The Perfect Camera?

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Heady words, yes.  And of course, it depends on what you use the camera for.  But Olympus has just released what may very well be the perfect camera and lens combination: the OM-D E-M10, with the Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 14-42mm F3.5-5.6 EZ and here’s why: it is the smallest 16-megapixel camera that has a viewfinder, an articulating screen, and ‘pro’ external controls, coupled with the thinnest zoom lens ever, matched with a very reasonable price. Throw in WiFi and a built-in command flash, just for fun.

Olympus-OM-D-E-M10-first-look-3

Pocketable…

You can drop this camera/lens combination into a side pocket of your jacket and not even realize it’s there. Sure, there are smaller cameras – notably the award-winning Panasonic Lumix DMC-GM1 (what’s with all these multi-letter/number names?) – but that little gem has neither a viewfinder nor an articulated screen, which means you have to hold it up in front of you like a smart phone – which, well, you can do with a smart phone.

..and Pro (pretty much)

It’s not billed as a pro camera per se, but actually the E-M10 has all of the external controls that I need to change settings such as exposure type, shutter speed, aperture, iso, white balance, exposure compensation, and  frame rate without having to go into menus and without having to move my eye from the viewfinder.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

 

Of course, it’s not a true pro camera compared to the E-M1 which is double the price, but the differences between the two come down to this:

in E-M1′s favor

  • Half stop advantage from image stabilization
  • One stop faster shutter speed
  • Weather sealing (um, not a factor for me)
  • Extra external controls (but E-M10 has more than most others already)
  • Easier to grasp (again, not a factor)
  • Better EVP (but still, EM-10′s is pretty good)

in EM-10′s favor

  • Pocketable
  • Built-in flash can act as command
  • Half the price
Screen Shot 2014-03-17 at 9.02.24 PM

Courtesy CameraSize.com

I went down to Glazer’s, my local pro camera store, and fiddled around with the E-M10. I already have the E-M1 so am quite familiar with it. The E-M10 felt strong, well-built and was easy to hold. The EZ pancake zoom opens quickly, and has a power zoom which is good for smooth video zooming but a bit slow for stills. I would definitely use it as a walk-around, and probably swap it out with my 75mm when doing portraits and candids.  As for sharpness compared to other zooms and the 12-42 f/2.8 “Pro” zoom, well you can read reviews elsewhere.

Executive Summary

I’ll go out on a limb: the E-M10 is the first camera ever made that can take pro-quality photos with reasonable flexibility, and still fit in your pocket.  

Postscript

Here’s what DP Review had to say about it: “The Olympus OM-D E-M10 is positioned as the entry-level OM-D camera, though it’s just as capable in most ways as its more advanced siblings. It borrows the E-M5′s impressive imaging capabilities, without the weatherproofing, and adds built-in Wi-Fi. The E-M10 offers an impressive level of direct control in a camera body that’s light and compact.