Having used the OM-1 almost everyday since launch, and now having the opportunity to capture with the new and improved OM SYSTEM OM-1 Mark II in the field- it’s undeniable that the advancements from its predecessor are what WE needed in the photography community. This camera was designed for the outdoors - maintaining OM SYSTEM’s long-standing and integral promise to serve customers with lightweight gear and superior image quality, while reinforcing the photographer with a refined experience within our favorite features, incorporating new features and improving our physical interaction with the camera.

My adventure with the OM-1 Mark II took me to the brand’s origin: Japan. As I prepared for snowboarding in the backcountry of Niseko, Hokkaido, one of the world's snowiest destinations - I knew the powdery conditions and trying to photograph my fellow riders in a fast-paced environment (there was snow literally everywhere) would require the ever-reliable IP53 weatherproofing.

*IP53 - When the wonders of nature and your photography collide - gear that can withstand the natural forces is absolutely essential. The OM-1 Mark II is sealed with cast rings to ensure an IP53 dustproof and splashproof performance, which in return provide it’s end user the confidence to take photos in the roughest conditions.
OM-1 Mark II | M.Zuiko 12-40mm F2.8 PRO | 1/1600s | F9.0 | ISO 320
OM-1 Mark II | M.Zuiko 12-40mm F2.8 PRO | 1/1600s | F9.0 | ISO 320

What I did not expect was how necessary the new “Human Detection” technology was going to be in these conditions. In this environment, there isn’t much time to think or make minor camera adjustments. You rely on your instincts to capture a projected line downhill, adjust your settings beforehand and engage your camera with what it was designed for. What was already a huge leap in computational photography, the OM-1 Mark II furthers its AI Detection Autofocus intelligence which already focused heavily on motorsports, airplanes, trains, birds, dogs and cats.

Now we get Human Detection! Improving the algorithm in deep learning technology allowed me to stay focused on the unpredictable movements of human subjects and track them from their point of origin with precision. The TruePic X Image Processors makes real-time processing possible, especially during sequential shooting. Which by the way, sequential shooting is now ‘blackout free’, furthering your ability to maintain composition and follow your subject while shooting.

AF Menu > 2. AF > Subject Detection ‘ON’ 

Next up, OM SYSTEM integrated the world’s first in-camera Live GND filter - or Graduated Neutral Density (ND) in the OM-1 Mark II. 

Honestly, I can’t even believe I get to say this! Yet alone be one of the early adopters of the technology. Instead of relying heavily on post processing with linear gradients to save or enhance an image after the fact, you can directly in-camera, on location, freely place a soft (GND2), medium (GND4) or hard (GND8) filter. Outside of getting creative with this feature on location, I would recommend customizing one of the many hot buttons for quick access of the Live GND function.

As a professional landscape photographer and a hobbyist urban shooter, I wanted to test the function in two entirely different locations. First one was a sunset in Niseko. As you can see, I used the Live GND on the bright sky to bring back colors and cloud definition.

OM-1 Mark II | M.Zuiko 12-40mm F2.8 PRO | 1/6400s | F4.5 | ISO 400
OM-1 Mark II | M.Zuiko 12-40mm F2.8 PRO | 1/2000s | F5.6 | ISO 400

Meanwhile in Tokyo, I made a late-night visit to the famous Omoide Yokocho alley which tends to get fairly busy with lights and people. The Live GND allowed me to minimize distraction while shooting handheld, and focus on the alley as an overall subject by enriching the natural shadows.

Menu > 2. Live GND Shooting > ON

Personally, I choose to customize the (One touch white balance) Button next to the lens attachment.

Menu > Settings > Button Settings > Button Function > Assign ‘GND’ to a button

OM-1 Mark II | M.Zuiko 17mm F1.2 PRO | 1/800s | F1.2 | ISO 1000
OM-1 Mark II | M.Zuiko 17mm F1.2 PRO | 1/250s | F1.2 | ISO 1000

Lastly, if you’re an adventure enthusiast, you likely lean into that weatherproofing as much as you naturally seek out harsh shooting conditions for unique lighting compositions. Which means, cold hands, gloves and difficulty navigating a camera’s dials, right? Introducing: the new and improved Rubberized Dials. In a place like Niseko, where you’re wearing snowboard gloves one moment, and cotton ones for warmth the next. The material did not deter my ability to shoot, because the grip of the rubberized dials made all the difference. And when you can rely on increased functionality of physical attributes, your interaction with the camera becomes more seamless when accessing features like Live GND or turning things like Subject Detection on within the Menu.

The goal - perfecting a camera that was already class-leading in the Micro Four-Thirds space. What I love about this next generation of the OM-1 line, is that OM SYSTEM’s team took a long look at this photography community. What do we need in the field? How do we rely on our gear to perform in all environments? What will the future bring? Most importantly, placing the consumer at the forefront of this growth, taking the good from our experience with the OM-1 and making it great. As an OM SYSTEM Ambassador, this is why I stand behind the brand. Because it allows me to do what I love and push my adventures to the limit.

*Dedication to the future - the first flagship camera carrying the ‘OM SYSTEM’ name.

Web: https://bio.site/chrispoplawski

IG: chrisroams

Chris Poplawski is a Southern California native who loves experiencing new landscapes and engaging with wildlife in their natural element. While his life's work is mainly dedicated to travel and brand photography, he also spends my time building relationships with couples and people around the world to capture their love stories.

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