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

Product Overview

Overall rating:

Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark II

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

Pros:

  • - Excellent JPEG image quality
  • - Fast, responsive operation
  • - Robust, weather-resistant body
  • - Almost all controls can be customised to suit the user

Cons:

  • - Complex menus are difficult to master
  • - Connectors interfere with articulated screen
  • - Raw image quality can't quite match larger sensor cameras

Product:

Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark II review

Manufacturer:

Price as reviewed:

£899.00 (body only)

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Performance

Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark II peppers

In its default Natural colour mode, the E-M5 Mark II gives lovely colours which are vivid without being unnatural

So how about image quality? Well in 16MP mode the Mark II behaves much the same as other current Olympus models. The TruePic VII processor brings some image-processing advantages compared to the old E-M5, most notably automatic removal of colour fringing due to the lens’s lateral chromatic aberration, but aside from that, the output is much the same as before.

On the plus side, this means you get Olympus’s usual excellent JPEG processing. In its default ‘Natural’ mode the Mark II gives lovely saturated colours that are vibrant but not unrealistic, and its auto white balance tends to the warm side, giving a lift to even the dullest day. Noise reduction is a little heavy-handed by default, though, and personally I turn the ‘Noise Filter’ setting down to maximise detail rendition.

If you’re looking for something a little different, Olympus’s Art Filters offer some attractive alternative image processing options. Personally I’m a fan of the high contrast monochrome ‘Grainy Film’ mode,  and the new ‘Vintage’ filters also give some interesting results. Crucially Olympus gives you more control over how the images turn out than many of its competitors, and you can shoot Raw files alongside in case you change your mind.

Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark II Grainy Film portrait

This portrait comes straight out of the camera, using Olympus’s atmospheric ‘Grainy Film’ Art Filter

The 16MP resolution may not sound to great on paper when most APS-C competitors are around the 24MP mark, but it’s important to keep this in context. It’s still plenty enough to make a nice A3 print, which I suspect is the largest most photographers will contemplate. And if you need more, there’s always the 40MP composite mode.

When it comes to high ISO noise, the Mark II also lags a little behind its APS-C competitors when compared like-for-like. I’m perfectly happy shooting it up to ISO 1600, and ISO 3200 at a push, but beyond that image quality clearly suffers, with noise reduction impacting on fine detail and little shadow detail to be seen. With most APS-C models I’d be happy shooting at a stop higher ISO.

If you’re after the very best in resolution or low noise, then, the Mark II may not be for you. But to me the gap against APS-C isn’t huge in practice, and frequently negated by the impressive image stabilisation system, which lets you use longer shutter speeds and lower ISOs. The availability of reasonably affordable fast prime lenses also helps, and lenses like the Panasonic 20mm f/1.7 and Olympus 45mm f/1.8 are so small you can carry them around all day without really noticing.

  1. 1. Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark II at a glance
  2. 2. Features
  3. 3. Viewfinder and screen
  4. 4. Build and handling
  5. 5. Focusing
  6. 6. Performance
  7. 7. 40MP composite mode
  8. 8. Image quality
  9. 9. Dynamic Range
  10. 10. Detail and Noise
  11. 11. Conclusion
  12. 12. Page 12
Page 6 of 12 - Show Full List
  • Richard Anderson

    In reality, the 40MP mode’s resolution is about 50MP and is clearly better than the Nikon D810, if you directly compare them. The file stipulates 63MP, it’s size that is.
    All you need to do is run one sharpening pass in whatever program you use.