Olympus OM-D E-M10 Long Term Review

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*(Updated 8-31-17)20170822_205016

Here is a long term review (2 years) of my travel camera, the Olympus OM-D E-M10. There’s a newer model now available *E-M10 MRKIII just announced today (8/31/17)! which offers some slight upgrades from the E-M10 MRKII which is an excellent camera. So the OM-D E-M10 MRKII should be getting cheaper soon. Read on to the end to see what I liked and disliked about the OM-D E-M10 camera.

Before I begin, I would like to point out that Olympus cameras fall under the Micro Four Thirds (m43) format which is a smaller sensor than most mirrorless cameras and DSLR. However, I am happy to note that image quality is quite on par with these bigger sensor cameras so nothing to worry about. Let’s move along to the review!

Why Olympus?:
Things that made me choose Olympus besides the price… (small form factor, image quality, in-body stabilization, dual control dials, view finder, and the retro design which was a plus).

Before I stumbled upon Olympus, I had my eyes set on the Sony a6000 and Fujifilm X-E1 (both really great cameras with newer models now available) and did a bunch of research comparing the two with other cameras. Somehow, during my search, I came upon Olympus and decided to take a look at their line-up which was small (4 models within the OM-D line). However, all of them were pretty expensive at around $800-1000+ with the exception of the E-M10 at $700. I really liked the retro body design and it had a viewfinder which was the main thing I was looking for in a camera. During that time Olympus was having a $200 off rebate for a couple months so I looked up a ton of reviews to see how it performed against other cameras with similar specs or better. Surprisingly it did really well and I was able to snatch it from Samy’s camera without tax!

Design & Body handling:
The camera is built with a combination of metal and plastic but all really high-quality that makes it hard to distinguish which parts are made of plastic. Design wise I think it is really nice to look at and on par with Fujifilm’s offerings which are some of the best-looking cameras in the market (if you dig the retro design).

The E-M10 has a built-in flash which was a first back then in the OM-D line. It’s nice to have and doesn’t take away from the design at all due to its low profile.

I found the E-M10 really comfortable to use and all the dials are positioned perfectly with the exception of maybe the back dial being a little awkward to use in the beginning. The camera itself is pretty light but feels solid in your hands so you know right away that it’s well made. Function buttons are easy to access even with your eyes pressed against the viewfinder (allows you to program additional features/settings like peaking, magnify, blk/white, etc..)

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Features:

  • In-body stabilization (IBIS): gives it a slight advantage for shooting shots at slower shutter speed and helps eliminate shakiness on your videos. IBIS is different from lens stabilization, which I won’t go into details, but here are some notable advantages of having a camera with IBIS:
    • 1. Works with all compatible lens for the system.
    • 2. One time cost since it’s on the camera and every lens you buy afterward will benefit from it.
    • 3. Smaller, lighter and cheaper lenses for the most part.
  • Electronic Viewfinder (EVF): one of my must-have for any camera. The EVF is responsive and provides you with a lot of information. Works quite well for me so no complaints here.

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  • Dual control dials:  Allows you to control your shooting settings without touching any buttons. These dials are really customizable depending on your shooting mode. For example, I shoot on A (aperture) mode 90% of the time and have the front dial adjust the aperture and the back dial for exposure. There is also 2 Function (Fn) buttons close by for additional features/settings.

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  • A bunch of nice to have features but never use lol…. Ability to add filters, collages, color creator, etc.. There is quite a lot of stuff packed into this small camera that you would need to dive into the complicated settings to find but it’s there for cases when you want to be a little creative.
  • Wi-Fi: Super great that I can control my camera from my smartphone or transfer photos (only JPEGS not RAW files). There are times when it connects almost instantly while other days it just doesn’t want to behave. I use this feature quite a bit and the process of pairing has improved dramatically (was able to pair it 20/20 times within seconds).

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  • Time-Lapse: I really enjoy this setting and wish I could use it more often. The ability to set your interval as short as a second or up to every couple hours and up to 999 frames allows you experiment. Also, the fact that the camera allows you to automatically create a time lapse video afterward is amazing and useful. The only annoying thing about this feature is that it takes up a lot of space (if you shoot 300 shots to create a time-lapse video expect 300 pictures… >.>).

Lens Selection:
I feel like most reviews lack this section about the lens selection the camera system offers. Micro four thirds (MFT or m43) have quite a lot of lenses to choose from at all sorts of price point. Olympus and Panasonic are the only company that uses the Micro four thirds sensor and they each offer about 35+ lens and that is not including other third party companies. You will probably have 100+ lens to choose from if you go with Micro four thirds. I currently have the kits lens, Olympus 14-42mm F3.5-5.6 and Sigma 19mm F2.8 Art lens (really sharp and excellent image quality for $200).

Just a heads up, due to the size of the sensor there is a 2x crop factor when compared to a 35mm (full frame) camera. What this means is that the field of view of a MFT lens is the same as a full frame lens with twice the focal length. So for example, a 20mm MFT lens you times it by 2 and the field of view would be equivalent to a 40mm on a full frame (20mm MFT = 40mm on full frame camera).

Image quality & Video:
Don’t let the sensor size fool you, as this camera has the same image sensor as the OM-D E-M5 and E-M1 which are both highly regarded cameras. I like to shoot RAW majority of the time now that I’m confident with the camera and its ability to recover tone and details are great. I don’t have to worry about the loss of detail, highlights or shadows in post-processing. Image quality is pretty sharp with accurate colors that look natural. Here are some pictures.

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Video wise, it’s good… nothing too spectacular but good for casual users. I did notice quite a bit of rolling shutter (jello effect) whenever I shot videos. I found this a bit disappointing and have done some research on the cause of this and it seems like it has to do with the sensor rather than IBIS. Not entirely sure if that’s correct but from what I know quite a lot of cameras suffer from this issue so while it’s not a complete deal breaker it was disappointing.

Summary:
The E-M10 is an impressive little camera that I will continue to use for many years to come. Even though the sensor size is small, it is on par with entry-level DSLRs in terms of image quality and handling. I found the E-M10 enjoyable to use which makes me want to go out and shoot more. The fact that you are not compromising on image quality in such a small form factor was definitely a winner for me. *Olympus just announced a new model for the E-M10 line up (MRKIII) so now would be a good chance to get the E-M10 MRKII. I would still recommend the first E-M10 since it will drop in price even more. You can’t go wrong with the E-M10 or E-M10 MRKII and if you can afford the MRKIII then get that one! 🙂

What I like:
+ Lots of lenses selection (Olympus, Panasonic, and third parties)
+ Good EVF
+ Fast focus and accurate colors (81 autofocus points!)
+ Ergonomic controls in a small form factor
+ Plenty of features (nice to have but probably won’t use after a while.. lol)
+ In-body stabilization
+ Excellent image quality
+ Wi-fi connectivity
+ Light weight and small! (lenses for MFT cameras will be smaller than bigger sensor cameras, so you can carry multiple lenses without a problem)

What I dislike:
– Menu interface is confusing (too much information you got sub-menus under menus…..)
– Video quality could be better (jello effect)
– Battery life (definitely have a couple of spare batteries!)
– Only a tilting screen (a fully articulating screen would make it perfect)
– Memory card and battery in the same compartment (memory card on the side separate from the battery would be ideal)
– Grip is a bit small (I bought a third party grip for better one handed operation)
– Low light is not the greatest (a lot of noise)
– Olympus app needs a facelift (looks outdated but connectivity has improved a lot!)
– Smaller sensor will mean your images won’t have as much detail (hard to notice unless you zoom in 100%)

What is your go to gear for photography?

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