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Review Olympus OM-D E-M10 MK2

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The Olympus Om-D E-M10 MK2 is the fifth model in the award-winning OM-D series; a nicely compact and light camera with a classic appearance, equipped with an electronic viewfinder, an electronic shutter so that you can shoot completely silently without being noticed and image stabilization built into the body. It is ideal for indoor photography of (grand-) children, documenting weddings or street photography. We tested it in the laboratory and in practice with the Olympus 14-42 mm kit lens. That is an ultra-flat zoom, with a zoom range that works in many practical situations and comes out when engaged.

Olympus OM-D E-M10 MK2 - classic in a new jacket

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The first thing you notice about the Olympus OM-D E-M10 MK2 is its compact size. It really fits in the palm of your hand and is only slightly bigger than, for example, a Nikon 1. Even so, it looks like a real classic. Whether they are called Fujifilm, Panasonic or Olympus, modern cameras all try to look like the original version of the viewfinder camera, the Leica M. It has a 16-megapixel micro-four-thirds sensor and lens mount. The crop factor is 2, that is to say, the field of view of this 14-42 mm focal length corresponds with the field of view of a 28-84 mm lens on a full-frame sensor camera. The Olympus OM-D E-M10 MK2 has Wi-Fi, but no GPS. The target audience for this set is the advanced amateur or the starter who wants to get off to a good start and buy a camera that he can work with for years.
OM D E M10 Mark II EZ M1442EZ silver flash 300dpi

Construction and design

Olympus OM-D series: Classic appearance, made with an eye for detail.

The Olympus OM-D E-M10 MK2 is beautifully designed and has a partly metal body. Everything looks very precise, although the body has not been made especially water-tight. It has two big rotating knobs on top that function the same as the two settings discs of the better SLRs. In the middle of the front rotating knob is the photo-shutter button. It seemed to us that it would have been logical to mount the film-start button then in the middle of the back rotating knob, but that is not the case: for that there is a separate little button that is difficult to find by touch. What is remarkable is the in-body image stabilization. According to Olympus, it is good for about 4 stops. With SLR cameras, the image stabilization is built into the lens, and certainly for the better lenses that increases prices. With Olympus, you save on the cost of image stabilization in the lens. That savings can add up to hundreds of euros. The battery pack and the SD card are located behind a door on the bottom. You cannot access them when the camera is on a tripod, and there are bodies where inserting and removing the SD card is easier! There is a hotshoe (with a tidy cover) and a built-in flash. The E-M10 Mark II has a 2.36 MP OLED electronic viewfinder that not only displays all settings, but also how the photo is going to look when you apply the “special effects” (and this body has a great many of them). The viewfinder refreshes quickly and approaches the quality of the optical viewfinder of an SLR. If you take your eye away from the viewfinder, then the camera switches over to the screen. This screen can rotate up a bit (see photo below), but not downwards or sideways, and as far as we’re concerned, the rotation does not add that much. With a fixed screen the camera would have been flatter and less expensive as well. It is a touchscreen, with which you can designate the AF points, for example.

OM D E M10 Mark II EZ M1442EZ silver display 300dpi

Olympus OM-D E-M10 MK2 versus Olympus OM-D E-M10

  • Both cameras have the same sensor and image processor.
  • The Mark II has improved image stabilization. Olympus succeeded in making the effectiveness of the image stabilization nearly as good as that of the more expensive E-M5 and E-M1 models, without making the camera larger.
  • The Mark II has buttons on top of the camera that have different heights, which increases the ease of use.
  • It has an improved (better resolution) electronic viewfinder.
  • HD-Video in 1080/60p (was: 1080/30p)

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Canoes bobbing in the Gorkum Lingehaven. ISO 200, 1/30 of a second at f/8.

Operation

The manual, more than 170 pages, is worth a thorough read if you want to get all the capabilities out of this camera.
 
The shortcoming of all super-small bodies is that there is little room for buttons. Every manufacturer has their own solution for that. This OM-D has four ‘regular’ press buttons, for display, delete, menu and info, respectively, and not one but three fn-buttons. You have to assign the function to those yourself. This form of customization has begun to be the norm for modern cameras. Is that super-handy? Well not really, we think. You have to remember which function you have assigned to these buttons. What is easy is that by pressing the OK button, you see an entire arsenal of setting options on the LCD screen. With the four-way switch, you can scroll through them and set the desired value. The same can also be done with the menu, but then you run into the problem that some settings in the camera menu are hidden in a different settings menu. In practice, we almost always used this option, not the menu and not the touchscreen.
The camera has quite unimaginable setting options for special effects, scene modes and the way in which you can call up information in the display—more than most cameras in this price class. We counted them for fun: 25 scene modes, 14 special effects (that you can partially adjust to your needs, 23 processing filters (with which you can add effects to already-taken pictures), 5 ways to measure the light and more than 20 for focusing. To give you an example: the bracketing function includes not only exposure but also white balance, flash level and set distance. The latter is handy when you want to combine multiple shots for macro-work (focus-stacking). Among the settings are some real “hidden treasures.” But those sit buried so deep in the menu that even your two experienced editors sometimes couldn’t find them. “If it’s that hard, then it’s pointless,” one of us said. Consulting the manual is a solution. Now just hoping that the target audience will indeed do that, since otherwise many capabilities will go unused. We found it unfortunate that the panoramic mode does not deliver a ready-made panoramic shot, but a series of shots that you can stitch together with (included) software.
 

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The little E-M10 MKII is ideal for street photography. Point and shoot. 1/80 of a second, f/8, ISO 400.

Auto focus and continuous mode

AF speed is something that we currently pay special attention to. System cameras always score better than SLRs. So too does the Olympus OM-D E-M10 MK2.

The focusing is done with contrast detection; there are no hybrid phase detection/contrast detection pixels on this sensor. There are no fewer than 81 AF measurement fields spread across the entire image (and thus not only in the middle), that you can select with the four-way switch. You can even link groups yourself.
Even so, the auto focus is fast: 285 milliseconds from infinity to 1 meter. Comparable models from other brands with hybrid pixels did do better in our tests. It also happened more than once that in the laboratory, within a single series, one shot appeared to be very blurry. That is certainly not a problem specific to the OM-D; we have seen it before, even with very expensive SLR cameras.

In the continuous mode, in our lab with a class 4 memory card, the OM-D MK2 made 11 pictures in 1.5 seconds; that is more than 7 fps. In RAW, that was as much as it could do. In JPEG large/fine, the camera took the first 11 pictures just as fast as in RAW, but thereafter 6 shots in 1.5 seconds. If the camera had to re-focus in between, then it took a bit longer. With a super-fast card, the Olympus can undoubtedly score better; the manual mentions 8.5 fps.

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A classifc portrait with a classic camera. Low light, ISO 6400, lit with the built-in flash.

Shutter

The camera has a slit shutter that runs from Time and Bulb up to 1/4000 of a second. There is the option to open the shutter electronically; this limits the camera motion as a result of opening the front curtain (shutter shock). With an SLR, that is a useful option; with a mirrorless camera like this one, it will not make much difference, with a smooth shutter like that of Olympus (great shutter sound!), especially with the refined image stabilization of this model. If you want to work silently, then you can operate the shutter entirely electronically. You do then have to put up with a “rolling shutter” effect. There is a time-lapse option with which the camera takes a picture every so many seconds; you can edit those into a video in 4K format. Those who have seen “The New Wilderness” know what fantastic effects you can achieve with that.

On the photo below is a top view of the camera with the kit lens. When the camera is turned on, the lens automatically slides out; it is then more than twice as long.

OM D E M10 Mark II EZ M1442EZ silver ProductTop 001

Lenses

For this camera, Olympus delivers 17 different lenses: fixed focus, zooms and macro lenses. The great thing about the (micro) four thirds (FT) format and lens mount is that it is an “open” system, so not brand-bound. Other camera manufacturers thus also offer lenses (in particular Panasonic) that will fit. The subject of this test report uses the micro four-thirds (MFT) system, that is to say that the distance from mount to sensor is smaller than the “classic” FT. With an adaptor, the “classic” FT lenses will also fit on MFT cameras. That makes the selection of lenses even greater. In addition, there are adapters available that link the Full-Frame lenses of big brands to the MFT bodies. On the Hoge Veluwe at the rutting of the red deer, we recently saw a couple of photographers who had linked 300 mm lenses of Canon and Nikon to an Olympus MFT body; you then have a 600 mm for a manageable amount, whereas you would otherwise have to put down ten grand for it. Olympus also delivers telephoto and wide-angle conversion lenses. We have not tested them, but the optical quality is usually disappointing in comparison with a dedicated telephoto lens.

Screen and viewfinder

The electronic viewfinder of the Olympus OM-D E-M10 MK2 (can they not come up with a simpler naming system?) is really beautiful; it has 2.4 million image points and is fast. When you turn the camera, the image follows almost immediately. It also adjusts very fast to changing lighting conditions. For shots in the semi-dark, you get an image with daylight quality. Not SLR can copy that. Such a viewfinder can, as far as we’re concerned, not yet beat the direct image of an SLR, but it comes close. The LCD screen counts 1 million image pixels. In comparison with the rear viewfinder, that is worrisome, certainly outdoors with a lot of light. There are a great many options for the information that you want to see in the viewfinder, from a completely clean image to an image with all the important camera settings plus a histogram.

Resolution and image quality


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Resolution, color reproduction and dynamic range of this camera are the same as those of the Olympus OM-D E-M 10. The ISO range runs up to 25,600. That is not spectacularly high, but for 99% of photographers, it is more than they will ever need. The shot above is made at the highest ISO setting and enlarged to 100% in Photoshop without further noise reduction. If you turn on the in-camera noise reduction, then the noise disappears, but the detailing also decreases. Here you thus pay the price for the otherwise obvious advantages of a small camera and a small sensor. APS-C cameras have a larger sensor, as a rule show less noise, and have a larger ISO range. If you stay away from the highes ISOs (let’s say 6400 and higher), then the image quality is very good and this Olympus can measure up well to most APS-C bodies.

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A practice shot where you can test out the resolution and the lens quality due to all those small details. 1/30 at f/8, ISO 1600.

Connectivity

With the built-in Wi-Fi, you make contact with your smartphone. You can then operate it remotely to a certain degree. You can also add the GPS data from your phone that way to the image files. This appears—probably to keep the life of the battery as high as possible—to be the trend: built-in Wi-Fi, but no GPS. NFC is even easier, where you can make contact by placing the camera and the telephone next to each other, but this Olympus does not (yet) have that.

Video

Of course this camera can also film; there is even a good amount of attention paid to it. There are thus various film formats; the highest quality is 1080p/60 fps. You can also make a short video with lower resolution at 120 fps for a slow-motion shot. What is unique is that the extremely effective image stabilization also works while filming. You can also use a number of photo effects during filming. The auto focus, on the other hand, does not work while recording a video.

Conclusion Olympus OM-D E-M10 MK2 review

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Amateur
Year:2015
Overall score:7.3
Resolution:6.5
Dynamic Range:8.0
Noise:8.0
Color:9.9
Whitebalance:5.5
Megapixels:16
Sensor:M43
Sensor magn.:0.62
fps:0
Weight (gram):390
MSRP NL (Euro):599

 

Pros

  • Good image quality
  • Beautiful and solidly built
  • Fantastic image stabilization, also for video
  • Big lens selection

Cons

  • Menu is very extensive and therefore also complicated
  • Screen does not rotate
  • Not inexpensive

The Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mk2 is a beautiful, small camera with classic looks that stand out with good image stabilization and lots of special effects, scenes and settings options.

Photographers who are looking for a more luxurious starter or have a bit extra to spend in the current market. The Olympus OM-D E-M10 MK2 is an attractive candidate for these photographers, not only due to its compact dimensions: the luxurious finish, good image quality and the extensive options all make this an attractive camera.
If you are charmed by this Olympus, but the list price (€ 599 for the body and € 799 for the 14-42 mm EZ Pancake kit) is an obstacle, then its predecessor, the Olympus OM-D E-M10, is certainly worthy of consideration. The build and image quality—but not the image stabilization—are more or less equivalent. The older version is around 100 euros less.

Jop Steenhof de Jong
Author: Jop Steenhof de Jong
Photography has been a hobby of mine for many years. For me, it's about the joy of creating. I like to find and share knowledge in depth topics again. After years of having fun with contributions made to the Dutch magazine "Camera Magazine", I test now with at least as much pleasure for CameraStuffReview.

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