Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark III assessment: Still the digital camera to purchase

“The E-M5 Mark III isn’t the most advanced camera, but it’s certainly among the most fun.”

Excellent picture stabilization

Fast, correct autofocus

Very compact and light-weight

4K video seems nice


Plastic physique is a step backward

Low-resolution viewfinder

No actually new options or tech

I’m not solely proud of the OM-D E-M5 Mark III. Olympus took what was a particularly 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 adjustments that by taking an unlucky step backward within the design division. It’s nonetheless fairly to have a look at, but it surely lacks the heft and strong really feel of earlier variations that gave the digital camera its appeal.
That’s not the one factor that rubs me the flawed means. This digital camera is an replace almost 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 understood for this. It launched the 16-megapixel sensor within the unique, and High Resolution Shot mode within the Mark II. Yet 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.
Daven Mathies/Digital TrendsAs 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, costlier cameras. It’s straightforward to have a look at it as one step ahead, two steps again, however as soon as I received 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
While I disagree with Olympus’ option to shrink back from the premium design of previous E-M5s, there are good causes for it past price. In addition to the plastic physique, the digital camera additionally makes use of the smaller battery from the entry-level E-M10 Mark III. Combined, this results in a weight financial savings of about 2 ounces, bringing the brand new E-M5 to beneath a pound. That’s impressively gentle.
Daven Mathies/Digital TrendsFortunately, the brand new design hasn’t sacrificed performance. Weather-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).
However, Olympus eliminated the choice of utilizing a vertical battery grip. Where Mark II homeowners may double battery life and add vertical capturing controls, Mark III customers gained’t have that likelihood.
That’s not an enormous subject since few individuals will need to compromise the compact measurement of this digital camera, but it surely’s price noting in the event you’re a Mark II proprietor with a battery grip and also you need to improve.
Daven Mathies/Digital TrendsOn the within, you’ll discover the identical 20-megapixel Four 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. This 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 an enormous step ahead as much as 4K UltraHD (3,840 x 2,160) decision at 30 or 24 frames per second, whereas Full HD 1080p might be recorded at as much as 120 fps for gradual 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.
Daven Mathies/Digital TrendsWhile not expressly new, High Resolution Shot mode is improved by nature of getting a higher-resolution sensor. This permits the E-M5 to create 50-megapixel photographs from eight separate exposures, although you’ll want a tripod to maintain the digital camera secure throughout this course of.
In addition to including spatial decision, High Resolution 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, significantly in shadows. For panorama photographers, High Resolution Shot is a transformative characteristic.
Performance and capturing expertise
My preliminary misgivings about this digital camera shortly pale once I began capturing with it. The 121-point autofocus system, whereas not new expertise, continues to be one of many quickest within the companies. It had no bother maintaining with galloping horses, which meant much more of my motion photographs had been keepers.
Add within the glorious 5-axis stabilization system, and you’ve got a just about fool-proof digital camera. Olympus makes one of the best sensor-shift stabilization available on the market, and I used to be blown away with what they completed in such a small digital camera.
Stabilization will get even higher in video mode when it may be mixed with digital stabilization. Electronic picture stabilization (EIS) will restrict most element because it must crop and re-frame the picture, but it surely has a minimal impact. Any high quality loss is nicely well worth the trade-off for rock-steady footage.
I shot video whereas holding the digital camera out the window of a Hummer careening by slim, off-road trails and over enormous boulders. The ensuing footage appeared like I had the digital camera mounted to a gimbal. It’s that good.
I additionally used Live Composite mode for night time star path pictures. This isn’t a brand new characteristic — it’s discovered throughout Olympus’ lineup, together with the Tough TG sequence of point-and-shoots — but it surely was the primary time I used it. Live Composite takes a sequence of lengthy exposures and mechanically composites simply the spotlight data. It’s nice for gentle portray along with night time sky pictures, and whereas the preliminary setup process is form of cumbersome, it’s extremely straightforward to make use of afterward.
Overall, capturing with the E-M5 Mark III is liberating. From High Resolution Shot to Live Composite, there’s a lot you are able to do in-camera that you just don’t want a pc. It’s an ideal first “real” digital camera for anybody trying to transfer up from a cellphone.
Image high quality
There’s little new to speak about right here. This is similar sensor from the E-M1 Mark II and E-M1X. 20 megapixels doesn’t sound like loads, however I’d argue it’s a lot for the overwhelming majority of photographers, particularly when you have got the choice for 50MP photographs with High Res Shot mode.
Four Thirds sensors, which have a 2x crop issue in comparison with full body, do undergo at excessive ISO and have much less dynamic vary even at base ISO. That means extra noise in low gentle conditions and lowered capacity to boost element out of shadows. High Resolution Shot might help with this, but it surely’s not all the time an possibility.
Just 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 one of the best picture high quality of any digital camera I’d ever used. It was a sobering transition; the distinction in picture high quality was night time and day.

Obviously, these aren’t competing cameras, however when you’ve had a style of how good issues might be, it’s troublesome to just accept much less. Four 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 charge, Olympus’ JPEGs look good straight from the digital camera, and the RAW recordsdata do supply a good quantity of flexibility in publish.
More importantly, the E-M5 Mark III makes getting regular, in-focus photographs as straightforward as potential, and for most individuals, that’s a much bigger contributor to picture high quality than sensor measurement and backbone.
Our take
The Mark III could also be extra purposeful than its predecessor, but it surely doesn’t really feel as premium, and that’s a disgrace. Still, it’s a easy, transportable, and succesful digital camera that appeals to individuals who must journey gentle whereas providing sufficient high-end management and options to maintain fans comfortable. It’s not essentially the most thrilling launch of the yr, but it surely’s a succesful and satisfying digital camera.
Is there a greater different?
There are many choices within the $1,200 vary, however none that mix the weather-sealing, pace, and portability of the E-M5. It’s price noting that the higher-end E-M1 Mark II is simply $1,500 proper now. It has a much bigger battery with 440 photographs per cost, a higher-magnification viewfinder, and is suitable with a vertical battery grip. It’s an ideal 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.
Should you purchase it?
Yes. The E-M5 continues to be a simple suggestion due to its compact measurement and glorious efficiency.

Editors’ Recommendations

Shop Amazon