E-M5II – Initial Impressions.

Discussion in 'Olympus Cameras' started by VSTR61, May 16, 2017.

  1. VSTR61

    VSTR61 Mu-43 Regular

    May 15, 2017
    Perth, Western Australia
    In a nutshell, I kinda like it.

    As an Olympus fan from the late 70’s and early 80’s, I was excited to see the release of the OM-D range several years back. Had I not already heavily invested in Canon I would have jumped straight back onto the ‘O-train’ and been more than happy. Fast forward to today and circumstances have forced my hand.

    I wasn’t willing to fully commit to another format at this stage which scrubbed the E-M1II from my list of possibilities. It may be a beast but it’s not cheap and didn’t have the silver option. The E-M10II was deemed a little too ‘entry-level’ and I knew I would regret not having some of the features of the better models.

    This left the E-M5II. All the features I was after and then some. Best of all, a local shop had several body and lens kits available at more than a fair price. I ended up grabbing the E-M5II & 12-40 PRO as this represented the best value of all the options.

    The first thing that is hard to miss is the physical size of a four thirds camera. None of them are exactly large and the E-M5II is dwarfed by my Canon 5D4. This would have to be smaller than my original OM10 let alone the OM1 and whilst the classic look is killer, the ergonomics don’t exactly suit a larger bloke’s hands.

    The first accessory I bought was the HLD-8G grip. It absolutely transforms the camera; it’s now easier to hold and the buttons fall easier to my fingertips. I didn’t purchase the additional battery holder as it added weight and size, the two things I was trying to lose. Coincidentally the same first accessory I bought for my OM10 back in 1979 so I guess the package just fits me.

    The next thing that struck me was the menu system. It’s difficult. It needs to be more intuitive if it’s going to attract new owners from other brands. It took me the best part of two evenings to get my head around the menus and set it up to shoot the way I wanted. Even now I’m not completely happy.

    There are some good points that do stand out too:

    That 5-way IBIS. It’s brilliant. I can’t fault any part of it and it makes life so much easier at longer focal lengths. Add it to the lightweight gear and it feels like you could hand-hold at over a second. Whilst this is wishful thinking, I am pushing new boundaries.

    And how about that EVF? I’m so glad Olympus didn’t go cheap with the viewfinder. It’s clear, sharp, and completely usable even when I’m wearing glasses. Without glasses, it offers more diopter adjustment than any other camera I’ve used. The switching between the EVF and the LV Monitor takes a bit of getting used to but it does happen.

    The touchscreen works well but I’ve found it difficult for my clumsy fingers and removed most of the options.

    The fit and finish of the camera is outstanding. All the buttons operate in a positive manner although I feel the dials could use stronger springs as they all move far too easily. Lastly, the retro styling is cooler than the other side of the pillow. Why would anybody buy the black version?

    Shooting with this camera is a bit of an anticlimax. The shutter is quiet, focusing is fast, and if it wasn’t for the image popping up on the chimpovision screen you wouldn’t think much had happened. Go figure, I miss mirror slap?

    I promised myself I wouldn’t compare the E-M5II with my 5D4. To do so would be grossly unfair as they are nothing alike and do very little the same. As such, I feel the ‘little 5’ is quite capable of doing what it does well but that’s something I’ll expand upon in another post…
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  2. Carbonman

    Carbonman Mu-43 All-Pro Subscribing Member

    Jul 10, 2014
    Vancouver BC
    You can turn 'chimpovision' off in the menus if you wish. I mainly use the blue review button to make sure I got something moving fast through the scene or to chimp while sitting drinking coffee. The default 0.5 second image review is amazingly irritating. I can't imagine anyone wants it or uses it unless they can't figure out how/where to turn it off.
  3. VSTR61

    VSTR61 Mu-43 Regular

    May 15, 2017
    Perth, Western Australia
    Yeah, a half-second default. I'm not seeing the logic of that either.
  4. Clint

    Clint Mu-43 All-Pro Subscribing Member

    Apr 22, 2013
    San Diego area, CA
    If you want to change that, it is Rec View in the Set Up tab. If you're like quite a lot of us, it won't be long before your DSLR gear is just kind of doing more sitting than being used. Enjoy!
    Last edited: May 17, 2017
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  5. T N Args

    T N Args Agent Photocateur

    Dec 3, 2013
    Adelaide, Australia
    call me Arg
    Turn off Quick Sleep Mode if you want any kind of responsiveness....
  6. VSTR61

    VSTR61 Mu-43 Regular

    May 15, 2017
    Perth, Western Australia
    I had a play with this camera today at work. It seems the grip isn't necessary all the time. The 45mm f1.8 is so light i can easily hold the camera in the traditional manner. I'm thinking a couple of lightweight lenses (maybe a 17mm, 45mm, and the not-so-light 90mm) and no grip, this could be the kit I hit the road with?

    The grip is still a help with the 12-40 PRO though.
  7. christofp

    christofp Mu-43 Regular

    Jul 21, 2012
    Regarding the grip, if you are torn betwenn the big grip and no grip: try to add the ECG-2 plate. It is much smaller than the grip but improves handling quite a lot.

    And, it is very very useful on a Arca Swiss style tripod head ...

    • Informative Informative x 1
  8. VSTR61

    VSTR61 Mu-43 Regular

    May 15, 2017
    Perth, Western Australia
    Thanks. I was wondering how I was going to handle the tripod connection.
  9. ijm5012

    ijm5012 Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Oct 2, 2013
    Pittsburgh, PA
    Thanks for your thoughts on the camera Vic. I own an M5-II (along with an E-M1 & E-M1 II), and really enjoy using the camera.

    I do agree about the size of the camera. When it's "naked" it's too small IMO. The buttons are a bit small & fiddly, but that's to be expected with a tiny camera. I purchased the RRS base plate for it, which made a big difference in terms of the handling. The previously mentioned ECG-2 would do the same, but add a bit of a grip to help with the 12-40 PRO. Personally, I don't feel the need for the grip with 12-40 PRO attached, but it could be the extra height of the RRS plate giving me more area to hold the camera.

    I tend to use the M5-II with my small, AF primes (12/2, 20/1.7, 42.5/1.7, 75/1.8). They all fit very neatly in to a tiny bag. I tend to use my larger & heavier lenses on my E-M1/E-M1 II.

    Once you're more familiar with the camera and have had a chance to shoot with it for a while, I'd be curious to get your impressions of how it compares to the 5D4. Obviously, the M5 II is a camera that's nearly 3 years old now (but still very capable IMO), and the 5D4 is the latest & greatest from Canon, but it'd still be interesting to get your thoughts (as well as some comparison images if possible).

    If there's one tip to keep in mind when shooting m43 coming from FF, it would be to watch your aperture. I've seen it many times where FF users buy a camera, and shoot it at f/11-f/16, and complain about the images not being as sharp. The optimal aperture range for the majority of m43 lenses is f/4-f/8, as beyond that you start to get in to diffraction (f/11 is still useful, but I tend to use it only it's absolutely necessary for the image I'm shooting). The 12-40 PRO you have is very good wide open, and peaks at f/5.6 in terms of sharpness.
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  10. VSTR61

    VSTR61 Mu-43 Regular

    May 15, 2017
    Perth, Western Australia
    That's good advice regarding aperture thanks, Ian. Before I bought the camera I ran some of the lens' data through a field tools app and quickly realised I wasn't just doubling the virtual focal length. Hence my movement toward sub f/2.0 primes rather than the more expensive (sexy as they are) zooms.

    I also looked at the RRS plate but I was trying to keep the bills sensible whilst 'er indoors was standing right next to me at the counter. The deal was that if I sold the Canon 70-200 f/2.8L, I could use that money to buy into four thirds. She's yet to notice the 45 and 75 I found cheap on Gumtree...

    I'm still feeling my way with this camera and I'm looking forward to spending a few hours outside this weekend. If the weather holds, I'll run a few tests with the 'little 5' and the 'big 5' both wearing 45mm lenses. Doubling the Canon f/stop and cropping to 4/3 size should level the playing field?
  11. ijm5012

    ijm5012 Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Oct 2, 2013
    Pittsburgh, PA
    Honestly, worrying about creating exactly the same image from both cameras will just be an exercise in futility & frustration, because you'll always have people pointing out what you did wrong.

    If you want equivalent DoF, then your m43 camera should be 2 stops lower than your FF camera. So if you're shooting at f/2.8 on m43, then it'll yield the same DoF as f/5.6 on FF.

    The "problem" with this, is that when you're shooting an image, you're never really concerned with DoF (except for portraits, wanting to make sure the necessary features are in focus, or landscapes, wanting to make sure you have enough in focus). So the best test in terms of practical use is to just use the cameras as you normally would in a typical scenario. Shoot some images, and see how they compare against one another. That's how you'll end up using the camera in most situations anyhow.
  12. VSTR61

    VSTR61 Mu-43 Regular

    May 15, 2017
    Perth, Western Australia
    Sorry, that was meant as a little tongue-in-cheek. That 45mm Tamron is my favourite lens right now and I'm just looking for excuses to use it.

    The real reason for this exercise is to decide whether or not I can enjoy photography with a smaller format camera. If micro four thirds works out, I'm dumping full frame.
  13. Dave in Wales

    Dave in Wales Mu-43 All-Pro

    Nov 5, 2011
    West Wales
    My impressions posted on a UK forum.......

    'Wow, just 'Wow...I bought a brick with a lens.
    I've been camera less for about a year and thought I'd like to dabble again.

    After having a few E-M1 MK1's previous, of course it had to be one of them, I just love-em.

    But now they are getting harder and harder to find new, and the price has escalated.

    So I have just purchased what i can only call, a brick with a lens (12-40) attached.

    WOW, what a beautiful thing, kicks the E-M1 MK1 into the long grass, as good as it is, IMVHO.

    The IQ is OUTSTANDING, even casual shots taken accidentally.

    I have added a small grip, HDL-8G, and that makes it even better...sort of WOW-WOW.
    The grip is 'essential' IMVHO, should have been built in.

    The new 'tilt-swivel' flash is a mini gem.

    After just one day I think I prefer the old E-M1's 'tilt' screen over this 'fully articulating' jobbie, but time will tell.

    Of course it has it's foibles, what camera doesn't.

    I'd liked to have seen 'stacking' built in, it's limited by the buffer I understand.

    Well done Oly, a triumph.

    As for value...£1164 after £85 cash-back, not bad considering it's has the fabulous 12-40.

    I have no fear for personal safety when I'm carrying it. biggrin.

    Heavy it's not, just 2lb-2oz (body, 12-40 and grip) but, SOLID it is, reminds me of my old Nikons, FM's, FE's and F2's.
  14. jrsilva

    jrsilva Mu-43 All-Pro

    Nov 1, 2012
  15. TheMenWhoDrawSheeps

    TheMenWhoDrawSheeps Mu-43 Veteran

    Jun 15, 2016
    Comparing ff to mft try to keep your shutterspeed the same, on both cameras -
    Meaning You need to apply crop to f-stop AND iso.
    For stills, you actually can handhold it up to 1/10s quite easily - make use of it.

    Use it wisely, and you won't feel much of a difference. Knowing that - i barely ever use my 5II above iso800, getting much better IQ than my friends with ff gear.
  16. VSTR61

    VSTR61 Mu-43 Regular

    May 15, 2017
    Perth, Western Australia
    Thanks for the recommendations, lads.

    Right now, it's cold, wet, and dark outside. The footy's on the TV, the beer's cold, and 'er indoors is just nipping down to the chippie for dinner. I was going to go out tonight and try some night shots but the alternatives won out!

    Maybe tomorrow...
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  17. VSTR61

    VSTR61 Mu-43 Regular

    May 15, 2017
    Perth, Western Australia
    To wind up my initial impressions, I had planned on using my Saturday getting to know the new camera. However, I awoke to miserable looking weather outside so I resigned myself to shooting a few shots not too far away from the coffee machine.

    First up, focusing. The E-M5II is as fast as anything I've used before providing there's enough light. It's fast and with the right lens, accurate. Face recognition is very good. The flexibility of having most of the screen covered in focus points is always a bonus.

    The IBIS is also as good as or better than Canon ‘L’ lenses I’ve owned in the past. I must keep reminding myself that I’m holding the equivalent of a 150mm lens at 1/8 second and yet getting good results. I’m not saying they’re great photos but they are sharp.

    My larger hands are finding the controls cramped but not totally unusable. Mind you, six controls on the back of a camera is nothing like the seventeen on the back of the Canon 5D4. The customisable controls helped me set up the camera so I would be in the ballpark when instinctively reaching for my favourites located on the old camera but I’m not sure if a couple of the buttons on the top need to be there.

    The flippity touchscreen was something I wasn’t sure about. Canon’s pro-style cameras don’t have them and being very much an old-school bore, I had preconception that they were a gimmick for non-serious users. Kids love that sort of stuff, right? Well so do I now and I find I’m using it quite a lot. If I didn’t want to use this tool for extreme composition I can just make it go away by flipping the screen around laying in the dirt to get my shots.

    And now for some examples from each of the three lenses I bought. These have had minimal processing being imported raw, converted, shrunk, and exported as jpegs.

    The 12-40 PRO might be a touch weighty and slow at f/2.8 but there's no denying it has standout IQ. The one of my daughter is actually the centre 1500x1000 pixels from a shot taken in the kitchen. I believe I used my Canon 580EXII flash but it didn't appear in the exif.

    34786896595_aabece6bea_o. 1240Joc by VSTR61, on Flickr

    The obligatory shot of the flower in the garden.
    34746550276_4e907c8f92_o. 1240flower by VSTR61, on Flickr

    A momento of Nepal.
    33944487634_9b3d26cbb2_o. 1240PrayerWheel by VSTR61, on Flickr

    The 75 f/1.8 can only be undersold. Without a doubt, one of the best lenses I've ever used. This is the IQ I was hoping to get with full frame gear.

    Too wet to go outside.
    34786888145_836962070a_o. O75Palms by VSTR61, on Flickr

    The cat thinks so too.
    34624333212_901cfefd30_o. O75Cat by VSTR61, on Flickr

    Focusing by touchscreen.
    33944474374_940491a15b_o. O75bottles by VSTR61, on Flickr

    Outside between showers.
    34624332172_6f304bfa45_o. O75Showers by VSTR61, on Flickr

    And the rather disappointing 45 f/1.8. I've been underwhelmed by this lens as I've found it to be rather soft. Maybe I got a bad one or is it wrong to compare it to the other two lenses?

    A freeloader at my mother's house.
    34786893605_c0277fdb60_o. O45dog by VSTR61, on Flickr

    This would be me, freeloading at my mother's house.
    34786892475_9efb0da8bd_o. O45mug by VSTR61, on Flickr

    And just because I had it on file; The 5D4 and 70-200 f/2.8L II. I did touch up the clouds with some clarity around the outside.
    34788872235_cec9f2065e_o. 5D4Stormbird by VSTR61, on Flickr

    Overall, I'm very pleased with the E-M5II. It's too early to commit to dumping the 5D4 but it's looking like I won't be needing it much in the future.
  18. AussiePhil

    AussiePhil Mu-43 All-Pro

    Jun 1, 2014
    Canberra, ACT, Aust
    Nice write up Vic and nice to see open and honest views....... I have the same underwhelmed feeling about my 45F1.8 though not sure it's about softness, really should pull it out and use it a bit more
    Love the Cat and Bottles :)
    Glad your liking your mini5
    My nephew owns the various EM5 and EM10 models and i've always felt they were too small for me so my current toy is the em1mk2 with the battery grip.
  19. T N Args

    T N Args Agent Photocateur

    Dec 3, 2013
    Adelaide, Australia
    call me Arg
    How do you use your Canon flash with your E-M5 II? I assume auto-everything doesn't work?
  20. VSTR61

    VSTR61 Mu-43 Regular

    May 15, 2017
    Perth, Western Australia
    Just went with manual, Arg. Bounced it off the ceiling and got it on the second attempt. A flash that powerful normally wouldn't have much problem filling a small room with light and you can see the reflection of the flash and ceiling in her glasses. I aimed the flash at a recessed skylight where the ceiling angles up at 45 degrees. Some would call this luck but I'm claiming it anyway!

    I'm actually quite rubbish with flash so I rarely use them. The one that came with the camera isn't playing the game at all.
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