For beginner photographers and videographers, the Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark IV is still the best choice among the Olympus / OM System range of mirrorless cameras. It’s lightweight, intuitive to use, and produces crisp, punchy images with its Four Thirds sensor. It’s unquestionably one of the best Olympus/OM System cameras. Until OM System comes out with an OM-10, it will remain one of the primary options to anyone looking for an affordable, entry-level mirrorless camera.
A history lesson for those who don’t know – at the start of 2021, the Olympus brand officially ceased producing cameras, and was reborn as OM System following its sale to OM Digital solutions. This was a great relief to many photographers who had been worried about the future of Olympus, as these clever little cameras have long had a dedicated fanbase.
They are lightweight, portable and full of smart computational tricks to expand users’ shooting options. For years, the system maintained three separate lines – at the top, the E-M1 cameras, which were the pro-level flagships. Then in the middle, the E-M5 cameras, which were pitched at enthusiasts. And finally, the E-M10 models for beginners.
Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark IV At a glance:
- $699/£559 body only, available in black or silver
- $799/£739 with M.Zuiko Digital ED 14-42mm f/3.5-5.6 EZ lens
- 20MP Four Thirds sensor
- ISO 200-6400, ISO 80-25,600 (extended)
- Up to 15 frames per second shooting
- 121-point contrast-detect AF
- 5-axis in-body stabilisation
- 4K 30fps video recording
Since the move to OM System, we’ve seen the OM System ‘Olympus’ OM-1 replacing the E-M1 line, and the travel-friendly OM System OM-5 arrive for enthusiasts. But there’s no sign of an OM-10 yet, so for the time being, the Olympsu OM-D E-M10 Mark IV is a new user’s best bet for entering the system. While entry-level rivals tend to have larger APS-C sensor, the E-M10 Mark IV has a few advantages of its own. It’s cheaper than the Fujifilm X-T30 Mark II, and has 5-axis stabilisation where the Canon EOS R100 and Nikon Z50 do not.
The previous model in this line was, as you might expect, the OM-D E-M10 Mark III. It’s an excellent camera that scored high points in our review, and is still worth looking at on the second hand market. The Mark IV version, however, adds a raft of sensible upgrades that make it unquestionably the superior choice if you have the budget to spare. For one, the sensor resolution has been upped to 20MP from 16MP on the previous versions, and this gives the user more latitude for printing and cropping into images.
That pixel count might sound a little low compared to the sky-high resolution of the latest cameras like the 40.2MP Fujifilm X-T5, but realistically, 20MP is plenty for most people. The E-M10 Mark IV also gains a flip-down screen for vlogging and the ability to connect wirelessly via Bluetooth. It’s still pleasingly lightweight, meaning it pairs well with the best Micro Four Thirds lenses – remember that the E-M10 can use Olympus, OM System and Panasonic MFT lenses interchangeably, as it’s all the same lens mount. Burst speeds have been upped, and the handgrip has been reworked for a more secure hold.
However, it’s been more than three years now since the E-M10 Mark IV was announced, and time moves fast in the world of cameras. Is the Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark IV still one of the best mirrorless cameras for beginners in 2023? Let’s find out as we put it to the test in our full Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark IV review…
Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark IV: Features
The E-M10 IV is based around a 20MP sensor, which brings it in line with the rest of the OM-D range in terms of resolution, as well as subsequent OM-System cameras. Paired with the TruePic VIII processor, it provides a sensitivity range of ISO 200-6400 as standard, with extended settings equivalent to ISO 80-25,600 also on hand.
However, there’s a key difference between this sensor and those in the higher-end E-M5 and E-M1, as well as the OM-5 and OM-1 cameras that came after. It forgoes on-chip phase detection pixels, relying on contrast detection for autofocus instead. This has little impact if you normally shoot static or slowly moving subjects, but CDAF traditionally fares less well with anything fast or erratic. When the camera was announced, Olympus explained that it had implemented new AF algorithms designed to make the E-M10 IV more competitive in this regard.
Autofocus employs 121 points arranged across almost the entire image area. You can either allow the camera to chose the AF area itself, manually select an individual point, or use a cluster of nine, which can be easier when shooting moving subjects. However, you don’t get the small AF area or larger groupings found in its more advanced siblings. The E-M10 IV also inherited the eye and face detection algorithms from the then-flagship E-M1 Mark III, which work across a wider range of angles compared to previous generations.
Shutter speeds range from 30 seconds to 1/4000sec using the mechanical shutter, or as fast as 1/16,000sec when the silent electronic shutter is employed. Unlike with the previous E-M10 Mark III, the electronic shutter can be used in the more advanced PASM exposure modes, but in standard Olympus fashion it’s confusingly lumped into the drive mode menu where, inexplicably, it’s denoted by a small heart symbol.
As tends to be the case, continuous shooting speeds depend on the shutter mode. Using the electronic shutter, you can shoot at 15 frames per second with focus fixed at the start of the burst, or at 6.3fps with continuous AF; however this comes with a risk of image distortion due to rolling shutter effects.
Switch to the mechanical shutter, and these speeds drop to 8.7fps, or 5fps with AFC. If you expect to be shooting bursts regularly, it’s worth getting a fast UHS-II type SD card: using one, I found I could rattle off at least 27 frames at top speed in raw and JPEG before the camera slowed down. Switch down to a lower shooting speed, and the camera will keep going almost indefinitely.
One of Olympus’s key technologies, and a tradition upheld in the transition to OM-System, has always been its 5-axis in-body image stabilisation, which works with practically any lens you can fit onto the camera, aside perhaps from very long telephotos. The E-M10 IV’s implementation isn’t as powerful as those on its higher-end siblings, but it still promises 4.5 stops benefit when shooting hand-held. This allows you to keep your ISO setting down in low light, offsetting the noise disadvantage of the smaller sensor, or use slow shutter speeds hand-held for creative motion-blur effects.
Switch the mode dial away from the PASM quartet and you’ll find that the E-M10 IV is also packed full of creative options. The auto mode comes with a touchscreen interface that gives a results-oriented approach to changing camera settings, for those who haven’t yet learned the effects of settings such as shutter speed, aperture and white balance.
There’s also an array of scene modes designed to allow beginners to tailor the camera to specific subjects, handily laid out in an attractive touch-based interface. Olympus’s Art Filters provide a wide range of image-processing looks, and are sufficiently tasteful that I’d actually consider using them, which isn’t always the case with other brands.
Select the AP, or Advanced Photography mode, and you’ll find another interesting set of options, several of which are unique to Olympus. Live Time allows you to watch long exposures develop in real time, taking the guesswork out of what is often an unpredictable process, while Live Composite allows you to build up light trails without overexposing the background. Keystone Compensation enables in-camera corrections of converging verticals, previewed live onscreen. You also get panoramic, silent and multi-exposure modes to play with.
Turning our attention to video, the camera can record 4K video at 30fps, or Full HD at up to 60fps. Olympus’s in-body image stabilisation does a good job of keeping hand-held footage steady, and can be supplemented by additional electronic stabilisation, at the expense of a slight field-of-view crop. It’s worth bearing in mind, though, that unlike the majority of its peers, there’s no microphone socket for higher-quality sound.
For smartphone connectivity, Olympus has added Bluetooth as well as Wi-Fi. This simplifies the initial setup in the companions app (formerly Olympus Image Share App, now OM Image Share), and in principle enables you to connect to the camera to browse through your image files even when it’s switched off and stored away in a bag. You also get two forms of remote release, one basic and the other with live view and extensive remote control of camera settings. Note, however, that there’s no other form of remote release.
How to connect your Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark IV to your smartphone
It’s a fairly simple matter to connect your E-M10 Mark IV to a smartphone via the OM Image Share (OI.Share), and it’s well worth taking the time to get it set up when you first get the camera. Download the app to your smartphone – it’s available for iPhone and Android, so just navigate to your regular app store. Once this is done, the app itself provide the steps needed to set everything up – but really it’s as simple as pressing the Wi-Fi button on your camera, then scanning the QR code that appears on the screen.
Once set up, you can use the app for Live View and remote triggering the shutter, as well as adding filters, adjusting images and more. As the E-M10 is a newer camera relatively speaking, you have the option of both Bluetooth and Wi-Fi connections. Bluetooth is quicker to set up and less power-intensive, but Wi-Fi is faster and more stable, meaning it’s a good choice for batch-transferring large numbers of images.
For a complete run-down of how to get your Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark IV connected, see our full guide to Olympus OI Share: connecting your Olympus camera to your phone.
Olympus E-M10 IV: Focal points
- Selfie screen: The screen can fold down to face forwards underneath the camera, as on Olympus’s PEN E-PL models, engaging a well-designed selfie assist mode in the process
- USB charge: The BLS-50 battery is rated for 360 shots per charge, and can now be topped up in-camera using the Micro USB port
- Ports: A flap on the handgrip reveals the HDMI and Micro USB ports. But you won’t find remote release, microphone or headphone sockets.
- Bluetooth: Wi-Fi and Bluetooth are both built in, providing smartphone connectivity via the Olympus Image Share app for Android or iOS
- Flash: A tiny built-in flash pops up from the front of the viewfinder housing, and is released by pulling the power switch forward
- Shortcut button: Pressing this button calls up an onscreen menu tailored to each exposure mode, giving quick access to key options
Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark IV: Build and handling
Since the beginning, Olympus’s OM-D range has been designed to pay homage to the firm’s considerable film heritage, with an attractive retro design that resembles its old 35mm film SLRs. This model looks almost exactly the same as its predecessor, just with ‘IV’ picked out in silver on the front of its body. All of the buttons and dials are in the same places, and have the same labels and functions. The result is a charismatic, tactile little camera.
While the first two E-M10s employed metal body shells, the Mark IV follows its predecessor in being mostly constructed of plastic; indeed at 383g, it’s even lighter. This might disappoint users of those older models who’d like to upgrade to the 20MP sensor, but it’s no different to its clearest rivals such as the Nikon Z50, Panasonic Lumix G100 or Canon EOS R100. Coupled with the compact, retractable 14-42mm kit zoom, it’s extremely compact and portable.
One significant change that won’t appear in any spec sheet-based comparison is the redesigned grip, which has a more sculpted profile that provides extra space for your fourth and little fingers to wrap around. This has a remarkably positive effect on the camera’s handling, and combined with the prominent thumb hook it makes the Mark IV surprisingly comfortable to carry one-handed, which can’t always be said for cameras this small. It also makes the camera unusually secure when it’s held in selfie mode.
Thanks to a good array of external controls, including twin control dials under forefinger and thumb, the Mark IV handles unusually well for its class. Everything falls sensibly to hand, and the most important settings generally have their own control. For everything else, pressing a button on the camera’s left shoulder brings up onscreen control panels that are tailored for each exposure mode, and which can mostly (if not always) be operated intuitively by touch.
To set the focus area, you’re expected to use the touchscreen, even when shooting through the viewfinder. I’m not usually a big fan of this approach, but I find it works well on the E-M10 IV. Alternatively, press the left key to activate focus area selection, and then use the d-pad.
Another change Olympus made compared to older E-M10 models is to simplify the menus, stripping out many of the more obscure settings and significantly reducing scope for customisation. You can re-assign the top-plate buttons that are given over to autofocus/autoexposure lock, video recording and the 2x digital zoom, but only from a small list of options. I set the latter to engage magnified view, to aid with achieving precise focus. Like most other cameras at this level, there’s no facility to save custom camera setups for quick recall.
One drawback relative to the best of its peers lies with the touchscreen interface. While this supports the most important functions such as selecting the focus area and browsing images in playback, you can’t use it to work through the menus, or change options using the onscreen control panels in the PASM modes. In this respect, it feels like a half-finished job.
Olympus E-M10 IV: Viewfinder and screen
When it comes to composing images, the Mark IV employs essentially the same hardware as its predecessors. Its 2.36m-dot electronic viewfinder provides 0.62x magnification, which is pretty much standard at this price point. It previews colour and white balance, along with image brightness across a range covering -3 to +2 stops. Depth of field can be previewed, if you require, by assigning it to a top-plate button. There’s plenty of status information available, along with handy shooting aids such as a dual-axis electronic level and live histogram.
One major change, though, comes with the redesign of the rear screen, which can now be flipped down 180° to face forwards beneath the cameras for selfies. This was long a staple of the film’s simpler PEN cameras, so it’s a surprise Olympus took so long to add it to the E-M10 line. When the screen is in this position the camera engages a selfie assist mode, with onscreen shutter, video and exposure compensation buttons, with the option to engage a three-shot self-timer. It’s a well thought-out system that works very nicely. However the fold-down screen isn’t such a great design for vlogging, as it gets blocked if you place the camera on a tripod.
Olympus E-M10 IV: Autofocus
Unlike most of its peers, the E-M10 IV is solely reliant on contrast detection for autofocus. While some might have you believe that this makes the camera unusable, the reality is that it only matters when shooting fast-moving subjects. The rest of the time, its autofocus is easily up to the task. Indeed with static subjects, it’ll focus unerringly accurately in the blink of an eye, no matter where in the frame your subject may be.
When the camera is confronted with a moving subject, the continuous AF works quite well, in practice. I found that when shooting relatively predictable subjects such as oncoming vehicles, the camera had no trouble maintaining focus while shooting at 5fps. Its hit-rate was rather lower with the more erratic motion of wildlife, but with persistence you’ll still get usable images.
One the trade-off for using contrast detection is that the viewfinder blackout time between frames during bursts is noticeably longer compared to PDAF-equipped cameras, which hinders following moving subjects. As usual for Olympus, you also have to remember to select the low shooting speeds to get continuous AF, along with live view between frames. Select high-speed shooting instead and only the first frame is likely to be in focus – if that.
Face- and eye-detection has become an increasingly important selling point for cameras, and it works pretty well on the E-M10 IV. It’s capable of understanding faces across a good range of angles, from front-on to near-profile, and at a good range of distances. Again it can handle relatively gentle subject movement with no problem, but it’s not going to be the best option for shooting energetic, erratic children.
Olympus E-M10 IV: Performance
In practical use, the E-M10 IV is a well-behaved, responsive camera that’s a joy to use. With the 14-42mm f/3.5-5.6 EZ kit zoom, it takes a second or so to set itself for shooting when you flick the power on, but much of this is down to the lens extending into position. With other lenses, it’s ready to go almost immediately. During use, it responds instantly to both the physical controls and the touchscreen.
The camera’s automated systems work very well. Olympus has historically done a great job with metering, auto white balance and colour rendition, and they all come together again here to give consistently attractive JPEG output. It’s also easy to judge in the viewfinder when you might want to lighten or darken an image for aesthetic effect, and apply the requisite level of exposure compensation.
While it has to be understood that the Four Thirds sensor doesn’t give as good raw image quality compared to APS-C competitors, the 20MP resolution is still more than enough for an A3+ print. At low ISO settings you can pull two or three stops of detail from the shadows when processing raw files, and while you’ll see higher levels of noise at any given ISO compared to its APS-C peers, I’d still be perfectly happy shooting at sensitivities as high as ISO 6400.
As usual, Olympus’s in-body stabilisation works extremely well, and you’ll rarely find that an image has been spoiled by camera shake. Unsurprisingly it doesn’t hit the heights achieved by its more expensive siblings, the E-M5 III and E-M1 III, but I was able to get consistently sharp images at shutter speeds down to about 0.8 seconds using the kit zoom towards the middle of its range. As a result, I was able to keep shooting at ISO 200 well after dusk, when I’d have had to start boosting the sensitivity on most other cameras.
Olympus’s 14-42mm f/3.5-5.6 EZ kit lens is a decent performer, giving sharp images across its full zoom range, along with decent close-up performance. Its slimline design – just 23mm thin when retracted – also makes it a great match to the camera’s design ethos. Its zoom response is unusually well judged for an electronic design too, enabling precise composition with little fuss. However its 28-85mm equivalent range is little uninspiring compared to the 24mm wideangles now provided by most other brands.
Olympus E-M10 IV: ISO and noise
Olympus used this 20MP Four Thirds sensor in its various forms for several years prior to the release of the E-M10 Mark IV, so it was and is pretty much a known quantity. The E-M10 Mark IV doesn’t throw up any great surprises, either good or bad. Low ISO images show good detail, with noise only starting to impact the image quality visibly at about ISO 800 and above. I’d still happily shoot at up to ISO 6400 if necessary, but would avoid the extended higher settings if possible. Olympus’s default JPEG processing strongly prioritises noise reduction over detail retention, but this can be tamed by turning down the Noise Filter setting. Naturally, you’ll get the very best results by processing raw.
Olympus E-M10 IV: Verdict
At first glance, it might have been easy to dismiss the Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark IV as a pretty minor update. Even at the time, there were other entry-level models boasting more sophisticated autofocus systems and vlogger-friendly features, and the number has only increased as the years have advanced. One might be tempted to dismiss this camera as an also-ran but that would be a huge error, because in this case, the whole is rather more than the sum of its parts. Just like its predecessor, it’s a lovely little camera that’s a joy to use and delivers great pictures.
Indeed the E-M10 IV has plenty to recommend it compared to its competitors. It may not have the Sony A6100’s exceptional autofocus, but it’s vastly more pleasant to use. Beginners should find it as easy to use as the Canon EOS M50 Mark II or Canon EOS R50, but its twin-dial design provides a significant advantage for those who’d like to take more control. It’s as attractively designed as the Fujifilm X-T30 Mark II, but has none of the operational hang-ups that mar the experience of using that camera, and is also cheaper to buy.
Crucially, it provides access to a large range of small, light and relatively affordable lenses, and its in-body stabilisation will work with every single one. This is a particular advantage of Micro Four Thirds that to our mind goes often overlooked, particularly when it comes to travel photography. See our piece on why Micro Four Thirds offers something no-one else can for more detail on this.
Ironically, though, one group of potential buyers that the Mark IV probably won’t satisfy is expert E-M10 II owners looking to upgrade to a 20MP sensor. Olympus has stripped away a lot of features in the meantime, and produced a rather different camera. Presumably the firm would prefer these users to buy an E-M5 III or even an OM System OM-5. Overall though, the baby OM-D again becomes one of our top picks for budding photographers looking to buy their first ‘serious’ camera.
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