Monday, April 11, 2016

5 Reasons Why Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark II Is An Awesome Camera For New Comers To Photography

I have written an extensive review for the Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark II (please do read if you have not), I loved the camera so much I purchased one not too long after the review. I have owned the E-M10 Mark II for more than half a year now, and have used it extensively for my own shutter therapy sessions, as well as some assignment shoots (event coverage, pre-wedding shoots, and actual day wedding photography). Throughout my use of the E-M10 Mark II, I cannot help but always feel that this is perhaps one of the best camera I would recommend for new comers to photography!

If you are already an experienced photographer and have been shooting religiously for a while now, this article may not be relevant to you. However, if you are shooting mostly with your smartphone cameras, or a compact, basic point and shoot and are thinking of taking your photography game to the next level, you may want to take a good look at the Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark II. It is not the cheapest value for money budget system camera (entry level DSLR or CSC). In fact, I would not label the E-M10 Mark II as an entry level camera, after using it extensively for half a year, I believe it is a lot more capable in terms of field performance and delivering high quality images than most entry level DSLR or mirrorless system. In this blog entry, I shall discuss the advantages and strengths of the E-M10 Mark II against most other entry level systems available out there. 




1) EXCELLENT KIT LENS

When taking pointers from professional photographers or friends who are more experienced in photography, the common advise would be getting better and more expensive lenses to be able to shoot better images. While that advise is true, I do not think getting all the expensive lenses together with your first camera is going to help you much in your photography game when you are still struggling to grasp the correlation between shutter speed, aperture and ISO of the camera, and you might not even know which button to press to change the white balance settings. It takes time to learn photography, it takes time to understand and be able to master the controls of the camera settings and there are no shortcuts. The best lens to start photography with is the lens that comes with the camera, the humble, lowly kit lens!

I am sure many have heard about how kit lenses are crap lenses and some even recommended to just buy the body only option of any camera and upgrade to better lenses. Yes, the general understanding is basically true, kit lenses were not designed to provide the ultimate best quality, realizing the full potential of your camera. Kit lenses are inferior in sharpness and technical flaw control in comparison to more expensive, higher grade lenses. Have you heard of photographers who are happy or satisfied with their kit lenses' performance? I am one of the few who would advocate the use of kit lens, especially for new comers to photography. Olympus makes some of the best kit lenses out there!

If you are going to start photography with a kit lens as your primary lens that you use most of the time in your photography learning journey, you should consider the quality of the kit lens that comes with your camera purchase seriously.  Either you use the 14-42mm F3.5-5.6 IIR lens, or the 14-42mm F3.5-5.6 EZ Pancake Zoom lens, they both perform incredibly well, super fast in focus and delivering surprisingly good results (for kit lenses of course). I have used Olympus kit lenses so often and there are many instances when people actually did not believe that I shot some of the photos I have shown them with kit lens. 

2) OPTIMIZED STRAIGHT OUT OF CAMERA JPEGS

I acknowledge that post-processing is important, and an integral part of digital photography. I also personally post-process most of my images, though minimal and nothing out of the ordinary was done to my images. One big mistake that I have witnessed again and again throughout the years that a new comer to photography make is the rush to do aggressive post-processing to their images. The professionals and advanced camera users will strongly recommend shooting in RAW and performing extensive post-processing. The gruesome results were mostly difficult to stomach: honestly the straight out of the camera JPEG image looked so much better than a poorly processed RAW file, when both were placed side by side for comparison. 

For learning photographers, do not rush to do crazy post-processing stunts. While you are free to explore the realms of Lightroom and Photoshop, remember that if you cannot get it right in your camera there is no miracle in image editing that can save your mistake or lack of discipline when you were actually out there shooting. Instead of performing tricks and magic in computer, focus on shooting and getting your practical camera settings right, get as close as you can to the image results that you visualize. Most modern cameras come with superb JPEG engine. 

I cannot say that all cameras are built equal, different camera manufacturers will process their JPEGs very differently. What has been consistent over the years, even on large professional review sites like DPReview.com, is the high praise for Olympus JPEG engine. It has been repeatedly mentioned "Other manufacturers should learn a thing or two from Olympus' JPEG processing". The results from Olympus E-M10 Mark II JPEGs are optimized, wonderful true to life color rendering with realistic skin tones, reliable auto white balance, excellent noise-filter and sharpening, and all the necessary corrections (Chromatic Aberration, distortion, etc). As a new comer to photography, you need not worry about processing the images or correcting the image flaws, instead you should be focusing your efforts in shooting more and more images, and have fun being out there with your camera!

All images were taken with Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark II and M.Zuiko lenses 14-42mm EZ Pancake, 25mm F1.8, 45mm F1.8 and Sigma 19mm F2.8 lens

A loyal friend

A friendly stranger

Construction

Red, Blue and Yellow 1

Red, Blue and Yellow 2

Red, Blue and Yellow 3

Red, Blue and Yellow 4

3) IMAGE QUALITY & PERFORMANCE SIMILAR TO HIGH END OM-D CAMERAS

One of the common trait between most entry level DSLR or Mirrorless system, is the huge gap in terms of image quality output and camera performance in direct comparison to higher end camera models. That is not the case with Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark II. Though positioned at the lowest level of OM-D tiers (below E-M1 the flagship and E-M5 Mark II) and priced the cheapest, the E-M10 Mark II has the exact same autofocus performance as the E-M5 Mark II and E-M1 (though E-M1 has an edge in continuous AF), with very much the same super fast speed and dead-on accuracy. Also the image quality, taken by either E-M1, E-M5 Mark II and E-M10 Mark II, it is difficult to tell the difference when put side by side. The ISO6400 image from E-M10 Mark II looks about the same as the ISO6400 image taken with E-M5 Mark II and E-M1. All the unique features and capabilities of OM-D such as Touch AF, Wireless Flash TTL, built in large Electronic Viewfinder, Live Composite/Live Bulb, Live View Boost are all still in the E-M10 Mark II. 

The differentiating factor that made E-M10 Mark II cheaper, and placed it lower than E-M1 and E-M5 Mark II, is the absence of magnesium alloy chassis and full weather sealing. There are a handful of small differences (E-M1 & E-M5 Mark II have larger EVF, higher mechanical shutter speed limit of 1/8000sec, etc) but on the whole, you actually get the performance and image output of E-M1 in a simplified, cheaper E-M10 Mark II. 

If you use other entry level cameras from other systems, you will end up wondering how much improvement in your images you can achieve if you upgrade to higher end cameras, because it is obvious that there is a clear difference, a large gap of final output quality. There will always be that need to upgrade to better system because you know your camera is inferior. When I am using my E-M10 Mark II, I never lusted for E-M5 Mark II or E-M1, because I know I get the exact same output. I cannot speak for you if you need weather sealing and better handling (E-M1 has the best ergonomics and handling for Olympus cameras now) with larger lenses, but I do not shoot in harsh environmental conditions and I do not use very large lenses. Knowing confidently E-M10 Mark II is just as capable as E-M1 and E-M5 Mark II, how can I not feel proud to own this little beast and be inspired to go out and push the camera to its limits?

4) POWERFUL 5-AXIS IMAGE STABILIZATION

A powerful image stabilization system is a game changer. Olympus offers their best innovation in their imaging business even in the E-M10 Mark II, the 5-Axis Image Stabilization. The ability to shoot at lower shutter speeds, confidently negates the camera shake and the need to carry around a tripod. The hand-held shooting freedom, combined with the light-weight construction and small size of the camera resulted in a truly compact, and easy to carry around system. After all, the best camera is the camera that you have with you, and a camera that is easier to bring about can almost guarantee you more photography opportunities. No other camera manufacturers have added this level of powerful image stabilization in their lower tier system cameras!

The benefits of the 5-Axis Image Stabilization is also extended beyond still photographs to video recording. While I genuinely agree that Olympus may not be the best when it comes to movie recording, you cannot stop but be in awe with what the built in camera image stabilizer can do when you shoot the movie hand-held. Seriously, it is like a mini steady-cam built right into the camera around the sensor.

See the live music performance video below for an example of a stabilized video recorded hand-held, with the E-M10 Mark II and 45mm F1.8 lens, with 5-Axis Image Stabilization at work!

HAMEER ZAWAWI - THE ACHING
Featuring Jonathan Khor at Merdekarya

Check out Hameer Zawawi at his Facebook Page and Website


Since we were at a super low light condition shooting at Merkekarya, let's put the E-M10 Mark II to some high ISO torture tests!

ISO3200

ISO6400

ISO3200

ISO5000

On The Phone

The Iron Man

Apam Balik

Portrait of a Stranger

5) FUN FUN FUN CAMERA TO USE

I think the most subjective, yet a very important question to ask when choosing a camera: does the camera inspire you? Does it make you want to pick it up and just go out to shoot? Does it make you think about it when you are not shooting?

You may have the best, most expensive, most powerful camera, but if the camera looks ugly to your eyes, is too bulky to carry with you everywhere you go to, and is just plain joyless to use, I do not think you will enjoy using the camera. That is the point is it not, why get a camera that you cannot enjoy using? What is the point of doing photography if you do not enjoy shooting? User experience of the camera to me is extremely important, and I want a camera that not only feels good in hand but makes me feel good about myself, my shooting process and allows me to fully immerse myself in shutter therapy!

I understand that this description of fun may not be applicable to every one, but hey, if you have not tried the OM-D E-M10 Mark II, it is one hell of a fun camera to use!


Nick Wade and his take of how to have fun with an Olympus camera

How to murder a bread

End the Shutter Therapy session with an overpriced cup of Coffee

Do you agree?

Iron Man on Flowers

If you have a friend who is keen to start photography, what system camera would you recommend him or her to get? Do share your suggestions, recommendations and I want to hear your thoughts! 

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34 comments :

  1. I am also using an EM10II. It is a little bit lighter than the EM5I, but it is still hefty. I've always thought that this camera also has metal body like EM5. Great article as always, Robin!

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    Replies
    1. Thanks for the kind words. Nguyen. Yes it does have a metal body, but not a magnesium alloy!

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    2. Hi Robin

      I am also an owner of the M10 Mark ll. Could you tell me please the aperture settings, the exif dates of this 6400 shot. I cannot hardly see much noise and wonder how you did this. Which lens fid you use etc. Thank you very much. Regards Marcel

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  2. I bought mine two monthes ago, and I'm really happy with it ! It's an awesome little camera, I love it. Your review was a good reason for me to purchase it, by the way :-) My E-PL5 is now retired, but I keep it just in case, or in order to have a second camera with another lens on, one never knows. Thank you for the great job you do in your blog.

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    Replies
    1. Having a second camera is a good thing, and E-PL5 being so small, easy to carry around, you can attach another lens on it! INstead of changing lenses you can just use two bodies at the same time. Not a bad setup for quick shooting.

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  3. That bread was just loafing anyway.

    I don't know how anyone gets usable photos from ISO sensitivities above 3200. Is it a balancing act on what is acceptable? I've tried an application called Noiseless CK for Mac and it works but it can smooth too much.

    The E-M10 (and the E-M5) is so tiny. I can't imagine that most people have such small hands.

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    1. I find the noise is not intrusive at high ISO, but of course it is there. But I wonder where can you go and how much you have to spend to see significant inprovement. I shoot with Fuji X, OMD, Canon g9x, and recently Sony a6000. Some guys claim that APS-C is one stop beyond M43, but in reality, it is not that different. Like Robin said, as long as you do not under expose your photo and push in post, it should be fine.

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    2. You know it's similar in size to the OM film cameras or many other 35mm SLR film cameras such as Pentax ME.
      The E-M10 MkII = 120 x 83 x 47 mm The OM-10 = 136 x 83 x 50 mm (Pentax ME = 131 x 82.5 x 49.5mm)
      I think we've become so used to seeing bulky APC-C and FF DSLRs that MILCs start to look too small. Fact is, they are built by humans FOR humans.
      I find the E-M10 and E-M10 MkII comfortable to use and I have large hands.

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    3. Hi Nobuyuki San,
      I believe Olympus has great noise reduction in camera, and the files (not too much processing done) up to ISO6400 is acceptable to me. Of course if you process RAW and do your own processing there is a lot of balancing act to be done. I think the E-M10 Mark II has just the right size though! Unless of course if you handle larger lenses like 40-150mm F2.8 PRO or 300mm F4 pro!

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    4. Hi Nguyen,
      I think we have come to a point today that all cameras can create very good and usable high ISO images. Each camera will produce different results, but they are all looking better and better due to improved processing (not necessarily better image sensor).

      Xara-User,
      If we are handling smaller lenses such as the beautiful primes, I think E-M10 Mark II has just the right size!

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    5. @Xara-Users: I know. I had an OM-1N, which was rather slippery. I found the Olympus E-1 practically perfect in size. The only non-Four-Thirds or micro Four-Thirds camera I use is the Nikon D7200 which does seem a bit large.

      @Nguyen Tran: I suppose it would be better if I wasn't shooting sports. I have to push my camera bodies further than most do. As I just mentioned, I also use a Nikon D7200 and it is acceptable to about ISO 4000.

      @Robin Wong: I picked up the E-M5 Mk II the other day and it was so small, I would probably find it too small, even with the battery grip. The E-M1 is not particularly comfortable, although the GH4 is.

      I only use JPEG files when special effects are necessary. Thankfully, Olympus' JPEG files are superior to most any other camera makers' files. I've been using Olympus raw files since 2006, though.

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  4. Years and years ago when I was ready to move up from point and shoot cameras, I tried various entry level Canon and Nikon cameras and even some bridge cameras. The ones that gave me great results right away were the E-620 and E-P1, both with kit lenses. I wasn't yet a pixel peeper back then, but the better colors and details were more noticeable to me. I'm sure folks that pick up an E-M10 II will see the same big difference. The only thing holding me back from wholeheartedly recommending the E-M10 II to newcomers would be that the Olympus menu system can be very intimidating. For newcomers on a budget, the original E-M10 would be a great choice too.

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    Replies
    1. I do agree with you Maruyama San, the menu system in Olympus cameras need plenty of time to get used to!

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  5. Hi Robin, I've been the proud owner of this little camera for just over a week now (upgrading from a e-pm1 with a stuck shutter) and I love it more than any electronic device I've ever owned. The silent shutter is probably what attracted me most along with the sheer amount of customization.

    I wish I could map one of the buttons to "sleep" though - saving power is always at the back of my head. For my e-pm1 I had a button mapped to "lcd off".

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  6. Got to agree with everything you say about the E-M10 - fantastic camera for the money! My wife and I initially bought an E-M5 II for her to use, but I loved it so much that she could barely get her hands on "her" camera. Then an opportunity arose to buy an E-M10 II at a very reasonable price. Problem solved! It's hard to believe that Olympus packed so much into an entry-level model, but we are the winners. The E-M5 II has a few nice extras, like weather-sealing and a high-resolution mode, but the E-M10 II is an incredibly capable camera. The images it produces are proof of that. One little niggle of having the E-M5/E-M10 combination is that they use different batteries.

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  7. I just purchased your camera's predecessor, the OM-D E-M10 directly from Olympus- it was a fantastic deal. It came with the M.Zuiko 14-42mm kit lens. I purchased a used M.Zuiko 17mm f/2.8 from a local photographer and I just picked up an old Canon 50mm f/1.8 film lens and adapter from my local camera store. I LOVE THIS CAMERA AND EVERYTHING IT DOES. I still have a lot to learn about "real" photography, coming from the point-and-shoot and cell phone camera world, but I absolutely LOVE how small and fun the OM-D E-M10 is to use. I liked your Facebook page and am looking forward to seeing more pics from dedicated Olympus users!

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  8. I just saw an offer OM-D E-M5 Mark I plus 14-42mm II + 40-150 mm R for RM2,800, is it worth? What is your opinion?

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    ReplyDelete
  10. For the Hameer Zawawi video were you pulling the focus manually, using continuous autofocus or hitting the shutter to refocus via S-af? Also, I love your blog. It opens a door to the other side of the world for me as I'm in the US.

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  11. Hi Robin Wong, I've been using an Olympus E-Pm2 (entry level micro 4/3) camera for over a year and finally upgraded the kit lens. I bought the Olympus 25mm f1.8 prime lens as I wanted a sharper lens and the ability to photograph more in low light. My query is can this lens perform well enough on the E-pm2 or am I best to consider upgrading to a camera such as the OMD- e-m10 to get the most out of this lens? I'm an amateur photographer but I am interested in taking a course in photography as it is something that really interests. I spend a lot of time with my camera and although I'm still learning the ins and outs of exposure and what it takes to produce a good photo I was wondering if you could tell me what the significant differences are in my current camera and the omd e-m10. You can view some of my photos here on my viewbug page http://www.viewbug.com/member/danielaedmistonrusso P.S I have just discovered the Olympus Viewer post processing software. I know I have a tendency to over-process my photos. I guess I need to take a tutorial in processing photos.

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  12. I've had the EM-10 for about a year and a half. Upgraded from a Canon superzoom and love the EM-10. I found "Supercharging the Olympus EM-10" to be a great e-book to get through an initial setup, much like Robin's, but with much more detail, pictures and explanation. When overwhelmed by all that the EM-10 can do and its settings, this was a place to start. I still refer to it regularly for explanations of settings and techniques. It has now been updated for the EM-10 MkII. As others have said, if you already have an OMD camera, it may not be needed; for a newbie to OMD and all its features, I highly recommend it.

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  13. Hello Robin Wong, I may have missed it in the post, but are these photos JPEG straight out of camera? They are very vibrant and crisp. I have an E-M10 and use either the 17mm 1.8 or the 12-40 2.8 lens and my straight out of camera photos tend to have a more washed look. I am using the "Natural" setting with no adjustments to contrast, or saturation. I am wondering if you can share what your camera settings are. Thank you.

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    Replies
    1. I am curious too what settings you use!

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    2. I am curious too what settings you use!

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  15. It's very awesome to see your post, i really enjoyed your article actually i'm your regular reader and love your posts. Everytime you write something beneficial with a unique idea and explanation. It is very difficult to explain one product but your way of explanation is authentic and understandable. As i'm also running a photography blog with ecommerce platform named TRD Electronics, you can use it as a tutor because i often post posts likes "How to use Digital Cameras", "Best Lens for Wildlife Photography", "Essential Tips for Street Photography" and also you can purchase Photography Products and Electronics Gadgets.

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  16. Great blog, 100% agree with what you said here about the camera! I did not miss my DSLR at home at all when I was travelling overseas with this Oly!

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  17. I just purchased the EM10 ii after a few weeks decision making process.. The EM10 ii or EM5 ii. I am very happy with my choice the EM10 ii After many happy years using the EPL3 this camera is so much better! with the EVF I have no issues any more in bright sun situations, with the focussing pad I can quickly focus on the right target. The tall buttons on the top are very comfortable to work with. It is now much easier to adjust the exposure and Aperture / Shutter speed. I changed Fn1 in the settings to be able to change the ISO / WB with the same two wheels. I love it. The focussing pad, the even bigger buttons on the top and the built in flash, and the slightly better battery life finely made me decide for the EM10 ii. The weather seal of the EM5 ii is very nice but one need than also to switch to (expensive) weather sealed PRO lenses and to me the 40MP photo option is not for daily use. Next wish is the beautiful 75 mm lens!

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    ReplyDelete
  21. Is EM 10 mark ii a weather sealed camera? I enjoyed going to snowy country, will this camera freeze?

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  22. I have very recently acquired a EM10 Mark II. My problem is, that the camera occasionally freezes. This mostly happens when I take a picture of a white wall with the built-in flash. I have tried different SD-Cards, but that doesn't solve the problem.
    To get the camera working again I have to remove the battery.

    Any idea what I could do?

    ReplyDelete