Features

In the nicest way possible, the E-M10 introduces nothing new and exciting in terms of features. It's not that this is a boring camera - it includes some excellent built-in functions - it's just that they've been borrowed from both of its OM-D siblings. As such, we've borrowed some of the text and examples below from previous reviews where applicable.

Image Stabilization

The E-M10 offers a '3-axis' image stabilization system, a pared down version of the '5-axis' system offered in the other OM-D models. It's still a very effective system, reliably giving me 2 extra stops of shutter speed at the long end of the 14-42mm F3.5-5.6 II zoom lens (when comparing the number of steady shots achieved with it turned on and off). Movie IS uses a combination of the 3-axis mechanical system and electronic stabilization.

HDR

Olympus' in-camera HDR feature is available in two strengths - HDR 1, for a subtle approach, and HDR 2, for a more obvious effect. Each of these modes captures four images in quick succession and compiles them into one JPEG in-camera. If you're shooting in a Raw+ mode, it will honor your choice and save a Raw file as well at the baseline exposure. The example below demonstrates the effects.

Off
HDR 1
HDR 2

The E-M10 also offers a do-it-yourself option and will bracket 3, 5, or 7 frames at 2.0EV, and 3 or 5 frames at 3.0 EV so you can do the processing later - no composite is made in-camera. Again, Raw and Raw+ modes are honored.

The E-M10's dynamic range modes have slightly different effects than the HDR modes. There's a more thorough explanation of those modes on the dynamic range page of this review. HDR modes compile multiple images in-camera to achieve a more obvious effect, while gradation 'auto' will be a little bit more subtle about pulling up shadows in a high-contrast scene, to create a more balanced image.

Live Composite

New to the E-M10 is a Live Composite mode that assembles a number of long exposure images into one composite image, while showing progress in real time on the camera's LCD.

Selecting the 'LIVECOMP' option as your shutter speed in manual exposure mode enables it. Base exposure time per image is set by the user from 1 second up to 60 seconds, and a composite can last up to 3 hours. The camera prompts the user to record an initial image for noise reduction, and once that's done a press of the shutter starts the composite. The composite ends when the shutter is pressed a second time.

While the exposure is underway, the camera's LCD will show a preview of the effects of light trails as they build up across the screen. The example here was recorded for 60 seconds with 1 second exposures.

Once Live Composite is enabled, ISO is capped at 1600 and white balance is fixed in Auto mode. Aperture can be adjusted by the user, but other information displays (like the level gauge) are unavailable on the monitor - if you've enabled level gauge in the EVF on half press of the shutter, that will be visible. In Raw+JPEG mode, a .ORF file is saved in addition to a JPEG. Art filters can be used in conjunction with Live Composite.

Live Composite worked well in a trial run on our office deck, and the progress of your exposure is easy to see. It's a nice feature for the curious beginner that the camera is targeted to, and an easy introduction to long exposure and astrophotography.

Color Creator

The E-M10 inheirits the E-M1's Color Creator feature, which makes it possible to adjust the camera's color response. Like the Highlight & Shadow Control feature, it is accessed from the Multi-Function button and allows a live preview of its effects. The interface shows a color wheel that can be navigated using the control dials - the front dial changes the hue of the tint that is added, with the rear dial controlling the saturation of the image. As a result, scrolling the rear dial can reduce saturation down to zero - giving a black and white image, but with the hue dial effectively acting as a color filter.

The Color Creator interface overlays a color wheel onto the image, with a white dot indicating the current state.
Rotating the front dial changes the 'Color' setting, i.e. the hue of the tint that's being applied to the image. The level of control is quite fine, with 30 different settings on offer.
Rotating the rear dial adjusts the saturation, and can be reduced to the point that the image is mono. This 'Vivid' setting has a range of +3 to -4.

Color Creator adjustments can be applied retrospectively in-camera to Raw images you've already taken, although in a slightly clunky fashion (you have to dial your desired settings into the Color Creator before entering the raw development process). The effects are also honored when Raw files are opened in Olympus's Raw processing software (which replicates the interface), but can be tweaked or overridden completely if you prefer. You can't save your favourite effects as presets directly, but can store them within the camera's 'Myset' memories.

The example below (photo by Barnaby Britton) from the gives some idea of the possibilities. Using the Color Creator we've been able to develop several different 'looks' from the same image, both color and monochrome. It's worth noting that the 'Color' setting in monochrome don't behave quite as you might expect, if you're used to shooting black-and-white film with color filters. The camera's Monochrome Picture Mode is probably a better bet if you want to mimic such effects, as it offers several filter and toning options.

No Filter ('Natural' Picture Mode)
Color 5 (Red), Vivid +2
Color 25 (green), Vivid -1
Color 5 (Red), Vivid -2
Color 25 (green), Vivid -4
Color 5 (Red), Vivid -4

Highlight & Shadow Adjust

We've long admired Olympus's JPEG engine, so it's understandable that the company would want to give you as many tools as possible to fine-tune your results before shooting. As with the most recent generation of Olympus cameras, the E-M10 includes the ability to adjust the highlight and shadow portions of the cameras tone curve. It uses the same implementation as the E-M5/10 - overlaying a graphic in the viewfinder so that the effect can be previewed, should you want to match the camera response to the shot you're trying to take. This preview can be combined with the cameras (tunable) highlight and shadow warnings, to give an instant sense of how much data is being clipped at the current setting.

The Highlight & Shadow interface overlays a tone curve graphic on the scene.
Turning the front and rear dials adjusts highlight and shadow curves up or down depending on which way you turn.

The Highlight and Shadow adjustments can also be combined freely with the Color Creator mode, all previewed live in the viewfinder. So overall there's huge scope for experimentation with tuning the color and tonality of your images in-camera, if that's what you want to do.

Face Detection

Olympus provides one of the nicer implementations of face detection currently available. It allows you to prioritize focus on the eyes, with the ability to specify left, right, or leave it up to the camera. The user retains the ability to control focus point, unlike Fujifilm's (unusually frustrating) system. Olympus' face detection is also one of the more effective systems we've tested.

Face detection is especially useful in a low light situation like this. Without it enabled, the camera's contrast detection AF will be drawn to the black and white stripes on the subject's shirt. Enabling face detection with priority on the eye directed focus exactly where I wanted it in this situation.

Art Filters

In-camera Art Filters are an Olympus original, and they're alive and well in the E-M10. They're available in PASM modes or the dedicated Art mode on the camera's mode dial. They can also be applied during in-camera Raw conversion, with the useful ability to apply as many or as few individual filters as you like in one go. The example below demonstrates their effects, with some exposing more color noise than others in this ISO 10,000 image.

No Filter ('Natural' Picture Mode)
Pop Art
Soft Focus
Pale&Light Color
Light Tone
Grainy Film
Pin Hole
Diorama
Cross Process
Gentle Sepia
Dramatic Tone
Key Line
Watercolor

Time Lapse Movie

The E-M10, like the E-M1 (which was used to shoot this example), includes an intervalometer function, with the option to let the camera automatically create a time lapse video too. With time lapse movie enabled, a separate 1280x720p movie file is saved alongside recorded images, and Raw or Raw+JPEG capture modes may be used. Intervals may be as short as a second or up to 24 hours, and up to 999 frames can be shot in one go.

Art Filters (like diorama, as seen in the sample video above) may be enabled in interval shooting, but only in a P/A/S/M shooting mode rather than the dedicated Art Filter mode.