I know there is plenty of reviews of this camera but lots of them seem from either long-term Olympus users or users of some other systems who were disappointed and switched.I am neither and I am currently multisystem user.Please skip the intro if you want to go directly to the review, however intro can shine a little light on the review 'methodology' and hopefully convince people reading this that I am not a fan boy nor biased towards any manufacturer. In any case, get ready for somewhat lengthy review.INTRODUCTIONHere is a little background information on me before the actual review to put this into perspective.I am by no means a professional photographer; however, I have been on and off serious amateur photographer for almost 20 years now, going back all the way to 35mm film SLR cameras. My first encounters with film SLR camera were more than 30 years ago.I got into digital photography as soon as first, under 1 MP cameras, became available.When it comes to photography I consider myself purist and pragmatic in a sense that I am not a pixel peeper, I don't do very extensive technical tests with test sheets and such. All I really care is the subject of the photo and it looks to my eyes and eyes of other people I care about. Some of my most favorite photos are not the sharpest ones as that is not always the point (just my opinion).I also tend to have realistic expectations when it comes to the results of amateur photography. I do not expect every picture to be perfect and every print to be perfect. This is something I carried over from film photography and digital makes it so much more cost effective as you can take hundreds of pictures and pick the ones you really like.I shoot mostly landscapes (including sunsets both on land and water), nature (national and state parks), cityscapes (including architecture and historical sites), museums, astrophotography (both lens and telescope based), macro, airshows and lately got into birds.I shoot occasionally people and gatherings but not nearly as much as the previously mentioned subjects.I shoot RAW unless equipment does not allow it. I used to shoot RAW+JPEG but did not like some JPEG engines and decided to convert myself.I am currently multisystem owner and use the following (in no particular order): Pentax K-1 (landscapes, sunsets, nature, cityscapes, museums, astrophotography), Canon 70D (birding, airshows, astrophotography), Canon 5D Mark II (astrophotography, airshows, macro, portraits), Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark II (parties, walk around and opportunity shooting), Sony HDRAS100V/W (action and underwater), Fujifilm FinePix Real 3D (used rarely, 3D only) and recently Canon M50 (travel and some birding).I have also had a brief encounter with Nikon system but sold it off for various reasons and the same with Panasonic G9 which I had to sell as well(review of that later).I am still looking for this one can fit all system but have not found it yet. Sony might be getting there slowly and may be forcing others to innovate but as of now I cannot see using just one camera for everything.However, being multi system user gives me the opportunity to share my unbiased experiences, with some opinions to boot 😊.I never was a true fan boy, which is even more true now than ever, and I can be very critical in some way or other of every system I currently own or used to own.For assortment of lenses I use please see my other reviews as the list is too long to mention here 😊.REVIEW of OM-D E-M10 Mark II.I know there have been multiple, some very glowing reviews written about this camera.If you read my intro above, you should surmise by now that I am no fan boy of any system. The intention of this review is more to put a little perspective on both the E-M10 camera and the micro 4/3 system for the people using other systems and give them ideas of what this camera is and is not capable of. Especially if they are on the fence of changing the entire system.As I have learned by now, every camera system has its limitations and I always consider camera as part of the ecosystem because without it camera itself is mostly useless (maybe excluding astrophotography).I have bought this camera mainly due to the two following reasons. My longtime friend and longtime user of Canon system has switched to Olympus E-M10 and has been raving about it ever since (speaking of fan boys 😊). Second reason was that recently the price for the E-M10 Mark II with kit lens went down so much I could not resist trying it out.I did quite a lot of comparative shooting with this camera and my Pentax K-1 and Canons.Subjects included landscapes, sunsets, cityscapes, nature (some birds) and people. None of the comparisons are very technical in nature, no technical diagrams and studio technical shots. Just plain photography intended on testing various aspects of camera capabilities. Shooting both handheld and on tripod.FIRST IMPRESSIONS.It is much smaller than I expected. It is not a bad thing and even though my hands are on the larger side I had no problem handling it at all. I can see it as a huge benefit for walk around shooting or hiking/biking/skiing.The lens included in the kit is not that large but sticks out a little bit. It is not like point and shoot lenses that retract flash with the body. There is a version of this lens that does that.I had no problem putting camera with lens into my jacket pocket but had to really try hard to fit it into my slacks front pocket. Forget about jeans 😉.For the small size it does have some substantial feel to it. I mean the camera body because the lens is light as a feather.Altogether pretty good feel.I like the dual control dials. Overall menu and control system is quite good and for the camera of this size and price, quite impressed.The articulating LCD screen is okay. I say just okay because it only articulates up and down and the movement range is not very substantial. The touch screen is useful. My only gripe would be the size of the effective screen area. There is plenty of room on the screen itself and quite a bit of it goes to waste.It becomes even more important given the small size of the camera itself and when you have eyesight issues when you cannot wear glasses that accommodate all focal adjustments.I have astigmatism combined with near vision issues and the bigger the screen the better for me. I can use Olympus screen to compose frame and change some parameters but photo review for me is useless due to the small size.Exposure simulation on the rear screen is okay but not really what you will see in the final RAW file on your computer and it is so small which makes it even more difficult to judge.EVF (electronic view finder). This is something that gets a lot of people excited and in awe of but not me. I have not mentioned that I also used to do a lot of home videos in the days when camcorders with EVFs were all the rage. Therefore, I am used to EVF, neither liked it nor disliked it. This implementation is of course much better as we are now in 21st century.However, EVF exposure simulation or display, whatever you call it, is not really what the final RAW result is. I my opinion EVF exposure simulation is worse than the one on rear LCD and I would not completely rely on it, especially in challenging light environments. Seems that colors are quite off so is the level of exposure as compared to final RAW photo file. Not scientifically proven, jut to my old tired but experienced eyes.What I do not like about this camera is the implementation of battery compartment and SD card. Having them together is a not a good idea. This design was mostly used in point and shoot cameras. Coupled with what looks like flimsy battery door lock mechanism it is just asking for trouble. I will be gentle with it, but one should not have to. Just my opinion.Another gripe I have is that they use a different USB connection on the camera end so yet another different cable to the collection. One might say that you can just pop the card out and transfer images that way. Yes, but this coupled with the above-mentioned battery compartment/SD card implementation makes it even more questionable.Body is not weather sealed for those adventurous types, so please keep that in mind.If you want weather sealing I believe you need to go to E-M5.The subject of battery life. Yes, it is much shorter that Canon, Nikon and even Pentax but if you tinker with the menu and switch on all the possible energy savings features than it can last longer than some might expect. Nowhere near the beforementioned, however semi-decent. I get between 350-450 shots but not using rear screen almost at all (by cheating as it cannot be fully switched off). Just buy some cheap 3rd party batteries and change them when needed. They are small to boot. The problem that creeps here again is the battery door. Hopefully it will last.REAL LIFE SHOOTING.Now on how it shoots. RAW only, no manipulation in software of any kind.IBIS (In Body Image Stabilization) is great. No two ways about it. You can hand hold down to some low shutter speeds with no to minimal penalty. Canon, Nikon and some others should take some notice, Pentax is already there, and Sony is getting on the bandwagon. This helps to keep ISO as low as possible which is advisable with this camera (on that later).Electronic shutter is also nice. I can see problems when shooting action abut I do not think this camera is geared for that anyways.Photos taken with this camera are impressive if the ISO is kept under 800. Over 1600 it gets very dicey in low light environments. IBIS helps with sunsets and one can always use tripod. However subject movement cannot be controlled with that.The color spectrum of this camera is quite different to what I am used to. It tends to go in the counterclockwise direction on the hue scale (left on hue adjustment).The initial apparent sharpness with the included lens seems amazing but as I said, it seems. I had a hunch that Olympus might be somehow ‘cheating’ a little bit with sharpness. Therefore, I did some extra tests to confirm my suspicion.The corner sharpness is obviously good, but this has to do more with the lens on micro 4/3 system and the optical design. Do not get me started on physics here. Bottom line 4/3 systems, due to their construction, have larger depth of field.For example, 4/3 F2.8 equals full-frame F5.6. Thus, you can see how 4/3 system may seem sharper at the same F number but it is not a fair comparison. Lots of full frame lenses are much sharper at their F5.6 than F2.8, so if you want to compare 4/3 system with lens you need to compare F2.8 with F5.6 on full frame.In addition to that, Olympus does something strange to JPEGs it generates from RAW in its own software. Not sure if the same happens to in camera JPEGs, because I have not used them.Here is what my impressions are on the JPEGs generated from RAW. When you preview them in the fit to screen mode (less than 1:1 which would be full size), they seem very sharp all across. However, when you display them 1:1 (full size) the sharpness somewhat goes away. It is quite apparent when you crop to display full size resolution.Of course, this is a comment for the kit lens I purchased and the overall sharpness may get better with other lenses, but I have a suspicion that this has something to do with the combination of sensor and internal/software processing. You would think 16 megapixels 4/3 would extrapolate to 32 megapixels full frame, being 2 to 1 crop factor but it doesn’t really work like that here.Do not get me wrong, it is not bad, but it is quite visible in crops. See attached example of 1/4 crop made with the same composition compared to Pentax K-1, no adjustments to either, just cropped in Paint Shop Pro 2019.In general, for Web posts, medium prints and social media posts the resolution is great.Autofocus seems to work very good in the single shot, especially with center point, even in low light and at high ISO.What does not work too well is the autofocus for bursts, especially for moving subjects. Quite ways to go compared to Canon 70D and worse than Pentax K-1 where autofocus on moving subject does not shine there either.My overall impressions of photos are that they look pretty good in general and very good considering the size and price point, rivaling some and beating other APS-C cameras. Color reproduction, although quite different to what I am used to, is very good and this always can be tweaked.I have not played at all with any of the creative filters, scenes and modes as I usually do not use them.I also rarely use HDR and have not tested it in this camera either.One thing I might try is multi exposure shooting and bracketing.CASE FOR JUMPING THE SHIP TO OLYMPUS.Now, for all of you on Canon or Pentax systems some quick pointers on why you may not want to make a total switch.Canon shooters.Ergonomics, although different, are not better nor worse than Canon. I had no time getting used to them.If you need raggedness and weather sealing, E-M10 Mark II will not do. Need to move up to higher model.If you are a Canon full-frame owner and like the flexibility of full-frame shooting I would not jump a ship. Low light, depth of field, action shooting and astrophotography will be a downgrade in my opinion.If you are Canon APS-C shooter and want to switch, you might want to consider E-M5 instead but depth of field, action shooting and astrophotography will still be a downgrade in my opinion.However, I would recommend adding this kit to your collection, especially given the price point and capabilities. This way you will have a convenient party, hiking/biking/skiing camera.Astrophotography deficiencies are not entirely due to high noise, high ISO shooting but also due to lack of third party software and hardware support which is pretty much focused on Canon and Nikon these days.Pentax shooters.Ergonomics, in my opinion, are worse than Pentax with exception of touch screen which is missing in Pentax. In any other way I feel the Pentax ergonomics are much better. I also put Pentax ergonomics above Canon and Nikon. I my opinion Pentax K-1 has the best controls and ergonomics of any camera I have come across in my life.Since I only have experience with K-1 so I will speak only to full-frame.If you do a lot of landscape, architecture or nature work, crop a lot, print large prints (24 inches and bigger), E-M10 Mark II will never replace your K-1.If you need raggedness and weather sealing, E-M10 Mark II will not do.Here again, I would recommend adding this kit to your collection given the price point and capabilities just to have a convenient party, hiking/biking/skiing camera. Just be more careful due to lack of ruggedness.In general, I think that micro 4/3 systems have their place in photography but when it comes to high resolution crop work I think they are reaching their technical limits. You can only pack so many pixels on a small sensor area without a penalty to the quality. I know photons are very small 😊 but a group of photons does have a size and in this case size matters.On the other hand, there are techniques you can implement to overcome lack of resolution like multi-shot and stitching but it is a compromise and you can also do that with other systems and achieve even better results.SUMMARYPros:In Body Image Stabilization. Every camera should have that. Pentax does but neither Canon nor Nikon do except for new Nikon mirrorless.The small size, even with this kit lens. EZ lens seems better in that respect. Please remember that portability decreases significantly with some of the Pro lenses and the system becomes awkwardly unbalanced (if you care about such things).Solid build, however not ragged. Except for the darn battery/card door.Selection of focus point using touch screen while looking through EVF. I think every camera with touch screen should have that.The ergonomics (for the most part).The equality of the photos, if you do not crop much.The sharpness considering the included kit lens.The colors, once you get used to them.Single shot autofocus.Touch screen.Built in intervalometer. Canon are you listening!! Magic lantern could do it so can you. Pentax has it too.Focus bracketing. Too bad it cannot be used with intervalometer.Software. It is actually pretty good. Better than Canon Digital Photo Professional and in some ways better then Pentax Digital Camera Utility.Last but not the least, the price!!!Cons:Battery/SD card compartment. Combined with need change battery more often may generate future problems. Hopefully not.I could find no way of completely switching off rear LCD. This could help battery life tremendously.Low light and high ISO noise. Some people say they use 1600 successfully but I would not use anything over 800.Continuous autofocus is pretty dismal. Not a nature photography camera unless your subjects do not move at all and you use single focus.No weatherproofing.Small LCD (con because of my eyesight). If you have 20/20 vision it might be okay.Neutral:EVF. To me not that great of a deal. There is a delay I can see could cause issue is some shooting scenarios. Also, the What You See Is What You Get effect is not quite there. Final photos look different than in EVF. It is close but not the same. Rear LCD is much closer but that is the same case with DSLRs.WIFI. I rarely use this feature on any of my cameras that have that feature.HDR. Several modes are available, but I barely ever use it.Built-in flash. I avoid using flash. I also do not do studio shots.Touch focus. I found it useful for videos but not so much for picture taking.Video capability. I use my cameras mostly for photos. My video cameras are Sony action cam and Canon 70D for regular videos due to amazing touch and follow focus.RATING.This is the tricky part because lot of times people give rating based on the comparison to what they have, what they had or want to have.I usually give the rating based on what I think the product is meant to do and what it can do for me. I also consider the price point.It is worth mentioning that the review depends on when it is written as the photography equipment landscape changes about every 6-12 months and what seemed like a great tool 2 years ago might not be such a great one now.Therefore, there is no such a thing as an objective review, but I always try to get as close as possible.In that respect I would have to give it 4 stars as 3.5 stars do not exist.It does not mean it is as good as Pentax K-1 or some Canons. In quite a few areas is not even close. Since Pentax gets 4 stars from me and Canon 5D Mark II got 5 stars in his day, it is all relative.If I was comparing them now I would have to give Pentax K-1 4.5, my Canons 4 and Olympus 3.5 but no such a rating, so 4 stars it is.CONCLUSIONI would highly recommend this camera to anyone wanting to start dabbling in more serious amateur photography (more serious than a point and shoot camera).I would also recommend it as a secondary tool to whatever existing system you might already have, I am keeping mine for now.As to switching from Pentax or Canon I would advise to analyze your shooting needs and by all means consider the switch to micro 4/3 but if so, I would rather go for E-M5 Mark II. The cost of it has come down so it is good alternativeOne problem I see with micro 4/3 and especially with Olympus that pro lenses are quite expensive. Little cheaper than other Canon and Nikon but not as much as one would expect by size difference.However, your shooting needs might change during your photography hobby so keep open mind.If you are a Pro you know better, therefore do not listen to me 😊.
February 5, 2019
After lots and lots of research and reading reviews I decided to get this little guy as a bring everywhere camera. To keep it in the car with me at all times as opposed to lugging around my D7100 and bigger lenses. First of all it is much much smaller than any dslr. Pics don't really describe how small these really are until you get them in your hand. I really wanted something compact that I could have with me all the time, but much nicer than say a cell phone. I immediately ordered the Panasonic 42.5 and also the Oly 25 1.8 since I tend to love the classic 50mm and 85mm equivalent. Both are very nice little prime lenses. I can't emphasize this enough, but the size of these Micro 4/3 cameras is amazing. They're tiny. Anyway after using this for a month or so and taking it on a few trips I've come away with a few thoughts.Size: The size is awesome and it's very nice to be able to just throw it in the car on the front seat and have it all the time. I had a blast using it with my gorillapod to shoot little waterfalls back home, and being able to just plop it down and quickly get a shot is great. I bought a little messenger bag (Tenba dna-8 which is awesome) and it's just a real nice lightweight setup to carry.2: In body 5 axis stabilization (IBIS) is awesome. You can get clean hand held shots pretty consistently down to about 1/4 second.3: picture quality: The pictures are very nice. They get noisy pretty quickly at higher ISOs and it's quite noticeable compared to my d7100. If you shoot JPEG the noise reduction is pretty good but results in very soft but useable images at higher ISOs. I shoot RAW and do nr in post. It's a smaller sensor, so the dynamic range is a little less than a bigger DSLR but it's still plenty good enough.4: Battery life: The battery life isn't too terrible if you leave the screen review off and have it timeout quickly. Otherwise coming from a dslr setup, the battery life is quite terrible in comparison. I managed to burn through a battery in a few hours at night when I first got it (that was before turning off screen review after every shot and having it not timeout at all). So having a backup battery is what I would consider a must. Update 3/5/17: the battery life is just fine for a days worth of shooting. I took it out for some star trails using live composite the other night and let it run for an hour. Came back home and still showed full battery. So definitely not an issue, but still much less life than a DSLR.5: Ergonomics: Being small these MFT cameras leave a lot to be desired when it comes to ergonomics and layout of the buttons. I really miss having the top screen of my D7100 for quickly checking and setting ISO/Aperture, metering etc. Obviously being so small, you naturally don't have room for all of the extra buttons/dials that a bigger bodied camera affords. Olympus has what they refer to as a super control panel, and it allows you to change most things most used via that onscreen. It's fairly easy to use once you get used to it, but in many ways it reminds me of my Nikon D5100 which you had to change many settings onscreen as well, with hardly any shortcuts for often used functions compared to a DSLR.Conclusion: If I have the choice, I'll reach for my d7100 everytime if size isn't a factor for the day. It's just much easier to use quickly and I prefer the picture quality over the omd. Update 3/5/17: after even more use my last statement is becoming less and less true. The simple fact that I have this with me all the time and am becoming more used to using it, it's just a pure joy to use. The focus is dead accurate, and ibis at night is just awesome. Took it out with my son last night to the fair, and got some pretty nice shots at the fair at ISO 200 and 1/4 second or less. Completely awesome for hand held light trails of the rides and such. When I wanted shots with him, just turned the ISO up to keep the shutter speed up and it nailed darn near every shot. It's amazing. I love it. At the current price of 499 it's just an absolute steal. Think I payed 650 a couple months back. The entire point of getting this was to compliment my bigger setup, being able to always have it with me and not miss those opportunities that arrive and you wish you had a camera with you. Would I recommend one of these as a first camera? Absolutely! Whether this is your first and only camera, or your second and smaller "little camera" it's truly fantastic. The value this thing brings is just amazing. I currently have the pany 42.5 1.7, the oly 25 1.8 and the oly 9-18 and it's really a perfect setup for me. Covers 99% of anything I'll ever feel like shooting, and with a few nd's thrown in the mix for long exposures it's a perfect everyday setup. Highly recommended. Happy shooting 🙂
February 2, 2017