Five years is a very long time within the digital camera world.
Since the Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark II launched in early 2015, Sony has given us 5 A7 cameras, Fujifilm has wowed with first the X-T2 after which the X-T3, Canon has taken the sensor wars to new heights and Panasonic has mastered the artwork of 4K video. In brief, issues have moved on a tad – leaving the poor previous E-M5 trying just like the final slice of bread in a loaf that actually ought to have been thrown away every week in the past.
Fortunately, simply after we thought Olympus had forgotten its mid-range marvel totally, right here’s the brand new Mark III mannequin able to remind us all why we fell in love with it so way back.
And fall in love with it you’ll, as a result of the Olympus O-MD E-M5 Mark III is a cracking little Micro Four Thirds digital camera that packs a number of tech right into a tiny physique and serves up photos pretty much as good as the most effective of them.
Welcome again, E-M5 – we’ve missed you.
DESIGN AND BUILD: TOY STORY
One of the advantages of the Micro Four Thirds sensor is that it permits for smaller digital camera our bodies and lenses than APS-C or full body. This is instantly obvious with the O-MD E-M5 III, which is so dinky it nearly resembles a toy digital camera – nicely, till you’re taking images with it.
It’s simply sufficiently small to slot in a jacket pocket with no lens on, or to nestle inside a small bag with one on. The lenses are additionally teeny-tiny little issues – and in reality it’s right here that MFT actually wins over APS-C and full body. Compared to the Fujifilm X-T3, which I personal and use recurrently, it’s solely barely smaller in physique measurement however with the lenses there’s no comparability. My take a look at pattern got here with Olympus’ normal professional zoom, a 12-40mm affair which has roughly the identical focal vary as my Fuji 16-55mm – however the Olympus lens is approach smaller and extra manageable.
Both the physique and lenses are extremely mild, too, so that you received’t want to fret about having aching shoulders after an extended taking pictures session. The flipside to that’s that Olympus has saved the burden down by giving the E-M5 III a primarily polycarbonate physique, versus utilizing a lot of steel, and it positively doesn’t really feel as premium as some rivals. That’s not helped by means of a moderately tacky-looking faux-leather materials. Materials apart, the E-M5 III is a pretty digital camera which wears its retro type with a straightforward familiarity. And extra importantly, it stays absolutely weatherproof: it’s protected in opposition to mud and splashes of water and may stand up to -10℃ temperatures.
Surprisingly for such a small digital camera, the OM-D E-M5 III is very easy to deal with, due to a plethora of well-placed handbook controls. On the highest you get three essential dials – a pleasant massive mode selector with a locking button plus two customisable dials for shutter pace, aperture, publicity compensation or different settings. One neat contact is that there’s just a little swap which helps you to toggle between two modes for these latter two dials, that means you may simply swap between setups in a second.
In reality there are a great deal of well-thought-out touches right here. On the left of the highest plate, as an illustration, there’s a button which manages to mix drive settings with the on/off swap and reside view, however with out being in any approach complicated.
I want the identical might be mentioned for Olympus’ menu system, which is fiddly and overcomplicated and about as a lot enjoyable as a day trip with Jacob Rees-Mogg. With so many handbook controls you shouldn’t have to make use of it an excessive amount of, however if you do you’ll probably spend a number of minutes searching round for the choice you want. Fortunately, the superb Super Control Panel makes issues quite a bit less complicated, supplying you with essentially the most generally used capabilities with only a faucet of the ‘OK’ button within the centre of the four-way controller.
The rear LCD is a standard-these-days 1.04k-dot touchscreen affair. Sensibly, contact management is disabled in the principle menus however works with the SCP, and it may also be used to swipe by way of photos you’ve taken or, in fact, to set autofocus and shoot. I’m happy to report that it’s a completely articulating show, so you may flip it proper round in 180-degrees to take a selfie or fold it flat in opposition to the physique to maintain the display protected if you’re travelling.
The digital viewfinder is a little bit of a blended bag. On the plus facet, it’s an OLED panel – and subsequently clear and vivid. The decision is merely ample although, at 2360ok dots, and it’s additionally a bit small. Coupled with the moderately flat eye cup, it may be tough to correctly immerse your self in taking pictures by way of it. Others on this value bracket positively beat it on this entrance.
FEATURES: THE INCREDIBLES
Bearing in thoughts how small the E-M5 III is, the quantity of tech stuffed inside it’s fairly astonishing. For starters, it has one of the efficient in-body picture stabilisation methods we’ve used, supplying you with 5.5 stops of stabilisation or 6.5 with particular lenses. How they match it in a digital camera this measurement is a thriller, however I’m not complaining.
The upshot is that you would be able to shoot handheld all the way down to ¼ second and even slower with good outcomes, and in murky situations that may be an actual bonus.
That’s removed from the E-M5 III’s solely trick, although. The autofocus system has been extensively upgraded from that on the Mark II and is now a 121-point all-cross-type phase-detection affair that covers a lot of the sensor space. There’s additionally quick burst taking pictures of 10fps in normal mode and as much as 30fps within the Pro Capture mode, which makes use of the digital shutter.
Pro Capture additionally has one other trick up its sleeve, in that it takes images earlier than you really begin taking pictures. This is a trick we’ve seen elsewhere – it really works by buffering photos as quickly as you half-press the shutter then, if you maintain down absolutely, it writes the final 14 of them to reminiscence. The result’s that in case you’re ready for one thing thrilling to occur – for a child to smile or no matter – you may ensure that you’ll seize it even in case you’re just a little gradual to react.
Olympus’ spooky Live Composite and Live Bulb modes, which have been round because the first E-M5 again in 2012, additionally return right here. These allow you to seize lengthy exposures whereas watching the picture slowly construct on the display in real-time. They’re excellent for fireworks, mild trails and the like.
Another Olympus common that makes an look is the High Res Shot mode, which takes eight images with a half-pixel shift between each then stacks them collectively for a super-high-res 50MP ultimate picture. Obviously you’ll want a tripod for this one.
Battery life is so-so – Olympus reckons it’s good for 310 pictures or an hour of video recording, however you’ll actually need a second one in case you’re out for a day. On the plus facet, you may cost it whereas it’s within the digital camera by way of USB, that means it’s simple to offer it just a little further juice on the go.
There’s no built-in flash, however the OM-D E-M5 III does include an exterior one which does a terrific job in most conditions. It’s weather-sealed and may flip and rotate, too, making it much more versatile than most built-in efforts.
Finally, you get the entire connectivity choices you’d anticipate today, comparable to Bluetooth and Wi-Fi for transferring photos and distant management by way of smartphone app.
IMAGE QUALITY AND VIDEO: A slug’s life
The days when Micro Four Thirds lagged behind larger sensors aren’t any extra, and for essentially the most half the EM-5 simply retains tempo with its rivals. It’s actually able to taking incredible photos in the suitable situations – which admittedly I didn’t see a lot of, testing it as I used to be within the December gloom.
The E-M5 Mark III inherits the 20.4MP sensor and TruePic VIII processor-and-sensor-combo that can also be present in Olympus’ top-of-the-range E-M1X and E-M1 II, and it exhibits. Both JPEGs and RAW recordsdata are impressively sharp and vibrant, with luggage of element and the digital camera usually does a terrific job of managing publicity and white stability. Noise is historically the place MFT suffers in comparison with larger sensors, however right here it’s nicely managed. Up to ISO800 there’s usually no noise in any respect, and you’ll shoot at ISO3200 or 6400 with completely usable outcomes; the settings past which can be greatest used solely in emergencies. It’s not going to outperform a full-frame digital camera, and even an APS-C snapper such because the equally priced Fujifilm X-T30, however the distinction isn’t so nice that it’s a significant factor right here.
I used to be additionally impressed by Olympus’ Art Filters: there are 16 of those, starting from Grainy Film to Bleach Bypass and Instant Film and a few of them are literally good moderately than gimmicky.
In reality the one criticism I’ve of the E-M5 III in relation to taking pictures is that it struggled barely to maintain up with quick motion. That’s shocking, given the spec sheet, however for no matter cause, it missed focus just a few too many occasions when monitoring topics. Again, it wasn’t horrible on this entrance, however in case you particularly need a digital camera for taking pictures motion then look elsewhere. That mentioned, it’s solely actually when monitoring that you just’ll discover any points – when locking on to static topics the E-M5 III is a speedy and correct performer.
As you would possibly anticipate, the E-M5’s video capabilities have been massively improved over the Mark II and also you now get correct 4K taking pictures in true C4K decision at 24fps or in UHD at 30fps.
Autofocus and stabilisation work throughout all of the video modes, which makes for extremely clean footage even if you’re strolling round and there are semi-pro options comparable to a particular ‘flat’ mode for colour-grading in post-process and a microphone socket.
As with autofocus, it’s not fairly a class-leading digital camera on the video entrance – there’s no microphone port and no Log profiles, as an illustration – however in case you’re primarily a stills snapper who additionally desires wonderful video choices, you’ll be nicely lined right here. Footage is mostly wonderful, with loads of element, and the IS makes an enormous distinction if, like me, you’re not the steadiest of shooters. Or in case you’ve had one too many pints.
OLYMPUS OM-D E-M5 MARK III: VERDICT
The OM-D E-M5 III is the traditional all-rounder: it excels throughout the board with out ever fairly being high canine at something.
It doesn’t fairly beat the most effective for picture high quality, as an illustration, but it surely’s not far behind, due to the mix of the most recent Micro Four Thirds sensor and its excellent in-body picture stabilisation. Video is mostly excellent, autofocus is superb in most conditions and it has loads of neat little methods that you just’ll really use.
Despite its small stature, it’s additionally a very nice digital camera to shoot with – nicely laid out, good within the hand and simple to make use of. Well, as long as you don’t need to delve into the menus. If you’re already invested in MFT as a system then the E-M5 Mark III would make a stunning improve. If you’re not, then there are most likely barely higher cameras on the market for across the identical value – however there’s not a lot in it both approach.
While not precisely low cost at simply over £1000 body-only, you’re getting quite a bit to your cash right here – and all crammed into an impressively compact bundle. So, in case you’re in search of a small system digital camera that doesn’t skimp on the smarts, the OM-D E-M5 III is a high-quality selection.