It’s been two years since Olympus pulled the covers off the entry-level OM-D E-M10. This was a 16Mp retro-styled compact system camera (CSC) that had the same DNA as the more expensive E-M1 and E-M5 models, but a good deal fewer features. Fast-forward 24 months and Olympus have released the second version of the E-M10, identified by its ‘II’ suffix on the top-plate. At £649 (with the 14-42mm kit lens), the E-M10 II is still cheaper than the more advanced models in the range, with both the E-M1 and the revamped E-M5 II now retailing at around £870 (body-only).
But competition in this sector is fierce and potential buyers will have to weigh up the E-M10 II against a raft of rivals including the Panasonic G7 and the Sony Alpha A6000. Are there enough new features and general improvements for Olympus to win the day? Let’s find out...
Features & Build
There’s some big changes between the older E-M10 and its replacement, both on the exterior styling and the features found inside the beautifully shaped body. A new on/off button that also springs the pop-up flash oozes vintage charm, and while there are still two command wheels on the right-hand side of the top-plate, they’re now bigger and the machined surround stands prouder. Inside, there’s the same 16Mp Micro Four-Thirds sensor that’s featured across the OM-D range, but potential buyers will be impressed to hear that the built-in image stabilisation technology has been enhanced. While the old E-M10 could only offer 3-axis stabilisation with a 3-stop advantage, the II boosts that to 5-axis, and gives 4-stops of stabilisation. The E-M10 II has gained an electronic shutter that raises the max shutter speed to an incredible 1/16,000sec, and the camera also has a slightly increased burst rate of 8.5fps (as opposed to 8 on the original).
Changes are seen on the Electronic Viewfinder (EVF), which has taken a big leap forward in resolution from 1.44m-dot to 2.36m-dot. Other improvements focus on user experience as you can now use your thumb to operate the Autofocus Target pad on the LCD while looking through the EVF. This allows you to focus on moving subjects more accurately.
Along with new features for stills, the E-M10 II also offers some tempting additions for video shooters. It can now record HD footage in 24, 30 and 60p frame rates, while the original E-M10 could only offer 30p. What’s more, there is a dedicated 4K time-lapse mode that enables the camera to shoot up to 999 frames at 5fps, which are then merged into a high-definition 4K timelapse by the camera. To really push the boundaries in your home movies, the E-M10 II even offers a high-speed movie mode that captures footage at 120fps. This gives super slow-motion results when viewed on screen.
While the E-M10 II is small, it’s by no means a pocket camera – especially if you are carrying a second lens. The thumb grip does provide a good purchase, and the camera sits well in your hand, but if you feel it’s off-balance, there’s always the option of buying the extra battery grip for around £50.
The 1037k-dot LCD can be tilted up by 90° and down 45° to assist awkward angles, but it can’t be flipped outwards which would have made it more versatile. The Menu navigation is also a little unintuitive with many useful features including Manual Focus Assist, buried within sub-menus. That said, the touch operation worked well; we liked the ability to tap the LCD to set an AF point and flick through images.
In the field, the AF Target Pad works well, though it’s quite an alien action to touch the LCD while looking through the viewfinder, so it may take a few attempts to get successful results. Thanks to its size, the E-M10 II is well-suited to street photography and features a silent shutter mode for both single shot and burst mode. This allows you to capture candid images without attracting unwanted attention – great for weddings, wildlife
General operation is simple and quick however, mainly thanks to the D-Pad options. These are the best to work with when haste is necessary. Additionally, for a camera that has fairly compact dimensions, this CSC isn’t short on Function buttons. The E-M10 II offers no less than three custom buttons on the top-plate and thumb grip. They’re incredibly useful and can be programmed to activate HDR mode with one touch or provide a quicker way to adjust White Balance or ISO. We found RAW files took 1.8secs to write and JPEGs just 0.8sec, with up to 28 JPEGs or 13 RAWs being captured before the buffer slows down.
Value for money
There’s a big range of features on the E-M10 II and the build quality of this beautifully-designed camera is well-crafted, too. At £649 with a well-performing kit lens, it’s towards the upper end
of what you’d expect to pay for a CSC of this spec. For example, Sony’s 24Mp A6000 is similarly priced, features a larger APS-C sensor and currently retails for around £499. The introduction of the 5-Axis image stabilisation technology and the improved Electronic viewfinder ensure the E-M10 II won’t be viewed as overpriced.
Olympus’ OM-D range is getting stronger with every camera released. The E-M10 II provides a great entry-level option to those photographers who would like the idea of the OM-D system but aren’t ready to spend upwards of £800 on the E-M5 II or E-M1. Existing users of the older E-M10 will struggle to justify upgrading to the II, but there’s no denying that the improved exterior styling and new internal features (particularly the five-axis image stabilisation) make this a much improved proposition. Priced at £649 with the 14-42mm kit lens, the E-M10 II does face stiff competition and we would have liked to have seen a higher megapixel count and more innovation around on the tiltable screen. However, the robust build quality and availability of lenses for the OM-D system help increase up this camera’s appeal.
- Body price £449 (As of July 2016)
- Resolution 16.1Mp (4608x3456px)
- Format RAW & JPEG
- Sensor Micro Four Thirds
- ISO 200-25,600 (100 expanded)
- Shutter 60-1/16000sec & Bulb
- AF system Contrast detection (81 point)
- Focusing modes Manual, Single AF & Continuous AF
- Metering Multiple, Centre weighted & Spot
- Burst rate 8.5fps
- Monitor 3in, 1037k dot tiltable touch OLED screen
- Viewfinder 2360k-dot OLED Live View Finder
- Pop-up flash Yes Hotshoe Yes
- Video Full HD 1080p @ 24/25/30/60p & 4K Timelapse
- Connectivity Wi-Fi
- Write speeds 1.8secs RAW, 0.8sec Fine JPEG
- Storage SD, SDHC, SDXC
- Weight 342g (body only)
- Visit: www.olympus.co.uk
This review was first published in the February 2016 issue of Digital Photo - download back issues here.