Olympus Announces E-M1ll at Photokina

Posted Sep. 20th, 2016 by Daniel J. Cox

The gloves come off in the world of Micro Four Thirds as Olympus announces E-M1ll at Photokina. One of my predications for the world of mirrorless was that at some point, mirrorless cameras were going to outpace traditional DSLR’s in speed of AF, frames per second, and just about everything else. Why? Because a camera without a mirror has lots less moving parts, less things to get in the way, and therefore should in theory be able to crank the pictures out much faster. Well that day has arrived if we’re to believe the impressive promotional pieces and presentation that was given by Olympus at Photokina yesterday.

screen-shot-2016-09-19-at-7-50-47-pmOlympus Announces E-M1ll

I have to say that I’ve been critical of the original Olympus EM-1 since it was first released. I liked its looks but was seriously put off by its horrible menu system, the fact none of its buttons were dedicated such as WB, ISO, and +/-EV Compensation. Additionally, I found it just a bit too small for my hands and its lack of touchscreen when compared to the Lumix cameras left a lot to be desired. My goodness how things can change. Below is a video of the live event recorded yesterday in its entirety.

Yesterday’s announcement of the new E-M1ll takes care of many of those concerns and adds a massive amount of new technology that almost seems too good to be true. Here’s the official Press Release posted by our good friends at 43Rumors. I guess we’ll have to wait and see if all the specs meet the hype, but if they do, the days of Nikon and Canon domination are most likely over. Ever since I started shooting mirrorless Micro Four Thirds cameras I’ve talked about the main reason being that I was convinced these cameras are the future. I’ve had many suggest there was no way these tiny little picture machines could outpace Nikon and Canon but I’m betting the day has come.

E-M1ll Technical specs

Here’s the details, some of them hard to believe, but listed by Olympus as specs the new camera will have

  • 18 frames per second Continue AF full resolution RAW images
  • 60 frames per second Single AF full resolution RAW images
  • New image processor with speeds approximately 3.5 times faster than the TruePic VII Processor of original E-M1
  • AF target position and face/eye priority AF
  • Touch screen AF movement, just like Lumix cameras. One of my favorite features on Lumix cameras
  • Dual SD card slots, one supporting UHS-II cards
  • 50 Megapixel High Resolution Shot Mode
  • 5-Axis Sync IS with 6.5 shutter speed steps of compensation
  • Digital Cinema Standard 4K videos with 5-Axis in camera image stabilization
  • Live Composite and Live Bulb Modes. Live Composite is a must see to believe feature first shown in the Em-1
  • Keystone Compensation in camera
  • Lowest Shutter Speed Setting

Pro Service

Finally, a bonus option the new camera will introduce that truly signals the Olympus commitment to serious photographers is their new Pro Service. Not sure this is coming to the US since the presenter mentioned it was rolling out in “selected European countries,” but it was described as having three levels: Standard,  Advanced, and Elite—the last two requiring an annual payment. One of the tiers gives you next day replacement of an OM body if you have to send yours in for repair. Olympus is really stepping up to the plate for the next generation of pro and enthusiast photographers with a repair and service program of this caliber. Kudos to Olympus for making such a tremendous commitment.

Three tiers of service with one of them offering overnight delivery of a loaner camera for those needing to send theirs in for repair.

Three tiers of service with one of them offering overnight delivery of a loaner camera for those needing to send theirs in for repair.

So there you have it. First we had Panasonic’s press conference and Lumix GH5 announcement earlier in the day and then came the Olympus press conference later that evening. Both announced some major new products. I have to say that Olympus seems to be much further along as far as having the new camera nearly ready to go, although I’ve not seen an actual release date. However, at the end of the live event, the presenter invited people to stay for  the opportunity to handle the new cameras, so I’m guessing they’re close to being ready for release.

The Olympus Press Event was much more specific on details compared to Panasonic’s announcement of the GH5. We’ll have to wait and see if the GH5 can match some of the almost other worldly specs of the new Olympus. I’m hopeful that will be the case but I have to say, Olympus has set a mighty high bar if what they’re beating their chest about is as good as they claim. Time will tell, but either way, Micro Four Thirds is alive and well and with Lumix and Olympus duking it out, we as photographers win.


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There are 23 comments on this post…
  1. Paul C. RossOn Nov. 4th, 2016

    Dan, based on your review of the Pana 100-400 lens, I bought one (actually two of them, because the first had to be returned for focus issues) and have been using it with both the Old EM1 mk1 and the Pana GX8. My, unscientific impression is that the GX8 focus the lens faster andI tend to think more accurately than the Old Em1. I would be interested in your experience in using the Pana lens on the Oly body. Of course, I am thinking of getting a Orly EM1 Mk2 sometime next year if it really delivers on the improved focusing.
    One hang up I have with both my present cameras is the inability of easily moving between single spot focus and a matrix of focus spots AND, keeping the singel focus spot centered on the screen. I will read over your “Set up” notes shortly and hope that issue is dealt with in the notes for the GX8.

    • Portrait of Daniel J. Cox

      Daniel J. CoxOn Nov. 7th, 2016

      Paul, Glad to hear about your final success with the new Leica 100-400mm. Sorry to hear there was an initial problem but glad to known it’s sorted out. I know without a doubt the Lumix bodies do seem to have a speed advantage when used with the Leica 100-400mm as far as acquiring focus is concerned. As far as accuracy I’m not so cure since I’ve not shot the Leica with the OM-D EM-1 all that much. I’ve not been a fan of the OM-D EM-1’s ergonomics, menus, etc. and have never felt a need to really try and get used to it. That said, I do have the new OM-D EM-1-ll on order and plan to really work with the new Olympus to see if it’s all the hype has it made out to be. That will include using the 100-400mm with it as well.

      I’m not sure I totally understand your desire for a combination of Single AF Spot along with a Matrix of AF spots. What I regularly use, for birds in flight, is the 49 Spot AF. 49 Spot AF gives you the ability to touch the back LCD, while the camera is in 49 Point AF, and the area you’ve touched now shows a cluster of 9 AF spots, bringing AF into a smaller cluster on that particular area of the screen. This takes the 49 points down to a smaller target of 9 Points AF that moves as a group as you touch the screen. You can also switch back to the 49 Point AF that covers the entire screen. Not sure if this will meet your needs but I find it works quite well.

  2. Portrait of Jay Murthy

    JayOn Oct. 8th, 2016

    Dan, I am currently shooting with a panasonic GX8 and Olympus OMD em5 MII. The reason I designed this kind of self torture was to see which of these two capable cameras would never leave my hand. I have to say that having the custom menus and custom function buttons set up identically in both these cameras, was the big thing. The menus cover 95% of my shooting scenarios. Both menu systems IMHO have their quirks, but i can now pick up either one of these and start shooting without any issues! Very happy so far with both these cameras and i may look forward to either a GH5 or the EM1 MII in the near future for action/ wildlife photography.

    • Portrait of Daniel J. Cox

      Daniel J. CoxOn Oct. 9th, 2016

      Great to hear Jay. Glad your enjoying MFT in general.

  3. Arie de GierOn Sep. 26th, 2016

    So I’ve been shooting a Gx80 and the panasonic 100-400 for several months now, while I really like the image quality I’m not very satisfied about the autofocus so far. To be honest I’m seriously considering getting the EM1-II as second camera, to use on the 100-400. In my experience, when using 1-AF on the GX80 the camera has problems locking on small objects, a herons head for example; It often switches to the background instead (too few AF points?). When doing BIF I just cannot get truly sharp images, whether using 1-AF or 49-AF. Maybe I’m doing something wrong, yet I’ve not seen very sharp BIF shots from other users – Apart from Daniel on this site, those are incredible (hint, I’d like to see some full res pics + EXIF 😀 ). I know the slow aparture is limiting its use for BIF somewhat but better results should be possible. What do you guys think?

    • Portrait of Daniel J. Cox

      Daniel J. CoxOn Sep. 26th, 2016

      Arie, I’ve actually had very good luck with birds in flight with both the GX8 and the GH4. I’ve written a list of things you need to set in the menus of each camera for best results and you can find that list in the following bog post titled, Birds in Flight Settings for Lumix Cameras. I have also noticed issues with AF locking on, even with stationary objects, if the background is very bright or contrasty. I’ve talked to the Lumix folks about this and I’m hopeful improvements will be made in future cameras. To be fair I experienced similar issues with my Nikons now and again but admittedly, not as often.

      It remains to be see how well the new Olympus EM-1 will work with our Lumix lenses, I expect it to be fine, but there are some issues between Lumix and Olympus lenses and vise-versa. I’ll not go in to details at this point since it many be a nonissue but rest assured I will be testing the new Olympus with my Lumix lenses once I get my hands on the new Olympus camera. Thanks for stopping by to add your voice. Le the know if you have nay further questions.

  4. DeanOn Sep. 24th, 2016

    All I can do is smile! Broadly!

    • Portrait of Daniel J. Cox

      Daniel J. CoxOn Sep. 26th, 2016

      Dean, gloating does not become you. Didn’t your mother ever tell you that gloating with a broad smile shows nothing but the gaps between your teeth? Ok, sorry about that but you deserved it. Here’s the deal, I’ve been a fan of Olympus lenses for quite some time and have tried their cameras but have hated their menu systems as well as their less than intuitive customize everything design. What it boils down to is, for the people that I cater to, our NE Explorers, the hassle of trying to recall every switch, dial and button that is not marked on the Olympus bodies is more than most people care to do. Me included and I shoot almost everyday. The fact that Olympus is raising the bar on the technology side is great for me, you and all photographers. If the EM-1 proves to do what Olympus is professing, we all win and MFT becomes an even more impressive option for those, like me and you, who have tired of the cost as well as size and weight of the traditional DSLR’s.

      You don’t care for Panasonic but without them you certainly wouldn’t have the gear Olympus is releasing. Do you recall who was first with Dual IS? How about 4K Video that the EM-1 now has as an option? Do you think Olympus would be beating their chest about 18 and 60FPS without Lumix pioneering 4K Photo Mode that allows 8 megapixel stills from 4K Video at 30FPS? Would Olympus have Image Stabilization in the 300mm F/4 and now the new 12-100mm F/4 without Lumix proving that in lens IS can be a he assist for longer lenses? I could go on and on about the benefit of having the two of them slug it out but I think you get the idea.

    • DeanOn Sep. 26th, 2016

      Daniel, you totally missed the boat on this one (rare for you). I am smiling because of what Olympus AND Panasonic announced at Photokina! I am absolutely certain that when we get the details on the GH5, it will be clear that the state of MFT is advancing to the point where Canon and Nikon should have great concerns! I see Olympus and Panasonic advancing the “state of art” in the same way that Canon and Nikon have in the past.

      Do you ever get the feeling that we place too high a value on the “technology” of photography while forgetting to “see” the picture? If there’s one lesson I’ve learned from my experience traveling with you is that it’s the chef not the pots, pans, and utensils that creates the glorious meal. I’ve seen you capture breathtaking images with “point & shoot” cameras while those around you shooting with $15,000 worth of “Pro” DSLR gear take mundane pictures. What is important is that a photographer be comfortable with the tools he/she is using, not that he/she has the latest and greatest new camera/lens.

      This Sunday’s New York Times Magazine is dedicated to photography. One sentiment that caught my attention was that sometimes photographers spend too much time taking photographs of a scene without actually SEEING what is there. We need to be mindful of seeing what is in front of our lenses not just taking pictures. You have always taught me to see, feel, understand, and learn from what is in front of me, not just grab shots of the scene.

      So, I’m not sure why you thought I was “gloating” at how much fantastically better the EM-1 II is than your old clunky Panasonic gear, but that was certainly not my intention. ;0) My earlier post was merely a succinct expression of my joy at the state of MFT photography. Sorry that you misinterpreted my sentiment.

    • Portrait of Daniel J. Cox

      Daniel J. CoxOn Oct. 2nd, 2016

      Dean, thanks for the nice note. I did misinterpret your earlier comment and I apologize for that. I must admit, if the new Olympus EM-1-11 does what they claim, I might actually understand a little gloating. But since you weren’t I accept your apology:)

      It’s funny you brought up the idea of whether or not we’re really seeing the world we so desperately want to photograph. Your comment could have not come at a more opportune time. As you may know, Tanya and I just returned from Iceland and though we had an amazing trip, lots of happy Explorers, I had one hell of a time being enthusiastic due to the masses of people at virtually every stop we made. It made me think about the reason for all these happy snappers and how inspiring Icelandic photographers before us had put this place on the map. I’ve always struggled with the idea of publicizing a special place knowing that when people find it out, it could be destroyed.

      You may not know this but my move to the smaller cameras was in part due to my desire to not be so encumbered by all that gear. I’ve always been a minimalist and that mindset has taken me to the Micro Four Thirds world. It seems as Americans, everything we do needs to be bigger and better. Switching to the smaller, less costly Micro Four Thirds cameras has allowed me to make a statement with my wallet AND prove that I still have the ability to make quality pictures. I’m very grateful for your kind comments in that regards.

      Thanks once again for the nice response even though I may not have deserved it. Just so you know I’m working on my “Old Curmudgeon” badge and I got a little carried away in my last post to you:) Thanks for adding your voice.

  5. Glenn AsakawaOn Sep. 23rd, 2016

    Thanks for weighing in on the new flagship camera announcements. The paper specs for the new Oly do look impressive, but I just read that burst speed with continuous autofocus is only able in low mode, which is 10fps, not 18 like the press material says. It does appear to be a great still camera that is trying to convert DSLR pros. The GH5 is catering even more for video enthusiasts, I think. It’s also too bad about proprietary lens IS. I’m not too bothered since I prefer Panasonic lenses to Olympus anyway. What are your thoughts on the G85? I pre-ordered it already with the grip. It seems like a mini GH4 with better shutter and IBIS. I also prefer the layout of buttons and dials to the GH4. Especially the front dial being in front of the shutter button, like all other Panasonic and Nikon cameras that have one. The GH line puts that dial behind the shutter, which drives me nuts! (I actually bought and returned my GH4 because of that!) As always, thank you for your thoughtful and measured insights.

    • Portrait of Daniel J. Cox

      Daniel J. CoxOn Sep. 23rd, 2016

      I personally like the GH4 layout of button and dial better than any of the other Lumix cameras. That said, I would definitely not mind if they would choose to do the front dial similar to what Nikon has, in front of the shutter button rather than behind it. Either way, I’m a huge fan of the GH4, especially the layout of the WB, ISO and +/- EV buttons right next to the shutter button. No better layout on any camera on the market in my opinion.

      Regarding the G85. I think this will be a great little camera. The G7 was a sleeper itself and they took the G7, added new in camera IS, weather sealing, a battery grip and other updates to make what was already an excellent camera, the G7, even better in the G85. That said, I can only hope there might be an even better, more “photo centric” body coming in the future. Maybe the GH5 will be that camera though it will also be a superb video production tool.

      I’m actually disappointed about Lumix and Olympus not working together to coordinate their Dual IS technology. I use several Olympus lenses and would love to have Dual IS on those lenses as well as my Leica and Lumix lenses.

      Thanks for your input Glenn

  6. RobertOn Sep. 23rd, 2016

    Maybe I’m one of the few who found disappointment in Panasonic’s camera (GH-5) announcement at Photokina; but that’s because I’m a stills type versus videocentric and the GH-5 seems to be a videographers grand dream-logically following the GH-4. Where I found extreme excitement was in the announcements concerning the Oly M1ii; so much in fact as soon at the M1ii is obtainable it will replace my everyday everywhere GX8 carry. Then I can begin the arduous and painful walk down the Oly menus !!
    Luckily the better-half is fully versed in Oly menus using an OMD M10ii and M5ii and she promises me the pain quickly subsides-besides we can learn his and her M1ii’s together. I just feel at this point that Olympus is more stills oriented and dribbles on the cake, icing in the form of dual card slots, 18fps raw (though we need to wonder/querry the buffer size), and an improved hybrid AF-C that was good to start with push me over.

    I realize that a lot of you have left the titans. I’m not there yet. In four weeks I’ll be taking a 1DXii and an A7rii to Panama, I would be taking an a99ii but it won’t be released in time. My point in mentioning this is my belief that it is OK to exist in several ‘houses’ but with me knowing in time as I age further and the joints finally scream in weight agony I’ll make the full time move to mFT living 🙂

  7. Fred KurtzOn Sep. 20th, 2016

    Also just read a review that said the Olympus camera will not support dual IS with Panasonic lenses just as the Panasonic GX8 will not support dual IS with Olympus lenses.

    • Dennis LindenOn Sep. 21st, 2016

      That would be a short sighted mistake, unless their two in lens OS systems are radically different, and I can’t see how. If they work together to offer a seamless cross brand solution I would suggest they will actually increase sales. I can see having a GHx and an EM1ii in my bag knowing that all ILIS and IBIS systems are compatible.

    • Portrait of Daniel J. Cox

      Daniel J. CoxOn Sep. 21st, 2016

      I would also love to see the two companies work more closely with making both their Dual IS systems work with the others cameras and lenses. That would be a huge plus for the customer but I’m not holding my breath. It really seems both companies have pulled back on the idea of working together and in fact they are really pulling out all the stops to try and one up the other. Just glad that the lenses do fit and mostly work with the others cameras.

    • Dennis LindenOn Sep. 21st, 2016

      I did a bit more reading of an interview with Setsuya Kataoka of Olympus by Andy Westlake – see link below.

      AW: Olympus and Panasonic now both have dual IS systems using cameras with in-body stabilisation and together with optically stabilized lenses. Are they cross-compatible as a Micro Four Thirds standard?

      SK: Compatibility is guaranteed, in that Olympus and Panasonic lenses will work on bodies from either. But Olympus Sync IS and Panasonic Dual IS are not cross-compatible, as each uses a different algorithm.

      Read more at http://www.amateurphotographer.co.uk/latest/photo-news/exclusive-interview-setsuya-kataoka-olympus-95731#sCMGJlTYRRTTU42q.99

    • Portrait of Daniel J. Cox

      Daniel J. CoxOn Sep. 22nd, 2016

      Very disappointing but not a surprise. The surprise would be the two companies working together on this. I’m afraid both companies have become more guarded at sharing their technology but if they would go back to the spirt if the MFT concept, they would both have a shot at disrupting the old guard of Canon and Nikon.

  8. Fred KurtzOn Sep. 20th, 2016

    I just watched the video. One word – WOW. Well two words – WOW & REVOLUTIONARY. What an amazing sounding camera. And a new 12-100 F4 lens! Sounds like Olympus caters more to the still shooter vs. the video shooter and I like that. It will be interesting to see what Panasonic does in regards to the Olympus announcement.

    • Mike GOn Sep. 21st, 2016

      The biggest problem with Olympus is their menu system. I shoot with a couple of OMDs, and when I’m looking to change I setting I still need to use the manual a couple of years after getting the first one. Panasonic is really stepping up with some of their stuff, so I’m voting with my wallet.

    • Portrait of Daniel J. Cox

      Daniel J. CoxOn Sep. 22nd, 2016

      Could not agree more about the difficult issues with Olympus menu system. I can only imagine that the new camera will be improved but from what I’m hearing through the grapevine, the menu is no better than the earlier Olympus menus. Very disappointing if this is true. We’ll see, I have the new camera on order and will report back with what I find when I can put my hands on one.

    • EMIOn Sep. 23rd, 2016

      People often complain about the Oly-menus but I can’t really see what’s the issue. Sure there are a lot of menu items so some features may be buried a bit deep but I’ve never had an occasion where I couldn’t find something or using the menu somehow slowed my shooting – especially as you can change 95% of settings straight from the super control panel…

    • Portrait of Daniel J. Cox

      Daniel J. CoxOn Sep. 23rd, 2016

      EMI, I agree the Super Control Menu was a huge step forward from what Olympus oringally had but when you compare the ease of use and well laid out menu system of the GH4 and other Lumix cameras, the problem becomes apparent. I realize Olympus is proud of their ability to configure any button in any manner but there is a huge bonus to having a few dedicated buttons like the Lumix GH4 has with the +/- EV, WB and ISO buttons. I’ve heard the new Olympus has a bit of a different menu but time will tell whether they’ve made any major improvements. I personally hope they have.

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