February 5, 2015

Why the New E-M5 Mark II Camera from Olympus is So Exciting (Hint: 24p & Sensor Stabilization)

Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark II with Sensor Stabilization
Just two words really: sensor stabilization. 

There might be other cameras with sensor stabilization (like the Sony a7II), but the new Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark II camera's Micro 4/3 sensor means lots of different options for older lenses, including plenty of PL lenses. Any lens you put on the E-M5 can benefit from the stabilization, which involves actively moving the sensor to compensate for shake.

The original E-M5 was an interesting camera, and also featured 5-axis sensor stabilization (the Mark II is apparently even better), but it was limited to low bitrates and didn't offer 24p. That's no longer a problem, as Olympus has added 24, 25, 30, 50, and 60fps in 1080p. In addition to the camera, they also announced an updated M.Zuiko ED 14-150mm f/4-5.6 II, and an interesting action cam of sorts called the Tough TG-860.

For those interested in stills only, the 40MP mode is pretty interesting, as it takes a number of still images and puts them together for something much higher quality in-camera. It does have some downsides though, as you can only go up to ISO 1600 in this mode, and the aperture is apparently set to f/8 or smaller. 

Here are the specs of the E-M5 Mark II:

  • 16MP 4608 x 3456 Live MOS Sensor with 5-Axis Sensor Image Stabilization
  • 3.0" Vari-Angle Touchscreen OLED Monitor & 2360k-Dot Electronic Viewfinder
  • 1080p: 24p, 25p, 30p, 50p, 60p
  • 77Mbps AVCHD Intraframe for 24, 25, 30fps, and up to 50mbps IPB for 50p and 60p
  • ISO: 200-3200 (High Sensitivity Mode: 100-25600)
  • Clean HDMI feed with 4:2:2 (likely 8-bit)
  • SD, SDXC, SDHC Cards
  • 40MP High Res Shot
  • Peaking, Histogram, Exposure Clipping
  • Built-In WiFi & Mic
  • HDMI D (Micro), AV / USB Multi, USB 2.0, 1/8" Microphone
  • 10 Frames Per Second
  • Dustproof and Splash-Proof Construction
  • Availability: March 2015
  • Price: $1,100

John Brawley, who we've featured here a number of times, has written a unbelievably in-depth post about the camera — which includes lots of info about stills and video. Here's what he said about the image stabilization:

The IS comes in three flavours when shooting video. You can have it set to OFF, then mode 1 which is sensor shift and digital stabilising, with some slight additional crop, but I never saw any when shooting video, and I’m struggling to see any IQ hit in video to be honest. Or if you wish there’s also mode 2 which is sensor shift only with no digital stabilising. In both mode 1 and 2 you can override the default focal length setting which if it’s an Olympus lens is set automatically, and set your own focal length.

He also shot this great video with the camera:

And here's the BTS from the shoot:

Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark II LCD Out

This camera gets a lot of things right, and it's a sign that Olympus has actually listened to the criticism they got about the previous E-M5. Adding a few frame rates is simple enough (it's mostly just software), but they've gone ahead and made this a much better tool for video work. One strange thing that Brawley mentions is that once you're recording with Olympus lenses, the dials no longer work, and you've got to change settings from the touchscreen. This doesn't seem like the best solution, so hopefully they give the option to change things with the controls on the camera instead. If you're using manual lenses, you can obviously just change exposure from the lens itself. 

Brawley also mentioned that the camera is getting clean HDMI, and if you're worried about the internal codec or want to get ProRes files instead of H.264, you'll be able to do that. This camera is not going to be a low-light beast like the a7S, but then again not many cameras are. It will likely be in-line with the Panasonic GH4 in terms of low-light. This camera is compatible with the Micro 4/3 versions of the Metabones Speed Booster, so you can get another stop of light that way and also change your field of view to better match a bigger format. Also missing is 4K video, but I expect this to come at some point in a newer model as Olympus has mentioned 4K video in the past.

We've got plenty more videos shot on the camera. Here's one from , which was shot completely handheld:

And another from :

Olympus M.Zuiko ED 14-150mm f/4-5.6 II Lens

And here's the updated lens they introduced, the M.Zuiko ED 14-150mm f/4-5.6 II, which is going to cost $600:

In addition to these two MFT products, they've got an action cam of sorts in the new Tough TG-860, which will cost $280:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sb5zL4UQGNs

Check out the links below for more.

Your Comment

13 Comments

Brawley's video looks beautiful but dynamic range - highlight handling looks like something to be more desired. But stabilization is brilliant. Excited for more cameras and their stabilization methods.

February 5, 2015 at 6:13AM, Edited February 5, 6:13AM

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Ed David
Director of Photography
1358

We're here at the official European launch event in Prague running the video workshops.

It's shocking that we can give this camera to someone who clearly doesn't know how to use it and have them chase after an actor and get us perfectly usable footage, or have them do a handover out of a car window and nail it perfectly first try. Absolutely shocking.

Is it the perfect package? No, of course not, the ISO sensitivity for one is a bit of a bugger. But for many types of filmmaking, this is one insane leap forward.

February 5, 2015 at 3:59PM, Edited February 5, 3:59PM

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Samu Amunét
Director
384

Curious, and intrigued by this camera's IS. I am going to be making an entry purchase, and was set on the Panasonic GH3. But this camera has me rethinking. I'm looking over specs, and are their big things I'd be giving up with the GH3 for this camera? Opinions?

February 5, 2015 at 6:13PM, Edited February 5, 6:13PM

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Bradford Paik
Graduate Student/Enthusiast
90

Hi Bradford,

I've been using a GH3 for the last couple of years as my main camera. It's great. The thing that you would be giving up if you got the EM5 Mark II is image quality. The GH3's image is lovely; detailed 1080p with lovely colour and more dynamic range. Judging by the Mark II videos so far the 50 mbit codec on the GH3 is superior, by some margin I would say.

However... what you gain with the Mark II is a class-leading EVF, great LCD and... that IBIS.

So, I think it comes down to an image versus usability decision and what's more important to you given what you want to use it for. I think this camera from Olympus is a great first attempt at proper video, and I'm seriously excited by it, but I will be keeping my GH3 for now because I personally don't want to take a step back on image quality. I guess also you could pick up a GH3 for half the price of the Mark II at the moment? Which would save money for some nice lenses. However, all that said, if you are happy with the Mark II images then it's pretty irresistible.

I personally will be looking forward to the release of EM1 Mark II to see if Oly can take the video quality to the next level.

Hope that helps!

February 9, 2015 at 12:14PM

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James Fisher
Videographer
164

so what's the difference between this and the em-1 except it has 24p? Sounds like all they could have done is a minor software update on the omd-em1 ....lol

February 6, 2015 at 1:20AM

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No Mike. It's also 25 FPS, a new codec (maybe the E-m1 processor doesn't handle the data rate ?) The IBIS is the next generation and it's much better than the one in the E-M1. Plus, articulating screen which is great for Video.

It's quite a different camera aimed at a different kind of user.

I own the E-M1, E-M5 plus the E5 and a few E1s' ;-)

JB

February 6, 2015 at 5:39AM

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John Brawley
Cinematographer
88

Having shot with both, the difference is night and day.

February 6, 2015 at 1:47PM

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Samu Amunét
Director
384

Surely when the BMCC came out in 2012 it spelled the end of dSLRs as filmmaking options. 8 bit?? Really? In 2015. I don't give a damn about 4K but 8 bit in post? 8bit flat profiles in post. Surely10 bit ProRes is the present standard.

February 6, 2015 at 6:30PM, Edited February 6, 6:30PM

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I think it depends what you're after.

I agree with you that 8 bit video is the biggest limitation here. But if you want a camera that shoots video AND does a decent still, then you're looking at these kinds of hybrid DSLR / MILC options. As much as I love my BM pocket, it doesn't take stills, doesn't have IBIS, doesn't have an EVF or even an articulated screen.

JB

February 6, 2015 at 7:36PM

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John Brawley
Cinematographer
88

Not to mention that blackmagic cams require lots of hidden extra investment in ssd, rigs and external screen. More importantly, the portability of bmcc is non existent due to the horrible battery no matter how small the cam is. It is actually not that cheap (in total investment to make the cam usable) compared to Sony fs5 and Panny varicam.

February 27, 2016 at 2:18PM

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I would buy myself one of these, if the iso would top at 12000 not 3600 and it would deliver 4k image, not 1080p. Also the dynamic range is quite bad here...

February 7, 2015 at 8:55AM, Edited February 7, 8:55AM

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Piotr Matyja
Director/Filmmaker
168

Defeats the purpose of these tests that a defy gimbal was used. A little misleading to say the least

February 11, 2015 at 4:58PM

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matt
543

I made a short film with this camera and I love the sensor stabilization. What do you think?
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i9c3aziC2cw

March 9, 2015 at 11:39AM, Edited March 9, 11:39AM

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Roy Fochtman
2BadMen | Filmmaker | Photographer
88