B&H has recently put up its pre-order page for the forthcoming Olympus OM-D EM-1 Mark II, and the price is...
Minus a dollar. vjn.fdjbnkj nbck m cmjf
Wow! I had to pick my jaw off the keyboard there.
Granted, it's not Leica territory, but you can get a full-frame Sony with IBIS for $300 less, and as far as I can tell or recall, it's the most expensive Micro 4/3 body ever. (Is that right?) To put it another way, that's more than two E-PL7 bodies more than the EM-5 Mark II. It's more than three E-M10's.
It looks like a nice camera, meaningfully improved, but, well, that's a load of dosh.
Several possible reasons:
- Cameramakers are realizing they have to earn a greater share of each new model's profits from early sales to non-price-sensitive customers.
- E-M1 II is aimed at professionals, for whom equipment is a business expense and who are used to depreciating equipment costs. Lesser mortals can dang well buy cheaper Olympuses, or the premium but not professional Pen-F ($800 less!) that's made for enthusiasts.
- Two words: Veblen Good! High price = high status.
- Strong yen, Brexit, falling camera sales, election FUD; sundry other rationalizations and excuses.
- Maybe it's just priced to make a good companion for the new 25mm ƒ/1.2 lens.
I haven't been able to find the cost of the E-M1 when it first came out (it's $1,100 now), but I think it was $1,300 or $1,400. The new E-M1 II is $400 more expensive than either the Fuji X-Pro2 or X-T2. The Sony A6500 is stiffly priced at $1,400—almost three times the cost of its similar but lower-spec'd stablemate the A6000—but the EM-1 II is $600 more...with its somewhat smaller sensor.
On the other hand, there's...
...And we loved the E-M1. Nicely designed and ergonomic little camera. Still, is the value equation in the ballpark? Discuss....
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Featured Comments from:
Peter Wright: "I think your last point may be the one. I got a 25mm ƒ/1.2 from my local dealer a couple of weeks back to try out with my old E-M5. I then re-read "How To Stress a Camera Lens" by our 'hmbl. ed' from some years back, and set to it.
"It was like trying to stress Hulk Hogan. (My Zeiss 50mm Macro Planar gave up earlier, and so did my Panasonic Leica 25mm ƒ/1.4.) Perhaps we have a new 'normal' to add to the pantheon? The thinking at Olympus may be, that if phones are taking over the casual and low-end market, then they need products that can hold the high end market if they want to stay in business long term. Now I'm going to have to buy a E-M1 Mark II to use with my 25mm ƒ/1.2. Dang!"
cfw: "After my painstaking analysis of factors comprising the value equation for this camera, my conclusion is: I'll wait a couple-three years to buy one."
Mike replies: I've reached the same conclusion regarding buying another Miata, except I have to wait five-six years. Maybe I'll treat myself to one for my 65th birthday, in lieu of retirement. :-)
c.d.embrey: "Not a Veblen Good. It's just Olympus's flagship model. Check out Canon's flagship 1DX Mark II 20MP @ 14 FPS, 4K/60p video at $5,999, and Nikon's flagship D5, 12 FPS, 20MP FX, 4K video at $6,496.95. If you look at the specs, these three share many features needed by professional photographers. A fried of mine happily plunked down the money for a 1DX Mark II plus lenses (he was switching from Nikon). He thought it would have a great ROI, and didn't give the cost a second thought. Your mileage may vary."
Keith: "Lost—one large bag of marbles. If found please return to Olympus Corporation, Attn: Marketing Dept., Tokyo, Japan."
Trecento: "I know I tend to see these things a little off from most people, so please bear with me.
"I think this high price is not just a consequence of the manufacturer's margins getting squeezed, but also of the sufficiency of camera tech. Cameras aren't likely to get too much better at producing technically excellent images (I think we have about two stops left in possible noise/dynamic range, and maybe, possibly, another stop worth of pixel density. After that, we'd need something different to make another great leap forward), so it's plausible that you could market the end point cameras at the 'top of the line.' I'm thinking of the Super Speed Graphic, introduced in 1958, which successfully addressed every shortcoming of the press cameras before it. There was nothing left to improve.
"I don't think this pricing strategy is going to work for us though. Enthusiasts—particularly camera hobbists—like cameras, like playing with cameras, complaining about cameras, and especially, buying cameras. Prices in this range take away the fun. We can't play with something like that.
"We can't 'stretch' the way one can when one crosses their fingers, and swallows some existential dread and goes from the entry-level $550 camera to the mid-level $850 one, or from the low prosumer $1,200 to the full prosumer $1,500. The jump may only be $300-ish each time. But once you cross that single-car-payment level into that single-rent-payment level, it doesn't look so good.
"I don't think the camera companies have really figured out how much of the great run-up in camera sales was due to that enthusiasm: pay a bit every year or two, get a whole lot of improvement, yay! This transition is going to squeeze them from every side. The collectors are going to lose interest, the enthusiasts are going to run out of money, and new people are not going to get in to the hobby because the reward of incrementally better pictures is not going to outweigh the punishment of abstruse lingo and interfaces, nor the discouragement of being unable to readily share what they've shot. Not being able to post directly from the camera is akin to not being able to make prints! We are at the point where the iPhone takes pictures that are better than any point-and-shoot of the film era, and (thanks to the terrible product design) better than most digicams. It's good enough for ordinary purposes.
"They'd be better off taking a page from their awful compact camera playbook, and just re-release the same thing over and over with lots of inconsequential changes, at an affordable price.
"Meanwhile, what shall we do? Panasonic still makes affordable cameras for Micro 4/3, and Fuji makes really nice APS-C ones with lenses to match. Sony makes full-frame cameras that you can now adapt all kinds of stuff to. It looks like folk who want to take certain kinds of pictures will be buying mid and entry level cameras (I'm curiously okay with a Panasonic G3, a tiny little un-pro looking camera from about two generations ago, but I know I'm weird, a niche, population: 1), and watching for the flagship cameras to roll off into the discontinued zone. After all, we've reached a point of sufficientcy, haven't we?"
Phil Stiles: "I'm a sports shooter who has migrated down to Micro 4/3 from Canon, because the gear is a lot lighter and a lot cheaper. The Panasonic/Leica 100–400mm is a great lens, and I can a see an EM-1 Mark II wringing some excellent results out that lens with its improved focus and frame rates. So I want one. However, I will wait for the inevitable price cuts after it's been out for while. Almost as exciting for me is the 12-100mm, as it's reported to finally be that one-lens-that-does-it-all with pro quality."
Andrew Leinonen: "It seems to me that the issue with pricing is that the E-M1 II is simply more camera than the vast, vast majority of people need.
"It seems like people have been waiting for a bit of a sensor upgrade for Micro 4/3, and while the E-M1 II represents that slight bump, it also carries with it a whole bunch of features that most Micro 4/3 enthusiasts don't need or will ever use. Those enthusiasts have become accustomed to purchasing the top-of-the-line gear because it's still relatively affordable by the standards of other systems.
- The E-M1 II shoots full resolution RAWs with the mechanical shutter at 15 fps, and then when the buffer is full, it shoots at 9.5 fps (!) forever.
- It has 5-axis IBIS that is good for 5.5 stops of compensation. So you can shoot your 300mm ƒ/4 at 1/15 sec. and still be assured a sharp shot.
- It has a 120 fps viewfinder with no blackout in continuous shooting.
- It has a software focus limiter that lets you choose the distance range any lens will focus within.
- It shoots Cinema 4K video at 237 Mbps. That's more than twice the bit rate of the GH4 (less compressed is not always better, but still).
- The RAW files from its High-Res mode, which now compensate for subject motion to some extent, are 80 MP. Enough to pixel peep when printed on the side of a bus.
- It uses its IBIS gyroscopes to detect panning motion to help its 121 PDAF cross-points determine your intentions while using Continuous Autofocus.
"The X-T2 and A6500 have a few of these features. The A7r II has some more of these features. The D500 has some more of these features. The D5 and 1DX II have some more of these features. None of those cameras have all of these features.
"I shoot mainly 6x7 film and a Panasonic GX7, these days. If this camera was priced lower, I would strongly consider buying one. Because I want one. But there is no way that I need one. And unless you're the kind of photographer that already owns a D500, D4, D5, 7D II, or 1DX, it sounds like you don't need one either."
Jim: "Overpriced, under-spec'd, and an ergonomic nightmare. Nothing is intuitive on that camera's UI except maybe the shutter button."
Bill Tyler: "A lot of my photography is nature/wildlife/macro. This body addresses almost all the major issues that I have using the OM-D E-M1, assuming it lives up to the advertising.
"First, battery life. The original E-M1 just goes through batteries too fast. I don't mind carrying spares. What I do mind is missing shots because I'm changing batteries.
"Second, the much improved EVF. Try shooting a sequence of a flying bird with the Mark 1, and you'll find that you can't hold it in the viewfinder. A faster EVF should fix that. If Olympus can be believed, the Mark II will do a better job of holding focus on that same bird. And I absolutely love the 14-frame pre-capture mode, where the camera buffers the 14 frames before you fully press the shutter. Watch a predator (I used to have geckos) stalking prey (like a grasshopper). The actual capture happens at an unpredictable time, and with lightning quickness.
"I could go on, and I'm sure that the new features aren't quite as perfect as Olympus would have you believe, but even so, this is a very significant upgrade."