Hands on: Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark III review

One of our favorite mirrorless cameras looks like it just got even better

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Our Early Verdict

The OM-D E-M10 Mark III may not be a massive leap forward over the Mark II, but Olympus has refined and tweaked one of our favorite mirrorless cameras, which should make it a popular choice among enthusiasts and new users alike.

For

  • Premium finish
  • Excellent EVF
  • Compact proportions
  • Effective IS system

Against

  • 16MP starting to look a little dated

The outgoing OM-D E-M10 Mark II embodied everything a mirrorless camera should be – a high-quality camera that feels great in the hand, offers an extensive feature set with bags of control and produces great images, yet doesn't take up much space in your bag. 

The new OM-D E-M10 Mark III looks to build on that success, and make itself your indispensable traveling companion. 

Price and availability

The Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark III will be available in body-only and kit options. The former is set go on sale at £629.99/US$650/AU$999, while a kit with the M.ZUIKO DIGITAL 14-42mm 1:3.5-5.6 II R lens is priced at £649.99 in the UK. 

Potential purchasers looking for something more compact will also have the option of a second kit, which includes the M.ZUIKO DIGITAL 14-42mm 1:3.5-5.6 pancake optic and is priced at £699.99/US$800.

Features

  • Micro Four Thirds Live MOS sensor, 16MP
  • 3.0-inch tilt-angle touchscreen, 1,037,000 dots
  • 4K video capture

Like the E-M10 Mark II (and the original E-M10 Mark I for that matter), the OM-D E-M10 Mark III sticks with a 16MP Micro Four Thirds sensor, but gets Olympus' latest TruePic VII image processing engine (used in the brilliant E-M1 Mark II), which Olympus believes will deliver improved low-light shooting performance.

A boost in resolution to 20MP would have been welcome here too, but perhaps Olympus was concerned that it might cannibalize sales further up the OM-D range.

The E-M10 Mark III sports the same highly effective five-axis in-body image stabilization system as the Mark II, which delivers a claimed four stops of compensation to reduce blur and shake in both stills and video. 

The new camera also retains the same 2,360,000-dot OLED electronic viewfinder that impressed us in the Mark II, along with the same 3.0-inch 1,037,000-dot LCD touchscreen on the back of the camera. 

One notable update is to the E-M10 Mark III's video capabilities, with the new camera able to shoot 4K video footage at up to 30fps, while it's also possible to shoot Full HD footage at 60fps.

Olympus has also overhauled the E-M10 Mark III's camera assist shooting modes. iAuto mode becomes simply Auto, and promises to deliver better blur-free images, while the Scene (SCN) mode has been upgraded.

There's also now a Advanced Photo (AP) mode, allowing photographers to fine-tune images, as well as use the likes of Live Composite and Multiple Exposure without the need to dive into the camera's main menu.

Finally, the E-M10 Mark III's Art Filter (ART) collection grows to 15 with the arrival of a new Bleach Bypass effect. 

Build and handling

  • Revised design and grip
  • Magnesium alloy construction
  • Weighs 362g

We've always been impressed with the build and finish of the E-M10 range, and the Mark III is no different. Constructed from magnesium alloy, the E-M10 Mark III and has a solid, durable feel that certainly feels much more premium than DSLR rivals like the Canon EOS Rebel T7i (EOS 800D).

The shallow but effective grip on the Mark II has been beefed up, with the enlarged front grip offering a more satisfying hold without sacrificing the E-M10 Mark III's diminutive proportions. 

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The E-M10 Mark III maintains the pleasing retro design of the Mark II, but with a few revisions once you look a little closer, most notably to the dials on the top plate. 

The retro-styled power switch carries over from the Mark II – pushing this beyond the power-up position pops up the flash – but the design of the three dials has been refined, with the main mode dial more pronounced.

As before, the shutter release is at the centre of the front-most dial and within easy reach of your index finger, while the rear and mode dials are easy to operate with your thumb. The mode dial doesn't have a lock, but as we've found with the Mark II, it isn't easily knocked out of position in use.

Autofocus

  • 121-point AF
  • Coverage across most of the frame
  • Face Priority AF and Eye Detection AF

The AF performance of the outgoing E-M10 Mark II really impressed us as well, and the system in the E-M10 Mark III appears to be even better.

There's a boost in contrast-detect AF points, from 81 to 121, which combined with the addition of the latest TruePic III image processor should deliver even snappier focusing speeds.

In the brief time we had with the camera we were impressed with the focusing speed, even with relatively poorly-lit subjects. We'll be able to report back in more detail once we've shot for a longer period with the OM-D E-M10 Mark III, in particular on how the AF Tracking performs.

Performance

  • 8.6fps burst shooting
  • Mechanical shutter up to 1/4000 sec
  • Electronic shutter up to 1/16,000 sec

As far as burst shooting is concerned, the OM-D E-M10 Mark III gets a very modest speed boost over the Mark II, from 8.5fps to 8.6fps. While that's only a marginal improvement, it's still quicker than the likes of Fujifilm's X-T20 (8fps), and noticeably quicker than either the Canon EOS Rebel T7i / EOS 800D (6fps) or Nikon D5600 (5fps). 

Image quality

  • ISO100-25,600
  • +/-3 EV exposure compensation in 1/3 or 1/2-stop increments
  • 15 Art filters

We had the chance to take a few test shots with the OM-D E-M10 Mark III, and its JPEG files look pretty good. 

We'll have to shoot more with the camera to get better idea of how it performs, but JPEG images at ISO400 hold up well. There's perhaps a hint of luminance (grain-like) noise visible at 100%, but nothing untoward, while there's a good level of detail visible in low-to-mid-sensitivity range shots. Noise is controlled well up to around ISO6400, when some areas in JPEGs start to take on a slightly painterly appearance when viewed at 100%.

JPEG image captured at ISO400

JPEG image captured at ISO6400

Early verdict

The Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark III might not be a massive leap forward over the Mark II, with much of the camera's specification remaining the same, but Olympus has refined and tweaked one of our favorite mirrorless cameras.

A boost in resolution would have been welcome, but despite this the OM-D E-M10 Mark III should still become a popular choice amongst enthusiasts and new users alike.

What is a hands on review?

'Hands on reviews' are a journalist's first impressions of a piece of kit based on spending some time with it. It may be just a few moments, or a few hours. The important thing is we have been able to play with it ourselves and can give you some sense of what it's like to use, even if it's only an embryonic view. For more information, see TechRadar's Reviews Guarantee.