Olympus OM-D EM1 II: Another “Gold” award

Olympus OM-D EM1 II : As good as it gets

This weeks Amateur Photographer (AP) magazine has published a full test and review of the Olympus OM-D EM1 II and awarded Olympus’s top-end Micro Four Third (M43) mirrorless camera a “Gold Award”

AP’s verdict was also pretty straight forward:

” Its unarguable that the EM-1 Mark II is the best camera Olympus has ever made, it gives thye impression of being the best camera the firm could possibly make given current technology”

But equally AP conceded that the EM1 II couldn’t quite match the outright image quality of the best APS-C camera’s noting:

“While the EM1 II has very considerable strength, will they be sufficent to pesuade users to accept the Four Third sensor with its inevitable compromises in image quality? Its clear that it can’t match its APS-C peers when compared ISO for ISO

I’d only comment I’d add isĀ  that whilst this is true the image quality from the EM1 II is the best of any M43 camera and in a recent DxO lab test the EM1 II’s sensor only lag that of the very best APS-C sensor but a small margin.

For the vast majority of potential users / buyers the difference is too small to either notice or matter.

And then finally there’s the cost of the EM1 II and this is AP Magazine’s take:

“The EM-1 II isn’t the only recent camera to look expensive, the huge drop in the value of the pound against the Yen in 2016 has seen to that. But as a result tthe EM1 II finds itself in the uncomfortable position of costing more than some very capable competitors, such as the Nikon D500 (APS-C DSLR) , Pentax K1 (Full frame DSLR) or Fuji X-T2 (Mirrorless APS-C). But make no mistake the EM1 is a very fine camera too, and doesn’ feel out of place is such exalted company. Anyone looking for a fast, rugged yet lightweight camera, particularily for sports or action should add it to their shortlist”

Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II Review Image

My Take:

Personally the main reason I dumped all my Canon APS-C gear and committed myself to the Micro Four Third system were reasons of size, weight and access to some delightful optics.

I’ve always accepted that outright image quality form a M43 camera may never exactly match that from a high end APS-C DSLR or APS-C mirrorless camera but up to say 1600 ISO the difference is to my mind (and eyes) insignificant and not something to be too worried about.

The fact that the the likes of the EM1 II, PEN F and EM5 II have hugely capableĀ  in-body stabilisation and that the M43 system offers many fast primes and zoom lenses means more often than not you can avoid high ISO settings anyway.

All things considered serious M43 shooters and in particular Olympus users will be falling over themselves to get their hands on the new EM1 II whilst others thinking of entering the more serious digital photographic world are probably best advised to put the EM1 II, the Fuji X-T2 and Nikon D500 at the top of their list and go and physically try the cameras out.

The recent Panasonic Lumix GH5 M43 camera in fairness does confuse things a little but probably mostly for people who take video seriously.

For me personally as the owner of a clutch of M.Zuiko “Pro” zooms and a bag full of M.Zuiko fast prime lenses the Olympus OM-D EM1 II is a no brainer even at its high retail price”

Mark Baynham (January 2017)

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