Shooting Video With Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark IV

This blog entry is a continuation from my Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark IV review article. If you have not read that, please do so here (click) before continuing with this post. I am only discussing specifically the video performance of E-M10 Mark IV here. 

The E-M10 Mark IV is an interesting camera, being released in 2020, taking the latest entry level OM-D model with very respectable photography-centric features (updated 20MP image sensor, improved 5-Axis IS, revised hand-gripping for better handling, tilt-down screen for selfie). However when it comes to video recording front, the camera seems a little conflicted. On one hand, Olympus has rock-steady video stabilization for hand-held footage, improved C-AF algorithm and respectable 4K video quality. On the other hand, Olympus missed two very critical features for video: microphone input and a swivel/fully articulated LCD screen. I am sharing my experience using the E-M10 Mark IV shooting video in this blog entry. 

Here is my video version of this article - which carries some examples of what I am discussing here. 

Video was also almost entirely recorded with E-M10 Mark IV, with exception of B-Rolls shot with E-M5 Mark III, which I have indicated clearly. 

Basic video specifications on E-M10 Mark IV
4K up to 30p, Full HD 1080 up to 60p,
HD 720 up to 120fps slow motion capture
5-Axis IS for video stabilization shooting hand-held
Improved C-AF algorithm
Full manual control over ISO, aperture and shutter speed in dedicated video mode

I am going to be entirely honest, I am not a cinematography, I am noob when it comes to film making, so I won't consider this as a review for E-M10 Mark IV's video performance. I am simply not qualified to do so. I am sure some other videographers who are more experienced will be able to give you a better assessment. What I can do is to share my experience shooting with the E-M10 Mark IV in two very specific uses: live stage music performance as well as my usual vlogging activities. 

I have brought the E-M10 Mark IV to shoot Bihzhu, a friend and singer-songwriter who performed live recently, and I recorded a 5 minutes long of her performance which was shot in one take, uncut. You may find the previous blog entry about Bihzhu here (click). Please do watch that video, because what I am discussing here is also heavily based on that 4K video sample. 




THE GOOD NEWS
5-AXIS IMAGE STABILIZATION FOR VIDEO
The image stabilization is the main differentiating factor for E-M10 Mark IV vs other entry level interchangeable cameras in the same category. The 5-Axis IS stabilizes the footage so well, that it was smooth, jitters free and almost gimbal-like, if there is not too much movement involved. Bear in mind in the Bihzhu-Nowness 4K video sample, I was shooting with the M.Zuiko 75mm F1.8, which has an equivalent focal length of 150mm. At such long lens, yet shooting the entire 5 minutes video hand-held was a breeze and the whole footage was shake free and almost perfectly smooth. If you don't intend to carry gimbals, steadycams or tripods and do a lot of video shooting hand-held, you may want to look at what Olympus' 5-Axis IS can do, no competition comes close at this moment, especially not at this price point. 

To drive this point home, imagine you are using any other cameras, with or without IS, then mount the 70-200mm lens onto the camera. Zoom to 150mm, and shoot a video hand-held for 5 minutes. And tell me you can accomplish similar level of stabilization with what I have shown you in the E-M10 Mark IV footage. I don't think any other entry level DSLR/mirrorless cameras can do this!

C-AF WITH FACE DETECT
C-AF has always been one of the weaknesses for Olympus cameras, both for stills and videos with exception to high end flagships such as E-M1 series, and more recently, the E-M5 Mark III. The main reason being not having phase detection AF built onto the image sensor. E-M1 series (including the latest E-M5 Mark III) has built in phase detection sensors to help better subject tracking and continuous focusing operations, and they have proven to work very well. Olympus claimed that they have used the same C-AF algorithm from flagship E-M1 Mark III and worked it into the contrast detection AF of E-M10 Mark IV, improving it from previous incarnations of E-M10 cameras. 

From my experience shooting the live music performance, it the C-AF worked very well, keeping the most fore-front subject to be in focus. Bear in mind that the lighting was also quite good, the stage was well lit, and I did not have too many messy subjects to deal with. The face detect did fail a little there and here but it was probably me not using the camera enough to operate it more efficiently. If you have seen this vlog of me explaining the E-M10 Mark IV, you will also see how the C-AF sticks to my face the entire time, with no issue at all. 

I do admit that, having tested the E-M10 Mark IV extensively, I still find the C-AF in E-M1 series and E-M5 Mark III to work more effectively and efficiently. The C-AF locks quicker, more confidently and sticks on the face better. It is no surprise, since E-M10 Mark IV does not have phase detection AF, but I do admit it is a big improvement over previous E-M10 series cameras that really did much poorer job in C-AF and face detection in video shooting. 

GOOD 4K VIDEO
Unlike E-M1 Mark III or E-M5 Mark III, the E-M10 Mark IV does not have cinema 4K with 237Mbps bitrate. The 4K video is the standard UHD resolution with unknown bitrate, but I find the 4K video to be quite good, sharp with plenty of details and does handle colors, dynamic range and contrast very well. Olympus plays their strength in excellent JPEG engine for video shooting and the straight out of camera footage looks very pleasing and perfectly usable without much grading. In fact, I did only minimal grading to the footage (shifted the color a little toward colder tone, the original capture was a little too warm for my own taste). For those who use Full HD, downscaling the 4K resolution to 1080p gives excellent results. 

Unfortunately this is where the good news ends. 

THE BAD NEWS
NO MICROPHONE INPUT
That is quite an unforgiveable sin. I don't know how to defend Olympus even if I wanted to, and I believe they should have included some way to connect to a microphone, even if it means allowing the use of the micro USB port via some adapter. There is no way to have audio in. If you are considering to get E-M10 Mark IV, your only solution is to record audio separately via a voice recorder and sync the audio later in post-production. There is built in microphone of course but I won't recommend using that for any serious video work. 

NO SWIVEL SCREEN
It would have been great if a swivel screen is included, but Olympus decided to do a tiltable screen, which tilts downward for selfie. It would have been more helpful if the screen tilts upward instead, so that when used with tripod, the screen is not blocked. On one hand, it is clear that the tilt screen is not suitable for video work, but it is also very obvious Olympus designed the E-M10 Mark IV more specifically for photography/stills shooters. 

To be fair, Olympus did not mention or promise anything about E-M10 Mark IV being a video shooting camera, or a vlogging camera, which some companies did with their recent products and not fulfilling their own claims satisfactorily. Those deserve much harsher criticism. The solution here is quite clear - if you want to vlog or do anything video with Olympus Micro Four Thirds - go for E-M5 Mark III, or higher. E-M5 Mark III has everything checked from swivel articulating screen to microphone input and even Cinema 4K mode, and 120fps Full HD slow motion, I have been using the E-M5 Mark III for my vlogs on my YouTube channel for more than half a year now and it worked extremely well. I'd expect many photographers would welcome E-M10 Mark IV being a more stills oriented camera - the tilt sreen arguably works better for quicker response time, especially for street photography, and is more stealthy too. 

Having said that, I do hope that moving forward, in future Olympus product strategies, after the transfer to JIP is complete, they would consider more serious video features offerings in their lower level cameras, such as the E-M10 series and E-PL series. It is not difficult to predict that the sales would have gone up further for E-M10 Mark IV, if these two video features (microphone input and swivel screen) were included. 

Any other important video features that you think a camera must have in 2020? Share your thoughts! 

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24 comments:

  1. Hi Robin. Thanks for your reviews, always accurate and detailed. In my opinion, the tilting screen is a really good news. I prefer landscape photography and the swivel screen is really uncomfortable. I could change my old E-M10 to add a new little sister to my E-M1 Mk II. Regards :-)

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  2. About LCD: all manufacturers should use LCDs that can both tilt or swivel (like thh Panasonic S1H or the Fuji XT-100). Would please both the stills and video crowd.

    I like the simplified interface for beginners that came with the Mark III (that I have). But there are no excuses to cripple all the manual functions and make a lot of modes to be able to do only in the AP mode (multiple exposures, silent shutter, etc).

    And I hope that JIP (if they stay in business) review the policy of dumb down too much the cheaper cameras. Not having PDAF in the E-M10 is lo longer acceptable - Fuji have PDAF top to bottom of the line.

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