Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark III
The third generation model of Olympus’s entry-level OM-D camera features a revised user interface, new shooting modes and support for 4K video recording.
The 16-megapixel E-M10 III is solidly built, compact, and lightweight for an interchangeable-lens camera.
Its TruePic VIII processor and support of fast SD cards enables the 4K movie recording plus continuous shooting at up to 8.6 frames/second with both raw files and high-resolution JPEGs.
The user interface in the new model has been modified to make it easier to operate without compromising functionality or performance.
The just-released Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark III camera is a small but significant upgrade to the E-M10 Mark II, which we reviewed two years ago. While it retains the 16-megapixel resolution of its predecessors, its TruePic VIII processor and support of fast SD cards enables 4K movie recording plus continuous shooting at up to 8.6 frames/second with both raw files and high-resolution JPEGs. The user interface in the new model has been modified to make it easier for novices to operate without compromising functionality or performance.
Angled view of the OM-D E-M10 Mark III (silver version) with its pop-up flash raised and the 14-42mm kit lens fitted. (Source: Olympus.)
Like its predecessor, the Mark II will be offered in all black and black and silver. It will be sold in body-only format as well as in two kits, a single-lens kit with the M.Zuiko Digital ED 14-42mm f/3.5-5.6 EZ lens and a twin lens kit which adds the M.Zuiko 40-150mm f/4-5.6 R lens.
The twin lens kit, showing the black version of the camera. (Source: Olympus.)
Who’s it For?
With the E-M10 III, Olympus is targeting novice photographers who want a ‘proper’ interchangeable-lens camera that looks serious and provides a full suite of controls but remains relatively easy to use. This shows up in the re-design of the user interface, which aims to place key controls within easy reach and makes important functions straightforward.
Like all Olympus cameras, the E-M10 III is solidly built and the new camera is both compact and lightweight for an interchangeable-lens camera. However, like its predecessor, it’s not weather-sealed.
Much of the new camera, including its magnesium alloy body, remains unchanged from its predecessor. The overall design, size and control layout are almost identical. We’re not convinced the modified user interface will answer on-going criticism about the complexity of the Olympus menu system. Without access to a user manual (the printed Basic Guide’s not much help), accessing the illustrated menus isn’t straightforward, although once found, they are largely self-explanatory, as the illustrations below show.
Small tweaks to the body design ““ such as the enlarged grip moulding ““ make it more comfortable to hold, while the permanent assignment of ISO, flash, timer/burst and AF area settings to arrow pad shortcuts makes them easy to locate.
The Movie button is no longer customisable but a new Shortcut button on the rear left corner of the top panel is designed to instantly display the shooting menu. It can also be used to quickly set or switch shooting modes.
The nearby top-mounted power switch carries over from the Mark II and is in line with other recent OM-D cameras. Pushing the lever beyond the power-on position pops up the built-in flash.
The mode dial now includes an AP (Advanced Photo) mode that accesses the following functions: Live Composite, Live Time, Multi-Exposure, HDR mode, Silent Mode, Panorama, Keystone Compensation and AE Bracketing.
Three of the settings that are accessed via the new AP (Advanced Photo) mode.
If you opt instead for the Auto mode, you can’t adjust most shooting parameters and the i-Enhance colour profile becomes the default. This may produce colours that are too highly saturated for portraits so novice users should change to the P mode (which itself offers a high degree of automation) if they want to take shots of people. The default setting in this mode is Natural, which is better balanced for skin tones.
Olympus has added a new Bleach Bypass setting to the Art Filters menu, bringing the total to 15. We never use these settings but newcomers to Olympus cameras could have some fun playing with the multiple options they offer for changing colours and tones.
The addition of 4K movie recording is sure to appeal to some potential purchasers. But be warned, the default setting for movies is 1080p. If you want to shoot 4K movies you must select the movie setting on the mode dial and then tap the movie icon on the monitor screen and select 4K from the four options displayed.
The four movie settings that are opened via the on-screen icon: the standard FHD/HD, 4K, Clips and high-speed.
Unfortunately, even though 4K recording is supported, the lack of an audio jack for connecting an external microphone will mean audio quality is unlikely to be as good as you could obtain from the E-M1 Mark II, which has more sophisticated video capabilities. Another negative feature is the removal of the Live Boost 2 switch for brightening the screen in near darkness. It’s replaced by a simple on/off setting.
On the positive side, the E-M10 III boasts the same TruePic VIII processor as the flagship E-M1 II camera and its AF system has been beefed up with 121 AF points (also from the E-M1 II), although autofocusing remains contrast-based (which has a few downsides). A new Cluster AF points selection, similar to the system in the E-M1 Mark II, has been introduced, although it’s only available in S-AF mode. This means there’s no improvement to C-AF tracking performance.
There have been some minor improvements to the 5-Axis Image Stabilisation system, bringing its performance in line with the system in the E-M5 Mark II. But, instead of having multiple settings for image stabilisation, there’s a simple on/off switch (the camera handles the rest).
Olympus has dropped the flash RC mode for the first time in an OM-D camera, although you can use the built-in flash to trigger compatible external flashguns. Finally, there’s no provision for an external grip attachment (although we suspect few potential buyers will miss it).
Build and Ergonomics
Aside from the changes mentioned above, the body and ergonomics of the new camera are virtually identical to the OM-D E-M10 Mark II. The illustrations below show the similarities between the two cameras.
Front views of the OM-D E-M10, with the Mark III model at the top and the Mark II model below it. (Source: Olympus.)
Rear views of the OM-D E-M10, with the Mark III model at the top and the Mark II model below it. (Source: Olympus.)
Top views of the OM-D E-M10, with the Mark III model at the top and the Mark II model below it. (Source: Olympus.)
The 2,360,000-dot OLED viewfinder and tilting, 3-inch, 1,037,000-dot touchscreen monitor are the same as in the Mark II. Both are excellent and easy to use. The built-in flash is also unchanged. It’s relatively weak, with a range of 5.8 metres at ISO 100 but can be used to manually trigger external flashguns, although the camera lacks the Olympus wireless RC mode, which allows the flash to act as a commander.
Unfortunately, there’s no provision for an external camera grip to better counterbalance bigger and heavier lenses and/or add extra battery capacity. This option was available in both the E-M10 and E-M10 Mark II but even beefing up the grip on the Mark III doesn’t provide adequate compensation.
Sensor and Image Processing
The 16-megapixel sensor in the E-M10 III is the same as in the Mark II and also the E-M5 Mark II and original E-M1. We’ve covered the available image and file sizes in our review of the OM-D E-M5 in May 2012.
ISO sensitivity is unchanged and ranges from Low (ISO 100) to ISO 25600, with adjustments in increments of 1/3 or 1EV steps. Replacing the TruePic VII with the newer TruePic VIII chip has given a slight boost to the top continuous shooting speed, increasing it to 8.6 frames/second. However, the buffer memory hasn’t been increased and still holds up to 36 Large/Fine JPEGs or 22 ORF.RAW files.
The faster processor enables the Mark II to support 4K movie recording, although not at the ‘professional’ level of the E-M1 Mark II. As mentioned above, you can’t select the various movie shooting options via the camera’s menu, which is a pity and can lead to confusion if you’re a regular OM-D camera user. The top resolution is 3820 x 2160 pixels with a frame rate of 25 fps for PAL system users (30 fps for NTSC users).
The remaining movie options include Full HD at 1920 x 1080 pixels with frame rates of 50p and 25p for PAL system users and HD at 1280 x 720 pixels with a frame rate of 25p. There’s also a slow-motion mode at HD resolution with a frame rate of 100p.
Autofocusing remains contrast-based, which means the camera has to re-acquire focus whenever you zoom in or out or change the view of the scene. We found the review camera would take up to a second to re-focus in these situations, particularly if it also had to re-adjust the exposure to changing subject brightness.
The movie frame is cropped when the digital stabilisation system is engaged. This may be a problem is you require precise framing but we feel most users will adapt their framing to allow for the cropping, in which case it will be largely irrelevant.
Focus peaking is available but it must be engaged via the Custom A AF/MF MF Assist setting before you start shooting movies. There’s no zebra striping to assist with exposure determination and the Highlight/Shadow warnings don’t work in movie mode. Since you can’t adjust ISO settings in manual exposure mode, the only way to control brightness levels while shooting is to use aperture or shutter priority mode and let the camera adjust the remaining parameter.
As with the Mark II, users can record still frames while shooting movie clips and apply most of the Art Filters and in-camera effects to movies. Like the Mark II, the Mark III lacks the microphone and headphone jacks for audio input and output that the E-M5 Mark II provides.
The review camera came as the single-lens kit with the M.Zuiko Digital 14-42mm f/3.5-5.6 EZ lens, which we reviewed in March 2014. It’s a decent enough performer but not one of the stars in the Olympus line-up so we also ran our Imatest tests with our M.Zuiko Digital ED 12-40mm f/2.8 PRO lens, which we reviewed in October 2013.
Unfortunately, the latest version of Adobe Camera Raw, our preferred raw file converter, didn’t support the E-M10 Mark III when our tests were conducted so we were forced to download the Olympus Viewer 3 software, which Olympus makes available for free. We find it somewhat clunky to use and decidedly inferior to the Adobe software, although better than the raw converters offered with Fujifilm and Panasonic cameras.
Out-of-camera JPEGs shot with the default Natural Picture Mode looked sharp with nicely balanced colour saturation and slightly elevated contrast. With the 14-42mm kit lens, our Imatest tests showed colour accuracy to be very good, while centre resolution was a little below expectations for the camera’s 16-megapixel sensor. Edge resolution was somewhat lower.
With the 12-40mm f/2.8 PRO lens, JPEG resolution was above expectations near the centre of the frame and very close to expectations towards the edges. Resolution was well above expectations across the frame for ORF.RAW files, captured simultaneously. Resolution held up well across the camera’s sensitivity range, as shown in the graph of our test results below.
Long exposures were effectively noise-free up to ISO 3200 and very little noise could be seen at ISO 6400, although slight traces of softening were detectable. This softening became more obvious at ISO 12800 and noise was quite evident at ISO 25600, although colours remained unchanged. As with the E-M10 II, shots taken at the top ISO settings were printable at small (snapshot-sized) output sizes.
Flash performance was similar to the Mark II’s and the low power of the built-in flash made it struggle to provide enough light at ISO settings lower than ISO 3200. Little noise was evident in flash shots right up to ISO 6400, although softening was visible in shots taken at the two highest sensitivity settings. At ISO 25600, shots were slightly over-exposed and lacking in contrast.
White balance performance was similar to the E-M10 Mark II’s. Only a slight warm cast remained in shots taken with the auto setting under incandescent lighting and with warm-toned LEDs. Fluorescent and flash lighting produced very close to neutral colours. There’s no pre-set for LED lighting but the tungsten and fluorescent pre-sets over-corrected slightly. Like its predecessor, the Mark III provides plenty of adjustments to overcome biases, including four Custom settings. Use of these tools delivered cast-free shots with all types of lighting.
Video quality was acceptable for a camera at this level and should be good enough to satisfy most potential users. We found the camera had a tendency to slightly compress image tones, leading to blown-out highlights and blocked-up shadows in scenes with a wide brightness range. Colours were attractively rendered and the stabilisation system worked very well for hand-held shooting.
As mentioned, autofocusing and auto exposure adjustments were often quite slow, due largely to limitations in the camera’s technologies. You can improve the situation by locking focus on the subject before you start recording a clip. This should be done each time a new clip is started.
However, it doesn’t make focusing faster when you are zooming and/or panning within a clip. Both should be avoided if you want smooth footage for minimal editing. Audio quality was acceptable for the internal microphones. But, again, performance was not exactly stellar.
Our timing tests were carried out with a 16GB Panasonic SDHC U3 memory card, which claims a read speed of 90 MB/s and write speed of 45 MB/s. The review camera took roughly one second to power-up and extend the lens for the first shot, which is similar to the previous model.
We measured an average capture lag of less than 0.1 second when the shutter button was used to capture the shot and just over 0.1 second when the shot was captured by touching the monitor screen. Both delays could be eliminated by pre-focusing.
Shot-to-shot times averaged 0.5 seconds without flash and 4.3 seconds with. Image processing speeds were similar to the E-M10 II’s, with JPEG files taking less than a second, ORF.RAW files just on a second and RAW+JPEG pairs very little more. This is to be expected since both cameras have the same resolution; hence file sizes are the same.
In the high-speed sequential shooting mode, we recorded a burst of 29 Large/ Fine JPEGs in 3.5 seconds. This is less than the 36 frames claimed in the specifications but equates to the specified 8.6 frames/second. Processing was completed within a second of the last frame captured.
With ORF.RAW files the capture rate slowed after 13 frames, which were recorded in 1.6 seconds. It took just over two seconds to clear the buffer memory. Ten RAW+JPEG pairs were recorded in 1.2 seconds before the frame rate slowed. It took three seconds to process this burst.
In the low-speed sequential mode, we recorded 20 Large/ Fine JPEG frames in 4.1 seconds, which equates to a frame rate of roughly 4.8 fps. The camera appeared to process these frames on-the-fly. In contrast with the high-speed mode, which locks focus and exposure on the first frame, the low-speed sequential mode allows continuous focus and exposure adjustments.
Olympus continues to improve its entry-level OM-D cameras and, although the improvements in the E-M10 Mark III are relatively minor, it remains a very attractive camera for photographers who want to expand an existing Olympus OM-D or PEN-based system. The revised menu system could make the camera easier for novice users than the previous model, although we’d advise them to download the full manual and become familiar with all the key controls and the quickest ways to access them.
We’d like to have seen an improvement in resolution, although we understand Olympus’s need to maintain differentiation between the different levels of the OM-D line. That differentiation already persists ““ to a significant degree ““ by keeping the E-M10 models non-weather-resistant, while the flagship E-M1 and mid-range E-M5 models have relatively comprehensive weatherproofing. The E-M5 line is likely to be the next to be upgraded so it will be interesting to see where Olympus takes it.
Since it was introduced with the OM-D E-M5, the OM-D system has grown in strength and is now the system of choice for many serious photographers (including professionals) who are looking to lighten their load without compromising imaging performance or shooting capabilities. With smaller and lighter camera bodies plus small and competitively-priced, high-quality lenses, these cameras are easier to travel with than a bulky DSLR kit and deliver high-quality images that can be printed at A2 size and larger. They’re also much easier to shoot movies with than any DSLR.
It’s early days on the market for the E-M10 Mark III and many local re-sellers only list the camera as being available for pre-ordering. Discounting has barely started but, if you shop around you’ll probably be able to save a few dollars on the RRP. If that’s too much, the E-M10 Mark II is still on sale at prices ranging around AU$750 for the body alone or $900 for the single-lens kit.
B&H, which markets aggressively to Australian photographers, has the E-M10 Mark III body listed for pre-order at US$649, which equates to just under AU$809. To that you must add at least AU$48 for shipping so you save very little by purchasing off-shore and forego the benefits of Australian consumer protection legislation and the expert staff in local camera stores.
Image sensor: 17.3 mm x 13.0 mm Live MOS sensor with 17.2 million photosites (16.1 megapixels effective)
Image processor: TruePic VIII
A/D processing: 12-bit lossless compression for raw files
Lens mount: Micro Four Thirds
Focal length crop factor: 2x
Image formats: Stills: JPEG (DCF2.0, Exif 2.3), ORF.RAW, RAW+JPEG; Movies: MOV (MPEG-4AVC / H.264)
Image Sizes: Stills ““ 4608 x 3456 pixels to 1280 x 960 pixels; Movies: 3840 x 2160 (4K) @ 30p, 25p, 24p / IPB (approx. 102 Mbps); 1920 x 1080 (FHD) @ 60p, 50p, 30p, 25p, 24p / IPB, 1280 x 720 (HD) @ 30p, 25p, 24p
Image Stabilisation: Built-in 5-axis sensor-shift image stabilisation for video and still photos
(compensates for yaw, pitch, roll, vertical shift, horizontal shift); CIPA rated for 4.0 EV steps
Dust removal: Supersonic Wave Filter (image sensor dust reduction system)
Shutter (speed range): Electronic shutter (1/16000 to 30 sec.); Flash synch at 1/250 sec.
Exposure Compensation: +/- 5EV in 1/3EV steps (+/-3EV for movies, Live View and HDR mode)
Exposure bracketing: 3 frames in 1.0 EV steps, 5 frames in 0.7 EV steps.
Other bracketing options: Focus (available as Multi Focus Shot in Scene mode and Focus Bracketing in Advanced Photo mode. Shoots 8 frames)
Self-timer: 2 or 12 seconds delay
Focus system: High-speed imager AF Contrast Detection with 121 Focus Points; All target, group target (9-area), single target selection
Focus modes: Single AF (S-AF) / Continuous AF (C-AF) / Manual Focus (MF) / S-AF + MF / AF tracking (C-AF + TR)
Exposure metering: TTL Image Sensor Metering with Multi-zone, Centre-weighted and Spot metering patterns
Shooting modes: Auto (Live Guide can be used) , P: Program AE (program shift can be performed), A: Aperture Priority AE, S: Shutter Priority AE, M: Manual (Live Bulb, Live Time and Live Composite are available), Scene Select AE, Advanced Photo AE, Art Filter
Advanced Photo modes: Live Composite, Live Bulb, Multiple Exposure, HDR Backlight, Silent, Panorama, Keystone Compensation, AE Bracketing, Focus Bracketing
Scene Select modes: Portrait, e-Portrait, Landscape + Portrait, Night + Portrait, Children, Night scene, Sport, Hand-held Starlight, Fireworks, Light trails, Sports, Panning, Landscape, Sunset, Beach & Snow, Backlight HDR, Candlelight, Silent, Macro, Nature Macro, Documents, Multi Focus Shot
Picture Modes: i-Enhance, Vivid, Natural, Muted, Portrait, Monotone, Custom, e-Portrait, colour creator, Art Filters
ISO range: AUTO ISO (default): LOW (approx.100) “ 6400 with customizable upper limit (200 to 25600)
White balance: Auto WB, 6 Preset WBs, 4 Capture WBs, Custom WB (Kelvin setting); adjustments of +/-7 steps in each A-B/G-M axis
Colour space: sRGB, Adobe RGB
Flash: TTL Flash, GN=5.8 (ISO100/m) or GN= 8.2 (ISO200/m)
Flash modes: Auto, Redeye, Slow Sync.(1st curtain), Slow Sync.(2nd curtain), Red-eye Slow Sync.(1st curtain), Fill-in, Manual(1/1(FULL)~1/64), Flash Off.
Flash exposure adjustment: +/-3EV in 1/3EV steps
Sequence shooting: Max. 8.6 frames/sec.
Buffer capacity: 36 high-resolution JPEG, 22 ORF.RAW
Storage Media: SD, SDHC, SDXC cards (Compatible with UHS-I and UHS-II standards)
Viewfinder: Eye-level OLED Electronic Viewfinder with 2,360,000 dots, approx. 100% frame coverage, 19.2 mm eyepoint, -4 to +2 dpt correction, approx.1.23x magnification
LCD monitor: 3.0-inch tilting monitor with 1,040,000 dots, electrostatic capacitance touch panel
Live View modes: Exposure compensation preview, WB adjustment preview, gradation preview, face detection preview (up to 8 faces), grid line, magnification display x3/x5/x7/x10/x14), Display modes: Standard, Histogram, Highlight & Shadow, Level Gauge, Off (Image only)
Playback functions: Single-frame, information display, index display (4 / 9 / 25 / 100 frames), Clips, calendar, enlargement (2x – 14x), video (with sound, FF / REW / Pause), picture rotation (auto), slideshow (with sound including BGM, Slide show effects, replaceable BGM), Light Box display
Interface terminals: USB 2.0 Micro-B, Micro HDMI (Type-D),
Wi-Fi function: Yes (IEEE 8.02.11b/g/n), plus GPS via smartphone GPS data; QR code setting
Power supply: BLS-50 Li-ion Battery Pack; CIPA rated for approx. 330 shots/charge
Dimensions (wxhxd): 121.5 x 83.6 x 49.5 mm
Weight: 410 grams
Distributor: Olympus Imaging Australia; 1300 659 678, www.olympus.com.au
Based on JPEG files captured with the M.Zuiko Digital 14-42mm f/3.5-5.6 EZ lens.
Based on JPEG files captured with the M.Zuiko ED 12-40mm f/2.8 PRO lens.
Based on ORF.RAW files captured at the same time and converted with Olympus Viewer 3
All test shots taken with the M.Zuiko Digital 14-42mm f/3.5-5.6 EZ ED MSC lens.
Auto white balance with incandescent lighting.
Auto white balance with fluorescent lighting.
Auto white balance with flash lighting.
Auto white balance with warm-toned LED lighting.
60-second exposure at ISO 100, 25mm focal length, f/4.6.
30-second exposure at ISO 200, 25mm focal length, f/4.6.
8-second exposure at ISO 1600, 25mm focal length, f/8.
5-second exposure at ISO 6400, 25mm focal length, f/10.
4-second exposure at ISO 12800, 25mm focal length, f/11.
2-second exposure at ISO 25600, 25mm focal length, f/13.
Flash exposure at ISO 100, 42mm focal length, 1/60 second at f/5.6.
Flash exposure at ISO 200, 42mm focal length, 1/60 second at f/5.6.
Flash exposure at ISO 1600, 42mm focal length, 1/60 second at f/5.6.
Flash exposure at ISO 6400, 42mm focal length, 1/60 second at f/5.6.
Flash exposure at ISO 12800, 42mm focal length, 1/60 second at f/5.6.
Flash exposure at ISO 25600, 42mm focal length, 1/60 second at f/5.6.
14mm focal length; ISO 250, 1/60 second at f/10.
42mm focal length; ISO 200, 1/100 second at f/10.
Close-up with 14mm focal length; ISO 200, 1/125 second at f/5.
Close-up with 42mm focal length; ISO 200, 1/80 second at f/5.6.
Close-up with 42mm focal length; ISO 250, 1/80 second at f/5.6.
Crop from the above image at 100% magnification.
Close-up with 42mm focal length; ISO 200, 1/320 second at f/11.
Indoor portrait with available lighting, taken via the touch-screen interface; 42mm focal length, ISO 6400, 1/15 second at f/5.6.
42mm focal length, ISO 400, 1/60 second at f/5.6.
Contrasty scene; 21mm focal length, ISO 100, 1/100 second at f/13.
14mm focal length, ISO 400, 1/60 second at f/8.
15mm focal length, ISO 200, 1/200 second at f/6.3.
14mm focal length, ISO 200, 1/160 second at f/3.5.
Still frame from 4K video clip recorded at 25 fps.
Still frame from Full HD video clip recorded at 50 fps.
Still frame from Full HD video clip recorded at 25 fps.
Still frame from HD video clip recorded at 25 fps.
RRP: AU$999; US$ 649 (body only)
- Build: 9.0
- Ease of use: 8.5
- Autofocusing stills: 8.8
- Autofocusing video: 8.6
- Still image quality JPEG: 8.8
- Still image quality RAW: 9.0
- Video quality: 8.7