OM SYSTEM is storming into 2024 with a trio of major announcements for its Micro Four Thirds mirrorless system, including a new flagship OM-1 Mark II camera, an updated M.Zuiko Digital ED 9-18mm f/4-5.6 II wide-angle zoom lens, and a versatile super-telephoto zoom M.Zuiko Digital ED 150-600mm f/5-6.3 IS lens. The OM-1 Mark II’s major updates lie in the realm of computational photography, with the introduction of the first Live Graduated ND function, along with a rugged build perfect for outdoor photography. Likewise, the two lenses show OM SYSTEM’s commitment to outdoor and nature photography, representing solid optics choices for landscape and wildlife subjects.
OM-1 Mark II
The first wholly original camera released under the OM SYSTEM name, the OM-1 Mark II is the new flagship model of the brand and feels very representative of OM’s identity with its mixture of tech-forward computational imaging features along with a form factor that clearly points to an outdoorsy aesthetic. Some of the core specs are carried over from its predecessor, including the 20MP stacked BSI Live MOS sensor and the TruePic X processor, to deliver the highest image quality in an OM SYSTEM body to date. The 5-axis in-body image stabilization system has received a slight boost, and is now able to compensate for up to 8.5 stops of shake in-camera, while also supporting sync IS to work in conjunction with IS-enabled lenses.
One of the biggest updates this Mark II model brings is the addition of the first Live GND (Graduated Neutral Density) function. Much like the Live ND function that’s still part of this camera (and that has been upped to ND 128 (7 stops) for an extra stop of control, Live GND takes this digital filter simulation effect and allows you to apply it selectively to portions of the image frame, much like you would with an optical graduated ND filter—and you get to preview the effects of the filter in real time via the EVF or LCD to fine-tune any necessary exposure adjustments.
Live GND shooting lets you shuffle between GND 2, 4, and 8 density values (1, 2, and 3 stops) with Soft, Medium, and Hard edge effects, and you can also customize the effect’s position and angle in the frame. This will be a tremendous asset for landscape photographers looking to minimize their kit because it lets you leave your large graduated ND filters at home and still be able to balance exposures when photographing sunsets or other situations with dramatic differences in brightness between two areas of a frame. It’s also a boon for those working with ultra-wide lenses that lack filter threads in the first place.
Among other computational modes, the OM-1 Mark II still also sports the 80MP Tripod High Res Shot and 50MP Handheld High Res Shot modes, as well as the Live Composite and Focus Stacking modes. Pro Capture mode is supported, too, and an improved buffer now permits recording for approximately 99 frames prior to releasing the shutter, compared to the 70 frames the original OM-1 was able to buffer. In terms of real continuous shooting speeds, the original OM-1 was already arguably too fast, and the Mark II keeps the same top 120 fps shooting speed with fixed AF/AE or 50 fps rate with AF/AE tracking.
Another notable improvement over the first gen camera, the OM-1 Mark II also gains enhanced AI Detection AF that offers improved subject recognition for a variety of subject types, including humans, cars, motorcycles, airplanes, birds, and other animals like cats and dogs. Using the tuned processing, subject recognition is more rapid and accurate than before, making it better able to lock onto and follow subjects moving through the scene.
The final distinguisher of the OM-1 Mark II is its physical construction; this is a durable, IP53-rated system offering reliable performance in harsh conditions. It’s dustproof, splashproof, and freezeproof down to 14°F, and ergonomics have been reshaped for better finger grip on dial surfaces. The viewfinder is a 5.76m-dot OLED with 0.83x magnification and anti-fog coating, and the OLED has a 120-fps refresh rate for realistic motion portrayal.
The OM-1 Mark II is a solid upgrade to a unique camera system; for the wildlife and outdoor photography enthusiast, it’s a tailor-made feature set. The Micro Four Thirds format is a major benefit for wildlife and birding photographers, while computational imaging assets like Live GND and Live ND benefit the creative landscape photographer looking for more control over exposures. Additionally, the durable body is a major benefit for anyone working outdoors.
M.Zuiko Digital ED 9-18mm f/4-5.6 II
The wider of the two new lenses is the M.Zuiko Digital ED 9-18mm f/4-5.6 II zoom, an 18-36mm-equivalent ultra-wide option prioritizing a small, lightweight package with close-focusing performance. This is a lens that’s clearly pointed at the landscape and nature photographer. With a barrel that’s retractable to just under 2" long and weighing 5.4 oz, it’s an ideal choice for backpacking or hiking while taking in expansive views. It has also been redesigned from its previous Olympus-branded iteration, and features a new color scheme, updated knurling, and includes a new petal-shaped lens hood.
In terms of performance, two DSA (Dual Super Aspherical) elements and extra-low dispersion glass keep distortion low, sharpness high, and colors accurate. And it’s versatile beyond its ultra-wide designation, with a constant minimum focusing distance of 9.8" and a maximum magnification of 0.2x at the long end. It’s a suitable choice for wide-angle close-up shooting to exaggerate foreground subjects and add visual depth and drama to scenes.
M.Zuiko Digital ED 150-600mm f/5-6.3 IS
At the opposite end of the focal length spectrum is the M.Zuiko Digital ED 150-600mm f/5-6.3 IS, an impressive 300-1200mm equivalent super-telephoto zoom that’s going to be the go-to option for birders and wildlife photographers in the system. This lens features its own 7 stop-effective IS system, and is compatible with 5-axis sync IS, to make handheld shooting a real possibility. The lens can be paired with optional teleconverters, like the MC-20 2x Teleconverter, to extend the reach to an effective 2400mm.
Compared to the M.Zuiko Digital ED 150-400mm f/4.5 TC 1.25x IS PRO lens, this zoom trades in a bit of speed for a bit more reach, and manages to remain nearly the same size and weight. This 150-600mm measures 10.4" long and weighs 4.6 lb, while the former lens measures 12.4" long and weighs 4.1 lb. Choosing between the two will be a matter of top speed versus reach, and this new lens hits the top focal length without the need of an internal teleconverter.
As one would expect from a super-telephoto, the 150-600mm is IPX1-rated with a splash- and dust-resistant housing that excels in rainy, harsh climates—along with a front fluorine coating to make cleaning the front element a breeze. Regarding handling, shooters can customize the zoom ring torque, lock down the zoom position during travel, and set a Focus Limiter for quicker focusing performance. Also, much like the 9-18mm, this 150-600mm is a sneaky good choice for close-up shooting, offering a maximum magnification of 0.7x at the wide end with a 1.8' minimum focusing distance.
For more information about the new camera and lenses, including additional features, specs, and highlights, be sure to check out the detailed product pages for the OM-1 Mark II, M.Zuiko Digital ED 9-18mm f/4-5.6 II, and M.Zuiko Digital ED 150-600mm f/5-6.3 IS. Or drop us a line below, and we’ll do our best to reply to your comments and questions.