Olympus OM-D E-M1 III: possible specifications and what we’d like to see

Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II Silver edition launched for company’s 100th anniversary
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The Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II is a great camera, but it was launched in September 2016, so it’s getting on a bit. And now the Olympus OM-D E-M1X has arrived as its joint flagship camera, and the Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark III just below them,  we have a few ideas about what Olympus may have in mind for the OM-D E-M1 III.

Let’s take a look at its possible specifications and what we’d like to see.

Build

Olympus has built its Micro Four Thirds camera business around the promise of small, light cameras with lenses that are carefully matched to the sensor. The OM-D E-M1X isn’t your typical Micro Four Thirds camera. It’s much bigger than the OM-D E-M1 II and has an integrated vertical grip. The OM-D E-M1 II is much more typical and it’s a safe bet that the Olympus OM-D E-M1 III will continue in that vein.

However, I wonder if Olympus may lift one element from the E-M1X’s build for the E-M1 III? A joystick is becoming a must-have feature on the back of high-end cameras. It provides a quick and easy way of selecting the AF point while you look in the viewfinder.

A joystick would make a great addition to the OM-D E-M1 III, but it would probably require a bit of a rejig to the back of the camera to fit it on. The ideal location is where the Info button is on the E-M1 II.

Olympus OM-D E-M1X review: Olympus OM-D E-M1X vs OM-D E-M1 II

Left: Olympus OM-D E-M1X Right: Olympus OM-D E-M1 II

Sensor

The OM-D E-M1X doesn’t hold any clues here, it has the same 20.4Mp sensor as the OM-D E-M1 II. However, there are lots of rumours about a 24Mp Four Thirds type sensor.  My bet is that Olympus will push up the resolution for its next flagship camera.

It also seems likely that Olympus will build on the E-M1 II’s Dual FAST AF system and put more phase detection pixels on the sensor.

Processing Engine

The OM-D E-M1X has two Truepic VIII processing engines. That’s twice the processing power of the E-M1 II. I think that Olympus will announce the Truepic IX processing engine with the OM-D E-M1 III. This may match the processing power of the E-M1X, but it could also surpass it. 

The OM-D E-M1 III will need this power to deliver the features we’re hoping for.

Olympus OM-D E-M1 III: possible specifications and what we’d like to see

Left: Olympus OM-D E-M1X Right: Olympus OM-D E-M1 II

 

 

Intelligent Subject Detection

The E-M1X has Intelligent Subject Detection which enables it to recognise specific subjects including aeroplanes, motorsports and trains. It works brilliantly and Olympus has promised to introduce more subjects. I expect/hope that Olympus will include this functionality in the OM-D E-M1 III. And if the range of subjects could extend to include wildlife and sports, so much the better.

This is one of the features that requires the extra brain power of the OM-D E-M1X’s twin processors.

Handheld High Res Shot Mode

Olympus’s High Res Shot mode is a great way of getting large images from a sensor with a standard pixel count. However, until recently it required the camera to be on a tripod. The OM-D E-M1X introduced a new handheld option. This enables 50Mp images to be created from the 20Mp sensor without the need for a tripod. And it works really well.

I expect the Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark III to have a Handheld setting for its High Res Shot mode. If the sensor has a resolution of 24Mp, it’s possible that the size of the High Res images will also go up. Olympus may stick with 50Mp for Handheld and 80Mp for Tripod, but perhaps it might push to 60Mp and 100Mp to give extra appeal. It would certainly draw some attention.

Live ND Shooting

The OM-D E-M1X introduced a fantastic new feature called Live ND Shooting. This creates the effect of putting a neutral density filter on your lens. It enables longer shutter speeds than would normally be possible to be used. What’s more, in a development of Olympus Live Composite mode, it allows you to see how the image will appear at the selected shutter speed. That means you can preview the blur.

This clever technology is very useful. However, it’s currently limited to a filter effect of 1-5Ev. It would be great if this could be extended to 10Ev. More significantly, however, I’d like to see it being made available in video mode. This would mean an end to carrying ND filters when you want to shoot at wide apertures.

4K 60p Video

The OM-D E-M1 Mark II can shoot C4K (4096 x 216) video at 24p and 4K (3840 x 2160) video at up to 30p but could the Mar III join the ranks of cameras that can shoot 4K video at 60p? My guess is that it will. This would make action looks smoother and offer 2x slow-motion playback at 4K. 

This is something that is becoming more common and my bet is that Olympus will want to keep its flagship camera at the forefront.

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