Review: Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark II

Yes, there’s a solid body here, providing a camera that feels like how you’d expect a camera to feel, and Olympus has left plenty of dials and knobs for people who love to fiddle and change things, including a switch on the back near the viewfinder allowing you to quickly define what the front and back wheels do when your hands are grappling with the controls, allowing you to quickly jump between aperture and shutter settings to something else, say ISO and white balance, simply by flicking the switch.

That’s for the manual buffs out there, of which we certainly qualify as, but if you prefer an easier take on photography, you’ll find touchscreen focus here, as well as some easy auto modes that allow you simply to touch the screen to fire the shot.

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In those aforementioned hands, there’s a comfortable hand hold underneath the body, and a leather-texture on the grip.

It’s not leather, no, but it is comfy to hold, and together with the metal and textures, the body does come off feeling like a camera out of yesteryear, only with guts from today.

It’s smaller than the original camera, and that’s a good thing, too.

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Good for your hands, good for your shoulders, and good for your neck, but still usable as a camera of today, because why should you be forced to carry around something huge to fire off pretty shots when you can get the same results out of something small?

When you do fire the shot, you should find some excellent colour reproduction alongside sharp images, something we found in the majority of the photographs we grabbed during our time with the OM-D E-M5 Mark II.

Image captured on the Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark II.
Image captured on the Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark II.

Images were clear, and while you don’t necessarily have to know what you’re doing, if you do, you’ll find photos with plenty of detail waiting for you.

Noise was picked up above ISO 3200, so we’d stick to settings below it unless you’re in low light, with ISO 25600 being literally dotted with noise, but that is to be expected at those settings, and most of the time, you should be fine with what’s on offer.

There is one thing, though, that you’ll want to keep with you: the flash.

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You see, just like with previous single-digit models in the OM-D series of cameras, there is no built-in flash here. Rather, that pieces comes as an included extra, with the little flash head attachable via the hot-shoe at the top of the unit.

While we’d normally prefer that to be built into the unit, Olympus is at least filling this gap by making the flash a little more special, with the ability to not just aim the head at different angles in the 90 degree arc, but also rotate the head, so you can bounce the flash off a side wall if need be.

It’s not going to replace a dedicated flash head unit, no way, as there’s just not enough power, but it does do a little more than your standard built-in flash, and is much more useful than the ho-hum external flash we’re used to seeing that can only fire the flash in one or two directions.

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One extra mode will also likely pique the curiosity of photographers fanatical over image quality, and that’s the high resolution mode.

The name is a little surprising, mind you, because surely everything you’re shooting on a camera of this quality should be high resolution, and it is, but this mode is a little different.

High res mode, though, is the special sauce mode that only Olympus has thought up, and will take a larger-than-16 megapixel image by moving the sensor up, down, and across in remarkably tiny shifts, taking what is essentially several images and merging them for one larger image.

While it might seem like a panorama, it actually isn’t that, because the image isn’t wide.

Regular resolution compared against high resolution mode, explained as 16 megapixels on the left, 40 megapixels on the right. They look the same from afar.
Regular resolution compared against high resolution mode, explained as 16 megapixels on the left, 40 megapixels on the right. They look the same from afar.