The Olympus E-10: Revisiting an Interesting Digital Camera

This is not going to be a technical review, because if you wanted to read a great technical review, you would be reading Phil Askey’s review over at DP Review. Yes, it is worth a read.

This vintage digital camera was dropped off in a cardboard box a couple of weeks ago at the front door of the camera store I’ve been working at. I remember when this camera was released in 2000, and being intrigued about it. I also remember it getting very good reviews at the time. Cameras with 4 megapixels don’t seem to be impressive now-a-days, but 23 years ago, it was a big deal.

The E-10 and the following version, the E-20 have always fascinated me. In the early 2000s, I was an active user on the photography community website, Photo.Net, where a few users I followed showed work using these cameras. I was impressed with the work they were producing. However, after using this camera for myself, the skill they showed had little to do with the camera. The camera is capable of excellent pictures, assuming the photographer has the requisite skill set to make those pictures.

I’m just going to tell you why I enjoyed using with this camera.

The E-10 is large and it’s heavy by today’s standards, you should be prepared for that if you seek one out online. The high ISO performance is terrible, iso 400. The E-10 does feel like a professional camera though. There are some quirks with ergonomics and button placement, nothing you you can’t get used to. The menu system is terrible of course, there different menus that you navigate to by turning the dial on top of the camera, it was confusing at first. If you want to shoot in RAW, you have to turn on RAW capture in a menu, but once you turn it on, you can’t record in JPG or TIFF while RAW capture is turned on. It’s a weird system. More on that later.

There is a hot shoe for flash and I was able to trigger my Nikon SB-24 on the camera and my Godox Canon trigger for remote flash. There’s no TTL with this setup. There would be TTL available when using an Olympus flash. I just don’t have one.

The E-10 does look like video camera, but it is comfortable in the hands. The weight makes it easier to hold steady at slower shutter speeds. I guess that’s a bonus.

The zoom and the focus rings are mechanically controlled, meaning no power zoom. I love this lack of “feature.” This is an SLR, and there is a very good diopter adjustment control on the eye piece. The view is fairly tight when looking through the viewfinder. I didn’t notice any mirror shake either.

Something to note; I couldn’t use a Compact Flash card larger than 1gb, the camera doesn’t recognize larger cards. Writing raw files to the card is painfully slow. This is just something to keep in mind.

I guess the whole point of this articles; is this camera worth shooting in 2023?

I guess every camera is worth shooting, it’s in the circumstances. If you are just shooting for the fun of photography and creating personal and compelling work in a slow pace, then absolutely. I think it takes great pictures, it’s just a little difficult.

Here are some pictures I made with the camera.

These are jpgs, with no editing

These were shot as .tif files, some with dramatic adjustments and exported as .jpg using RawTherapee 5.9

These were shot as .orf (raw) files, some with lots of editing and adjustments and exported as .jpg using RawTherapee 5.9

Final thoughts

This was a fun camera to use, and I could see the value of it for an adventurous photographer. One could make some good work with this camera. My suggestion is, don’t pay too much for this camera. Prices are all over the place for these on eBay. $40.00 seems like a fair price for one of these, but don’t be shocked when you see someone trying to sell them for $350.00.

If you see one, go for it.

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