Andy Westlake puts Olympus’s super-fast mirrorless flagship camera through its paces

Product Overview

Overall rating:

Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II

Features:
Build/Handling:
Metering:
Autofocus:
AWB Colour:
Dynamic Range:
Image quality:
LCD viewfinder:

Pros:

  • + Extraordinary in-body image stabilisation system allows handholding at unprecedented shutter speeds
  • + Class-leading continuous shooting performance
  • + Impressive continuous autofocus and tracking
  • + Superb build quality and handling

Cons:

  • - Menus and configuration hugely over-complicated
  • - Image quality lags behind APS-C peers
  • - High price compared to its closest rivals

Product:

Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II review

Manufacturer:

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Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II Review: Autofocus

 

Olympus OM-D E-M1 II with 40-150mm f/2.8 Pro

The E-M1 II is designed for use with premium telephotos like this 40-150mm f/2.8

Olympus’s brand new 121-point hybrid AF system covers almost the entire area of the frame, with just the edges left untouched. You can choose between using a single focus point, groups of five or nine points, or letting the camera select its own focus area. Olympus’s usual face-detection modes are available, too, including the ability to focus specifically on your subject’s eyes. The focus area can be set using either the D-pad on the rear, or with the touchscreen, even when using the viewfinder. Impressively, the E-M1 II seemed able to ignore contact between my nose and the screen, which on most cameras would reset the focus point.

The E-M1 Mark II had no trouble holding focus on this eagle as it flew between two handlers 100m or more apart. 1/6400sec f/4 ISO 3200, 40-150mm f/2.8 Pro at 150mm

In extensive testing with the 40-150mm f/2.8 Pro lens, I’ve been impressed by the E-M1 II’s continuous-focusing capability. It has no problem at all holding focus on subjects moving either towards or away from the camera across long bursts of 40-odd frames, using either the electronic or mechanical shutter. Not every frame will necessarily be in pixel-perfect focus, but most would be usable if necessary. However, the camera will rapidly lose focus if the lens is zoomed during continuous shooting.

Tracking of subjects as they move around the frame works pretty well, especially with a relatively large and easily recognisable subject. It will, however, rapidly get confused when faced with small, erratically moving subjects against a complex background, such as with birds in flight. Hidden away in the menu is a ‘C-AF lock’ option with five settings from tight to loose, and setting this to tight can help in such situations. But its behaviour is rather ill explained and I can’t help but feel the camera would be better served by use-case options, as used by Canon and Fujifilm.

continuous-shooting

C-AF test: Composite showing four frames from a burst taken at 13-frame intervals

Above you can see the E-M1 II tracking focus on a train moving towards the camera, with thumbnails of the overall shots at the top and 100% crops below them. This is every 13th frame starting from the first, covering around 4 or 5 seconds of shooting using the electronic shutter. Here I enabled focus rather than speed priority, so the camera hasn’t shot at its maximum advertised rate, but closer to 10fps; but it’s kept the train in sharp focus throughout.

  1. 1. Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II review
  2. 2. Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II Review: Features
  3. 3. Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II Review: Build and handling
  4. 4. Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II review: Viewfinder and screen
  5. 5. Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II Review: Autofocus
  6. 6. Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II review: 5-axis in-body IS
  7. 7. Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II review: High-resolution composite mode
  8. 8. Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II review: Video
  9. 9. Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II review: Performance
  10. 10. Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II review: Image quality
  11. 11. Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II review: Our verdict
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