Key New Features of Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark II

Olympus just announced the updated E-M5 and it seems packed with new features.  Let's distill the highlights of the announcement and new spec sheet.

EM-5 Mark II image from www.olympus-global.com

EM-5 Mark II image from www.olympus-global.com

Olympus is strongly headlining the updated stabilization technology - apparently updated even beyond the tech in the E-M1; "The powerful 5-axis VCM image stabilization is even more advanced than ever before." 

With this tech, Olympus is advertising a full 5 shutter speed steps of compensation.  I'm kind of enjoying how they're actually get a little 'chippy' when describing the benefits of in-camera stabilization vs. the in-lens stabilization other vendors offer.  I'm loving this head-to-head competition, which they specifically call out in this press release;  "It powerfully compensates for camera roll, which cannot be corrected with in-lens stabilization..."  

Yes, Olympus includes the perhaps most highly anticipated feature, 40M Hi-Res Mode.   Strangely, it's listed under the 'other' category of their press release.  The press release describes it this way, but actually there's more.

"8 images are captured with 16-megapixel image information while moving the sensor by 0.5 pixel steps between each shot. The data from the 8 shots are then combined to produce a single, super-high resolution image, equivalent to the one captured with a 40-megapixel image sensor. This feature is perfect for capturing fine arts and landscapes, and other scenes where high-resolution photos are required. It maximizes the resolution of Zuiko PRO and Premium lenses, making image quality possible that surpasses that of full-frame DSLR cameras."

What's more?  While the press release advertises 40megapixels, it turns out this is only for JPEGs.  RAW files (Olympus ORFs) are actually captured at 64 megapixels.

The press release devotes the most space to describing new or updated movie capture features, touting "cinema-quality movies in hand-held shooting."  If the image stabilization is as good as claimed, and it's already good on my original EM-5, then it makes sense that it could dramatically improve hand-held movie making.  Imagine riding a bike and filming as you ride or shooting movies from a moving vehicle.  I'll be eager to see some clips from the new EM-5.  Here again, it does seem Olympus is calling out Panasonic, the vendor about which we've heard white a lot in the movie area for the last several years.  Is this an attempt by Oly to one-up Panny's capabilities in the m4/3 movie making arena?

EM-5 Mark II image from www.olympus-global.com

EM-5 Mark II image from www.olympus-global.com

Additional features and improvements --

WiFi is also included in the E-M5 and provides a number of features. It syncs with mobile phones for geo-tagging via the phone GPS, photo sharing and for remote control.  Wireless shooting allows control of both movie and still modes with, what seems to be, a pretty full range of control; shutter speed, aperture, exposure, ISO, white balance, art & scene modes, countdown timer, shutter release and so forth.  One of the best parts of image sharing appears to be the ability to simultaneously sync up to 4 remote devices.  So now when my wife asks to have a copy of the shot, I can simply link her mobile phone to the camera and she'll get a copy of the pic instantly.

For shooting sports or wildlife, sequential shooting in RAW format works 5 fps and is touted to work until the card is full. Olympus claims the number of capture frames won't drop, so apparently they've improved or increased the size of some buffers. 

The shutter is now faster at 1/8000 sec, but it gets even better.  In a node to the silent shooter desires of street photographers, the E-M5 II show offers a silent shutter mode, which apparently turns off all sounds in the camera, yet still shoots as fast as 1/6000s.  An anti-shock mode, which reduces shutter shock, is compatible with both the sequential shooting, and silent modes.

There seem to be no less then 6 customizable function buttons.  I've pretty much customized all of them on my original E-M5, so I'm eager to see this on the new model.  The LCD has been updated as well, with a vary-angle model, allowing the screen to be seen when holding the camera at odd angles, even selfies.

Overall, it looks like Olympus really provides a massive upgrade to the original EM-5.  As a user of that camera, I'll be eager to try this new one.