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REVIEW: Olympus OM-D E-M10 MarkII Camera

How the Olympus OM-D E-M10 MarkII made it into Henk’s Camera Bag

There’s always a moment when you realize that you’ve ‘made it’ in whatever challenge you set out for yourself. Henk’s moment came when all the hard work and effort he had been putting into his photography ‘hobby’ paid off and he WON this Olympus OM-D E-M10 MarkII mirrorless digital camera in an exclusive photography contest for a Toronto Travel Massive event sponsored by @getolympus on Instagram.

Henk was now officially a ‘Prize-Winning Photographer’, and no longer just a rank amateur! Better yet, the prize was a bleeding-edge Olympus digital camera that wasn’t even in the stores yet! So here, after a few months of experimenting with his new grownup toy, is Henk’s review of the Olympus OMD E-M10 MarkII. (Luddite-alert: this is where it gets technical!

Olympus OMD EM10 MarkII

*photo courtesy of Olympus website

Size and Weight

This camera is so much smaller and lighter than the DSLR’s I am used to. When paired with the pancake zoom, the ED 14-42 EZ lens, it fits in a coat pocket. I keep it in the seat console in my truck at all times. There is no excuse for not having a decent camera with you all the time. I know you say you have your smartphone, with its built-in camera. But that is why I said “decent”. The OM-D E-M10 MarkII is miles ahead in terms of quality. It sports a Micro four thirds sensor (M43) that is 14 times larger than the sensor in an iphone5. This allows better low light shots, less grain overall and more control over depth of field. The M10 MarkII captures in RAW, enabling far greater post processing. The flash is more powerful. The electronic viewfinder allows for increased stability compared with the arms length capture technique required with smartphones.

How does the OM-D E-M10 MarkII compare to my Canon DSLRs?

I was surprised with how this camera augmented my existing big cameras.

Wildlife photography: You need a long fast lens. These things cost mega bucks for the full framers. A 500mm ƒ4 runs $8,000. You need the 500mm to fill the sensor with the subject. And the fast ƒ-stop to compensate for shake and to freeze the action. The Olympus OM-D E-M10 MarkII, and M43’s in general, have a 2x multiplier. This means that you only need a 250mm M43 lens to fill the sensor identically to a 500mm lens on a full frame camera. Note that the multiplier effect does not impact the aperture. ƒ2.8 stays ƒ2.8.

The OM-D E-M10 MarkII adapts for use with my Canon lenses

I bought an M43 to Canon EF lens adapter, allowing me to use my existing Canon lenses on the new Olympus camera. Remember the 2x crop factor. So I now have a 800mm ƒ5.6 lens, with the added bonus of image stabilization. Yup, the M10 MarkII uses its internal stabilization with my Canon lenses. Works well too. A cautionary note: make sure to turn off the lens IS on any Canon lenses that have it – the two stabilization systems fight each other resulting in blurry photos. One important downside of this arrangement is the lack of autofocus. You need to manually focus. It is made easier with fulltime liveview and with optional magnification.

The OM-D E-M10 MarkII is less intimidating

The smaller stature of this camera, with the pancake zoom, doesn’t intimidate people. Approach someone with a big SLR and lens and you can see them take a step back. Do the same with the Olympus E-M10 and they are less apprehensive. Perhaps they think you are a harmless amateur, not realizing that this camera is just as capable as its larger cousins. For example, last year I went to a local Hindu temple. Their rules don’t allow for professional photography on the grounds, but they do permit personal photos. Because I was carrying my big camera with a fairly large 70-200 lens, it took less than 5 minutes for the guard to approach and ask me to leave. I explained that my photography was for personal use, but, they didn’t like “professional” caliber equipment on the grounds. I don’t think they would have noticed me if, instead, I had been using the Olympus E-M10. The same applies to other locations that are not as camera friendly. The smaller M10, while just as capable, may be able to travel where the bigger SLR’s can’t. (Note: I am not advocating that you ignore the photography restrictions imposed, just that you may not trigger immediate negative biases)

Henk’s Takeaway:

The technical flexibility (and lens compatibility) of the Olympus OM-D E-M10 MarkII means it will definitely have a place in my camera bag, and the lightweight size and weight means that this close-to-pocket-sized camera can easily go where bigger DSLRs are not allowed to tread.

Jane’s Takeaway:

(All this mumbo-jumbo tech talk tells me that Henk is having fun with his new camera!) And Olympus has clearly impressed him, because he recently bought me the much more luddite-friendly Olympus Tough TG-4 for my birthday! Yay me!

Olympus Tough TG-4You can read my review of why I like this scrappy little Olympus camera, and like Henk, why I believe that even travellers who are tech-averse need more than just a smartphone for capturing photos.

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