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Hands-on Preview: Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II, PEN E-PL8

I attended a presentation in downtown Toronto of Olympus’ newest mirrorless cameras and lenses and got to spend a couple of hours using (a pre-production version of) the OM-D E-M1 Mark II , the PEN E-PL8, as well as the M.Zuiko Digital ED 12-100mm F4.0 IS PRO, the M.Zuiko Digital ED 25mm F1.2 PRO and the M.Zuiko Digital ED 30mm F3.5 Macro lenses. Here is a brief preview of the cameras and lenses.

Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II

Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II

Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II: Capabilities that surpass pro-level DSLRs?
Introduced in September 2013, the Olympus OM-D E-M1 was the mirrorless that got every pro’s attention. Here was a mirrorless interchangeable lens camera with a Four Thirds sensor and a Micro Four Thirds mount that claimed it could challenge the established DSLRs. And challenge them, the OM-D E-M1 did, but did not quite surpass them.

Now, Olympus claims that the OM-D E-M1 Mark II will surpass pro-level DSLRs, thus raising the stakes considerably. The E-M1 II (which is still under development) looks impressive all by itself, and especially with the M.Zuiko Digital ED 12-100mm F4.0 IS PRO lens (24-200 mm equivalent), which covers a super wide-angle to medium telephoto range.

The OM-D E-M1 Mark II will feature a 20.4MP Live MOS sensor and a new dual quad core TruePic VIII engine (with one quad core engine dedicated entirely to image processing/autofocus). AF is fast with a new Dual FAST hybrid AF with contrast detection/(121 cross-type) phase detection AF that, together with customizable C-AF tracking sensitivity, promises to considerably speed up Continuous AF with Tracking. The 3″ touchscreen LCD is now fully articulating. There are dual SD card slots, with Slot 1 supporting UHS-II and UHS-I cards, and Slot 2 supporting UHS-I cards. Continuous shooting is 60 fps (AF-S) and 18 fps (AF-C) at full resolution and RAW using the electronic shutter. With the mechanical shutter, continuous shooting is 15 fps (AF-S). The OM-D E-M1 Mark II also shoots both Ultra High Definition 4K (30p) and Cinema 4K (24p) videos at 237Mbps bitrate. For serious videographers, you can connect the E-M1 II to an external monitor as well as record directly to an external recorder.

An improved in-body sensor-shift 5-axis image stabilization claims to reduce shake by up to 5.5 stops. Paired with the new M.ZUIKO Digital ED 12-100mm F4.0 IS PRO lens with its 4 stops optical IS, the OM-D E-M1 Mark II is capable of 5-Axis Sync IS for a maximum of 6.5 shutter speed steps of compensation. The 5-axis IS is also available during movie recording.

The large electronic viewfinder has 1.48x magnification and refreshes at a fast 120 fps, with a minimum six-millisecond display time lag. The magnesium alloy body is weather-sealed to be dust-proof, splash-proof and freeze-proof (down to 14°F / -10°C).

Availability & pricing TBD.

Olympus PEN E-PL8 (Black) with LCD Facing Forward

Olympus PEN E-PL8 (Black) with LCD Facing Forward

Olympus PEN E-PL8: Stylish, Sophisticated, Stunning
With the new PEN E-PL8, Olympus decided to give its designers full license to create a stylish compact mirrorless interchangeable lens camera. They, in turn, came up with a stunningly beautiful camera that will not look out of place among your most fashionable items. Three colors are available (white, black and brown) with complementary leather-grained finishes to suit your personal style: white with beige tones (elegant, sophisticated), black with silver accents (traditional) and brown (vintage). Even the Olympus PEN logo is embossed to add to the elegance of the design.

Of course, underneath the stylish design is Olympus’ imaging technology inherited from the OM-D series. The E-PL8 features a 16 megapixel Live MOS sensor, the TruePic VII Image Processor, a fast 81-point AF system, in-body sensor-shift image stabilization, and a touch screen LCD that flips 180° down to face forward for easy selfies.

Selfie Mode is automatically activated when you flip the LCD down to face forward. The 3″ 1.04M-dot LCD then effectively becomes a mirror display with the controls that you need accessible right on the touch screen. There is even a Video Selfie Mode for easy recording of Full HD 1080/30p selfie movies. When you take a selfie, the picture is taken one second after you touch the shutter to give you time to shift your eyes from your finger to the lens.

Download the OI.share app to your smartphone or tablet and you can use them to remotely control the E-PL8 and to share photos to social sites.

If you are ready to graduate from your smartphone camera, the E-PL8 will be available October 2016 for  $549.99 USD / $649.99 CAD (body only) and $649.99 USD / $749.99 CAD with the 14-42mm IIR kit lens.

Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 12-100mm F4.0 IS PRO

Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 12-100mm F4.0 IS PRO

M.Zuiko Digital ED 12-100mm F4.0 IS PRO: Leave your tripod at home with this professional premium zoom
This premium zoom lens has a 35mm equivalent focal length of 24-200mm. It retains the F4.0 aperture throughout the entire zoom range. The lens features an optical image stabilization with 4 stops compensation and when combined with the E-M1 II, provides up to 6.5 steps of compensation. It features 17 lens elements in 11 groups for superior image quality and Z Coating Nano to reduce ghosting and flares. Minimum focusing distance is 1.5 cm at the widest focal length. The maximum magnification of .60x (35mm equivalent) lets you capture small details on small objects. It is splashproof, dustproof and freezeproof. It ships in November 2016 for $1299.99 USD / $1599.99 CAD.

Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 25mm F1.2 PRO

Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 25mm F1.2 PRO

M.Zuiko Digital ED 25mm F1.2 PRO: Beautiful bokeh from this outstanding portrait/standard lens
This 50mm equivalent standard lens boasts a fast F1.2 maximum aperture for those who want beautiful bokeh for that natural, three-dimensional appearance. The 19 lens elements in 14 groups design (including 1 SED lens, 2 ED lenses, 1 E-HR lenses, 3 HR lenses, and 1 aspherical lens) prevents aberration, distortion and fringing, providing exceptional edge-to-edge sharpness. A lightweight internal focusing mechanism uses a single thin lens element for extremely fast and accurate focus point acquisition. The advanced MSC (Movie and Still Compatible) autofocus mechanism provides silent and smooth focusing and aperture performance. The M.ZUIKO Digital ED 25mm f1.2 PRO features dustproof, splashproof and freezeproof (down to 14°F/-10°C) construction. It will be available in October 2016 for an estimated street price of $1,199.99 USD and $1,499.99 CAD.

Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 30mm F3.5 Macro

Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 30mm F3.5 Macro

M.Zuiko Digital ED 30mm F3.5 Macro: Shoot exquisite details at 2.5x magnification
This compact, portable and lightweight macro lens (35mm equivalent: 60mm) has a close focusing capability of 95mm (or 14 mm / 1/2″ from the end of the lens) and strong magnification (2.5x equivalent) to capture a minimum shooting field of 13.9 x 10.4 mm, making it ideal for shooting extreme close-ups. A blacked out front also minimizes reflection when shooting shiny objects. It features 7 lens elements in 6 groups (including 1 DSA lens, 1 EDA lens and 1 aspherical lens) for superior optical performance. The 7 blade circular aperture helps create beautiful bokeh for artistic out-of-focus backgrounds. It will be available in black beginning in October 2016 at a very affordable estimated street price of $299.99 USD and $399.99 CAD.

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