I received my preordered Olympus EM1 II camera on December 15. I am not a happy camper.

The bad

Because this camera is so fast, I had ordered a 128-GB Lexar Professional SDXC II 300 MB/s card for this camera.  This card refused to format in the Olympus. 

The slower 256-GB Lexar Professional 150 MB/s SDXC II card formatted. However, when I took a long movie as a test, the camera froze up, and this card was totally trashed. The camera was quite warm too. Now, the card is not recognized by either the camera, Windows, or MacOS. Hopefully, Lexar will replace it. I could not even turn the camera off—I had to pull the battery.

Then, I was assured by Olympus via an e-mail (that alas I cannot find) that it could take movies longer than 29 minutes by seamlessly opening a new file when the 4 GB limit is reached. If this mode exists for movies, I cannot find it. Every movie mode I try shows 29 minutes remaining at the start. I take symphony videos, and this makes the camera useless. The manual says:

• If the size of the movie file being recorded exceeds 4 GB, the file will be split automatically

The movie file is indeed split (at about 1.5 GB), but the recording still stops at 29 minutes. On my Panasonic Lumix GX-8, which does this properly, there is a count up timer for movies, not a count down timer. Movie length is limited by the size of your SD card. No reviewers seem to have commented upon this aspect of the camera. Videographers beware! Why did Olympus cripple their flagship camera?

NOTE: The new Panasonic Lumix GH-5 has no record limits. Come on Olympus, fix this!

This camera has an almost infinite number of settings, which leads to interaction problems. For example, on p. 39 of the manual, it shows:

p39.png

However, when I tried it, I only saw three displayed targets. The large one was not displayed. What caused this? There are no asterisks in the manual to warn that some other (named) setting would change this sequence. A call to Olympus support elicited a camera reset as the only cure. I did this, and the large target reappeared, but all of my settings disappeared.

Unlike previous Olympus cameras, no software (or downloads) are included for the EM1 II. If you shoot raw, fortunately Adobe Lightroom came out with support for this camera. Otherwise, you are out of luck. But Olympus says that you can download Olympus Viewer 3 from their site.

Finally the rain stopped and I took a brief chilly walk through the neighborhood to try things. I learned that you really must select an autofocus mode+Manual focus (with image peaking turned on). 

Foreground/background focusing issues
pc190006testing.jpg pc190007testing.jpg

The problem is that you cannot easily tell what the camera is focused upon. The green box was over the pears in the left image, but it was focused on the background. Image peaking is not turned on in automatic focus modes, so you must rely upon the image in the viewfinder. If you add manual focus to the mix, image peaking shows clearly what is in focus. The manual option also allows you to adjust the focus to the desired object. But after trying to take bird pictures, I can find no way (short of manual focus) to focus on the bird, rather than intervening branches. It is really hit or miss.

However, I do have questions about the S-AF+M mode: after you focus it manually, does it then do autofocus before you can take the picture?

I also have had issues tapping the Super Control Panel. Lots of times, nothing happens.

I have been less than successful with the autofocus being able to decide what is foreground and what is background. I usually shoot using the viewfinder, so tapping the screen is not an option when using the camera.

Pictures taken at 1600 ISO are pretty noisy, but I have not yet been able to process them using DxO Pro, which has the best noise reduction, because this camera is not yet supported. Here are some images takes (by mistake) at ISO 20000.

Another thing I discovered is that turning off the image stabilization via the switch on the 12–100 mm f4 lens, also turns off the in-body stabilization. And you cannot turn it back on from the Super Menu either. Who would've thunk??

The good

The E-M1 II does take really nice pictures. I have very shaky hands, and the image stabilizer worked just great for me. 

Unlike with my older E-M1, the white balance and exposure are quite accurate.

Movies

I finally went and videoed a concert with all selections < 29 minutes. You may see it at https://youtu.be/9GaMeh5T9vE. Compare it to the previous videos that were taken with my Panasonic Lumix GX-8. The Olympus nails the color balance better. It appears that some of the highlights were blown on this latest video, but the highlights appeared properly when I edited the video using PowerDirector 15. Somehow, PowerDirector changed the highlights during the producing process. It takes a day to produce the video and to upload it to YouTube, so I decided to leave well enough alone.


Below is a slideshow, which may take a while to load. Click on the images to see the full-size JPEG, which includes the EXIF data. These were all processed using Lightroom.

Comments

Nearly all stills cameras have the video length limit of 30 minutes (including the GX8 according to Panasonic) and its because of an EU tax. http://www.tested.com/tech/photography/44445-why-digital-cameras-have-a-30-minute-video-recording-limit/
jarome's picture

Hopefully, there is a US version. My GX-8 takes unlimited videos.

To be fair to Olympus, if you bought this camera in the EU, it HAS to be limited to <30 minutes video recording, otherwise it's classed as a video camera and attracts a higher rate of duty. It does though sound as though the manual, and Oly themselves, don't recognise this, hence the disconnect you're getting.
jarome's picture

The EU is a tax issue, not a requirement issue. There is an extra 5.5% tax on video cameras to protect non-existent EU video camera manufacturers. That should not affect people in the USA, however.

Don't be too worried about the split file video recording, my Panasonic G7 does the same thing and it is seamless. You won't miss any of the actual recording footage, it's just multiple files on your card. I get my em1 mark ii today! 
jarome's picture

Yes, the split files are seamlessly put together. Of course the real issue is why the camera manufacturers do not use a card format that supports large files: NTFS, HFS+, and Linux format.

Had the same problems with the Lexar-128GB-2000x-card. This card only works in slot 2 as UHS 1 (but then much slower as it should in slot 1). I heard, the smaller cards from Lexar will work correctly. I will try to get a working card from Olympus for free as compensation..
jarome's picture

The Lexar 1000X 256 GB card formatted in the M1 II, and thus far takes pictures and a short movie. I'll update this when I take more pictures.

My EM1 MK2 was replaced by Olympus Denmark, becuase it wasn't able to format or write to any cards. Olympus tested the camera was faulty and ensured it was replaced within 5 days. So I suggest that you ask Olympus to verify that the camera works as designed if you don't happen to know any other EM1 Mk2 owners. I am pretty happy with my camera, a huge step-up from the EM-1, but I mainly shoot stills. Video auto-focus could be improved, and I wouldn't be surprised if this will be fixed in a future firm-ware update. Using touch screen for focusing during video is a really useful feature.

This camera isn't the best camera for music videos, pick up a G7 and time unlock it.
jarome's picture

But for $2000, I should be able to use the better Olympus!

Hi, I just got my em1 mark2 recently and before, I was using em10. On my em10, pressing the movie record button would start the movie recording regardless of the mode I am in (usually A or S). I assume that would be the same for em1 mark2? But the movie recording is not started at all! The button is certainly not spoilt (I can select pictures in playback mode) and I did not change the button function ... anyone else got the same prob?
jarome's picture

I can start recording a movie even in P mode.

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Olympus OM-D EM1 II — Crippled but great camera