Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark III
With 4K video and a redesigned user interface, Olympus’s latest mirrorless OM-D looks like a great option for first-time camera buyers. Andy Westlake takes a first look
andy Westlake takes a first look at olympus’s latest mirrorless oM-D
OVER the past decade the camera industry has changed dramatically. Casual photographers now use smartphones rather than compact cameras, and share their photos instantly online. But some of these budding photographers inevitably then look to upgrade to a ‘proper’ camera. So the traditional camera manufacturers’ challenge is how best to appeal to these potential customers.
Olympus has introduced its latest model, the OM- D E- M10 Mark III into such a market. On the surface it looks like a minor update to the two-year- old E- M10 Mark II, but Olympus has radically overhauled its user interface. I had the chance to use the camera before its official launch, and I think the firm has done a pretty good job.
The Olympus OM- D E- M10 Mark III is due to go on sale in mid-September for £699.99 with the slimline 14- 42mm f/3.5-5.6 EZ electronic zoom lens, with a choice of black or silver finishes. Opting for the larger, mechanical-zoom 14- 42mm f/3.5-5.6 II R will save you £50, and the camera will also be available body- only for £629.99.
Olympus has based the E-M10 Mark III around a 16-million-pixel Four Thirds sensor that provides a standard sensitivity range of ISO 200 to 25,600. A continuous shooting rate of 8.6fps is on offer, dropping to 4.8fps when you need focus and exposure to be adjusted between shots. The autofocus system is adapted from the pro-level OM-D E-M1 Mark II, but relies on
contrast detection only. It uses 121 focus points that cover practically the entire frame, and you can either select an individual point or use a group of nine.
The camera’s touchscreen tilts 90° up and 45° down, and above it there’s a 2.36-million- dot EVF with a decent 0.62x equivalent magnification. Olympus’s 5-axis image stabilisation is built in and Wi- Fi is on board for connection to a smartphone or tablet.
Regarding video, the E- M10 Mark III gains the ability to record at 4K resolution (3840x2160) and 25fps, and 8MP stills can be extracted from footage. You can also shoot in Full HD (1920x1080) and up to 50fps. However there’s no option to attach an external microphone. Olympus has re-used the existing body design of the E- M10 Mark II, with all the same buttons and dials. But many of them have been re-purposed with the aim of making the camera easier to use. A careful choice of materials makes the Mark III look and feel rather more expensive than it really is. With the retractable 14- 42mm EZ zoom, it’s also compact and easy to carry around.
Two electronic dials on the top-plate change exposure settings, while the exposure mode dial alongside includes a full auto mode for novices, alongside PASM modes for enthusiasts. The SCN position gives access to a large range of subject-based scene modes, with a new touch interface. Olympus’s signature Art Filters are also on board.
Many of the camera’s buttons have changed functions. So while the d-pad was previously used to move the focus point directly, you now have to press the left key first; the other keys give direct access to ISO, flash and drive modes. You can also use the touchscreen to move the AF point, and double-tapping the screen turns the touchpad AF on and off – fixing the problem of inadvertently resetting the focus point with your nose.
Olympus has also stripped down its notoriously over-complicated menus, and I think it has done a really good job. The E- M10 Mark III still offers broadly the same degree of customisation as mid-range DSLRs, but looks far less overwhelming to new users than the Mark II did. Unfortunately though, Olympus has over-simplified its in- camera raw conversion, making it more difficult to adjust pictures before sharing them online.
The OM-D E-M10 Mark III is more interesting than it at first looks. Crucially, its overhauled interface should make it more approachable for new users. With a strong feature set in an attractively designed body at a keen price point, it looks like it will be a great choice for smartphone photographers looking to buy their first ‘proper’ camera, but it should also be a capable second body for owners of Olympus’s higher-end OM-Ds. Stay tuned for our full review.
Enlarged grip A larger, re-sculpted front grip moulding and more prominent thumb-rest give a surprisingly secure hold Shortcut button The button beside the power switch now brings up a touch-sensitive function menu, with options that depend on the current shooting mode
AP mode A new position on the mode dial gives access to a range of ‘Advanced Photography’ functions that were previously buried in the menus Micro USB The proprietary port found on previous Olympus cameras has given way to a standard Micro USB connector
The E-M10 Mark III’s stylish design and twin control dials are unusual at this price point