Olympus OMD EM10 First Impressions Review

The Olympus OMD EM10 is the latest addition to the OMD lineup. This camera has been in the marketplace for a few months now so I won’t bore you with the technical specifications – there are plenty of good review sites out there for that kind of thing. Instead, this post represents my first outing with this little beauty and I have to say it didn’t disappoint. There are currently three OMD cameras in circulation, the original and much lauded EM5 which proved to be a game changer thanks to its full feature set and superb image quality. Then we have the flagship EM1 which has been designed squarely for advanced and professional users, and boy is this an incredible piece of kit. But it’s also an expensive piece of kit, hence the development of the EM10 which shares many features with the EM1, whilst dispensing with some of the attributes which may be of little importance to amateurs and those new to Micro 4/3 (such as weather sealing). In fact this camera can be had at the moment for about £500 – an absolute bargain considering what you’re getting.

The EM10 is very slightly smaller than the EM5, and if this feels too small in the hand there is a very useful accessory grip which can be purchased separately. As with the rest of the cameras in this range there is a phenomenal amount of control when it comes to adjusting your settings and customising the buttons, making the camera incredibly quick and intuitive to use. The EM10 also has a built-in flash (rather than the accessory add-on flash which comes with the EM5, which is quite fiddly to put on and off when you need it) which is ideal for a bit of fill outdoors. The EM10 shares the same sensor as the EM5 but has the latest processing engine from the EM1. As expected, images are packed with detail with excellent dynamic range. The EM10 also shares its viewfinder with the EM5.

One of the great things about the OMD range is the performance – lightning fast autofocus being crucial to the work I do and instant touch focusing via the back screen is also included (don’t underestimate this feature, it’s great fun). In body stabilisation is a given, the EM10 having three axis stabilisation (versus five axis in the EM5). So far I have seen little practical difference between three axis and five axis.

I took my new camera to one of my favourite places yesterday, the Wildfowl and Wetlands Centre at Arundel in West Sussex. This is ideal for basic field tests, since you’ll find a variety of subjects from the totally static to the fast-moving. You’ll also encounter varying light conditions, from harsh sunlight to deep shade. As is usual with these cameras, there wasn’t a single shot with missed focus and the resulting images were crisp and full of life.

For birds I like the Panasonic 100-300 lens, which is a huge amount of fun and of course covers a massive focal range. The headshot of the duck was taken with the excellent and very cheap Olympus 40-150R lens. Interestingly while I was walking around I encountered another photographer who has recently sold his Canon full frame equipment to invest in the EM1 – as a consequence of reduced weight this chap was enjoying his photography once again, free from fatigue and aching limbs. I grow tired and sore very quickly when I pick up a heavy camera, and it affects my ability to work creatively. Since downscaling I’ve been able to turn out so much more work than ever before, with a renewed vigour and new enthusiasm.