Olympus E-M10 II Review — Now Shooting!

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In early 2014, Olympus announced the most affordable model of OM-D cameras yet produced in the form of the E-M10. It sported a nice array of many of the higher-end specifications of its storied older siblings the E-M1 and the E-M5 at an entry-level price point. Here in the summer of 2015, Olympus has upped the ante on this entry-level model with the E-M10 II, a camera that brings a few new tricks to the table, particularly the inclusion of the company’s well-regarded 5-axis image stabilization technology.

Olympus E-M10 II Review -- 3/4 beauty shot

Built around the same 16.1-megapixel Live MOS sensor, the E-M10 Mark II features the same basic imaging pipeline as the original E-M10. The sensor again leaves out the anti-aliasing filter in order to achieve greater image sharpness. It also uses Olympus’ TruePic VII image processor and 12-bit lossless RAW file compression. The original kit lens for the E-M10 was the 14-42mm f/3.5-5.6 II R, but “Mark II” now comes with the pancake version of that lens — the 14-42mm f/3.5-5.6 EZ — as the standard kit lens. (The 14-42mm EZ was later offered as part of an E-M10 Premium Kit option.)

Olympus E-M10 II Review -- Front View

Additional notable upgrades to this OM-D family member include a 2.36M-dot OLED EVF with a 100% field of view and a magnification of 1.23x (a 35mm eq. of 0.62x), providing a boost in both resolution and magnification. Also new is the “AF Targeting Pad” mode, which allows you to use your thumb to move the focus point on the touchscreen LCD while you keep your eye glued to the viewfinder. (Pretty cool!) There’s even a new “Simulated Optical Viewfinder” (S-OVF), which is reported to offer a viewfinder experience more akin to optical viewfinders and with more dynamic range — we’ll be sure to take a look at that and report what we find!

The Olympus E-M10 Mark II is also reported to have improved overall ergonomics — a claim which we’ll take an in-depth look at in both our walkaround section below as well as in our real-world Field Testing (spoiler alert: it is indeed much improved!). This model also comes with a new “silent shutter” mode that can be employed across the various single and continuous drive modes as well as with the self-timer, and we can report from using it on our initial sample that it is absolutely silent. The electronic shutter offers shutter speeds up to 1/16,000 second, while the mechanical shutter tops out at 1/4000 second.

Olympus E-M10 II Review -- Top View

In addition to useful features from the predecessor like Live Bulb, Live Time and Live Composite modes, the Olympus E-M10 II is the first in the line to have a 4K video timelapse mode, which allows for up to 999 frames at 5 fps that the camera will combine into a 4K video all in-camera (a big upgrade from the 720p maximum resolution of the original model). Sequential (burst) shooting speed is rated as slightly improved in “high-speed” mode from 8 fps to 8.5 fps, while “low-speed” mode allows for up to 4 fps with continuous AF active.

The Olympus E-M10 II also gets upgraded video capabilities, now able to capture Full HD (1920 x 1080) and HD (1280 x 720) video at up to 60p versus 30p for its predecessor. It can also capture Full HD and HD at 24p as well as 30p, and there’s a new ALL-I compression option with a bitrate of 77Mbps in addition to 52, 30 and 18Mbps IPB options. The E-M10 Mark II also offers a new High-Speed movie mode that captures VGA (640 x 480) video at 120 fps.

Olympus E-M10 II Review -- Back View

The most obvious trade-off in considering an E-M10 II over its higher-end siblings is the lack of weather-sealing, as that is a big selling-point for the E-M1 and E-M5/E-M5 II lines. Otherwise the E-M10 II is a compelling choice at an affordable price, and we’ll be bringing you a wide range of lab test analysis and real world experiential reports in the weeks to come.

The Olympus E-M10 II will be available in early September 2015 in a black or black/silver version for a US retail price of $649.99 (body-only) and $799.99 when kitted with the M.Zuiko 14-42mm f/3.5-5.6 EZ lens. An external grip (ECG-3) will be available for $59.99 and an accessory leather strap (CSS-S119L) for $79.99.

About the OM-D family

In 1972 a man named Yoshihisa Maitaini and his staff at Olympus designed the “OM” family of film cameras (“OM” = “Olympus Maitaini”)*. The line was viewed as revolutionary in terms of being smaller, lighter and less noisy than current competing SLR cameras of the day. The OM line was permanently discontinued in 2002, but then later resurrected as a digital line sporting a similar body style in the form of the E-M5 from 2012, a camera which won Best Compact System Camera in our Camera of the Year awards for that year.

In 2013, the flagship E-M1 was announced, and garnered Best Professional Camera of 2013 in our Camera of the Year awards. The E-M10 line debuted in 2014, which won our “Best Entry-level Mirrorless Camera” award for that year. Now, 2015 has ushered in both the E-M5 II and the E-M10 II, with the E-M5 II drawing considerable interest with its new High Resolution shooting mode.

Olympus E-M10 II Review -- Versus E-M1 & E-M5

E-M1 (left), E-M5 II (center) and the new E-M10 II (right).

Basic Specifications
Full model name: Olympus OM-D E-M10 II
Resolution: 16.10 Megapixels
Sensor size: 4/3
(17.3mm x 13.0mm)
Kit Lens: 3.00x zoom
14-42mm
(28-84mm eq.)
Viewfinder: EVF / LCD
Native ISO: 200 – 25,600
Extended ISO: 100 – 25,600
Shutter: 1/16000 – 60 seconds
Max Aperture: 3.5 (kit lens)
Dimensions: 4.7 x 3.3 x 1.8 in.
(120 x 83 x 47 mm)
Weight: 17.0 oz (483 g)
includes batteries, kit lens
Availability: 09/2015
Manufacturer: Olympus
Full specs: Olympus E-M10 II specifications

Olympus E-M10 II Walkaround

Olympus E-M10 II Review -- Product Image

The Olympus E-M10 II shown here with a non-kit lens, the 12-40mm f/2.8 Zuiko PRO.

Much like how the original E-M10 borrowed many of the design aspects and controls of the E-M5, the same goes this time around for the new E-M10 II and updated E-M5 II — though the E-M10 II does bring a few unique changes to its controls and dial layout not seen on other OM-D cameras.

The styling of the E-M10 II is still classic OM-D, with lots of external controls and dials and a cool retro-look with a large centrally-placed electronic viewfinder. Size-wise, the Olympus E-M10 II is, not surprisingly, nearly identical to its predecessor — a slightly miniaturized version of the E-M5, or the E-M5 Mark II in this case.

Olympus E-M10 II Review -- Product Image

The E-M10 II (top) controls share a lot in common with the E-M5 Mark II (bottom).

The first thing you notice that’s different on the E-M10 Mark II compared to the original is the cluster of top-deck control dials. Gone are the larger, flatter dials of the ‘Mark I,’ now replaced by thicker E-M5 II-style control dials with diamond-pattern knurling. The orientation of these dual control dials is also reverse, if you will, to match that of the E-M5 II. Now, like the E-M5 II, the thumb-facing dial is moved over close to the thumb grip, making this dial much more accessible and comfortable. And the front dial, meanwhile, is relatively unchanged location-wise, which is fine by us.

Both the front and rear command dials on the E-M10 II feel rather lightweight in terms of their rotation resistance. While some might think this will lead to easy accidental setting changes, in use, the dials feel responsive and have a pleasant “click” to them. The PASM mode dial, on the other hand, has a lot more resistance. Unlike the E-M5 II or E-M1, the mode dial here is not a locking dial, so having a stronger detent helps prevent accidental mode changes. Lastly, like its predecessor, at the rightmost edge of the top deck, sit a programmable function (Fn2) button and the video start/stop record button.

Olympus E-M10 II Review -- Product Image

Hopping over to the other side of the EVF where the PASM mode dial used to sit, the E-M10 II now features a newly designed dual-mode power switch. The thin, chrome-topped switch also does double-duty as the lever for the pop-up flash. Simply push the switch forward past the “on” position to deploy the flash. Moving the power switch up to the top-deck feels like a smart move to us, as the original power switch located on the bottom right corner on the original model seems a little out of place. Furthermore, the E-M10 II also gains room for an additional programmable Function button (Fn3) next to the on/off switch.

Olympus E-M10 II Review -- Product Image

The Olympus E-M10 (top) compared to the E-M10 II (bottom).

Moving down to the back of the camera, things remain largely unchanged compared to the original E-M10, at least from a visual standpoint. The button cluster on the right side of the camera is nearly identical, though the 4-way directional button gets a slight cosmetic change and the playback button is now situated where the power switch used to be — next to the delete/trash button, which altogether feels like a much more logical spot for such a button. The thumbrest gets a bit beefier and it now houses the Fn1 programmable function button, as the rear control dial now takes up the spot where it used to sit on the original model, but it still remains prominent, providing ample grip.

The 3-inch tilting, touchscreen LCD remains unchanged from the previous model, though software-wise, the E-M10 II offers a cool, new touch-AF mode called AF Targeting Pad, which lets you use your finger to move the AF point around while composing shots using the EVF. Similar to the new Touch Pad AF mode on the recentPanasonic GX8, you can move the AF point anywhere within the E-M10 II’s grid of AF areas using you finger while having the EVF up to your eye. It’s a little cramped up there, particularly if you’re a left-eye dominant shooter, with a finger right in front of your face while the camera’s up at your eye. An articulating, tilt/swivel LCD would make this feature much easier to use.

Olympus E-M10 II Review -- Product Image

One of the major changes to the Olympus E-M10 II is the EVF, which is now an OLED display with a 2,360K-dot resolution — like the E-M5 II — an improvement to the 1,440K-dot screen in the predecessor. The magnification also gets a noticeable boost, up from 0.57x to 0.62x, though eyepoint has dropped slightly, from 20mm to 19.2mm. A -4 to +2m-1 diopter adjustment is still provided.

On the bottom of the camera, we have the battery and memory card slots, as well as a standard tripod socket. Unlike the higher-end E-M5 II and E-M1, which conveniently separates the bottom-placed battery port and side-facing SD card slot, the E-M10 and E-M10 II put both of these items under the same door. For the most part this causes no problems, but if you shoot with a tripod often, you’ll want to make sure your tripod plate is thin so as not to block the battery/memory card door, otherwise that can get frustrating.

The battery itself, at least in model name, it slightly different that on the previous model: now a BLS-50 lithium-ion battery pack compared to the BLS-5 on the original, though they appear to be backwards compatible with each other, including the earlier BLS-1 battery pack. According to Olympus, the E-M10 II is CIPA-rated for 320 shots per charge, exactly the same as the earlier model.

The sides of the camera body remain unchanged compared to the original E-M10; the left completely is blank, while the right features a port for HDMI out (Micro HDMI, Type-D) and a multi connector that supports USB 2.0 Hi-Speed data transfer, a wired remote and analog A/V out.

(imaging-resource.com)

 

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