Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark III Snap Verdict
- Camera type: CSC
- Date announced: 31 August 2017
- Price at launch: £629.99
- Sensor size: Four Thirds type (17.3 x 13mm)
- Effective pixel count: 16.1 million
- Lens mount: Micro Four Thirds
The Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark III is a high quality compact system or mirrorless camera with an extensive feature set that includes a good viewfinder, a tilting touchscreen and shooting modes that are designed to suit novice and experienced photographers.
We haven’t been able to examine the raw files yet but the jpegs look good throughout the sensitivity range with pleasant colours, nice exposure and noise that is controlled well. Read on to find out how the E-M10 III performed in our tests, or watch our Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark III review video above.
- Small body with Four Thirds sensor
- Viewfinder and tilting touchscreen
- Extensive feature set and lots of customisation
- Not weather-proofed little models above
- Controls are fiddly for those with large hands
- Sensor is smaller than APS-C format
What is the Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark III?
The Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark III is a small mirrorless camera with the Micro Four Thirds lens mount and a 16.1Mp Four Thirds type (17.3 x 13mm) CMOS sensor. It has a mini-DSLR shape and an electronic viewfinder built-in along with a 3-inch 1,037,000-dot, tilting touch-screen.
It’s small size and advanced shooting options make it an appealing option for travelling experienced photographers while its beginner-friendly modes make it suitable for novice photographers.
Olympus’s OM-D E-M10 series of mirrorless system cameras sits below the OM-D E-M5 and OM-D E-M1 cameras offering a smaller more affordable option and they’ve proved very popular.
They are so small that with the 14-42mm EZ lens they make a good alternative to a compact camera with their Four Thirds type sensor delivering image quality beyond what the average compact can muster.
Wishing to differentiate a bit more between the OM-D E-M5 Mark II and the OM-D E-M10 line, Olympus has introduced the new OM-D E-M10 Mark III with a few features that should help it appeal a little more to new photographers.
And with dimensions of just 121.5 x 83.6 x 49.5mm (W x H x D) it’s still an appealing choice for travel. Let’s take a closer look at the features.
Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark III Features and Specification
- Processor: TruePic VIII
- Sensitivity/ISO range: ISO 200-25,600
- Contrast AF system: 121 AF points
- Max shooting rate: 8.6fps in S-AF mode
- Max video resolution: 4K at 30, 25 or 24p with 102Mbps
Olympus has used the same 16.1Mp Live MOS sensor in the OM-D E-M10 Mark III as is in the OM-D E-M10 Mark II but it’s coupled with a newer processing engine, in fact it has the same TruePic VIII engine as is found in the flagship OM-D E-M1 Mark II.
This should enable better noise control however Olympus hasn’t pushed the sensitivity (ISO) range any higher and the maximum value is ISO 25,600, the same as with the OM-D E-M10 II. Interestingly the ‘Low’ ISO option isn’t available on the new camera and this means that the minimum value is ISO 200.
That processor has also enabled Olympus to up-rate the movie capability to 4K at 30, 25 or 24p (at approximately 102Mbps) and there’s a maximum continuous shooting rate of 8.6fps (frames per second).
That rate is in S-AF mode when the focus is set at the start of the shooting sequence, we’re awaiting confirmation of the rate in C-AF (continuous autofocus) mode.
Further good news is that there’s 5-axis in-body Image Stabilisation that operates when shooting video and stills. It’s claimed to extend the safe shutter speed by up to 4 stops, that’s the difference between 1/250sec and 1/15sec.
Although the OM-D E-M10 III has contrast detection focusing rather than the hybrid focusing (which combines phase detection and contrast detection) of the OM-D E-M1 II, Olympus has increased the number of selectable points to 121. This makes it easier to pin-point the subject across almost the entire frame.
As with Olympus’s the recent cameras, the E-M10 III has Wi-Fi connectivity built-in to allow the camera to be controlled remotely or for images shared via a smartphone using the free OI Share app. That’s especially useful when you’re travelling and want to let everyone at home see how you’re getting on.
Olympus’s in-camera Art Filters are very popular as they allow you to apply a range of effects to images at the shooting stage or in review mode. The OM-D E-M10 III gains a new option, Bleach Bypass, which reproduces a popular effect used in film processing.
This brings the count of Art Filters to 15 with a range of variations being available for each letting you do things like add corner shading or an edge effect.
- How to use the Olympus Live Composite mode
Camera Name Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark III Camera type: CSC Date announced: 31st Aug 2017 Price at launch: £629.99 body only, £649.99 with 14-42mm lens, £699.99 with 14-42mm EZ lens Sensor size: Four Thirds type (17.3 x 13mm) Effective pixel count: 16.1 million Lens/Mount: Micro Four Thirds Processor: TruePic VIII Sensitivity range: ISO 200-25,600 Reflex AF system: N/A Live View AF System: Contrast detection with 121 points Max shooting rate: 8.6fps in S-AF Max video resolution: 4K at 30, 25 or 24p with 102Mbps Storage: SD/SDHC/SDXC Viewfinder: Electronic OLED with 2,360,000 dots Screen: Touch-sensitive tilting 3-inch OLED with 1,037,000 dots Dimensions: 121.5 x 83.6 x 49.5mm Weight: 362g body only
Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark III Build and Handling
- Storage: SD/SDHC/SDXC
- Viewfinder: Electronic OLED with 2,360,000 dots
- Screen: Touch-sensitive tilting 3-inch OLED with 1,037,000 dots
- Dimensions: 121.5 x 83.6 x 49.5mm
- Weight: 362g body only
At first glance the OM-D E-M10 Mark III looks pretty much identical to the OM-D E-M10 Mark II, but if you look closer you’ll spot that there are a few differences that are worthy of note.
If you’ve used the Mark II, as soon as you pick up the Mark III you’ll notice that the new camera has a bigger grip and thumb rest. Neither is huge, that would be odd on such a small camera, but it makes it more comfortable to hold and use one-handed. It feels a little more secure in your hand – that’s not to say that the Mark II feels especially insecure.
For travel the Olympus 14-42mm F3.5-5.6 EZ lens makes a natural partner for the OM-D E-M10 III as it collapses when the camera is powered-down, making a small, neat combination. The Olympus 40-150mm f/2.8 Pro lens is a less obvious choice but it still feels good, although it needs some support from your left hand during shooting, and it gives the 35mm equivalent focal length range of 80-300mm in a compact unit.
As with the other OM-D cameras the E-M10 III has a nice solid feel. While it’s not as robust as the models above it, nor does it have weather-proof seals, you really get a sense that it will survive the odd knock and would be a trusty travel companion.
In another change from the Mark II, the metal dials on the top-plate of the Mark III are a littler taller, making them easier to use. The options available on the mode dial have also changed. Firstly instead of iAuto mode there’s now an Auto option which I’m told has been improved with better movement detection to eliminate the chance of blur spoiling images.
There’s also an Advanced Photo (AP) mode which has been provided to help photographers access some of the more advanced (but easy to use) features such as Live Composite, Live Time, Multiple Exposure, HDR, Silent, Panorama, Keystone Correction, AE Bracketing and Focus Bracketing.
They are all modes that appear on other Olympus cameras but you have to know where to find them in the menu, or in the case of Live Time and Composite mode by adjusting shutter speed beyond the maximum exposure time. This new approach makes the creative options quicker and easier to find.
I’m disappointed to see that Art Filter Bracketing hasn’t made it to the AP list or anywhere else on the E-M10 III. It’s a fun feature that can help photographers find a style they like by producing several versions of an image with just one press of the shutter release. It’s appeared on earlier E-M10 incarnations but is absent from the Mark III.
In a nice touch, pressing the button next to the power switch brings-up all the AP options on the screen so you can switch if you want.
It’s worth noting here that while Live Bulb mode isn’t accessed via the AP setting it can be activated via the menu. Like Live Time and Live Composite mode, Live Bulb mode is used for long exposures and you can see the image build-up on the screen during the exposure.
When the mode dial is rotated to the SCN (Scene) option the screen presents a choice of six potential subjects, People, Nightscapes, Motion, Scenery, Indoors and Close-ups. After tapping the screen to select one the OK button must be pressed to access the next set of options. As with the first step there are images showing examples of the type of shoot that the mode is suited to.
However, unlike in the first step you have to navigate to the option to see the example, it would be better if the examples were shown in a grid. Again, pressing the button near the power switch takes you back to the start to select the Scene mode.
When Auto mode is selected a tab appears on the right of the screen. Tapping this reveals a column of boxes in the Live Guide. This guide helps novice photographers adjust aspects such as white balance, exposure and background sharpness/blur using on-screen sliding controls.
While it’s helpful it doesn’t tell you what’s being changed so it doesn’t actually help you learn about photography or the camera controls.
Olympus has stuck with the same 3-inch 1,037,000-dot touch-sensitive tilting LCD as is on the Mark II. And why not? It provides a pretty clear view in all but very bright sun and is responsive to touch.
If you choose to use Live View Boost via the menu the on-screen image is a bit easier to see in bright light but you loose the ability to view the impact of exposure settings so I tend to avoid it if possible.
As usual with Olympus cameras, while the Super Control Panel can be navigated and selections made with a tap, the main menu is not touch-navigable, neither is the Live Control Panel.
An option in the menu lets you select whether you see the Live Control or Super Control Panel when the OK button is pressed and it can be varied by the shooting mode. The Live Control panel is selected by default and it lets you see the scene on the screen as the controls are shown in a column on the left with the options available for the selected item displayed in a row at the bottom. As a rule I prefer Super Control Panel as it’s easier to see all the features and I find it quicker to use.
Olympus has upgraded the electronic viewfinder (EVF) to an OLED unit but as before it has 2,360,000 dots. Though it’s quite small the EVF is pleasant to use, giving a good representation of the image as it will be captured. It’s particularly useful in bright sunlight when it’s harder to use the screen to compose images.
Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark III Performance
- Good Image Stabilisation
- Metering system works well in most conditions
The Image Stabilisation (IS) system in the OM-D E-M1 II is phenomenally good, allowing exposures of a couple of seconds or more to be recorded in pin-sharp detail with wide-angle lenses. The IS system in the E-M10 III is also good, but it can’t match the performance of Olympus’s flagship camera.
Shooting with the Olympus 14-42mm F3.5-5.6 EZ lens at the 42mm end, which is equivalent to 84mm in full-frame or 35mm terms, I found I got a hit rate of around 60% at 1/8sec. That’s an extension of around 3.3EV in shutter speed. Dropping to shutter speeds of 1/6 and 1/5sec reduced my hit rate to about 30% – that’s assessing images at 100% on-screen, many would pass muster at normal or small viewing sizes.
In addition to the hot-shoe for an external flash, the E-M10 III has a small pop-up flash built-in. I found this useful for fill-in purposes as produces quite pleasant illumination that isn’t too harsh. It successfully lifted the shadows in a few portrait shots without creating very strong highlights and when left to its own devices, exposure was nicely balanced across the frame.
I used the all-purpose ESP metering for the majority of my testing and in most instances it performed very well. I only needed to use the exposure compensation on a few occasions, and not in surprising circumstances. When I was photographing my dog and shooting towards the low sun in a dew-drenched field, for example, the dog came out very dark against the bright surroundings.
Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark III Autofocus
- AF performs well into low-light conditions
- 1-point AF mode gives you the most precision
Although the E-M10 III has a contrast detection autofocus (AF) system, it’s still pretty snappy. In good light it can be relied upon to get most stationary subjects sharp without hesitation. As light levels drop it continues to perform well. It’s only in very dark conditions that you notice any hunting.
It’s also possible to get sharp images with moving subjects although the C-AF Tracking option is only really suitable for subjects moving at walking pace or slower. If they’re faster than that you’ll have to switch to regular C-AF (Continuous Autofocus) mode and try to keep the active AF point in the right place.
In S-AF (Single-AF) and C-AF mode there are three options for AF point selection depending upon how many points you want the camera to use. The widest coverage lets the camera select from all 121 points and while it can be useful, you can’t guarantee that it will select the right point, especially with a moving subject.
A grid of 9 points narrows things down without being too demanding with your framing skills while 1-point mode gives you the most precision but requires the greatest care with framing.
I found I was able to get sharp images of my dog running towards me in 1-point and 9-point mode using the Olympus 40-150mm f/2.8 Pro lens. He’s not an easy target and the hit rate wasn’t high, but there are enough successful images to make it an enjoyable and worthwhile experience.
Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark III Image Quality
- No major smoothing or smearing of colours at high ISOs
- Images have a nice range of tones
Although I’ve been shooting for a few days with a production sample E-M10 III the raw conversion software isn’t available yet and I’ve only been able to assess the jpeg files. I’ll update this review and give a final score once I’ve had the opportunity to investigate the raw files properly.
As I mentioned earlier, the OM-D E-M10 III’s top sensitivity setting is ISO 25,600. At that setting it produces jpegs that have a fine texture of luminance noise visible at 100% on-screen. There’s not really any coloured speckling (chroma noise) visible but some darker areas have a slight variation in colour.
Naturally images taken at ISO 25,600 lack the detail of shots taken at ISO 200 but there’s no major smoothing or smearing so the results look pretty good for that setting. When the images are sized to about A3 (11.7 x 16.6 inches) the luminance noise becomes almost invisible and the results are quite pleasing – provided you don’t need to apply any brightening.
Drop down to ISO 6400 and there’s a marked step-up in image quality, details are crisper and at 100% on-screen there’s just a hint of noise. If I needed to I would use ISO 25,600 but if possible I would keep to ISO 6400 or lower.
Images taken at the lower sensitivity settings have a high level of detail and the sharpening ensures that they look good at normal printing sizes.
Like other Olympus OM-D cameras the E-M10 III gives you a couple of ways to get colours looking as you want them from selecting the Picture Mode or Art Filter to adjusting the saturation. There’s also an automatic white balance option that is designed to retain the warmth of some scenes.
It’s worth spending time experimenting with the Picture Modes and Art Filters to find the ones you like. I used the default Natural Picture Mode for the majority of my images and on the whole it delivers attractive looking images that are a good match for the scene.
I like the results produced by the warm auto white balance setting, and in natural light I generally used that or the Sunny setting depending upon what produced the most pleasing results.
On a few occasions the Sunny setting resulted in a cold image but there were other occasions, for example in a shady woodland when it delivered and attractively warm result. It’s a good argument for shooting raw files to make sure that you get the image you want.
Red subjects in bright light can often give cameras problems but the E-M10 Mark III coped very well with some poppies bathed in sunshine. The colour of the petals in the images is accurate and there’s no sign of posterisation or blockiness, just smooth tonal detail.
I’ll investigate the E-M10 III’s dynamic range more when I can work on the raw files but the jpegs have a good range of tones. I was able to brighten dark images by 2.5 to 3EV and produce a natural looking result.
Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark III Sample Images
Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark III Early Verdict
As I haven’t been able to examine the raw files I’m not going to give a final verdict just yet, but so far I like the OM-D E-M10 Mark III. It’s a neat, compact camera that provides plenty of features including a built-in viewfinder, a tilting touchscreen, Image Stabilisation and a collection of creative options including Live Time and Live Composite mode.
As its a mirrorless system camera the E-M10 III’s viewfinder and screen allow you see the image as it will be captured with the camera settings applied, which is helpful for anyone learning about photography as well as experienced shooters.
The E-M10 III’s new AP mode is a great way of helping photographers access the creative features and take more interesting images.
With 16.1 million effective pixels on its sensor the E-M10 III doesn’t break any barriers for resolution or image size but it produces attractive jpegs that will please most photographers in many situations.
Should I buy the Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark III?
I’ve recommended the Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark I and Mark II to many people. In some cases it’s been to people looking to spend money on a high quality compact camera and in others it’s been someone looking for smaller alternative to their DSLR, perhaps to take with them on their travels.
In both cases I’ve shown them the benefits of the E-M10 series and it’s been aspects such as the touch-control, viewfinder and overall size that has convinced them to buy it.
I’ll also be recommending the OM-D E-M10 Mark III as it has a familiar feature set in a well-built, compact body along with the new AP mode to help find the most creative settings quickly.
It’s a good camera for anyone wanting to take photography more seriously and for experienced photographers planning a trip.