In-depth review: The Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II mirrorless camera

In-depth review: The Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II mirrorless camera

Images, as with all pursuit, has its share of tendencies and fads. Developments — the path the know-how and artwork is shifting, change the best way we expect and the way we create. Assume in-camera metering, autofocus, colour movie, then the transfer to digital seize and post-processing. Every of those reworked the best way we create photographs. Fads often have extra to do with photographic types, some fashion or technique of creating pictures turns into common, however ultimately will get changed with one other momentary shiny look after which goes away.

Mirrorless: Development or fad?

Some of the widespread questions I’m requested in my workshops and on the studio is whether or not mirrorless methods are a development or a fad? Then, are any of the mirrorless methods obtainable right now properly suited to nature images. I’m by no means one to draw back from new tech and kit. I’ve questioned the identical myself for some time. I feel the reply to the primary is a powerful sure, mirrorless is a development, and a constructive one, that may solely get higher. It’s completely altering the best way we do images. However, I wasn’t so positive on the latter, whether or not these mirrorless methods would match the demanding wants of wildlife and panorama photographers.

The Olympus 40-150, turned to be my favourite “go to” lens.

It’s solely a evaluation digital camera

Luckily, I had the current alternative to reply that second query because of the parents at B&H Photograph and Olympus. They organized for me to check the OM-D E-M1 Mark II together with a large assortment of lenses that match my specific fashion and pursuits, starting from broad angle to tremendous telephoto.

After a month of capturing, I used to be purported to ship it again. I needed to admit that I actually, actually favored this technique. I attempted to not. I procrastinated. In January, I obtained a pleasant nudge and once more had quite a bit happening and the publish workplace by no means appeared to be on the best way to wherever I needed to go. Sadly, I lastly packed up the field and shipped it again. Now, if the great people at Olympus need to refuse that cargo and ship it proper again, I might completely be OK with that. Simply saying.

What I examined

Efficiency: Topic and site


My old flame in images is, and can all the time be, wildlife. Venturing out with this “tiny” digital camera and the 300mm lens I initially felt “under-geared.” The place was my overburdened pack of lenses and gear? I had a tough time imagining I might get the identical leads to such a small package deal as my beefy DSLRs and 600mm+ monster lenses.

Though I had some challenges with wildlife in motion as outlined under, I used to be pleasantly stunned by how a lot attain I had in such a small package deal. The 300mm paired with a 1.four teleconverter offered me with sufficient focal size magnification to seize pictures of all types of wildlife. The 40-150mm additionally carried out properly, particularly for bigger animals.

Nature close-ups

Most of the issues that I favored about this technique for wildlife additionally lent themselves nicely to close-ups and macro fashion pictures. Particularly, the 300mm and 40-150mm have pretty brief minimal focus distances, permitting you to make use of these lenses to actually discover “little worlds” like within the pictures under.


Coming from a full body digital camera, I’m used to massive views of massive scenes. I actually didn’t know what to anticipate with a micro four-thirds sensor and the accompanying wide-angle lens choice. Though there was some noticeable barrel distortion at its widest, the 7-14mm lens proved very succesful for large angle “massive scenes.” In Lightroom, the lens corrections and rework panels usually cleaned up any distortion.

One factor that threw me at first in post-processing by way of Lightroom was the “built-in” profiles Olympus embeds in its RAW information. I used to be used to working with the drop-down menu that matched the physique to the lens. Each Olympus RAW file (ORF extension information) features a built-in lens profile that’s mechanically utilized in Lightroom to your pictures for lens corrections.

Road and urbex

The Olympus has an unobtrusive measurement, it’s straightforward to hold, and has the power to set a excessive ISO with very low noise within the pictures. These are all big pluses for road and deserted locations exploration fashion photographs. Considerably to my shock my most used lens whereas testing the system was the 40-150mm, primarily for its versatility in all types of genres. It lent itself notably nicely to road images, permitting me to seize extra distant scenes and particulars with out lugging round a conspicuously giant lens.

Do I actually need this?

As I do with all my evaluations, I need to reply this query, “Do I actually need this?” which all the time break down into a number of extra questions:

  • Does it match the kind of images I love to do? Sure. Coming from the world of full-frame DSLRs, I had my doubts. Whether or not wildlife, landscapes, macro, road, studio, portrait or just about any style I attempted, I discovered the system and lens assortment match me and my fashion.
  • Can I take it to the locations I wish to go? Undoubtedly; I used to be capable of pack it right into a case a 3rd the dimensions of the Pelican rolling exhausting case I often use for journey. Within the area, a daypack carried every little thing I wanted, with area and weight to spare.
  • Will it survive me? I used this package in circumstances from chilly, wet days to ones abusing me and the system with sweltering warmth. Within the swamp, on the seashore, on mountains, close to waterfalls and even in … cities (eww). The digital camera and the lenses have been checked by way of airways in my baggage, thrown in backpacks for lengthy hikes, and has ridden round behind my truck on the bumpiest washboard roads you possibly can think about. In that point, I had two error messages seem. Biking the facility on the digital camera cleared them up every time.
  • Will it substitute one thing I already use and do a greater job? Cash being no object, sure, I might bounce to mirrorless with no objections. This Olympus system can be a robust contender. However sadly, cash is a consideration. It’s costly to modify methods. Earlier than leaping ship, I would definitely take a look at my present model’s choices to see if I might save and use my present lenses.
  • Will it assist me get the photographs I would like? Sure. Having gone by way of medical points which have sadly, restricted my capacity to schlep heavy gear into the sector, it was refreshing to have such a light-weight however extraordinarily succesful system. It’s quick, sturdy and produced photographs with which I’m very completely satisfied.

What would I modify?

  • Menu system: From the beginning, I wasn’t in love with the menu system. I typically discovered it arduous to navigate, spending extra time looking for what I needed than I had anticipated. It definitely might partially be as a result of I’ve been a Canon consumer for therefore lengthy that the variations in menu format and terminology between the 2 techniques are vital.
  • Battery life:One of many largest points I encountered was battery life, I burned via batteries fairly quick. The digital viewfinder, picture stabilization and the stay view again monitor all eat a number of energy. Positive. I’m being choosy right here, battery know-how has been one of many largest tech leaps prior to now few years. However I would like much more! It was not unusual for me to exhaust 2-Three batteries per day.
  • Too many options: I like a digital camera to be full-featured. One among my huge pet peeves is when producers attempt to cram too many choices right into a digital camera physique. I consider a digital camera as a software to make the pictures I need to make. I exploit a screwdriver to place in screws. I don’t want or need it to hammer in nails, paint the partitions, or wash my dishes. Truly, the dishwashing factor can be fairly good and I digress. Including increasingly options makes it more and more troublesome to seek out the options I would like. Whereas enterprise this exploration, I miss pictures. I feel that when there are such a lot of choices and options, it could grow to be overwhelming for the typical consumer. That is an throughout the board concern I’ve discovered with almost all the mirrorless techniques available on the market. I might love a simplification that streamlines activating options, as an alternative of such emphasis on the size of the options record and what number of could be shoved into the digital camera.
  • Autofocus choices: After two months, I nonetheless felt like I had not found out the nuances of the Olympus autofocus system. To my level above, there are virtually too many choices, you possibly can over-refine your focus to the purpose of it turning into almost ineffective. The autofocus on the digital camera is nice. It’s snappy and fast, however the quite a few array of choices for autofocus left me confused about which to make use of.
  • Measurement: As a lot as I liked the light-weight and packability of this technique, making the leap from my Canon 5D Mk IV made it really feel like a toy in my palms. More often than not this was not a problem, I slightly favored the decreased weight and measurement. However the small buttons have been exhausting to function in colder climate with gloves on, and I discovered myself within the warmth of the second lacking or fumbling with buttons and dials.

Would I like to recommend it?

Sure. General I discovered that this Olympus system was very succesful, produced nice photographs, and dealt with the whole lot I threw at it. I truthfully thought Olympus wasn’t a lot of a contender any longer within the skilled photographic world till this challenge got here alongside. Olympus is a sleeping big that has a really spectacular lineup of cameras and lenses that I wouldn’t hesitate to make use of once more. Digital camera selection is as a lot about private choice as something, however when making an attempt to determine on a mirrorless digital camera system, I feel this one matches the wants of nature photographers, in addition to almost each different style, extraordinarily properly.

Coming full circle

An extended, very long time in the past, my very first digital digital camera was an Olympus level and shoot, the CZ3030. On the time, it was at the vanguard of digital know-how. A “large” Three.Three megapixels, a 128MB sensible media card, and almost 2 frames per second. I nonetheless have it. It nonetheless works. I really like the complete circle I’ve traveled from that digital camera, which I by no means would have imagined was my gateway to my cherished profession in images, to attending to assessment Olympus’s flagship mirrorless digital camera physique all of those a few years later.

A photograph of my son made many moons in the past with my first digital digital camera, an Olympus CZ3030.

Jason Hahn

Jason is a nature and journey photographer who has been photographing all of the superb creatures and locations this planet has to supply for over a decade. Additionally a Florida Grasp Naturalist, he enjoys educating about images and the pure world. He at present calls Florida residence, together with his spouse, son, and extra cats than he want to admit. When not writing about himself within the third individual, he enjoys sunsets and lengthy walks on the seashore whereas carrying 40 kilos of digital camera gear. He can most frequently be discovered wading by way of a swamp, searching down a great burger joint, or having fun with time together with his household.

You’ll find out extra about Jason, together with his photograph workshops, at

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