Olympus twists the knife with updated DSLR-killer

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The OM-D E-M1 MkII offers continuous shooting at 18 fps with autofocus engaged, or 60 fps without(Credit: Simon Crisp/New Atlas)

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As micro four-thirds and compact mirrorless cameras have matured into bona-fide DSLR killers, Olympus has remained at the forefront of the game with its OM-D E-M1. When it launched in 2013, we asked if Olympus had killed the DSLR. Now, the call to go mirrorless has grown louder again with the launch of the OM-D E-M1 MkII.

Although the original EM-1 was an impressive camera, there was still plenty of room for improvement from Olympus. The original OM-D was able to shoot 10 frames per second without continuous autofocus, dropping to just 6 fps with subject tracking turned on. The MkII absolutely blows that figure away, thanks to its high-speed QuadCore TruePic VIII Image Processor and 20.4 megapixel (17.4 x 13 mm) Live MOS sensor.

That combination of that new processor, a new 121-point phase detection and contrast detection autofocus system and an electronic shutter, allows the new camera to shoot RAW stills at 18 fps with autofocus and tracking switched on. Lock the autofocus, and the electronic shutter fires at 60 fps.

Running with the mechanical shutter does slow things down slightly, but you'll still be able to shoot 15 fps with autofocus locked, and 10 fps with tracking switched on. There's also a special Pro Capture Mode, designed to help users catch lightning-quick movements, and a 50 megapixel High Res Shot setting.

It's not just high-speed shooting that's been improved on the E-M1 MkII, the camera's video specs have also been given a thorough working over. It'll now shoot 4096 x 2060 4K video at up to 237 Mbps, and there's an electronic stabilization system designed specifically for video working with an in-body 5-axis image stabilizer (compensating to about 5.5 shutter speed steps) to make buttery smooth movies.

Although plenty has changed under the skin, the bones of the E-M1 have remained largely the same. Paired with the right lens it will brush off splashes, dust and cold down to -10° C (14° F), and the prominent handgrip (something you don't get on Sony and Nikon mirrorless offerings) has carried over into the MkII.

Hidden away in the handgrip is a 37 percent bigger battery than before, and Olympus has fitted dual card slots after receiving feedback from pro shooters using the original E-M1. The electronic viewfinder runs at 120 fps with a lag of just 6 milliseconds, performance specs that Olympus says will rival pro-level full-frame interchangeable lens cameras.

Olympus hasn't released a specific launch date for the OM-D E-M1 MkII, but says it will be on sale before the end of 2016. A range of accessories will also be available at launch, including a macro flash with the same weatherproofing as the camera body, an underwater case and a battery backpack.

Source: Olympus

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