I think it was a couple years ago when I was so into cameras. I mean I’ve always been into cameras but my affiliation with G Style allowed me to check out a whole range of cameras that I never thought I’d be able to play with. I was able to check out so many cameras that I think it eventually burnt me out and I had to take a break. During the hiatus, I was still using my trusted Sony NEX 5n and an Olympus E-PL3 PEN. I’ve never been a believer of trusting my vacation photos or important family event photos to my smartphone and because of this, my interest in photography was still there, I just wasn’t keeping up with the latest and greatest.
That changed when I happened upon the new Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark II. I’ve seen the original O-MD E-M5 and have always been impressed with it. With this new OM-D E-M10 Mark II (the fifth of the OM-D series), Olympus has created a much more affordable OM-D but doesn’t skimp on the features. In fact, it has many of thefeatures found on the more expensive OM-D E-M5 Mark II, but without the weather proofing. It even has some new features not found on that camera.
For this review, Olympus provided me with an OM-D E-M10 Mark II + 14-42mm kit lens. I’m also writing this review in a slightly different format than previous reviews just to try something new and to keep it from sounding like an excel sheet of specs where most of you would probably fall asleep after the first couple of paragraphs.
1. If looks could kill, I’d be dead or seriously injured.
When Olympus first came out with their Micro Four Thirds cameras starting with the PEN line, they were modeled after old school body shapes and designs. While not copies of older bodies, they took design cues from older designs but modernized them. This trend continued for each subsequent newer model and has been a design element with all their MFT cameras. This also goes for they higher end MFT cameras, the OM-D series. Unlike the PEN series, the OM-D takes retro styling even further with this new OM-D E-M10 Mark II that could be mistaken for an old fashioned SLR film camera.
In the silver and black combination, the OM-D E-M10 Mark II is simply gorgeous with its clean lines and classic look. The OM-D series are probably the nicest looking interchangeable lens cameras out there, with the only other rival being that of the FUJIFILM X-series. That’s not to say that the styling is the only reason to get this camera, but it surely helps.
Back to the styling, the silver and black look offers that vintage look I really like. It’s a great contrast in colors and really highlights the styling details. Also, I’m not entirely sure if the entire body is made of metal or not, but does look like there is a good amount of it mixed in with some color matched plastic. The faux leather pads are also a nice touch and add to the look of the camera. I mean this is exactly how I want a camera to look and how I remember cameras looking back when I was a kid.
On a side note, this camera has quite a bit of heft to it. It’s not as heavy as a DSLR, but it is much heavier than a point-and-shoot camera and your smartphone, combined. The heft however makes the camera feel solid and strong like it will survive most situations.
2. A built in Electronic Viewfinder, Tilt Touchscreen, and a Popup Flash.
I’m really digging this new generation of interchangeable lens cameras. There was a time when all you could really get on these cameras was a built in tilt screen and maybe a built in pop-up flash. Otherwise they came with little flash attachments you need to use but would make the camera larger than it already was. Same goes for an electronic view finder. Many of the older style cameras you need an EVF attachment if you wanted a view finder which would sometimes keep you from using a flash.
That’s not a problem anymore. The OM-D E-M10 Mark II not only has a built in electronic viewfinder, it also has a built in pop-up flash and a tilt screen. Did I mention that the tilt screen is also touch enabled and can be used in both the up and down positions? This makes shooting photos a breeze. The tilt screen works well to get those impossibly angled, hard to get shots while the EVF makes it easier to shoot in bright daylight when it can be hard to see the screen. The built in flash of course makes shooting in dim light a possibility without having to waste time attaching a separate unit.
If you don’t think the built in flash is strong enough, you can opt to supply your own flash because the OM-D E-M10 Mark II even comes with a built in hot shoe mount for accessories.
3. Don’t like the kit lens? Get a better lens.
Unlike most point-and-shoot cameras or even your smartphone, you aren’t stuck with what they gave you. You’re not trapped in the range that is given to you and you can easily go beyond what your normal kit lens can do. It’s a little known fact that when it comes to interchangeable lens cameras, they never really become obsolete. If you need a really good macro lens, you can get one. If you need a good telephoto lens, you can get one. All that is possible with the OM-D E-M10 Mark II. There’s actually a ton of really good Olympus M. Zuiko Digital lenses, more so that any other manufacturer of mirrorless cameras. Not only that, you can even use other MFT spec lenses such as the ones from Panasonic’s LUMIX line as well as other 3rd party manufacturers.
4. So many buttons and dials!
You know what I really love? Buttons and dials. I hate using cameras where all the little settings I have to adjust are buried beneath layers and layers of menus. The last thing I want to do is waste my time fiddling with the camera because that’s how you can miss those once in a lifetime pictures. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve missed a photo because I was too busy trying to get to the right mode or setting. With the OM-D E-M10 Mark II, you will rarely ever have this problem.
This is because this camera has a whole host of buttons located on the back at thumbs reach. Not only that, there are also touch screen buttons that can be enabled. My favorite aspect of the camera though are the two adjustment dials up on top that allow you to quickly adjust aperture, shutter speed, and exposure depending on what mode you’re in. That makes adjusting these infinitely quicker than fiddling with the menus. However if you still want to fiddle with the menus, you can even use these to speed through menu options.
Also of note, I really appreciate the physical on/off toggle. You don’t know how many times in the past I’ve accidentally turned on a camera in my bag because something would push up against an on/off button. This keeps that from happening. Olympus has also integrated the flash release to the same toggle which keep the popup flash from engaging when the camera is off. Smart.
5. Keep your heavyweight DSLR at home.
It’s no secret that a true DSLR is huge. They are bulky, heavy, and in most cases, overkill. You don’t know how many times I’ve seen people on vacation or parties with huge DSLR setups with giant telephoto lenses and giant flash attachments just to take a few photos of the family. It’s just not necessary to have something like that to produce beautiful pictures that will last a lifetime.
With the Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark II, you get DSLR quality photos in a smaller package. If you choose to stay with the kit lens, it’s even possible to throw this camera in a purse. Can you do that with a DSLR? While not tiny like a point-and-shoot, it’s also not giant like a DSLR. The body is slimmer, smaller, and lighter and same goes for most of the lenses too. If you’re the type that will have multiple lenses, you’ll be able to carry all of that in a much smaller camera bag then you probably would have had to with a DSLR.
If you’re not a professional photographer but want professional quality photos without breaking the bank or breaking your back, do yourself a favor and ditch the DSLR and get a mirrorless camera. The Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark II is a good choice or any of the other mirrorless cameras in Olympus’ lineup. Everything is just so much more compact. That means you’ll be carrying less weight with you in a smaller bag, and you might actually enjoy yourself instead of feeling tired because you just carried 50lbs of gear with your through Disney.
As amazing as the Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark II is, there are still a couple little nitpicks I have with it. First, Olympus still insists on using a rather clunky charging system. Where as most digital cameras come with charging station that plugs into a wall outlet, the Olympus one is a charging station with a long cable attached to it that attaches to a plug. Why? This just makes carrying a charger so much more bulkier than it needs to be. Secondly, why in the heck does Olympus still insist on using a proprietary cable for data transfers? The port itself is a USB port, but it’s shaped like no other USB plug out there. It’s not a micro or mini plug which means that if you travel with this thing, be prepared to carry yet another cable around if you want to transfer photos to your computer.
And that my friends are the only two main issues I have with the Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark II. Two issues on an otherwise amazing camera is really nothing to keep you from checking this camera out. It’s almost a rather perfect camera for those who want the versatility of a DSLR, but without the bulk and the looks of a beautifully designed, classic looking SLR.