Announcing the Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark II and the Tough TG-860


Olympus has just rolled out its brand new Micro Four Thirds OM-D E-M5 Mark II interchangeable lens mirrorless camera, available in Black or Silver, with a bevy of accessories, a new and improved M.ZUIKO ED 14-150mm f/4-5.6 II weatherproof lens, and a new Black, White, or Orange TG-860 rugged point and shoot.

Our friends at Olympus let us take the E-M5 Mark II out for a test drive, but before I dive into telling you about the Mark II experience, let me give you a quick rundown of the other new arrivals.

The new TG-860 point-and-shoot tough camera can dive down all the way to 50' below the waves (the TG-850 is waterproof to 33') and the redesigned TG-860 features a programmable button on its face that assists in shooting self-portraits (not sure who does that) and other functions. Also added to the TG-860 is Wi-Fi and GPS functionality for geo-tagging and quick image sharing. The camera is tough, but not everyone wants their gear to look like it just rode down a cliff strapped to the frame of a mountain bike. To further protect it, Olympus is selling the Silicone Jacket CSCH-124 to help keep it looking new.

The popular M.ZUIKO ED 14-150mm f/4-5.6 II lens is a cosmetically redesigned and weatherproofed version of the popular and versatile zoom for the Four Thirds system. It has a 35mm equivalent focal length of 28-300mm. Gone are the silver bands that were featured on the body the original version—this one is all black. Olympus has engineered a better tactile feel into both the focus and zoom rings, while making the lens ready for adverse weather conditions. The new version of the lens also features the ZUIKO Extra-Low Reflective Optical (ZERO) coating and it ships with the previously optional LH-61C lens hood as standard equipment.

Hands on the OM-D EM-5 Mark II

The Olympus OM-D E-M5 camera was the standard bearer of the OM-D line until the arrival of the OM-D E-M1, in late 2013. The new Mark II version brings the popular EM-5 up to speed with some of the features of the Olympus flagship OM-D E-M1, as well as adding some unique features and accessories that make the Mark II stand apart from its stable mates.

I had the opportunity to spend a few days with the Mark II, and found it to be a capable and enjoyable photographic machine. Chief among the new features of the Mark II is its 5-axis VCM Image Stabilization system that gives the camera five-stop shake compensation. I put the IS system to the test, along with the weather-proof qualities of the camera and new 14-150mm lens, during last week’s non-Blizzard of 2015, in New York City. I had the camera’s ISO set to its native 200 and was shooting in less-than-favorable lighting conditions—heavily overcast skies with heavy snow falling—and had no problem getting sharp images zoomed out all the way to 150mm (300mm equivalent) and f/5.6. Even with early generations of image stabilization, getting a sharp image under these trying conditions would have been next to impossible. The Mark II, however, shook off the freezing temperatures, snow, and poor lighting to deliver high-quality images.


Another area of improvement for the new E-M5 Mark II is in video capture. When Olympus’s impressive 5-axis image stabilization first appeared on the E-M1, people were understandably excited about using it for video projects, as the stabilization is so good it rivals stabilization rigs like the Steadicam line, and it works well with just about any manual focus lens video shooters often find themselves using with mirrorless cameras. However, the E-M1 had a few quirks that made it hard to work into video production, most notably a very low-bitrate video codec, as well as a non-standard video frame rate (true 30 fps compared to 29.97 fps) that would slowly go out of sync with other cameras or external audio sources. Thankfully, the E-M5 Mark II adds a number of video-oriented features that should make utilizing the camera’s excellent stabilization a whole lot easier.

First, the E-M5 Mark II has the ability to shoot 1080p in a number of PAL and NTSC frame rates, including 23.98p, 24p, 25p, 29.97p, 30p, 50p, 59.94p, and 60p. It also is able to shoot in a range of bitrates up to 77 Mb/s, as well as a few different codecs, including Long-GOP h.264 compression for conserving space and inter-frame compression for higher quality. It also has different timecode options, including a free-run mode, as well as a headphone jack for audio monitoring. Of course, the real star of the show for video is still the 5-axis image stabilization, but the E-M5 Mark II makes it much more practical to use.


The high precision of the in-camera image stabilization system, coupled with the same TruePic VII image processor that lives in the E-M1, has given the E-M5 Mark II a high-resolution “sensor shift” shooting mode that was only previously seen in very expensive medium format digital cameras, such as the Hasselblad HD5-200c. The idea is that, when shooting from a tripod at a stationary subject or landscape, the photographer can activate this eight-shot mode, designed to produce the equivalent of a 40-megapixel image. When selected, the camera takes eight images, and the camera’s IS engine moves the Mark II’s sensor exactly 1/2 the width of a pixel for each image. At each new position, the camera then virtually achieves double resolution. The image processor then chomps on the data to produce a file similar to an image taken with a 40MP camera—a nearly 64MB RAW file—with less of a chance of artifacting and moiré than a standard image.

Important to note is that the sensor shift mode will only work on Olympus Four Thirds lenses and the aperture must be f/8 or wider. If the sensor shift mode is selected under low-light conditions, the camera can perform a maximum 64-second burst of eight eight-second images at an ISO up to 1600. And, to help process these files, Olympus will be releasing an Adobe CS RAW plug-in and updated Olympus Viewer 3 software at around the same time the camera starts shipping, later this month.

One of the pleasures of shooting with the Mark II is the high-resolution and nearly lag-free electronic viewfinder. Olympus put the same interactive EVF from the E-M1 into the Mark II. It features a 2,360k-dot-resolution screen at a magnification of 1.48x. Only the post-shot image reviews and the large amount of shooting data displayed over the image reminds you that you aren't looking through an optical viewfinder. Personally, I recommend turning off the EVF image-review option, especially if you’re taking rapid-action photos unfolding before you.


Also borrowed from the E-M1 is the 3.0" 1,037k-dot touchscreen LCD monitor. Unlike the first E-M5 that featured a tilting screen, the Mark II’s screen is fully articulated and can be swiveled around to face the front of the camera for composing those ever-important self-portraits. The LCD’s touchscreen functionality is integral to the camera’s operation, as there are numerous settings and options that are only available through the touchscreen interface and not accessible through the standard menus. The verdict is still out on this, but I, for one, miss the days where you could access everything through the camera’s menus and “standard” controls, but maybe I am old-fashioned.

EM-1 users who upgraded their firmware in September of last year have been enjoying a feature Olympus calls “digital shift.” The E-M5 Mark II has it, as well. Basically, a specialized function of the TruePic VII image processor gives any lens the ability to digitally shift to remove lens distortion when shooting architectural images. You may or may not have noticed that when you move a camera away from the horizontal position or slew it right or left from the 90-degree position in relation to a building, geometric distortion, or “keystoning” occurs. Using technology similar to that in modern post-production software that can remove distortion horizontally or vertically in an image, the Mark II allows shooters to perform these corrections prior to capture, using the front and rear command dials to adjust the image in the X or Y axis. Mark II shooters (and those with firmware-updated E-M1 cameras) can put the camera on a tripod, take aim at a building, and then dial out the distortion while looking at the image on the LCD. If you’re shooting RAW files, the camera will save an “uncorrected” RAW image along with the digital-shift JPEG image.


Are you taking photos somewhere and you don’t wish to be noticed? The E-M5 Mark II has a silent shooting mode that fires a burst of images of up to 11 frames per second, completely silently, using only the electronic shutter.

Like the E-M1, the new E-M5 Mark II comes with the unique Olympus modes that night photographers, especially light painters, love: Live Bulb, Live Time, and Live Composite.

Live Time allows the photographer to specify the time for a long-duration exposure, while Live Bulb lets the photographer open the shutter and see the image develop, in real time on the LCD screen. If you are taking a night photo, select the Live Bulb function, release the shutter, and let the fun begin. It is kind of the digital equivalent of watching an old Polaroid image appear slowly after it was ejected from the camera. Once your night photograph has the proper level of exposure and detail, you click the shutter closed and you are all done. There is no need for high-ISO test shots or exposure guessing. 

Live Composite takes multiple images and combines them by, um, magically exposing bright areas of a changing image and combining them into a single shot. For example, when photographing a fireworks display, if you leave your shutter open for multiple explosions, you will inevitably overexpose the image. Live Composite takes several exposures of the bursts and then combines them into one non-overexposed image. Yep, magic.

I can tell you that, at night photography workshops, no matter what camera the participants are using, there is a bit of envy when someone breaks out an Olympus and fires up the Live Bulb function.


When compared to the E-M1, the first version of the E-M5 was definitely thin when it came to programmable buttons and control dials. The E-M5 Mark II features six programmable buttons and it also includes the E-M1’s “shift” lever that can dual-purpose the command dials with, literally, the flick of a switch.

Unique to the E-M5 Mark II is a tiny little accessory flash that helps in low-light situations. The included FL-LM3 Flash has a guide number of 9.1 (ISO 100) and has a tilting head to facilitate bouncing the light.

One of the complaints about the original E-M5 was related to the ergonomics of its thin hand grip. The new Mark II has a slightly larger handgrip, but it is nowhere as substantial as the E-M1’s grip. I believe Olympus purposely chose to keep the E-M1 and E-M5 Mark II bodies unique. To address the desires of those who want a larger grip, Olympus is rolling out two new optional hand grips for the Mark II. The External Metal Grip ECG-2 doubles as an L-bracket and incorporates an Arca-type compatible plate on both the horizontal and vertical portions. The External Grip HLD-8G has a slightly different feel, and is designed to connect to the HLD-6P battery pack. The combination of HLD-8G and HLD-6P, sold together as a kit, give the Mark II a pro-body look, additional battery power, and a vertical grip with shutter release, additional programmable controls, a headphone jack, and command dials. Like the E-M5 Mark II, it is dust- and splash proof.

Both grips gave me an improved ergonomic experience over the “naked” E-M5 and, given the option of grip or no grip, I kept heading out to take photos with the combination battery pack/grip, as I felt it didn't add too much weight or bulk to the package. I always like the way a vertical grip enhances the shooting experience. Speaking of weight and bulk, the E-M5 has neither—even in a bag with two lenses and some accessories. With a canvas Olympus bag over my shoulder, I was able to walk around New York for hours without feeling the weight of the gear—a far cry from my usual DSLR kit.

Interested in more accessories? Olympus has not forgotten about you. You can be faster on the draw with the shoe-mounted EE-1 Dot Sight. Like a riflescope holographic sight, the EE-1 is designed for quick aiming when shooting action and wildlife. Additionally, the E-M5 Mark II features better weatherproofing than the original, and for underwater use, the Olympus PT-EP13 Underwater Housing is specially built for the E-M5 Mark II.



With some great features borrowed from the flagship E-M1, coupled with its own unique highlights, the new Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark II is a feature-packed and extremely capable camera. When its remarkable five-stop image stabilization is combined with the super-versatile M.ZUIKO 14-150mm f/4-5.6 lens, owners will have an extremely light and portable Micro Four Thirds system that is fun to use and can handle a wide variety of photographic and video challenges. 



Hi Todd.  I currently have an EM-5 and would like to upgrade to an EM-5 Mark II but I have 4 oly 4/3 lenses bought for the original EM-5.  Except for the sensor shift function, which I don't care about anyway, are there, any other issues (like perhaps AF?) with using my existing lenses on the MarkII?  I don't want to buy new lenses if I don't have to.  I've read that the EM-1 is better in this regard but I don't want that body.   Thanks for the review and thanks for your help!  Ben.

Hey Ben,

Your lenses should work fine on the EM-5 Mark issues at all! In fact, they should perform even better on the Mark II.

Thanks for reading and thanks for asking!

Can you tell me how to adjust the video while you're recording.  It doesn't appear that you can adjust your shutter and F-Stop while you're recording.

Hi Conrad,

Unfortunately I do not have access to the camera anymore, so I cannot help answer your question. You may want to try someone on live chat or phone here at B&H Photo. They may be able to get the answer for you. Sorry and good luck!

I read your review with great interest.. I shoot birds and other wildlife in action. Is the auto focus on the Mark 2 fast enough to get moving bird shots? I am ready, very ready, to move from my Nikon 5100 to a mirrorless camera. However I need a fast focus.  Any lens suggestions to go with the EM mark 2?

Thank you.

Hey Mary,

Thanks for reading! I found the EM-5 Mark II's autofocus system to be very good, but I did not try it out on birds in flight. The EM-1 has a hybrid autofocus system with both phase detection and contrast detection that may give your action shots an advantage.

Both lenses I tried with the EM-5 Mark II were very impressive. I had used the m.ZUIKO 12-40mm f/2.8 PRO lens in both the Mark II review and my OM-D EM-1 review and found it to have a solid build and great optical performance with virtually no drop-off in sharpness through the frame. The m.ZUIKO 14-150mm f/4-5.6 lens proved to be a great performer as well - especially for an all-in-one zoom. Unfortunately, these are the only two Micro Four Thirds lenses that I have any real experience with.

I hope this helps. Thanks again and good luck!

Boo to the lack of phase detection! It has more uses than just adapted 4/3 lenses. How about action shooting? Maybe the E-M10 Mark II will have it. Micro 4/3 is great for many things, but sports action is not one of them unless you have the E-M1.

Hey Daniel,

Yep, if you want phase detection autofocus, your Olympus option is the OM-D EM-1. However, I did find the EM-5 Mark II's autofocus system to be very good.

I shoot mostly surf action, ocean, landscapes and portraits.  I really also want to Buy housing to take it in the water.

Which would you think would produce the highest/sharpest quality images in the ocean.  The OMD 1 or the OMD5 Mark 2?


Hi Amine!

My guess is that the image quality between the OM-D EM-1 and OM-D EM-5 Mark II would be nearly identical for your purposes. They have different sensors, but produce virtually the same amount of megapixel resolution. The EM-1's hybrid autofocus system (contrast detection and phase detection) may give you an advantage in certain action squences, but I found that the EM-5 Mark II's autofocus was very effective and fast.

If you can, I suggest you get to the B&H Superstore to handle each model and see which one you think will fit your style of shooting the best.

I hope I have been helpful!

What about filming surf action (video)?  Would the OMD 5 MarkII produce an advantage over the OMD1?  or are they both equaly as good.  

Hi Amine,

Thanks again for writing in! From what I have seen, the EM-5 Mark II has more options as far as video production, while the EM-1 might have a slight advantage with focusing speed with its hybrid system.

I hope that helps your decision making process!  


Perhaps way to broad a question, but:  I have been looking at first foray into the genre with the Fuji xt-1, but this and other reviews are making this choice very appealing.  Any suggestions to help the undecided make a choice between these two fine cameras (and systems)?

Thank you for any assistance.

Hey David,

Thanks for your question! I can honestly tell you that there are some wandering the B&H web department debating the exact same thing as both cameras and camera systems are very capable and attractive in their own ways.

For a moment, let us assumed that they are in a dead heat. My recommendation to you is to head to B&H (if you live around the NYC area) and play with each camera in the store. Hold them both. Take some photos. Play with the menus. See what feels more comfortable in your hand and intuitive to use and then decide which one you will enjoy taking photos with. This is the photographic equivalent of the automobile test drive and I highly recommend it.

I promise you that both cameras are capable of making great photographs, but the one that feels best to you will be the one you want to use more and that is the whole idea of owning a camera - taking photos!

Good luck!

I am interested in the MarkII but wondered whether the RAW plugin/update will be available for Photoshop CS6?

Hi Pam,

Thanks for your question. Olympus told us that a RAW plugin for Adobe CS and update to the free Olympus Viewer 3 software will be released in a few weeks - at the same time the camera starts shipping.

Thanks for reading!

Hi Todd,

Can you tell me if the weatherproofing of the Mark II is different/better than that of the original E-M5? And what exactly is different about the image stabilization -- does the fact that it's "VCM" (voice-coil motor) make it more sensitive/effective? Also, will the specs list the weights?

Curious for use shooting "from the saddle" on bike tours... I have an E-M5 that works well for this, but additional weather protection and image stabilization would be great. Just don't want to carry too much more in weight.

Thanks for all the great info!

Hey KBrooks,

I just spoke to Olympus (they must be getting tired of me!) and the weatherproofing on all of the OM-D cameras is the same - none are better than the others. Also, they could not provide an IPX rating for the weatherproof gear.

I know the image stabilization has been upgraded, but I do not know the specifics of the improvements. I can tell you that the system provides up to 5-stops of stabilization (currently the highest rating of an IS system) and it is so precise that it allows that 8-shot high-resolution composite through moving the sensor exactly 1/2 pixel. I can't do the math, but there are 4608 pixels covering 17.3mm, so that shift is pretty darn small.

The E-M5 Mark II is actually half-an-ounce lighter than the original version (14.4 oz versus 15 oz), according to the specs provided to us by Olympus. So, with the Mark II you can pedal faster!

Let me know if you have any other questions. Thanks for reading and thanks for asking!

Hello Todd,

Thank you very much for fielding such a subjective question that I was a bit embarrassed after that I had posted it.  Yes, it is about a dead heat, as reading and viewing a bunch of online reviews  that I understand that it the decision  seems to rest with prioritizing the presumptive better image quality and nice "Fuji films colors" of the xt1 against the fine IS, new capabilities, and lack of mushy buttoms of the Olympus .  Okay, that's a simplification. I would so much like to drop by B and H as you suggest because hands-on is so important  but it's closer to Houston St. in Manhattan than my Houston in Texas.  Thanks for the very sensible answer, and, if you want to suggest any deal-makers, please let me know.  I have long appreciated the expert, courteous, and patient advice of the Band H staff.

i am looking at moving away from my Nikon D300 and I am looking for a lighter camera (possibly four thirds) that can still shoot sports so speed and accuracy of focus and telephoto lens are things I would like

I feel that a lighter camera might be carried more than my D300 has been lately  any suggestions?




Hey Steve,

You have come to the right place. The review of the E-M5 Mark II that you just read was written by a D300 owner like yourself.

If you put a mirrorless camera in your bag, you will definitely notice that you can walk around all day feeling lighter and more free than before! Its actually quite amazing. If you shot "older" film cameras back in the day, like the Canon F-1 or Nikon FM2, you will be familiar with the size and weight of the Olympus OM-D cameras.

As far as speed, I will say that mirrorless is nearly as fast as your DSLR. Start up times are fast, shutter lag is almost nonexistent, and the focusing is getting better all the time. Is it perfect? Not yet, but neither are DSLRs, so you will get some pros and cons, just like in the DSLR world.

I was impressed by both the E-M1 and the Mark II and I would recommend you giving them a try if you are interested.

You will have no problem doing sports with m4/3. I use both E-M1 and the E-M5 and both work great. For indoor I use the 45 1.8 and the 75 1.8 lens while outdoors, depending on the lighting, I'll use the 100-300 panasonic or other lenses.

A couple of things. First This is very good review. I liked the non-blizzard of 2015!

The RAW files for this camera are 64 megapixels and about 99 megabytes. It's the out-of-camera JPGs that are 40 megapixels. With a good lense, it resolves very well.

Also, I find the electronic shutter intersting as it will double the mechanical shutter that was upgraded. The e-shutter goes up to 1/16000. I find that is very good when you don't want to stop the aperture down because it's too bright.

I like how Olympus is as forefront of nearly all innovations that many cameras will incorporate in the future. I'm sure this will be one of them as in the past.

Hi Bryce,

You are correct, however, to avoid confusion, I would point out that the 64MP RAW and 40MP JPEG images are only produced in that specialized "sensor shift" 8-shot mode.

Thanks for your comments and info!

Do we know when the Mark II will be available? I have a big vacation planned for Spring Break and would want the camera before the middle of March if I decide to go for it.

Hi Timothy,

Thanks for your question! The information we have is that the camera will be available in "Late February 2015." With that schedule, it looks like your new OM-D E-M5 Mark II should be able to accompany you on your Spring Break adventures. Stay smart, safe, and out of trouble!

I Have the original EM-5 which I use with Panasonic micro 4/3 lenses.  Focusing is not nearly as accurate as that with my full frame D-SLR.  Does the Mark II use phase detection focusing or contrast detection?  Does the answer apply to the camera with Panasinic micro 4/3 lenses?  How would you expect focusing accuracy to compare with the original EM-5?


Hi Fred,

The focusing system on the OM-D E-M5 Mark II has been upgraded from that of the original. According to the Olympus website, the original EM-5 has a 35-area AF sensor, the new Mark II sensor has an 81-area sensor. The Mark II uses contrast detection focusing (the EM-1 is the only current Olympus OM-D with the dual system) and the focus peaking information can be viewed in four different colors and three different intensities.

I hope that information helps. Thanks for reading!

The images look great. Are these the straight out of the camera JPEGs? 

Thanks, Robert! The images are JPEGs from the camera with minimal post-proccessing applied on the computer after capture. I tweak a few sliders, but nothing intricate or time consuming.

Great review! IMHO mirrorless cameras seem to be getting better and better.

Does the E-M5 MkII have the touch screen that the E-M1 has and will speedlights and radio triggers work on the hotshoe?

Thanks, Anymouse73!

Yes, the hot shoe will accept compatible speedlights and triggers. The E-M5 Mark II also comes with the FL-LM3 flash as well.

I am under the impression that the EM 1 has a unique feature not found on the other OMD models that will handle the old 4/3 lenses focusing issues better.  I was told if you want to use the older 4/3 lenses, get the EM1.  Not sure what the feature is, but would like to know if it is shared by this new EM5.


As far as I am aware, this is because of the E-M1's sensor, which contains on-sensor phase detection elements. This allows the E-M1 to use autofocus (albeit slower) with older 4/3 lenses. The E-M5 Mk II does not appear to have this feature.


Thanks for your question. Nathan is 100% correct. I passed your question along to Olympus and they said that Nathan had answered it well and they had nothing to expound on.

Thanks for the accurate info, Nathan, and thanks to you both for reading Explora!

Olympus micro 4/3 lenses - are they compatible with Panasonic/Lumix 4/3 lenses ??

Hi Ralph,

In general, all Micro Four Thirds lenses will work on cameras from both manufacturers. There are sometimes electronic communications issues as well as issues with the image stabilization, so you may want to do some research before purchasing a lens or body. Also, Olympus told us that some features of the new OM-D E-M5 Mark II will only work with Olympus lenses.

Thanks for your question!

I didn't see any references to focus peaking.  Does the Mark II have focus peaking?

Hi Scott,

The Mark II does have focus peaking, but I found the autofocus very accurate and reliable and never shot the camera on manual focus. Thanks for your question and thanks for reading!

As a happy owner of an EM5,  this still makes me inclined to upgrade.  The reviewer mentions a number of features that enhance its usefulness for video.  One of the limitations of the EM5 is that it will not drive an HDMI external monitor in live view, and while it will supply composite video output,  that shuts off the on-camera monitor.  Will the Mark II support simultaneous use of an external monitor and the viewfinder in live view?

Hi David,

Thanks for your question. I did not test this feature when I had the camera, but I have forwarded your question to Olympus and will post their reply here. Stand by to stand by!

Hi from Olympus:

  • - The camera will output through the HDMI port during movie recording.  Selectable resolutions are: 1080p, 720p, 480/576p
  • - The camera will simultaneously display on camera's monitor and on external HDMI monitor when in "Standby" mode (mode dial on Movie, but not recording)
  • - The camera will only display on external HDMI monitor once movie recording starts
  • - The camera will only display on external HDMI monitor when navigating the cameras menu

Thanks so much.  Unfortunately I guess I'll have to go to Panasonic GH4 to get simultaneous on camera and external monitor live view.

Well done. Just hope my older MacBook Pro can handle the new software for the camera.

Good luck, Hobbit! Thanks for reading!

One question - is the Mark II the new flagship?  What is the most significant difference between the EM-1 and the new EM-5 Mark II?  Excellent article. Thanks

Marc Beerman wrote:

One question - is the Mark II the new flagship?  What is the most significant difference between the EM-1 and the new EM-5 Mark II?  Excellent article. Thanks

I'm in agreement. I was considereing buying the EM-1, but now I'm not sure. What are the compelling reasons for either one?

Hi Marc and C!

Good question! The primary differences between the EM-1 and EM-5 Mark II are that they have different sensors and a different body/form factor with the EM-1 being a larger camera. The megapixel count is very similar, but the EM-1 has a slightly newer sensor.

But, as the article shares, the EM-5 Mark II has a lot of the EM-1's great features, electronics, and hardware. We should be getting complete specs for the EM-5 Mark II very soon, so stay tuned!

 Good review. indly keep me iyou mailing list for updates on Olympus DSlr cameras

Hey Patrick! If you are not getting emails from B&H, please sign up for them on our website. Also, Olympus no longer makes SLR or DSLR cameras. The OM-D EM-5 Mark II and OM-D EM-1 mentioned in this article are interchangeable lens mirrorless cameras featuring Micro Four Thirds format sensors.

Thanks for reading!