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Olympus OM-D E-M10: First Look


Olympus OM-D E-M10: First Look

Well, it looks like Olympus will just not let Fujifilm rest in their attempt to conquer the mirrorless camera market – doesn’t it? Because, not long after they announced and released the OM-D E-M1 in their high-end Micro Four Thirds line – which was a long time coming – they’ve now come up with another one, in a much shorter space of time, a rather interesting one at that: the Olympus OM-D E-M10. And today’s post is all about that: my first impressions on what looks like another winner from Oly

The OM-D line represents the premium range of the Micro Four Thirds (m43) cameras from Olympus, and the previous two models (the E-M5 and E-M1) have been very much in keeping with this premium philosophy; and, along with the more affordable PEN series for those who want an Olympus m43 system without busting the bank, Olympus has been able to attract a pretty wide range of customers lately. That’s what you would think, at least. But then there’s always that ‘in-between’ market, the guys that want something high-end without wanting to spend too much, a balance between features and design and cost – something with not quite all the great features of the top-of-the-line product, but with the same great looks, handling, with similar performance, and at a cheaper price point. Make sense? Of course it does. And well, to me, that’s the OM-D E-M10 right there

The E-M10 is Olympus’s entry-level OM-D, if you like. It is placed below the E-M1 and E-M5, based on price, features, and everything, and being a part of the premium OM-D line, it is a step-up from the PEN series for sure. It’s the in-between camera from Olympus. But seriously, don’t let that price fool you – it really looks quite spectacular…even when you dig past the super-cool retro looks

Image from Olympus

Image from Olympus

For starters, it’s got the same (or similar) 16MP Micro Four Thirds CMOS sensor found on the E-M1; it’s got a fast processor, a high-res touchscreen; it comes with a large, fast, high-res electronic viewfinder; it has a built-in flash, something that both previous OM-Ds didn’t have; it features built-in WiFi; it can burst up to 8fps; it has a 3-axis image stabilization system; it features a similar CDAF system to the E-M5, which was fast; and it’s comes in a full metal jacket i.e. the body is all metal. And it’s compact! Did I mention that? All this comes in a body that’s significantly smaller than both previous OM-D models. Impressive

Alright, so it lacks the fancy 5-axis image stabilization system of the other OM-Ds – and its AF system is purely contrast-detect, like the E-M5 and unlike the E-M1. And the body, while metal, is not weather-sealed. But I did say that this sort of product is a balance between features and price, right? A compromise? Yeah. At $699 for the body and $799 for the kit – and after looking through the spec sheet – I’d say this is a fantastic option. Not just for newcomers in the photography world but even for experienced guys – a new backup camera for your E-M1, perhaps?

Pre-order or Buy your OM-D from Amazon —- Pre-order or Buy your OM-D from B&H Photo

Anyway, stick around and read on – I’ll go into more detail in this post, and give you as much as I can on what looks like an awesome new mirrorless camera by Olympus. And you know how I’m going to end up here: If you want to pre-order (or buy when its available) please use my links above, and get it from Amazon or B&H Photo. Thank you!

Specifications You Would Want To Know

  • Body: Compact, SLR-style mirrorless body, all metal
  • Lens Mount: Micro Four Thirds
  • Image Stabilization: Yes, built-in 3-axis image stabilization system
  • Resolution: 16 million pixels
  • Sensor Size: Four Thirds (17.3 x 13mm)
  • Sensor Type: CMOS
  • Shutter Speeds: Max 1/4000 sec, Min 30 sec
  • ISO Range: 200-25600 (expandable to a low of ISO 100)
  • White Balance: Auto, Custom, 7 presets
  • Video: 1080p @ 30fps
  • Video Formats: .MOV/.AVI
  • Metering modes: Center-weighted, Multi-zone, Spot
  • Exposure Modes: P, A, S, M, iAUTO, Scene, Bulb, Time, Underwater, Art Filter
  • Exposure Compensation: +/- 5 EV
  • Built-in Flash: Yes
  • Flash Modes: Auto, Fill-in, Red-eye, Slow Sync, Second Curtain, Slow Sync/Red Eye, TTL Auto
  • Flash Sync: 1/250 sec (with built-in flash) or 1/200 sec (with external flash)
  • Hot-shoe: Yes
  • Autofocus: Contrast Detect AF system (CDAF)
  • AF Modes: Single, Continuous, AF Tracking
  • Number of AF Points: 81 (covering entire frame)
  • Manual Focus: Yes
  • Screen: 3” LCD (1,037,000 dots)
  • Articulation: Tilting – 80° upward, 50° downward
  • Touchscreen: Yes
  • Viewfinder: Yes, electronic
  • Viewfinder Info: 1.4m-dot EVF, 100% coverage, 0.58x magnification, high-speed refresh rate of 120fps with display lag of 0.007 sec
  • Max Drive Speed: 8fps
  • File Formats: JPEG, RAW
  • Connections: USB 2.0, HDMI Micro, WiFi
  • Memory Card Type: SD/SDHC/SDXC
  • Dimensions: 119 x 82 x 46mm
  • Weight: 396g (including batteries/memory card)

NOTE: If you look at those specs closely, you’d realize they’re pretty much all on par with, or better than, the OM-D E-M5; and apart from a very few details, pretty much on par with the E-M1 too

First Thoughts

Well, let’s start off with the body. The design. The looks. Because, let’s face it: a lot of people will be buying it for its premium (and vintage) style. And it does look good, doesn’t it? Pretty much identical to the E-M5, if you ask me. In pictures, I wouldn’t be able to tell the difference; the only way I’d be able to distinguish the two is by physically seeing them, where you can easily notice the E-M10 as it’s quite a bit smaller than the E-M5. But yeah, it looks great

Not only does it look great, it’s an all-metal body. Even Fujifilm’s cameras of the same range, known for their superb build quality, are not built this well. The X-M1 doesn’t come close. Even the X-E1/X-E2 is only partly metal. The E-M10 really shines here. Okay, it’s not weather-sealed like the E-M5/E-M1, but at this price, you’d be crazy to expect a weather-seal

And not only does it look good, and not only is it built really well, the design is fantastic. Just like the other two OM-Ds, the design of the E-M10 is inspired by vintage film SLRs, which gives that gloriously old-school look, and has an excellent user interface, based around twin control dials, as well as the large touchscreen. So its solid, its great to look at, and its functional. Perfect


Next up, let’s talk about the AF system. It doesn’t have the hybrid PDAF/CDAF system of the top-of-the-line E-M5, and you shouldn’t expect that. There has to be some definition between models or else the people who buy the expensive models will feel cheated – and no one else would go for the high-end ones any more. But yeah, it has the same (or similar) CDAF system of the first OM-D, the E-M5. And boy, that was blazing fast. Who cares what you call it as long as it does the job? Until the E-M1 came out, the E-M5 was one of the fastest cameras around in terms of focusing speed – and I’d be surprised if the E-M10 doesn’t do just as well, or better

The viewfinder is another huge plus-point for this camera. The competition, at this price range, lack any sort of viewfinder – and even if they do include one, its probably not as good as this one. The EVF found on the E-M10 is large, it’s got great resolution, and its refresh rate is FAST. I recently discussed the fantastic EVF found on the Fujifilm X-T1, and well…this one looks nearly as good. And it costs half of what the X-T1 does

What else? Yeah, the flash. There’s finally an OM-D that comes with a built-in flash. Not that it was an issue with the other models, since they actually included an external flash for the same price, which a lot of people would call a major plus point; but since the E-M10 is designed to be compact, the built-in flash makes sense, as lugging around an external flash unit is not ideal if you’re keeping things small. Yeah

The rest is a bunch of little features which all combine to make a rather exciting prospect of a camera: 8fps burst shooting, built-in WiFi, 3-axis image stabilization, the high-res touchscreen, a standard hot-shoe, and all that. And it accepts all M.Zuiko lenses, obviously – and with such a good selection of zooms and primes already available, the Olympus system is a good one to get into

If you’re wondering, the EM-10 comes by itself (for $699) or in a kit with the 14-42mm f3.5-5.6 zoom (for $799). This zoom is not the greatest lens in the Zuiko range, and is not quite as good as the standard Fujifilm XF zoom that comes with most X-series cameras, but it’s pretty decent – and if you want something better, you can always just get the body and stick on a better lens – but that’ll cost you

Image from Olympus

Image from Olympus

UPDATE: There was some confusion (to me, at least) as to which 14-42mm zoom lens the OM-D E-M10 comes bundled with. There are two, as you can see in the picture above: both 14-42mm but one is the standard-size zoom lens, which has been around a while, and the other is a new one, a pancake power zoom lens. The newer pancake zoom, identified by the “EZ” in its model number, is being released along with the E-M10, and is sold as a kit with this camera in some markets. As far as I know, in the US, you will get the E-M10 with the regular 14-42mm f3.5-5.6, and in the UK (and possibly many other markets) you will get the E-M10 with the EZ power zoom. So if you’re making the purchase, find out which kit your camera store is selling, and weigh in the pros and cons: the EZ lens is really compact and that’s a huge benefit, but remember that it’s not a manual zoom lens – it’s electronic. The feel will not be as nice. For some people, at least. The manual zoom lens will feel better, or at least it’ll feel ‘normal’ for a camera of this nature, but it’s a lot bigger. Anyway, that’s that

Image quality? I can’t speak about that just yet, but why should we expect any less than what the E-M1 or E-M5 can produce? Those cameras are known for their outstanding image quality. I’m sure it’ll be just as good with the E-M10 too. Or very, very close.  Paired with a better lens than the kit zoom – something like the Zuiko ED 12-40mm f2.8, even if that costs more than the E-M10 itself – the system will take superb pictures. I’m sure of it. Even with the kit lens, I’d say the image quality will be pretty impressive

And yeah, that’s the E-M10 in a nutshell. And I’m really liking it. The only thing I don’t love about it is nothing to do with the E-M10 itself but something I’m not a fan of in all Micro Four Thirds cameras: the smaller-than-APS-C sensor. I mean, the OM-Ds are known for stellar image quality – I just talked about it a few lines above – and this is never going to be an issue here, but there’s something about a larger sensor that is just better, somehow. Comparing sensors of equal quality, the larger sensor always wins, in terms of shallower depth of field, resolution, detail, high ISO noise control, and all that. So yeah, I sometimes wish the OM-Ds would come with an APS-C sensor instead of this Four Thirds stuff; but that’s just me. Don’t let that put you off. I’m sure you’ve seen the images that these cameras can produce. Right? Yeah

Alright. And that’s the Olympus OM-D E-M10. If you’re wondering why I haven’t mentioned the control layout yet – and how awesome it is – that’s because I’m doing that next

Controls & Handling

I’d expect this camera to handle pretty much exactly like the E-M5 does. It should be a pretty similar experience to using the E-M1 too, with its touchscreen and all that. Apart from the fact that it’s smaller – try it out if you have large hands – I think the E-M10 should feel pretty good in hand. I am yet to use one so I can’t say for sure – but based on experiences with both the previous OM-Ds, I’d say handling should be just fine. Especially with this sort of control layout!

Yeah, the controls are just fantastic, as they are on all OM-Ds. Let’s get into it now

On top, on the left of the hot-shoe is the mode dial. On the right of the hot-shoe, you find: the two control dials, the shutter button, the Fn2 button, the movie button; and sort of on a slanted area between the top and back panels (you see what I mean) are two more buttons: Playback and Fn1

Image from Olympus

Image from Olympus

Okay, before I move on to the rear panel, let me explain how these controls, based around the twin control dials, work. It’s quite simple: in either of the Priority modes (aperture/shutter) one dial controls your primary setting (aperture/shutter speed) while the other controls exposure compensation. Switch to manual and you get a dedicated dial for both aperture and shutter speed – and since there’s no exposure compensation in Manual mode, it’s perfect. In Auto modes, I’m not really sure what these do, but shame on you if you buy this camera only to stick to Auto modes!

On top of this, the Fn1/Fn2/Movie buttons can be customized to control one of many settings. And it doesn’t end there: you can also customize one of these three buttons to enable the 2×2 system, similar (though not as comprehensive) to the awesome 2×2 system found on the E-M1. How does this work? Easy: just program either one of the three buttons to adjust ISO&WB. Then, while pressing and holding that customized button, one of the control dials becomes an ISO dial, the other a while balance dial. Let go of the button and the dials go back to doing what they usually do. Easy

And I’m STILL not done with the top panel. Not quite. You see, the Fn2 button, by default, is the Multi Function button. The Fn1 button, by default (if you’re curious) acts as the AE/AF lock. But yeah, the Multi Function button, what’s that about? Well, it’s similar to the Fn button on the Sony RX100. It allows you to quickly access one of five different settings, which you can adjust via the twin dials. These five settings are: Highlight & Shadow Control, Color Creator, ISO & WB, Magnify, Image Aspect. I’m sure you can guess what each one does – I’m guessing here too

Alright, now let’s get to the rear panel. This panel is dominated by the large touchscreen, on the right side of which you will find: Menu, Info, a four-way directional pad with the OK button in the center, as well as the Delete key. Oddly, just by the side of the Delete key is where you find the power switch. Oh, and right next to the EVF is the flash release switch. And that’s about it

Image from Olympus

Image from Olympus

Well, not quite. Out of these controls, two (the Down and Right keys on the directional pad) can be customized. By default, the directional keys control the AF point selection, so if you customize this, you’d have to use the touchscreen to set your AF point, but it’s an option. These two keys can be used together with the twin dials for the same ‘partial 2×2’ system, if you’d rather keep the Fn1/Fn2 buttons as they are

And that’s about it. On the front is the lens release button, and nothing more – and that completes a pretty long look at the controls of the Olympus OM-D E-M10

Check out dpreview if you want more details on the controls of this camera. This is about the best I can do!
 

Performance

Let’s make this section short – by saying that everything about the E-M10 should be really fast! Well, I’ll expand on that a bit, but seriously – it should be pretty snappy in all departments

I already discussed AF performance. With a system very similar to the super-fast CDAF-based OM-D E-M5, why should you expect any less? It’s a much newer camera, even though it’s cheaper – it should be even faster, or at least as fast, and that’s fine for most of us

Burst shooting at 8fps? That’s super-fast. That’s about as fast as anyone would need. DSLR-esque speeds. Buffering, well – that information is not given, and while I don’t think it’ll be as good as the E-M1’s 36 RAW frame buffer, I’d think it should have a pretty decent buffer too

The EVF is very fast. With a regular refresh rate of 60fps and a high refresh rate of 120fps, that’s about as fast as anything on today’s market. Excellent

The processor should keep things like shot-to-shot speed and general performance very quick. Same goes for power-on times etc. Based on the previous models, I’m expecting speed in all departments, and I’m pretty sure I’m going to get it. And yeah, that just about wraps up the performance aspect of this camera

Conclusion

Alright, that’s the Olympus OM-D E-M10. The ‘entry-level’ OM-D, if you can call it that. It’s got an entry-level type of price, but that’s about all that’s basic about this camera. The rest is pretty damn advanced, if you ask me. Quite professional. And very impressive

Yes, it’s got it all, really. Compact, metal body. Classic design. 16 MP CMOS sensor. Fast processor. Quick AF – and I’m not just assuming here. Superb controls, great EVF. Touchscreen. WiFi. Flash. 8fps burst shooting. HD video. All that. And did I mention you can order the kit for just $799. That’s rather insane. Oh, and it’s compact! Yeah, I said that already

Ignore the weather-seal and it’s as good or better than the original OM-D EM-5. Ignore the PDAF bit of the E-M1, and a few other little details, and it’s as good as the E-M1 – or very, very close. And at less than half the price, what’s not to like? I’d suggest you save up and get a better kit lens than the one the E-M10 comes with, and you’re set with a system that’ll take very high-quality images – and last you a long, long time

Pre-order or Buy your OM-D from Amazon —- Pre-order or Buy your OM-D from B&H Photo


Yeah, I like this camera. I like it a lot. It’s got a superb feature set, a great design, a compact body, for a very good price. And I’m done. Leave a comment, if you want to talk more about this. Ask questions, share your thoughts, whatever you feel like. And use the links if pre-ordering (or, in March, when you’re buying) this camera. Thanks for reading pixelogist. Until next time

By Heshan Jayakody
All content in this post is my own except where noted. Images from Olympus
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Discussion

14 Responses to “Olympus OM-D E-M10: First Look”

  1. This IS a good deal, for this price there are few cameras that seem to match up. Are you sure it has built in wifi though? It looks great!!

    Posted by Mario | February 2, 2014, 07:52
  2. I just had a read and noticed your update regarding the lenses. How do you think they will perform in terms of optics? Both look very similar in that sense…focal length, aperture…but maybe in the insides, the new one is better? I don’t mind electronic zoom if the picture quality is better

    Posted by Munks | February 2, 2014, 08:11
    • Hmm, I cannot say that for sure. The regular 14-42mm is a good lens, but it’s nothing fantastic. You could compare it to the Canon EF-S 18-55mm kit lens. That’s why Fujifilm, with its XF 18-55mm f2.8-4 is such a winner, because it’s a lot better than any other ‘kit’ lens out on the market. So I’m expecting the new power zoom by Olympus (the EZ) to be just about the same in terms of image quality. If you really want a high quality lens, buy this camera (body only) and put on a better lens, like the M. Zuiko 12-40 f2.8. It’ll cost you around $1000 for the lens, plus $699 for the body, but pair those two together and you have a fantastic system

      Posted by pixelogist | February 3, 2014, 10:01
  3. Thanks for posting this, I was quiet curious to know about this, coz being very honest, the cheap price got my attention! The OMD cameras are awesome, and this one looks great as well, for half the price! Can something be wrong with it that hasnt been spotted yet?

    And if you were to recommend a lens, which one? Thanks!

    Posted by Flynn | February 2, 2014, 16:54
    • Haha, I don’t know – but I doubt they’d release a camera with anything seriously wrong with it. It’s smaller, it lacks the weather-seal, and some finer details that the expensive models have, but apart from that, it looks fine – and you’re right, it’s a bargain 🙂

      Recommend a lens from the two kit lenses? Well, that would be up to you – optically, I’d say they’re the same. If I were to recommend a lens out of all the Olympus Zuiko lenses, I’d say go for the $999 one – the 12-40mm f2.8. That’s awesome. Expensive, but awesome

      Posted by pixelogist | February 3, 2014, 10:03
  4. I have a DSLR, a Canon 60D, but I want something really more compact. I think this might be what I am looking for. This ‘pancake’ lens is ideal for making it small. What do you say, is it a good option, going from a Canon 60D to this OM-D EM10? With the ‘pancake’ zoom?

    Thanks

    Posted by Gabe Reeves | February 4, 2014, 15:45
    • Hmm, for pure quality, I think the Canon 60D would do a bit better. But this OM-D will be very close, and far more compact, and probably more fun to use. And more fun to use = using it more, which is always good 🙂 And this is a good deal, at this price

      Posted by pixelogist | February 4, 2014, 18:57
  5. Just pre-ordered mine (used ur link!) – looks just what i was waiting for, cheap but OM-D quality! Awseome!

    Posted by Jackie | February 16, 2014, 08:31
  6. Can old G.Zuiko lenses be used with OM-D?

    Posted by Engin | April 11, 2014, 20:20
    • The old Zuiko lenses were made for the Olympus OM SLR system, as opposed to the M.Zuiko which is made for the OM-D (with a Micro Four Thirds mount). You probably knew that! But no, the old Zuiko lens will not work directly – but you could get a OM-to-m43 adapter, which will allow you to use this old lens on the new OM-D system 🙂 Good luck

      Posted by pixelogist | April 12, 2014, 07:14
  7. Great review….. between the OMD EM10 and the Fujifilm XE1, wich would you recommend to a hobbyist? Thanks!

    Posted by Clarence | August 31, 2014, 23:43
    • Thanks, Clarence. I use the X-E1 at the moment, with a couple of lenses, and I love it. And I always prefer the standard (APS-C) mirrorless cameras to the Micro Four Thirds ones, due to the larger sensor etc. Make no mistake, the OM-D line is fantastic, but if I had to pick, I’d go with the Fuji. You’d be best off with the Fuji X-E2 instead of the X-E1, though

      Posted by pixelogist | September 1, 2014, 12:42

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