The Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark II may at first glance look similar to its predecessor, but it's a very different camera underneath. Andy Westlake examines it in fine detail in our Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark II review
Build and handling
It can be easy to go overboard when talking about build quality, but here the E-M5 Mark II absolutely excels. There wasn’t much wrong with the E-M5, but the Mark II feels even more solid and better made, and it’s splash-, dust- and freeze-proof, at least with appropriate lenses. The one disappointment is the cover for the three connectors on the left side of the camera, which feels thin and flimsy. Once open it exposes all three ports, inevitably compromising weathersealing.
Handling is, quite simply, excellent, and a significant improvement on its predecessor. Indeed the Mark II has adopted essentially the same control setup as the flagship OM-D E-M1. Two large control dials change the main exposure settings, and are ideally placed under your index finger and thumb for easy operation. The exposure mode dial is lockable by pressing down the button in its centre, but can be left unlocked if you prefer – a nice touch.
I always felt that the E-M5 was a little short of buttons, and the Mark II addresses this by adding a couple more, which by default activate depth of field preview and HDR shooting. I don’t much like the HDR button, as it’s too easy to press accidentally, completely changing the camera’s set-up in the process. But like practically every control on the camera it’s user-customisable, so I set it to access ISO and white balance instead. I then changed the switch on the camera’s back that usually does this job to select between autofocus and manual.
The take-home message is that if you’re prepared to spend a bit of time tinkering, you should be able to set up the camera to your liking. But the complexity of Olympus’s menu system, combined with some far-from-obvious labelling, means that there’s a very long learning curve to fully master the camera.
It’s worth bearing in mind that the E-M5 Mark II is, at 123.7 x 85 x 44.5mm, a fairly small camera, and much closer in size to the OM series 35mm SLRs from which it draws design inspiration than it is to modern DSLRs. It also has a rather minimalist hand-grip, which helps to maintain a small-camera feel. Personally I quite like it, but I suspect many users will prefer to use one of the add-on grips that are available.