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April 7, 2015

Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark II Mirrorless Camera – Hands-On First Look and more….

Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark II

The Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark II Mirrorless Micro Four Thirds Digital Camera showed up from BHPhoto and I have some Hands-On first impressions that I wanted to share with you all.

First off, the camera build quality and design is freaking awesome and Sony could learn so much! The Rear LCD screen is far superior to the Sony design in my opinion and touch to boot. The manual controls on the top have an excellent feedback and the dampening is perfect. The other buttons are raised up slightly for easy finding on feel alone. More buttons on the front which I have the re-search, but in the middle is the lens re-lease.

Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark II Mirrorless Micro Four Thirds Digital Camera

Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark II Mirrorless Micro Four Thirds Digital Camera

From the top you can see the Mode dial is on the left side and is much harder to turn than the control dials which makes perfect sense. It also has a lock in the center to hold it firm in place on whatever mode you are in. Next to that mode dial is the on/off toggle which works as you would expect. Look at all those function buttons! Also note how far the thumb rest protrudes out, making it very effective and functional in combination with the camera thickness and contoured grip on the front. This design as a whole works quite well and yields plenty of support for heavier lenses. I do still prefer the large deep grip that the Sony cameras have, but this does work really well I must say.



Here she is with the Olympus M.Zuiko Digital 25mm f/1.8 Lens mounted. The lens is extremely light weight, but is very made! The focus ring feels like perfect butter and the lens coatings are everywhere and visible. The optics look really good on this lens!

Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark II Mirrorless Camera w/ 25mm f/1.8 Lens

Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark II Mirrorless Camera w/ 25mm f/1.8 Lens

And here she is with the M.ZUIKO DIGITAL ED 75-300mm f/4.8-6.7 II Lens mounted. This lens does not appear to be the same quality as the 25mm lens from the feel of the focus ring at least. It’s much easier to turn and does not have the perfect butter dampening like the 25mm lens. The zoom does feel very smooth though and the lens coatings are visible all over as well.

Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark II Mirrorless Camera w/ 75-300mm Lens

Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark II Mirrorless Camera w/ 75-300mm Lens

Be sure to check out the HD video below for a much closer highly detailed look of all this gear!


Hands-On First Look Video

In this video I will give you my hands-on first impressions of the new Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark II Mirrorless Camera. I open the box and put my hands on the camera for the first time and give my first impressions on the design and build quality. I then comment on the sensor size and compare it to my full frame Sony Alpha A7r to show how the bodies are somewhat similar.

Next, I open up w/ the M.ZUIKO DIGITAL ED 75-300mm f/4.8-6.7 II Lens which works out to 150-600mm effective, plus Olympus M.Zuiko Digital 25mm f/1.8 Lens which will give me a 50mm effective focal length equivalent,  and then show you those mounted to the OM-D E-M5 Mark II.

My goal here is to compare the Olympus camera system to the Sony camera system in a practical real world way as I always try and do… So lets take a look at the relevant competition starting with Olympus shall we?


Closing Remarks

So far so good with the Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark II Mirrorless Camera and lenses.

For the next part in this review series, I will include some hands-on live camera testing in the lab, and I will breakdown the insane menu system/ camera controls in more detail.

Please come alone for the ride as I investigate this new camera system and see how it compares to the killer Sony camera systems we all know and love 😉

Thanks again for checking in and have a great day,


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  1. I’m very interested in a comparative review against Sony a6000 with similar lenses.
    I guess Sony will win in picture and lose in video, just per 5 axis stabilization. Because the lack of good sony lenses Olympus is my alternative, but 16 mpx seem too few.

    • Jay

      Thanks for the comments SuperCurro and I don’t actually have the A6000 on hand, but I do have my Nex-6 and A7r. What specifically were your looking to compare about the two cameras? The IQ of the A6000 is about the same as the Nex-6 except for the resolution of course. Nex-6 is 16mp vs 24mp for the A6000. The sensor size is what I was going to try and compare in the lab and how it effects the depth of field and overall sharpness of the scene. I also wanted to try the 40MP high res image in the lab to compare to the 36mp A7r full frame camera.

      Thanks again for the comments and request,

      • There are three things I think is important to compare:

        1st image quality = resolution 24vs16 & low light noise at Real & Lab environment.
        2nd Focus= specially predictive focus, ie a child in a swing in a 20 pictures series at +6fps or the typical run against the camera (the swing is the hardest test).
        3rd video = on hand and walking, when you are following kids you made it on hand. If both cameras alfa6&MD5II mount together better.

        About menus, build quality etc. there are lot of reviews talking about them and you can go to a store to check it, but the predictive focus or speed is not something easy to find in a review.

        Obviously we want to know your feeling about the controls and menu, but a description make no sense to me.

      • Jay

        I really appreciate your detailed response SuperCurro and I will try and do everything you have requested 😉 I also appreciate the input on covering the menu system. It’s not worth my time if somebody already covered it on youtube extensively. I honestly have not searched the OM-D reviews yet so the feedback is awesome!

        Showing off the resolution difference is easy and I can do that with A7r if you really want to see that, but the focus testing I will need the A6000 in hand to compare A to B. I did review it already and the focus was incredible for mirrorless, but not DSLR good. So far the OM-D focus seems on par in the real world, but I have not done any high speed focus testing yet. The lens has a lot to do with focus speed and accuracy as well don’t forget!

        The video is noticeable better from the quick samples I took so far. The compression and color gradients in the shadow areas particularly look better. Much more testing is needed though and I’m looking forward to getting the lab testing done today hopefully 😉

        Thanks again,


      • Do you have a A7II? The A7R is an uncommon camera to compare with. Only few people have a A7R, but a lot of people have a A7, A7II or a6000 with 24mpx. Some one that has a 36Mpx camera don’t think in change to Olympus 16 Mpx, but people with 24mpx or looking for intermediate camera can doubt.

        It is only my point of view 🙂

      • Jay

        I have the A7r and Nex-6 which is 16mp, the same as the OM-D. I figured the Nex-6 would show apples to apples as far as resolution is concerned and how the larger format renders the scene in regards to depth of field and low light high ISO noise etc…

        I will see if I can get an a6000 for better testing 😉


  2. jimsimp3

    How does your NEX-6 compare to the A6000 ( your thoughts). IQ, menus, controls. e.g. I am considering purchasing for the improved auto-focus but do not wish to compromise other features.


    • Jay

      Hi Jim,

      The Nex-6 Menu system is horrible compared to the newer A6000 system in my opinion. You may like the picture based design though, and the A6000 has that option if you need it.

      Auto focus is also much better and significantly faster on the A6000. It has more features and a higher resolution sensor than the Nex-6 as well Jim. Therefore it is a good upgrade in my opinion all around.

      I hope that helps,

  3. Christos


    Looking forward to the full review. I like the idea of testing other systems and “benchmarking” them vs. Sony. Every system has it’s pros and cons.

  4. great review as always Jay – thanks. Keep up the great work – always love seeing your videos –

  5. Just wanted to add – there are two just awesome lenses from Olympus – the killer 45mm F1.8 (90mm) and can be had for around $250-400 – just awesome creamy bokeh – then of course the ultimate in portrait – the 75mm f 1.8 so sharp and creamy creamy bokeh – both light and fast in AF – the 75mm F1.8 is around $600-800 and with the Oly bodies with 5 axis IBIS – both lenses images stabilized primes –
    I still like the EM1 grip better and the A7/s/r/m2 grip better – but the LCD is great –
    Of course FF better in low light but lenses are larger and heavier – so m43 has it’s place with its many smaller and lighter lenses –
    To bad they did not send you the 45mm and 75mm as you would have been even more impressed 🙂 – of course the A7s is the king of low light for under $2500
    I have the A7 and A6000 and the EM1 and EM5 – my take is that yes there is a marginal IQ difference between the A6000 and the EM5 M2 – the APS -C sensor in the A6000 is larger and denser – but difference is marginal – the A6000 has similar pixel density as the EM5 M2 so low light performance is again very similar but I would say the Sony sensor does a bit better – The A7 of course has less pixel density and does Ok with ISO 6400 – but I try not to push ISO above 3200 on the M43 bodies – The A6000 is somewhere in-between 🙂 but I mostly leave it at auto with max at 3200 –
    The advantage now with the M43 system is the large selection of lenses –
    One can have a killer small and light and sharp 45mm F1.8 ( 90mm) portrait lens that is image stabilized for under $400 – The Sony E-APS-C mount 50mm F1.8 is a good deal price wise but a bit short of ideal portrait focal length – for the FE A7 one has to spend $1000 for the 90mm F2.8 macro – but it does have IS –
    I personally think the 75mm F1.8 is the nicest option with killer bokeh and in FF terms 150mm F3.6 – just super sharp.
    The A7/m2 body is nice but of course always nice to have more Fn buttons –
    The A6000 probably with the best tracking AF of these three –
    I think what I really really miss on my Sony’s is Touch LCD – Touch Shutter – Olympus also gives more features – like with flash control etc.

    • Jay

      Thanks for taking the time to write up all the additional information Ingolfur. I really appreciate it, and after using the 75-300mm for a while yesterday, I can see why those lenses you recommended would be so awesome. The extra effective zoom and depth of field sharpness achieved with the 2x crop factor is something to take serious note of 😉 In many ways the system is easier to use in that regard from my perspective anyways…

      I agree on the your grip and LCD points exactly and also low light performance overall.

      The features of the Olympus are incredible and blow Sony out of the water in that regard!

      I tested the Nex-6 vs the EM-5 Mark II in the lab and the Nex-6 is slightly better at ISO 25600 in my opinion, jpeg mode! I’m working on that comparison article now 😉

      Thanks again,

  6. Hey Jay … welcome to “the Dark Side” … LOL!
    I thought you were kidding about taking a look at the E-M5II but glad to see it, and looking forward to your always excellent insights.
    If I can be of any assistance to help shorten the learning curve, just shoot me an email and I’ll be happy to help. I also have several posts on my blog that may help shed some light on the OM-D system.
    Have fun! 🙂

    • Jay

      Hi Mike and thanks for the comments/ kind words 😉 I was planning on linking to your article on the back focus set-up in my full review and I needed to see what other articles you had that I was considering linking. I don’t want to break the whole menu system down, because it’s crazy time consuming and deep. Therefore not worth my time considering I specialize in Sony cameras. Do you have a full menu breakdown or anything like that? I was also going to link our friend Gary’s Book on the camera and was wondering if you co-authored anymore books?

      Thanks again,

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