The Olympus OM-D E-M10 is the third camera in the company's OM-D range and represents another tier in the lineup - sitting below the E-M5 and the even more expensive E-M1. It uses the same 16 megapixel Four Thirds sensor as the E-M5, though doesn't offer that camera's weatherproofing. From the E-M1 it gets the latest TruePic VII image processor and built-in Wi-Fi connectivity. Clearly, the E-M10 leans on some highly capable genetics.

The E-M10 doesn't have all the enthusiast trimmings of the E-M1, but it is targeted to a slightly more serious or developing photographer, rather than a casual snapshooter. With a built-in viewfinder, dual control wheels and number of customizable controls, it's aimed for the photographer who wants to take some control over shooting settings, though it does have an Auto mode for shooters not yet ready to take that step. It presents all of the light-and-compact benefits of Micro Four Thirds, with a few more SLR-like touches (viewfinder and direct controls) that an enthusiast will appreciate.

The first of Olympus's OM-D models, the E-M5, impressed us a great deal when it was launched, and struck a chord with our readers - comfortably winning our first annual 'camera of the year' poll. And the cause for the excitement? A combination of the best image quality we'd seen from a Four Thirds sized sensor and a well-considered set of controls that offered an enthusiast DSLR-style experience in a much smaller body, which was genuinely unprecedented. Overall it was the most complete and coherent mirrorless camera we'd seen up until that point.

The E-M10 offers almost everything the E-M5 did, plus a bit more, at a much lower starting price. Whereas the E-M5 debuted at a cost of around $999 body-only, the E-M10 hit the market at around $699 (or $799 with the collapsible 14-42mm II R lens).

The story is slightly different in the UK, where Olympus is bundling the E-M10 with the tiny 14-42mm F3.5-5.6 EZ power zoom lens that was announced at the same time. This kit costs around £699, with a £529 price tag to buy it body-only. This means the body-only price is only around $30 more expensive than the US price, if VAT is removed to compare them on an equal footing.

OM-D E-M10 key features

  • 16MP Four Thirds CMOS sensor
  • Twin control dials
  • Built-in flash
  • 8 fps continuous shooting
  • Tilting 1.04M dot LCD touchscreen
  • 1.44m dot LCD viewfinder
  • Wi-Fi allowing remote control and file transfer to smartphones
  • Focus peaking
  • '3-axis' image stabilization

Looking through that list, you'll see that the E-M10 is essentially an un-weather-sealed E-M5 but with a better rear screen and the ability to easily send images off to a smart device. And, in use, that's a pretty accurate way of looking at things. But just looking at what's new or different risks downplaying how much is carried over from the E-M5.

Despite its fairly modest (mid-range DSLR level) pricing, the E-M10 retains not only a full twin dial control setup, giving you plenty of direct access to exposure settings, but also a touchscreen that helps make it quick to change secondary settings (gradation, white balance, ISO, etc.). As usual, Olympus hasn't made any moves to simplify or dumb-down its menu system, with all the advantages and disadvantages that brings.

Model
OM-D E-M10
OM-D E-M5
PEN E-P5
 Sensor
16MP CMOS
16MP CMOS
16MP CMOS
 Image processor
TruePic VII
TruePic VI
TruePic VI
 Image stabilization
3-axis
5-axis
5-axis
 Stabilization effectiveness (CIPA)
3.5 stops
~4 stops
~4 stops
 Accessory Port?
No
Yes
Yes
 Screen specifications
1.04m dot,
WVGA LCD
614k dot,
VGA equiv. OLED
1.04m dots
WVGA LCD
 Electronic viewfinder
1.44m dot,
SVGA LCD
1.44m dot,
SVGA LCD
Optional
 Built-in flash?
Yes
No
Yes
 Wi-Fi?
Yes
No
Yes
 Maximum shutter speed
1/4000 sec
1/4000 sec
1/8000 sec
 X-Sync speed (external flash)
1/200 sec
1/200 sec
1/250 sec
 Movie options
1080/30p MOV
up to 24Mbps
1080/60i MOV
up to 20Mbps
1080/60i MOV
up to 20Mbps
 Battery life (shots/charge, CIPA)
320
360
330
 Environmental sealing?
No
Yes
No

In the negative column, you can see that the E-M10 misses out on the E-M5's 5-axis stabilization - which means it's not quite as effective (particularly when shooting close-ups). The shutter mechanism, meanwhile, allows a maximum shutter speed of 1/4000th of a second, in contrast to the 1/8000 sec offered by Olympus's most recent models, the E-P5 and E-M1. The good news is that we didn't find it to be prone to the image shake that can occur with the PEN E-P5.

The E-M10 also does without an AP2 accessory port, but this isn't necessarily a huge drawback - with the exception of the SEMA-1 stereo mic option, most of the available accessories aren't terribly relevant for E-M10 owners thanks to its built-in EVF and Wi-Fi.

However, the things the E-M10 adds are rather nice - the rear screen is a noticeable improvement, as is the inclusion of the 'Adaptive Brightness' viewfinder technology first introduced in the E-M1. This brightens and darkens the viewfinder panel, based on the ambient lighting conditions. As a result, the viewfinder ends up being bright in bright light without then being blinding in low light. It's a little thing (to the point that you don't necessarily notice it happening), but it helps provide a more OVF-like experience.

Although we wouldn't expect a huge number of E-M10 owners to buy lots of extra lenses, there are a healthy number of comparatively affordable (circa $300) lenses available from Olympus and Panasonic.

Electronic zoom

In the UK, the E-M10 is sold with the m.Zuiko 14-42mm F3.5-5.6 EZ MSC power zoom. It's a very compact lens (even smaller than Panasonic's 14-42 Vario X powerzoom) but despite its size, finds room for both a zoom and focus rings. Our test unit includes a clever sprung-iris lens cap that gives a compact-camera-like experience. It's a nice touch, but unfortunately not included with the lens and is offered at an additional £40 in the UK. In the US (initially, at least), the lens will only be available separately, at a cost of around $349 (and another $40 if you want the neat lens cap).