Olympus E-10 Review
Overall Image Quality
The E-10 produces excellent, sharp, detailed, well exposed images with a wide dynamic range. It's the first digital camera with 4 million real pixels of resolution and is definitely capable of using every single pixel, colours are a little more more neutral (read "less saturated") than seen on other digital cameras but that's often preferable to over-saturated or inaccurate colour.
To some the E-10's images may look a little "flat", understand however that the E-10 is designed to perform consistently and a professional tool, as such it performs far less processing to the final image so that you may get the best possible (and unaltered) image. Also, because of it's wide dynamic range it's capturing far more "light and dark" than a typical prosumer digital camera would (again this leads to flatter looking images).
I'd like to have seen slightly gentler sharpening options, with sharpening set to Normal (the factory default) some CFA (colour filter array) interpolation artifacts are visible (at high magnification) as jaggies on sharp diagonals, with sharpening set to Soft most of these disappear but the image may be a little too soft for most people.
The E-10 has received some criticism for noisy images, and indeed images even at ISO 80 do appear to have slight visible noise over the image but it is not of the magnitude seen on other digital cameras and does not detract from the overall high quality images, it also has no direct effect on detail definition.
Stuck / Dead Pixels
Something which appears to have dogged the E-10 is the subject of stuck (or "dead") pixels. A stuck pixel is one which always returns the same intensity no matter what amount of light is actually projected onto it. Now, just to clarify, we're not talking about pixels which do this at long exposures, that's to be expect of nearly all digital cameras, we're talking about pixels which are clearly visible in normal daylight shots (anything greater than 1/8 sec). The E-10 I had for review did indeed have a single stuck pixel at location 1225, 992. Depending on the type of shot and colour of surrounding pixels this could be either a real problem or not noticeable.. Is it acceptable to have any stuck pixels on a digital camera? In my opinion, it is not.
The E-10's colour reproduction was very good, not as saturated or "bright" as other digital cameras, rather erring on the side of neutrality, coupled with it's good white balance performance the E-10's overall colour was good. It would have been nice to have an in-camera saturation setting so that we could get slightly richer colours "straight from the camera", but that's not a criticism.
Purple Fringing (Chromatic Aberrations)
Chromatic Aberrations where pretty much what I expected, that is very slight and difficult to identify in every day shots, it took this rather extreme full wide-angle sample to find a good example of chromatic aberrations in action. Overall the E-10's high lens quality kept little nasties like this to a minimum.
|Some visible chromatic aberrations on a full wide-angle shot|
|Our now standard chromatic aberration test chart|
Barrel and Pincushion Distortion
The E-10 does suffer from some barrel distortion at wide angle, about as much as we've seen on other prosumer level digital cameras, at the full tele end however things look much better with no measurable pincushion distortion.
|Barrel Distortion, 1.2% @ Wide Angle||Pincushion Distortion, none @ Full Tele|