Image Quality

The E-M10 inheirits the E-M5's image sensor and the E-M1's TruePic VII image processor. Consequently, we expected image quality from the E-M10 to look much like its predecessors', and that proved to be true in testing.

JPEG image quality

Image quality at base ISO and just above is very good. At low ISOs there's a little evidence of noise and noise reduction in shadow areas, but it's only seen at pixel level. Overall a good balance of detail and noise reduction is maintained up to ISO 3200. Olympus' JPEG engine takes a slightly heavier hand at sharpening and contrast by default than its peers do, but there's no evidence of halos or other unpleasantries.

ISO 200, f/4.5, 1/2000sec 100% crop
ISO 400, f/4.5, 1/250sec 100% crop
ISO 2000, f/4.5, 1/80sec 100% crop
ISO 6400, f/4.5, 1/60sec 100% crop

Fine detail holds up well to ISO 2000, but by ISO 6400 noise reduction starts to take a more noticeable toll. JPEG image quality overall measures up to the high standard set by the E-M5.

CA Correction

One of the advantages of the E-M10's newer TruePic VII image processor is its built-in chromatic aberration correction, something the E-M5 and its TruePic VI processer don't offer. The comparison below shows the E-M10 correcting the slight purple fringing on the right side of the Space Needle that the E-M5 didn't clean up.

E-M10 with 14-42mm II lens @ 14mm ISO 200, 1/1600 sec, F5.6
100% crop, JPEG from E-M10 100% crop, JPEG from E-M5

Raw

A major advantage in shooting Raw is the ability to recover tone and detail from parts of an image that the camera's JPEG engine hasn't revealed. The example below shows how far you can take the Olympus E-M10's Raw files in Adobe Camera Raw. The left image was converted in ACR 8.4 (Beta) at default exposure settings, and the example on the right reflects increases in exposure and shadows. No noise reduction was applied in ACR to either image.

ACR default settings with NR off ACR with Exposure +0.30 exposure, +40 shadows with NR off
100% crop 100% crop

At the E-M10's evaluative metering setting, the camera has chosen an exposure ideal for the bright buildings in the background, leaving some of the foreground in shadows. Processing the Raw file shows there's room for pulling up shadows, and some of the detail lost in the greenery at default settings can be revived without revealing too much noise in the scene.

Standard noise reduction does a good job overall balancing detail and noise, but especially in the case of a landscape shot such as the one below, at high ISO it can start to give a watercolor appearance to fine detail. The E-M10's Raw files yield better results to those who want to apply their own noise reduction in post processing.

Original JPEG, ISO 1600 Raw file converted in ACR 8.4
100% crop 100% crop

If you'd like to experiment with the E-M10's .ORF files yourself, download the examples below:

Flash

The E-M10's built-in flash unit has a guide number of 5.8. It also provides the ability to wirelessly control a remote flash, a feature that entry-level DSLRs of comparable standing don't often include. Flash sync speed is 1/250 sec.

While it's nice to have a built-in flash, we found its behavior in auto mode a bit peculiar in situations with ambient light. Rather than raising the ISO and lowering flash output, it used a low ISO and a stronger output, throwing harsh shadows and overpowering the soft window light seen in the sample here. Raising the ISO manually created a much nicer overall exposure.