My Camera of the Year 2016. The Olympus EM1 MKII takes the Prize.

My Camera of the Year 2016. The Olympus EM1 MKII takes the Prize!

By Steve Huff

Order the E-M1 MKII at B&H Photo HERE or Amazon HERE.


Hello everyone!

Another year is passing us by and 2016 provided us with many new mirrorless camera releases. Some were good, some were great… but to me only one “HAD IT ALL” with its amazing build, speed, technology, fantastic lenses and features. I knew the Olympus EM1 MKII was special the moment Olympus handed me a bag loaded with one and a few lenses when I was in Iceland this year. The size, the feel, the design, the haptics and the usability are just about perfect but that is only the beginning of what this camera offers.

Two with my fave M 4/3 lens ever, the Olympus 25 f/1.2 Pro

click e’m for larger

Olympus has come such a long way since the original 4/3 E1 (who remembers that one)?

The original 4/3 E-1. I loved this thing back when it was released..

I loved that E1 so much, and used it every day back when it was new. The performance at the time was superior to anything else I had tried, and it just worked so well. Today though, Olympus has created a camera that is so far beyond that original E1 it is a little bit scary, and amazing at the same time. In the past many were suspicious of investing into 4/3 or even micro 4/3 due to the smaller sensor. Some trashed the system, some praised it but all who really sat down to use it knew something good was brewing within these cameras that were being developed. When the EM1 MkI was released I saw quite a few pros switching over to Olympus from Nikon, Canon and others. What drew so many to the EM1 was the pro rock solid build, the 5 Axis IS, the weather sealing, the speed, the lenses and the performance that to me, and I said it back then in my EM1 review, stood toe to toe with ANY APS-C camera.

More with the lovely 25 1.2 – Click them for larger!

When I used the new MKII in Iceland, the weather was cold, the skies were grey and dreary, and the elements we subjected the cameras and lenses to were extreme to say the least. The MKII I was using was pelted with sleet, rain and snow. I dropped it twice, the lenses were soaked to the core and yet it never ever gave me a hiccup. It just kept shooting. The resulting images portrayed exactly what I experienced in Iceland..grey, dreary and wet 😉

Now that I have an EM1 MKII here at home, I have been evaluating it further and it just impresses me more and more. With the pro lenses like the amazing 7-14, 12-100, 25 f1.2 and others there truly is nothing this camera can not do. With the 5 Axis in this guy along with the new 12-100 lens I have seen some handhold a shot for 5 seconds. I managed 2 seconds but my hands are not as steady as they used to be. The EVF is brilliant, the speed phenomenal, the AF tracking as good as I have seen, and the dynamic range is as good as most other cameras I shoot with. With the new 25 f/1.2 we can now get shallow DOF with M 4/3 and it’s truly one of the best primes I have ever shot with. I proclaimed it the new “Bokeh King” in my review. Not for the amount but for the quality.

The 25 f/1.2..such a lovely lens. My review is HERE. 


The EM1 MKII today can be used by amateur, enthusiast or pro and with the long life of this series it is a camera that can be with you for a long long time. Many still use the EM1, as its just as good today as it was yesterday. The new MKII steps it up in all areas.

Truth be told, I think Olympus really needed this camera and I am happy they forged on and created it. With the review accolades mounting it is apparent that this camera is one to be reckoned with. Looks like Sony finally has some mirrorless competition this year 🙂

Click images for larger and better view

In any case, this is my 2016 pick for best camera of the year, and for me it was no contest. I feel no other camera released this year can touch it for EVERYTHING, as a package. It’s versatile as all get out, the 4K cinema HD video is phenomenal, the speed is as good as it gets, the size of the lenses and system are indeed smaller and lighter than pro DSLR’s and the lenses, especially the pro line are up there with the best lenses ever made. No lag here…response is king. The only knock one may have against it is that this system is never going to be as good in really low light as a full frame sensor. Then again, there is no full frame sensor camera on earth that can perform to the speed and response level of the EM1 MKII.

KEEP IN MIND, I do not review DLSR’s these days, so I concentrate on mirrorless, hence no DSLR’s were under consideration by me for this slot.

I will be continuing my evaluation of the EM1 MKII, and will have my part 2 of the review soon 😉 Stay tuned. Even so, I know enough to say that for me, no other camera released in 2016 delivered the goods quite like this one did.


Previous cameras of the year

2015 Camera of the Year – Leica SL

2014 Camera of the Year – Sony A7II

2013 Camera of the Year – Olympus EM-1

2012 Camera of the Year – Sony RX1



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  1. Hi Steve – Big fans of your blog and definitely always my go-to site when it comes to camera and lenses review for MFT system.

    I have been using OMD EM-5 mark I for few years now and lately have the itch to upgrade my camera system. The current camera kept me wanting for more.. so now i am debating between a7ii or OMD EM-1 mark II camera. I was looking for the comparison between the two but couldn’t find it in your site (or maybe i missed it!). Any thoughts on the two? My main consideration for a7ii is mainly because the sensor is full frame and i thought it might be better.

    Never tried the a7ii before but my friend’s pictures turn out beautiful even at low light. And OLY.. well.. it’s OLY, feels like i can not go wrong with OMD series. Appreciate if you have some insight on this one!

    Thanks in advance!

    • Well, the A7II will be quite a bit slower to AF, not built to the same level, and will not compete with the 5 Axis in the EM1 MKII for IS. The Olympus will be made better, faster in all areas, and is a pro body. The Sony will offer you better IQ, richer IQ, extended DR and allow you to use many lenses via adapters while retaining the lens character. I own both ; )

  2. I personally use a mule and a pack horse to bring my 20 lb. box camera with removable 8″ plates to remote sites. My quality is about 50 times better than you full frame guys can get.
    It seems that everyone forgets everything is relative, isn’t it? 4/3 and APS-C to my mind mark a wonderful meeting point of functionality and size. The recent Panasonic 100-400 lens on a 4/3 camera is a great example of that.
    Will a full frame camera have a better picture with less noise in low light situations? Yes, it will. But if 99 out of 100 pictures I take with my 4/3 Olympus are good enough for excellent prints up to some giant size like 28″ x 36″ (which they will never be), do I care? No I don’t.

  3. After two days of vacation landscape and birding shooting, I’m very impressed with the E-M1 mk2 and with the Panasonic/Leica 100-400mm. I shoot both the Sony A7 series and Olympus MFT. I don’t mean to make a detailed report but just say this camera has greatly exceeded my expectations in image quality as well as handling. It deserves “Camera of the Year”.

  4. Hi Steve,

    I’m thinking on going micro 4/3 and Olympus for that matter. Currently have a Canon 1D setup and a wonderful OM-4 Ti that I use occasionally for film. And I now want a smaller digital setup, as the Canon setup is making me shoot less and less, due to its size. How would you compare the m1 mk2 with the pen-f for an advanced amateur in street, landscape and portrait shooter? Many thanks. José

  5. Weird. Both the pic with the two cute girls and the one with the dogs has very coarse, grainy bokeh in the out of focus areas. Oversharpened or is that noise grain?

  6. The OM-D E-M5 MkII seems to be a fantastic camera, as per numerous reviewers. No question at all in my mind that 4/3 can produce truly professional images. I would note, one thing, however, which would give me pause from purchase: a couple pics above (leaf pic and dog pic) exhibit serious CA. Correct me if I am wrong. I know that many, if not all, cameras, can exhibit same given high contrast edges, particularly with brighter lighI behind an object. I just wonder if 4/3 is more susceptible than larger sensors.

    • I think CA depends on various factors just the sensor size. Registration distance – lens design etc, lens coatings and Focal length – can all contribute to the way light hits the sensor.

      I am no expert, but I think lenses play a more important role than the sensor size – in that case m43 have many excellent lenses.

  7. I followed your reviews on it.
    It was nearly having been in Iceland.
    But I know about your love for the Pen-f and that was just my thought before them, in the case of going for another one.

  8. Looking in to DXOm scores for MK-1, i see it had 12.7 EV DR.
    Has MK-2 more DR or not, but why only 12bit raw. Fuji X-T2 will give 14bit RAW but i doubt it has 14 EV DR compared to Sony sensors, even more so in video.

    If they have close enough DR, i would pick up Olympus with easy of mind. Not a fan of Fuji lenses anyways. 17,5 mm / F 0,95 Nokton fits well for video.

  9. Hi Steve,

    I plan on ordering an EM1 MK2 in the comming days (my 1st Micro 4/3 camera). However I am torn between ordering it with the 12-40mm 2.8 Pro or the 12-100mm 4.0 IS Pro. In truth I do not need the extra focal length of the latter in daily use, but the in lens IS is of some interest as I hate carrying a tripod when travelling. With that in mind which do you think is a better all rounder?

    Cheers, Sam

    • The added IS isn’t a huge deal in my opinion. It’s 6.5 stops with the Mark II and the 12-100, it’s 5.5 stops with other lenses. 1 added stop isn’t that big a deal in my opinion.

  10. Love the site, Steve and you enthusiasm! M43 continues to be the best system for me. Fuji looks interesting but the lack of in-body stabilization now or, according to Fuji, at any time in the future makes it less desirable to me. I’ve come to rely on the 5-Axis for handheld video shooting. Sony has the same issue as Nikon in regards to APS-C with the need to purchase bigger, heavier, full-frame lenses.

    It looks like the E-M1 mark II takes care of the two issues I have had with the original with is a stop better low-light, deeper buffer and better C-AF. Unfortunately, the price point puts it off as a future purchase for me.

    Honestly, you can produce excellent images with any of the current systems out there and much of this comes down to personal preference, taste, or personal need.

  11. Interesting pick, let’s do the math:

    Omd Em1 ii = 2k
    25mm f1.2 = 1.2k
    combined weight = 984 gm.
    total = 3.2k

    Nikon d750 = 1.8k
    50mm f1.4 = 220
    combined weight 940 gm.
    total = 2.2k

    Oly wins camera of the year.

    D750 is superior to Oly in every way except for size. Well, at least Oly weighs less. Wait.

    • Yes Oly wins camera of the year for MY site. You must have nor read the article…where I talk about DSLR’s. Ugg. Read people, read. Thank you. With that said, I’d never take a D750 over an EM1 MKII. Id never use it. That defeats the whole purpose of owning a camera. If you love DSLR’s so much why are you on my site that never reviews DSLR’s? THAT is the question.

    • With Oly your are getting a very different type of camera with much better built quality. I don’t think that it’s fair to compare it with a dslr.

    • I owned a full frame Nikon DSLR and there are SEVERAL areas where a DSLR is definitely not superior. Awesome face detection in Olympus cameras allows me to nail focus virtually every time with wide open apertures. M43 lenses tend to be sharp wide open and in the corners because of the ground-up system design. No front or back focus as with DSLR lenses requiring calibration charts.

      WYSIWYG shooting with the EVF. I find this invaluable for paid event photography where you MUST nail the shots and may have limited time. 5 axis,IBIS and EVF for video shooting blows any DSLR out of the water with the mirror lock up, rear LCD nonsense. Superior manual focus with peaking, magnify and the lens clutch on some Olympus lenses.

      Overall, lenses tend to be less expensive. Price the Nikon trinity vs the Olympus version and it is much less expensive and every bit as good.

      There are also loads of other features that keep coming with firmware updates whereas DSLR’s are kind of at an end of the line technology wise with very minor, incremental updates.

    • D750 was released a few years ago, so not possible to win Camera of the Year for 2016.

      What areas does the E-M1 II better the d750? Touch screen, video, IBIS, etc.

    • “D750 is superior to Oly in every way except for size. Well, at least Oly weighs less. Wait.”

      Really in every way ?

      How about stabilisation?
      Live composite?
      Bulb Time?
      Hi res?
      Weather sealing?

  12. camera and lens is a pakage,Whats the best pakage for landscape photography?(APS-C and M4/3)

    What do you think?Steve

    Thank you!

  13. @Steve: Maybe could you ask Neil Buchanan to submit an article? No doubt he has his mits all over this one! He is a master and makes m43 sing. Anybody doubting that m43 is not a professional format should check out his work.

  14. Hi I’m a big fan on 4/3 system but I need a honest answer is EM1 MKll is good or FujiFlim TX 2 for landscape photography.

    • Well Fuji fans will say Fuji. Only fans will say Oly or either. Go with your personal choice. Which one inspires you the most? For some it will be Fuji, others Olympus, Sony, or whoever 😉 Me, I would buy the EM1 II over the Fuji any day of the week. Others, would buy a Fuji. It’s all a personal preference and unless you are printing 20X30 prints and viewing from an inch away it really doesn’t matter. It’s more about color. Fuji usually wins the color arguments but for me they do not win the resolution or micro contrast contest. They fall flat for me compared to others. BUT again, thats me, my eyes, my thoughts. Also, the EM 1 MKII is the most over engineered camera I have ever used. It’s pretty amazing what it can do. The new lenses are some of the best I have ever used or tested as well. Maybe rent both and try for yourself to see what you like. That’s my best recommendation.

      • Just to add to Steve’s comment – Fuji’s output can range from very good with the latest lightroom update to outright phenomenal dependant on the external raw developer that you use. If you want the maximum detail and most micro-contrast that the sensor tech offers (it’s definitely there and potentially even more so than with regular 24mp sensors) then you need to use an optimized developer such as Iridient Developer to really pull out the magic and unique look that is there. See this excellent article here. :
        This is a deal breaker for many as most don’t really want the hassle to go outside of the Lightroom Workflow. Similarly with foveon, great tech but many would be put off because you cannot process in lightroom. That’s not to say the XT2 is crap in lightroom – it’s not. Just to really make it sing I feel that you need to go outside to Capture One 10 or Iridient Developer and that probably rules out 90% of people right there.
        With the EM1 given that it is bayer , it is already fairly optimized for lightroom.
        I think as an all round camera the EM1 ii is a phenomenal camera and I’d be happy using either the EM1 or XT2 for paid work. Both are excellent, both have great lenses, both have lovely colours – pick your poison.

        • Hi Tom, I agree on your comments regarding the Fuji Files and Iridient developer, but I would like to add that the Olympus EM5 mk 2 files (and I imagine the new EM1 mk 2 will also) respond incredibly well to the controls in Iridient. I’m a long term user of Lightroom and Iridient (8yrs) plus other RAW apps, mainly Raw Therapee and RPP64.

          Of them all Iridient gives the most high resolution appearance and RPP64 the best tonality and most analogue look and Lightroom produces the lowest overall level of image quality, but its still very good, I am not saying its a dud app at all, on the other hand Lightroom is very convienient.

          They all give a different look so that leaves me with four points to make:

          Most of the arguments people make about image quality(noise/detail) based on just using Lightroom are not always valid for other applications, the Fuji cameras are a classic case in point, but it holds true for Bayer sensor cameras too.

          Two: Changing your Raw developer app and processes will probably liberate a bigger improvement in image quality than just changing cameras.

          Three: Most of the arguments once you are shooting RAW relation to colour rendering and tonality are moot, if you choose the right RAW developer app and know how to drive it you can get whatever you want. The initial results that most people see are just the pre-canned look that s been built into the app.

          Ultimately what probably matters more (at least to me) is how the camera handles and what it can do, the image quality stuff is more a product of matching the RAW app to the Camera image characteristics. So that em1 mk2 really really appeals!

          In the end however I well understand as you say that many people just don’t want to go outside the Lightroom workflow, which is of course fine.

          PS: If anyone wants to send me some really good files from the EM1 mk2 I would be happy to run them optimally through an array of convertors and write up a little comparison for this site, sadly I can’t see myself having one of those babies for a few months.

          • Brad, as you rightly suggest LR apppears to be the RAW developer that is is used by most and gives the ‘best’ result for most (but not all) cameras. As changing RAW developers is a drag to most, that sort of biases against changing to systems like Olympus and Fuji.
            In that sense approaching system choice from the developer side is sensible.

            This of course only applies to people shooting RAW; shooting Jpegs sooc is a different matter.

  15. Isn’t it great that we have all these great cameras to choose from. The other day I went to a local shop and compared the Nikon D500, OMDEM1.2 and the Fuji XT2. For sports and wildlife the Nikon is clearly the way to go, just a beast. For mirrorless and high speed Oly seems the choice but for the enthusiast who doesn’t need the high speed of the Oly and Nikon the Fuji seems perfect. I know that you’re not the biggest Fuji fan, but I have to say that the XT2 is as revolutionary as anything out today.

    • Exactly my thought. I own an E-M1 and a variety of lenses for it but I noticed that most of my photos in 2016 were some type of sport. So I wound up buying the D500 this month along with the Tamron 70-200mm. I’ll be getting the Nikon 200-500mm soon and hope to finish off with maybe a 17-55mm next year before I look at replacing my E-M1 with the Mark II.

      I stayed away from the XT-2 because I am of the belief that if I’m going to have a mirrorless camera, I want a touchscreen and IBIS. Otherwise, whats the point?

  16. Hello Steve for you it is the Olympus O-MD E-M 1 MK2.

    Bud for Me it is the Olympus O-MD E-M MK1.
    Suxxes whit your Camera.


    • I love the MK1 but this is for my camera of the year 2016. The EM1 MKI was not released in 2016, so therefore could in no way be the pick. I have to choose from cameras released this year, not 3 years ago 😉

      • I’m with you Richard and you can pick up Steve’s 2013 camera of the Year and the superb 12-40mmPRO, both for $1,299. The best camera value of the year IMO 😉

        • Hello Scott thanks i pick mine Olympus O-MD E-M10 MK1 last month whit 25mm Lumix and 12mm-50mm zoom and this month i bought the 75-300mm zoomlens Olympus lenses.

          The both zoom lenses i bought 2é hand by the Photo Camera dealers.
          And in my Eys mft rules.

  17. Excellent choice! The A6500 is also an excellent picture maker but too damn ugly and looks like a toy. God help the industry if Olympus decides to build an E-M2 Full frame camera or MF for that matter. Happy Holidays!

  18. I’d like to get my hands on one of these. Contrary to Steve’s opinion, no m43 camera has been able to touch Fuji APSC in terms of ISO and colors in my hands. And since I’m mostly a S-AF kind of shooter the speed is not at the top of my list of requisites. But if m43 has finally evolved fundamental IQ I would love to take advantage of all the stellar lenses the format offers.

  19. Couldn’t agree more, Steve. I shoot the E-M1 and the pen F with the three pro zooms and 60 macro. Considered selling all and going Fuji (e..v..e..r..y..b..o..d..y si going Fuji 😉 ), but realized that I have a great system in my Olympus equipment. I’ll be getting the MKII and either selling my E-M1 or converting it to IR 690nm. Love Olympus.

    Happy Holidays to the guy who gives us sooooo much on this website. Thanks!

  20. I second your nostalgia for the E1. It always got such terrible reviews, which meant that I paid almost nothing for it and used it for many years and thousands and thousands of photos. Certainly, it didn’t stack up in low light, but I’m still amazed at some of the photos I was able to get with it. Perhaps, it had something to do with the quality of the Olympus lenses. It was just such a solid camera and the weather sealing meant I could take it anywhere. I have some photos from the Arctic that I took when it was -40 and, although a little slow, it still worked! I used to just throw it in the snow without a second thought, because, hey, I could get another body for just a few hundred dollars. I had friends with much “better” cameras, but being able to carry my camera worry free in mud and snow meant that I had at least as many keepers.

  21. From what I can tell, I’d say you’re right, even taking into account the new DSLRs.There has been no real progress with DSLRs, but that’s not surprising, as they’re all legacy platforms. It’s as if Apple was still making and updating OS 9 today.

    I’d be surprised if a majority of sports photographers are still using DSLRs after a few years from now, considering how good these Micro 4/3 bodies are. But sport isn’t my area of expertise.

    On the other end, you have mirrorless medium format, which is probably going to displace both the high resolution DSLRs and digital backs. But that’s another story, and one which will really only begin in 2017.

    • A lot of people have the opinion, like yourself, that there has been no real progress with DSLRs, which is wrong. Canon, in their latest cameras like the 5D mk 4 have an absolutely brilliant camera with a very advanced sensor. Correct in that it is still a DSLR using a mirror box and pentaprism, but now has live view and dual pixel AF which is brilliant for video and, with the touch screen, pull focus and instant AF for stills. It also has intelligent meeting which prevents dark exposures under strobe lighting.
      The Olympus EM1 ii is also a brilliant camera and for Steve, his camera of the year, but it has a small sensor which will never match a larger sensor for low light. I use m4/3 with my E-P5, which I use for travel, but when cost is factored in, the Oly with top quality lenses is an expensive system and I will be sticking with DSLRs for my next upgrade, hopefully the Canon 5D mk 4, especially now Canon are re-engineering their L series lenses and have filed patents on new primes. Canon and Nikon do not stand still and are still top dogs for pro shooters.

    • In order for mirrorless to replace dSLRs for action, they’ll have to solve the EVF blackout. When using an EVF, you are seeing a digital representation of what the camera sees. When that subject is moving, the camera has to process that and show it to you again. There is a lag in that. One day, that will be fixed. But its not quite there yet. In a dSLR, you have an OVF. You are basically looking through a window and seeing the subject as it is.

      I’d say an EVF that can truly replace OVF for action photography is probably about 5 years away. But yes, dSLRs will go away at some point. I remember when they said digital wouldn’t replace film. What did it take? 10-15 years to relegate film to a niche status.

  22. Hi steve, I read your blog since 2012 !Big fans!
    I like travelling, Street photography, also Landscape photos. Now I have the A7+35 2.8 lens, it has the great IQ ,but I find it too slow, and I need Silent shutter sound in some situations. A7ii+Zoom lens is too heavy.
    EM1ii is great, My budget is limited, it is too expensive for me .
    I am considering a6300 or em1,me5ii. Is the M4/3 has the great IQ and dynamic range for landscape photos?what do you think?

    • µ4/3 is great for landscape. With the OM-D E-M5 MkII, you get a 40Mp hi-res mode that can often work. Otherwise, the 16Mp sensor is fine for even 20×24 prints. Dynamic range? All sensors today have far more dynamic range than a print. You are going to be served well by µ4/3. Add the increasing line of amazing Pro lenses to any Olympus camera, and the system is hard to beat at any level for general photography.

      I shoot a 20Mp Pen F and I had a Pen E-P5 for years prior to that. Really, the µ4/3 cameras are capable of stunning results in the hands of a real photographer.

      I also have a Fuji X70 APS-C compact. What a darling of a camera; image quality and film simulations are to die for! But I’m firmly in the µ4/3 camp for an ILC system.

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