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Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark III Review

We've been testing the new Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark III to find out how this latest Micro Four Thirds camera with a new image processor, improved speed and 20MP sensor performs.

|  Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark III in Mirrorless Cameras
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Olympus OMD EM1 Mark III

The third version of Olympus' E-M1, the E-M1 Mark III model in this range is designed to be the go-to camera for professional and enthusiast photographers, offering the high-speed shooting, and focusing system from the E-M1X, but without the built-in battery grip, the camera has improved image stabilisation for impressive handheld shots, including hand-held high-res shots.

Pricing & Availability: The E-M1 III is available now, priced at £1599 body only.


Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark III Features

At the core of the Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark III is a 20mp Four Thirds CMOS sensor, and the camera comes with a new TruePix IX image processor for improved speed, as well as the latest updates and features from the flagship E-M1X. Plus, the camera offers other professional-level technology such as superior image stabilisation. 

The Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark III is like a mini Olympus OM-D EM1X - with the same IS system and shutter as the E-M1X, plus Live ND and a handheld high-res mode!

Improvements over the Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II:

  • 7.5 stops IS possible (1 stop improvement)
  • Handheld High-Res Multi-Shot mode (50mp), needed a tripod on Mark II
  • 80mp High-Res Multi-Shot mode with a tripod
  • Live ND filter (up to ND32, 5EV)
  • Multi-selector / Joystick added
  • Added ISO button
  • Updated AF system (see below)
  • New super control panel (simplified, can toggle between new and standard)
  • Joystick / multi-selector added - great for moving autofocus area
  • Updated video recording with Flat / OM-Log400 added
  • ProCapture update: up to 35 frames retroactively (35 before, 120 shots after), in both raw and jpeg with no frame blackout
  • B added to mode dial - live composite, live bulb, live time, shutter open for 6 hours!
  • Focus stacking, focus bracketing - quicker, more accurate
  • New shutter unit, with a 400,000 shot rating (compared to 200,000 on the Mark II)
  • 580g with battery, 134.1x90.9x68.9mm

Find out the main differences between the Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II and Mark III in our comparison.


Olympus OMD EM1 Mark III

As part of the Micro Four Thirds system, the camera has access to a wide range of lenses, however, Olympus has introduced a new 12-45mm f/4 PRO weather sealed lens with the camera, which is slightly more compact than the 12-40mm f/2.8 PRO lens, making it a great compact option for travel.

There are two SD card slots, with the top slot being UHS-II. The bottom slot is UHS-I. According to Olympus, in order for the bottom slot to also be UHS-II, then they would have needed to redesign/alter the body, as it would have required a larger body.


Olympus OMD EM1 Mark III

AF System has been updated - The camera continues to have 121 phase-detection all-cross type AF points. There are additional group options with 25 group, 9 group AF point target modes added (same as E-M1X), and you can set up Custom AF target modes - this can make focus up to 30% quicker. You’ll also find single, group 5-point, and 121-point AF options are still available, as well as the option to choose the size of the AF point/area.

Advanced face priority benefits from the new image processor, with better AF algorithms that can better detect small faces and eyes, as well as keeping stable focus on a subject even when they turn away from the camera. The improved AF algorithm with TruePic IX improves tracking performance as well.

A new Starry Sky focus mode has been added, previously you would have had to use manual focus. The camera also allows exposures up to 30 minutes using the bulb mode.

The E-M1 Mark III remains compatible with the same battery grip as the E-M1 Mark II, the HLD-9.


Olympus OMD EM1 Mark III

Video: CINE-4K / 4K UHD video recording is possible, and a new OM-Log400 colour profile has been added for a flat colour profile for later grading. You need to enable this option in the Video menu, under Specifications Settings, and Picture mode. Auto ISO has been added. You can record FullHD video at 120fps.

Further improvements have been made for video, with additional AF options added, so that you can choose the AF point, with options for single-point AF, all 121 AF points, with group 9 or 25 points also available.

There’s HDMI out, and Olympus says the camera pairs well with their high-res sound recorders (such as the Olympus LS-P4). A View Assist function has been added, which converts the colour gamut to FullHD / BT.709 equivalent for display.


Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark III Key Features: 

  • 20.4mp "Live MOS" (CMOS) sensor
  • 5-axis In-Body Image Stabilisation (same as E-M1X)
  • Up to 7.0stops (body), or up to 7.5 stops with Sync IS
  • 121 point all cross-type on-chip phase-detection AF sensor
  • Starry Sky AF added, Advanced face priority - improved AF algorithm with TruePic IX - tracking performance improved
  • 50mp handheld High-Res Shot using 16 images
  • 80mp tripod High-Res shots
  • Live ND filter up to ND32 (5 stops)
  • 18fps with C-AF/AE tracking
  • 60fps with fixed AF/AE - using the electronic shutter
  • Pro-Capture - extended buffer
  • 400,000 shot shutter rating
  • New super control panel (simplified, can toggle between new and standard)
  • SSWF supersonic wave filter dust reduction – new coating, better coating than E-M1X
  • CINE-4K / 4K UHD video recording, OM-Log400
  • Weather-sealed magnesium alloy camera body (IPX1 tested)
  • USB charging/power (use while connected to USB)
  • Dual SD card slots (UHS-II top)


Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark III Handling 

Olympus OMD EM1 Mark III

With a camera body that is very similar to the E-M1 Mark II, we found the camera very comfortable to hold, with a large grip, and plenty of rubber texture. The E-M1 Mark II and Mark III manage to provide a relatively compact camera body, whilst also providing a large, comfortable handgrip, with buttons and controls that are where you expect them to be. For those that want additional grip, and want a larger camera body, the optional battery grip from the Mark II is compatible with the Mark III.

We also welcome the new joystick, which makes it easier to adjust the focus point. We’re also a big fan of dedicated buttons for ISO and exposure compensation on the camera, making it quick and easy to change these when needed. The body is made of magnesium alloy and is weather-sealed making it suitable for all weather conditions.


Olympus OMD EM1 Mark III

The mode dial has been updated to give an additional custom mode so that there are now 4 different custom modes on the dial (compared to 3 on the Mark II). You can lock the mode dial with the centre button. However, the Art filters and "Auto" mode have been removed from the mode dial. The Art filters can still be accessed, just not on the mode dial, instead, you can select them as colour options.

The camera features an updated "Control panel" display, with a new simpler control panel display. The Super Control Panel is a great way to change settings, however, as there are so many options, it’s possible that it may have distracted you from the core camera settings, so Olympus has introduced a new simpler display.


Olympus OMD EM1 Mark III
Olympus OMD EM1 Mark III - New simpler rear display.

Unfortunately, the main setup menus are still very long and lack the colour coding of previous models, meaning it can take a long time to find the advanced setting you're looking for. The camera features a "My Menu" section where you can add your favourite settings so that you’ve got quick access to these. There’s a good level of customisation available, with the camera letting you customise buttons to give quicker access to settings. There's built-in help, accessible by pressing the info button.


Olympus OMD EM1 Mark III


The electronic viewfinder (EVF) remains the same as the Mark II, with a 2.36m dot resolution, and 0.74x magnification, and provides a good view of the scene, although it would have been nice to see this updated, as blacks can look a little washed out. The screen on the camera is also the same (as the E-M1 II) and is a vari-angle 3.0inch touch-screen with 1037K dot resolution. Despite these not being as high-resolution as other new cameras, the colour reproduction looks very good.

Olympus OMD EM1 MarkIII (8)

The camera uses the BLH-1 battery which is rated at 1720mAh (7.4V), and battery life is rated at 420 shots, or up to 900 shots with "Quick sleep mode" switched on - this is a slight reduction compared to the E-M1 II at 440/950 respectively. You can use the USB connection to charge the battery in-camera, or use the connection to power the camera with a compatible USB power bank. With the optional battery grip, you can double the battery life.


Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark III Hands-On Photos of Equipment


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Photographs taken using the Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark III

Multrees Walk, EdinburghBedroom ShadowsSeats for the DisabledCooling TowersThe BridgeEdinburgh, TenementArcadiaDaffy HillWhitewash wearing thinLow Key AdvertisingUpliftedOld Church Door HandleStreet Art"Freeze"Children's Art

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12 Feb 2020 1:29PM
Sounds good and the price seems "affordable" but is it as complicated to use as the M1 mkII ?
RamblinSam 7 31 United Kingdom
12 Feb 2020 4:06PM
My only grumble is that the On/Off switch position hasn't been changed to a more ergonomically satisfactory position, such as where it was located on the original E-1, (On the R/hand side next to the user's thumb, behind the shutter release) or the L/hand side overhanging the back of the body, where it's positioned on the E-1MX. The E-1 's position is (in my opinion) the better location of these two, as it's great for those 'on the spur of the moment' one-handed grab shots,
ArtyArt 9 342 2 United Kingdom
12 Feb 2020 5:08PM
How many images does it combine in creating a 50mp image, only in the hi -res version of the house you can see movement in the man at the door and the ducks on the water?
MrDennis Plus
12 287 Wales
12 Feb 2020 9:58PM
I'll stick with my OM1 Mk2 for now.
23 Feb 2020 2:23AM
@ RamblinSam, you can set the custom function lever to turn the camera on/off. Problem solved.
joshwa Plus
10 927 1 United Kingdom
19 Mar 2020 2:03PM

Here's an example of continuous AF tracking in use, both taking shots, and showing the camera tracking without taking shots.
25 Mar 2020 3:40PM
Lovely camera - especially for the Oly believers .
Itís a power house in a small package , with choice of excellent pro lenses . I have upgraded to the mk iii .
Many features will become apparent over time , unfortunately due to current conditions unable to go out normally .
But night shots are superb and hi res - all good . Recommended .
joshwa Plus
10 927 1 United Kingdom
14 Jul 2020 11:28AM
David Thorpe has posted a video on how to clear the shooting screen:

14 Jul 2020 12:37PM
I have had regular hi end DSLR cameras and pro lenses . But it was a logistics problem esp with walking or travel .
On a shoot historically , you end up using one zoom due to reducing size of kit and security and weight .
Iím delighted with Olympus quality , itís all smaller and lighter , and no problem with image stock library quality control .
Each to is own , but small and light is good for me.
I cannot believe they only gave this camera a 4,5 but then they failed to list the joystick, 400k shutter, my menu as proís while starry sky AF and Handheld high res became features and they got the IBIS wrong as the iii offers 1.5 stops over the ii not 1 with 7 stops on any mz lens whereas the ii offered only 5.5 and no mention of usb C, an industry standard. Ah well everyone had their own agenda.
someone 6 15 United Kingdom
5 Feb 2021 8:10AM
@MydarlingRed - isn't that all mentioned on the first page? Under what's new with the Mark III. The Mark II also had USB C.

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