It’s Different, But Still the Same: Olympus EM10 IV First Impressions

The EM10 IV features some new technology to the product line, but old technology to Olympus in a familiar body.

The Olympus EM10 IV is the first camera to be launched since the announcement of Olympus’s impending sale to the Japanese investment firm, JIP. The OM-D EM10 line has always been the entry point into Olympus’s OM-D cameras, and because of this, the EM10 series has always been an affordable and cheerful camera that newcomers, and those who value size and weight savings, flock to. The Olympus EM10 IV, though, packs some performance upgrades over previous versions of this camera that some might get excited about. We haven’t had long enough with the camera to offer a full review (yet), but we have learned enough to form our first impressions. Join us after the break to see what we have discovered.

Note: This is by no means our full review. This post represents our first impressions of the Olympus EM10 IV and should not be considered a full review.

Tech Specs

The full list of technical specifications has come directly from the information shared by Olympus.

  • 20.3 Megapixel sensor
  • TruePic VIII image processing engine
  • Charges over USB
  • 5 axis IBIS which provides 4.5 stops
  • Contrast only AF with a re-worked algorithm for C-AF, which makes tracking easier
  • 121 AF points
  • 15 FPS with electronic shutter 8.7 FPS with mechanical
  • 1/4000 max shutter
  • Flip down screen for selfies and vlogging
  • New one-touch advanced mode for Live comp
  • One-touch portrait added to auto mode
  • New panorama mode
  • Silent shooting across all modes
  • New instant film filter
  • 4k video
  • Enhanced eye and face detect
  • Includes Bluetooth for better connectivity with Olympus share app
  • Wireless Olympus flash compatible
  • 2.36million dot EVF
  • Weighs 383g (0.84lbs)

Gear Used

We used the Olympus EM10 IV with the Olympus M Zuiko ED 14-42mm f3.5-5.6 EZ lens.

Ergonomics

Olympus EM10 IV

The Olympus E-M10 IV is the smallest of the OM-D cameras. The EM10 IV is about 2 inches shorter in length than my iPhone 11 Pro Max, so that should give you some indication of the length of this camera. At first glance, you might think you’re looking at the EM10 II or the EM10 III. If it wasn’t for the IV symbol located in the bottom right corner, and the new grip with its slight finger indent, you really wouldn’t be able to tell the difference; in fact, I picked up my E-M10 II several times thinking it was the E-M10 IV.

The camera looks great, though, so why change it up entirely if it isn’t broken. The retro styling of this camera will surely turn some heads, and that’s not something that can be said about a lot of cameras today. There’s not much going on on the front. In fact, all you’ll find is the lens release button.

Olympus EM10 IV

Flip around to the back of the camera and, yep, it looks the same as the EM10 II and EM10 III. Like most cameras, the rear of the EM10 IV is dominated by the 3-inch LCD touchscreen. Right above the screen, you’ll see the 2.36 million dot EVF. To the right of the screen, you’ll see the directional D-Pad, delete, playback, menu, and info buttons.

Olympus EM10 IV

The top of the EM10 IV looks just like the…okay, we get it, not much has changed from previous models. The good thing is that Olympus’s retro styling continues here. To the left of the EVF is the on/off switch, which also controls the pop-up flash. There’s also a button that allows you to play around with the built-in filters or allows access to the super menu. To the right of the EVF, you’ll spot the main mode dial, dedicated aperture and shutter speed dials, a magnification button and a record button. Everything is nicely spaced out here, which makes it easy to use.

The extra good news: if you’re still a fan of what the original OMD EM5 was, this is the closest you’ll probably get to it.

“The retro styling of this camera will surely turn some heads, and that’s not something that can be said about a lot of cameras today.”

Olympus EM10 IV

The right-hand side of the camera houses the micro HDMI port, and the micro USB connector (that’s right, no USB-C here). The left-hand side of the camera is featureless, so you’re not going to get any headphone or microphone jacks. The SD card slots into the battery compartment, which, of course, is located on the bottom of the camera.

From an ergonomics standpoint, not much has changed with the Olympus EM10 IV from previous versions. The control layout will be familiar to anyone who has used these cameras before, and newcomers will find it easy to maneuver around the camera. The significant change here is with the grip. The grip feels slightly deeper compared to previous models, and the finger indent isn’t just a gimmick. The dent is positioned just right, so your finger naturally falls there, and it does enable you to get a better grip on things overall.

Build Quality

Olympus EM10 IV

Let’s get down to it here. The Olympus EM10 IV is an entry-level camera, and you can honestly feel that in the build quality. While it’s not bad, it’s not exactly great either. The whole body is made from plastic, but it will be adequate for the market that this camera is aimed at. You’ll be able to toss it in a bag or a pocket, and it will be fine, but it’s not built to withstand being used as a workhorse camera.

The dials on top of the camera are made from some type of metal, and they do feel nice, as do the controls around the back. The D-Pad and other buttons on the rear are plastic, like almost every other camera out there, but they do have a nice clicky feel to them, and they provide solid feedback. Keep in mind that there is no weather sealing in this camera, so you cannot use it out in the rain or snow, for example. I’m interested to see how the camera holds up during my testing period. Still, my first impression is that it will be fine for photographers who are at a beginner and enthusiast levels.

“Keep in mind that there is no weather sealing in this camera, so you cannot use it out in the rain or snow, for example.”

Ease of Use

Olympus EM10 IV

Being an Olympus shooter myself it has been easy for me to pick the camera up and go at it, but for the newcomer to the Olympus system, this camera will be a little overwhelming, which is a shame as it is aimed at first-time camera owners. Let’s get the bad out of the way first. The Olympus EM10 IV features the same old convoluted menu system which can be a chore to get through. It’s not user friendly at all and is by far the camera’s weakest link.

Apart from the menu system, I have to say my first impressions of the camera are good. The camera feels better in hand compared to previous editions thanks to the new grip, and the flip-down screen will appeal to selfie lovers and vloggers.

Olympus EM10 IV

The 5-axis IBIS and the EVF make it easy to use this camera in challenging lighting conditions, though don’t expect wonders, it’s still just 2.36 million dots in resolution. New photographers will appreciate scene modes, which help make taking images of people, nightscapes, motion, scenery, indoors, and macro easier. The advanced photo modes make using live composition and live exposure easier than ever before too, (it’s just one push of a button), so that’s a welcome change as well. As for battery life, it’s unremarkable. After a morning photo walk and 117 shots, I was down to 50% battery, so I would expect about 250 shots per charge. I will keep an eye on this for the full review.

These are just a few of the features that I will pay closer attention to during our review period. It is nice to see Olympus trying to make things slightly easier for the newcomer. The Olympus EM10 IV has left a good first impression on me, but as I mentioned before, there are many more things for me to test out properly before I give a final verdict.

Autofocus

Olympus EM10 IV

The autofocus systems in previous EM10 cameras have left a lot to be desired because it is contrast-detect only. However, Olympus claims it has improved the AF algorithms for the Olympus EM10 IV. In general, the AF performance is snappy in good lighting conditions, but I have noticed some hunting in low light, low contrast scenarios. I have, however, witnessed significant improvements when it comes to tracking, and this is where Olympus claims to have improved things compared to previous models.

I have done some tests with continuous autofocus and tracking, and I can say that the performance is much improved over the EM10 II, which I own. Here is a sequence of my dog charging at me. The Olympus EM10 IV didn’t miss a beat. I have also tried out eye and face autofocus too, and I have to say I am quite impressed to see it working quite well in lower light scenarios. I need to do much more in terms of testing, but so far the signs are good for improved autofocus performance.

Image Quality

Olympus EM10 IV

The Olympus EM10 IV now features the tried and true 20MP sensor from Olympus. This sensor can be found in the E-M5, the E-M1 III, and the E-M1X. This sensor represents a bump up from the 16MP sensor, which can be found in older editions of this camera and the Pen E-PL10. The images I have made so far are nice and detailed, and the image processor seems to do a great job at rendering JPEGS. I still need to do a lot of testing at various ISO’s and in more challenging scenes so that I can check dynamic range performance too. Still, so far, I would say that anyone who picks up this camera, especially those coming from a smartphone, will be more than happy with the images.

Below you will find JPEG images that are straight out of the camera. I expect most who purchase this camera will mainly use JPEGS, so that was my thinking behind this for the first impressions. I will, of course, be testing RAW files and their versatility in our full review.

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First Impressions

Olympus EM10 IV

So far, the Olympus EM10 IV has proven itself to be a fun little camera to grab and take on photo walks. The autofocus system does seem to be snappier compared to previous editions of this camera, and I can see the difference between images from the 20MP sensor in this camera and the 16MP sensor that can be found in cameras like the Pen E-PL10, the EM10 III, and EM10 II; the JPEG output is really quite nice. The little divot in the grip makes a huge difference when it comes to how comfortable the camera is to hold as well.

There are still many features I need to try out, and many more tests that need to be carried out before I can give an honest, final verdict on this camera, but so far, it does seem to be a slight step up from the E-M10 III. Still, it’s not a radical departure from the camera that came two generations ago, and this is something that has become an all too familiar theme with Olympus. Be on the lookout for our full review, which will be coming soon.

If you already know that you want to pick up this camera when it hits the streets on September 25th, 2020, you can pre-order one for $699.99 (body only) or for $799.99 with the M Zuiko 14-42mm f3.5-5.6 EZ lens. If you buy the Olympus EM10 IV before November 1, 2020, you can get an Olympus starter kit, including an Olympus camera bag, extra BLS-50 battery, and 32GB SD card (starter kit valued at $99.99).