Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II Review

Professional Mirrorless Camera | Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II

Since its release in 2016, the Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II has quickly become a favourite amongst mirrorless camera enthusiasts. It supersedes the highly lauded OM-D E-M1, released in 2013. The newer model sees some pretty significant improvements from its predecessor, like a larger sensor, new processor, improved autofocus, plus higher video quality. A thing of beauty, the E-M1 Mark II is an entirely worthy continuation of the flagship model.


The Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II is slightly bigger than what I’m accustomed to, given I usually use the compact E-M10 Mark II or E-M5 Mark II. That’s definitely not to say it’s uncomfortably large, but the camera is edging towards the size of an entry level DSLR. There’s nothing entry level about it, though. In comparison to equivalent, full-featured, professional level DSLRs, the E-M1 Mark II is incredibly compact and light. From the moment you take the E-M1 Mark II out of the box, it looks and feels professional. The camera’s features and performance far outweigh any extra grams it carries over smaller models in the OM-D line. Without any lenses attached, the camera sits at around 570 grams.

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The E-M1 Mark II features a solid and comfortable grip. You can wrap your fingers all the way around it and never feel like it’ll slip out of your hand. The grip also helps it to feel really balanced when using Olympus PRO lenses with it; more so than with the E-M5 Mark II, E-M10 Mark II, and the PEN-F.

Like the E-M5 Mark II, the E-M1 Mark II is completely sealed, making it dustproof, splashproof, and freezeproof. It’s a hardy camera that you can feel safe taking into rough conditions. Your entire set-up will be weatherproof if you’re using Olympus’ PRO lenses too. Each of them is dust and splashproof, and some are also freezeproof. Even if you’re not taking your camera out into icy or wet environments all the time, it’s nice having the peace of mind knowing your gear is safe if it starts to rain.

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Autofocus & Continuous Shooting

The autofocus in the Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II is one of its biggest and best features. With a 121-point AF system, the camera is lightning fast and accurate, making it difficult to miss capturing fleeting moments. Moreover, the E-M1 Mark II offers sequential shooting at the highly impressive maximum of 60fps at full 20 megapixels. This is at a fixed focus point, so if you want AF to track your subject, you’re getting a maximum of 18fps. This feature is pretty incredible and in playback, looks as if you’re watching a video rather than a series of still images. I don’t do too much sequential shooting, but when I have tried it on the E-M1 Mark II, it’s performed really well. If you take a lot of sports or action photography, this feature would be ideal.

The below shots were taken with the Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II.

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The Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II also has a feature called Pro Capture, which is another way of ensuring you always capture the perfect moment. Pro Capture takes 14 shots when you half press the shutter, which makes up for any natural lag between seeing a moment and fully releasing the shutter.

Stabilisation & Video

With 5-axis stabilisation combined with electronic stabilisation, hand-held video footage from the E-M1 Mark II is incredibly smooth and steady. It’s also the first camera in the OM-D line to be able to shoot in 4k at 24p. It has inputs for a microphone and headphones, plus you can also connect an external monitor to it too. These all make it a really good option if you’re a vlogger and in need of a device that can take both professional level still photography and video.

Being no pro-videographer myself, you can check out some examples of its impressive performance here.

Dual Card Slots

One of my favourite features of the E-M1 Mark II is its dual SD card slots. You can customise the way you want to use the two slots i.e. have one card capture still photos only, while the other captures videos. Or only use one and then start on the second when the first is full. The way that I’ve been using them is by having one of the cards capturing just RAW images, and the other capturing JPEGs at the same time. I really like this setting as I shoot everything in RAW now in case we need it for print in the future. Plus, shooting in RAW gives me more room to edit if needed. Having JPEG as a back-up is really useful too in case anything happens to the first SD card. Plus, if I’m on location and the RAW card fills up, the JPEG one can still be written to as the files are much smaller. Moreover, the Olympus Share app only reads JPEG, so it’s good to have the option available if I need to quickly transfer images to my phone.

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Image Quality

As expected, the E-M1 Mark II captures some phenomenal images. Its 20M sensor makes for nicely detailed shots, which I’ve found has performed especially well when it comes to images with shadows in them. When I’ve brightened the shadows fairly significantly in Lightroom, there hasn’t been much noise. This is ideal when shooting indoors with sub par lighting, or when it’s quite contrasty. Evening out shadows and highlights isn’t a problem at all – especially when shot in RAW.

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When a scene calls for a more detailed shot, Olympus’ trusty High-Res Shot feature is ideal. What this does is deliver a 50M photo by having the camera move the sensor in tiny, half pixel increments capturing eight shots, and stitching them all together. While the E-M5 Mark II and PEN-F both also have High-Res Mode, the feature has been improved in the E-M1 Mark II. Where before, everything in shot would have to be perfectly still so there wouldn’t be anything blurry in the final image, the newer camera compensates for this with its new TruePic VIII image processor, mitigating blur from moving objects.

The Wrap Up – Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II Review

The Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II is a professional level camera of exceptional quality. Light and compact for what it is, the camera produces some truly beautiful still photography and video too. It’s a great option to consider if you’re looking for a professional level camera that doesn’t compromise quality for size.

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