Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark III review

Tech Radar

The Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark II embodied everything a mirrorless camera should be: a high-quality camera that feels great in the hand, offers an extensive feature set with bags of control, and produces great images, yet doesn't take up much space in your bag. 

The new OM-D E-M10 Mark III looks to build on that success, and make itself your indispensable traveling companion. 

Features

  • Micro Four Thirds Live MOS sensor, 16MP
  • 3.0-inch tilt-angle touchscreen, 1,037,000 dots
  • 4K video capture

Like the E-M10 Mark II that it replaces (and the original E-M10 Mark I for that matter), the OM-D E-M10 Mark III sticks with a 16MP Micro Four Thirds sensor, but gets Olympus' latest TruePic VII image processing engine (used in the brilliant E-M1 Mark II ), which Olympus believes will deliver improved low-light shooting performance.

A boost in resolution to 20MP would have been welcome here too, but perhaps Olympus was concerned that it might cannibalize sales further up the OM-D range.

The E-M10 Mark III sports the same highly effective five-axis in-body image stabilization system as the Mark II, which delivers a claimed four stops of compensation to reduce blur and shake in both stills and video. 

The new camera also retains the same 2,360,000-dot OLED electronic viewfinder that impressed us in the Mark II, along with the same 3.0-inch 1,037,000-dot LCD touchscreen on the back. 

One notable update is to the E-M10 Mark III's video capabilities, with the new camera able to shoot 4K video footage at up to 30fps, while it's also possible to shoot Full HD footage at 60fps.

Olympus has also overhauled the E-M10 Mark III's camera-assist shooting modes. iAuto mode becomes simply Auto, and promises to deliver sharper images in all scenarios, while the Scene (SCN) mode has been upgraded.

There's also now a Advanced Photo (AP) mode, allowing photographers to fine-tune images, as well as use the likes of Live Composite and Multiple Exposure without the need to dive into the camera's main menu.

Finally, the E-M10 Mark III's Art Filter (ART) collection grows to 15 with the arrival of a new Bleach Bypass effect. 

Build and handling

  • Revised design and grip
  • Magnesium alloy construction
  • Weighs 362g

We've always been impressed with the build and finish of the E-M10 range, and the Mark III is no different. Constructed from magnesium alloy, the E-M10 Mark III has a solid, durable feel that certainly feels much more premium than DSLR rivals like the Canon EOS Rebel T7i (EOS 800D ).

The shallow but effective front grip on the Mark II has been beefed up here, offering a more satisfying hold without compromising the E-M10 Mark III's diminutive proportions. 

The OM-D E-M10 Mark III retains the pleasing retro design of the Mark II, but with a few revisions once you look a little closer, most notably to the dials on the top plate. 

The retro-styled power switch carries over from the Mark II – pushing this beyond the power-up position pops up the flash – but the design of the three dials has been refined, with the main mode dial more pronounced.

As before, the shutter release is at the centre of the front-most dial and within easy reach of your index finger, while the rear and mode dials are easy to operate with your thumb. The mode dial doesn't have a lock, but as we've found with the Mark II, it isn't easily knocked out of position in use.

Autofocus

  • 121-point AF
  • Coverage across most of the frame
  • Face Priority AF and Eye Detection AF

The AF performance of the outgoing E-M10 Mark II impressed, and the system in the OM-D E-M10 Mark III is that bit better.

There's a boost in contrast-detect AF points, from 81 to 121, which combined with the addition of the latest TruePic III image processor should deliver snappier focusing speeds.

The OM-D E-M10 Mark III struggles to keep up with fast-moving subjects

While some rivals offer on-sensor phase-detect AF points to speed up focus acquisition, their omission here doesn't seem to hamper the OM-D E-M10 Mark III too much in single AF mode. Focusing is pretty swift, even with relatively poorly-lit subjects; the AF does slow down slightly as you zoom in, although that shouldn't be an issue with one of the many prime lenses available for the camera.

Tracking could be better though. While the sensor array covers a large part of the frame, the reliance solely on contrast-detect AF means the camera can struggle to maintain focus with even moderately fast-moving subjects. In short then, focusing is great for static subjects, but you're left wanting when it comes to subjects on the move.

Performance

  • 8.6fps burst shooting
  • Mechanical shutter up to 1/4000 sec
  • 330-shot battery life

As far as burst shooting is concerned, the OM-D E-M10 Mark III gets a modest speed boost over the Mark II, from 8.5fps to 8.6fps. While that's only a marginal improvement, it's still quicker than the likes of Fujifilm's X-T20 (8fps), and noticeably quicker than either the Canon EOS Rebel T7i / EOS 800D (6fps) or Nikon D5600 (5fps). Buffer performance is pretty good too, at 22 frames for raw files, while the camera will keep shooting JPEGs until the card is full.

The five-axis image stabilization system performs very well – even using a shutter speed of 1/8 sec we were able to get sharp images, while provided you brace the camera properly it's possible to shoot at even slower speeds with good results. 

There’s nothing to complain about with either the EVF or rear touchscreen display

As we've experienced with other OM-D cameras, the auto white balance copes well with a range of lighting conditions. The same can be said for the E-M10 Mark III's metering system, with exposures in most cases very satisfactory. 

There's nothing to complain about with either the EVF or rear touchscreen display, with the electronic viewfinder's 2.36 million-dot resolution delivering a display that's nice and bright, and, more importantly, lag-free in good light. 

Battery life is about right for a mirrorless camera of this class – at 330 shots, it's 20 shots less than the X-T20, but compared to a rival DSLR like Nikon's D5600, which offers 820 shots on a single charge, it's disappointing.  

Image quality

  • ISO100-25,600
  • +/-3 EV exposure compensation in 1/3 or 1/2-stop increments
  • 15 Art filters

The 16MP Micro Four Thirds sensor at the heart of the OM-D E-M10 Mark III has changed little in the five years it's been available. For those wanting the best detail possible the 24MP sensors in APS-C rivals like the X-T20 and D5600 will deliver more satisfying results, but that's not to discount this sensor, which is still capable of delivering decent A3-sized prints. 

JPEG images at ISO400 hold up well. There's perhaps a hint of luminance (grain-like) noise visible at 100%, but nothing untoward, while there's a good level of detail visible in low-to-mid sensitivity range shots. Noise is controlled well up to around ISO6400, at which point some areas in JPEGs start to take on a slightly painterly appearance when viewed at 100%. Results at ISO12,800 and 25,600 are reasonable, provided you're only going to be using those images online.

Verdict

Going solely on out-and-out image quality, the Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark III is left wanting compared to its rivals (though a boost in resolution to 20MP would have negated this a little). Image quality is still more than satisfactory though, and you'll be able to produce very nice A3-sized prints from your shots. 

But that's just one element, and you have to look at the OM-D E-M10 Mark III as a whole to see its charms. Its stylish design and solid-feeling body are much more satisfying than similarly priced DSLR rivals, while the compact proportions give it a distinct appeal over rivals.

The camera is easy to use for first-time users, while both features and performance will be sufficient to keep experienced users happy. The OM-D E-M10 Mark III might not be a massive leap forward over the Mark II, with much of the camera's specification remaining the same, but Olympus has refined and tweaked one of our favorite mirrorless cameras to make it an even more tempting proposition.

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