Olympus targets movie makers with OM-D E-M5 Mark II camera

Advanced video features and image stabilisation lead Olympus to a new audience

Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark II

Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark II

Olympus has expanded its range of OM-D, Micro Four Thirds-based, interchangeable lens cameras to include the OM-D E-M5 Mark II. It’s a 16-megapixel shooter that takes aim at cinematographers, offering many advances that will benefit users who have a penchant for moving images.

Just like the E-M5, it’s a relatively compact camera with a size that puts it between the E-M10 and E-M1 cameras, though some changes have been made to the body compared to the E-M5. The metal alloy chassis has a sharper delta shape for the viewfinder housing, the grips are larger, the metal dials have machined edges, there are more customisable controls, and the camera is touted as having a lower centre of gravity for better balance in the hand. The hinge for the 3in LCD touchscreen is now on the left side, allowing for the screen to be swung out and tilted up or down, or turned all the way around.

Weather seals make it a freeze-, splash-, and dust-proof camera, and there are up to five Olympus lenses that also have weather proofing, which can be attached to this camera for a complete all-weather kit. This includes a new coated Olympus M.Zuiko 14-150mm II lens, which comes with a lens hood. This lens will be available to buy in a kit.

Compared to the E-M5, the E-M5 Mark II has an electronic viewfinder (EVF) that offers more pixels (2.36 megapixels versus 1.44 megapixels), there is more accuracy for focusing, and more speed for action shots. Focusing performance has been upped from 35 points to 81, the shutter can shoot up to 1/8000th of a second, and sequential shooting is 11 frames per second (the E-M5 does 9fps). There is also a silent shutter that can shoot at up to 1/16000th of a second.

A couple of keys to the E-M5 Mark II's video prowess are a re-engineered image stabilisation technology, as well as the ability to select multiple video frame rates. Olympus has added 24fps, 25fps, 50fps, and 60fps to the mix, which means that the new camera will be suitable for professional users who are looking for a small and unobtrusive shooter for broadcast quality work. On the other OM-D models, the ability to use these frame rates isn’t available. The size of the video is Full HD.

The 5-axis, sensor-shift image stabilisation system is based on new algorithms and a slightly new mechanism that aim to make it more sensitive. According to Olympus, it offers up to five shutter speed steps of shake compensation (from 1/125sec to 1/4sec). In addition to being useful for low-light photographs, what makes the new stabilisation a boon for shooting video are further advanced algorithms for detecting acceleration and deceleration in the movement of the camera.

It’s a stabilisation feature that Olympus says will allow movie makers to get into tight spots and give them the freedom to use the camera for 'run-and-gun' action, without add-ons such as a steadycam or other types of rigs attached to the camera. Because the stabilisation is built in to the body and is based on sensor-shift technology, any lens can benefit from it, including electronic or manual focusing lenses. Olympus boasts that over 50 lenses from seven different brands can be used with the camera.

There is a multi-shot image compilation feature that can take advantage of the improved accuracy of the image stabiliser when the camera is paired with premium quality lenses. This feature can allow the camera to shoot static images that are up to 64 megapixels large in RAW mode, which then need to be processed in Adobe Photoshop CS5 or newer. Up to 40-megapixel images can be captured in JPEG mode.

A tripod is required for a multi-shot image compilation, mainly because the sensor-shift stabiliser moves up to half a pixel for a series of eight shots in slightly different positions in order to capture the single, large image. Premium lenses are needed due to the sharpness that this operation requires in order to work successfully. It's a feature that will best serve photographers of architecture, and any other types of high-detail, static scenes.

The OM-D E-M5 Mark II will go on sale from March. It will include a kit flash that can tilt and swivel. Pricing follows:

OM-D E-M5 body only: $1299
OM-D E-M5 Adventure kit with 14-150mm II lens: $1799
OM-D E-M5 Pro kit with 12-40mm lens: $2099
OM-D E-M5 Weatherproof kit with 12-50mm lens: $1599

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