Test Review: Olympus E-M10

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June 23, 2014 at 2:09 pm  •  Posted in New Products, Review by  •  0 Comments

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The Olympus E-M10 is the new entry-level OM-D system. It is based upon a Micro Four Thirds lens and image sensor system with 16 MP, and it has a very small, robust metal body. The camera has a stylish retro design with an EVF and a large LCD screen.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

The Olympus E-M10’s version of the test-box shot was very crisp looking and rich in detail. In this image, the saturation and white balance are nearly perfect (shot in P-mode); the differentiation of red colours (red spool) is very good.

Comments on Image Quality

Colour: The colour rendering of the Gretag Macbeth test chart is very good. The camera reproduced the test chart with perfect saturation results (101 percent). The automatic white-balance system caused a slight bluish look with a shift of the brightest nuances into the yellow and greenish area. This effect gets really intense in the portrait shot, while the test-box shot had a very neutral reproduction with a very little shift into cooler nuances. Skin tones of the test chart are reproduced with a minor shift into the direction of the magenta colour area, but they look very good in real photographic scenes like our portrait shot.

Sharpness: The resolution results of the Olympus OM-D E-M10 are excellent. With its 16-MP sensor (3456 lines per picture height) and even with the M.ZUIKO DIGITAL 14‑42 mm 1:3.5‑5.6 II R kit lens, it reproduced the test chart with 3336 lines per picture height. Sharpness-filtering effects like exaggerated contour lines are noticeable, but these effects are still on an acceptable level. The portrait shot, for example, still has natural-looking details, even though some image elements like the hair of the model have a slightly “over sharpened” look. The same applies to detail reproduction in our standard test-box shot.

Noise: The luminance noise results are very good. The y-factor stays below 1.0 percent in images taken with ISO 200 to ISO 6400. Colour noise and anti-noise filtering effects become visible in images taken with ISO 3200 and higher. These effects are acceptable up to ISO 12800, but they become noticeable at the highest ISO speed setting of 25600, which clearly shows coloured noise pixels and blurred details (due to the very intense filtering).

The dynamic range results are very good for a camera with a Micro Four Thirds sensor. The E-M10 achieved a maximum of 11.2 f-stops and keeps a high dynamic range level in images taken with ISO 200 to ISO 3200. At higher ISO speed settings, the range of contrast will drop drastically (6.32 f-stops at ISO 25600 mode).

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Comments on Handling

The Olympus OM-D E-M10 is the newest and smallest OM-D system. The design is based on a classic SLR design and is therefore comparable to other OM-D cameras like the E-M1 and the E-M5. The camera is very small: the body dimensions of 119.1 mm x 82.3 mm x 45.9 and its weight of 396 g are comparable to a high-end compact camera. The small body makes operating the camera a little uncomfortable for photographers with huge hands. The body is very robust and has a magnesium alloy chassis. The camera has a built-in pop-up flash system and offers a standard accessory shoe for external flashes or studio flash systems.

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On the top, the camera has a small mode dial to the left of the viewfinder, while to the right of the viewfinder, the photographer will find two set-up dials. These dials can be used like the front and back wheel on a classic SLR system. Due to the very small dimensions of the E-M10 body, they had to close ranks. Because the camera is very thin, both dials extend a little beyond the front and the back of the body, making it easy to change parameters using the right forefinger for the front dial and the right thumb for the back dial.

The mode dial on the top offers all standard exposure modes; a lot of scene modes (which are available when using the SCN setting on the dial); some effect filters (ART setting), like “low-key” and “high-key” shots, and a video mode. The camera is able to record full HD movies, but doesn’t allow manual settings when recording videos.

The camera has an electronic viewfinder with 1.44 million RGB dots. The resolution of this LCD is lower than the resolution of the excellent E-M1 viewfinder (2.36 million RGB dots), but the user is still able to focus manually, for example. To help focusing in manual mode, the camera offers a magnifier function, which first has to be activated in the set-up menu. (The Panasonic GH4, for example, uses the magnifier function by default when switching to MF mode and spinning the focus ring on the lens system).

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The Olympus E-M10 has a 3-inch LCD screen with standard resolution for this LCD and camera class (1.04 million RGB dots). The monitor can only be flipped up- and downward—upward 90 degrees, downward nearly 45 degrees—because it uses two hinged brackets instead of a pivot joint at the side of the screen.

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The camera performed well in regards to autofocus. It uses 81 AF areas and is highly customizable (single AF area normal, single AF area small, using AF area groups and so on). It was precise and very fast in our AF tests (real life sport shootings, fast-moving cars and so on).

The camera has WLAN functionality. It can be used with a wireless connection to a smartphone or tablet, and the mobile device can be used as a remote control.

Pros
+ stylish retro design with compact body and metal chassis
+ sharp images, high-resolution results
+ fast AF performance
+ very precise colour reproduction (perfect saturation)

Cons
– electronic viewfinder with average resolution
– three-axis image stabilizer, instead of the five-axis stabilizer (offered by the E-M1 and E-M5)
– swivel monitor can be flipped up- and downward, but can’t be rotated
– less than optimal video results

This review is based on precise lab tests conducted by BetterNet GmbH and provided by the Technical Imaging Press Association (TIPA). TIPA is the largest family of independent photo and imaging magazines worldwide. Photo Life is an active member of TIPA.

SPEC SHEET: Olympus E-M10
BASIC TECHNICAL DATA:
Resolution 4608 x 3456
Resolution sensor 16.1
Colour depth (in bits) 36
Size of sensor (in inches) 0/0.00
Size of sensor (in mm) 17.3 x 13.0
LENSES:
Focal length (wide angle; 35-mm equivalent; in mm) 28
Focal length (tele; 35-mm equivalent; KB in mm) 84
Focal length (wide angle; real; in mm) 14.0
Focal length (tele; real; KB in mm) 42.0
Speed 3.5 – 5.6
Macro 20 – 100
Manual focus, controlled by function elements no
Manual focus, controlled with lens ring yes
TAKING PICTURES:
Start-up time (in sec) 1.40
Shutter delay (in sec) without pre-focusing 0.30
Shutter delay (in sec) with pre-focusing 0.01
Continuous shooting speed (frames per second) 8.0
Max. burst during continuous shooting speed 999.0
Fastest shutter speed (in sec) 1/4000
Long-time exposure/shutter speed (in sec) 60
Self-timer yes
Exposure Settings:
Aperture pre-setting, shutter-speed pre-setting, manual exposure settings,
automatic bracketing
Exposure programs 24
White balance:
Auto yes
White-balance settings 7
Individual white balance yes
ISO:
ISO min 200
ISO max 25600
ISO steps 22
Manual ISO control yes
FLASH:
Integrated flash yes
Flash Mode:
On, off, automatic flash, slow sync, anti-red-eye, rear-curtain sync
External Flash
X-sync no
Accessory shoe yes
FILE FORMATS:
Standard file formats JPEG, RAW, DCF
JPEG compression grades 3
LCD AND PREVIEW:
Size (in inches) 3.0
Resolution of LCD (in pixels) 1040
Zoom mode during preview yes
Index during preview yes
Slideshow during preview yes
VIDEO:
Video available yes
Max. width 1920
Max. height 1080
Picture frequency 30
POWER SOURCE:
Rechargeable battery yes
Battery type Li-Ion
Battery charger included yes
Power connector no
Power supply unit no
STORAGE SYSTEM:
Supported memory cards SD card, SDHC card, SDXC card
PC CONNECTION:
PC connection USB, HDMI, WLAN
TV-out PAL/NTSC + HDMI
DIMENSIONS:
Dimensions (width x height x depth; in mm) 119 x 82 x 45
Weight (body without battery and memory card; in g) 396
ACCESSORIES:
Docking station no
Printed manual yes
Manual on CD yes
Bag no
Remote control no
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