Olympus E-M5 Mark II: Whoa, 41 Megapixel Photos Out Of Thin Air

Olympus E-M5 Mark II: Whoa, 41 Megapixel Photos Out of Thin Air

Small, retro, stylish: the Olympus OM-D EM-5 was one of the first mirrorless cameras to charm discerning photographers. The new E-M5 Mark II brings all that back, plus a wild new mode that magically gives you 41 megapixel images from a 16 megapixel sensor. And that's just one of the improvements.

The E-M5 Mark II does take on a slightly burlier profile than the original. It's a bit heavier by around 40 grams, and has a slightly thicker grip. The controls were tinkered with, and the display now flips out to the side and rotates. The Mark II borrows some things from the top-tier E-M1, like a terrific 2.36 million dot viewfinder, TruePic VII processor, and a 10 fps burst mode. Unfortunately, it doesn't inherit the E-M1's on-sensor phase detect auto-focus system, so don't expect anything close to DSLR-grade tracking results.

Olympus E-M5 Mark II: Whoa, 41 Megapixel Photos Out of Thin Air

Where the Mark II does claim to jump way ahead of its forebears is in video mode. The original E-M5 never had a complete set of video features, and neither did the E-M1 or smaller E-M10. The Mark II adds frame rate options (24, 25, 30, and 60 fps), and a 77 Mb/sec codec that should appeal to those looking for a cleaner, more professional image. A new interface for controlling video settings is also in the mix.

With the original E-M5, Olympus debuted a 5-axis image stabilisation system which was lauded and mimicked by many. Olympus says it's even better now, compensating for up to 5 stops of shake. Sony's similar system that arrived last year claims 4.5 stops. That's probably not a huge difference in practice, but we'll have to test it out when the camera ships.

Now, back to that wild 41 megapixel mode. This is a unique method of creating a super high res image where the sensor shifts left, right, up and down by tiny increments. Eight distinct shots are stitched together for the final image. There's a catch, though: the composite image will be a mess unless your camera's on a tripod. Maximum ISO is limited to 1600 and there's a minimum aperture setting of f/8. So while you might get super-high-res images under the right conditions, don't expect to use the 41 megapixel mode for everyday handheld pictures.

Olympus E-M5 Mark II: Whoa, 41 Megapixel Photos Out of Thin Air

One small but neat thing that got me super excited is the new bundled external flash. It's tiny, but swivels up like a proper speedlight for bouncing the light off a ceiling. Nice touch.

The OM-D E-M5 Mark II is launching in March for $US1100. It's on the expensive side of mirrorless cameras, but Olympus has some die-hard fans, and the upgrades of the Mark II should be enough to empty the pockets of a great many of them.

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