Hands on: Olympus E-M1 Mark III Review

First Impressions

The Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark III is a great camera with a lot of flexible features. If you’re in the market for a mirrorless camera that gets great macro shots and rarely requires a tripod, this is a great choice for you. Though we only spent a few hours with the camera – and would need to spend more time with it to investigate all of the features in-depth – the E-M1 Mark III looks set to be a great choice for anyone searching for a number of E-M1X features at an E-M1 Mark II price.

Key Specifications

  • Review Price: £1599.99
  • Weather-sealed body
  • 20.4MP Live MOS sensor
  • 50MP handheld and 80MP with tripod High Res Shot
  • Shoots 4K at 120fps
  • Image stabilisation with up to 7.5EV steps of compensation
  • Focus Bracketing and Focus Stacking
  • M.Zuiko lens support

Olympus recently announced its latest mirrorless flagship, the OM-D E-M1 Mark III, and the camera is designed to sit between the OM-D E-M1 Mark II and the pricier sports and wildlife-snapping OM-D E-M1X.

The weather-sealed body is packed with a 20.4MP sensor, new TruePic IX image processor and 4K video capabilities, along with a 50MP High Res Shot mode and precise autofocus (AF) features.

How good is the E-M1 Mark III? And is it worth upgrading from the Mark II? We spent a few hours with the camera at the Olympus launch event and this is what we found out.

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Design

The Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark III is a weighty camera with a rotatable display and no shortage of controls. Compact and sturdy, the weather-sealed magnesium alloy body promises no dust, water or ice will mess with the sensor.

At 580g with the battery and SD card, the E-M1 Mark III is lighter than many DSLRs but heavier than some mirrorless options out there. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing – the camera has a reassuring grip and its compact size means it will be easy to take with you on your travels.

The number of buttons and dials could be overwhelming for beginners but offer a very good level of control. The inclusion of a joystick makes navigating AF points a breeze and key upgrades here include new menu and ISO buttons, and a more prominent dial toward the front of the camera.

The camera combines in-body five-axis image stabilisation with in-lens image stabilisation (where supported) to achieve an impressive 7.5 shutter-speed steps of compensation. According to Olympus, this makes it possible to ditch the tripod in dark locations and during telephoto photography. While we weren’t able to test out either of these shots, we did shoot all of our photos handheld and the results were both shake and blur-free.

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Features

While the 20.4MP Live MOS sensor will be enough for most casual shooters, the High Res Shot option is excellent for those in need of higher resolutions. The feature makes it possible to capture 80MP ultra-high resolution pics with a tripod and 50MP without.

Here are two handheld shots, the first taken without High Res Shot and the second with High Res Shot:

Without High Res Shot

With High Res Shot

One area in which the E-M1 Mark III truly shines is AF. The camera is packed with a 121-point all cross-type On-chip Phase Detection AF sensor allowing for precise focus modes, including Starry Sky AF for astrophotographers and Advanced Face and Eye Priority AF for portrait artists.

Focus Stacking is an incredibly useful tool for macro photographers. Switching this feature on tells the camera to take 10 shots with 10 vertically stacked focus points and then combines them to create one complete image with multiple focus points.

Here is a close up of a flower with a single focus point, taken without Focus Stacking, and the same image with Focus Stacking turned on:

Without Focus Stacking

With Focus Stacking

The E-M1 Mark III also includes the Live ND feature found on the E-M1X. Photographers can toggle from one step to five steps and see the slowed-down shutter effects in the viewfinder before they snap the picture.

The E-M1 Mark III is USB Power Delivery compatible, meaning the camera can be charged from an external power bank during long shoots and on the go, again making it a great potential choice for travelling photographers.

Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark III – Early Verdict

The Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark III is a great camera with a lot of flexible features. If you’re in the market for a mirrorless camera that gets great macro shots and rarely requires a tripod, this is a great choice for you.

Though we only spent a few hours with the camera – and would need to spend more time with it to investigate all of the features in-depth – the E-M1 Mark III looks set to be a great choice for anyone searching for a number of E-M1X features at an E-M1 Mark II price.

A ’hands on review’ is our first impression of a product only - it is not a full test and verdict. Our writer must have spent some time with the product to describe an early sense of what it’s like to use. We call these ‘hands on reviews’ to make them visible in search. However these are always unscored and don’t give recommendations. Read more about our reviews policy.

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