Looking to buy into the Olympus line of interchangeable lens cameras? With three OM-D models currently on the market, there is plenty of choice. First up, the original E-M5 that started off the line in 2012. It was then followed on by the enthusiast-grade E-M1, and now, the baby E-M10 makes its debut.
As demonstrated from the naming convention, the E-M10 is the cheapest of the bunch, delivering many of the same features as the other OM-D cameras in a smaller and lighter body. It's so petite, in fact, that it weighs only 490 grams with the kit 14-42mm lens attached.
Design and features
Just because it's the baby model doesn't mean you scrimp on all the features found in the other cameras. The E-M10 features an all-metal construction and the same twin-dial system as found on the other two OM-D cameras. You do, however, miss out on the weather sealing benefits.
The body is small enough to be confused for a high-end enthusiast compact camera, especially with the new pancake-like 14-42mm lens. Larger hands might find the camera grip a bit small, so there is an optional extra grip that can be attached on to the body. It doesn't give you any extra battery life though, unlike the grips for the other cameras.
Buttons and dials are similarly placed to the older models, which is reassuring if you are thinking of using this as a second body. The mode dial at the top houses all the main controls, including the iAuto mode, full manual PASM options, art filters, scene, movie and framing options. At the rear, the dual control dials give you access to exposure control, though the dial furthest back can be difficult to reach naturally with your thumb when the camera is at your eye, resulting in some awkward nose swipes.
Just because this is the littlest member of the OM-D family, it doesn't mean you miss out on useful features like the dual control dials.
If you are a beginner to the world of ILCs, or just want to let the camera do the work for you, the E-M10 will suit your needs nicely. Leave the camera in the iAuto mode and it will automatically recognise 42 scenes for optimal image capture.
Around the back of the camera is a tilting 3-inch touchscreen. All the regular touch options are available, including focus selection or tapping the screen to take a photo.
Let's move on to some of the internal features now. The E-M10 borrows the same 16-megapixel Live MOS image sensor as the E-M5, except it is now coupled with the newer TruePic VII processor.
The built-in electronic viewfinder (EVF) is no different in size or resolution to that found on the E-M5. However, it does come with a backlight adjustment that automatically detects ambient lighting, and also boasts a 0.007 second latency.
On the image stabilisation front, the E-M10 comes with a 3-axis system rather than the 5-axis system on its more sophisticated sibling cameras. This means that the compensation occurs across the three axes of yaw, pitch and roll. Olympus claims that the system offers 3.5 steps of stabilisation. Because the IS system is in-body, this means that all lenses are automatically stabilised.
Overall the stabilisation system on the E-M10 is effective, but you really do notice the difference of not having a 5-axis system when you come from the E-M1. A photo at a slower shutter speed that would normally turn out shake-free when taken on the E-M5 or E-M1 is definitely not as sharp on the baby camera.
In terms of connectivity, built-in Wi-Fi is included. The Olympus Image Share app (iOS and Android) allows you to control the zoom of the new 14-42mm lens directly from the device's screen. This zoom functionality is also backwards-compatible with the 12-50mm lens. Plus, there are the standard options like transferring photos and videos, as well as remote capture using your tablet or smartphone.
For the first time on the OM-D range, a pop-up flash comes as standard. However, it does come at a price, and that is the lack of accessory port on the E-M10. This means if you want to use other accessories like the macro arm lights or a microphone, you're out of luck. Still, we dare say the target audience for this camera will appreciate the pop-up flash much more than an accessory port. Sync speed for the flash is maintained at 1/250 second.
An example of the macro detail you can achieve with the kit lens.
During video recording, the E-M10 can capture 3200 x 1800 still images in 16:9. On top of regular still capture, the camera comes with the 12 art filters that appear on other Olympus models, which can be combined to achieve up to 150 different effects in total.
Another new feature on the camera is a built-in live composite mode. This lets photographers stack a series of exposures, with only the changes appearing in the composite image. This will be very useful for those working on long exposures, such as capturing images of light trails.
General shooting metrics (in seconds)
- Start-up to first shot
- JPEG shot-to-shot time
- RAW shot-to-shot time
- Shutter lag
Olympus OM-D E-M1
Olympus OM-D E-M5
Olympus OM-D E-M10
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)
Continuous shooting speed (in FPS)
Olympus OM-D E-M1
Olympus OM-D E-M5
Olympus OM-D E-M10
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
The E-M10 can take a burst of 26 JPEG shots on the continuous high speed setting before slowing to process them. It then takes approx 17 seconds to clear the JPEG burst. In RAW, the camera can push out 16 shots, with it also taking 17 seconds to clear the burst. All times are measured on a class 10 SDHC card.
Though AF response time on the E-M10 is excellent, you may notice the camera gets the focus point wrong occasionally. It's the same issue we found on the E-M1 and it usually only happens infrequently in very dim situations — hopefully, it's a fix that can be provided through a firmware update.
If you have ever shot with an OM-D camera before, there will be no big surprises when it comes to the photos produced by the E-M10. Expect vibrant colours on default picture settings and JPEGs. Automatic exposures are generally very accurate, with only a few tricky lighting situations causing the camera to blow out highlights. We only had the 14-42mm lens to test out during our review period, so the experience should closely mirror that of someone who buys the kit configuration of the E-M10.
If you shoot in RAW, there appears to be latitude to bring back highlight and shadow detail. We say this because at the time of writing, only the Olympus Viewer is able to read the camera's RAW files. This will change in time as other products are updated to support the format, but for the time being, the Olympus Viewer only gives very limited control over recovery options. To take a look at the detail in the RAW files, we have had to export the TIFF file from the Olympus software and import it into Lightroom for detail recovery.
On the plus side, there is little discernible difference between the RAW and JPEG output from the E-M10 as you can see in the comparison below. Sharpness straight out of the camera is good, but overall a tiny bit of sharpening can be applied to bring out some more detail. All images that appear in this review are untouched, except where noted.
A comparison of the RAW and JPEG output from the E-M10 with crops inset.
Dynamic range on regular frames from the E-M10 is very good. There is also a built-in HDR mode that blends four exposures together in either a regular or strong effect. However, if you would rather take individual frames and put them together yourself later on, the camera lets you do this with 3, 5 or 7 frame exposures at different exposure values.
As the first OM-D with a built-in pop-up flash, the E-M10 is clearly catered to step-up photographers who want to leave the camera on auto. However, the built-in flash unit doesn't give a particularly natural tone to human subjects and the intensity is not that bright; it has difficulty illuminating the subjects fully when the telephoto end of the 14-42mm lens is used. The flash is fixed in position when it pops up so you can't hold it up for bounce effects.
The E-M10 does a good job of macro work with the kit 14-42mm lens. At the top, the image resized for web and below, the 100 per cent crop.
High ISO performance on the E-M10 is decent. Only when you reach ISO 1600 do you start to get noise that affects detail, but only when inspecting the 100 per cent crop. Images taken at higher ISO levels do display some colour noise and detail smudging, as would be expected.
Video quality is acceptable on the E-M10, though you do have to make some sacrifices because of where this camera is placed in the OM-D lineup. Those sacrifices are primarily down to audio. There's no option to attach an external microphone, as Olympus has done away with the accessory port and there is no 3.5mm jack available. Also, you only get basic audio level controls to boost or reduce the recording volume. Wind noise reduction can be set to low, standard or high.
Overall, the video image is mostly clean, though the continuous autofocus is a little bit twitchy when it is finding a focus point, and when you zoom in using the 14-42mm lens it takes a second or two to re-establish focus again. You do get full exposure control in video mode, plus adjustments to the picture control. There is only 30p recording available.
Click each image for the full-resolution JPEG straight from the E-M10.
The E-M10 will satisfy photographers who are looking for a compact alternative to an SLR at a similar price, as long as you don't need weatherproofing and you are comfortable with a smaller body size. Fortunately you don't miss out on much by choosing the E-M10 over the other cameras. Plus, you get to save some cash for other lenses too.