Olympus OM-D E-M5 II announced - hands on

Olympus have announced a replacement for the highly regarded OM-D E-M5 imaginatively called the OM-D E-M5 II!

With so much right with the original, the changes take the form of minor tweaks to an already winning formula.

The finish and bodywork of the new model have been upgraded and new controls added to make navigating around the camera even easier than before.

The E-M5 II also gains a new shutter unit which certainly seems to offer a very quiet and smooth operation - and can be set to a silent mode that actually is completely silent.

The big news however, is the articulated rear screen, this can we folded out and to the side of the camera and rotated but is not fully articulated so will not go above the camera for instance. Still, this is a welcome addition and sure to be a big hit with video users.

The HDR mode now has its very own button - which also can be programmed to become function button 4 -and both control wheels on the top plate have been re-designed and now feel very positive. All the buttons are also reassuringly positive unlike the somewhat spongy buttons of the original.

The hand grip and rear thumb grip are very well designed and give a great grip to the camera and a depth of field preview button has been added to the front.

The focussing system has been upgraded to an 81-point system with points covering almost the entire image area - a great improvement on the original.

A completely new feature, is the new High Res Shot mode - this takes and combines eight images to create one super high resolution image. Normal resolution in 3:2 ratio is 4608x3456 pixels - super high res gives a 7296x4864 image in the same ratio - shoot 4:3 ratio and this rises to 7296x5472 pixels - shooting in raw raises this to 9216x6912 pixels. It works by using the cameras 5-axis stabilisation system to shift the sensor slightly between each exposure to 'scan' the scene - the first four exposures move the sensor to cancel out the colour filter array effect then the next four shifts half a pixel and captures this new position.

High ISO sensor performance seems to have been significantly improved with ISO 6400 images looking very clean on the pre-production model used for this preview - a great improvement on the original E-M5.

The 5-axis built in stabilisation system works fantastically well and this combined with the improved high-ISO capability of the sensor plus the truly silent shooting modes (single shot and continuous) makes the E-M5 II an attractive proposition for stealthy street shooting.

The electronic viewfinder (EVF) looks to be straight from the E-M1 so is a considerable improvement on the original model plus the flash shoe cover is now a single piece unit not the multiple tiny pieces on previous OM-Ds - well done Olympus.

Battery power continues to be provided by the BLN-1 pack so existing E-M5 users can upgrade but still use their existing batteries.

The USB AV out, mic and HDMI sockets are all now accessible without having to move the rear screen which is a nice touch too.

So to summarise the main differences between the OM-D E-M5 and the OM-D E-M5 II:

  • Maximum shutter speed 1/8000 vs 1/4000
  • 1/16000 maximum shutter speed using electronic shutter
  • Continuous shooting with/without AF 10fps/5fps vs 9fps/3.5fps
  • Improved clip on flash with tilt/bounce/rotate (FL-LM3) included
  • 2.36m dot LCD viewfinder 1.48x magnification vs 1.44m, 1.15x
  • Video resolution/rate 1080/60p vs 1080/30p
  • Max bitrate 77Mbps vs 20Mbps
  • Mic socket included
  • Articulated screen with 1.04m dots vs tilt screen with 0.61m dots
  • Accessory port removed on the II
  • Optional HLD-8G grip adds headphone socket
  • original HLD-6P grip fits both models
  • ECG-2 L-shaped grip option with Arca-Swiss tripod mounts and thicker hand grip
  • PT-EP13 underwater housing option useable down to 45M
  • EE-1 Dot Sight option for helping aim the camera at distant moving subjects
  • 40mp high resolution multi-exposure mode
  • total of 6 programmable function buttons

So, if you are looking for an OM-D which model to go for - there are now three excellent choices - EM-10, EM-5 II and E-M1.

The E-M1 has the advantage of on-sensor AF sensors so is considerably better for continuous AF shooting than either the E-M5 or EM-10.

The EM-10 does not have the weather sealed body or 5-Axis stabilisation of the EM-5 II or E-M1 but in other respects loses out very little so certainly would seem to be the value choice.

The E-M5 II does offer the super-high res mode which is not available on the others (though possibly could be added with a  firmware upgrade), as well as the upgraded viewfinder, handling and silent mode and is certainly a worthy addition to the Olympus range.

If you pre-order the Olympus OM-D E-M5 II from Park Cameras, not only will you receive one of the first cameras in the UK, you can also benefit from Olympus’ offer and claim a free leather bag and receive a 5 ½ year warranty. CLICK HERE for full terms and conditions and to make your claim.

Park Cameras

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