Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark IV Review

Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark IV review
Review
Website: Olympus

Price when reviewed

£699

Our Verdict

The Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark IV isn't much bigger than some compact cameras with much smaller sensors yet it's much more versatile, has a great collection of features and produces better image quality. Aside from the increase in the pixel count, it makes a fairly small step up from the OM-D E-M10 Mark III, but the autofocus system is marginally better and the ability to see the screen from in front of the camera is a useful addition. The Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark IV makes a very good first serious camera and is an excellent model for anyone looking for a smaller alternative to a large camera. It's also compatible with an extensive collection of lenses.

For

  • Very compact, yet versatile camera
  • Tilting screen can face forwards for selfies and vlogging
  • Live Composite and Live Bulb mode make long exposure photography easy

Against

  • Sub-APS-C format sensor
  • No weatherproofing
What is the Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark IV?

Olympus has three lines in its OM-D series of interchangeable lens cameras, the OM-D E-M1, OM-D E-M5 and OM-D E-M10 models. The E-M10 line is the most compact and portable of the three and the Olympus OM-D E-M10 IV reviewed here is the latest camera to hit that line.

Despite its compact size, the Olympus OM-D E-M10 IV has a viewfinder built-in and a tilting touchscreen on its rear. As it has the Micro Four Thirds mount, it’s also compatible with Olympus’s (and Panasonic’s) extensive range of lenses – as well as third-party optics.

In an upgrade from the 16Mp E-M10 Mark III, the Olympus E-M10 IV has a 20Mp sensor and a screen that can flip down through 180-degrees for viewing from the front, making it useful for selfies and vlogging.

Specification

  • Camera type: Micro Four Thirds mirrorless
  • Announced: 4th August 2020
  • Sensor: Four Thirds Type 20.3Mp Live MOS
  • Processing engines: TruePic VIII
  • Sensitivity range: ISO 80-25,600
  • Viewfinder: 2,360,000-dot electronic with 1.23x magnification and 19.2mm eye point
  • Stabilisation: 5-axis with up to 4.5EV shutter speed compensation
  • Screen: 3-inch 1,037,000-dot tilting touchscreen
  • Focus modes: Manual focus, Single AF, Continuous AF, Single AF + MF, AF Tracking, Super Spot AF, Face Detection AF
  • Exposure modes: Programme, Aperture priority, Shutter priority, Manual, Bulb, Time, i-Auto, Scene Modes, Art Filter, Movie, Live Time, Live Composite, Advanced Photo Modes (Live Composite, Live Bulb, Multiple Exposure, HDR Backlight, Silent, Panorama, Keystone Compensation, AE bracketing, AF bracketing)
  • Autofocus system: Contrast detection with up to 121 points
  • Autofocus point selection modes: All target, Group target (9-areas), Single target
  • Exposure metering: 324 zones Multi-pattern Sensing System with ESP, Spot, Centre weighted, Highlight and Shadow mode
  • Art filers: Pop Art, Soft Focus, Pale & Light Colour, Light Tone, Grainy Film, Pin Hole, Diorama, Cross Process, Gentle Sepia, Dramatic Tone, Key Line, Water colour, Vintage, Partial Colour, Bleach Bypass, Instant Film
  • Shutter speed: 1/16,000-60sec, Bulb to 30mins
  • Maximum continuous shooting rate: High: 15 fps Low: 6.3 fps, Max. number of frames: High 42 raw files or 49 (LF) JPGs, Low: 945 raw files or until the card is full with (LF) JPGs
  • Video resolution: 4K (3840 x 2160) / 30p, 25p, 24p / IPB (approx. 102 Mbps) Full HD (1920 x 1080) / 30p, 25p, 24p (MOV) Full HD (1920 x 1080) / 60p, 50p / IPB (F,N) / (MOV) HD (1280 x 720) / 60p, 50p, 30p, 25p, 24p (MOV)
  • Time lapse: 4k, 1080p, 720p
  • Flash: Built-in GN 7.2 (ISO200), hotshoe for external flash
  • Connectivity: Wi-Fi, Bluetooth
  • Multiple exposure: 2 frames with or without autogain
  • Storage: SDHC/SDXC UHS-II
  • Dimensions (WxHxD): 121.7×84.4x49mm
  • Weight: 383g including battery and SD card
Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark IV review
Features

When Olympus introduced the OM-D E-M10 Mark III it used the same 16.1Mp sensor as is in the Mark II camera but combined it with the TruePic VIII processing engine that is in the OM-D E-M1 Mark II. This time, Olympus has stuck with the same processing engine but used a new 20.3Mp sensor.

The Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark III and E-M5 Mark III are both listed as having 20.4Mp sensors and although the E-M10 IV  is listed as having a 20.3Mp chip, I’m told it has the same sensor as the two cameras above it in Olympus’s line-up, but without the phase-detection points.

Until the E-M1 Mark III came along, the TruePic VIII processing engine was the most advanced processor in Olympus’s arsenal.

Interestingly, Olympus isn’t making any bold claims about image quality or noise control improvements made by this sensor for the E-M10 IV, but apparently the contrast-detection autofocus (AF) system has been improved. This is said to have a particular impact in continuous autofocus (C-AF) mode, with more precise focusing on moving subjects.

Face Priority / Eye Priority AF is also on hand and its ability to detect faces has been improved so that it can spot a face in profile or when the person is looking down.

In the Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark IV, the 20.3Mp sensor and TruePic VIII engine combine to enable an extended sensitivity range of ISO 80-25,600, the native range is ISO 200-6,400.

The Olympus E-M10 IV is also capable of shooting at up to 15fps (frames per second) or 6.3fps in Sequential Low shooting mode.

Like the OM-D E-M10 Mark III, the Mark IV can shoot 4K video. The framerate can be set to 30, 25 or 24p and the maximum shooting time is 29 minutes.

There’s also a High-Speed recording option that enables 1280×720 footage to be recorded at 120fps.

Olympus has given the E-M10 IV in-body image stabilisation (IBIS) which is claimed to enable images to be captured at up to 4.5EV slower shutter speeds than normal. This system also operates in video mode and it can be augmented with digital stabilisation but using it results in a slight crop in the frame.

Advanced Photo Modes

Olympus cameras have some great advanced-shooting options, but novice photographers can sometimes struggle to find them. With this in mind and like its predecessor, the OM-D E-M10 IV has an Advanced Photo Mode (AP) setting on its mode dial.

This is used to access Live Composite, Live Time, Multiple Exposure, HDR Backlight, Silent, Panorama, Keystone Compensation, AE bracketing, AE bracketing shooting mode.

Live Composite and Live Time mode are particularly noteworthy as they take the guesswork out of long exposure photography by enabling you to see the image build up on the back of the camera.

You can also access these features by switching the camera to manual exposure mode and adjusting the shutter speed, making the exposure longer and longer until you see Bulb and then Live Time and Live Composite mode.

Read our guide to Olympus Live Composite Mode

Art Filters

Olympus’s Art Filters are a great way of applying a wide range of effects to your images as you shoot. The OM-D E-M10 Mark IV has plenty to choose from including Pop Art, Soft Focus, Pale & Light Colour, Light Tone, Grainy Film, Pin Hole, Diorama, Cross Process, Gentle Sepia, Dramatic Tone, Key Line, Watercolour, Vintage, Partial Colour, Bleach Bypass, Instant Film.

Connectivity

Olympus was quick to see the advantages of Wi-Fi connectivity in cameras and the E-M10 IV has both Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connectivity built-in.

As usual with Olympus cameras, the E-M10 IV can display a QR code to make it easier to pair it with a smartphone running the Olympus OI.Share app.

The app can also be used to control the camera remotely, which is ideal for long exposure photography, or when you want to be in the shot.

Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark IV review
Build and Handling

Although Olympus has constructed the OM-D E-M10 IV from polycarbonates, it still feels fairly solid and nicely built. It doesn’t have the weather-proof seals of the higher-end OM-D cameras, but it still feels like it would cope with being taken on your travels.

The OM-D E-M10 Mark IV looks almost exactly like the OM-D E-M10 Mark III, but according to Olympus, the grip has been improved. I don’t have a Mark III camera to hand to compare it to, but the Mark IV’s grip is certainly very good with a nice independent that accommodates my second finger while my index finger is on the shutter button.

On the back of the E-M10 IV, there’s also an effective thumb rest. Together with the front grip, it makes the camera comfortable to hold and use one-handed.

If you’re looking for a compact camera set-up, the Olympus 14-42mm F3.5-5.6 EZ lens is the perfect partner for the OM-D E-M10 IV. When the camera is turned off, the lens collapses to pancake proportions, and when you flick the E-M10 IV’s power switch, it extends ready for action. It’s a great combination for everyday photography or travel.

A larger optic like the Olympus 40-150mm f/2.8 Pro lens is a less natural pairing, but provided you support the lens with your left hand while you shoot, it still feels pretty good and gives the 35mm equivalent focal length range of 80-300mm in a compact unit.

Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark IV review

Control Layout

As with Mark III, the OM-D E-M10 Mark IV has knurled metal dials on its top-plate that have a high-quality feel and are easy to use. It’s great to have twin adjustment dials on a camera of this level and size. It means you can adjust exposure directly without having to press a button.

The exposure mode is set via the chunky (by E-M10 standards) mode dial. As I mentioned earlier, this has an AP (Advanced Photo) setting as well as settings to switch to one of the PASM (program, aperture priority, shutter priority, manual) settings, auto, video and Art Filter mode.

It’s also possible to apply the Art Filter effects to images shot in the PASM modes via the menu or the Super Control Panel. That gives you more control over the exposure than you get in Art Filter mode.

Although AE Bracketing and AF Bracketing are available via the Advanced Photo setting, I’m disappointed to see that Art Filter bracketing hasn’t been added to the list. I like the ability to produce a collection of images with different effects applied with just one press of the Sutter release – but it’s not possible with the E-M10 Mark IV.

An option in the menu lets you select whether you see the Live Control or Super Control Panel (Olympus’s version of a quick or function menu) when the OK button is pressed and it can be varied by the shooting mode.

The Live Control panel is selected by default, it shows the controls in a column on the right with the setting options available for the selected item displayed in a row at the bottom. As a rule, I prefer Super Control Panel as it’s easier to see all the features and I find it quicker to use.

Super Control Panel

Pressing the button next to the power switch on the OM-D 10 Mark IV’s top-plate also brings-up the Super Control Panel in PASM mode.

In the other modes, pressing this button displays the available options. For example, in Scene mode, you see all the scene settings such as People, Nightscapes, Motion and Scenery etc, and in Art Filter mode, you can select the Art Filter that you might want to use.

Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark IV review

When Auto mode is selected, a tab appears on the right of the screen. Tapping this or pressing the button again, reveals a column of boxes. This Live Guide helps novice photographers adjust aspects such as white balance, exposure and background sharpness/blur using on-screen sliding controls.

While it’s helpful, it doesn’t tell you what’s being changed so it doesn’t actually teach you about photography or the camera controls.

Screen and Viewfinder

Like the E-M10 III, the OM-D E-M10 IV has a 3-inch 1,037,000-dot touch-sensitive tilting LCD. There are more resolute screens available, but the E-M10 IV’s provides a clear view in all but very bright sunlight and it’s responsive to touch.

As usual with Olympus cameras, the Super Control Panel can be navigated and selections made with a tap of your finger on the screen but the main menu is not touch-enabled.

In a nice touch, a large shutter button and video start button is shown at the bottom of the screen when it’s flipped down for viewing from in front of the camera.

Again like the camera it replaces, the Olympus E-M10 IV has a 2,360,000-dot OLED viewfinder. It provides a decent view with a good level of detail, and it’s especially useful in bright sunny conditions.

Like the screen on the back of the camera, the viewfinder gives an accurate preview of the final image.

Performance

With an effective pixel count of 20.3million, the Olympus E-M10 IV has  26% greater resolution than the OM-D E-M10 III. That’s 5184×3888 pixels versus 4608×3072, which sounds like a big difference but if you print at 300ppi, the measurements are 43.89 x 32.92cm / 17.28 x 12.96-inches versus 39.01 x 26.01cm / 15.36×10.24-inches, so it’s not as dramatic as it sounds.

While it’s never going to match-up to a full-frame high-resolution (and much more expensive) camera like the Sony A7R IV, the OM-D E-M10 IV captures an excellent level of detail. In the default settings, the Jpegs also look nice and natural.

The sun was shining during much of my testing of the Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark IV and in ESP metering mode, I often had to reduce the exposure by around 1/3 or 2/3EV to get the results I wanted. That’s not a major drama as the E-M10 IV’s viewfinder shows a good preview of the image that you’re going to capture, so you can be guided by what you see before taking the shot.

It’s also good to see that despite Micro Four Thirds cameras having a poor reputation for dynamic range, the OM-D E-M10 IV’s Jpegs can withstand reasonable brightening to bring out some shadow detail if you need to.

As yet, I haven’t been able to process the raw files from the camera, but I expect that they will have more dynamic ranges than the Jpegs.

Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark IV IBIS Performance

Olympus’s image stabilisation system is excellent and when I was shooting with the Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 60mm f/2.8 Macro lens mounted, which has an effective focal length of 120mm, I was able to get around 50% of my images sharp at shutter speeds as low as 1/13sec.

With the 14-42mm kit lens in action at the 42mm end (84mm effective), I got a hit rate of around 80% at a shutter speed of 1/10sec and 50% at 1/5sec. I was even about to get 2 or 3 images in every 10 or so completely sharp at 1sec. That’s without any form of support and holding the camera at waist-level. Using the viewfinder often makes the camera more stable because it’s braced against your face.

Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark IV Autofocus Performance

While Olympus’s claim for the OM-D E-M10 Mark IV’s autofocus system seems borne out, it’s only a little better than the E-M10 III’s. I was able to get sharp images of my dog as he raced for a ball, but my hit-rate wasn’t high. Nevertheless, each burst of images shot in Sequential Low mode has a few shots in which he is sharp and the end results are good.

I got best results when I used a grid of 9 AF points as this makes it easy to keep the active area over him, while narrowing down the selection for the camera. Using All-target/121-point AF mode and leaving the camera to pick the appropriate point to focus as he ran around provide largely unsuccessful.

Similarly, AF-Tracking isn’t the best choice with very fast-moving subjects, but it’s very useful with slower-moving or stationary objects. You just tap the subject on the screen and the camera focuses the lens on it. Then as you move the camera to adjust the composition or the subject moves, the camera adjusts the focus. The camera does a great job of keeping the active AF area over the subject and it’s quicker and more convenient to use than constantly changing the AF point or focusing and recomposing.

Olympus’s Face Priority / Eye Priority AF proved useful for shooting a few portraits and selfies. It’s not put-off by spectacles nor fairly low light, but it still struggles a bit when a face is side-on to the camera, some times it spots the face and other times it doesn’t.

Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark IV Image Quality

As I mentioned earlier, the Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark IV captures a good level of detail. It also handles colours well and I’m impressed at how well it reproduced the colours of some flowers.

Even at 100% on screen, images captured at ISo 3200 look very good indeed. I can’t check the raw files yet, but the Jpegs have just a hint of luminance noise and an excellent level of detail.

Jump up to ISO 6400 and there’s just a little more noise and more fine detail lost from the shadows, but again, the Jpeg images look good at normal viewing sizes.

By ISO 12,800 the finest details of the shadows start to look smudged and I’d aim to keep below this expansion setting whenever possible.

Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark IV Video Quality

The Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark IV is capable of producing very nice video clips. The colour, exposure and autofocus performance is all the same as for stills and the level of detail visible in 4K footage is excellent.

As with the stills, the in-camera stabilisation does a great job, but if you set it to use the digital stabilisation as well as the sensor-shifting system, there’s a crop applied to the image.

The 14-42mm kit lens has an effective focal length of 28-84mm and when you add the additional crop factor, the widest end is a little tight for comfort when you hold the camera at arm’s length for vlogging. It’s OK, but not ideal, so if you’re planning to talk to the camera while you’re hand-holding it, you may want to switch the Image Stabiliser to M-IS2 in the menu or get a wider lens.

Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark IV review
Sample Images

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Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark IV Image Gallery

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Early Verdict

As I haven’t been able to examine the raw files from the Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark IV yet, this isn’t my final verdict. However, I think it’s a great little camera.

I have recommended the Olympus E-M10 camera line to quite a few photographers who have been looking for a compact and lightweight camera and they’ve all been very happy with their purchase. The OM-D E-M10 Mark IV is a nice addition to the Olympus range, making a decent step-up in pixel count from the 16Mp of the Mark III and adding a screen that can flip down through 180-degrees for front-viewing.

If you’re looking for a camera to carry everywhere that will get you great results and doesn’t need a tripod much of the time, the Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark IV is a great choice.

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