The All New 2K Camera

I know what you are saying. All new 2K? We’ve had 4K for ages. Keep up with the times man!

Well I am up with the times, because the 2K I’m talking about is pounds, dollars or euros. And that 2K is round about the price of Olympus’s new E-M1 Mark 2 in those currencies. It tops the previous prices of flagship Micro Four Thirds cameras in the UK by a handsome – or should that be ugly? – margin. I paid £1300 for an E-M1 when it came out so the price hike for the Mark 2 is over 40%. But more than the price itself, what is significant is that this price puts the E-M1 Mark 2 firmly in full frame Nikon, Canon and Pentax DSLR territory. A lot of photographers, understandably, will baulk at that. I can hear it now. “Two thousand dollars? You can get a Nikon/ Canon/ full frame for that!”

It reminds me of the remarks I used to get when I rode motor-cycles.  Someone would look at the bike enviously. “How much does a bike like  that cost?”. I’d tell them. Inevitably came back “but you could get a car for that”.  That is true but whereas the bike would accelerate from 0-60mph in under 5 seconds,  render London traffic irrelevant to my progress and could be parked anywhere free, no amount of money spent on a car could buy that freedom and efficiency. Let alone the mundane family car that would carry a similar price tag. The type I now drive, I might add.

The case I put forward for the E-M1 Mark 2 is along those lines. The 2K buys you the most advanced Micro Four Thirds camera body there is. Note I said ‘most advanced’, not best, that’s another matter. Advanced even down to a speedy type C USB plug. It will shoot very high speed sequences beyond what any DSLR can do, at full quality. It has stabilization approaching the best physics will allow, short of stopping the earth’s rotation while you take a picture.

While not particularly small by Micro Four Thirds standards, it is still compact compared to a DSLR, more so because the format allows for smaller lenses. That is how my Lowepro (UK) (USA) bag below will take an E-M1 Mark 2 plus lenses covering from 7mm to 400mm, the essential 12-150mm range all being at f/2.8.

I will, as always, ignore the equivalence folk. Micro Four Thirds lenses are for Micro Four Thirds system cameras. It is an enclosed ecosystem of its own. Yes, a smaller sensor implies more noise and more depth of field than a DSLR. Just as a 36x24mm sensor does compared to a Hasselblad digital. So what?

Within the Micro Four Thirds system, The E-M1 Mark 2 represents not a comparably priced mid range DSLR but one of the flagship models at around £5,000. In absolute terms it is less capable but then it costs less than half as much and has benefits that even a £10,000 DSLR could not replicate, courtesy of the laws of optics. It’s the motor-cycle/ car argument again.

I had an email from a photographer recently saying he hated the way Micro Four Thirds was going and the price of the new Olympus just strengthened his disapproval. I understand it, because he feels let down that a system that originally consisted of reasonably priced cameras was now moving out of his reach. I pointed out that the fact that a top model Nikon DSLR cost £5,000 didn’t put buyers off the Nikon range. They bought the best model they could afford. Ditto the E-M1 Mark 2. If you don’t want to spend or don’t have that kind of money, there’s the E-M5ll. Or the Panasonic G80. You don’t have to have the top model.

For myself, because I review cameras, I have reason to buy them. Would I buy an E-M1 mark 2 otherwise? I doubt it. For my work, 5 stop stabilization and 60 frames per second  are clever circus tricks.  I don’t really do much that my Panasonic GH2 couldn’t do and even an E-M10 Mark 2 (UK) (USA) or Panasonic G80 are improved in every way  over that 5 year old camera.

For some photographers, having what they consider the best is very important and they will buy regardless of price.  Others feel the pricing is excessive and wouldn’t buy for that reason. My only insight is that my dealer told me the new Olympus was selling like hot cakes

My over-arching thought is that if that price and good sales help secure Olympus’s presence in the Micro Four Thirds market we all benefit. I have a sneaking feeling that when Panasonic’s GH5 is announced they will not price it very differently from the E-M1 Mark 2.

One quirky thing I notice is that I have a G80 (UK) (USA) and E-M1 Mark 2 on my desk and I seem to happily pick up one thinking it is the other. The bodies feel quite similar, comfortable hand grip, lots of similarly placed controls, both now have articulated screens, typically well designed Micro Four Thirds bodies. I wonder, if the GH5 is even more physically like the G80 than the new Olympus, whether I would not only pick up the wrong one but use it too. And not realize I’d done so.

If so, why don’t I just save myself a cool £1100. You could buy a DSLR for that.

31 thoughts on “The All New 2K Camera

  1. Karlo

    I couldn’t agree more with your thoughts. If you have the means and want the latest & best, go for it. Although I would have more difficulty explaining my purchasing the EM-1.2 to the wife then to myself. Therefore, I’m struggling between the EM-5 MkII and the new Lumix G80. Any thoughts regarding choosing between the two would be well appreciated, me being a street shooter, with an occasional landscape and closeup here and there.

    1. Post author

      My immediate thought is the G80. It’s about the best all rounder value for money Micro Four Thirds at the moment. The shock free shutter gives confidence and the focusing performance is fast and decisive. It’s a thoroughly up to date camera that works just as well with Olympus lenses as Panasonic. No dual stabilization with Olympus but that’s just icing on the cake anyway.

      The Olympus f/1.2 25mm, you have to really want that extra half stop over the Panasonic 25 f/1.4 to pay £700 extra for it! With what’s left over, you could get the Olympus 12mm f/2 and 45mm to complete the outfit. Might be easier to explain that to your wife 🙂

  2. António

    Dear Mr Thorpe
    I’ve just watched the YT video on Olympus EM-1 mark II.
    Your YT channel just came up a couple of days in the suggestions, and since then I’ve watched a few. So far I liked them all.
    My ‘photographic path’ started with my father’s Yashica GSN Electro 35 (still working), but my 1st love affair was with a well beaten 2nd hand Pentax ME and the 50mm f/1.7. After that a got a few payed jobs making photographs.
    Fast forward, a few brands, different formats, some time off photos (bad transition to digital) and more 20 years… I re-discovered or re-introduce photography back into my life. I’ve always kept at least one camera around. and the present camera is a (10 years old) 9MP ‘super zoom bridge’ model that needs a replacement!
    I narrow my choices to Pentax K-S2 (cheaper and a bit bulkier with zoom lenses18-135mm and 50mm) and Panasonic G7 (more expensive and lighter with the 14-140mm and 45mm).
    My main goal is a comfortable in my hand camera to bring at all times. I shoot what my eyes like to see – from a flower to a dog on the street, and the good pictures get a frame to hang on the wall (8×10″)
    Finally the question, do you maintain your G7 set up recommendation “value for money” or its better to save a little bit and aim for the G80 or a used OMD 1 mark I (similar fit in my hand).
    Thank you sir for your attention sir.

    1. Post author

      Hi Antonio – glad you find my stuff helpful.I think a lot of people found the transition to digital difficult but those who made the jump (not that there was a choice,really) will be mostly glad they did so, I think.

      -140For the cameras, I used to have a Pentax digital and really liked it. The advantage of the Micro Four Thirds system is lenses like the 14-140, a wide range zoom but with little or no compromise in image quality. The G7 is excellent value and has superb focusing speed. On single AF, it is impeccable, near enough instantaneous, which makes it very enjoyable to use. The G80 with body stabilization that can be used in conjunction with the lens stabilization gives image stabilization of four or more stops plus a new shutter, quieter and smoother. If you could afford it, I’d recommend the G80 overall. It is probably the best all round capable camera of any in any system and one I think you’d be guaranteed to enjoy.

      The Pentax has bigger lenses but most importantly lacks a touch screen. Panasonic’s touch screen makes the camera very easy to control and use, I can’t imagine being without it. You can use it to set focus points, operate the menu entirely by touch and as the overall settings control power the camera.

      So, I’d say a G7 (lovely with the lenses you mention, very nicely chosen) or, if you stretch to the extra, the G80. My G80 is the camera I immediately turn to for all my normal work simply because it is so pleasing to use while being technically very capable.

  3. David Cantor

    Hello David

    Another wonderful post. I’d like to throw my two penny worth about m4/3 cameras. I’ve had mine, an EM-5 Mark I, for about three years having migrated from a Nikon D300 using in the main, an 18-200mm zoom. Having taken the plunge, I decided to buy the best lenses I could afford . These were the Panasonic 12-35 and the 35-100 zooms. I reckon my photography has improved significantly since the switch.

    What follows may be construed as a plug for my work but in reality it’s a tribute to the wonderful Olympus cameras. This year, I was priveliged to have had one of my images selected for the Taylor Wessing Portrait Prize 2016, as far as I am aware, this is a first for m4/3 cameras. If that were not proof enough of the quality of output, the image has been used for the exhibition catalogue cover, postcards, an 8′ x 6′ banner across the exhibition entrance and an extensive full-sized poster campaign on the London Underground network. More info here:

    You are I guess, preaching to the converted here, I just wanted to convince any waverers that collectively, we are definitely on the right track

    I haven’t upgraded since my original purchase, the upgrade just looked too ugly, the camera has to feel right AND look right, harking back to your ‘black’ or ‘silver’ post. Finally,, one of the best photographers I know uses an Olympus Trip bought for £1 in a local charity shop. Today, we bumped into her and her other half outside the greengrocers. ‘Hang onto the bag, John’ and at that she whizzed across the road and took a photo of a guy cleaning windows on the other side of the street. He was ‘up’ the top of the ladder. What she spotted was the word ‘Down’ embroidered on the back of his overalls. If only we could all upgrade our ability to see as easily as upgrade our cameras.

    Keep ‘them coming and thank you.

    David C

    1. Post author

      Thanks David! Beautiful work, I love that picture (an many others on your site). It benefits, like your other work from your professional approach, by which I mean that your photography allows the subject to speak rather than trying to show what a good photographer you are. I remember a remark from Miles Davis, one of the lights of my life, who said that it takes a long time to learn to play like yourself. That’s the sort of confidence your picture shows and the award is richly deserved. So much is added by the shot being in profile, too. It makes the character’s style the subject of the picture where a face to camera shot with eye contact would have lost that.

      There’s something immensely satisfying about something pared down to the essentials and it is a hall mark of all the best photographers. I won’t labour the Micro Four Thirds point except to say that it really is ideal where you want to balance image quality against portability. As your friend’s £1 camera shows, it ain’t the camera that makes the picture. But, friendly, convenient, effective tools – black or silver 🙂 – do make the job more enjoyable. Quality, wise, there’s no big change between your E-M5 and the latest hot off the line cameras. Fit for purpose is all you need.

      Thanks for drawing me to that image – I’m no art critic or authority but I know a great picture when i see one.

  4. Malcolm

    Hi David – If one had limitless cash I suppose the MkII might be tempting. I think I would only think about it if something happened to my EM1. What is really surprising is that my current EM1 still takes the same quality images that it took before.

    All the best

    1. Post author

      No, you’re wrong there, Malcolm. The E-M1 sensor is now more noisy, the focusing slower and less accurate and pictures of that wonderful NZ scenery now look feebly coloured and fuzzy. This can only be cured by buying a Mark 2.


      David (on behalf of Olympus Marketing Corp Ltd) 🙂

  5. Dave Galavan

    Hi David,
    thank you again for an interesting article on M4/3.
    I made the investment recently (after many months of indecision) in a GX8 and 12-35mm lens.
    I am more than happy with the usability, design etc. I am have some difficulty with low light indoor shots however and wonder if you have some advice re settings?

    Have you reviewed the Panasonic 100-400 yet?

    Keep up your excellent and inspirational reviews.

    1. Post author

      Glad you like the reviews – I like doing them, too. Yes, I have reviewed the Panasonic 100-400 (UK) (USA) ( and not unexpectedly it’s a lovely lens, of a bit specialized for my usage. What is especially impressive is the focusing with the GX8 (UK) (USA) (and would be with any current Panasonic body, actually).

      With regard to the low light indoor shots, provided you keep the ISO to 3200 or below, results should be good. What is the problem?

  6. Aaron

    My own experience with buying a new camera included a trip to the store thinking “I want another Canon”. My last foray into ‘real’ cameras before toy cameras was a late film camera (conveniently, just before being made redundant) and was used for the ubiquitous New Zealander’s ‘Big OE’. I fondly recall shooting the great sites of Jordan with such joy, finding creative flair where previously there was little – the Canon brand sat nicely.

    Back to the store…the sales guy offered a Lumix GX7 to hold after my intended Canon. “It’s very new and the focusing is just so fast, try it”, as day is to night it certainly was compared to a similar price point Canon. Holding the GX7 created indecision and a withdrawal from the transaction to do more research. In so, I was thrust into the immense world of camera reviews and some of the most impassioned blogs I have ever encountered.

    The “it’s very new” GX7 turned out to be in its twilight and rumours of a replacement were rife. At this point David Thorpe the YouTube channel/Blog became the voice of reason cutting through all of the noise. Olympus and Lumix seemed to now provide an optimum solution for photography producing results and creative potential well above the needs of most in a package that is sized for everyday use even in the face of ever improving smartphone cameras.

    I wanted a camera that was technically strong, could flatter and provide wow factor photos if used correctly with good lenses. It needed to be used not stored, therefore smallish and discrete. It needed to be a kind master and therefore not overly complex to operate.

    I ended up purchasing a ‘black’ camera that feels great in the hand, operates wonderfully and has more features and potential than I could ever use. Olympus has the perception of being the photographer’s choice and is potentially the more celebrated. Ultimately, for me the Lumix GX8 was my choice. It is a marvel of a camera; clean, understated, feels nice in hand and has a tidy menu system that encourages use, the Olympus menus seem more for the professional and complex.

    My photos to date have exceeded expectation even though I am only scratching the surface of the GX8’s promise. With the 12-35 f2.8 zoom and 42.5 f1.7 prime lenses, I have the start of a collection, the 35-100 f2.8 remains the missing link.

    A shutter shock campaign against the GX8 was a minor wound to the cameras pride, albeit I suspect I will never notice its influence given my ability and the way I print the images presently, so I will live with this chink to the armour happily knowing the camera hits the optimum button more often than anything else I looked at.

    The new EM1 mk2 appears a tour-de-force of a machine and for the most part may exceed the ‘optimum’ needs of most users, still this is progress and I look forward to the review. As sure as the sun comes up tomorrow even this new machine will attract the wrath of the bloggers at some point and could be old news when the GH5 arrives.

    This is pretty much the first time I have been drawn to replying to a website, your blog does seems to strike a chord and has been very helpful to me. I stumbled over your GX8 E-book on Amazon about camera setup and purchased accordingly, again really helpful and probably advanced my use by years. You should reference these books more prominently on your site, you may be missing a trick.
    Keep up the good work.

    1. Post author

      Hi Aaron – I enjoyed reading your comment, especially that the Micro Four Thirds cameras work so well for you. The GX8 and shutter shock, well if you look for it it is sometimes there I’m sure but like you it’s not something that I would notice at all in normal use. I’m glad the blog strikes a chord. For me it gives me a chance to think aloud and get my perspective straight.

      Like you, I’m always happy to see innovation and swish new facilities on cameras but whether I personally want or need them is another matter. What I try to keep in mind is that what to me seems a niche thing is for someone else just what they have been waiting for. I’m glad the GX8 book was helpful – I generally avoid plugging my books and maybe I should but it just doesn’t seem right, somehow. Re the lens collection, you might consider the little 35-100 Panasonic zoom. It’s tiny but plenty sharp and there’s no excuse not to have it with you!

  7. Roy Norris

    Hi David,
    I shoot Nature and Countryside photography as a hobby.
    I have in the past used Canon and Nikon. I then changed to Panasonic M43 at about the same time as you did. (That could have had something to do with the fact I have always followed your Youtube Videos and Blog). Then I made, what I believe now to be a really silly decision, I sold all my Panasonic gear and bought into Sony. All the while still watching your material on line. Eventually I realised my mistake and sold the Sony gear and recently bought an EM1 along with the Olympus 12-40 f2.8, 40-150 f2.8 and the 300 f4. I use the 300 for long range birds and the other two lens for every thing else. I will not be getting rid of those lens as they are superb. The EM1 has reached maturity with the various Firmware upgrades and costs only two thirds of the original launch price. With the lenses it is a superb piece of kit and does everything I need. Will I buy the EM1 Mk 2. Not at this stage, I may buy it in three or four years time when it has matured and costing a lot less and only if the Mk.1 packs up.
    I believe that buying brand new cameras at launch is a mistake, wait till they have been improved and are only two thirds the price.

    1. Post author

      Hi Roy – yes, it’s wise to leave the purchase of new things for a bit. Then you get the latest firmware already installed with bugs ironed out and a more market sensitive price. Luckily there’ll always be photographers who want the latest gear and want it now. The market needs us all, the wise and the early adopters, we’re all complimentary to one another.

      That’s a great set of lenses you have there, I make no secret of my liking for the 12-40 but the 40-150 f/2.8 a very special lens. I’m looking forward to taking the E-M1 Mk2 out for some picture taking but some of the new features do seem aimed at fast action photography so may be a little niche for me personally. Great to hear my videos and blogs are useful. I get great pleasure from making them but even more from knowing they are useful to other photographers.

  8. Stephen

    I bought into mf1/3rds a few years ago and currently have Olympus Omd em5, Olympus ep5 And omd em1 but am so disappointed that the rush to release the latest and greatest has resulted in a ho hum attitude from me to the products launched. No shelf life as such. Even bought into the Fuji xpro1 alternative universe ….what a joke, barely able to focus, slower than a tortoise on sleeping pills! Great photos though if you caught them. Think the whole micro four thirds needs to slow down a bit and make sure that every release has substantive differences in improvement! Otherwise they are just another Nikon and Canon…of which I still own a few Canons! Disgruntled I am, spending am not!

    1. Post author

      Sometimes the new model is really a new camera, the G7 to G80 for example and the price reflects that. Other times, as you say, you have an incremental upgrade. Probably the best bet is what most people do with phones now, leave it for at least two generations. My Samsung Galaxy S4 stayed with me until the S7 came out. I think the makers are in a cleft stick now. Having such regular upgrades (I don’t like that word but I can’t think of a replacement), people come to expect them so that an 18 month old model is regarded as old. Panasonic are much worse with that than Olympus, I think. I do like Olympus’s policy of making upgrades with firmware releases.

      Your attitude is the healthy one, ho hum. If a camera did what you needed when you bought it, a new one coming out doesn’t change its performance. With Micro Four Thirds, the image quality is much better now than when it started out fewer than 10 years ago but there’s been no sudden leap forward. It’s been an incremental improvement and you’d need to get a new camera only every 4 years or so to really see a difference. I think with modern cameras, the marketing people have as much to do with release schedules as the engineers.

  9. Phillip

    David thanks for the information in this review it takes an ex working pro to put things into the right perspective and we all appreciate your views. I have resisted the micro four thirds system for a while now. I am trying to get to a level of skill that justifies my current camera rather than running to the shop every 6 months to a year to upgrade. If the image quality of the Micro four thirds system is better than my E 30 then maybe I should consider upgrading. Maybe not. I remember coveting the E 3 years ago, I was using an E 500 at the time. I would look at the picture of that E3 camera daily and long to own it, now, sadly it’s on EBay.

    1. Post author

      The image quality from the latest Micro Four Thirds cameras will certainly be better than the Four Thirds. The question is whether it is a difference that makes it worth while changing systems. If you’re not finding anything lacking in your pictures, I’d be inclined to stay with what you’ve got. The main thing for me about the newer cameras would be their astonishing focus performance but for that you’d need all new lenses too. The fact is that the cutting edge performance that excites everyone is rarely needed in most people’s photography. It does sell cameras though!

  10. Heiko Bertram

    Dear David,

    I came across your YouTube canell 1,5 yeara ago and been following it ever since. One of the best like the one of the best! I have been using Panasonic GF 1 and later the GX 7 for my personal work up to a Point that I consider using it more seriously (althought I really still like the pictures from my Nikon D700). Do you think Micro 4/3 is capabele of replacing D700? I haven’t seen any work of wedding photograhers / classicsl concert photographers that impressie me (mayby one Edmund Terakopian but maybe his is biased because he is an Olympus ambassider. Can you maybe tell me up to what Point one can rely on m4/3 in indoor low lit situation

    1. Post author

      Thanks Heiko! Yes, I think that wedding photography is one area where Micro Four Thirds can work as well as a DSLR. With its high speed lenses that still retain adequate depth of field and silent shutter it is ideal for the church. It’s unlikely that a couple would want a print more than 3 feet wide so quality is adequate and in low light 1600/ 3200 is perfectly usable. The main question mark over Micro Four Thirds cameras is in high speed continuous autofocus. I haven’t had a chance to really try out the E-M1 Mark 2 yet but that should be good in theory, with its PDAF on sensor focusing. The Panasonic range are no slouches in low light and C-Af focus, though.

      1. Heiko Bertram

        Thanks, David for your quick and thorowly reaction I don’t need fast autofocus and most of the time I do not shalow depth of feeld pictures. I Currently use 14mm Panasonic, 15mm Leica/Panasonic, 20mm 1.7 Panasonic, and the 42,5mm 1,7. Combined with my GX 7 this is anought for my personal/ own family pictures. For work I’m tempted to buy the dollowing set for 2695,- euro’s (incl 5 year warantie) Olympus om-d e-M1 (first generatain) + grip + 12-40mm pro 2.8 + 40-150mm 2.8 pro lenses.

        I have never used Olympus (other thee the real om-1 and om-10 in film days) and love the Panasonic. I like the oly 12-40mm reach more than the Panasonic 12-35mm. I can get the feeling of an om-d e-M1 and if I don’t like it later sell the camera to repelaar it with a Gx-8 (with has even more IBiS than the Gx-7). The Point is for personal work I never take the Nikon. So why not start integrating m4/3 in to professional work. Time has to tell if printed files 30x30cm look as nice as the Nikon d-700 files do. Whats your take on making the professional move in buying the oly set?

        1. Post author

          I’d be inclined for a few jobs to use both Micro Four Thirds and the DSLR and see how it worked out. For 30×30 cm prints the GX7. E-M1 would be more than adequate. I always work on 300ppi for the best possible print quality and Micro Four Thirds has more than enough pixels for that. I doubt whether you’d tell any difference. In practice, 200dpi is enough.

          Both the E-M1 and GX8 should do the job perfectly well, better stabilization on the E-M1, better EVF and low light focusing on the GX8. Plus the extra pixels on the GX8, though that;s not really significant. If you fancy a DSLR style body, don’t overlook the Panasonic G80. Panasonic’s best stabilization yet, wonderfully smooth and quiet shutter without any shock and a very good EVF. Plus, it’ll take a battery grip. Dn’t worry about the English, it’s fine and easily understood. I’ve met many English people who can’t write as well!

  11. Nashtok

    I like how you have the Oly lens on the Panny body, and the Panny lens on the Oly body. Judging from the last paragraph I don’t feel that was an accident, eh?

  12. Kevin Saruwatari

    Hi David,

    Guess it’s time to get the 100-400 back and do all those show-offy things you were too modest to do! Can give all of the credit to the camera this time!

    While I’m not buying the the EM1-II, I like that Olympus did it. I shoot a lot of ice hockey in poorly lit rinks and while the phase detect focus looks great to me, my GX8 is doing well enough that I’m not ready to upgrade. Ditto on the burst rate. There are times when I would use it but my GX8 already shoots so fast, I’ve had to drop it from high to medium. In a 1 hours game I was getting over 4,000 shots. I’m happy with 1,000-2,000; if I feel lazy 900 is lots.

    For me, I will gladly and instantly part with my GX8 when high ISO performance gives me the GX8’s ISO 1600 results at 6400. Right now, I often shoot at ISO 3200 and sacrifice shutter speed or 6400 and sacrifice IQ. For what I do, it’s already good enough and I’m not prepared to swing APS-C/full frame lenses equivalent to the 40-150 pro around on a crowded bench. It may be a long wait before we can set ISO 6400 without hesitation or a click on 100-200mm/f1.8 (if Sigma can start a trend). But I like that if that day ever comes, the EM1-II’s features be around to make great use of it.


    1. Post author

      I’ll be interested to try out the E-M1 mark 2’s PDAF but like you find it hard to fault the GX8’s focusing performance. Also, like you, the one development I’d really like is present 1600 quality at 6400. High speed shooting sounds great but as you say, practical considerations come into play and editing 5,000 shots makes it unlikely you’ll find the 3 best ones in there. Or if you do, it’ll take a long time.

      When I covered football in the UK for an evening newspaper, we had 10 minutes before we had to send back our first pix. Shooting hundreds of frames of each incident would have been mad!


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