Editor's Choice

Field Testing the OM-D E-M1 Mark II

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By Jacques Dumont

The PHOTO News team had the opportunity to check out the new flagship of the Olympus line, the OM-D E-M1 Mark II, at a special product launch in Iceland. It was an excellent opportunity to experience the latest top-of-the-line product in a rugged outdoor environment that challenged the camera’s many new features and performance capabilities.

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The OM-D E-M1 Mark II features a newly-developed high-speed TruePic VIII Image Processor that has a dual quad core system with four CPU cores and four image processing cores to operate 3.5 times faster than the processor used in the OM-D E-M1. The camera has a new 20.4 megapixel Live MOS sensor with 121 cross-type on-chip phase detection points, and contrast detection AF. The silent electronic shutter provides full-resolution RAW images at up to 60 frames per second in AF and AE lock, and up to 18 frames per second with continuous AF and AE tracking.

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Using the OM-D E-M1 Mark II

With a full schedule of hiking the scenic landscape, the light weight of this compact system camera was a definite asset. Carrying the OM-D E-M1 Mark II and a selection of lenses let me cover a wide a range of creative photo opportunities – the camera system was very easy get used to – it was quick to operate, letting me capture images in a wide range of lighting and subject situations. The images produced exhibited excellent exposure and resolution.

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Among the many new features we were able to try out, the new Pro Capture Mode delivered exactly what it was designed for – lag-free shooting in action situations. We also tried experimented with 50 Megapixel High Res Shot Mode and the photos came out with impressive detail.

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While sunny days with blue skies would have been ideal for a trip to this incredibly beautiful destination, the cool, wet weather offered a perfect opportunity to test the weather sealing of the OM-D E-M1 Mark II. We checked out the splashproof design at a scenic waterfall, and the Super-Sonic Wave Filter dustproof qualities were welcome as we photographed wild horses on the range. It was cool outside, but we were happy not to personally check out the freezeproof (down to 14°F / -10°C) construction. These weatherproofing qualities are designed into the entire OM-D system, including the dustproof, splashproof, and freezeproof M.ZUIKO PRO lenses.

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Several of the new camera’s features were immediately impressive. We liked the AF Target Mode, AF target position, and face/eye priority autofocus. The new cluster display with active sensors lived up to the claim of focus subject accuracy. The AF Targeting Pad let us select the AF point by sliding a finger on the rear touch LCD.

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With a high-speed frame rate of up to 120 fps this camera system is ideal for a wide range of assignments, including action sports, generally thought to be the domain of the larger, more expensive “pro” DSLR systems. The normal sensitivity ISO (ISO AUTO) range has been expanded to ISO 6400, and you can shoot at ISO 64 to use wider apertures to achieve shallow depth of field in brightly-lit situations. The Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II has in-body 5-Axis Image Stabilization that compensates for all types of camera shake, and the camera body features dual memory card slots for more versatile shooting.

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We shot stills and video on this expedition, and the UHD Video Capture capability was most impressive. We shot 4K videos in Digital Cinema Standard mode, and some of the videographers on the trip used the HDMI monitor connection and recording synchronization features.

I tried the Silent Mode, which will be very useful for stage performances, weddings, and wildlife photography. I also had the opportunity to try out the Live Composite Mode for night photography and the Focus Stacking, bracketing, and Keystone Compensation modes, all of which performed exactly as described, providing a very interesting expansion of the photographic range of this exciting new camera.

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High-capacity battery and rapid charger

In the field, nothing is more important that reliable battery power. The Mark II has a new BLH-1 lithium-ion rechargeable battery with approximately 37% more capacity than the BLN-1 used in the previous model, providing about 440 shots on a single charge. The OM-D E-M1 Mark II displays the remaining battery life percentage on the rear monitor. There is a new BCH-1 charger that is 50% faster than the previous version.

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The OM-D E-M1 Mark II is expected to go on sale at the end of December 2016 for the manufacturer’s suggested retail price of $2499.99 CAD. For more product information visit: http://www.getolympus.com/digitalcameras/omd/e-m1-mark-ii.html

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