Olympus E-M10 Mark III Review

Introduction

The Olympus E-M10 Mark III, first released fall of 2017, marks the latest iteration in the E-M10 lineup of entry-level cameras. The M10 series is the baby of the OM-D family, while the EM5 and EM1 models are both larger and more expensive. However, all of these cameras share the core driving elements of superior Micro Four Thirds lenses and excellent performance.

This lineup serves as the entry-level body in the Olympus family and the entry point into this ecosystem. The previously released E-M10 Mark II was a huge hit for the camera maker, as it featured excellent in-camera stabilization and lens versatility in a compact form factor. Now, this camera follows suit as the successor.

It features a 16.1 megapixel MOS VIII image sensor, inherited from the flagship E-M1 Mark II, 4K recording and image stabilization. In all, the updates are few over the predecessor. The most notable is the addition of 4K recording, which is a first for the series. It’s marketed as a competitor to Sony’s a6000 and Fujifilm’s X-T10.

And it’s one that is aimed primarily at the enthusiast and beginner market. But, considering the amount of innovation that’s occurred over the last two years since the cameras release, is this camera still relevant in today’s marketplace? Are the limited updates over the predecessor enough? In today’s post we find out.

Olympus-OM-D-E-M10-Mark-III-body

What are some of the goods, bads, and uglies of the Olympus E-M10 Mark III?

Pros:

Image Quality

Image quality and dynamic range are good, though slightly lacking compared to later generation Micro Four-Thirds sensors in post-production highlight recovery. This camera inherits the same sensor found in the predecessor, and while unchanged, it still delivers excellent results overall.

The primary difference is this camera has an updated processor, the same one found in the flagship E-M1 Mark II, which allows it to deliver performance unseen in its predecessor. With that, it has an impressive continuous burst rate of 8.6 fps without AF-C or 4.8 fps with AF-C. During this burst it provides 22 RAW or 36 JPEG images. Not bad. However, it will slow to 4 fps after the first initial second of shooting.

Video Quality

The footage it delivers is excellent and supplies ample sharpness. This camera shoots 4K UHD up to 30p at 102 Mbps, 1080p FHD up to 60p, and 720 HD up to 120p. Video recording time is maxed at 29 minutes, industry standard. Outside of the flagship E-M1, this is the second Olympus camera to feature 4K recording. Not only that, but it can also film videos with any of the 14 dedicated Art filters applied.

The rolling shutter on this camera is minimal, primarily due to in-camera stabilization. If shooting in 1080p, disabling stabilization will improve the footage. However, it will increase the amount of rolling shutter in 4K dramatically.

It can do a clean live HDMI out.

Low Light Performance

In low light, performance is where this camera delivers. It has a native ISO range from ISO 200 – ISO 6,400, and while low in today’s standards, it provides usable results throughout this entire range. Not only that, but it also surprisingly supplies usable images at the extended ranges of ISO 12,800 and 25,600, where both are free of the color shifts and noticeable deterioration in image quality that typically appear.

Focusing Performance

AF performance improves drastically over the predecessor, now with a 50% increase of total point coverage. The predecessor had an 81 point contrast-detect system, while this camera features a 121 point system. The system now includes facial priority, which works in tandem with Face AF.

These two features combine to result in a better all-round performance that’s both snappy and better at subject tracking. Faces are prioritized when detected in the frame, and automatically override single point AF. This camera also does Eye AF, and by default tracks the nearest, most dominant, eye. However, as this is an entry-level camera, we can’t expect it to be industry-leading at capturing fast action, sports or wildlife. Instead, this system provides sufficient focusing performance for users not exclusively shooting these mediums and is best reserved for slow moving subjects.

Battery Performance

Battery life is excellent, 340 shots or 80 minutes of 4K recording on a single charge.

Display & Viewfinder

It inherits the same 2.36 million dot OLED electronic viewfinder from the predecessor. While an improved viewfinder would be appreciated, the viewfinder remains bright, crisp, and provides clear viewing even when composing outdoors.

It has a 3.0′ tilting touchscreen LCD, which makes it the optimum choice for shooting at awkward angles. The touchscreen sports both touch focus and touch to shoot as well. Not only that, but it even functions as an AF touchpad when composing via the viewfinder.

User Interface

The user interface on this camera is quite intuitive and well executed. Olympus redesigned the menu making it more streamlined than the previous models to deliver a more beginner friendly interface, albeit with a few minor limitations for advanced users.

It has a Quick Menu shortcut button, a new feature for this lineup. This button
allows users to gain immediate access to the most commonly used shooting
parameters displayed within a single contextual menu, all of which are touch
enabled. Simply press an onscreen setting then adjust the adjustment dial to change that setting. Nice.

It features a new Advanced Photo (AP) Mode, which allows users to access more advanced shooting functions in a single menu. The list includes: Night Time Live Composite, Exposure Bracketing, Focus Bracketing, and Multiple Exposures. Previously, these features were hidden deep within the submenus. But now, thankfully, they’re in a single dedicated menu with all the available options.

Physical Layout & Ergonomics

It’s obvious at first glance that this is quite a stylish, and even sexy,
camera. It’s one that pulls design elements form the 40 year old OM-1 film
camera. Previous Olympus shooters will rejoice at the immediately familiar
design, handling and modern feature set.

This camera also borrows a number of successful design elements from the
highly popular E-M5 Mark II as well. In this case, the deeper and more
pronounced grip. For a camera of its size, it’s comfortable to hold during
prolonged use thanks to the curved front and exaggerated back. It’s size and
compactness are surely its strengths, coming in at a meager 410g body only.
Overall, the camera is well built, rugged and durable. Sure, it’s not to the
levels of the flagship E-M1 series, but it will be more than adequate for
years of normal use.

It had a dedicated mode dial position for Art Filters, which displays these filters when shooting in the Art Mode. This addition is perfect for those who
want immediate access to change filters without the hassle of digging through menus to do so.

It has two custom function buttons.

It has two adjustment dials, one controls Aperture and the other controls Shutter. Adjustment dials are essential controls for manual shooters who require immediate access to exposure adjustments. This is a welcomed addition as most cameras in this price range typical lack the additional dial.

Niche Features/Extras

It has a niche feature called Night Time Live Composite, incredibly helpful
when shooting long exposures or astrophotography. Essentially, this feature
allows users to see the exposure develop as the camera detect changes in
brightness in the frame, which will enable users to view the final image
develop in real-time.

It has a Focus Stacking Mode, allowing users to have greater flexibility when shooting difficult subjects or to combine in post for greater Depth of Field.

It has a built-in panorama mode.

It has HDR.

It has a built-in pop-up flash, making it the only OM-D camera to have this
feature.

It has 15 art filters.

It has built-in Wi-Fi, allowing the camera to wirelessly connect to a paired smartphone via the Olympus Image Share app. Once connected, users can transfer images directly from the camera to their phones or geotag pictures. This app also supports remote shooting functionality, which is both useful and fully featured. This camera is one of the rare few that offers the ability to change the mode dial position remotely.

It has a built-in 2x teleconverter which allows users to digitally zoom with their selected lens, albeit at a loss in resolution when doing so. Nonetheless, it gives us the ability to take images of distances that would otherwise be impossible without the feature. Note: this feature only applies to JPEG images, RAW images still retain the full sensor capture.

It has a silent shutter mode.

It has built-in 5-axis stabilization. While not the most advanced system Olympus offers, its performance still outcompetes the competition. It’s rated to compensate for 4 stop of handshake, which in turn allows users to shoot handheld at upwards of 1 second with sharp images. The stabilization here is second only to the EM-1 Mark II.

Cons:

Image Quality

Keep in mind, this camera only has a 16-megapixel sensor. With that, several point & shoot cameras and smartphones have resolutions that match that of this camera. While not necessarily a con, it does limit this camera to smaller 8 x 10 prints. This camera competes with a number with several APS-C and larger Four-Thirds sensors. But, in comparison, the resolution is a bit lacking. With its smaller sensor, achieving that professional shallow Depth of Field will be harder to achieve, though not impossible.

Video Quality

Unfortunately, 4K recording is limited to only 5 minute segments which means you will have to slice together longer recordings in post. Shooting in 4K also defaults the camera to program auto mode, which means users have no control over exposure when shooting in 4K. Our only option is using exposure compensation, and because of this 4K is best reserved for shooting in environments with ample light.

While the camera can do clean live HDMI out, it only does so at 1080p resolution.

Display & Viewfinder

The 3-inch LCD only tilts and doesn’t fully articulate, making it not the ideal setup for vlogging.
User Interface

While this camera has custom function buttons, the amount of functions available are limited compared to the competition and their overall functionality is a bit dwarfed.

The Okay Menu and Main Menus are not touch enabled, sadly.
Physical Layout & Ergonomics

It lacks dust and weather sealing, though we typically don’t expect this feature at this price-point.

While stylish, a number of its controls protrude just enough to be accidentally changed while shooting.

Features Removed

It lacks a headphone input.

It lacks a microphone input.

It lacks in-camera battery charging, external battery chargers are the only options here.

When shooting using the silent shutter, both Aperture and Shutter Speed are locked. So be sure to set these accordingly prior to shooting. Not a con, but a consideration.

While it has a built-in panorama mode, it doesn’t automatically combine the images in-camera. This is not as helpful as it could be, but thankfully it still yields excellent results when combined.

Is the Olympus E-M10 Mark III a good starting camera?

Yes, it makes an excellent starting camera. The improvements in usability and a streamlined user interface have made great leaps to deliver a camera that’s far more intuitive than ever before. Compared to other cameras from Olympus, this camera delivers the best overall user experience and organization which makes it the ideal choice for beginning photographers. While, the difference between this camera and the predecessor are not revolutionary, the changes do add up to deliver a far refined system.

A beginner looking for their first camera will find what’s offered from this camera delightful. It’s gorgeous design, solid imaging performance and simple interface makes it an excellent choice for this price.

What are the best lenses & bundles for the Olympus E-M10 Mark III?

General Photography:

M.Zuiko ED 40-150mm f4.0-5.6 R

M.Zuiko ED 14-150mm f4.0-5.6 II

Specifically for Macro Photography:

M.Zuiko ED 30mm f3.5 Macro

Specifically for Street & Landscape Photography:

M.Zuiko 17mm f1.8

M.Zuiko ED 9-18mm f4.0-5.6

Specifically for Portrait Photography:

M.Zuiko 45mm f1.8

M.Zuiko 14-42mm f3.5-5.6 II R

Is the Olympus E-M10 Mark III a good camera for you?

Yes, it can be.

Arriving two years after its famous predecessor, it serves as an excellent update to the Mark II. In the end, it represents an exceptional value proposition in the Micro Four Thirds realm and a perfect example of the unique selling point these smaller cameras offer. While it’s compact, it blends impressive imaging performance and niche functionality, which tailors it to a broad demographic of mediums. It has all of the essentials to produce superb photos and videos, without anything extraneous. Plus, Olympus is smart enough not to overload its body with unnecessary controls. The result is a camera that makes an excellent upgrade for previous Mark II owners or first-time camera for first-timers. Refined styling, strong imagining performance, and advanced shooting functionality make a perfect beginner platform to learn the fundamentals. But, one that leaves ample room for further development as you progress.

It’s also an excellent choice for those desiring a compact travel and blogging camera, though not ideal for vlogging as it lacks a fully articulating screen. Not to mention, this camera also has built-in image editing. This feature combines perfectly with the 15 art filters and Wi-Fi capability to produce a superbly creative tool for social media. Face detection AF on this camera is also particularly useful, especially when coupled with touch to focus, providing quite a compelling package. No questions, this is a camera designed for the traveling photographer in mind. It’s compact size, and intuitive feature set lends itself to be an ideal choice for those wanting to document their journeys and experiences.

For video shooters, this camera is best reserved for casual users as it lacks both headphone and microphone inputs. However, for seasoned or professional videographers, it could make an excellent compact solution for those looking for a quick and dirty solution to shoot handheld b-roll footage. While several quirks remain with this camera in regards to its video features, we can’t overlook its stabilization, which is the real star feature. Sure, it won’t replace an outward stabilizer. However, the performance it delivers is seriously best in class at this price, and that says something.

In the end, timeless design and a well-rounded feature set culminate into a strong performer that remains one to watch in 2019.

Overview
  • Image Quality
  • Video Quality
  • Focusing Performance
  • Low Light Performance
  • Dynamic Range
  • Battery Performance
  • Display & Viewfinder
  • User Interface
  • Physical Layout & Ergonomics
3.4

Summary

Of the cameras in the Olympus lineup, this camera deliver the best overall user experience and organization which makes it the ideal choice for beginning photographers. Sure, the difference between it and the predecessor are not revolutionary. However, the changes made do add up to deliver a far refined system. In the end, it represents an exceptional value proposition and one that blends impressive imaging performance with niche functionality to tailor to a broad demographic. It has all of the essential to deliver, without anything extraneous. In the end,timeless design and well-rounded feature set culminate into a strong performer that remains competitive in 2019.