Home from Bermuda and I brought the E-M5II with me!

Home from Bermuda and I brought the E-M5II with me!

See my 1st look of the E-M5II HERE. This is a quick follow up to that, full review in about 2 weeks. 


Whew! Last week was a crazy week. Three full days of travel, two days in Bermuda and loads of fun, shooting, and testing the brand new and pretty damn incredible E-M5II. Most of you here know how I operate..I write ONLY about cameras that I love. Cameras that motivate me, move me and impress me. I also have a love for small mirrorless cameras as they have come a LONG way since the early days of the E-P1.  With cameras like the Sony A7 series which feature full frame sensors in smaller bodies as well as Olympus constantly pushing technology to the limits, today we have some absolutely MIND BLOWING cameras that can do things that no past cameras could do.

Before I write more I want to thank EVERYONE at Olympus for the great week, as well as the great friends I was able to see again during the trip! Was great seeing and working with you ALL! I am truly blessed to be able to do what I love in life.

As with previous Micro 4/3 Olympus cameras, Live Time is here and its so much fun to use. You will see you exposure happening in real-time, and you can stop it when the finished image is to you liking. I used live time for all of the images below, and seeing it magically expose on the LCD in real-time is amazing and something no DSLR or any other camera can do. 




In the case of the E-M5II, it does incredible things that NO DSLR can do. The more I use and study this little camera the more I am impressed with it. It’s a pretty beautiful thing. It’s about half the size of my beloved Sony A7s, faster to AF, weather sealed, has the best IS you can get today (5 stops) and has the best lens lineup next to Leica IMO. While it loses out on the full frame sensor and those gorgeous rich files that come from full frame, Olympus has stepped it up with the new 40 Megapixel High Res mode.

That mode is very nice but it has limitations. You MUST use a tripod and nothing in your frame can be moving. Even so, for those doing detailed landscape work, this can be a superb tool as the results are very nice even though so far I have only been able to see the JPEGS (A photoshop plug-in is on the way for processing the high res RAW files).

Just some JPEGS from the E-M5II – click for larger. 





Olympus keeps on pushing on and finding new ways to test the limits of what a camera can do. For example, LIVE TIME and LIVE COMPOSITE are revolutionary and NO OTHER camera can do this, yet it is something that opens up new avenues for photography. It is mind blowing if you really think about it. The new 5 Axis..INCREDIBLE. I have talked about all of this in my original 1st look report, which can be seen HERE but I just wanted to say it again as this camera, so far, has been phenomenal. I am VERY impressed.


Some have been asking me a few questions:

Q: IS the EM5II better than the E-M1?

A: Olympus clearly stated that the FLAGSHIP is the E-M1 and the E-M5II resides in the middle. But IMO, until they have all of these new features in the E-M1, I would say the EM5II beats the E-M1 in many ways. The E-M1 has a beefier build and body, more pro. The E-M5II is smaller, and while not a PRO build, it is much better than many cameras made today in the same class. The E-M1 is more rugged and has a deep grip, the E-M5II does not have a grip but one can be added. Speed wise, the E-M5II is faster than the E-M1. It also has the same IQ and ISO performance. It has better 5 Axis and the silent shutter option as well. All in all, if you do not mind the less pro body, the E-M5II is a better camera in my opinion. 



Q: How long can you handhold a shot with the new 5 Axis?

A: Probably 1 second to be sharp but I have done quite a few at 2 seconds with impressive results. This is incredible and will also depend on your focal length of course. It’s the best IS on the market as of Feb 2015. 

Just for fun, two 2 second hand held shots 😉 



Q: When does the E-M5II ship?

A: End of TIHS month, Feb 2015. 

Q: How is continuous AF?

A: In my limited tests so far, VERY good! See an image series below:


All in all in my 3 days with it the E-M5II is performing well. At the Bermuda event I had a couple of glitches with freeze ups but the camera is not final yet and I am sure there are firmware things they will figure out before launch. I predict another winner for Olympus and I will have a huge real world style review up in about 2 weeks, just before the camera ships.

There are other new things from Olympus to talk about as well..the new TOUGH TG-860 camera which is PRETTY AMAZING and beats my Go Pro for fun factor, video and ease of use. I ordered on already and at $279 I will use it for my YouTube videos and underwater shots. Waterproof to 50 feet, shockproof, to 7 feet,  cold proof to 14 degrees and crushproof to 220 lbs! The flip out LCD allows you to take video or selfies of yourself and works out perfect for some of my video work and reviews.

I will get to that camera as well SOON.

You can pre-order the E-M5II at Amazon HERE or B&H photo HERE or PopFlash.com HERE


  1. do a real this real world AF test

    find somebody on bike ….even 3 year kid ….and then once he pedal towards you normal speed ….catch him going

    my EM10 is hopeless with this job

  2. The first 4 of the 8 composite 40MP
    Shifts the pixels halfway to get almost full colour info per pixel
    This is almost Foveon without Foveons drawbacks.

    Hence the EM5ii shows pixel level clarity better than Nikon D800e
    As well as nicer gradation, subtleties :
    due to no 2/3 Bayer calculating from 1/3 info.
    EM5ii will also be above Canons 50MP 5DS for the same reasons.
    Although the Canon 50MP will have more detail.

    If Olympus release firmware that uses only the first 4 from 8 composite
    We will get even nearer to Foveon (without Foveons drawbacks)
    Although we will loose resolution.

  3. Steve, thanks for reviewing these cameras. It’s always a great read, and you always have great insights.

    I’m a bit bummed by the misleading A7 vs. E-M5ii comparison pic you posted here though. You have some sort of grip attached to the A7 which makes it look giant compared to the Olympus. Then you continue to affirm this delusion in text, by writing that the E-M5ii is half the size of the A7. Why are you misleading the readers?

    I’ve been using Olympus M43 and the A7 side by side for a year now, and the size difference between the E-M5 body and the A7 is negligible at best. I’m really not sure why you are trying to convey a different story.

  4. Steve, as E-M1 has PDAF ability when tracking moving objects, is there much difference with E-M5II without PDAF, particularly with difficult objects like over-energized kids…. Dolphins are easier, I have photographed both!

    Best regards,


  5. Thanks Steve, I was referring to the new 14-150ii. I have the 25 1.4 Panasonic and 75-300ii. Was hoping the 14-150ii was improved. May pick up the 12-40 Pro instead.

  6. STEVE!!!! STEVE!!!!
    Two quick questions.
    a) How does the EVF compare to previous OMD models? Comparable to the E-M1?
    b) When using Live Time, doesn’t pressing the shutter button to end the exposure affect the image? I haven’t seen anyone using an electronic cable release, so i guess it’s fine, but I would think the image would be blurred. I know there is a delay when initiating the exposure.

    • There actually is no kit lens for the E-M5II. It will not be made available with any lens, only body only. If you are referring to the updated 14-150 – all they added was weather sealing. From what I have seen it is sharp and gives you 28-300mm. It will not be nearly as good as the 12-40 or a prime but is still quite nice.

    • NOOOOooooOOooooo. Its an interchangeable lens nearly pro camera. Not a small sensor pocket camera. Even without a lens attached it would never fit in a pocket.

  7. I ordered this camera.
    I feel more confident purchasing this after seeing your reviews Steve.
    This will be my first 4/3 camera and the silent shutter and flip out screen sold me.

    • Lol, there is always one. I do not get “stemmed” to do reviews. These are “press trips” that happen once every 1 1/2 years or so. I have been on two in the past two years yet I have written 20 reviews in the last year. These trips have been going on since the 80’s and all of those other popular web sites you read for reviews? They were there as well (DPreview, Engadget, Slash Gear, Phoblographer, Imaging Resource, Steves Digicams, etc) . It’s part of the business. I would be a FOOL to pass up testing a hot new camera when offered, as this is my JOB. No schmoozing, just fun trips with fun photo opps to test cameras. But I am sure you did not read the ABOUT ME page as this is talked about there and has been for years.

      • LOL, gotcha. I think that you like Oly, Sony and of course Leica. I have not seen you let anyone with a Canon Rebel or Nikon 3300 into your world.

      • Steve, when you go on one of these “Press Trips,” let your readers know what the sponsor paid for – airfare, hotel, food, gifts, etc. No need to mention $ amounts, since you may not know. That way there is no speculation.

        • ALL popular US camera sites go, and I have had my disclaimer up for years in the About me page for everyone to read. No big deal. All european sites go to the Olympus Europe press trips, this time it is in Prague. I was invited but passed due to other obligations. It is part of this business. Just as a journalist travels for the story, us camera reviewers travel to the press events. It helps me, it helps you and helps everyone involved. It has zero bearing on the review. I have loved Olympus cameras since the E-1 4/3 camera. If there is a model I am “blah” on, I do not write about it, and there have been a few.

  8. Steve, if I understand what this camera is going to do, you havae taken a camera with 1/2 the sensor area of Fx and with composite you are making the sensor twice as big (in area) by stitching. The only things I have seen that do this before are specialized rigs that take multiple shots attached to land cameras.

    But this is still fairly small. Intriguing. And (when my TLR jammed) over the summer I started using an OM-10, I really liked it…

    But I want to see the next set of reviews. Functionally, it would be more like 3K — 1.K for the camera, and 2 K for the two Voightlander primes I’d want to do that kind of work. Plus a good travel tripod. Not as cheap as analog, but a lot cheaper than a Pentax 645

  9. There’s no end to the quest for better image quality and more solphisticated features. The way out for less well heeled Third World photographers like myself is to get a great contemporary camera / lens system and master it. I’m trying to do just that with my E-PL5 and Lumix GX1, and so far my results are very encouraging. The secret to terrific IQ is, of course, in the lenses, so I’m focusing on getting the ones available in India and which are economically priced, e.g., the 14 and 20 from Panasonic and the 45mm from Olympus. That said, the much overlooked 14-42mm Olympus kit lens has given me some pictures with amazing IQ, way way beyond my expectations. In the final analysis, good photography boils down to better envisioning, better technique and better post processing. I think there are many photographers around who feel that a ‘better’ camera will yield better photographic results… 😉
    Still, it’s great to read of Steve’s adventures with the latest and greatest !

  10. Does the sensor in the mk2 have the low pass filter like the mk1, or no low pass filter like the em1? I like to shoot astrophotography and have had long exposure issues with my em1. As well, there are several websites that have documented how the em5 mk1 handles noise better for long exposures compared to the em1, and this will make a difference when I trade in my em1 for the mk1 or mk2, or a ff. Thank you!

  11. Steve,

    Thanks. This is great! Does the new EM5 MK2 has the sweep Panorama mode or we still have to stitch in post processing?

    Thanks and look forward to your full review!

  12. It’s about half the size of my beloved Sony A7s,”

    That caught my eye and I wondered… how can it be half the size? But it isn’t, quite and according to an easy to find comparison site…

    Olympus is…
    3.2mm narrower.
    9.4mm shorter.
    10mm thinner.
    7g heavier.

    Sorry for taking you literally for a moment 😀

  13. I want to Olympus to have gorgeous rich files too. Maybe some sort of 32/16 bit in camera thingy happening so we can have those long mid tones like film has.

  14. Any reservations about IQ, Steve, especially after shooting with the A7 series for so many months? LOVE this camera but worried I’m going to miss a larger sensor.

    • Not yet but give me some time. All you lose is some shallow DOF and higher ISO (like 12,800) performance. Check my Nocticron review for some high ISO E-M1 samples even at 10k, the E-M5Ii has the same IQ. All you gain in the EM1 is the pro body.

      • A nice pre full review article, Steve.

        The e-m1 also has no anti-aliasing filter, but the difference, if any, seem to be negligible, honestly. I wished the absence of the low pass filter on the e-m1 would have made a more difference from the “standard” sensor on the e-m5 mk21 and e-m10.

        Perhaps a more significant difference and exclusivity may be that the e-m1 has phase detect auto focus. It does work with m43 lenses (not just the older four thirds lenses) if you use c-af, does not work with s-af.

        With the soon to be released firmware update 3.0 for the e-m1 this month, c-af performance and accuracy is said.to be improved. Hope it really makes a significant difference to c-after tracking accuracy and hit rate. It is also suppose to up the c_af up to 9-10 fps, as opposed to the 5-6 fps currently.

        Hopefully, a few other updates/upgrades will make its way into the 3.0 update. Would it really be that hard or impossible to add more fps options for video such as 24 and 60 fps? Perhaps also add a high res shooting mode. Sure, I know the new e-m5 mk2 has new hardware with voice coil motor for the 5 axis ibis improvement which also allows for the way high res shooting works, however, the e-m1 still does have a very good ibis system and would it be that hard to utilize it to offer high res shooting function? I think the fact that the sensor in the e-m1 also has that ability to hyper vibrate and self clean which should make it possible to micro shift the sensor to make/simulate high res shooting.

        High res shooting does seem to work, though very limited applications for static only shooting situations on tripod. It would make a great feature for high quality product photography as well as photography of art and architecture. Anyways, would n nice if the above.mention updates could find its way to the e-m1… It’s the flagship, so it should have nearly all the features of it’s siblings, wherever possible. I was glad that live composite made its way into the e-m1 from the e-m10.

        Looking forward to your full e-m5 mk2 review, Steve. Thanks!

  15. Steve, one question, make or break with any camera I use: Is there an easily thumb accessible button I can use for AF-ON so I can focus with a rear button while in continuous focus mode and then trip the shutter with my index finger? I started shooting this way with my contax G2 and it’s really hard for me to want to use a camera any other way now!

    This camera is making it really tough for me to decide whether to go Sony FF or n4/3 (already have a few bucks in m4/3 lenses but the FF files my friend gets from his A7 are killer).


  16. Steve,

    Thank you for the great coverage of the omd em5 ii. Very interested in it.

    Any improvement in the basic image quality compared to the original? Less noise, better dynamic range? Or is it exactly the same sensor output and processing?

    I have seen some images from the older model that looked great, but I still tend to compare to bigger sensor cameras even tho I shouldn’t, and get discouraged.

  17. Steve, what are your thoughts on the balance between high ISO capability and superior IS? Specifically, if you have Camera A with a superior in-camera IS but an ISO that is only usable to, say, 3200 and Camera B with great high ISO (say, 25,000 usable) but no IS (or mediocre IS), how do you see them comparing for low-light photography? It would seem that a great IS would allow a much lower (hand held) shutter speed and thus you wouldn’t have to crank the ISO as much. To be even more specific, how do you see the EM-5II (with IS) comparing to the A-7s (no IS?) for real-world handheld low-light performance (ignoring for a moment any other FF benefits)?

    • A lot depends on what you photograph. If you want to take sharp photos of humans the IS will only assist you to a certain point as people tend to move……if the Sony A7sII comes out with good IS then it is superior (in total. IS on Sony seems to be worse than Olympus) but also bigger and much more expensive. I find a dx sensor to be a perfect comprise between the 2…..maybe Olympus can make one like the above but with dx (some will say that is Fuji). But in general, we so spoiled now and can amazing cameras……

  18. Still looking forward to see the promised “high resolution” comparisons.

    In the film days, it was known that 35mm products could easily out-resolve most medium format products. Yet for tonality, dynamic range, enlargeability, there was no substitute for square inches. Really anxious to see how this magic overlay approach works in practice, both tripod and hand-held, across a wide variety of subjects.

    Otherwise, this just seems to be a follow-on product with minor feature changes, with minimal inducement for current EM-5 owners to upgrade.

    • As stated you can not use 40MP high res handheld. I will show comparisons as soon as I get the RAW plug in to process them. As for the EM5II, it is a HUGE upgrade to the MKI. The new 5 Axis alone is worth it as are many other features. MUCH improved video, MUCH improved 5 Axis, Better controls layout, nicer design, faster AF, and quite a bit more. It’s like an all new camera IMO as it can do so much more than the MK I.

    • Film had the same density / resolution regardless of format but you could “spread” the subject out across more of it with medium format to get more detail. Medium format was equal or greater in almost all ways except for size and cost. As far as the image stacking, 1/2 pixel sensor movement 40m images… I believe Olympus has stated that this was purely targeted toward still photography needs and maybe the occasional landscape if there was no movement. Any other use is for fun and experiment.

    • To be sure, I understand the resolution overlay procedure is targetted for tripod use of immobile subjects. I want to see what happens when the limits are pushed. In other words, what happens when you try to use it hand-held anyway, since… why wouldn’t you? How far can you push that limit?

      Also to be sure, there are many minor feature improvements. The questions are still two: First, will anyone actually be able to discern real-world final output of this vs the existing 3-year old model (since they really couldn’t between any of the prior OM-D models).

      Secondly, you can now sell your used EM-5 for say $360 on eBay, less 12% fees, net $320. The new model EM-5II is almost 4x as expensive. So the question is not are these features desirable, since of course they are, the question for the existing EM-5 owner is are those features and the final image product worth a 4x haircut?

      • DPReview published a shot that should answer your question in part. A tripod shot with a person in it. I think it takes a second for the eight photos.

  19. Steve, I agree with you this looks phenomenal, and in many ways better than the E-M1. I just wondered if you could let us know whether the custom Fn buttons can be set up to replicate the E-M1 buttons in terms of Drive, Metering Mode, AF Mode, etc.? Not sure if these functions were available to be placed on these buttons.

    Thanks for the great reviews.

  20. Steve,
    what would be the advantage of the 40 Megapixel High Res mode compared to stitching, where you can get even much higher resolution with static objects (landscapes) and any desired angle of view?

      • not only pressing the shutter, you need a tripod too.
        I do most of my landscapes stitched and the majority hand held. That could be even more flexible than with the OM-D and you decide during the shooting, what you want to have on the final picture.
        Stitching with a normal program is no task at all (I use the free ICE from MS on my Windows most of the time).
        If you did not try it, try it. It is fun and easy 🙂

        • Well, with this you have both options. Let the camera do the magic (which is much different and detailed than stitching) or take several shots and you do the work. You get both here.

    • Stitching is a great thing and the stitching part itself can be handled very nice and fully automatic with some software like photoshop. The limitation is getting the shots right. The closer objects in the frame, the more precise the alignment of the camera has to be. Else the perspective will be distorted and the pictures can impossibly be stitched without showing more or less severe artefacts. Therefor you need a nodal point adapter for landscape shots with close objects, product shots, etc. And that’s where the E-M5II’s multishot feature comes into play – you don’t have to fiddle around with those problems and just shoot.

      Don’t get me wrong. I like stitching very much and do it a lot. But only for panorama-shots, else it’s unusable or needs a whole lot of more work and additional equipment than a multishot feature. In the end both have their uses.

  21. I’m gonna get this!
    since the pro zoom kit is out of budget, is the kit zoom worth having or should I go body only?
    great site btw

    Ps, you should put a link up to Amazon UK to make a few bucks out of us UK viewers

      • Haha I see it now, there’s too many distracting photos on this site lol. As per my initial question, is the 12-50 any good? I already have 17 25 and 45 primes, an all in one would be handy at times, but not if the iq isn’t there….

        • Steve reviewed the original 12-50 at some point in the past, I’m sure you’ll easily find his review. But I’d also like to add my two pence (wanted to write two cents, but you’re British :).

          I bought an E-M5 about two years ago and could only get it with the kit lens. It’s pretty sharp as far as kit zooms go. I use it very rarely for the occasional macro shot (it took me a while to figure out how to put it into macro mode) and for the even rarer times when I need a wide angle perspective. 17 1.8 is my everyday lens, I’d actually prefer the 20 1.7, but the AF can’t keep up with a 2 and a half year old toddler. As for the kit lens, well I’d easily live without it as well.

          • Thanks for that, I chose the 17 over the 20 for the exact same reason 🙂
            I think I’ll get the 12-50 just for the weather sealed aspect. Looking at used prices I won’t lose much if I move it on after 6 months.

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