Black Friday discounts – should you upgrade to an Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II? What will you gain?

Written by Gary on November 23rd, 2017

It’s Black Friday and that means many stores are having significant discounts on camera gear – even here in Australia!

That means you can get hundreds of dollars off the usual price of the Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II and this is a very enticing prospect for many who have earlier models of OM-D cameras such as the E-M1 mark I, E-M5 Mark II, or even the one that started the amazing popularity of the OM-D’s – the E-M5 original version or indeed the budget E-M10’s – but what will you gain in upgrading?

Advantages over the Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark II:

  • a built-in grip making it much more ergonomic to use for larger lenses without having to add in an optional grip
  • further improved image quality – 1 stop better at high ISO, more dynamic range, 20mp
  • far better sports and moving subject capabilities:
    • ability to autofocus on moving subjects AND has excellent subject tracking in burst mode thanks to the PDAF technology on the sensor
    • substantially improved AF tweaks such as ability to set a focus range AF limiter in-camera so that foreground and background subjects are ignored by the AF algorithms
    • improved high ISO performance
    • new “Pro-Capture” mode captures up to the last 14 images prior to you pressing the shutter fully
    • 18fps full size RAW with C-AF using electronic shutter (C-AF not really possible on E-M5’s)
    • 60fps full size RAW with locked S-AF using electronic shutter instead of 11fps
    • 10fps full size RAW with C-AF using mechanical shutter (C-AF not really possible on E-M5’s but dodgy CDAF tracking at 5fps)
    • 15fps full size RAW with locked S-AF using mechanical shutter
  • further improved image stabiliser
  • better viewfinder
  • larger, longer life battery
  • better access to MySet settings (now on the dial) and can save and load to PC
  • two SD card slots, one with UHS-II  SD support for faster cards and much better burst rate and 4K video performance, the 2nd card slot is critical for pros who need a backup of the shots in case one card gets corrupted before they have backed it up!
  • improved autoISO function – new Lowest Shutter Speed Setting and can use in manual exposure mode with exposure compensation
  • improved HiRes mode
  • 4K 30p video instead of just 1080p with lovely image stabilisation which is great for run and gun videos

Advantages over the Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark I:

  • further improved image quality – 1 stop better at high ISO, more dynamic range, 20mp
  • substantially improved sports and moving subject capabilities:
    • improved ability to autofocus on moving subjects AND has excellent subject tracking in burst mode thanks to the substantially increased number of PDAF points on the sensor and better algorithms
    • substantially improved AF tweaks such as ability to set a focus range AF limiter in-camera so that foreground and background subjects are ignored by the AF algorithms
    • improved high ISO performance
    • new “Pro-Capture” mode captures up to the last 14 images prior to you pressing the shutter fully
    • 18fps full size RAW with C-AF using electronic shutter
    • 60fps full size RAW with locked S-AF using electronic shutter instead of 11fps
    • 10fps full size RAW with C-AF using mechanical shutter
    • 15fps full size RAW with locked S-AF using mechanical shutter
  • further improved image stabiliser
  • better viewfinder
  • larger, longer life battery
  • better access to MySet settings (now on the dial) and can save and load to PC
  • two SD card slots, one with UHS-II  SD support for faster cards and much better burst rate and 4K video performance, , the 2nd card slot is critical for pros who need a backup of the shots in case one card gets corrupted before they have backed it up!
  • improved autoISO function – new Lowest Shutter Speed Setting and can use in manual exposure mode with exposure compensation
  • HiRes mode
  • 4K 30p video instead of just 1080p with lovely image stabilisation which is great for run and gun videos

Advantages over the Olympus OM-D E-M5 original version:

  • as for the improvements over the E-M5 mark II outlined above, plus the features of the E-M5 Mark II:
    • WiFi remote control by smartphones
    • Live Boost II mode
    • swivel, articulating LCD screen
    • mechanical shutter to 1/8000th sec instead of 1/4000th sec
    • freezeproof to minus 11deg C
    • anti-shock mode using electronic first-curtain shutter to reduce shutter shock during sequential shooting
    • 2×2 switch
    • auto HDR
    • in camera keystone correction option
    • improved intervalometer
    • improved focus peaking
    • PC sync port
    • Live Composite mode
    • additional ART filters
    • colour creator picture mode control
    • HiRes mode

Is the upgrade worth it to you?

That all depends upon how often you will use the new or improved features and whether these will change your photography and give you new avenues to explore.

As a general rule, one should not spend too much on a camera as it devalues rapidly over a 5yr period, but if you are using it frequently then even $AU2000 may be a great opportunity to lash out and change your options and abilities.

It is a very versatile camera, and it has major advantages over larger more expensive dSLRs, but at the end of the day – only you can decide if the upgrade is worth it to you.

Check out my blog post on how good the AF tracking is using the superb 300mm lens at a water ski event – post is here.

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