Review: Olympus OMD EM5 Mk II


The Olympus OMD EM5 Mk II is the successor to what I believe in many ways was the closest thing to the perfect digital mirrorless camera ever made. When the Olympus OMD EM5 was announced, it was pitched as a weather sealed camera with fast autofocusing, a new sensor, great retro DSLR ergonomics, and a viewfinder that kicked some serious butt. Indeed, after Olympus was messing around a bit too much with their older Pen line, that was the camera that finally got it right.

It’s been years since that camera was announced and released; and we’ve now got its successor. With it comes the addition of WiFi integration, time lapse shooting, a 40MP high res shot mode, better weather sealing, improved (but more complicated ergonomics) faster shooting performance, the ability to make your AF points truly tiny, a different type of LCD screen, and a couple of other ergonomic changes. More than anything though, it moves away from the extra simplicity that the EM5 Mk I offered via controls. The Mk II has more buttons and in many ways looks like a more serious camera that is trying to have a retro look.

Overall, the Mk II is an excellent camera; but for an OMD EM5 user like me, I don’t believe that it’s at home is in my hands.

Update: April 22nd 2015, we’ve updated our review to include RAW image coverage

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A Comparison of How Olympus and Sony’s 5 Axis Stabilization Work

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Olympus OMD EM10 product photos (3 of 7)ISO 4001-60 sec at f - 4.5

Sony and Olympus entered a gentleman’s agreement years ago to start collaborating in closer ways. With the latest announcement of the Sony A7 Mk II, it’s easy to believe that they have the same stabilization process. For many years now, Olympus has held the honor of having the best in-body image stabilization that we’ve seen. Indeed, whenever I need to shoot in impossibly low light, the camera that I reach for is my OMD EM5 paired with a Voigtlander 17.5mm f0.95 lens to shoot at very slow shutter speeds and with the lens wide open. Due to the depth of field and size of the sensor, shooting at f0.95 gives me the full frame equivalent of f2 in focus.

In a situation like that, technology like this could be very advantageous. But that isn’t a reason to discount what Sony is doing with its new 5 Axis Stabilization.

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First Sample Images: Olympus 40-150mm f2.8 PRO at New York Comic Con


We currently have the Olympus 40-150mm f2.8 PRO lens on a short term loan for review–and so far it’s been making our jaws drop. I’ve been an Olympus shooter for many years; my first DSLR was Olympus. Then I left the system, and came back with Micro Four Thirds. Olympus has always produced stellar glass, but I’d be a complete liar if I said that I wasn’t a bit skeptical about this lens. Then again, I am always very skeptical about zooms because there is just so much that can go wrong during the manufacturing process at each focal length.

At New York Comic Con 2014, I tested it with the Olympus OMD EM5, a Westcott 7 foot parabolic umbrella, PocketWizard Plus IIIs and the Adorama Flashpoint Streaklight 180WS. My biggest complaint has to do with the battery life on the OMD draining so far because I was transferring images via the EyeFi Mobi card and giving them to attendees on the floor. But as far as the lens performance goes, I sincerely believe that every single manufacturer should be quivering in fear.

One of the biggest strengths of Micro Four Thirds has always been their lenses, and that is no more true than with this lens. It’s tack sharp, fast to focus, doesn’t miss my subject at all in fair lighting, is super light, well built with an all metal exterior, and delivers images that I’m incredibly proud of.

Our full review is currently in the works, but here are some extra image samples that have been run through Adobe Lightroom with minimal processing. Granted, these aren’t at all my final edits, but instead minor boosts that typically would be done.

Stay tuned for our full review.

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Review: Panasonic 42.5mm f1.2 (Micro Four Thirds)

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Panasonic 42.5mm f1.2 review product images (7 of 7)ISO 2001-500 sec at f - 1.7

Behold: the Panasonic 42.5mm f1.2. Yes, an f1.2 autofocusing lens is here for the Micro Four Thirds system. Customers have ben dreaming about a lens like this for many years and as the system has grown up, so too have its optics offerings.

We’re very much inclined to say that this portrait lens is something that you’ll never want to let go of. In collaboration with Leica, Panasonic has created something that is sharp, delivers great colors with skin tones, and isn’t too heavy.

And if anything is holding you back, it will really only be the price.

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Creating the Photograph: Chris Aust’s “Stormy Beach”


Creating the Photograph is an original series where we interview photographers about a photo that they shot and how it was achieved. The results are some knowledge passed on to you. Want to be featured? Email chrisgampat[at]thephoblographer[dot]com.

When we ran into the work of Chris Aust on 500px, we were intrigued and wanted to venture further into more of his portfolio. Aust is part of the growing number of photographers that are ditching the DSLR and sticking with mirrorless cameras, their creative vision, and lighting knowledge to create the best photos that he can. The 28 year old Ohio based photographer has shot fashion and portraits with a tendency to usually contrast with urban decay.

His Stormy Beach photo and the story behind it is a lesson in blending natural light with flash for all those that really wish to become a better strobist.

Here’s his story.

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Review: Olympus 25mm f1.8 (Micro Four Thirds)

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Olympus 25mm f1.8 review product images (2 of 6)ISO 4001-60 sec at f - 2.2

When Olympus first told us about their 25mm f1.8 lens, we were thrilled that they finally created one. For many years, the scene has been dominated by the Panasonic 25mm f1.4 which is a good lens in its own right, but isn’t the affordable option for many. But just because this lens is affordable doesn’t mean that it doesn’t deliver.

In fact, it made our jaws drop.

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First Sample Images with the Olympus 25mm f1.8

Olympus EM5 and 25mm f1.8 the phoblographer chris gampat

When Olympus first let us see their prototype of the 25mm f1.8, we weren’t allowed to take photos with the lens attached to a camera. But now we’ve got a review unit. And for the past couple of days we’ve been playing with the more affordable offering to Panasonic’s 25mm f1.4 lens. Olympus stated that this lens is just like their 45mm f1.8 in terms of sharpness and performance.

It’s been snowing here in NYC, and despite the fact that this lens isn’t weather sealed it is still performing quite well on the OMD EM5 in the inclement conditions that we’re currently experiencing.

Here are a couple of first sample images from the lens. Full review is still being worked on.

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Reports State That the Olympus OMD EM5 Successor May be Coming in January

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Olympus OMD EM5 product images (2 of 6)

It’s been a while since the original OMD camera has been released. But reports are now stating that the camera’s successor may be coming next month in January. According to 43Rumors, the camera’s successor will be known as the low end OMD within the series–which only really makes sense when you think about it. Olympus released the OMD EM1–with a gap in between the one and five.

Olympus is also said to be putting the same sensor as the OMD EM5 and the processor of the OMD EM1 in the camera. Once again, this also sounds viable as they used the same 12MP LiveMOS sensor for years in many of their Pen model cameras and the entire line of Pen cameras now have the same sensor as the OMD EM5. We just really, really hope that Olympus decides to use their partnership with Sony in a smarter way and develop new sensors. Their lenses are already wonderful and a strong argument can be made that they’re the best in the mirrorless camera industry.

Of course, nothing is set in stone at the moment despite the reports being very strong. The OMD EM5 was already a hit with lots of enthusiasts, but we’re also wondering how this camera will be placed amongst the entire mirrorless camera industry. Sony and Fujifilm are giving Olympus quite the run for their money at the moment with better sensors, a lineup of lenses that keep growing, and affordable prices. That isn’t to say that Olympus’s cameras are bad–they’re actually incredible. But with the way that modern day marketing works in the consumer tech world, it seems that only the most savvy amongst us may understand.