Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark III evaluation: Nonetheless the digital camera to purchase

“The E-M5 Mark III is not probably the most superior digital camera, however it’s actually among the many most enjoyable.”

Glorious picture stabilization

Quick, correct autofocus

Very compact and light-weight

4K video seems nice

Climate-sealed

Plastic physique is a step backward

Low-resolution viewfinder

No actually new options or tech

I’m not completely pleased with the OM-D E-M5 Mark III. Olympus took what was an especially well-made, all-metal digital camera physique and changed it with liberal quantities of plastic. The E-M5 had all the time been my favourite mannequin from Olympus, however the Mark III modifications that by taking an unlucky step backward within the design division. It’s nonetheless fairly to take a look at, however it lacks the heft and strong really feel of earlier variations that gave the digital camera its attraction.

That’s not the one factor that rubs me the fallacious means. This digital camera is an replace practically 4 years within the making, and I used to be trying to it to usher within the subsequent era of Olympus tech. The E-M5 line is thought for this. It launched the 16-megapixel sensor within the unique, and Excessive Decision Shot mode within the Mark II. But the Mark III doesn’t showcase something we haven’t seen within the E-M1 Mark II, a digital camera that’s three years previous.

Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark III camera in hand.Daven Mathies/Digital Developments

As disappointing as that’s for the digital camera geek in me, it’s not the entire story. My time with the digital camera made me face a fact I couldn’t ignore. The E-M5 is enjoyable.

It’s straightforward to hold and makes nice photographs virtually easy. It’s agile, responsive, and can shoot circles round many bigger, dearer cameras. It’s straightforward to take a look at it as one step ahead, two steps again, however as soon as I obtained over my gear lust and accepted the Mark III for what it’s, I discovered that the one step ahead was extra like a large leap.

What’s new within the E-M5 Mark III

Whereas I disagree with Olympus’ option to shrink back from the premium design of previous E-M5s, there are good causes for it past price. Along with the plastic physique, the digital camera additionally makes use of the smaller battery from the entry-level E-M10 Mark III. Mixed, this results in a weight financial savings of about 2 ounces, bringing the brand new E-M5 to below a pound. That’s impressively mild.

Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark III camera front, on table.Daven Mathies/Digital Developments

Fortunately, the brand new design hasn’t sacrificed performance. Climate-sealing continues to be there, and battery life is unchanged thanks to higher effectivity (however at simply 310 photographs per cost, it’s nothing to get enthusiastic about).

Nonetheless, Olympus eliminated the choice of utilizing a vertical battery grip. The place Mark II homeowners might double battery life and add vertical taking pictures controls, Mark III customers gained’t have that likelihood.

That’s not an enormous concern since few individuals will need to compromise the compact dimension of this digital camera, however it’s value noting should you’re a Mark II proprietor with a battery grip and also you need to improve.

Detail shot of hand grip on Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark III camera.Daven Mathies/Digital Developments

On the within, you’ll discover the identical 20-megapixel 4 Thirds sensor, TruePic VIII picture processor, and 121-point phase-detection autofocus system from the E-M1 Mark II.

There’s additionally a redesigned sensor-shift stabilization module that now presents as much as 5.5 stops of shake discount, or 6.5 when mixed with a lens that helps Olympus Sync IS. That is the one part distinctive to the E-M5 Mark III. The digital camera’s small physique required a small stabilization unit, which is why you gained’t see the unbelievable 7.5-stop stabilization of the a lot bigger OM-D E-M1X right here.

Video has taken a giant step ahead as much as 4K UltraHD (three,840 x 2,160) decision at 30 or 24 frames per second, whereas Full HD 1080p could be recorded at as much as 120 fps for sluggish movement.  It doesn’t have skilled options like OM-Log, however for informal use, the E-M5 Mark III is a succesful video digital camera.

Close-up of mode dial, shutter button on Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark III camera.Daven Mathies/Digital Developments

Whereas not expressly new, Excessive Decision Shot mode is improved by nature of getting a higher-resolution sensor. This enables the E-M5 to create 50-megapixel photos from eight separate exposures, although you’ll want a tripod to maintain the digital camera steady throughout this course of.

Along with including spatial decision, Excessive Decision Shot information full coloration data at each pixel location, bypassing the restrictions of the Bayer sensor design for extra correct coloration and fewer moiré. It additionally improves noise ranges, notably in shadows. For panorama photographers, Excessive Decision Shot is a transformative characteristic.

Efficiency and taking pictures expertise

My preliminary misgivings about this digital camera shortly pale after I began taking pictures with it. The 121-point autofocus system, whereas not new know-how, continues to be one of many quickest within the companies. It had no hassle maintaining with galloping horses, which meant way more of my motion photographs have been keepers.

Add within the glorious 5-axis stabilization system, and you’ve got a nearly fool-proof digital camera. Olympus makes the very best sensor-shift stabilization in the marketplace, and I used to be blown away with what they achieved in such a small digital camera.

Stabilization will get even higher in video mode when it may be mixed with digital stabilization. Digital picture stabilization (EIS) will restrict most element because it must crop and re-frame the picture, however it has a minimal impact. Any high quality loss is effectively definitely worth the trade-off for rock-steady footage.

I shot video whereas holding the digital camera out the window of a Hummer careening via slender, off-road trails and over large boulders. The ensuing footage seemed like I had the digital camera mounted to a gimbal. It’s that good.

olympus om d e m5 mark iii review sample dm 08

I additionally used Dwell Composite mode for evening star path pictures. This isn’t a brand new characteristic — it’s discovered throughout Olympus’ lineup, together with the Robust TG collection of point-and-shoots — however it was the primary time I used it. Dwell Composite takes a collection of lengthy exposures and robotically composites simply the spotlight data. It’s nice for mild portray along with evening sky pictures, and whereas the preliminary setup process is type of cumbersome, it’s extremely straightforward to make use of afterward.

General, taking pictures with the E-M5 Mark III is liberating. From Excessive Decision Shot to Dwell Composite, there’s a lot you are able to do in-camera that you just don’t want a pc. It’s an amazing first “actual” digital camera for anybody trying to transfer up from a telephone.

Picture high quality

There’s little new to speak about right here. This is identical sensor from the E-M1 Mark II and E-M1X. 20 megapixels doesn’t sound like quite a bit, however I might argue it’s loads for the overwhelming majority of photographers, particularly when you may have the choice for 50MP photos with Excessive Res Shot mode.

4 Thirds sensors, which have a 2x crop issue in comparison with full body, do endure at excessive ISO and have much less dynamic vary even at base ISO. Meaning extra noise in low mild conditions and diminished capacity to boost element out of shadows. Excessive Decision Shot can assist with this, however it’s not all the time an possibility.

Simply by likelihood, the final digital camera I shot earlier than the E-M5 Mark II was the $10,000, 102MP, medium-format Fujifilm GFX 100, which I stated had the very best picture high quality of any digital camera I’d ever used. It was a sobering transition; the distinction in picture high quality was evening and day.

Clearly, these aren’t competing cameras, however when you’ve had a style of how good issues could be, it’s troublesome to just accept much less. 4 Thirds leaves a lot to be desired within the picture high quality division, however that’s the trade-off for such a transportable digital camera. At any price, Olympus’ JPEGs look good straight from the digital camera, and the RAW information do supply an honest quantity of flexibility in put up.

Extra importantly, the E-M5 Mark III makes getting regular, in-focus photographs as straightforward as attainable, and for most individuals, that’s an even bigger contributor to picture high quality than sensor dimension and backbone.

Our take

The Mark III could also be extra practical than its predecessor, however it doesn’t really feel as premium, and that’s a disgrace. Nonetheless, it’s a easy, moveable, and succesful digital camera that appeals to individuals who must journey mild whereas providing sufficient high-end management and options to maintain fanatics blissful. It’s not probably the most thrilling launch of the 12 months, however it’s a succesful and gratifying digital camera.

Is there a greater various?

There are numerous choices within the $1,200 vary, however none that mix the weather-sealing, pace, and portability of the E-M5. It’s value noting that the higher-end E-M1 Mark II is simply $1,500 proper now. It has an even bigger battery with 440 photographs per cost, a higher-magnification viewfinder, and is suitable with a vertical battery grip. It’s an amazing digital camera for the extra superior photographer, however the E-M5 Mark III is in any other case equal to it whereas additionally being smaller and lighter.

Must you purchase it?

Sure. The E-M5 continues to be a straightforward advice because of its compact dimension and glorious efficiency.

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