2020 has been quite the year so far for Olympus. In the spring, the company announced they planned on selling their camera division. And over the summer, Japan Industrial Partners purchased their camera division. But, it doesn’t appear that they’ve given up on developing cameras.
And their latest camera aims to give existing users hope. Released in the fall of 2020, the Olympus E-M10 Mark IV is their latest entry-level camera in the O-MD family. And it marks the fourth generation of their top-rated E-M10 series. But, one that obtains several high-end features from their professional E-M1 Mark III and E-M1X cameras. On paper, it promises a host of new improvements, several of which are not typically available in the entry-level segment. Most notably, a large 20MP sensor, the latest TruePic processor, updated stabilization, and Olympus’ full suite of Advanced Photo modes.
It certainly doesn’t sound like the typical release, that’s for sure. Olympus aims this camera at amateurs and beginners who want a greater range of controls and better optics than their smartphones. Additionally, they also aim this as a viable option for seasoned shooters looking for a compact traveling companion. However, this camera faces some rather stiff competition, namely, Nikon’s Z50, Sony’s a6100, Fujifilm’s X-T30, and Canon’s EOS M50. Given the whirlwind of a year it’s been so far, will the company’s latest attempt say budding photographers to the system? Is this release enough to reintegrate what many call a “dying” ecosystem? Let’s find out.
Jump to a Section
- What are some of the goods, bads, and uglies of the Olympus E-M10 Mark IV?
- Image Quality
- Video Quality
- Low Light Performance
- Focusing Performance
- Battery Performance
- Display & Viewfinder
- User Interface
- Physical Layout & Ergonomics
- Niche Features/Extras
- Video Capabilities
- Autofocus Performance
- Lacking Features
- Is this a good beginner camera?
- Is this a good camera for you?
What are some of the goods, bads, and uglies of the Olympus E-M10 Mark IV?
It features a brand new 20.3-megapixel Live MOS sensor and the TruePic VIII image processor, a similar setup as the Pen F but with the latest processor. The new sensor is a significant improvement over earlier models which use 16MP sensors. And it marks the first Olympus entry-level camera to obtain this feature. This 26% increase in total resolution substantially improves the camera’s image quality. And it’s now on quite a high level and adequately suited for large format printing. It’s 12-bit RAW images deliver excellent detail and ample dynamic range, easily matching Olympus’ higher-end cameras. And the JPEG engine also provides natural rendering and latitude when using the built-in filters. Overall, the 4MP bump is a welcomed change that makes the camera quite competitive in this segment.
The updated processor also yields marginally faster continuous shooting speeds. It now provides 8.7 fps in the high setting and 15 fps when using the electronic shutter. But, its buffer depth has nearly doubled, now providing 42 RAW images in the high setting and virtually unlimited RAW images in the low setting.
It obtains many of the same video capabilities as the predecessor. With that, it records 4K UHD video up to 30 fps and 1080p FHD videos up to 60 fps. But, surprisingly, Olympus has added the slightly wider Cinema 4K resolution at 24 fps. Otherwise, it still shoots to the MOV format using IPB compression with a data rate of 102 Mbps. While 1080p supplies data rates of 52 Mbps in the highest quality setting. Overall, while mostly unchanged, the video quality remains excellent. The camera doesn’t suffer from rolling shutter, and the footage is quite sharp with natural color rendering.
Like most cameras in this class, video recordings are limited to 29 minutes.
Like the predecessor, you can use any of the camera’s 16 Art Filters during video recordings, adding extra flair and a stylistic appeal.
It obtains the Movie Clips mode, which adds multiple movie clips or still images into a single movie file.
It has the In-Movie Image Capture option, which captures still images from 4K movies.
It obtains the High-Speed Movie mode, which records super-slow-motion movies at 120 fps played back at 30 fps in HD quality.
Low Light Performance
It features a native ISO range from ISO 200 to 25,600, with a low setting of ISO 80. And low light performance is good for the class. Users can expect usable images up to ISO 3,200 without processing or 6,400 with minor processing.
It uses the same 121-point High-Speed Imager AF system as the predecessor. This system uses contrast-detection. Thankfully, Olympus has opted for several notable changes with this model. In this case, it borrows the same focusing algorithms from the newest EM-1 system cameras. And it also obtains both Face and Eye-detection from the EM-1 Mark III. Together, the camera’s continuous AF performance has dramatically improved over the predecessor. With these re-worked algorithms, it’s now able to consistently track moving subjects, making it more suited for sports scenes and recording video. Otherwise, the focusing performance remains mostly unchanged. And the camera is still confident and relatively quick.
The camera also offers manual focus assist, focus magnification, and peaking for manual focusing.
It uses the same BLS-50 battery as the predecessor. However, improvements in processing have led to a 16% increase in longevity. And the camera now provides 360 shots per charge and up to 140 minutes of video recording.
Display & Viewfinder
It has a 3.0-inch tilting touchscreen LCD with a resolution of 1.04M dots. This screen tilts up 80º and down 180º, which, while not ideal, works well for front-facing selfies or vlogging. And it’s a significant improvement over the predecessor, which employed the standard tilting screen. Otherwise, the screen itself is bright, clear, with enough contrast for viewing outdoors in bright sunlight. The rear screen also offers an excellent selection of touch capabilities. It supports touch focus, touch shutter, AF selection, and AF touchpad, to name a few.
It also obtains the same 2.36M dot OLED electronic viewfinder with a 1.23x magnification from the predecessor. While unchanged, the viewfinder remains bright, detailed, and provides a good viewing experience for this class.
Olympus has refined the user interface on this camera, however, which is now quite intuitive. It’s far more streamlined than the previous model and is quite beginner-friendly. Overall, both existing and new users should find the menus quickly mastered. The camera also displays helpful overlay descriptions, both in the scene and advanced photo modes. And these descriptions teach novices how to control various camera settings.
It obtains the Live Control Interface and Super Control Panel from the predecessor. These are Olympus’ version for quick and function menus, which gives you immediate access to critical camera settings such as exposure, filters, and more.
It also obtains the Live Guide, which helps novice photographers easily adjust camera settings with on-screen sliders. In this mode, you can easily adjust white balance, background blur, and exposure settings. And it’s quite helpful.
The Mode Selector obtains the full suite of photo modes from the predecessor, including PASM, Advanced Photo, and the Art Filter modes. The Advanced Photo (AP) Mode gives users access to several advanced shooting functions in a single menu. In this mode, you’ll find Focus Bracketing, Exposure Bracketing, Night Time Live Composite, and Multiple Exposures. And it makes accessing these settings easy to find. Overall, having all of the camera’s filters in the Mode Dial is perfect and immediately accessible for the user.
It has three customizable buttons, where you can select any of 11 different settings.
The camera has a custom menu, where you can add various camera settings to a single page.
Physical Layout & Ergonomics
The camera follows a similar design as the predecessor. However, Olympus has improved and refined the ergonomics. In this case, they’ve redesigned the grip, which is now larger and more comfortable. And it also delivers a more secure fit in hand. They’ve also recessed the top of the handgrip, which provides a more natural middle finger position. Plus, they even reshaped the rear thumb rest, making it slightly larger and more comfortable during one-hand use. Overall, these changes significantly improve the camera’s handling, which now rivals the higher-end E-M5 Mark III in this regard. For its size, the camera offers exceptional ergonomics and handling. And together, they’re substantial changes over earlier models.
The rear buttons are also slightly spaced out for easier changes. Otherwise, the camera’s button layout remains identical to the predecessor.
The camera uses a full polycarbonate construction, which makes it slightly lighter. And Olympus has reduced the camera’s weight by 8%, moving from 362g to 335g body alone. Nevertheless, it still provides the same premium tactile feel as the predecessor with knurled metal dials and accents. This makes it quite sturdy, attractive, and it doesn’t feel cheap whatsoever.
It has a dedicated video record button, which starts movies without first setting the Mode dial position.
It has dual adjustment dials to control Aperture or Shutter Speed with nice clicky feedback. It’s rare to see an entry-level camera in this price range offer both dials, as most don’t.
In the spirit of most Olympus’ recent releases, this camera obtained their legendary 5-axis in-body image stabilization system. In this case, they now rate the system for 4.5 stops (EV) of compensation, a ½ stop improvement over the predecessor. This system effectively lets you shoot upwards of ⅕ second shutter speeds and capture sharp images handheld. It also has the Multi Motion IS Mode, which adds electronic stabilization, further improving the stabilization at the expense of an additional crop.
In addition to Wi-Fi the camera now offers low-powered Bluetooth connectivity. This gives the camera an always-on connection for easy and seamless pairing. It also allows automatic image transfer when the camera is off, and you can now embed GPS coordinates as well. Otherwise, you can still remotely control the camera with extensive options and wirelessly transfer images using the Olympus O.I Share app.
It has a built-in flash, which can also trigger and control compatible units in the Olympus RC Flash system.
New for this release is USB charging support, a feature taken from Olympus’ more recent releases.
The camera offers extensive in-camera RAW and JPEG processing. You can select picture modes and make individual adjustments to contrast, sharpness, art filters, crop, resize, among many others. Plus, you can also trim movies in-camera.
It inherits the e-Portrait Mode from the predecessor. This mode smooths skin tones for more pleasing portraits, removing some of the need for post-processing.
It has a built-in 2x digital teleconverter, allowing you to zoom digitally, which is helpful when you can’t physically get closer to your subject.
It has Multiple Exposure, and it combines the two images in-camera.
It has Live Composite, which creates long exposures. And you can view the exposure develop in real-time on the monitor.
It has Live Time, which creates long exposures without depressing the shutter.
It has built-in HDR, which captures four separate images and combines them into a single high definition image.
It obtains Keystone Compensation, which fixes the distortion caused by focal length.
It has a built-in time-lapse mode, which also creates a movie in-camera.
It has built-in Panorama and it stitches the images in-camera.
It has several bracketing options, including exposure bracketing and focus bracketing. These options are available in the Advanced Photo Mode.
It now has a total of 16 Art Filters, which now includes Olympus’ Instant Film filter.
You can record 30-second audio clips to pictures using the built-in microphone, similar to a voice memo, a rare but interesting feature.
It obtains Olympus’ helpful Supersonic Wave Filter, which vibrates the sensor using the camera’s stabilization system, removing dust or debris in the process.
It has a fully silent electronic shutter.
Due to its size, it uses a Micro HDMI port, which isn’t ideal as these connections are usually flimsy with external cables. But, more importantly, the HDMI output doesn’t provide a clean signal, so you’ll see the camera’s interface overlayed on external monitors or recorders. Therefore, this camera isn’t ideal for live streaming. For this, consider Olympus’ EM-5 Mark III.
As an entry-level camera, it doesn’t offer any advanced video-centric features such as zebras, waveforms, log profiles, or 10-bit.
When the video file exceeds 4 GBs in size, the camera automatically segments the clip into multiple files, which require combining in post-processing.
While focusing overall is good, it doesn’t have phase-detection AF in addition to the standard contrast system. This particular focusing system is only available on Olmypus’ higher-end cameras. And since the camera lacks phase-detection, it’s not well suited for fast moving subjects. Without it the AF-tracking is slower to respond and takes time before looking. And it’s not quite as sticky. Thus, this camera is best reserved for slower moving or stationary subjects.
The camera also lacks the same level of AF customization as Olmypus’ higher-end models.
The camera uses the same flip-down screen as the E-PL series cameras. While this adds more versatility than the previous design, it’s not quite as helpful as a side-hinged or tilt-up screen. The tilt-down screen typically increases arm strain, and looking down is not quite as flattering for some users. Considering this camera lacks both headphone and microphone inputs, a flip-up screen would be a better option.
This camera lacks custom shooting modes, labeled “C” on the Mode dial and Olympus’ My Sets feature. Thus, you’ll need to reset shooting setups every time before shooting. Only their higher-end EM-5 And E-M1 cameras have these features.
The main menu doesn’t support touch navigation.
Like most compact cameras in this class, both the battery and SD cards live in the same compartment underneath the camera. And this positioning makes quickly changing either tedious when using a tripod.
It lacks the High Resolution, Pro Capture, and Focus Stacking modes of the E-M5 series.
It lacks a microphone input.
It lacks a headphone output.
It lacks weather sealing.
It doesn’t offer dual card slots, though not expected in the entry-level segment.
Is this a good beginner camera?
This camera is ideal for beginners. It offers an enormous selection of creative modes, plenty of filters, and on-screen guidance to assist novice photographers. Plus, Olympus has made great leaps in usability with a streamlined interface, creating a far more intuitive camera. Yet, surprisingly, it also obtains a wealth of technology, features, and advancements from Olympus’ flagship pro-level cameras. Given these facts and it’s outstanding launch price, it’s an excellent option that’s well-suited for long-term growth as your skills sharpen.
Is this a good camera for you?
Olympus has designed this camera with traveling photographers in mind. Whether you’re an amateur or professional, this camera is the ideal tool for those looking for a compact take-anywhere option. And it’s a small and discreet package that’s inconspicuous, perfect for street photographers and journalists.
However, for videographers, better options exist at this price point. And Olympus doesn’t advertise this as a video-centric camera. With the lack of headphone and microphone ports, log profiles, and a clean HDMI, it’s not the ideal tool for budding videographers. That is unless you use an external recorder and sync the audio in post-production. But, this process isn’t suitable for beginners and the demographic this camera aims. This camera can work as a backup or b-cam to an existing setup, however. But as a primary tool or hybrid shooter, we suggest considering another camera.
Previous E-M10 owners should consider an upgrade if they want the updated ergonomics, larger sensor, and the screen articulation. As a package, this camera is an excellent successor and a worthwhile upgrade.
In the end, the Olympus EM-10 Mark IV is the ideal option for users wanting a compact entry-level mirrorless camera that’s powerful yet stylish. Given its launch pricing, it’s quite a strong package despite it’s an entry-level classification. And it houses several features typically reserved for higher-end OM-D models. With its new 20MP sensor, updated ergonomics, articulation, and better stabilization, it delivers a lot for the money. And it outpaces many entry-level cameras at this price point with performance that exceeds expectations.
For beginners making their first step into the interchangeable mirrorless world, this camera is ideal and easy to use. And it brings pro-level features at an affordable price. It’s also suited for intermediate and advanced photographers who want a small, lightweight camera without compromising performance. As it stands, the Olympus EM-10 Mark IV is an excellent entry point into the Olympus and Micro-Four-Thirds ecosystem. And if you’re looking for a robust, compact camera, this could be a worthy option.
It’s good to see Olympus remains a relevant contender despite selling their camera division. And the release of the E-M10 Mark IV proves they’re still one to reckon with in the entry-level segment. It will be quite a popular camera following its release, no questions there. As a package, it delivers a wealth of improvements and a strong feature set that exceeds expectations.