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Thoughts on What We Know About the E-M5 MkII

The official release of the Olympus OM-D E-M5’s successor is just around the corner and there’s a lot of information flying around the internet already. Here’s what we know so far:

It’s going to be called the Olympus OM-D E-M5II

It will have the same 16MP sensor as the outgoing E-M5. This is a slight disappointment but not all that unexpected; a new sensor is most likely to appear in the next flagship model, which we can expect to take the form of the EM-1’s eventual successor when it arrives.

It will have an updated processor which should slightly improve the image quality. I’m assuming this is the same processor that’s in the E-M1/E-M10 so I wouldn’t expect a massive improvement over the Mark I EM-5.

No PDAF, this may disappoint some, but it won’t be something that the majority of users are likely to notice or take advantage of.

New sensor shift shooting that allows the camera to combine eight pictures to create a 40-Megapixel image; this is intriguing and I look forward to seeing what it can do. I do not imagine it will be much good for anything involving a moving target, but for landscape and still life photos it could be of great use if you’re looking to get a massive image and don’t want to carry around a top-end full-frame D-SLR or Medium Format camera.

There is a note of improved 5-axis stabilisation, which is always good to see. The stabilisation on the current line-up is pretty hard to beat so this just makes a good thing better.

It’s not great news for those who were looking for more video-capable features; it does have clean HDMI-out, but there is no 4K recording. It would seem that if you’re looking for the best M43 video option, Panasonic still has the best equipment on offer.

We’ve got a few leaked images of what it’s going to look like. As you can see below, we now have a fully articulated screen. I’m surprised it’s taken Olympus so long to do this; one thing I miss about my old Panasonic G3 was the flexibility that a fully-articulated screen gives you, and the tilt screen on the current E-M5 just doesn’t compare.

E-M5mkII Back
E-M5mkII Back
E-M5mkII - Top
E-M5mkII – Top

As you can see from the top image, the power button has been relocated to the side of the mode dial which should stop even the most careless user from accidentally flicking the power switch. There also appear to be more function buttons on the new model, with the initial button on the back just to the right of the viewfinder with a two-mode switch beside it – what this switch would be for I’m unsure. Then there are three more buttons on top – possibly a fourth, if the record button is also customisable like it is with the current E-M5. This looks like a nice progression for advanced users who like to have the option of customising their controls without having to rely on the menu screen to change settings.

E-M5mkII - Front
E-M5mkII – Front

The grip looks like it’s a little bit bigger than on the Mark II. I think a fairly common complaint among E-M5 users was that the standard grip was tiny. While this is fine when you are just using a small, light lens, if you put a large zoom or one of the F2.8 zooms on the body then you really need the additional grip to help you control the weight of the lens. It also looks like there will still be an addition grip that can be attached to give even more control, but hopefully the standard grip on the body will also be improved so this won’t be as much of a necessity as it is with the original E-M5.

E-M5mkII - Accessories
E-M5mkII – Accessories

The new battery grip looks very similar to the original. The flash is a bit bigger and features a tilting head; it’s not clear whether or not it swivels as well. I’m not sure if this is a new flash that will be sold separately or if it is a replacement for the flash that already comes with the camera. Anyone who owns the current EM-5 will know that the standard flash that is included is okay, but fairly limited. The waterproof housing looks pretty serious, incorporating its own built-in flash and a large lens opening which looks big enough for the 12-40 1:2.8. This could quickly become a good choice for divers as well.

Overall, I think the Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark II is a nice evolution from the current model. While I doubt many current E-M5 owners will be rushing out to trade up to the new model, it does have some attractive new features and the design looks to be slightly improved. I’ll be keeping hold of my E-M5 for now; although the Mark II does have some additional features I’d like to have, it’s not enough to justify the cost for me. Maybe when Olympus announces a successor to the E-M1 I’ll look at that. Hopefully by that time they’ll be ready to introduce a new sensor with reduced noise and improved dynamic range.

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