Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark II Review

The Olympus OM-D E-M10 mk2 was released late summer 2015. As an Olympus Ambassador, I was very fortunate to be one the first people given access to this new entry level mirrorless micro four thirds camera back in July.

Whilst I am not on Olympus’ payroll to advertise their products (I recently reviewed the slow motion ready Sony RX100 IV and own a Sony A7RII), I have been an advocate of the Micro Four Thirds format and in particular Olympus since its early days. It’s good to see Olympus pushing the envelope by bringing innovation regularly via its new models and at the same time not compromising on design.

(Please note all the shots here are straight out of camera, often making use of the in-built OM-D art filters, no other post-processing was applied.)

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The OM-D system has for the past few years helped me shoot street photography in London and anything urban including my London cinemagraphs at a professional level, with ease and without breaking my back each time I carry my camera for more than an hour.

It started with the now classic E-M5, then the E-M1 and now the E-M5 Mark II which in my eyes is 99% of the time all I need from a camera (famous last words... bring on the E-M1 Mark II!)

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I have been testing the E-M10 Mark II around London for now nearly two months and have to say it’s a very cool little package for anyone looking for an affordable entry into the world of Micro Four Thirds yet without compromising on features and image quality.

(Don't forget to use a quality leather camera strap, check out my review of the Best Leather Camera Straps)

Looking good with the Born and Bred leather wrist strap!

Looking good with the Born and Bred leather wrist strap!

I’m currently shooting mostly with the E-M5 Mark II and the E-M1 so I'm trying to review this new micro four thirds camera without comparing too much as it's quite irrelevant.

Who’s the E-M10 Mark 2 for?

I’d recommend the new E-M10 Mark II to anyone who's a bit of an explorer, urban or not, looking for a small camera (I know… genius observation!). It’s incredibly inconspicuous in the street and really an ideal camera for street photography even at advanced level (I know my friend Thomas Leuthard is a big fan of the Mark I).

I particularly like the tilt screen which allows you to shoot discretely from the hip by looking down, a little in the same way as if you were to shoot street photography with a Rolleicord or any TLR style camera.

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This is something I like about the E-M10 Mark II Vs E-M5 Mark II since you can’t really do it with the latter without pulling the screen out completely on the side and may in the long term end up damaging it / knocking it.

Another very good feature is the silent electronic shutter on the new OM-D. This will allow you to shoot close without the sound of your camera giving you away (to be honest the mechanical shutter is very quiet anyway).

Finally, if you have an interest in video, the IBIS image stabilisation and VGA 120fps shooting available are worth checking out.

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What are the best micro four thirds lenses for it?

My favourite 3 lenses for OM-D are all prime lenses but this is really for street photography since all quite short focals. (You should also read my full review of the Best Lenses for Micro Four Thirds)

The Olympus 17mm f1.8 is in my opinion the best suited for it. It’s small, light, sharp, focuses fast and works extremely well in low light thanks to its wide aperture of f1.8. It's the lens which I think works best on this camera, perfectly balanced for it.

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My second favourite is the Voigtlander 17.5mm f0.95. OK, I admit it sort of cancels out the whole point of going for a light and small camera since the lens is large, heavy and has no auto-focus. But hey... I'm full of contradictions and not ashamed of it. Call it a weird addiction I have for that lens.

And after all it’s not my fault if in my eyes that lens has helped me produce the best photos I have ever shot (check out my “The Great Londoners" series shot entirely with that lens). Plus it literally sees in the dark at f0.95!

Last but not least, the Panasonic Leica 25mm F1.4. One of the best MFT lenses ever made in my opinion, I love it. It just works so well in low light and has a unique visual quality. Very aesthetically pleasing and also remains not too big, working in tandem with the EM10 Mark II in the smaller size department.

What built in features do I love?

I've said it, the silent shutter is a must for any situations where you cannot afford to be heard.

The EVF is larger, higher in resolution than its predecessor and very smooth. 

Another feature which I find useful is the 4K timelapse movie feature which enables you to set and shoot timelapse within the camera and end up with a movie file on your SD card.

Also, I know many people think of built in art filters as gimmicks, but don’t rule them out without trying them. Check out the photos on this post, many use the art filters and they really add to urban shots when used wisely.

I think the Grainy Film is excellent and has been since early Olympus Pen models, and the Cross Process as well as Vintage filters are very good. They really can yield interesting shots otherwise not possible or requiring some time spent in Lightroom or Photoshop.

And the flash, even if I rarely use a flash, I think it's cool. Such a well hidden little gem!

Even though nowadays most cameras feature it, the WiFi on the OM-D system is particularly well thought out and easy to use in conjunction with the Olympus Image Share phone app. This means I can share very easily and quickly my photos on social media, helping me gain more exposure for my work on the go and without delay.

Two years down the line... a worthy successor to the E-M10!

Two years down the line... a worthy successor to the E-M10!

And finally, as always Olympus excels in customisation. Even though a lot of other manufacturers such as Sony now offer that as well, Olympus understood its value very early. The ability to assign your preferred function to every possible button and wheel really makes it a pleasure to use. I spent a couple of years ignoring the benefits of it and now that I do make full use of it, I wonder how I did without for so long.

What would stop me buying it?

Not much really!

The maximum shutter speed of 1/4000 is too slow for my needs. On a bright day, it's be hard to shoot on fast lenses like the Voigtlander Nokton 17.5mm f0.95. The EM5 Mark II goes up to 1/8000.

Conclusion:

Overall, this is a camera that will help the keen photographer improve their photography but it's also a camera a professional shouldn't be shy of using when out on the street. Much better than carrying around a big heavy DSLR or even the OM-D E-M1, with the new E-M10 Mark II you'll blend in your surroundings and capture splendid candid shots like never before.

A robust little camera, with excellent glass available (from Olympus or not) that's a real joy to use.

Nico