Early this morning, Olympus announced the upcoming OM-D E-M10 Mark IV camera, the fourth iteration of the company’s beginner camera model. Compared to the Mark III version, the Mark IV boasts some new features that are borrowed from its pro-level cousins that you wouldn’t expect to see, all within a very small footprint.

I was able to get my hands on the E-M10 Mark IV a few days prior to today’s announcement, and I have to say, I’m pretty impressed. I was expecting it to be a glorified point-and-shoot camera with interchangeable lenses. But it’s much, much more than that, offering a skill set not often seen at this level of camera.

Ergonomics and body styling

Despite its small size, the E-M10 Mark IV feels great in the hand. For a camera this size, the front grip is pretty substantial, matching the E-M5 Mark III. There’s a thumb grip, too, for added comfort and security.

The button layout is what you’d expect from Olympus cameras, with a few minor changes. For one, the super control panel is controlled by a button next to the On/Off switch on top, instead of just hitting the OK button. Instead, the OK button brings up a sort of quick settings area with things like ISO, white balance, focusing modes and more. There’s also a dedicated 2x zoom button on the top.

On the back you’ll find buttons across the main four-way dial, including ISO, flash settings, drive mode and focus points.

I can truly say that this is the smallest camera I’ve used with interchangeable lenses. But despite that, it feels great in the hands, and it’s extremely comfortable to hold.

Hands-on performance

For my tests with the E-M10 Mark IV, I took a few flower photos and then went over to my friend’s house to take some photos of their kids playing — two scenarios where I think this camera will be used a lot.

With the flower shots, the camera worked beautifully. Paired with the 14-42mm f/3.5-5.6 EZ lens, it was easy to lock on focus and get great results.

The real test, though, came with the photos of the kids — specifically my friend’s four-year-old, who just learned how to ride a bike. It took a bit of effort to get my settings right, but I was able to get tack sharp photos using C-AF plus tracking. I also played around with the camera’s Face/Eye AF detection, which worked pretty well. It was able to recognize Quinn and Declan’s faces when they looked straight at me, though it did struggle to lock on focus from afar when Declan was looking straight ahead and speeding down the street.

When it came to some slower-action shots, the camera performed really well. Whether it was catching frogs or swinging on the swings, the photos were sharp and had the gorgeous colors that Olympus cameras are known for. Focus was fast and the EZ lens — something I hadn’t used before — let me zoom in and out with ease (though I wish at times it was a bit faster).

Frogs were not harmed in the making of these photos.

Art filters

What makes Olympus cameras a lot of fun are the art filters that are included. With the E-M10 Mark IV, you get access to quite a few. And if you forget to apply them in-camera, you can always apply them to RAW files in the Olympus Workspace application.

These were a lot of fun to play with, and allowed me to create instant shareable moments without having to deal with advanced editing programs.

You can also edit your photos directly in-camera, and automatically apply every single art filter to a single image.

Advanced Photo Mode

The E-M10 Mark IV also sees improvements to Advanced Photo Mode, one of the features that really sets this camera apart. It allows new photographers to experience some of the amazing software features in the camera without struggling through the menus and advanced settings. It’s easy to set up a Live Composite or Live Time, and it walks you through the steps necessary to do so.

I tried out Multiple Exposure Mode, which works brilliantly. You take your first photo, then it’ll superimpose that on top of the screen as you’re taking the second photo. It blends everything together automatically, and you instantly have a multiple exposure photograph.

Also included are modes for HDR, Silent Shutter, Panorama, Keystone Compensation, AE Bracketing and Focus Bracketing.

For the beginning photographer that just wants to take photos, and not mess with settings, Advanced Photo Mode is truly a godsend.

Who’s the E-M10 Mark IV meant for?

If it wasn’t clear throughout this article, the E-M10 Mark IV is the perfect camera for photography enthusiasts and beginners. Whether you’re taking photos of kids, nature or your travels, it really is a superb camera.

If you’re a pro, you might find a few things missing, but for casual shooting, it’s a great option for throwing in your bag and just having it with you at all times.

While the E-M10 Mark IV is a modest update over the Mark III, the increased megapixels and improvements to autofocus definitely makes this a win for Olympus.

The Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark IV will be available in late September at a suggested retail price of $699. Pre-orders are now available.

Lead photo by Cathy Seaver