In our review of the Olympus OM-1, we called the flagship mirrorless camera for photographers “the best Micro Four Thirds camera you can buy” and said it proved that computational tricks are the future of mirrorless cameras. . Almost two years later, a successor was born, the OM System OM-1 II, with a different name engraved on the body.
Olympus had already been acquired by OM Digital Solutions when the OM-1 was released in March 2022. Since then, the startup has done little in the camera space, other than launching the OM System brand on the latest Olympus models, which are only minor changes. Sadly, the same is true here.
The new OM-1 II has virtually the same OM-1 hardware. It features a 1053-point AF system, a 20MP back-illuminated stacked sensor with 50fps continuous autofocus and autoexposure, and a rugged IP53-rated dust-, splash-, and cold-proof body. These specs are still well-received today, but fans of MFT systems would have liked more.
Still, this system is especially popular with people who don't want to carry around heavy equipment or tripods, especially bird and wildlife photographers, and some of the new features in the latest model should only help improve your shooting. experience. The OM-1 series is leading the way in computational photography in proper cameras, proving it's not just limited to smartphones.
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So if there are very few changes to the OM-1 II hardware (other than new rubberized tactile external controls), what exactly is new? In short, the algorithms have been improved. I did. It may sound sexy, but the camera's overall performance has been improved, and it also offers some new computational tricks.
The most notable is the improvement in buffer performance. The OM-1 II can shoot for twice as long as the OM-1. If you're using 50fps continuous burst mode to get the most out of your camera, you can shoot up to 256 images using the 5.76m dot EVF with a blackout-free display regardless of shooting rate. You can now shoot sequences of RAW images.
The camera also has image stabilization, which is now rated at up to 8.5EV, compared to 7EV on the OM-1. To be clear, this improvement is algorithm-based and not a newly designed in-body image stabilization system. Nevertheless, class-leading performance is expected, which is exciting, especially when the second generation model is combined with the new lens “M.ZUIKO 150-600m F5.0-6.3 IS” released on the same day.
OM System also says that the autofocus accuracy has been significantly improved due to improved AI subject detection algorithms. The OM-1 II can better detect fast-moving birds and focus them clearly. In addition to being able to select any one of up to eight subjects even in crowded scenes, people detection AF has been added to the AI subject detection menu, which was requested in the OM-1 review.
New and improved calculation tricks
Of all the “proper” cameras, the OM-1 makes the most use of computational photography tricks and even has its own menu. And the new OM-1 II adds entirely new features. Live GND. In other words, it's the world's first graduated filter effect with up to 3EV strength. In practice, you select the horizon in your shot and apply a graduated filter to darken the bright half of the shot (usually the sky). Use soft, medium, and hard gradients and intensity options of GND2, 4, or 8.
Ultimately, LiveGND will balance the exposure when half of the shot is much brighter. This is a landscape photographer's dream. Although LiveGND cannot be used in combination with LiveND (which by the way currently corresponds to ND128 -7 stops ND) or Pro Capture mode, the OM System has gone a long way to eliminating the need for physical lenses. is. Filter everything.
Elsewhere, a high-resolution shot mode that lets you take 50MP handheld photos of static subjects is now available with 14-bit RAW capture, and OM System says it triples the amount of toning and allows much better focus stacking. This makes it faster and easier to use. in front. Until we test the new camera, we won't know if this mode addresses the ugly halo effect reported in our OM-1 review.
Currently, OM System has no plans to roll out these algorithm improvements to OM-1 through firmware updates, but that may change in the future. The OM System OM-1 II will be available from mid-February, priced at $2,399 / £2,199 (Australian price TBD, but approximately AU$3,640). The OM System doesn't give people much of a reason to upgrade, but it's potentially a great option for those looking for a new, lightweight, and versatile system, especially for wildlife or macro photography.