Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark III

      Photo Review 8.9

      In summary

      Our technical tests confirmed the finding of our First Look assessments and reinforce our advice that the E-M1 Mark III represents a smart choice for photographers who want to lighten their loads without compromising image quality and performance.

      With the M.Zuiko Digital ED 12-100mm f/4.0 IS PRO it would be the heart of an excellent travel photography kit.

      Full review

      Since publishing a detailed First Look based upon an early sample of the new OM-D E-M1 Mark III camera in February, we have been able to carry out some of our standard technical and user tests. This report has been prepared to complement the initial review, adding the results of our standard tests. Links have been provided to enable readers to jump between the two reports.


      Angled view of the OM-D E-M1Mark III camera. (Source: Olympus.)

      As outlined in our initial report, the 20.3-megapixel 17.4 x 13.0 mm M4/3 Live MOS sensor in the E-M1X has been backed up by a new TruePic IX processor, which underpins many of the improvements in the new camera. These have been listed in detail in our original ‘First Look’ report.

      Performance
      Because no lens was supplied with the camera, we have reviewed it with our own M.Zuiko Digital ED 12-40mm f/2.8 PRO and M.Zuiko Digital ED 12-100mm f/4.0 IS PRO lenses. We used the shorter, faster lenses for our Imatest tests, which were carried out on both straight-out-of-the-camera JPEGs and also ORF.RAW files that were converted into 16-bit TIFF format with Adobe Camera Raw (ACR), our preferred raw file converter. The *.ORI files produced in the two High-Res Shot modes had to be converted into 16-bit TIFF format with Olympus Workspace software, which is available as a free download from the Support pages on the Olympus website.

      Our Imatest assessments showed the review camera was able to meet expectations for the sensor’s 20-megapixel resolution with JPEGs and delivered exceeding expectations by a comfortable margin with ORF.RAW files. With the normal 5184 x 3888 pixel JPEGs, the highest values were obtained between ISO 64 (‘Low’) and ISO 800, after which there was a gradual decline as sensitivity was increased. TIFF files from the equivalent raw files followed the same pattern and met expectations for the sensor’s resolution. The graph below shows the results of our tests.

      Colour reproduction in JPEGs was a little more restrained than the E-M1 Mark II’s but both contrast and saturation were nicely balanced to provide images that looked good on screens yet provided scope for editing.  Colour reproduction figures from our Imatest tests were close to, although slightly higher than, those from the normal ORF.RAW files. File processing is probably a reason for this similarity.

      As we found with the E-M1 X, our Imatest software couldn’t handle the 461MB files produced in the High-Res Shot mode’s tripod setting, which produces 10,368 x 7776 pixel files. For shots taken with the handheld setting, which produces 50-megapixel files (8160 x 6120 pixels), we were able to measure the resolution of both JPEGs and raw files, whereas we could only measure JPEGs with the E-M1 X. The results can be found in the TESTS section of this report.

      As we found with our original shooting tests, long exposures at night were generally clean and noise-free at ISO settings up to ISO 6400, where the first signs of image noise became visible in shots taken without noise-reduction processing. By ISO 25600, noise was apparent and images were slightly softened and a few colour artefacts could be seen. However, shots would be usable at small output sizes.

      As mentioned in our First Look article, autofocusing performance when shooting stills was outstanding and tracking AF was both fast and accurate. The AF system also performed well in very low light levels, locking onto subjects quickly with no trace of hunting for a sharp edge. Subject tracking was also handled competently, when shooting stills and movie clips

      Auto white balance performance was similar to the results we obtained with the E-M1X and, like that camera, the E-M1 Mark III provides plenty of ways to ensure the correct colour reproduction. The ‘keep warm tone’ and ‘keep white’ options are available for the Auto setting, along with the same seven presets, Kelvin temperature selection, amber/blue and green/magenta adjustments and four ‘capture’ WBs for custom measurements.

      With the keep white auto WB setting, the review camera produced close-to-neutral colours under incandescent lighting as well as warm-toned LED light and fluorescent. The ‘keep warm tone’ setting retained the warm tones in shots taken under incandescent lighting and warm-toned LED light.  While the presets for incandescent and fluorescent lighting tended to over-correct, manual measurement produced neutral colours.

      The video capabilities of the new camera are very similar to those offered in the E-M1 II with the latest firmware. The updated stabilisation system can be combined with electronic stabilisation to support hand-held video recording at both UHD 4K and C4K (4096 x 2160 pixels), which are more prone to camera shake. However, the angle of view will be slightly narrower due to frame cropping.

      The addition of OM-Log capture provides a wider dynamic range plus scope for colour grading in post-production. Olympus provides a downloadable look-up-table to convert footage for use with Blackmagic Design’s DaVinci Resolve editing software.

      We found the AF system provided consistent and reasonably fast autofocusing, including when tracking moving subjects in movie mode. However, the high-speed recording settings often suffered from initial lags in locking onto subjects and focus could hesitate when subjects entered or exited the frame. Dynamic range was also reduced with this setting and highlight clipping was common (whereas it was rare with slower frame rates).

      Soundtracks – in modes where they could be recorded – were clear and possessed a good stereo ‘presence’, although this could only be heard when playing clips back on a computer with stereo speakers. The camera provides settings for wind noise reduction and adjusting the levels of both recording and microphone levels. Both were relatively sensitive.

      We carried out our timing tests with a Lexar Professional SDHC UHS-II U3 Class 10 card that is rated for speeds up to 300MB/second (2000X). The review camera took just over a second to power-up for the first shot. Autofocus lag averaged approximately 0.1 second and it was eliminated with pre-focusing.

      Shot-to-shot times averaged 0.45 seconds for both JPEGs and ORF.RAW files. It took just under a second to process each JPEG file on average and just over a second for each raw file.

      In the high-speed continuous shooting setting with the mechanical shutter, the review camera captured 100 Large/Superfine JPEGs in 6.4 seconds without hesitation, which works out at a frame rate of just under the specified 15 fps. It took 5.8 seconds to process this burst. With ORF.RAW files, we were also able to record 100 frames in 6.2 seconds without the camera pausing but it took 7.5 seconds to clear the buffer memory. We found no apparent reduction in  capture rates or buffer capacity for RAW+JPEG pairs.

      Shooting Large/Superfine JPEGs with the electronic shutter, we paused the continuous recording paused at 50 frames, which were captured in roughly 1/4 second, which is approximately 60 fps. Processing took 5.8 seconds. The same frame rate applied with RAW+JPEG pairs, although processing took just over 11 seconds.

      Conclusion

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      SPECS

      Image sensor: 17.4 x 13.0 mm Live MOS sensor with  21.8 million photosites (20.4 megapixels effective )
      Image processor:  TruePic IX
      A/D processing: 12-bit lossless compression
      Lens mount: Micro Four Thirds
      Focal length crop factor:  2x
      Image formats: Stills: JPEG (DCF Ver. 2.0, Exif Ver. 2.31), ORF..RAW, RAW+JPEG; Movies: MOV(MPEG-4AVC/H.264) with Wave Format audio (Stereo linear PCM/16-bit, Sampling frequency 48kHz)
      Image Sizes: Stills – 5184 x 3888,    1024 x 768; Movies: 4096 x 2160 (C4K) at 24p/ IPB (approx. 237Mbps); 3840 x 2160 (4K) at 30p, 25p, 24p / IPB (approx. 102Mbps); 1920 x 1080 (FHD) at 30p, 25p, 24p / ALL-I (approx. 202Mbps), IPB (approx. 52Mbps, approx. 30MBps, approx. 18Mbps), 60p, 50p / IPB (approx. 52Mbps, approx. 30MBps, approx. 18Mbps); 1280 x 720 (HD) at 60p, 50p, 30p, 25p, 24p / ALL-I (approx. 102Mbps), IPB (approx. 26Mbps, approx. 14MBps, approx. 10Mbps); High speed movie at 120/100 fps
      Aspect ratios: 4:3 (default), 3:2,  16:9, 1:1, 3:4
      Image Stabilisation: Built-in 5-axis sensor-shift image stabilisation; up to 7.5 stops with M.Zuiko Digital ED 12-100mm f/4 IS PRO lens
      Dust removal: Supersonic Wave Filter
      Shutter (speed range): Mechanical focal plane shutter (60-1/8000 sec., plus Live bulb, Live time, Live Composite); Electronic shutter (60-1/32000 second; shutter speeds faster than 1/320 sec. in first curtain mode will automatically switch to mechanical shutter); flash synch at 1/250 sec.
      Exposure Compensation: +/- 5EV in 1/3, ½ or 1EV steps (Live View only reflects +/3EV steps)
      Exposure bracketing: 2, 3 or 5 frames (0.3/0.7/1.0EV steps selectable), 7 frames (0.3/0.7EV steps selectable)
      Other bracketing options: ISO (3 frames (0.3/0.7/1.0EV steps selectable), WB (3 frames A-B/G-M axis, each selectable in 2, 4, 6 steps), flash (3 frames (0.3/0.7/1.0EV steps selectable), Art Filters,  focus bracketing and stacking
      Interval recording: Yes, for time-lapse movies
      Self-timer: 2 or 10 seconds delay
      Focus system: High-speed imager AF (phase/contrast detection), range – -3.5EV to +20EV
      AF points & selection: 121 points each of cross-type phase detection and contrast detection; All target, Single target (Normal), Single target (Small), Group target (5 area), Group target (9 area), Group target (25 area), Custom target (AF area and its increment steps selectable)
      Focus modes: Single AF (S-AF), Single AF (S-AF+MF), Continuous AF (C-AF), Continuous AF (C-AF+MF), Manual Focus (MF), AF tracking (C-AF + TR), AF tracking (C-AF + TR+MF), Preset MF, Starry sky AF (S-AF), Starry sky AF (S-AF+MF)
      Exposure metering:  324-area Digital ESP metering, Centre-weighted Average and Spot metering patterns  plus Spot metering with highlight/shadow control; AF target spot metering also available
      Shooting modes: P, A, S, M, Bulb, Movie, C 1-4
      Art Filters: Pop Art, Soft Focus, Pale & Light Colour, Light Tone, Grainy Film, Pin Hole, Diorama, Cross Process, Gentle Sepia, Dramatic Tone, Key Line, Water Colour, Vintage, Partial Colour (18 colours selectable), Bleach Bypass, Instant Film
      Picture modes: i-Finish, Vivid, Natural, Flat, Portrait, Monotone, Custom, e Portrait, Underwater, Colour Creator, Art Filters
      Movie Picture Modes: Flat, OM-Log400
      Other shooting modes: HDR (auto composite), Keystone correction, Fisheye compensation, Live ND,  One Push Tele-converter (2x), Live Bulb /. Live Time, Live Composite
      In-camera effects: Tripod High Res Shot (JPEG (80M) 10368 x 7776, JPEG (50M) 8160 x 6120, JPEG (25M) 5760 x 4320, RAW 10368 x 7776); Handheld High Res Shot (JPEG (50M) 8160 x 6120, JPEG (25M) 5760 x 4320, RAW 8160 x 6120);
      Colour space options: sRGB and Adobe RGB
      ISO range: Auto (ISO 64-6400) with extension to ISO 25600 available; adjustable in 1/3, 1/2 or 1 EV steps
      White balance: Auto,  Daylight, Fluorescent (Cool White), Fluorescent (Daylight), Fluorescent (Warm White), Incandescent, Shade, Underwater, Colour Temperature, Custom
      Flash: External flashguns only
      Flash modes: Redeye, Fill-in, Flash Off, Red-eye Slow sync.(1st curtain), Slow sync.(1st curtain), Slow sync.(2nd curtain), Manual (1/1 (FULL) ~ 1/64)
      Flash exposure adjustment: +/- 3EV in 1/3, 1/2, 1 EV steps
      Sequence shooting: Max. 15 frames/sec. with locked AF; up to 60 fps in silent sequential shooting mode and Pro Capture H mode
      Buffer capacity: Max. 134 Large/Fine JPEGs, 101 RAW files
      Storage Media: Dual slots for SD, SDHC, SDXC cards (Slot 1 is UHS-I, II compatible; Slot 2 is UHS-I compatible)
      Viewfinder: 2,360,000-dot EVF with 100% frame coverage, 21mm eyepoint, 1.3x magnification, -4 to +2 dpt adjustment, adaptive brightness technology, simulated OVF
      LCD monitor: Vari-angle 3-inch LCD with 1,037,000 dots, electrostatic capacitance touch panel +/- 7 levels of brightness and colour temperature adjustment
      Playback functions: Single-frame, information display, index display (4/9/25/100 frames), calendar, enlargement (2x ~ 14x), movie (with sound, FF/REW/Pause), picture rotation (auto),  Light Box display
      Interface terminals: USB Type-C / ⌀2.5Pin Jack (Optional remote cable RM-CB2 can be used), Micro HDMI  (type D), Hot shoe, sync terminal, ⌀3.5 stereo mini jacks for microphones and headphones, Superspeed (USB3.0) PC interface
      Wi-Fi function: Built-in (IEEE 802.11a/b/g/n/ac); Bluetooth Ver.4.2 BLE
      Power supply: BLH-1 rechargeable Li-ion batteries in special base pack; CIPA rated for approx. 440 shots/charge (up to 950 shots in quick sleep mode)
      Dimensions (wxhxd): Approx. 134.1 x 90.9 x 68.9 mm
      Weight: Approx. 504 grams (body only); 580 grams with battery and cards

      Distributor: Olympus Imaging Australia; 1300 659 678

      TESTS

      Based on Large/Super Fine JPEG files taken with the M.Zuiko Digital ED 12-40mm f/2.8 PRO lens.

       

      Based on ORF.RAW files converted into 16-bit TIFF files with Adobe Camera Raw.

       

      ‘Hand-held’ high-res shot mode JPEGs.

      ‘Hand-held’ high-res shot mode raw files.

       

      SAMPLES

      The shots below were taken with the M.Zuiko Digital ED 12-40mm f/2.0 PRO lens


      Auto white balance with incandescent lighting using the Keep White setting.


      Auto white balance with incandescent lighting using the Keep Warm setting.


      Auto white balance with fluorescent lighting.


      Auto white balance with LED lighting
      using the Keep White setting.


      Auto white balance with LED lighting using the Keep Warm setting.


      ISO 64; 50 second exposure at f/2.8, 27mm focal length, available light exposure at night.


      ISO 100; 30 second exposure at f/2.8, 27mm focal length, available light exposure at night.


      ISO 200; 30 second exposure at f/4, 27mm focal length, available light exposure at night.


      ISO 800; 15 second exposure at f/4, 27mm focal length, available light exposure at night.


      ISO 3200; 8 second exposure at f/5.6, 27mm focal length, available light exposure at night.


      ISO 6400; 4 second exposure at f/5.6, 27mm focal length, available light exposure at night.


      ISO 12800; 4 second exposure at f/8, 27mm focal length, available light exposure at night.


      ISO 25600; 2.5 second exposure at f/9, 27mm focal length, available light exposure at night.
       

      The images below were recorded with the M.Zuiko Digital 12-100mm f/4.0 IS PRO lens.


      Close-up at 12mm focal length, ISO 200, 1/160 second at f/5.


      Crop from the above image at 100% magnification.


      Close-up at 44mm focal length, ISO 200, 1/250 second at f/5.


      Close-up at 80mm focal length, ISO 200, 1/160 second at f/4.


      Close-up at 100mm focal length, ISO 250, 1/200 second at f/4.


      20mm focal length, ISO 500, 1/60 second at f/4.


      41mm focal length, ISO 1250, 1/20 second at f/4.


      100mm focal length, ISO 250, 1/200 second at f/6.3.


      15mm focal length, ISO 100, 1/2000 second at f/8.


      92mm focal length, ISO 200, 1/200 second at f/4.


      57mm focal length, ISO 200, 1/125 second at f/4.5.


      12mm focal length, ISO 100, 1/200 second at f/8.


      12mm focal length, ISO 200, 1/400 second at f/10.


      50mm focal length, ISO 100, 1/200 second at f/7.1.


      66mm focal length, ISO 250, 1/125 second at f/4.


      12mm focal length, ISO 200, 1/200 second at f/6.3.


      Still frame from Cinema 4K (4096 x 2160 pixel) movie clip recorded at 25p.


      Still frame from UHD 4K (3840 x 2160 pixel) movie clip recorded at 25p.


      Still frame from Full HD (1920 x 1080 pixel) movie clip recorded 50p.


      Still frame from Full HD (1920 x 1080 pixel) movie clip recorded at 25p.


      Still frame from Full HD (1920 x 1080 pixel) movie clip recorded at 24p.


      Still frame from Full HD (1920 x 1080 pixel) high-speed movie at 100 fps.

       

      Rating

      RRP: AU$3099; US$1,799.99

      • Build: 9.0
      • Ease of use: 8.8
      • Autofocusing: 9.0
      • Image quality JPEG: 8.9
      • Image quality RAW: 9.0
      • Video quality: 8.9

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