Olympus recently announced that their highly anticipated flagship camera, E-M1 Mark II will be available in first week of December for an eye watering body only price of $1999.99. This will make E-M1 Mark II not only the most expensive Micro 4/3 camera and more expensive than any other APS-C camera currently on the market but also in the same price range as Full Frame cameras like Nikon D750 and Sony A7 II.
Olympus justifies this price by touting E-M1 MK II as the “pro” mirrorless camera for action/wildlife photographers.
Some of the highlight specs of Olympus E-M1 Mark II are:
- 20 Megapixel Sensor
- 5-Axis Sensor-Shift Image Stabilization
- Contrast Detect and Phase detect auto focus with 121 all cross-type AF points
- Impressive continuous shooting and buffer capacity
- 10 frames/sec with Continuous AF and mechanical shutter
- 18 frames/sec with Continuous AF and electronic shutter
- 15 frames/sec with Signle AF and mechanical shutter
- 60 frames/sec with Single AF and electronic shutter
- 77 RAW buffer
- Full weather-sealing (freeze proof, dust proof and splash proof)
- 4K Video recording
- EVF with 120fps refresh rate
- Dual SD card slots (A first for micro 4/3 and third mirrorless camera)
- Fully articulating touch screen
No doubt the spec sheet reads like a wishlist of every wildlife/action photographer but at the price point that Olympus is releasing the camera I have some doubts about how many people will be jumping out and buying one.
Micro 4/3 has a good following which includes both PRO and enthusiast photographers and the strength of the system has always been the good balance of price vs quality but with this new camera Olympus is pushing it to the limits where it will have to face a lot stiffer competition than mid/lower end market.
Cameras like Fuji X-T2, Nikon D7200, Nikon D500 and Sony A6500/6300 are all cheaper than Olympus E-M1 MK II and offer larger sensor, excellent AF performance , better high ISO performance and good to great lens line up.
Wildlife and action photography field is still predominantly ruled by DSLR because of better focus tracking and extensive lens selection. On the AF front mirrorless cameras like Sony A6500/A6300 and X-T2 are catching up and even if E-M1 Mark II is able to surpass them it will be held back due to lack of lens options. Currently, micro 4/3 only offers two pro grade long lenses Panasonic 100-400 f/4-6.3 and Olympus 300mm f/4 which are excellent but will such a slim lens offering pull buyers from Canikon camp?
Other than the slim lens options, one of the things that has always be an achilles heel for the format has been the high ISO performance and from the initial previews posted online it does not seems like Olympus has made any breakthroughs there. Although results are great in good light but when lights get low micro 4/3 cameras struggle with high noise levels and lack of sharpness. So we will have to wait and see how E-M1 MK II fairs in that regards.
Speaking of low light performance, one thing that all recent Olympus camera have been good at is the 5-axis In Body Stabilization (IBIS) and EM-1 MK II features a more refined version of this technology which according to Olympus will provide up to 5.5 shutter speed steps of compensation and up to 6.5 stops compensation when used with new Olympus lenses with image stabilization. Based on my experience with previous Olympus cameras I am confident that these claims are correct as Olympus IBIS is just magic! But the problem is that IBIS will not be of much help when a higher shutter is required to capture action in low light.
One big addition to E-M1 Mark II is the dual card slots. This is the first for a micro 4/3 camera and a novelty in mirrorless in general. Fuji X-T2 and X-Pro 2 are the only other mirrorless cameras that offer dual card slots. Not even the might Sony A7rII offers that. In my opinion, this is a very welcome addition because for a lot of working professionals having only one card slot is a non-starter, resulting in them not giving a second look to mirrorless cameras.
On the video front Olympus E-M1 Mark II is Olympus’s first genuine attempt of including good video capturing capabilities in their camera. This is the first Olympus camera that will be able to record ultra high definition 4k videos and when combined with the amazing IBIS and full articulating screen, this camera could become a serious video recording tool.
In conclusion, just based on the specs and the initial reports it does seems like Olympus Mark II could very well be the first “action” mirrorless camera for the working professionals but I will reserve my final judgement for now.
As for me, even though I’m intrigued, I do not plan on ordering one for now and this decision is strictly based on the high price. Sure the camera looks highly capable but I cannot justify spending $2K on micro 4/3 body specially since I am not invested in that system. Even if I was, I would still not be jumping in line to preorder one. I will wait for the price to settle down and for the real world reviews to get publish which will separate facts from marketing :). Till then…………. Fuji X-T2 will be keeping me happy.