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Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark III Review

We have been shooting with the new Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark III, Olympus' new 20mp Micro Four Thirds camera with 4K video. Find out what we think of the new camera! Updated with additional shots (18/11/2019).

| Olympus OM-D E-M5 III in Mirrorless Cameras

Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark III Review: PA160160

Olympus’s new OM-D E-M5 Mark III is Olympus’ long-awaited update to the E-M5 II, which was released all the way back in 2015. Four years later, what is Olympus offering with the new update?

The E-M5 III features a 20mp Four Thirds sensor (CMOS), with 121 phase-detection AF points, the same as the flagship E-M1 Mark II / E-M1X, plus a number of design changes that make the camera easier to use.


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Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark III Features

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The 20mp sensor is the same as that found in the more expensive E-M1 Mark II, and E-M1X. This should give the same high image quality, and with built-in phase detection pixels (121 AF points), all cross-type, the focus speeds should be just as quick as these cameras (or near). The sensor also features an anti-reflective coating.

Some may be wondering why Olympus hasn’t introduced a higher resolution sensor, however, with Nikon releasing the 20mp Nikon Z50, 20mp is likely enough resolution for a lot of people. Olympus also has the built-in multi-shot high-res mode that can produce 50mp images (of still subjects), in-camera.

The camera has an updated AF system, for faster and more precise focusing on moving subjects, using the Auto-focus system from EM-1 II. There’s also improved low-light performance, thanks to improved AF sensitivity. You can set the focus tracking to the centre (start), or centre priority focus, as well as choose between 5 point, 9 point, 25 point, and 121 point AF options. However, it doesn’t feature the same intelligent tracking as the E-M1X, so it doesn’t feature plane, train and automobile tracking options. It still features AF tracking, but without the dedicated subject selection modes.


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5-axis Image Stabilisation

The camera’s 5-axis image stabilisation system moves the sensor to compensate for movement, and this has also been improved since the E-M5 Mark II, with 5.5EV steps body only (vs 5 stops on the E-M5 II), and up to 6.5EV steps with sync-IS on the 12-100mm f/4 lens. The IS system is now smaller than the previous version. The system allows for hand-held night shots.

The in-camera image stabilisation works with any lens, so will even work with manual focus lenses and legacy lenses, and you can program in your lens settings so that the image stabilisation is at it’s most effective.

The electronic viewfinder (EVF) has been updated, with the camera using an OLED electronic viewfinder (EVF), with 2.36m pixels, 0.69x magnification, 100% view, and a 27.5mm eyepoint which is increased, making it better for glasses wearers. 


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Pro Capture, from the E-M1 II, E-M1X is now included, and the camera also features a number of different advanced shooting modes, including:

  • PRO Capture (30, 20, 15fps)
  • Live Bulb (now on mode dial)
  • Live bulb / time / composite
  • Focus bracketing and stacking
  • Tripod High-res Multi-Shot (50mp)
  • In-camera fisheye compensation (For example for the Fisheye 8mm lens – converting a fisheye image into a flat/square image)

As you’d expect, the camera still has P, A, S, M shooting modes, along with SCN (Scene), ART, Auto, and Video modes available on the mode dial. In terms of other features you get as standard with the camera, there is built-in dust reduction, with the Olympus SSWF Dust reduction system, designed to keep dust off the sensor.

The camera has a new plastic construction, compared to the metal on the E-M5 II.  This has allowed the camera to be lighter than the E-M5 Mark II, by 51grams, with the E-M5 III being 366g. (without battery/memory card). However, the camera still remains weather-sealed and has improved handling, with a larger grip as well as additional controls, giving direct access to ISO/exposure compensation and additional modes on the mode dial.

The camera uses the BLS-50 battery, the same battery that is found in the Olympus PEN-F, and E-M10 series, which gives the camera a slightly smaller battery, helping reduce the weight. The camera still offers a similar battery life, of 310 shots (110minutes of movie recording), but adds in USB charging support, and with power saving mode active is said to offer up to double the battery life. The E-M5 and E-M5 II use the BLN-1.

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The camera records 4K CINE video at 24fps (at 237mbps), or 4K UHD at 30/25/24fps (102mbps), and there is a mic jack on the side as well as a “Flat” colour profile. There’s also improved AF for video. You can record high-speed FullHD video recording, with up to 120fps possible.

Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark III New Features:

  • Larger thumb grip
  • LED indicator (showing writing to SD card)
  • Dedicated ISO button
  • Custom functions (C mode on mode dial, instead of “Story” mode)
  • Bulb mode now on the mode dial
  • Dedicated exposure compensation button
  • Focus bracketing / Focus stacking
  • Hi-Res mode upgraded to 50mp (80mp raw)

To see more differences, have a look at our Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark II Vs Mark III Comparison.

Wi-Fi (b/g/n) and Bluetooth is built-in, giving automatic JPEG transfer, JPEG and raw transfer, and remote control.


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Lens mount and size – Olympus continue to promote the idea of small, compact, lightweight, portable, and with the E-M5 and E-M1 cameras, weather-proof, so that the cameras can be used in any situation without worrying about the weather, and without being weighed down by heavy DSLR sized cameras.

The camera measures 85.2x49.7x125mm, and there’s an optional grip (ECG-5), that gives a larger handgrip, and also moves the shutter release button and front command dial forwards. This will be available for £179. Olympus says the weather-sealing is the “best in class”.

Olympus says that the ISO performance has been improved by 2 stops, and ISO6400 is as good as ISO1600 on the E-M5 II, according to Olympus. We’ll have to test this to find out. This also means that Auto ISO can use higher ISO speeds without as much worry about noise.

The E-M5 Mark III is priced: at £1099 body only, £1399 with 14-150mm, £1599 with 12-200mm, and £1699 with the Olympus 12-40mm f/2.8 Pro lens. There’s a pre-order offer of £100 trade-in, with a free battery via dealers in the UK. The camera will be available from November, and is provided with a small external flash, and comes with an extended warranty in the UK.

Key Features

  • 20mp Four Thirds CMOS sensor
  • Micro Four Thirds lens mount
  • TRUEPIC VIII image processor
  • 5-axis in-body image stabilisation (sensor-shift, updated)
  • 3inch vari-angle touch-screen, 1040K dots
  • 2.36m dot EVF, 0.69x magnification, OLED
  • Weather-sealed camera body
  • 121 all-cross type phase-detection af points
  • 10 / 30fps continuous shooting (mechanical, electronic)
  • 4K CINE/UHD video
  • FullHD video, 120fps
  • Available in silver/black or black


Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark III Handling

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There is side access to the SD memory card slot, which is always preferable to having it in the same compartment as the battery, as then it’s accessible even when the camera is mounted on a tripod - the camera now supports UHS-II memory cards. The updated grip is larger at the front, as well as larger at the back, and this gives a very comfortable area to hold on to, giving a more secure area, and it's also a noticeable improvement over the E-M5 Mark II, in size. The grip on the front and back has a tough rubber texture, and there is also rubber grip on the left of the camera. 

The mode dial gives direct access to all the usual shooting modes but now makes it easier to access the Bulb mode (and adds a Custom mode). On previous cameras you had to go in to the manual mode, and set the shutter speed to the longest available, scroll past, and then you’d find bulb modes, which include the excellent Live Time, Live Bulb and Live Composite modes, which make long exposure photography such as light painting, extremely easy, with impressive results possible (as you watch the photo develop in front of you, on-screen). If you haven’t seen this in action, we’d recommend having a look at videos showing how this works. 


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The dedicated ISO and Exposure Compensation buttons are very welcome additions, making it very easy to access and change these settings, and this is a nice feature to see on a smaller camera body. Usually, as a camera size decreases, there are limited controls, due to the simple fact that it’s more difficult to fit controls and buttons. On the previous camera, you would need to customise one of the Function buttons in order to have direct access to this setting. You can customise these buttons on the E-M5 Mark III if you'd like to change these to something else. 

The electronic viewfinder (EVF), may give a slightly smaller view when compared to the E-M5 II, however, the view through the new OLED electronic viewfinder is brighter, with better dynamic range shown, and therefore gives a more pleasant viewing experience. As you would expect, there is dioptre correction, a rubber eye surround, and the camera will quickly switch between the rear screen and EVF when needed. 

The screen remains the same, as a 3inch touch-screen, with 1040K dots. The vari-angle screen can be pulled out to the side, turned to face the front (for selfie’s or vlogging), as well as turned and hidden from view, to protect the screen. The colour reproduction is good, and the screen gives a clear, sharp and detailed view of the scene.

Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark III Review: EM 5 II Vs E M 5 III PA160005
EM-5 III (left) Vs E-M5 II (right) - Super Control Panel

Menus – Ah, the Olympus menus, whilst the Olympus menus remain, at times, quite difficult to navigate, they do become more familiar over time, with the more basic settings in the first few screens, followed by all of the more advanced settings in the “Custom” settings menu section. Unfortunately, this is no longer colour coded, and you may need to spend some time studying these before you find what you’re looking for. Unfortunately you can't use the touch-screen to go through the menu items, but you can use the touch-screen with the Super Control Panel (shown above).

The camera does give a number of ways to more quickly access settings, either by using the external buttons, using the “Super Control Panel”, which is like Fujifilm’s Q (Quick) menu, but instead of a ‘Q’ button to access it, you simply press the middle OK button in the centre of the four-way controller. You also have the “MyMenu” section where you can add settings that you want to access quickly. The Super Control Panel on the Mark III has been updated to give a slightly larger and clearer view of the settings and options. 

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Photographs taken using the Olympus OM-D E-M5 III


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Greynerd 4 3
18 Oct 2019 11:31AM
A pity they have nobbled the menus on this middle range item. The old * menu with plenty of tabs each with a description of the items bundled in the tab was one of the strong points of these cameras. Baffling to reviewers in their week with the cameras away from their beloved Nikons and Canons but once mastered easy for users.
So glad I bought the EM10 II as the new A,B,C... menus in the E-PL9 are even in their restricted scope still not as easy to use as the Mk II.
Despite this new EM5 still seems a great camera and I myself am loving the IBIS which is an exclusive luxury item in aps-c mirrorless.
Rees 15 14 Wales
20 Nov 2019 4:03PM
I have just read your review/opinion on the Olympus OM D EM 5 Mark lll and in the verdict section, I find the term "plastic construction" rather unfortunate, when in fact the body shell is constructed from polycarbonate rather than metal. As an engineer working with composites, carbon fibre, resins, polycarbonates etc, I can assure you that these materials like for like in applications can be as strong as metals, if not stronger in some cases. The use of the term "plastic construction" in your article implies cheap, somehow nasty, inferior and there are differing levels of plastics and strengths. Polycarbonates are in particular much stronger than "plastics".
DaveRyder Plus
9 6.9k 20 United Kingdom
3 Sep 2020 9:37PM
As with Rees, I have spent a career work in the production of engineering plastics precursors - the body feels really good in the hand.
Take a look under the bonnet of your car and check out the 'plastics'. Then decide if a camera is likely to face the environment of an engine bay.

I just had my first day with the camera and the quality of jpeg out of camera is excellent on truepic viii.
I've spent the day setting up the buttons and dials to suit, the articulated screen is versatile and clear.
No problems with menus - but I've had a pair of M10 previous.

As a spectacle wearer the eye re-leaf on the EVF (I rarely use the screen for shooting) is excellent.
As expected the EVF is as very good with settings clearly visible.

It's sometimes the small things that stick out and having manual focus on a physical switch, just a your thumb (the Fn 1-2 switch), is really nice.

In summary - very pleased with my purchase and thanks to EpZ for reviews and information on the body and 14-150 kit lens.

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