News Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark III review

May 12, 2020
I'm a pretty dedicated m43 photographer having used (predominantly) the Olympus system since about 2012. I ran an E-M1ii from 2016 and recently picked up the E-M1iii. In other words, I'm somewhat of an Olympus fan and have a lot of experience of the m43 format and Olympus cameras, including the E-M1ii and the E-M1iii. So, I feel qualified to comment on your article, and I must say that I disagree with a number of points:

1) "As you'd expect, the Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark III confidently outperforms the Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II". How? In my view, there's very little difference in the handling or performance between them and there is zero difference in the IQ. Sure, there are couple of new features likes HHHR & Live ND; and the AF has been tweaked - but fundamentally it's a VERY similar camera to the Mark II.

2) "Everything here feels superior [to the E-M1 II], from the faster and more robust autofocus to a significant improvement in ISO performance". Totally disagree! There is ZERO improvement in ISO performance. The AF is much the same in terms of its speed and robustness, aside from Face/Eye AF which is a big step up (but probably still lagging best-in-class eye AF and still not capable of detecting animal eyes). Then there are some more flexible ways to setup the AF zone, which are nice to have, but it's pretty much the same engine underneath.

3) "If you’re an existing Mark II owner and you’re wondering if this is worth the upgrade, you’ll notice a dramatic boost in its core performance – and that’s before factoring in the wealth of all-new features." Dramatic Boost? Come on! The Mark III is a tiny bit snappier in some things, but overall there's no meaningful improvement here. The Mark II does not lack in performance. Things like focus stacking for instance are a tiny bit faster, but still not exactly speedy taking about 6-8 seconds for stacking 10 images. HHHR stacking typically takes 15-20 seconds, lagging behind what most smartphones can do with multi-image techniques.

4) "In particular, handheld 50MP pixel-shift images are far more consistent [compared to E-M1x]". Are you sure about that? I've only played a little with the E-M1x but didn't notice anything worse about it than the Mk III.

5) Over 13 stops of DR?? "Olympus's 20MP Micro Four Thirds sensor has always been strong on dynamic range, and it still performs superbly in this respect. Only the new EOS-1D X III can match the Olympus, and even this falls behind by around 2/3-stop at ISO 3200 and above.". Your DR graph shows the E-M1 Mk III delivering more than 13 stops of DR - 2 stops more than the Sony A9. The only way I can believe this is if you are shooting the test with HHHR mode. If that's the case, you didn't say it and it's misleading. If not, then your measurements can't be right. Sorry, but this part of your review is not credible at all.

6) SNR graph looks wrong too. You show SNR with the E-M1 Mark III as being worse at base ISO than the other cameras in your comparison. I'd accept that, but it's completely in contradiction of the Olympus having the highest DR at the same ISO. Then, at high ISOs, you present the E-M1iii as being better than the full-frame Canon EOS-1DxIII - yet your analysis of shooting at the basketball game admits that the Canon is way better for noise at higher ISOs. How can both be true?

Overall, I think the E-M1 III isn't a bad camera (hey, I bought one!), but it's only a tiny evolution over the E-M1 II and arguably is a poor model in terms of a flagship m43 camera in 2020. I don't know whether Olympus sponsored this review or not, but it definitely smells like it!
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