Om d e m10 mark iii


Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark III Review

The Olympus OM-D E-M10 III is a 16MP Micro Four Thirds mirrorless camera. It looks like a slightly prettier version of its predecessor and the main changes are to the user interface (UI) and menus, in an aim to make the camera more accessible to relative newcomers to photography.

From a hardware point of view, it's a fairly minor update to the Mark II, with some small adjustments to the ergonomics and a new processor. But the UI changes do make some of its smarter features easier to get at.

Key Features:

  • 16MP Four Thirds CMOS sensor with no AA Filter
  • 5-axis image stabilization (4 stops of correction)
  • TruePic VIII processor
  • 4K video with in-body and digital stabilization
  • 8.6 fps continuous shooting (4.8 fps with continuous AF)
  • 2.36M-dot electronic viewfinder
  • 1.04M-dot tilting touchscreen
  • 330 shot-per-charge battery life (CIPA standard)

Beyond the attempts to make the E-M10 III and its more specialized photographic modes easier to use, a more powerful processor brings 4K video shooting. Impressively, the camera is able to offer a combination of mechanical and digital stabilization in 4K mode (most cameras can only digitally stabilize 1080), giving uncannily smooth footage, even when moving the camera around.

Beyond this, the camera's Auto mode has also been reworked so that it attempts to detect movement in the scene, to help it better select the right settings for shooting. Overall it's a subtle update, but calling it the OM-D E-M10 II Mark II would be silly, even for Olympus.

Rivals and Peers

Although the E-M10 III is the entry level to the OM-D series, it's a distinctly mid-level camera. Its profusion of direct controls make it a camera with plenty of space to grow into and, even with the work done to ease access to its full set of features, it still feels like a camera aimed at people who want to do a lot more than just point and shoot.

As such, it falls somewhere between Sony's a5100 and a6000 models (offering the touch-screen ease-of-use of the former with the hands-on control of the latter). Its pricing also puts it squarely into competition with Canon's EOS T7i (700D) and Nikon's D5600. Panasonic's GX85 is its closest Micro Four Thirds peer, and the only other 4K-capable camera in this class.

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Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark III Review

Our test scene is designed to simulate a variety of textures, colors and detail types you'll encounter in the real world. It also has two illumination modes to see the effect of different lighting conditions.

The E-M10 III's image quality is essentially a match for that of its predecessor, which is to say: really pretty good for a 16MP sensor, but not a match for the levels of detail its 24MP peers will give. The lack of anti-aliasing filter helps the camera squeeze a little more resolution out of its chip but, as the name implies, this means it can exhibit aliasing in high-contrast, repetitive patterns, if you use a sharp enough lens.

The price you pay for the smaller camera size that a smaller sensor can give is more noise. Compare the E-M10 III with the Nikon D5600 and you can see the APS-C camera can produce similar image quality in half as much light (a 1EV difference). However, the difference is less pronounced when compared with the Canon EOS T7i/700D, so it's still a competitive performance.

JPEG output

For this type of easy-to-use camera, JPEG performance is vital the E-M10 III does well in this respect. The default 'Natural' color response is excellent. It broadly follows the pattern of the popular Canon color rendering but punches-up sky blues, in a way that makes every landscape photo look like a happy memory. This is arguably even more attractive than Fujifilm's color, which is another of our favorites.

The camera's default sharpening is a little crude: you can see how much additional detail is in the Raw files that's being overwhelmed by the camera's processing. However, note also how effectively the false color is suppressed (though that's not the case everywhere: note the greenish swathe down the top right of the banknote). Even so, the sharpening is better than that of some of its rivals and it's not much less detailed than the default JPEGs of the Nikon D5600, despite its higher resolution.

Noise reduction (called Noise Filter in the Custom menu), errs on the side of smoothing away both noise and detail to give a low noise but also rather smudged image, by default. The camera's in-camera Raw conversion system makes it easy to experiment with the Low or Off settings.

Auto White Balance doesn't neutralize the lighting as aggressively as its Canon and Nikon peers, but the Setup menu option F3: 'WB Auto Keep Warm Color' can be turned off to get a totally neutral rendering.

Dynamic Range

Dynamic Range is an assessment of the range of brightness values a camera can cope with, from the highlight that causes the image to clip to white, down to the darkest tone with a tolerable noise level.

We look at this in two ways: firstly by giving the camera different exposures, then lifting them back to the same brightness (just as you might in the real world, if you were reducing exposure to prevent highlights over-exposing). Then we give the camera the same exposure at a series of different ISO settings. This reveals how much noise is being added by the camera, since the amount of noise from the light you captured is the same.

As you can see, the Mark III shows the same degree of processing latitude as its predecessor, which shouldn't be surprising, given its use of the same sensor. This puts it behind the performance of the best current APS-C cameras, given the same exposure, but still competitive against others, despite the sensor size difference.

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The E-M10 III's dials have been slight redesigned, making them easier to turn.

The E-M10 III is a gentle but significant refresh of the Mark II's ergonomics. It retains its predecessor's film-era SLR good looks but the front grip and dials have been reshaped to make the camera more comfortable to hold and the dials easier to operate.

Despite its mainly plastic construction, it's still a remarkably solid-feeling camera for the money. Not to the extent I'd expect it to survive much of a drop, but giving off a much better sense of build quality than the lower-end PEN E-PL and older E-PM models.

Operations and Controls

The most significant change to the controls is the addition of the 'Shortcut' button on the left of the camera's top plate. On the Mark II, this was a customizable function button but on the Mark III it's a dedicated control that takes you to either the settings control panel or the mode menu (the Movie, SCN and AP modes each has their own options page when you first enter the mode).

Pressing the Shortcut button in the SCN, AP or Movie modes brings up a screen detailing the available options. The Scene modes have been grouped into six use cases, rather than just presenting all 27 in a long list.

Having a dedicated button frees up the 'OK' button so that it always takes you to the settings control panel, whichever mode you're in. As is standard for Olympus, you can choose from several styles of settings control panel, but the OK button is always your way of accessing it. This is a huge improvement in consistency, which is fundamental to making a camera easy to use.

The E-M10 III features three styles of control layout. This is the Super Control Panel, which seems daunting at first, but quickly becomes a way of viewing and changing the camera's key settings. It can be operated via the touchscreen or the control dials.

The changes also see the loss of the Multi Function button and a reduction both in the number of customizable buttons and the number of functions that can be assigned.

Beyond this, the camera's physical layout is broadly the same.

All the camera's modes that require extra user input or that take multiple shots are accessed through the new 'AP' position on the mode dial, rather than being scattered throughout the menus.

In terms of operation, again the Mark III broadly similar to the Mark II. The significant changes are that the mode dial gains an 'AP' position, which give access to 'Advanced Photo' mode, the camera's multi-shot modes, which were often accessed via the main menu on the previous model. The mode menu screen for the scene mode ('SCN' on the mode dial) has also been simplified by grouping the scene modes into similar use-cases 'People, Motion, etc...'

The Custom menu has been pruned back but has also lost the 'index' page that listed what kinds of setting would be found in sub-section A, B, C...

Finally, Olympus has re-worked its menu system. Oddly, and contrary to most other camera makers, Olympus has done this by removing the level of the menu that acts as an index, to make it quicker to find the sub-section you're looking for. However, the company has also gone on an aggressive prune of the Custom menu, meaning the E-M10 Mark III only has 43 options in the Setup menu, rather than the Mark II's rather daunting 99.

In fact, the entire menu has been slimmed-down, so there are only 72 menu options in total, rather than 125. Some of the former options are incorporated into the AP mode, the movie settings are elevated from the Custom menu to their own tab in the main menu and others have been removed entirely.

One of the menu options that was originally removed was the 'RC' settings for controlling external flashguns. This optional was added back in Firmware v1.1, so we'd recommend installing this to gain access to this handy function.

Auto ISO

The E-M10 III has reasonable but slightly inflexible Auto ISO implementation. It tries to maintain a shutter speed of at least of 1/equivalent focal length or the user-specified Flash Slow Limit speed, whichever is fastest. However, there's no way of specifying faster or slower rate that still relates to the focal length.

Auto ISO is still available in manual exposure mode, but there's no way of applying Exposure Compensation, to adjust the target brightness that the camera is trying to maintain. Sadly, Auto ISO is not available when shooting video in Manual exposure mode, which would be handy.

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By Carey Rose

For a lot of people, automatic modes are a great way to get started in the wide, wonderful world of photography.

When a new camera lands on my desk, there's a few things I do automatically. Charge the battery. Make sure it's shooting Raw + JPEG. If any other DPReview editor has been using it, reset the custom controls because they'll almost certainly make no sense to me.

I also automatically use the camera in a manner in which I'm confident I'll get the best possible results, which therefore means never using it in its automatic mode.

But with the OM-D E-M10 Mark III, Olympus has spent some serious time refining its user interface and enhancing its various automatic and creative modes for those that are new to photography, or would simply prefer the camera to do the majority of work for them.

Getting ready to head out with the Olympus E-M10 Mark III. Out-of-camera JPEG using the 'HDR' setting from the Advanced Photography mode.Olympus 14-42mm F3.5-5.6EZ @ 24mm | ISO 200 | 1/400 sec | F11

So to get a feel for how much work Olympus has put into making the E-M10 III an easier camera for just about anyone to pick up and use, I set the mode dial to 'green' and took it to a couple of places that I tend to automatically take new cameras once I get them: Gasworks Park and Lake Cavanaugh.

Gasworks Park

After scrolling through all the Art filters several times, I found that the 'Vintage' ones are pretty fun. Cropped slightly to taste.Olympus 14-42mm F3.5-5.6EZ @ 16mm | ISO 200 | 1/500 sec | F9

Despite being a native of the Seattle area, I hadn't visited Gasworks Park until I started at DPReview (so if you've noticed a surge of images from it over the past two years, apologies). But it is a uniquely industrial-yet-picturesque destination for many a tourist; that is, the exact sort of person likely to use the E-M10 III in some of its automatic and creative modes.

Honestly, in full auto, the E-M10 III is pretty good. I’ve always liked the way Olympus cameras look and handle, and this is no exception. With some subtle grip and dial revisions, the baby OM-D is comfortable to use with just a wrist strap. For casual use in auto mode, I appreciate the reliable metering, and despite constant scene analysis (the camera will boost the shutter speed if it detects movement - more on this later), the E-M10 III is an extremely responsive camera.

While the metering on the whole was reliable, I'd have preferred a much faster shutter speed with a wider aperture for this image - F10 on Micro Four Thirds is likely to result in some image softness from diffraction.Olympus 14-42mm F3.5-5.6EZ @ 14mm | ISO 200 | 1/400 sec | F10

Gasworks Park is a great place to get a feel for a camera because of the wide variety of subjects available to you. People are out and about, there are industrial relics from a bygone era, you can climb a hill for a beautiful vista of downtown Seattle, and there's an abundance of beautiful trees and waterfront.

But it was those last subjects that first made me realize a problem with the Auto mode on the E-M10 III. That Olympus color I absolutely loved had had gone and gotten all...weird.

i-Enhance in auto mode Reprocessed in-camera with 'Natural' profile

Vibrant blues and greens are usually an Olympus strong point, but these trees on the north end of Gasworks Park got to looking a little neon-cartoon for my tastes in Auto mode with its enforced 'i-Enhance' color profile.

The problem is that you’re locked into the ‘i-Enhance’ color profile when shooting in Auto mode. It routinely takes the pleasingly dramatic colors of Olympus’ ‘Natural’ output and adds so much additional saturation that everything looks a little radioactive. Thankfully, if you’re a Raw shooter, you can re-process the image in-camera (or with your software of choice) with different settings.

This is an unfortunate trait shared with many other Olympus cameras - and we as a staff wouldn't even mind if 'i-Enhance' was the default, but on the off chance that people don't want their auto mode to become clown mode, users should really be able to choose a different setting.

i-Enhance adds so much additional saturation that everything looks radioactive

Moving the mode dial from Auto to Art, I noticed the E-M10 III has another trick up its sleeve; you can now scroll through every Art filter on the camera along the bottom of the screen while your scene changes in real time.

I've always liked Olympus' Grainy B&W treatments, ever since I first tried them on the PEN-F. Out-of-camera JPEG.Olympus 14-42mm F3.5-5.6EZ @ 14mm | ISO 200 | 1/400 sec | F7.1

I'm not been one to extensively use filters since my early Instagram days, but being able to scroll through options like Bleach Bypass, Cross Process and Pinhole Camera in real time make it much more likely that I'd happen upon one I found interesting. Of course, I still find plenty I don't like, but I wasn't exclusively using Grainy B&W, which is historically the only one I use.

Well, I guess I'm still not a huge fan of Cross Process. Out-of-camera JPEG.ISO 200 | 1/640 sec | F8

With a selection of images from Gasworks on the E-M10 III, I packed up the camera and headed out of town for a few days to Lake Cavenaugh.

Lake Cavenaugh

Lake Cavenaugh occupies 1.3 square miles of rural Skagit County, and is about an hour and a half drive northeast from Seattle. It's a staggeringly beautiful place, and permits all manner of water sports to boot. I've brought everything from compacts to DSLRs to the lake, and it's always lovely having a camera that's on the smaller side for jaunts to and from the dock.

The E-M10 III in auto mode, with me pointing and shooting. Out of camera JPEG.Olympus 14-42mm F3.5-5.6EZ @ 14mm | ISO 200 | 1/320 sec | F6.3

But before any sports on the water took place, I noticed some autofocus quirks while photographing a stationary, inflatable flamingo whose nickname is Charlie. (Charlie also serves as a floating koozie for a frosty beverage of your choosing). Despite Charlie's prominence in the frame, proximity to the camera and bright pink color, the camera kept focusing on the background until I tapped the flamingo's beak on the tilting touchscreen.

I then noticed that one thing that the E-M10 III's full automatic mode doesn't take care of for you are your autofocus settings, which I think is a bit of an oversight. The camera defaults to Single AF with auto AF area and face detect. It works fine much of the time, but it should really be more reliable in situations such as this one.

After three focus attempts where the E-M10 III focused on the background with its default focus settings, I finally just tapped over the inflatable flamingo's beak and it focused properly.Processed to taste from Raw.

Olympus 14-42mm F3.5-5.6EZ @ 14mm | ISO 200 | 1/200 sec | F6.3

This choice of AF settings becomes even more of an issue when subjects start to move. Indeed, one of the enhancements with the E-M10 III is that it is supposed to detect subject movement, and adjust its shutter speed accordingly for less chance of motion blur.

But if the camera can't automatically initiate continuous autofocus to track that moving subject, you'll just end up with out-of-focus blur instead of motion blur.

Grainy B&W Art filter Full auto

I really enjoyed how the Grainy B&W filter exaggerated the highlights and shadows in the water.

On the other hand, Olympus has brought a welcome change to Auto mode, in that the camera now lets the ISO creep all the way up to 6400 (it previously topped out at 1600). It's true that the built-in image stabilizer will help to keep the shakiest hands at bay for slower shutter speeds, but only a higher ISO value together with a faster shutter speed will freeze people's natural movements in social situations.

The higher ISO value helped guarantee a sharp image, and the auto white balance did a pretty good job with all the mixed lighting. Be aware, full auto mode can't do anything to improve your subject matter, as proven here. Straight out of camera JPEG. Olympus 14-42mm F3.5-5.6EZ @ 14mm | ISO 4000 | 1/60 sec | F3.5

The rest

So, no surprise, there are ups and downs to using a camera in its fully automatic mode. I wish that the scene analysis was linked to the Single/Continuous AF setting and that you had some greater control over color. But I had way more fun with the Art filters than I expected, and the camera was so responsive that I never once missed a shot.

The E-M10 III should appeal to photographers of all experience levels

With each release of an E-M10-series camera, I become more and more tempted to get one for myself. It's an impressively complete package for the price, and should appeal to photographers of all experience levels. With this latest model, you get Olympus' most user-friendly interface yet in an attractive and serious-looking camera body. If you progress in your photography, you've got all the manual controls you could want at your fingertips and an extensive lens ecosystem with an abundance of affordable options.

Out-of-camera JPEG.Olympus 14-42mm F3.5-5.6EZ @ 54mm | ISO 200 | 1/100 sec | F5

In short, the previous E-M10 II was a camera that I could easily recommend to friends and family looking for a solid camera that they can get great results with right out of the box, and yet grow into and remain satisfied with down the road. This new E-M10 III is now even easier to use, and therefore will be even easier for me to recommend in the future.

Sample gallery

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Unless otherwise noted images taken with no particular settings at full resolution. Because our review images are now hosted on the 'galleries' section of dpreview.com, you can enjoy all of the new galleries functionality when browsing these samples.

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The E-M10 III makes a pretty good social camera in that it's comparatively easy to carry around and able to take considerably better images in low light than a typical smartphone, even when using the kit zoom lens. And, of course, there is a range of relatively small, relatively affordable single focal length 'prime' lenses if you want better low light performance and can live with the restriction.

Add a single focal length lens with a wide maximum aperture and the E-M10 III can turn its hand to portraiture.Olympus M.Zuiko Digital 75mm F1.8 | 1/2000th | F2.0 | ISO 160

Photo: Richard Butler

The camera's Wi-Fi system has a mode in which you can select on the camera which images you wish to share, then allow friends to connect to the camera and download just those images over their phones' browser. And, while I doubt many people will have the patience to do this, it's a nice addition to the more strict, app-dependent approach that most other cameras take.

Landscape

16MP and a Four Thirds size sensor reduce the appeal of the E-M10 III for the most dedicated landscape photographers. However, its light weight and impressive image stabilization mean it's an easy camera to take with you, when you head out into nature.

The E-M10 III has a Panorama function but it makes no attempt to stitch the photos together: this image was assembled in Photoshop.

The Live Time and Live Bulb modes are great for learning long-exposure photography, since they let you see how the image is building up, during the exposure. The Panaroma mode, though, is a little disappointing, providing guides for shooting shots that will line up but making no attempt to combine them in-camera: a function most smartphone users might have come to expect.

Sports & Action

The E-M10 III's autofocus and relatively modest continuous shooting speed (with autofocus) means it's never going to rank as a world-beating sports camera, but that doesn't totally rule it out for shooting moving subjects.

The AF system can be pretty tenacious, meaning that you can tap on the screen and let the camera track your subject without too much effort. Unfortunately, we didn't find it to be dependable and too often ended up with sequences of out-of-focus images, so we wouldn't recommend the E-M10 III if sports and action is your the focus of your shooting.

Travel

The E-M10 III's small size, especially when combined with its retractable 'EZ' 14-42mm lens, makes it ideal for travel. It's possible to grab the camera and a couple of additional lenses and squeeze them into your luggage without too much fuss. Even with just the kit zoom, you get a reasonable focal length range, good image quality and immediately usable JPEGs.

The E-M10 III's relatively small size makes it that bit more likely you'll have it with you when a photogenic moment occurs.Olympus M.Zuiko Digital 14-42mm F3.5-5.6 EZ | 1/100th | F5.0 | ISO 400

Photo: Carey Rose

Autofocus might not be up to sporting standards, but it can it's certainly able to make sure you get some good shots of events unfolding in front of you. One of the main black marks against the E-M10 III in terms of its use as a travel companion is its lack of USB charging. At a fairly modest 330 shots per charge, you'll probably have to carry the charger with you on multi-day trips.

Video

The E-M10 III is something of a mixed bag for video shooters, in some respects it's terrifically easy to shoot with but not to a great enough degree that a beginner can just pick it up and shoot.

The camera can shoot UHD 4K video at 30, 25 or 24 frames per second and can combine its sensor shift stabilization with digital, if you're willing to put up with an additional crop. This does a truly impressive job of stabilizing the camera's footage, making it very easy to shoot handheld. The quality of the footage is excellent, too.

However, the camera can be a bit of a handful in other respects. Autofocus is easy to operate: you tap the screen to focus and it refocuses. Unfortunately, the contrast-detection-based hunting is likely to ruin your footage, which means manually focusing for the best results. There's also no Auto ISO in manual exposure shooting, so you'll have to shoot in either aperture or shutter priority mode, and allow the camera to control one of the exposure properties if you want it to be able to adjust brightness on-the-fly.

Beyond this, the camera has focus peaking available (it needs to be engaged via the 'Custom/A/MF Assist' menu setting), but there are no zebra warnings to guide exposure. The camera's Highlight/Shadow warnings stop working in video mode, so you can't improvise using these. Finally, as with so many of its peers, there's no means of adding an external mic, so you're limited to the camera's internal recording, which is never going to be great.

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Pros Cons
  • Excellent JPEG engine
  • Good Raw performance
  • Effective 5-axis image stabilization
  • Stylish, compact body
  • Well-placed controls
  • High resolution OLED viewfinder
  • Detailed 4K video with excellent stabilization
  • New UI makes it easier to use camera's innovative shooting modes
  • Handy tilting touchscreen LCD
  • Fairly simple Wi-Fi implementation
  • Auto mode limits you to exaggerated color rendition
  • 16MP starting to look a little dated
  • Autofocus not dependable for action shooting
  • Default noise reduction and sharpening rather heavy-handed
  • No USB charging
  • Auto ISO rather simplistic and not available for manual exposure video shooting

The OM-D E-M10 III isn't a big update in terms of specs, but Olympus has made some pretty significant attempts to make it easier to make full use of its capabilities. We liked its predecessor, and we think the updates to the interface, the addition of 4K and the improved AF Tracking all add significantly to its appeal.

The E-M10 III's size meant I felt able to keep the camera with me more than I would have done with something larger. Processed in Adobe Camera Raw, ferry brightened, mast cloned out of foreground.Olympus M.Zuiko Digital 14-42mm F3.5-5.6 EZ | 1/200th | F6.3 | ISO 200

Photo: Richard Butler

In terms of rivals, it tries to offer the touch and shoot simplicity of the Sony a5100 and the more hands-on control level of the a6000, and does well on both counts. The likes of Nikon's D5600 will offer better stills image quality but only Panasonic's GX85 can offer the balance of size, stills and video shooting capabilities and the M10 has the better JPEGs.

Body and Handling

The E-M10 III body and handling is broadly like those of its predecessor, which we liked very much. Twin dials and a touchscreen, a couple of customizable buttons and one of the more comprehensive on-screen control panels give a remarkably good and well-judged level of direct control for a camera at this point in the market. The slightly more sculpted grip and reworked dials just make everything that bit nicer to work with.

The changes to the camera's user interface and handling are generally positive, too. We're a bit surprised by some of the changes Olympus has made to its menu structure but thinning-out the options is certainly an improvement.

The camera's 'Keystone' function, that lets you correct for perspective distortion, is easier to access on the Mark IIIOlympus M.Zuiko Digital 14-42mm F3.5-5.6 EZ | 1/320th | F10 | ISO 200

Photo: Carey Rose

The Advanced Photography mode brings all the camera's smarter shooting modes together, rather than leaving them languishing in the menus. Some of these modes, such as Live Bulb and Live Time are pretty useful, others, such as Panorama, fall a long way short of what most smartphone users would expect.

And, for beginners, the Auto mode is good enough at selecting an appropriate scene mode, that we'd only feel the need to swap to 'SCN' mode for some of the more obscure shooting scenarios. Or rather, we would if Auto mode didn't insist on making everything Day-Glo, with not so much as the option to escape its Funfair 'charms.'

Image Quality

The E-M10 III's image quality is generally rather good, especially in JPEG. We've long been impressed by the color rendition of Olympus' 'Natural' response and it makes it easy to get attractive results from the E-M10 III. Unfortunately, the camera's Auto mode leaves you locked in the oversaturated i-Enhance mode, even shutting off the option to tone-down its effect.

The camera's sharpening is a little heavy-handed, which can overpower the finest detail, but that's only an issue if you insist on looking at the pixel level. Default noise reduction is also a bit high and we'd strongly recommend reducing the 'Noise Filter' setting to Low or Off, when you first pick up the camera. Generally, though, we like the JPEG output.

The camera's comparatively large sensor and lovely color rendering mean it can produce better images for social media than your phone. #NofilterOlympus M.Zuiko Digital 14-42mm F3.5-5.6 EZ | 1/200th | F5.6 | ISO 200

Photo: Richard Butler

The underlying Raw performance is also pretty good, considering the relatively elderly sensor. It's not suddenly going to outperform its 24MP APS-C peers, but it's not hopelessly outclassed, either, and that smaller sensor helps the camera offer such excellent image stabilization.

The camera's dynamic range is good for its sensor size, with files shot at low ISO giving a reasonable degree of flexibility in terms of being able to lift information from the shadows without adding excessive noise to the image.

Autofocus

Autofocus is probably the E-M10's weakest point, but this isn't as harsh a criticism as it might sound. The camera's ability to track moving subjects is greatly improved and the majority of the available lenses can focus extremely quickly. Sadly, though, we simply didn't find it to be consistent enough to be dependable so, while it was capable of giving performances to match its peers, we didn't feel we could trust it to do so.

Video Quality

The E-M10 III's video quality is really impressive, especially in 4K mode. This is helped by the camera's rather lovely color rendition, which gives really attractive output. Sadly, it lacks the decisive autofocus performance that would be needed to make it truly easy to use, or the features such as external mic inputs needed to make it appeal to the more dedicated videographer who'll be willing to manual focus all the time.

That said, if you fix focus before you start, the 4K quality combined with really impressive stabilization means it's a pretty good camera to play around with, and maybe kindle some enthusiasm for shooting video.

The Final Word

This shot was taken with the 17mm F1.8 prime lens, but the bundled 14-45mm zoom will let you get similar results.Olympus M.Zuiko Digital 17mm F1.8 | 1/100th | F3.2 | ISO 1250

Photo: Richard Butler

The E-M10 III is a minor update to the Mark II but the changes are focused where it matters. 16MP may seem a little old hat, given APS-C went to 24MP several years ago, but the Olympus becomes one of the only cameras in its class to offer 4K video capture and does so with excellent stabilization. It may not be the most impressive spec, on paper, but the E-M10 III is a powerful and likeable little camera, that offers the developing photographer plenty of room to grow.

Scoring is relative only to the other cameras in the same category.Click here to learn about the changes to our scoring system and what these numbers mean.

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Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark III Review

By Carey Rose

For a lot of people, automatic modes are a great way to get started in the wide, wonderful world of photography.

When a new camera lands on my desk, there's a few things I do automatically. Charge the battery. Make sure it's shooting Raw + JPEG. If any other DPReview editor has been using it, reset the custom controls because they'll almost certainly make no sense to me.

I also automatically use the camera in a manner in which I'm confident I'll get the best possible results, which therefore means never using it in its automatic mode.

But with the OM-D E-M10 Mark III, Olympus has spent some serious time refining its user interface and enhancing its various automatic and creative modes for those that are new to photography, or would simply prefer the camera to do the majority of work for them.

Getting ready to head out with the Olympus E-M10 Mark III. Out-of-camera JPEG using the 'HDR' setting from the Advanced Photography mode.Olympus 14-42mm F3.5-5.6EZ @ 24mm | ISO 200 | 1/400 sec | F11

So to get a feel for how much work Olympus has put into making the E-M10 III an easier camera for just about anyone to pick up and use, I set the mode dial to 'green' and took it to a couple of places that I tend to automatically take new cameras once I get them: Gasworks Park and Lake Cavanaugh.

Gasworks Park

After scrolling through all the Art filters several times, I found that the 'Vintage' ones are pretty fun. Cropped slightly to taste.Olympus 14-42mm F3.5-5.6EZ @ 16mm | ISO 200 | 1/500 sec | F9

Despite being a native of the Seattle area, I hadn't visited Gasworks Park until I started at DPReview (so if you've noticed a surge of images from it over the past two years, apologies). But it is a uniquely industrial-yet-picturesque destination for many a tourist; that is, the exact sort of person likely to use the E-M10 III in some of its automatic and creative modes.

Honestly, in full auto, the E-M10 III is pretty good. I’ve always liked the way Olympus cameras look and handle, and this is no exception. With some subtle grip and dial revisions, the baby OM-D is comfortable to use with just a wrist strap. For casual use in auto mode, I appreciate the reliable metering, and despite constant scene analysis (the camera will boost the shutter speed if it detects movement - more on this later), the E-M10 III is an extremely responsive camera.

While the metering on the whole was reliable, I'd have preferred a much faster shutter speed with a wider aperture for this image - F10 on Micro Four Thirds is likely to result in some image softness from diffraction.Olympus 14-42mm F3.5-5.6EZ @ 14mm | ISO 200 | 1/400 sec | F10

Gasworks Park is a great place to get a feel for a camera because of the wide variety of subjects available to you. People are out and about, there are industrial relics from a bygone era, you can climb a hill for a beautiful vista of downtown Seattle, and there's an abundance of beautiful trees and waterfront.

But it was those last subjects that first made me realize a problem with the Auto mode on the E-M10 III. That Olympus color I absolutely loved had had gone and gotten all...weird.

i-Enhance in auto mode Reprocessed in-camera with 'Natural' profile

Vibrant blues and greens are usually an Olympus strong point, but these trees on the north end of Gasworks Park got to looking a little neon-cartoon for my tastes in Auto mode with its enforced 'i-Enhance' color profile.

The problem is that you’re locked into the ‘i-Enhance’ color profile when shooting in Auto mode. It routinely takes the pleasingly dramatic colors of Olympus’ ‘Natural’ output and adds so much additional saturation that everything looks a little radioactive. Thankfully, if you’re a Raw shooter, you can re-process the image in-camera (or with your software of choice) with different settings.

This is an unfortunate trait shared with many other Olympus cameras - and we as a staff wouldn't even mind if 'i-Enhance' was the default, but on the off chance that people don't want their auto mode to become clown mode, users should really be able to choose a different setting.

i-Enhance adds so much additional saturation that everything looks radioactive

Moving the mode dial from Auto to Art, I noticed the E-M10 III has another trick up its sleeve; you can now scroll through every Art filter on the camera along the bottom of the screen while your scene changes in real time.

I've always liked Olympus' Grainy B&W treatments, ever since I first tried them on the PEN-F. Out-of-camera JPEG.Olympus 14-42mm F3.5-5.6EZ @ 14mm | ISO 200 | 1/400 sec | F7.1

I'm not been one to extensively use filters since my early Instagram days, but being able to scroll through options like Bleach Bypass, Cross Process and Pinhole Camera in real time make it much more likely that I'd happen upon one I found interesting. Of course, I still find plenty I don't like, but I wasn't exclusively using Grainy B&W, which is historically the only one I use.

Well, I guess I'm still not a huge fan of Cross Process. Out-of-camera JPEG.ISO 200 | 1/640 sec | F8

With a selection of images from Gasworks on the E-M10 III, I packed up the camera and headed out of town for a few days to Lake Cavenaugh.

Lake Cavenaugh

Lake Cavenaugh occupies 1.3 square miles of rural Skagit County, and is about an hour and a half drive northeast from Seattle. It's a staggeringly beautiful place, and permits all manner of water sports to boot. I've brought everything from compacts to DSLRs to the lake, and it's always lovely having a camera that's on the smaller side for jaunts to and from the dock.

The E-M10 III in auto mode, with me pointing and shooting. Out of camera JPEG.Olympus 14-42mm F3.5-5.6EZ @ 14mm | ISO 200 | 1/320 sec | F6.3

But before any sports on the water took place, I noticed some autofocus quirks while photographing a stationary, inflatable flamingo whose nickname is Charlie. (Charlie also serves as a floating koozie for a frosty beverage of your choosing). Despite Charlie's prominence in the frame, proximity to the camera and bright pink color, the camera kept focusing on the background until I tapped the flamingo's beak on the tilting touchscreen.

I then noticed that one thing that the E-M10 III's full automatic mode doesn't take care of for you are your autofocus settings, which I think is a bit of an oversight. The camera defaults to Single AF with auto AF area and face detect. It works fine much of the time, but it should really be more reliable in situations such as this one.

After three focus attempts where the E-M10 III focused on the background with its default focus settings, I finally just tapped over the inflatable flamingo's beak and it focused properly.Processed to taste from Raw.

Olympus 14-42mm F3.5-5.6EZ @ 14mm | ISO 200 | 1/200 sec | F6.3

This choice of AF settings becomes even more of an issue when subjects start to move. Indeed, one of the enhancements with the E-M10 III is that it is supposed to detect subject movement, and adjust its shutter speed accordingly for less chance of motion blur.

But if the camera can't automatically initiate continuous autofocus to track that moving subject, you'll just end up with out-of-focus blur instead of motion blur.

Grainy B&W Art filter Full auto

I really enjoyed how the Grainy B&W filter exaggerated the highlights and shadows in the water.

On the other hand, Olympus has brought a welcome change to Auto mode, in that the camera now lets the ISO creep all the way up to 6400 (it previously topped out at 1600). It's true that the built-in image stabilizer will help to keep the shakiest hands at bay for slower shutter speeds, but only a higher ISO value together with a faster shutter speed will freeze people's natural movements in social situations.

The higher ISO value helped guarantee a sharp image, and the auto white balance did a pretty good job with all the mixed lighting. Be aware, full auto mode can't do anything to improve your subject matter, as proven here. Straight out of camera JPEG. Olympus 14-42mm F3.5-5.6EZ @ 14mm | ISO 4000 | 1/60 sec | F3.5

The rest

So, no surprise, there are ups and downs to using a camera in its fully automatic mode. I wish that the scene analysis was linked to the Single/Continuous AF setting and that you had some greater control over color. But I had way more fun with the Art filters than I expected, and the camera was so responsive that I never once missed a shot.

The E-M10 III should appeal to photographers of all experience levels

With each release of an E-M10-series camera, I become more and more tempted to get one for myself. It's an impressively complete package for the price, and should appeal to photographers of all experience levels. With this latest model, you get Olympus' most user-friendly interface yet in an attractive and serious-looking camera body. If you progress in your photography, you've got all the manual controls you could want at your fingertips and an extensive lens ecosystem with an abundance of affordable options.

Out-of-camera JPEG.Olympus 14-42mm F3.5-5.6EZ @ 54mm | ISO 200 | 1/100 sec | F5

In short, the previous E-M10 II was a camera that I could easily recommend to friends and family looking for a solid camera that they can get great results with right out of the box, and yet grow into and remain satisfied with down the road. This new E-M10 III is now even easier to use, and therefore will be even easier for me to recommend in the future.

Sample gallery

Please do not reproduce any of these images on a website or any newsletter / magazine without prior permission (see our copyright page). We make the originals available for private users to download to their own machines for personal examination or printing (in conjunction with this review), we do so in good faith, please don't abuse it.

Unless otherwise noted images taken with no particular settings at full resolution. Because our review images are now hosted on the 'galleries' section of dpreview.com, you can enjoy all of the new galleries functionality when browsing these samples.

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The E-M10 III's dials have been slight redesigned, making them easier to turn.

The E-M10 III is a gentle but significant refresh of the Mark II's ergonomics. It retains its predecessor's film-era SLR good looks but the front grip and dials have been reshaped to make the camera more comfortable to hold and the dials easier to operate.

Despite its mainly plastic construction, it's still a remarkably solid-feeling camera for the money. Not to the extent I'd expect it to survive much of a drop, but giving off a much better sense of build quality than the lower-end PEN E-PL and older E-PM models.

Operations and Controls

The most significant change to the controls is the addition of the 'Shortcut' button on the left of the camera's top plate. On the Mark II, this was a customizable function button but on the Mark III it's a dedicated control that takes you to either the settings control panel or the mode menu (the Movie, SCN and AP modes each has their own options page when you first enter the mode).

Pressing the Shortcut button in the SCN, AP or Movie modes brings up a screen detailing the available options. The Scene modes have been grouped into six use cases, rather than just presenting all 27 in a long list.

Having a dedicated button frees up the 'OK' button so that it always takes you to the settings control panel, whichever mode you're in. As is standard for Olympus, you can choose from several styles of settings control panel, but the OK button is always your way of accessing it. This is a huge improvement in consistency, which is fundamental to making a camera easy to use.

The E-M10 III features three styles of control layout. This is the Super Control Panel, which seems daunting at first, but quickly becomes a way of viewing and changing the camera's key settings. It can be operated via the touchscreen or the control dials.

The changes also see the loss of the Multi Function button and a reduction both in the number of customizable buttons and the number of functions that can be assigned.

Beyond this, the camera's physical layout is broadly the same.

All the camera's modes that require extra user input or that take multiple shots are accessed through the new 'AP' position on the mode dial, rather than being scattered throughout the menus.

In terms of operation, again the Mark III broadly similar to the Mark II. The significant changes are that the mode dial gains an 'AP' position, which give access to 'Advanced Photo' mode, the camera's multi-shot modes, which were often accessed via the main menu on the previous model. The mode menu screen for the scene mode ('SCN' on the mode dial) has also been simplified by grouping the scene modes into similar use-cases 'People, Motion, etc...'

The Custom menu has been pruned back but has also lost the 'index' page that listed what kinds of setting would be found in sub-section A, B, C...

Finally, Olympus has re-worked its menu system. Oddly, and contrary to most other camera makers, Olympus has done this by removing the level of the menu that acts as an index, to make it quicker to find the sub-section you're looking for. However, the company has also gone on an aggressive prune of the Custom menu, meaning the E-M10 Mark III only has 43 options in the Setup menu, rather than the Mark II's rather daunting 99.

In fact, the entire menu has been slimmed-down, so there are only 72 menu options in total, rather than 125. Some of the former options are incorporated into the AP mode, the movie settings are elevated from the Custom menu to their own tab in the main menu and others have been removed entirely.

One of the menu options that was originally removed was the 'RC' settings for controlling external flashguns. This optional was added back in Firmware v1.1, so we'd recommend installing this to gain access to this handy function.

Auto ISO

The E-M10 III has reasonable but slightly inflexible Auto ISO implementation. It tries to maintain a shutter speed of at least of 1/equivalent focal length or the user-specified Flash Slow Limit speed, whichever is fastest. However, there's no way of specifying faster or slower rate that still relates to the focal length.

Auto ISO is still available in manual exposure mode, but there's no way of applying Exposure Compensation, to adjust the target brightness that the camera is trying to maintain. Sadly, Auto ISO is not available when shooting video in Manual exposure mode, which would be handy.

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The E-M10 III makes a pretty good social camera in that it's comparatively easy to carry around and able to take considerably better images in low light than a typical smartphone, even when using the kit zoom lens. And, of course, there is a range of relatively small, relatively affordable single focal length 'prime' lenses if you want better low light performance and can live with the restriction.

Add a single focal length lens with a wide maximum aperture and the E-M10 III can turn its hand to portraiture.Olympus M.Zuiko Digital 75mm F1.8 | 1/2000th | F2.0 | ISO 160

Photo: Richard Butler

The camera's Wi-Fi system has a mode in which you can select on the camera which images you wish to share, then allow friends to connect to the camera and download just those images over their phones' browser. And, while I doubt many people will have the patience to do this, it's a nice addition to the more strict, app-dependent approach that most other cameras take.

Landscape

16MP and a Four Thirds size sensor reduce the appeal of the E-M10 III for the most dedicated landscape photographers. However, its light weight and impressive image stabilization mean it's an easy camera to take with you, when you head out into nature.

The E-M10 III has a Panorama function but it makes no attempt to stitch the photos together: this image was assembled in Photoshop.

The Live Time and Live Bulb modes are great for learning long-exposure photography, since they let you see how the image is building up, during the exposure. The Panaroma mode, though, is a little disappointing, providing guides for shooting shots that will line up but making no attempt to combine them in-camera: a function most smartphone users might have come to expect.

Sports & Action

The E-M10 III's autofocus and relatively modest continuous shooting speed (with autofocus) means it's never going to rank as a world-beating sports camera, but that doesn't totally rule it out for shooting moving subjects.

The AF system can be pretty tenacious, meaning that you can tap on the screen and let the camera track your subject without too much effort. Unfortunately, we didn't find it to be dependable and too often ended up with sequences of out-of-focus images, so we wouldn't recommend the E-M10 III if sports and action is your the focus of your shooting.

Travel

The E-M10 III's small size, especially when combined with its retractable 'EZ' 14-42mm lens, makes it ideal for travel. It's possible to grab the camera and a couple of additional lenses and squeeze them into your luggage without too much fuss. Even with just the kit zoom, you get a reasonable focal length range, good image quality and immediately usable JPEGs.

The E-M10 III's relatively small size makes it that bit more likely you'll have it with you when a photogenic moment occurs.Olympus M.Zuiko Digital 14-42mm F3.5-5.6 EZ | 1/100th | F5.0 | ISO 400

Photo: Carey Rose

Autofocus might not be up to sporting standards, but it can it's certainly able to make sure you get some good shots of events unfolding in front of you. One of the main black marks against the E-M10 III in terms of its use as a travel companion is its lack of USB charging. At a fairly modest 330 shots per charge, you'll probably have to carry the charger with you on multi-day trips.

Video

The E-M10 III is something of a mixed bag for video shooters, in some respects it's terrifically easy to shoot with but not to a great enough degree that a beginner can just pick it up and shoot.

The camera can shoot UHD 4K video at 30, 25 or 24 frames per second and can combine its sensor shift stabilization with digital, if you're willing to put up with an additional crop. This does a truly impressive job of stabilizing the camera's footage, making it very easy to shoot handheld. The quality of the footage is excellent, too.

However, the camera can be a bit of a handful in other respects. Autofocus is easy to operate: you tap the screen to focus and it refocuses. Unfortunately, the contrast-detection-based hunting is likely to ruin your footage, which means manually focusing for the best results. There's also no Auto ISO in manual exposure shooting, so you'll have to shoot in either aperture or shutter priority mode, and allow the camera to control one of the exposure properties if you want it to be able to adjust brightness on-the-fly.

Beyond this, the camera has focus peaking available (it needs to be engaged via the 'Custom/A/MF Assist' menu setting), but there are no zebra warnings to guide exposure. The camera's Highlight/Shadow warnings stop working in video mode, so you can't improvise using these. Finally, as with so many of its peers, there's no means of adding an external mic, so you're limited to the camera's internal recording, which is never going to be great.

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Pros Cons
  • Excellent JPEG engine
  • Good Raw performance
  • Effective 5-axis image stabilization
  • Stylish, compact body
  • Well-placed controls
  • High resolution OLED viewfinder
  • Detailed 4K video with excellent stabilization
  • New UI makes it easier to use camera's innovative shooting modes
  • Handy tilting touchscreen LCD
  • Fairly simple Wi-Fi implementation
  • Auto mode limits you to exaggerated color rendition
  • 16MP starting to look a little dated
  • Autofocus not dependable for action shooting
  • Default noise reduction and sharpening rather heavy-handed
  • No USB charging
  • Auto ISO rather simplistic and not available for manual exposure video shooting

The OM-D E-M10 III isn't a big update in terms of specs, but Olympus has made some pretty significant attempts to make it easier to make full use of its capabilities. We liked its predecessor, and we think the updates to the interface, the addition of 4K and the improved AF Tracking all add significantly to its appeal.

The E-M10 III's size meant I felt able to keep the camera with me more than I would have done with something larger. Processed in Adobe Camera Raw, ferry brightened, mast cloned out of foreground.Olympus M.Zuiko Digital 14-42mm F3.5-5.6 EZ | 1/200th | F6.3 | ISO 200

Photo: Richard Butler

In terms of rivals, it tries to offer the touch and shoot simplicity of the Sony a5100 and the more hands-on control level of the a6000, and does well on both counts. The likes of Nikon's D5600 will offer better stills image quality but only Panasonic's GX85 can offer the balance of size, stills and video shooting capabilities and the M10 has the better JPEGs.

Body and Handling

The E-M10 III body and handling is broadly like those of its predecessor, which we liked very much. Twin dials and a touchscreen, a couple of customizable buttons and one of the more comprehensive on-screen control panels give a remarkably good and well-judged level of direct control for a camera at this point in the market. The slightly more sculpted grip and reworked dials just make everything that bit nicer to work with.

The changes to the camera's user interface and handling are generally positive, too. We're a bit surprised by some of the changes Olympus has made to its menu structure but thinning-out the options is certainly an improvement.

The camera's 'Keystone' function, that lets you correct for perspective distortion, is easier to access on the Mark IIIOlympus M.Zuiko Digital 14-42mm F3.5-5.6 EZ | 1/320th | F10 | ISO 200

Photo: Carey Rose

The Advanced Photography mode brings all the camera's smarter shooting modes together, rather than leaving them languishing in the menus. Some of these modes, such as Live Bulb and Live Time are pretty useful, others, such as Panorama, fall a long way short of what most smartphone users would expect.

And, for beginners, the Auto mode is good enough at selecting an appropriate scene mode, that we'd only feel the need to swap to 'SCN' mode for some of the more obscure shooting scenarios. Or rather, we would if Auto mode didn't insist on making everything Day-Glo, with not so much as the option to escape its Funfair 'charms.'

Image Quality

The E-M10 III's image quality is generally rather good, especially in JPEG. We've long been impressed by the color rendition of Olympus' 'Natural' response and it makes it easy to get attractive results from the E-M10 III. Unfortunately, the camera's Auto mode leaves you locked in the oversaturated i-Enhance mode, even shutting off the option to tone-down its effect.

The camera's sharpening is a little heavy-handed, which can overpower the finest detail, but that's only an issue if you insist on looking at the pixel level. Default noise reduction is also a bit high and we'd strongly recommend reducing the 'Noise Filter' setting to Low or Off, when you first pick up the camera. Generally, though, we like the JPEG output.

The camera's comparatively large sensor and lovely color rendering mean it can produce better images for social media than your phone. #NofilterOlympus M.Zuiko Digital 14-42mm F3.5-5.6 EZ | 1/200th | F5.6 | ISO 200

Photo: Richard Butler

The underlying Raw performance is also pretty good, considering the relatively elderly sensor. It's not suddenly going to outperform its 24MP APS-C peers, but it's not hopelessly outclassed, either, and that smaller sensor helps the camera offer such excellent image stabilization.

The camera's dynamic range is good for its sensor size, with files shot at low ISO giving a reasonable degree of flexibility in terms of being able to lift information from the shadows without adding excessive noise to the image.

Autofocus

Autofocus is probably the E-M10's weakest point, but this isn't as harsh a criticism as it might sound. The camera's ability to track moving subjects is greatly improved and the majority of the available lenses can focus extremely quickly. Sadly, though, we simply didn't find it to be consistent enough to be dependable so, while it was capable of giving performances to match its peers, we didn't feel we could trust it to do so.

Video Quality

The E-M10 III's video quality is really impressive, especially in 4K mode. This is helped by the camera's rather lovely color rendition, which gives really attractive output. Sadly, it lacks the decisive autofocus performance that would be needed to make it truly easy to use, or the features such as external mic inputs needed to make it appeal to the more dedicated videographer who'll be willing to manual focus all the time.

That said, if you fix focus before you start, the 4K quality combined with really impressive stabilization means it's a pretty good camera to play around with, and maybe kindle some enthusiasm for shooting video.

The Final Word

This shot was taken with the 17mm F1.8 prime lens, but the bundled 14-45mm zoom will let you get similar results.Olympus M.Zuiko Digital 17mm F1.8 | 1/100th | F3.2 | ISO 1250

Photo: Richard Butler

The E-M10 III is a minor update to the Mark II but the changes are focused where it matters. 16MP may seem a little old hat, given APS-C went to 24MP several years ago, but the Olympus becomes one of the only cameras in its class to offer 4K video capture and does so with excellent stabilization. It may not be the most impressive spec, on paper, but the E-M10 III is a powerful and likeable little camera, that offers the developing photographer plenty of room to grow.

Scoring is relative only to the other cameras in the same category.Click here to learn about the changes to our scoring system and what these numbers mean.

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Our test scene is designed to simulate a variety of textures, colors and detail types you'll encounter in the real world. It also has two illumination modes to see the effect of different lighting conditions.

The E-M10 III's image quality is essentially a match for that of its predecessor, which is to say: really pretty good for a 16MP sensor, but not a match for the levels of detail its 24MP peers will give. The lack of anti-aliasing filter helps the camera squeeze a little more resolution out of its chip but, as the name implies, this means it can exhibit aliasing in high-contrast, repetitive patterns, if you use a sharp enough lens.

The price you pay for the smaller camera size that a smaller sensor can give is more noise. Compare the E-M10 III with the Nikon D5600 and you can see the APS-C camera can produce similar image quality in half as much light (a 1EV difference). However, the difference is less pronounced when compared with the Canon EOS T7i/700D, so it's still a competitive performance.

JPEG output

For this type of easy-to-use camera, JPEG performance is vital the E-M10 III does well in this respect. The default 'Natural' color response is excellent. It broadly follows the pattern of the popular Canon color rendering but punches-up sky blues, in a way that makes every landscape photo look like a happy memory. This is arguably even more attractive than Fujifilm's color, which is another of our favorites.

The camera's default sharpening is a little crude: you can see how much additional detail is in the Raw files that's being overwhelmed by the camera's processing. However, note also how effectively the false color is suppressed (though that's not the case everywhere: note the greenish swathe down the top right of the banknote). Even so, the sharpening is better than that of some of its rivals and it's not much less detailed than the default JPEGs of the Nikon D5600, despite its higher resolution.

Noise reduction (called Noise Filter in the Custom menu), errs on the side of smoothing away both noise and detail to give a low noise but also rather smudged image, by default. The camera's in-camera Raw conversion system makes it easy to experiment with the Low or Off settings.

Auto White Balance doesn't neutralize the lighting as aggressively as its Canon and Nikon peers, but the Setup menu option F3: 'WB Auto Keep Warm Color' can be turned off to get a totally neutral rendering.

Dynamic Range

Dynamic Range is an assessment of the range of brightness values a camera can cope with, from the highlight that causes the image to clip to white, down to the darkest tone with a tolerable noise level.

We look at this in two ways: firstly by giving the camera different exposures, then lifting them back to the same brightness (just as you might in the real world, if you were reducing exposure to prevent highlights over-exposing). Then we give the camera the same exposure at a series of different ISO settings. This reveals how much noise is being added by the camera, since the amount of noise from the light you captured is the same.

As you can see, the Mark III shows the same degree of processing latitude as its predecessor, which shouldn't be surprising, given its use of the same sensor. This puts it behind the performance of the best current APS-C cameras, given the same exposure, but still competitive against others, despite the sensor size difference.

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Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark III

As the entry-level model in the OM-D series, the Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark III ($649.99, body only) is a mirrorless camera that has to serve several audiences, one of which are those who don't know an f-stop from a truck stop. Olympus has refined the interface to make the newest E-M10 easier to use, and offers some improvements for advanced amateurs, enthusiasts, and even pros looking for a lightweight, inexpensive camera. It does an acceptable job serving multiple audiences, but its sensor is dated and its focus system lags behind competing models. You're better off with the Sony a6000, which delivers higher-resolution images with less noise, and sports an autofocus system that runs circles around the Mark III.

Design

The Mark III looks a lot like the Mark II, with the same retro-chic finish. But there are some changes to the body, notably a deeper handgrip, larger control dials, and larger point type labeling buttons and dials. It isn't that far off in size (3.3 by 4.8 by 2.0 inches) or weight (14.5 ounces) from its predecessor (3.3 by 4.7 by 1.8 inches, 13.8 ounces), but the new grip makes it feel a bit more secure in the hand. Like others in the series, the new E-M10 is available in all black or a two-tone silver-and-black finish.

You can buy the camera as a body only for $649.99, the choice that photographers upgrading from an older Micro Four Thirds model are likely to make. But if you're new to the system you can also buy it with the svelte M.Zuiko ED 14-42mm f3.5-5.6 EZ zoom for $799.99. That's not a bad deal, as the 14-42mm EZ sells for $300 on its own.

View All 27 Photos in Gallery

As mentioned, the control dials are larger and more comfortable to use. On the top plate you'll find the new Shortcut button on the far left, next to the combined power switch and flash release. Three dials sit to the right of the hot shoe and flash—the standard Mode control, along with forward and rear control dials. Top buttons include the programmable Fn2 and a Record button for movies.

The Fn1 (AEL/AFL by default) button is squeezed into the top right corner of the rear plate, above the ergonomic thumb rest. Below it are four buttons—Delete, Info, Menu, and Play—flanking a four-way controller with OK at its center. Each directional press has a labeled function—Drive, Flash, Focus Area, and ISO.

The buttons are supplemented by a touch interface. The 3-inch LCD is mounted on a hinge, so it can tilt up and down to nab shots from more interesting angles, and you can tap on a part of the frame to set focus or to focus and capture an image. You'll also use the display to navigate through the menu systems—the E-M10 has an on-screen overlay to access common functions, launched via the Shortcut button, as well as a more extensive menu to configure the camera to your liking.

Shortcut is also used to change in-camera art filters or adjust scene modes. If you switch the Mode dial to one of those settings you'll be greeted with a menu of the different filters and preset modes available to you. In previous models, changing what you initially selected was a chore; now you can do it on the fly just by pressing Shortcut.

You don't have to frame shots with the rear LCD, though at 1,040k dots it's plenty sharp. The E-M10 Mark III also has a built-in viewfinder. The EVF is an OLED design, crisp thanks to a 2.36-million-dot resolution. It's not the largest you'll find in a mirrorless camera—it delivers 0.62x magnification when paired with a standard-angle lens.

Filters and Connectivity

Olympus has long put art filters into its camera line, and all of your favorites from previous models—black-and-white, selective color, soft focus, and the like—are still here, with the addition of a Bleach Bypass setting. It's easy enough to apply filters when shooting—there's an Art setting on the Mode dial and the Shortcut button is there to change the filter.

If you shoot in Raw format you can apply the filters after you've captured a shot, but it's not the most intuitive process. You'll need to select Raw Data Edit from the playback screen and then enter the ART BKT setting. This takes you to a long list, showing every filter available, which you can check or uncheck. It's great if you want to create a bunch of different versions of a shot, but a cumbersome process if simply want to apply a single filter. I'd have liked to see this interface streamlined for easier use. It would also be nice to have after-the-fact filters available for JPG shooters, even if they weren't as robust as the Raw options.

You can access some of the specialized capture modes by setting the Mode dial to AP—Advanced Photo. Here you'll find Live Bulb, Live Composite, and Live Time capture, which take a lot of the guesswork out of capturing long exposure scenes. HDR is available for scenes with dynamic lighting—though you'll have to use a tripod or set the camera on a flat surface for the best results as it requires three consecutive exposures to work. If you like to shoot architecture there's Keystone Compensation, which is a real-time effect that straightens the converging lines you get when tilting the camera up to capture an image of a tall building—this does cut the field of view of the lens.

There's a Panorama mode too, but it's not in camera. The E-M10 helps you frame shots to stitch using desktop software. That's fine for advanced users, but for the entry-level target market I'd have preferred a sweep panorama mode with in-camera stitching, a feature you find on modern smartphones. Automated focus (for extra depth of field when shooting with a macro lens) and exposure (for HDR and other tricky lighting situations) bracketing are also available, but like the Panorama mode, you'll need to combine images using software after capture when using these options.

It's almost a given at this point, but Wi-Fi is built in. The Mark III promises to support wireless file transfer and remote control to Android and iOS devices using the Olympus Image Share app. The app offers a strong remote control interface, with full manual control available and a smooth live feed from camera to phone. One thing of note: You don't get Bluetooth or NFC with this model, so you'll need to use an on-screen QR code or manually type a Wi-Fi password into your phone's settings to establish a connection.

Images are stored on a standard SD, SDHC, or SDXC memory card. In addition to the card slot, the camera includes a micro USB port (in-camera charging is not supported) and a micro HDMI connector. The Mark III uses the same battery as its predecessor, as well as the same charger. CIPA rates the camera for 330 shots per charge, or about 80 minutes of video recording.

Performance and Imaging

The E-M10 Mark III powers on and focuses quickly, in about 0.7-second, when paired with a mechanical zoom or prime lens. You'll wait a little bit longer for the first shot if you use the 14-42mm EZ lens, about 1.2 seconds, as it has to extend in order to work. In bright light the focus system is very speedy, locking on in as little as 0.05-second. It does slow in very dim conditions, to about 0.4-second.

Burst shooting is speedy if you keep focused locked for a sequence. I clocked it at 8.8fps, a bit better than the 8.6fps that Olympus promises. The Raw buffer is rather small, giving you just 12 Raw+JPG or 26 Raw shots at a time, but write times to a Lexar 300MBps memory card are very quick, just about 2 seconds, so you can grab another full burst after a short interval. If you shoot in JPG format with a fast memory card you can go as long as you want; I held the shutter button down for 30 seconds when shooting JPGs and the camera never slowed. I used a UHS-II card in testing, but the slot tops out at UHS-I speeds, so a 95MBps card is all you need.

See How We Test Digital Cameras

If you want to track a moving subject you'll need to slow the camera down, to about 4fps, a bit shy of the 4.8fps promised by Olympus. The autofocus system, while offering improvements like face recognition and eye detection, still can't keep up with high-speed shooting. I found that focus in our standard moving target test was good through a sequence when our target moved toward and away from the lens at a steady rate, but it did falter with big, dramatic changes in position between shots. There are better mirrorless cameras out there for tracking fast-moving action—the Sony a6000 and Fujifilm X-T20 are a couple to look at if it's a priority for your photography.

The image sensor is still a 16MP design. It's stabilized, with 5-axis compensation for both stills and video, which means that any lens you use benefits from stabilization. You get more resolution from competing APS-C models, which are almost all 24MP now, and more expensive Micro Four Thirds cameras, which have moved to 20MP. Honestly, you probably don't need the extra pixels, but newer sensors tend to offer other image quality improvements, especially when it comes to dynamic range and high-ISO capture.

I checked the ISO performance using Imatest and found the Mark III behaves much like the Mark II, and the original E-M10 before it. It keeps noise under 1.5 percent through ISO 6400 when shooting JPGs at default settings. As for image quality, you can expect to shoot through ISO 1600 with no visible loss of quality. There's some slight smudging at ISO 3200 and 6400, but I wouldn't hesitate to use those settings. Beyond that, at ISO 12800 and 25600, images take a much more noticeable hit. If you're a JPG shooter, though, and don't venture into manual ISO control, you won't know, as the Mark III doesn't range above ISO 6400 with Auto ISO enabled.

If you shoot in Raw format you'll be able to squeeze a bit more detail out of photos at higher ISO settings, but you'll also see some more noise. Raw quality is strong through ISO 3200, but it does get quite grainy at ISO 6400. Grain is heavier at ISO 12800, but I'd still feel comfortable setting the ISO that high if a shot calls for it. I'd avoid ISO 25600, as images are very rough. It's when pushing the camera this far that more modern 24MP APS-C sensor models show a real advantage—the Fujifilm X-T20 delivers Raw output at ISO 51200 that's clearer than what the Olympus shows at ISO 25600, and while the Panasonic GX85 uses a sensor the same size and resolution as the Olympus, it ekes out a bit more detail and shows less noise when pushed to higher sensitivities.

The E-M10 Mark III offers 4K video, a common option in recent cameras, but it's hard to find. You need to switch to the dedicated Movie mode to use it, and even then you have to enable it using the Shortcut button. The frame is slightly cropped at the edges when shooting in 4K. You do get some frame rate options—24, 25, or 30fps—but you need to dive into the menu system to access them. I'm not sure why they're buried, or why you have to change into a specific video mode to shoot in 4K, especially on a model that touts ease of use.

In most modes the Mark III is limited to 1080p capture at up to 60fps; there's also a 720p30 option. The footage looks good, for 1080p—it doesn't pack the resolution or impact of 4K capture. There's no mic input, which limits the quality of audio the camera can record. Despite the limitations, video is quite crisp, and fine for casual recording. I'd look to a camera with an external microphone support for any sort of serious video work.

That's a shame, as the Mark III does give videographers some good in-camera creative options. You get access to the same Art Filters as you do with stills, and there are some in-camera editing tools—basically the ability to trim clips in-camera. That makes it easier to pull out a portion of a video to share, or to select highlights to make later sessions in iMovie go a bit more quickly.

Conclusions

The Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark III doesn't have a lot of head-turning new features—the addition of 4K video is the biggest upgrade. Other changes—improved ergonomics, faster processing and focus, and better results when shooting in automatic mode—are smaller, but they are there. The elephant in the room is the camera's aging image sensor. I don't think most casual shooters need more than 16MP, but they will benefit from other improvements we've seen in the latest round of 24MP APS-C chips and the newer 20MP Micro Four Thirds sensor that Olympus uses in pricier models, notably image quality in dim light.

I'd also have liked to have seen the promise of ease of use go a bit further. The camera's art filters are a lot of fun, and can give shots a different look, but adding them after you've shot an image is clunky and requires you to shoot in Raw mode. Smartphone owners used to being able to add an Instagram filter to any shot will recognize this as a shortcoming. Likewise, the lack of in-camera panorama stitching is a bummer. It's something you can do easily with a smartphone.

The E-M10 Mark III does deliver much better image quality than a flagship smartphone. But if Olympus, and other camera makers, want to court young photographers who have cut their teeth with iPhones and Instagram, they need to do more than say a camera is easy to use. Interface improvements and refinements are supposed to be the story here, and while the Shortcut button and improved automatic operation are benefits over the Mark II, the interface isn't fully baked. That's not why I'm rating the E-M10 Mark III a bit lower than its predecessor, however. It scores lower because it's standing still when it comes to image quality and tracking autofocus, while other models that sell for the same or less deliver more.

I still recommend photographers looking for a camera in this price range get the Sony a6000; it's three years old now, but packs a 24MP image sensor that, while no longer class-leading, is still a bit better than the 16MP sensor we see here, and shoots at a blistering 11.1fps rate with tracking—and it sells for the same price with a lens that the E-M10 Mark III does without. You can also opt go with an SLR; if you do, the Nikon D3400 is the best entry-level choice, but understand that its video autofocus system isn't nearly as good as you get from a mirrorless camera.

Other mirrorless options in this price and feature range are more similar to the E-M10 Mark III in performance and image quality: the Panasonic G7 and GX85 both sport 16MP Micro Four Thirds sensors, and, while supplies last, the E-M10 Mark II is still available.

www.pcmag.com

Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark III Review

The E-M10 III's dials have been slight redesigned, making them easier to turn.

The E-M10 III is a gentle but significant refresh of the Mark II's ergonomics. It retains its predecessor's film-era SLR good looks but the front grip and dials have been reshaped to make the camera more comfortable to hold and the dials easier to operate.

Despite its mainly plastic construction, it's still a remarkably solid-feeling camera for the money. Not to the extent I'd expect it to survive much of a drop, but giving off a much better sense of build quality than the lower-end PEN E-PL and older E-PM models.

Operations and Controls

The most significant change to the controls is the addition of the 'Shortcut' button on the left of the camera's top plate. On the Mark II, this was a customizable function button but on the Mark III it's a dedicated control that takes you to either the settings control panel or the mode menu (the Movie, SCN and AP modes each has their own options page when you first enter the mode).

Pressing the Shortcut button in the SCN, AP or Movie modes brings up a screen detailing the available options. The Scene modes have been grouped into six use cases, rather than just presenting all 27 in a long list.

Having a dedicated button frees up the 'OK' button so that it always takes you to the settings control panel, whichever mode you're in. As is standard for Olympus, you can choose from several styles of settings control panel, but the OK button is always your way of accessing it. This is a huge improvement in consistency, which is fundamental to making a camera easy to use.

The E-M10 III features three styles of control layout. This is the Super Control Panel, which seems daunting at first, but quickly becomes a way of viewing and changing the camera's key settings. It can be operated via the touchscreen or the control dials.

The changes also see the loss of the Multi Function button and a reduction both in the number of customizable buttons and the number of functions that can be assigned.

Beyond this, the camera's physical layout is broadly the same.

All the camera's modes that require extra user input or that take multiple shots are accessed through the new 'AP' position on the mode dial, rather than being scattered throughout the menus.

In terms of operation, again the Mark III broadly similar to the Mark II. The significant changes are that the mode dial gains an 'AP' position, which give access to 'Advanced Photo' mode, the camera's multi-shot modes, which were often accessed via the main menu on the previous model. The mode menu screen for the scene mode ('SCN' on the mode dial) has also been simplified by grouping the scene modes into similar use-cases 'People, Motion, etc...'

The Custom menu has been pruned back but has also lost the 'index' page that listed what kinds of setting would be found in sub-section A, B, C...

Finally, Olympus has re-worked its menu system. Oddly, and contrary to most other camera makers, Olympus has done this by removing the level of the menu that acts as an index, to make it quicker to find the sub-section you're looking for. However, the company has also gone on an aggressive prune of the Custom menu, meaning the E-M10 Mark III only has 43 options in the Setup menu, rather than the Mark II's rather daunting 99.

In fact, the entire menu has been slimmed-down, so there are only 72 menu options in total, rather than 125. Some of the former options are incorporated into the AP mode, the movie settings are elevated from the Custom menu to their own tab in the main menu and others have been removed entirely.

One of the menu options that was originally removed was the 'RC' settings for controlling external flashguns. This optional was added back in Firmware v1.1, so we'd recommend installing this to gain access to this handy function.

Auto ISO

The E-M10 III has reasonable but slightly inflexible Auto ISO implementation. It tries to maintain a shutter speed of at least of 1/equivalent focal length or the user-specified Flash Slow Limit speed, whichever is fastest. However, there's no way of specifying faster or slower rate that still relates to the focal length.

Auto ISO is still available in manual exposure mode, but there's no way of applying Exposure Compensation, to adjust the target brightness that the camera is trying to maintain. Sadly, Auto ISO is not available when shooting video in Manual exposure mode, which would be handy.

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By Carey Rose

For a lot of people, automatic modes are a great way to get started in the wide, wonderful world of photography.

When a new camera lands on my desk, there's a few things I do automatically. Charge the battery. Make sure it's shooting Raw + JPEG. If any other DPReview editor has been using it, reset the custom controls because they'll almost certainly make no sense to me.

I also automatically use the camera in a manner in which I'm confident I'll get the best possible results, which therefore means never using it in its automatic mode.

But with the OM-D E-M10 Mark III, Olympus has spent some serious time refining its user interface and enhancing its various automatic and creative modes for those that are new to photography, or would simply prefer the camera to do the majority of work for them.

Getting ready to head out with the Olympus E-M10 Mark III. Out-of-camera JPEG using the 'HDR' setting from the Advanced Photography mode.Olympus 14-42mm F3.5-5.6EZ @ 24mm | ISO 200 | 1/400 sec | F11

So to get a feel for how much work Olympus has put into making the E-M10 III an easier camera for just about anyone to pick up and use, I set the mode dial to 'green' and took it to a couple of places that I tend to automatically take new cameras once I get them: Gasworks Park and Lake Cavanaugh.

Gasworks Park

After scrolling through all the Art filters several times, I found that the 'Vintage' ones are pretty fun. Cropped slightly to taste.Olympus 14-42mm F3.5-5.6EZ @ 16mm | ISO 200 | 1/500 sec | F9

Despite being a native of the Seattle area, I hadn't visited Gasworks Park until I started at DPReview (so if you've noticed a surge of images from it over the past two years, apologies). But it is a uniquely industrial-yet-picturesque destination for many a tourist; that is, the exact sort of person likely to use the E-M10 III in some of its automatic and creative modes.

Honestly, in full auto, the E-M10 III is pretty good. I’ve always liked the way Olympus cameras look and handle, and this is no exception. With some subtle grip and dial revisions, the baby OM-D is comfortable to use with just a wrist strap. For casual use in auto mode, I appreciate the reliable metering, and despite constant scene analysis (the camera will boost the shutter speed if it detects movement - more on this later), the E-M10 III is an extremely responsive camera.

While the metering on the whole was reliable, I'd have preferred a much faster shutter speed with a wider aperture for this image - F10 on Micro Four Thirds is likely to result in some image softness from diffraction.Olympus 14-42mm F3.5-5.6EZ @ 14mm | ISO 200 | 1/400 sec | F10

Gasworks Park is a great place to get a feel for a camera because of the wide variety of subjects available to you. People are out and about, there are industrial relics from a bygone era, you can climb a hill for a beautiful vista of downtown Seattle, and there's an abundance of beautiful trees and waterfront.

But it was those last subjects that first made me realize a problem with the Auto mode on the E-M10 III. That Olympus color I absolutely loved had had gone and gotten all...weird.

i-Enhance in auto mode Reprocessed in-camera with 'Natural' profile

Vibrant blues and greens are usually an Olympus strong point, but these trees on the north end of Gasworks Park got to looking a little neon-cartoon for my tastes in Auto mode with its enforced 'i-Enhance' color profile.

The problem is that you’re locked into the ‘i-Enhance’ color profile when shooting in Auto mode. It routinely takes the pleasingly dramatic colors of Olympus’ ‘Natural’ output and adds so much additional saturation that everything looks a little radioactive. Thankfully, if you’re a Raw shooter, you can re-process the image in-camera (or with your software of choice) with different settings.

This is an unfortunate trait shared with many other Olympus cameras - and we as a staff wouldn't even mind if 'i-Enhance' was the default, but on the off chance that people don't want their auto mode to become clown mode, users should really be able to choose a different setting.

i-Enhance adds so much additional saturation that everything looks radioactive

Moving the mode dial from Auto to Art, I noticed the E-M10 III has another trick up its sleeve; you can now scroll through every Art filter on the camera along the bottom of the screen while your scene changes in real time.

I've always liked Olympus' Grainy B&W treatments, ever since I first tried them on the PEN-F. Out-of-camera JPEG.Olympus 14-42mm F3.5-5.6EZ @ 14mm | ISO 200 | 1/400 sec | F7.1

I'm not been one to extensively use filters since my early Instagram days, but being able to scroll through options like Bleach Bypass, Cross Process and Pinhole Camera in real time make it much more likely that I'd happen upon one I found interesting. Of course, I still find plenty I don't like, but I wasn't exclusively using Grainy B&W, which is historically the only one I use.

Well, I guess I'm still not a huge fan of Cross Process. Out-of-camera JPEG.ISO 200 | 1/640 sec | F8

With a selection of images from Gasworks on the E-M10 III, I packed up the camera and headed out of town for a few days to Lake Cavenaugh.

Lake Cavenaugh

Lake Cavenaugh occupies 1.3 square miles of rural Skagit County, and is about an hour and a half drive northeast from Seattle. It's a staggeringly beautiful place, and permits all manner of water sports to boot. I've brought everything from compacts to DSLRs to the lake, and it's always lovely having a camera that's on the smaller side for jaunts to and from the dock.

The E-M10 III in auto mode, with me pointing and shooting. Out of camera JPEG.Olympus 14-42mm F3.5-5.6EZ @ 14mm | ISO 200 | 1/320 sec | F6.3

But before any sports on the water took place, I noticed some autofocus quirks while photographing a stationary, inflatable flamingo whose nickname is Charlie. (Charlie also serves as a floating koozie for a frosty beverage of your choosing). Despite Charlie's prominence in the frame, proximity to the camera and bright pink color, the camera kept focusing on the background until I tapped the flamingo's beak on the tilting touchscreen.

I then noticed that one thing that the E-M10 III's full automatic mode doesn't take care of for you are your autofocus settings, which I think is a bit of an oversight. The camera defaults to Single AF with auto AF area and face detect. It works fine much of the time, but it should really be more reliable in situations such as this one.

After three focus attempts where the E-M10 III focused on the background with its default focus settings, I finally just tapped over the inflatable flamingo's beak and it focused properly.Processed to taste from Raw.

Olympus 14-42mm F3.5-5.6EZ @ 14mm | ISO 200 | 1/200 sec | F6.3

This choice of AF settings becomes even more of an issue when subjects start to move. Indeed, one of the enhancements with the E-M10 III is that it is supposed to detect subject movement, and adjust its shutter speed accordingly for less chance of motion blur.

But if the camera can't automatically initiate continuous autofocus to track that moving subject, you'll just end up with out-of-focus blur instead of motion blur.

Grainy B&W Art filter Full auto

I really enjoyed how the Grainy B&W filter exaggerated the highlights and shadows in the water.

On the other hand, Olympus has brought a welcome change to Auto mode, in that the camera now lets the ISO creep all the way up to 6400 (it previously topped out at 1600). It's true that the built-in image stabilizer will help to keep the shakiest hands at bay for slower shutter speeds, but only a higher ISO value together with a faster shutter speed will freeze people's natural movements in social situations.

The higher ISO value helped guarantee a sharp image, and the auto white balance did a pretty good job with all the mixed lighting. Be aware, full auto mode can't do anything to improve your subject matter, as proven here. Straight out of camera JPEG. Olympus 14-42mm F3.5-5.6EZ @ 14mm | ISO 4000 | 1/60 sec | F3.5

The rest

So, no surprise, there are ups and downs to using a camera in its fully automatic mode. I wish that the scene analysis was linked to the Single/Continuous AF setting and that you had some greater control over color. But I had way more fun with the Art filters than I expected, and the camera was so responsive that I never once missed a shot.

The E-M10 III should appeal to photographers of all experience levels

With each release of an E-M10-series camera, I become more and more tempted to get one for myself. It's an impressively complete package for the price, and should appeal to photographers of all experience levels. With this latest model, you get Olympus' most user-friendly interface yet in an attractive and serious-looking camera body. If you progress in your photography, you've got all the manual controls you could want at your fingertips and an extensive lens ecosystem with an abundance of affordable options.

Out-of-camera JPEG.Olympus 14-42mm F3.5-5.6EZ @ 54mm | ISO 200 | 1/100 sec | F5

In short, the previous E-M10 II was a camera that I could easily recommend to friends and family looking for a solid camera that they can get great results with right out of the box, and yet grow into and remain satisfied with down the road. This new E-M10 III is now even easier to use, and therefore will be even easier for me to recommend in the future.

Sample gallery

Please do not reproduce any of these images on a website or any newsletter / magazine without prior permission (see our copyright page). We make the originals available for private users to download to their own machines for personal examination or printing (in conjunction with this review), we do so in good faith, please don't abuse it.

Unless otherwise noted images taken with no particular settings at full resolution. Because our review images are now hosted on the 'galleries' section of dpreview.com, you can enjoy all of the new galleries functionality when browsing these samples.

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The E-M10 III makes a pretty good social camera in that it's comparatively easy to carry around and able to take considerably better images in low light than a typical smartphone, even when using the kit zoom lens. And, of course, there is a range of relatively small, relatively affordable single focal length 'prime' lenses if you want better low light performance and can live with the restriction.

Add a single focal length lens with a wide maximum aperture and the E-M10 III can turn its hand to portraiture.Olympus M.Zuiko Digital 75mm F1.8 | 1/2000th | F2.0 | ISO 160

Photo: Richard Butler

The camera's Wi-Fi system has a mode in which you can select on the camera which images you wish to share, then allow friends to connect to the camera and download just those images over their phones' browser. And, while I doubt many people will have the patience to do this, it's a nice addition to the more strict, app-dependent approach that most other cameras take.

Landscape

16MP and a Four Thirds size sensor reduce the appeal of the E-M10 III for the most dedicated landscape photographers. However, its light weight and impressive image stabilization mean it's an easy camera to take with you, when you head out into nature.

The E-M10 III has a Panorama function but it makes no attempt to stitch the photos together: this image was assembled in Photoshop.

The Live Time and Live Bulb modes are great for learning long-exposure photography, since they let you see how the image is building up, during the exposure. The Panaroma mode, though, is a little disappointing, providing guides for shooting shots that will line up but making no attempt to combine them in-camera: a function most smartphone users might have come to expect.

Sports & Action

The E-M10 III's autofocus and relatively modest continuous shooting speed (with autofocus) means it's never going to rank as a world-beating sports camera, but that doesn't totally rule it out for shooting moving subjects.

The AF system can be pretty tenacious, meaning that you can tap on the screen and let the camera track your subject without too much effort. Unfortunately, we didn't find it to be dependable and too often ended up with sequences of out-of-focus images, so we wouldn't recommend the E-M10 III if sports and action is your the focus of your shooting.

Travel

The E-M10 III's small size, especially when combined with its retractable 'EZ' 14-42mm lens, makes it ideal for travel. It's possible to grab the camera and a couple of additional lenses and squeeze them into your luggage without too much fuss. Even with just the kit zoom, you get a reasonable focal length range, good image quality and immediately usable JPEGs.

The E-M10 III's relatively small size makes it that bit more likely you'll have it with you when a photogenic moment occurs.Olympus M.Zuiko Digital 14-42mm F3.5-5.6 EZ | 1/100th | F5.0 | ISO 400

Photo: Carey Rose

Autofocus might not be up to sporting standards, but it can it's certainly able to make sure you get some good shots of events unfolding in front of you. One of the main black marks against the E-M10 III in terms of its use as a travel companion is its lack of USB charging. At a fairly modest 330 shots per charge, you'll probably have to carry the charger with you on multi-day trips.

Video

The E-M10 III is something of a mixed bag for video shooters, in some respects it's terrifically easy to shoot with but not to a great enough degree that a beginner can just pick it up and shoot.

The camera can shoot UHD 4K video at 30, 25 or 24 frames per second and can combine its sensor shift stabilization with digital, if you're willing to put up with an additional crop. This does a truly impressive job of stabilizing the camera's footage, making it very easy to shoot handheld. The quality of the footage is excellent, too.

However, the camera can be a bit of a handful in other respects. Autofocus is easy to operate: you tap the screen to focus and it refocuses. Unfortunately, the contrast-detection-based hunting is likely to ruin your footage, which means manually focusing for the best results. There's also no Auto ISO in manual exposure shooting, so you'll have to shoot in either aperture or shutter priority mode, and allow the camera to control one of the exposure properties if you want it to be able to adjust brightness on-the-fly.

Beyond this, the camera has focus peaking available (it needs to be engaged via the 'Custom/A/MF Assist' menu setting), but there are no zebra warnings to guide exposure. The camera's Highlight/Shadow warnings stop working in video mode, so you can't improvise using these. Finally, as with so many of its peers, there's no means of adding an external mic, so you're limited to the camera's internal recording, which is never going to be great.

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Pros Cons
  • Excellent JPEG engine
  • Good Raw performance
  • Effective 5-axis image stabilization
  • Stylish, compact body
  • Well-placed controls
  • High resolution OLED viewfinder
  • Detailed 4K video with excellent stabilization
  • New UI makes it easier to use camera's innovative shooting modes
  • Handy tilting touchscreen LCD
  • Fairly simple Wi-Fi implementation
  • Auto mode limits you to exaggerated color rendition
  • 16MP starting to look a little dated
  • Autofocus not dependable for action shooting
  • Default noise reduction and sharpening rather heavy-handed
  • No USB charging
  • Auto ISO rather simplistic and not available for manual exposure video shooting

The OM-D E-M10 III isn't a big update in terms of specs, but Olympus has made some pretty significant attempts to make it easier to make full use of its capabilities. We liked its predecessor, and we think the updates to the interface, the addition of 4K and the improved AF Tracking all add significantly to its appeal.

The E-M10 III's size meant I felt able to keep the camera with me more than I would have done with something larger. Processed in Adobe Camera Raw, ferry brightened, mast cloned out of foreground.Olympus M.Zuiko Digital 14-42mm F3.5-5.6 EZ | 1/200th | F6.3 | ISO 200

Photo: Richard Butler

In terms of rivals, it tries to offer the touch and shoot simplicity of the Sony a5100 and the more hands-on control level of the a6000, and does well on both counts. The likes of Nikon's D5600 will offer better stills image quality but only Panasonic's GX85 can offer the balance of size, stills and video shooting capabilities and the M10 has the better JPEGs.

Body and Handling

The E-M10 III body and handling is broadly like those of its predecessor, which we liked very much. Twin dials and a touchscreen, a couple of customizable buttons and one of the more comprehensive on-screen control panels give a remarkably good and well-judged level of direct control for a camera at this point in the market. The slightly more sculpted grip and reworked dials just make everything that bit nicer to work with.

The changes to the camera's user interface and handling are generally positive, too. We're a bit surprised by some of the changes Olympus has made to its menu structure but thinning-out the options is certainly an improvement.

The camera's 'Keystone' function, that lets you correct for perspective distortion, is easier to access on the Mark IIIOlympus M.Zuiko Digital 14-42mm F3.5-5.6 EZ | 1/320th | F10 | ISO 200

Photo: Carey Rose

The Advanced Photography mode brings all the camera's smarter shooting modes together, rather than leaving them languishing in the menus. Some of these modes, such as Live Bulb and Live Time are pretty useful, others, such as Panorama, fall a long way short of what most smartphone users would expect.

And, for beginners, the Auto mode is good enough at selecting an appropriate scene mode, that we'd only feel the need to swap to 'SCN' mode for some of the more obscure shooting scenarios. Or rather, we would if Auto mode didn't insist on making everything Day-Glo, with not so much as the option to escape its Funfair 'charms.'

Image Quality

The E-M10 III's image quality is generally rather good, especially in JPEG. We've long been impressed by the color rendition of Olympus' 'Natural' response and it makes it easy to get attractive results from the E-M10 III. Unfortunately, the camera's Auto mode leaves you locked in the oversaturated i-Enhance mode, even shutting off the option to tone-down its effect.

The camera's sharpening is a little heavy-handed, which can overpower the finest detail, but that's only an issue if you insist on looking at the pixel level. Default noise reduction is also a bit high and we'd strongly recommend reducing the 'Noise Filter' setting to Low or Off, when you first pick up the camera. Generally, though, we like the JPEG output.

The camera's comparatively large sensor and lovely color rendering mean it can produce better images for social media than your phone. #NofilterOlympus M.Zuiko Digital 14-42mm F3.5-5.6 EZ | 1/200th | F5.6 | ISO 200

Photo: Richard Butler

The underlying Raw performance is also pretty good, considering the relatively elderly sensor. It's not suddenly going to outperform its 24MP APS-C peers, but it's not hopelessly outclassed, either, and that smaller sensor helps the camera offer such excellent image stabilization.

The camera's dynamic range is good for its sensor size, with files shot at low ISO giving a reasonable degree of flexibility in terms of being able to lift information from the shadows without adding excessive noise to the image.

Autofocus

Autofocus is probably the E-M10's weakest point, but this isn't as harsh a criticism as it might sound. The camera's ability to track moving subjects is greatly improved and the majority of the available lenses can focus extremely quickly. Sadly, though, we simply didn't find it to be consistent enough to be dependable so, while it was capable of giving performances to match its peers, we didn't feel we could trust it to do so.

Video Quality

The E-M10 III's video quality is really impressive, especially in 4K mode. This is helped by the camera's rather lovely color rendition, which gives really attractive output. Sadly, it lacks the decisive autofocus performance that would be needed to make it truly easy to use, or the features such as external mic inputs needed to make it appeal to the more dedicated videographer who'll be willing to manual focus all the time.

That said, if you fix focus before you start, the 4K quality combined with really impressive stabilization means it's a pretty good camera to play around with, and maybe kindle some enthusiasm for shooting video.

The Final Word

This shot was taken with the 17mm F1.8 prime lens, but the bundled 14-45mm zoom will let you get similar results.Olympus M.Zuiko Digital 17mm F1.8 | 1/100th | F3.2 | ISO 1250

Photo: Richard Butler

The E-M10 III is a minor update to the Mark II but the changes are focused where it matters. 16MP may seem a little old hat, given APS-C went to 24MP several years ago, but the Olympus becomes one of the only cameras in its class to offer 4K video capture and does so with excellent stabilization. It may not be the most impressive spec, on paper, but the E-M10 III is a powerful and likeable little camera, that offers the developing photographer plenty of room to grow.

Scoring is relative only to the other cameras in the same category.Click here to learn about the changes to our scoring system and what these numbers mean.

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Our test scene is designed to simulate a variety of textures, colors and detail types you'll encounter in the real world. It also has two illumination modes to see the effect of different lighting conditions.

The E-M10 III's image quality is essentially a match for that of its predecessor, which is to say: really pretty good for a 16MP sensor, but not a match for the levels of detail its 24MP peers will give. The lack of anti-aliasing filter helps the camera squeeze a little more resolution out of its chip but, as the name implies, this means it can exhibit aliasing in high-contrast, repetitive patterns, if you use a sharp enough lens.

The price you pay for the smaller camera size that a smaller sensor can give is more noise. Compare the E-M10 III with the Nikon D5600 and you can see the APS-C camera can produce similar image quality in half as much light (a 1EV difference). However, the difference is less pronounced when compared with the Canon EOS T7i/700D, so it's still a competitive performance.

JPEG output

For this type of easy-to-use camera, JPEG performance is vital the E-M10 III does well in this respect. The default 'Natural' color response is excellent. It broadly follows the pattern of the popular Canon color rendering but punches-up sky blues, in a way that makes every landscape photo look like a happy memory. This is arguably even more attractive than Fujifilm's color, which is another of our favorites.

The camera's default sharpening is a little crude: you can see how much additional detail is in the Raw files that's being overwhelmed by the camera's processing. However, note also how effectively the false color is suppressed (though that's not the case everywhere: note the greenish swathe down the top right of the banknote). Even so, the sharpening is better than that of some of its rivals and it's not much less detailed than the default JPEGs of the Nikon D5600, despite its higher resolution.

Noise reduction (called Noise Filter in the Custom menu), errs on the side of smoothing away both noise and detail to give a low noise but also rather smudged image, by default. The camera's in-camera Raw conversion system makes it easy to experiment with the Low or Off settings.

Auto White Balance doesn't neutralize the lighting as aggressively as its Canon and Nikon peers, but the Setup menu option F3: 'WB Auto Keep Warm Color' can be turned off to get a totally neutral rendering.

Dynamic Range

Dynamic Range is an assessment of the range of brightness values a camera can cope with, from the highlight that causes the image to clip to white, down to the darkest tone with a tolerable noise level.

We look at this in two ways: firstly by giving the camera different exposures, then lifting them back to the same brightness (just as you might in the real world, if you were reducing exposure to prevent highlights over-exposing). Then we give the camera the same exposure at a series of different ISO settings. This reveals how much noise is being added by the camera, since the amount of noise from the light you captured is the same.

As you can see, the Mark III shows the same degree of processing latitude as its predecessor, which shouldn't be surprising, given its use of the same sensor. This puts it behind the performance of the best current APS-C cameras, given the same exposure, but still competitive against others, despite the sensor size difference.

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Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark III Review

The E-M10 III's autofocus is solely based on contrast detection. In other words, it measure the contrast in the part of the scene it's focusing on, moves the lens and checks again, then continues to move the lens in whichever direction results in improved contrast (and a sharper image). This is an excellent way of ensuring perfect focus when shooting static subjects.

Traditionally, it's been a less positive story for moving subjects and continuous autofocus. This is because, even if you can move the lens and check contrast really quickly, there's a risk that your subject will have moved while you were taking measurements: the focus distance giving the highest contrast is literally a moving target.

The results both of our testing and our experiences shooting with the camera were distinctly mixed.

To check the camera's ability to refocus and drive the lens fast enough, the first part of test features the riding traveling towards the camera in a straight line with a single, central AF point selected. Despite the reliance on contrast-detection AF, you can see the E-M10 III does very well at this.

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16

If you make the challenge more difficult, by expecting the camera to recognize and track the subject around the frame, rather than just refocusing in a single position, it does less well. We found it would sometimes track pretty tenaciously, at which point we'd get around 2/3rds of the image in useable or perfect focus. However, on other occasions the camera would lose the subject and revert to focusing on the background.

While there were some runs where the camera kept track of the cyclist pretty well, there were too many instances where it just took an interest in the background.

Our everyday use of the camera yielded similar results: sometimes the camera would do well, other times it would produce a run of out-of-focus images. The upshot was that we didn't feel we could trust C-AF + Tracking mode enough to use it.

Video quality

The E-M10 III's 4K video quality is really pretty good. Fine detail isn't captured as precisely as some of its peers, but the end result, especially with the application of Olympus's excellent JPEG color, is really pretty solid for a camera at this price.

A 1.2x crop is applied when you engage Digital IS (called MIS-1 on the camera), which makes wide-angle shots virtually impossible, but the footage looks very similar to the unstabilized version, so you can engage it as needed.

And, while there is some softness to the footage, it doesn't change significantly when you crop in to provide the impressive digital+mechanical stabilization, meaning you should be able to intercut between footage without most viewers spotting the difference.

Video Autofocus

Contrast detection's other real weakness tends to be in video shooting: any overshoot the camera needs to confirm that peak focus has been reached and exceeded, makes video looks wobbly. This usually means having to manual focus or, at least, to use Single AF to acquire focus before you hit record.

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The E-M10 III's dials have been slight redesigned, making them easier to turn.

The E-M10 III is a gentle but significant refresh of the Mark II's ergonomics. It retains its predecessor's film-era SLR good looks but the front grip and dials have been reshaped to make the camera more comfortable to hold and the dials easier to operate.

Despite its mainly plastic construction, it's still a remarkably solid-feeling camera for the money. Not to the extent I'd expect it to survive much of a drop, but giving off a much better sense of build quality than the lower-end PEN E-PL and older E-PM models.

Operations and Controls

The most significant change to the controls is the addition of the 'Shortcut' button on the left of the camera's top plate. On the Mark II, this was a customizable function button but on the Mark III it's a dedicated control that takes you to either the settings control panel or the mode menu (the Movie, SCN and AP modes each has their own options page when you first enter the mode).

Pressing the Shortcut button in the SCN, AP or Movie modes brings up a screen detailing the available options. The Scene modes have been grouped into six use cases, rather than just presenting all 27 in a long list.

Having a dedicated button frees up the 'OK' button so that it always takes you to the settings control panel, whichever mode you're in. As is standard for Olympus, you can choose from several styles of settings control panel, but the OK button is always your way of accessing it. This is a huge improvement in consistency, which is fundamental to making a camera easy to use.

The E-M10 III features three styles of control layout. This is the Super Control Panel, which seems daunting at first, but quickly becomes a way of viewing and changing the camera's key settings. It can be operated via the touchscreen or the control dials.

The changes also see the loss of the Multi Function button and a reduction both in the number of customizable buttons and the number of functions that can be assigned.

Beyond this, the camera's physical layout is broadly the same.

All the camera's modes that require extra user input or that take multiple shots are accessed through the new 'AP' position on the mode dial, rather than being scattered throughout the menus.

In terms of operation, again the Mark III broadly similar to the Mark II. The significant changes are that the mode dial gains an 'AP' position, which give access to 'Advanced Photo' mode, the camera's multi-shot modes, which were often accessed via the main menu on the previous model. The mode menu screen for the scene mode ('SCN' on the mode dial) has also been simplified by grouping the scene modes into similar use-cases 'People, Motion, etc...'

The Custom menu has been pruned back but has also lost the 'index' page that listed what kinds of setting would be found in sub-section A, B, C...

Finally, Olympus has re-worked its menu system. Oddly, and contrary to most other camera makers, Olympus has done this by removing the level of the menu that acts as an index, to make it quicker to find the sub-section you're looking for. However, the company has also gone on an aggressive prune of the Custom menu, meaning the E-M10 Mark III only has 43 options in the Setup menu, rather than the Mark II's rather daunting 99.

In fact, the entire menu has been slimmed-down, so there are only 72 menu options in total, rather than 125. Some of the former options are incorporated into the AP mode, the movie settings are elevated from the Custom menu to their own tab in the main menu and others have been removed entirely.

One of the menu options that was originally removed was the 'RC' settings for controlling external flashguns. This optional was added back in Firmware v1.1, so we'd recommend installing this to gain access to this handy function.

Auto ISO

The E-M10 III has reasonable but slightly inflexible Auto ISO implementation. It tries to maintain a shutter speed of at least of 1/equivalent focal length or the user-specified Flash Slow Limit speed, whichever is fastest. However, there's no way of specifying faster or slower rate that still relates to the focal length.

Auto ISO is still available in manual exposure mode, but there's no way of applying Exposure Compensation, to adjust the target brightness that the camera is trying to maintain. Sadly, Auto ISO is not available when shooting video in Manual exposure mode, which would be handy.

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By Carey Rose

For a lot of people, automatic modes are a great way to get started in the wide, wonderful world of photography.

When a new camera lands on my desk, there's a few things I do automatically. Charge the battery. Make sure it's shooting Raw + JPEG. If any other DPReview editor has been using it, reset the custom controls because they'll almost certainly make no sense to me.

I also automatically use the camera in a manner in which I'm confident I'll get the best possible results, which therefore means never using it in its automatic mode.

But with the OM-D E-M10 Mark III, Olympus has spent some serious time refining its user interface and enhancing its various automatic and creative modes for those that are new to photography, or would simply prefer the camera to do the majority of work for them.

Getting ready to head out with the Olympus E-M10 Mark III. Out-of-camera JPEG using the 'HDR' setting from the Advanced Photography mode.Olympus 14-42mm F3.5-5.6EZ @ 24mm | ISO 200 | 1/400 sec | F11

So to get a feel for how much work Olympus has put into making the E-M10 III an easier camera for just about anyone to pick up and use, I set the mode dial to 'green' and took it to a couple of places that I tend to automatically take new cameras once I get them: Gasworks Park and Lake Cavanaugh.

Gasworks Park

After scrolling through all the Art filters several times, I found that the 'Vintage' ones are pretty fun. Cropped slightly to taste.Olympus 14-42mm F3.5-5.6EZ @ 16mm | ISO 200 | 1/500 sec | F9

Despite being a native of the Seattle area, I hadn't visited Gasworks Park until I started at DPReview (so if you've noticed a surge of images from it over the past two years, apologies). But it is a uniquely industrial-yet-picturesque destination for many a tourist; that is, the exact sort of person likely to use the E-M10 III in some of its automatic and creative modes.

Honestly, in full auto, the E-M10 III is pretty good. I’ve always liked the way Olympus cameras look and handle, and this is no exception. With some subtle grip and dial revisions, the baby OM-D is comfortable to use with just a wrist strap. For casual use in auto mode, I appreciate the reliable metering, and despite constant scene analysis (the camera will boost the shutter speed if it detects movement - more on this later), the E-M10 III is an extremely responsive camera.

While the metering on the whole was reliable, I'd have preferred a much faster shutter speed with a wider aperture for this image - F10 on Micro Four Thirds is likely to result in some image softness from diffraction.Olympus 14-42mm F3.5-5.6EZ @ 14mm | ISO 200 | 1/400 sec | F10

Gasworks Park is a great place to get a feel for a camera because of the wide variety of subjects available to you. People are out and about, there are industrial relics from a bygone era, you can climb a hill for a beautiful vista of downtown Seattle, and there's an abundance of beautiful trees and waterfront.

But it was those last subjects that first made me realize a problem with the Auto mode on the E-M10 III. That Olympus color I absolutely loved had had gone and gotten all...weird.

i-Enhance in auto mode Reprocessed in-camera with 'Natural' profile

Vibrant blues and greens are usually an Olympus strong point, but these trees on the north end of Gasworks Park got to looking a little neon-cartoon for my tastes in Auto mode with its enforced 'i-Enhance' color profile.

The problem is that you’re locked into the ‘i-Enhance’ color profile when shooting in Auto mode. It routinely takes the pleasingly dramatic colors of Olympus’ ‘Natural’ output and adds so much additional saturation that everything looks a little radioactive. Thankfully, if you’re a Raw shooter, you can re-process the image in-camera (or with your software of choice) with different settings.

This is an unfortunate trait shared with many other Olympus cameras - and we as a staff wouldn't even mind if 'i-Enhance' was the default, but on the off chance that people don't want their auto mode to become clown mode, users should really be able to choose a different setting.

i-Enhance adds so much additional saturation that everything looks radioactive

Moving the mode dial from Auto to Art, I noticed the E-M10 III has another trick up its sleeve; you can now scroll through every Art filter on the camera along the bottom of the screen while your scene changes in real time.

I've always liked Olympus' Grainy B&W treatments, ever since I first tried them on the PEN-F. Out-of-camera JPEG.Olympus 14-42mm F3.5-5.6EZ @ 14mm | ISO 200 | 1/400 sec | F7.1

I'm not been one to extensively use filters since my early Instagram days, but being able to scroll through options like Bleach Bypass, Cross Process and Pinhole Camera in real time make it much more likely that I'd happen upon one I found interesting. Of course, I still find plenty I don't like, but I wasn't exclusively using Grainy B&W, which is historically the only one I use.

Well, I guess I'm still not a huge fan of Cross Process. Out-of-camera JPEG.ISO 200 | 1/640 sec | F8

With a selection of images from Gasworks on the E-M10 III, I packed up the camera and headed out of town for a few days to Lake Cavenaugh.

Lake Cavenaugh

Lake Cavenaugh occupies 1.3 square miles of rural Skagit County, and is about an hour and a half drive northeast from Seattle. It's a staggeringly beautiful place, and permits all manner of water sports to boot. I've brought everything from compacts to DSLRs to the lake, and it's always lovely having a camera that's on the smaller side for jaunts to and from the dock.

The E-M10 III in auto mode, with me pointing and shooting. Out of camera JPEG.Olympus 14-42mm F3.5-5.6EZ @ 14mm | ISO 200 | 1/320 sec | F6.3

But before any sports on the water took place, I noticed some autofocus quirks while photographing a stationary, inflatable flamingo whose nickname is Charlie. (Charlie also serves as a floating koozie for a frosty beverage of your choosing). Despite Charlie's prominence in the frame, proximity to the camera and bright pink color, the camera kept focusing on the background until I tapped the flamingo's beak on the tilting touchscreen.

I then noticed that one thing that the E-M10 III's full automatic mode doesn't take care of for you are your autofocus settings, which I think is a bit of an oversight. The camera defaults to Single AF with auto AF area and face detect. It works fine much of the time, but it should really be more reliable in situations such as this one.

After three focus attempts where the E-M10 III focused on the background with its default focus settings, I finally just tapped over the inflatable flamingo's beak and it focused properly.Processed to taste from Raw.

Olympus 14-42mm F3.5-5.6EZ @ 14mm | ISO 200 | 1/200 sec | F6.3

This choice of AF settings becomes even more of an issue when subjects start to move. Indeed, one of the enhancements with the E-M10 III is that it is supposed to detect subject movement, and adjust its shutter speed accordingly for less chance of motion blur.

But if the camera can't automatically initiate continuous autofocus to track that moving subject, you'll just end up with out-of-focus blur instead of motion blur.

Grainy B&W Art filter Full auto

I really enjoyed how the Grainy B&W filter exaggerated the highlights and shadows in the water.

On the other hand, Olympus has brought a welcome change to Auto mode, in that the camera now lets the ISO creep all the way up to 6400 (it previously topped out at 1600). It's true that the built-in image stabilizer will help to keep the shakiest hands at bay for slower shutter speeds, but only a higher ISO value together with a faster shutter speed will freeze people's natural movements in social situations.

The higher ISO value helped guarantee a sharp image, and the auto white balance did a pretty good job with all the mixed lighting. Be aware, full auto mode can't do anything to improve your subject matter, as proven here. Straight out of camera JPEG. Olympus 14-42mm F3.5-5.6EZ @ 14mm | ISO 4000 | 1/60 sec | F3.5

The rest

So, no surprise, there are ups and downs to using a camera in its fully automatic mode. I wish that the scene analysis was linked to the Single/Continuous AF setting and that you had some greater control over color. But I had way more fun with the Art filters than I expected, and the camera was so responsive that I never once missed a shot.

The E-M10 III should appeal to photographers of all experience levels

With each release of an E-M10-series camera, I become more and more tempted to get one for myself. It's an impressively complete package for the price, and should appeal to photographers of all experience levels. With this latest model, you get Olympus' most user-friendly interface yet in an attractive and serious-looking camera body. If you progress in your photography, you've got all the manual controls you could want at your fingertips and an extensive lens ecosystem with an abundance of affordable options.

Out-of-camera JPEG.Olympus 14-42mm F3.5-5.6EZ @ 54mm | ISO 200 | 1/100 sec | F5

In short, the previous E-M10 II was a camera that I could easily recommend to friends and family looking for a solid camera that they can get great results with right out of the box, and yet grow into and remain satisfied with down the road. This new E-M10 III is now even easier to use, and therefore will be even easier for me to recommend in the future.

Sample gallery

Please do not reproduce any of these images on a website or any newsletter / magazine without prior permission (see our copyright page). We make the originals available for private users to download to their own machines for personal examination or printing (in conjunction with this review), we do so in good faith, please don't abuse it.

Unless otherwise noted images taken with no particular settings at full resolution. Because our review images are now hosted on the 'galleries' section of dpreview.com, you can enjoy all of the new galleries functionality when browsing these samples.

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The E-M10 III makes a pretty good social camera in that it's comparatively easy to carry around and able to take considerably better images in low light than a typical smartphone, even when using the kit zoom lens. And, of course, there is a range of relatively small, relatively affordable single focal length 'prime' lenses if you want better low light performance and can live with the restriction.

Add a single focal length lens with a wide maximum aperture and the E-M10 III can turn its hand to portraiture.Olympus M.Zuiko Digital 75mm F1.8 | 1/2000th | F2.0 | ISO 160

Photo: Richard Butler

The camera's Wi-Fi system has a mode in which you can select on the camera which images you wish to share, then allow friends to connect to the camera and download just those images over their phones' browser. And, while I doubt many people will have the patience to do this, it's a nice addition to the more strict, app-dependent approach that most other cameras take.

Landscape

16MP and a Four Thirds size sensor reduce the appeal of the E-M10 III for the most dedicated landscape photographers. However, its light weight and impressive image stabilization mean it's an easy camera to take with you, when you head out into nature.

The E-M10 III has a Panorama function but it makes no attempt to stitch the photos together: this image was assembled in Photoshop.

The Live Time and Live Bulb modes are great for learning long-exposure photography, since they let you see how the image is building up, during the exposure. The Panaroma mode, though, is a little disappointing, providing guides for shooting shots that will line up but making no attempt to combine them in-camera: a function most smartphone users might have come to expect.

Sports & Action

The E-M10 III's autofocus and relatively modest continuous shooting speed (with autofocus) means it's never going to rank as a world-beating sports camera, but that doesn't totally rule it out for shooting moving subjects.

The AF system can be pretty tenacious, meaning that you can tap on the screen and let the camera track your subject without too much effort. Unfortunately, we didn't find it to be dependable and too often ended up with sequences of out-of-focus images, so we wouldn't recommend the E-M10 III if sports and action is your the focus of your shooting.

Travel

The E-M10 III's small size, especially when combined with its retractable 'EZ' 14-42mm lens, makes it ideal for travel. It's possible to grab the camera and a couple of additional lenses and squeeze them into your luggage without too much fuss. Even with just the kit zoom, you get a reasonable focal length range, good image quality and immediately usable JPEGs.

The E-M10 III's relatively small size makes it that bit more likely you'll have it with you when a photogenic moment occurs.Olympus M.Zuiko Digital 14-42mm F3.5-5.6 EZ | 1/100th | F5.0 | ISO 400

Photo: Carey Rose

Autofocus might not be up to sporting standards, but it can it's certainly able to make sure you get some good shots of events unfolding in front of you. One of the main black marks against the E-M10 III in terms of its use as a travel companion is its lack of USB charging. At a fairly modest 330 shots per charge, you'll probably have to carry the charger with you on multi-day trips.

Video

The E-M10 III is something of a mixed bag for video shooters, in some respects it's terrifically easy to shoot with but not to a great enough degree that a beginner can just pick it up and shoot.

The camera can shoot UHD 4K video at 30, 25 or 24 frames per second and can combine its sensor shift stabilization with digital, if you're willing to put up with an additional crop. This does a truly impressive job of stabilizing the camera's footage, making it very easy to shoot handheld. The quality of the footage is excellent, too.

However, the camera can be a bit of a handful in other respects. Autofocus is easy to operate: you tap the screen to focus and it refocuses. Unfortunately, the contrast-detection-based hunting is likely to ruin your footage, which means manually focusing for the best results. There's also no Auto ISO in manual exposure shooting, so you'll have to shoot in either aperture or shutter priority mode, and allow the camera to control one of the exposure properties if you want it to be able to adjust brightness on-the-fly.

Beyond this, the camera has focus peaking available (it needs to be engaged via the 'Custom/A/MF Assist' menu setting), but there are no zebra warnings to guide exposure. The camera's Highlight/Shadow warnings stop working in video mode, so you can't improvise using these. Finally, as with so many of its peers, there's no means of adding an external mic, so you're limited to the camera's internal recording, which is never going to be great.

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Pros Cons
  • Excellent JPEG engine
  • Good Raw performance
  • Effective 5-axis image stabilization
  • Stylish, compact body
  • Well-placed controls
  • High resolution OLED viewfinder
  • Detailed 4K video with excellent stabilization
  • New UI makes it easier to use camera's innovative shooting modes
  • Handy tilting touchscreen LCD
  • Fairly simple Wi-Fi implementation
  • Auto mode limits you to exaggerated color rendition
  • 16MP starting to look a little dated
  • Autofocus not dependable for action shooting
  • Default noise reduction and sharpening rather heavy-handed
  • No USB charging
  • Auto ISO rather simplistic and not available for manual exposure video shooting

The OM-D E-M10 III isn't a big update in terms of specs, but Olympus has made some pretty significant attempts to make it easier to make full use of its capabilities. We liked its predecessor, and we think the updates to the interface, the addition of 4K and the improved AF Tracking all add significantly to its appeal.

The E-M10 III's size meant I felt able to keep the camera with me more than I would have done with something larger. Processed in Adobe Camera Raw, ferry brightened, mast cloned out of foreground.Olympus M.Zuiko Digital 14-42mm F3.5-5.6 EZ | 1/200th | F6.3 | ISO 200

Photo: Richard Butler

In terms of rivals, it tries to offer the touch and shoot simplicity of the Sony a5100 and the more hands-on control level of the a6000, and does well on both counts. The likes of Nikon's D5600 will offer better stills image quality but only Panasonic's GX85 can offer the balance of size, stills and video shooting capabilities and the M10 has the better JPEGs.

Body and Handling

The E-M10 III body and handling is broadly like those of its predecessor, which we liked very much. Twin dials and a touchscreen, a couple of customizable buttons and one of the more comprehensive on-screen control panels give a remarkably good and well-judged level of direct control for a camera at this point in the market. The slightly more sculpted grip and reworked dials just make everything that bit nicer to work with.

The changes to the camera's user interface and handling are generally positive, too. We're a bit surprised by some of the changes Olympus has made to its menu structure but thinning-out the options is certainly an improvement.

The camera's 'Keystone' function, that lets you correct for perspective distortion, is easier to access on the Mark IIIOlympus M.Zuiko Digital 14-42mm F3.5-5.6 EZ | 1/320th | F10 | ISO 200

Photo: Carey Rose

The Advanced Photography mode brings all the camera's smarter shooting modes together, rather than leaving them languishing in the menus. Some of these modes, such as Live Bulb and Live Time are pretty useful, others, such as Panorama, fall a long way short of what most smartphone users would expect.

And, for beginners, the Auto mode is good enough at selecting an appropriate scene mode, that we'd only feel the need to swap to 'SCN' mode for some of the more obscure shooting scenarios. Or rather, we would if Auto mode didn't insist on making everything Day-Glo, with not so much as the option to escape its Funfair 'charms.'

Image Quality

The E-M10 III's image quality is generally rather good, especially in JPEG. We've long been impressed by the color rendition of Olympus' 'Natural' response and it makes it easy to get attractive results from the E-M10 III. Unfortunately, the camera's Auto mode leaves you locked in the oversaturated i-Enhance mode, even shutting off the option to tone-down its effect.

The camera's sharpening is a little heavy-handed, which can overpower the finest detail, but that's only an issue if you insist on looking at the pixel level. Default noise reduction is also a bit high and we'd strongly recommend reducing the 'Noise Filter' setting to Low or Off, when you first pick up the camera. Generally, though, we like the JPEG output.

The camera's comparatively large sensor and lovely color rendering mean it can produce better images for social media than your phone. #NofilterOlympus M.Zuiko Digital 14-42mm F3.5-5.6 EZ | 1/200th | F5.6 | ISO 200

Photo: Richard Butler

The underlying Raw performance is also pretty good, considering the relatively elderly sensor. It's not suddenly going to outperform its 24MP APS-C peers, but it's not hopelessly outclassed, either, and that smaller sensor helps the camera offer such excellent image stabilization.

The camera's dynamic range is good for its sensor size, with files shot at low ISO giving a reasonable degree of flexibility in terms of being able to lift information from the shadows without adding excessive noise to the image.

Autofocus

Autofocus is probably the E-M10's weakest point, but this isn't as harsh a criticism as it might sound. The camera's ability to track moving subjects is greatly improved and the majority of the available lenses can focus extremely quickly. Sadly, though, we simply didn't find it to be consistent enough to be dependable so, while it was capable of giving performances to match its peers, we didn't feel we could trust it to do so.

Video Quality

The E-M10 III's video quality is really impressive, especially in 4K mode. This is helped by the camera's rather lovely color rendition, which gives really attractive output. Sadly, it lacks the decisive autofocus performance that would be needed to make it truly easy to use, or the features such as external mic inputs needed to make it appeal to the more dedicated videographer who'll be willing to manual focus all the time.

That said, if you fix focus before you start, the 4K quality combined with really impressive stabilization means it's a pretty good camera to play around with, and maybe kindle some enthusiasm for shooting video.

The Final Word

This shot was taken with the 17mm F1.8 prime lens, but the bundled 14-45mm zoom will let you get similar results.Olympus M.Zuiko Digital 17mm F1.8 | 1/100th | F3.2 | ISO 1250

Photo: Richard Butler

The E-M10 III is a minor update to the Mark II but the changes are focused where it matters. 16MP may seem a little old hat, given APS-C went to 24MP several years ago, but the Olympus becomes one of the only cameras in its class to offer 4K video capture and does so with excellent stabilization. It may not be the most impressive spec, on paper, but the E-M10 III is a powerful and likeable little camera, that offers the developing photographer plenty of room to grow.

Scoring is relative only to the other cameras in the same category.Click here to learn about the changes to our scoring system and what these numbers mean.

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Our test scene is designed to simulate a variety of textures, colors and detail types you'll encounter in the real world. It also has two illumination modes to see the effect of different lighting conditions.

The E-M10 III's image quality is essentially a match for that of its predecessor, which is to say: really pretty good for a 16MP sensor, but not a match for the levels of detail its 24MP peers will give. The lack of anti-aliasing filter helps the camera squeeze a little more resolution out of its chip but, as the name implies, this means it can exhibit aliasing in high-contrast, repetitive patterns, if you use a sharp enough lens.

The price you pay for the smaller camera size that a smaller sensor can give is more noise. Compare the E-M10 III with the Nikon D5600 and you can see the APS-C camera can produce similar image quality in half as much light (a 1EV difference). However, the difference is less pronounced when compared with the Canon EOS T7i/700D, so it's still a competitive performance.

JPEG output

For this type of easy-to-use camera, JPEG performance is vital the E-M10 III does well in this respect. The default 'Natural' color response is excellent. It broadly follows the pattern of the popular Canon color rendering but punches-up sky blues, in a way that makes every landscape photo look like a happy memory. This is arguably even more attractive than Fujifilm's color, which is another of our favorites.

The camera's default sharpening is a little crude: you can see how much additional detail is in the Raw files that's being overwhelmed by the camera's processing. However, note also how effectively the false color is suppressed (though that's not the case everywhere: note the greenish swathe down the top right of the banknote). Even so, the sharpening is better than that of some of its rivals and it's not much less detailed than the default JPEGs of the Nikon D5600, despite its higher resolution.

Noise reduction (called Noise Filter in the Custom menu), errs on the side of smoothing away both noise and detail to give a low noise but also rather smudged image, by default. The camera's in-camera Raw conversion system makes it easy to experiment with the Low or Off settings.

Auto White Balance doesn't neutralize the lighting as aggressively as its Canon and Nikon peers, but the Setup menu option F3: 'WB Auto Keep Warm Color' can be turned off to get a totally neutral rendering.

Dynamic Range

Dynamic Range is an assessment of the range of brightness values a camera can cope with, from the highlight that causes the image to clip to white, down to the darkest tone with a tolerable noise level.

We look at this in two ways: firstly by giving the camera different exposures, then lifting them back to the same brightness (just as you might in the real world, if you were reducing exposure to prevent highlights over-exposing). Then we give the camera the same exposure at a series of different ISO settings. This reveals how much noise is being added by the camera, since the amount of noise from the light you captured is the same.

As you can see, the Mark III shows the same degree of processing latitude as its predecessor, which shouldn't be surprising, given its use of the same sensor. This puts it behind the performance of the best current APS-C cameras, given the same exposure, but still competitive against others, despite the sensor size difference.

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