Some weeks ago I got the first opportunity to touch the new Olympus OM-D E-M10II (Mark 2) when I was in London. Some days after I got this new camera for a real life test on the street. For those who don’t know me, I have been using all the OM-D’s (E-M5, E-M1, E-M10, E-M5II) for street photography so far. My favourite OM-D is the cheapest, the E-M10, which can do all the things I need for the street. I’m not a gear head and the camera is just a tool for me. So I was looking from a functional perspective at this new camera. This is my personal view which is based on street photography only. If you want to know all the technical specifications, please refer to the Olympus website.
At first I realised that they have moved the buttons again. Nearly everything is different now, but you get used to it. The power-on switch is on the left side now. This means, you cannot switch on the camera with just one hand. That’s something I don’t really like, but I will get over it. What I like is the new touch & feel of the new dials. They look much cooler and ever more retro. There will be still people thinking that this is a film camera.
Apart from the cool retro look and the nicely done dials, there is mainly one feature which was added to the E-M10II: the silent shutter. Like on the E-M5II there is also an electronic shutter built in the new OM-D. This is a feature you will love on the street. Although it feels a bit weird, when you press the button and you don’t hear and feel anything at all. After you got used to the strange feel you realise that you can now shoot everywhere and nobody will figure out that you take photos. Especially when you shoot through the display or even when you focus and release by touching the display. In a library, church or when standing very close to someone, you are completely invisible from an acoustic perspective. You can even say that you didn’t take a photo and everybody believes you since there was no sound. The silent shutter makes this camera very valuable and even more stealthy. Additionally, the electronic shutter makes 11 frames per second, which is 2.5 frames more than the normal one.
Overview of the new features compared to the E-M10
– New button/dial design and layout
– Electronic shutter which is completely silent and goes up to 1/16000
– 5-axis stabilisation (before it was 3-axis only)
– An additional function button (Fn3)
– Electronic view finder with 2.360 million dots (before it was 1.440 million dots)
– The display can be pulled out about 5mm to prevent the viewfinder eye cup covering the display.
First of all, when you own an E-M10 already, you don’t need a new one. But when you own an E-M5, this is the time to upgrade. You will get a camera which is much much better for a very affordable price. If you want to downgrade from an E-M1 or E-M5II, feel free. It’s lighter and smaller, but not better. If you are a street photographer with any other camera, you may look at this camera very closely. There are features (silent shutter, tiltable display, stabilisation, size, weight, frame rate, AF speed) which are really valuable on the street. There is no camera at this price on the market which can do all those things.
I’m already over the sensor size discussion. Luckily I never had a full frame sensor camera and I have realised early that size matters in measures and not on the sensor. The size of the E-M10II is perfect for the street and also the sensor size is negligible, as Zack Arias says. A bad photo is not getting any better on a larger sensor. Just keep it small and tiny. Shoot with what you have and you will see that it is more than enough.
There is just one thing which works different than expected. Most of the times I shoot in P-Mode with auto ISO (200-6400) where I have set the shutter limit to 1/125 on my 17mm Olympus lens. With the normal shutter mode the camera first opens the aperture, then goes down to 1/125, then raises the ISO to 6400 and then lowers the shutter even more. This is the normal behaviour. When I switch to the electronic shutter, this mechanism is not working at all. The camera somehow does a little bit of everything (shutter/aperture) and will not raise the ISO before the shutter is at 1/20. So the electronic shutter cannot be used without caution and it low light.
Yes, for me it is the best camera out there. I don’t need more and it is definitely the best bang for the buck. You don’t get a cheaper camera with all the cool features, which are perfect for the street. Of course, you can get a bigger sensor, but this will cost you much more and you will not make any better photos. When I have learned something in the last five years, then it was that the camera is a tool and if you cannot master it, any camera is a waste of money. Since most of us don’t have too much money to spend, this is the perfect camera for us. We get everything which is relevant for a very competitive price. Look at my photos and you will see that no camera in this world will do make them any better. It is all a question of confidence and trust in the camera you have.