Mount Rip in winter, a slightly snowy field in the foreground. Photograph created with the Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II.
Martin Mojzis / Fine Art Photography and Graphic Art Atelier.



April 16, 2018.
Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II is compact digital camera with interchangeable lenses, electronic viewfinder and 20 Mpx image sensor Sony CMOS Micro 4/3 size.

Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II camera on a Gitzo tripod.

After reviewing the photographies in the previous articles devoted to the three different lenses, you probably have a fairly accurate opinion about images, which this camera is creating.

When using the Adobe Standard profile, colors are fine to pastel, quite natural and mostly clean. Manufacturer profiles then adjust the saturation, often the shades of color and the overall contrast.

Automatic white balance is mostly true, of course, could have been wrong by the dominant colors in scene. When white color preference is on, relatively precise balance tungsten and LED light with color temperature about 3200 K. Significantly fails in the light of sodium lamps, that reproduce more saturated and more into the yellow-green tones. Under certain circumstances, such as often when the sky is cloudy, images are with an unpleasant yellow-green tone, which is difficult to repair. This affliction affects most of the cameras fitted with Sony image sensors.

White round containers at a chemical factory. Photograph created with the Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II. White round containers at a chemical factory. Photograph created with the Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II. White round containers at a chemical factory. Photograph created with the Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II. ↑ Unavailing attempts about at least a bit of a usable image. The top image is only cropped and levelled, in other ways not corrected photograph with Adobe Standard profile. In the middle is the edited picture, it still is not right. Below just for completeness the test of another white balance.

Entry/exit from the railway station at night. Photograph created with the Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II. Entry/exit from the railway station at night. Photograph created with the Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II. Roztoky near Prague railway station, station building and tracks. Photograph created with the Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II. Roztoky near Prague railway station, station building and tracks. Photograph created with the Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II. ↑ Failing automatic white balance. The first and third photographs are unedited, the second and the fourth after corrections. Sodium lamps are probably troublesome for all cameras with Sony sensors.

The dynamic range is sufficient in most situations. RAW has a reserve of approximately 1 EV in shadows and lights compared to JPG, from which the histogram displayed on the camera display is created, of course depending on the situation. Shadows can be easy lightened, disturbing artifacts appear only in heavily underexposed parts.

Contrast and detailcontrast are rather lower, depending on the light situation. Microcontrast of 25 mm 1:1.2 lens this problem partially eliminated.

Fine luminous noise is evident at ISO 200, but does not interfere and its character remind of the film grain. Helps the image's spatialnes and partially "increases" the lower detailcontrast. Photographies created with ISO 6400 are usable, if we do not mind the significant noise, its character is quite aesthetic. Overall, the noise is less, than we expected from sensor approx. 40% smaller than APS-C. It's also good, that the manufacturer has not used too much internal RAW noise reduction, so the photographies do not waste fine details.

Broken tiles aligned in the window. Photograph created with the Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II. Tile texture close up. Photograph created with the Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II. ↑ IN THE CHAPEL. Focal length: 40 (80) mm, exposure time 1/80 second, aperture f/2.8, ISO 6400.
Second photograph is crop from 100% size at 150 dpi.
Because of the small dimensions of the sensor, the amount of noise is acceptable.

Built-in corrections of distortion and chromatic aberrations lens defects - a very useful thing, if you do not use Lightroom or other programs, that can do it. The only drawback is, that the distortion correction is always applied, even when it is not needed. For example, if we photograph natural structures, fallen leaves etc., also the more distorted image will not be disturbing and we will not have to damage the quality of the corner image areas. Given that, for example, the 24 mm focal point of the 36 mm film is about 12 mm of the 4/3 system, I'm afraid the repairs will be quite extensive here. Sad, probably it will be not a big problem to allow in menu turn off these corrections. Perhaps the manufacturer will be inspired, at least by the successor of this model, designed primarily for experienced photographers.

I like a 4:3 aspect ratio. It's closer to the square and it comes to me more creative and inspirational than the regular 3:2, which comes from a 36 mm film field. Aspect ratio can be set, eg. forementined 3:2 or 1:1 – the camera then displays a scene in that aspect ratio both in the viewfinder and on the rear monitor and a corresponding clipping path is inserted into the RAW. This clipping path can be edited or completely disabled in the, e.g., Lightroom. This will give us full, 4:3 image back again, if necessary.

Image sensor Sony IMX 270 is CMOS type. Dimensions 18 × 13.5 mm (diagonal 22.5 mm), active field is 17.3 × 13 mm (diagonal 21.6 mm). The surface of the sensor is approximately 220 mm2. Before the sensor is located a dust shake filter. AA filter is not used.

The total number of pixels is approximately 21.77 million, of that effective approximately 20.37 million. Color information is retrieved using Bayer mosaic. The actual (non-interpolated) sensor resolution therefore corresponds approximately 6.7 Mpx, after subtracting points used for autofocusing even less.

AD converter is only 12-bit. Standard is long time 14 bit, some medium format digital backs uses 16 bit. Interestingly, perhaps the best quality converter in digital camera, at least in terms of bit depth, has the Pentax K10D, introduced in the year 2006 – 22 bit/channel.

Sensor native sensitivity is equaling ISO 200 – 25 600. Is possible to set lowest ISO 64.

The sensor moves in five axes, respectively floats in a magnetic field. This helps both to effectively stabilize the image and to create high-resolution images by folding partial images. Other uses are possible too. We will talk about some of them in next part.

The body of the camera is made mainly of metals - magnesium alloy and aluminum. It is designed to be resistant to frost, dust and splashing water.

The lens mount conforms to the standard Micro 4/3. Diameter is 38 mm (for comparison Nikon F 44 mm, Canon EF 54 mm). The distance of the front (mounting) mount plane from the sensor is 19.25 mm.

The shutter is either electronically controlled focal-plane or fully electronic.

Electronic viewfinder is equipped with rubber eyecup. It might have somewhat wider and softer edges. Next to it is a proximity sensor, that automatically turns the viewfinder (depending on the setting) on and turns off the rear monitor. The miniature OLED monitor in the viewfinder consists of 2 360 000 points and shows approximately 100% of view. The picture is great but still with a noticeable delay, even when switching to a higher frame rate. Viewing a image preview in the viewfinder after photographing is handy, you only need to turn it off when photographing fast action, otherwise the preview covers the viewfinder just in the most inappropriate moment. Three graphical layout options can be selected. Compared to the optical viewfinder, the visible pixels disturb here, and colors are not even faithful after the upgrade to new firmware. I was also disappointed with the mode to simulate the optical viewfinder. But it's true, that none of the present electronic viewfinders (I tried Fujifilm and Sony too) does not suit me. For occasional use perhaps, but much to improve. I am certainly not in favor of the idea, that electronic viewfinders should replace the mirror chamber, that would be a really big step back. Every system has its advantages and disadvantages, just like film and digital photography. For DSLRs, transparent monitors are already in the viewfinder, which, for example, displays auxiliary grids, warnings, and various other details. All you have to do is to perfect them so they can show the image from the sensor and we can choose them at once or we can combine both ways.

The shutter release button is located in the middle of the front wheel, but is not limited in any way. Its running is soft and smooth, I would only welcome a slightly more noticeable intermediate position when pressed. But it's more about a habit.

Both wheels are located at the top of the camera, relatively close together. Even in the middle of the back one could be a button with some optional functions. Both wheels have a very precise mechanical action with clear steps and their use makes it very pleasant.

Mode dial has no less precise operation and, in addition, the possibility of locking against accidental adjustment. It works with a button in the middle, that works similar to a ballpoint pen: unlock it by one push, lock the other. This way suits me more than the need to hold the button with every move.

At the top we also find a striking red-orange button to turn on movie recording. I think it could be done better, e.g. in black only as a function button. This makes it unnecessarily gaudy and spoils the otherwise decent and tasteful appearance of the device. It's not a movie camera though. The main button on the photographic camera is shutter release button and it (fortunately) is not highlighted in any color.

Shutter button and the top right of the Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II camera. The control cross on the back of the device has nice roughened surfaces. It could only be eight-way, not just four. This is practical when viewing magnified images on the rear monitor.

Back of the Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II camera. Photograph created with the Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II. Buttons are mostly used well, except for Trash and View photographies at the bottom right of the back side. Since the palm of the right hand rests here on holding the camera, they are recessed under the surface and they often need to be pressed by a nail. This is an awkward tax for smaller camera size.

The rear monitor has a diagonal 3", resolution 1 040 000 points and aspect ratio 3:2. It is tiltable and swiveled around the joint on the left side. As I have already written, automatic switching with the electronic viewfinder can be turned on. When the eye is close to the viewfinder, it turns on and the monitor turns off. It works well, except when the monitor is tilted to the left. Then the viewfinder will not turn on for unknown reasons and the only option is manual switching.

The camera has a quite distinctive grip for the right hand for the compact camera. It is, however, quite lean, because the battery is not in it but in the body. We can connect battery grip too.

The battery has, with respect to only electronic viewfinder, a good capacity, I expected less. Mostly, it keeps a full day of photographing. Consumption of the IBIS is relatively high. Remaining battery capacity is shown as a percentage, usually quite accurate. Only once did the camera show 35%, but suddenly there was a warning on the monitor and the device switched off. It was in frosty weather, when the battery capacity seems to drop, but after heating it will resume. Here, however, the warming of the battery did not help, it had to be recharged again. As already mentioned, the battery is placed outside the handle in the body of the camera, so it can not be warmed by the hand while holding it, as is the normal with DSLRs.

The battery charger at the flashing frequency of the light indicates, how far the battery is already charged. It's not as clear as the chargers Canon LC-E6E, but it's definitely better than the usual charging/charged. The LED lights well while charging, but the green light signalizing finished charging is too intense.

You can use two SD memory cards, such as a second one to back up.

Finally little thing: the strap is totally horrible. Hard, stiff, awkward. I recommend to Olympus to buy for a $22 strap to Canon 1DX Mark II and to inspire. Perfectly manufactured, easy to bend, firm. That's what a professional camera belt should look like.

Camera menus are similar to Nikon, so bookmarks are on the left side. The photographer will not be pleased by the Movie tab, which will not use and just hinders. This has ideally done (when it must be in the photography camera at all) Canon. If you do not switch the camera to movie mode, all menus only apply to photography and the movie features do not bother us, we do not know about them practically.

To menus E-M1 II I have two mentions. The main thing is that you can not organize them, create your own menus, etc. Just as firm is a grid of functions, from which you can set things directly with wheels. And so there are still completely unnecessary features for movies, jpg settings, and so on. The second, minor complaint, is that it is impossible to choose the color of the individual items. Why just light green, I really do not know. Personally, I would prefer decent gray tones, but above all left choice on the device owner.

And that's all for today. In the ►next (last) part, we will discuss some interesting features of the camera and summarize the findings from all articles dedicated to Olympus photographic gear.

© Martin Mojzis, 2018.
Photographies: © Martin Mojzis, 2018.

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