Photography / Hands-on Review

Field Test: Olympus OM-D E-M10 MK III

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Since their introduction back in 2014, Olympus’s OM-D E-M10 series cameras have found their ways into the camera bags of many enthusiasts. The new Olympus OM-D E-M10 MK III will no doubt be finding its way into the camera bags of yet a new wave of enthusiasts.

Opening photograph captured using a Savage Product Pro LED Light Table

Small enough to palm in one hand, the Olympus OM-D E-M10 MK III body, available in black or silver, or with an M.ZUIKO 14-42mm lens, in black or silver, is a solid, well-designed Micro Four Thirds (MFT) camera packed with many of the pro-quality features found in Olympus’s pricier flagship cameras. A metal-alloy body, complemented by well-placed metal control dials, a thumb rest, and molded grip enable this camera to fill your hand securely. If anything, the camera seemingly feels larger and beefier than its actual dimensions (4.7w x 3.3h x 1.8"d). Weight-wise, the OM-D E-M10 MK III with a battery and memory card weighs a mere 0.88 lb. These are just a few of the reasons enthusiasts love this lightweight camera series.

The OM-D E-M10 MK III contains the same 16.1MP MFT Live MOS sensor found in its predecessor, but it’s now powered by a faster Dual Quad Core TruePic VIII image processor that, among other things, enables continuous shooting at up to 8.5 frames-per-second.

Built-in 5-axis sensor-shift image stabilization compensates for yaw, roll, pitch, vertical shift, and horizontal shift for capturing impressively sharp stills and video under challenging, low light conditions. Per Olympus, the camera’s 5-axis IS system adds a 4-stop advantage when shooting handheld.

The camera’s AF system now features 121 contrast points up from 81 points in the E-M10 MK III, and a handy manual focus assist function kicks in automatically when you rotate the lens’s focus ring.

A computerized focal-plane, high-speed mechanical shutter, along with a silent electronic shutter, enable a range of exposure options. The mechanical shutter offers the standard 1/4000-second to 60-second exposure range. In addition to a Silent shooting mode, the electronic shutter offers shutter speeds as fast as 1/16000-second, albeit with a 30-second cut-off on the long exposure side. Depending on your choice of flash, sync speeds can be set up to 1/250-second, which is advantageous if you plan on shooting in the studio.

Another feature that can prove handy in the studio or on location is in-camera Keystone Compensation, which corrects the “leaning tower” effect you get when you tilt your camera upward when photographing architecture. Keystone compensation, which is equally valuable for correcting parallax distortion when photographing products in the studio, is a function that used to be limited to view cameras and tilt-shift lenses. This is no longer the case. Speaking of cases, a body jacket is available for the Olympus OM-D E-M10 MK III, in black or brown.

Photographs © Allan Weitz, 2017

Keystone correction, an in-camera feature found in the Olympus OM-D E-M10 MK III, used to require the use of a view camera or tilt-shift lenses.

Other noteworthy features found in the OM-D E-M10 MK III include Focus Bracketing for extending the field of focus of your pictures when shooting at close range, Live Composite, Live Bulb, Multiple Exposures (up to 2 images), HDR Backlight, Panorama, and Interval Shooting. If normal shooting doesn’t get you juiced, Olympus offers you a choice of nine Art Effect filters you can apply to your pix.

You have two viewing options with the OM-D E-M10 MK III: the camera’s electronic viewfinder (EVF) or the tilting LCD touchscreen, both of which display sharp, high-resolution images that are easy to zoom into for critical focusing.

Olympus sent us two very sharp test lenses to play with: the Olympus M.ZUIKO Digital 17mm f/1.8 and Olympus M.ZUIKO Digital 25mm f/1.8, which respectively, are 34mm and 50mm 35mm equivalents. 

The Olympus OM-D E-M10 MK III is no slouch in the video department—the new camera can capture 4K video at 30p, 25p, or 24p / IPB (approx. 102Mbps) along with a choice of lower-resolution formats. You also have the option of shooting time-lapse video in 4K @ 5 fps, FHD video @ 5 fps, 10 fps, and 15 fps, and HD video @ 5 fps, 10 fps, 15 fps, and 30 fps. You also have the option of applying Art filters to your videos in addition to Movie Effects that include Echo, Multi-Echo, Art Fade, and Old Film. The OM-D E-M10 MK III features a built-in stereo mic with the option of attaching a higher-fidelity external mic when desired.

Micro Four Thirds camera technologies have come a long way since Olympus announced the original Digital Penn, in 2009. The new Olympus OM-D E-M10 MK III is leagues ahead of the Pen I when it was shown for the first time. The focusing is infinitely quicker and the image quality has also improved. And then there’s 4K video and all the other creative imaging options mentioned in the above paragraphs.

Have you tried shooting with, or perhaps already own a Micro Four Thirds camera? What’s your experience with this unique format? We’d like to hear about it.

17 Comments

Had DSLR and first bought an Olympus Air just to check quality on MFT...  was convinced and got the 5MkII (agree with complaints on names.. suggest ODEN, THOR and FREYA). It was hard to find in the menues and to remember where to set values in the beginning. Read the manual and join fb-groups for the camera is very useful for help to find how to use the camera. I found the factory settings were not ideal.

Now I have worked through almost all camera can do... I absolutely love the easy use of focus-stacking and have programmed a button for it and other things I like the most. And easy HDR and made timelapse. The live-comp is great for creative night-shots and startrails...  I keep programming the fn-buttons to see how I can handle better...  It's fever buttons on 10MkIII than 5MkII so I'll not get it for my 2nd camera. (3rd if I count Air..)

Small size and to make exposure on the touch-screen let me take way better images than before of insects/macro, and to reach into cramped space, getting low and interesting compostions. And high up above me, since I am petit this is a great advance! The focus-peaking and foucus aid by enlarging an area is the BEST change from my former DSLR  -becuase it's easy to shoot manual foucus - I can see now... I also enjoy manual focus a lot because of it and got a fully/only manual lens.

The wheels are also way better (for me) than earlier kameras which was depending on menues, I can set values quicly even without seeing the camera when speed is needed... fingers knows the steps. I use the EVF more than the touchscreen, and like to be able to set most things without taking camera from my eye. Built in levels and preview of depth of field is superb!

I film with it... handheld and 40-150mmPRO with TC... imagestabilisator works well! I only need tripod for long/night exposure and timelapse (obviously), rarely for macro. Also got a good sucessrate for handheld focus-bracketing. I practise and it gets better... 1/15s usually without camera-shake. 1/6s... sometimes. I've been along people actually managing close to 2sec.

Size matters... I travel overseas ca 5 times every year and in other continents, always bringing all my gear in a bag ontop on a carry-on. No check-in needed. I have 7-14mmPRO, 12-40mmPRO, 40-140mmPRO, 1,4xTC, Voigt (heavy glass), a lenscaplens and sometimes the Air, mintripod, flash and filter.... ALL goes in the "computer-bag" allowed. And it has backpac-function and sits on my back whole days... I have started to leave one "home/hotel" because I find I don't use them all in a day, the new challenge is two lenses per day and work within that frame. Actually good idea since I get outside my comfortzone - the fab 40-150mmPRO - and learn to work the wider lenses.

The design... the retro style is great for staying unnoticed! Espec when I use the lens for the Air, an EZ zoom in silver. And the silent mode... My PRO lenses are giving away... but I chose them and also the 5MkII before the 10MkII because I need the splashproof and freeze-proof function in my parts of the world. Sometimes I get nice chats with other entusiasts becuase of the look of the camera...

I wish the 10MkIII had more fn-buttons, and I wish the 1MkII had the retro look... so I guess I have the pefect camera.

Outstanding comment, thank you ! I share your views on all counts. Jean-Marc

I am wondering what camera was used to shoot the promo video on the Chicago lake front.  The video is over-all soft and in the sequence of the model running before the camera, the camera seemed to hold focus on the background rather than catch focus on the model.  I played this at full 15-inch screen size and at the only resolution offered by the B&H site. I know my Oly video plays much better than this, as does my Canon & Nikon, even the little a900— so why the softness?

I agree with what Heiko and others previously have said— just about right on!  Must say tho that the 24mp sensors in my aps Canons do resolve greater detail which permits flexibility in cropping and enlarging (in 2:3 aspect the Oly is only 14mp), and added contrast and acutance in such as gorilla and black bear faces under shaded lighting (if the Canon can find and hold the exact focus which is less frequently possible compared to the Oly, and which was a reason for first acquiring an Oly system).  And I wish Oly had stuck by an early advertising promise to select one battery size (BLN-1) for all models— a source of complaint with Canon & Nikon marketing.  Perhaps when Oly produces enough variety in their 20mp bodies I will trade up but for now the P5 is my favorite— hinged not swing-out LCD, slide-in/slide-out giant, super-bright EVF which makes field macro photography much easier in tracking a live subject & more precise in capturing the focus— the body without EVF/with 17mm or 9-18mm carryable in a holster or vest pocket, lever action to switch dials from still shooting to video shooting pre-sets in an instant.  

For name, I caption/credit my images Oly P5 or Oly M5;  the heck with the alphabet scramble.  

For the future, I would like to see a P5 with a fully flip-up LCD ala Nikon a900 (for selfies but also for field narration of videos), SLO-MO, TimeLapse movie in camera (both longer than 10 seconds), an electronic zoom for video not located around lens (I'm always turning the ring the wrong direction, and still shaking the camera as well).  Considering how far cameras have come since my first Exakta, these specs aren't pie in the sky!

I bought the original Olympus OM-D E-M10 to complement my Nikon D700 and have been very happy with it. For my work as a professional tour guide I was looking for a lightweight camera that I can take along on my tours, including hiking tours, where a full frame DSLR and lenses would be too bulky and heavy. The Olympus OM-D E-M10, paired with a 12-40/f2.8 pro lens, fit the bill. Naturally the Nikon D700 has better low light capabilities and more dynamic range, but what can you expect from a sensor that is just 1/4 the size of the full frame sensor.

What makes the Olympus E-M10 really special is its retro design and the tilting back screen. The reviewer in the video mentioned the advantage of the tilting screen, a benefit few people are realizing. With a tilting screen I can take photos while having the camera dangling from my neck without anyone realizing I'm actually taking pictures (using the touch screen for focus and shutter release). This makes for natural scenes, without people posing. Even when taking a group picture, I take a few shots before and after they are posing as these shots often are more interesting.

The other usually overlooked benefit is the retro design. Often enough I'm asked to take photos by complete strangers posing before the camera. Large cameras with large lenses tend to scare people away. Both the retro look and the tilt screen are a real plus for street photography and shouldn't be underestimated.

There is no camera perfect for every task. That's why I own 3 cameras, each for its purpose.

With the E-M10 Mk III Olympus has managed to improve the specs while keeping the recipe of a successful little camera. I'm so glad Olympus didn't give way to the call for a swivel screen, or dropped the retro look. Adding 5-axis stabilization is a big benefit. The EVF has also improved. A socket for an external mic is most welcome, as are the new movie features (though I rarely use the movie option). The new software features - focus help during manual focus, focus bracketing, better menu and touch screen layout - add a lot to making this camera easier to use.

I hadn't planned on upgrading, but I actually see myself benefiting from these features.

P.S.: I agree with Jay Dee regarding the name - couldn't Olympus choose an easier name?

iPhone X, Galaxy 8, Playstation 4, all memorable to potential customers. Easy to walk into a store and be able to ask for one.

Olympus OM-D E-M10 MK III ... See the problem?

The smartphone users that the ILC mfgrs want to attract don't give a damn about the engineering lineage. That's trivia for camera nerds.

Call it the Olympus Thor and immediately increase sales by at least 25% -- yeah, I'll betcha. And YOU will be trying to get "Thor" out of your head for the next hour.

I have been shooting with 4/3 since my original 510 and then on to the EM-1 and EM-1 II.  I have not been dissatified with any of them but have seen the results go from pretty good to unbelievable over that evolution.  Mirrorless is the future until something truly unexpected comes along.

I've just pre-ordered OM-D E-M10 Mark III, and this is my first mirrorless camera. I'm switching from my old Canon SLR. It surved the purpose for many years but it was SO heavy and painful to carry around especially when traveling. So I decided I needed a new pal who is smaller and better to see the world with. I had a really hard time deciding if I should go for E-M10 Mark III or E-M5 Mark II. Initially I was waitinf for PEN-F to drop down price but it looks like it's not happening anytime soon somehow. Now I'm gonna be with E-M10 Mark III. Please tell me I made the right choice??? 4K video support sounds nice. The image stabilzation looks very promising. I wish the back LCD screen was the as E-M5 though so it'll be 180 flippable. I'm really hoping the updated image sensor will be faaaaantastic. Can't wait. 

This camera will be one of best on fhothagafi market 

I still have the OMD M10 mk1 and it still is going really well! Lovely little shooter for me. I was really hoping for a bump up in more specs. But dont really see a reason to upgrade it any time soon.

I got tired of hauling my Canon with its big heavy lenses. 

Has the software improved much? Thats probably the only thing that is lacking on the M10, the software wasnt very intuitive nor easy to use.

Krishant,

The Mark III has dramatic improvements in image stabilization and image processing. Scene selection is much easier too - tiles on the touch screen and the camera processes them more intellegently. 

Aside from the somewhat improved AF (still contrast-detect only) and tweaks to the body and menu systme, this new camera still uses Olympus's old 16Mp sensor, and a design that's almost unchanged from the two year old E-M10 Mk2. For the price it's not a bad camera, but I'm afraid that someone looking for a small, low-end interchangeable-lens camera might find other options that are faster and/or offer better image quality.

I started with Canon full-frame film and multiple lenses years ago.  Got tired of lugging all that around and went thru a series of early point-and-shoot digital cameras and up to a bridge camera.  Looking for something better, I decided to try the Olympus OMD EM-10 Mk I almost three years ago.  I was very happy with it, until, of course, the Mk II came along.  I upgraded in late spring prior to a trip the Scotland.  The move to 5-axis vs 3-axis stabilization was really great, as well as the joystick way to move around the focus point, while still looking thru the viewfinder. Veiwfinder is better, too.

I have been very happy with both cameras, but the Mk II is really better.  I'll look seriously at the Mk III, but was hoping it might go to 20 MP.  Other improvements are enticing...

I have an Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mk II that I purchased last Novenber. I absolutely love this camera, It's small, lightweight and takes great photographs as anyone can see above. I seldom shoot videos and have never used any of the built-in artistic effects. I shoot mostly nature photos and this micro-four thirds does a fantastic job with them. 

How did you get permission to photograph at Duke Farms? According to their website they have a strict no professional or commercial photogrpahy policy.

Really? I bike there regularly and never noticed any signs indicating any problems about taking photographs for purposes other than casual snapshooting.

AW

Most venues are just fine with people bringing in handheld cameras. It's pro/commercial photographers who show up with tripods and umbrella lights and take pictures for half an hour or more that they're trying to manage. I was a docent at one garden that allowed such photography by permit so they could control the time of the shoot (before/after visiting hours) and how many pros were there at the same time.

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