OLYMPUS OM-D E-M5 II REVIEW - First Impressions

DESIGN AND FEATURES

I really like the new grip. I had problems with the original E-M5 - my hand - not the cameras fault - I just couldn't get a comfortable grip with either configuration. This however I like a lot. Good job because the battery grip is going to be essential with the even shorter battery life of the new camera.

Design. Let's face it, this is a beautiful camera. If you don't think that, you really have no soul!!  Very retro and very stylish. However, as usual, me and Olympus menus seem to be at odds. As you know I use (and have used) a lot of cameras and the Olympus menu system is the only one I really struggle with. That's probably me, however, I've owned a lot of Olympus cameras and it's not because I'm not familiar with the menu system, I am. It is the case however that Olympus make the only cameras that seem to do things I don't intend!

Camera handles very nicely in action. Not too heavy or large, but not too small and light either. Very much an 'old-school' film SLR feel. The anti-shock and electronic shutter options are very welcome. Very quiet (ES is silent) and much nicer than the sloppy, wimpy previous alternative.

SAMPLE OOC JPGS. ISO 100

Decent enough, but I've never been a great fan of Olympus jpgs. Raw is not supported by Adobe yet, but I can get some superb renditions from Iridient Developer and dc raw apps. like Rawker.

IBIS - HAND HELD ISO 100 75mm lens 1/6th. sec.

VERY impressive. This image is not sharpish or acceptably sharp, it is 'looks like it was shot on a tripod' pin sharp. I took a shot at a higher ISO to get a higher shutter speed but I needn't have bothered. And yes you did read it right. 1/6th. sec. hand held with the 75mm f/1.8.

USING ARTICULATED SCREEN - TOUCH SCREEN FOCUS AND IMAGE CAPTURE

I couldn't decide which of the two daffodils in the foreground to have as my point of sharp focus. So I turned the camera vertically, composed on the articulated screen, which finally catches up with Panasonic and tilts in portrait mode too and used the touchscreen to take the picture by lightly touching the point of focus I wanted. Brilliant. With the anti-shock shutter and the IBIS these are again pin sharp. 

HIGH-RES MODE

The High-Res mode is perhaps the most talked about feature on this camera. 40MP jpgs. and an incredible 64MP (Yes again you did read that right!) from the raw files. No Adobe support as yet, but Iridient Developer will open them. However I use Rawker, my dc raw mac software because it's quicker. So the highest resolution files from a non medium format camera. And likely to remain so for a while. Take that Canon!!!

I will be going into this a lot more. You have to shoot images that have no movement in them for this work, but if you do it's seriously impressive. 

VIDEO

Improved with more options and as you can see the higher bit rate gives far nicer footage than before. The IBIS works well for 'consumer video' but has the same software stabilisation 'bulging' effect as iMovie - see the final clip of the crocuses. However, useful and though Olympus aren't going to be first choice for videographers yet, they are getting there.

SOME LINKS

Some reviews / videos I read / watched and found very useful.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FlGffGBz8uQ

http://www.mirrorlessons.com/2015/02/05/olympus-om-d-e-m5-mark-ii-review-chapter-whats-new-whats-great/

https://johnbrawley.wordpress.com/2015/02/01/olympus-comes-in-from-the-filmmaking-wilderness/

INITIAL REACTION

This is far and away the most interesting and potential rich camera I've used in a long time (ever?) For me, what I shoot and how I work it has so many useful features. It's not perfect, but then with the constant evolution of the digital camera nothing ever will be. Get right what's not quite there with previous models goes hand in hand with new features anyway. This is the way technology advances. And it's always going to be that way.

We can only exist in a pocket of time and we have to deal with what we can use at any given time and the Olympus OM-D E-M5 II is quite simply phenomenal. A real powerhouse of a camera. It's lighting quick, has amazing IBIS and the high-res function, though restricted at the moment to certain specific uses is just incredible. I've used it for a couple of days and already I'm doing things I've dreamt about for years. It's not a camera for every photographic occasion, but when it hits the spot, as it does for me much of the time, it's a special camera. Expect a lot more on it in the coming days. 

It makes creating the kind of images I want to create easier and it does it without breaking my bank account or my back. For me it's a huge leap forward over the original E-M5 and while I've been critical of Olympus in the past for releasing cameras with very small updates for no other obvious reason other than financial gain, this is the real deal. It's going to take an extraordinary picture creating machine to stop this walking away with this years Soundimageplus camera of the year award. It's only March, but Olympus have issued a challenge to every other camera manufacturer in 2015. And the challenge is 'FOLLOW THAT!!'