22 November, 2021 seen 398When talking about mirrorless cameras in 2022, Canon, Sony, Nikon, and Panasonic are the brands to consider. In this…
The E-M10 Mark I was an excellent camera already. But the E-M10 Mark II is more than a simple update to the Mark I, released for the sake of having an inexpensive flagship mirrorless. The E-M10 Mark II has a load of features bundled into a compact body and with a price tag of less than $500.
With features like in-built image stabilization, Wi-fi, touchscreen autofocus and the time-tested 16 MP Micro 4/3rds sensor, let's see if this is the best mirrorless camera for your budget or not!
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Body design and Controls
The E-M10 II is essentially a retro stripped-down version of the E-M5 II, with lesser number of controls and a non-weather sealed body. But this does not mean that the camera's body is not ussable.
The E-M10 II handles very well, with the mode and control dials being perfectly placed. The SLR-style camera feels solid in the hand, although the addition of an external grip does make the camera even more comfortable.
Like Olympus' other OM-D models the E-M10 II is highly customizable, almost to the point of overkill. The menus are complicated, though straight out of the box the custom settings menu is hidden. That said, if you want to unleash the E-M10 II's full potential you'll have to venture into said menu.
On the top of the camera you will see more buttons than probably in a mid-range DSLR. Twin control dials, one exposure mode dial, 2 Fn buttons, 2 other buttons out of which one is for video, the On-Off lever and the flash button, and a hotshoe.
One of the biggest changes in the M10 Mark II is the touchscreen LCD and the EVF. The E-M10 II's LCD is identical to that of its predecessor. It's 3" in size, is touch-enabled, and has 1.04 million dots. The screen can tilt up and down only, and does not fully articulate. Because it is a touchscreen, focus changing becomes very easy, especially in video mode.
The EVF is one of the biggest improvements. The magnification has gone from 0.58x to 0.62x, the resolution from 1.04M to 2.36M dots, and the panel from LCD to OLED, which gives better color reproduction and saves battery.
There is also a unique feature of the camera which might prove to be very useful – the Simulated OVF. This mimics optical viewfinders and increases dynamic range of the EVF and gives a more accurate picture of the scene, rather than showing what the photo will look like with applied settings.
To summarize, it is clear that the E-M10 Mark II is not lacking controls and manual settings like many other mirrorless cameras. A lot of features – out of which the EVF, touchscreen LCD and 3 dials on top are significant – are packed in that small but hefty body. Even though the grip may not be the best, the external grip that you can buy will make things a lot better.
Sensor and Autofocus
The E-M10 II ostensibly uses the same sensor as the original E-M10 (and E-M5 II) and the similar TruePic image processor. The 16 MP Micro 4/3rds sensor is a lot more than what a general user might need.
It has been Olympus's sensor for a while and it has started to show its age, but it is still excellent. The sensor and processor expose accurately, and produce pleasing tones. With the Art filters of Olympus, you can get even more creative with JPEGs.
One thing that is a standout feature of the M10 and complements the smaller sensor very well is the 5-axis image stabilization. It works very well with all lenses and give you at least 2 stops of advantage easily.
Coming to the AF system, it is nothing exceptional. The 81-point contrast detect autofocusing works well point-to-point, even in low light. Where it falls short is continuous focusing.
Very useful when shooting people is the surprisingly effective face detection. Utilizing the sensor’s ability to identify the eyes (or even side eye) of an appropriate subject, the E-M10 II quickly jumps to the task when in single shot autofocus mode. In daylight, the action is nearly instantaneous, especially on longer lenses.
Because the E-M10 uses contrast detect for focusing, it can track subjects well enough, but without actually focusing on them. Capturing pets and children running around will be difficult with this camera, and quite often you will miss moments.
Image and Video quality
RAW dynamic range performance is very solid, with the camera adding very little noise of its own, meaning that you get a good degree of processing latitude at low ISOs and no more noise than necessary at higher ISO settings. There is noise, but it is only due to the smaller sensor, and nothing that is not seen in other mirrorless cameras too.
Even JPEGs are very good, better than most mirrorless cameras and certainly equal to starter DSLRs like the Nikon D3300. Colors and skin tones are very well-balanced.
Overall the video is pretty good, if not quite as detailed as the very best offerings from Panasonic, Sony and Samsung. However, what makes the E-M10 II interesting is how well its image stabilization system continues to work, while shooting movies. The E-M10 can shoot upto 1080/60p, and has an All-Intra compression option, which compresses and saves each frame individually.
There is also a slow motion mode, where you can capture any of the frame rates available and play it back at a slower speed. Like the Art filters for images, you also have Olympus's Movie effects, which include echo, old film effect and teleconverter effect.
You also get full manual control in video mode, though you will not be able to use Auto ISO when in full manual. Unlike the E-M5 II, there's no mic input, so you're limited to using either the built-in mics and the almost inevitable background and wind noise that comes with them, or buying an external recorder.
The M10 II does have focus peaking and highlight/shadow warnings though, for setting focus and exposure. Combined with the articulating touchscreen, this can be a handy backup video kit when attached to an external recorder.
Pros of the Olympus E-M10 Mark II
- Excellent body design with 3 metal control dials on top and many customizable buttons.
- 5-axis image stabilization that is implemented very well.
- Tilting touchscreen LCD with the ability to change focus points while keeping your eye to the EVF.
- Excellent OLED EVF with a high magnification and resolution.
- Very good image quality in both JPEG and RAW.
- Other features like the 4K Time lapse, Wi-fi, and Art filters and movie effects.
Cons of the E-M10 Mark II
- Menu system is complex and will take some time to get used to.
- Grip is not very comfortable. Optional grip will have to be added for most comfort.
- Video features and quality is average, though you do get manual control, focus peaking and zebra warnings.
- Continuous focusing is slow and not as good as what the competition offers.
- Low light performance could have been a little better.