Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark IV review: like a point-and-shoot
“The OM-D E-M10 Mark IV is a rare budget camera with stabilization that the more expensive models from Olympus borrow.”
Stabilization in the body
Compact vintage design
Good picture quality
More noise than APS-C cameras
The Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark IV is an entry-level camera that carries the hand-me-downs of its bigger siblings. The $ 800 camera and lens kit – $ 700 for the body only – borrows the E-M1 Mark III’s eye-detection algorithms and a clipped five-axis image stabilization system, all of which are paired with a sensor that is just 0.1 megapixels behind Cameras cost more than twice as much.
The E-M10 Mark IV launches when its parents consider a split. With Olympus talks to sell its imaging division to Japan Industrial Partners, the future of the camera line – as well as lenses and accessories – is uncertain. The company expects to reach an agreement in late September, but until then, the state of Olympus cameras will be rife with rumors and questions.
As with any hand-me-down, the features of the E-M10 Mark IV are a bit rough around the edges. Are the cost savings for the cheaper OM-D camera worthwhile despite some shortcomings? I spent two weeks with the Olympus E-M10 Mark IV to see where the camera impresses and where it falls short.
Hillary K. Grigonis / Digital Trends
Film-inspired compact design
The E-M10 Mark IV embodies what the mirrorless camera was originally announced for: compact size. Less than 2 inches deep (and less than 3 inches with the kit lens retracted), the mirrorless camera is the ideal size between a point-and-shoot camera and most interchangeable lens cameras. Weighing around 20 ounces with the kit lens, it’s light enough to hang around your neck and almost forget it’s there. Even so, the body has enough space to offer a good selection of physical controls and a much greater grip than a slim compact camera. Perhaps partly because the last mirrorless camera I took pictures with was the DSLR-sized Canon EOS R6, the E-M10 Mark IV felt more like a point-and-shoot than we got from a modern one expect mirrorless camera.
Despite the lower price, the E-M10 Mark IV is a beautiful camera. The silver body with a textured black shell, the silver dials and the on / off switch make it look like a classic film winder. The body doesn’t feel as sturdy as a magnesium alloy, but it doesn’t feel chintzy either. Unfortunately, the high-end OM-D cameras lack the excellent weather seal. While I prefer slightly larger handles, the shape is so light that the index fingers can wrap around the front, with a nice thumb rest at the back.
The body still leaves plenty of room for a 2.36 million point viewfinder and 3 inch 1.04 million point LCD screen that is tilted 180 degrees (Note: if you’re using a tripod , the full oscillation of this tilt is possibly blocked.) Similar to other newer Olympus cameras, both the viewfinder and LCD screen do not always show exactly what the camera is recording. The white balance in the viewfinder was quite different several times from the actual photo. The exposure didn’t always match either, and areas in the shadows are usually muted and difficult to see in the viewfinder. Since the M-10 IV is an inexpensive camera, the viewfinder, despite its flaws, lived up to expectations when compared to cameras with similar prices.
The control scheme of the E-M10 IV makes it easy to customize most of the settings that are frequently accessed. Two control wheels adjust the shutter speed and aperture, while key combinations on the back open options for setting ISO, flash and series exposures. Settings such as autofocus modes and white balance are in a quick menu. I miss the joystick on high-end cameras that allows you to adjust the focus in one step – on the E-M10 IV, tap the shortcut and then move the cursor. But again, the joystick is a function that is generally reserved for more expensive cameras. So we can’t be too tough if it’s not there on the E-M10 IV.
Hillary K. Grigonis / Digital Trends
On the side of the camera is a USB port for charging and an HDMI port, while both the battery and the single SD card slot share a door below. The battery compartment is barely blocked by a standard sized tripod plate, which can be a bit annoying. While the battery is rated for 350 shots, I took about 650 shots before it wore out. It lacks the connections of a more advanced camera, such as a camera. E.g. a microphone port for video, but the pop-up flash that high-end cameras often leave out.
The small size, the classic look and the control scheme make the E-M10 Mark IV a real eye-catcher. I do miss the weather seal, handle, and joystick of the more expensive siblings like the E-M1 Mark III, but because of the small size, I never had to think about lugging the camera around with me all day.
Sluggish performance, excellent stabilization
Hillary K. Grigonis / Digital Trends
Olympus touts the budget E-M10 IV using some of the same autofocus algorithms as more expensive models, including the E-M1X’s continuous detection of autofocus subjects and the same eye AF as the E-M1 Mark III. While the algorithms are in place, the E-M10 has an entirely different autofocus system that makes the experience cheaper. The E-M10 IV uses a contrast detection system, while the high-end OM-Ds use a hybrid phase detection and contrast detection system.
The E-M10 IV also uses the TruePic VIII processor, which is a generation behind the E-M1 Mark III. To put that into perspective, the E-M1X has two processors. Both the more limited autofocus system and the slower processor combined with high-end algorithms mean the M10 Mark IV is more accurate than its predecessor, the E-M10 Mark III, but doesn’t have the speed or reliability of the E-M1 Mark III or the E-M1X.
However, the 121-point contrast-detection autofocus system is a bit better than I expected from a $ 800 camera. It’s accurate and easy to use, but it lacks a bit of speed. I’ve had very few shots that didn’t hit focus, and a lot of them were because I shot a little early. The autofocus slows down slightly in poor lighting conditions, but seemed to turn on accurately without too much delay.
Continuous autofocus was fine for a budget camera because it took more sharp shots than it didn’t, but still captured a handful of soft-focus images when the fastest action was captured. Unsurprisingly, the tracking autofocus doesn’t work as well, but I haven’t found a camera with tracking good enough to be fully relied on even on more expensive models.
Eye AF is great for portraits and snapshots of people because it easily captures eyes and faces. However, it isn’t fast enough to be used for actions. My favorite part about Eye AF is that you don’t have to be in autofocus focus mode for it to work. A property that some other brands annoyingly reserve this feature for. Olympus lets you toggle the feature on and off so that you can use it in advanced focus modes rather than just the mode where you want the subject to be automatically selected for you.
Image captured with Eye AF Hillary K. Grigonis / Digital Trends
The E-M10 IV can shoot at up to 8.7 frames per second (fps) with the mechanical shutter, but needs the slower speed of 5 fps to use continuous autofocus (or advanced ISO settings). At the fastest speed (RAW + JPEG), the camera can take 18 pictures before the fill buffer slows down the speed. If you slow the speed down to 5 fps, the camera can turn on autofocus (which, to be honest, you want to be active) and take 21 shots in a row before slowing down. It took about 15 seconds for both bursts to be fully written to a Class 10 SD card before you could review the images during playback. However, you could record slower or adjust the settings while writing to the card.
Handheld image captured Hillary K. Grigonis / Digital Trends
One of the best features the E-M10 inherits from more advanced models – albeit not quite as well – is 5-axis image stabilization with sensor shift. With a speed of 4.5 f-stops, the system was good enough to shoot at a tenth of a second with a 14mm handheld and still get some (but not all) pictures in focus. I even took a hand-held picture of the moon. The optical image stabilization system in the body may have lagged behind the 7.5 f-stops of the E-M1 Mark III, but it is difficult to find with an inexpensive camera.
Excellent picture quality
With almost the same number of pixels as in more expensive models, Olympus did not save on the sensor in the E-M10. The 20.3 megapixel micro four thirds sensor captures sharp images with good color. While the images in the viewfinder may not look as good and the camera may be a bit slower, image quality is a feature that hasn’t been neglected in order to match the cheap price.
The pictures of the E-M10 IV and the kit lens were very detailed. They were the sharpest at f / 5 but still acceptable with the kit lens wide open. Combined with the ability to capture 0.23x magnification with the kit lens, the camera can capture many details. However, the compact kit lens tends to flicker.
ISO 3200 Hillary K. Grigonis / Digital Trends
The smaller Micro Four Thirds sensor suffers more from noise than an APS-C or full frame camera, but is quite well controlled for this category. At ISO 800 there is a slight noise in the shadows. I would go up to ISO 3200 before worrying about a significant loss of detail and sharpness.
Colors coming straight from the camera are good. The E-M10 IV also adds a new instant filter to the color profiles in the camera. It’s one of my favorites for the punchy contrast and purple and red undertones. RAW files restore a considerable amount of detail from the shadows, with a slight recovery from the highlights.
Instant film color profile Hillary K. Grigonis / Digital Trends
Standard color profile Hillary K. Grigonis / Digital Trends
Video is available at 4Kp30 and has the same spot colors and details as the images. Image stabilization also helps improve video quality. However, the camera is difficult to recommend for vlogging or serious video work as it lacks a microphone port.
The E-M10 IV’s sensor, while not as good as a larger sensor, competes with the more advanced models from Olympus and offers great quality for the camera’s small size and low price.
As a budget model, the Olympus E-M10 Mark IV captures excellent images with some sacrifices in terms of performance, processing quality, and control. For the price, the E-M10 has a lot going for it, including great pictures, 4K video, a compact body, and image stabilization. Taking photos with the E-M10 feels like a point-and-shoot camera thanks to its small size and light weight. While using a mirrorless camera without multiple lenses hurts the camera’s capabilities, with the tiny 3-ounce kit lens, the E-M10 IV feels like a decent alternative to expensive point-and-shoots like the Sony RX100 series .
Of course, in order to bring that price down, Olympus made some sacrifices. The speed is a little poor, it won’t handle a rainstorm, and even in the budget category there are competing cameras with larger sensors.
Is there a better option?
The E-M10 Mark IV is a good budget camera, but it’s not enough to make it the best budget mirrorless camera. The Sony a6100, which costs $ 750 with a kit lens, has a larger sensor, faster 11 fps, and a hybrid autofocus system for phase detection and contrast detection. However, it lacks image stabilization, which makes the E-M10 IV an advantage for photographers who often work in poor lighting conditions. Our current favorite mirrorless budget, the Fujifilm X-T30, has better autofocus than the E-M10 Mark IV, a larger sensor, and advanced video capabilities, but it’s not stabilized and costs about $ 200 more.
How long it will take?
Olympus is currently negotiating a sale of its imaging division and the sale makes the future of Olympus lenses and accessories unclear. There is a possibility of buying the E-M10 Mark IV and losing support later, in addition to the limited availability of lenses. The build quality is good for a budget camera, but don’t expect the longevity of its weatherproof siblings.
Should you buy it?
Not if photography is a serious hobby, but for casual shooters, it’s an easy sale. The smaller sensor, slower speed, and questions about the company’s future make it difficult to recommend this camera for more demanding shutter bugs. However, its small size, low price, good image quality, and built-in image stabilization – a feature that is difficult to find in an entry-level camera – are great for the casual photographer.