Olympus has been in great shape for the past few years. After the OM-D E-M5 at the start of 2012 and the OM-D E-M1 at the end of 2013, the brand celebrated the new year by launching a third unit positioned in the digital hybrid sector: the OM-D E- M10 . With, on the program, ultra compact dimensions, formidable ergonomics and deliciously retro lines. Because film has been very fashionable for some time.
As usual, I draw your attention to the fact that this article is not intended to fall into pure technique. Rather, it should be taken as the story of a simple experience. With some photos and videos as a bonus just to brighten up your eyes.
Before going any further, and before looking in detail at the ergonomics and performance of this funny little box, we will start by briefly recalling its technical characteristics just to refresh your memory. And also because it's still good to know what we're talking about.
Here is the technical sheet of the Olympus OM-D E-M10:
- 16.1 million pixel Live MOS sensor in 4/3 ″ format.
- TruePic VII processing chip.
- 81-point autofocus with contrast detection.
- Sensitivity between 100 and 25,600 ISO.
- Shutter speed between 1/4000 and 60 seconds.
- Burst mode at 8 frames per second (RAW).
- 3-axis stabilizer.
- Electronic viewfinder with 1440K dots definition (100% coverage).
- Adjustable touch screen LCD with a resolution of 1037K dots.
- SD / SDHC / SDXC card reader.
- Internal stereo microphone.
- Dimensions: 119.1 x 82.3 x 45.9 mm.
- Weight: 350 grams without battery and without memory card.
- Battery life: 320 images, CIPA standard.
- Colors: black or gray.
- Manufacturer price: 799 euros with the kit lens (14-42mm f / 3.5-5.6).
The OM-D E-M10 is thus entitled to the sensor of the E-M5 and the processing chip of the E-M1. It unfortunately loses the 5-axis stabilizer of its predecessors in favor of a 3-axis stabilizer. Too bad, but it was predictable given its pricing position.
Its viewfinder is both very bright and very clean. Its eyecup tends to come off quite easily, but it is still very comfortable to use. Only downside, it is less responsive when the ambient light begins to lack.
Funny detail, the OM-D E-M10 is the very first box of the range to embed a Flash. It is hidden under the false prism, or under the accessory shoe.
Design & Ergonomics
The OM-D E-M10 inherits the lines of the biggest of its brothers, and therefore of the E-M5. In fact, it is even very close with the same magnesium alloy case and this wide textured plastic band so dear to the eyes of the manufacturer. Be careful, however, because unfortunately it does not benefit from its construction all the time and it is therefore not tropicalized.
Without reaching the weight of the reflex, the case is quite heavy and it holds well in the hand. The grip is correct, even if its handle is not very marked. The thumb rest must have something to do with it.
The ergonomics of the device are a real treat for the eyes, and for the fingers. On the top cover, from left to right, we will thus find the mode selection dial, a first dial placed high enough, a second dial surrounding the shutter button and two buttons to access video recording or a function ( Fn2) defined by the user.
Olympus has also integrated three other buttons on the edge of the hood: one to trigger the built-in Flash , another to access a function (Fn1) and a last to start playback of the captured images . Interestingly, these buttons are accessible on any occasion, including when our eye is in the viewfinder.
Finally, on the back of the box, we will find a few more buttons, including one to access the menu, another to display additional information, another to delete the snapshot being viewed and the famous switch for powering on . All proudly enthroned alongside the tilting screen and the usual cross.
The two ports of the E-M10 (Micro USB and mini HDMI) are located on the right edge, protected by a simple plastic tab. The hatch giving access to the battery and the memory card is for its part under the device, not far from the screw thread that will allow us to hang it on a tripod.
In other words, you will have to unscrew it each time when you want to change the battery or memory card.
Tastes and colors are indisputable, of course, but the OM-D E-M10 made a strong impression on me right out of the box, much more than traditional DSLRs. Its lines and finishes are exemplary, the opposite of what is usually found in this segment and the ergonomics are ultimately very intuitive. It didn't take long before I was fully operational.
The OM-D E-M10 has been tested with the lens supplied as a kit, and only with the latter. And that didn't stop him from getting very good results.
The pictures delivered by the camera are extremely fine, with a beautiful sharpness and very homogeneous images. The 3-axis stabilizer is very effective, even for snapshots. Needless to say, the colors are, as always with Olympus, particularly well rendered, with an atmosphere specific to the brand's devices.
But what is autofocus worth in the field? There is some good and some not so good. When the light conditions are ideal, it is formidable in efficiency with an almost immediate and ultra precise focus . The finding is unfortunately not the same indoors, or in cozy atmospheres.
There, it sometimes lacks precision. It doesn't take much, a few centimeters at most, but it's more than enough to miss a photo and miss out on a beautiful image.
It is all the more regrettable that he is capable of real prowess on high sensitivities.
Again in this area, the OM-D E-M10 impressed me a lot with crisp, clean shots up to ISO 3200 , and some annoying artifacts that start showing up from ISO 6400. All in RAW. I'm not sure the 100D does any better, despite having a slightly larger sensor.
So it's true, fans of the full format will undoubtedly sneer at the reading of these few lines, but it must be recognized that these small sensors have evolved quite a bit in recent years. And in a good way. It is enough to see what is capable of a Panasonic GH4, for example, to understand that size is not everything when it comes to photos either.
Rather than describing yourself in length, width and across the photos that can be taken with the camera, here is a small photo gallery that will allow you to get a clearer idea of what it is capable of. And if you want to scrutinize each pixel with a magnifying glass, know that the originals are available in my Dropbox.
Olympus has never attached much importance to video, but the OM-D E-M10 still offers a few shooting modes with, in the batch, Full HD 1080p and HD 720p at 30 frames. per second, all in MOV.
The picture is pretty clean, even when the ambient light is poor. No noise, no artefact, little deformation in the lines, the guy is doing pretty well. The same goes for the microphone which offers good sound reproduction.
Autofocus works very well. Really very good. And it doesn't lose focus with movement. Add to that the famous 3-axis stabilizer which works better than the optical stabilizer of my Canon EOS 100D, for example. Even the Sony NEX-7 didn't do as well on that side.
No, it is certain, the E-M10 is also doing very well in video, but it is not perfect either and its biggest fault is ultimately in its connectivity since it is completely devoid of headphone jack, and microphone input. The videographers, the real ones, may therefore be left hungry.
Mind you, they can still turn to the Panasonic GH4.
Want to see more ? Here is a small video made up of several sequences shot outdoors and indoors. Just so you can see what the rascal is capable of.
Responsiveness & Autonomy
The cameras offered by Olympus are generally very responsive and the OM-D E-M10 is no exception to the rule with only a few thousandths of a second waiting between two shots.
Be careful, however, because its performance will also depend on the memory card used. If the latter is not very fresh, it may slow down the case. With my 32 GB (95 MB / s) Sandisk Extreme Pro, for example, it becomes a real machine gun.
At least when it's on, and its lens unfolded. If not, then you will have to wait no less than two seconds before you can start shooting. It's not much in the absolute, but it's a lot when you want to immortalize the new expression of the youngest, for example.
As mentioned above, the autonomy announced by the manufacturer is 350 shots, CIPA standard. Is the bet respected? Certainly, and the OM-D E-M10 even pays for the luxury of doing even better than expected since it has managed to exceed 400 shots without batting an eyelid. He actually accompanied me for a whole day, on the occasion of the first edition of J-1 and he showed no sign of weakness.
However, it might be better to invest in a second battery just in case, and especially for those who shoot a lot of video. There, the autonomy of the box does indeed tend to melt like snow in the sun, which is not very surprising.
The moment for the verdict has finally arrived.
Frankly, at first, I expected to find myself with an entry-level camera in my hands. The kind of camera designed for beginners and for all those who want to learn photography slowly.
And in fact, that's not the case at all. The thing is, the finishes of the OM-D E-M10 are simply flawless , and this goes as much for its design (really very pleasant) as for its ergonomics. On that side, it's very simple, there is nothing to say. The two knobs located on the case cover do their job perfectly.
So, a faultless one? Not completely. Apart from the somewhat limited connectivity, the biggest defect of the OM-D E-M10 is its touch screen since it is unfortunately underused. The worst part is that the menus of the device are extremely dense. So much so that it is sometimes difficult to get your hands on the settings you need.
If Olympus had relied a little more on the touchscreen of the box, then I think the box would have been even more pleasant to use. However, the good news is that this is typically the kind of blunder that can be corrected through a software update.
Either way, if you're looking for a compact, accessible, and pretty case to look at, then for sure, you can hardly find better these days.