Thoughts on the Olympus E-M10 Mark III

It’s officially out. (See information page at dpreview.com.)

It looks like a pretty good camera for anyone who doesn’t already own a recent Olympus camera. It looks (from a functional perspective) very similar to the Pen-F (see my recent review series) but without the front DoF preview button and missing some specialty dials (like the JPEG dial and lever, and the exposure compensation dial) which I don’t think are that useful anyway.

Olympus has given the E-M10 Mark III the same sort of retro styling that the Pen-F has, except that it looks like an old SLR instead of an old rangefinder. I presume the E-M10 Mark III has a slightly less deluxe feel to it, given the lower price tag. But Olympus removed the cheap plasticky E-PMx cameras from its lineup, and now only makes cameras that have a quality feel with nice clicky dials, so it would probably feel like a nice upgrade in quality from less expensive cameras.

With a small front grip, and the Fn2 button in what looks like a more convenient location than on the Pen-F, the E-M10 Mark III might be the more ergonomic of the two cameras.

The obvious specs in which the Pen-F outshines the E-M10 Mark III are the max shutter speed of 1/8000 (vs. 1/4000) and a 20MP sensor (vs 16MP).

The mode dial on the E-M10 Mark III is missing the C1 – C4 settings; I presume you can overwrite some of the other settings with a custom setting (as you can do on the older Olympus E-P5 which I have), but it’s a lot more intuitive to have dedicated C1 – C4 settings. [UPDATE: now that I know that Olympus has dumbed down various capabilities of the Mark III, I would NOT assume that you can assign custom modes to the mode-dial settings.]

Is anything else important missing from the E-M10 Mark III? I’m not sure.

It should be noted that the E-M10 Mark III is about the same weight as the Pen-F (half an ounce lighter) so it’s not a super lightweight camera. Olympus seems to have abandoned the idea of super-lightweight plastic cameras in favor of cameras with a more retro metallic feel to them.

Although camera gearheads were very disappointed that Olympus gave the E-M10 Mark III only a 16MP sensor, 16MP is enough resolution for super-sharp 12×18” prints that are indistinguishable from prints made from pictures taken on cameras with more pixels, as well as enough resolution for viewing photos on 4K monitors, so there is no reason why this isn’t an excellent camera for someone upgrading from a smartphone or a point & shoot or an older interchangeable-lens camera.

UPDATE

I believe my initial positive impression of the E-M10 Mark III was WRONG. The camera is missing more than just a 20MP sensor. It appears that Olympus has REMOVED some other functionality from the camera, including RC flash among others. Olympus will claim that the purpose was to “help” beginners by making the camera easier to use, but the real reason is because Olympus doesn’t want advanced photographers to be happy with a less expensive model. If you want the best features, Olympus is telling you that you need to buy a Pen-F, an E-M1 Mark II, or an E-M5 Mark II (no doubt soon to be replaced by a Mark III model).

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