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Olympus OM-D E-M10: The entry-level OM-D mirrorless camera

Published on May 5, 2014 6:04 AM
 
Olympus OM-D E-M10

The Olympus OM-D E-M1 won the Editor's Choice and Readers' Choice for Best Overall Camera and Best Interchangeable Lens Camera (Micro Four Thirds and below) in this year's Digital Life Awards.

But at $2,948 (with the M.Zuiko ED 12-40mm f/2.8 Pro lens), the flagship device is quite pricey. A cheaper option is the new OM-D E-M10, the entry-level model in the OM-D mirrorless camera series.

Sitting below the mid-range E-M5, it uses the same 16-megapixel Live MOS image sensor and TruPic VII image processor as the E-M5.

The E-M10 has the same 3-inch tiltable touchscreen display as E-M1, but its built-in electronic viewfinder (EVF) has only half the resolution of E-M1's superb EVF. Nor is its plastic body as solid as the magnesium alloy construction of the E-M1.

At first glance, the E-M10 looks a lot like its pricier cousins.

The differences are the following:

  • The mode dial is at the top left, with two metallic control dials squeezed closely together at the top right. This dual dial arrangement lets you quickly change shutter speeds and aperture (in Manual mode).
  • The handy rear lever of the E-M1 and E-M5 is gone. But on the E-M10, you can customise a function button near the shutter release to do the same job of toggling between the functions of two dials. So you can still toggle between shutter/aperture and white balance/ISO, for example.
  • A band of faux leather in front and a sculpted grip with room for all my fingers lets me keep a secure hold on the camera. Overall, the great handling found in the E-M1 is not compromised here.

The review unit came with the new 14-42mm f/3.5-5.6 EZ kit lens, which uses an electronic zoom. The pancake lens protrudes only when the camera is powered up.

With the kit lens on, the E-M10 is just 64mm thick and flat enough to be easily slotted into my usual day pack or weekend messenger bag.

It is faster than most mirrorless cameras. Even when you include the time it takes for its lens to emerge, the E-M10 is ready to shoot within 1.8sec. Shutdown takes 1.2sec, compared to 2sec for most of its rivals.

Despite its entry-level status, it possesses 81 contrast autofocusing (AF) points, the same number as in the E-M1, covering the entire frame for fast AF performance.

Results are really speedy: Immediate AF in bright light; up to 1sec in dim light with the aid of AF assist lighting (versus 2sec for comparable cameras); and no more than 2sec during video recording when zooming to a new scene.

Using an SD card with a writing speed rated at 45MB per second, the E-M10 shot 13 RAW images in 1.6sec before the buffer ran out.

Images are sharp, with crisp details and rich vivid colours. But its noise performance lags behind the E-M1's.

You get image noise artefacts at ISO 800 (ISO1,600 with E-M1). ISO 3,200 shots are still acceptable for Web use, but nothing above that.

Instead of the five-axis image stabiliser found in its higher-end OM-D cousins, the E-M10 uses a three-axis in-body image stabiliser.

Olympus says the camera combines the physical three-axis stabiliser with electronic image stabilisation to prevent the blurring that occurs during video recording when you are on the move. In my tests, the result is as advertised, as long as you are walking at normal pace and not running.

Video quality is quite good. It picks up a fair bit of wind, ambient audio and the sound of the lens zoom. But these are not overwhelming.

Battery life is around 320 frames on a full charge, which is average for mirrorless cameras.

  • If you do not mind the plastic body and want
    intuitive handling and good image quality, the OM-D E-M10 will not disappoint

trevtan@sph.com.sg

Background story

TECH SPECS

Price: $1,248 (with 14-42mm EZ kit lens)

Image sensor: 16-megapixel Micro Four Thirds Live MOS

Screen: 3-inch tiltable touchscreen with 1.037 million dots; built-in electronic viewfinder
with 1.44 million dots

Sensitivity: ISO 100-25,600

Shooting speed: Up to 8 frames per second

Connectivity: Wi-Fi

Weight: 396g (body only, with battery and memory card)


RATING

Features 4/5

Performance 4/5

Value for money 4/5

Battery life 3/5

Overall 4/5