Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark III Review
Performance - How well does it take pictures?
Performance starts with image quality, which is the criteria used as the foundation of our digital camera ratings. Ergonomic issues may get in the way, but in the end, image quality counts the most. For an ILC, image quality greatly depends on the lens used. While color, noise, exposure and dynamic-range are properties of a camera, distortion, vignetting and chromatic aberrations are properties of the lens. Sharpness and contrast depend on the weakest link. That is, a camera cannot capture more details than a lens lets through. Conversely, it is quite possible for a lens to transmit more details than a sensor can capture.
Image Noise & Details
The Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark III delivers very good image quality, further improved from the Mark II thanks to an improved processor. Having no anti-alias filter allows these camera to render finder details when a sufficiently sharp lens is used and stopped down to its optimum aperture.
Image noise is extremely low until ISO 1600 and barely there at 3200 where it remains usable for relatively large prints. ISO 6400 shows a little more noise yet its impact on the finest details is limited compared to its predecessor. Maximum print sizes diminish but not by much. Impressively, ISO 12800 is not that much noisier and can pull off a mid-size print which is excellent for a Micro Four-Thirds sensor.
The maximum expanded sensitivity of 25600 shows a jump in image noise. Details are visibly destroyed yet subjects stay recognizable with contrast and colors remaining remarkably intact. Small prints or images resized for web usage are still possible even at ISO 25600 which is really good.
There are three levels of noise-reduction available. NR can also be turned off entirely which avoids increased softness at high sensitivities. Best results are obtained with the NR on Low and Sharpness pushed to +1. Anything higher shows clear sharpening artifacts on this camera.
Color & White Balance
The OM-D E-M10 Mark III delivers the same color accuracy as its predecessor. It offers many Picture Modes modes with he most realistic colors are obtained in Natural style. This still leaves a little too much red but this has been typical of Micro Four-Thirds cameras. It is obviously avoidable for those who shoot RAW.
Automatic While-Balance is excellent. It deals well with a variety of conditions including typical indoor lighting. There are tons of options for the rare cases when AWB has difficulty or to get consistent colors between shots. Custom WB is easy to use on this camera and renders whites perfectly neutral.
This digital camera has a well-balanced multi-segment metering system. It is nicely conservative and overexposes only when bright highlights are small or away from the center of the scene. Scenes of high contrast tend to get clipped more in the shadows than highlights which is usually the better choice. Low contrast scenes are exposed towards the mid-tone which makes them look natural.
It is important to know that the LCD clips extreme highlights which may still be correctly captured. This happens when adjusting the highlight tone-curve too. Differences are barely noticeable on the LCD but images are in fact captured differently. Changes to the shadow tone-curve are much easier to see. When in doubt, the Playback histogram must be checked. The Live-Histogram is only truly accurate in M mode.
Dynamic range of the E-M10 Mark III is fairly good across its standard range of ISO sensitivities. ISO 200 delivers the widest dynamic-range since that is the native sensitivity of the sensor. Still, sensor size is unforgiving and this Micro Four-Thirds mirrorless is unable to match the broad dynamic-range of systems with larger sensors.
For even more dynamic-range, there are 2 HDR modes built-in to the E-M10 Mark III, both take 4 consecutive shots and blend the resulting exposures together. The steps appear to be somewhat wider in HDR 2 mode than HDR 1. Results are generally good, although it has difficulties with light sources in the scene. One limiting factor though is that the camera locks ISO to 200 when built-in HDR is enabled.
The OM-D E-M10 Mark III has a speedy Contrast-Detect autofocus system. Its autofocus speed is reasonable yet slower than what recent DSLRs and other mirrorless cameras can achieve. Focusing accuracy seems to have taken a dip in an effort to simplify the targeting system. Each focus-area is relatively large which results missed focus more often than usual. Unlike Phase-Detect AF used in DSLRs, Contrast-Detect AF never suffers from front or back focus issues, which is why no calibration is needed.
With a typical Micro Four-Thirds lens, focus is done via a fly-by-wire ring around the lens-barrel. The E-M10 Mark III manages to keep up with no perceptible lag. In DMF mode, a slight turn of the focus-ring shifts right into manual focus. For a most PRO lenses though, the focus-ring can be switched from fly-by-wire to mechanical mode.
Normally, when a camera is switched from AF to MF, the focus distance does not change. This lets the photographer use autofocus to lock focus and switch to manual focus when take a series of shots to combine later, either for HDR, Exposure Fusion or Panoramic Photography. With the Olympus mechanical focus-ring lens though, the focus gets reset to the last manually set distance, meaning that a series of frames must nearly always be manually focused from the start.
The E-M10 Mark III is quick and responsive. Buttons, dials and the Eye-Start sensor all respond instantly. Despite being entry-level, this OM-D delivers a speedy 8.6 FPS at full resolution. It can capture an unlimited number of JPEG images or 22 RAW files in a single burst. This is with autofocus locked on the first frame. In continuous autofocus mode, the E-M10 Mark III can shoot at 4.8 FPS for up to 248 RAW files.
The Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark III rarely holds back the photographer. The following measurements characterize its performance:
- Power-On: 1¼s. Average.
- Power-On to First-Shot: 2s. Below average.
- Autofocus: ¼s on good to moderate light. ½-¾s, in low light. Good.
- Shutter-lag: Nearly instant with around ¼s blackout. Very good.
- Shot-to-shot: Under ¾s. Much faster then the average mirrorless.
- Playback: ¼s to enter, instant to exit. Excellent.
- Power-Off: ½s. Good.
- Video: Instant to start and stop. Excellent.
Overall, the E-M10 Mark III turns in a solid performance. It does particularly well where it counts most: shutter-lag, autofocus and shot-to-shot speed. Video performance is impeccable which is clearly a step up from the Mark II which introduced as it was not present in the original E-M10. The 8.6 FPS continuous drive works incredibly well, although it does not quite manage to keep the EVF or LCD up to date during continuous shooting.
The Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark III is powered by a proprietary Lithium-Ion battery which provides 330-shots per charge with 50% flash use. This is below average among mirrorless yet should be enough for a day of casual shooting. For professionals, additional batteries are highly recommended.
The Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark III is the newest base OM-D, meaning it is part of the high-end series of Olympus mirrorless cameras and slots itself as the most basic offering in the series. As with other Olympus OM-D cameras, the E-M10 Mark III offers a built-in EVF with Eye-Start Sensor and dual control-dials, for efficient handling. The E-M10 Mark III is both smaller and cheaper than other OM-D and for this omits weather-sealing found its high-end siblings.
This mirrorless digital camera pairs an Anti-Alias-Filter-Free 16 megapixels Four-Thirds CMOS sensor with an improved image processor. This combination delivers exceptional image-quality from a Micro Four-Thirds camera and can render very fine details with excellent sharpness when a sufficiently sharp lens is used. Output is virtually noise-free until ISO 1600 and shows minimal noise up to ISO 6400, a full stop of improvement over its predecessor. Dynamic-range is reasonably good too for this sensor-size.
Multi-segment metering of the E-M10 Mark III is really good. Olympus offers its full-set of metering modes, including Shadow Spot and Highlight Spot, that can be very useful to produce high-key or low-key images. It produces reliable exposures that rarely need much compensation. While white-Balance is excellent and highly reliable. Color rendition is slightly off towards red yet is sufficiently good for non-critical work. Improvement is possible by processing from RAW files, when needed.
Built-in Image-Stabilization is provided by a state-of-the-art 5-axis sensor-shift system which is rated at 4 stops of improvements over hand-holding. In practice this rating is optimistic yet it easily manages over 2 stops of stabilization with any lens. The new processor in the E-M10 Mark III offers 121-Area Contrast-Detect AF which is now faster than before. While focusing speed is very good, the amount of focus miss is uncomfortably high now which is the only serious issue with this digital camera.
The E-M10 Mark III is usually quite speedy. It shoots continuously at 8.6 FPS, although the EVF does not quite manage to keep up with action which is a shame. The speed at which the buffer clears is exception as it can clear JPEG images in real-time for unlimited burst depth. For RAW files, it still manages a typical 21 frames. As its predecessor is, the Mark III is quite fast and responsive all-around. However, it immensely improved when it comes to Video Recording which now starts instantly and in 4K Ultra-HD at that!
Overall, Olympus fine-tuned the E-M10 Mark III with improvements that are meaningful for beginners. While doing so, they also reduced the feature-set, considerably crippling several features in favor of simplification. New owners of an OM-D might not realize it but anyone with a E-M10 Mark II already or other OM-D is sure to feel unfairly restricted. People interesting in moving up from a point-and-shoot, particularly for travel photography where compactness and light weight really count, can have a good start with the Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark III.
Olympus E-M10 Mark III Highlights
Sensor-Size: 17 x 13mm
Actual size when viewed at 100 DPI
|16 Megapixels Mirrorless||ISO 100-25600|
|Micro Four-Thirds Mount|
|5-Axis Built-in Stabilization, 4-Stop Improvement||Full manual controls, including Manual Focus|
|0.45" Built-in EVF 2.4 Megapixels (0.62X)||Custom white-balance with 2 axis fine-tuning|
|Automatic Eye-Start sensor||Spot-Metering|
|2 Axis Digital Level||Hot-Shoe|
|Built-in Dust Reduction||Lithium-Ion Battery|
|8.6 FPS Drive, 36 Images||Secure Digital Extended Capacity|
|3840x2160 @ 30 FPS Video Recording|
|3" LCD 1 Megapixels|
Fujifilm X-T4 Review
Fujifilm APS-C flasghip mirrorless with 5-axis builtin stabilization mechanism using the same high-speed 26 MP X-Trans CMOS 4 sensor as the X-T3. New 15 FPS mechanical shutter and builtin HDR. Professional mirrorless with mechanical controls, dual control-dials, dual memory-card lots, a built EVF with Eye-Start Sensor and a huge feature set.
Canon RF-Lens Info
Info on all Canon native RF-mount lenses added to the Canon EOS R5 preview.
Canon EOS R5 Preview
Preview of the Canon EOS R5 flagship Full-Frame Mirrorless with 45 MP sensor on a 5-axis stabilization system effective to 8-stops. First 8K video capable digital camera. 20 FPS electronic and 12 FPS mechanical drive.
Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark III Review
Third-Generation OM-D that packs a 20 MP Four-Thirds CMOS on a 5-Axis Stabilization System. Fast 121-Point Phase-Detect AF, 30 FPS Continuous Drive, Cinema 4K Video and more in a weatherproof and freezeproof body. Features dual control-dials and a builtin 2.4 MP EVF with Eye-Start Sensor with 0.69X magnification and 100% coverage.
Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark III Review
20 MP Micro Four-Thirds Mirrorless with 7-Stop 5-Axis Image-Stabilization, 121-Point Phase-Detect AF 30 FPS Continuous Drive and Cinema 4K capability in a weatherproof and freezeproof body with dual control-dials and dual SDXC memory card slots.
M.Zuiko 12-45mm F/4 PRO Review
A review of the M.Zuiko 12-45mm F/4 PRO added to the Olympus Premium Lens Roundup.
Peak Design Travel Tripod Review
Review of the unique Peak Design Travel Tripod with its own ballhead and the universal ballhead adapter.
Nikon Z-Mount DX Lens Roundup
Review of Nikon Z-Mount lenses for APS-C mirrorless digital cameras. Covers all current Z-mount DX lenses available.
Nikon Z50 Review
The first Nikon APS-C mirrorless is built around a 20 MP BSI-CMOS sensor with ISO 100-204800, 209-Point Phase-Detect AF, 11 FPS Drive and 4K Video capability. Compact body with dual control-dials and 2.4 MP 0.39" EVF with 0.68X magnification, 100% coverage and an Eye-Start Sensor.
Mirrorless Digital Camera Buying Guide 2020
The Mirrorless Digital Camera Buying Guide was fully rewritten for 2020, including all new systems from Nikon, Canon and Leica joined by Panasonic and Sigma. This new extensive 2020 Edition shows in 5 simple steps how to choose a mirrorless camera.