Olympus E-M10 Conclusion

Pro: Cons:
  • Great image quality especially from RAW files
  • Excellent dynamic range for a Four Thirds sensor
  • Very good high ISO¬†performance
  • Realistic colors and excellent hue accuracy
  • Despite lack of AA filter, little to no moir√© in still images, though it can appear in HD video
  • Fast autofocus speeds & low shutter lag
  • Able to focus in very low light
  • Good cycle times
  • Fast 8fps full-resolution burst mode (with AF on first frame only)
  • Decent buffer depths for its class
  • Full HD video quality in H.264 format is very good; good detail and colors
  • In-camera lens corrections
  • Hi-res EVF and tilting touchscreen LCD
  • EVF refresh rate is very quick (not as good as true optical VF, but great for an EVF)
  • Built-in flash supports Olympus' wireless RC flash system
  • Flash hot shoe
  • Sensor-shift image stabilization (3-axis)
  • Built-in Wi-Fi with remote control capabilities, Live View and tap-to-focus, plus exposure controls via companion app
  • Compact and lightweight: smallest OM-D camera
  • Highly customization controls
  • Excellent value
  • Auto white balance too warm indoors
  • Underwhelming in-camera HDR mode
  • Noise reduction a bit heavy-handed at higher ISOs
  • No sweep panorama mode (software needed for stitching on a computer)
  • Slow continuous burst speed with full-time AF (3.5fps)
  • Contrast-Detect AF struggles with small and low-contrast subjects
  • Mediocre battery life
  • Weak built-in flash
  • Bundled with older, less-compact 14-42 II R lens (although it has pretty good optical performance)
  • No microphone jack for external mics
  • No headphone jack for monitoring sound levels during video recording
  • No uncompressed HDMI video output
  • Motion JPEG (.AVI) video quality is poor; displays lots of compression artifacts
  • Lacks weather sealing
  • Olympus menu system can be overwhelming and confusing

The Olympus E-M10 is a solid camera at an outstanding budget-friendly price point. For someone looking to upgrade to an interchangeable lens camera system and aren't sure if they want or need the big bulk of a DSLR, the E-M10 and the Micro Four Thirds system is an excellent choice. The E-M10 provides a low barrier of entry and opens up the expansive world of interchangeable lenses for the Micro Four Thirds ecosystem.

Performance-wise, the E-M10 is a unique camera that blends features from Olympus' flagship E-M1 camera and their first OM-D camera, the E-M5. It's got the faster image processor and higher-precision AF area grid, as well as a similar AA-filterless sensor. The E-M10 borrows the more compact size of the E-M5 -- although the E-M10 is slightly smaller -- making it an excellent go-anywhere, carry-all-the-time kind of camera.

And although it uses the slower contrast-detect AF system, the E-M10 is perfectly enjoyable and super snappy for all but the trickiest subjects like fast-paced sports or wildlife where a DSLR's phase-detect AF system would be preferable. If you're a street, travel or landscape photographer, the E-M10 is a perfectly capable camera with great performance and fantastic image quality with the ability to capture sharp, crisply detailed photos with excellent dynamic range for its class of camera.

Of course, there are a few trade-offs. Some are necessary to presumably lower the price or differentiate the E-M10 from the other OM-D cameras, but some are typical Olympus quirks like odd and confusing menu system conventions and leaving more advanced features disabled by default, like the highest quality JPEG format and the Super Control Panel. While the E-M10 borrows the higher-precision AF area grid from the E-M1, it doesn't share its hybrid phase-detect AF system, so the E-M10 can struggle to focus on low-contrast, fast-moving, or very small subjects like birds. Also, the E-M10 lacks the weather sealing of its higher-priced siblings. The E-M10 also lacks more advanced video-specific features like an external microphone jack, though, to be fair the E-M5 lacks this as well. And while the E-M10 offers a choice of H.264 or Motion JPEG video formats, the MJPEG quality leaves a lot to be desired and is not available in Full HD.

The E-M10 is packed with other niceties such as vastly improved HD video quality compared to Olympus' other entry-level interchangeable lens cameras, built-in Wi-Fi and a raft of customizable functions, dials and buttons. All in all, the positives vastly outweigh the negatives for this compact system camera. The Olympus E-M10 is not only well-suited for entry-level photographers just stepping into the world of interchangeable lenses, but also more advanced shooters who want vast customization and the ability to tweak a camera to suit their shooting style. When Olympus stated that the E-M10 is the "OM-D camera for all," they were right. So, unsurprisingly, this bad boy is an easy Dave's Pick.

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