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Andrew Reid

Olympus E-M5 Mark II - love and hate at first sight

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Thanks Andrew, such honest feedback is appreciated!

All these pre-release reviews kind of all came to the same conclusion: 'what video concerned the E-M5II greatly improves on the E-M1'. Listen, I wasn't particularly bummed with the look out of the E-M1, for the most part it looked pretty great, just the whole mode was wacky and 30p only sucked balls. So when the E-M5II comes along addressing that, giving us multiple framerates, higher bitrates, vari-angle display, grip with headphone socket... and people said video looked better? Well, count me in!

But hearing your side of the story... I guess the reviewers were corrupted. I mean... I get it's cool you have connections with Olympus and you want everything between you and them to be all cosy 'n cuddly, so you only have positive things to say about 'em and continue to have this pleasant relationship getting early exclusives and all, but what's the point of lying to yourself and your audience? So, well. That sorta blows...

Very disappointing from Olympus. What bothers me the most is their press release that made me pre-order it. Let's walk through the press release again, see what it mentions:

~ http://www.olympus-global.com/en/news/2015a/nr150205em5mk2e.jsp

Now... my pre-order hasn't shipped yet... so hum. What now. Knowing this it's almost tempting to stick with the E-M1, but I won't, because I'm done with the 30p only BS and I'm pretty sure that, although they could, they're not going to update the E-M1's video mode anytime soon (not even using it hybrid anymore, just stills only here). And the successor to the E-M1 won't be video centric, so I wouldn't get your hopes up for that one either. Then there's just hoping they can magically improve on the E-M5II's performance with firmware updates... well... that's somewhat of a long shot, but I guess there's not much else to do here. If you want handheld stabilized video, on any lens, with a bare essentials set-up (so no pistol grip gimbal), you kind of have to go along with Olympus. Or Panasonic has to do something crazy... GX7 successor... if the GH4 and E-M5II had a baby and it would turn out to be the GX8... something like that would be rather exciting now... but... yeah.

​I am glad that I sold my EM1 and bought the GH4 (next to my Sony A7S) and not went for the EM5II..

 

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EOSHD Pro Color for Sony cameras EOSHD Pro LOG for Sony CamerasEOSHD C-LOG and Film Profiles for All Canon DSLRs

Well after further testing with the Ninja Star, I noticed no major difference in the outputted ProRes file over the H.264. HOWEVER the ProREs does show a ever so slight green cast, not seen on the compressed file, especially on metal borders. The WB was set to auto. The first one comes from the star, second one from the camera.

 

ninja.jpeg

H.264.jpeg

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​I am glad that I sold my EM1 and bought the GH4 (next to my Sony A7S) and not went for the EM5II..

 

​I can imagine. That's another idea... I already have the GH4, but I could add the A7S to the mix and just forget about the E-M5II altogether. Does add something different to the toolset. Then it becomes stabilization VS full-frame/lowlight/image quality. Although personally I feel there's not really the need for something more elaborate than the GH4/BMPCC, needing to be fed with different glass. I just wanted to have something compact in the toolbox with IBIS for hybrid shooting minimalistic style. Why couldn't Olympus just do it right from the get-go? I don't want to have to consider other options. It does look like they started caring about 'functionality' but in the process forgot about what really matters... the final product you pull out of the camera. You'd think it's an obvious thing to keep in mind. But if image quality is a step back from the E-M1... what gives?

Anyways. *sigh* I'll just let 'em ship that pre-order and see for myself. Saw that Amazon.co.uk gets 'em in tomorrow ('This item is due to be released on March 6, 2015') maybe my store as well. Maybe with changing a few settings, profiles and being mindful how the camera behaves when you shoot certain type of scenarios stuff might come out acceptable enough. I mean, there were a couple of videos that were certainly alright. And then if I keep it, hopefully it gets better from there and they continue to listen to the video people to make future efforts to enhance user experience and foremost: image quality. I just want the camera that was promised in the press release you know.

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Looks like 2.7x crop

​Eye-ball estimation, that?  So, that turns a 12mm lens into about a ff-equivilant 32mm.  A 50 becomes a 135, etc.  Bummer.  Not to mention it ruins all my easy 2x math calculations when putting lenses onto a M43 camera.  12 to 24 -- I can add that up.  Slap a decimal into the mix and I get stupider than I already am.

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I just wanted to have something compact in the toolbox with IBIS for hybrid shooting minimalistic style. I'll just let 'em ship that pre-order and see for myself. 

​Same here.  Such potential wasted, but that's the MO with Olympus and video.  Panasonic have been exceeding expectations, but poor Oly (I'm rooting for the underdog!) just never seems to make it happen.

Like a few other camera companies, video is an afterthought.

Anyway, shortcomings are what they are.  Using the kit in real life for my needs might justify keeping it.  Haven't decided yet, but I'll put it through paces and see how I feel down the road.

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The crop in movie mode is enormous on the E-M5 II, larger crop than E-M5 originally and it no longer reduces when you switch off IS.

Looks like 2.7x crop so Nikon 1 size sensor effective for movies on the E-M5 II. Oh dear

​Yikes! Surely, the person who is responsible for the Olympus video department must be trolling. This is getting ridiculous.

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" I just want the camera that was promised in the press release you know."

 

Hi, CineGain, maybe check out the video widget on DpReview, although there's more to video than that, it does give an insight into the overall clarity, or NOT to be got from the e-m5m2, it doesn't look too good!  I would have considered the m2 but there are existing dslr's etc that are better, check out the RX100m3 in the widget etc for comparison.

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​Same here.  Such potential wasted, but that's the MO with Olympus and video.  Panasonic have been exceeding expectations, but poor Oly (I'm rooting for the underdog!) just never seems to make it happen.

Like a few other camera companies, video is an afterthought.

Anyway, shortcomings are what they are.  Using the kit in real life for my needs might justify keeping it.  Haven't decided yet, but I'll put it through paces and see how I feel down the road.

​That's just the thing that kinda drives me mad. They aren't considering video on the E-M5II to be an afterthought. Video on the E-M5II is regarded as a 'main feature' of the camera. They mention two other 'main features' (in other words: 'why should you really buy this camera?'). One of them is build quality/weatherproofing; the other is the 5-axis stabilization. So... stills performance is not even considered to be the main reason for buying this particular camera, but video is. Note as well... nowhere do they mention 'video'. They have been listening real close... too close. They know there's a (much hated on) 'video look' and a (rather appreciated) 'film look', so instead of marketing this thing to be great for video, haha, no, it's meant to be used for creating 'cinema-quality movies'. Oh no, it's not a video camera. We're basicly dealing with a cinema camera here. It's for 'professional level movie making'. I mean. I'm not pulling these words along with a bunny out of my hat, this is what they're telling us the E-M5II is.

I mean, I can live with the E-M1 not being the best for video, you know. I knew that from the start. It's a stills camera, they never claimed you could use it in a professional level movie making environment. But I was led to believe that with the E-M5II I would be handed something different, a camera with just about everything I could ever have wished for... well, call me Gullible George, but I guess so much for that, eh.

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They aren't considering video on the E-M5II to be an afterthought. Video on the E-M5II is regarded as a 'main feature' of the camera. ...this is what they're telling us the E-M5II is.

​Yeah, I get that, but there's always been a serious disconnect between the makers at Olympus and the marketing guys.  So you know, you check out the video spec sheet on an upcoming cam and think, "Well, okay, maybe this time, let's hope!"  I did.  You did.  That's the game, isn't it?

With Olympus, you confront their reality of video.  With Panasonic, now Sony, or even Nikon you get to kind of embrace the reality.  I mean the A7s video is bonkers.  But compare the numbers on the specification page and you're not going to read much difference.  The spec sheets for 1080 are pretty similar across brands.  As we know, the actual output is not.

All that said, I'll be using it on low-end video work (not cinema ;-) so I can accept the shortcomings and utilize that one saving grace:  5-axis stabilization.

Meh.  I think we'd all love to be impressed by Oly and we just ain't.

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The first company ever to exaggerate in their marketing :D

​Well, not quite, but blatantly lying is something else... for sake of comparison the latest 750D/760D from Canon when mentioning video in their press release:

the EOS Rebel T6s is designed for photography enthusiasts, or those who are already experienced with entry-level cameras who want to take high-quality photos and videos, and look for more advanced features and functions. For more casual photography needs, or for users looking to purchase their first DSLR camera, the EOS Rebel T6i

Full HD Video Capture

The EOS Rebel T6s and EOS Rebel T6i cameras feature EOS Movie mode which captures Full HD 1080p resolution video up to 30 fps in MP4 format for high quality shooting and easy movie sharing on select social networking sites. Manual exposure control, digital zoom and an external stereo microphone jack are provided for advanced users using the EOS Rebel T6s.

Sounds like your typical soccer mom camera to me. Don't make claims you can't uphold. I might not like the Canons that much, but atleast I can't give them crap for pretending to be something they're not. They don't say 'go shoot cinema-quality stuff' with it. Same for the 7D's successor (the mark II) and the 7D has been used for video content for ages!

The EOS 7D Mark II camera offers users the ability to shoot in 1080p Full HD or 720p HD video up to 60p enabling slow-motion capture at full resolution in either ALL-I or IPB codecs with optional embedded time code, exceeding the specifications of other current EOS cameras. Users can also choose between .MOV and .MP4 recording formats for maximum flexibility. The EOS 7D Mark II camera's mini HDMI port can be used to record uncompressed Full HD video to external recorders.

Canon's Stepping Motor (STM) lenses, such as the EF-S 18-135mm f/3.5-5.6 IS STM lens, significantly reduce focus motor noise, letting the EOS 7D Mark II camera's built-in microphone capture clear audio of the scene being shot without picking up unwanted noise from the lens. The EOS 7 D Mark II camera also features a stereo microphone port and outputs stereo audio via the camera's mini-HDMI port. The EOS 7D Mark II Digital SLR camera is equipped with a headphone jack for real-time audio monitoring, as well as a silent control feature that allows users to adjust audio levels during recordings. Other built-in ports include a PC socket for external flash units and an N3 socket for dedicated Canon wired remote control accessoriesv. A cable protector is provided to maximize safety when using the USB 3.0 and mini-HDMI ports.

Pretty much sounds like listed specs... not what applications the camera is designed for to be used videowise. Not really exaggerating what it can do.

But anyways. :P I guess you get the picture. I'm done with hating for today, hoping for a brighter tomorrow.

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​Eye-ball estimation, that?  So, that turns a 12mm lens into about a ff-equivilant 32mm.  A 50 becomes a 135, etc.  Bummer.  Not to mention it ruins all my easy 2x math calculations when putting lenses onto a M43 camera.  12 to 24 -- I can add that up.  Slap a decimal into the mix and I get stupider than I already am.

​How to do CX crop calculations the easy way: multiply by 3 and take 10% off. So say you have a 200mm

200 x 3 = 600

10% of 600 is 60, so 600 - 60 = 540.

Easy peasy.

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Maybe this camera just needs to get in the hands of better operators, but I can't help but see unnerving parallax shifting in the 'tripod shots' and the handheld moving shots end up  shifting in robotic, unnatural ways. It's the same thing I see with a lot of these cheaper brushless gimbals. And when the aliasing shows up, it's pretty jarring.

A lot of the footage looks perfectly good, but I don't think the camera as a whole is quite there yet.  

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To test resolution shoot at infinity with a wide angle lens, something like a landscape from far away. Sorry but close-ups of towels tell us nothing.

​Ok I am sorry Andrew but I think you have it wrong here. How did you compare the resolution of the two cameras? : You shot a bag at close distance. How is that better than the towels? Actually I did the towel on purpose, since their texture should provide ample opportunity for aliasing.  

Anyways if you want to shoot landscapes then 4k on the GH4 is a better choice. But if you want to have a light setup that you can shoot handheld then there is nothing else really. And from what I see the E-M5ii is performing much better that E-M1. And there are plenty of others who observe the same thing. I don't know why it is easier for you to believe that Olympus gave John Brawley a better firmware than to accept that your test might actually be problematic.

Now I don't test cameras for a living, but I would expect something better than "close-ups of towels tell us nothing". You come out as somebody that has made his mind up already and is not willing to give the camera a chance. 

Maybe your full review will be more informative. 

Best,

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Sure if the new stabilisation system is THAT much better than the E-M1 then I will keep it and try to put it to some good creative uses.

Early days yet, I'm just so disgusted that Olympus have squandered their stabilisation YET AGAIN on a sub-par image. It's getting less easy to let them off the hook because in 2015 it should be judged against the NX1 and GH4, from which point on it starts to look incredibly dated.

Think of it as an old E-M5 with heftier crop factor, then add whatever benefit the new stabilisation might give you over other forms of stabilisation before laying down precious cash for this camera.

It carries a high risk of disappointment.

Also more advice is to use Speed Booster and a soft lens wide open to reduce the aliasing and crop. That helps. Various shooting styles especially close-ups help. Avoiding infinity focus and wide angles or scenes which require hefty dynamic range.

Careful grading also helps. At least the codec is better this time out.

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