OLYMPUS OM-D E-M5 II and the m4/3 'benefits'

It used to be the case that m4/3 was often regarded as the smallest and lightest of all the mirrorless interchangeable / CSC / EVIL systems, but was regarded as the 'poor relation' in terms of high ISO performance, speed, sensor size, MP count, poor dynamic range, DSLR type performance and all the other things we as photographers are supposed to want. Over time this perception has gradually been changing. And with the arrival of firstly the Panasonic GH-4 and now the Olympus OM-D E-M5 II I would argue that now the advantage is on the verge of being almost completely turned around. 

I've got a selection of mirrorless "DSLR wannabees' sitting on my camera shelf and if you were to ask me which I thought was the most useful to me and indeed the most 'professional' I would reply without hesitation, the Olympus OM-D E-M5 II. Compared to the Fuji X-T1 and Sony A7 II I have, the Olympus is faster, quieter, smaller, lighter certainly, but most importantly lets me take the images I want, in the way I want, more successfully. 

The gallery of images I shot yesterday are examples of just what this camera will let me do. I knew that where I was going had some places that had very little light and so I did a few tests to see what the low light performance was like. The shot of my cat Jeff was taken at ISO 3200. It's not the best you can get with mirrorless certainly and there is a lot of luminance noise (this was processed from raw) and it's OK, but nothing special. Ho-Hum I thought, same old m4/3. But then when I got to where I was going to take pictures, it didn't in fact matter. Because with the Olympus I had no need to use ISO settings like that anyway.

Take a look at the shot of the church pulpit above. As you might imagine, not a lot of light in there. The image was taken hand-held with a 12-40mm zoom at ISO 320 and 1/10th. sec. It's pin sharp, has virtually no noise and after processing from raw, excellent dynamic range. There is also decent depth of field as well. Then there is the shot of the old 'hop masher' in the shed. Look how well balanced the exposure is. No blown highlights here. Again a slow shutter speed 1/20th. sec. that allowed me to keep the ISO down at 200. Like all the other shots in the gallery I've managed to get the depth of field I wanted as well.

I have to say since getting the Olympus OM-D E-M5 II a few days ago, that I can't remember being so impressed by a camera in a long while, if ever. From those amazing high-res shots to the way the camera works so quickly and efficiently, I'm not sure I've got anything better sitting on the shelf. As mentioned above, my only reservation would be the poor (compared to the 'opposition') high ISO performance. But with fast lenses and IBIS, for what I shoot, as I indicated above, would I ever need the high ISO settings anyway? probably not. For example shooting at f/1.2 with the Panasonic 42.5mm lens (which I'm starting to think I may well get) and a slow(ish) shutter speed would cover most situations I find myself in, without having to use anything higher than ISO 800.

Now I don't shoot indoor sports and fast moving events in low light and though the Olympus would handle that with those higher ISO settings, there are better alternatives, both with mirrorless and DSLR cameras. But for the vast majority of what I shoot, the Olympus is probably the best option I have.

And even a short while ago, I couldn't have imagined writing that. But in the digital photography world things move on pretty rapidly. Any notion that you can buy a camera and keep it for a number of years is a thing of the past, if you want to take advantage of the latest advances. And while in many cases those 'advances' are just headline grabbing gimmicks that contribute little to what we can achieve photographically, in the case of the Olympus OM-D E-M5 II those headline grabbing features are actually really useful. And do in fact mean that we can take better pictures. Technically if not aesthetically. 

Silent and / or shockproof shutter, best in class IBIS, 40MP / 64MP high-res file option, fully articulated view screen and superfast AF are what the E-M5 II offers and all of these are features that help us as photographers and don't just feed our 'inner geek.' Now I've already got one camera system that I'm really pleased with, love using and ticks a lot of boxes for me, my Leica T (Typ 701) and which I might describe as a 'keeper.' And with the Olympus OM-D E-M5 II I think I've just found another one.