Olympus OM-D EM-1 Mark II Review

After two months of using the EM-1 Mark II including a weeklong trip in subzero temps in Alaska - I share my thoughts on this top of the line Micro 4/3rds camera - How well does it do at high ISOs, how good is the stabilization and more...https://youtu.be/SdKpor-nvDs Reviews like this are made possible by Photorec.tv members - want to have a detailed conversation with me about the pros and cons of the EM1 Mark II or another camera, want to figure out what is the best camera for you? Become a member todayBuy the Olympus EM1 Mark II from B&H Photo and support Photorec.tvLenses Used in Alaska/During Em1 Mark II Review

The Olympus 12-100 f/4 Provides 6.5 stops of IS when used with the EM1 Mark II

Full Resolution Images on DropBox

[gallery columns="4" td_select_gallery_slide="slide" ids="13425,13426,13427,13428,13429,13430,13431,13432"]The Olympus e-m1 Mark II camera some reviewers have chosen it as the camera of 2016 and a few weeks ago I wondered if it was going to be my perfect do-it-all camera! For the last month, almost 2 months now,  I have used the Olympus as a do-it-all camera for photos and videos including a week long trip to Alaska in sub-freezing temperatures. In this review I will share what I love about this camera, what I don’t love, how it compares to a few competitors and whether or not it can work for me and replace two cameras I typically take on my travels - my Sony A7RII mostly for photos and the Panasonic GH4 - mostly used for video, vlogging and timelapses.Strengths of the Em1 Mark IIStabilization - I can get 2 to 3 second exposures HANDHELD with this camera and in 4K video that sensor stabilization plus electronic stabilization translates to extremely smooth footage. This camera is a  joy to shoot handheld video with and in all the Alaska footage I shot I saw no signs of the  annoying wobble you often get from electronic stabilization. Note that THE really serious stabilization, 6.5 stops, SYNC IS as Olympus calls it is achieved with their 12-100 f/4 lens which I have not tried.Swiss Army Tool 

"best tool I can compare the EM1 Mark II to is one of those ridiculous Swiss army knifes, the really thick ones"

I have mentioned In the past that these cameras are tools to me and the best tool I can compare the EM1 Mark II to is one of those ridiculous Swiss army knifes, the really thick ones, the amount of features beyond the stabilization they have packed into this camera include ridiculously fast AF,  60 frames per second RAW when you half press the shutter button, 18 frames per second with autofocus tracking and silent shooting, hi res shooting, live bulb, live timer, live composite, 4k video, and built in time lapse! All of these features makes the EM1 Mark II an extremely flexible and versatile tool. And on top of the full feature set you have the freedom to FULLY customize this camera - you can even switch the on/off button to other functions! You will find yourself spending a good bit of time in the menu if you haven’t shot with Olympus more and I did experience several camera freeze ups after customizing until I reset the camera and went a little lighter on the customization.About that AF - I struggled to really get the C-AF and tracking to nail fast moving subjects - overall focus is VERY fast but this wouldn't be my first choice if I was primarily shooting wildlife or sports.  In video C-AF was very good with face recognition/focus working reliably enough to use in most situations.  Certainly a step up from the GH4 which cannot always be relied on to stay focused.Rugged BodyAll of this performance and features are contained in a portable and rugged body that I didn’t worry about using in the rain or  in subzero temps  - in fact I left this outside for several hours in 20 below zero fahrenheit - minus the battery and it continued to perform just fine.    Battery life in normal temperatures is decent - if you have two batteries you should be able to get through a day of mixed photo and video just fine and the charger is quick charge which is really helpful.   The dual card slots are nice and you have an excellent amount of flexibility in how you use those two cards - backup redundancy or photos to one and video to the other though only one is high speed and that might be the cause of some buffer issues I saw that I will address in a moment.Solid Image and Video Quality Below ISO 1600I was for the most part happy with the image and video quality - Excellent quality and great detail under ISO 1600 - above that things can get rough in some situations but a little noise reduction and I am still for the most part happy.   If I look at some of my favorite images of 2016 - the vast majority were under ISO 1600 - which I mostly mention as a way for you to look back over your images to decide how important clean higher ISO is to your photography.  One of the goals of the Alaska trip was capturing the  northern lights photography and they are best shot at shorter exposures and higher ISOs and the Olympus didn’t handle that as well as the Sony with loads more shadow noise.  I got useable shots but really appreciate the flexibility of the Sony when I need clean higher ISOs. Video quality is certainly good though the panasonic GH4 4k and 1080 video looks a little better to me in most situations but of course the Gh4 is not sensor stabilized for that we are waiting for the GH5 or as many of you mentioned in the comments of the Ditching Sony video - the G85 which at 1/2 the price looks as good if not slightly better for video. For photos the G85 doesn’t offer all the bells and whistles - certainly not as good at capturing fast action but generally on par and actually offers more lenses than Olympus with the DUAL IS!  So a quick summary of the strengths of the olympus. This is a great all around camera that is fun to use, provides nicely stabilized video AND gives you a ton of bells and whistles along with good image and video quality but it does have a few issues- Low light performance.  Over the last year I have mostly shot with the Sony a7R2 this is a full frame sensor and one of the best in its class in both resolution and detail so it is hard for ME to NOT compare what I have been used to seeing with what I get out of the Olympus but that isn’t a fair comparison so I looked at matching it up against APS-C sized sensor like the Sony a6300, a6500 the Nikon D500 and the Fuji XT2 - all of those cameras are definitely better in low light performance but the Olympus isn’t too far behind and it even beats the Canon 80D! Now again, the EM1 Mark II offers stabilization that gives you some flexibility with shooting slower shutter speed but vs everything above you are going to generaly find your photos noisier.  The most fair comparison- pitting the EM1 Mark II against other Micro 4/3rd sensors on the market -  it is the current king in low light performance.  However figuring out the true value here is tricky - at two thousand dollars this is not a cheap camera and is more expensive than everything I just compared it too - So you then have to start deciding exactly how much it is worth to you to go smaller and lighter. And  - About being lighter - as I start to price out lenses what I mentioned is already an expensive camera well it doesn’t get any cheaper with these nice lenses AND the weight savings start to vanish- though your bag can be smaller or you could choose to go with cheaper and smaller primes which is fun - but if you want the best lenses you will still be carrying a fair amount of weight and paying top dollar.Remember I am not only reviewing this camera but trying to figure out if it can work for my needs so I can carry less and I had major concerns about the Wifi control turns out you have enough control even if you have to be round about how you setup AF for video BUT there is still one issue for me- While using the remote you cannot shoot 4K video, only 1080P - I shoot in 4K, I plan to shoot in 4k in the future so why Olympus do you give me a 4k capable camera that suddenly becomes a 1080P camera if I want to use the remote?   In researching this and complaining about it online someone pointed out that the Fuji XT-2 limits you to 720P when using wifi. SO Just a thank you to Panasonic for giving a 4K camera, the GH4, that always remains a 4K camera AND you don’t have to be round about to do auto focus with the app.  Another small disappointment when you shoot a crazy burst you don’t get to review any of those images until they all finish writing to the sensor which can take some time with the larger bursts. SO in final summary  - I really enjoyed using this camera, if you are looking for a top of the line Micro 4/3 camera well suited for wildlife photography, general travel photography including vlogging style video - this is the best you can BUY... BUT at its current cost there are some competitors that while they might not offer all the bells and whistles or all of the portability they do either outclass it in low light performance or resolution or both.  And while I would love to simplify to one camera, one lens system I am just not willing to make this big a change in resolution or low light performance, especially when my GH4 still looks better for video even if it isn’t as stabilized.  I will be looking at the Panasonic G85 and while I hope to review the Fuji XT-2 soon it isn’t in the running as a replacement despite many of you recommending it - the 720p during wifi remote use, the 10 minutes limit to 4k without the power grip AND the lack of fully articulating screen means it cannot be a do it all camera for me.  Buy the Olympus EM1 Mark II from B&H Photo and support Photorec.tvLenses Used in Alaska/During Em1 Mark II Review

Reviews like this are made possible by Photorec.tv members - want to have a detailed conversation with me about the pros and cons of the EM1 Mark II or another camera, want to figure out what is the best camera for you? Become a member today

OM-D E-M1 Mark II - Most Advanced Micro 4/3

In some ways writing "the most advanced" is a given.. right? This is afterall a new camera, a new flagship camera from Olympus - shouldn't it offer the most advanced set of features to date?  Anyway olympus continues to offer high quality cameras with a huge lenses selection (micro 4/3 standard can use anything by olympus, panasonic and many 3rd party manufacturers)   The latest announcement - not a release yet continues this trend.OM-D E-M1 Mark II Specs

  • 20MP sensor
  • 5-axis IS
  • Lightweight and Weatherproof body
  • 15FPS (60fps in electronic shooting) - yes stills!
  • 1/80000 max shutter speed
  • 4K video
  • Fully articulating 3.0" touchscreen
  • Focus bracketing and stacking
  • Wifi (do I need to list this as a feature in late 2016?) it should be a given)

I few days ago I was having a discussion about the benefits mirrorless cameras offered - one of my points was mirrors are mechanical contraptions that slow a camera down - you have to flip it out of the way to take a photo and if you want to take several photos in a row AND use autofocus between those shots - the mirror must flip up and down and this mechanical process is time consuming.  This new Olympus is an excellent example of what is possible without the mirror - 18 FPS with continuous autofocus turned on.    And the Olympus cameras have offered some of the best AF in mirrorless cameras and the M1 Mark II is likely to continue. And then you have a few more cool features like

  • Silent Shutter Mode which completely eliminates shutter noise and all electronic sounds, perfect for wildlife, concert halls, or other quiet environments.
  • Live Composite and Live Bulb Modes- watch the image build up on the monitor, allowing exposure adjustment during the shoot.
  • Focus Bracketing and Stacking lets you take several photos of a subject and then stack them into a single image with edge-to-edge clarity for For incredible macro shots.

 

Panasonic GF6 - Innovative Features

It is nice to see companies really innovating and the latest Micro 4/3 or Interchangeable Lens Camera (ILC) from Panasonic does just that.   The headline feature here is an NFC/Wifi combo that on paper looks pretty snazzy.  NFC is near field communication, it allows devices to talk to each other at very close distances, so close they might almost be touching.  This is fairly secure and in this case provides a user with quick setup of wireless. You touch your NFC enabled smartphone/tablet to the camera and they share the Wifi connection information.  Start shooting and you can receive the images on your smartphone, you can also set the camera up to send straight to a computer or various online accounts through the Panasonic pipes (my term, not theirs).   Android and iOS apps also let you remotely control the camera to varying degrees.I don't spend a ton of time talking about 4/3 cameras but only because I am so busy focusing on DSLRs.  More than a few times in the past months I have had folks that assume a DSLR is the only choice when moving up from a P&S and the 4/3 offer a very viable alternative.  You do sacrifice some low light performance with these smaller sensors but you gain better video recording focus, smaller more portable bodies and innovative features, like the built in Wifi sharing.[gallery columns="2" link="file" ids="3454,3455"]I hope to share more information about the GF6 soon.  And I'd love to hear your thoughts. How often do you head out of the house without a DSLR because you don't feel like dealing with the weight/bulk?  I wonder how successful the SL1 will be compared.  

Full Press Release - Panasonic GF6

April 9, 2013: Panasonic is proud to introduce a new Digital Single Lens Mirrorless Camera DMC-GF6 from the stylish, most compact GF series of LUMIX G. The new 16.00–megapixel Live MOS Sensor achieves high-resolution, high sensitivity image recording. The Venus Engine is also newly developed for DMC-GF6 to attain high-performance signal processing and the advanced noise reduction system minimizes noise and even achieves shooting at max. ISO 25600(Extended) high sensitivity taking best advantage of the new sensor.The DMC-GF6 boasts high-speed, high precision Light Speed AF system including practical full-time AF and tracking AF is available in video recording. Newly integrated Low Light AF enables quick, accurate focusing on the target subject even in low-lit situations. Getting ready to shoot in only 0.5 sec after start-up, the DMC-GF6 never misses fleeting shooting opportunities.The DMC-GF6 is not just an interchangeable lens camera but a creative magic box full of wide-ranging attractive features including the new Self Shot, Creative Panorama and Stop Motion Animation in addition to the popular Creative Control mode with a total of 19 fascinating filter effects. The Stop Motion Animation allows producing unique stop motion video and the Clear Retouch function enables to erase unwanted part of a picture after shooting – both operations completes with stunning ease in camera.With the Wi-Fi® connectivity featuring NFC (Near Field Communication) technology, users can connect the camera to their smartphone/tablet anywhere at one-touch, which makes sharing images much easier. It is also possible to use a smartphone/tablet as a multi-capable remote shutter with a monitor. With the Instant Transfer function, photos are automatically sent to the smartphone/tablet right after shooting. On the other hand, both photo and video can be archived to the registered digital equipment such as PC automatically via the wireless access point (router) at home.The DMC-GF6 records 1920 x 1080 at 60i (NTSC) / 50i (PAL) full-HD video in AVCHD with high quality stereo sound. The P/A/S/M mode in video recording is also available for more expressive creation of motion picture footage.Despite its sleek, compact profile, the DMC-GF6 is a practically reliable digital camera with a built-in flash(GN6.3 ISO160・m / GN5.0 ISO100・m) and 3.0-inch large approx.180°tiltable monitor. Dressed in stylish colors - black, white, brown and red, the DMC-GF6 brings new opportunities to enjoy shooting higher quality image with cutting-edge digital technologies.New 16.00-Megapixel Live MOS Sensor and Venus Engine for Superb Picture QualityThe DMC-GF6 integrates new 16.00-megapixel Live MOS sensor which enables high resolution and high sensitivity image recording while minimizing generation of noise. The image processor Venus Engine is also newly developed to feature its advanced noise reduction systems. By extending the control level of noise, controllable area of noise is expanded by approx.64x in size. This makes it possible to remove large block of noise which was formally hard to detect and helps produce clear, smooth image especially for the nighttime scenery. In addition, the Multi-process NR (Noise Reduction) works in two separate steps allowing even finer control over noise level. The texture of noise itself, regardless of the noise size, is improved with this deliberate control, which is resulting in the reproduction of smooth human skin even in high sensitivity recording.Furthermore, the optimum design of newly adopted Detail Reproduction Filter Process enhances the limit resolution by max. 3% and the contrast of middle to high range by max. 5%. Plus, the advanced Intelligent D-range Control offers wider dynamic range while maintaining the smooth gradation thanks to the higher-precision signal processing performed by the redesigned signal processing circuit. Suppressing both blocked shadows and blown highlights, every part of an image – from dark to bright – is faithfully reproduced.The combination of the new Live MOS Sensor and the Venus Engine achieves ISO3200 (Auto) and max. ISO 25600 (Extended). The Low Light AF in DMC-GF6 gains higher performance in such as moonlight even without AF assist lamp to set focus on the subject more quickly and more precisely.Pursuing Even Higher Speed Response and MobilityThe DMC-GF6 boasts even higher response. It takes only approx.0.5 sec to shoot photo after startup (CIPA). Not only its intuitive touch controllability on the rear monitor, the optimum layout of operation devices makes the camera control smooth and easy. The newly added function lever allows direct adjustment of allotted function - zoom*1, exposure or aperture*2 control, which works for magnification in playback mode and page flip in menu. The mode dial has come back for this new DMC-GF6.All cameras of LUMIX G adopt Contrast AF for its focus system. Compared with the Phase difference system AF, the Contrast AF boasts higher accuracy especially in shooting with bright lens with small F value. The DMC-GF6 also boasts high-speed Light Speed AF making it possible to capture fast-moving subjects clearly. Also, AF Tracking enables consecutive shooting to capture moving subject in sharp focus.Combined with the Full-area Touch AF, it is possible to set focus on any point in the field of view which realizes quick and intuitive focusing operation with free frame composition. In addition, the newly adopted Touch AE (Auto Exposure) function allows setting focus and exposure at a single touch on the subject displayed on the monitor.A Variety of Shooting Functions for Artwork CreationThe DMC-GF6 is not just a high quality camera but an advanced photographic tool enhancing shooting experience with wide variety of options.With the new Self Shot mode, users can shoot their own portraits by stretching an arm to hold the camera with the rear monitor flipped approx.180°vertically to get in a frame properly. A variety of options such as Creative Control can be applied on this self-portrait, too.The popular Creative Control mode is upgraded by increasing its filter option from 14 (for DMC-GF5) to 19 (for DMC-GF6) adding new Old Days, Sunshine*3, Bleach Bypass, Toy Pop, Fantasy in addition to the conventional Expressive, Retro, High Key, Sepia, High Dynamic, Soft Focus*3, Dynamic Monochrome, Impressive Art, One Point Color, Cross Process, Low Key, Toy Effect and Star Filter*3 and Miniature Effect*4 mode. Effect parameter of each mode is also adjustable. With the new Creative Panorama function, it is possible to shoot a horizontal / vertical panoramic image with consequent shots taken by overlaying the previous picture and to put on a filter effect of Creative Control*5.The new Stop Motion Animation function enables producing a stop motion (stop frame) video in camera with the pictures that are sequentially shot while moving the object by degrees. This effect makes the object appear as if it is moving by itself.Another new in-camera function is Clear Retouch, which makes it is possible to erase unwanted objects or figures in an image by just tracing over them on monitor with a fingertip. They naturally disappear without destroying the image.*3 For photo only *4 Sound will not be recorded with [MINIATURE EFFECT] in Creative Control Mode and approximately 1/10 of the time period is recorded. (If you record for 10 minutes, the resulting motion picture recording will be approximately 1 minute long) *5 Some filters of Creative Control cannot be used in Creative Panorama mode.Wireless Connectivity for One-Touch Picture Sharing & Remote Shooting via Wi-Fi® / NFC with SmartphonesThe DMC-GF6 integrates Wi-Fi® connectivity (IEEE 802.11 b/g/n) with NFC (Near Field Communication) technology camera to offer more flexible shooting experience and instant image sharing with compliant smartphone/tablet. All these flexible shooting / browsing / sharing style are made possible with the DMC-GF6 and the Panasonic's dedicated application software Panasonic Image App for iOS / Android smartphones/tablets.Users can connect the camera with a smartphone/tablet by just bringing them together. What is new is that the setup is extremely quick and easy, making it possible to pair the camera directly to the smartphone/tablet without connection procedure of information input for authorization.Remote shooting of both photo and video*6 is available by using the smartphone/tablet for a remote shutter with a monitor which displayed live at smooth 30 fps. Not only releasing a shutter, zooming*7, focusing and settings of shutter speed, aperture, exposure compensation are all controllable with a smartphone/tablet.The Instant Transfer function allows the camera to transfer the photo data to the designated electronic devices automatically whenever shutter is released. In playback mode, users can also touch the image displayed on the camera to transfer it directly to the smartphone/tablet right on the spot. In addition, it is possible to tag the location information to the image by utilizing the GPS (Global Positioning System) log of a smartphone / tablet.Archiving images becomes easy. DMC-GF6 transfers the data to PC or other compliant electronic devices automatically via the wireless access point (router) at home. Also, with Panasonic's exclusive cloud service “LUMIX CLUB”, DMC-GF6 can automatically synchronize images via internet with the designated devices and web services like Facebook™, Flickr™, Picasa™, Twitter™ or YouTube™.The Wi-Fi Direct™ function allows direct playback of images on the DLNA (Digital Living Network Alliance) – compliant VIERA HDTV*8.

Other Attractive Features for DMC-GF6

High Quality 1920 x 1080 Full-HD Video with Stereo SoundThe DMC-GF6 records 1920 x 1080 at 60i (NTSC) / 50i (PAL) full HD videos with full-time AF and high quality stereo sound in the AVCHD format which excels in both compression efficiency and compatibility with AV equipment for playback. With a dedicated video record button on the top, users can instantly start recording videos while shooting photos without any having to make any extra setting adjustments. In addition, the P/A/S/M mode also lets users enjoy professional-like expressive video recording. Videos can also be recorded in MP4 format for playback on a PC or other portable electronic devices without having to convert the files.- Maximum time to record motion pictures continuously with [AVCHD] is 29 minutes 59 seconds in Europe and some Asian areas.- Maximum time to record motion pictures continuously with [MP4] is 29 minutes 59 seconds or up to 4 GB.- You can check the recordable time on the screen. (For [FHD] in [MP4] format, the file size is large and so the recordable time will drop below 29 minutes 59 seconds.)Compact, Stylish Design with a variety of Color SelectionThe DMC-GF6 features ultimate compactness in sleek, stylish design despite its incorporation of useful built-in flash(GN6.3 ISO160・m / GN5.0 ISO100・m). The design dispels impression for conventional big, heavy and colorless DSLRs. Fashionably dressed in black, white, brown or red, the DMC-GF6 matches any style and fashion regardless of gender. In addition, new power zoom digital interchangeable lens in white H-PS14042-W is specially bundled in the white camera kit as DMC-GF6X-W.New Approx.1040K-dot 180゜Tiltable Touch DisplayThe new large, approx.1040K-dot high resolution monitor boasts approx. 100% of field of view, andit tilts up approx. 180°. The front panel is directly attached to the new In Cell Touch LCD without containing air layer in between. The result is that the reflection of external light is dramatically suppressed. Together with the increased resolution by approx.13% and improved color reproduction by approx.20%, the monitor for DMC-GF6 secures higher visibility than ever. Plus, attenuation of transmitting backlight is minimized to achieve wide angle of view and by 25% of power saving.The touch-control system immediately lets users to set focus to the subject by just touching it on the screen and you can even release the shutter. It is free and easy to enlarge the target point with fingertips to set precise focus.Advanced iA+ (Intelligent Auto Plus Mode) and Scene Guide for BeginnersFor beginners of Digital Single Lens Mirrorless cameras, iA (Intelligent Auto) mode supports taking beautiful pictures with a variety of shooting-assist functions including AF Tracking, Intelligent D-range Control, Intelligent Scene Selector, Face Recognition and Intelligent ISO Control. The Intelligent Scene Selector now integrates Food Recognition mode. It detects food on the dish and captures it to look delicious. The iA Plus mode lets users adjust defocusing area in the background, exposure compensation and white balance for more flexible control.The Scene Guide*9 offers 23 sample pictures shot by professional photographers. Users can choose the one closer to the situation they are going to shoot and optimum parameters for shooting the scene will be automatically set. Furthermore, shooting procedure, technical advice and recommended interchangeable lens for the scene can be shown for users to learn photography.*1 When used with Power Zoom lenses H-PS14042 or H-PS45175.*2 In M (Manual) mode.*3 For photo only *4 Sound will not be recorded with [MINIATURE EFFECT] in Creative Control Mode and approximately 1/10 of the time period is recorded. (If you record for 10 minutes, the resulting motion picture recording will be approximately 1 minute long) *5 Some filters of Creative Control cannot be used in Creative Panorama mode.*6 For remote shooting of video, start/stop recording is available over smartphone/tablet control *7With LUMIX G Power Zoom Lens H-PS14042 or H-PS45175. *8 Using [Playback on TV] of the Wi-Fi function, you can display images on a TV that supports the Digital Media Renderer (DMR) function of the DLNA standard. Please check the following website about the compatible devices for details. http://panasonic.jp/support/global/cs/dsc/*9 Video recording using Scene Guide is not possible in some scenes.