Olympus OM-D E-M10 Review
Controls and customization
Twin control dials
The E-M10 offers a twin control dial interface. This makes no difference at all for anyone shooting in automatic mode, but is a definite benefit as soon as you switch to P, A, S or M mode. In Manual mode it means you can directly control either aperture or shutter speed, while in the other modes it means you can control an exposure parameter and exposure compensation, without any button-pressing. It's one of the most valuable things you can have on a camera that might be used in PASM modes, yet is treated like a premium feature in some manufacturer's lineups. Thankfully the likes of Olympus, Fujifilm and Pentax all offer twin dials at a relatively modest position in the range.
|The top of the camera shows its twin control dials, with a mode dial off on the left. The Fn1, Play, [Rec] and Fn2 buttons are all quite closely clustered at the top right-hand corner.|
The E-M10 includes also includes a cut-down version of the '2x2' control system used to great effect on the E-M1. The E-M10 lets you customize one of its buttons to temporarily change the functions of its control dials - giving quick access to ISO and White Balance, if you want. This (and the steps required to configure it) are possibly a little too involved for some of the users the E-M10 is aimed at, but it might well be appreciated by more demanding photographers looking for a comparatively affordable camera.
As with the E-M5, the E-M10 has three buttons that can be customized, with the option to add another two - if you're willing to forego direct AF point selection. Fn1 plays the role of AEL/AFL by default, with Fn2 offering the camera's 'Multi Function' option (more below), and the [Rec] button initiating movie recording.
|Functions that can be applied to Fn1, Fn2 and [Rec] buttons|
• Movie Record (one button only)
• Depth-of-field preview
• One-touch White Balance
• AF area select
• 'Home' AF point (resets AF point)
• Manual focus
• Raw (changes shooting format, with dial)
• Test Picture (shoots image without saving)
• Myset 1
• Myset 2
• Myset 3
• Myset 4
|• Switches between underwater modes
• Exposure comp.
• Digital Tele-converter
• [Front dial] ISO, [Rear Dial] WB
• [Front dial] WB, [Rear Dial] ISO
• Multi Function (see below)
• Level Display
These three buttons can be redefined to control any of the functions listed above (though the movie record function can only be assigned to another button after you've configured the [Rec] button to do something else). In addition, you can co-opt the down and right arrows of the four-way controller to become customizable buttons. However, in doing so, you'll lose direct AF-point control (instead having to press 'left' on the four-way arrows first). Given the ease of changing settings via the touchscreen, we wouldn't bother with this extra degree of customization.
|Functions that can be applied to the down and right arrows
(if direct AF selection is disengaged)
|• Flash mode
• Drive mode/Self-timer
• [Front dial] ISO, [Rear Dial] WB
• [Front dial] WB, [Rear Dial] ISO
• Lock Touchscreen
• Electronic zoom (when used with power zoom lens)
• Exposure Comp
As usual, the obvious question has to be: 'why are there some functions that can only be applied to four-way controller?' Because, while we can see the logic of putting a touchscreen lock button next to the screen itself, we don't think it makes sense if it means disabling direct AF-point selection (especially as locking the touchscreen obviates the other quick method of specifying where you want the camera to focus).
In addition to a wealth of customizable buttons, positions on the E-M10's mode dial can also be customized to recall specific shooting settings.
In addition to the simplified 2x2 system, the E-M10 also offers the 'Multi Function' system first introduced with the E-M5, but adding the 'Color Creator' mode introduced on the E-M1. As the name implies, the Multifunction system places several functions on the same button; press the button to use the last-used function, hold it and spin a control dial to switch between the five available functions.
|Press the Fn2 button (or whichever button you choose to assign 'Multi Function to), and you'll gain access to one of five functions, such as 'Highlight&Shadow Control.'
Spin the rear dial to adjust the JPEG shadow response, and the front dial to adjust the highlight behavior.
|Hold the Multi Function button and spin a dial, and you can cycle between the five available options...|
|...one of which is the option to temporarily access ISO and WB using the control dials.
This option can also be assigned as a single function, to any of the customizable buttons - essentially a simplified version of the E-M1 and E-P5's '2x2' control system.
One of the available functions is to apply ISO and WB to the control dials, but the one that's really worth noting is the 'Highlight & Shadow Control' system that lets you adjust the top and tail of the camera's tone curve. Even if you don't want to play around with this at the time of shooting (which is relatively easy to do, since the E-M10 lets you preview the effect as you change the settings), then you can play with the settings and apply them to Raw files, if you're trying to perfect a JPEG for printing or Wi-Fi-ing to yourself.
The E-M10 features essentially the same control system as offered in recent models, meaning it offers two main control systems - Live Control and Live SCP (Super Control Panel). The default is the rather dated, compact-camera-like 'Live Control' system. This ranges 14 options down the left-hand side of the screen - split into two pages. You can use the rear control dial to scroll through the options, and the front dial to select specific settings within each option. 'Live Control' makes no use of the camera's touchscreen.
|The default 'Live control' view requires a degree of scrolling to see all its options, and isn't touch-sensitive...||...whereas the 'Live Super Control Panel' variant is - but has to be found and liberated from the menus.|
Much better - we believe - is the 'Live Super Control Panel.' This provides access to 21 functions, all visible on a single screen. Better still, while you can navigate around the screen using the four-way arrows or the rear dial, you can select and option simply by pressing it. This means changing settings is as simple as pressing 'OK,' touching the option you want to change, then spinning the front dial.
As usual, thanks to the camera's impressive/impossible level of customization, you have to learn the menu system to configure the camera to offer Live SCP, and can choose which shooting modes you wish to use it in. In fact, if you can't make your mind up, you can set the camera to offer both Live Control and SCP, then use the 'INFO' button to swap between them, while they're active. We'd suggest finding option 'D3' in the Setup menu, selecting Live SCP for the shooting mode you use most, then forgetting about it.