Fstoppers Reviews the Olympus OM-D EM10 Mark III: One of the Most Capable Beginner Cameras

Fstoppers Reviews the Olympus OM-D EM10 Mark III: One of the Most Capable Beginner Cameras

In 2008, Olympus created a camera system in which lenses and camera bodies could be shared between brands and manufactures under what they called the Micro Four Thirds (M43) standard. The system based on the sensor size, a quarter of full frame, is easily one of my favorite to use and wildly underrated. Olympus has released an update to the iconic family with the entry-level OM-D EM10 Mark III that now packs a serious punch for those professional photographers and consumers alike wanting 5-axis stabilization, 121 focus points, and 4K video. They are on the hunt to innovate across the line and it begins with their latest at the beginner level.

This system, though fairly new, seems to be one of the best and innovative ideas I've seen in the photo industry. At the surface, the OM-D EM10 Mark III is being promoted as an entry-level camera with the idea that you can simply pick it up, throw it in full auto, and have at it. Though in an unusual fashion for a major camera brand, they are packing some serious technologies and features into even their lowest-end cameras. This includes 4K shooting and even their incredibly slick LiveComp mode that allows for some outstanding low light shots, including star trails like the shot below.

Overall, build and image quality in on par with almost the entire line of Olympus cameras. It's strong and super easy to control and customize with various function buttons and simple menu systems to allow for quick advanced setting changes. Funny enough compared to my OM-D EM5 Mark II, which is a higher-end model, the design seems beefier in the hand due to the more substantial grip. This is a very welcome addition for those that are new and want some safety in holding it steady. 

Features

Let's simply break down the features in this "beginner" camera real quick. The ones that stick out to me the most for those looking at a capable entry-level camera are 4K video, built-in Wi-Fi, 8.6 frames per second burst shooting, and that 121 focus points that will yield far more shots in focus when on the fly. Heck, more than half of these specs would impress some of the best shooters around if you were looking for a high-end camera. 

  • 121 focus points
  • TruPic VIII image processor (from the higher-end professional E-M1 II mind you)
  • 16-megapixel Micro Four Thirds Live MOS sensor
  • Five-axis, four-stop image stabilization system
  • 4K video recording, 30/25/24p
  • High-speed AF system, 121 contrast-detect AF points
  • 8.6fps burst shooting 
  • 2.36-million dot OLED viewfinder
  • 3-inch tilting, touch-sensitive LCD screen
  • Art filters (including new Bleach Bypass mode)
  • Built-in Wi-Fi
  • Single SDHC/SDXC (UHS-I and II) card slot
  • Camera Bag included
  • 16 GB SD Card included

If you still have doubts about Olympus as a professional camera brand and wonder how these specs stack up against their higher-end models, check out this beast: the OM-D EM1 Mark II

Build Quality

Olympus is well known for making beautiful cameras and ones that stand the test of time with their vintage look and feel. Not only do they look sexy, they are built like tanks. The main body is metal while the top section is more of a super hard but tough composite. It threw me for a loop when I couldn't tell if it was all metal or if it was cross-sectioned which likely is to save on weight and cost. An unexpected change in the new E-M10 Mark III versus the Mark II is the omission of wireless flash capabilities. That shouldn't matter to too many; if they want flash it is now baked right into the top of the camera in the pop-out variety known to many beginner cameras.

Something I noticed between this model and my own OM-D EM5 II was the speed in which the dials and buttons reacted to what I was clicking. They seemed to be ever so slightly slower than my higher-end model. Not a big difference, but for someone that shoots often with multiple camera systems you would hope they each would react in the same manner, especially with the same brand. 

It comes with a branded strap as well as a slightly more protruded hand grip than the higher-end EM5 II that I shoot with currently. This is a much welcomed feature considering many will use this in quick grab and go situations. 

Performance (Autofocus and Battery Life)

The new user-friendly interface shows that the brand wants to attract beginners and enthusiast photographers alike. On paper, this thing could impress even the most professional of shooters. With the in body 5-axis stabilization paired with the 4K video shooting those alone should be enough to pick one up on either side of the skill sets. Battery life is solid and in my shooting, I got about 400-plus shots on a full charge; less when I tried shooting burst or 4K footage but that is a given. I always recommend with any mirrorless camera to grab an extra battery or two just to be safe.

One major gripe I have about the battery in this camera is they chose to go with an ever so slightly different battery than the other cameras in the system. The slight difference makes it difficult to tell which is which when I have both camera systems in my bag and need to pull one out. Another small but annoying aspect of the battery is the charger. You have a block charger that the battery simply plugs into but then you must attach a long, thick cord to the back and then plug it into the wall. It's not as easy as the Canon and Nikon all-in-one chargers that plug straight into the wall, so that makes charging a bit of an annoyance.

Image Quality

Image quality is great. As mentioned, I've been shooting with Olympus for nearly two years and have fallen in love with the overall package across the line. The smaller image sensor is, well, small, but in the grand scheme of things, it is far better quality than your phone or any point-and-shoot camera on the market. Pair that sensor with the in-body stabilization and this camera will be a far better solution than most options at this price point for a majority of beginners that will be just pointing and shooting away in low light situations.

This is where I might get a little picky about this system, but it's mainly with the pairing of body and lens than the camera itself. I might be biased as a more professional-level photographer, but the lens they decide to pair with this is not the greatest. Sure, it's a crazy compact pancake lens that is maybe one-inch thick, but with an aperture of 3.5-4.5 at its widest, I am not a fan. Shooting in full auto in great light is perfect, but once you drop inside and are shooting family-style moments without the flash you end with the maxed out ISO issue many beginner cameras run into.

If I had to recommend this camera to anyone, it would be to buy the body and then picking up one of their prime lenses which have a very slim profile and much better aperture. For example, the 17mm f/1.8 ($350) and the 25mm f/1.8 ($250) are great lenses with far better sharpness and that lower aperture would be perfect for family portrait-style shots. Remember, with Micro Four Thirds the focal length is essentially doubled that of full frame so these would be a 34mm and 50mm equivalent to full frame.

Price

This might be the best part. At first glance, the $549 price (body only) might seem a little high for an entry-level camera that has a smaller sensor than say a Canon Rebel, but what it offers in features like more focus points, 4K video, and 8.6 frames per second should easily make up for what Canon lacks in their lower-end cameras. The 14-42mm EZ lens that is paired with this just simply doesn't do justice to the body itself. Though fully capable for most situations, I feel as a professional I can't direct you in the way I wouldn't go myself with a little research to find the best quality for the buck.

Pair this body with either of the lenses I mention above and you have a killer starter kit for daily shooting or family photo outings during the holidays. Not to mention, this could be a great second body for professionals that want something smaller, lighter, but powerful enough to sneak in some pro-level options on the go. 

What I Liked

  • Build quality
  • Speed and focusing (including burst mode)
  • Battery life
  • Silent Shutter Mode on quick access Mode Dial (hard to get to but great feature)
  • Shooting modes (LiveComp shooting mode, star shots)
  • 4K video 
  • Fast autofocus in photo and video mode
  • Quick Wi-Fi connectivity to mobile

What I Disliked

  • Battery size and charging block
  • SD card slot is inside battery slot
  • Battery/SD slot door is flimsy
  • Slightly slower lag between dials moving and interface reacting

Conclusion

The only thing holding this camera back might be the kit lens that's available but that could easily be answered by purchasing the body alone and then searching for a great secondary lens as mentioned above. With a great overall build quality, simple menu system, crazy fast focusing, and 4K video footage, this thing packs a punch for both pros and beginners. I will be adding this guy as my secondary body immediately after I snag one of those wider prime lenses.

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7 Comments

Actually it's a quarter of full frame. Apsc is half.

Andrew Griswold's picture

You are correct. Fixed it! I was mixing that up with the focal length which you double to make it equiv to full frame.

That camera's sauce is weak.

16.1mp... so times 4 it's got both the lens requirements of a 64.4mp full frame camera and the pixel size drawbacks related to that sort of sensor density including poor high ISO performance, lackluster color, and poor dynamic range and then it doesn't even have the lenses to utilize the little resolution it that it actually has.

#WompWomp

You might wish to actually try one out (or check out the Olympus pro line) before making a statement like that. The numbers are only part of the story, and this one is targeted as an entry level. I’m happy when any of the manufacturers create something to get people enjoying photography.

I know... I know... I quoted numbers. They're just the explanation of why every Olympus picture I've ever seen makes me feel like I need a new prescription.

I don't get how photography turned into such a journey before destination hobby. We're creators. This isn't skiing. The image IS the goal and to pretend it isn't is to miss the point.

There are plenty of excellent and, if you must have it that way, small cameras both new and used around that price point. There is no reason to compromise like this.

I'm truly sorry you have never seen any exemplary imagery from the Olympus system. I know that there are quite a few talented shooters using the gear with beautiful results (i.e., Jay Dickman, Tracie Maglosky and Gavin Hoey to name a few). I'm just betting that if you got your hands on a bit of the M43 kit, that; a) you could make the images sing, and b) show others what it's capable of. I just love the fact that the gear (OM-D E-M1 MkII, Pen-F & accompanying M Zuiko glass) gets out of the way and allows me to create without being cumbersome and fatiguing. If you ever make it to Charleston SC, give a holler and you can check out what we have here at the studio (and we can grab some good grub & libations!). Cheers!

This looks like a great camera to stealthily carry every day.