Test Review: The Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark II

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April 16, 2015 at 12:30 pm  •  Posted in Gear & Reviews, News & Events, Review by  •  0 Comments

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The Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark II

The Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark II is a 16-MP Micro Four Thirds camera with a lot of unique features. This includes an improved 5-axis image stabilizer and a special function to shoot 40-MP images.

Detail reproduction by the new Olympus E-M5 Mark II is excellent. Fine details like the contrast lines of the ruler in the center, the background structure, the black toy pet and the circuit board are very good.

Detail reproduction by the new Olympus E-M5 Mark II is excellent. Fine details like the contrast lines of the ruler in the center, the background structure, the black toy pet and the circuit board are very good.

Comments on Image Quality
Colour: The colour reproduction is very good. The Olympus tends to have a slightly cooler image reproduction, while the brighter nuances are located perfectly in the center of the result chart (neutral gray). This result is visible in both of the test shots too. While other Olympus cameras usually tend to have a slightly lower colour saturation, the E-M5 Mark II created slightly oversaturated results.

The skin-tone reproduction is excellent. This applies to the shot of the colour test pattern as well as the portrait shot. The differentiation of colours is also very good, as you can see in the coloured spools in the standard test-box shot.

The camera created images with very natural-looking skin tones. Sharpness is very high as you can see in the area around the model's eyes, for example. The differentiation of red colour in the structure of the model's t-shirt is also very good. All test shots were done with the M.Zuiko Digital ED 12-40 mm 1:2.8 PRO.

The camera created images with very natural-looking skin tones. Sharpness is very high as you can see in the area around the model’s eyes, for example. The differentiation of red colour in the structure of the model’s t-shirt is also very good. All test shots were done with the M.Zuiko Digital ED 12-40 mm 1:2.8 PRO.

Sharpness: The camera performed very well in our resolution tests. The test chart was reproduced with 3335 of 3456 lines per picture height, which is an excellent result. High sharpness and crisp detail reproduction is partially a result of an intense sharpness filtering of the JPEGs. Imatest stated an overshoot effect of 20.4 percent, which is a little high and caused a clipping warning. But nevertheless the reproduction of hard contrast lines and fine details still looks natural.

In addition to shooting in standard mode, we also shot the ISO 12233 chart in pixel-shift mode and created images with a resolution of 40 MP. In this mode the Olympus reproduced the chart with 4632 of 5472 lines per picture height. This isn’t as good as the resolution result of the standard test without “pixel shift,” but it’s still an impressive result for a MFT camera.

Noise: The camera offers ISO-speed settings between 200 and 25600. The “LOW” mode is the equivalent to an ISO-100 setting and wasn’t tested because of its “optional” status. In ISO 200 to 3200 mode, the camera offered very smooth, clean images. The luminance noise factor stays clearly below 1.0 percent and is invisible up to an ISO 1600 setting. Colour noise is reduced by intelligent filtering. Only ISO 12800 shows clearly noticeable coloured noise structures and anti-noise-filter effects; in ISO 25600, the colour noise effects are really annoying.

The dynamic range results are very good in the lower ISO-speed settings. The camera reproduced the Stouffer 4110 chart with a maximum of 11.6 f-stops (and 11.1 in ISO 400 mode), but in higher ISO-speed settings, the dynamic range results drop significantly (below 8 f-stops in 12800 and 25600 mode).

A lot of set-up dials and user-defined function buttons allow fast and intuitive handling, even if the photographer wants to manually set up many parameters. The two set-up dials on the right can be easily reached with the right-hand forefinger and the thumb.

A lot of set-up dials and user-defined function buttons allow fast and intuitive handling, even if the photographer wants to manually set up many parameters. The two set-up dials on the right can be easily reached with the right-hand forefinger and the thumb.

Comments on Handling
The new Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark II has some remarkable new or enhanced features. First, it has a new version of the Olympus 5-axis image stabilizer system, which worked extremely well during our tests. Olympus specifies the benefit of this stabilizer with 5 EV stops. During our tests we took images with the 12-40 mm f/2.8 zoom lens and used a 50-mm equivalent (25-mm setting on the lens) for the stabilizer test. Using this new stabilizer, we were able to record blur-free images with 1/1.6 s instead of 1/50 s, which really is an equivalent of 5 EV stops. If you prop yourself up on your elbows or use a wall or anything else to lean on, you might be able to shoot with 1/1 s or even a little longer.

The new contrast-based AF system now offers 81 AF areas and a lot of AF modes. In addition to standard single AF and continuous AF, it allows “AF tracking” and a “Single AF + MF” mode, which can be used to manually focus, even if the AF system is activated. For manual focusing, the camera offers focus peaking and a magnifier function. In combination with the excellent electronic viewfinder (2.36 million RGB dots), manual focusing is easy and comfortable. The camera’s AF mode is very fast and reliable; it worked very well during the tests even under bad lighting conditions and in low-contrast scenes.

The E-M5 Mark II doesn't have an integrated flash system, but it has a little compact flash that is mounted on its accessory shoe. The interfaces are located on the left-hand side of the camera and are covered by plastic cap.

The E-M5 Mark II doesn’t have an integrated flash system, but it has a little compact flash that is mounted on its accessory shoe. The interfaces are located on the left-hand side of the camera and are covered by plastic cap.

The camera offers all standard exposure modes, scene modes and additional digital effects (like “pinhole,” “dramatic tone” or “soft focus”). Exposure modes and the ART or SCN programs are activated with the large mode dial on the top side of the camera. The dial has a locking button to avoid changing the set-up by mistake. Besides the mode dial, there is a large adjustment lever that is used as on/off switch. Two parameter dials on the right-hand top side allow for a fast set-up of all parameters, like aperture or shutter-speed settings. The front dial encircles the shutter-release button; the second is near the back and can be easily reached by the right-hand thumb. The camera offers four function buttons; the user can define the desired function in the set-up menu. By default the button FN2, for example, offers a kind of gradation curve setting on the LCD to enhance or flatten contrast in the images.

The small adjustment lever on the back (marked with “1” and “2”) will change the function of the set-up dials on the top. In position 1, they change the aperture and shutter speed (in P mode +/ EV correction) for example. In position 2, they change the ISO speed setting and white balance. This function assignment can an also be modified in the menu.

The camera offers a special “pixel shift” mode to increase image resolution up to 40 MP. This technique is known from mid-format cameras like the Hasselblad H5D-200c MS and some older compact cameras like the Ricoh RDC-7 or JVC GC-X1. The built-in image stabilizer with a moving sensor allows one to shoot 8 images that are shifted by half a pixel each (two images to the right, left, up- and downward). The 8 images are combined to a 40-MP image instead of a 64-MP image (4x shift of the 16-MP image by one complete pixel) because of the overhang of green pixels.

The fully articulated swivel mechanism allows one to flip the LCD upward, downward and even to the front of the camera.

The fully articulated swivel mechanism allows one to flip the LCD upward, downward and even to the front of the camera.

Pros
+ retro-style camera system
+ compact, high-grade body
+ excellent image stabilizer
+ very good image quality (high resolution, very good colour reproduction)
+ Wi-Fi
+ a lot of individual settings and special image modes (live-bulb mode, digital effects and more)
+ very fast AF system (even though it uses only contrast metering)
+ extended video capabilities

Cons
– slim body is maybe to small for large hands (Olympus offers an additional battery grip and an optional hand grip which adds to the “camera volume” and an additional headphone jack.)
– menu structure is sometimes a little to complicated/interleaved/nested

The new Olympus offers a 3-inch LCD with 1,037,000 RGB dots. The electronic viewfinder offers 2.36 million RGB dots and is helpful for manual focusing.

The new Olympus offers a 3-inch LCD with 1,037,000 RGB dots. The electronic viewfinder offers 2.36 million RGB dots and is helpful for manual focusing.

This review is based on precise lab tests conducted by BetterNet GmbH and provided by the Technical Imaging Press Association (TIPA). TIPA is the largest family of independent photo and imaging magazines worldwide. Photo Life is an active member of TIPA.

SPEC SHEET: Olympus E-M5 M2
BASIC TECHNICAL DATA:
Resolution 4608 x 3456
Resolution sensor 16.1
Colour depth (in bits) 36
Size of sensor (in inches) 0/0.00
Size of sensor (in mm) 17.3 x 13.0
LENSES:
Focal length (wide angle; 35-mm equivalent; in mm) 24
Focal length (tele; 35-mm equivalent; KB in mm) 80
Focal length (wide angle; real; in mm) 12.0
Focal length (tele; real; KB in mm) 40.0
Speed 2.8 – 2.8
Macro 20 – 100
Manual focus, controlled by function elements no
Manual focus, controlled with lens ring yes
TAKING PICTURES:
Start-up time (in sec) 0.30
Shutter delay (in sec) without prefocusing 0.07
Shutter delay (in sec) with prefocusing 0.00
Continuous shooting speed (frames per second) 10.0
Max. burst during continuous shooting speed 999.0
Fastest shutter speed (in sec) 1/8000
Long time exposure/shutter speed (in sec) 60
Self-timer yes
Exposure Settings:
Aperture presetting, shutter-speed presetting, manual-exposure settings,
automatic bracketing
Exposure programs 25
White balance:
Auto yes
White-balance settings 7
Individual white balance yes
ISO:
ISO min 200
ISO max 25600
ISO steps 22
manual ISO control yes
FLASH:
Integrated flash yes
Flash Mode:
On, off, automatic flash, slow sync, anti-red-eye, rear-curtain sync
External Flash:
X-Sync no
Accessory shoe yes
FILE FORMATS:
Standard file formats JPEG, RAW, DCF
JPEG compression grades 3
LCD AND PREVIEW:
Size (in inches) 3.0
Resolution of LCD (in pixels) 103700
Zoom-Mode during preview yes
Index during preview yes
Slideshow during preview yes
VIDEO:
Video available yes
Max. width 1920
Max. height 1080
Picture frequency 60
POWER SOURCE:
Rechargeable battery yes
Battery type Li-Ion
Battery charger included yes
Power connector no
Power supply unit no
STORAGE SYSTEM:
Supported memory cards SD card, SDHC card, SDXC card
PC CONNECTION:
PC connection USB 2.0, HDMI, WLAN
TV out PAL/NTSC + HDMI
DIMENSIONS:
Dimensions (width x height x depth; in mm) 123 x 85 x 44
Weight (body without battery and memory card; in g) 469
ACCESSORIES:
Docking station no
Printed manual yes
Manual on CD yes
Bag no
Remote control no

 

 

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