CAMERAS Olympus EM5 Mark III Review

Olympus EM5 Mark III Review

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Olympus EM5 Mark III Review

Home CAMERAS Olympus EM5 Mark III Review

Olympus EM5 Mark III Review: Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark III with 4K video and phase autofocus

After the OM-D E-M1 X, which is unusually large for a micro-four-thirds camera, Olympus released OM-D E-M5 Mark III, an especially compact, but no less packed with technical highlights. It is the long-awaited successor model to the E-M5 Mark II, but brings many of the innovations of the E-M1 series to the E-M5 series for the first time, such as phase autofocus or the even more effective sensor shift image stabilizer for up to 6.5 EV longer exposure times freehand.

Brief assessment

Pros

  • Highly effective image stabilizer for photo and video recording
  • Compact housing with splash water and dust protection
  • Fast, reliable autofocus
  • Up to ISO 800 very good and at ISO 3.200 still acceptable image quality
  • Enormous range of equipment for photo and video recording

Cons

  • Housing consists only of plastic
  • Menu not exactly clear due to the variety of functions
  • Slightly leaner continuous shooting buffer

The Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark III has a newly designed, significantly lighter but no less robust polycarbonate case, which is available in either silver or black finish. [Photo: Olympus]

The Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark III should make the hearts of fans of compact, lightweight, yet robust and above all powerful system cameras beat faster. Although it is not exactly a bargain at almost 1,200 euros, it promises practically everything a photographer’s heart desires. These include an effective image stabilizer, a powerful hybrid autofocus, a weatherproof housing and many, largely customizable controls and numerous practical functions for special shooting situations. Our test report shows whether the camera delivers what Olympus promises.

The Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark III is an extremely compact yet rugged, powerful and feature-packed mirrorless system camera – ideal for travel photography. [Photo: Olympus]

To fit the effective image stabilizer of the larger E-M1 Mark II into the smaller E-M5 housing required a completely new development of the corresponding unit. The engineers have succeeded in doing this and Olympus is expanding its technical leadership in image stabilizers. No other manufacturer in this class offers a five-axis image stabilizer that provides 5.5 f-stops longer exposure times from the palm of your hand with any lens, and even 6.5 f-stops with an optically image-stabilized, Sync-IS compatible Olympus lens (each according to CIPA standard). Only the OM-D E-M1X is more effective. Incidentally, the engineers at Olympus dream of an image stabiliser that would allow 15-second exposures from the palm of their hand. This information is only a preview of a possible future. Incidentally, the image stabiliser uses the extremely sensitive gyro sensor that Olympus developed together with Epson and which is used exclusively in Olympus cameras.

The image sensor is the same as in the E-M1 Mark II and E-M1X. The 17.3 by 13 mm live MOS sensor has a resolution of 20 megapixels and is equipped with a new, even more dust-repellent coating so that the SSWF (Super Sonic Wave Filter) can shake off impurities even more effectively with 30,000 ultrasonic vibrations per second. The image converter also has 121 integrated phase autofocus sensors, which are cross sensors – unique to autofocus sensors integrated on the sensor. With an F1.2 fast lens, the sensors still work even at a light value of -6.

The advanced tracking autofocus algorithms of the OM-D E-M1X are also used. You should be able to distinguish moving objects from the background and focus correctly on them without the AF jumping unexpectedly to the background. The autofocus fields can be controlled individually or in groups. Face and eye recognition are also on board. Even adapted Four-Thirds lenses can finally be used sensibly on the E-M5 III thanks to the phase autofocus. When shooting video, the autofocus should work without issues.

The Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark III uses a 20-megapixel micro-four-thirds sensor that can also record 4K video. 121 phase AF cross sensors are integrated on it and are intended to ensure accurate autofocus. [Photo: Olympus]

Speaking of video: These are actually not in the core focus of Olympus, but a 4K video function with 30 frames per second and Cinema-4K are on board. Recording is performed using the entire sensor width at up to 237 Mbps. However, the video length is limited to 29 minutes and 59 seconds per clip. In Full-HD, even slow-motion effects are possible thanks to 120 frames per second. Video recordings benefit not only from the smooth and precise autofocus of the E-M5 Mark III, but also from the extremely effective image stabilizer, which works so well that you’d think a large and heavy steadycam unit was sitting under the camera.

In addition, the E-M5 III offers an optionally activatable flat tone curve for videos as well as a stereo microphone input and a Clean HDMI output (Micro HDMI), which allows video recording for an unlimited time. Unfortunately, there is no headphone jack, HDR video or time code. Olympus also emphasises that an Olympus voice recorder can be connected instead of a microphone.

The rear touch screen measures 7.6 centimetres diagonally and has a resolution of 1.04 million pixels. It can be panned and rotated as usual and can also be folded upside down onto the camera for protection. Then the E-M5 III becomes a pure viewfinder camera. The electronic viewfinder now uses an OLED instead of an LCD, which provides stronger colours and higher contrast. However, the resolution remains at 2.36 million pixels. Olympus says the reason is that the viewfinder is faster than higher resolution models. The magnification factor is 0.685 in 35mm equivalent, which is not very spectacular. For this purpose, Olympus has been able to increase the eye distance to 27.5 millimetres with a new optical design consisting of four lenses. This is especially useful for people who wear glasses, as they can see the viewfinder better without any shadowy corners.

The Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark III features a pivoting and rotating touchscreen, and a new thumb rest on the back for a more secure grip. The rear touchscreen of the Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark III can be flexibly panned and rotated for shots from all possible perspectives. It is also possible to fold it upside down for protection, in which case the E-M5 mutates into a pure viewfinder camera. [Photo: Olympus]

The controls on the top of the Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark III have been rearranged. Very good to see is also the thumb rest with the ISO button. [Photo: Olympus]

The Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark III has a single sealed SD card slot on the side that is compatible with SDHC, SDXC and UHS I. [Photo: Olympus]

The four lateral interfaces of the Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark III are located under three separately opening flaps. From top to bottom: 3.5 mm stereo microphone, 2.5 mm remote release, Micro HDMI and Micro USB. [Photo: Olympus]

The housing was revised. Above all, it is now 80 grams lighter when ready for operation, which means that Olympus is focusing more on suitability for travel, as promised. However, the housing is now made of a plastic – which is after all very robust and looks very high quality. Olympus emphasises that for the first time, the new model is so robust that the same splash water, dust and frost protection as the models with metal housing has been achieved. This means that you can shower the E-M5 Mark III with water without damaging it (of course only with a lens that is also sealed).

A drop of bitterness for some people is the smaller battery, it is the same model as in the Pen and E-M10 series (BLS-50). This eliminates the middle battery size (BLN-1) for Olympus. Nevertheless, with 310 shots according to the CIPA standard, the battery should last almost as long as the previous model (330 shots). New is the USB charging function (Micro-USB), which only works when the camera is switched off. There is no power supply connection, not even a battery dummy.

Despite the lighter housing, the ergonomics are said to have improved slightly, as it has grown in a crucial place, in depth by a total of five millimetres. The handle is slightly larger and on the backside there is now a distinctive thumb groove. On top of it there was even room for an ISO button. The program dial has moved to the other side of the viewfinder and now offers a bulb position to make it easier to access the live-bulb and live-composite functions, where you can observe the exposure progress in real time. A custom position is also available.

The Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark III is equipped with numerous seals to protect it from water and dust, and Olympus also offers lenses and even system flashes with appropriate weather protection. Even though the housing of the Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark III is only made of plastic, it is completely sealed against the elements. [Photo: Olympus]

The grey filter simulation of the E-M1X, on the other hand, did not make it into the E-M5 III, because according to Olympus the necessary computing power is missing. The E-M5 Mark III uses the TruePic VIII image processor with dual quad-core, which means it has a total of eight processing cores, but the E-M1X offers twice the processing power (16 cores) with two TruePic VIII. If the handle of the E-M5 Mark III is too small for you, you can purchase the handle extension ECG-5 for just under 200 Euros. In addition to a more pronounced grip, it also offers a shutter release and a dial. However, there will be no portrait format access.

Thanks to its image processor and sensor, the OM-D E-M5 Mark III can take ten continuous frames per second with tracking autofocus and exposure tracking. Even a somewhat slimmed-down version of the pro-capture mode has made it into the E-M5 III. At 30 frames per second, 14 frames are continuously buffered in the buffer as soon as the shutter button is pressed halfway. When the shutter-release button is pressed, the actual recording begins. Also an anti-flicker function is not missing, which prevents flickering light sources from shooting in the dark.

Also on board is the High-Res-Shot function from the tripod, whose resolution is now 50 megapixels in JPEG or 80 megapixels in raw. For this, eight images are taken with a half pixel offset. The Freehand High-Res-Shot function, on the other hand, is reserved for the E-M1X, because only it provides the necessary computing power. The electronic shutter, which is up to 1/16,000 second fast, is used for this, but can also be activated for normal photos for silent recording. But the mechanical shutter is also very fast with 1/8.000 second. In addition, the Olympus offers a focus bracketing function with up to 999 images and a focus stacking function that combines eight images directly in the camera.

The optics of the electronic viewfinder of the Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark III consists of four lenses. They provide 0.685x magnification in 35 mm equivalent and an exit pupil of 27.5 mm. [Photo: Olympus]

The image sensor of the Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark III is particularly dirt-repellent thanks to a special coating. Particles that still adhere are shaken off with 30,000 ultrasonic oscillations per second. The ultrasonic sensor cleaning system of the Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark III is designed to be even more effective than that of its predecessor. Manual, mechanical sensor cleaning is therefore only rarely necessary. [Photo: Olympus]

The sensor shift image stabiliser of the Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark III operates on five axes and allows 5.5 f-stops longer exposure times freehand. Together with a compatible lens the Sync IS even allows 6.5 f-stops. The Sensor Shift Image Stabilizer of the Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark III works extremely effectively for both photos and videos. Together with an image stabilized lens, the effectiveness increases even more. [Photo: Olympus]

The ECG-5 additional handle for the Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark III not only enlarges the grip, but also includes a shutter release and a multifunction wheel. [Photo: Olympus]

Those who like to operate the camera automatically or use digital filters will also get their money’s worth with the E-M5 Mark III. It offers a fully automatic mode, selectable scene modes and 16 art filters with various effects, which are even available in all recording modes, some of which are also available for video recording. By the way, a single SD card slot is available for saving images, which supports SDHC, SDXC as well as UHS I and UHS II.

For connectivity, the Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark III has WLAN and Bluetooth. This allows images, even in raw data format, to be transferred to a smartphone, camera remote control via app including live image transmission is also possible, but Olympus also offers a pure remote release mode. A cable remote release can also be connected to the E-M5 III. The Bluetooth connection allows you to wake up the switched off camera in your pocket to transfer a few pictures. A new feature is the ability to have pictures selected on the camera automatically transferred to the smartphone when it is switched off.

Since January 2020 the Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark III is available in black and silver at a price of almost 1,200 euros. Olympus offers three different sets of lenses. The cheapest version costs 1.500 Euro and includes the M.Zuiko Digital ED 14-150mm F4-5.6 II. For 1800 Euro you can get the E-M5 III with more zoom, because the M.Zuiko Digital ED 12-200mm F3.5-6.3 is included in the package next to the camera. The set with the “legendary” (because extremely good) M.Zuiko Digital ED 12-40mm F2.8 is said to cost just under 2.000 Euro. By the way, the predecessor model OM-D E-M5 Mark II will continue to be available on the market for a while, the EIA is currently still just under 1,000 euros.

Ergonomics and Workmanship

The design of the E-M5 Mark III draws heavily on Olympus’ historic OM-D SLR cameras. With a width of 12.5 and a height of 8.5 centimeters, it is very compact. The depth is even only five centimeters. Compared to the previous model, it is therefore thicker, which is due to the more ergonomic handle. In fact, the Mark III fits better in the hand than the Mark II, but it is still not a camera that a full-grown man’s hand wants to fill. Olympus would rather like to show, especially after the massive and large E-M1X, how small and light one can build a powerful system camera.

Thanks to the pronounced thumb cavity and the grained, albeit somewhat less non-slip rubber applications, it fits well in the hand for such a compact camera, as long as the lens is not too large and heavy. If design is less important but a larger handle is required, the ECG-5 accessory handle can be used, which even includes a trigger and a control wheel. A portrait format handle including battery is no longer available for the E-M5 Mark III.

With a ready-to-use weight of just under 420 grams including battery and memory card (800 grams with the 12-40mm F2.8 lens), the Mark III is not a feather, but still a good 80 grams (which is about 15 percent) lighter than the predecessor model. There are two simple reasons for this: On the one hand, the BLS-50 uses the smaller and lighter lithium-ion battery of the Pen series, which unfortunately also costs some stamina. Instead of the 330 photos of the previous model, only 310 photos can be taken according to CIPA standard measurement procedures. But that is only six percent fewer images. In view of the fact that the battery can be recharged in the camera via micro-USB as an alternative to the supplied charging cradle, this is quite bearable, especially as the Olympus is not picky about the energy source. Many a large camera manufacturer could cut himself a thick slice here. However, the battery can’t be recharged in use, and unfortunately, the little Olympus also lacks a mains adapter connection.

The second reason for the not inconsiderable weight saving is the housing material used. In contrast to the previous model, plastic is used. This one is of high quality workmanship, but the high-quality feeling of a metal case just doesn’t want to be there. Objectively speaking, the flexible plastic may even be more robust than a rigid metal housing when subjected to impacts. Olympus underlines how robust the case is with its dust and splash water protection. This is supposed to be so good that the camera can even be rinsed under running water. A prerequisite for this is of course an appropriately sealed lens, because the open bayonet should not be flooded. However, the camera is only certified according to IPX1, which only corresponds to dripping water vertically from above.

Speaking of open bayonet and dust protection: Olympus wants to have improved the ultrasonic sensor cleaning function once again, both in terms of the increased ultrasonic frequency and the improved, dirt-repellent sensor coating. The previous version was already considered to be the market leader, so that it will probably be even less often necessary to use the sensor cleaning tool.

The seals of the E-M5 Mark III can be seen on every key, every rotary wheel and every cover that can be opened. Both the battery compartment, which can be opened from below, and the memory card compartment, which can be opened from the side, are visibly equipped with seals. The memory card compartment on the side is especially practical for tripod use. There is space for an SD memory card. The compartment is compatible with SDHC, SDXC, UHS I and UHS II, so even modern memory cards can be written to at high speed. We were able to determine a maximum of 108 MB/s as write speed with a fast UHS-II card. This is more than UHS I can do, but far from the 250 MB/s of the memory card used.

The four interfaces on the left camera side are closed by three hard rubber covers. They are each hanging on a somewhat filigree, flexible rubber strap. Micro USB and Micro HDMI are covered together, the 2.5mm remote release connector and the 3.5mm stereo microphone jack are each covered separately. Although the covers do not look very high quality, they do their job without complaint and can be opened and closed easily. Unfortunately, Olympus did not install a headphone jack and the flash sync jack was even rationalized away. As robust as the camera may be, Olympus has to accept the criticism that the housing doesn’t look as high-quality as one would expect from a camera that costs 1,200 Euros.

In terms of the controls, Olympus has probably made the most of what is possible with the compact case. There are three rotating wheels on the upper side. The programme selector wheel locks fully into place and can be locked with the central button if desired. If it is down, the wheel cannot be turned, if it is up, it can be turned all over again. The front multifunction wheel also engages well and offers a comfortable resistance. On top of it or in the middle of it is the two-stage shutter release. It offers a first pressure point that can be felt well, but not too tight, which can be held well but also pressed gently for a release with little shake. The shutter works pleasantly damped and with the lens attached it is very quiet. The sensor shift image stabilizer causes a barely audible noise.

The Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark III also offers numerous controls on the top side, and the programme selector wheel can even be locked. [Photo: Olympus]

The rear dial feels similar to the front dial and is easy to reach with your thumb. However, the visually perceptible key inside is purely decorative – what a pity. A little bit unluckily placed is the switch-on lever, which has to be operated with the left hand. Pulling the camera out of your pocket or taking it in your hand, turning it on and releasing it quickly is not possible, unless you trust the power save function and leave the camera on, then one tap of the shutter release button is enough to turn it on.

One reader (ThomasOlympus76) kindly pointed out an emergency solution that I overlooked so now I update the article with his advice: The Fn switch lever on the back can be reprogrammed as an on/off switch. Only the lever loses its actual function (the normal switch-on lever only works as such or becomes functionless if the switch-on function is programmed to the Fn lever).

There are also two buttons above the switch-on lever. One is used to switch the monitor function from live image to status display (the live image will appear in the viewfinder as soon as you look through it) and the other is used to select the shutter-release mode (self-timer, continuous-advance, etc.). There are also two buttons on the top right, one for exposure compensation and one for the video recording function. The latter in particular is somewhat difficult to reach and requires a jointed index finger.

On the back you will find eleven more buttons (including the control pad) and a lever. On the front side, near the bayonet, there is a button that is reasonably accessible for the ring finger and is preassigned with the dimming function. In general, the Olympus has direct selection buttons for the most important functions, such as ISO sensitivity on the thumb rest. The function of the operating elements can be extensively programmed. But sometimes you have to learn a little bit to understand the system behind it. For example, the rear lever can be used to switch the function of the multifunction wheels, but whether the lever does so at all can also be adjusted. There are also three user memories available, which can be called up via the program selector wheel.

The electronic viewfinder of the Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark III may not be one of the largest and highest resolution, but it is very easy to see and reacts very quickly. [Photo: Olympus]

The buttons are complemented by the extensive Super Control Panel. This is a display of many settings on the screen, to which you can jump directly to adjust them. When selecting the function to be set, the touch screen is even used as an alternative to the four-way cross as an exception. Otherwise the touch functionality is only partially implemented. Above all, it is used to select the autofocus point, but the E-M5 III does not have virtual function keys like those used by Panasonic or even menu operation by fingertip.

Speaking of menus: This is repeatedly criticised by Olympus for its partial lack of clarity and usability. Yes, that’s true, the menu really needs some time to get used to, especially the extremely extensive individual menu with its 21 submenus for the configuration of the almost endless camera functions. In fact, the complex menu is a little bit due to this diversity, as one can really adjust an incredible amount. To make it difficult to understand, numerous abbreviations do the rest, because what is behind a “mode2” at the menu item “AF-Scanner” (it’s really called like that) or a “S3/C2/M1” of an AEL/AFL function, you have to find out first. At least a help function for the menu items can be displayed.

The screen itself can be viewed from all possible perspectives thanks to the classic pan and tilt joint, it can even be folded backwards, which protects it well and turns the E-M5 Mark III into a viewfinder camera. However, the mechanical sensitivity of the joint and the fact that the screen is therefore always positioned to the side of the camera as soon as you don’t want to look at it directly from behind is a disadvantage. It is not possible to fold up the camera for hip photos with the screen in the optical axis.

The ED 12-40 mm F2.8 PRO is now a classic at Olympus. On the Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark III, it also delivers outstanding image quality that doesn’t have to hide behind fixed focal lengths. [Photo: Olympus]

With a diagonal of 7.5 centimetres and a resolution of 1.04 million pixels, the monitor only provides an acceptable image for standards of 2020. However, these technical parameters are completely sufficient for working with the camera. With a maximum luminance of 770 cd/m², the screen can even be adjusted to be very bright, by default it works at 315 cd/m², the lowest setting is just under 30 cd/m², practical for working with long exposures (as soon as you switch to Bulb mode, the screen even goes dark automatically). Even the color mode (natural or vivid) and color temperature can be adjusted. The 3:2 aspect ratio may seem unusual for a camera with a 4:3 sensor at first, but it’s a good compromise for 4:3 photos (black bars on the left and right) and 16:9 videos (black bars on the top and bottom). After all, the black area of the screen is used to display recording data.

When you look at the electronic viewfinder, you ask yourself why Olympus has been so conservative and even slimmed down compared to the previous model. The resolution of 2.36 million pixels is now at the lower end of the scale, and even the 0.69x magnification doesn’t exactly inspire enthusiasm (the Mark II had a larger viewfinder). In practice, however, the magnification matches the resolution well and the OLED reacts quickly. Spectacle wearers in particular will appreciate the rather generous 27 millimetre exit pupil, as it allows a much better view of the viewfinder. A dioptre correction as well as a proximity sensor are of course also available. All in all, the viewfinder is well suited for taking pictures even without the highest technical performance.

Equipment And Features

As a mid-range camera, the Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark III should appeal to beginners and advanced photographers with high demands as well as ambitious and possibly even professional photographers. It does both very well, as it has both fully automatic, subject programs and filter functions, as well as completely manual operation with a variety of settings and programs for special shooting situations. It is even possible to combine the Art filter effects with semi-automatic or manual exposure. The ISO automatic and the exposure correction in manual exposure mode work in the same way, even corresponding settings for the ISO automatic are part of the standard repertoire by now.

Despite the rather small grip, the Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark III sits surprisingly well in the hand, but is best suited for small, lightweight lenses, which then fit best with the compact, lightweight camera. [Photo: Olympus]

HDR images, for example, can be assembled automatically in the camera or later on the PC. In addition to two automatics, three or five images can be taken with two or three EV exposure distance, or even seven images with two EV exposure distance. The bracketing function also covers a wide range. It allows three or five images at 0.3, 0.7 or 1 EV exposure distance and seven images at 0.3 or 0.7 EV exposure distance. However, the bracketing function is not limited to exposure only; bracketing with white balance, flash, ISO sensitivity, or art filters is also possible.

The E-M5 Mark III even offers a focus bracketing function, which takes three to 999 photos and can automatically combine up to eight photos in Stacking mode if desired. The focus distance can be adjusted in ten steps, even a flash charge time can be selected in seconds. This allows, for example, studio flash units to be controlled during focus bracketing and ensures that the flashes are actually ready to fire by selecting the charging time long enough. The interval function also takes a maximum of 999 images. The start and interval time can be set and a video can be automatically created from the recordings (4K, Full-HD and HD with 5 fps, Full-HD and HD additionally with 10 and 15 fps, HD additionally with 30 fps).

With the ECG-5 additional handle, the Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark III loses some of its elegance and compactness, but the ergonomics are significantly improved with large, heavy lenses. Unfortunately, the somewhat short battery life can’t be increased with this. [Photo: Olympus]

Also interesting for beginners and ambitious photographers are the live functions for long exposures. With Live-Time and Live-Bulb, which differ only in whether the shutter button is pressed only once at the start and end of the exposure (Time) or has to be held down (Bulb), you can watch live on the screen how far the exposure has progressed and thus finish the exposure with pinpoint accuracy. Another very interesting feature is the live composite function, which repeats several exposures with a predetermined exposure time until you stop the recording. But only the new details are added to the first image, which are brighter in later images than in the original image. In this way, light movements can be made visible without overexposure, whether it is car headlights, stars or light painting with a flashlight. Here you can let your creativity run free.

Another highlight of Olympus cameras is without doubt the image stabiliser by means of the movably mounted image sensor. The E-M5 Mark III uses the latest generation for up to 5.5 EV longer exposure times, as Olympus has successfully shrunk the mechanism to fit into the small housing. In combination with an image stabilized lens even up to 6.5 EV longer exposure times are possible. The image stabilizer works very quietly, so that it can also work during video recording. In addition, the image stabilizer can be used to increase the resolution by taking multiple shots with a minimally shifted image sensor. The mode only works on a tripod and the subject should not move during shooting. The resolution is then 50 megapixels for JPEG and 80 megapixels for raw. The increase in details is clearly visible. In the studio, it comes close to high-resolution full-frame DSLRs and even outperforms many an expensive full-frame zoom at the edges, even with the 12-40mm zoom.

Also praiseworthy is the quiet mechanical shutter release noise with up to 1/8,000 second short exposure times. But the Olympus can also be triggered completely silently, in which case short exposure times of up to 1/32,000 second are possible. With the electronic shutter, however, flash photography is not possible, for example, and a rolling shutter effect can also occur, but is usually minimal thanks to fast sensor readout. Although the E-M5 III does not have a mirror at all, it offers something equivalent to a mirror lock-up. In the so-called anti-shock mode, after closing the shutter a selectable time is waited until the actual exposure to minimize vibrations, the live image is then omitted in the time from shutter release until the actual exposure. A delay of “zero” seconds can also be set. Then the delay is so minimal that it corresponds to virtually zero seconds, but is still present to eliminate blurring caused by the shutter-shock effect.

The tripod thread of the Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark III lies exemplary in the optical axis, with a sufficiently small quick-release plate you can even reach the battery. [Photo: Olympus]

The continuous shooting speed reaches a maximum of ten frames per second, but not for the 150 consecutive frames promised by Olympus. In the highest JPEG quality it “only” manages 85 pictures in a row, which is still a good value, but in raw it’s only 35 pictures, which is fine, but doesn’t knock anyone off their feet. After all, focus and exposure are tracked. When the buffer is full, the JPEG continuous frame rate drops to a still impressive eight frames per second, but the 4.9 frames per second in raw is also impressive. After the end of recording, it takes less than five seconds to empty the buffer again. The data throughput corresponds to 108 megabytes per second. This makes the E-M5 Mark III one of the faster, but not the fastest cameras. Another new feature of the E-M5 III is the Pro-Capture mode, which takes 14 pictures at 30 frames per second even before the electronic shutter is released; a maximum of 99 pictures are stored in total. But even without “pre-triggering”, up to 30 continuous frames per second can be taken with electronic shutter, but for less than one second at a time. Focus and exposure are not adjusted.

The fact that the E-M5 Mark III can track the focus at ten continuous frames per second is thanks to the new autofocus system with 121 phase AF sensors integrated on the image sensor, already familiar from the E-M1 Mark II and E-M1X. These are even cross sensors, which should thus react even better to details or contrast edges of different orientations. In addition, the E-M5 Mark III masters the AF algorithms of its larger sister models and can therefore track subjects even better. Various AF modes with group control, face and eye recognition etc. are also available. The autofocus focuses from infinity to two meters in under a tenth of a second, which is very fast. The pure shutter release delay is about 0.06 seconds, which is rather “only” average, but even in total with autofocus and shutter release delay, the E-M5 Mark III is still one of the fastest cameras on the market with less than 0.2 seconds from pressing the shutter release button to the actual recording. For manual focusing, a focus magnifier and focus peaking are available as aids.

The video function of the Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark III also benefits from the new sensor, autofocus and image stabiliser. It operates at a maximum of 4K resolution and uses the entire sensor width at both 16:9 and 17:9. An electronic image stabilizer is not absolutely necessary due to the sensor shift image stabilizer, which is excellently suited for video recordings, but it can be switched on with a corresponding loss of detail and further increases the performance of the stabilization. In Full-HD, you can even shoot at 120 frames per second, in 4K at a maximum of the usual 30 frames per second. An integrated stereo microphone and a 3.5 mm stereo jack socket are available for sound. The sound can be assessed and controlled by the level display on the screen. A headphone jack is unfortunately missing. With its flexible pan and tilt screen, reliable AF tracking and excellent image stabiliser, the Olympus is ideal for handheld video shooting. The hot shoe can act as a microphone holder.

Speaking of the hot shoe: The E-M5 Mark III does not have a built-in flash, but the small, ingenious FL-LM3 is included with the camera. It is very compact and weighs 50 grams, is conveniently powered by the camera and even offers a swivel and tilt reflector with illumination for a 12 mm lens (24 mm in 35 mm equivalent). The guide number is given as nine, and according to our measurement it is even almost ten, each at ISO 100, and thanks to the basic sensitivity of ISO 200, the guide number “automatically” increases to 13. With the small flash, the Olympus offers all the necessary flash programs such as long flash sync, flash at the end of exposure or flash exposure correction, and even flash bracketing and manual flash control in 19 steps from “Full” to 1/64. The FL-LM13 can even serve as a wireless controller for unleashed flash with corresponding system flashes on four channels in four groups. The shortest synchronous time is 1/250 second.

The Olympus is also modern in terms of connectivity thanks to Bluetooth and WLAN. Setup is easy, so the camera can be controlled with Olympus’ free app (for iOS and Android). You can choose whether you want to control the camera remotely, including live image transmission, or only remotely, in which case the smartphone (or tablet) “only” functions as a wireless trigger. It is of course also possible to transfer images to the smartphone.

Bluetooth “only” serves to make it easier to connect the camera to the smartphone and to “wake up” the camera in the photo bag to transfer a few pictures. Unfortunately Olympus does not use Bluetooth for geotagging, instead the separately required app “OI.Track” creates a log file that can be transferred to the camera at the end of the photo shoot in order to be able to extend the EXIF data with the shooting coordinates. Also firmware updates are not possible via the app so far.

With Micro-USB (including charging function), Micro HDMI, 2.5 mm remote release socket and 3.5 mm stereo microphone socket, the Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark III offers the most necessary interfaces. A headphone jack is missing, but it would have been very useful for videographers. [Photo: Olympus]

Images can still be edited on the Olympus after they have been taken, whether they are JPEGs or raw. JPEGs, for example, can be cropped, backlight correction or skin smoothing and a few filter effects are also possible. Raw data images can also be developed into JPEGs directly in the playback function, and a few settings, for example to correct exposure and white balance, are also possible.

Image quality

Despite the 16-megapixel sensor, the Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark II is the resolution leader among our micro-four-thirds cameras, which is not least due to its aggressive image processing. The 20-megapixel models E-M1 Mark II and E-M1X did not come close to this despite higher sensor resolution; both process the images much more gently than even earlier Olympus models. Therefore, the question was of course exciting whether the E-M5 Mark III would rather follow the philosophy of its predecessor model or that of its bigger sister models. To find out, we have measured them in practice, as a standard user, and with the test software, with the proven 12-40 mm F2.8 ED provided by the local distributor. The lens is available with the camera as a set and costs “only” 700 euros more than the naked camera, i.e. a total of almost 1,900 euros. To anticipate: The set is absolutely recommended, the 12-40 mm is worth every cent.

The small micro-four-thirds sensor of the Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark III has a resolution of 20 megapixels and delivers amazingly good image quality up to ISO 800, but even at ISO 3,200 it doesn’t need to hide. [Photo: Olympus]

With the E-M5 Mark III, the 12-40 mm once again impressively demonstrates that it is one of the best light-intensive standard zooms on the market and can easily compete with fixed focal lengths in its focal length and aperture range. Optical errors such as edge darkening, distortion and color fringes are minimal and hardly worth mentioning. The resolution is very high over the entire focal length and aperture range in the center of the image and hardly drops off towards the edge of the image. From F5,6 on the diffraction starts slowly, you should not fade further than F11.

Specifically, the 12-40 mm on the Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark III achieves a maximum resolution of almost 52 line pairs per millimetre (lp/mm) at the image centre at 12 millimetres and F4 with 50 percent contrast. In total, the image resolution in the image center ranges from 12 to 40 millimeters in the range of F2.8 to F5.6 in a range of 44 to 52 lp/mm, at the image edge from 43 to 49 lp/mm. These values alone speak for the high constancy of the lens regardless of aperture and focal length. There are no real weaknesses.

The resolution values also show, however, that the E-M5 Mark III follows more the philosophy of the E-M1 Mark II and E-M1X, i.e. the images are no longer processed so aggressively and trimmed to the highest resolution at 50 percent contrast, but are somewhat softer and more natural, which also means fewer artifacts and thus accommodates image processing. Nevertheless, the sharpness artefacts are still in the range of ten to 15 percent and the steep, bulbous tonal value curve also speaks for an image processing that, although not quite as aggressive as before, is still far from unprocessed images. This makes it easy to use the photos in JPEG directly if you don’t want to edit them.

The Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark III SD memory card is conveniently removed from the side. Even fast UHS-II cards can be used. [Photo: Olympus]

The Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark III uses the small lithium-ion battery BLS-50 of the pen models. With 310 shots according to the CIPA standard, the runtime for such a camera is somewhat short. [Photo: Olympus]

Up to ISO 3.200, the input dynamics are at a high level of over eleven f-stops. The output dynamic range is very good at ISO 64 (the camera then displays ISO “Low”) and ISO 200 with over 224 of 256 possible gradations, up to ISO 800 it is still in the good to very good range with over 192 steps and is just good at ISO 1,600 with 160 steps. The Olympus reproduces colours very neutrally, the colour deviation is low on average, but is still tolerable even at maximum. So there are hardly any color shifts worth mentioning. In addition, it differentiates over eight million outstanding colour shades up to ISO 200, over four million very good ones up to ISO 3,200 and well over two million even at ISO 6,400.

The signal-to-noise ratio is good up to ISO 400 at over 40 dB and only above ISO 1,600 does it slowly drop below the critical level of 35 dB. Color noise does not play a role at any sensitivity, brightness noise becomes slightly visible around ISO 1,600 to 3,200 and somewhat more visible at ISO 6,400, but it reaches even a critical level at no sensitivity. The characteristics also remain fine-grained. Fine textures are reproduced very well up to ISO 200 and well up to ISO 800. Above this, a loss of detail slowly becomes noticeable, but at ISO 1.600 it is still uncritical and even at ISO 3.200 it is still in the easily tolerable range. At ISO 6.400, fine black hairs will disappear against a gray background. When using the raw data format, especially at ISO 6.400, a little more detail can be squeezed out, so that even this high sensitivity can be used. ISO 12.800 and especially 25.600 should be avoided absolutely.

Conclusion

Summarised in one set, the Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark III offers one of the best image stabilisers, high performance, extensive features and good image quality in a very compact and robust plastic housing. The camera may seem a little inconspicuous at first glance and perhaps feel one to two hundred euros too expensive, but in fact Olympus has managed to bring one of the best and most compact cameras on the market. If you are looking for a small, universal, good as well as powerful and robust camera with a wide range of lenses, you should definitely consider the E-M5 Mark III. With the exception of the missing headphone connection, videographers also get an absolute workhorse for light luggage with the E-M5 Mark III. Here, not only the image quality and flexibility, but also the image stabilizer are convincing, a smooth camera movement from the hand completely without gimbal is quite possible. The photo image quality is very good up to ISO 800, but even at ISO 3,200 it can be used directly from the camera without problems. Again, the excellent image stabilizer brings enormous advantages when it comes to low-light shots from the hand.

Profile

Profile
Manufacturer Olympus
Model OM-D E-M5 Mark III
Sensor CMOS 4/3″ 17.3 x 13.0 mm (crop factor 2.0
)21.8 megapixels (physical)
20.4 megapixels (effective)
Pixelpitch 3.3 µm
Resolution (max.) 5.184 x 3.888 (4:3)
Video (max.) 4.096 x 2,160 24p
Lens Olympus 12-40 mm 2.8 ED (EZ-M1240) (zoom lens)
Video finder EVF, 100% field coverage, 2,360,000 pixels resolution, 1.37x magnification (sensor-related), 0.69x magnification (KB equivalent), diopter compensation (-4.0 to 2.0 dpt)
Monitor 3.0″ (7.6 cm)
Resolution 1.037,000 pixels
tiltable
rotatable yes
swiveling yes
Touchscreen yes
AV connector HDMI output Micro (Type D)
Fully automatic yes
Scene mode automatic yes
Scene mode programs 23
Automatic programming yes
Program shift yes
Automatic aperture control yes
Automatic timer yes
Manually yes
Bulb Long Term Exposure yes
HDR function yes
Panorama function yes, stitch panorama assistant (for external stitching)
Exposure metering Matrix/multi-field measurement (324 fields), center-weighted integral measurement, spot measurement
fastest shutter speed 1/8.000 s
Flash supplied clip-on flash
Synchronous time 1/250 s
Flash connection Hot shoe: Olympus/Panasonic (also Leica compact camera), standard center contact
WLAN yes
NFC
GPS external, Smartphone as GPS logger
Remote release yes, cable release, remote control via smartphone/tablet
Interval recording yes
Storage medium
SD (SDHC, SDXC, UHS I, UHS II)
Sensitivity
automatically ISO 100-6.400
manually ISO 100-25,600
White balance
automatically yes
manual measuring yes
Kelvin input yes
Fine correction yes
Autofocus yes
Number of measuring fields 121 Cross sensors121
Contrast sensors
Speed 0,12 s to 0,17 s
AF auxiliary light LED
Dimensions 125 x 85 x 50 mm
Weight (ready for operation) 418 g (housing only
)801 g (with lens)
Tripod thread on optical axis
Zoom
Zoom adjustment manually on the lens
Battery life 310 recordings (according to CIPA standard)
– = “not applicable” or “not available

This test of the Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark III with Olympus 12-40 mm 2.8 ED (EZ-M1240) was performed with DXOMARK Analyzer.

Brief assessment

Pros

  • Highly effective image stabilizer for photo and video recording
  • Compact housing with splash water and dust protection
  • Fast, reliable autofocus
  • Up to ISO 800 very good and at ISO 3.200 still acceptable image quality
  • Enormous range of equipment for photo and video recording

Cons

  • Housing consists only of plastic
  • Menu not exactly clear due to the variety of functions
  • Slightly leaner continuous shooting buffer

Olympus EM5 Mark III Datasheet

Electronics

Sensor CMOS sensor 4/3″ 17.3 x 13.0 mm (crop factor 2.0
)21.8 megapixels (physical) and 20.4 megapixels (effective)
Pixelpitch 3.3 µm
Photo resolution
5.184 x 3.888 pixels (4:3)
5.184 x 3.456 pixels (3:2)
5.184 x 2.920 pixels (16:9)
3.888 x 3.888 pixels (1:1)
3.216 x 2.144 pixels (3:2)
3.200 x 2.400 pixels (4:3)
3.200 x 1.800 pixels (16:9)
2.912 x 3.888 pixels
2.400 x 2.400 pixels (1:1)
1.920 x 1.440 pixels (4:3)
1.920 x 1.280 pixels (3:2)
1.920 x 1.080 pixels (16:9)
1.824 x 2.432 pixels
1.440 x 1.440 pixels (1:1)
1.296 x 864 pixels (3:2)
1.280 x 960 pixels (4:3)
1.280 x 720 pixels (16:9)
1.104 x 1.472 pixels
1.024 x 768 pixels (4:3)
1.024 x 576 pixels (16:9)
1.008 x 672 pixels (3:2)
960 x 960 pixels (1:1)
768 x 768 pixels (1:1)
720 x 960 pixels
576 x 768 pixels
Panorama Stitch panorama assistant (for external stitching)
Image formats JPG, RAW
Color depth 24 bits (8 bits per color channel), 36 bits (12 bits per color channel)
Metadata Exif (version 2.3), DCF standard
Video resolution
4.096 x 2.160 (17:9) 24 p 5 hours
3.840 x 2.160 (16:9) 30 p 5 hours
3.840 x 2.160 (16:9) 25 p 5 hours
3.840 x 2.160 (16:9) 24 p 5 hours
1.920 x 1.080 (16:9) 60 p 5 hours
1.920 x 1.080 (16:9) 50 p 5 hours
1.920 x 1.080 (16:9) 30 p 5 hours
1.920 x 1.080 (16:9) 25 p 5 hours
1.920 x 1.080 (16:9) 24 p 5 hours
1.280 x 720 (16:9) 60 p 5 hours
1.280 x 720 (16:9) 50 p 5 hours
1.280 x 720 (16:9) 30 p 5 hours
1.280 x 720 (16:9) 25 p 5 hours
1.280 x 720 (16:9) 24 p 5 hours
Video format
MOV (Codec H.264)
AVI (Codec Motion JPEG)
Audio format (video) PCM

Lens

Lens mount
Micro Four Thirds

Focus

Autofocus mode Phase comparison autofocus with 121 cross sensors, contrast autofocus with 121 measuring fields
Autofocus functions Single AF, Continuous AF, Tracking AF, Manual, AFL function, AF Assist Light (LED), Focus Peaking, Focus Magnifier (14x)
Sharpness control Depth-of-field control, depth-of-field button, Live View

Viewfinder and monitor

Monitor 3.0″ (7.6 cm) TFT LCD monitor with 1,037,000 pixels, anti-reflective, brightness adjustable, colour adjustable, swiveling 180°, rotatable 270°, with touch screen
Video finder Video viewfinder (100 % field coverage) with 2,360,000 pixels, 1.37x magnification factor, dioptre compensation (-4.0 to 2.0 dpt)

Exposure

Exposure metering Center-weighted integral measurement, matrix/multi-field measurement over 324 fields, spot measurement, AF-AE coupling
Exposure times 1/8,000 to 60 s (automatic
)1/8,000 to 60 s (manual)
1/32,000 to 60 s (electronic shutter)
Bulb with maximum 1,800 s exposure time
Exposure control Fully automatic, Program automatic (with program shift), Shutter automatic, Aperture automatic, Manual
Exposure bracketing function Exposure bracketing function with a maximum of 7 shots, 1/3 to 1 EV increments, HDR function
Exposure Compensation -5.0 to +5.0 EV with step size from 1/3 to 1/1 EV
Photosensitivity ISO 100 to ISO 6,400 (automatic
)ISO 100 to ISO 25,600 (manual)
Remote access Remote release, cable release, remote control via smartphone/tablet
, remote control from computer: all functions
Scene modes Documents, fireworks, backlight, HDR, candlelight, children, landscape, macro, night scene, night portrait, portrait, sunset, sports, starry sky, beach/snow, 7 additional scene modes
Picture effects Bleach bypass, cross-processing, HDR effect, pinhole camera, miniature effect, monochrome, selective color, sepia, softer, 25 additional image effects
White balance Auto, Cloudy, Sunny, White balance bracket, Fine tuning, Shadow, Flash, Underwater, Fluorescent, Tungsten light, from 2,000 to 14,000 K, Manual 4 memories
Color space Adobe RGB, sRGB
Continuous shooting Continuous shooting function max. 10.0 fps with highest resolution and max. 150 stored photos, ProCapture mode: 30 fpsContinuous shooting
with el. shutter: 30 fps
Self-timer Self-timer with interval of 2 s, special features: or 12 seconds
Timer Timer/interval recordings with max. 999 recordings, start time adjustable
Recording functions Mirror lock-up, AEL function, AFL function, live histogram

Flashgun

Flash no built-in flash availableHot shoe
: Olympus/Panasonic (also Leica compact camera), standard center contact flash
FL-LM3 included (LZ 9.5), panning and rotating
Flash range Flash sync speed 1/250 s
Flash code
Guide number 9 at 24 mm focal length (ISO 100)
Guide number 13 at 50 mm focal length (ISO 200)

(attachment flash included)

Flash functions Auto, fill-flash, flash on, flash off, high-speed sync, slow sync, flash on second shutter curtain, manual flash output (19 levels), red-eye reduction by pre-flash, master function (4 channels and 4 groups), flash exposure correction from -3.0 EV to +3.0 EV

Equipment And Features

Image stabilizer electronic image stabilizer and sensor shift (optical)
Memory
SD (SDHC, SDXC, UHS I, UHS II)
GPS function GPS external (Smartphone as GPS logger)
Microphone Stereo
Power supply unit no power supply connectionUSB charging function
Power supply 1 x Olympus BLS-50310
images according to CIPA standard
Playback functions Red-eye retouching, video editing, cropping, image rotation, image protection, highlight / shadow warning, playback histogram, playback magnifier with 14.0x magnification, image index, slide show function, zoom out
Voice memo Voice memo (PCM format) with max. 30 s recording time
Face recognition Face recognition
Image parameters Sharpness, contrast, color saturation, noise reduction
Special functions Electronic spirit level, Grid fade-in, Pixel mapping, Orientation sensor, Live View, User profiles with 3 user profiles
Connections Data interfaces: Bluetooth, USBUSB type
:USB 2.0 High SpeedWLAN
: available (Type: B, G, N)
AV Connections AV output: HDMI output Micro (Type D
)Audio input: yes (3.5 mm stereo microphone jack)
Audio output: no
Supported direct printing methods DPOF, PIM
Tripod thread 1/4″ in optical axis
Housing Splash water protection, frost-proof up to -10 °C
Special features and miscellaneous TruPic VIII image processorUltrasonic sensor cleaningOLED viewfinder

with colour correction (-7 to +7)
Selectable focus peaking coloursAF fields
bundleable (5, 9 and 25)
Five-axis image stabiliser (up to 5.5 EV lt CIPA)
Hi-Res-Shot with 50 megapixels (10,368 x 7.

7

76) JPEG and 80 megapixels RawFocus Exposure Journey
3-999 shots with 10 focus levels, 8 shots can be charged internallyISO Exposure Bracket
(3 shots)
Multiple ExposuresRaw Data DevelopmentAnti-Vibration

Pre-Shot (0 to 30 seconds)
Flicker ReductionTime-Code Slow Motion Shooting

(1.

0

80p120)
Time lapse recordings (4K, 1.

0

80p, 720p)
Movieclip function (1, 2, 4, 8 s)
Movie effects (multiple echo, single echo, art fade, one-push tele-converter, old film-movie art filter
(cross-processing, modelling, dramatic sound, soft sepia
, grainy film, key line, light tint, pale &

bright color, Pinhole camera, Pop Art, Blur, Vintage, Partial Color, Bleach BypassElectronic
Wind FilterVolume ControlVolume Limitation

Size and weight

Dimensions W x H x D 125 x 85 x 50 mm
Weight 418 g (ready for operation)

Miscellaneous

standard accessory Olympus BC-2 (case cover
)Olympus BCS-5 Charger for special batteriesOlympus
BLS-50 Special batteriesOlympus
CB-USB6 USB cableOlympus
FL-LM3 Other Flash UnitShoulder strap
, CD-ROM, User manual
additional accessories Olympus ECG-5 (handle
)Olympus FC-WR (radio control unit) Flash AccessoriesOlympus
FL-700WR attachable flash with swivel reflector

 

Peter Dench
I am Peter Dench. Digital Photographer, born in London 1972, currently living in Deerfield, near Chicago. I have numerous photography expositions and also working in model photography. In this website, PhotoPoint, I usually review cameras provided by local dealers in Illinois and by the manufacturers. Sometimes I, Peter Dench, review lenses too, but only when I have a suitable camera for them. Please let me know in the comments if I can improve any of these articles.

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