Oxford School of Photography

insights into photography

Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark II: new camera with surprising ability

The Olympus OM-D E-M5 II – price tag £899.99 body only; release date late Feb 2015 – has been announced today, offering photographers the opportunity to create 40-megapixel images using its 16MP sensor.

I don’t quite know how they have done this, it seems like smoke and mirrors, maybe that is it.

ID: 17114

This new Olympus camera is able to offer this new functionality thanks to an enhanced 5-Axis Image Stabilisation system first introduced in its predecessor, the Olympus OM-D E-M5.

The OM-D E-M5 Mark II is able to capture 40-megapixel still images by moving its 16-megapixel LIVE MOS sensor between each shot and merging eight single exposures into one final image with detail and resolution far beyond the sensor’s normal capacity.

Normally used by manufacturers to counteract the effects of camera shake, Olympus has used this sensor shifting technology to create high-resolution composites that Olympus says rivals the quality of many full-frame cameras.

But it also eliminates camera shake, too. Olympus says the enhanced 5-axis Image Stabilisation system can eliminate shake in all five planes of movement, achieving the equivalent of 5 EV steps faster than shutter speed. And because the system is built into the body of the OM-D E-M5 II it will work with any lens, is what we learn from Digital Camera World

More information is available at DP Review

Olympus’s OM-D E-M5 II is, like its predecessor, a small, attractive and usable 16MP camera. In fact, at first glance it looks relatively unchanged. The most obvious additions are its more advanced movie capabilities and a clever multi-shot 40MP mode, but you have to look a bit more closely to see how much work Olympus has put into this new model.

How do you follow up a classic? A little more time is going to have to pass before the E-M5 can truly wear that mantle but I have little doubt that that’s the question Olympus’s engineers and product planners have been asking themselves. And, it must be said, it’s quite a challenge. Technology has moved forward since the first OM-D was launched but simply bringing the camera up-to-date risks feeling like a let down.

Sure enough, the E-M5 II doesn’t feel like as big a step forward as its predecessor was. But how could it be? Cameras such as the Sony’s a6000 and a7, and Samsung’s NX1 have raised the expected level of capability so far that it would be hard for any new model to represent as much of a breakthrough. Nonetheless, Olympus has probably done as much as it can to move things forward.

Close examination of the camera shows that almost every aspect of its design has been tweaked, refined and polished. Without access to a higher pixel-count sensor, it’s not obvious what else Olympus could have added to the Mark II.


Olympus E-M5 II key features

  • 16MP Four Thirds CMOS sensor
  • 40 MP multi-exposure mode
  • 1080/60p shooting and 1080/30p at up to 77Mbps (All-I)
  • 5-axis image stabilization in both stills and movie modes
  • 10fps continuous shooting, 5fps with AF
  • 1/8000th sec maximum shutter speed (1/16000th with electronic shutter)
  • Built-in Wi-Fi
  • Clip-on rotating, bounceable flash
  • The standout change for stills shooters is likely to be the 40MP multi-shot mode. This uses the camera’s sensor-shift system to move the sensor to eight fractionally different positions and create a high-resolution composite image from these eight exposures.

As digital photography and cameras continue to develop new and innovative ways of improving results step into the light every so often. These new innovations make us think wow I would like one of those but rarely do we actually stray from our preferred camera manufacturer. I still see classes on our excellent Understanding Your DSLR Camera where everyone has either a Canon or a Nikon. There is an very occasional Pentax, sometimes a Sony and less often still an Olympus but by a huge margin it is Nikon or Canon. We try to keep you up to date with new developments in cameras, do you remember last year we reported on the revolutionary Lytro. A camera so advanced that it allows you to refocus your image on the computer after you have taken the picture. Choose anything you want in focus in your image and it can be! If you don’t believe me here is a link to our post. Well I have never seen one, have never met anyone who has one or who has seen one. Will this be the case with this new Olympus, who knows? If the idea works and is a useful addition to the process of making images I guess Canon and Nikon will make their own version once they have figured out how to get around the patents.

So should you be considering changing all your gear for one of these? Personally I would wait to see how good it is, what problems with the moving sensor and then whether you actually need a 40mp camera. That will make a 120mb file! The Nokia Lumia 1020 phone has a 41mp camera, honestly who cares.

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