Hands-On Review: Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II & M.ZUIKO ED 12-100mm f/4.0 IS PRO


When introduced a few years ago, the Olympus OM-D E-M1 raised the bar in terms of what we should expect from a pro-quality Micro Four Thirds camera. It was solid, extremely well designed and engineered, and it performed as advertised. The new Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II shares all of these commendable attributes and then some.

The new Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II and M.ZUIKO ED 12-100mm f/4.0 IS PRO are a match made in heaven.

The folks at Olympus take image quality seriously, and the specs and advanced imaging technologies built into Olympus’s OM-D E-M1 Mark II back up the claim.

The pixel count of the camera’s 20MP MFT-format Live MOS Sensor is about 20% higher than its predecessor. Should you need maximum detail of static subjects, the camera’s High-Res Shot mode micro-shifts the sensor in half-pixel steps, captures eight images, and merges them into finely detailed 50MP image files. The results are impressive—just make sure your camera is mounted on a sturdy tripod, because image alignment is paramount for good results.

The new Olympus is fast enough to freeze almost anything that flies past your lens. With the camera’s electronic shutter in S-AF Mode, you can capture 20MP RAW at up to 60 fps, 18 fps in C-AF Tracking Mode, or 15 fps with the mechanical shutter engaged in mechanical mode.

The top mechanical shutter speed is 1/8000-second or a ridiculously fast 1/32,000-second in electronic mode. In a nutshell, there isn’t a heck of a lot you can’t freeze in its tracks with this camera.

To keep things moving, the camera packs a double quad-core AF system with a dedicated AF calculation circuit that sports 121 cross-type points of On-Chip Phase Detection plus Contrast Detection AF with four AF Target Modes—All Point, Single Point, 9-Point Group, and 5-Point Cross, which can be easily toggled between by simply pressing a button and rotating a dial.  

Five-axis image stabilization delivers a 5.5-stop advantage to better guarantee sharp imagery when shooting handheld under low lighting conditions. For real-time viewing, Live Composite and Live Bulb Modes take all of the guesswork out of capturing time exposures while viewing image development in real time. 

Other advanced imaging features include a Silent Shooting mode, Focus Bracketing and Stacking, which greatly expands depth-of-field possibilities when shooting at close or macro focusing distances.

To better ensure you don’t run out of memory in the middle of a take, the OM-D E-M1 Mark II features dual SD-series card slots that can be managed to complement your shooting habits. For tethered shooting, Olympus Capture software enables seamless shooting via a USB 3.0 Type C port.

One of the more enhanced imaging features built into the camera is a Pro Capture Mode that starts capturing and buffering full-resolution JPEG / RAW images as soon as you press the shutter release button halfway. Press the shutter completely and you get that image along with the 14 previous frames. Keep the shutter button fully depressed and the camera continues capturing image files one after another.

For composing and reviewing pictures you have the option of using the camera’s 2.36-million dot electronic viewfinder or the rear-mounted 3.0" 1.04-million dot Vari-Angle Touchscreen, which I made good use of during my time with this workhorse of a camera.

In addition to JPEG and RAW stills, the Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II also captures 4K (3840 x 2160) and C4K (4096 x 2160) video at maximum bit rates of up to 237 Mbps. Stills and video are recorded on SD/SDHC/SDXC memory cards and processed by Olympus’s latest-generation TruePic VIII Dual Quad Core Processor.

The OM-D E-M1 Mark II’s splash-, dust-, and freeze-proof magnesium-alloy body weighs a hair over 21 ounces and is hermetically sealed against the weather and less-than-friendly environments. Light and compact as it may be, the camera looks, feels, and most importantly. is a serious camera that’s more than up for professional use.

M.Zuiko ED 12-100mm f/4.0 IS PRO

To go along with our test camera, we were lent the new M.ZUIKO Digital ED 12-100mm f/4.0 IS PRO lens, which has a zoom range equivalent to a 24-200mm lens on a 35mm camera, making it an ideal lens for portraits, landscapes, architecture, and just about anything else that comes your way.  

The extreme focal range of the new M.ZUIKO Digital ED 12-100mm f/4.0 IS PRO lens makes it possible to capture the same subject from a number of creative perspectives. In the above photographs, the same subject is captured at the wide (left) and telephoto (right) extremes of the lens zoom range.

Compact and weighing about 21 ounces, the M.ZUIKO Digital ED 12-100mm f/4.0 IS PRO contains 17 lens elements in 11 groups, features a constant f/4 maximum aperture throughout its focal range, and an MSC focusing mechanism for near-silent operation.

As with all M.ZUIKO PRO-series lenses, the ED 12-100mm f/4.0 IS PRO is splash-, dust-, and freeze proof and features include Z Coating Nano lens coating, which do a notable job eliminating ghosting and lens flare. There’s also a manual focus clutch that makes it super easy to switch between AF and MF modes, a Programmable Lens Function button, and an Ultra-High Speed AF Mechanism.

The M. ZUIKO Digital ED 12-100mm f/4.0 IS PRO also features Olympus’s acclaimed 5-Axis Sync image stabilization that, combined with the cameras IS system, enables steady handheld shooting with a cumulative 6.5-stop advantage.

Macro enthusiasts will appreciate being able to focus as close as 1.5cm (about a half inch) from the front lens element for magnification ratios of up to 0.60x.

The close-focusing abilities of the Olympus M. ZUIKO Digital ED 12-100mm f/4.0 IS PRO enables bold close-ups of your subjects.

In addition to its ability to capture subjects near and far, the 24 to 200mm zoom range makes it possible to creatively explore subjects from a number of points of view and vantage points by simply capturing your subject at different camera-to-subject distances at varying focal lengths. Front and rear caps, along with a dedicated lens shade, are included.

Another example of the same subject photographed at the wide (left) and telephoto (right) ends of the Olympus M.ZUIKO Digital ED 12-100mm f/4.0 IS PROs zoom range.

Though we haven’t had an opportunity to road-test them yet, Olympus has also introduced two additional lenses that greatly enhance the Olympus OM camera line: the Olympus M.ZUIKO Digital ED 25mm f/1.2 PRO and M.ZUIKO Digital ED 30mm f/3.5 Macro.

Olympus M.ZUIKO Digital ED 25mm f/1.2 PRO

Olympus’s M.ZUIKO Digital ED 25mm f/1.2 PRO is an ultra-fast 50mm equivalent normal lens designed for MFT-format cameras. The lens’s bright f/1.2 maximum aperture is indispensable for low-light shooting while enabling narrow-field selective focus. As with all M.ZUIKO PRO-series lenses, the ED 25mm f/1.2 PRO is splash-, dust-, and freeze proof. Other PRO-series lens features include Z Nano lens coatings for maintaining optimized image detail, most notably when shooting backlit subjects, a manual focus clutch, a Programmable Lens Function button, and an Ultra-High Speed AF Mechanism.

Olympus M.ZUIKO Digital ED 30mm f/3.5 Macro

Unlike most macro lenses, which focus down to life size or half life size, the Olympus M. ZUIKO Digital ED 30mm f/3.5 Macro lens focuses down to 3.7", resulting in a mighty tight maximum magnification of 2.5x (35mm equivalent). MSC Movie & Still Compatible, Olympus’s latest macro is notably light and small, takes in a 40° angle of View and, get ready for this—costs under $300. Olympus’s latest MFT-format macro lens focuses down to 14mm and is MSC Movie & Still compatible.

Based on the specs, features, performance, and physical integrity of the Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II, I’d say Olympus has produced a camera system that I wouldn’t hesitate taking out on a professional assignment, regardless of how extreme the environment or shooting conditions may be.

What are your thoughts? Would the abilities of the Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II and/or the new 24 to 100mm zoom enable you to take better stills or video compared to the camera/lens system you’re currently using?


I have now been working with Olympus and the image quailty is at leasr as good and even better than those taken with my Canon mark 5 ii. The easinessa of handling and weight cannot be compared. Sellin now my Canon   . I will keep some Canon lenses as i can use them nicely with an automatic adaptor. 

 This really should be considered a review since it's just simply a regurgitation of the information… Provides on their website. 

I like the OM1 MD, and use it continuously. I like the lenses too, mostly the 12-40 pro. One of the best lenses I have. However at the price point of the mark ll, for a difficult and demanding job, I will use the Nikon D810 with the 36 mpx, and the Nikon lenses any time. If the the price point of this camera was $700 less, I would consider it.





I am using the E-M1 with Pro lenses for stills only. I am glad to see the file size increase from 16MP to 20MP though more would be better. The 50MP option is not too useful as most of my subjects have some movement. Landscapes do in fact have movement. The big step backwards is the screen now swings out to the side. I want to compose on the lens axis. Period. Yes it can be viewed on axis straight on but not articulated. This is the same setup as the Pen F which I am also using, but the asymmetry doesn't work for me. So, much as I'd like to move ahead with Olympus I may just replace my well worn OMD E-M1 with another one, and save a grand in the bargain.