Olympus jumps in to 4K arena with flagship OM-D E-M1 Mark II

Written by Andy Stout

OlympusThe OM-D E-M1 Mark II: another camera coming next year

After a somewhat quiet IBC2016 we’re still catching our breath from Photokina, and only now digesting the fact that Olympus has decided to enter the 4K race with its new flagship mirrorless camera.

Olympus starts off its introduction to the camera by stating that “The key facts of the OM-D E-M1 Mark II read like a wish list of the ideal, versatile camera every photographer has dreamt of,” which is perhaps over-egging the pudding, but on paper it is shaping up to be a very versatile unit indeed.

Certainly it’s speedy. In silent mode, using continuous AF and AE tracking, the OM-D E-M1 Mark II is capable of capturing 20.4-Megapixel RAW stills at what the company says is a class-best 18fps. Lock AF and AE, and the frame rate rises further to 60fps. Hell, up to 14 frames are taken even before the shutter release is fully depressed.

At its heart sits a completely new TruePic VIII processor and a 20.4 Megapixel Live MOS sensor, which can even deliver higher resolution via the 50M High Res Shot feature which combines eight shots together to generate a single high-res photo equal to 50MP.

Olympus’ very well-regarded in-body 5-axis image stabilisation has been re-engineered for this new unit, and now boasts up to 6.5 shutter speed steps of correction (though only to that extent when used with the equally new M.ZUIKO Digital ED 12-100mm 1:4.0 IS PRO lens). 121 focus points govern the AF, while the 500g body is also labelled as splash-proof, dustproof and freezeproof.

So, about that 4K. The camera will shoot in Cinema 4K (4096 x 2160) at 24p IPB at approximately. 237 Mbps, and UHD (3840 x 2160) at your choice of 30p, 25p, 24p IPB at approx. 102 Mbps. Full HD takes things up to 60p/50p. Recording format is MOV(MPEG‑4AVC/H.264) and maximum recording time is 29 minutes.

The IPB compression isn’t perhaps something that could be considered ideal, but when coupled with that high bitrate might not be an issue. And if the implementation of the image stabilisation is as good as we hope, then most things will be forgiven anyway. We’ll have to see when we get our hands on one.

Which will not be for some time. In common with the Panasonic GH5 this is a ‘development’ announcement, with Olympus hoping to launch the camera at some point in 2017 with pricing as yet to be decided.

Press release over the page.

The next generation OM-D E-M1 MARK II Mirrorless sets new benchmarks in speed and mobility

Southend-on-Sea, 09/19/2016 • Development Announcement: Olympus lays down a marker in the professional camera category – Olympus OM-D is on a mission to give photography professionals, enthusiasts and specialists exactly what they want. The new OM-D E-M1 Mark II will exceed all expectations for an ILC model, delivering high-class image quality with unparalleled high-speed performance. While others have a heavy load to look after, future OM-D E-M1 Mark II owners will be able to take all their equipment in a carry-on to any given destination, ensuring superior mobility. The new OM-D E-M1 Mark II will be one of the best cameras Olympus has ever built. To establish Olympus’ clear and unmistakable stance in the professional field, there will be new service packages available for the OM-D E-M1 Mark II that enable the professional owner to continue shooting under almost any circumstances. The OM-D E-M1 Mark II will be available as a body only, or in a kit with the M.ZUIKO DIGITAL ED 12-40mm 1:2.8 PRO lens.

The key facts of the OM-D E-M1 Mark II read like a wish list of the ideal, versatile camera every photographer has dreamt of: It meets the demands of serious enthusiasts in every photography field and serves professionals in wildlife, documentary and travel with its high-speed performance, mobility and image quality. It is the fastest in its category with unprecedented sequential shooting performance and a breathtakingly fast new autofocus system. Its sequential shooting performance is backed up by a brand-new, high-speed, all cross-type, on-chip phase detection autofocus system, new AF controls and even faster shutter response. In silent mode, using continuous AF and AE tracking, the OM-D E-M1 Mark II captures 20.4-Megapixel RAW stills at a class-best 18 fps. Combined with the Live View display and custom controls, this is ideal for shooting fleet-footed wildlife or indoor events in split seconds. With AF and AE locked, the frame rate rises further to an outstanding 60fps. The innovative Pro Capture shooting mode on the OM-D E-M1 Mark II exploits the virtual elimination of shutter lag by recording up to 14 sequential frames before the shutter release is fully pressed, to ensure the OM-D E-M1 Mark II captures the perfect moment every time where other cameras miss. Powering this still-image (and 4K/C4K-movie) prowess is an all-new TruePic VIII processor and 20-Megapixel Live MOS sensor – combined with Olympus’ trademark in-body 5-axis IS (re-developed for the OM-D E-M1 Mark II) and the M.ZUIKO PRO lens system that covers the full focal range. ISO speed range has been improved by one f-stop, and the new sensor’s dynamic range puts any rivals in the shade. Another ace up the new camera’s sleeve is its super-compact, easy-grip design, which makes shooting with a 300mm (600mm 35mm equiv.) 1:4.0 super-telephoto lens possible without tripod support. Alongside a dual SD card housing compatible with UHS-II, Direct 4:2:2 HDMI output, significantly improved battery performance and three tiers of Olympus Pro Service packages, the design is one of numerous practical features that cater professional photographers working in an ever faster-moving field.
Benchmark AF
The preceding OM-D flagship has already earned glowing assessments, and now the OM-D E-M1 Mark II elevates OM-D into the very top tier of the pro camera elite with its new ultra-fast autofocus system. Key to this is the completely new on-chip, phase-detection AF system, based on a trinity of precision, tracking performance and real-time controls. Precision derives from 121 all cross-type AF points and a high-speed algorithm powered by the new TruePic VIII AF processor. Tracking uses a dedicated moving-subject algorithm to deliver reliable focus for sequential shooting at record-breaking 18fps*, while single AF delivers ground-breaking 60fps*.
Game-changing speed
Several high-speed components combine to deliver effortless sequential shooting on the OM-D E-M1 Mark II. With an EVF that offers a response rate of barely 6 ms and a smooth frame rate of 120 fps, it’s easy to keep up with fast-moving subjects. In C-AF mode, the OM-D E-M1 Mark II reaches sequential speeds of 18 fps, which rises to 60 fps in S-AF mode, while the new PRO Capture Mode relieves OM-D owners of the shutter lag that afflicts some professional cameras. With up to 14 frames taken even before the shutter release is fully depressed, it’s virtually impossible not to capture the desired split-second shot, no matter how fast the subject moves.
Unmatched mobility
Ultra-compact, portable design is another key strength of the OM-D E-M1 Mark II. Olympus is the first and only professional camera maker to provide a complete, pro-standard photography system, including lenses, that fits in a carry-on bag suitable for a standard aircraft. Enhancing this go-anywhere flexibility is the rugged, splashproof**, dustproof** and freezeproof** design. Despite its compact dimensions, the indented shape of the new OM-D makes it easier to grip firmly, especially with a telephoto lens attached. An optional battery grip with matching controls as on the main body is great for the portrait orientation and a safe hold on the camera in any position.
Maximum usability
A number of improvements are designed to make work as straightforward as possible for the busy professional photographer. By popular demand, there are two SD slots, one of which is UHS-II-compatible. There are multiple recording settings available for each card, e.g., saving RAW format to one card and JPG format to the other at the same time. The new battery lasts nearly 40% longer, the charging time of 2 hours is roughly twice as quick as on the predecessor model, and the battery charge can be displayed on the LCD as a percentage. For more details like overall battery condition, there is a separate status menu available. For high-speed data transfer, the OM-D E-M1 Mark II comes equipped with a USB 3.0 Type-C connector.
Elite image quality
The true measure of any professional-grade camera is image quality, and here the new OM-D E-M1 Mark II lays down another marker – for both stills and cinema-standard video footage – that the competition will struggle to match. Olympus developed the all-new TruePic VIII image processor and 20-Megapixel Live MOS sensor specifically for this camera, and it shows. By any measure, the optical potential is startling. Thanks to enhanced pixel optics and double quad-core processing, the dynamic range has been significantly improved. The 50-Megapixel High Res Shot goes far beyond the potential of full-frame cameras, with blur as good as eliminated by a combination of the TruePic VIII and a new, enhanced version of Olympus’ celebrated on-sensor 5-axis Image Stabilization. The 5-axis mechanism, which has been re-designed exclusively for OM-D E-M1 Mark II, now compensates the equivalent of up to 6.5 steps*** at a focal length of 100mm (with the M.ZUIKO DIGITAL ED 12-100mm 1:4.0 IS PRO lens). This revolutionary IS system is now the perfect match for the OM-D E-M1 Mark II’s video capability, that delivers radiant, ultra high-definition 4K at 30fps and 102 Mbps bit rates. Movie enthusiasts will also welcome the addition of the 24p frame rate and a 237 Mbps bit rate to the OM-D repertoire, which means footage can be shown in the authentic widescreen C4K format.
Professional service
Olympus goes the extra mile for customer service and offers OM-D E-M1 Mark II owners a choice of three service programmes under the new OLYMPUS PRO Service concept. The entry-level Standard Plus service will be available free of charge together with MyOLYMPUS benefits such as 6 Months Extended Warranty. With the requirements of professionals in mind, two further service programmes – Advanced and Elite – will typically offer free repair shipments, a loaner during repair time, a regular system-maintenance plan, express customer support or even assistance via a video call. OLYMPUS PRO Service will be launched in 17 European countries.
Accessories and lenses
The OM-D E-M1 Mark II is compatible with Olympus’ range of professional-grade Micro Four Thirds lenses and accessories, including tailor-made camera bags and a housing for shooting down to 60 metres underwater. The new Olympus flagship system was designed to make professional photography faster, easier and more effective – anytime anywhere. Mission accomplished.
Like every Olympus lens and camera, the OM-D E-M1 Mark II comes with a free six-month warranty extension**** when registered via the MyOlympus online platform.

Tags: Production

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