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My new camera - Olympus E-M1 Mark II

Discussion in 'Non-Nikon System Cameras' started by Growltiger, Jan 21, 2017.

  1. Growltiger

    Growltiger Administrator Administrator

    Almost three years ago I started a thread, about my decision to switch to a less heavy camera system, with the purchase of an Olympus E-M1:
    That thread, currently 28 pages long, shows results with the various lenses I have used with that camera, among many other people's contributions.

    Last year Olympus announced the Mark II version of the E-M1 camera, and I have now bought one and have started using it. Here is the Olympus website page describing its features:

    Here is a thread from when it was announced, which also has links to various reviews:

    The four key improvements that made me decide to buy it were:
    1. Continuous Autofocus (C-AF) now works well. Mirrorless cameras have always been excellent at S-AF. (Unlike DSLRs they don't need microfocus adjustments as all focussing is based on the light hitting the sensor). But mirrorless cameras have generally been poor at C-AF.

    The technology has now improved and there are improved focus points all over the new sensor. I can now wave the camera around with the shutter half pressed and whereever I aim it focus is achieved almost instantly. This is enormously important with moving subjects. Previously I had to make do with firing off many bursts at high speed, using S-AF.

    2. ProCapture. This takes up to 14 photos at 18fps before you press the shutter. (It uses a circular buffer.) This means that you can aim at an event that may be about to happen but you can't be sure exactly when (e.g. a bird landing or taking off or diving, or a tennis racquet about to hit a ball).

    You half press the shutter and wait. Once the event happens - and you have missed it because your reactions are too slow - you press the shutter. It records the photo of the missed event, but also the 14 shots just before, so you can be sure to get the exact moments you want. If you don't need it to focus for every shot you can use the high speed of 60fps. These are all full quality JPG and RAW images, not lower quality images extracted from video.

    3. Hi Res. Put the camera on a tripod or firm support, set the shutter to Hi Res and take a photo. It silently takes 8 images at high speed, moving the sensor by fractions of a pixel in each direction, and assembles a 50MP image (JPG and RAW) instead of the normal 20MP image.

    4. Better sensor. The M43 sensors are a bit smaller than the Nikon DX sensors, but the technology has steadily improved. On the previous camera I liked to use no higher than ISO 1600 but I'm now using up to ISO 6400. The sensor also has a few more pixels, 20MP instead of 16MP.​

    The older camera is now a backup body, but in addition my wife has started using and I got the little 12-50 lens for it.

    Apart from buying the camera body I needed new fast memory cards, I bought two SanDisk Extreme Pro 300 MB/s 64GB cards. Also an extra battery. And an Op/Tech harness so there is no weight on my neck.

    I will be posting some examples of images with the new camera, concentrating on things I could not have easily photographed previously.
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 15, 2017
  2. Growltiger

    Growltiger Administrator Administrator

    You might be wondering if Hi Res mode really works. It seems incredible that one could move the sensor around with such accuracy. So I set the camera on a little tripod and took a photo of my fireplace, which happened to have a fireguard, sideways on, in the corner. It has a very fine metal mesh. I took a photo in the normal way, and then a Hi Res one. These were with the 12-40 lens, 12mm, f/2.8, ISO 200, 1/4 sec.

    First, here is a tiny 500 pixel wide crop of the image from the normal 20MP photo. You can see the metal grid shows up with severe moire patterning as there were not enough pixels to resolve the image:

    Subscribe to see EXIF info for this image (if available)

    Next, here is a 500 pixel wide crop from the Hi Res 50MP photo. You can see that everything is larger, as there is more detail captured, and the metal grid appears properly resolved:

    Subscribe to see EXIF info for this image (if available)
    Last edited: Feb 4, 2017
  3. Your E-M1 thread was very helpful, Richard, and I look forward to this thread.
  4. As do I!

    I have the original E-M5 and have my eye on this camera. Richard, how's the dynamic range on this camera? (I shoot a lot of landscapes.)
  5. Growltiger

    Growltiger Administrator Administrator

    It seems good to me based on the photos I have taken so far. Lovely colours.

    I don't pretend to understand the DXOMarks ratings, but I just looked them up. The Nikon D500 is often talked about as the APS-C camera to compare against. The figures show that the E-M1 II isn't as good as the D500, not surprising given that sensor is a bit smaller, but it isn't far off. Here are the scores:

    ...................... Nikon D500 ................ Olympus E-M1 II
    Overall ............ 84 ................................ 80
    Portrait ........... 24.1 bits ......................... 23.7 bits
    Landscape ....... 14 EVs .......................... 12.8 EVs
    Sports ............. 1324 ISO ...................... 1312 ISO

    And a few more facts:
    Weight of body ... 30.34 oz, 860g ........... 20.2 oz, 574g

    For landscape with a tripod the High Res feature gives you a 50MP camera which the Nikon or Canon bodies cannot. (I have been using a tiny Gorillapod, which works well.)

    It also has the ProCapture feature, which the Nikon and Canon bodies do not offer. (Not useful for your landscapes though.)
  6. I'm so glad that you started this post Richard. I have my sites on this camera...( the campaign to convince my wife has begun! apparently she doesn't believe that we need 4 camera bodies!) So please keep posting your assessment of this fine new body from Olympus so that my resolve doesn't weaken.
  7. Growltiger

    Growltiger Administrator Administrator

    This swan was moving around fast and suddenly stuck his head out.
    I was using C-AF and as you can see it got the focus exactly right, very quickly.
    Handheld at 300mm (600mm equivalent field of view).

    Subscribe to see EXIF info for this image (if available)
  8. Will watch your experiences closely. I saw that Oly did add the ability to set a min. shutter speed in autoISO, and, the ability to save your settings to a card! Hopefully, they'll bring these to the M1 (unlike Nikon, they seem to be willing to do this).

    I can see one of these in my future, regardless, for the improved AF-C.
  9. What can be done in firmware depends on the hardware it's controlling. The Mark II has a completely different processor and probably much more memory.

    For my typical subjects the differences between the I and the II are incremental, and having had issues with Olympus camera models when they were first released, I'll let the early adopters finish the beta testing before getting one.
  10. The 12-50 lens is a sleeper IMO. I got it as part of a kit when I bought my EM5. It is not a fast lens but it is very sharp, very light and may be the best overall m4/3 lens around for video (something that was a design goal for the lens).
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 15, 2017
  11. Growltiger

    Growltiger Administrator Administrator

    Yes, the 12-50 is performing quite well, good results. The way it can switch from silent electric zoom to manual zoom to macro is very clever.
    I got it at an amazing price. A reputable supplier that was advertising it on their own website at £329 was also selling them on eBay at £129, where they had already sold 60 of them. Olympus must have sold them a batch of excess stock at a bargain price.
    Of course I'm spoilt by the 12-40, which is an amazing lens.
  12. Growltiger

    Growltiger Administrator Administrator

    The Mark II has two processors, one of which is dedicated to AF.
  13. There are features and capabilities of the II that has which require hardware that the I doesn't have. Firmware isn't magic pixie dust.
  14. Quite right. It's just ordinary pixie dust. :D 
  15. Growltiger

    Growltiger Administrator Administrator

    I wanted to try out the ProCapture feature. (It is a silly name, I suspect it was called a sensible name like PreCapture, until Marketing got hold of it.)

    Anyone who has tried to photograph diving ducks will know that you can watch them swimming around and then in a split second they dive. If you want to capture a particular bit of the sequence it is very unlikely your reactions will be fast enough, so the only solution is to keep up lots of continuous shooting and hope the duck dives soon. With ProCapture it is easy. The camera was set on C-AF as otherwise the duck will move out of focus, and ProCapture L, which takes images at 18fps, once the shutter is half-pressed, and stores the most recent 14 images once the shutter is fully pressed, together with any number of images after it is pressed. The lens was at 220mm (440mm equiv FOV), 1/1000s. The duck moves very quickly when diving and I should perhaps have used a higher shutter speed.

    I aimed the camera at the duck, kept the shutter button half pressed and waited. After a while the duck dived and I let go of the shutter. Below you can see some frames I selected from the sequence, starting before the duck dived. (This is a Goldeneye.)

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    Last edited: Jan 23, 2017
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  16. Growltiger

    Growltiger Administrator Administrator

    A new comprehensive review that covers both still and movie use.
  17. Man, I want one!

    Nice to see Olympus cleaned up the menu system!
  18. Pretty impressive -
  19. Thanks Richard...I can always count on you to inform me. I have been waiting on this camera, now I am convinced I should get it!
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 15, 2017
  20. SteveK


    Mar 16, 2005
    Richard, is your 300 the 2.8?
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