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Review Olympus OM-D E-M10

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Is the Olympus OM-D E-M10 a perfect luxury beginner's camera?

The Olympus OM-D E-M1 (for Professionals) and the Olympus OM-D E-M5 (for advanced amateurs) are highly sought after, versatile cameras with high image quality.

Olympus OM-D E-M10, OM-D E-M10, Olympus camera review

A passionate starter or amateur photographer may prefer an even more compact and lighter camera, without making concessions in build quality and image quality. For those photographers, the Olympus OM-D E-M10 is a great choice. Well-built, versatile, compact and luxuriously crafted – it looks like a mini-implementation of an SLR camera from bygone years. But it is much more.

The Olympus OM-D E-M10 has been for sale since February 2014 in retro silver or black, for a suggested retail price of 599 euro. Compared to a luxury compact camera, this camera is more versatile and more durable, because you – when you get that far – can change lenses. If this is your first camera with interchangeable lenses, of course, then you want a competitively priced lens. For 100 euros extra, you have a 14-42 mm zoom lens. And if you prefer a lens to be as compact as possible, for another 100 euros extra (list price), there is a kit with an extra compact 14-42 mm zoom lens. Personally, I would choose the more compact version. The extra expenditure of one hundred euros, you will soon forget. The ease of a compact camera, you will enjoy for years.

Ergonomics and ease of use

The Olympus OM-D E-M10 has an all-metal housing and seems in terms of appearance to resemble an Olympus OM-D E-M5. Yet the OM-D E-M10 is a bit better in terms of ease of use, because Olympus has listened to the feedback on the Olympus OM-D E-M5 and has used that feedback to make E-M10 still easier to use. It comes to details, because there is not much to criticize on the ergonomics and ease of use of the OM-D E-M5. Example? The button for reviewing images on the OM-D E-M10 for example is more accessible, and that is very nice.

In terms of pricing, the Olympus OM-D E-M10 competes with Olympus PEN cameras. The most important difference is the electronic viewfinder that you find on the OM-D E-M10, but not on cameras from the PEN series. In my view, there are many reasons to prefer a camera with a viewfinder, so the E-M10. Firstly, you have a more stable position when you have the camera in front of your eye, instead of with straight arms in front of you. This means you will make more sharp images in low light with the E-M10 than with a camera without a built-in viewfinder. Secondly, a screen in bright light is difficult to read, making shooting with a viewfinder also then my preference. Thirdly, you pay more attention to the composition if the viewfinder image id the only thing that you are viewing.

But it also remains a matter of taste. If you've always used the display to photograph, then an Olympus PEN camera is a good alternative.

EM10compared

The Olympus OM-D E-M10 has many useful features, which you will learn to appreciate over time. Example? With the face detection, you can set where the auto focus must place the priority: on the left eye, the right eye or the nearest eye. My preference is for the latter option. The Olympus OM-D E-M10 may look like an SLR, yet the EM-1 is more compact than most SLRs and also distinguishes itself in some features from the average SLR camera.
  • Tilting touch screen
  • Live warning against over- or underexposure (see below)
  • Brightness of the viewfinder adjusts to the conditions
  • The "Live Composition Mode", in which the E-M10 makes multiple photos with a slow shutter speed and then highlights the differences. This avoids overexposure of the bright parts, and is also ideal for making a star-trail in which you capture the movement of the stars.

Olympus OM-D E-M10 versus OM-D E-M5 and OM-D EM-1

  • OM-D E-M10 is smaller, lighter and cheaper than its two brothers
  • The E-M1 and E-M5 are sealed against dust and moisture, the E-M10 is not (and therefore cheaper)
  • The image stabilization of the OM-D E-M10 works with 3 axes, with the other two cameras, that is 5 axes.
  • The OM-D E-M1 has a larger viewfinder (similar to professional full-frame SLRs) with a higher resolution than the OM-D E-E-M5 and M10 (similar to starter and amateur SLRs)
  • The OM-D E-M1 has phase-detect AF, meaning the continuous AF and the use of four-thirds lenses are much better than with the OM-D E-M10
  • The OM-D E-M1 is guaranteed to work even in freezing cold (-10), the E-M10 and E-M5 probably will as well, but it's not guaranteed.
  • The sensor of the OM-D E-M10 has – just like the OM-D E-M1 – no anti-alias filter
  • The OM-D E-M1 is almost twice as expensive

OM-D E-M10 dwarsdoorsnede

Olympus OM-D E-M10 versus Canon 100D

The Olympus resembles a DSLR, but is much smaller than the Canon 100D. That is the smallest SLR camera that is now on the market. Both cameras are about equally light, but the micro-43 lenses are usually lighter than the corresponding Canon lenses. As a result, the total weight that you take when you go shooting – you take after all at least one and perhaps a few lenses with you – is lower if you pick the E-M10 instead of an SLR camera. Other differences include:

  • The screen of the Olympus has a higher resolution (1400 k vs 1040 k)
  • 9 AF points and 4 bps (Canon) vs. 81 AF points and 9 FPS (Olympus)
  • Electronic viewfinder (Olympus) vs. optical viewfinder (Canon)
  • 100% viewfinder coverage (Olympus) vs. 95% viewfinder coverage (Canon). The viewfinder magnification is approximately equivalent.
  • The list price of the Olympus is 100 euro higher
100DvsEM10On Camerasize.com you can compare the size of the cameras.

Viewfinder, screen and menu

The Olympus OM-D E-M10 has an electronic viewfinder: you see right away how the shot will turn out, even if you are making an HDR image, using an Art filter, or if you overexposed or underexposed (WYSIWYG). You can also display a histogram in your viewfinder. The viewfinder of the Olympus OM-D E-M10 is just as nice as that of the Olympus OM-D E-M5, but the viewfinder of the OM-D E-M1 is bigger and more beautiful. The viewfinder coverage amounts to 100%, while with most cheaper SLRs with a 95% viewfinder coverage, you never see the whole picture exactly.

OMD10

Live warning for over-and underexposure

What you see on the screen or in the viewfinder is set separately from the main menu. You can, among other things, set a spirit level, a histogram or a live warning for over-/underexposure of the highlights/shadows. It is shame if you only see when you open your files that there is a part of a picture overexposed. Some experienced photographers evaluate on the camera the histogram of a picture they have just created. But, especially for starters, it works so much better if you see right away in the viewfinder the danger of overexposure or underexposure. This is possible with the Olympus OM-D E-M10.

Histograminstelling

Shadow areas that are in danger of being completely black, just like in Lightroom, in the viewfinder or on the screen are shown in blue. Highlights that are in danger of being washed out are orange (move your mouse over the image on the right). The unique feature of this option is that you have these warnings in your viewfinder or on your image screen before you take a picture, and that the threshold at which the warning becomes visible can be set (see image on the right).

700pxSampleImage

Sharpness: resolution of the Olympus OM-D E-M10

The Olympus OM-D E-M10 has the sensor of the Olympus OM-D E-M5 and the image processor of the Olympus OM-D E-M1. It's didn't surprise us, then, that in our to-D E-M10 test, we got the same image quality as with the two bigger brothers. Micro-43 cameras have a different aspect ratio (4:3) than traditional SLRs (3:2). To be able to compare the measurement results of a micro-43 camera directly with lenses on (APS-C/full frame) cameras from other brands, we have set the Olympus OM-D E-M10 on an aspect ratio 2:3. If you shoot in regular micro-43 format, then the resolution, expressed in lines per picture height, is even slightly higher. The Olympus OM-D E-M10 delivers images that are at least as sharp as shots made with any other 15-20 megapixel camera with a micro-43, APS-C or full-frame sensor. The sharpness of a picture is now more determined by the lens and by the sharpening in the camera or by a photo editing program than by the choice of camera.

Dynamic range Olympus OM-D E-M10

On a larger sensor, you have space for more pixels. And the more pixels, the greater the dynamic range can be. So goes the theory. In practice, the differences are smaller than you might expect. The dynamic range of the Olympus OM-D E-M10 gives nothing up to the dynamic range of many SLRs with a larger sensor.

To illustrate the surprisingly high dynamic range of a micro-43 sensor, look at the night shot shown here. As you move your mouse over the image, you'll see the histogram, and we let Lightroom mark the overexposed parts red and the underexposed parts blue. Where with a luxury compact camera under these kinds of extreme conditions you run into the limitations of the small sensor, with an Olympus OM-D E-M10, you have nothing to fear.

DR1

Noise Olympus OM-D E-M10

If you rarely shoot at a sensitivity of ISO 3200 or higher, then you don't need a larger sensor than a micro-43 sensor. Thanks to the ever-greater choice of bright micro-43 lenses and the very effective image stabilization in the OM-D E-M10 (see below), you can choose low ISO values (100, 200 or 400 ISO) without worrying about noise or seeing a blurred shot.

The upper limit where a person still considers the results acceptable is personal and also depends on the size in which you print or show pictures on the internet. In addition, the lighting conditions under which take a picture greatly affect the noise that you see.

3200iso

The signal-to-noise ratio of a micro-43 sensor at 100 ISO is equivalent to that of a full-frame sensor at ISO 400. Choose an ISO value under 800 ISO for an image quality that rivals full frame.

A studio shot made at 6400 ISO shows less noise than an outdoor shot made in the dark or on a drizzly day at 1600 ISO. The picture above is an unedited 3200 ISO jpg file. Click on the image for an partial enlargement.

Color reproduction Olympus OM-D E-M10

In terms of color reproduction, the Olympus OM-D E-M10 (just like the E-M5 and E-M1) is among the best cameras out there on the market. This applies to both RAW and jpg images with image style "Natural". The red and orange colors are slightly more saturated than the reference color, which gives beautiful skin tones.

In artificial light there is a visible, light-orange cast visible in the shots. Those who photograph in RAW can significantly improve the white balance in artificial light relative to the automatic white balance.

In terms of color reproduction, the modern cameras are very similar, and not everyone prefers completely natural color reproduction. Therefore, every brand offers different preferences/picture styles (natural, lively ....), with which you can create nuances in color reproduction.

Daglicht100mini

Kunstlicht200mini
Color reproduction in daylight Color reproduction in artificial light

OM-D E-M10-flits

Built-in flash, Wi-Fi, art bracketing, built-in image stabilization and much more

The Olympus OM-D E-M10 is a camera for beginners, but it offers so many possibilities that you also as advanced amateur photographer can have a lot of fun working with it. The Olympus OM-D E-M10 is equipped with Wifi for those who want to share photos via social media. You can also use a Wifi feature of E-M10 after you get the free Olympus Image Share app on a smartphone or tablet. With that, you can send photos to social media, or operate the camera remotely. If you use a zoom lens with motor zoom, then you can even zoom in or out remotely. We have tested the camera with a 25 mm fixed focus. Despite the compact dimensions, the camera features a built-in flash. You thus don't have to switch after a year (or two) to a more advanced camera, because you would otherwise miss capabilities. For example, with Creative Control you can adjust the contrast and colors, where you see the effect immediately in the electronic viewfinder, even before taking the shot. Another nice feature is with Art bracketing, where the same picture edited with different effects is stored in the camera; we talked about that before.

PS

Built-in image stabilization

Olympus cameras have built-in image stabilization. The image stabilization of the OM-D E-M10 is slightly less sophisticated than that of its bigger brothers. The compact size of the camera does not allow for 5-axis image stabilization. Instead, 3-axis image stabilization is built in, which is just as good as the image stabilization of other brands: you profit by about 3 stops. At a focal length of 25 mm our shots made at a shutter speed of 1/50 second without image stabilization turned out as sharp as shots made with a shutter speed of 1/6 second with image stabilization. A big advantage of the Olympus image stabilization is that it is located in the camera. You're get the benefit of it with all the lenses you use. 

VRtest

Conclusion Olympus OM-D E-M10 review

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Starter
Year:2014
Overall score:7.3
Resolution:6.5
Dynamic Range:7.2
Noise:8.5
Color:9.9
Whitebalance:5.5
Megapixels:16
Sensor:M43
Sensor magn.:0.62
fps:10
Weight (gram):396
MSRP NL (Euro):599

Advantages

Disadvantages

  • Camera with the appearance and capabilities of a DSLR, but lighter and smaller
  • Excellent image quality: equivalent to EM5 or EM1
  • Very good built-in image stabilization
  • Tilting touch screen
  • Built-in Wi-Fi
  • Brightness of the electronic viewfinder adjusts itself to the ambient light
  • For some, too small
  • Complicated menu

The Olympus OM-D E-M10 is a must for any amateur or beginner who uses 1 camera for years.

The Olympus OM-D E-M10 is a camera with the sensor of an E-M5, the processor of the E-M1 and the price of a PEN. In other words: proven high quality in a solid, compact camera with an attractive price. Apart from the extra seal against dust and splash and a small adjustment to the image stabilization, the Olympus OM-D E-M10 gives nothing up to other, more expensive OM-D cameras. As far as the image stabilization of the OM-D E-M10 is concerned: it is highly effective, even if there are only 3 instead of 5 axes used. And where that extra seal is concerned: it might be handy to have, but most photographers go, just like the testers for Camera Stuff Review, inside when it's pouring rain. We have never come across a camera – with or without additional seal – that failed because of dust or moisture. Things are different for professional photographers, but for an amateur photographer, it is no big deal that this seal is missing. The Olympus OM-D E-M10 is, considering its size, build quality, image quality and ease of use perhaps the ideal starter or amateur camera for many.

Ivo Freriks
Author: Ivo Freriks
With Camera Review Stuff I hope to make a modest contribution to the pleasure that you get from photography. By testing cameras and lenses in the same way, evluating the results and weighing up the pros and cons, I hope to help you find the right camera or lens.

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Comments (2)

  1. John

Nice review. One small thing...there is No NFC in the e-m10.

 
  1. Bob    John

Hi John,<br /><br />You're right. We've corrected the text.<br />Thanks for helping us.<br /><br />Regards,<br /><br />Bon

 

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