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Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II review

The best Micro Four Thirds camera yet

Editor's Choice

Our Verdict

With an expanded AF system, a fully customizable interface, solid video features and higher-res sensor, the OM-D E-M1 Mark II is Olympus' most impressive and feature-complete camera yet.


  • Unshakable image stabilization
  • Bulletproof weather-sealing
  • Laser-accurate autofocus


  • Pricey compared to rivals
  • Dense menu systems
  • As expensive as some full-frame cameras, or more so

The OM-D E-M1 has always represented the pinnacle of Olympus’ Micro Four Thirds portfolio. In fact, it was the first camera from the company that came with phase detection autofocus, an antialiasing filter-less sensor, focus peaking and higher frame rates to boot.

However, in the three years since its introduction other cameras have risen to prominence. The Panasonic Lumix GH4 has gained a foothold in the video sector, while Sony has impressed us with the A6000-line’s laser-quick AF, as well as introducing the A7 range of full-frame mirrorless cameras. Then there’s Fujifilm, which along with the X-T2 is our favorite mirrorless camera to date.

Now with the OM-D E-M1 Mark II, Olympus is attempting to even the odds. The result is a completely overhauled camera with a higher-resolution 20.4MP sensor, greatly improved 121-point cross-type AF system, and enhanced in-body image stabilization, plus 4K video and Olympus' best video-shooting features to date. 

These improvements come with a necessarily higher $1,999 or £1,849 (about AU$2,610) price tag for the camera body alone, whereas the first OM-D E-M1 originally retailed for $1,399 (£1,299, AU$1,599). 

While it’s an unattractive price point for the enthusiast/casual photographers Olympus usually attracts, it’s clear the company aims to cater to the needs of professional photographers with this fully featured camera and a growing line of Pro lenses – several of which were announced alongside the initial debut of the E-M1 Mark II.


  • 20.4 megapixel Live MOS MFT sensor
  • 3-inch 1,037K dot tilt-angle screen
  • 2.36M dot EVF 1.48x magnification
  • Cinema 4K

The OM-D E-M1 Mark II is the second camera to feature Olympus’ new 20.4MP sensor since its debut in the Pen-F. While the resolution is the same, Olympus has tweaked the image sensor for better noise reduction as well as now incorporating 121 cross-type 121 cross-type AF on-chip phase detection points spread across the entire frame.

The company claims the autofocus system is completely new and programmed with a new algorithm tuned for better tracking. Overall we find the Mark II to be even more accurate and faster than ever when it comes to autofocusing – and speediness really is one word to describe the new E-M1.

The higher-resolution 2.36M dot EVF now operates at a maximum 120 frames per second with a delay of only 5ms. This upgraded viewfinder pairs well with the 30% reduced shutter lag, and with Olympus' new ProCapture mode, which is designed to capture split-second moments.

Of course, if you want to slow things down the OM-D E-M1 II can oblige there as well. Its enhanced on-sensor image stabilization system now offers 5.5 stops of shake reduction.

The OM-D E-M1 Mark II is also Olympus' first camera to offer 4K UHD (3840 x 2160) video recording at 30, 25 or 24fps. What’s more, the Japanese camera company is leapfrogging over Sony and Panasonic by being the first to introduce Cinema 4K, which captures 4096 x 2060 pixel footage – a slightly wider aspect ratio than the traditional 16:9 frame – at a bitrate of up to 237mbps.