Olympus OM-D E-M10 Review

March 27, 2014 | Mark Goldstein |
thumbnail

Image Quality

All of the sample images in this review were taken using the 16 megapixel SuperFine JPEG setting, which gives an average image size of around 9Mb.

During the review, the Olympus OM-D E-M10 produced images of excellent quality. In the Natural picture mode, colours are vibrant without being garish or over-saturated, while dynamic range is very good. From ISO 100 through to ISO 1600, noise is very well controlled, usually not becoming an issue until ISO 3200, which is an excellent result for a Micro Four Thirds camera. ISO 3200 and 6400 are still eminently usable, with only the two fastest settings of 12800 and 25600 really suffering. The image stabilisation system works very well indeed, even when hand-holding the camera at slow shutter speeds or shooting a hand-held movie. The Art Filters produce special effects that would otherwise require you to spend a lot of time in the digital darkroom.

Noise

There are 9 ISO settings available on the Olympus OM-D E-M10. The base sensitivity is ISO 200, but there is an expanded low sensitivity setting equivalent to ISO 100. These crops demonstrate the image quality at each setting.

JPEG RAW

ISO 100 (100% Crop)

ISO 100 (100% Crop)

iso100.jpg iso100raw.jpg
   

ISO 200 (100% Crop)

ISO 200 (100% Crop)

iso200.jpg iso200raw.jpg
   

ISO 400 (100% Crop)

ISO 400 (100% Crop)

iso400.jpg iso400raw.jpg
   

ISO 800 (100% Crop)

ISO 800 (100% Crop)

iso800.jpg iso800raw.jpg
   

ISO 1600 (100% Crop)

ISO 1600 (100% Crop)

iso1600.jpg iso1600raw.jpg
   

ISO 3200 (100% Crop)

ISO 3200 (100% Crop)

iso3200.jpg iso3200raw.jpg
   

ISO 6400 (100% Crop)

ISO 6400 (100% Crop)

iso6400.jpg iso6400raw.jpg
   

ISO 12800 (100% Crop)

ISO 12800 (100% Crop)

iso12800.jpg iso12800raw.jpg
   

ISO 25600 (100% Crop)

ISO 25600 (100% Crop)

iso25600.jpg iso25600raw.jpg

File Quality

The file quality settings available on the Olympus OM-D E-M10 include Normal, Fine and Superfine for JPEGs, and you can also shoot in Olympus’s proprietary ORF raw file format. Do note that the Superfine setting must first be enabled from the menu in order to appear among the selectable quality options.

16M SuperFine (100% Crop) 16M Fine (100% Crop)
quality_superfine.jpg quality_fine.jpg
   
16M Normal (100% Crop) 16M RAW (100% Crop)
quality_normal.jpg quality_raw.jpg

Sharpening

The out-of-camera JPEGs are pretty sharp at the default setting but you can of course add some sharpening later in a program like Adobe Photoshop if needed. Here are two pairs of 100% crops – the right-hand images have had some post-capture sharpening applied.

Original (100% Crop)

Sharpened (100% Crop)

sharpen1.jpg sharpen1a.jpg
   
sharpen2.jpg sharpen2a.jpg

Flash

The Olympus OM-D E-M10 features a flash that has multiple modes including Forced On, Forced Off, Auto, Slow Sync, Rear-Curtain Sync and almost any of these combined with red-eye reduction. It can also serve as an AF assist light or as a controller for wirelessly slaved FL-36R or FL-50R units. In addition to the on-board unit, the Olympus OM-D E-M10 also has a hot-shoe for system flashes. The pictures below were taken of a white wall from a distance of 1.5m, with and without the built-in flash.

Flash Off - Wide Angle

Flash On - Wide Angle

ISO 64 ISO 64
   

Flash Off - Telephoto

Flash On - Telephoto

ISO 64 ISO 64

And now for some portraits. The pop-up flash of the Olympus OM-D E-M10 did not really cause a red-eye effect, so the only noticeable difference between the Forced On and Forced On with Red-Eye Reduction settings is that the second causes the subject's pupils to contract.

Flash On

Flash On (100% Crop)
flash_on.jpg flash_on1.jpg
   

Red-eye Reduction

Red-eye Reduction (100% Crop)

flash_redeye.jpg flash_redeye1.jpg

Night

The  Olympus OM-D E-M10 offers exposure times as long as 60 second in a metered exposure or up to 30 minutes in bulb mode, which is excellent news for anyone seriously interested in night photography. Live Bulb mode allows you to view the progression of exposure during a bulb exposure in real-time and a live view histogram shows how the exposure is built-up across all points of the image. The following picture was taken at a shutter speed of 15 seconds, aperture of f/8 at ISO 200.

Night

Night (100% Crop)

night1.jpg night1a.jpg

Image Stabilisation

The Olympus OM-D E-M10 comes with a three-axis sensor-shift image stabilisation (IS) system, which allows you to take sharp hand-held photos at slower shutter speeds than with cameras that lack this feature. The following 100% crops are taken from images taken with a 28 and 84mm equivalent focal length with and without IS. The image stabilisation system also works during video capture, producing steady hand-held footage most of the time.

Focal Length / Shutter Speed

Off (100% Crop)

On (100% Crop)

28mm / 1/10th Second antishake1.jpg antishake1a.jpg
     
84mm / 1/4th Second antishake2.jpg antishake2a.jpg

Art Filters

The Olympus OM-D E-M10 offers a dozen so-called ‘art filters’, which allow you to quickly apply an artistic effect to a photo before taking it. Art filters are easily accessible via a dedicated setting on the shooting mode dial.

Pop Art

Soft Focus

art_filters_popArt.jpg art_filters_softFocus.jpg
   

Pale&Light Color

Light Tone

art_filters_pale+lightColour.jpg art_filters_lightTone.jpg
   

Grainy Film

Pin Hole

art_filters_grainyFilm.jpg art_filters_pinhole.jpg
   
Diorama Cross Process
art_filters_diorama.jpg art_filters_crossProcess.jpg
   
Gentle Sepia Dramatic Tone
art_filters_gentleSepia.jpg art_filters_dramaticTone.jpg
   
Key Line Watercolor
art_filters_keyLine.jpg art_filters_watercolour.jpg

Picture Modes

Olympus' Picture Modes are essentially pre-set combinations of saturation, contrast and sharpness, except for the i-Enhance mode that aims to optimise each photo individually. You can tailor each Picture Mode to your needs. The following examples demonstrate the differences across the available Picture Modes.

i-Enhance

Vivid

picture_modes_01.jpg picture_modes_02.jpg
   

Natural

Muted

picture_modes_03.jpg picture_modes_04.jpg
   

Portrait

Monotone

picture_modes_05.jpg picture_modes_06.jpg

Multiple Exposure

The Olympus OM-D E-M10 has a Multiple Exposure feature allowing you to combine multiple exposures to create a composite image in-camera.

multiple_exposure.jpg

HDR

In High Dynamic Range (HDR) mode, the camera takes a number of photos in rapid succession, at different exposure settings, and combines them into a single high-dynamic-range image. There are two options, HDR1 and HDR2. In our experience, HDR1 usually yields a credible image but HDR2 tends to produce flat, unrealistic results.

Off

HDR1

hdr_01.jpg hdr_02.jpg
   

HDR2

 
hdr_03.jpg