I have been shooting the Canon 5DM3 with the L-series trinity (16-35 2.8L, 24-70 2.8L, and 70-200 2.8L) since the Mark III was released. I was interested in cutting down on size and weight, so the Olympus MFT really interested me. I purchased the E-M1 Mark II and some lenses and did some practical testing head to head to see if this MFT camera could possibly replace my full-frame DSLR.
Let me start by saying all of my Canon FF gear is now up for sale - I am all in with the E-M1 and Olympus glass!
Feel is very important to me, and although the E-M1 Mark II is very compact, with the grip that is integrated in the body (not the battery pack), it fits great in my hands, which are fairly large. My pinky finger and the bottom of my hand are off the bottom of the camera, but I know it will feel even better with the battery pack attached, which I plan on adding as well. The AEL/AFL button on the back falls nicely under my thumb, which is great as I set it for back-button focusing. All of the buttons and knobs have a great tactile feel to them and the entire camera feels very solid and well-made.
Another big point for me is the shutter release. I was never happy with the release on the 5DM3, as it seemed mushy and slow compared to the EOS1n film camera I had before it. The E-M1 Mark II may not be quite as crisp as the EOS1n was, but it is much better than the 5DM3. I am still occasionally firing the shutter when I am meaning to press only halfway. This may bother some people, but for me it is fantastic! I would rather occasionally take a frame by accident than to miss a shot due to a sluggish shutter release. For those times when catching a moment is critical, there is the Pro Capture mode I am sure you have read about. It is a fantastic feature, but certainly not something one would use all the time. The quick and responsive shutter release will help to ensure you get the right moment.
MFT has a smaller sensor, which means less resolution, lower dynamic range, more noise at higher ISOs, and more depth of field - a disadvantage for those times you want to blow out the background and really separate your subject. These were my biggest concerns as I was looking to replace a full frame DSLR, which produces fantastic image quality. Can the E-M1 Mark II compete? In my informal testing - absolutely! I am not a big pixel-peeper, but I am pretty fanatical about image quality. My testing was very un-scientific, because I was looking to see if the system would work for me. I do MOST of my shooting with the Canon 70-200 2.8L, which is probably one of the best lenses Canon ever produced. The shallow depth of field and incredible bokeh (particularly at the long end of the focal range) creates really stunning portraits. Knowing the realities of the difference with the MFT sensor, I ordered the Olympus portrait lens kit, with the 75mm and 45mm 1.8 lenses. In terms of sharpness and detail, the 75mm in particular actually beats the Canon in my tests. The DOF for the Canon 70-200 2.8L - at 150mm (which is what the 75mm is in terms of FF equivalent) was still a bit more shallow and the bokeh just a tad smoother. However, when reviewing different shots from the Canon and Olympus, it would be difficult to tell which was which in terms of quality. Since I generally have to stop the 70-200 down to get enough DOF for most shots anyway, the 75mm and 45mm Olympus lenses proved to be more than adequate in terms of throwing the background out of focus and delivering pleasing bokeh.
High ISO performance:
I am comparing to Canon - which is not renown for high ISO performance, but it still does quite well at high ISOs. For me, I was very surprised to find the Olympus images pretty clean up to 5k and still pretty good at 6400! The full frame comparison shots I took were a little cleaner, but the difference was not as great as I expected.
This was an area I was also concerned about, as Canon's AF is outstanding - particularly in terms of your ability to fine tune the AF for different situations. To test this, I went to a local ice rink and shot some ice hockey with the 5DMII and the E0M1 Mark II. There was a little bit of a learning curve to the Olympus - I have shot a LOT of sports with the Canon, and by now it is second nature. I could write an entire review just on the AF, but here are the high points: The Canon is much more customizable in terms of adjusting the AF parameters to match your situation. If this is paramount to your shooting, the E-M1 Mark II might not be right for you. The AF speed and tracking on the E-M1 Mark II is phenomenal - and the tracking is great as long as you can keep it on your subject. You can adjust the tracking sensitivity, but in my testing, it does not control the focusing behavior as well as the Canon adjustments do.
The autofocus targets on this camera include single target, 5 target group, 9 target group, and all target (121 points). In all but single target the camera decides which of the active targets to use for focus. On the Canon 5DM3 (and by the way, also on the Olympus E-M5 Mark II), there is also a fine spot point or what Olympus calls a small target. This is perfect for really critical AF where you need to hit a specific point, like the human eye in a portrait. I don't understand why this is not on the E-M1 Mark II and I sent an email to Olympus asking for consideration to add this via Firmware Update if possible.
shooting 18fps in continuous focusing mode is a rush and can be addictive! Be careful though, I wound up in my testing with far more shots than I needed or intended. Even slow speed sequential is crazy fast at 10fps! These can be lowered in the menu, which is a great idea if you don't need to shoot that fast.
All the rest:
There are many other fantastic features, such as all you can do with the OI Share app, composite shooting, and the unbelievable amount of customization available. I am constantly finding yet another reason to love this camera
Photography is very important to me, from the actual shooting experience to the final product. The E-M1 delivers all around - I enjoy shooting with this even more than my FF Canon. With the compact size and light weight, I am not straining to carry all my gear, and holding the camera to my eye for long periods is easier and more comfortable. This camera feels great in my hands - during my testing I found myself reluctant to put it down to take comparison shots with the Canon! In terms of final image quality - I really feel as though I am not losing anything moving to this camera from full frame. I have stacked the deck by getting faster primes to keep the ISO down (and I didn't even mention how the in-body stabilization helps here as well) and narrow the depth of field when I want to. I would not hesitate to shoot weddings, portraiture, or sports with this camera - and I certainly intend to!
As an OMD-E-M1 user for almost 3 years I was eagerly awaiting the arrival of my new MK II version, but I wasn't prepared for the extent of the upgrades Olympus has packed into this camera. The new grip is amazing and, for me, ergonomically perfect. The Menu system has been vastly improved and is much more logical to use, although I wish they had kept the color coding. The IBIS is yet another step up and incredible, and the auto focus system and tracking has been improved as well, not to mention the sequential shooting capabilities which are extraordinary. The new articulating screen is a huge plus and very welcome, and the Pro-Capture mode is something I have been using a lot, especially in my equestrian photography - with virtually no lag whatsoever it ensures nailing the shot. The E-M1 Mk II is truly a professional's camera. Thanks to the Mk II I have now finally compeleted my shift from FX to the M43 format. If I have any beef with the system, it's the ISO performance ... hopefully that is something that can be improved over time; but that said, I am able to compensate somewhat by choosing the way and the when of how I shoot.