Olympus' new OM-D E-M5 Mark III offers flagship features for a lot less

(Image credit: Olympus)

We knew it was coming: back in August, Olympus executives confirmed that the camera company was working on refreshing the ageing OM-D E-M5 Mark II – they just didn't reveal when.

Now the Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark III is finally here – four years after the launch of the Mark II sibling – with features borrowed from the more powerful OM-D E-M1 range, giving the enthusiast-level E-M5 lineup a much-needed performance boost.

It's also smaller and lighter than the previous models, which are already rather compact. Olympus has managed to achieve this by shrinking some of the key components, particularly the image stabilizer.

Despite that, the new camera is capable of reducing shake by up to 5.5 stops by itself (much like the E-M1 Mark II). When used with a compatible stabilized lens, that would take it up a notch to an excellent 6.5 stops. That's half a stop better than the E-M5 Mark II.

Even the battery has been swapped for the more compact BLS-50 (used in the E-M10 range), which still offers the same battery life as the previously used BLS-1, which was CIPA-rated for 310 shots.

(Image credit: Olympus)

The E-M5 Mark III gets a deeper grip, both in the front and on the back for the thumb, and still manages to be about 55g lighter than the Mark II model. It's also got better weather sealing, and gets a new electronic viewfinder (EVF).

The EVF on the Mark II offered a decent 0.74x magnification, but was an LCD panel. The viewfinder on the Mark III is smaller, offering a magnification of just 0.68x, but boasts a 2.36 million-dot OLED panel that promises a better view of the scene.

(Image credit: Olympus)

Peeking under the hood

This is where the lines between the new camera and the E-M1 Mark II blur a little, with both cameras sharing the same 20.1MP Micro Four Thirds sensor and the same 121-point phase-detect autofocus system (as opposed to the 81-point AF in the 16MP E-M5 Mark II). 

That AF system might not seem like much, with the likes of the three-year-old Sony Alpha 6500 offering a much more impressive 425 phase-detection and 169 contrast-detection points. However, the Micro Four Thirds sensor is much smaller than Sony's APS-C crop sensor and offers great depth of field irrespective of the aperture size, thus allowing MFT cameras to find focus quickly and accurately. 

There are a host of other improvements in the E-M5 Mark III over the previous models, including a High Resolution Shooting mode that can capture 50MP images (compared to 40MP from the Mark II). And where the older snapper was capable of Full HD 1080p video, there's now 4K recording at both 30fps and 24fps. 

The new camera can shoot bursts at 10fps with continuous autofocus, or can reach up to 30fps with focus and exposure locked at the first shot. It also gains additional Art Filters, an anti-flicker mode for when you're shooting indoors, and Bluetooth connectivity. 

The Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark III will begin shipping in late November and will set you back $1,199 / £1,099.99 / AU$1,999 for the body alone. If you'd rather get a lens along with the camera, the addition of the M.Zuiko ED 14-150mm f/4.0-5.6 II lens to the kit will take the price to $1,799 / AU$2,499 (about £1,400, although we're yet to confirm the kit price in the UK).

Sharmishta Sarkar
Managing Editor (APAC)

Sharmishta is TechRadar's APAC Managing Editor and loves all things photography, something she discovered while chasing monkeys in the wilds of India (she studied to be a primatologist but has since left monkey business behind). While she's happiest with a camera in her hand, she's also an avid reader and has become a passionate proponent of ereaders, having appeared on Singaporean radio to talk about the convenience of these underrated devices. When she's not testing camera kits or the latest in e-paper tablets, she's discovering the joys and foibles of smart home gizmos. She's also the Australian Managing Editor of Digital Camera World and, if that wasn't enough, she contributes to T3 and Tom's Guide, while also working on two of Future's photography print magazines Down Under.