Following the success of the Olympus OM-D E-M1 and E-M5, it came as no surprise when Olympus showed us the new 16 million-pixel OM-D E-M10 a few weeks ago. Although the new camera is less expensive than the two previous cameras in the OM-D range, it has all of the features you would expect of an Olympus Micro Four Thirds system camera, including a high quality construction.
With the entry-level market a particularly difficult area to crack, Olympus aren’t aiming the E-M10 at first time users. Instead, Olympus sees the new camera as being in direct competition to the Canon EOS 700 D and the Nikon D5300 DSLR cameras, and with good reason.
According to Olympus around 90% of entry-level DSLR users never upgrade from their initial camera or lens, compared with 50% of advanced entry-level users who go on to buy another camera and additional lenses. It is precisely at this user that the Olympus OM-D E-M10 is targeted.
Many of the features of the Olympus OM-D E-M10 have been borrowed from the two more advanced cameras in the range. However, although the OM-D E-M10 uses the same 16 million pixel Four Thirds size CMOS sensor as the OM-D E-M5, it has the same TruPic VII image processing system as the more advanced, E-M1. The camera also has the Fine Detail II engine, that can apply distortion and aberration adjustments to images based on the exact Olympus lens and aperture being used.
One feature that is new is the 1.44 million dot EVF displays a 100% field of view and most impressively has a 120fps refresh rate. At our meeting with Olympus they were keen to demonstrate the speed of the EVF, by showing us a video featuring the viewfinder of the OM-D E-M10 and the arm of a mechanical metronome. The arm of the metronome was visible both through the viewfinder and in the scene, and as it moved back and forth there was no discernible lag between the real view and the same scene displayed in the EVF. It is certainly something that we look forward to investigating further when the camera arrives in the office.
The rear screen is the same articulated 3inch screen that is used on the other OM cameras, but the new camera has a built in pop-up flash, a feature that has previously been omitted from the more advanced cameras in the range. The small flash should a welcome inclusion for those who want a touch of fill-in flash occasionally, and for more demanding users there is, of course, a hotshoe.
Another difference from the EM-5 is a new in-camera stabilisation system. To allow the camera to maintain its small size, the stabilisation in only 3 axis, correcting yaw, pitch and roll, rather than the 5 axis stabilisation found on the EM-1 and EM-5.
For still images Olympus is content with the 3 axis stabilisation producing a good result, however they wanted to improve the stabilisation for video. The result is a hybrid stabilisation that combines the mechanical stabilisation with an electronic stabilisation that adjusts the pixels used by the sensor when recording video to reduce wobble in video footage.
To make sure images are sharp, the EM-10 uses the Olympus FAST AF contrast detection AF system, with a total of 81 target AF areas. It is possible to change the size of the AF target, as well as using spot AF for more precise focusing on smaller subjects. The AF system is capable of focusing in as little as 0.13sec. The speed of the focusing may seem a little slower on paper than some of the competition, but I didn’t notice any significant difference in the short time I had with the camera. It will be interesting to put the OM-D EM-10 against some of its competition to when we test the camera to see if the fractions of a second difference make a huge difference in reality.
With built-in wifi the EM-10 can transfer wifi quickly to a smartphone or tablet. Pairing the two devices is made easier through the use of QR codes, rather than opting for NFC. Once connected not only can images be shared, but the camera can be fully controlled from a mobile device, including the ability to focus and adjust exposure settings. If you are using the new M.Zuiko Digital 14-42mm f/3.5-5.6mm EZ lens, than you can even control the zoom lens via a smartphone. From what I saw at our preview, it is a very comprehensive system for remote triggering and should be useful for long exposure or wildlife photography.
Build and Handling
Unlike the Fujifilm X-A1 and X-M1 camera, the OM-D EM-10 maintains the quality build of it predecessors. The new Olympus camera has an aluminium construction, with the basic design being very similar to the EM-5. However, the EM-10 is smaller, with a few millimetres shaved off of each dimension in comparison to the E-M5. The front and rear dials have also been rearranged to allow the body of the camera to be smaller, whilst still maintaining maximum control.
The new Olympus OM-D E-M10 is very similar in size to the Olympus Stylus 1
The EM-10 has an optional grip, that uniquely has a quick release section on the bottom. This section can be easily removed to access to the battery, without having to unscrew the grip from the cameras tripod mount.
One of the few negatives is that the EM-10 is not weather sealed, so those who will really want to take their camera out in all weather will want to opt for the EM-1.
The feature that already has me looking forward to testing the Olympus OM-D EM-10 is the fact that it has the same high build quality as the other cameras in the same range. In hand it felt like a smaller version of the OM-D EM-5, but with arguably simpler controls that feel nicer to use.
It may lack the weather sealing of the more advanced models, but besides that it maintains the essence of the OM-D line-up. If the camera can produce the images to match the build quality it is bound to be a popular enthusiast CSC, possibly even a back up camera to those with an EM-1 who want something smaller for everyday use.
The Olympus OM-D EM-10 will be in stores from early February and will come in a kit with the M.Zuiko Digital ED 14-42mm f/3.5-5.6 EZ lens for £699.99 or body only for £529.99.