days to test the E-M1 Mark II. I did not have a lot of time, and there were several locations I needed to cover. Here is the breakdown.

      Friday
      Morning - Shooting around Lake Gardens in KL - did not turn out to be fruitful, the place was worse than I expected, no interesting subjects to shoot, and weather was cloudy, hence I could not get contrast and colors for my shots. I met up with Ming Thein and collected his loaned gear from Olympus - E-M1 Mark II, 12-100mm and 25mm F1.2, and another unit of old E-M1.
      Afternoon - KL Bird Park. Knowing I will end up at Bird Park, I carried with me the 300mm F4 ISO PRO. That is not a light lens to carry around, hence the only other spare lens I had with me, was a 12-100mm, just in case I have something else to shoot, besides using the 300mm. No other reason, it was just a spare lens. Turns out that I do not need a 300mm focal length in a Bird Park where the birds were too close. I should have brought a 40-150mm F2.8 PRO instead. Therefore, I did a switch to 12-100mm lens and utilized the 100mm reach instead. 300mm was too difficult for me to handle. Bear in mind I lack experience in shooting birds.
      Evening - Went to KLCC. Still the same gear since I was out whole day. Bear in mind I was carrying 3 camera bodies 4 lenses, and that includes the 300mm PRO lens. I just could not carry anything else. So the default I used for the night was 12-100mm F4 PRO lens.

      Saturday
      Morning & afternoon - MotoGP race. Main lens was 300mm lens. I also brought along 40-150mm F2.8 lens and 25mm F1.2 lens for a friend to use. For the race I used 300mm F4 PRO. Makes sense, right? then we went to shoot the pretty ladies. I was with a friend, and I asked him to choose between 12-100mm and 25mm F1.2, he chose the 25mm, which left me with 12-100mm. It was not in my original plan to shoot the pretty ladies, but I thought why not make the best of the situation since I did not have much time to shoot. So I went along with the plan. If I knew I was shooting portraits, my preference would be 45mm F1.8 and 75mm F1.8
      Evening - Nadir live performance in Merdekarya (the one in video, and some high ISO shots). ALL prime lenses. 45mm F1.8, 25mm F1.2 and 75mm F1.8.

      Sunday
      Morning - Street shooting at chow kit. This was intentional. I wanted to shoot some shots for my coming 12-100mm PRO lens review. Also, people have been asking me to review this lens. I have intentionally wanted to use this for the entire morning shoot.

      Afternoon
      I went to a live band performance, and shot with a variety of lenses (primes, and zoom) but I did not share the photos and videos, because the quality did not come out good. Strong backlit, and horrible lighting in general. Not the best samples to show what the camera can or cannot do.

      Delete
    10. Wayne, I hope this makes you realize that, I choose whatever lens I use based on need, practicality and shooting conditions. I use the most appropriate lens at the condition where it is required. I brought along 12-100mm on the first day because, I had to carry so many other gear with me (Ming Thein returned all his loaned units).

      You accused me to using 12-100mm PRO, and worse, you accuse Olympus of "directing their marketing strategies", which is totally bullshit. I chose to shoot with the 12-100mm with very valid reasons, and quite frankly, I hope you do appreciate me explaining myself.

      You could have asked me politely and I would have obliged and did the test for you. Instead what did you do? You accused me of adding bias. That was uncalled for, and you did not even apologize. Instead you went rampant not only here but on another forum making wilder accusations that were totally baseless.

      You can believe whatever you want to believe, I am not here to tell you otherwise. You must also understand this is not a forum, this is my blog, it is like you come to my house, you do need to show some courtesy. After all, like I said, I put so much effort and time into making sure I did the best I can. If that is not good enough for you, then there is nothing more I can do for you.

      Delete
    11. Robin, you did everything you can and more!

      Keep up the good work!!
      Life is Good!!

      Delete
  17. Hello Robin, as always nice review... and I'm a big Olympus fan.
    But I've a question, a serious one...apart from the improved battery, 4k, C-AF and buffer, I cannot see anything else my EM-5 Mark 2 cannot do. I mean, considering the IQ, ISO and S-AF performance. There have been situations when even I've got 5s hand held shots with my camera along with 12-40 pro. My question is, does this camera has enough to justify the hefty price?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You could do 5 seconds shutter speed, hand-held with E-M5 Mark II? Gosh your hands must have been tripods in their previous lives.
      The image quality is improved, that is for sure, but I cannot conclude by how much.
      Well, every aspect of the camera is an improvement over the E-M5 Mark II. Even the image quality, high ISO performance, handling, everything else. If you look at every single one of the improvements, the price should be justified. If you want the price to be lower, some compromise will have to be made and that will not be a good decision especially when it comes to a flagship product.

      Delete
    2. He he... well, I have got 3-4 shots handheld, while I was experimenting...but it is not something I do when I really want a sharp photo. :)
      Also, the very first photo..its saying ISO-64..! So there is a new low ISO limit for this camera?
      Thank you for your time and reply..!

      Delete
    3. ISO Low is now ISO 64, but it is not the native ISO. The lowest native ISO is still 200, and 64 is an expanded low ISO

      Delete
    4. That's great.. thank you Robin. Waiting for the 12-100 review..!

      Delete
    5. Shall do that soon, though with the launch of E-M1 Mark II I am tied to the office for a bit, there are plenty of work to do

      Delete
    6. I'm using an e-m5 II and in comparison to my older GH3 the AF is bad in low light! The old GH3 is faster and situations with "hunting" are much less. if the AF of the new E-M1II is more responsive and accurate than the AF of the E-M5 II this would be a big improvement. Together with te mentioned facts to battery, CAF, speed, ISO and ergonomics I think the new camera is even a big step in comparison to te 5II and I will get my GH3 retired

      Delete
  18. OMG this is a Mega Review.
    So much hard work involved on this.
    So much time invested.
    Really shows what the new Flag Ship can do.

    Can't wait to try it on Saturday.

    -Bert

    ReplyDelete
  19. Great review and stunning results! These handheld long exposures are really revolutionary. Did you try a High Res Shot?
    The only strange things I saw were in the crops of the two beauties. There is a strange grid-like structure visible in their eyes.
    In normal enlargement you don't notice it, but when you enlarge all of a sudden it is there.
    Or is it because they have special contact lenses?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks for the kind words. I will cover the high res shot in my coming extension review.
      Yeap, these girls have some funky contact lenses.

      Delete
  20. Great review and nice photos as usual. I do wished they had the same auto ISO implementation as Nikon though.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. What kind of auto ISO implementation is that?

      Delete
    2. Hi Robin, with EM-1 Mark 1, one can only set the default ISO and the highest ISO. There is no setting to determine the minimum shutter speed beyond which ISO will increase beyond the default. As the camera always choose 1/f as the shutter speed, one cannot really automatically benefit from the IB stabilization.

      In contrast, with Nikon, one can choose the minimum shutter speed before ISO increases or set to auto mode which means 1/f or 1/2f etc etc.

      Is the Auto ISO implementation on the EM-1 Mark 2 the same as on the EM-1 Mark 1?

      BTW, I currently use the EM-1 Mark 1 and I love it! However, I wish Olympus improve on their auto ISO implementation. It's just too basic right now.

      Delete
    3. And what makes you assume they did not improve that?

      Yes, you can adjust the minimum shutter speed before the ISO increases for the E-M1 Mark II.

      Delete
    4. Wow. That is excellent news. I was always hoping they would add that with a firmware update to the "old" E-M1 but it never happened. This makes me happy, really great news.

      Delete
    5. No worries! Glad to know this is a good thing.

      Delete
  21. Besides other features, 1500 shots in a single charge is a big improvement compared to my EM-5 Mark II !

    ReplyDelete
  22. Wishing for battery percentage indicator in next firmware for older models.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I don't think they will do that haha. Or at least I am not aware of their plans. Perhaps they needed a physical device to measure the percentage accurately.

      Delete
    2. Maybe it is the battery's hardware limitation

      Delete
    3. After all, the older batteries have been around for quite some time!

      Delete
    4. I believe the battery circuitry needs to support voltage measurements more accurately than older models with 1/4 accuracy.

      Delete
    5. Paristo, you might be right!

      Delete
  23. Hi Robin,

    Nice review and I was impressed with the concert photos.

    But my main issues as the price is higher than expected!
    For me the Price in Denmark incl. the Pro kit lens (12-40mm 2.8) is: 3186,31 USD

    Is this camera worth all that money and I want your objective and honest opinion on this?
    As for me this will also be a system switch away from Canon.

    Thanks,

    Martin

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hey Martin,
      Thanks for the kind words. The thing is, Olympus tried really hard to improve in every aspect of the camera. Hence the hefty price tag. Whether it is worth the price or not, that entirely depends on the photographer. Those who need the improvements in C-AF, Video shooting and IS, will surely find it worthwhile getting the E-M1 Mark II

      Delete
    2. Hi Robin,

      Thanks for your reply.

      My main shooting areas are sports and events. Mainly indoor shootings.
      I also shoot street and dogs.

      It was exactly the new and improved C-AF that made me feel in love with it and that´s why I'm going through as many tests reviews before spending that much money on it.
      I need to be sure that it delivers as promised as well as it can perform doing poor light conditions.

      So thanks again.

      Martin

      Delete
    3. I think the best way for you to decide this is to try the camera in person! I am sure Olympus will organize a touch and feel event for the E-M1 Mark II, have a go yourself and decide if the C-AF is good enough.

      Delete
  24. thankyou very much for your perfect report! Now I have more arguments to expose to my wife if she tries to dissuade me from even buying one other camera!

    ReplyDelete
  25. Robin: many high end camera aimed at action/sport shooters allow exposure compensation to be dialed in while shooting in Manual Mode and Auto ISO. Does Olympus have any plans to implement this feature (hopefully via a firmware upgrade)? Richard

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You can already do exposure compensation in Manual mode, auto ISO for both PEN-F and yes, the new E-M1 Mark II. No need firmware upgrade. straight out of the box.

      Delete
  26. Does the new pro zoom work with EM1 yet?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Pro zoom? Are you referring to the 12-100mm F4? I have been shooting 90% of the photos you see in this blog with that lens.

      Delete
    2. You emailed me the 12 to 100 IS needs firmware upgrade (lens or body) to work with EM1. THAT'S my question..

      Delete
  27. Thank-you, Robin, for the review. As usual, a very good one - that gave me more information on the camera and the 12-100. I get to see it on November 16th. I was definitely going to purchase the lens, probably the body but now, considering your review, I am also looking at the 25/1.2. My problem is that I am not a big fan of that angle of view.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. If you do not like that focal length, then don't invest in it. You can't force yourself to like something you don't!

      Delete
  28. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
  29. Very helpful review. With the caveat that you take such wonderful pictures thst it's hard to gauge how much or little the equipment makes. You can produce stellar quality with about any system I bet.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That is not true. I think I tried my best to torture the camera and lenses in difficult situations!

      Delete
  30. Quite frankly, simply the most comprehensive and professional review of a camera by a professional or amateur. Superfantastic. The action shots are superb and the portraits are mind-blowing. I'm embarrassed to say that I am a Canon shooter. Thanks for sharing

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks for the kind words, but nothing to be ashamed of when it comes to camera choice. These days there are no bad cameras, you just need to get the right camera that suits what you do. Canon is a respectable brand!

      Delete
    2. Thanks for the response back Robin. Canon is still a respected brand, but definitely not at all at the forefront of innovation. As a long time Canon faithful, just disappointed in the progress, offering and corporate philosophy.

      Delete
  31. Hi Robin,
    Thanks as always for a fabulous review!

    You mention that the colors with this new processor were not as punchy, did you shoot anything with the color set to "vivid"?

    Also in the past many have commented that the Olympus menu system is extremely complicated and hard to learn and in fact I used your fabulous "Cheat Sheet" to get me started when I purchased my E-M5 Mark ll earlier this year. Are there any major changes to their menus worth mentioning?
    Best regards, Robert

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hey Robert,
      The colors were set to "natural". However, I did bump up the contrast a little bit in my post processing, for better looking photo overall (added a little punch there).
      The menu system is now quite different, especially when it comes to video and C-AF adjustments, but for everything else stays pretty much the same. If I were to update the Cheat Sheet I need more time to understand the camera better, that has to come much later.

      Delete
  32. Hi Robin,

    Thank you so much for this great review. I'm waiting now for the extended review.

    It's going to be difficult to wait for next week : I'll probably have a chance to test a EM1 MkII at the "Salon de la Photo de Paris".

    Regards,
    Lionel

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hey Lionel,
      The best thing is for you to try the E-M1 Mark II yourself! Time passes by quickly, so no worries about that. I might need some time to shoot for the extension review. These few days I will be extremely busy with work!

      Delete
  33. thank you, Robin for the great review! I'm looking forward to order the e-m1 iiii in Germany as you wrote in your last sentence ;-)
    !I strongly believe Olympus OM-D E-M1 mark IIIIis quite a tough choice to beat at this moment!!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hey Armin,
      My pleasure doing the review. I think you will own an awesome camera and that is a great decision!

      Delete
  34. I was an Olympus fanatic just like you. Started from E510 then E 1,3, 30 and E5. Switched to micro 4/3 EM5 then the EM1 plus an amazing collection of zuiko 4/3 HG and SHG lenses. It was fun journey until I picked up a Pentax K 5 ii and a couple to lenses to start. IQ and ISO performance were pretty good and quality and price is reasonable. I always love Olympus colours and in good light, it's at par with any APSC or even full frame camera. I was hoping the new EM1 mark 2 price would be under $1800 Canadian but unfortunately it isn't. It's more expensive than any canon, Nikon ,Fuji or Sony dslr or mirrorless camera. I think it's time to fully switch to a Pentax K1. But I have to admit you pics are phenomenal as always.

    Eric V

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. If you feel that the price is not justified for the features and performance that the E-M1 Mark II has, then perhaps it is not the right camera for you. There are photographers that truly need such performance and capabilities. No worries about using any other camera system, I am sure they are rightfully capable in your hands!

      Delete
  35. HEy Robin, thanks for this review. I am now even more excited to get my hands on this camera :)

    One question about auto-focus: When you did your auto-focus tests, did you use a single, fixed autofocus point or did you let the camera decide where to focus? Can you tell us a little more about this? Thank you :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks for the kind words.
      For the Continuous-AF tests, I have fixed the focusing point to the middle. However, for the other shots (S-AF), I moved the focusing point to exactly where I wanted the area in the frame to be focused. I hope that helps.

      Delete
    2. Thanks Robin. So in C-AF if you use a fixed (middle) AF point, it still does tracking and picking up the subject?

      Delete
    3. hey Sascha, if you select C-AF and you fix the AF point in the middle, it will only track the subject in the middle of the frame.

      Delete
  36. Hi Robin,

    Great review. I do love the crop on the models eyes and seeing the printing on the contact lenses. Being in Australia the pricing is a major sticking point. I am someone who is sitting on a PEN3 and had been holding out for this unit as 'the big jump'. I love the Oly system, the units and the output but I am now on that fence as I do need to invest in lenses plus a new body. The other call is FujiFilm but my major moan for that system is the lack of touch screen on the main bodies (I mean really!).

    The above is just a vent :) Though I am feeling a little deflated at the entry point. We will see if it eats at me. :)


    Cheers,
    Stephen

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hey Stephen,

      No worries, I understand that the pricing is a little steep for most people. However, if you do get a chance, please do go and try the camera yourself in a consumer touch and try event. Then you can really decide if it is worth investing in this new body or not. It is different once you have had the camera in your hands, then you can truly tell if the performance and the capabilities are worth your money or not.

      Delete
    2. Thanks Robin. I hope that Olympus Australia does put on such an event - the Pen-F one was good. That and they send out Quettfenn once again :)

      Delete
    3. Quett is no longer in Australia, he has been promoted to the regional office. Nonetheless I see every reason why the events such as the one they did for Pen-F will still be easily accessible by everyone in Australia!

      Delete
    4. Actually they shipped Quett over for the event - really good guy that knew his stuff without the shiny suit of a salesman

      Delete
    5. At some point I do wish I could be flying over to do events in Australia too. I spent 4 years studying in Perth. Miss everything there so much!

      Delete
    6. That would be an excellent idea!

      Delete
  37. I am really impressed. Not by the price tag of course, that is a huge increase, but it seems like it might actually be worth it.
    I preordered it anyways right after Photokina, just having read the specs, but seeing just how much the C-AF improved is amazing.
    Furthermore the 4k quality is quite stunning, especially considering the mushy 1080p that you get even from the E-M1 (I'm not even speaking about the first E-M5 here). Overall, this thing excites me. I hope that my camera store will call me some time in early December to let me know that it's in, so that I can use it on my December trips.

    Can't wait!

    PS: Fantastic review, incredibly detailed and extensive testing. Very well done, even for your high standards!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hey Tobias,
      What a great Christmas present you have there for yourself! Can't wait to see what you can do with the E-M1 Mark II.

      Delete
  38. Hi Robin:

    Thanks for the review. I noticed a couple of pictures were shot at ISO 64. Is that just the "low ISO" setting? Could you comment a little on what you observe when you use ISO 64? Does it give even lower noise than ISO 200 or just similar level?

    Much thanks again!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The ISO64 is a fake, extended ISO from base ISO200. Therefore, it should be avoided if ultimate image quality is your main concern. It will give you less dynamic range, and more compression artifacts. It is basically an overexposed ISO200 image.

      Delete
  39. Hmmm great camera, and great realistic review as ever.
    I will buy the camera :-)

    Greetings from Amsterdam!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hey Rick! Wow, I am sure you will enjoy that E-M1 Mark II and be impressed by the speed and performance!

      Delete
  40. Hi Robin

    Great first review! I bouhgt the EM5 II in spring with the 12-40 pro, added the 40-150 pro, the 8 mm fisheye and finally the 9-18 mm (because ability to add filters). I am really happy with this stuff and I can say, that the IQ ist equal to the one from a Canon 6d which I used before (and still own). At least in good light conditions. For me, as a landscape shooter, low light performance is important (astro & northern lights). Thats why I still keep the full format 6d. I do not expect the same results about noise from a M43 sensor of course, but there should be a visible improve over the EM5 MkII. If it is, I would be ready to spent the money for the new body and sell all Canon stuff I still own. So, I'm looking forward to see some RAW-file comparisons...

    Thanks and enjoy!

    Greetings from Switzerland (by the way: body costs here sFr. 2299.- = US$ 2314)

    Stefan

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hey Stefan,
      Glad you have made your plunge to Micro Four Thirds system and make full use of what it is, not expecting it to be something which it is not. Yeah it will be a while before actual comparisons on the RAW file can be made. I am sure sites like DPreview will have something up as soon as they can.

      Delete
  41. Thank you for the great review, Robin. Like several others here, I would also like to know how the AF (single and continuous) performs with older four-thirds lenses. I'm especially interested in the 50-200 SWD. I have the E-M5, and its performance with this lens is dismal--AF is very slow and often inaccurate. I hope that Olympus have finally achieved world-class AF with the older lenses. So I hope you can get your hands on this lens to try it out!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I have not had the chance to try on E-M1 Mark II, but the AF was fine on the older E-M1. Not super fast but it was almost as good as using the lenses on the DSLR bodies like the E-5.

      Delete
    2. Robin,
      Thanks for so much invaluable info in your review. Now, I have a question. My OM-D E-M1 is most often used with the clip-on external electronic viewfinder (latest generation, "EVF4", I think). In my opinion, this is one of priceless abilities of the outgoing camera - to support a tiltable electronic viewfinder. Yet, the new camera, perhaps due to its more robust weather protection, does not seem to support the functionality I value so much Am I correct?
      Dmitri Serdukoff

      Delete
    3. Nope, you can no longer add an external EVF onto the E-M1 Mark II. I understand you like the tiltable part, but you were right, for a flagship OM-D that has to go due to weathersealing and robustness in construction.

      Delete
  42. Robin: in an earlier post, I asked you if Olympus had plans to allow for exposure compensation to be used while shooting in Manual Mode and Auto ISO. How is this implemented in the MK II? The reason I ask is that there is no external EC button on the MK II. Can another button be programmed to perform the EC function? Also, in an interview at Photokina, a senior Olympus manger indicated that the EC in Manual and Auto ISO could not be done. Thanks, Richard

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hey Richard,
      There are several options that can be done. Yes you can program a button to do that, another way is to use the 2x2 switch (similar to the E-M1 & E-M5 Mark II). You do need to customize the dials to get them to do Exposure compensation in Manual.

      Delete
  43. Robin, what a great description of your experience with the camera. Fabulous shots and wonderful narrative. It shows that this body is indeed a pretty fine tool when combined with a great lens and a good brain. Thanks for your efforts, I think I need to add this to my wish list now.
    Gary Weber
    Halifax, Canada

    ReplyDelete
  44. Hi Robin, thanks for that great review. So many details and example images!

    I'm actually thinking about switching to this camera. What are your most favorite lenses for the EM-1 Mark ii?

    Greetings from Berlin!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I have been using Olympus Micro Four Thirds for a while, my personal favourites are 45mm F1.8 and 25mm F1.8, though if I can afford it I will surely get the new 25mm F1.2!

      Delete
  45. Enjoy your review as usual. Can you find out whether 12-100mm is parfocal? If so that'd be a first for M43 zoom and very useful for video.
    TIA.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks. I don't think it is parfocal. I think the focus changes as you zoom, because the lens also physically extends as you zoom it.

      Delete
    2. Most probably not. There's a reason why professional cinema lenses are so much more expensive. Some time ago, Roger Cicala from Lensrentals has written a very good and mythbusting article about parfocal lenses. Here's the link: https://www.lensrentals.com/blog/2016/03/mythbusting-parfocal-photo-zooms/

      Delete
    3. I think if it does have parfocal olympus would have make it a claim of one of their selling features!

      Delete
  46. Thank you for the review! Can't wait for in-depth high res review :) Especially I would be interested in photos showing heavily blown grass, probably taken at longer exposure times (or is there a limit for hight res?) Do you know if there is a still working minimal IS that eats slight jittering from wind bowing into the camera? Seeing some high res photos taken with telephoto lenses would be great for that. And (finally) I would like to know if the photos are taken with elecronic or physical shutter and how fast the images are taken (I think it's electronic shutter to get rid of the knocking shutter). I know I could take 1/5-1/10s with 28mm back in non-IS analog times so I hope there is a chance I can hold 8 photos for high res, too ;) which IMHO should be the case with electronic shutter...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The electronic shutter now takes about 1/60sec per second so it is significantly faster than the previous E-M5 mark II. I will definitely give the high res mode a workout. Shall do more tests soon!

      Delete
  47. Hi Robin,
    On Oct. 22 I visited the Photoplus Expo in New York City and the E-M1 Mark ll was showcased on the stage located at the Olympus booth. During the presentation one of the pros presenting the camera has an issue with the focusing and he remarked that the camera being used was a prototype and not from the actual production run. They then gave him another body which then worked perfectly. Do you know whether the E-M1 M ll you used was from actual production or one of their prototypes?
    Best regards, Robert

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The E-M1 Mark II I used was an Initial Production, which was regarded as "review ready" and should not differ too much from the actual mass production units.
      I found no issue with focusing.

      Delete
  48. Do you only get the 6.5 stops of IS with the 12-100? What about 300 IS Pro?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, the 6.5 stops of compensation works with the 5=Axis Sync IS on 12-100mm PRO only. The 300mm PRO lens also allows the 5-Axis Sync IS but is capped at 6 stops.

      Delete
  49. Hi Robin,
    Really enjoy reading your reviews and thanks for making them available to us. Coincidentally, I have spent a few weekends shooting handheld in very poor light at an aircraft museum using the E-M1 Mk 1 with 12-40 f2.8 pro. deliberately trying to find my limits and had very pleasing results but when I saw the 6s Twin Tower results (at base ISO) it did blow me away. Having only had the camera 4 months, I am still growing into it and learning what it can do.
    Extremely impressed by the high speed AF and the detail levels in the owl and cats..
    Excellent helpful review..
    Many thanks...James

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I think the limit of slow shutter shooting is a subjective one, I could not go more than 1 second hand-held with E-M1 but I have heard accounts (even in this comment thread) of people able to steady their hands for 2-4 seconds long.
      I wanted to do longer shutter speed on the owl but it moved after every 1 or two seconds so I could not have a blur free shot, not because I could not steady my hands!

      Delete
  50. Hi Robin,

    Great review... I've had 3 different PENs (EP-L series) and they've been "ok", but since I work for Olympus I received the "employee" discount email. Now I am wondering if I should suck it up and get this with pro 12-100 lens. My main complaint with E-PL5 is low light shooting with no flash. I've had the panny 25mm 1.2 on my radar, but didn't do it yet. But your night freeway shot and concert shots really impressed me. I am wondering if this is TOO much camera for a casual shooter like me. I have to say the other nice thing is I do youtube video's with my daughter and have been using a cheap gopro so recently have been toying with the idea of getting a gimbal. The 4k and 5 axis features also peak my interest. My other use with my PEN right now is connecting it a spotting scope for digiscoping long range shooting.

    Anyways, I was super impressed with your pictures and review but most of these reviews are very complex. Oh, if you could only get one lens, you'd take the 12-100mm over the 25mm 1.2?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I think only you can answer whether the E-M1 Mark II is suitable for you and your photography needs. I would choose the 25mm F1.2 actually, because I shoot mostly with prime lenses!

      Delete
  51. Got a question to rise my mind after thinking all the useful situations of 60fps.
    As I think many does a huge mistake to themselves to talk it all the time as limited to S-AF, forgetting that it is totally functional speed focusing manually :)
    And then it hit me that does new model support focusing peaking while taking shots? As it would be amazing to see a focus peaking while you manually focus to players or so, and this way override all the limitations of 60fps speed :).

    As well it then raised question, does focus peaking work while recording video so manual focusing would be then possible?

    It is interesting to me how all the new features starts to sound even more game changing than Olympus presented. Like a baseball/basketball game where a given player comes to same area, you can prefocus there and just release heck of a burst for it!

    Btw, read about German Visionary that he was having difficulties to get the electronical shutter show the rolling shutter effect, but he did succeed couple times but found it be so well suppressed that it ain't a problem.
    This really does makes your parrot photos even more amazing as I just like to browse them quickly to see it "flying" and just wonder what that camera can do in hands of those who spend weeks in forest to get the shot they want from specific birds.

    I laugh all these current talks about Olympus overpricing the body, as I see it all just positive by first it being huge marketing as everyone talks about the release and compare it's features so lots of people will hear about it! And then just that seeing these things really makes it look that Olympus is underpricing the body as it is something no one has done to date....

    Can't wait to get my hands on one!
    But must resist as it is winter starting now, so dim and "dead" that no matter what camera you have, you can't shoot longer than an couple hours and in a month it is less than an hour a day to have enough light for fairly stationary subjects at ISO 6400. Same thing happened with E-M1 and I was just so sad that couldn't get to use it from the start so much :(

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I don't think you can use focus peaking while shooting in burst sequential high mode. The camera processing takes too much power to track, shoot, write and do everything else at once!

      About the rolling shutter I have addressed that in my coming blog extension review. Yes, it is still present in some very difficult situation, but the results are still quite acceptable compared to most other electronic shutter options.

      I guess I should treasure the sunny hot Malaysia, we get crazy hot sun all day long.

      Delete
  52. 20 degrees below zero MK1 battery lasts 15 min. I hope this is better

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. 20 degrees is stretching it too far! rated freezeproof was only at -10 degrees.

      Delete
  53. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
  54. hi, great review. can we have focus bracketing, focus stacking together with hi-res mode ?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Nope, the high res mode does not work with focus stacking. perhaps in the future, hopefully this can work together.

      Delete
  55. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
  56. Hi Robin,
    Great review as usual. I have the EM1 mk1, and love it but my complaint is the time it takes to wake up to shoot after it has gone sleeping. My question is
    whether the new one wakes up any faster.
    George

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    1. Hmmm, I have not had issues with E-M1 waking up, it is usually quite instant. So I do not notice any difference.

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    2. interesting! for me it takes more than one click of the shutter release to take a picture if the camera is on but sleeping... do you recommend a firmware check or something?
      thank you

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    3. For my street shooting, I normally turn the camera completely off these days (previously I leave it on all the time). Maybe waking up from sleep is slow. I need to check on that. Powering the camera on and ready to shoot, that was almost instant. It has become my habit, because the E-M1's (and any other previous Micro Four Thirds camera batteries) battery life is quite poor.

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  57. Thank you so much for putting together such a detailed and informative report! It just re-affirms my intention to get one sooner than later! THANK YOU, Robin!

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  58. Always enjoying your great reviews, thanks so much for the effort you put in them!

    I'm planning to get a new MicroFourThirds-Body for my 'always-on-me-camera' and I'm leaning towards an Olympus currently. I'm not a professional rather than a (photographical trained) street / hobby photographer, so my first instinct was to get a PEN-F (or an EM5 Mark II), but all the a buzz about the EM1 Mark II got me really thinking.

    Do you think the EM1 Mark II is worth the extra cash for me (even though I'm not very interested in fast continous shooting and video) or should I stick to my original plan? And if so, which camera would you prefer: PEN-F or EM5 Mark II?

    Thanks again and greetings!

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    Replies
    1. Thanks for the compliments.

      For weather-sealing, better EVF, more powerful sabilization, more capable AF overall, new sensor + processor (better image quality) and vastly enhanced video with 4K, I'd say it is worth the jump from PEN-F to E-M1 Mark II.

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  59. Hi Robin,

    Many thanks for your great reviews! It's allways a pleasure to read them.
    I have a short question to you regarding the AF system. At the weekend I had the chance to play with a Mark II at a local dealer product show. I was very keen to have a look to the new AF Cluster Area for C-AF tracking or how its named at Olympus "Subject Tracking Cluster Display". Unfortunately I was not able nor was the Oly rep to activate this feature.
    Can you give a short explain how to do this? Which AF target field have to be selected: All 121, 9er, 5er field to get started?

    Best regards Markus (from Germany)

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    Replies
    1. It was my pleasure to do the review!
      There are 3 things you need to do:
      1) select ALL 121 AF points
      2) set focusing option to C-AF
      3) in the AF menu (deep inside the camera, yes the menu has issues), find AF Area Pointer, set it to ON2

      You should get the cluster display to work.

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  60. Robin, thanks for a most enthusiastic review. You and Ming seem to have outclassed the folks that Olympus dragged off to Iceland in the rain!

    But the question that got lost in your argument with WayneG a few days ago is relevant, I think. For those of us with an investment in the M1 or M5.2 and existing micro 3/4 lenses, how evident is the improvement in the image stabilization with the M1.2 when using the existing lenses that do not have image stabilization?

    scott

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    1. Hey Scott,

      The improvement in the body 5-Axis IS can also benefit all other lenses. You can check out many other reports, such as this one:
      http://www.thephoblographer.com/2016/11/03/olympus-omd-em1-mk-ii-can-handheld-15-seconds-get-clean-exposures/#.WCJ-8tV96M8

      12-40mm F2.8 was used in that long exposure test. Though 15 seconds is stretching it too far.

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  61. Hi Robin great review as always. I'm not sure if somebody already asked this question bit I would like to know if you found the 12-100 at 12 as sharp as the 12 prime.

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    1. Hey Sebastiano, I

      I have not done side by side comparisons, I would think that the 12mm f2 is sharper, but not by much. The 12-100mm is surely very close.

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  62. What's going on in those models eyes at 100% crop? Is that a jpg artifact or are they wearing some kind of strange contact lenses?

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    Replies
    1. Contact lenses. Scary things they put in their eyes.

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  63. Great review, Robin, as usual! A joy to read! Having very happily mostly used Olympus lenses on my Panasonic M43 body (first G1, then G5), I was so ready to switch to an Olympus body with the M1-II coming out. In fact, I was lusting after it. I love some of its features, especially the pro capture mode which would serve me well at festival photography especially. Alas, as in the past, to me the incremental value the M1-II offers simply doesn't justify the price tag. For 2000€ I can get the G81/85 including the new kit lens (also dual IS) + another pro lens, and probably get 95% of the performance (based on my personal user profile) that I could get out of M1-II. It's a real pity though. I would have loved to finally change to an Olympus body. All the other models are out of question because they lack the good grip I desire, or don't have a fully articulated screen. Oh well...!

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    Replies
    1. Glad to know E-M1 Mark II has all the right features! It is a huge improvement over the previous Olympus Micro Four Thirds cameras.

      Panasonic G85 is not exactly in the same category with the E-M1 Mark II, and I don't think you can get 95%. The AF capabilities, the OM-D movie stabilization, the powerful IS for still shooting are reasons enough to get the E-M1 Mark II.

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  64. Thanks Robin - very comprehensive review indeed. Apologies if I've missed it in the comments already posted but I'm wondering if you've had the chance to test the noise in long exposures at base ISO. Understood that the Panasonic sensor in the MKI didn't handle noise perhaps as well as the Sony sensor in the EM-5 MKII. As the MKII almost surely has a Sony sensor, hoping there's a marked improvement.

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    Replies
    1. Hey Steve,

      I would love to do some long exposure shooting too. Unfortunately I have not had the luxury of time to do so, live has been super busy lately.

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  65. I did not see a mention if the Mark II has a Group AF option like on the Nikon D500 or Fuji X-T2 where you can select a group of 3,5, or 9 AF points at center and spread them out much like a wider area single point AF. It's the most useful for wildlife and sports at long focal lengths.

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    Replies
    1. That is the tracking system on Nikon.

      On Olympus you either use a fixed selected AF points with continuous autofocus, or you use a tracking + continuous autofocus. You can select points from 1, 5, 9 or all 121. If you use a one AF point, then you can choose one of all 800 AF points when you use 14x magnification to "zoom in" to micro-select the AF points.

      With the tracking the camera will use the user selected AF pattern to find the target (shape and color) on what you lock by pointing camera at it with those selected AF points and then half-pressing the shutter. Then the tracking system in camera will utilize any of the AF points from all those 121 points to keep tracking that your locked target. And then camera will use those AF points in tracking, it will use only those tracking AF points for continuous autofocusing by averaging and calculating distance and its distance variation by history.

      You can move the camera any way you want by just keeping the tracked target inside the 121 AF point area (over 80% of the frame) and camera will use any of the AF points it can fill the subject you locked on. So if the subject is very small, it will use just 1 AF point for tracking and keeps focusing on it. If the subject size and shape is big or changes size to big, then more AF points are used for tracking and then all those AF points are used for metering distance by focusing.

      It is same with E-M1, but the problem is that E-M1 use old hybrid auto focusing that is limited to 6.5fps and the tracking system ain't so great because the tracking is done only on small fixed reticle area instead dynamically changing area. But on both the tracking can go anywhere on the AF points coverage.

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    2. Oh dear, Paristo has answered the questions, I could not have done any better.

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  66. Does anyone know if the image stabilization on the 12-100mm lens will work in cooperation with an Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark II?

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    1. You can use the 12-100mm on E-M10 Mark II, but you will either select the lens IS, or the body IS. You cannot have both.

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  67. Hi Robin,

    As always I love your reviews and am impressed by the amount you crammed into three days. Thanks for your dedication and the quality of your commentary. If you owned the 12-40 and the 40-150mm lenses as I have, would you sell them and buy the new 12-100 lens?

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    Replies
    1. Hey Harry,
      Thanks for the kind words. The three shooting days have been exciting and I had so much fun.
      If I have 12-40mm F2.8 and 40-150mm F2.8 lens, I will most likely stay with them, because those two are superb wonderful lenses.

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  68. Ty you for this review. enjoed reading it

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  69. Robin, this was a fantastic, in depth, practical review answering questions that most of the photographers have in considering this camera. You also do a very nice job being balanced even though you work for Olympus

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    Replies
    1. Thanks Adam, appreciate the kind words.

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  70. Hi Robin,
    Great review!!! Ever since the photokina announcement, I have been thinking: when will Robin do an awesome review on this little beast? and here we go! :)

    Now I hate you (joking :P) because your review is done awesomely on an awesome camera that I am thinking if I should upgrade mine now!! LOL! I currently own an E-M10 Mark II with 40-150 PRO (and the EZ kit), but the price tag is quite high on this EM1 MKII; do you think it is a good time to get a cheap EM1 instead?

    Thanks in advance - by the way, 1500 shots with one battery, that is simply amazing! That is pretty much on par or if not better than a DSLR?! (I can't remember I could shoot that many on my D7100 with one battery!)

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    Replies
    1. Hey David,
      Thanks for the kind words. Whether it is a good decision to upgrade to E-M1 or the E-M1 Mark II, it depends on whether you need the improvements or not in your photography. If you are constantly shooting in C-AF mode, then E-M1 Mark II will be a huge difference. If you do a lot of video, surely E-M1 Mark II can give you so much better results.

      About battery life, it also depends on how you use your camera. I personally can get about 400 shots out of an E-M1, but some people claimed they can squeeze about 700-800 shots, which I find quite impossible to do. Some people can get only 200 shots. The inconsistency is due to whether you chimp/review your images a lot, and the lenses/settings you use.

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    2. Thanks Robin for your reply! I am a landscape photographer using D7100 for years until recently started on M43: EM10MKII about 6 months ago. I bought it because I didnt want to bring D7100 to my honeymoon trip in Europe but still want to be able to take good photos, but after that I think I have fallen in love with M43 system hence got the 40-150 PRO and surprisingly I have started to pick up other photography types too such as portrait and event.

      Therefore, I have rarely used C-AF in my Nikon days so I cannot quite say how much I will use in the future since the M43 system is changing my style at the moment.

      I am getting around 300 shots on my EM10MKII, so I usually end up using almost 2 full batteries, and I am considering to get 3rd battery for long event such as whole day wedding or long engagement shoot!

      However, sorry if this is off topic, do you think there will be significant improvement in IQ if I upgrade to EM1 (ISO noise performance in particular) and battery performance? Or if you would recommend to stick with EM10MKII for longer and wait till EM1MKII price comes down?
      (Its ok if it is not a valid question, because I guess at the end of the day, no one knows about the future hahaha)
      Thanks mate!

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  71. Most excellent review. I read your review and Mat's at Mirrorlessons then the better-half ordered two, his and hers. I also shoot 1DXii and in a couple of weeks a99ii but there are times when I want to go as light as possible. Having been involved in mFT for several years now I can say that to me mFT is the perfect compromise between size/weight/performance. Further I believe that the limit in mFT is the lack of 'cropability' and this means you the photographer need to fill the frame and that means simply getting closer to your subject. My hobbyist passion is wildlife and that often means using blinds/hides and wearing camo.
    I'll be coming from a Lumix GX8 and will use the Pan-Leica 100-400mm on the M1 mk ii. I do wonder what stabilization I will enjoy? Lens only or camera only looks like the obvious answer but wanted to be sure to ask.
    Cheers,
    Rober M

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