CAMERAS Olympus OMD EM10 Review

Olympus OMD EM10 Review

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Olympus OMD EM10 Review

Home CAMERAS Olympus OMD EM10 Review

Olympus OMD EM10 Review: Olympus announces OM-D E-M10 as OM-D starter model: Little sister for OM-D E-M1 and E-M5

With the OM-D E-M10, Olympus announces the most compact mirrorless system camera under the OM-D flag to date. At the same time, it represents the new entry-level model without the buyer having to do without a high-quality metal housing or a good picture quality. In many respects, the E-M10 even outperforms its big sister, the E-M5, but as an entry-level model, it also has to leave springs slightly behind. As the first OM-D, it also has a built-in pop-up flash unit.

The Olympus OM-D E-M10 is the most compact OM-D so far. Due to the missing accessory connection, its viewfinder hump is somewhat flatter than on the E-M5. [Photo: Olympus]

Short evaluation

Pros

  • Very good operation thanks to two control wheels and many freely assignable keys
  • Very compact, high quality processed and very well equipped camera with slim pancake zoom
  • Built-in WLAN with remote control, remote triggering and image transmission via app
  • Very good image quality at better DSLR level

Cons

  • Specified serial frame rate will be undercut by around 20 percent
  • No image transfer via WLAN directly to a PC
  • No external microphone input and no manual audio level control in video mode
  • Panorama images are not stitched together in the camera

 

With the OM-D E-M10 entry-level model coming onto the market these days, Olympus is expanding the OM-D series downwards. Without wanting to do without good equipment, image quality, workmanship or operation, the mirrorless system camera with a price of almost 600 euros without lens (800 with set zoom) is intended to open up new clientele in the area of upscale entry-level interchangeable lens cameras. The OM-D series is thus also poaching for the first time in a price region that was previously reserved for the Pen series. In contrast to a Pen, the OM-D E-M10 can score with a built-in viewfinder.

The Olympus OM-D E-M10 is the first OM-D with a built-in pop-up flash. However, the buyer has to do without the splash water protection despite the high quality metal housing. [Photo: Olympus]

The Olympus OM-D E-M10 not only has a 7.5 cm screen with 1.04 million pixels resolution, but also a large electronic viewfinder with 1.44 million pixels and a short delay of just 0.007 seconds. [Photo: Olympus]

Especially with the new 14-42 mm EZ, the Olympus OM-D E-M10 is very compact. [Photo: Olympus]

The Olympus OM-D E-M10 will also be available completely in black. [Photo: Olympus]

The Olympus E-M10 is the most compact OM-D to date by eliminating the need for an accessory connection between the viewfinder and the flash shoe. Since Olympus regards the OM-D series as a high-quality camera series, however, the buyer does not have to do without the design or the metal housing. However, in contrast to its sister models E-M5 and E-M1, the E-M10 has no splash water protection. Otherwise, the E-M10 of the E-M5 is strikingly similar from the case, but also inherits a few equipment details of the top model E-M1. The E-M10 combines the 16 megapixel live MOS image sensor of the E-M5 with the powerful TruePic VII image processor of the E-M1. In particular, Fine Detail II technology improves image quality by compensating for lens weaknesses at the edge of the image or diffraction when the aperture is closed. The image processor should also suppress moiré effects, as the E-M10 doesn’t have a resolution-reducing low-pass filter in front of the sensor, which normally suppresses the moirés. The fast image processor also provides a continuous shooting rate of eight frames per second, videos can be taken in full HD resolution at 30 frames per second, while it is still possible to shoot at full resolution, but only in 16:9 aspect ratio. The fast 81-point autofocus with Fast AF technology is also built in.

The Olympus OM-D E-M10 combines the 16 megapixel live MOS sensor of the OM-D E-M5 with the powerful TruePic VII image processor of the OM-D E-M1. [Photo: Olympus]

In contrast to the E-M1, the E-M10 works with “only” three axes (horizontal, vertical and rotation), but according to CIPA’s standard measuring procedure still allows 3.5 EV steps longer exposure times than without an image stabilizer. The E-M10 of the E-M5 and E-M1 is ahead of the built-in pop-up flash, which can also be used to control external system flash units wirelessly. In addition, the E-M10 has a built-in WLAN module that not only allows wireless image transmission to smartphones or PCs, for example, but also remote control of the smartphone, including live image transmission, as well as a completely new pure remote triggering function. In contrast to the remote control, the camera can still be operated directly, only the release is analog to a cable remote release, only wireless, from the smartphone.

Also new on the OM-D E-M10 is a second HDR function. Instead of combining three to seven different exposed photos into one, Bulb long time exposure works in an HDR mode where only the dark area of the image is further exposed. The E-M10 also has the Live-Bulb function, where you can watch the brightening exposure live on the camera monitor. Of course, there are also various bracketing functions for exposure, white balance, etc.. IAuto, scene modes and the well-known art filters are also included, but the user can also set the exposure classically in the programs P, A, S and M partially or completely manually. Two rotating wheels are available for this purpose, so that two parameters can be adjusted directly and independently of each other. There are also freely assignable Fn keys and a quick menu. The E-M1’s Creative Control function is also on board, allowing you to quickly adjust focus, sound and colour in real time using the control dials.

The rear 7.5cm screen has a resolution of 1.04 million pixels and folds up and down. The electronic viewfinder even achieves a resolution of 1.44 million pixels. New is the extremely short delay of only 0.007 seconds, which comes very close to a real-time finder.

Since mid-February 2014, the Olympus OM-D E-M10 is available in either silver-black or black for just under EUR 600. The set with the new M.Zuiko Digital 14-42 mm 1:3.5-5.6 EZ costs with 800 EUR exactly 200 Euro surcharge. The lens is black or silver to match the camera. Matching the E-M10, there is an optional handle that slightly increases the handle of the E-M10. Thanks to a quick release function, the battery of the camera can be changed without issues.

Ergonomics and workmanship

The Olympus OM-D E-M10 is beautifully compact, solid and with a weight of almost 400 grams (500 grams with lens) of high quality, heavy to handle. The well processed case is made of metal and plastic. In the case of the silver-black variant used in the test, it can be simplified: All silver is metal, all black is high-quality plastic. Unlike the OM-D E-M1 and E-M5, however, the E-M10 does not have splash water protection. The E-M10 is very similar to its bigger sister E-M5, but the keys of the E-M10 have a crisp pressure point and are not as spongy as those of the E-M5. The E-M10 is generously covered with a pleasant non-slip, grained rubber. It has only a flat handle, but this offers enough grip, especially as the thumb recess on the back is very pronounced. But if you like to have your big hand filled with a huge handle and if you also want your little finger to have something to touch, the E-M10 is not a good choice, it is built on compactness to take up little space in the photo bag. As a remedy, Olympus offers a functionless additional handle that noticeably expands the handle. To make the proportions of a classic DSLR clear: In a camera bag (Tamrac 5400), into which a DSLR such as the Nikon D5300 with set lens and if necessary a Pancake fixed focal length fits, we were able to store the OM-D E-M10 with five lenses (the two zooms 14-42 EZ and 9-18 mm as well as the three fixed focal lengths 17, 45 and 75 mm, all F1.8) and two spare batteries. The entire filled bag weighed just 1,570 grams.

In contrast to the previous OM-D models, the E-M10 uses the smaller battery of the Pen series (BLS-5), so that the battery range of 320 images according to the CIPA standard is not generous, so a replacement battery is recommended. Those who have been Olympus customers for some time will be pleased that we were able to successfully use the BLS-1 battery of the Olympus E-420 in the OM-D E-M10. By the way, the E-M10 comes with an external charger. Like the SD memory card (SDHC and SDXC are also supported), the battery is inserted from below. The battery compartment lid also has a lead-through for a power supply cable, so the E-M10 can also be powered externally via the battery dummy. The tripod thread is made of metal and sits in the optical axis, the placement near the bayonet makes the combination with lens on the tripod even pleasantly balanced. Due to the compact dimensions, however, only a very small tripod plate allows access to the battery and memory card compartment. The E-M10 has further interfaces on the handle side, instead of a flap a large hard rubber cover is used. The USB interface has a manufacturer-specific socket, the battery cannot be charged via this socket. Alternatively, a remote release cable or an AV cable can be connected here. The E-M10 also has an HDMI interface, which only works for image reproduction. External Live View is only available via AV cable in correspondingly lower quality. The accessory connection underneath the flash shoe is missing, so no external viewfinder or the PENPAL for wireless picture transmission can be connected, the E-M10 has both built in anyway. However, as an E-M10 owner you have to do without the microphone connection adapter and the LED macro lights.

Compared to the larger sister model E-M5, there is practically no loss in operation. In addition to the program selector wheel, the E-M10 offers two dials that are not available with DSLRs of the same value as the Nikon D5300 or Canon EOS 700D. The rear of the wheels has moved up a bit and can be used even better, it snaps pleasantly full, but not too heavy. The front wheel looks a bit cheaper from the feeling and click noise, but is on a reasonable level. The program selector wheel locks very tightly and thus practically does not accidentally move. Numerous buttons on the E-M10 can be individually assigned to call up the desired functions directly. The Fn2 button, for example, displays two parameters on the screen, which can then be adjusted with the two dials. In addition, you can easily switch between different functions for this Fn2 button without a menu.

On the back, the OM-D E-M10 has a three inch screen in 3:2 aspect ratio with a fine 1.04 million pixels resolution (720 x 480 pixels). It can be swivelled 90 degrees up and about 45 degrees down, practical for ground level or overhead shots. The 3:2 aspect ratio is a good compromise between the native 4:3 aspect ratio of the image sensor and the 16:9 video mode, so the mourning edges on the screen never get too big. By the way, the screen is a touch screen, but the touch function can also be turned off completely if desired. Mainly, the autofocus point can be set free by touching the screen, triggering is also possible. The menus, on the other hand, can only be operated classically using the arrow keys or the setting wheels.

In particular, the “User Menu” of the E-M10 is extremely extensive, but also somewhat confusing. The camera can really be configured very extensively, as it is hardly possible with a competitor model. Even the light meter can be configured, for example. Once the camera has been adapted to your own needs, however, the menu is rarely used, especially as the E-M10 offers two different quick menus. One displays the parameters on the screen wheels, the other transparently covers the entire screen, but displays more parameters at a glance and can also be operated with a finger.

In addition, the E-M10 has four individual program memories in which predefined parameters are stored. These can then even be placed on the program selector wheel and overwrite another desired function there, such as the Art filter or the iAuto mode. The 1.44 million pixel (800 x 600 pixels) high resolution viewfinder is 4:3 and offers a clear, large image, it is pleasant to work with, even if eyeglass wearers can’t see the viewfinder image completely because of the higher eye distance. Distance detection automatically switches to the viewfinder when you approach with your eye. Practical tip: If the screen is folded down, the eye sensor is automatically deactivated so that the screen is no longer inadvertently deactivated if, for example, you put your finger in front of the sensor.

Equipment

As you can see from the extensive menu, the Olympus OM-D E-M10 is very extensively equipped. In addition to the intelligent automatic function, which adjusts the shooting parameters to the subject, it also offers selectable subject programs and, with the Art filters, many effect filters for those who neither want to configure the camera extensively nor edit the images on the PC to great effect. Depending on the mode, it is possible to adjust certain parameters. The art filters, for example, allow an exposure correction, also the aperture exposure time pair can be changed (program shift). In the intelligent automatic mode, on the other hand, the user changes the color saturation, brightness or background sharpness so that he does not have to know any technical terms such as aperture or exposure time, but can work intuitively. Manual focus or continuous shooting, for example, can also be activated. The panorama mode, on the other hand, is not particularly successful, as it can neither take a panorama in one pan nor compose several individual images. Not even a section of the previous image is displayed transparently in order to get the seam to the next image as good as possible.

The user can unfold considerably more creative possibilities in the programs P, A, S and M, because significantly more parameters can be adjusted here. The exposure correction, for example, allows a range of +/- 5 EV, while the exposure preview including the live histogram only adjusts to the correct exposure in a narrow range, so that the live image always remains visible. By the way, it is a shame that digital spirit levels, histograms, light/shadow warnings and recording parameters can only be displayed optionally and not simultaneously. Bracketing allows not only bracketing, but also flash, white balance, art filter and ISO bracketing, but must be called from the main menu or via a pre-configurable key function, the quick menu lacks the option. This also applies to HDR recording series. These allow a considerably greater spread of the exposures than the normal exposure bracketing function. In addition to two automatic modes for an optional natural or exaggerated HDR effect, there is also a mode that does not automatically calculate the images. For three and five images, the exposure distance of the shots may be up to 3 EV, for seven shots, a maximum of 2 EV is possible, so the total spread reaches 14 to 15 EV at maximum!

The white balance can also be configured very extensively. The automatic mode works either in a colour-neutral mode, which also masters artificial light situations well, or in a warm tone mode, in which the warm colour mood is better preserved, for example with incandescent light, but the images are then more reddish with warm light sources. In addition, there are numerous white balance presets, four individual memories, a manual color temperature selection and also a biaxial fine correction. Further possibilities are offered by the color designer, which allows the change of hue and saturation by means of the adjustment wheels. The tone curve can also be adjusted in the lights and shadows. Even the adjustment possibilities of the sensitivity and its automatic can be seen. The ISO automatic can be limited to the upper limit, and you can also choose whether the camera operates in full ISO levels or in one-third levels. Even in manual mode, ISO auto can be used to adjust the exposure despite the fixed aperture and exposure time.

Regarding exposure: The E-M10 not only offers the classic multi-field, center-weighted and spot metering, but also spot metering on highlights or shadows, so that you can be sure that important parts of the image are not eroded or drowned out, depending on what the subject requires.

The continuous shooting mode “High” allows up to eight frames per second according to the menu, but in our measurement the OM-D E-M10 only achieved 6.2 frames per second (fps). This speed will last for 29 JPEG or 14 raw images before the speed drops to 2.8 fps (JPEG) or 1.6 fps (raw). However, if you want automatic focus tracking, which is only available in “Low” continuous shooting mode, the Olympus only records a maximum of 3.5 frames per second. The values for the serial frame rates can also be set. In addition, the E-M10 has a self-timer with different lead times, and the anti-shock function is a kind of mirror lock-up, except that the E-M10 of course has no mirror. Since it has to close the shutter before exposure, this process is then set in motion an adjustable time before exposure, so that the set delay before the exposure no longer has a live image, but the shocks are minimized. The E-M10 also has an interval function.

Although the Olympus OM-D E-M10 offers a lot of adjustment possibilities, the video function is a bit more economical. The refresh rate is set to 30 fps, offering three resolutions in two file formats: MOV with H.264 compression in two compression levels each for Full HD (1,920 x 1-080) and HD (1,280 x 720) and Motion JPEG in HD and VGA (640 x 480). An external microphone cannot be connected, the internal stereo microphone only has an automatic level control, even if this can be corrected up and down. After all, there is a wind noise filter with various stages. Unfortunately, the HDMI output is not supplied with a signal during a recording. The E-M10 can be credited with the fact that practically all other shooting parameters and functions (ISO, exposure time, aperture, white balance, focus tracking, image stabilizer, etc.) are available. The video image stabilizer as a combination of mechanical and electronic stabilizer works extremely effectively, the video image almost looks like nailed down. However, the mechanical stabilizer causes a quiet noise and the image trimming of the 4:3 sensor in 16:9 plus reserve for the image stabilizer is with a factor of about 1.2 also not to be despised, the 14-42 mm set lens, which corresponds to a 35mm equivalent of 28-82 millimeters in photography, becomes about a 34-100 mm. In addition to the dedicated video mode with all setting options, the video button, which can also be assigned other functions, allows constant video recording readiness. The disadvantage of the button is, however, that unlike the video mode, the actual image section only becomes visible on the program selector wheel after it has been pressed. By the way, the focus tracking system works with the MSC-powered Olympus lenses in a whisper-quiet manner. The video quality is remarkable in dim lighting conditions, while at night there is virtually no noise when street lights are lit.

In contrast to its two larger sister models, the Olympus OM-D E-M10 has an integrated flash unit. If you want to use it, you have to unlock the flash manually. Once opened, the auto mode, fill-in flash, long-time sync, and end-of-exposure flash are available. In addition, the flash output can be corrected and even flash bracketing allows the E-M10. Flashes can also be used for serial shots, but this reduces the rate of serial shots depending on the required flash output and the associated recharging time. With a guide number of 5.8, the flash is not particularly powerful, but with the basic sensitivity of the OM-D of ISO 200, the guide number increases to 8.2. With the 14-42mm set lens, the corners of the image are visibly shadowed at 14 millimetres when the flash is used, but with a soft gradient. A shadow cast through the lens, on the other hand, prevents the flash from being sufficiently far away from the lens. The TTL system flash shoe can be used to connect Olympus and compatible system flashes (e.g. from Panasonic or Metz). The internal flash is particularly useful as a control unit for TTL wireless flashes, so you can create beautiful illuminations of motifs with one or two system flashes using wireless flashes. Three groups on four channels are supported, the individual flashes can be controlled completely via the camera menu.

The OM-D E-M10 has a built-in WLAN module that works exclusively with the appropriate app on a smartphone or tablet. A wireless image transmission to the PC is therefore not directly possible. The WLAN connection is automatically configured via a QR code to be scanned, a smart solution. From the smartphone, numerous recording parameters can be set, the remote control mode offers a live image and, of course, a trigger function. A new option is to use the smartphone as a pure wireless remote trigger, so that the camera can still be operated directly. Another positive thing to mention is that the app can load the images from the camera in full resolution. Another clever solution is the option of being able to compile an order of pictures to be sent on the camera beforehand. In a special WLAN connection mode that is activated on the camera, the connected smartphone then only sees the previously selected recordings, so you can withhold certain private photos from friends from the memory card and only share the images you want to share via WLAN.

Another special mode of the Olympus OM-D E-M10 worth mentioning is Live-Bulb or Live-Time. The current exposure status is constantly displayed on the screen during the long time exposure, so that you can finish the exposure appropriately. In Live-Bulb, the shutter-release button must be held down, in Live-Time, it is pressed once at the beginning of the exposure and the second press of the shutter-release button terminates the exposure. Of course, the live preview can also be switched off. A new feature is Live-Composite, which only adds new image parts to the image, allowing for example long shots with star tracks without overexposing the rest of the subject. In playback mode, the E-M10 also offers numerous image processing functions for both JPEG from and raw shots, the latter can be developed into JPEGs thanks to the integrated raw converter in the camera, and numerous parameters can be set.

Lens

The Olympus OM-D E-M10 belongs to the Micro Four Thirds (MFT) system, for which there is currently the most extensive selection of lenses among the mirrorless camera systems. This is also due to the cooperation with Panasonic, the Lumix G lenses are fully compatible, the lens offers of the manufacturers partly complement each other quite well. Even Sigma offers a few matching lenses. In addition, there are some suppliers of manually focusable lenses as well as the possibility to adapt lenses, the small back focal distance makes it possible. Lenses with Four Thirds connection work even almost without restrictions, only the autofocus is then a little sluggish. With the in-house MFT lenses, however, the E-M10 has a rapid autofocus, especially if they have the quiet MSC drive. With the 14-42mm EZ set lens, it takes less than 0.2 seconds from pressing the shutter button to taking the picture. That makes practically every DSLR look pale to me. The contrast autofocus system from Olympus is currently one of the fastest on the market. The pure shutter release delay of 0.05 seconds for pre-focusing is also very good. The C-AF also works quite reliably and the tracking function precisely follows a selected subject. Only with serial shots the hit rate is not quite as good, here phase autofocus systems still have the advantage, as they not only distinguish sharpness and blur, but also in which direction and how far the sharpness is missed.

Also exciting is the eye autofocus, which works in conjunction with face recognition. Here the focus is not only on the face, but the eyes are recognized. The menu allows the user to choose whether to focus on the left eye, the right eye or the eye closest to the camera. Even with a shallow depth of field and an open aperture, precisely focused portrait shots are possible. However, the E-M10 can also be focused very well manually. It offers a focus magnifier with different zoom levels, the image section can be selected from the entire image field. If desired, the magnifying glass automatically starts as soon as the sharpening ring is rotated. In addition, the Peaking function helps to find the focus plane by highlighting contrast edges in the sharp area. In S-AF+MF mode, the user has the option of correcting the autofocus afterwards. Of course, this works particularly well if you separate the focusing from the shutter release function and focus on the screen with the AEL/AFL button or with a fingertip.

 

With the supplied set lens M.Zuiko Digital 14-42 mm 3.5-5.6 ED EZ (28-84 mm corresponding to 35mm) Olympus has achieved a true masterpiece. The pancake zoom is just 2.2 centimetres slim when switched off. The two-piece tube extends by about 2.5 centimetres when switched on. However, zooming is purely electronic, the zoom ring is designed as a rocker, so it is not turned further and further in the classic way, but swings back to the zero position by the spring mechanism. The ring allows two zoom speeds, and the speed at which the lens zooms can be set separately in the menu for the photo and video functions. The focal length is displayed on the screen with millimetre precision as long as you zoom or press the shutter release button halfway; this practical display also works with all other lenses. If you want, you can even control the zoom with the camera keys, but unfortunately you can’t put the zoom control on the front dial, because then the camera could even be operated with one hand (zoom and shutter release). Maybe an idea for Olympus for future firmware updates. By the way, the electronic zoom also has the advantage for remote control via app that it can also be controlled via it. In addition, the lens has a focus ring. If you wish, you can purchase an automatically opening lid as an accessory, only the connection of a sun visor is not intended. The 37 mm filter thread allows the connection of small, inexpensive filters. Since the lens has an internal focus, the front lens does not rotate and does not move back and forth during focusing. Only when zooming does the lens length change slightly.

The Olympus OM-D E-M10 features a three-axis image stabilizer that detects camera tilt up/down, left/right, and rotation. This can also be observed very well, if you look into the bayonet without a lens attached and press the shutter release halfway, then the image stabilizer starts its work with a slight noise and the sensor is moved magnetically to stabilize the image. When switched off, the sensor rattles around in its frame a bit, but this is constructive and therefore no cause for concern. This means that the E-M10 is missing two axes, namely the measurement of the camera displacements up/down and left/right. However, these movements are mainly relevant at close range, which is why the three-axis image stabilizer according to the CIPA standard allows 3.5 f-stops longer exposure times than without stabilizer, only half an f-stop less than the 5-axis stabilizer of the E-M5 and E-M1. Already in the live image you can see how effectively the stabilizer works, as soon as you press the shutter release button halfway, it starts its work and the image seems to be nailed down. The stabilizer can even detect if you are currently panning (e.g. with a puller) and then stabilizes only the real blur. However, corresponding dragging modes can also be selected manually. In the test, the image stabilizer did its job very reliably, even while riding a bicycle, for example, and the resulting one-handed camera posture.

Picture quality

In laboratory tests, the E-M10 shows a high signal-to-noise ratio at ISO 100 and 200, an acceptable one up to ISO 1,600, above that the limit of 35 dB is fallen below, so that the noise disturbs the image signal more and more. Especially with ISO12.800 and 25.600, the signal-to-noise ratio is very low at less than 30 dB.

The normal ISO working range is between ISO 200 and 3,200, ISO 100 is marked as “Low” for the OM-D E-M10, ISO 6,400 and higher as “ISO extension”, but these are still set as concrete numerical values. Like other manufacturers, Olympus thus shows in which sensitivity range good image quality can be expected. The granularity of the noise is quite fine with about two pixels and inconspicuous on a size of 20 x 30 cm, only the red channel shows slightly higher values, sometimes about 0.5 pixels on average above the blue and green channels. While the brightness noise is hardly visible up to ISO 3.200, the measurement curve rises more strongly at the higher sensitivities, so that the noise becomes more visible. The Olympus suppresses color noise somewhat more rigorously, but at ISO 12.800 and 25.600 it can still be easily seen. Despite the strong noise reduction, the E-M10 manages to maintain the texture of fine details very well over a wide sensitivity range. Up to ISO 3.200 the measurement shows no texture loss, after that the measurement curve sinks steeper, but only from ISO 12.800 the textures become visibly softer. These outstanding measured values sometimes make even the APS-C competition look old, Olympus really does an excellent job with JPEG image processing.

The input dynamics are also very good in the range from ISO 200 to ISO 3,200 with eleven and more EV levels, even the 10.3 f-stops at ISO 100 and 6,400 are impressive, the 9.3 f-stops at ISO 12,800 and 8.7 f-stops at ISO 25,600 are also anything but bad. The E-M10’s offensive image processing is evident in the tonal value transfer, because, with the exception of ISO 100, it is very steep, and midtones in particular are reproduced with high contrast. In addition there is a clear image sharpening, which however already leads to quite high sharpness artifacts. The tendency is quite clear: Those who want to have pictures as finished as possible and have little desire for image processing, switch to JPEG, those who want to intensively process the pictures should rather fall back on the raw data format. Or you switch to Raw+JPEG and you have both. The output tonal range decreases continuously from initially almost perfect values with increasing sensitivity. At ISO 100, practically 256 of 256 possible brightness values are distinguished, up to ISO 400 there are very good over 224 gradations, up to ISO 1,600 there are good over 160 gradations. Up to ISO 6.400 the tonal range remains acceptable, above that it drops below 96 brightness levels. The color range is also good, from ISO 100 to 1,600 it is four to eight million colors, at ISO 3,200 it is still a good over two million. Only at ISO 12,800 and 25,600 are there only one million colors left, still an acceptable value. While manual white balance is extremely accurate, color fidelity may vary. On average, however, the Olympus is very color-accurate, essentially red tones are reproduced somewhat more strongly saturated, while green-yellow and yellow appear somewhat paler.

In terms of image quality, the 14-42mm does quite well for a set lens. The sharpness is always very good from the centre to the edge of the picture with all apertures and focal lengths for 20 x 30 centimetre prints. The edge darkening with a maximum of one aperture step is not particularly high, especially as it shows a very soft gradient. Starting from F8, the edge darkening is practically no longer visible with only a half f-stop. By the way, an optional edge shadow correction can be added to the E-M10, but it was deactivated in the factory settings and thus during the laboratory test. Distortion can only be measured in the wide angle position, but at just over one percent of a ton, it is pleasingly low. The lens is distortion-free at medium and long focal lengths. However, these good measured values suggest that the distortion is corrected by the camera. Color fringes play practically no role with on average less than half a pixel, only at the outermost edge of the image they can appear somewhat stronger in the wide angle. The resolution at 50 percent edge contrast (MTF50) is very good in wide-angle and at medium focal length in the center of the image, even with the aperture open, and scratches at the mark of 50 line pairs per millimeter (lp/mm) corresponding to 35mm. In the telescopic position the lens is softer and increases its resolution when dipping down, while in the wide-angle position diffraction reduces the resolution slightly. On the other hand, the resolution in the telescopic position at the edge of the image is similarly high as in the image center, while in the wide-angle position there is a high edge drop of up to 40 percent. This is clearly visible with image magnifications, but is still below the 50 percent resolution loss of the Panasonic 12-32 mm Pancake zoom, which Panasonic delivers with the Lumix DMC-GM1. Considering the compact dimensions, the Olympus 14-42 mm EZ achieves a respectable performance and doesn’t need to hide behind the set lenses of other manufacturers anyway.

Even in practice, the images are convincing with their high sharpness, good contrasts, richness of detail and beautiful colors, the automatic white balance works very reliably. Up to ISO 1.600 you can use the E-M10 without any problems and get a very good image quality, ISO 3.200 is still good, ISO 6.400 acceptable. ISO 12.800 and 25.600, on the other hand, should only be used in emergencies, where the image quality suffers visibly. All in all, the Olympus is on the mid-range DSLR level and can even put some cameras with an APS-C sensor in the bag.

Bottom line

With the OM-D E-M10, Olympus is doing everything right and bringing an all-round well-equipped camera with top image quality at an attractive price to the market. The E-M10 is super processed and can be optimally operated thanks to numerous, often configurable knobs as well as two adjustment wheels. Due to its compact dimensions, it may be too small for some, but the optional handle can help here. The extremely slim pancake zoom is also a success. The extensive equipment leaves nothing to be desired, even WiFi offers it and for the first time with a pure remote trigger function as with a classic wireless remote control. In addition, the OM-D E-M10 is very fast, focusing and releasing in less than 0.2 seconds. Although it did not achieve the eight frames per second specified in the test, the almost 6.2 frames per second are also impressive. Overall, the OM-D E-M10 has many strengths and only minor weaknesses, but above all its image quality is impressive and can even compete with better DSLRs of the APS-C class.

Olympus OM-D E-M10 with black, green and orange leather: Limited Special Edition

The Olympus OM-D E-M10 is coveted by buyers and is still struggling with tight market availability. If you haven’t been able to get hold of a camera yet, you don’t have to worry, as you now have the chance to buy one of three limited special editions instead for a small extra charge of 50 Euros from July 2014 and thus stand out from the crowd. Technically, the editions are 100 percent identical to the original.

In three limited special editions Olympus intends to launch the OM-D E-M10 in a set with the EZ-M 14-42 mm and matching lens cap as well as leather carrying strap at the beginning of July 2014 at a price of almost 850 EUR. [Photo: Olympus]

Olympus OM-D E-M10 with EZ-M 14-42 mm in the Limited Edition with black cover in reptile design still looks the most inconspicuous of the three special models. [Photo: Olympus]

The orange Limited Edition of the Olympus OM-D E-M10 with EZ-M 14-42 mm immediately catches the eye. [Photo: Olympus]

Somewhat more subtle but still unmistakably unusual is the green version of the limited edition Olympus OM-D E-M10 with EZ-M 14-42 mm. [Photo: Olympus]

Olympus wants to sell the special editions for almost 850 EUR. Matching the camera there is a colored lens cap as well as a coloured leather strap. At first sight the black special edition does not differ from the original, but at a closer look you can see the reptile structure of the leather. The orange version is completely different and stands out from the black body. Somewhat more subtle, but still unmistakably different, is the green version. It is only 50 Euros more expensive than the normal camera set.

Fact sheet

Fact sheet
Manufacturer Olympus
Model OM-D E-M10
Price approx. 800 EUR**
Sensor Resolution 16.1 megapixels
Max. Image resolution 4.608 x 3.456
(aspect ratio) (4:3)
Lens 14-42 mm 3.5-5.6 ED EZ
Filter threads 37 mm
Viewfinder EVF
Disbandment 1.44 million
Field of vision 100 %
Enlargement 1.15 (0.58 cf. with KB)
Diopter compensation -4 to +2 dpt
LCD monitor 3″
Disbandment 1.037.000
rotatable
swivelling yes
as viewfinder yes
Video output AV, HDMI
as viewfinder aV only
Program automation yes
Aperture priority yes
Aperture priority yes
manual exposure yes
BULB long-term exposure yes
Scene modes
Portrait yes
Children/Babies yes
Countryside yes
Macro yes
Sports/Action yes
more 19 otherscene modes available.
Exposure metering Multi-field, Centre-weighted Integral, Spot, Spot Lights, Spot Shadows
Flash yes
Guide number 5.8 (measurement)
Flash connection ISO TTL system flash shoe
Remote release Cable or WLAN
Interval shooting yes
Storage medium SD/SDHC/SDXC
Video mode
Size MOV or AVI
Codec H.264/AVC or Motion JPEG
Resolution (max.) 1.920 x 1.080
at frame rate 30p
Sensitivity
automatic ISO 200-25.600 (upper and lower limit adjustable)
manually ISO 100-25.600
White balance
Automatic yes
Sun yes
Clouds yes
Fluorescent lamp yes
Light bulb yes
Other Shadow, flash, underwater, manual color temperature selection, WB fine correction
Manual yes
Autofocus
Number of measuring fields 81
AF auxiliary light orange
Speed approx. 0.2 s
Languages Yes
more 33 languages are available.
Switch-on time 2,5 s
One-hand operation
(zoom and shutter release)
Weight
(Ready)
approx. 396 g (housing only
)approx. 487 g (with lens**)
Continuous shooting function*
Number of series images 29 (JPEG
)14 (RAW)
Frequency
(frames/s)
6.2 (JPEG
)6.2 (RAW)
Endurance run
(frames/s)
2.8 (JPEG
)1.6 (RAW)
with flash yes
Zoom
Zoom adjustment at lens
Zoom levels continuously variable
Time WW to Tele 2,1 s
Memory speeds*
JPEG 1,3 s (7,0 MByte)
RAW 1.6 s (14.1 MByte)
Triggering during
.Save as possible.
yes
Battery life approx. 320 images (according to CIPA)
– = “not applicable” or “not available
“* with SanDisk 8 GByte Extreme III 30 MB/s Edition Class 10 SDHC memory card
** with lens Olympus 14-42 mm 3.5-5.6 ED EZ

Short evaluation

Pros

  • Very good operation thanks to two control wheels and many freely assignable keys
  • Very compact, high quality processed and very well equipped camera with slim pancake zoom
  • Built-in WLAN with remote control, remote triggering and image transmission via app
  • Very good image quality at better DSLR level

Cons

  • Specified serial frame rate will be undercut by around 20 percent
  • No image transfer via WLAN directly to a PC
  • No external microphone input and no manual audio level control in video mode
  • Panorama images are not stitched together in the camera

Olympus OM-D E-M10 Datasheet

Electronics

Sensor CMOS sensor 4/3″ 17.3 x 13.0 mm (crop factor 2.0
)17.2 megapixels (physical) and 16.1 megapixels (effective)
Pixel pitch 3.7 µm
Photo resolution
5.184 x 2.920 pixels (16:9)
4.608 x 3.456 pixels (4:3)
4.608 x 3.072 Pixel (3:2)
4.608 x 2.592 pixels (16:9)
3.456 x 3.456 pixels (1:1)
3.216 x 2.144 pixels (3:2)
3.200 x 2.400 pixels (4:3)
2.400 x 2.400 pixels (1:1)
1.296 x 864 pixels (3:2)
1.280 x 960 pixels (4:3)
1.280 x 720 pixels (16:9)
960 x 960 pixels (1:1)
Picture formats JPG, RAW
Color depth 24 bits (8 bits per color channel), 36 bits (12 bits per color channel)
Metadata Exif (version 2.3; mpo (3d)), DCF standard
Video resolution
1.920 x 1.080 (16:9) 30 p
1.280 x 720 (16:9) 30 p
640 x 480 (4:3) 30 p
Video format
MOV (Codec Motion JPEG)
MOV (Codec H.264)
Audio format (video) WAV

Lens

Lens mount
Micro Four Thirds

Focusing

Autofocus mode Contrast autofocus with 81 measuring fields
Autofocus Functions Single autofocus, Continuous autofocus, Area autofocus, Manual, AF Assist Light, Focus Peaking, Focus Magnifier (10x)
Focus control Live view

Viewfinder and Monitor

Monitor 3.0″ TFT LCD monitor with 1,037,000 pixels, tiltable, with touch screen
Video viewfinder Video viewfinder (100 % field coverage) with 1,440,000 pixels, diopter compensation (-4.0 to 2.0 dpt)

Exposure

Exposure metering Center-weighted integral measurement, matrix/multi-field measurement over 324 fields, spot measurement
Exposure times 1/4,000 to 60 s (Auto
)Bulb with maximum 1,800 s exposure time
Exposure control Program automatic, Aperture automatic, Time automatic, Manual
Bracketing function Bracket function with maximum 5 shots, step size from 1/3 to 3 EV, HDR function
Exposure compensation -5.0 to +5.0 EV
Sensitivity to light ISO automatic 25.300ISO
manual 25.300
Remote access Remote control via Smartphone/Tablet
Scene modes various scene modes, landscape, night scene, sunset, sports/action, 14 additional scene modes
Picture effects HDR effects, pinhole camera, blur, pale and light color, dramatic sound, grainy film, model building, pop art, SW filter (R/G/B/O)
White balance Sun, Shadow, Underwater, Fluorescent lamp, Incandescent, Manual
Color space Adobe RGB, sRGB
Continuous shooting Continuous shooting function max. 8.0 fps at highest resolution and max. 20 stored photos
Self-timer Self-timer at intervals of 2 s, special features: or 10 s (optional)

Flashgun

Flash built-in flash (hinged
)Flash shoe: Olympus/Panasonic (also Leica compact camera), standard center contact
Flash number Guide number 8 (ISO 100)
Flash functions Auto, Fill Flash, Flash On, Flash Off, High Speed Sync, Slow Sync, Red-Eye Reduction

Equipment

Image stabilizer Sensor shift (optical)
Memory
SD
Internal memory yes
GPS function GPS external (Smartphone as GPS-Logger)
Microphone Stereo
Power supply no power supply connection
Power supply 1 x Olympus BLS-5 (lithium ion (Li-Ion), 7.2 V, 1,150 mAh
)320 images according to CIPA standard
Playback Functions Image index
Voice memo Voice memo (WAV format)
Picture parameters Sharpness, contrast
Special functions Orientation sensor, Live View
Ports Data interfaces: USBUSB type
:USB 2.0 High SpeedWLAN
: available
AV connectors AV output: HDMI output Micro (Type D)
Tripod socket 1/4″ in optical axis
Features and Miscellaneous TruePic VII
magnesium alloy
image processor housingSensor shift over 3 axes3D spirit level800 AF metering pointswith magnified viewing modeFocus PeakingEyeDetect AF (side prioritization)Predictive AFISO exposure series
(3 shots 1/3.) 2/3 or 1 EV)
Shadow brighteningHDR bracketing
with 7 images /- 2 EV multiple exposures
2 images (shooting) or 3 images (post processing)
Bulb mode up to max.

30 minutesWhite-balance bracketing
(3 frames /- 4 levels)
Warm colors maintained (white balance)
Sharpness, contrast and saturation adjustable in five levelsVideo effects
(cross-developmentModel buildingDramatic

toneTender
sepiaGrained
filmKey
LineLight
tintBlue

Size and weight

Dimensions W x H x D 119 x 82 x 56 mm
Weight 396 g (ready for operation)

Other

included accessories Olympus BLS-5 Special BatteryChargerBattery chargerUSB connection cableRiser strapImage editing software

Olympus Viewer for Windows and Macintosh

optional accessory Olympus FC-WR (Radio Control Unit) Flash AccessoriesOlympus
FL-700WR Attachable Flash with Swivel ReflectorPanasonic
Leica DG Vario-Summilux 10-25 mm 1.7 (H-X1025) Zoom Lens
Peter Dench
Peter Dench
I am Peter Dench. Digital Photographer, born in London 1972, currently living in Deerfield, near Chicago. I have numerous photography expositions and also working in model photography. In this website, PhotoPoint, I usually review cameras provided by local dealers in Illinois and by the manufacturers. Sometimes I, Peter Dench, review lenses too, but only when I have a suitable camera for them. Please let me know in the comments if I can improve any of these articles.

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