Today (tonight?), I took the Olympus E-M10 out for a spin around Midtown. Actually, I took around Times Square for a little bit, before getting depressed at how garish and commercial that place is. But I digress. Here’s my working review of the Olympus E-M10, with specific regards to how well this camera works on the street and in low light. So if your an urban shooter, or a night shooter, this review is for you.
Olympus E-M10: a Proper Camera in its Own Right
A lot of reviews and commentary on this camera are going on about where it sits in the Olympus lineup. Depending on who you are (and in some cases, whether or not you already purchased an E-M5), this camera is either the camera that has replaced the E-M5, or a lacking upstart.
The Olympus E-M10 has a similar overall design to that of the 5, the big points of interest being a loss of weather sealing and accessory port, but the added features of a pop-up flash and built in WiFi. I didn’t test either of these features this time around, because we all know how they work, and the big question for this camera, more than any other, is who should buy it.
Should you buy it? What is it good for? How does it perform in real world scenarios? Is it on-par with other similarly-priced cameras out there?
Here are your answers.
So what reasons would compel someone to buy this camera, or, why should anyone anywhere buy it? Do not be mistaken – despite the fact that it’s a decent little camera, it certainly isn’t for everyone. While the E-M5 began the OM-D series, and the E-M1 offered numerous advantages, the E-M10 is that entry-level model for those who want to go Micro Four-Thirds, but haven’t yet. It’s a camera aimed at people who want something along the lines of a DSLR, but in a slightly more stylish and a little bit more expensive body.
Image quality is alright, with moderate but permissible grain around 3200, but getting worse from there – to the point of marring your images. Considering that most people who will buy this price-conscious camera are going to be uploading to Facebook and Flickr, and probably not doing large prints, this camera could work for a certain demographic. Is image quality on par with an entry level DSLR from Canon or Nikon? No, but it doesn’t have to be, either.
For street shooting, like all other Olympus cameras, it’s a decent little shooter, with the strongest selling point being its portability. Travel photographers will also appreciate this characteristic, and for those who want something marginally more robust than a Stylus or compact or even a Pen camera, the Olympus E-M10 would be the route to go.
Here are low light sample images taken with the Olympus TG-2, Olympus’ flagship waterproof (to 50 feet), shockproof, crushproof and dustproof digital camera.
With an ISO range of 100 to 6400, the 12MP TG-2 performs very well through ISO 1600.
See below for photo parameters.
Photo parameters: All images taken at largest JPEG setting, auto white balance, center focus, without flash and on a tripod using 2 second self-timer. All images cropped approximately 10% for alignment purposes and file sizes slightly reduced for comparison purposes.
The Olympus Stylus SH-50 is an advanced compact point and shoot that allows for more manual control than most cameras at this size. The SH-50 also performs beautifully in low light, with limited noise through ISO 800 and solid performance through 1600 ISO. In a pinch, you can even shoot at the SH-50’s passable ISO 3200, nearly 5 full stops faster (more sensitive) than at the camera’s lowest ISO 125 setting. ISO 6400, the SH-50’s max ISO, is noticeably noisy but still much better than we were only two or three years ago–and even quite good, as the shots below attest.
Olympus Stylus SH-50 Low Light Sample Images
Parameters: All photos were shot on a tripod at a 35mm equivalent of approximately 50mm and at an aperture of f/4.1. We then cropped the images by 25% and reduced the image size to 16 inches wide by approximately 10 inches high, maintaining a native resolution of 180 pixels / inch.