Aug 28, 2015

    Olympus' budget powerhouse reborn

    OLYMPUS' OM-D E-M10 camera came out slightly more than a year ago and impressed us with high-end performance at a budget price. The company has just announced the OM-D E-M10 Mark II, which looks like it's going to do the same.

    Both belong to a class of Micro Four Thirds cameras that can produce DSLR-like quality photos, but in a more compact body.

    While the original E-M10 came with a three-axis image stabilisation system, the Mark II steps that up with five-axis image stabilisation, which should reduce blurriness in photos due to unsteady hands. But digital photography site DP Review said this is not the same five-axis image stabilisation as that on the E-M5 Mark II or E-M1.

    The E-M10 Mark II includes a new 2.36-million-dot Oled electronic viewfinder, which is a step up from the E-M10's 1.44-million-dot electronic viewfinder.

    The E-M10 Mark II adds the ability to shoot 8.5 frames per second, and a new 4K Time-Lapse mode; it captures up to 999 images automatically at an interval of one image every five seconds, which the camera then edits into an ultra high-resolution 4K movie file. Actual movie recording resolution maxes out at 1080p Full HD video.

    The E-M10 Mark II's body has been visibly redesigned. Rather than a straight line down, the grip now slants at a sharp angle. The twin and mode dials have become taller, which makes them easier to use, but also adds odd bumps to the camera's previously streamlined profile. The power switch has moved from its hard-to-reach placement on the back to a more accessible position on the top plate.

    Like on the E-M10, the rear touchscreen LCD tilts, and the E-M10 Mark II adds a new feature Olympus is calling "AF Targeting Pad". It allows you to control the auto-focus point with your thumb on the rear screen, even when your eye is on the viewfinder. Although the feature is new to Olympus, Panasonic's Micro Four Thirds cameras, like the GX7, have had this feature for a while now.

    While Panasonic's newest Micro Four Thirds camera, the DMC GX-8, comes with a new 20MP sensor, it remains the only Micro Four Thirds camera to do so.

    The E-M10 Mark II sticks with a 16MP sensor, with what sounds like the same TruePic VII image processor from the E-M10. While we remain satisfied with the E-M10 and E-M5 Mark II's 16MP sensors, we can't help but feel that it may be time for the Micro Four Thirds system to make a concerted jump beyond 16MP.

    Prices and availability for Singapore haven't been announced, but according to DP Review, the E-M10 Mark II will arrive in the United States next month, and it looks like Olympus is keeping its aggressive pricing for the E-M10 series.

    The E-M10 Mark II body, available in black and silver, will be going for US$649.99 (S$910). With the 14-42mm kit lens, it'll be selling at US$799.99. The E-M10 originally launched at S$893 (body only) or S$1,020 (with 14-42mm kit lens).