Olympus has just announced new firmware (v3.0) for the Olympus OM-D E-M1 II Micro Four Thirds camera which endows it with many of the new features introduced in the very expensive Olympus OM-D E-M1X.
This will be a much loved firmware update for sports, action and wildlife photographers in particular, but it also adds some videography features – namely the OM-Log400 video profile and better AF performance during video through actively using data from the On-chip Phase Detection AF sensor .
It is great to see Olympus making such improvements to a camera which is now almost 3 years old since it was announced in Sept 2016, which came 3 years after the Olympus OM-D E-M1 original version which was announced in Oct 2013.
The official news release details can be found in THIS PDF.
New improvements from the E-M1X:
- enhanced AF algorithms
- adds Group 25 to AF Target which will be fantastic for many subjects such as birds in flight – this is a feature I have been wanting for a long time – thank you Olympus!
- adds C-AF Center Priority delivers high-precision tracking of moving subjects and sudden subject movement whereby the centre is prioritised in the Group AF target settings but if the centre cannot lock on, the surrounding points will be used
- adds C-AF+MF1 which allows users to instantly switch to MF by turning the focus ring while in C-AF for fine tuning the focus. This requires an additional firmware update to most of the PRO lenses.
- AF low light limit now down to a very low light level of -6EV with f/1.2 lenses
- anti-flicker mode has been added to prevent unstable exposures when shooting indoors.
- improved Focus Stacking – from 3 to 15 shots can be selected in Focus Stacking and guide lines have been added to the shooting area
- improved burst mode – setting changes and playback display while writing to card now possible
- new Art Filter – Instant Film
- Quick image selection added
- Frame Rate Priority added to Live View Boost/On2 display
- Improved jpeg quality – 1/3rd EV better image noise
- adds Low ISO Processing (Detail Priority) and Low 64 and Low 100
- Support for Olympus Workspace new USB RAW Data Edit
E-M1X features you don’t get in the update:
The E-M1X obviously has some hardware features that the E-M1II does not have such as the in-built vertical grip with extra battery storage, dual UHS-II card slots, Bluetooth, GPS/Field sensor system, multi-selector tool, improved sensor cleaning system, USB-C port with in-camera battery charging, higher rated shutter mechanism, new EVF features, and the 2x faster engine processing capability which affects many aspects of the functionality such as the AI Intelligent AF Subject Tracking mode, 120p video mode, the improved 7.5EV IBIS which makes hand held HiRes mode and Live ND mode possible.
There are some features that one would think could have made it to the E-M1 II from the E-M1 but which didn’t such as:
- Custom AF target
- the new customizable ‘My Menu’ tab
How to get the firmware update:
The Olympus firmware update website is HERE.
You must first install the Olympus Digital Camera Updater software from the above link.
Make sure your camera has a full battery and connect camera to computer using the USB cable and choosing USB Storage mode on the camera options.
Run the Olympus Digital Camera Updater software and follow the instructions ensuring you don’t turn off the camera before it is complete.
Run the process for each PRO lens you have by attaching the lens to the camera (you should turn off the camera before changing the lens) and follow the above but this time it should only display the lens firmware update option.
What next for Olympus?
It was 3 years from the original version to the mark II, and 3 years from the mark II will be Sept-Oct 2019, so we could see the E-M1 III this year. In which case, this firmware update is a good marketing policy as it will allow the E-M1 II to still be produced relatively competitively for perhaps another year at a lower price point than the E-M1 III.
Perhaps a bigger question is what will Olympus put into their E-M1 mark III?
I would hope it does get the new 2x faster image processing engine of the E-M1X so it can get a range of the features of the E-M1X outlined above but is there sufficient room for this chip?
I would think it would get the E-M1X’s dual UHS-II card slots, Bluetooth, GPS/Field sensor system, improved sensor cleaning system, and USB-C port with in-camera battery charging.
But for it to be competitive in the market with very capable cameras such as the Fujifilm XT-3 and Sony a7III, all these features would need to be added but the price kept around the price of the current E-M1 II.
It will be interesting to see if they use a new generation sensor such as the newly developed multi-layered sensor for much improved image quality capabilities.