Olympus E-M5 Mark II FLAT profile tested



Further to some recent camera testing, here are the results for the Olympus E-M5 Mark II using the new flat profile.  Late last year Olympus released a significant firmware update to the E-M5 Mark II that among other improvements, added an extra video shooting profile.

Using the flat profile allows you to try and squeeze a little more dynamic range into the eight bit file being recorded by the camera.  You should use the flat profile when you know you’re going to be grading later and in doing so you’re going to preserve as much detail for the grade as you can.

Another way we can preserve information is to use a better acquisition codec.  The E-M5 Mark II allows us to record the clean feed from the HDMI (unlike the E-M1) so that means I can use an external recorder.

For these tests I dual recorded, both internally to the none-to-shabby All-I codec but at the same time I also recorded 1920 ProRes HQ files with a Blackmagic Video Assist.  This is a small low cost monitor / recorder that’s very well suited for this job.

When it came time to compare these files I also learned something.  Now, with the FLAT profile loaded, I expected that the internally recorded ALL-I files would look almost the same as the externally recorded ProRes HQ file, but I’d find the ProRes files would be more be even more robust to work with because they have less compression and are 10 bit files instead of 8 bit.

What I didn’t expect was there was a slight difference in colour hues.  This was confusing because bit depth and compression shouldn’t affect how the colours are reproduced.  So I went back to Olympus and it turns out that they have used two different colour gamut standards.  So internally the camera uses the older REC 601 colour gamut standard, but on the HDMI output they use the current HD spec of REC 709.

Now I don’t think that many people will notice or even worry about this difference and the external recording is at least using the more up to date gamut standard.

So to reiterate here again, this is the same lighting setup I used in the recent E-M1 test I posted.

Here’s the lighting plot.

Tungsten Set

And here’s what you’re looking at on screen.

I also set up a daylight colour temperature version.

Daylight Set


And here’s what you’re looking for here…

And then the same candlelight version.

So unlike the E-M1, because we’re now shooting big boy formats like ProRes, these files are much bigger than the internal camera files are normally, so be prepared !

You can find these files, hosted and shared by my good friends at Digital Pidgeon, who offer a very fast and secure file sharing service.

Here’s the edited ProRes and All-I internal comparison original file.

1gb E-M5 Mark II Colour Hue intercut


As a little coda to this, I’ve since learned the following….

I’ve confirmed the HDMI output is 4:2:2 @ 8 bit.

I’ve also learned that the frame rate is DIFFERENT on output compared to what’s recorded internally.

This means, you choose 24 FPS in the menu, internally it’s recording 23.976 (the us / japanese version of 24 fs) BUT on the output over HDMI it’s straight 24 FPS.

Same for 30 fps.  It’s recording 29.970 internally but outputting 30 FPS over HDMI.








About johnbrawley

Director Of Photography striving to create compelling images
This entry was posted in Equipment, Uncategorized and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

34 Responses to Olympus E-M5 Mark II FLAT profile tested

  1. omniat says:

    Hi JB,

    As usual thanks for playing with gear and sharing. I have recently sold my m43 gear (gh4’s) but kept the oly as I really enjoy using it. Honestly I was about to sell my em5ii due to having to much stuff but your post had made me think twice!

    I had done some tests with an atomos ninja but had some issues with getting the desired frame rate.

    In your tests what frame rates did you use with the BM assist?

  2. Nick says:

    Hi John!
    It’s Nick, ex-lemac and vision split for you guys on Season 4 of Offspring. I’m actually working with Eszter right now over at Arri Budapest.

    Weird coincidence. I’ve put off updating my Em5mk2 since I got it at the beginning of last year and finally did it today to check out and play with the flat profile. Low and behold I stumble across your tests on DPreview uploaded on the exact same day.

    I’ve been filming short clips with the Em5mk2 for the past year around Japan, China, Mongolia, North Korea, Russia and bits of Europe just in between, if you have any interest in seeing a bit of a compilation I threw together for family and friends I can send you through the link.

    I’m heading off on a road-trip around Slovenia this weekend so I’ll give the flat profile a full power trial in the Eastern European spring and see how it fairs.

  3. Hi,
    You write that externally recorded ProRes files “would be more be even more robust to work with because they have less compression and are 10 bit files instead of 8 bit”. Are you sure that the camera outputs a 10 bit signal over HDMI, or isn’t just an 8 bit signal wrapped into a 10 bit codec? (Currently, the GH4 is the only consumer camera on the market that outputs 10bit.)

    • johnbrawley says:

      Hi Dieter. In pretty sure it is 8bit but I’ve asked again to make sure. The thing is, you still get an advantage by using an external recorder because you have a much more robust recording codec. It has less compression as well as being a higher bit depth. Recording the 8bit file into a 10 bit container ALSO with less compression means a much more robust file for colour correction. I’ll get back once I get a more official confirmation of the output from my source. JB

  4. Mario Rossi says:

    Hi, how do you judge the dynamic range that you can get with this camera in videos? Would you say that it is a week point of the camera? (considering the price range)
    Thank you

    • johnbrawley says:

      Hello Mario.

      The dynamic range is a bit of a limitation, but I wouldn’t say that it’s worse than similarly priced camera options in MILC or DSLRs. What helps is being able to have a LOG or flat profile and using an external recorder that has less compression and higher bit depth than the internal recording path. Cameras like the Blackmagic Pocket cinema camera are in the same price range and have more DR but they don’t have other great features like class leading IBIS, an articulated screen and an EVF aren’t very good at taking photos either 🙂 it depends on your needs of course.

      • Mario Rossi says:

        Hello john, thank you for replying.
        Sorry if I insist, would you say that the camera can resolve about 10 stops of dynamic range? I mean without external recorder.
        (10 stops should be the same range of cameras like Sony a6000 and Panasonic G7.)

      • johnbrawley says:

        Hi Mario. I’m never one to talk in stops because everyone has a different opinion and way of measuring stops. What I like to do is compare to what I know. I’m afraid I am not familiar though use with the G7 or the A6000 to be able to compare. I presume you know as well that for these cameras the DR available is different between shooting stills and video, with video modes being substantially less. To me what an external recorder does is spread out that limited range and make it easier to squeeze a nicer image from it in the grade. It’s not really that it magically means you have a extra stop of DR.

  5. Rouben Ter-Minassian says:

    hi John,
    I think I have been reading somewhere that some monitoring or focusing assist functions accessible with internal recording are disabled when recording through hdmi. As I am thinking of using a straight recorder without a monitor not mounted on camera( to stay light), I wonder if you happen to have checked that (the manual is not very usefull ).
    Thank you

    • johnbrawley says:

      yes so peaking doesn’t work once you start recording INTERNALLY. If however you use an external recorder, you can use the peaking built into that. You can also use peaking on it BEFORE you switch to clean feed. (24/25/30fps)


  6. Pingback: URsa Mini 4.6 And Alexa side by side | johnbrawley

  7. is there any DR benefit from flat profile and internal recording ?

  8. Claudio says:

    Hi John,

    thanks for making this test for us and to share.
    I’ve found this after researching about EM5 MKII video features compared to EM1.
    Actually I own an EM1 and I’m loving it. But, I need a similar camera that also do good video.

    In the idea to make both photos and videos, would you change the EM1 for EM5 MKII? Both at the moment is not an option.


    • johnbrawley says:

      That’s a tough one. I too have an EM1 and I really prefer it for stills over the EM5MarkII. It has something very special in the sensor that I find more difficult to get fromt he EM5 MArk II. I’d probably say that if your more pressing need is STILLS then maybe the EM! is better. I tested the EM1 video in an earlier post and it’s actually pretty good now that they’ve added 24 FPS. Did you see that post ? If video is more important then the EM5 is no doubt the better camera for many reasons.


      • Claudio says:

        John thank you very much for taking the time for answering me. Really appreciated.
        For sure I love EM1 sensor for stills.
        The video is at this time the 20% usage of the camera. Maybe I can rest with the EM1 and see what happen in the future if the interest in video grow. What make me ‘fool’ is the focus peaking capability in video of the EM5 MKII over EM1. This is what make me think about swapping.

  9. Hi John,
    Thank you very much for your tests and sharing. I bought EM5 Mkii 3 months ago for short films making. Your posts and test footages are really helped me to choose this camera. I am a beginner in videography with little bit camera technical knowledge. I am learning a lot now with the camera with your suggested settings like Custom profile with Sharpness (-2), Contrast (-2) and Saturation (-1) but still I see quality difference in your shared video footages and mine. Apart from these settings, can you please suggest any other camera settings to get max. video quality. I bought EM5 Mkii with 12-40mm f/2.8 PRO lense. You may check my youtube upload https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sN46j7zlgtA and I know youtube has compressed my video 😦 but i think it will give some idea to you anyway.

    Thanks for your time.


  10. Hi Sir. Just wondering, if the unedited/raw footage of external recorded footage (4:2:2 8 bit) is available. It would be nice to take a stab on editing it. Thank you for your consideration,

  11. Pingback: Intrigue – How far will you go ? | johnbrawley

  12. Robert Pugh says:

    Hi thanks for the info, im just starting out with video and using the OMD EM5MKII, can you help me out with a base starting out setting ? Do i use P mode or should i shoot in M all the time.

    • johnbrawley says:

      Hi Rob. I’ve always done everything manual. Manual exposure, manual focus. It’s a steeper learning curve, but in the long run your footage will be the better for it if you can start that way ?

  13. Hey John,
    Olympus E-M5 Mark II FLAT profile – when you say a flat profile for this camera you mean all contrast, sharpness at 0 ?

    • johnbrawley says:

      Hi Ricardo.

      I used to create my own version of a flat profile to try and preserve the DR, but Olympus have subsequently added their OWN profile that is called FLAT that does this for you.


  14. oscar says:

    I can´t get clean HDMI out to my Ninja Blade?
    It´s driving me nuts… please help – there is nothing in the manual how to set it up.

  15. Pingback: Ursa Mini 4.6 And Alexa // John Brawley – CourtneyMayCBlog

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s