Olympus E-M5 III Review
|Full model name:||Olympus OM-D E-M5 III|
(17.4mm x 13.0mm)
|Viewfinder:||EVF / LCD|
|Native ISO:||200 - 25,600|
|Extended ISO:||64 - 25,600|
|Shutter:||1/32000 - 60 sec|
4.9 x 3.4 x 2.0 in.
(125 x 85 x 50 mm)
|Full specs:||Olympus E-M5 III specifications|
E-M5 III Summary
Though it was quite a wait between the previous E-M5 II and this new model, the refreshed Olympus E-M5 Mark III brings a lot to the table for Olympus owners and Micro Four Thirds shooters in general, as well as any photographer looking for a rugged, high-quality yet highly-portable mirrorless camera. In a lot of ways, the E-M5 III is essentially an E-M1 II crammed into an even smaller, lighter package, which is quite impressive. With an updated sensor, faster processor, phase-detect AF, better image stabilization and more, the compact E-M5 Mark III offers quite a bit of performance and quality in a form factor that won't weigh you down, nor hit too hard on the wallet.Pros
Improved image quality; Very good dynamic range & high ISO performance for a modern MFT sensor; Very fast AF; Excellent image stabilization; 4K video recording; Weather-sealed build quality.Cons
Maximum burst with C-AF is only 6fps; Below average battery life; Small size can be awkward with long, heavy lenses; On SD card slot.Price and availability
The Olympus O-MD E-M5 Mark III is available in silver and black colorways, and is sold 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).Imaging Resource rating
5.0 out of 5.0
Olympus E-M5 III Review
See the E-M5 III in action along the Southeast Coast with the weather-sealed Olympus 12-200mm M. Zuiko
• • •
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.
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 is available in silver and black colorways, and is sold 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).
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 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.
• • •
Olympus E-M5 III Field Test
A long-awaited update brings E-M1 II imaging, performance features to E-M5 line
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.
Olympus E-M5 III Image Quality Comparison
See the E-M5 III side-by-side against its competitors
Olympus E-M5 III Review Conclusion
An E-M1 II inside a smaller, lighter package make this the best E-M5 yet
In the Box
The Olympus E-M5 Mark III body-only retail kit (as reviewed) contains the following items:
- Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark III
- Olympus FL-LM3 Flash
- Olympus BLS-50 Lithium-Ion Battery (7.2V, 1175mAh)
- Olympus BCS-5 Lithium-Ion Battery Charger
- Micro-USB Cable
- Shoulder Strap
- Limited 1-Year Warranty
Buy the Olympus E-M5 III
$449.00 (122% less)
16.1 MP (27% less)
Also has viewfinder
$1399.00 (29% more)
Also has viewfinder
$579.00 (73% less)
24.2 MP (16% more)
Also has viewfinder
$799.00 (25% less)
16.1 MP (27% less)
Also has viewfinder
$699.00 (43% less)
24.2 MP (16% more)
Also has viewfinder
$899.00 (11% less)
26.1 MP (22% more)
Also has viewfinder
$349.00 (186% less)
16.1 MP (27% less)
Also has viewfinder
$849.00 (18% less)
32.5 MP (37% more)