The new OM System OM-1 Mark II — my first take

On January 30, 2024, OM System announced an upgrade to their previous flagship camera. The OM-1 was released early in 2022, and is now being replaced by the OM-1 Mark II. As you might expect, there is no shortage of commenters online — some are enthusiastic fans of the upgrade, others quite disappointed by it.

OM-1 II stock photo

Image courtesy OM System

I… have some thoughts.

Mind you, I definitely haven’t had access to one of the new bodies, and they won’t “hit the street” for until the end of February (at least, in the U.S.), so what follows is based on published data and early reviews.

It’s probably simplest to just look at what’s changed and what hasn’t.

Still the same:

  • Body (chassis)
  • Weather sealing
  • Fully compatible with HLD-10 power battery grip and camera cages made for original OM-1
  • Battery
  • Sensor
  • Processor
  • Menu system (with just a few tweaks)
  • Viewfinder
  • LCD display
  • Dual UHS-II SD card slots

Changed in the new model:

  • Memory — the camera’s logic board got a big boost in memory, with a faster interface (this enables many of the other improvements)
  • Buffer up to 200 RAW frames (vs. 90) at 120 fps
  • Reworked autofocus system — dramatically simplified user interface; advertised to be faster and more reliable, can now track full humans (vs. just faces)
  • Blackout free shooting at all shooting speeds (not just at the fast ones)
  • Computational ND filter gets one more stop of range (up to 7 stops / ND128, vs. 6 stops / ND64)
  • New computational graduated ND filter function with lots of options (filter depth, hardness of edge, position & angle)
  • 14-bit RAW capture (vs. 12) for high resolution shot mode — allowing for three times the tonal range
  • Image stabilization boosted from 7 to 8.5 EV
  • Dials have a grippy rubber coating (vs. original OM-1’s hard plastic). Labeling on buttons is said to be more durable.
  • “Menu” function can now be re-assigned to the “Delete” button, to allow for more single-handed (right handed) control.
  • Support for 16:9 vertical video recording
  • Compatible with UVC (USB VIdeo Class) / UAC (USB Audio Class) — good for use as a webcam
  • OM System branding replaces Olympus branding — some online chatter claims the previous license to use the Olympus label is expiring, driving this model’s release date
  • Price has increased by $200 (US)

This level of improvements strikes me as more incremental than I would have expected (or at least, hoped for). While a lot of the upgrades are welcome (for me, the improved autofocus system and 14-bit high-res capture stand out), they whole package seems somewhat modest given it’s the result of 2 years’ work improving the original.

Personally, if I was moving up from an even earlier camera (E-M1 or -M5 series), the improvements are well worth the price difference between buying a close-out OM-1 and pre-ordering an OM-1 II. But when it comes to upgrading from an OM-1, it’s a harder sell — I’m not sure the new functions are worth the price (given that used OM-1 bodies seem to be selling at a bit over $1000 on eBay) to buy a new OM-1 II.

Other takes on this camera:

Full disclosure: product links in this post are affiliate links.

2 thoughts on “The new OM System OM-1 Mark II — my first take

  1. Wow. They listened!

    My #1 peeve (compared to the E-M1.2) was moving the MENU button away from the right thumb, thereby requiring you to use both hands to drive the menu system!

    Thank you!

    It’s not enough to make me upgrade my OM-1, but it feels good to be heard — I’ve been shouting that whenever anyone asked for a comparison to the E-M1.2.

    • Congrats! For me, the menu button location is an annoyance (vs. a pet peeve). You seem to have a lot of company on this issue, though.

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