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Date: 22/09/2016 | By: Mathieu

Olympus OM-D E-M1 mark II: questions answered, clarifications and extra information


Olympus OM-D E-M1 mark II: questions answered, clarifications and extra information

One of the most difficult tasks when a new product is announced is to gather precise and correct information about the various specifications and minute details in a very short period of time. In fact, even some of the things written in the press releases and specification sheets can lack some precision. This can result in some confusion (and we are not immune to it!).

Update: check out our extended second impression review with continuous AF tests and much more!

This is why we went back to meet with Olympus a second time to ask more in-depth questions about the OM-D E-M1 mark II and clear up any confusion about the new camera. We also took note of the questions we have been receiving here on MirrorLessons, on our YouTube channel, and via email / our social media networks. Below you will find all the details we are able to gather. Please note that we couldn’t double check all the answers by trying out the camera. It’s still a pre-production model and once again, time with it was limited.

Continuous shooting speed and autofocus

With the mechanical shutter, the E-M1 II can shoot up to 15fps in High mode but the AF is locked at the first frame. It doesn’t matter if you have Continous-AF selected.

If you want continuous autofocus, you need to select the Low continuous shooting mode and the maximum speed is 10fps.

I apologise for sharing the wrong speed information for C-AF in my hands-on video. Since the E-M1 with firmware 4.0 enabled continuous AF with the High mode, I assumed the E-M1 II would do the same. The E-M1 II has gone back to the original settings. To be extra clear:

  • E-M1 (before firmware 4.0) and E-M1 II: High mode with AF locked at the first frame, Low mode with continuous AF
  • E-M1 with firmware 4.0: High mode and Low mode with Continuous AF

With the electronic shutter (a.k.a. silent mode), the speed goes up to 60fps with AF locked at the first frame and 18fps in C-AF.

All the speeds are available in RAW. At 60fps, the camera can shoot for longer than one second and how long it can go will depend on the buffer capabilities and the memory card. Olympus hasn’t disclosed the buffer specifications yet. Of course the best performance will be found with the fastest UHS-II memory cards.

The new AF system is also capable of detecting moving subjects automatically and choosing the appropriate AF points (similar to the 4D Focus of Sony cameras).

In addition to All Target, single and the 9-Target group AF points, there is also a new 5-point group area.

Rolling shutter with electronic shutter/silent mode

In my first impression article published the other day, I expressed my concern about using the electronic shutter at 18fps with fast moving subjects. Olympus didn’t mention anything about rolling shutter improvements during the presentation so I asked for additional information.

The E-M1 II improves rolling shutter correction in comparison to the E-M1 thanks to a faster sensor readout and the new TruePic VIII processor. However it’s not completely gone: they explained that animals at a distance shouldn’t be a problem while a fan or propeller spinning will still be affected.

olympus omd em1 ii

Of course we have to see in a real world test how much the rolling shutter has been minimised. However if shooting wildlife and birds in flight at a distance is rolling shutter free, this is really great news. It also means that we’re one step closer to getting rid the rolling shutter issue altogether. For example, Sony did an excellent job with the RX100 IV / RX10 II and III and the Stacked CMOS sensor.

The various brands are apparently working on global shutter and the possibility of getting rid of mechanical shutters in the future.

Pro Capture AF

This mode allows you to capture up to 14 frames when you half press the shutter release button, eliminating any issue with shutter delay. This mode uses the electronic shutter.

olympus omd em1 ii

You can choose the number of frames you want to take when half-pressing the shutter button and also set how many pictures the camera should take after the shutter button has been fully pressed.

New and improved autofocus / manual focus settings

The E-M1 II comes with several new AF settings. Let’s have a look at the most important ones.

AF Scanner

It allows you to control the back and forth movements of the lens elements. There are three modes available:

  • Mode 1: If the subject appears unclear or if contrast is low, the AF Scanner will be deactivated
  • Mode 2: If the subject appears unclear or if contrast is low, the AF Scanner will run once only
  • Mode 3: If the subject appears unclear or if contrast is low, the AF Scanner will still be activated

AF Limiter

This is a feature you often find in the form of switch button on telephoto lenses. With the E-M1 II you can customise the distance in-camera and three presets are available. You can also select focus or release priority.

What’s interesting about this setting is that it could also be used as a more advanced version of the Snap Focus mode found on the Ricoh GR. If you select a short gap between the minimum and maximum distance (like 2m and 4m), you can use it for hyperfocal distances with the correct aperture. Street photographers might love this feature. However they told us that the distance set is an approximation so we’ll have to see how precise this mode is. It will work with any AF Micro Four Thirds lenses.

C-AF Lock

This setting is available on the original E-M1 but instead of choosing between Low, Normal and High, you have a total of four steps (+2 to -2) ranging from Loose and Tight.

olympus omd em1 ii

AF Area Pointer

Available on the E-M1 as well but you can only choose between On and Off. On the E-M1 II, you have the following options:

  • On1: Displays frame
  • On2: Displays frame when shutter button is half pressed
  • Off: Does not display frame

Preset MF Distance

New to the E-M1 II, it allows you to select a focus distance that the camera sets when you switch to manual focus. For example if you are doing astro-photography, you can set it to infinity so that the focus distance is already close to where you want it to be and you just need to make some final adjustments.

olympus omd em1 ii


4K video

There is no sensor crop for both UHD and Cinema 4K unless you activate digital stabilisation in addition to 5-axis IS (8% crop).

We couldn’t get an answer about full pixel readout: that information is not yet available. I see two possible options:

  • the camera does full pixel readout at a higher resolution than 4K, then downscales (like the Sony a6300)
  • the camera doesn’t do full pixel readout which could be a reason there is no crop (Lumix cameras have full pixel readout but there is always a crop in 4K).

Continuous AF will be available with the same features as for stills. You can vary the exposure while recording.

Electronic viewfinder

The E-M1 II’s EVF has a fast 120fps refresh rate but that same speed is also available on the E-M1 if you select High for the Frame rate option (Custom Menu D). However, by doing so, the resolution of the EVF decreases.

The E-M1 II will have 120fps at full resolution. One thing remains unclear and that is whether 120fps is the default speed. The camera has the same Frame Rate settings in the menu (Normal / High) but we couldn’t get an answer about which one refers to 120fps.

Exposure compensation for Auto ISO in Manual shooting mode

We double checked on an E-M1 II sample and unfortunately this option is not available.

Minimum shutter speed with Auto ISO

The US press release confirms the setting is available. Quoting the text:

“Lowest Shutter Speed Setting on the camera will allow users to predefine a minimum shutter speed so that the ISO sensitivity will increase in low-light situations rather than slowing down the shutter speed. This is convenient for handheld shooting in low-light environments.”

Menu system

As you have already noticed, the design is new. However, the organisation remains more or less the same: two Shooting Menus, one Custom Menu, one Playback Menu, one Setup menu and the Video Menu which is not buried in the Custom Menu anymore.

Some settings have been relocated as well. For example, the Card Setup is now in the Setup menu and not the Shooting Menu 1.

Back-up of customised camera settings

You will be able to save all your camera settings on your computer and re-apply them to the camera. This means you won’t lose your settings when you update the camera firmware. It can also be useful if you are shooting with two or more cameras in order to have the same settings across the board.

Time synchronisation and new mobile app

When you set the time in the Setup Menu, the seconds will also be displayed. A smartphone app will allow you to sync time between different cameras to make sure you have the same exact time if you are using more than one camera.

olympus omd em1 ii

There will also be a new mobile app that allows you to crop, rotate and apply Art filters to the image you transfer.

New BLH-1 battery vs old BLN-1 battery

The old E-M1 (BLN-1) batteries won’t be compatible with the E-M1 II. As you can see in the picture, the new battery is definitely bigger. Olympus told us that the new E-M1 II doesn’t consume much more power than its predecessor so there seems to be a big gain in battery life indeed (approximately 40%).

The new BLH-1 is also capable of storing some data related to the battery performance. In a specific submenu, it will tell you how many shots are left, how healthy the battery is and how much of a charge remains. If you put that same battery in a second E-M1 II camera, this information will be preserved and passed on to the second camera. So you can swap batteries between different E-M1 II bodies and each battery will always retain its own information.

The new battery charger, which is twice as fast as the old one (2 hours instead of 4), will indicated the charging level with three different blinking signals (1-40, 40-80, 80-100 %).

Finally many of you asked if the E-M1 II can be charged via USB: unfortunately, it cannot.

Pro support

The new service announced by Olympus has three options and is available in Europe only. However there is a Pro service available in the US and another one in Asia but they are different. Basically the Pro service is not worldwide but run independently in different areas.

We hope we managed to answer most, if not all of your questions about the E-M1 II. Now all that’s left is to wait for the final production sample to arrive! :-)

Additional reads:

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About the author: Mathieu Gasquet

Mathieu Gasquet is a professional photographer with French and Italian origins. Besides running his own video and photography studio 3Dit Lab, he is also the official photographer for the National Cinema Museum in Turin. You can follow him on Google+, Twitter or Facebook!

  • Srg
  • Mathieu

    Not sure about that yet.

  • rjc1008

    Can you separately lock the flash exposure and auto-exposure? Something I miss from my Nikon D90 is the ability to Auto-Exposure-Lock on my background and Auto-Flash-Lock on my subject and get both correctly exposed easily. Simple things, but so useful. Separate buttons on the D90 to do it too.

  • Mathieu

    My guess is because the Pen F has a dedicated exposure compensation dial while the E-M1/E-M1 II only have the twin exposure dials (shutter speed and aperture).
    Not sure about the second question.

  • lunic

    The PEN-F had exposure compensation with Auto ISO in M mode – if E-M1Ⅱ does not, it will be disappointing, seriously. Some serious users also demanded spot metering syncronized with AF point position, and it become available with the PEN-F. What about E-M1Ⅱ? does that function still alive?

  • Mathieu

    I heard it’s 8 bit but not all the specs are official yet, fingers crossed ! :) But it will only be via the HDMI port for sure.

  • Srg

    4/3rumors said something about 10bit 4:2:2 video through HDMI only?..

  • Bella Pete

    Is there any chance that the minimum shutter speed can be related to the focal length in auto-iso (eg 1/xf) or we just configure a minimum shutter speed (quite useless for a zoom)?

  • Bruce CG Gallagher

    Hi NeroMetalliko,
    I’m afraid my brain is a little fuzzy…could you tell me the meaning of
    ‘MEH!’….thanks Bruce

  • Juurikas

    Olympus page says this:

    AF System Type High-speed imager AF: Imager phase detection AF and imager contrast AF (active AF automatically selected by camera; when a Micro Four Thirds lens is attached, imager phase detection AF is always selected)

  • Juurikas

    Olympus page states range to be from -2 LV to +20 LV.

  • Frank

    Something that I am curious of is low light auto focus sensitivity. anyone hear of anything about that?

  • Will Humber

    I take it back, you’re correct. The Olympus E-M1 spec page would indicate otherwise, but I went ahead and measured it and it’s definitely 9ish (more like 8.5) FPS with C-AF turned on.

  • Claudia Muster

    I hope the minimum shutter speed with auto ISO setting will make its way into a new firmware for the e-m1. As it is now, the setting is much too conservative (in my opinion).

  • Mathieu

    For Single-AF yes. For Continuous AF the max. is 9fps. Granted, it’s not a huge difference :)

  • Will Humber

    Just to nitpick, 10fps is exactly the same as the current E-M1.

  • Dustin

    Thank you for your investigative reporting. Really appreciate your dedication!!

  • Brian Bullock

    Great update, but I have two questions I haven’t seen answered anywhere:

    1) Do the DR and noise reduction claims apply to RAW as well as jpg?

    2) Does the artifact correction for hi-res shots work with RAW? Presumably with only Oly’s software at this time unless they ‘cook’ the RAW files somehow.


  • Mathieu

    Well, they finally invited me to dinner! 😀 😀 😀

  • Mathieu

    Where did you read it’s LCD?

  • Bob B.

    It would not make any sense to produce a camera with a revolutionary 120 cross PDAF points in 2017 that will ONLY work on lenses that the company no longer sells. Right?

  • Bob B.

    Thanks so much! I learned a lot from this insightful post. LOVE the fact that we can save our camera settings on our computers. That’s fantastic.

  • zensu

    Thanks for keeping us up to date and informed. I can’t wait until you guys get your hands on a production run camera and put it through your own evaluation.

  • Marcelo Guarini

    Excellent summary, many thanks

  • SpecFoto

    Now THAT was a great report, Thank You!

  • dural78

    Fantastic summary, thank you!
    It’s amazing that those quad core processors cannot handle Exposure Comp + Auto ISO in Manual mode. For what ever reason, both Olympus and Panasonic do not offer this!

  • Mathieu

    It’s the answer I got. I’ll try to find out about 4/3 lenses.

  • goblin

    “AF Limiter … … …

    … … … It will work with any AF Micro Four Thirds lenses…”

    That one is a huge red flag. “Micro Four Thirds lenses”. What about 4/3 lenses ? Is this your own comment, or Olympus’ official words ?

    The AF limiter is an absolutely priceless addition for 4/3 lenses. Not having it with these will be a huge disappointment.

    Can you clarify on this please ?


  • NeroMetalliko.

    I fully agree with you (and with Mathieu which posted a similar opinion just below),
    an evident C-AF accuracy improvement is to be expected (and it’s really welcome),
    I still think I was fair with my observation because I had already highlighted this aspect in my comment too…

  • NeroMetalliko

    This is the exact reason why usually I prefer to avoid to post public comments: because no matter how polite and honest opinion one will share, there will be always someone who will place disrespectful answers…
    I have listed some facts and I have simply added my opinion aside.
    You are entitled of your opinion exactly as I’m entitled of mine: so, could you be so kind to add some real arguments in order to be constructive for the discussion instead of this useless (and offensive) comment?

  • TheTree

    The new EVF with 6ms lag and 120 FPS should operate at full resolution (high). The normal option may decrease the refresh rate (60 FPS) for extended battery life. At least I would expect this behaviour if they mentioned this as a main feature of the camera. “Aim for speed… and this EVF/OVF confusion between users of the first test units…” The fact is they didnt mention the resolution in this mode…
    Good observation @matmirrorlessons:disqus Thanks for additional info. Good job as always.

  • Mathieu
  • Mathieu

    Apparently it’s available. The US press release mentions it.

  • Mathieu

    Good catch! 😉

  • Justin

    If you read the olympus press release under the point “additional features”, it speaks about a minimum shutter speed setting. Hope this helps, cheers!

  • Mathieu

    I am sure it will come down in price.

  • António

    Thanks for your reports!
    So is this a great season to get and ‘old’ 2nd hand OMD E M1?

  • ChrisHarrisionPhoto

    Any news on minimum shutter speed in Auto ISO? I know there is currently a fudge using Flash Slow Limit but it would be awesome to have a proper, configurable Auto ISO, particuarly so given how good IBIS is.

    Coming from a current Nikon user this is absolutely critical for me (and many others I know)

  • Christian Robert

    your post = MEH!

  • Paul Stuart

    Ok something similar to the sony a6300

  • Mathieu

    I haven’t seen any new settings concerning Auto ISO but I could have missed it to be honest.

  • Mathieu

    The big improvement I expect is with the AF.
    High Res Shot hand held is very complex: the sensor shift has to move 8 times while trying to compensate camera shake. It requires a super fast readout and I guess it’s not possible yet.

  • Mathieu

    AF scanner allows you to control focus on a subject you are following. Let’s say you are tracking a horse running in a filed but then some trees or people get in the way. between you and the horse. The camera could try to refocus on the unwanted elements in front of your subject and as a result you loose the AF on your subject. AF scanner can tell the camera to “ignore” those unwanted elements.

  • Mathieu

    AF scanner is useful when tracking a subject and unwanted elements might pass in front of it (cars if you are on the street or people walking etc). So you can tell the camera is it should bother refocusing or if it should keep the its focus on the subject you are tracking. It could be useful in low light was well, preventing the camera from going back and forth with the lens too much.

  • Mathieu

    Thanks Scott. Not sure when will be able to test a final unit. Hopefully around November.

  • Scott

    Outstanding piece Mathieu! You and Heather have the best “No Nonsense” gear review on the internet IMHO. Have you any indication as to how long before you have a unit to review? Very anxious to get your opinion on how much IQ has improved and to what extent i.e noise, DR and High ISO. Thank you!

  • Steve McKenzie

    Thanks Mathieu, can’t wait.

  • nostraldamus

    Thanks for article, it answered many of the questions I had about the camera! A few further questions:
    – how does the af-scanner affect focusing in practise – in what kind of situations would you change the mode?
    – is the PRO capture full electronic shutter or can you still get 1 mechanical shutter pic when you actually press the shutter button? Could be useful for comparing e-shutter and mechanical results (rolling shutter)
    – does the free level of pro support differ from the current service plus for e-m1 users?

    As a sidenote, I’m sure when fully global shutter arrives it will be superior to mechanical but I still like to hear the affirmative clank of a shutter closing 😀 – the silentness of e-shutter takes some time to get used to…

  • Paul Stuart

    How does af scanner work ? and some one mentioned hi res available at 1/160th sec

  • NeroMetalliko

    Many thanks for the job and information, I really appreciate it.

    So, to summarize the comparison between EM1 mark-II and EM1 mark-I:

    – even if in the EM1 mark II there will be 2 new super-duper quad-core engines (with one specifically dedicated to AF which mill means hopefully a better overall AF performance) the EM1 mark-II at launch will not greatly outperform the EM1 mark-I (FW 4.1) as per what is purely related to mechanical shutter H-burst fps with continuous AF (the difference will be only 10fps vs 9fps) : MEH!

    – still no exposure compensation in M mode with auto ISO (like EM1 mark-I) : very big MEH!

    – still no 14bit RAW (like EM1 mark-I) : MEH!

    – there is an enhanced version of HR mode but no hand-held : MEH!

    – there is 4K video up to 30 : OK

    – there is a full swivel screen, improved battery and ergonomics : OK

    – there is a new fast readout 20Mpix sensor with small IQ improvement with less rolling shutter (good for video and electronic shutter) : OK (but I don’t expect big improvement in still IQ, let we see…)

    …mmm, there are a lot of MEH! :(
    I have to admit that the first 4 points are really important for me and so now I am not so excited regarding the new camera….

    Thanks again.


  • Andreas Balko

    Can you tell us something about Auto-ISO settings. Up to now, the Auto-ISO settings in Olympus cameras seems very rudimentary compared to my Nikon. With my D300 I can define the slowest shutter speed.
    Best regards

  • Mathieu

    They didn’t specify if it’s a Sony sensor but we can assume so easily. But apparently it’s a new sensor in comparison to the one found on the Pen F (faster readout). It’s definitely different than the one of the current E-M1.

  • Mathieu

    Yes, it’s there and same settings as E-M1.

  • Mathieu

    It’s 12 bit.

  • Mathieu


  • Mathieu


  • Mathieu


  • Mathieu


  • Anastas Stas Tarpanov

    GreAt info, thanks Mathieu, very sad for the lack of exposure compensation in M mode with auto ISO, this is a deal breaker for me.

    Also have you asked the Olympus representatives why there is still no 14bit RAW in their Pro camera?

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