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Olympus really wants to attract sports photographers with OM-D E-M1 Mark II

With an 18-frames-per second continuous-shooting speed, overhauled autofocus system and new options to support professionals, Olympus tries to lure them with zippy performance and compact design.

Lori Grunin Senior Editor / Advice
I've been reviewing hardware and software, devising testing methodology and handed out buying advice for what seems like forever; I'm currently absorbed by computers and gaming hardware, but previously spent many years concentrating on cameras. I've also volunteered with a cat rescue for over 15 years doing adoptions, designing marketing materials, managing volunteers and, of course, photographing cats.
Expertise Photography | PCs and laptops | Gaming and gaming accessories
Lori Grunin
2 min read
Andrew Hoyle/CNET

Olympus rolled out the big numbers for its announcement of the update to its OM-D E-M1 flagship Micro Four Thirds mirrorless camera, the OM-D E-M1 Mark II: a new 20.4-megapixel sensor with improved dynamic range, a new Dual Fast autofocus system with 121 phase-detection and 121 contrast-detection points, Cinema 4K/30p video recording, and 18 frames-per-second continuous shooting with autofocus (60fps if you don't need AF).

Added November 2, 2016: The camera is scheduled to ship in December; body-only version will cost $2,000, £1,850 and AU$2,800. The UK seems to be the only one of those regions offering a kit, at £2,400 with the 14-40mm f2.8 lens.

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The new sensor draws less power and a faster readout speed, though it's supported by an updated image processor with 8 cores -- that's got to require some extra juice. The processor has updated autofocus algorithms as well, with better subject isolation for tracking. And a new Pro Capture mode starts bursting when you prefocus, keeping the last 14 frames before you take the shot.

It's the same size as the original E-M1, though it looks a hair more like a dSLR and has a bigger grip plus a new higher capacity battery with faster charging. Dual SD card slots and a battery grip with a dedicated keypad round out the necessities.

Olympus makes some minor updates for the OM-D E-M1 II's body

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Technically, Olympus considers this a "development announcement," though that's probably because there's no price or availability ("later this year").

Olympus stresses that the combination of compact size and speed makes it a desirable alternative to APS-C. While I don't want to diminish the company's achievement -- I think the EM1M2 sounds like a really nice camera with a great feature set -- keep in mind that even though it's the same resolution as competing dSLRs, the APS-C sensor in those cameras is much bigger, they output 14-bit raw files vs. the EM1M2's 12 bits and they hit higher ISO sensitivities. Plus there's a lot we don't know yet about it, including how many shots the buffer can hold, battery life or price.

The announcement also comes with some pro lenses to round out your kit.

Comparative specifications

Canon EOS 7D Mark IINikon D500Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II
Sensor effective resolution "20.2MP Dual Pixel CMOS 14-bit""20.9MP CMOS n/a 14-bit""20.4MP Live MOS 12-bit"
Sensor size 22.4 x 15.0 mm23.5 x 15.7 mm17.3 x 13mm
Focal-length multiplier 1.6x1.5x2.0x
OLPF YesYesYes
Sensitivity range ISO 100 - ISO 16000/ISO 51200 (exp)ISO 50 (exp)/ISO 100 - ISO 51200/ISO 1,640,000 (exp)ISO 64 (exp)/200 - ISO 25600
Burst shooting "10fps 1,090 JPEG/31 raw""10fps 79 raw ""18fps n/a (60fps with fixed AE/AF) "
"Viewfinder (mag/ effective mag)" "Optical 100% coverage 1.0x/.67x""Optical 100% coverage 1.0x/0.67x""EVF n/a-inch 2.36 million dots 100% coverage 1.3x - 1.48x/ 0.65x- 0.74x"
Hot Shoe YesYesYes
Autofocus "65-point phase-detection AF all cross-type center dual cross to f2.8""153-point 99 cross-type (15 cross-type to f8) Multi-CAM 20K""121-point cross-type phase detection AF, 121-point contrast AF "
AF sensitivity -3 to 18 EV-4 - 20 EV
Shutter speed 1/8,000 to 30 secs; bulb; 1/250 sec x-sync1/8,000 to 30 secs bulb; 1/250 sec x-sync (1/8,000 sec x-sync with FP shutter)60 - 1/8000 sec (1/32000 with electronic shutter); bulb to 30 minutes; 1/250 sec x-sync (Super FP to 1/8000)
Shutter durability 200,000 cycles200,000 cycles200,000
Metering 150,000-pixel RGB+IR 252 zone180,000-pixel RGB sensor 3D Color Matrix Metering III324 area
Metering sensitivity 1 - 20 EV-3 - 20 EV-2 - 20 EV
Best video "H.264 QuickTime MOV 1080/60p, 30p, 25p, 24p @ 50Mbps"H.264 QuickTime MOV 4K UHD/30p, 25p, 24p"H.264 QuickTime MOV C4K/24p @237Mbps; UHD/30p, 25p, 24p @ 102Mbps; 1080/60p, 50p, 25p, 24p @ 202Mbps "
Audio Stereo, mic input, headphonesstereo; mic input; headphone jackStereo; mic input
Manual aperture and shutter in video YesYesYes
Maximum best-quality recording time per clip 4GB/29:59 mins4GB/29:59 mins @ 144 Mbps29 mins
Clean HDMI out YesYesYes
IS OpticalOptical"Sensor shift 5 axis, IS Sync"
Display "3 in/7.5cm Fixed 1.04m dots""3.2 in/8 cm Tilting touchscreen 2.4 million dots""3 in/7.5cm Tilting touchscreen 1.04m dots"
Memory slots 1 x CF, 1 x SDXC1 x SD, 1x XQD2 x SDXC
Wireless connection via optional WFT-E7A Version 2Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, NFCWi-Fi
Flash YesNoIncluded add-on
Wireless flash YesYesYes
Battery life (CIPA rating) "600 shots (VF); 250 shots (LV) (1,865 mAh)""1,240 shots (1,900 mAh)""n/a (1,720 mAh)"
Size (WHD) "5.9 x 4.4 x 3.1 in 148.6 x 112.4 x 78.2 mm""5.8 x 4.6 x 3.2 in 147 x 115 x 81 mm""5.3 x 3.6 x 2.7 in 134 x 91 x 69 mm"
Body operating weight "32.5 oz 920 g""30.3 oz 848 g""20.2 oz 574 g"
Mfr. price (body only) "$1,600 £1,370 AU$2,140""$2,000 £1,730 AU$3,500""$2,000 £1,850 AU$2,800"
Primary kit "$2,000 (est.) £1,200 (est.) AU$2.590 (with 18-135mm STM lens)""$2,600 £2,480 AU$4,500 (with 16-80mm lens)""£2,400 (with 12-40mm lens)"
Release date November 2014March 2016n/a