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Before the OM-1: The Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark III breifly summarized by Daniel M

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 Before OM System has taken over the ownership of the photographic gear division of the Olympus company, many products have been release during their name(Olympus) into the last few years at the control of it. Among them, we have found the OM-D E-M5 Mark III and the OM-D E-M1 Mark III. Except for the OM-D E-M1X introduction, the OM-D E-M1 series has represented since the avent of the Micro Four Third (MFT) image sensor format the Olympus "professional" flagship offer. That was completed with a specific line of "Pro" lenses that have larger maximum aperture, stronger construction and weather resistant quality and higher image definition.

We know now that OM-System have taken the ownership of the OM-D series development and manufacturing and have concretizing this effort by introducing a new OM-1 (and greatly simplified its appellation!). Lately I was looking about the opportunity for buyers to get a new "pro" MFT camera body and many good deals in regard of the latest Olympus OM-D cameras might appear to be the logic way to go without spending a huge amount of money (I must add that those "deals" are not part of the official OM System selling network). 

The Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark III is a very mature product that has been improved over the succession of the three different versions of the E-M1 series. This camera model can be used with reliability in very adversed contexts and with intensity and competence. If you put aside the never ending discussion about the virtues of each image sensor format, the facts and the picture results have proven that the E-M1 can be consider seriously as an ambitious photo device that can deliver excellent picture results on demand.


The Olympus OM-D E-M1Mark III has been release in 2020 year as an updated model of the previous OM-D E-M1 Mark II introduced in December 2016. Their camera bodywork is similar except for the presence of a joystick at the back of camera, a feature that has been standardized among the "pro" and advanced camera manufacturers. Ergonomics of the E-M1 III is equally appreciated but no improvement has been done to the electronic viewfinder (EVF) which is the exact same as the Mark II one and the same can be said for the overall camera interface. The image sensor has remained the previous 20MP but some performance updated have been done to get a more reactive camera model especially in regard of the autofocus system.

Compare to the mighty OM-D E-M1X model, the E-M1 Mark III can be assimilated as a kind of modular photo device that can be relatively compact (body only) or fully dressed (body + vertical power grip HLD-9), which may remind for some of us the film-analog pro Nikon F4 model thirty years ago. It create in my sense a more versatile tool in particular for people who intend to work in very different photo-taking contexts. The E-M1 III is a wide camera body model partly because of its bigger grip that add confort for photographers who the (good) habit to leave the camera on their right hand ready to shoot. Incidentally, most of the E-M1 III command dials and functions can be selected on that (right) side which is a logical thing in term of design and the camera abilities.

As for most of the camera manufactured for a professional use, the Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark III is rugged and environmentally sealed which explain its higher selling price point to some extend. It is an everyday photo device that can withstand an intensive task (At least four hundred thousand shutter releases according to Olympus claim). You can easily feel it when you manipulate the E-M1 III and stay confident about its durability although this is not an invitation to drop or to bang the camera voluntarily. 

As for almost all photographic specialized devices, the OM-D E-M1 III cannot be slipped in your pant pocket. It is clear that in bringing the camera, you will concentrate your efforts to produce pictures with higher levels of quality and creativity. Yes, you can also do snapshots with the E-M1 III as a complementary task or pleasant activity in particular over an exploring journey on travel or else. 

Under the most recent performance criteria, the OM-D E-M1 III is not a spectacular camera model. Although most its inherent specifications are rightly decent and can be highly sufficient for the picture uses you may have selected, some if not many will argue that others manufacture gear offers will plainly surpass the Olympus model on purely statistic base which is true but not necessarily relevant on a real world expectation. Yes, the MFT image sensor is limited (!) to 20,4MP (Mégapixels), the electronic viewfinder (EVF) to a 2,36 mega dots, the autofocus is base on a 121 cross reading points, etc. But the Olympus OM-D E-M1 III expertise, as for many modern digital cameras, will exceed most of the actual photographer needs. The very partial use of its interface is just proving its over-ability compared to the day-today selected settings by its owners.

What does very well the Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark III is its capacity to be personalized for each specific photographer setting by using its impressive interface and its customized dial functionality (4 of them are available). This prove to be that the OM-D E-M1 III is a good practical and designed professional camera model for the field assignation and not only for the Web bla-bla discussion (Sorry for the "pro" YouTube reviewers of this planet...). If you are looking for a "for action" photo device, the OM-D E-M1 III may answer to the call flawlessly. 

Image rendering.

At the end, you may find that the image rendering on your picture files is THE final factor for choosing a specific camera model over other counterparts. Each manufacturer has its own picture signature especially for the photographers who are intending to privilege JPEG image file formats over RAW files which are often selected by people that have further picture editing extended needs or special image renderings. As I have often experimented in digital photography, the final picture quality results are most of the time exceeding what you first observe on the electronic viewfinder (EVF) or on the back screen although the latter is noticeably more accurate over the first. Many time EVF will increase the perceived overall contrast of the viewing picture compare to its recorded file. The OM-D E-M1 III is simply another practical example of that phenomena (but we must add that the latest EVF are far more better that the previous ones).

The Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark III is offering you a complete choice of different picture interpretations as it is now a common feature with digital cameras plus the possibility to select the RAW file optionality only or with an alongside JPG counterpart second image file. The 20MP picture file should be sufficient for most of picture finalities intended by the photographer. A lot of reviewing picture quality tests are available over the Web already but be aware that they often represent very specific conditions used in their partial analysis. 

Personal specific points

The Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark III have all the qualities that are associated with a true professional photographic device. It is a sturdy constructed camera body that withstand the most adverse environnemental conditions. It can be used intensively and stay reliable. It is also a very reactive camera model for action photography. Its exposure metering system is accurate and all the exposure modes are available on demand. Dealing with mixing light temperatures (Kelvin) may be its only one lower user point in still photography that you have to pay attention with the OM-D E-M1 III, a commun remark that can be said for many Olympus digital camera models. 

Handling the OM-D E-M1 Mark III is requiring more muscle effort and a stronger hand prehension compare to more compact lightweight models such as the OM-D E-M5 Mark III. So, photographer fatigue will certainly be a factor to count with although this phenomena is less pronounced than when so-call "full-frame" professional camera models are selected. This is especially noticeable when the OM-D E-M1 III is combine with a "Pro"optic and the HLD-9 vertical power grip. That leaves us with a combo that have a lot of inertia and that, with the help of the internal stabilization system, allow us to work with slower shutter speeds in low light situations for example. Finally we can underline the more "angular" body design approach of the OM-D E-M1 III compare to the Panasonic Lumix G 9 Pro model for example. 

Color and black and white (B&W) excellent picture renderings are a strong if not the "central" feature of the OM-D E-M1 III without any doubt. As a mostly exclusive JPEG picture file adept, I fully appreciate the Olympus image quality even more when I am reviewing my latest picture entries on a computer monitor. In one word, you can feel confident about it and rely on the camera for the best results available into the MFT image sensor format camera offer. Moreover you can configure your own color bias and much other camera settings if you need to do so and the four custom settings (C1, C2, C3, C4) are excellent to keep them available "on the spot".

No internal flash is available on the OM-D E-M1 III which can annoying if you are a fill-flash adept for one example. It puzzles me that "professional" camera designers have always disregarded the true utility to have on hand this very useful feature that has been reserved for the "lower" grade camera models. More than that this feature allows an easy access to an emergency light source very handy in high contrast back light situations. And the "all-weather" requirement is really a poor excuse to avoid the internal flash availability.

There is a lot of command dials and function push-buttons present on the OM-D E-M1 III., so, direct access to the most important functionalities should not be a problem and many of them are re-configurable by the user. Menu is complete and comprehensive as long you are interested to invest some time to learn it. No fully automatic exposure mode has been incorporated to the OM-D E-M1 III again under the assertion that a "pro" camera dont need it which again is a complete absurdity in my book but, you know, we have to satisfy the pretentious of this world who are claiming to be in full control of their (failing) destiny.

The electronic viewfinder (EVF) of the OM-D E-M Mark III is competent and sufficiently detailed to be a sufficient reference for the manual focusing purpose. In high contrast situations, it may struggle to give an accurate exposure rendering of the very low lighted areas especially if you compare it to the final picture file result, a commun behavior of all the OM-D E-M1 series versions. The viewing eye point (distance between your eye and the EVF eyepiece) is excellent for none glass-wearers although for the others like me (glass wearers) you may struggle a bit to check the four image corners simultaneously. The fully orientable LCD back screen is very accurate and give you excellent picture reviewing opportunities. All exposure, mode, function information are clearly displayed on the EVF and back screen but won't rotate to accommodate a vertical (portrait) subject framing.

The feather-touch shutter release will trigger the OM-D E-M1 Mark III in a very discrete fashion. No internal vibration are perceived and the camera seems to be ready on demand without obstructive delay. The camera can be configure to take very fast sequences of several pictures if you are the anxious type of photographer and not very good in subject anticipation. As usual I will not speak about the video virtues of this model since I am not in any way a videographer. 

Last potentially irritative factor is the price level of the Olympus Pro system in general (as for all the other pro system manufacturers of course). At these pompous price tags, you have to think twice before selecting each different piece of gear you are interested to add to your photo equipment set. In a way, that can be also a good contraint preventing over gear stocking.*

The OM-D E-M1 Mark III is a versatile photographic device with multiple configurations adaptable for the needs and the preferences of the different types of photographers. The branding Olympus has been always a reckoned trademark with most of their camera designs since many decades and over the two technical eras, of analog-film and now digital. As I have already mentioned in the past for the previous OM-D E-M1 Mark II, that OM-D E-M1 series and the M.Zuiko Pro lenses are mature products addressed to sophisticated users that will appreciate well crafted camera models but you won't see a lot of them into the photo press reporter sidelines which is not new and tell us only that the old Olympus corporate professional event support level was almost absent compare to the Canon or Nikon ones. However, for those few professional photographers that have adopted the Olympus system, most of them have no desire to quit it for the obvious reasons of reliability, compactness and good quality picture results. 

* P.s. The Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark III camera models are still available for a time even considering the replacement introduction of the newest OM-1, you may have access to some interesting deals over the Web planet. 
Photos Daniel M: Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark III / M.Zuiko ED 12-40mm F2.8 Pro & ED 75-300mm II (E-M1 III photos) OM-D E-M5 III / ED 14-150mm II
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A trace of light that survive a little further than the actual moment of flash.


Daniel M on Flickr

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Very well put together post thanks for sharing. 

I often wonder if there is enough feature set updates in the Mark III over the II that would justify an upgrade for me. You have given me pause to reconsider this again as an EM 1 Mark III would most likely be my m43 end game

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http://www.visualohio.com | BESTLIGHTPHOTO BLOG | Flickr 


I shoot Nikon, Olympus, and Fujifilm

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13 hours ago, Andrew L (gryphon1911) said:

Very well put together post thanks for sharing. 

I often wonder if there is enough feature set updates in the Mark III over the II that would justify an upgrade for me. You have given me pause to reconsider this again as an EM 1 Mark III would most likely be my m43 end game

Thank you for your kind appreciation.
Yes I understand your thoughts regarding the MFT future in particular concerning the OM System status in comparaison with the previously Olympus manufactured product quality which I am not sure that (OM System) are at the same level despite the big noisy Web photo gear reviewers comments...
Good Day to you!

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A trace of light that survive a little further than the actual moment of flash.


Daniel M on Flickr

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