Since I posted my first batch of photos taken with the brand new Olympus OM-D EM-10, I’ve had more time to study the camera and to take some additional photos. I must say, as much as I enjoy having the IBIS and the flexibility which the larger m4/3 sensor and the Panasonic Leica 25mm f/1.4 and Olympus 45mm f/1.8 provide in terms of low light performance and DOF control, almost equally I hate the color rendition, seemingly random auto white balance and “dark” metering of the E-M10. The Nikon V1 with the Nikkor 18.5mm f/1.8 (you can read my review of the lens here) still have some advantages which make the setup very fun to use. For example, the V1 has extremely precise metering and Auto WB, vastly superior to the both systems the E-M10 employs. I find that with the latter I’m constantly correcting exposure by +0.3-0.7 stops to get the result I’m used to with the V1. And even then, some work in Lightroom is needed to make the highlights “roll off” as smoothly as with the V1. The reason for this is no doubt the fact that the E-M10, while having greater dynamic range overall, has less highlight headroom and a steeper curve in the highlight region (but more shadow headroom) than the V1, thus underexposing constantly to protect those highlights.
The V1 is also much more predictable and “true to life” in terms of color rendition and Auto WB. Once you figure out what the camera is doing under different lighting conditions, you can apply corrections for artificial light sources blindfolded. It’s that predictable and “stable”. In daylight and in the shadows, V1’s Auto WB is perfect – no correction needed. With the E-M10, I feel that there is always a surprise around the corner. Sometimes the Auto WB nails it, other times the shadows have a magenta and yet other times they have a green color shift. It’s like there are separate Auto WB algorithms for different parts of the image, which work out of sync. It’s very strange. And the worst thing is, you can’t just use the normal Lighroom tools for WB to get rid of these shifts, you have to use sliders for individual colors or for shadow colors to fix it. It is a lot of work and no fun at all.
One more annoyance with the E-M10 is the blurred live view in both the EVF and the rear screen. I know that fans of the m4/3 system are not going to like this, but Nikon V1’s live view feed is considerably better. Firstly, it looks like the E-M10 is constantly applying some sort of NR to its live view feed, it is simply far less sharp than what the V1 is showing in its EVF and LCD. Secondly, the IBIS doesn’t only have its advantages, every time the system activates (when half-pressing the shutter button) the screen jumps. N1’s lens stabilizers (like in the 10-30mm I have) do not behave in this annoying fashion. The live feed on the V1 is smooth and sharp no matter the activity state the stabilizer is in. And lastly, while the V1’s live feed doesn’t show you the exact exposure (it is close but not 100%), the color, WB and contrast reproduction is spot on. At least that’s my experience. With the E-M10 and its live view feed, you get pretty exact feedback on exposure, but the colors, WB and contrast are not even close to what you see when you look at the images on your computer.
One last thing I would like to say, before I leave you to the images I’ve taken with the E-M10: the Olympus may not be as fun and carefree as the V1, it is however undoubtedly much more capable, especially under low light. I tried to make anything above ISO3200 work with the V1, but it was futile. The 1” sensor just isn’t built for such low amounts of light. With the E-M10 I have no problem going past ISO3200. ISO6400 still looks usable, maybe even 8000 and 12800, but I still haven’t taken any images which would warrant putting in more work to do some clever denoising. Add to the better sensor the IBIS and the 2/3 of a stop more light, which the Panasonic 25mm f/1.4 gives me compared to the 18.5mm f/1.8, and the difference in low light performance is more than just “nice”, it is substantial! DOF control is a similar matter. With the E-M10 and the Panasonic you have an almost two stops advantage when trying to achieve nice bokeh.
If you are interested, you can view more photos taken with the mentioned equipment by visiting my Flickr sets. Here are the individual links: OM-D E-M10, Panasonic 25mm f/1.4, Olympus 45mm f/1.8, Nikon V1, Nikon 18.5mm f/1.8.
How you can support me in bringing you more m4/3 love?
If you’re intent on buying the OM-D E-M10, 45mm f/1.8 or 25mm f/1.4, consider making your purchase through Amazon, by using the following links: AmazonUS, AmazonUK and AmazonDE.
You won’t pay a dime more compared to a direct purchase on amazon, but I will receive a small commission. Thanks for the support! 🙂
Follow me on:
Thank you for this review and all the photos are delightful. So for low light the Olympus is your camera choice.
Olympus is my camera of choice when better image quality is needed, whether I’m shooting under day light or low light. I am however mixing it up a bit, after the initial euphoria, right after purchasing the Olympus. Today I went out with the Nikon V1 and 25/1.4 C-Mount lens. 🙂
I am looking right now at the E-M10 or Sony A6000 as a possible upgrade but then again the V1 is good enough for me too so I think I will wait more time and see. I am curious however how the E-M10 with 45 1.8 will compare to V1 with 32 1.2.
Unfortunately I don’t have the 32mm f1.2, so I can’t compare it to the 45mm f1.8. What I can say going by the specs and what I read on the forums is that the 32mm is better built. It is said to have a very high build quality. The 45mm f1.8 is a “plasticy” lens which feels worse in the hand than the 18.5mm f1.8. The DOF/Bokeh will probably be slightly better with the 32mm as well, since it has an equivalent aperture of f/3.24 compared to the f/3.6 of the 45/1.8. Of course, the 32mm also costs 3x as much as the 45mm f1.8.
Nice photos Ivan. That 25mm delivers the goods, no doubt about it. If Nikon would make a normal lens like that, – just a *little* better than the 18.5, it would be in my shopping cart in a split second.
Yes, but the Nikon lens would need to be a 18.5mm f/1 to be able to achieve equal bokeh and similar low light performance (taking into consideration the better sensor performance of the E-M10 and the better DOF contorl of the larger sensor). It’s a pity Nikon has not released that 18.5mm f/0.7 lens, which was patented some time ago.
Ivan, I’ve been a fan of your pictures taken by V1, and because of you and your blog I was a step before buying a Nikon 1 system couple of months ago. But I didn’t buy it — I chose EM10, because at that moment I had two m4/3 primes (for my EP3) and I thought that new sensor of EM10 would give a new life to them. But now I see your pictures taken by EM10 and I think I prefer your V1 pictures more, so I (again!) considering to give a nikon 1 system a try, because I’m not happy with my EM10. Your em10 pictures are also awesome, but your v1 photos are much more wonderful6 for me — in terms of that “filmlike color” and space rendition. How do you think, Ivan, is it worth trying nikon 1? =)
Thank you for your blog and for inspiration!
Hi Alexander, thank you for the compliment! 🙂
E-M10’s auto white balance is not as accurate as the one in the V1. The color rendition is also quite different. I try to develop RAWs from both cameras to look as similar as possible, but I’m still adjusting to the E-M10’s RAW output. It’s not as easy to adjust colors of the E-M10 as it is with the V1. With the latter I usually only adjusted WB, the orange, yellow and green colors in Lightroom a little bit. With the E-M10 much more work is needed in order for the photos to look the way I want.
I still have the Nikon V1. I haven’t sold it after getting the E-M10. Does that answer your question? 😉
Thank you for visiting, leaving a comment and being so kind.
And what about AF Oly EM10 vs Nikon V1. Is there is a big difference?
Speed and accuracy? Is not animal fur problem for EM10?
Thx & regards
under good light they are comparable in terms of speed and accuracy, but the Nikon V1 is much better at tracking/AF-C. As the light levels get lower, the E-M10 overtakes the V1. Around ISO6400 (@ f/1.8 and below 1/50) the V1 has trouble getting a lock, the E-M10 still focuses fast and accurately. At this point you have to watch and aim for strong contrast edges, in order for the V1 to lock focus. If the light levels drop by another 1 to 2 EVs, the V1 can acquire focus only by relying on sheer luck, the E-M10 performs similarly to the V1 @ ISO3200.
I haven’t discovered a problem with animal fur and the E-M10 so far.
Hope that helps.
Thank you for reply. I have been using E-M10 for several months, and I found that AF is not “as good” (in terms of accuracy and realibility) as entry level dslr I previously had. EM10 Contrast detection AF feels more like P&S camera, rather than dslr. Especially in “dynamic” situation eg. taking pictores of running dog. And despite “running dog”, even in static situations, contrast detection AF is often not able to lock on flat, low contrast shapes (like pet fur).
I am thinking about Nikon 1 due to “fast AF” and better AF-C. I have seen that you did a lot of pictures of pets, so maybe you could recommend N1 or E-M10 in term of “AF reliability”?
as I’ve said, in my experience the E-M10 has faster AF in single shot mode (static situations) than the Nikon V1. The difference is larger in low light. The V1 is faster in continues mode, when you are taking a burst of images and the AF has to refocus between frames. This use case is where cameras with contrast-detect AF (E-M10 and most mirrorless cameras on the market) really struggle.
In regards to the comparison with entry level DSLRs: In my experience the E-M10 is much better than entry level DSLRs in terms of speed, accuracy and reliability in single shot mode (static situations). Even in low light.
But, just like it was the case when compared to the V1, the E-M10 can’t touch DSLRs when continuous AF (running dog) is needed.
Regarding low contrast shapes: you have to relearn how to use AF on these cameras. At what you are pointing the AF point matter a great deal. Edges with high contrast are ideal, like for example dog’s eyes instead of low contrast fur. But you should do this with DSLR or the V1 as well, in order to get the highest possible performance from their AF systems. When you do this (focus on high contrast edges), you will discover that the AF of the E-M10 is amazing.
As I’ve said, the V1 is better in the “running dog” scenario, but only in good light. The E-M10 is better indoors in low light and in regards to static motifs. 😉