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Review: Olympus OMD EM10

by Chris Gampat on 03/28/2014

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Olympus OMD EM10 product photos (2 of 7)ISO 4001-60 sec at f - 4.0

As the entry level camera in the OMD lineup of the camera, the OMD EM10 is a camera that many looking to get into the mirrorless world will want to reach for. With some of the fastest focusing performance that we’ve seen from a mirrorless camera and a great JPEG engine output, what more could one ask for?

When Olympus created the EM10, they took a bit of their EM5, EM1, and the EP5 and put it in a budget conscious camera. Indeed, we think that most folks should skip what a sales person will tell you about buying a DSLR and just spring for this camera.

With that said though, it still isn’t the best at everything.

Editor’s Note: 4/8/2014 we’ve updated to include RAW file findings.

Pros and Cons

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Olympus OMD EM10 product photos (7 of 7)ISO 4001-100 sec at f - 3.5

Pros

- Super light

- Fastest focusing of any Micro Four Thirds camera that we’ve tested

- Really small but still comfortable form factor

Cons

- Weird controls with the ISO and white balance; let alone the Fn buttons doing more than one thing

- Consumers will be confused between this and the Pen EP5

Gear Used

We tested the Olympus OMD EM10 with the Olympus 25mm f1.8 and the Voigtlander 17.5mm f0.95.

Tech Specs

Tech specs taken from the B&H Photo listing of the product

  • 16.1MP Live MOS Sensor
  • TruePic VII Image Processor
  • Micro Four Thirds System
  • 1,440k-Dot EVF with 120 fps Refresh Rate
  • 3.0″ 1,037k-Dot Tilting Touchscreen LCD
  • Full HD 1080p Video Recording at 30 fps
  • In-Body 3-Axis Image Stabilization
  • Built-In Wi-Fi Connectivity
  • FAST AF System and 8 fps Shooting
  • Color Creator and Built-In HDR Modes

Ergonomics

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Olympus OMD EM10 product photos (1 of 7)ISO 4001-60 sec at f - 4.0

The Olympus OMD EM10 is an extremely simplified version of any of the other OMD cameras. Being the entry level model, this makes total sense. And when it comes to the ergonomics, it will find a home rightly in the hands of advanced amateurs and the entry level crowd alike.

With that said, the front of the camera is very devoid of controls with the exception of its lens release.

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Olympus OMD EM10 product photos (4 of 7)ISO 4001-60 sec at f - 4.0

Upon viewing the top of the camera, the user will notice some very typical OMD controls. There is the mode dial, the exposure control wheels, shutter release, video record button, and some custom function buttons. Plus there is also a hot shoe. In front of this is a pop-up flash.

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Olympus OMD EM10 product photos (5 of 7)ISO 4001-60 sec at f - 4.0

When you head around to the back of the camera you’ll find more buttons and controls. Most of the real estate space is taken up by the LCD screen which is also touch capable. Then there is the viewfinder, menu button, playback button, and four way controls. It’s very simplistic and won’t confuse most entry level folks–or at least that’s Olympus’s aim to do so.

We don’t believe that folks stepping up to a camera like this will get confused if they take the time to learn the ins and outs of the camera. Otherwise, they’re begging to sit there a fumble.

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Olympus OMD EM10 product photos (6 of 7)ISO 4001-60 sec at f - 4.0

Of course, what would any OMD camera be without a tilting LCD screen? Combined the fact that the screen is touch capable, users will have a lot of fun shooting with the camera in all sorts of positions.

Build Quality

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Olympus OMD EM10 product photos (3 of 7)ISO 4001-60 sec at f - 4.5

Despite being the entry level model of the OMD series, the EM10 feels quite good in the hand. In fact, it feels the most like an old school SLR camera of any of the OMD cameras. Part of this has to do with its small form factor and the emphasis on really using the dials. This is something that may be really loved by the budget conscious crowd that just wants to focus on shooting and nothing more.

Despite how good it feels, it is the only member of the OMD family of products that don’t have weather resistance of any type. With that said, you may not want to take it out into the rain.

Ease of Use

Getting to most of what you want to control is very simple with the OMD EM10. It’s the camera in the family line with the most simplicity to it. Both beginners and advanced users alike will be very happy with the results that they get and the overall user experience. However, Olympus’s menu system may confuse all but the most hardcore Olympus users.

Olympus’s WiFi transmission interface is mostly a breeze to deal with as well sans the fact that it asks you if you want to shut off the camera after each transfer.

Autofocus

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In our tests, we found the Olympus OMD EM10 to consistently focus faster than the OMD EM5 and in most cases just as fast as the OMD EM1. But in some cases, we found it to outperform the flagship camera. This is especially true with the 25mm f1.8. In the case of using the kit lens, we also found the performance to be quite speedy.

For the best and fastest focusing speeds though you’ll need to cozy up to Olympus’s lineup of very good prime lenses.

Metering

In our tests (typical Sunny 16 standard), we found the Olympus OMD EM10 to underexpose by around 1/3 of a stop. This is very typical of the Sony sensor at its heart and honestly not that bad. When we were shooting portraits though, it meant that we needed to spot meter and overexpose by around a full stop.

Image Quality

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At the time of publishing this review, we haven’t found a way to read the RAW files from the OMD EM10. Its release was in January of 2014 and we are publishing this review in the near end of March 2014. We will update our findings once the RAW files can be read.

So far though, we’ve been experimenting with the JPEG output and we really like it. Olympus has always had an excellent JPEG engine and it has only become better over the years. Users that love to shoot and share to the web immediately will be very pleased with this feature.

At the moment though, Fujifilm currently has the best JPEG engine with great colors and very good high ISO output. But we’re positive that most users of the Olympus OMD EM10 may actually be happy enough with the JPEG output if they haven’t had a taste of what RAW can do for them.

In that case, ignorance may be the best kind of bliss.

RAW File Versatility

We will update the findings of this once we can read the RAW files from the OMD EM10. At the moment, Lightroom 5 doesn’t allow for it.

Edit 4/8/2014

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The Olympus OMD EM10 has a very similar sensor to the EM5 and EM1. With that said, a ton of details can be recovered from the RAW files. We found more details naturally able to be obtained from the shadows than the highlights. So with that in mind, we’d recommend that you meter for the highlights.

High ISO Output

Olympus’s JPEG engine does a great job at nerfing ISO noise but gets rid of details. With that said, it would be best to wait for the RAW files to be read. We will update this section accordingly once they can be read.

Edit 4/8/2014

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This is where things got really impressive. The Olympus OMD EM10 has exemplary noise performance at ISO 6400. Sure, it will look grainy, but it isn’t terrible. In fact, only a little bit of nerfing will need to be done in Lightroom. Lots of details are still also kept in the images.

Extra Image Samples

Please keep in mind that at the moment, these samples are just JPEGs.

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Conclusions

While we have yet to test the OMD EM10′s raw file versatility, it is a much better camera than we initially gave it credit for. The JPEG image quality that comes from it is outstanding. But beyond that, this camera focuses like a true speed demon and there is very little that can match it. Olympus purposely crippled the camera in some respects though with giving it a timelapse mode that is pretty useless at 99 frames. Beyond this, there really is nothing bad about it–but Olympus could have at least given it a bit of weather sealing.

Editor’s Correction: it can shoot 999 frames.

Edit 4/8/2014

Now that the RAW files have been tested, we can totally conclude that there is very little reason for anyone trying to get into the mirrorless world to not get the OMD EM10. It’s an excellent camera with kick ass image quality. If you need weather sealing though, then you’ll want to consider other options that are higher up in the line.

Recommended Lenses and Accessories

Olympus EM5 and 25mm f1.8 the phoblographer chris gampat

- Olympus 25mm f1.8- As the system’s budget level standard lens, this is the one that many users will find mated to their camera for a long time.

- Olympus 45mm f1.8- The 25mm f1.8 and the 45mm f1.8 are almost the same lenses. With that said, they give super sharp performance at a budget level price. what more could you want?

- Olympus 17mm f1.8- Olympus’s semi-wide prime is excellent for street photography, but a bit pricy. However, it will go great with this camera’s fast focusing abilities.

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