Basic Specifications
Full model name: Olympus OM-D E-M5 III
Resolution: 20.40 Megapixels
Sensor size: 4/3
(17.4mm x 13.0mm)
Kit Lens: n/a
Viewfinder: EVF / LCD
Native ISO: 200 - 25,600
Extended ISO: 64 - 25,600
Shutter: 1/32000 - 60 sec
Dimensions: 4.9 x 3.4 x 2.0 in.
(125 x 85 x 50 mm)
Weight: 14.6 oz (414 g)
includes batteries
Availability: 11/2019
Manufacturer: Olympus
Full specs: Olympus E-M5 III specifications
20.40
Megapixels
Micro Four Thirds 4/3
size sensor
image of Olympus OM-D E-M5 III
Front side of Olympus E-M5 III digital camera Front side of Olympus E-M5 III digital camera Front side of Olympus E-M5 III digital camera Front side of Olympus E-M5 III digital camera Front side of Olympus E-M5 III digital camera

Olympus E-M5 III Review -- Now Shooting!

by Jeremy Gray and William Brawley
Posted: 10/17/2019

 

Table of Contents

 

Olympus E-M5 Mark III Field Test Part I

A long-awaited update brings E-M1 II imaging, performance features to svelte, weather-sealed OM-D line

by William Brawley | Posted 10/17/2019

Olympus 12-40mm f/2.8 Pro: 12mm, f/6.3, 1/80s, ISO 200, -0.7 EV

They say good things come to those who wait, and in the case of Olympus E-M5 owners, the wait for an update of the super-popular E-M5 Mark II has been a long one. But, alas, the wait is finally over, with Olympus finally unveiling the next generation of the original OM-D camera, the E-M5 Mark III. Since the E-M5 II's debut back in 2015, Olympus has introduced a number of technical improvements and new features, and the E-M5 III is undoubtedly a big step up from its aging predecessor.

By and large, the new Olympus E-M5 Mark III brings the compact and weather-sealed E-M5 line up to a similar level with the E-M1 Mark II and E-M1X, particularly concerning image quality, and AF specs for the most part. On the one hand, the E-M5 Mark III doesn't offer what some might consider groundbreaking image quality and performance improvements when compared to Olympus' existing OM-D line, seeing as this camera now shares the same imaging pipeline as the E-M1 II and E-M1X. However, on the other hand, it does offer significant improvements over the older E-M5 Mark II -- a new sensor, a new processor, better IS, more capabilities for both stills and video, and a refreshed design, all in a lighter and less expensive package. For those long-time E-M5 and E-M5 II owners, the new E-M5 Mark III offers a ton of new features and updates and is undoubtedly a worthy reason to upgrade.

I had the opportunity to test out the new E-M5 Mark III last week during an Olympus-organized press excursion to Moab, Utah, which certainly gave me a chance to test the camera's dust-resistance! More importantly, I had the chance to examine the camera's imaging capabilities in a variety of conditions, as well as get a sense of its performance and handling characteristics.

Let's dive in to see how the long-awaited Olympus E-M5 Mark III performs...

Olympus 12-40mm f/2.8 Pro: 34mm, f/2.8, 1/3200s, ISO 200

Design & Ergonomics

Starting with the physical shape and ergonomics of the camera, the overall design and styling of the Mark III is, unsurprisingly, remarkably similar to the Mark II model, though it does share some controls and button layout elements brought over from the E-M1 II. The overall physical characteristics are incredibly similar to the E-M5 II, as well, with nearly identical physical dimensions and the same general shape. And for us, that’s a good thing.

The weight is somewhat similar, but the E-M5 III is actually a bit lighter than the predecessor. The E-M5 Mark III incorporates more polycarbonate plastic into its construction than the Mark II, which utilized more mag-alloy. (However, the exact specifics on how the two body constructions differ was not specified by Olympus.) Despite the change in its construction, the E-M5 III maintains Olympus' hallmark weather-sealing performance, with robust dust, moisture and freeze resistance. In hand, however, I'd be hard-pressed to tell much difference between a fully metal-chassis camera and this hybrid polycarbonate build (other than perhaps a temperature difference in a metal surface compared to plastic); the E-M5 III is incredibly well-built and sturdy. The body is extremely solid-feeling, with no creaky, chintzy, plastic-like feel to it whatsoever, and the weather-sealing -- at least when it comes to fending off the dry dust and dirt of the Moab desert -- seems pleasingly robust. In the end, if the camera can be lighter in weight while keeping the same hardy weather-sealed design, I consider that a win-win in my book.

Despite changes in construction, the E-M5 III is still thoroughly weather-sealed against dust, moisture and freezing temperatures.

When it comes to the notable design changes to the body shape and styling of the Mark III, the biggest change is to the thumb rest and handgrip. The name of the game with the E-M5 III is compactness and lightness, so as with the predecessor, the Mark III doesn't have a big, pronounced handgrip like the E-M1 Mark II. However, the handgrip and thumb rest are both a bit larger on the new model, making the camera easier and more conformable to hold, all while keeping the camera quite compact. As before, the E-M5 III doesn't have a rounded, curvaceously contoured handgrip; it's still more straight-edged and angular. That said, I don't find the camera at all uncomfortable, even if the grip doesn't really fit into my hand. The larger grip and bigger thumb rest together allow the camera to feel secure in my hand and provides enough balanced handling for small prime lenses and medium-sized zooms such as the 12-40mm f/2.8 Pro and 7-14mm /2.8 Pro lenses. The larger 12-100mm f/4 IS Pro lens also works quite well on this smaller body, but with larger glass, such as the 40-150mm f/2.8 and certainly the 300mm f/4 will, you'll likely want a camera with a larger grip.

However, Olympus does offer a handgrip accessory for the E-M5 Mark III (the ECG-5 dedicated external grip), which mounts to the tripod socket of the camera and provides a larger handgrip as well as a secondary, repositioned shutter release button and front control dial. It more or less transforms the E-M5 Mark III into a "mini E-M1 Mark II," which is pretty clever. The only drawback with the ECG-5 grip is that it blocks the battery compartment door on the bottom of the camera. That might be a deal-breaker for some. However, the E-M5 III now offers in-camera battery charging via USB, so you technically don't ever need to remove the battery from the camera.

Olympus 12-100mm f/4 IS Pro: 12mm, f/4, 1/2500s, ISO 200

And speaking of the battery, one of the consequences to the E-M5 III's re-worked internals as well as its generally compact design is that it now uses a smaller battery pack, the BLS-50 rechargeable battery. This is the same battery used in the E-M10-series cameras and many of the PEN models. Unfortunately, if you're an earlier E-M5 II owner with a stack of batteries, you'll need to grab some new ones should you upgrade to this camera. In terms of battery life performance, I was initially disappointed to hear that the E-M5 III had switched to a smaller-capacity battery pack and was expecting worse battery life. And yet my real-world experience has been quite the opposite. The hardware inside the E-M5 III seems impressively power-efficient, and combined with my judicious habit of powering off the camera while not using it, a single battery easily lasted me an entire day of shooting. According to Olympus' specs, the E-M5 III is actually CIPA-rated for the same 310 shots per charge as the previous model, despite the smaller battery. Quite impressive.

When it comes to the EVF, the overall user experience is very similar both to the E-M5 II and to the E-M1 II. The viewfinder display itself has the same 2.36-million dot resolution as used in both of the cameras mentioned above, but it uses an OLED panel instead of an LCD, making for a sharp, crisp screen with good colors, contrast and easy-to-read text. Another difference compared to the higher-end E-M1 II, is that the EVF in the E-M5 III only offers a 60fps refresh rate and not an additional "high-speed" 120fps mode. In practice, however, I didn't notice any issue or sense that I needed a faster refresh rate -- the EVF looked and performed as I expected from an OM-D camera. There is a minor downgrade, though, as the E-M5 III's EVF is slightly smaller, going from a 0.74x magnification ratio for both the E-M5 II and E-M1 II, to 0.68x. Eye relief has however improved to 27mm, up from 21mm.

In terms of the control layout, the E-M5 III is like a blend of the E-M1 II and the previous E-M5 II. The top-deck controls strongly mimic that of the E-M1 Mark II. The Mode Dial is now moved over the right side of the EVF, like on the E-M1 II, and on the left side now is the similar split-button control on top of the On/Off lever. The main user operation, however, remains similar, with the front and rear control dials on the camera both sitting flat on the top of the camera body. The front dial, again, surrounds the shutter release button.

Meanwhile, the rear controls are, by and large, exactly the same as the predecessor with the same basic layout of buttons. Olympus has managed to add a dedicated ISO button along the top of the thumb rest, which is rather handy and something even the E-M1 II doesn't offer -- I ended up reprogramming another button on my E-M1 II in order to give me a quick-access ISO button. Of course, the E-M5 III offers tons of user customization, and you can easily re-assign the ISO button to some other function as well as set ISO onto some other button if you want, but I appreciate Olympus providing a simple ISO button right out of the box.

My only personal complaint about the rear controls is that they feel a bit too small for my taste. Compared to the E-M1 Mark II, the rear buttons are smaller as is the 4-way directional control. I found this made it more difficult to operate the controls simply by feel, and I often had to take the camera down from my eye to verify I was pressing the correct button, especially the Playback button (both it and the Delete button sit flush with the back surface). Out in the field, I often want to review shots with the EVF and zoom-in on detail. The E-M5 III (and other OM-D cameras) frustratingly don't let you first press Playback and then bring the camera up to your eye. Doing so, triggering the EVF eye sensor, reverts the camera back into shooting mode. Most of this is helpful, but I want Playback mode to "override" this, so to speak, and let me quickly use the EVF to view the image I'm reviewing. Combine this behavior with the tiny Playback button, and the process goes something like this: 1) Take photo, 2) press Playback to see image on rear LCD, 3) bring camera up eye to review closer, 4) eye sensor toggles camera back to shooting mode; 5) fumble around trying to feel the tiny Playback button while holding camera up to my eye. Overall, this isn't a deal-breaker by any means, but it's merely a frustration point I found myself often encountering while out shooting.

Olympus 7-14mm f/2.8 Pro: 10mm, f/5.6, 1/640s, ISO 200
RAW file edit: Converted in Olympus Workspace into TIFF, adjusted in Adobe Lightroom to taste. Click to view the unedited original image.

Additionally, I also use the 4-way control quite often to move the AF point around, and with the smaller-sized control, I sometimes found myself pressing the "OK" button in the center of the control my mistake. The E-M5 III does offer a touchscreen mode that lets you move the AF point with the touchscreen while the EVF is active and up to your eye. However, I'm a left-eye dominant shooter, so my nose is often in contact with the screen causing errant touches/AF point adjustments -- I always disable this feature in cameras that offer it. Obviously, I wish the camera had a joystick control, but there's clearly not enough space on the back.

My last little quibble about the E-M5 III's design is the camera strap lug, particularly the placement of the strap lug on the right side of the camera. Just like on the E-M5 II, there's a strap lug right on the side of the handgrip area. Depending on how I'm holding the camera, the lug is usually hitting up against my hands or my fingers, and noisy, dangling triangular strap rings are even more annoying. It just seems like an odd location to put this little piece of hardware. On the E-M1 II, the right-side lug is up on the top surface of the camera and out of the way completely on the grip. This choice was likely not possible on the E-M5 III given its more compact size, but I wish there some better alternative.

Olympus 12-40mm f/2.8 Pro: 35mm, f/2.8, 1/6400s, ISO 200

Image Quality

When it comes to image quality, the E-M5 III offers quite a big upgrade over the older E-M5 II, utilizing a higher-resolution 20-megapixel Four Thirds sensor and faster TruePic VIII image processor. Overall, the imaging pipeline is now very similar to that of the E-M1 II, with a similar sensor and image processing algorithms. The camera offers the same default ISO range of 200 up to ISO 25,600, though you can expand it down to a new Low ISO of 64 compared to ISO 100 for the Mark II. The Auto ISO range is also expanded, now going up to ISO 6400 rather than topping out at a fairly modest ISO 1600.

Olympus 45mm f/1.2 Pro: 45mm, f/1.2, 1/12800s, ISO 200, +0.3 EV
RAW file edit: Converted in Olympus Workspace into TIFF, adjusted in Adobe Lightroom to taste. Click to view the unedited original image.

As far as my experience with the camera so far, the vast majority of my shooting time has been during the day and in rather well-lit or straight-up bright, sunny conditions. Suffice it to say, most of my images shot so far have been at base ISO or other modest ISO levels. Further testing will be required to see how the camera performs in low-light situations and generally with higher ISO levels.

Olympus 12-40mm f/2.8 Pro: 16mm, f/7.1, 1/60s, ISO 200

From what I've seen so far, I am delighted with the image quality performance of the E-M5 III. Image quality is, perhaps not surprisingly, more or less similar to what I'm used to seeing from my E-M1 II. At low ISOs, images offer excellent fine detail resolution. Images are sharp and full of detail without appearing overly sharpened. At close inspection, in-camera JPEGs might be a touch over-sharpened, but for the most part, I am very pleased with images straight out of the camera. Of course, by shooting raw, you can control the degree of sharpness to your tastes.

Olympus 12-100mm f/4 IS Pro: 50mm, f/4, 1/2500s, ISO 500

Colors from SOOC JPEGs are accurate, rich and vibrant without feeling overly-saturated -- at least with the camera's default "Natural" picture style, which is what I use the majority of the time. However, since I was out in the desert, I did find myself surrounded by wide blue skies and deep orange rocks, especially during sunset hours. Flipping the camera over to its "Vivid" picture style really boosted up the saturation and made for some really vibrant photographs. The saturation with the Vivid profile might be too strong for my taste, but it's still a cool effect if you really want your colors to pop -- and you don't want to bother editing a raw file. And of course, you can always adjust in-camera JPEG parameters like saturation, sharpness and contrast, too.

Olympus 12-40mm f/2.8 Pro: 15mm, f/8, 1/400s, ISO 200, -0.7 EV
Vivid Picture Style: Perhaps a bit too much color saturation?

When it comes to dynamic range, I was pleasantly surprised with the performance here, too, at these lower ISO shots. Much of the shooting was out in midday sunlight, causing harsh shadows and generally very contrasty scenes. The E-M5 III did an excellent job at retaining highlight detail and colors in the skies without blowing out these bright areas while still showing a lot of shadow detail, even with JPEGs. Raw files, of course, provide more leeway for heavily tonal adjustments, but I found most of my shots, even those with extremely bright highlight areas, required minimal tonal adjustments.

Live Composite Mode • Olympus 12mm f/2: 12mm, f/2, 15s, ISO 1000

In general, I'm overall very impressed with the image quality from the E-M5 III -- both from standard 20MP images as well as its 50MP High-Res Shot files. Even though the 20MP Four Thirds sensor is getting up there in age these days, this sensor and the TruePic VIII processor do a nice job of creating really pleasing images. And of course, while the E-M5 III's 20-megapixel Four Thirds sensor might not resolve as much detail as most full-frame sensors, the detail this camera system can resolve while at the same time being extremely lightweight and easy to carry around, makes it an altogether enjoyable user experience.

Olympus 7-14mm f/2.8 Pro: 7mm, f/4.5, 1/1250s, ISO 200

Performance

Before wrapping up, I wanted to touch on the performance features of the E-M5 III, which also offers a number of performance improvements over the previous E-M5 model. For starters, there's a new 121-point hybrid AF system that uses both on-chip phase-detect sensors and contrast detection. The overall autofocus system is nearly identical to the E-M1 II's, using the same AF algorithms as of E-M1 II firmware v3.0. The camera now offers multiple AF point groupings, fine-tunable C-AF sensitivity settings, as well as C-AF Center Priority and C-AF Center, Start options that originally debuted on the E-M1X.

Olympus 12-100mm f/4 IS Pro: 47mm, f/4.5, 1/2000s, ISO 200
RAW file edit: Converted in Olympus Workspace into TIFF, adjusted in Adobe Lightroom to taste. Click to view the unedited original image.

When it comes to continuous shooting specs, in addition to now offering Pro Capture modes, the E-M5 Mark III now offers multiple burst shooting speeds, both High and Low settings, with either the mechanical shutter or electronic (silent) shutter. With Continuous AF between frames, the E-M5 III offers either 10fps with the electronic shutter or 6fps with the mechanical shutter. Additionally, there's also a 10fps burst mode with the mechanical shutter, as well as a super-fast 30fps burst mode using the electronic shutter; however, with both of these sequential shooting modes, focus is locked on the first frame. Similarly, the faster "High" setting of 30fps for Pro Capture mode has focus locked at the first frame.

Olympus 12-100mm f/4 IS Pro: 57mm, f/4.5, 1/1600s, ISO 200, +0.3EV

Most of my shooting involved static subjects, such as landscapes and portraits, but there were some action shots, such as off-road vehicles and galloping horses that gave me a sense of the camera's general performance. Suffice to say, the camera feels like a mini-E-M1 II; the autofocus is extremely fast, the C-AF feels precise and accurate, and the camera overall feels nimble and responsive. Utilizing Sequential Low burst modes, in order to maintain continuous AF, I found the E-M5 III performed very well, with the camera grabbing and tracking moving subject quickly and accurately. I don't consider myself a "machine-gun" shooter, so I don't normally take long, extended burst sequences, so for the shorter, quick burst that I shot, the camera more or less nailed focus throughout the burst sequences. There were only a few times where the camera's C-AF + TR (continuous focus + tracking mode) results in a slightly soft image, but the camera quickly recovered with a sharp shot in the next frame.

I do need to test the continuous AF in a more rigorous scenario and for longer burst sequences, but from what I'm seeing so far -- and based on my experience with the E-M1 II, which uses and overall similar AF system -- I am not expecting poor performance from the E-M5 III when it comes to C-AF capabilities.

Olympus 12-40mm f/2.8 Pro: 12mm, f/5.6, 1/500s, ISO 200
RAW file edit: Converted in Olympus Workspace into TIFF, adjusted in Adobe Lightroom to taste. Click to view the unedited original image.

Summary

All in all, the long-awaited Olympus E-M5 Mark III is shaping up to be an excellent member of the OM-D family, providing a significant amount of upgrades over the aging E-M5 Mark II. Compared to some of the existing members of the OM-D line, especially the E-M1 II and E-M1X, the E-M5 Mark III might not feel like a groundbreaking camera. It keeps the same sensor, the same processor, essentially the same hybrid AF system, and overall a very similar set of shooting features. I can see that as being somewhat of a disappointment to some, especially to those who might have been hoping for a new Four Thirds sensor, as the 20MP chip here has been around quite a while now.

On the other hand, I haven't found much to complain about when it comes to the image quality or the performance of this camera or other 20MP OM-D cameras. In a way, it feels like an "if it ain't broke, don't fix it" situation. Plus, given Olympus' history of providing substantial firmware upgrades down the line that adds new features and performance improvements, the new E-M5 III feels like a camera that will last for years to come.

 

• • •

 

Olympus E-M5 III Review -- Product Overview

by Jeremy Gray

The Olympus E-M5 series has been built upon the foundational idea that great cameras can come in small packages. The original E-M5 and its excellent successor, the E-M5 Mark II, combined impressive image quality, fast performance, distinct features and Olympus' famous ruggedness. With that said, the E-M5 Mark II is getting a bit long in the tooth, having released in early 2015. A lot has changed since then and Olympus has since launched other cameras with improved image quality, processing power and features. Enter the Olympus E-M5 Mark III, which introduces a higher-megapixel image sensor, hybrid autofocus, 4K video recording and much more.

Key Features and Specs

  • Compact Micro Four Thirds camera designed to deliver high-end performance
  • Redesigned lightweight design that incorporates Olympus' pro-level weather sealing (IPX1-rated)
  • New more capable image stabilization system promising up to 5.5 stops of shake reduction, 6.5 stops with Sync IS
  • 20.4-megapixel Four Thirds image sensor
  • Default ISO range of 200-25,600, expandable down to 64
  • Tripod High-Res shooting mode at up to 50 megapixels (80MP RAW)
  • 2.36M-dot OLED electronic viewfinder
  • 3-inch vari-angle touchscreen
  • TruePic VIII image processing system
  • Hybrid 121-point autofocus system
  • Up to 10 fps full-resolution continuous shooting when using the mechanical shutter
  • Up to 30 fps full-resolution shooting with silent electronic shutter
  • 4K video at up to 30p
  • Full HD video at up to 60p (120p in High Speed mode)
  • Built-in Wi-Fi and Bluetooth
  • USB charging

E-M5 Mark III design: Even lighter than the E-M5 II

The E-M5 III features a refreshed and refined design. However, it relies heavily upon classic inspiration, such as the iconic delta shape at the top of its viewfinder. The designers have spent a lot of time and effort to get the details just right, including a more stable overall design and a thoughtful balancing of different materials, including a redesigned synthetic leather grip. As for ergonomics, the overall grip surface is larger and the thumb rest is more pronounced, allowing for better control. The mode dial has also moved to the top right of the camera, allowing for easier access with your right hand while shooting.

The viewfinder experience has also been changed thanks to a new OLED electronic viewfinder. The overall pixel count is the same as the LCD EVF found on the E-M5 II at 2.36 million dots, but the switch to OLED technology promises improved contrast and sharpness. There is a slight tradeoff however, as the equivalent magnification of the EVF has gone from 0.74x to 0.68x. Viewfinder coverage remains unchanged at approximately 100 percent. Further, the eyepoint has also improved quite a bit from 21mm to 27mm.

Looking at the rear display, the overall design is unchanged with a 3-inch vari-angle touchscreen monitor which includes a total of 1.04 million dots. The touchscreen offers shutter release, touch AF and AF targeting pad functionality while shooting and can tilt upward to act as a selfie screen. To the right of the display are Menu, Info, Delete and Playback buttons surrounding a directional pad with a central OK button.

Moving to the top of the camera, much of the action is to the right of the viewfinder, including the relocated mode dial and a pair of command dials. There are also drive mode, display mode, movie record, exposure compensation and ISO buttons, as well as a power switch. Looking at the mode dial, it includes program auto, aperture priority, shutter speed priority, manual, bulb, custom, video, art, scene and fully automatic shooting modes. There is also a hot shoe above the viewfinder and the E-M5 III is compatible with Olympus' range of external flashes. Like its predecessor, the E-M5 III does not have a built-in flash but does come bundled with a compact external flash. The camera has a maximum flash sync of 1/250s when using the mechanical shutter and 1/50s with electronic shutter up to ISO 6400 or 1/20s for ISO 8000 and higher.

In terms of total dimensions, the E-M5 III is 4.93 inches (125.3 millimeters) wide, 3.35 in. (85.2mm) tall and 1.96 in. (49.7mm) tall, excluding protrusions. The camera weighs 14.6 ounces (414 grams) with a memory card and battery inserted. The E-M5 III is built to Olympus' exacting standards and is splash proof, dustproof and freezeproof.

Image Quality and Shooting Features: 20.4-megapixel image sensor and many versatile shooting features

Higher resolution image sensor

The E-M5 III incorporates the same 20.4-megapixel Live MOS image sensor as the E-M1 II. Not only does the sensor have an additional four megapixels compared to the 16.5-megapixel sensor found in the E-M5 II, it also includes on-chip phase detect focus points, allowing for hybrid autofocus. Paired with the updated image sensor is an Olympus TruePic VIII image processor. The sensor promises high-end image quality and low noise across its ISO range of 64 to 25,600, including expanded ISO options. The E-M5 III includes Auto ISO, which offers a customizable upper limit throughout the native ISO 200-6400 range.

Smaller and more powerful image stabilization unit

To ensure a lightweight camera body, Olympus has designed a new smaller image stabilization unit for the new E-M5 Mark III. The 5-axis image stabilization system promises up to 5.5 stops of shake correction with any attached lens. Further, when using either the M.Zuiko Digital ED 300mm f/4 IS PRO and M.Zuiko Digital ED 12-100mm f/4 IS PRO lens, the camera can leverage 5-axis Sync IS, which combines the camera's image stabilization with the lens-based IS to deliver up to 6.5 stops of shake reduction. This is an improvement of about 1/2 a stop over the E-M5 II.

Shooting speeds: Up to 10 frames per second with mechanical shutter, 30 fps using the electronic shutter

Looking now at shutter speeds, the E-M5 III has both mechanical and electronic shutters. The mechanical shutter has a shutter speed range from 60 seconds to 1/8,000s in normal shooting modes, although in Live Composite mode, the camera can record images for up to a total of three hours. The silent electronic shutter can shoot from 60 seconds to 1/32,000s. An anti-shock electronic first curtain shutter is available at shutter speeds from 60s to 1/320s.

The maximum shooting speeds of the E-M5 III also depend upon whether you are using the mechanical or electronic shutter. When using the mechanical focal-plane shutter, the E-M5 III can shoot at up to 10 frames per second. In this mode, the E-M5 III can record up to 150 raw frames or as many JPEG images as the SD card can record. When using the electronic shutter, you can shoot at up to 30 fps. The buffer depths are unsurprisingly shallower in 30 fps mode, topping out at a maximum of 23 raw frames or 26 JPEG images. Continuous AF/AE is supported at up to 6 frames per second using the mechanical shutter, and at up to 10 frames per second when using electronic shutter.

Aimed primarily at action photographers trying to capture the perfect moment, the E-M5 III also includes Olympus' Pro Capture shooting mode. This mode makes the camera start recording images the moment the shutter release is pressed halfway. Once the shutter release is fully pressed, the camera records up to the 14 most recent shots in addition to the images you capture after the shutter is fully pressed. In practical terms, this means you are less likely to miss a shot due to not fully pressing the shutter in time. For sports photographers in particular, there are also anti-flicker and flicker scan shooting modes, which evaluate the frequency of artificial light sources to time image capture with ideal lighting. The anti-flicker mode is used while shooting still images with the mechanical shutter and the flicker scan mode is available for use with the electronic shutter to help pick the best shutter speed to avoid stripe patterns including during movie recording.

Live Composite, focus bracketing and more special shooting modes

Additional special shooting modes include Olympus' Live Composite shooting mode, which allows the user to record long-exposure images wherein the camera only records new sources of light, meaning that static light sources won't end up overexposed, even with extended exposure times.

The E-M5 III can also utilize focus bracketing. This mode allows the user to record up to 999 shots with user-selectable amounts of focus shift. The images can then be brought into the Olympus Workspace software on your computer and composited. In-camera focus stacking is also available which can automatically merge up to eight images. It is worth noting that focus stacking is only compatible with the following Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED lenses: 60mm f/2.8 Macro, 12-40mm f/2.8 PRO, 40-150mm f/2.8 PRO, 30mm f/3.5 Macro, 7-14mm f/2.8 PRO, 8mm f/1.8 Fisheye PRO, 300mm f/4 IS PRO and 12-100mm f/4 IS PRO as of this writing.

When working on a tripod, you are not limited to only 20-megapixel final images with the E-M5 III. The camera includes an improved Tripod High Res shooting mode. When using this mode, the camera's IS system shifts the image sensor in 0.5 pixel increments and captures 8 sequential images. These images are then merged into a final 50-megapixel JPEG image or you can produce an 80-megapixel image from the high-res raw file. A handheld High Res mode is not provided.

To add a creative twist to your photography, the E-M5 III has Scene and Art modes on its mode dial. The Scene mode includes 22 separate scene modes from categories including portraits, nightscapes, motion photography, scenery, indoor and shooting close-ups. There are 16 individual Art Filters, including options such as Pop Art, Vintage, Soft Focus, Partial Color, Cross Process and Watercolor.

Metering features

The E-M5 III is equipped with Digital ESP metering, which meters based upon up to 324 areas. The E-M5 III offers multi, center-weighted average and spot metering options. The spot metering option can be linked to the autofocus point and offers highlight and shadow control options as well. The metering range is rated for -2 to +20 EV. Exposure compensation is available in 1/3, 1/2 and 1 EV steps for up to +/- 5 EV, although Live View reflects only +/- 3 EV of exposure compensation. AE can be locked with a half-press of the shutter or by using the dedicated AEL/AFL button on the rear of the camera. In addition to exposure compensation options, the E-M5 III also allows for exposure bracketing and HDR shooting, including automatic in-camera HDR in two different modes at ISO 200.

Autofocus: New hybrid autofocus system promises improved performance

The E-M5 Mark III incorporates the same image processing system as the high-end E-M1 Mark II, including its on-chip phase-detection autofocus and autofocus algorithms. The autofocus system includes 121 autofocus points, which are all cross-type, covering a large area of the overall image sensor.

These 121 PDAF and 121 contrast-detect AF points can be utilized in a variety of modes, including full-area autofocus, single target (normal and small sizes are available) and group target (5-area, 9-area and 25-area options are provided) areas. Autofocus drive modes include single AF, continuous AF, manual AF, S-AF+MF, AF tracking and preset manual focus. The E-M5 III also includes an AF Limiter option. This allows the user to save up to three selectable distance settings to limit the autofocus range of the attached lens. In addition, there are 3x, 5x, 7x, 10x and 14x magnification options. Further, the E-M5 III includes face detection and eye detection autofocus. The latter option includes settings for nearest eye, right eye and left eye priority while shooting.

Video: 4K video at up to 30 frames per second

The E-M5 Mark III can record in a variety of resolutions, including C4K (4,096 x 2,160) at 24p, 4K UHD (3,840 x 2,160) at up to 30p and Full HD (1,920 x 1,080) at up to 60p. At C4K resolution, the camera records at its maximum bitrate of 237Mbps with IPB recording. IPB is also used for 4K UHD resolution, but 1080/30p video can be recorded All-Intra at approximately 202Mbps bitrates. At all resolutions and framerates, the E-M5 III records in .MOV files with H.264 compression. The maximum recording time for video clips is 29 minutes.

In its dedicated high-speed movie mode, the E-M5 III can record Full HD video at up to 120 fps. The camera also includes Quick and Slow movie modes, plus time-lapse movie modes. You can record time-lapse videos at 3,840 x 2,160 resolution at 5 fps, Full HD at 5, 10 and 15 fps or HD at 5, 10, 15 and 30p in AVI format.

The camera's built-in 5-axis image stabilization is combined with electronic stabilization during video recording, including when shooting 4K video. The camera can output live view via HDMI to an external monitor or external recorder.

Connectivity, Storage and Power

The Olympus E-M5 Mark III includes a Micro-B USB port, a 2.5mm cable release jack, a Micro HDMI (Type D) port and a 3.5mm stereo microphone jack. The camera utilizes a USB 2.0 High-Speed interface and supports in-camera charging via USB.

The camera features built-in wireless LAN (IEEE 802.11a/b/g/n) as did its predecessor, but now includes Bluetooth (Ver 4.2 BLE). Via its wireless connectivity options, users can start up to the Olympus Image Share app on their compatible smart device to transfer recorded images from their camera.

The E-M5 III records images and video to a single SD card slot, which is UHS-II compatible.

The included BLS-50 lithium-ion battery is rated for up to 310 still images or up to 60 minutes of video recording, when using the LCD. Olympus unfortunately doesn't state what the battery life rating is when using the EVF, and it's probably lower since it uses an OLED panel. While a battery grip or pack is not available to increase battery life, Olympus offers an optional ECG-5 Dedicated External Grip which is equipped with a shutter release and control dial.

Olympus E-M5 III Price and Availability

The Olympus O-MD E-M5 Mark III will be available in silver and black colorways. The camera will be available as a body only for $1,199.99 USD ($1,499.99 CAD) and as a kit with the Olympus M.Zuiko 14-150mm f/4.0-5.6 II lens for $1,799.99 USD ($2,249.99 CAD). As a special offer during the launch window, the kit option will be discounted $300, bringing its total price down to $1,499.99 USD. Both the body only and kit options will be available by the end of November. Included in the package are a shoulder strap, USB cable, compact FL-ML3 flash, battery and battery charger.

The E-M5 III is compatible with a variety of Olympus accessories, including the new ECG-5 Dedicated External Grip ($169.99 USD/$224.99 CAD), numerous external flashes, a large eyecup attachment, remote cable release and compact gun microphone.

The new Olympus E-M5 Mark III versus its predecessor, the E-M5 Mark II

There are numerous key differences between the new E-M5 III and 2015's E-M5 II. Let's take a quick look at some of the most profound differences between the two cameras.

Image pipeline: The E-M5 Mark III includes a 20.4-megapixel image sensor. The E-M5 II, on the other hand, utilizes a 16.5-megapixel sensor. Further, the E-M5 III has a faster TruePic VIII image processor versus the TruePic VII processor found in the E-M5 II. The new Mark III camera also offers a lower expanded ISO setting of 64 versus 100, although the maximum ISO remains unchanged at ISO 25,600.

Electronic viewfinder: The new E-M5 Mark III and its predecessor both have electronic viewfinders with 2.36 million dots, but the E-M5 III's EVF uses an OLED display, promising better contrast and vibrance. Both EVFs deliver approximately 100 percent frame coverage, although the older E-M5 II has a higher magnification (0.74x versus 0.68x). The eyepoint of the E-M5 III is about 27mm, whereas the E-M5 II's eyepoint is approximately 21mm.

Camera body: The E-M5 III and E-M5 II are both splash proof, dustproof and freezeproof, and Olympus has confirmed that the new E-M5 III does meet the IPX1 rating for ingress protection. However, the overall camera design has changed with the new model. The E-M5 III has a new body, which has been reprofiled and offers larger front and rear grips for improved comfort and handling. Further, the mode dial has been relocated to the right of the viewfinder and now includes Custom and Bulb options in lieu of a now-absent Photo Story shooting mode. Unlike its predecessor, the E-M5 III includes dial customization. Speaking of the viewfinder, the EVF's protrusion on the top of the camera has been reshaped. To deliver a more modern look, the synthetic leather area has also been changed. In terms of overall size, the E-M5 III is fractionally larger in all three dimensions but is lighter than its predecessor (414 grams with battery and memory card versus 469 grams).

Autofocus: With its new image sensor, the E-M5 III includes on-chip phase-detect autofocus points, something the E-M5 II lacked. Further, the E-M5 III includes additional autofocus points, up to 121 from 81 points. Additionally, when using continuous autofocus, users can now leverage C-AF sensitivity settings (5 steps). The E-M5 III also includes an AF limiter and AF Targeting Pad functionality, options absent in its predecessor.

Shooting modes: The E-M5 III includes Anti-Flicker and Flicker Scan shooting modes, features not present in the E-M5 II. The E-M5 III also adds Color Creator and Fisheye Compensation modes. The E-M5 III adds a new Art Filter, Instant Film, bringing the total number of selectable filters up from 15 to 16. Due to the higher-megapixel image sensor, the E-M5 III's Tripod High-Res Shot mode can record 50 megapixel JPEG images or 80 megapixel raw files, compared to the 40/60-megapixel output of the E-M5 II.

Performance: While both the E-M5 II and E-M5 III can shoot at up to 10 frames per second when using the mechanical shutter, the E-M5 III can now do so with full AF/AE functionality when using the electronic shutter. The E-M5 III provides continuous AF/AE at up to 6 fps with the mechanical shutter, while the E-M5 II does so at up to 5 fps. Additionally, the E-M5 III adds Silent sequential and Pro Capture modes, which allow for shooting speeds up to 30 fps. Buffer depths are also significantly improved, with the E-M5 II's buffer rated at only 19 L/F JPEGs or 16 raw frames at 10 fps, compared to no limit for L/F JPEGs or 150 raw files for the E-M5 III.

Video: The E-M5 Mark III can record 4K video at up to 4,096 x 2,160 resolution. The E-M5 II, on the other hand, could record video only up to Full HD resolution. High speed Full HD video at 120p is now also provided.

Connectivity: Both the E-M5 II and new E-M5 III include built-in Wi-Fi, but only the E-M5 III has built-in Bluetooth. Further, the E-M5 III supports USB charging while the E-M5 II does not. The E-M5 III does however lose the Mark II's PC-socket, but it gains a 2.5mm cable release jack.

For much more on the Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark III camera, including real-world images and a hands-on evaluation, read our E-M5 III Field Test Part I below!

 

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