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By 29 November 2016 | Categories: news

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The long-awaited Olympus OM-D EM-1 Mark II launched yesterday in South Africa at a function held in Parkhurst. It was touch and go for the first three models to land, only arriving in the country yesterday morning, just in time for the launch.

Built around the Micro Four Thirds standard, the EM-1 Mark II is considered the flagship product of the Olympus line-up, and with good reason. It’s built like a brick, weather-sealed, comes with onboard Wi-Fi, all while feeling comfortable in hand and still considerably smaller than comparable Nikon or Canon DSLRs.

Although this mirrorless camera looks a lot like its older brother, the Mark 1, it is a wholly different beast, receiving firstly a new sensor, pushing megapixels up from the usual 16 MP on offer from Olympus, to 20 MP. Also onboard is a fast new TruePic VIII dual quad-core processors, which affords the Mark II perhaps its biggest drawcard: helluva fast shooting speeds.

How fast? Well try 20 MP RAW image files at up to 60 fps in S-AF Mode and 18 fps in C-AF Tracking Mode. It also contains what they call Pro Capture Mode, which starts capturing images before you even fully release the shutter. If pressing the shutter halfway, it begins to buffer photos, ensuring 14 photos before you’ve actually gone for the shot.

The focussing system is also much improved, with a 121-pt hybrid AF system on offer, and the 2.36M dot LCD electronic viewfinder very clear and smooth, helped by a six millisecond refresh rate. Videographers that have always shied away from Olympus will like its new 4K recording capabilities (30/25/24 fps), dual SD card setup and vari-angle screen – a more complete package than what was on offer before.

After shooting with the camera, we can report that the 5-axis sensor-shift image stabilisation is amazing, and we saw the results quite clearly while shooting with the M.Zuiko 300mm f4.0 IS PRO. Once you’ve found your focus, the stabilisation kicks, with the image in the viewfinder going from all-over-the-show to smooth and clear. We’ve even managed to crack clear results indoors at 1/40th of a second, with some help from the in-lens stabilisation too.

The Olympus OM-D EM-1 Mark II is set to become available in South Africa in mid-December. The price will be much dependant on the rand/dollar, but expect a tentative price range of R31 000. Along with the new flagship, Olympus also launched three lenses: the 25mm 1.2 Pro, the 12-100mm f4 Pro all-rounder, and a tiny 30mm 3.5 Macro. At time of publishing prices for these were still unknown.

UPDATE: We received the prices, as stated below. 

25mm 1.2 Pro: R19 999 Stock, available in Mid Dec.
12-100mm f4 Pro: R21 999, available Mid Dec.
30mm 3.5 Macro: R4 499, already available. 

With only a little bit of shooting with the camera under the belt, our initial verdict is that the camera is a winner. Here are more informative reviews of the Olympus OM-D EM-1 Mark II if you want to follow the links.

Digital Photography Review: “For now, though, Olympus has delivered a camera which competes with the very best enthusiast ILCs, making it worthy of our highest award.”

Techradar: “Whereas the original OM-D E-M1 only felt like a flagship camera among its own line and not cameras from other brands, the Mark II was made to steal the limelight from everyone else.”

Steve Huff: “I said it before but I have never tested a more advanced camera than the EM1 Mark II.”

Ming Thein: “I’d say upgrade if you’re a first generation E-M1 or E-M5 user, but expect solidly incremental rather than revolutionary changes.”

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