Olympus E-M10 Review

 
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Olympus E-M10 Optics


In the US, the Olympus E-M10 is available body-only, or bundled with the M.Zuiko 14-42mm f/3.5-5.6 II R kit lens. Below are our test results with the kit lens. Test images on other pages of these test results were shot with our reference prime lenses unless otherwise noted.

Kit Lens Test Results

Zoom
Typical zoom range for a kit lens, with good performance.

14mm @ f/8 28mm @ f/8
42mm @ f/8 2x digital zoom

The Olympus E-M10 is available bundled with an Olympus M.ZUIKO 14-42mm f/3.5-5.6 II R Micro Four-Thirds lens. This kit lens possesses a typical optical zoom range of about 3x, and its 35mm equivalent focal range is about 28-84mm, because of the E-M10's 2x "crop factor."

Far-field performance at 14mm (maximum wide angle), 28mm (medium) and 42mm (full telephoto) is very good with strong detail and good contrast across most of the frame at f/8. Only minor chromatic aberration can be seen in the corners and edges, as the E-M10 does a good job suppressing it (see below). The camera's 2x digital zoom performs well, though with the expected loss of fine detail and more visible noise that comes with digital enlargement.

Above average performance here for an inexpensive kit lens. See below for comments on macro performance, geometric distortion, corner softness, etc.

Macro
An average sized minium area, with good detail. Built-in flash throttles down well.

Macro with 14-42mm lens
42mm @ f/8
Macro with Flash
42mm @ f/8

As with zoom performance, the Olympus E-M10's macro performance will depend entirely on the lens in use. However, with the 14-42mm lens set to 42mm, the Olympus E-M10 captures a fairly average minimum area for a kit lens, measuring 2.85 x 2.14 inches (73 x 54 millimeters). Sharpness is very good over much of the frame, though some corners are a bit soft. (Most lenses have some softening in the corners at macro distances.) The flash throttles down well at closest distance, perhaps a bit too much producing a slightly dim image.

Geometric Distortion
Low geometric distortion with the 14-42mm lens in JPEGs, much higher distortion in uncorrected RAW files.

In-Camera JPEG: Barrel distortion at 14mm is 0.5 percent
In-Camera JPEG: Distortion at 42mm is practically nonexistent

When shooting JPEGs, the 14-42mm lens produces about 0.5 percent barrel distortion at wide angle, which is lower than average and only slightly noticeable in some of its images. At the telephoto end, there is almost no visible distortion, only about one pixel of barrel distortion. This is the tendency for the lens to bend straight lines outward (like a barrel -- usually at wide-angle) or inward (like a pincushion -- usually at telephoto).

Chromatic Aberration and Corner Sharpness
Very low chromatic aberration in JPEGs as the E-M10 suppresses it. Mild to moderate corner softening wide open.

Aperture: maximum
14mm @ f/3.5: Upper right
C.A.: Low
Softness: Soft
14mm @ f/3.5: Center
C.A.: Very low
Softness: Very sharp
42mm @ f/5.6: Upper right
C.A.: Very low
Softness: Somewhat soft
42mm @ f/5.6: Center
C.A.: Very low
Softness: Fairly sharp

Chromatic Aberration. Chromatic aberration is low to very low, as the E-M10 suppresses lateral chromatic aberration in JPEGs. See below for uncorrected results.

Corner Softness. Corners on the right-hand side are somewhat soft on our sample, though corners on the left are quite sharp (indicating a slightly decentered lens). Sharpness is very good in the center and across much of the frame. At full telephoto, all four corners are actually reasonably sharp, but suffer from a slight loss of contrast. The center exhibits good sharpness, though it's not quite as sharp as wide angle.

Vignetting. There's some mild vignetting (corner shading) at wide angle, as indicated by the darker corner crops compared to the center. There's hardly any at full telephoto.

Aperture: f/8
14mm @ f/8: Upper right
C.A.: Low
Softness: Fairly sharp
14mm @ f/8: Center
C.A.: Very low
Softness: Very sharp
42mm @ f/8: Upper right
C.A.: Very low
Softness: Fairly sharp
42mm @ f/8: Center
C.A.: Very low
Softness: Fairly sharp

Chromatic Aberration. With the aperture stopped down to f/8, chromatic aberration in the corners is still low to very low.

Corner Softness. Corner sharpness improved at both wide angle and telephoto when stopped-down to f/8, though telephoto is still not quite as sharp as wide angle across the frame.

Vignetting. Vignetting also improves to the point of being negligible at f/8.

Overall, pretty good performance for an inexpensive zoom kit lens.

In-camera Lens Corrections

Geometric Distortion Correction
Like all Micro Four Thirds cameras, the E-M10 automatically applies geometric correction to JPEGs that can't be disabled.

Uncorrected RAW: Barrel distortion at 14mm is ~2.3 percent
Uncorrected RAW: Pincushion distortion at 42mm is almost nil

To see how much correction is taking place in the camera, we convert RAW files with dcraw or RawDigger, which do not correct for distortion. As you can see at wide angle, barrel distortion is quite strong at about 2.3%, though pincushion distortion at telephoto remains practically non-existent. We expect to see high distortion at wide angle from smaller interchangeable lenses though, so it's nothing to be too concerned about unless you are using a RAW converter which does not understand the embedded "opcodes" to perform distortion corrections automatically. Most RAW converters these days are capable of applying distortion correction automatically, as specified by the manufacturer. There is however going to be some loss of resolution in the corners as a result of such correction, because pixels in the corners of the frame are being "stretched" to correct for the distortion. Obviously, a lens that doesn't require such correction that is also sharp in the corners to begin with would be preferable, but relaxing constraints on barrel and pincushion distortion likely brings other benefits in the lens design, such as cost, size and weight.

Chromatic Aberration Suppression
The Olympus E-M10 suppresses lateral chromatic aberration automatically in JPEGs

In-camera JPEG
Uncorrected RAW
Wide @ f/3.5: Upper left
C.A.: Low
Wide @ f/3.5: Upper left
C.A.: Moderately high
Tele @ f/5.6: Upper left
C.A.: Very low
Tele @ f/5.6: Upper left
C.A.: Moderate

As mentioned above, the E-M10 suppresses lateral chromatic aberration in JPEGs. As you can see from comparing the in-camera JPEGs (left) to uncorrected RAW crops above, the E-M10's C.A. suppression is very effective at suppressing the lateral chromatic aberration in our 14-42mm test shots.

Shading Compensation
The Olympus E-M10 features optional Shading Compensation to reduce vignetting in JPEG images.

Shading Compensation:
(14mm @ f/3.5)
Off (default) On

Mouse over the links above to compare thumbnails, and click on the links to load the full resolution images.

Here, we've just shown the wide-angle case, as at the telephoto end the lens has little corner shading to begin with. As you can see, the Olympus E-M10's Shading Compensation effectively reduces corner shading with the 14-42mm lens, so it can be a useful feature particularly with fast and/or wide lenses. Note that Shading Compensation is off by default, and is not available with all lenses. It may also produce more visible noise in the periphery at higher ISOs.

 


Olympus E-M10 Viewfinder


Viewfinder Test Results

Accuracy
Excellent accuracy from the EVF and LCD monitor.

50mm, EVF 50mm, LCD Monitor

The Olympus E-M10's electronic viewfinder and LCD monitor both proved quite accurate in record mode, showing just over 100% coverage with our Olympus Zuiko Digital 50mm f/2.0 prime. Excellent results here, though not a surprise given previews are derived directly from the image sensor.

 

The images above were taken from our standardized test shots. For a collection of more pictorial photos, see our Olympus OM-D E-M10 Photo Gallery.

Olympus E-M10



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