A couple of week earlier than formally unveiling the E-M1 Mark III, Olympus invited a small group of journalists to test-drive its newest toy on a subject journey to Costa Rica. Regardless of my reluctance to go away the chilly New York winter behind, I made a decision to courageous the tropical climate and crystalline waters to offer the digicam a rundown under launch. We go into extra element in our announcement publish; what follows are my first impressions after utilizing the digicam for just a few days.
Disclaimer: Olympus paid for journey and lodging for this journey. Regardless of this, the corporate had no say within the contents of this text, and it’s my purpose to stay as goal as attainable.
Nonetheless, I can’t say I’m completely unbiased; I just about began my journey as a photographer on Micro 4 Thirds, and have been capturing on Olympus our bodies for almost a decade. The E-M1 MKIII is a good reminder of each how far Olympus‘ efficiency has come – and the way I want it might attain a bit additional.
It was straightforward sufficient to get my bearings across the Mark III as soon as I acquired my arms on it, although there are just a few adjustments that may make these upgrading from the Mark II do a double-take. The addition of a joystick for setting your AF goal is the obvious one, additionally permitting the digicam to switch the earlier AF goal button with a devoted ISO button.
A number of different buttons have moved round too, but it surely shouldn’t take quite a lot of minutes for Olympus customers to get acclimated.
The E-M1’s menus are additionally as dense as ever, making the digicam extraordinarily customizable – almost each button, knob, or dial might be reconfigured – on the expense of some simplicity. It’s a trade-off I’m blissful to take although; my most well-liked settings and management configurations are fairly completely different from Olympus‘ defaults, so I respect the power to customise the digicam to work for my explicit capturing fashion.
The customizability makes for a digicam on which almost each characteristic you might need is a button-press away, whereas I discover the ergonomics hit the candy spot between dealing with and portability. The chunky grip was appreciated when utilizing bigger lenses just like the 40-150mm F4, however with out being so cumbersome because the E-M1X (not to mention conventional DSLRs).
Total, the physique is a case of “if it ain’t broke, don’t repair it,” however I actually want Olympus had gone with a brand new viewfinder and touchscreen. They do the job – particularly with the viewfinder set to its excessive refresh fee mode – however the competitors has moved forward.
It’s an analogous story with autofocus efficiency, lengthy a double-edged sword for mirrorless cameras. Whereas Olympus has at all times provided among the quickest and most correct focusing within the enterprise, it’s autofocus monitoring has largely been a weak spot.
Unsurprisingly, the digicam‘s “Steady Autofocus + Monitoring” mode was one of many first issues I attempted after I acquired the E-M1 MKIII. That is the autofocus mode that follows objects inside a body slightly than the extra conventional one requiring you to intention the digicam at your object of curiosity.
Lengthy story brief: in case your topic strikes in an unpredictable trend, particularly with a fancy background, simply don’t use it. Whereas opponents like Sony have made enormous enhancements on this division, Olympus‘ implementation remains to be lackluster for capturing wildlife or different erratic topics.
Luckily, the usual steady autofocus mode, which asks you to pre-establish a spotlight space and makes use of much less aggressive monitoring, works fantastically. Utilizing a 5×5 grid more often than not, my keeper fee was surprisingly excessive regardless of with the ability to shoot as much as 18 frames a second with C-AF enabled. It actually appeared increased than I can recall from the E-M1 MKII, although I’d have to check each cameras side-by-side to quantify the advance.
I left the digicam in commonplace C-AF mode when capturing transferring topics and by no means appeared again. If I must compose my shot a sure method, there are numerous methods to maneuver the AF goal, although normally C-AF was ok to keep up a lock on my topic even when it left the goal zone.
Additionally improved is the brand new face detection algorithm, which even works in C-AF mode. It’s ok (or unhealthy sufficient?) to work on native white-faced capuchin monkeys, who had been none too shy to pose for cost in bananas.
Tons and plenty of bananas.
I imply, simply take a look at these cuties.
Apart from the improved steady autofocus, my favourite new characteristic by far is the power to make use of high-resolution mode handheld. Whereas the MKII may mix a number of 20MP images right into a single 50MP one, doing so required a tripod. That is not the case; the MKIII can seize high-res pictures handheld, though it’s only a hair much less sharp than the tripod mode (which remains to be there in order for you it).
The additional decision is good, particularly if you wish to crop later, however the true profit is improved total picture high quality. Handheld high-res considerably reduces noise and will increase dynamic vary, making the four-thirds sensor just about on-par with a full-frame in these regards. The caveat is that it takes just a few seconds to course of every high-res picture, however as long as your topic is comparatively static, the payoff is price it.
For reference, right here’s an lovely child crocodile shot with the high-resolution mode. Take note I used to be standing on a ship and utilizing a 300 mm equal lens; clearly the system is strong sufficient to deal with extra than simply barely shaky arms.
Now right here is 100 % crop:
Likewise, your topic needn’t be completely nonetheless; right here you may see the characteristic working with a slow-moving boat.
Once more cropped 100 %:
Observe that many of the images on this article had been shot with both the 40-150mm F4 or the 300mm F4, generally with a 1.4x or 2x teleconverter, and at all times handheld. It’s a testomony to Micro 4 Thirds and Olympus’ stabilization that I hardly seen the standard caveats of utilizing such lengthy lenses.
Although cumbersome in comparison with the extra compact lenses within the system, these telephoto lenses are miniscule in comparison with choices for different methods. In fact, they received’t seize the identical shallow depth of subject you’d get on lenses for bigger sensors, however at these focal lengths, that hardly issues.
So far as I’m involved, the power to simply shoot telephoto photos from a distance, handheld, and with minimal impression to my again is price it. Somewhat than staying fastened in a single place ready for the perfect shot, it means I’m extra open to stroll round and check out a distinct composition.
However once more, I’ve been a Micro 4 Thirds shooter from the beginning; it’s this stability of portability and efficiency that has stored me locked into the system all these years.
I left my few days in Costa Rica with constructive, if not unblemished emotions in regards to the E-M1 Mark III. I didn’t get to attempt a few of its massive new options, together with the Dwell ND and Starry Sky AF modes, as a lot I’d like, so I’ll replace this assessment as soon as I’ve spent extra time with the digicam.
For now, one of the simplest ways to explain the Mark III is that it feels acquainted. That’s each good and unhealthy.
The ergonomics are standout, and the picture stabilization is just about in a category of its personal. The hand-held high-resolution mode works freakishly effectively, and steady autofocus efficiency is great – as long as you ignore the devoted monitoring mode. The truth that you may cost it by way of USB-C is a possible life-saver.
My level is, it’s a digicam that may please present Micro 4 Thirds customers on the lookout for a brand new digicam physique, however not essentially one with a hook that may pull in new customers. The E-M1 Mark III is a good digicam if capturing motion in a compact physique is your precedence. I simply hope the Mark IV feels rather less acquainted.
Revealed February 13, 2020 — 01:36 UTC