Tuesday, June 30, 2015

REVIEW: Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark II with 12-40mm f/2.8 PRO Lens–Crazy Sharp with Vibrant Colors (PART I of II)

Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark II Mirrorless Micro Four Thirds Digital Camera
Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark II Mirrorless Micro Four Thirds Digital Camera

I enjoyed the images I got with the original Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark I, so I was looking forward to doing the testing for this review of the Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark II. Like its predecessor, it is an extremely well built camera that now features a wealth of upgrades. Some of the big improvements include:

  • 1/8000 support (vs 1/4000 max previously)
  • Improved processor
  • Auto Image Stabilization (can be disabled)
  • 10 fps (vs 9) although the burst mode is now limited to 10 RAW (vs 17 previously)
  • More customizable buttons
  • Significantly improved LCD and Viewfinder
  • GPS with GeoTagging
  • More resistant to cold (-10 C or 14 F)

For this review I chose the incredible 12-40mm lens:

Olympus M. Zuiko Digital ED 12-40mm f/2.8 PRO Lens
Olympus M. Zuiko Digital ED 12-40mm f/2.8 PRO Lens

This is a very, very good lens that ranges from insane sharp to totally usable up to f/16 at any zoom length– I loved it!

My initial take is that if you liked the original OM-D E-M5 then you’ll love this one even more. If you didn’t, like the predecessor then little has been done to address its usability. I loved the feel in hand, but the controls – especially the LCD auto off and playback behavior – drove me insane.

Real World Samples

The following images come straight from in-camera JPEG’s using the camera default noise reduction settings. Most camera settings are the default with the exception of RAW+JPEG, a desired White Balance (only Shade or AWB), and a desired focus point.  The i-Enhance Picture Mode was used for most of these photos.

Click here for a full gallery of unedited images.

All images are copyright Ron Martinsen – ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. You may not save, print, edit, modify or otherwise use any images featured in this article or the gallery without expressed written permission.

f/4 @ 38mm for 1/1600 sec at ISO 200

Olympus has always been a great platform for flower photography and this is no different – wow!

f/4 @ 17mm for 1/80 sec at ISO 200

An obviously wide dynamic range means reds and oranges look very true to life

f/2.8 @ 12mm for 1/160 sec at ISO 200

Over and over again I found myself thinking “wow” at the colors that came out of this camera

f/16 @ 40mm for 1/100 sec at ISO 800

Even f/16 is nothing to sneeze at with this crazy sharp lens and sensor combo!

f/4.5 @ 40mm for 1/1250 sec at ISO 200

Yet another obvious overexposure but if you zoom into that fly you see that it’s a reasonable tradeoff for that level of sharpness for a shot that I literally only had one split second to take!

f/5 @ 40mm for 1/1250 sec at ISO 200

In great light in the hands of a photographer who uses AF points instead of face detection, it does well enough to make people think that this might be a good camera for parents…BUT…

f/4 @ 24mm for 1/200 sec at ISO 200

In my wife’s hands, with or without face detection, we got a vast number of blurry shots. As a result, my wife hated it pretty quickly and refused to use it for anything after all of the shots of Kai catching his first fish ended up blurry.

f/5.6 @ 25mm for 1/100 sec at ISO 200

Eye detection autofocus is brilliant – when it works

Click here for a full gallery of unedited images.


More to come in part II, but I can state now that this is obviously an excellent sensor and lens combo that are sure to please photographers who can master the Olympus system and quirks. I personally hated the usability of the rear panel controls, but the additional buttons and touch screen improvements made this version even better than its predecessor.

Fujifilm and Sony definitely have something to fear by what I’m seeing thus far in my testing, so if you are consider those brands then be sure to consider this as well – but only if you are an experienced photographer who likes lots of controls. This is definitely NOT a camera for soccer mom’s and amateurs.

See my final conclusion at REVIEW: Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark II with 12-40mm f/2.8 PRO Lens– (PART II of II).

Where to order

Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark II Limited Edition (Titanium)
Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark II Limited Edition (Titanium)

For Sale in mid-July

Click here to learn more or order at B&H. The cool new Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark II Limited Edition (Titanium) is also going to be available soon too. It looks pretty cool, but personally I’m still a big fan of the black model!

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