I have been putting the Olympus OM-D E-M10 through its paces here at The Image Academy in preparation for my involvement in the Olympus UK Protege program. (I am mentor in the Landscape category)
Its been a very interesting few days as we chose to shoot the camera alongside another new camera - the Sony A6000. Both are priced very closely and I would imagine that both would be on the same shortlist for quite a few people. A couple of interesting differences are:
The Olympus viewfinder is in a different league and everything looks sharper and smoother. This became even more noticeable when we compared the two cameras when shooting long exposure using a Lee Big Stopper - the noise levels in the Sony viewfinder made composing much more difficult.
The Olympus focuses and is ready to shoot a subsequent frame much much faster than the Sony. (Both using kit lenses)
There are other differences in handling terms, but the two above are immediately noticeable on first handling both cameras.
The main aspect of my initial experience with the camera and even using the new kit lens, is that it is fast, small, with great control features that make changing any setting very easy. You could say that it allows you to get on with what is important - taking photographs and ultimately, that is what it is really about, how easy any camera makes this for you and your photographic style.
These pictures were taken on Lanzarote and anyone who has been there knows it is a stunning volcanic landscape that is rich on detail, colour and also what I class as compositionally rich environment.
What really makes this camera stand out is that most of these images were either shot from the back of a moving camel or through the window of a moving bus! There were literally a few milliseconds to compose and fire a frame and the little OM-D E-M10 simply excelled in this environment. The refresh rate of the viewfinder meant that it was easy to get the framing just right and the complete lack of shutter lag meant the chosen composition was captured exactly as intended.
Another aspect of this new camera that meant your images were free of motion blur is the built in image stabilisation. Olympus have chosen to fit a 3-axis version to the E-M10 compared with 5-axis on the higher models in the range (E-M5 and E-M1). Having shot with all three cameras, this does not in any way appear to have any noticeable impact on image quality and even firing test shots hand held at shutter speeds at or around one second, the stabilisation did a great job keeping everything under control.
When you are shooting with this camera, it just builds confidence in every aspect of the capture process. The metering system also did a great job and out of camera jpegs rarely looked either over or under exposed.
Another aspect of this camera that is very noticeable when you first hold it is just how well put together it feels. The metal body makes a lot of the competition feel flimsy and lacking any solidity. The Olympus on the other hand feel more like a £1000+ body.
All of the images captured on day 1 were handheld and again without over emphasising how great a job this camera did in difficult conditions - do you know how much movement and vibration there is when shooting through the window of a moving bus?? I know for a fact many much more expensive cameras could simply not have produced results that were even close to what me managed to achieve with the E-M10.
Another stand out and well publicised aspect of all Olympus cameras are the fantastic colours it produces and this new OM-D variant is no exception.
The photographs always say much more than a set of words and the results here speak pretty much for themselves. The downsizing and compression required for internet use always reduce quality. Let me say at this stage, having returned back to the studio and printed off a few of the images at A3+ size, the colours, sharpness, depth and micro detail are exceptional and that is all with using what is a relatively basic piece of glass - the new 14-42mm kit lens.
On day two I decided it was time to try a few long exposure shots - an area of great interest to me and also an area some cameras do not do particularly well.
I chose a set up consisting of a Manfrotto tripod, a step up 37mm to 55mm adapter ring to use along with my Lee Filter system I had brought along for the trip and a Lee Big Stopper to give me some nice and long shutter speeds, even during normal daylight hours.
The first thing that generally happens when you slip on the Big Stopper is that most EVF's get very grainy and using manual focus is virtually impossible as you cannot clearly see where true focus is. (On an optical viewfinder this is impossible). I have used the new Fuji XT1 and also both Sony A7 and the new A6000 and all of these EVF's suffer to a certain extend when shooting with the Big Stopper. The E-M10 on the other hand provides a relatively grain free experience and pretty much holds out with the WYSIWYG (what you see is what you get) premise that makes using these cameras such a joy when shooting long exposure.
I was working with shutter speeds from 40-60secs and again most other system allow a maximum of 30secs on any shooting mode (unless of course you are shooting with a cable release).
The results again speak for themselves and purely from a Landscape Photography perspective, this little camera ticks so many boxes, you honestly would have no need to shoot with anything else. Obviously some kind of weather proofing would be great, but at this price, Olympus really have made something very special indeed.