Olympus Announces E-M5 II, 14-150mm f/4-5.6 II, 8mm f/1.8 Fisheye, and E-M1 Firmware Update

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Olympus has announced the E-M5 II, which left with little surprise given the amount of “leaks” coming out during the past couple of weeks. While not featuring a new sensor, given that sensor tech has been slowed down a bit for the past two years, the camera features a number of new features and upgrades, with the headline-grabbing 40 megapixel/63 megapixel multi-shot mode that uses the sensor-shift stabiliser to do its magic being the key attention. There are also upgrades to video mode, which while still tops out at 1080p, now has selectable frame rates, from 24 FPS to 60 FPS, and much higher compression rates of up to 77 Mbps in intraframe compression and 51- Mbps in interframe compression. To aid with the more serious upgrade in video capabilities, there is also a built-in microphone jack. Unfortunately there is no headphone jack.

Getting back to stills shooting, the E-M5 II can do up to 10 FPS in continuous drive mode while the rear touchscreen LCD (not OLED) now is on a proper articulated arm, which I much prefer over the simpler and more limiting tilt design of its predecessor. The EVF also gets an upgrade, now sporting the same high resolution XGA part that is present in most top end mirrorless cameras nowadays. The shutter now has a fully electronic option that lets it get to shutter speeds of 1/16000. There’s Wifi, of course.

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I also like the new interface, save for the placement of the power switch. Who thought it was a good idea to place it there? There are more custom buttons now, along with the two-mode switch first seen on the E-M1, which means more ways to set up the camera to one’s taste. If nothing else it’s at least one more custom button to not give up to for ISO adjustments!

All the favourites from the previous camera are still here, including that nice 16 megapixel sensor and the very nice 5-axis in-body image stabiliser.

All-in-all, this is an update that improves the camera in so many little ways that it should be a good replacement for the original E-M5. I am looking forward to see how this one fares. The camera will be available later this month for US$1100.

 

 

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Up next are a couple of lenses, so let’s start with the one that has an actual announcement behind it, the 14-150mm f/4-5.6 all-in one lens.

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Olympus claims new coatings and has tossed in weather resistance to the lens. Ships in March for US$600.

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Then we have a surprise PRO addition: The 8mm f/1.8 fisheye.

Sigh. I was excited over this till I saw the fisheye bit. Of all the gaps in the lineup, the last thing I need is a fisheye lens. I don’t think I am alone in this one when I say most of us would have appreciated a rectilinear fast ultrawide with a very small minimum focusing distance a lot more. As this is a development announcement, no word on pricing, with availability pegged as “Summer 2015”.

Finally the E-M1 gets a firmware update, to 3.0. The main addition is the increase of continuous drive mode with continuous AF to 9 FPS, up from 6.5 FPS. Unfortunately there is no link because the firmware will only be available proper later this month.

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