Conclusion

Pros Cons
  • Very good JPEG and Raw image quality
  • Effective 5-axis image stabilization
  • Stylish, compact body
  • Tiered dials on top plate are perfectly placed
  • Responsive and accurate autofocus system
  • High resolution OLED electronic viewfinder
  • Electronic shutter allows for silent shooting
  • Focus point can be adjusted with eye on the viewfinder
  • Handy tilting touchscreen LCD
  • Fast continuous shooting
  • Tons of special effect modes
  • 4K time-lapse mode
  • Easy-to-use Wi-Fi
  • Menus can be overwhelming
  • Simplistic Auto ISO feature
  • Struggles to maintain focus on moving subjects
  • Average video quality and feature set
  • No 4K video
  • Most comfortable with optional grip

The Olympus E-M10 II is the follow-up to the company's already very capable entry-level OM-D, the E-M10. This Micro Four Thirds mirrorless camera offers a time-tested 16MP sensor, a stylish body with highly customizable controls, a host of features for all levels of photographer, and a very nice electronic viewfinder. It finds itself among some very tough competitors, namely the Fujifilm X-T10, Panasonic Lumix DMC-G7, and Sony a6000 mirrorless cameras and the Nikon D5500 DSLR - and it keeps up pretty well in most respects.

Design

While neither as rugged nor or weatherproof as its more expensive OM-D cousins, the E-M10 II is still a solid camera, the design of which has been well thought out. It has the same DSLR-style design as the E-M5 II, though what makes the E-M10 II stand out from that camera are the three dials on its top plate. These three dials (two control, one mode) are tiered, so they're distinguishable by touch, and right where you need them. The rear thumb rest is not as well placed though, and feels quite plasticky compared to the rest of the camera.

The power switch has a very long 'throw', and your finger can sometimes get in the way when you're trying to raise the pop-up flash. One thing that the majority of the DPR editorial staff agreed on is that the E-M10 II is a lot more comfortable to hold with the optional (and smartly designed) EGM-3 grip attached.

ISO 200, 1/160 sec, F3.5, 80mm equiv. Converted from Raw. Highlights -100, sharpening 33/0.8, luminance NR 8.

Olympus' mirrorless cameras have always been very customizable and the E-M10 II is no exception. If a body element can be pushed or rotated, odds are that you can change its function. Where the camera really gets difficult to use - especially considering the E-M10 II's target audience - is if and when you need to dive into its menus. The normal shooting tabs contain less commonly-used functions, while the good stuff is hidden in a multi-level, difficult to navigation custom settings menu. The custom settings menu is not for the faint of heart, even causing confusion (still) among several grizzled DPReview staffers.

One of the nicest improvements compared to the original E-M10 is a larger, higher resolution OLED electronic viewfinder. Its resolution of 2.36 million dots and vivid colors make the EVF a pleasure to shoot with. The tilting LCD, which has good outdoor visibility, also came in handy for shooting over crowds. The LCD is touch-enabled and allows you to take a photo, focus (even with your eye to the EVF), navigate menus, and review images you've taken.

Another new addition is a 5-axis image stabilization system. While not quite as robust as the one on the E-M5 II, the IS system did an impressive job, especially in movie mode (and even more so with added digital stabilization).

Handling

The shooting experience is very positive in nearly all respects. The E-M10 II starts up very quickly and focuses with very little delay. We were especially impressed with how well the face and eye detection worked, especially when shooting portraits with a telephoto prime. There's a catch though: it doesn't work as remarkably well for moving subjects as we're seeing with some of the camera's competitors. And in general, although the E-M10 II does a decent job of tracking subjects (like faces or eyes) across and around the frame, it does not do very well when tracking in depth, which is to say it's not as good at actually focusing on that subject continuously. The camera can shoot continuously at 8.5 fps with single AF and 4 fps with continuous AF.

Feature-wise you'll find a ton of special effect modes as well as full control over exposure. You can bracket to your heart's content, adjust highlights and shadows using a clever interface, and edit Raw images right from playback mode. Something that didn't impress us quite as much is the E-M10 II's Auto ISO implementation, which isn't very programmable (no easy way to bias the minimum allowed shutter speed), is challenging to set up, and does not offer the ability to adjust exposure compensation in manual (M) mode.

ISO 200, 1/320 sec, F3.5, 80mm equiv. Photo: Jeff Keller

The E-M10 II is well-suited to street photography as well, partly thanks to its fully electronic shutter. This allows for silent shooting and shutter speeds as fast as 1/16000 sec. However, there's a noise penalty accompanied by the electronic shutter at high ISOs, and rolling shutter may be an issue when panning. We recommend using the camera's electronic first-curtain shutter (illustrated by a diamond symbol in the menus), which reduces the risk of blurry photos caused by shutter vibration, and offers little to no noise penalty.

In the video department the E-M10 II records 1080/60p and 24p video at bit rates as high as 77Mbps. As with still shooting, exposure can be adjusted but there's no way to adjust brightness using Auto ISO in manual mode. There aren't any more 'pro' video features such as zebra pattern or audio level adjustment, and the camera also lacks an external mic jack.

Image Quality

The E-M10 II ostensibly uses the same sensor as the original E-M10 (and E-M5 II) and a similar image processor, so its image quality didn't come as too much of a surprise. The camera exposes accurately, produces pleasant, punchy colors, and keeps noise levels down. JPEG output opts for smooth, low noise results at the cost of the very finest detail, but never to a degree we were unhappy with.

Shutter speeds around 1/100th of a second are prone to shutter shock, which can result in soft images. This is solved by using the 0sec Anti-shock setting which appears to have very little downside, so we'd recommend leaving this feature switched on.

ISO 200, 1/320 sec, F2.8, 64mm equiv. Photo: Dan Bracaglia

Raw dynamic range performance is very solid, with the camera adding very little noise of its own, meaning that you get a good degree of processing latitude at low ISOs and no more noise than necessary at higher ISO settings.

With respect to low-light performance, the E-M10 II performs similarly to its micro four-thirds siblings. This means there's a noise cost to be paid compared to larger sensor cameras since the M10 II's sensor is smaller than that of, say, its APS-C rivals. However, as we noted in our review of the E-M5 II, its sensor is good enough that it performs competitively against some of them: the E-M10 II nearly catches up to the low-light performance of the Sony a6000, for example. Overall, you can expect slightly better ISO performance than smaller 1"-type sensor cameras like the Nikon 1 J5, around a stop worse performance compared to class-leading APS-C cameras like the Nikon D5500, and around two stops worse performance than the best full-frame cameras. Read our in-depth analysis on our studio page.

Overall Conclusion

As with its predecessor, the Olympus E-M10 II brings the best features from its more expensive siblings and puts them into a reasonably priced (albeit less robust) package. It doesn't feel as much as a traditional photographic tool as its main competitor, the Fujifilm X-T10, nor can't it track moving subjects as well as DSLRs like the Nikon D5500, but in most respects the E-M10 II keeps up nicely. 

The E-M10 II is well-suited for those moving up to a more capable mirrorless camera and don't need the weather-sealing of the E-M5 II. The E-M10 II is also an attractive choice for those seeking a lightweight second camera. Either way, the E-M10 II offers a lot of camera for the money, and is well worth considering.

Scoring

Olympus OM-D E-M10 II
Category: Mid Range Interchangeable Lens Camera / DSLR
Build quality
Ergonomics & handling
Features
Metering & focus accuracy
Image quality (raw)
Image quality (jpeg)
Low light / high ISO performance
Viewfinder / screen rating
Performance
Movie / video mode
Connectivity
Value
PoorExcellent
Conclusion
The Olympus OM-D E-M10 II is an inexpensive yet well-specified mirrorless camera whose design, image quality, performance and feature set make it a compelling choice. That said, the E-M10 II's menus can be confusing, the lack of 4K video is disappointing, and subject tracking needs improvement.
Good for
Budget-minded photographers who don't want to skimp on features. Those seeking a compact 'second camera'.
Not so good for
Video enthusiasts and those who wish to keep moving subjects in focus.
80%
Overall score

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