For those out there who still long for the old school SLR camera body design, Olympus has been thinking about you. The advent of the mirrorless camera means rangefinder and SLR body designs can seamlessly integrate the latest tech into a retro design and get the best of both worlds. One such version is the Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark III, which replaces the now-aging M5 Mark II.
This camera brings many of the latest technologies from Olympus, as seen in the E-M1 Mark II, wrapped around a weather-sealed body. But, can the camera justify its price point and will enough people buy into the retro design?
The whole camera is wrapped around a Micro Four Thirds, 20.4 megapixel Live MOS sensor, with a Truepix VIII processor for good measure. As many of the features have been lifted from the E-M1 Mark II, it also has the dual phase and contrast-based autofocus system, with a generous 121 AF points.
For its rather compact size, the camera has a lot going on under the hood. A 5-axis image stabilization system rated up to 5.5-stops and 6.5 stops with an applicable lens. There are also multiple exposures, Cine 4K video at 24p, 30p and HD at 120p, along with a dedicated microphone jack.
The body is made out of polycarbonate, rather than magnesium alloy. Not as tough feeling as pricier models, but still very robust and weatherproof. It’s also reasonably lightweight coming in at 414g.
ISO is rated at 64-25600, a 10 frame per second burst rate, an EVF with eye detection and a 3-inch tilt-able touchscreen on the rear. There’s no top plate screen as per a regular DSLR due to space constraints, but this would also spoil the general look of the retro design.
As for the general control layout, this version follows more closely the E-M1 Mark II. The shooting mode dial is on the right side of the camera, along with two other main physical buttons with drive, display buttons and the power switch on the right.
On the rear of the camera, there’s the tiltable rear screen, an ISO button, four-way button, and additional buttons for the menu, info, delete, and play. There’s also a dedicated mode switch that incorporates an AEL/AFL button.
The front of the camera has the simplest features, with a depth-of-field preview button, which can be programmed, an AF assist light, and the lens release button. The camera can now also charge via USB, with the hidden side doors covering the single memory card slot, HDMI output, and mic jack. As for battery life, each charge should get around 310 shots or 60 minutes of video time depending on the video quality.
The internal features have had a few upgrades, which include the dual phase and contrast AF system. Continuous shooting has been increased to 10fps and a Pro Capture mode added which pre-shoots 15 frames before pressing the shutter button with a total of 30 per second to capture every moment.
The Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark III in Use
Having a touchscreen on the rear LCD can be a double-edged sword. On one hand, it’s easy to move AF points around and quickly access settings, but it’s also easy to inadvertently touch the screen at an inappropriate time. The facility can be turned off, which at least gives you the option.
There’s obviously lots of control features on and within the Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark III, but it’s the image quality that ultimately counts. Depending on the lens choice, the Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark III produces great images in both RAW and Super Fine JPEGs (Basic, Normal, and Fine modes are also available), with the best quality coming in at ISO 64 to 1600. Noise starts to creep in above ISO 6400, being most obvious in RAW files, while JPEGs start to get a hefty hand of noise reduction.
One highlight of the camera is the image stabilization which works extremely well for both stills and video. The camera achieved around five stops of compensation, which can be a great lifesaver in the right situations. Extra features in this camera version include Bulb mode, which is a great addition for long exposures.
The High-Resolution mode, while only working with static subjects, allows 50-megapixel JPEGs or 80-megapixel RAW files to be produced. Included are also Art Filters and Picture Styles, which can do a lot of the heavy lifting for postprocessing in camera. Both the picture modes and art filters give a good range of processing options and although they take a few seconds to process, it’s a good one-stop solution for doing everything in-camera.
Once you get used to the layout and workflow of this camera, the cross-pollination between manual and electronic features are quick to use and very effective in the field. Both images and videos come out in fine quality and although 20 megapixels may seem small by today’s standards, this camera can still produce high-quality prints in a professional manner.
How Does It Compare?
For the same price point and features as the Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark III, there are a few options on the market that range from DSLR bodies like the Canon EOS 90D to the more compact Sony a6400. But, as retro looks are a factor here, the FujiFilm X-T30 is a possible alternative. The FujiFilm has the old school SLR looks and just like the Olympus, crams in a lot of the X-T3 features, just in a more lightweight package.
The FujiFilm weighs in with slightly more pixels at 26.1MP, similar video specs, and an extensive array of features. The FujiFilm is slightly less expensive and has a slightly less complicated external layout. In reality, both cameras do a fantastic job of producing high-quality stills and videos.
|Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark III||FujiFilm X-T30|
|Sensor||20.4 MP||26.1 MP|
|Video||4K 24p||4K 24p|
The ability of the Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark III to cram in a lot of features from the E-M1 Mark II is a great start point. It’s a great all-round camera, covering all the predictable bases for producing a variety of images, but being the cheaper variant of the flagship model, it does have some caveats.
The battery life isn’t that great and the lack of the magnesium-alloy body may be a dealbreaker for those who are out in all weather conditions. However, adding up the processing power, image stabilization, and full feature set means this is a great solution as a middleweight camera body and feels like a great addition to the Olympus lineup.