Olympus has refreshed its entry-level OM-D camera with the new, more advanced E-M10 II. Jon Devo takes a look at the latest model and gives his verdict.
Olympus OM-D E-M10 II: Hands-on review
Steadily gaining market share, Olympus is reaping the rewards for creating its range of classically styled cameras under the OM-D brand. The mid-range E-M5 II update was warmly received earlier in the year and now Olympus has updated the entry-level OM-D camera with some of the technology also featured in the more advanced cameras in its stable.
Some of the core elements remain unchanged in this camera from the previous version, such as its superb micro four thirds 16.1 MP Live MOS sensor. But there have been some significant feature additions and physical developments.
The most obvious changes include the shifting of the camera’s controls, with the mode dial moved from the left of the top plate over to the right-hand side and the twin control dials repositioned for a better ergonomic fit. Picking up the E-M10 II the difference is instantly noticeable and the adjustments are most definitely positive, making it much easier to control the camera.
The original OM-D E-M10 on the left, the new refined E-M10 II on the right.
I also really like the brushed metal feel of the top plate and the power switch that harks back to the Olympus OM1 film camera design. An additional custom function button is a nice touch but I still found myself needing to delve into the menus a little more than I’d like to when shooting. As someone who found the original E-M10 a breeze to use, I definitely had a tougher time getting used to the mark II version. Perhaps people coming to it fresh will find it easier to use off the bat.
As for new features, the entry-level OM-D E-M10 II now gains some of the more advanced features from the camera above it in the range, the OM-D E-M5 II. Including 5-axis image stabilisation, Live Composite functionality when in aperture priority mode and improved focus peaking.
The addition of Olympus’ award-winning 5-axis image stabilisation system gives the E-M10 II a step up when taking pictures in low light scenarios, allowing you to use lower ISO sensitivity settings and slower shutter speeds when working handheld. I noticed the benefits immediately when pairing the E-M10 II with the beautiful Olympus M. Zuiko 40-150 f/2.8 Pro lens. If you listen carefully you can hear the camera working to keep the image steady for you, especially when zoomed all the way in and I was impressed with how well it performed, giving me steady handheld shots at shutter speeds as slow as 1/13secs.
With its responsive touchscreen autofocusing the E-M10 II gives entry-level DSLRs a serious run for their money. Capable of locking onto any one of its 81-areas swiftly in good light and capturing stills at 8.5 frames per second, this camera will be ideal for fans of fast-moving animals or sporting events. While features such as the silent electronic shutter, 4K photo mode, and built-in wireless control will make it possible to take pictures in scenarios where traditional DSLRs are frowned upon or even banned, such as quiet ceremonies and galleries.
The OLED viewfinder in the E-M10 II is the same 2.36-million-dot unit that Olympus used in the E-M1 and E-M5 and it performs well. A great feature included in the EVF is its S-OVF (Simulated-optical viewfinder) mode that boosts the dynamic range of the viewfinder, this makes it much easier to see backlit subjects clearly. While it’s not quite as clear as an actual optical viewfinder the information it provides, along with features like manual focus assist and focus peaking make it a lot more useful than traditional solutions.
Olympus is strengthening its entry level offering with the new OM-D E-M10 II, but given how good the original model was, a huge update wasn’t necessary.
Instead, the Japanese firm has refined the model with much improved handling and given it some useful advanced features such as a quality OLED EVF and 5-axis image stabilisation. The new additions make it even tougher to choose between this highly capable CSC and an equivalent DSLR.
This camera is capable of producing images of superb quality, appearing sharp and rich in tone, even with the kit 14-42 kit lens. But if you can take advantage of the broad lens range available to micro four thirds cameras, you can find some spectacularly good (and affordable) lens combos for this camera.
Want to see more of the Olympus OM-D E-M10? Check out our video review below: