FIRST LOOK: Olympus OM-D E-M10

    In summary

    Our initial reaction was that the E-M10 would be a great second body for anyone who already owns an E-M5 or E-M1, particularly the former as so many features in the two cameras are the same – or very similar.  E-M5 owners gain the benefit of the latest processor chip which, in the E-M10 is the same as the processor in the E-M1. Other features (see table in the full review First Look) which highlight the similarities and differences between the three OM-D cameras.

    However, the E-M10 would also be a good choice for photographers who want to step up from a compact camera, thanks to its excellent performance potential (based on previous models with the same specifications). Most purchasers will benefit from improvements to the focusing system, as the E-M10 uses the same 81-point FAST AF system as the E-M1, which is an improvement on the 35-area system in the E-M5. (Like the E-M5, however, the E-M10's AF system is entirely contrast-based.)

     

    Full review

    The rumours we've been hearing since December have finally been confirmed today with the announcement by Olympus of its OM-D E-M10 camera, the third in an increasingly interesting line-up of high-performance, SLR-like interchangeable-lens cameras with Micro Four Thirds sensors. Slipping in below the E-M5, the new E-M10 has the same Live MOS sensor and an almost identical control layout but its metal body lacks the weatherproof sealing of its siblings.
     
     

    The new Olympus OM-D E-M10, shown in black with the latest 14-42mm 'pancake-style' kit lens and its pop-up flash raised. (Source: Olympus.)
     
     

    Back view of the OM-D E-M10, silver version. (Source: Olympus.)
     
     

    Top view of the OM-D E-M10 with the 14-42mm kit lens fitted. (Source: Olympus.)

    Scheduled for release in late February/early March, the OM-D E-M10 is slightly smaller than the E-M5 and, like its sibling, is offered in black and silver versions. The kit lens will also be available in black and silver to match the camera body. Local RRP for the kit has been quoted at AU$999.

    Who's it For?

    Our initial reaction was that the E-M10 would be a great second body for anyone who already owns an E-M5 or E-M1, particularly the former as so many features in the two cameras are the same – or very similar.  E-M5 owners gain the benefit of the latest processor chip which, in the E-M10 is the same as the processor in the E-M1. Other features are shown in the table below, which highlights the similarities and differences between the three OM-D cameras.

     

    E-M10

    E-M5

    E-M1

    Body materials/weatherproof

    Metal  / No

    Metal / Yes

    Effective resolution

    16.1MP

    16.3MP

    Max. image size (4:3)

    4608 (H) x 3456 (V)

    Image processor

    TruePic VII

    TruePic VI

    TruePic VII

    Shutter speed range

    60-1/4000 sec

    60-1/8000 sec

    Max. continuous shooting speed/buffer capacity

    8 fps/ 16 ORF.RAW

    9 fps/ 15 ORF.RAW

    10 fps/ 36 ORF.RAW

    Image stabilisation

    3 axis sensor shift

    5 axis sensor shift

    AF system

    81-area contrast AF

    35-area contrast AF

    81-area contrast AF plus 37-area phase detection AF

    Monitor

    3-inch; 1,037,000-dot

    3-inch; 614,000-dot

    3-inch; 1,037,000-dot

    Viewfinder

    Integrated 1,440,000-dot EVF

    Integrated 2,360,000-dot EVF 

    Flash

    Built-in GN8.2 /ISO 200

    Bundled FL-LM2 (GN 10/ISO 200)

    Wi-Fi

    Yes

    No

    Yes

    External microphone option

    Compatible with SEMA-1 AP microphone

    3.5mm Stereo jack, Also compatible with SEMA-1 AP microphone

    Battery/capacity (CIPA rating)

    BLS-5 / 320 shots/charge

    BLN-1 / 330 shots/charge

    Dimensions (wxhxd)

    119.1 x 82.3 x 45.9 mm

    121 x 89.6 x 41.9 mm

    130.4 x 93.5 x 63.1 mm

    Weight (body with battery & card)

    396 grams

    425 grams

    497grams

    RRP for kit

    $999 with 14-42mm lens

    $1299 with 14-42mm lens

    $1899 with weatherproof 12-50mm lens

    However, the E-M10 would also be a good choice for photographers who want to step up from a compact camera, thanks to its excellent performance potential (based on previous models with the same specifications). Most purchasers will benefit from improvements to the focusing system, as the E-M10 uses the same 81-point FAST AF system as the E-M1, which is an improvement on the 35-area system in the E-M5. (Like the E-M5, however, the E-M10's AF system is entirely contrast-based.)

    Features
     Many key functions, notably the white balance, ISO, colour modes and Picture Mode settings  are the same across all three models. So are the basic (and largely automated) Art Filters and Photo Story settings, which provide different 'looks' and ways of combining images to produce pictures that are fun to share and suitable for inclusion in photo books.

    Another advantage  for snapshooters is the capable 'intelligent' auto (iAUTO) mode, which can recognise 40 scene types and apply the appropriate exposure parameters. It can also track subject movement and keep subjects in focus. However, the E-M10's menu is just as complex as the E-M5's and the new camera is also highly programmable, which should suit more serious photographers.

    The AF system in the E-M10 includes a couple of handy options in the form of Target AF, Super Spot AF and Eye-detection AF. Target AF will quickly locate the main subject within a wide area of the screen.  Super Spot AF enables users to pinpoint focus with high precision, while Eye-detection AF automatically focuses on subjects' eyes and is handy for portrait photography.

    The HDR function, which first appeared on the E-M1, is also provided, albeit without direct button access, although it can be programmed to the Fn button. Two modes are available, HDR1 and HDR2. ISO sensitivity is fixed at 200 and the maximum shutter speed of four seconds. Four frames are captured at different exposures and combined to make a single image with an extended dynamic range.

    The E-M10 introduces an interesting new Live Composite shooting mode, which is designed to allow exposures of up to three hours to be recorded. This mode uses image stacking to minimise noise and it's compatible with the camera's RAW quality setting.

    The first frame in the recorded sequence is a dark frame that records the sensor's inherent noise pattern. Subsequent images can be recorded at intervals between half a second and one minute and up to three hours of recording is available.

    The end result is a single image file built up from the images captured. This mode can be triggered remotely via Wi-Fi from a smart device and it's ideal for recording star trails and tracks of slow-moving subjects.

    The E-M10 also supports interval recording for time-lapse photography, with the ability to record up to 999 frames in a sequence. The interval time can be set between one second and 24 hours. The end result is a time-lapse movie with a resolution of 1280 x 720 pixels, which plays back at 10 frames/second.

    The E-M10 also comes with a multiple exposure mode, which can superimpose a second frame on an existing raw frame. Auto gain adjusts exposure levels according to subject brightness.

    Like its siblings, the E-M10 can record movies in Full HD, HD and VGA formats, with the new Photo & Movie Capture setting enabling still frames to be captured while shooting movies without interfering with the video. The aspect ratio for the still shots is fixed at 16:9 and continuous shooting is limited to five frames/second.

    The touch screen monitor has plenty of appeal, as does its ability to be tilted up to a maximum of 80 degrees and down to 50 degrees. This allows users to shoot with the camera at waist level or held above the head.

    The built-in Wi-Fi  is similar to the system in the E-M1 and PEN E-P5, with easy connection of devices via QR code. The Olympus Image Share (O.I Share) smart-phone app enables users to share images and operate the camera wirelessly from a smart-phone or tablet, with image sharing to a maximum of four devices simultaneously. It also allows location information from the device's GPS receiver to be added to image metadata. 

    O.I Share has been updated to include the ability to control zoom lenses from the smart device and change the GUI to provide a much larger button for triggering the camera's shutter. Live view isn't available in this interface mode.

    Another function ported across from the E-M1 is the Colour Creator, which allows users to adjust the hue and saturation of images in the viewfinder. Up to 30 steps of adjustment can be made for hues and eight steps for saturation.

    A level gauge is available to help users compose shots with level horizons. It can detect the tilt of the camera body on two axes and display the result on the monitor and in the EVF.  A one-push 2x teleconverter function is also available.

    Build and Ergonomics
     Side-by-side there isn't much difference between the E-M10 and E-M5 in body design and ergonomics, as shown in the illustrations below, which compare the three current OM-D models. All three  bodies are made from metal (magnesium alloy) and the overall build quality is solid but refined. The E-M10 is the only one of the trio that isn't weatherproof and the only one in which the memory card slot is in the battery compartment.

    Front views of the three OM-D camera bodies, from top: E-M10, E-M5, E-M1. (Source: Olympus.)

    One factor that needs to be made clear is that the E-M10 is smaller than the E-M5, which many people thought was too small. It's not much smaller but the difference is enough to signify, particularly if you had problems with the size of the E-M5.

    There's a solution for the problem in the form of the ECG-1 Detachable Grip (see below), which adds depth to the body and extends the grip area. It clips onto the base of the camera and is easy to fit and remove – and you can easily replace batteries and memory cards without removing the grip.

    Back views of the three OM-D cameras, from top: E-M10, E-M5, E-M1. (Source: Olympus.)

    The grip doesn't solve the problem of small, closely-spaced control buttons, another source of complaints about the E-M5. They're still small – but appear to be marginally larger than the E-M5's. Fortunately, most of them are in the same positions, with only the Fn and Playback buttons swapped around, an improvement in our opinion.

    The EVF is the same as the E-M5's but improvements have been made to the design of the eyepiece to make it more comfortable to use. The eye sensor is retained so you have seamless switching between LCD and EVF when the camera is raised to the eye.

    The Adaptive Brightness Technology introduced with the E-M1 is also provided for the E-M10's viewfinder. It enables the EVF to respond to ambient conditions, increasing screen brightness in bright outdoor situations and reducing it for more natural viewing in low light levels. This minimises errors resulting from delays caused by the light and dark adaptation of the user's eye.

    That awkward hot shoe on the top of the E-M5's EVF housing is replaced with a hot shoe that is better integrated into the camera body. This has come about by replacing the 5-axis IS controls in the E-M5 with a 3-axis stabilisation system, which takes up much less space. It has also enabled a small flash to be built into the EVF housing, which many potential buyers will definitely welcome.
     

    Top views of the three OM-D cameras without lenses, from top: E-M10, E-M5, E-M1. (Source: Olympus.)

    The top panel control layout is essentially unchanged. The mode dial is located on the left hand side and has the same mode selections. The dual control dials are on the right, with the shutter button in the centre of the forward dial. You can configure each dial individually to handle different functions for each exposure mode. The Movie and Fn2 buttons are still in the same places but a button for popping up the flash has been added below the mode dial just left of the EVF.

    The new camera will  be supplied with the BLS-5 Lithium-ion battery and BCS-5 charger, USB cable, shoulder strap, instruction manual and warranty card. Olympus Viewer 3, the browser/file conversion software for the camera, is provided on a CD-ROM, which also contains an electronic version of the full camera instruction manual.

    Sensor and Image Processing
     The E-M10's High-Speed ​​Live MOS sensor appears to be the same Sony chip as used in the E-M5. It has an effective resolution of 16.1 megapixels and provides a maximum image size of 4608 x 3456 pixels in the camera's native 4:3 aspect ratio. (Like its siblings, the E-M10 also provides 3:2, 16:9 and 1:1 aspect ratio settings, which are achieved by cropping the frame.)

    The sensor is partnered with the new TruePic VII dual-core processor, which is also found in the E-M1.  This chip features second-generation Fine Detail Technology, which can identify moiré and adaptively process images according to the type of lens on the camera and the aperture setting used. All Olympus lenses have been mapped to support this processing and provide optimal resolution throughout their aperture ranges.

    The new processor covers the same ISO range as the E-M1, with a low ISO 100 setting and a top sensitivity of ISO 25600. The maximum continuous shooting speed is eight frames/second, with focusing and exposure locked on the first shot. The buffer memory can hold up to 16 ORF.RAW frames or an 'unlimited' number of JPEGs.

    Video
     The E-M10's movie capabilities are similar to its siblings, with both MPEG-4AVC/H.264 and AVI/Motion JPEG formats available.  The new camera lacks the support for interlaced recording provided in the E-M1 but provides most of the same recording options. The table below shows what's available.

    File format

    Pixels

    Record mode

    Frame rate

    Max. recording time/capacity

    MPEG-4AVC/H.264

    1920 x 1080

    Fine

    24 Mbps

    Approx. 22 min / 4GB

    Normal

    16 Mbps

    Approx. 29 min / 4GB

    1280 x 720

    Fine

    12 Mbps

    Normal

    8 Mbps

    AVI/Motion JPEG

     

    HD

    30 fps

    Approx. 7 min. / 2GB

    640 x 480

    SD

    Approx. 14 min. / 2GB

    The P, A, S and M shooting modes can be used for adjusting exposures when recording video clips. Shutter speeds are adjustable from 1/30 to 1/4000 second and sensitivity can be set anywhere between ISO 200 and ISO 3200. Three movie effects – One-shot echo, Multi-echo and Art fade  – are also available.  A 'One-push Movie Digital Converter' is included in the movie effect mode, where it provides a 4x digital zoom magnification.

    Exposure compensation is not supported in movie mode and there are restrictions on using some Art Filters, although most can be used as they are for shooting stills. Some digital stabilisation is included when movies are recorded, enlarging the image slightly. Frames are also cropped to match the recording mode setting.

    The camera's AF system works normally in movie mode and all focusing modes are available. However, as it takes time to re-focus on moving subjects, both the continuous and tracking AF modes can introduce some blurring as the focus changes.

    Olympus provides a wind-reduction filter in the Movie pages of the Custom settings menu, along with the ability to adjust audio recording volumes across three levels: low, standard and high. Sound bites of up to 30 seconds can be attached to still pictures via the audio dubbing setting.

    New Accessories
     Released concurrently with the new camera will be several new accessories, including the new M.Zuiko Digital ED 14-42mm f/3.5-5.6 EZ standard kit lens, which weighs only 93 grams. At 22.5 mm thick, this lens is less than half the length of the previous 14-42mm kit lens and it doesn't need to be retracted. It will be available in black and silver to match the camera body at an RRP of AU$499.
     

    The new M.Zuiko Digital ED 14-42mm f/3.5-5.6 EZ standard kit lens, shown in black. (Source: Olympus.)

    The compact form factor of this lens was achieved by switching from a linear zoom position encoder to a rotational type, reworking the space when the lens is retracted, changing the position of the aperture mechanism, and reworking the optical system. The new design contains eight elements in seven groups and includes three aspherical lenses, one Super HR lens and one ED lens. The exotic elements were included to  maintain image quality while making the lens more compact.

    The focus ring and zoom ring surround the circumference of the lens. Zooming is driven by a 2-step variable speed motor that is adjusted by changing the rotation angle of the zoom ring. The electronic motor ensures smooth zooming, making this lens ideal for shooting movies.

    The focusing ring is close to the front of the lens and encircles the circumference of the lens, providing easy manual focusing regardless of how the camera is held. Close focusing is available to 20 cm at the 14mm focal length and 25 cm at 42mm. The maximum shooting magnification of 0.45x equivalent (35mm conversion) is greater than the previous lens.

    This lens accepts 37 mm filters. It can also be used with the MCON-P02 Macro Conversion Lens (RRP AU$99) to provide a maximum magnification of  0.762x (35mm conversion).
     

    The OM-D E-M10 with the M.Zuiko Digital ED 14-42mm f/3.5-5.6 EZ and LC-37C Automatic Opening Lens Cap, shown open. (Source: Olympus.)

    A new Automatic Opening Lens Cap (LC-37C) is available as an optional accessory, exclusively for this lens. It's the first of its kind for the Olympus interchangeable lens system but similar in operation to the automatic lens cap supplied with the Stylus 1 digicam.

    The LC-37C is designed to remain on the lens at all times. When the camera is powered-down, a cover closes to protect the lens from dust and scratches. Powering up the camera

    power, opens the cover instantly, making the camera ready to shoot. RRP for the LC-37C is AU$49.
     

    The new BCL-0980 Fish Eye Body Cap Lens, shown closed and open. (Source: Olympus.)

    Olympus will also release a new Fish Eye Body Cap Lens with a fixed aperture of f/8 and a focal length equivalent to 9mm in 35mm format, which covers a 140 degree field of view. Scheduled to become available in March, this lens is expected to sell for around $139 (RRP).

    Its optical design consist of five glass elements in four groups, with two aspherical lenses included. The lens is only 12.8 mm thick and simple to operate. A single lever switch lets users change between pan focus shooting  and close-up shooting to 20 cm. The same lever also closes the lens barrier.

    The OM-D E-M10 fitted with the ECG-1 Detachable Grip. (Source: Olympus.)

    Complementing the E-M10 and providing greater handling comfort for users with larger hands, the ECG-1 detachable grip is easy to fit and remove. Its surface has the same texture as the camera body for a consistent look and feel, while also improving the camera's grip.

    The ECG-1 can be quickly clipped onto the camera, without needing to be attached via the tripod socket – and it's equally easy to remove. A lever on the base of the grip makes it easy to replace batteries and memory cards without removing the grip.

    Also available for the new camera is the CS-44 SF Soft Camera Case, which is designed to accommodate the E-M10 with M.Zuiko Digital ED 14-42mm EZ lens attached. This case features a five-layer construction and the inner surface has storage pockets for lens caps and other small items. The case has a 50 mm wide belt loop and loops for securing the camera strap to the case. The bag is also part of a system which includes the CBG-10, which can be attached to the side of the camera bag.

    Details of the new products will be published on the Olympus website at www.olympus.com.au. We hope to receive a review unit once they become available.

     

    SPECS

     Image sensor: 17.3 X 13.0 MM Live MOS sensor with approx. 17.2 million photosites (16.1 megapixels effective)
     Image processor: TruePic VII
     A/D processing: 12-bit lossless compression
     Lens mount: Micro Four Thirds
     Focal length crop factor: 2x
     Image formats: Stills – ORF.RAW, JPEG, RAW+JPEG, MPO (3D still); Movies – MOV (MPEG-4 AVC/H.264), AVI (Motion JPEG)
     Image Sizes: Stills – 4:3 aspect: 4608 x 3456, 3200 x 2400, 1280 x 960; 3:2 aspect: 4608 x 3072, 2544 x 1696, 1296 x 864;16:9 aspect: 4608 x 2592, 2560 x 1440, 1280 x 720; 1:1 aspect: 3456 x 3456, 1920 x 1920, 960 x 960; Movies: [MOV]: 1920 x 1080, 30p at 24Mbps or 16 Mbps; HD: 1280 x 720, 30p at 12Mbps or 8 Mbps; [AVI]: 1280 x 720 @ 30fps,  640 x 480 @ 30 fps with Stereo linear PCM/16-bit, Sampling frequency 48kHz; Time-lapse movies: AVI Motion JPEG; 1280 x 720 at 10 fps
     Image Stabilisation: 3-axis sensor-shift type (yaw/pitch/lens-axis roll); up to 3.5EV shake compensation for stills and movies
     Dust removal: Supersonic Wave Filter
     Shutter speed range: 1/4000 to 60 seconds plus Bulb and Time, X-sync at 1/250 sec.
     Exposure Compensation: +/- 5EV for stills or +/- 3EV for movies  in 1/3,  1/2 or 1EV increments
     Exposure bracketing: 2, 3 or 5 frames in 0.3/0.7/1.0EV steps selectable, 7 frames in 0.3/0.7EV steps selectable; AE-BKT can be programmed to the Fn-button
     Other bracketing options: ISO, white balance, flash exposures, Art Filters
     Self-timer:  2 or 12 seconds delay; Custom (Waiting time 1-30sec., Shooting interval 0.5/1/2/3sec., Number of shots 1-10)
     Focus system: High-speed imager AF with 81-area multiple AF, all target and group target (9 area)  single target modes plus single-target (small); AF illuminator available
     Focus modes: Single AF (S-AF) / Continuous AF (C-AF) / Manual Focus (MF) / S-AF + MF / AF tracking (C-AF + TR) modes; magnify and focus peaking assists for manual focusing
     Exposure metering: TTL Image Sensor metering system with Digital ESP metering (324-area multi pattern metering),  Centre weighted average metering and Spot metering (approx. 1% of the viewfinder screen. Highlight / shadow bias spot metering are available) 
     Shooting modes: iAuto, Program AE (Program shift available), Aperture priority AE, Shutter priority AE, Manual, Bulb, Time, Scene select AE (Portrait, e-Portrait, Landscape, Landscape + Portrait, Sport, Hand-held starlight, Night scene, Night + Portrait, Children, High Key, Low Key, DIS mode, Macro, Nature Macro, Candle, Sunset, Documents, Panorama, Fireworks, Beach & Snow; Fisheye, Wide-Angle and Macro Conversion, 3D)
     Art Filters: Pop Art, Soft Focus, Pale & Colour, Light Tone, Grainy Film, Pin Hole, Diorama, Gentle Sepia, Cross Process, Dramatic Tone, Key Line, Watercolour
     Art Effects: Soft Focus, Pin Hole, White Edge, Frame, Star Light, B&W Effect, Picture Tone (Sepia, Blue, Purple, Green)
     Picture Modes: i-Enhance, Vivid, Natural, Muted, Portrait, Monotone, Custom, e Portrait, colour Creator, Art Filters
      Photo Story: 4 standard frames, 4 fun frames, 4 window patterns
     Colour space options: sRGB, Adobe RGB
     ISO range: AUTO ISO : LOW (approx. 100) ‐ 25600 (customisable, Default: LOW-1600) Manual ISO : LOW, 200 - 25600, 1/3 or 1 EV steps selectable
    White balance: Auto, Sunny (5300K), Shadow (7500K), Cloudy (6000K), Incandescent (3000K), Fluorescent (4000K), Flash (5500K), Underwater; Custom, Color temperature setting (Approx. 2000-14000K)
    Flash: Built-in TTL flash, GN=8.2 (ISO200/m), Olympus Wireless RC Flash system compatible; X-synch at 1/250 second or slower
    Flash modes: Flash Auto, Redeye, Fill-in, Flash Off, Red-eye Slow sync.(1st curtain), Slow sync.(1st curtain), Slow sync.(2nd curtain), Manual(1/1(FULL)~1/64)
    Flash exposure adjustment: +/-3 EV in 1/3, 1/2, or 1EV increments
    Sequence shooting: Max. approx. 8 shots/sec. for up to 16 ORF.RAW files or 'unlimited' JPEGs with a UHS-I certified SDHC or SDXC card
    Other features: HDR1/2 (4-shot auto composite) available with P, A, S and M mode plus bracketing of 3, 5 or 7 frames in post-process, Live Composite mode - frame stacking for exposures up to 3 hours
    Storage Media: Single slot for SD/SDHC/SDXC memory cards; UHS-1 compatible
    Viewfinder: Eye-level EVF with approx 1.44 million dots; 100% FOV coverage, 20 mm eye point, -4 to +2 dpt adjustment, Adaptive Brightness Technology, 7 levels of manual settings also available
    LCD monitor: 3-inch tilting TFT colour LCD with approx. 1037 million dots, brightness adjustments & colour temperature control of +/-7 levels; capacitance touch-screen controlsfor Shutter release, Enlargement, Live Guide, AF area selection, AF area enlargement and decrease, Frame forward/backward, Enlargement playback, Super Control Panel, Art Filter selection, Scene mode selection, Wi-Fi connection
    Live View shooting: Live previews for exposure compensation, white balance, gradation, face detection (up to 8 faces) plus grid line, histogram and magnification (5x, 7x, 10x, 14x) displays, Level gauge
    Playback functions: Single-frame, Information display (Histogram - independent luminance / RGB available, Highlight/Shadow point warning, AF frame, Photographic information), Index display (4/9/25/100 frames), Calendar, Enlargement (2x - 14x), Movie (with sound, FF/REW/Pause), Picture rotation (auto), Slideshow (with BGM/BGM+Sound/Sound), Light box display
    Interface terminals: Dedicated multi-connector; USB 2.0, Micro HDMI (Type D), , terminal for RM-UC1 remote controller
    Wi-Fi function: IEEE 802.11b/g/n; Live View, Rec View, Wireless Touch AF shutter (Control settings for aperture, shutter speed, exposure, ISO sensitivity, white balance and Drive Mode), Wireless Release, Power Off; Selectable from iAuto / ART / PASM (Live Bulb, Live Time)
    Power supply: BLS-5 rechargeable lithium-ion battery; CIPA rated for approx. 320 shots/charge 
    Dimensions (wxhxd): Approx. 119.1 x 82.3 x 45.9 mm
    Weight: Approx. 350 grams (body only)

    BUY

      No