The Olympus E-M1 MKII Review Part 1: Iceland


The Olympus E-M1 MKII Review Part 1: Iceland

By Steve Huff

*NOTE: All images here in this review are JPEG, some out of camera, some with slight contrast edits. At the time of writing this there were no tools available to convert the RAW files. Part 2 will have RAW conversions and comparisons. Click on the images in this review to see them larger and how they were meant to be seen. Also, conditions in Iceland were grey, dull, wet and well, grey. So keep that in mind when evaluating images here and from others who were on this photo trip*

As I sit here on my flight from Iceland back to the USA I have been reflecting on the past eight years of running this review website/blog. Bottom line, I am one lucky guy. I get to take my passion and turn it in to my job, my work, and to top it off I get to sometimes travel the world to do what I love doing…using and reviewing cameras, lenses, and gear. I am truly blessed and before I start with this review I want to thank each and every one of you who have come here in the past, present and in the future to read what I have to say. YOU are appreciated, so thank you for these past eight years!

Since I have quite a while on this flight (yes, I am starting to write this on my flight) before I reach my connection flight, I decided to write down my thoughts, likes and dislikes of the new E-M1 MKII after using it all week in the frigid cold but gorgeous Iceland, while my memory is still fresh. Over these last few days I have shot images for this review using the new camera and at the same time, *BIG SURPRISE*….I fell in love with it. I fell in love with it not only for it’s image quality which is quite nice, but for everything else as a package. This camera has a lot put into it, and it shows.

Some of you may not realize this but Olympus started developing this camera FOUR years ago. Who knows, maybe the EM1 MKIII is being developed as I write this and will be out in 3-4 years but for now we have this one and boy is it a remarkable photographic tool that lives up to the hype. I suspect that Micro 4/3 fans are going to flock to this one in droves, maybe. But what about those who are not fans of the format? Can this camera sway them?

screen-shot-2016-10-31-at-10-27-10-am screen-shot-2016-10-31-at-10-27-18-am

As I said at the top of the page all of the images here are JPEGS (No RAW support at the time of this writing), and for JPEGS I am highly impressed. Just look at this first shot below and the detail, color, and overall vibe…you must click it though to see the larger version! Needless to say, I was not disappointed in the slightest, and again, this is from a camera JPEG.

Massive Waves in Iceland…feel the cool frigid air as you view this image in a large size. 12-100 f/4, EM1II The Sky was grey blue, it was cold and the waves were huge. 



Keep in mind this is Olympus’s new Professional Flagship Micro 4/3 camera. It is going to be larger and more feature packed than a PEN or EP series, and it is meant to be the all out best camera they know how to make today in 2016. So it is not going to be $1000, and couldn’t be. As for design, It is very similar in design to the old EM1, though a little bit taller. It is serious, it is tough, it is for the pro or anyone who enjoys a solid highly usable camera.

But it’s still Micro 4/3, and comes with some of the same limitations as it always has but for me, the body is so advanced, and it is so enjoyable to use, and so inspiring to use that as a package it is one of the most incredible cameras I have ever had the pleasure to use.

Some of the E-M1 MKII improvements over the MKI by the numbers


With a new 20MP Live MOS sensor Olympus has  upped  the ante with image quality and improved image noise by 1 stop and they also claim a dynamic range improvement (and I believe that). Not a huge performance increase in high ISO noise but I will take any improvement we can get when it comes to Micro 4/3.

At the healthy price point of $1999 it will be the most expensive Micro 4/3 camera ever offered (I think), but even so I feel it will be a hit for Olympus as there are many Micro 4/3 fans out there who love to shoot with this system, pros and enthusiasts and amateurs alike, and many have been waiting and waiting and waiting for this one to be announced.

In my world and my eyes, this may be the biggest and coolest camera release of 2016. I simply cannot think of another that matches the specs and performance of everything it does at this price point or size. Specs wise, it packs a big fat knock out uppercut to most competitors.

12-100 f/4


But yep… the price point will be $1999 body only with the camera shipping before Christmas. That is the real price and expected ship date. I can hear it now! $2000?!?! I can buy a Fuji and lens for that! A Sony 6500 and lens for that!? A used A7 series! Well, this is no Fuji or Sony APS-C! For me it is superior in some ways (like build, speed, fps, video specs, dual SD slots, weather sealed, etc) and Olympus seems to be aiming for the big guns here. I will say this…if you are in the market for a camera that can be used as an emergency weapon, or a camera that can survive a trip on Noah’s Ark then keep reading.

Think of it almost like a mini Canon 1dx series camera but half the size all the way around, even the sensor, and way less than half the price 😉 That is what this new EM1 MKII is all about. Powerful and Tough.

This camera can take snow, sleet, hail, rain and freezing temps. I put it through all of that during my week in Iceland and it never flinched. Though at one point the eye sensor for the EVF was covered by so much water it would not switch to the LCD. A quick dry with a cloth restored it back. But the camera was getting pelted with rain for most of the days we used them. 


This is only the Beginning

This is Part 1 of my review, and it will be jam-packed full of thoughts (10k words) and images as well as a few tests and crops. In part 2 that will come a little later, I will do more testing and comparisons and use the other lenses I own with it. Part two will have comparisons, testing the AF tracking, RAW files, more video testing, long exposure tests, and all of the things we did not get to while in Iceland.

In Reykjavík Iceland at the best Hot Dog stand in town (they were delicious). Though this guy gave me a snarl when I aimed and fired. Shot with the E-M1 II and 25 1.2, wide open.


Ahhh memories! I remember back a few years ago when I was on an international flight to Ireland to test the then new Flagship pro Olympus camera, the original E-M1. The hype and excitement was huge as that was the 1st “PRO” Micro 4/3 body to be announced and launched, ever. I really enjoyed that trip and getting to test the camera in various scenarios, and I was so impressed by that camera that I made it my Camera of the year for 2013.

The Original E-M1 ticked all the right boxes back then, and I knew it would be at least 3 years before the successor was announced as that is just how Olympus rolls. They take their time and do not release a new camera every 6-12 months. The IQ was and is still beautiful with the original E-M1 (those who have issues are usually the pixel peeping crowd as Micro 4/3 does have a tendency to show some slight noise at base ISO when viewed at 100%…pixel peeping) and anyone who says otherwise (that IQ is not good with M 4/3) are usually those who just like to talk trash about the format, or those who have the “bigger is always better” mentality.


Unless you need 100MP of detail for a huge mural sized print, today, the new breed of Micro 4/3 can do the job 99% of the time and what really helps is the speed and response of the camera, assuring you get the shot.



But how is this new camera? Does it live up to and surpass the original? You know, there are indeed times when the successor doesn’t seem as good as the original but in the case of the E-M1 MKII, it is truly a big upgrade over the original for all that it offers, the speed and response increases and the overall quality and vibe of the camera. This is an easy 5 year or longer camera just as the original is still a good choice today for those on a budget.

In fact The old E-M1 can be found these days for a GREAT price, and it is still a wonderful camera. If you are on a budget, now is the time to jump on that because the original is still fantastic.

At the Blue Lagoon in Iceland with the E-M1 and 25 1.2, wide open. Click it to see how sharp this JPEG is.


I have wondered for years what on earth Olympus could improve or add to make the E-M1 better. The original was so so good. Sure, high ISO needed improvement for 2016 standards, the speed needed improvement for 2016 standards, and hey, even if they could up the game with image quality, then all the better. But with M 4/3 I think we have kind of *almost*  hit a ceiling with IQ as we are limited to that sensor size, and with the smaller sensor we will always have more noise, less DR and less Shallow DOF than when shooting on a larger or even full frame sensor. BUT with that said, I strongly feel that the EM1 MKII is capable of 99% of the shots one may need to take and the best part about the camera is, the way it works and the features we have available. It’s truly like no other camera out there.

The lenses. They are some of the most beautiful and best made today by any manufacturer and Olympus has even stepped it up in that area. They were always good, but the pro line is as good as it gets for Micro 4/3 and these latest two just blew my mind. It seems they are getting better still and it is my position today that Olympus and even Panasonic are making some of the best lenses today, for any format.

But as I have said over and over through the years, Olympus are the ones who usually innovate rather than just doing a small refresh when it comes to major new camera releases. In fact, that is one thing I love about Olympus. Instead of releasing a new camera every 9-12 months like some do, they create a very powerful camera and update it when it needs updating. In the case of the E-M1 that time frame has been just over 3 years. As I mentioned earlier, instead of playing the “update game” all of the time, Olympus chooses to give massive firmware upgrades instead. Which is amazing. I wish more camera companies would do this as the original E-M1 is like an all new camera from when it was launched thanks to the new firmware updates over the years.

I have seen more rainbows in Iceland in four days than I have in Arizona in 10 years! 12-100 f/4. We had dull and grey light for 90% of this trip, but even with that the camera did very well. 


So what on earth could Olympus bring us in an E-M1 MKII that would make it worth an upgrade over the already great E-M1 MKI? Well, after a week of use I can say that they have hit it out of the park with the new MKII in almost every way. While I did find a weakness or two I will mention below (pretty minor and firmware fixable), and did hope for a thing or two to be better (was hoping for a Leica SL style EVF), this camera absolutely rocked me with its speed, build, handling, response, performance, IQ and feature set. EVERYTHING. My regular readers know that when I get to this level of excitement about a camera, it means I REALLY REALLY liked it, and this one is no exception, and I can’t help it. When something this good comes along it stands above the usual fare and gets me going!

You must click this image to see it in all its glory. The waves at the black sand beach we visited were INSANE. The guide told us a very sad story of how recently a woman was there with her husband and child. She stepped up to the water to take a photo and the waves sucked her in and she died. These are nothing to plat around with. This shot looks like a man is rising from the waves to show his power. The camera was in Dramatic Tone II to give extra drama to the scene. 


Yes sir, this camera is a serious pro tool, and anyone who says today that this format can not be used for pro work, well..they are truly missing out on an incredible camera and system with some of the best lenses right next to Leica in the quality dept. After just a week of use I did not want to give this kit back to Olympus before heading home, but sadly all 10-15 reviewers there had to turn in the gear on the last night as usual… of course 😉

Yes, many of your fave reviewers were all there testing right along side with me and what a great group they are. I just wish we were allowed to take the kit home for more tests as the days in Iceland  were just not long enough to test all we needed to test (AF tracking, Long exposures, etc) due to all of the driving we had to do. Olympus only had a limited number of bodies though and they needed them all for an event they are having today in NYC. So I understand completely 😉

12-100 f/4 


So with that out of the way, let me get into my thoughts and use of the new MKII E-M1 during my week in Iceland.

First let’s talk about what is new and why someone may want to upgrade. Then I will get into actual use, and my experience with the camera.

With the external battery grip added. Not for me due to size, but some love grips. This will give you double the battery power!


The Build Quality

Yep, this camera is a beast, but not in a “size” kind of way (unless you add the external battery grip, then we are almost in DSLR territory as you can see in the image above, but still much thinner than a DSLR)…more in a performance kind of way. Back in the early days of the original Olympus Pen I would have never imagined how far this format and system could come, and come far it has. Many were writing off Micro 4/3 when it started, and some still are to this day but truth be told, with this camera they will never know what they are missing. I am a fan of the USABILITY of a camera just as much as anything else, and the EM1 had it, and now the II has even more of it. It’s a joy and pleasure to use and hold.

For starters, the new MKII version of the E-M1 has a fantastic build quality. It feels solid, sturdy and much different from cameras like a Sony A7RII, A6500, Fuji or any consumer DSLR. It’s PRO which means it is built to a standard that will allow PROS to use it and not have to worry about it failing or worry about it not locking focus or any issues that a pro may worry about with a lesser camera, like extreme weather for example. I almost want to make a torture test video with it…pouring water over it, using it as a hammer, storing it in my freezer overnight, etc. I think it would hold up. The grip seems deep on this guy so those with smaller hands may find it a tad too deep. For me, I thought it fit just about perfectly into my grip. It’s easy to hold on to.

From Olympus:

“Weatherproof construction and Super-Sonic Wave Filter dust reduction system. The OM-D E-M1 Mark II features high-performance weather sealing for excellent dustproof, splashproof and freezeproof (down to 14°F/-10°C) performance so that users can shoot in the harshest of conditions. This weatherproofing is not limited to the camera body alone: it is extended across the entire OM-D system, including the dustproof, splashproof and freezeproof M.ZUIKO PRO lens lineup5. In addition, a Supersonic Wave Filter (SSWF) dust reduction system vibrates the image sensor more than 30,000 times a second to virtually eliminate any dust that may land on the sensor while changing lenses.”


But just because this body is built for pros does not mean that only pros should use this camera. In fact, any enthusiast or hobbyist or someone who just loves quality would adore this camera. Anyone who shoots an E-M1 and wondering if it is worth the upgrade? I will save you some reading, To me, it 100% is. 

There are so many improvements here with the MKII it will take me a while to talk about them, which is one reason this is a part 1 review. I will go over more in part 2 when I get my review unit in a week or so.

Horses with the 12-100 f/4 – see how sharp it is when you click it



The new Live MOS sensor and TruePIc VIII Image Processor

This camera now uses a new 20MP Live MOS sensor using the new Tru Pic VIII engine. We gain a stop for high ISO noise even with 4 more MP over the Mark I, we get a new color noise reduction algorithm and we seem to get some improvements to dynamic range and overall color and IQ, but then again, the EM1 had fantastic IQ and color as well. To me, the IQ difference is not huge or massive nor is it night and day but everything else about the camera certainly is, and the new lenses…OMG they are SO SO GOOD. With that said, I am seeing imagery and quality that is an improvement so I feel IQ has improved, and it should as it’s using a much newer and advanced sensor and processing.

From Olympus: 
“The newly developed high-speed TruePic VIII Image Processor and a new 20.4 megapixel Live MOS Sensor works in concert with the camera’s electronic shutter to provide full-resolution images at a maximum 60 frames per second in AF and AE lock, and up to 18 frames per second with continuous AF and AE tracking.

Higher resolution and improved dynamic range: The new 20.4 megapixel Live MOS sensor offers 25% higher resolution than the previous model, and the absence of a low-pass filter further enhances image quality. A higher dynamic range  improves the reproduction of highlight and shadow detail, and an anti-reflective coating on both sides of the sensor’s sealing glass further enhances contrast performance.”

With the 12-100 f/4, click it to see a much nicer version. Dramatic tone so you will see some noise, that is part of the look. What this mode does for skies is pretty cool. 


Dual Card Slots

So yes, the build is fantastic. When you hold it in the hand it makes you feel confident. It is solid, it is full on weather proof, it is freeze proof, it is dust proof and it has two SD card slots that allow you to use one for Video and one for Photos or you can use them with one backing up the 1st or even as a set so when one fills up, it starts to the next card.

I was testing video with a super high speed card in slot 1, and for photos I had a 90MBPS card in slot 2.

It worked out so well and these dual slots are nice to have in a Micro 4/3 body. I would probably end up using them as a way to copy card one to card two for a backup in the case of a card corruption.

From Olympus:

“The OM-D E-M1 Mark II features dual memory card slots to allow simultaneous use of two SD cards for more versatile shooting. The slots are positioned in a staggered layout, making cards easier to insert and remove. Users can select from four settings: Standard Mode records to the specified card; Automatic Switching Mode automatically switches to the second card when the first card becomes full; Dual Independent Mode records to both cards according to the specified image quality setting assigned to each; and Dual Same Mode records identical files to both cards simultaneously. Slot 1 supports UHS-II and UHS-I cards, while Slot 2 supports UHS-I cards.”

DRAMATIC TONE JPEG: Using the new Pro Capture mode you will never miss a shot due to bad timing, ever again!


The new Battery System and New Charger

The new EM1 MKII has an all new battery system, and it is beefed up for longer shooting times providing 37% more power than the old system. I was out all day with the camera from 9am util 8pm and I used 65% of the battery. Others were using it quicker but we found that shooting more video will use the battery up faster, and extreme chimping or use of the PRO CAPTURE mode will also use it up more quickly. But for those of you like me, who do not use machine gun modes with a million frames per second, well the battery will last much longer.

The new charger is also nice as it is a quick charger and will charge the battery from empty to full in about 2 hours. The only niggle I had with the new charger, and it is a small one, is that the light on it is large and bright. So if you have it in a bedroom while sleeping for example, and charging, it may keep you up ; ) It’s bright. I had to throw a pillow over it while in my hotel and charging the battery at night.

Also, if you throw your battery on and it starts flashing rapidly with a yellow light, it is not an error! I thought I had a bad battery as the light flash sequence makes you think it is defective, but all it means is that your battery is at 80%.

Overall I love the new battery system and size wise, it is similar to the Leica SL battery. Chunky, thick and square.

From Olympus:

“High-capacity battery and rapid charger: The new BLH-1 lithium-ion rechargeable battery has a capacity that’s approximately 37% higher than that of the BLN-1 used in the previous model, providing approximately 440 shots on a single charge (CIPA standards-compliant). The OM-D E-M1 Mark II displays the remaining battery life percentage on the rear monitor so users are not surprised by a depleted battery. Also, the new BCH-1 charger is 50% faster than the previous version.”

Window Shopping. EM1 II and the 25 f/1.2 – click for better version!


The new EVF

The new EVF is nice but not the “ultimate” upgrade I had hoped for. Yes it is lovely, and large and clear but I was hoping for a picture window Leica SL style of EVF which to me is the gold standard of EVF. I am spoiled by the SL EVF so when I go to my Sony’s or Olympus or others I feel like I downgraded. To those who never shot an SL, you will think the E-M1 MKII EVF is amazing 😉 It is great, truly is…but I wish it was to the specs of the SL. It look very similar to my eye as the Sony A7RII EVF. If this camera had that SL EVF I may have retired from doing camera reviews, lol. Joke.

From Olympus:

“High-magnification, high-speed electronic viewfinder. The performance of the 1.48x (35mm equivalent) high-magnification, high-resolution electronic viewfinder rivals those of professional full-frame interchangeable lens cameras. With high-speed operation that includes a maximum refresh rate of 120 fps and a minimum response time of five milliseconds, users never lose track of fast-moving subjects.”


The EVF works well and has 120fps with a 6ms reaction time. Its quick, lag free and will not leave you squinting. 

One thing I also had hoped for was a better eyecup as mine fell off once in use. It is the square type and it slides down on to the EVF. If you are carrying the camera and it starts rubbing up and down on you side it may pop off. But it is in no way a deal breaker 😉 It’s just a quirk. Mine fell off once and I asked a few others who were shooting if they had this problem and none of them did. I would have liked to have seen a nice large round eyecup for the EVF, but either way it is still fantastic in use and you get a nice big view with no lag, and what you see is what you get, which is always nice. I much prefer todays EVF’s over any optical VF in a DSLR. So much more versatile and usable.

Phil in the Blue Lagoon. 25 f1/2 at 1.2 Click for more details!



Dual Quad Core Processors

The heart of the system! Yes this camera is more powerful than many laptops or desktop computers. With two quad core processors inside this thing is UBER RESPONSIVE!!! I mean, when you use this camera you feel speed, you feel response and you feel like it is a real pro camera. So when you have the response and speed, and this level of build you just get inspired by the entire package. I remember shooting with Nikon and Canon pro cameras, the response and speed were amazing. This is where the EM1 II is now. Very polished, very mature and Olympus made sure to speed everything up.

With the 12-100 f/4


The new focus modes Olympus has put in the new camera assure you very fast AF, and a continuous mode that seems to beat the Sony A6300 with ease. We saw a demo video of it against a 6300 and it just creamed it in regards to continuous tracking AF. I have not seen it against the exciting new Sony 6500, so that may be another test for another day but the focus is solid here and much improved over the original E-M1. Unfortunately while in Iceland we did not get ant opportunity to use the tracking as our whale watch boat tour was canceled due to bad weather. But I will test this in part 2 of my review that will be coming soon.

These dual processors also come into play for playback of images and this camera has no lag in playback, at all. The touch screen allows you to swipe through images as fast as 10FPS and zooming in never gives a delay or lag. Super nice, and as I said, uber responsive.

BTW, this new MKII has 3X the communication speed of the original and twice the memory. Olympus wanted to make sure the camera competed not only with other mirrorless but also high speed pro DSLRS.

Fellow reviewer and friend who loved the Dramatic Tone so much, I had to shoot him with Dramatic tone! Yes, were were fully in the water with our E-M1 MKII’s! SALTWATER! The water was 110 degrees and it was 37 degrees outside of the water 😉 Great times. 

Speaking of Speed…AF, Response…

This camera can do 60 FPS full RAW with SF and AE lock. It can do 18 FPS with Single Point AF without AE lock. I mean, that is fast. Almost too fast for my tastes but hey, it is there if you want or need it! 18 FPS is like shooting a machine gun off. While we did not have opportunities in Iceland for shooting fast frame rates, I did put it in these modes to see what it sounded like and if it could hold focus and it sure did. Again, AF on this camera is simply fantastic and will not leave you wanting for more especially if coming from a lesser camera. I mean, it shouldn’t! I have never used a DSLR with focus this fast or accurate, and in a camera the size of the E-M1, to have this is astounding.

From Olympus:

“The advanced Dual FAST AF automatically chooses between on-chip phase detection AF and contrast detection AF, or utilizes both phase and contrast detection simultaneously. This system boasts 121 cross-type on-chip phase detection focus points in order to dramatically improve accuracy. The simultaneous use of contrast detection and on-chip phase detection AF enables accurate focus in difficult lighting conditions, while a new moving subject tracking algorithm rapidly and continuously measures the subject-to-camera distance to precisely maintain focus. Finally, the in-camera AF Limiter function is included to achieve faster focusing by limiting the focus range of the lens, thus preventing time-consuming focus hunting.

Autofocus functions such as AF Target Mode4, AF target position and face/eye priority AF are easily set with a single button press. AF operations are enhanced with a new subject-tracking Cluster Display, which illuminates active sensors to assure the user of focus-subject accuracy. The AF Targeting Pad feature allows users to select the AF point by sliding their finger on the rear touch LCD monitor while looking through the viewfinder.”

VIDEO: Meet the new Olympus E-M1 II


High ISO and Low Light

When some think of Micro 4/3 they immediately think “Oh, you can’t shoot this thing at night using higher ISO and get clean results”, and with this I tend to agree.

With the new E-M1 MKII, the noise levels have been improved by a stop though they will not get to full frame Sony A7s levels of course. The new noise algorithm that Olympus created for noise reduction is interesting as they created something that really works well at getting rid of color noise, and keeping detail. A side by side between it and the old E-M1 showed much more detail at high ISO.  So while this camera will not offer high ISO low light performance of a full frame Sony, it will offer better high ISO than the MKI and give the best low light and high ISO of any Micro 4/3 out there. I am happy to see them working on improving this aspect as it truly is the one main weakness of the system for some professionals. Even so, with a lens like the 25 f/1.2 and shooting up to 6400 you should be covered for any situation.







25,600 maxed out



The MKII goes up to ISO 25,600 which is a far cry from other pro cameras that can go up to and beyond 200,000 ISO, but who here uses 25,600 or higher on any kind of regular basis? I tested the higher levels and saw a nice little improvement in image noise over any past Micro 4/3 camera. But remember this is not going to be your 1st choice for a no or low light camera, for that specialty go for a Sony A7SII or other full framer. But how many actually ever go past 6400 these days? Not many, and at 6400 this camera puts out pretty nice images though with some noise, as we expected.

From Olympus:

“The newly-developed TruePic VIII Image Processor dramatically improves image quality when shooting at high ISO settings, making it possible to capture images with minimal noise. The normal sensitivity ISO (ISO AUTO) range has been expanded to ISO 6400 for greater flexibility in a variety of shooting scenarios, and Fine Detail Processing II ensures that no detail is lost due to over sharpening. The ISO LOW setting is equivalent to ISO 64, providing greater flexibility to shoot at wider apertures even in brightly lit situations, making it possible to achieve beautiful, shallow depths of field.”

The Complete Package

Micro 4/3, and especially this new E-M1 MKII to me is about the complete package. The Build, feel, usability, speed, versatility, size, features that no other camera has and yes, even the image quality…which happens to be amazing with the new camera. There are no cameras out there today that can do all of what the E-M1 II can do. NONE. As a package it wins the award for most versatile camera ever, taking the title away from the original EM1. If there were a camera like this with a larger sensor it would put all other camera makers out of business. It would be an end game. So to me the ONLY weakness, and it truly is not even a weakness as we know going it what we are getting into, is the smaller sensor size.

Then again, it is also a plus. How many times have you shot a lens wide open only to have some of your subject out of focus due to the razor thin DOF? I have, many times. It can be frustrating. I have never had this issue with Micro 4/3, so in some ways, this is a better choice for some. Again, image quality is professional and can be very beautiful. Good enough for my eyes, that’s for sure. Again, with the new 25 f.1.2 the amount of shallow DOF is about perfect. Creamy enough for beautiful subject separation but also wide enough to get your subject in focus. Also, there is no softness at f.1.2, so shooting at that aperture is where I would be shooting 90% of the time 😉

The way the 12-100 and Em1II sensor captures light can be quite beautiful



Another with the 25 f/1.2



Beautiful 5 Axis IS. Improved again?

The Olympus 5 Axis inside their cameras perform to a much higher level than those in Sony cameras, and that is partly due to sensor size. With the new E-M1 II the 5 Axis is as good as ever but when you use a lens like the new incredible must own (yes, it is incredible and I will own it) 12-100 f/4 that has an IS mode built in, it works in tandem with the 5 Axis in the body of the E-M1 II you gain 6.5 stops of compensation! Some were hand holding shots for 2 SECONDS with this combo!! TWO SECONDS!!!

When you put the 12-100 f/4 on the body and shoot video it is like having a $$$ steady cam rig as the video is smooth as silk and shake free. That 12-100 will be a SUPER VERSATILE lens for photo or video. A must own lens for anyone who is serious about their Micro 4/3 shooting. Olympus says its one of those lenses that is the best they know how to make and it’s much smaller than any 24-200 full frame lens I have ever seen 😉 Yep, for anyone who has been living under a rock for the past 7-8 years, Micro 4/3 lenses will give you 2X equivalent focal length so the 12-100 becomes like a 24-200 (on full frame) even though it is mechanically a 12-100 lens, which is why it is marked as such. Marking it a 24-200 would be a lie, as it is a 12-100 but in use, it is like using a 24-200 due to the crop.

Just know that at 100 you will get double the reach of a normal 100mm. That is a good thing. But with that 12-100 on the E-M1 II the Image Stabilization is scary good.

From Olympus:

“The Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II is equipped with the latest in-body 5-Axis Image Stabilization to compensate for all types of camera shake. An optimized correction algorithm boasts outstanding compensation performance with approximately 5.5 shutter-speed steps of compensation3. Also, when combined with Olympus lenses equipped with in-lens image stabilization, 5-Axis Sync IS provides the world’s most effective 6.5 shutter-speed steps of compensation2 for blur-free handheld shooting of stills and video.”

CLICK IT TO SEE THE QUALITY. I suggest a large screen! The 25 f1.2 is Olympus most beautiful rendering lens to date. To me, it is up there with Leica glass, like the Summarit line. Yep, I said it.

I will call this 25 f/1.2 the new “Bokeh Master” as it’s bokeh is simply beautiful. 



One new mode on the E-M1 is pretty cool and while I would rarely use it, just knowing it is there is comforting as you never know when an opportunity would arise where you can benefit form it.

So Pro Capture mode has a LOW and a HIGH setting. In Pro Capture Mode you can compose your shot and then half press the shutter. For expample, a situation where I used it was when we went to see GEYSERS blow and we never knew when they would blow and spout out their huge explosive shot. By standing there in front of it, with shot composed and a half press of the shutter button you will be guaranteed to NOT miss any shot.

Pro Capture Mode: There she blows! Dramatic Tone, 12-100, EM1II. 


What happens is that when you press down half way the camera starts to physically store 14 shots in its buffer..when the 14th shot hits and you are still half way down it starts the process again. So yo will always have 14 shots recorded when you finally press the fire button. This is compensating for YOUR HUMAN Lag. When I tested this mode my reaction was too slow to catch the moment I wanted but with PRO CAPTURE on I was able to endure I never missed one.

Imagine trying this mode when trying to get a batter hitting a ball, or a horse crossing the finish line in a race, or any moment where capturing THAT moment is crucial. This mode will assure that you get it, and that is crazy cool. No other camera that I know of does this and it is yet another example of Olympus innovating.

From Olympus:

“The new Pro Capture Mode provides lag-free shooting so users can capture high-quality full-resolution images at precise moments with no compromises. Using the silent electronic shutter, Pro Capture buffers a running series of JPEG / RAW images when users press the shutter release halfway. Then, by fully pressing the shutter button, users can capture that moment’s image plus up to 14 previous frames all at once.”

Just as they did with the very 1st pull out LCD, and the first dust shaker sensor cleaner, Live Time, 5 Axis IS and more,  they continue to innovate and thank God for innovation!

Beautiful way of rendering the light…12-100 with nice detail to boot! Click it for larger!


The new 25 f/1.2 Lens

Well, what can I say. Those who have used this lens have all sung its praises. I know of two photographers who are selling a Leica lens or two over this lens. WHY? Well, the rendering is indeed special. The bokeh is beautiful, the color is so good. It has smooth transitions from in focus to out and creates, at times, an ethereal type of look. I see no CA or distortion or issues at all from my OOC JPEGS (though in camera correction could be happening). It’s one of the most beautiful lenses I have used no matter the system or format. Here are a few more shots from it on the EM1II. Yes, I already placed my pre order for this and the new 12-100 f/4 (and it has arrived). They are two of the best lenses Oly makes IMO (and according to Olympus). The rendering reminds me a little bit of Leica and the new Sony 50 1.4 but at 1/2 the size and weight of the Sony 😉

Three from the 25 at f/1.2. Man, this lens is so impressive and takes Micro 4/3 to the next level up. 

Fun in Iceland..



The Bokeh is legendary. Lens was fogging up!


My lens was fogged up here from the mist but it just gave the image an even cooler look.


One more…click it!


This lens..some are saying it is huge and heavy, yet in the hand, and in use it does not in any way feel heavy or large. Some said it is close to the size of the Canon full frame 50 f/1.2, yet when I use the Canon, I am well aware I am holding onto a fat chunky lens, that is heavy. With the Olympus and lens hood OFF it felt great. Sure, it will be larger than the much less expensive 25 f/1.8 but this lens really does easily beat the 25 f/1.8 in IQ, Bokeh, Rendering, Color and speed. This is an f/1.2 lens folks, so size is very small for what we are getting here.  The AF of this lens when used with the new EM1 II is very quick.

Also, this is a PREMIUM Pro lens! Do not expect a $300 lens here, as this performs to a much higher standard than any “nifty fifty”. This is more in line with some $2000-$8000 lenses, so it is made for those who want the ultimate performance from their camera system.

Many are already asking me “how does this compare to XXX”. I will say this…this lens is in a class of its own for this focal length on Micro 4/3. No Panasonic or other Olympus 25mm matches it. This lens has a level of micro contrast, depth, color performance, and silky smooth bokeh. While expensive it comes in much cheaper than other 50mm lenses that it actually compares to like the $8k Leica 50 APO, and others. $1200 for a lens of this caliber is not expensive, but for those who feel it is there is always the 25 1.8 from Olympus that comes in at much less.

TWO WITH The 25 at f/1.2 on a PEN-F, so it does amazing on the PEN as well



What you have heard about this lens is true, and I am not the only one singing its praises.

I ordered this lens for myself and shelled out the big bucks for it from Amazon as I feel this lens will be one of those years from now that people refer to as having something special about it. Usually reserved for the big dogs from Leica, Canon, etc. As cameras come and go, this lens will always be around improving with the tech and bodies.

Add the 42.5 f/1.2 Nocticron to this and the 12-100 f/4 and you have one hell of a kit that will deliver plenty of shallow DOF, plenty of beauty and reach from 24-200. You will have the best IS with the 12-100 and video performance that will knock your socks off. To me, this would be the perfect EM1 II kit. If you want to be real adventurous add the 8mm fisheye and 300mm pro for a kit that would be drool worthy.



The LCD is nice as it will swivel out to the side this time around much like the PEN-F. It is a touch screen as well and reviewing images or even firing an image using the back LCD is simple and easy as pie. Some prefer this way of shooting. Nothing groundbreaking but continues with the tradition of using nice, clear large touch capable swivel LCD’s.

JPEG out of the camera with the 12-100 f/4 – OOC JPEG



The E-M1 II has a mechanical shutter option that is glorious. The sound it makes is probably the most pleasing shutter sound I have ever heard, even preferring it to any Leica I have shot with. It has a soft seductive and smooth subdued sound that is super quiet. If you do not want that you can always switch over to the electronic shutter and Olympus says they have almost eliminated Rolling Shutter effects. Their words were “Best treatment of Rolling Shutter out of any camera made as of 11/2016″. Nice. So with the EM1II we have a choice like most modern cameras today. Mechanical or Electronic for when you want 100% stealth and quiet.

From Olympus:

“A newly developed shutter is rated for 200,000 actuations6 to withstand consistent daily use in professional environments. Floating shutter construction is employed so that shutter shock is not easily transmitted to the camera body.”

“Silent Mode utilizes the silent electronic shutter to eliminate all mechanical noises while shooting. Silent Mode is especially useful for shooting in situations where noise of any kind is not appropriate, including stage performances, concerts and even sleeping children. Also, it is possible to deactivate the AF Illuminator, AF confirmation beep and flash for virtually silent operation.”

The 12-100


Grainy B&W Mode with the 12-100



Olympus has stepped up the game with video and in my very short video tests I found the quality of their cinema 4K mode to be outstanding. Sharp, smooth footage with the new 5AXIS and with Cinema 4K at 24FPS you will get around 237 MBPS. The camera has a mic input of course and an Audio monitor. When I get my review unit I plan on testing video more with my 7-14 Pro. When I do, I will update this page with video info and samples.

From Olympus:

“Digital Cinema Standard 4K videos: The OM-D E-M1 Mark II supports Digital Cinema Standard 4K (4096×2060 pixels) video capture at a 24P frame rate and a bit rate of up to 237 Mbps for authentic movie production. The 20.4 megapixel Live MOS sensor provides a read speed three times faster than that of the previous model for effective suppression of movement distortion, resulting in sharp, clear image quality. The video-specific picture mode “Flat” is ideal for color grading and finishing the footage exactly as envisioned by the videographer.”

“With four times the resolution of Full HD, 4K videos are easily affected by camera movement and typically require a tripod, mini jib, crane and other specialized accessories for movie recording. The OM-D E-M1 Mark II pairs its advanced 5-Axis Image Stabilization with electronic stabilization specialized for video (M-IS)10 to effectively reduce camera shake, making handheld 4K video capture possible. This outstanding image stabilization system allows videographers to easily shoot movies with virtually no visible camera shake. The camera’s rear vari-angle LCD monitor can be adjustable to the user’s preferred angle for shooting convenience.”

Cinema 4K Quick Video Samples….I shot MINIMAL video as I was concentrating on stills, but this will give you an idea of what it can do. All shot with the 12-100


Detail with Out of Camera JPEG

When writing this review and going over images I snapped, I have no way to examine the RAW files yet as there is no RAW support yet, even with Olympus’s viewer software. So for now I am looking at the OOC JPEG detail. Here are a couple of shots, one full size 20MP file and two with crops. Click them to see the larger size and full crops. BTW, there is no AA filter with the E-M1 MKII!

Just pointing down at the grass to see the detail. JPEG looks great, the RAW will be much better still. 


Sleet that fell, with the 12-100 – Click to see 100% crop. 


When I am able to see the RAW files I will do an update with RAW crops. Usually the RAW files show very nice detail as there are no JPEG artifacts.


All of the old faves are still here like the Art Modes, Live Time and Live Bulb, and the menus are now better looking with a nice smooth easy to read look and a different layout. They are still crazy extenisve and deep but you just need to do set up once, and you would really never need to go into the menus again. I would just set it up and use the Super Control Panel which now loads up by default. You can change nearly any setting with the SCP, and it is easy as 1-2-3.

The 25 1.2…sharp as can be wide open with great color performance. OOC JPEG


Available Accessories:

HLD-9 Power Battery Holder

This dustproof, splashproof and freezeproof power battery holder is specifically designed for the OM-D E-M1 Mark II. With the HLD-9, users have the power of one BLH-1 lithium-ion rechargeable battery in the camera body and a second one in the HLD-9. The rear of the HLD-9 power battery holder is equipped with the same directional pad, two control dials, two function buttons and shutter release, as on the camera body, for identical controls whether the camera is held in a vertical or horizontal position. An optional AC-5 AC adapter can be used for studio photography or other situations when using the camera for long periods of time.

FL-900R Weatherproof High-Intensity Flash

This is a high-intensity flash boasting a maximum guide number of 58m. This accessory on-camera flash has the highest sequential shooting tracking performance in its class at 10 fps12. It features a lightweight weatherproof design with a wireless RC mode for simultaneous control of multiple flash units, and supports Multi Flash, High Res Shot, Focus Stacking and Focus Bracketing Modes. The FL-900R is also equipped with a built-in LED light for recording videos. For additional details, please see the FL-900R press release.


STF-8 Weatherproof Macro Flash

The STF-8 is the world’s first macro flash built with dustproof, splashproof and freezeproof construction13. The flash heads and controller features a lightweight compact design. When combined with the Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II, Focus Stacking and Focus Bracketing modes are supported for flash photography, useful for capturing flowers, insects and commercial photos in the studio. The bundled adapter ring is compatible with the M.ZUIKO Digital ED 30mm f3.5 Macro, M.ZUIKO Digital ED 60mm f2.8 Macro and M.ZUIKO Digital ED 12–40mm f2.8 PRO. When using both flash heads the GN is 8.5m. In addition to a TTL Auto Sync Mode for precision control, users can set the flash in 1/3-step increments on the camera when in Manual Mode and in one-step increments with the flash dial. The main flash can also be used as a commander to control multiple flash units. The flash head angle is adjustable within a range of -60 to 40 degrees.

RM-CB2 Release Cable

This release cable with a pin jack terminal (2.5mm diameter) features a bulb lock function convenient for long exposures. The connector terminal features an L-shaped design ensuring a compact form when connected to the camera.

PT-EP14 Underwater Case

This compact underwater housing provides water depth resistance up to 60 meters. It provides a clear field of view to each corner of the screen, designed to be easy to hold to frame and zoom your shot easily. In addition, the PPO-EP03 Macro Lens Port provides compatibility with the M.ZUIKO Digital ED 60mm f2.8 Macro and M.ZUIKO Digital ED 30mm f3.5 Macro14.

Dramatic Tone II


So what are my thoughts after this first use in Iceland? 

Well, I know the old Mark I EM1 very well, I used it and owned it for 2 years and it was one of my most well loved and enjoyed cameras. But when side by side with the Mark II it is starting to show its age, as we could expect it to. I mean, it’s been a few years right? This new camera from Olympus is, as I said, a powerhouse pro tool for the Micro 4/3 format. It beats any Panasonic that has been made to date IMO (there is no true “pro” built Panasonic) and the features are exclusive to Olympus and this format. As for the improved 5 Axis IS with the new 12-200 f/4… nothing else like it out there at this level and even though Sony uses this tech, it is not nearly as effective in their Full frame bodies as it is here. Six and half stops of compensation when used with the 12-100 Pro? Two second hand held exposures? Four second hand hold exposures? That is crazy folks!

I was worried about this camera over this past year as I had no idea how much improvement could be done, but they did it. This is more than I had hoped for and I have not even started to scratch the surface of the capabilities. I mean, I really haven’t. Just did not have the time or locations to test the AF tracking or the Long Exposures but I expect they will be awesome as we did see demos, and they were impressive.

I said it before but I have never tested a more advanced camera than the EM1 Mark II. Myself and many other reviewers who were there were enjoying the hell out of this camera and the new lenses. Olympus is for those who love photography and with a camera like this, there really is not much you can not do.

As for the price of $1999, well, it is what it is. Olympus has put SO MUCH into this body for it to perform as it does. The dual quad core processors that give it the oh so enjoyable speed and response, and all premo materials here folks. This camera does not feel cheap in any way, yet every time I shoot a Fuji, and even some Sony’s..they feel cheap, even though they may not be. This camera feels amazing. The dials, buttons and all materials are premium here, inside and out. The 5 Axis, the Touch LCD, the nice EVF, the fantastic speed. Features that no one else offers like Live Time, Pro Capture, and let’s not forget the sensor cleaning dust shaker (that Olympus invented long ago) that keeps the sensor dust free.

Is it worth $2000? ABSOLUTELY, if you want a camera that offers all that it does. If you do not want all of this, and what it offers, then go for something else that is less expensive. Just as I said with the original, even more so now…there is no APS C camera I would personally choose over the EM1 II. There are full framers I would take (that are much more money) but no APS-C would win me over compared to this. But that’s me, and I have shot with them all and I know what I like. What you like, is your own personal thing. But this camera gets a HUGE HELL YEA from me, even at $1999. It’s nice to have a choice down the line as well from beginner Micro 4/3 models to the pro model. The system has never been more complete.

Grainy B&W Mode, from inside a bus, taken through the window!


Weaknesses? Sure, there are some. There always are!

  1. You will not get low light high ISO performance of a full frame or some recent APS-C cams once past ISO 3200/6400. But you will get decent performance up to 6400 and even usable at 10k if you nail exposure. That’s pretty good for Micro 4/3 and enough for most shooters. 
  2. Depth of Field will be more wide than full frame so do not expect to blow out the background like you can with a Leica Noctilux on an M or Sony A7. But with the 25 f1.2, I am seeing some of the most gorgeous rendering, bokeh, color and depth as I have ever seen for this format, so we are getting closer and in some ways, it may be better to have a little less shallow DOF or more DOF.
  3. One weakness a couple of us found is there should be a dial lock, like a software lock. Press a button and it locks the dials so we do not accidentally change them while we walk and the camera rubs against us. A few of us had the dials change while we walked so we would go take a shot and the exposure comp would be at +2. It only happened twice with me, but if we had a lock button we could lock the dials while traveling.
  4. This is still Micro 4/3 so we will still see some slight image noise at base ISO when pixel peeping at 100%. Doesn’t matter to me as I am not a pixel peeper, it has nothing to do with real photography. At all. Go pixel peep some good old fashioned film and get back to me. 😉

Other than that this camera is one of the best I have ever shot with. It is addictive due to its ease of use and speed/response. The AF is blazing fast and even in low light it locks on quickly. I have yet to see a RAW file from the camera as there is no way at all to open a RAW file at the time of this review but the JPEGS are amazing, and with RAW it only gets better. I can not wait to see these files from RAW (I shot JPEG and RAW).

From the bulletproof build to the extreme weather sealing to the extreme speed, buffer and dual quad core processors inside this is one serious machine and it all comes in MUCH smaller than any pro DSLR. Much lighter, thinner and with lenses that are IMO better than most PRO systems lenses. Olympus has been on a roll for years and with this, they really gave us enthusiasts and pros something to drool over.

I will be writing more in part 2 as soon as my review unit arrives and I can test more in low light, AF tracking, long exposure and much more Cinema 4K video. I can not wait. My order is in, and will be my one and only Micro 4/3 camera when it arrives. With the 25 1.2, and 12-100 added to my other lenses, the 8mm pro, 7-14 pro and 300 pro it will be one hell of a kit. Look for much much more soon!

BTW, remember that all images here are JPEGS. No RAW yet!

Click it for Larger – 25 f/1.2



You can order the lenses now, as they are shipping. I already received my 25 1.2 from Amazon this week. The 12-100 is shipping this week, and the big one, the E-M1 MKII will be shipping in December, before the holidays. Links are below from 100% trusted dealers I recommend 100%:




ORDER THE 25 f/1.2 LENS – $1199



ORDER THE 12-100 f/4 LENS



Using my links helps to support this website and keep it going. It works the same for you, and you pay not a penny more for using my links, but when you do I get a few cents on the dollar and that is the only way this site stays in business, so if you find this review helpful, feel free to use my links above to order as I would truly appreciate it! IT HELPS SO SO MUCH!


See some GORGEOUS images from Wedding Photographer Tracie Jean. Yes, you can use this for pro wedding work. 





and one more taken of me by Michael Palmer from Steve’s Digicams

Dramatic Tone and me by the waterfall that soaked me and the EM1 MKII to the bone! I think Michael shot this with the lovely 7-14 2.8 Pro. 



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  1. Just grabbed one for $1799USD. Been shooting Olys since 1976 (OM-1n) – have had an fling with just about every model (my most recent 3: E-M5, E-M1, E-M10II) since then. This new E-M1II is every bit as impressive as you suggest. One runs out of superlatives. Look forward to your Part 2, Steve.

  2. Well. I just upgraded my EM1 to MKII a week ago…
    Since then I walk around with my Nocticron screwed on it.
    O boy!!! What a phenomenal upgrade!!! Can this get any better?
    Not a cheap combo, but stunningly un-be-liev-able. And worth every cent.
    Whomever still comes back with that small-sensor-shit speech has never ever seen a RAW file from that combo on a screen.
    I loved Olympus color rendering already before this, but now I literally fell in love with it even more. My first pics were with a sunset light and my jaw dropped when I saw this on my screen…
    And the speed!!! And the sharpness!!! And the bokeh at 1.2!!! Triple Wow!!!
    And the new improved grip makes the whole thing perfectly balanced in my hand without additional grip.
    As a 35/85 only kinda photographer, can’t wait for the new Oly 17 f1.2 and/or, who knows, PanLeica 17 f1.4… Bad news for you Steve, with that kind of material in my hands, I won’t need to seek inspiration and advice on your fantastic website for at least 3 good years! 🙂

    • Congrats!! You have one heck of a combo there with that MKII and Nocticron, and yes, anyone who says M 4/3 can’t hang with the big boys is wrong. It’s only weakness is very low light but other than that, it’s a phenomenal system. You have my fave lens for the system as well! Enjoy it!

  3. Thanks for the review and would like your comments on the camera in the Icelandic environment.
    I am taking a Mark I and Mark II into a cold and seawater wet environment where they could get splashed and chilled. I am hoping the weatherproofing will cope with this easily. (Both bodies will be fitted with Pro lenses.)
    How did the camera cope with the change in temperature from the cold outdoors to a warm indoor temperature, did they experience internal condensation, and if so what would you recommend.

  4. Hi Steve,

    Great review. Do you have a date for part 2 ? Interested in seeing how the Raw files come out.



  5. …well..I put my toe in the M43 water with the Panasonic GX85, Pana – 20mm 1.7, 42.5 1.7 & 12-35 2,8.

    Then based upon diggin’ all that, I bought the Oly 25mm 1.2….AWESOME lens

    Just pulled the trigger on the OMD EM1 Mark 2 based upon all I’ve read, starting here.

    Looking forward. It adds up $$$ but hey ya can’t take it w’ ya right?

  6. Hi Steve,

    I appreciate your help on prior questions regarding the Olympus EM1 MKII and have one regarding the Olympus 12-100 f/4. My photography includes many sunrise / sunset photos looking into the sun. So, I need a lens that creates beautiful sunstars. Does the 12-100 lens create beautiful sunstars on the EM1 MKII?

    Thanks for your opinion,

    Chuck B.

  7. Maybe someone could help here.

    E1MKII. Sometime when i’m alone I want to practice some picture… Is there a way to tell my camera on the timer to continue searching my face after press the shutter and go in front of the camera to be photographed.

    My frend got a Fuji, and when he press the shutter, the camera still try to find a face until the timer arrive to 0 and take the shot.

    Thank you

  8. Hi Steve,

    I appreciate your review of the EM1 MKII and am very interested in purchasing the camera for my landscape photography work. At this time, I shoot for magazines, books and calendars using exclusively Canon full frame. I did purchase a used EM1 and a couple lenses to try out while hiking. The resulting EM1 images are great, in my opinion, and would be acceptable to my magazine and book clients. I am concerned that calendar clients may have a prejudice against 4/3 sensor size like they had against 35mm film. I’d appreciate your opinion on how the EM1 MKII images would be received by calendar photo buyers.

    Thanks for your insights on this,

    Chuck B.

    • The images from the EM1 MKII are just as beautiful and sharp and colorful as APS-C. This is a pro camera and many pros do indeed use this system. Some use it in studio, some for weddings, some for video work now….it can be used for any pro application with beautiful results. It’s not the size, it’s the output that counts.

  9. I must admit;
    $2,000 price tag has killed my enthusiasm, even though I’ve been with Olympus for over a decade. Question i’ve asked myself is whether $2,000 will buy me into a much better picture quality? answer is no. Sensor from Sony (major competitor) doesn’t excites me either, personally I do prefer photos out of EM1 MKI (would Panasonic sensor have something to do with?_)Funny, worth to mention, through early rumors, it could be concluded that Olympus was in fact waiting for Panasonic to deliver its 18MP sensor, however it did not, (still in development), and Olympus decided to release their flagship in 2016 due to 60th Anniversary… I wonder to see comparisons with a new GH5 that will come out some time 2017

    To conclude I’ve decided to sell some of the M43 gear and invest in second system Nikon D500, that will take care of my action shooting once and for all. $2,000 can buy a whole new system, even a full frame, it is really hard to ignore that,

    On the other hand I do agree with, M.zuiko 25mm 1.2 Pro to be a fantastic lens; should be called LENS OF THE YEAR 2016. I’ll be seeking deals to get one of those soon. As you see, I’m still around the M43 world, it’s just got to decide what works for me and what not.

      • Not true, Edward. TheD750 with the AF-S Nikkor 50 f/1.4G weighs over 1100g. The EM-1 MKII with the Oly 25 f/1.2 Pro weighs in at just under 1000g.

        Now, will the Oly combo get you better IQ? Certainly not at high ISO. And certainly not if razor thin DOF is your preference. But the Oly combo will undoubtedly take an environmental beating that would put the Nikon out of commission in no time. And for 95% of real-world photography, you’d have to pixel peep to tell any difference in IQ. Horses for courses.

  10. Hi Steve, I wanted to ask about the image quality compared to the Pen F? Both 20mp sensors but not the same sensor. Pen F is superb IQ but I am not convinced the M1 MK2 has matched let alone exceeded IQ from a PENF. What think? Has the need for all things speed compromised IQ versus PEN F? Thanks

  11. I’m sorry if you already answered this question but I see how well this camera holds up in the diverse weather conditions. Are the olympus pro lenses equally able to handle the elements? Might be upgrading from a Panasonic because I have a few of Pro lenses and but want to make sure they can both handle the elements. Thanks and great review!!!

  12. Hi Steve

    Your reviews swung my decision last December to buy an EM5 MK2 and a couple lenses however just finalised a travel insurance claim on the body and 12-40 pro.

    Was not keen on the ergonomics though forever meddling with the buttons whilst carrying. Camera was great…

    Wondering what your thoughts are of EM1 mk2 vs Canon M5 quite a cost difference but is there really that much value in performance.

    EM1 MK2 just over my budget…Still have the olympus 40 -150 2.8 pro


    • Do you shoot action or videos? EM1 MK1 is still a great camera and cheap now. MKII is to expensive unless pro using action action and video. Also look at PEN F.

      • MKII is much better than the MKI with AF speed, accuracy, tracking. It has a 1 stop advantage with high ISO noise, has improved 5 Axis, video capabilities are on another level, IQ is richer and DR seems to be extended again as well. The MKII is a 6 year camera IMO. Not much room for improvement here. If buying a new M 4/3, go with the MKII and avoid regret. That’s my opinion. The PEN-f is also superb but not in the same league for speed, usability and response.

        • Even now Steve lists the Pen F as one camera he loves to use. I’m simply saying it’s much more affordable and a lot of fun. MKII is action, video and hi res oriented. But Steve often tests a new lens on penF. Look you get what you can afford. But I’d buy glass 1st not MKII. JUST ME. BUT I DON’T SHOOT ACTION OR VIDEO.
          BOB IN CHICAGO

        • BUT STEVE HAS PEN F LISTED ON HIS HOTTEST CAMERAS OF 2016 TO BUY AND ABOUT 1/2 the price of MKII. Then read his review!

  13. Steve,

    Happy Friday. Hope your weekend rocks.


    PS I’m figuring you get so many tough questions you just need some Friday best wishes 🙂

  14. Hey Steve another great review of a beautiful camera. Thanks for your enthusiasm and honest opinion. Now that Olympus has come out with this new camera and lenses I noticed you can get the OMD EM1 and the 12-40 lens for almost the cost of the 12-40 lens alone which is great for Christmas and my son who is just getting into photography. I read the comments of people questioning whether Olympus paid for your travel to the far off country of Iceland. Of course Olympus paid for it. You are a reviewer and they pick a spot where the camera will be used and stunning pictures can be taken. Plain and simple. And to do anything less would mean cameras do not get reviewed. Business is business and marketing is marketing. And to question whether your reviews are biased is pure silliness. Anyone who reads your site knows you say it like it is and are spot on with what you say. So to those people all I can say is stop being silly and if you are a true conspiracy person then please tell me you at least always question whether your doctor received any free trips to conferences by the drug company they are prescribing drugs for. Anyway just had to say my two cents. Thanks again for running such a great unbiased review site. Incidentally, where is that stunning waterfall you took pictures of for this article and the shore with those magnificent waves?

  15. Looking forward to three things: part 2 of this review, a video review by Steve and the Fuji X-t2 review.

    Actually trying to decide if I will sell my Fuji kit and move to Olympus or not …
    All advice and help welcome! 🙂

      • I have the X-T2 and X-Pro2. Not that I don’t like them, I like both the Fuji and MFT systems and they both have their advantages and drawbacks for me.

    • if IQ is important and you can take time for each picture the Fuji can be better BUT Olympus is much more user friendly. The EM1 MK I will do most of what MKII will do unless you shoot action or video. MKI much cheaper now. Was 2013 camera of the year. Look on this site for two new Oly lens review by Neil Grant Buchan pro using EM1 MKI. wedding pros use EM1 MKI. I love mine.
      Bob in chi

  16. Hi Steve,

    I appreciate your review. I have an EM1 now and have several marks on the EVF caused by the sun. Do you know if the EM1 MKII still has this problem?


  17. Hi Steve,
    I am sure this is a good camera, but for thesame price you also can purchase pentax k-1 or nikon D750 is size of body does not matter to shooters lol
    You do the math

    • Sure, if size does not matter and huge lenses are OK 😉 If not, this camera is built better, probably faster, and offers features those could never offer. We have to look at the WHOLE Package not sensor size as sensor size, the larger it gets, the slower the camera AF, slower response, slower buffers, larger size, much thicker bodys and larger lenses, etc…and more cost once we start buying pro lenses. So look at the entire package. Me, I’d take a PEN-F over a D750, and it would not hinder me or what I shoot, and there are many just like me out there who prefer size, speed, response, EVF, 5 Axis and beautiful, smaller pro lenses that are just as good if not better than the pro DSLR lenses. The whole package 😉 I am thrilled with my Micro 4/3, Sony A7RII, and Leica M-D and I shoot them all, based on my mood for the day.

    • Here we are at Nov. 11 and still no images showing how its AF performs in AI Servo for BIF shots and/or action sports shots.

      Is that because the AF is still not on a par with DSLR’s?

      • I wish I could help you but review units were not shipped yet, at least not to me! When I get one, I will test it. Thank you. Looks though as it will ship Dec 2nd.

      • My first experience with B.I.F. handheld and the Zuiko 300mm F 4.0 PRO are disappointing. With the 40-150 mm F 2.8 PRO they are much better, Of course the light circumstances are far from ideal these December days and I hope it is only my lack of experience.
        The same lens on the E-M5M2 was a disaster!

  18. “Olympus chooses to give massive firmware upgrades instead”
    Yeah but only for M5 and M1. The rest is waiting for even small updates for years…

  19. Steve, thank you for the review. I have always liked your enthusiasm and interpret your evaluations with this in mind. I still read Ming Thein’s site and found his complaints about you peculiar especially since he became a “Hasselblad Ambassador”. You both make part of your living by championing equipment you enjoy using and by accepting the equivalent of salary for testing new equipment before the manufacturer releases the product to the public. In essence, Olympus hires you as a consultant because they value your opinion and respect your abilities. This makes you a true professional and professionals are paid for their work. Amateurs (like me) volunteer and pay their own way. Keep up the cheerful words and ignore the chaff.

  20. Lots of landscape shots here…. but I would never buy tiny 4/3 sensor for landscape and paying $2000 body where most m1mk2 features are uselles. It can’t compete with brilliant A7R 36MP FF that is even cheaper. Watching todays competition with lover prices then M1mk2 I hardly see 1 reason to be tempted by it with this mad high price. The “small” size of M1mk2 is here exaggerated, it’s bigger and heavier than most APS-C mirrorless, almost same size as FF A7x.

    • I can tell your a very astute and accomplished photographer with an open mind regarding gear. 🙂

      However, I don’t think Olympus is marketing this model as the ‘King of Landscape” photography cameras. It is designed for working pros who need speed, minimum system bulk (think camera and lenses if you can), harsh-weather resistance, and more than enough image quality to print to 40X60 for clients — and don’t tell me a 20 MP m4/3 sensor isn’t good enough for that — I’ve done them with 16 MP m4/3’s sensors.

      I don’t expect you to accept any of what I just said, but rest assured that Olympus will sell this camera to others who can see the benefits — myself being one. Enjoy your “brilliant” Sony A7R — it is a very good camera.

    • I’ve noticed a possible fix for the EVF Burn problem on the original EM1. See – . However, still am not clear if a fix or different EVF has been used on the Mark 2. Any comments from anyone. It seems ridiculous for a purchaser to have to modify a new camera. The EM1 Mark 2 seems such a strong and desirable camera as shown in Steve’s review. I want one if the EVF burn issue has been sorted.

  21. Steve,
    I have a question about your ‘Noise Reduction’ comparisons at ISO 6400 and 25,600.
    You specify “Noise Reduction On” or “Off” in your samples. Did you mean to specify “Noise Filter”?
    With my E-M1’s I have ‘Noise Reduction’ (Dark Frame Subtraction) set to ‘Auto’ and the Noise Filter set to ‘Low’.
    I am curious, since your sample images show a substantial loss loss of sharp detail between the two settings. Do you remember specifically how you had ‘Noise Reduction’ and ‘Noise Filter’ set?
    Thanks for the excellent write up, and nice images too!

      • Not sure you understood my question. In your review above you show two 100% crops of the shot of the Pen — one crop is labeled “Noise Reduction Off” and the other is labeled “Noise Reduction On”.
        My questions is related to the ‘On’ shot — was that actually Noise Reduction or Noise Filter (or both) ‘On’– Olympus has both features and they are different. I’m trying to understand what ‘On’.

  22. Iceland is lovely, and it’s always a treat to see the northern lights photos, but I don’t get why they didn’t send you guys to somewhere where you could shoot more than just drab overcast landscapes.

    It wouldn’t have been hard to pick a colorful location with people, buildings, cars, and especially fast moving subjects to showcase the new focus system.

  23. You can get a Sony A7II fir $300 less. A Nikon D750
    For less. A Fuji XT-2 for less a Nikon D5000 for less. All brand new not used.

      • You can also get any other Olympus camera for less. Or you could buy a Leica, Canon, Nikon, Sony, etc for more.

        Your point again would be???

        • Pay attention to the review because he talked about the very damn thing I wrote about. When he talked about the price and saying you can get a A7 something for less but used. I pointed out that they are less brand spanking new. Idiots with keyboards I swear.

    • I’m going to trade 3 Oly lens for thexample two new ones and keep my EM1 MKII
      I shoot in d light. No action and no movies.
      Bob in chicago

    • The recent image quality tests at Imaging Resource show that the E-M1ii files (jpeg so far) are the equal or better than the APS-C competitors. With image quality off the table, it becomes a choice of spending a bit more (and yes, $300-$500 is just a bit more over the life of the body) for the Olympus-only features, and the far smaller/lighter lenses.

      • I’d like to know how the camera compares to the X-T2 and not only in IQ terms but more like what Steve thinks about the differences.
        One thing that bothers me is the 4/3 ratio of the sensor. Yes, you can put it in 3/2 like Steve says but then you use less of the sensor, like 17 or 18 MP probably while the X-T2 is 24 MP.
        Also, the lenses aren’t all smaller. I compared a bit yesterday on Dpreview and the 56/1.2 is smaller than the Nocticron or 25/1.2, the 18-135 is smaller than the 12-100 but by the same factor larger than the 14-150. The 50-140 is barely larger than the 40-150.
        Don’t get me wrong, I like the MFT system and am actually pondering on switching for the nice lenses which usually are smaller or have longer reach.
        But the 4/3 ratio of the sensor and the wonderful oldschool layout and usage of Fuji are the things that are holding me off for the moment.
        So I’m hesitating between an E-M1 + Pen F system vs. an X-T2 + X-Pro2 system.

        Advice is surely welcome. Do you really consider the system that much smaller?

        • It depends on what you mostly shoot and print. The 4:3 format is better for portrait shooting, and works better in many situations such as a lot of architectural situations, and macro situations. I think it mostly boils down to what you are used to. In the US anyway, the 4:3 format is closer in crop to most ‘standard’ print formats such as 5X7, 8X10, 16X20, 20X24, etc..

          In terms of lens sizes, m4/3 offers a substantial size advantage for most primes and longer telephoto sizes. For example, look at the Olympus 45mm f/1.8 — it is tiny and weighs a mere 4 OZ., but is razor sharp. The Panasonic 35-100mm f/2.8 is superb and is very small compared to the popular FF/APS-C ‘workhorse’ 70-200mm f/2.8. The Oly 300mm f/4 and the Panasonic 100-400mm lenses are much smaller, lighter, and less expensive than equivalent FOV lenses from Canon, Nikon, or Sony.

          • I wasn’t too keen on the f1.8 primes, for primes I like them to be faster.
            But thanks for the tip on the Panny 35-100, it’s tiny for that type of lens indeed!
            Which raises another question I had problems with when using Oly back then: has there been any change in dual-is collaboration between Oly bodies and Panny lenses nowadays? Or is it still choosing between body stabilzation and lens stabilisation when using Panny lenses on Oly bodies?
            Maybe the E-M1 II brings a change in that?

        • Hi Luna,

          Ive just taken delivery of a Fuji XT2 today and I have a Pen F already.

          Size wise the Pen F and 17mm 1.8 are quite a bit smaller than the XT2 + 23mm 1.4. I know thats not a direct comparison but I was surprised at the difference.

          Just messing around tonight in very poor light and the Pen F is quicker to focus so I imagine the EM1 mk II will be even quicker.

          The Fuji is faster than the XT1 and is quicker with the 90mm f2 lens on but its still not as fast as the Pen F.
          High iso looks to be better on the Fuji but its not a world apart.

          Just my initial impressions.

          Ill test them side by side and in detail over the weeks and write up an article.

          • Thanks David. Good low light capabilities are indeed important to me. Fast focusing in that light as well though in good light I enjoy focusing manually often.

            I’m really torn beteen options right now. A small kit like an RX10 III with G5 X for example appeals to me but so does a kit with interchangeable lenses and two bodies (rangefinder style + slr style). There I am torn between Oly and Fuji.
            Lenses I would definitely need are a good all-round zoom (24-200 in 35mm terms), a longer but not huge one and some 85mm/f1.2 (again, in 35mmt terms). Both Fuji and Oly offers those aalthough the longer one is more interesting from Oly (75-300). A 100-400 is too huge a cannon for me. I do have some Fuji gear at the moment though but I’m not afraid of switching. Not sure it’s a good idea though.

            I just too a glance at your site and saw you have some nice comparisons there like X-T1 vs E-M1 for example. I’ll be enjoying them in a few!

          • I guess when you have to make a choice like I did between the XT1 and EM1 I did it based on using the cameras and which one feels better in use.
            It’s all very well having a slight improvement in image quality but if the camera doesnt make you want to shoot it then you wont get the best out of it anyway.

            For me the EM1 was better overall although the XT1 had very slightly better IQ I didn’t think the difference was enough to worry about. I got a lot of abuse from Fuji fans for that but I was just saying what I thought.

            At the time Micro 4/3 had the vastly better lens line up too.

            It’s a tough choice between Fuji and Olympus as they are for me, the two companies producing the best cameras at this level right now.

            Both have great lens lineups too.

            It’s great to have choice.

          • Exactly use it in your hands. The Olympic choice was easy then. Everything at your fingertips ipswich with camera at eye Evelyn. Comp curves, color wheel, spot meter, WB ALL handy as I shoot.
            Bob in chicago

          • In 2013 I was about to buy Fuji but found Steve’s blog and started reading boutique stabilization in body. Then lens like pan/Leica 25mm f1.4 without IS but smaller lighter and reasonable costs made me lean toward Oly. Steve named EM1 camera of the year. Oly has kept I more than relevant with multiple free firmware upgrades and new lens. I’ve seen people trying to take various pictures and the Fuji seems slow and awkward compared to oly. Don’t just look at specs. Try these cameras in your hands. The price on EM1 is dropping but still a very good camera. I’m keeping mine and spending in the new pro f4 zoom.

    • Id take the two new lenses first, they are IMO the heart of the IQ from these cameras. Then later, I would upgrade the body if I felt I wanted to. I have been using the 25 1.2 with my PEN F and it is beautiful. I do not think I would gain much of an IQ jump with the MKII (but would on build, speed, etc). If only one lens could be had, the new 12-100 is well worth the price and so versatile. That would be my recommendation.

          • Thanks for the reply Steve. Now i need to sell some cameras to get it. Got far too many hanging around. Mind you my fiancee might kill me, I have a wedding to pay for

            Did you get an XT2 yet? Just got mine today. Its early days but I’m not blown away yet.

      • Totally agree Steve, lenses first, then the Mark II at the first price drop. It’s a beauty for sure, but not enough IQ improvement to justify the price.

  24. Photo quality looks excellent, but IBIS looks strange in video, the whole picture floats rapidly and then stops when camera is moved sideways, check at 48 secs and 1:05 in the video above. Definitely would like to see more tests of the IBIS before investing in this camera. For stills looks awesome.

  25. Steve, what do you consider is the forte of this new Olympus?

    You mentioned in your ‘First Day Impressions..’ that if you were shooting weddings or portraits that you’d use a Fuji rather than the em1-mkII…..

    And in this posr you say Landscapes are not it’s strong point..

    So if not for Weddings, Portraits or Landscapes, then what?

    • I would use it for anything, personally. But a “Landscape Pro” would be picky if pixel peeping. The Oly can do landscape just fine but if I were a pro shooting LS I would use a camera with the most resolving power at base ISO that I could find. I would not need fast AF or response, so the features would be wasted if that was my sole thing. But as it is, I would use it for Landscape, but I am not a pixel peeping pro 😉 For portraits, I would 100% use the Em1 or PEN-F, but again, if I had a studio and was shooting for a fashion magazine I would be using a full frame camera in studio. I love the results of portraits from Micro 4/3 with the right lenses, in fact, in some comparisons it beats my Leica. (I have posted these comparisons) But for pros in a studio, I see MF camera and full frame being the camera of choice. Weddings…after talking with and seeing the work of some Wedding pros with the EM1 II, I would 100% use this system for Weddings. So I take back the wedding comments as some of the most beautiful color I have seen in wedding shots have come from Olympus. So yes, I see wedding pros using this system. I see sports shooters LOVING this system (I would take this over any Canon or Nikon for sports) and I see Wildlife shooters LOVING this camera for its all weather capabilities. I see some video pros using this one as well, and street shooters would love this camera. SO this camera can do it all, but in a pro sense I would say it is best for Weddings, Action, Sports, Wildlife, Street and yes, even portraits (though if I owned a studio and did high end work, I would be using MF or full frame in a studio). With that out of the way, these lenses are some of the best out there in the world being made today. As a system, when combined, it is a mighty fine system.

      • Totally agree that’s why I’m keeping EM1 MKI AND trading up on lens for the two new f1.2 and pro zoom f4. My shooting is OK with that body for now. If I very get into video then MKII would make sense.
        Bob in chicago.

        • It’s much quicker, much more responsive, built much better, better battery life, equal on the EVF, size is smaller, AF is superior on the EM1II, I prefer video on the MKII due to the 5 Axis and one click cinema 4K option, low light AF is quicker, touch screen is nice to have, lenses are mostly better but smaller, and I like Olympus color for the most part. The A7rII is awesome though, and does what I need but compared side by side, it is slower, larger, and not as well made. The Sony will give more DR and better high ISO in low light as well as more DOF control due to the full frame sensor.

          • Interesting. I’ve just put my order in for the EM1ii to work alongside my A7rii.

            The idea being the Olympus will be zooms and A7rii will be primes…. loxia 21, 35 f/2.8, 55 f/1.8, Batis 85 and Sony G 90. I do have a Sony A6300 and while it’s technically good, I don’t find it as enjoyable to shoot with compared to the A7rii.. probably keep it as a backup and offload the Sony Zooms.

            How good are Olympus in terms of IQ for their zooms? I find that’s Sony’s weak point. Primes are great but zooms are uninspiring, although I have a decent copy of the 70-200 f/4. Probably stick to UWA – 135mm for the Sony and Zooms and long primes for Olympus… Cheers for the enjoyable read!!

  26. Would love to see ISO data with these. Also, human faces in low light at higher ISOs – does this camera turn skin plasticky like most small-sensor cameras in low-light conditions?

  27. Hi Steve! I have a few questions if I may.
    I like the idea of the 24-200 and 75-600 with a 50/1.2 and a nocticron all in a very small package, much smaaller than what I have now in Fuji APSC as they have no decent all-round lens (I hate 27-200, 24 is the minimum for me) and no 75-300 (450 actually) lens. I do love my 56/1.2 and 90/2 along with the 23 and 35mm primes. But Oly would give me a much smaller kit than Fuji could. I’m now using the f2.8 zooms from Fuji. I do however love the old school way of operating the camera Fuji offers.
    So here are my questions.
    – Doesn’t the 4/3 ratio instead of 3/2 bother you, especially when you want to view the photos on a TV or print them out?
    – What about going much smaller? Sony RX10 MkIII. 24-600 f2.4-4. It is often debated the f numbers with smaller sensors aren’t right and the Sony would be an f16-32 or something like that if that was true but I hear it’s great in low light as well. What do you think of the Sony? Did you get a chance to try it out? Is it a joy to use as well? That is something I can only find in you reviews.
    Thanks for any insights you could give me!

    • 1. I always shoot 3:2 with M 4/3 or crop to 3:2. If you see my reviews you will see 90% of shots in them, no matter what M 4/3 device I review, are in 3:2 nit 4:3 so no it doesn’t bother me at all. RX10 MKIII is bigger, not smaller. Smaller sensor, but bigger, thicker body, It’s not in the same league actually as M 4/3. There is a lack of DR with these 1″ sensors, and it shows. I own the RX10III and the IQ is harder, less DR, not as good in low light. Though it is highly versatile as an all in one.

  28. This seems like a very niche camera at $2000. I think the market would be those who need a relatively compact camera that can withstand severe elements, but want something quite a bit smaller than a Nikon D500 (which I think would be the equivalent in build).
    For image quality, FF cameras like the Nikon D750 would be better, for less money.

    Is there a real market for a $2000 micro 4/3 camera? Apart from the vocal few on blog sites who claim there is? Selling a few hundred units to those people is not going to cut it.

    This definitely is one of the coolest looking digital cameras out there.

      • Wedding pros shooting 4k video who own Em1 and trio of pro zooms already will sell 1 of their 2 bodies and get this, anyone shooting sports with smaller lighter Oly pro teles, more likely new lens will sell very well. Size, weight, no tripods needed, are important factors BUT Oly bodies already covered that. $2,000 too steep for me but I love my EM1 already. I shoot in good light 90% don’t shoot action or video soooooo. EM1 is fine.
        Bob in Chicago

  29. All is dandy, but colors are mute and toned down in all reviews of this camera. Even with pics not taken in Iceland. Probably a jpg engine peculiarity.

    • I mostly used “Neutral” with my JPEGS. Did not go to Vivid or any intense color modes as I assumed I would be able to use the RAW (Olympus said an update to Viewer 3 would read them, and when they gave us viewer 3, it did not work on Mac systems, so I still can not convert my RAW files). So I shot neutral for mine. If one were to shoot Vivid they would be much more pumped up and when I can mess with the RAW files, IQ should take a leap up as it always does.

  30. Hi Steve. Congrats for a great review of this new Oly. You make me a fun of every device that you review. After reading this article I am sure about that the Oly is a true powerhouse camera full of versatility for an outdoor photographer taking pictures in harsh environments but when I saw the pictures many times I feel that they do not have life. I came back to your Sony RX1R2 review and OMG every picture seems to be a 3D frame of life full of vivid colours, richness, detail and emotion. May be It is just me.

    • The RX1R II will of course offer more pop and 3D but it will not do 90% of what the Olympus CAN do. It’s a give and take, and one must choose on their needs. The RX1RII will be slow, offer no solution for any kind of action shooting, will not offer the touch screen or live time, pro capture, sensor clean, and the other 20 things the Olympus does that the Sony can not do. The Sony you refer to is awesome and one of my all time faves, but nothing like this camera and i am not saying that in a “this one is better than that one” kind of way, it is based on facts. So it’s all about versatility and what one needs. If all one needs is a camera for static subjects, and does not mind slow speed and response (when compared to the MKII), weather resistance or all of the other features one gets with Micro 4/3, then an Rx1RII is an amazing choice. Another of my fave cameras of the past 10 years. But totally different audience. If you want an all in one that offers IC lenses, speed, all weather, cool astro solutions, some of the best lenses of any system, etc etc, then this is a very attractive option. After seeing reviews from Iceland, I feel that Iceland was the wrong place to visit this time of year for a camera evaluation, as the weather was just NOT good for photography, and by that I mean light. Even so, I loved it and will buy one but I also love my PEN-F, my Sony A7RII, my Leica’s, etc. 😉

  31. Steve, thanks you for this first report.
    Iceland was the first choice for Olympus due to the cold, rain and general higher humidity at low temperatures.
    When you ever may have a chance to visit the bike event of the Tour De France you can easily see the target group for this Oly: Sports photographer sitting on the rear seat of a BMW bike in the rain and shooting with the new zoom and double IS. Is there any body/lens combination out there from competitors which can cover the possibilities of an Oly by just 75% ? Ok this target group isn’t so big but there are other fields with the same conditions to deal with.

    People compare just only by sensor size and this isn’t the full story.
    It’s the same as to compare a Lotus Elise with an AMG Mercedes….
    On a German highway without bends the AMG wins clearly but on the Nurburgring the Lotus drives circles around the Merc – much more when it’s wet…. 😉

  32. You’re out photographing in the cold.
    Sniffles sore throat…
    Who you gonna call?
    Gingerbusters !!!

    That’s right intrepid photographers.
    CHEW FRESH GINGER any sign of sniffles, sore throat.
    INSTANT remedy and I mean INSTANT.

    Then enjoy photographing in the cold.

  33. Steve,

    Great review, as always. Your Pen F review inspired me so much that I immediately went out and bought one. I also just ordered the new Oly 12-100 via the link on your site. So, here is my one questions:

    Does this new OMD take better pictures using the new glass than my wonderful Pen F? (I mean IQ only, not autofocus speed etc where I know it will annihilate the Pen F)? The image you shot at home of both your dog and Debbie look utterly amazing using the Pen, so there must be a reason why you are selling it?

    Thanks again Steve, another world class review.


    • I’m loving my PEN-F with the 25 f/1.2, and I do not think the EM1II will offer any better IQ, and if it does, maybe a litle at high ISO and a bit more DR. But the PEN-F rocks.

        • No not at all, its smaller than the 7-14 which I use all the time, and delivers some of the most gorgeous IQ in this format. It will be glued on for a long while I think 😉

          • Some do, some do not. Me, I sold my EM1 when the PEN F came along as it was giving me the color wheel on the front to switch from normal to slide to mono modes, and I loved the vintage vibe. But I missed my EM1 after a few weeks for what it offered. I love both, and both have great IQ but the EM1 series will offer more speed, much better build, more advanced features, etc. So people shoot the EM1 if they need a pro spec camera. The PEN many shoot for the feel/looks and fun factor.

  34. Hey Steve,

    You know I’m a m4/3 fan as I use a variety of them for my work photography… this looks like a great work-horse of a camera! While you may have been cold and wet, it still looks like a cool trip and you got some great shots.

    Would love to see a comparison or your thoughts on comparing this new body to the Panasonic GX8… 😀

  35. There are definitely some features I like about the Mark II, I just don’t think they are enough to justify the $2K unless your a sports shooter. I’ll stick with my Mark I and grab the new lenses.

  36. great reviews Steve ,lots of talk here ! personally i think your Castle Leslie photos are better , as you say it was cold and dark in Iceland thats my share though i live up the road from the Castle lol .

    • I prefer my Castle Leslie shots as well, but it is all about subject matter. To me, the subject matter was much more interesting at the Castle. In Iceland, grey, cold, weird light that changed every few minutes…and mostly landscape didn’t do it for me personally. I wish we were in Iceland two months ago when they had nicer weather.

  37. So, one could take same old quality pictures more efficiently now. And, under a slightly heavier rain, too. Wow.

  38. Hi Steve
    Nice article
    I must say i did not like the skin tones ,they all have a red kind of tone unnatural, while the water photos seem grey bluish

    • If that says anything it speaks for the AWB. These are all JPEGS, take in crazy horrible light for most of them. Some had OK light but the water shots, in reality it was VERY BLUE. Sky was blue, water was opaque blue, and the whole vibe was blue. So however the AWB handled that is what is shown here. If I could process the RAW files they would look MUCH MUCH better color wise.

  39. Steve, thank you for an informative and enjoyable review. I love your photos, too. Nothing mediocre about those. I cannot wait for part 2!

    I think that APS-C cameras or an A7 would be better suited to those who want to use adapted lenses (except for telephotos). But I have have been watching Micro 4/3 for quite a while now, even though I kind of prefer APS-C cameras.

    IMO, a lot of press photographers are going to prefer this to their DSLRs, and they’re going to wonder why they didn’t move to a smaller system years ago.

    Eventually, in specific circumstances, the press will be told that they are not allowed to use physical shutters. In the past, the Leica was the standard for certain areas. Now, zero noise could be the standard (and in some cases it should be).

    I see a future where photographers will use Micro 4/3 for speed and mirrorless medium format for quality. So-called full-frame cameras will be squeezed out, and DSLRs will be a niche product (but always there).

  40. Steve, This is one of the best travel reviews you’ve done. Really good writing and got the reader to be ‘there’ with you.

    It’s fantastic what Olympus has done to get the most out of the sensor. I understand why it is so expensive, but as others have said, it’s what will keep many away.

    Pity, as it’s rendering, color, speed, video and overall handling look to be fantastic.

    But $2k is a bridge too far.

  41. Is this the same weather proofing the E-M5 II has or is this more robust? Trying to decide between the two.

      • Thanks for the response. A follow up question if you don’t mind. I currently have the E-M5 II and plan to visit some destination with wet and cold weather over the next few months. I also have several of the Olypmus pro lenses. Is the E-M1 II worth the upgrade for the weatherproofing alone? Thanks again!

        • The EM1 II is probbaly the most weather sealed camera I have ever seen, and I do not know of any other that is sealed as good as this one. I would trust this camera in any environment, but I would not have trusted the EM5II in Iceland. Would have never made it through what we put them through. So that is up to you. If you think you will be torturing it with water or rain or snow, it would be worth it. Thank you!

          • In your estimation are the lenses as durable in harsh weather? It would seem pointless to get the new camera if the lenses won’t stand up to the same conditions. Thanks again!

  42. Did Olympus make any comments on the Long exposure noise, as you couldnt do any long exposures? I am very eager to see if the Mark 2 has improved, as the Mark 1 was known for having Problems in this regard.

  43. Hi Steve

    Great review, when shooting 4K video does the camera use a crop sensor mode or does it use the full sensor width and resample?

    • Then “Thein” is delusional or jealous. NO ONE is EVER paid to do these trips. In fact, I turned down three this year. ALL big review sites do these, as it benefits the readers by allowing us to evaluate cameras before others. Paid to go, lol. I was miserable in Iceland, and could not wait to get home due to the nasty weather, and long days. It’s called “WORK”…maybe you should try it sometimes. I find it funny that I am a Sony, Leica, AND Olympus fanboy. Lol… yes. It’s guys like you who just go around spewing negative nonsense, and I speculate it’s because your life must truly suck.

      • For disclosure can you outline if anything was paid for? So you were not paid, but did you have to pay for your own flights and accommodation? Was anything subsidised in terms of cost? Thanks

        • My disclaimer has been up for 6 years, and anyone can read it anytime by clicking on the “About Me” tab. Everything is there and has been for years. Media trips have been going on since before the internet days, when magazines ruled the roost. ALL of your faves go to these trips. DP Review, Pop Photo, Imaging Resource, Luminous Landscape, etc. It’s a benefit for the websites, the readers and the manufacturer. A win win for all. But if I go and dislike a camera (rare as they do not do these trips for crap cameras) I simply do not write about it. I also turn down trips at times. But it is called work, as these trips are no vacation, they are 12 hour days of non stop travel, moving, work, etc.

          A website would have to be a fool to turn down media trips, it’s a part of the business and has been for a long long time. It’s how we learn about the new stuff.

          • Whoever MOJO is, his loss. These trips do not make reviewers praise a camera. If the camera sucks, we would say so. I would not have went if it was for an EP or lower end Olympus as it would not have been worth a week away from home for me, as those cameras do not tick my boxes. I wanted to see what the new Flagship was about, and it’s an awesome camera. $2k is at the very top end of what I would pay, and I said that on these pages before we knew the price. I feel $1599 would have been the sweet spot though as $2k is over the limit for most here. Olympus spent 4 years and who knows how much money into this, and they have to recoup that investment somehow. With camera sales down from over 4 years ago, I am guessing they priced it with all of this in mind. Even so, these trips have been around forever and is the only reason all of you get to read and see these cameras before anyone else. It’s a little bit marketing (for Olympus), a little bit education (for us reviewers) and a little bit exposure (the reviewers who will write about their experience) and a whole lot of COOL as without this, there would be no one evaluating the camera. But so many like to drum up conspiracy theories and “I am better because I refused to go on a paid trip”. That is nonsense, and I would consider myself a big DUMMY if I did not take advantage of these trips as it is what I do, it is my business and my JOB, and it is my responsibility. To not do then would make me lazy and quite honestly, would be a dumb thing to pass up on, especially when ALL of the big review sites do it, and in the past ALL magazines did it. It’s how business works, but with that said, no one is EVER obligated to say kind things about these cameras due to trips. I see some bash cameras after a trip, and yes, they get invited back. So others can refuse trips, but that does not make them more honest or better than anyone else, it makes them slower to evaluate a camera. Ive posted for years about this, and said I would NEVER pass up a trip to evaluate a big hot camera that I had interest in. I remember my Ireland MKI review, I was being called a “fanboy” and “liar” and what happened? The EM1 became a HUGE HUGE success and almost everyone who owned it and shot with it LOVED It. Why? Because it was and is a fantastic camera, as myself and many others who truly evaluated it said. Many out there in anonymous internet land like to sit and bitch and moan, when they should be enjoying life and living with life, love and vigor 😉 They would be much happier if they did this!

          • So, the answer seems to be yes, the flights, hotel and food were all paid for. It is a simple admission to make and better for clarity.

            I certainly do not assume that getting such payment means that the review will say good things about a bad camera, but, if you want to stay on the round of invitees for such promotions, then you’d better find something positive to say about a decent camera.

            Pretty obviously, this is an excellent camera, with many strengths, and this is made clear. What would interest me more than anything else would be a print comparison of a detailed landscape at, say 36″ x 24″ with a few other of Steve’s cameras – say the A7rII and a Leica at say 1600 ISO. This enlargement is not so large and the ISO is not too demanding, but it would give those of us who do print a genuinely useful comparison.

            The speed, robustness and versatility of the camera is not in doubt. Nor is its relatively portable size. We know about the depth of field limitations/benefits, but a good print evaluation might suggest how it plays with detail and DR in a more concrete way. Some more comments on a start-up/speed of use comparison would also be helpful.

          • Well I spent $620 USA$$ in Iceland this trip. Some on food, some on beer, some on pants and a jacket that I had to have to stay warm (what I brought was not warm enough, lol). So I was out money. I would NEVER EVER be able to spend $5k+ going to Iceland to review a camera. I started doing that, I would be out of business within a month. But these trips have been going on forever, well before the internet when magazines is what we read for our camera news and reviews. In no way does it compromise independence. Many reviewers write loads of negative stuff about a camera after a trip and yes they get asked back. Many love to whip up conspiracy theories when they do not know a thing about it. These are not vacations, they are work usually waking at 6am, and in bed by 1am, each day.


            As it states on this website (for 7-8 years now, always been here)

            “My Disclaimer…

            I have to say that while I get lenses and cameras sent to me for review (that get sent back) by a couple of camera companies, none of them EVER EVER pay me for reviews, to write positive remarks, or any of that BS as it just doesnt happen and if it did, it would be refused and announced. I write exactly what I feel about any lens of camera and if a manufacturer doesn’t like it, then oh well. I have been on “Media Events” paid for by the camera companies as a chance to review and check out their latest gear, but so have all successful camera sites.

            Most of the big sites attend these events like DP Review, Imaging Resource, Luminous Landscape, and many many others. This is a perk, getting to see the new stuff before it is released to the public as well as network and meet other site owners AND being able to report on the new gear so YOU, my readers can see it FIRST! This is part of the business and it rocks and I would be pretty stupid to pass up the opportunity to test new gear before it is released. It helps me and it helps YOU the readers.

            As long as I have the chance to attend these events I WILL and yes, they are paid for by the camera companies. I did get a free hip bag and some fruit at the last one :)”

      • Haha don’t rise to the jealousy. I’m sure anyone criticising would jump at the chance to test new gear if they were offered it.

        Of course Olympus send popular reviewers to review their cameras. How else does anyone find out about their gear.
        Anyone trying to object to this on moral grounds is delusional.

        It’s called business and I’m sure if you didn’t like a camera then you would say so, as you have in the past with Fuji etc.

        If Olympus are targeting existing sports and fast action shooters why on Earth didn’t they take you to the Mexican grand prix. That would have been a perfect test for the auto focus system.

        My Fuji XT2 should arrive next week. I’ll be amazed if it is up to the build quality of the EM1 II as the EM1 felt a lot better than the XT1.
        I hope I’m wrong though.

        Are none of the Pen F black and white features on the EM1 II?

        • Totally agree. I’ve been shooting 40 years and ever since I can remember these types of trips have been going on. I’m really pleased you went Steve, it was a great article and helped me learn about the camera. David, I got a XT-2 a few months ago. Build quality is great, I don’t think you’ll be disappointed.

      • Actually, Thein didn’t say that you or others are paid to do the reviews. He simply acknowledged what you acknowledge on your site: that the company pays for your travel costs.

        I don’t know Thein nor Huff, so I don’t have the proverbial dog in this fight.

      • No chip. He’s a working photographer on assignment. Why would he want to go where Steve hated it.. cold wet and gray.

        • There’s a chip, and it’s been seen many times before 😉 I could care less what others think, but I do not deal in conspiracy theories. Silly to talk trash about others who have the same goals and passions as you do. Just makes that person look bad IMO.

          • I think if you read what he says carefully, he makes a very clear case for him not going a) he does not want to compromise his independence and b) It his not worth his while, since it would be too much time away from an exacting and demanding client-based business, which is where he earns his money as a professional photographer.

          • I do not read his site anymore and have not been there in around 2 years, but was going by what others said here and what someone sent me about it. I have no idea what he does or why he does it, it’s his choice. Usually those who are bitter and make false accusations about fellow reviewers.. are well…bitter and upset about something. He says we were paid to go (and he did say that as someone sent me the quote). Well, that is a lie, a falsehood and a conspiracy theory that tells me he has no clue how these events work and it also makes him sound a tad bitter about it. Whatever, doesn’t phase me or change how I work! I’d be a dummy to pass up a chance to test a new hot camera (and they only do these for the newest hottest cameras, which will 99% of the time be amazing) and share the info with all of you. Since this is my job, my income and my career, I do indeed have to do some work for it 😉

  44. Never thought I’d be on the fence about buying a new flagship m43 Olympus, but there are some serious concerns. Not sure if the premium is worth what is available at half the price. The mark1 + 12-40 is looking like a better buy.

    • Not shooting hi iso, no action shots, and no hand held for 5sec (robin Wong blogspot) then I agree. But the new zoom lens looks very good. I’m trading pro 12 to 40 f2.8, pan/Leica 25mm f1.4 and 40 to 150mm R for one new zoom. Keeping EM1 for same reasons you mention. Many wedding photographers still use it.
      Bob in chicago

      • I just don’t see much at this point that says “spend a potential $1400 on top of a mark1”. Slight benefit in NR which I usually turn off anyway. Betting the ISO benefit is trivial and the mark 2 will struggle at 6400 and above. And I really don’t need more fps. Which is fine.

        It’s early in the release. I will hold out and wait for more comparisons to drop. Not a spontaneous purchase by any means at $2000. I think Oly has a lot to prove at this price.

        • “Betting the ISO benefit is trivial and the mark 2 will struggle at 6400 and above.”

          Safe bet. The EM-1 Mark II really appears to be a terrific camera in almost every facet, only let down by its sensor, which is admittedly “good enough” for a lot of stuff, but not so good for other stuff, and lags behind everyone else in the market right now.

  45. I looked at a number of reviews and was somewhat underwhelmed by the camera… then I looked at your review and I am now excited about getting my hands on one. Your photo’s look like they were taken by a photographer/artist not a camera technician.

    As usual, you explored the creative capability. Keep up the good work!

  46. I’m always amazed at the quality that Olympus squeezes out of this tiny sensor. That said….imagine the quality they would get out of a FF sensor! Personally I would trade some fps and a bit of AF speed and slightly larger for better image quality.

    • You want more IQ FOR what purpose? Are you a pro selling large prints in a gallery? What printer are you using to show off added IQ? HOPE YOU’RE ANSWER ISN’T A WEBSITE!

      pro wedding photographers were using EM1 and trio of pro zooms.

      Award winning photographer neil grant Buchan sold Leica SLEEP and lens for Oly f1.2 and body.

      Realistically don’t get the more IQ argument.

      Bob in Chicago shooting for 63 years with 4×5, Hassy and pro Nikon and Canon gear before switching to Oly. Oh and I don’t own a tripod anymore

      • Bob, this may surprise you, but you only represent you.

        Stop badgering people who want or need something more than you do. It only makes you look very insecure about your own choices.

        And I say that as someone who only uses M43 (for now).

        • I often comment or question how comparison Evals are done cause unless on a very good monitor or making a print they seem IMHO to just be unsubstantiated options held by biased owners not truly open minded. Insecurity doesn’t fit. Maybe overly critical of overly critical comparisons from people not truly doing evaluations as expressing bias. I think I’m biased from printing B&W 16 x 20 on $5,000 darkroom at home and evaluating that Way. 4×5 Hassy and Canon 5D with L lens. And retired I’ve got to much time on my hands. Love your site.
          Bob in Chicago probably overreacting even now. Oh Well.

      • “You want more IQ FOR what purpose? Are you a pro selling large prints in a gallery? What printer are you using to show off added IQ? HOPE YOU’RE ANSWER ISN’T A WEBSITE! […] Realistically don’t get the more IQ argument.”

        Sorry, Bob, but there are plenty of applications that require the better high ISO, DR, detail reproduction, and tonal depth that a larger, higher megapixel count sensor provides these days. Is this camera good enough for 75% of pro applications? Yeah, probably “good enough”. But when you’re competing with other photogs for assignments — and relying on your images to make a living — and they’re able to deliver better overall IQ in a wider array of shooting applications because they’re using a camera with a better sensor, “good enough” often ain’t good enough … if you get what I’m saying?

      • Ah Bob…I see you brought up the age old, ‘how much quality do you need’ argument. I guess I shouldn’t be surprised since you’ve been shooting for ‘over 63 years’.

        Tell you what Bob…I haven’t even been alive for 63 years but I’ve been shooting digital cameras (seriously) since 2003….and shot film before that. I’ve printed from all sorts of different digital files from dozens of digital cameras: my Canon 20D to 1 series Canon’s, to P&S, to my current Leica M240. What I can say is that there most definitely is a difference in prints depending on size and subject matter.

        If you’re part of the ‘it’s good enough’ crowd maybe you should just use an iPhone…no??? After all, to repeat your earlier phrase….just how much quality do you REALLY need Bob???

        • I own EM1 AND OMD 10 and 4 lens and have owned all THE Oly primes 75mm down. My moments refer to evaluate and omparisons people asking HOW HAVE THEY DONE COMPARISON? with a pro.monitor or a pro print? If not then it’s just subjective bias.

          Now liking the camera and menu is 200% legit. It’s IQ not good enough. IBIS offsets hI iso short comings not often discussed.

          Imagine 300mm f4 at 1/10 sec on another camera body.

          Love reading your site and comments. I’m keeping EM1 and trading lens for new f4 zoom.


  47. Any camera and lens combination that can transform a bunch of guys in an overgrown hot tub to look like an exquisitely rendered rather painterly image has got to be pretty damn good 🙂 Thanks for the great review.

  48. Hi Steve long time fan of the website and reviews 🙂

    Regarding full frame vs Micro 4/3rds ,if you want the best possible IQ/DOF etc, full frame is the way to go ….if your happy with slightly less IQ but still damn good and to be honest most people out there viewing your pics wont be able to tell the difference (between pics on Full frame vs 4/3rds) and a camera that is a joy to use, then micro 4/3rds should be your pic!:)


  49. Initially Robin Wong said new pro zoom would not work with EM1 until firmware upgrade for either body or new lens with old body. What do you hear.

      • In personal email he was adamant about 10 days ago to 2 weeks. Said he was speaking as employee. Told me to wait until firmware correction
        Clearly he’s talking IS aspect of new zoom. The Cuba review showed it works for NON-IS.

  50. Hi Steve, thanks for the review. Here in the UK it is retailing at b/o for £1849, so a clear £450 over the XT2…I already have the EM1 and the three Pro zooms. Is this worth the upgrade over switching system to a D750 for example? I’ve always enjoyed shooting with the EM1 (apart from always seeming to underexpose with a speed light attached) but get a bit twitchy when second shooting on weddings etc and know that I need to bump the ISO up…IS is great, unless of course the subject is moving, when it is a high shutter speed that you really need. I’ve printed at 16 x 12 and always had good feedback, so it is really just my own pixel peeping when it comes to noise….I’d really value your opinion, for someone who shoots property, landscapes, and events (in that order), do I stick with the system, or spend the money on FF DSLR (or even A7R??). Thanks again for the brilliant review…!!

  51. Thx a lot for an interesting review! Looking forward to some real RAW comparisons.
    Shouldn’t be long until at least Oly Viewer is up to date, which in my biew yields better results than ACR for the ORFs (ACR gives less shadow details and a very dead and dull color rendering).

    For the high ISO samples in this rticle, you should change the term from “Noise Reduction” to “Noise Filtering” (as NR is dark frame subtraction for hot pixels in Oly terms).

      • Viewer will not work on a mac and export a RAW file. I have the very latest and no go for me here. I have 2.1.0 on my mac, and it just freezes when loading an EMII RAW file.

        • I have just succeeded developing 8to 16bit TIFF) both regular and highres ORFs on my old iMac here (latest macOS Sierra v10.12.1), but having just 4GB of RAM it takes ages and ages… :/
          Gotta upgrade my hw to 16 GB RAM I guess.

          The Readme.txt says about the v2.1:
          * Now compatible with E-M1 MKII
          * Faster RAW development using a graphics processr is now possible
          * (To utilize GPU acceleration, the GPU must have 2GB or greater video memory)
          * Supports Monochrome Profile Control and Color Profile Control for truePic VIII

  52. Let’s talk about those hot dogs some more. My mouth is watering just reading about the Bæjarins Beztu Pylsur stand in downtown Reykjavik. The ones at the airport aren’t bad either.

  53. Super review! Luscious pictures! But I’ll stay with my Pentax K50 – less features but probably better imaging and not that much heavier. As you say, Steve, personal choice.

  54. Looks like a great camera. I chose the EM1 over the Fuji XT1. I’ll be deciding between this and the XT2 soon.

    That 25mm 1.2 sure looks special. You got some nice portraits with it. The rendering looks special.

    For now I’m having a blast with the Pen F.

    Hope you’ve thawed out from Iceland.

  55. Woooo, so Steve, shall I sell my Leica M9 and M lenses? I do have an EM1 with 12-40 Pro, mainly use for holidays, to keep the wight down. Now, I shall sell both Leica and EM1, and get the mk2 and these 2 lenses, plus the 7-14mm Pro and Panasonic 100-300mm, there a set up can be used in any situation.

    BTW, I have the Metabones Speed booster for Zuiko OM lenses, you should give it a try on the EM1, very fun and do produces some very good photos. I own 7 OM lenses, the OM3 is my analog camera.

    Great review and you make my life easier, stay with Olympus!!

    • Not a bad idea, as far as numbers go. The M9 still holds value in the secondhand market. It might not be that way for too long, if the next M delivers the goods. So if you are going to sell, do it now. But keep the lenses for as long as you can. 🙂

  56. Steve, is the E-M1 MKII good enough that you would opt for it over your A7RII? No question, the image quality you’ve shown here is impressive – but I don’t understand Olympus’ business strategy of staying with a 20 MP 4/3 sensor instead of joining everyone else with at a full frame offering. As you’ve mentioned, the best 4/3 camera will still lack the depth of field and low light IQ of a full frame camera. And at $2K for body only, that’s the same price as a Sony A7II. As always , love your reviews and images Steve.

    • Olympus can never go to full frame, as they are with the Micro 4/3 format and mount. Not possible to turn that to full frame. Would require a whole new large system, all new lenses, and there are huge benefits to Micro 4/3 even over Full Frame. HUGE! Remember all I said here. Using an A7RII is nothing like using the EM1 II. While the A7RII will offer richer IQ, better high ISO and more shallow DOF it will suffer in speed, response, build, size, and everything else. Some prefer a camera they really enjoy shooting to one that may be slow or miss in AF. This camera is so polished from top to bottom, it is an absolute joy to use. With these new lenses, there is no lack of quality. I have to have at least one full frame camera here and I have always had at least one Micro 4/3 camera here. The features offered with this camera push it over the edge for me (Live Time, Pro Capture, Touch LCD, No lag whatsoever, gorgeous video, 5 Axis, response, etc).

      • The problem I’ve had with the E-M1 is that it isn’t that small, and it keeps getting bigger. That seems to defeat the whole purpose. I used the previous version for an Iceland trip and it was good, but I was not in love. If I’d gotten more used to it I would have ended up liking it more. It’s all subjective. If I’m going to give up some IQ for size, I want a substantial benefit. It’s not that much smaller than than the Sony A7 series, and it’s about the same but much heavier than the Sony APS-C cameras. Size matters. The controls were small and hard to use with cold hands.

  57. for me as a dedicated street shooter all the upgrades over the MK1 are more than off set by the “articulating” LCD . . . . every time you flip it out to the side it’s like turning on an open for business sign that screams “hey everybody looky here” . . . pity . . . . i for one was saddened to have to pass on the Pen for the same reason . . . if there’s a silver lining i suppose it could be found in the falling prices on the the incrementally inferior Mk1 . . . life goes on.

    • The articulating screen gives you the freedom to shoot low and high angles in Portrait mode. This is impossible with the flip out. Although, I’ll agree, the flip out is more discreet and faster to use. Compromises..

      • You can flip the screen out less than the full 180 degrees, so it will be facing you in a low angle portrait shot from pretty much any angle. For a high angle shot, flip it out a bit and just turn the screen around. You have more options for the screen facing you than the Sony style articulating screen that just tilts up/down. You really have to work to not be able to see a fully articulating screen like this one.

    • I have to agree with you on that. The new LCD is a dealbreaker for street photography.

      I am also quite disappointed that they have not been able to put a better EVF (like leica SL) in the new version.

      I will stay with my Mark I.

  58. I bought the EMI but rhad to eturned it because I couldn’t use it with my scripted poloroid sunglasses as the view finder showed black bars. Olympus Australia had to check with Japan who informed them that there was something in the viewfinder that didn’t work with polorized lenses. Has this changed in the Mark11 model?

  59. Oly should do a Pen F pro, I’d rather a smaller size camera. I see the image quality was improved but it wasn’t that much of a jump. The real winner here are the lenses of course.

  60. Dear Steve!

    Thank you for your sincere and excited review of OM-D M1 II. But looking at the photo samples I can’t avoid feeling, that regarding IQ the Sony’s a6300 and coming a6500 are MUCH better than this camera? Am I wrong?

    Your devoted Kyrgyz reading follower


      Really? I do not see it. M 4/3 has fantastic IQ. These were all shot as JPEG, all shot in grey dreary cold weather, and all in various camera color modes. Many of these daytime shots are also at higher ISO from 400-1600. So, what for the RAW and good light and you will see some amazing IQ. I own a 6300, and this camera blows that one out of the water in EVERY area besides high ISO and that sharp digital look. But Micro 4/3 has fantastic IQ.

      • Sharp digital looks Steve? I don’t have an a6300 but i though from examples it looked less crunchy. I felt the 43 image quality had a sharp digital look to them. Please explain and include in following em1 ii part 2 review. Really interesting to me.

  61. I am really glad it costs $2k. If it was $1,500 I would buy it straight away. Now I am happy to stick to em1 for couple more years and then buy silver em2.

  62. Great review so far steve. Cant decide if i want the camera or new lenses more, lol.

    Interestingly, it seems “Mono 2” etc jpeg modes are reserved for the Pen-f only?

  63. I really like this camera as a tool. Physically it’s really great and at least, on paper the specs are brilliant. But the more captures I see, bigger the disappointment. Almost all of the jpeg images seem to have aggressive sharpening and contrast added. Exaggerating a bit, it’s a little like watching a phone picture on the pc screen and the pictures posted here are not even at their full size / resolution.

    I don’t know what are manufacturers doing, but it seems like the trent to follow, as what the camera captures is not what our eyes see. I get it on special picture modes, but not standard ones. Hope you get the idea. Its the opposite of 4K. When we watch good 4K capture, it seems we are seeing the “thing” in live. On photographs not! It seems accuracy its not important anymore but more of who can make colours look better.

    Are the 18 frame rate actually with continuous autofocus? Some people say it is, others it is not.

    Anyway, thanks for posting your thoughts on this review and it is great you liked it. This is no surprise since I remember you really enjoyed the MK1.

    • Did do know you can customise your jpegs in camera? you don’t have to run with what Olympus sets as default. Contrast, Saturation sharpness can all be adjusted before you press the shutter for a JPEG only experience. In fact all camera brands allow you to adjust to taste, so don’t take the Jpegs as the final indication of quality. Olympus allows you to post process its own RAW files in camera using the art filters and you can adjust tonality to taste with its in camera processing algorithms. Sometimes they come out nice. But for me I still rely on Capture one PRO to get the best I can out of the RAW files.

  64. Great review Steve, looks like everyone had a lot of fun in Iceland.

    I’ve had the chance to play around with the E-M1 II for a little bit back in September and it’s really the handling and feel of it that makes me want it. Sure the improvements and speed are a huge technical leap in the right direction. But ultimately I love Olympus cameras because of their size/weight to performance ratio and how well they handle.
    As a professional photographer it’s all about how little the tools you use are in the way of what you are trying to achieve and I think the new camera removes that barrier even more. Great job from Olympus there!

    Can’t wait to take the E-M1 Mark II on adventures!

    • I loved watching your videos on YouTube Chris, do you have additional episodes planned? Can’t wait to see what you get out of the Mark II!

  65. I hope for a image comparison between this new beast and the EM5 MkII which I own and I’m very happy with. Sure, the grip of the 5 is not really good, but I have used to it. I bought the Oly this spring and used a Canon 6d before. If the noise of the M1 MkII is noticable less around ISO 1600 – 3200 compared with my M5 MkII, I have no reasesons to keep the Canon stuff! Yes, I am a pixel peeper but if the sensor keeps the details at higher ISO so noise reduction works well in post process. This point is important for me because I like astro and northern light shooting.

  66. Seems like a landmark camera .

    However, I disagree that the XT2 and Fuji’s best lenses feel cheap, that is simply not true .

      • Concur. The body and shutter are solid. Can imagine a prime lens being more robust than the 23/1.4. The thing feels like a tank.

        • The Fuji 23 1.4 is a GREAT lens…loved it….but would never in a million years describe it as ‘built like a tank’. It is very well built yes…but also very lightweight which to me takes away from the robust feeling of something. It just feels a little…hollow….much like the Fuji bodies.

          If you’ve held a Leica M camera or a Zeiss/Leica M mount lens you know what I mean.

  67. steve i really appreciate your reviews, but the buildquality of the Fuji X-T2 is much better than on Sony and i´m shure at least as good as on the Olympus. I have the X-T2 camera and also reviewed it on my blog and its a pure joy just by holding it, it definetly feels premium

    • I was talking about all past Fujis I have reviewed, they have a hollow cheap feeling (thought they are not cheaply made). The EM1 is built better than the XT1, for sure. XT2, I will not have one until end of week, so will see for myself. But I have never seen a Fuji built to a level of the EM1II or a pro body. If the XT2 finally went full steam with build that is awesome. Thanks.

      • Fuji has a total hit with the X-T2 you will love it i’m shure.

        From Fuji:

        Supporting its use in harsh climates, the durable weather-resistant body design is constructed from magnesium alloy and sealed to protect against dust, moisture, and cold temperatures down to 14°F.

        • I shot with two X-T2s last night on the set of Supergirl. We were in a rock quarry designed to simulate an alien moon, and the rain was pelting down relentlessly all night. But more than that, there was moisture in the air that congregated inside the quarry. Man and machine were soaked to the bone … and both X-T2s were out and exposed to the full onslaught of water all night with little to no cover, so no respite from the elements. They were drenched; dripping with water such that after a while you could feel the rubber exterior material absorbing rather than repelling the moisture. On top of this, it was cold.

          If that’s not one of the harshest tests a camera can be exposed to, I don’t know what is.

          Neither X-T2 missed a beat, and I delivered all the images to Warner Bros. without incident. Got home and throughly and properly dried both cameras.

          They’re working great today. So that should give folks some idea of the X-T2’s build quality.

      • I remember you talking about the hollow feeling in the comments of your Pen-F review a while back Steve. I have an X-Pro2 and have to concur, the big body feels light, like there’s nothing in it. I used to have a Pen-F and that compact thing felt solid as a brick.
        However, like you say, this might give the impression of a cheap feeling but it’s not cheaply made at all. Might have confused some people.

        As I posted a bit further here I’m torn between Oly and Fuji right now (X-T2 + X-Pro2 vs. E-M1 + Pen-F) and a few lenses: in 35mm terms 24-200, longer but not huge one and 85/f1.2.

        Therefore I hope you’ll do a review of the X-T2 as well or some crazy comparison with the E-M1II. A joy to read your reviews as always!

  68. Great review and I have no doubt a great camera. But the huge honking elephant in the room is the price and it’s a sadly inevitable that this will dominate the conversation about the camera. In the UK you are looking at £1,850 (add in the 25 f1.2 and you’re not getting any change out of £3,000…!) Olympus are really going out on a limb here by making a play for the pro / too rich to worry about money amateur market. But I really do question how many pros are going to go for this over the now cheaper and time-tested alternatives from Nikon and Canon.

    I think Olympus are going down the Leica route to some extent (hear me out – I’m not crazy!) They will get a few pros on board to write about how it’s now their main system which will persuade the rich amateurs that by buying into the system they are emulating the pros. I’m guessing 95% of buyers will be the former thanks to the ‘halo effect’ of endorsements by the latter. If that works for Olympus, good for them. Meanwhile, those lightly used EM 1 mark 1s selling for about £500 are looking awfully good value (as Steve pointed out in the review). Is the new camera really £1,350 better??

    • This is no whee near Leica pricing, not even close! Camera sales are down from a few years ago. Each year, sales go down. When this happens, less is sold yet R&D costs go up to make the latest and greatest. This means prices go up. ALL cameras are going up. Sony, Fuji, Olympus..while others are going out of business. Also, this is the flagship product, fully pro specs. Why would one thing it would be $999. Good thing is we have choices, and there are other cameras in the line that costs less. While not as good in build or features or speed, one can spend less. But if one wants the flagship, it is there and available. I’d rather have it available than not at all. As for the lenses, well worth the cost. They are stunning lenses. But again, less expensive versions can be had so if they are too pricey, one can go down the line and pick one that costs less and even weighs less. All about choice.

      • I’m not really talking about absolute pricing (which of course remains WAAAAY below the la-la land Leica price levels!). My point was about the tactics of brands which are actually used by a very small number of pros but where the endorsement of the few that do is used to sell top-end products to wealthier amateurs who like the idea of using ‘pro’ gear. In that sense, Leica and Olympus (with the EM 2 at least) have some similarities. However, I agree 100% with you that Olympus have products available at a range of price points so they are to be commended for that.

        One other point that may have been made elsewhere (if so, apologies for repetition). Apart from proving that the camera can survive a good drenching, why on earth did Olympus send you all to Iceland – one of the world’s premier landscape photography destinations – to test the camera? The EM2 may be many things, but an obvious choice for a landscape camera it’s not. Seems to me that the target market – at least for pros – is maybe wedding/portrait photographers who want a lighter alternative, or sports shooters who could be convinced that AF performance is now good enough to challenge DSLRs. Yet the reviews coming out of the Iceland trip don’t cover any of that. They’d have been better off taking you all to a football game or a horse track to test the AF and then maybe setting up a staged wedding to see how it handled shooting inside a church and at a wedding reception. As a sports and wedding photographer myself, that would have been much more interesting and relevant than pictures of glaciers and rivers. As for the weather-proofing, Olympus could simply have turned a fire hose on all the reviewers holding EM2s for the drench test…Much cheaper than shipping everyone to Iceland!

        • I agree with you. The trip to Iceland had me scratching my head. We did not get to test action for CAF, we did not get to do long exposures nor did we test for any kind of speed. Landscape is not the strong point of M 4/3. PLUS the weather was awful. GREY, COLD, WET and there was truly no good light to be had, which as we know, can lead to dull photos. This has many of us shooting in Art modes to pump up the excitement. In part two I will use it in scenarios I wanted to test it with. Action, Video, and testing IQ in good light. 😉

          • Does color wheel work with monochrome mode so you see effect in EVF for EM1 AND MKII
            Assumes MKII has color wheel.

          • Sounds like somebody from Olympus had Iceland on their bucket-list and wanted an excuse to go there! Will very much look forward to your Part Two review. Could an MFT camera be a serious contender as a stealthy extra body for weddings (silent shutter and 5 axis IS would be very useful in the church) and maybe even for daylight sports shooting? I’d love to hear your thoughts when you’ve had some more time with the EM2. Keep up the good work (when you’re over the jet-lag!)

          • I took an EM1 to Iceland and had no issue with the camera other than the small metal controls in the $#$%# cold weather. With numb fingers it got impossible really fast. Had me reaching for my good-ole NEX 7 with the Tri-Navi. 🙂 Maybe I needed better gloves…

          • It seems that they put the emphasis to demonstrate the toughness and weathersealing, which makes some sense to me. Strange though that they didn’t organize some action to demonstrate the focus tracking capabilities.

          • Grey dull light is what I long for as I shoot allot of fast glass the sun is the enemy eh

  69. Great write-up! What is going on with the blue cast on some photos, such as the first one with the horses? I’m looking at it on an iPhone, but the nose and eyelids are definitely blue.

  70. Wow … the bike and blue bag is the first shot I’ve seen coming from the 25 1.2 that looks very Nocticron-ish. Impressive rendering indeed.

  71. How it comes digital sensors seem having a tendency towards blue, Steve. Some of your samples, guess not PP, but specially the first big wave.

  72. Great review Steve, really enjoyed reading it. Loved the pics too. Ordered mine this morning, £1849 in the UK. Already had the 12-100 f4 on pre-order.

    • Just in case you are not aware if you preorder the camera and lens as a bundle you will receive £100 discount. I did that at WEX UK

  73. The image quality on the review piece from DPReview is just horrendous, but the ones from Steve’s piece are much much better.

    • Agree. DP Review images from the MK2 were so bad I cancelled my pre order. I’m not convinced they haven’t sacrificed IQ for speed. I have barely seen an image from this camera where the IQ has impressed. Which is a shame as I love the format, have an M1 and Pen F. Hope the production units have a more impressive IQ

  74. Thanks for the review Steve. A few nit picky questions:

    1. Did you get a chance to check if the new camera lets you set the Auto ISO from the extended base ISO (ISO Low)? The current ones do not let you choose ISO 100 as the min. ISO.
    2. Do they let you set a minimum shutter speed in Auto ISO mode ala Canon, Pentax, Fuji and Nikon?
    3. Does the camera choose a proper minimum shutter speed with the electronic shutter? (current one disregards the hackish min. flash sync and always goes to 1/8 sec before moving the ISO up)
    4. Did you feel any lag in AF while shooting slow moving subjects in Single Focus mode? DSLRs have no perceptible lag for example in parades when people are moving slowly towards the camera, while my Olympus (E-M1 and E-M10s) have a very short, but perceptible and sometimes annoying lag.
    5. Any chance shooting with any of the old FT lenses?


  75. Thank you for a great review. Looking forward to the next parts. Considering these images are all jpegs, I am impressed and can’t wait to see raw samples.

  76. As always great review, but help me understand why someone will pay 2k for this camera and not go for the nikon D500, which is also quite robust, not much bigger, has a huge ecosystem of lenses, (for sports or whatever you need), battery lasts a lifetime, bigger sensor, super af speed, and costs less…. yes if you have the em1, but moving from another system? Also em1s now can be found for as cheap as 500.

    • Buying a camera is a personal choice, but for me, here is why I would buy an EM2 over a D500 (In fact, I am doing just that).

      Size matters, and the body of the EM1 II is smaller and quite a bit thinner than a D500 or any DSLR, and better made/built. Pro Nikon glass? It’s much larger than the Olympus, and in most cases more expensive. Also, I prefer an EVF over OVF 100% of the time. I would say that the AF is as fast or close to the D500. It’s a more enjoyable camera to hold and use for me over any DSLR. Video will be better especially with the 5 Axis IS and lack of rolling shutter, touch screen swivel LCD, Lens quality of the latest pro glass is up there with the best you can get from any manufacturer, 5 AXIS IS, Nikon can not even touch it. Live Time, Live Bulb, Pro Capture, Build quality, the continuous Frame rate, etc. There are so many reasons to go with this over the D500 for me personally. 😉 Oh, and a D500 and 14-24 is MUCH larger and more expensive than an EM1 II and 7-14 Pro, and as far as, IQ is good from all cameras. This camera is capable of very high quality imaging, and aimed at the pro market.

      • Steve thanks for your reply, you have a point, (actually a lot of them). Indeed looks like a very enjoyable camera, but after my experience with mirrorles, (which I only use now), if I were to get one camera for sports and rough environments will be a dslr, maybe I just need to try the Olympus 🙂

      • But still you’re comparing d500 to em1 mk2 a 1800$ vs 2000$, aps-c vs m4/3. I don’t see how the 200$ are justified here… All the cute, in camera, tech is for jepeg anyway if you want serious results you still have to go with raw and PP. So the only thing that Olympus has going is it’s handling and the speed.
        Plus, one more thing to mention, olympus representatives were stating that em1 mk2 will be slightly more expensive than xt-2… Well I don’t think they know what ‘slightly’ really means…

      • I’m also in the market for a fast action camera. I’m already in both Nikon and Olympus systems, so this or the D500 are the only choices that make sense. But I’d also want another lens, either one of the 70-200’s for the Nikon, or the 40-150 or 12-100 for the Olympus. Tough choice. Both are very tempting.

  77. Unreal to see the post so quick after the embargo ended, so thanks a million! Also, quite devastated to see the price, the sound you hear from the great white north of Canada is my jaw hitting the floor when we see the conversion price.

          • Bit of a bargain on the conversion then. I went based off a direct exchange rate. Regardless almost 3k for Canadians.

          • Ouch. Considering my local camera shop is offering a Nikon D750 for 2250 CAD? I get the beauty and the niche of this camera but 600 dollars more MSRP than the previous model…

          • In Canada you can buy an A7ii for $500 less….$2000. Or for the same amount of money as the Olympus you would get a A7ii with the kit lens. This Olympus is just WAY overpriced unless you REALLY care about saving a bit more size/weight and a bit of AF speed.

    • Yup. I’m in Canada also, and my jaw hit the floor too after I saw Henry’s price. I understand this camera is amazing in many ways, and have used Olympus M43 for years now, but I cannot justify that price at all.

      Steve, excellent review as always, and thank you for all the work you do over and over again to bring us such excellence in the photography world. Much appreciated. Cheers.

      • It wouldn’t be a good business decision to join a crowded FF market (when you factor in Mirrorless and DSLR) and the fact that Nikon And Canon could join at some point. Why fight for a small fraction of the pie. Same reason Fuji never did FF. Not everything revolves around FF, it’s not the solution to all photography obstacles. Still need to worry about light, exposure, composition, etc. with FF you also have to concern yourself with having too shallow DoF.

        • Huh? Maybe misread my post, or are replying to someone else? I have used Olympus for years, love it, and not going to change at anytime soon to FF.

          Olympus camera’s excel in so many ways, as Steve said, the usability is one of my high priorities also. And now with the new 25mm, yikes, what a system. Gorgeous.

        • Here’s the problem: A m4/3 sensor that’s only negligibly better than its predecessor, for $2000, is a tough sell, no matter how you spin it. I’ve said this elsewhere before, but without a next-gen leap forward in sensor technology, I think m4/3 has hit a wall. The competition from larger sensor cameras is just too fierce right now. You can buy a Nikon D500 or D750 — which for most photographers will beat the Oly on almost every metric that really counts — and both are less expensive.

      • I’m in Canada too and I do admit that I was hoping for $2kcad price point but I hit the pre-order button yesterday. I’m working exclusively in outdoor/action(mountain biking) with the Mk1 and the original trio of pro-lenses so it felt like a no brainer for me to get the mk2. Almost everything I’ve placed or sold this year came off my Mk1 on backcountry trips where a small system was key so I hope the MK2 lives up the hype and retains that packable quality. Anyway, great review(as always) and can’t wait to get after it and leave that little tingle of buyers remorse behind me…or at least until the first invoice is processed.

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