The Olympus EM5 MKIII Review. A MINI SIZED EM1 MKII?

The Olympus EM5 MKIII Review. A MINI SIZED EM1 MKII?

By Steve Huff

Pre Order the EM1 MKIII at B&H Photo HERE. Ships November 2019.

It’s been a long while since I reviewed the EM5 MKII. Four years? Yep, actually even longer (four years and seven months). (See that review HERE). Today Olympus has officially announced the new EM5 MKIII, and it is quite the update to the older MKIII. Lucky Me! I was able to shoot this camera last week in scenic Moab Utah, along with a few other camera reviewer friends. The video above shares many images and some video and all of my thoughts. The written review is below.

Weather sealed and Olympus does weather sealing VERY WELL.

During this two day event in Moab we were able to try out the Olympus EM5 MKIII which is the latest mid tier camera from Olympus. I say “mid tier” as Olympus has a tier of cameras from starter (EM10) to mid (EM5) to pro (EM1 and EM1X). THIS IS NOT a pro model but has the same sensor as the pro models, as well as many other features taken from the EM1 MKII. So how does this one stack up to the old four year old MKII? Read on to find out my thoughts and see some photos I shot, ALL AS JPEG, with this new camera model from Olympus.

ALL images in this post are from the EM5 MKIII and are all from JPEG. Yes these are JPEG from the camera. Olympus still makes some of the best JPEG cameras! Click them for larger versions!

First things first, let’s take a look at the specs so we know what is new here…


  • 20 MP Sensor  – Same as the sensor in the PRO EM1X Flagship and EM1 MKII (see my report on the EM1X here) See my EM1 MKII Review HERE.
  • New TruPic VIII processor
  • New AF algorithm for better tracking and faster AF. 121 Point all cross type.
  • Weather Sealed!
  • ALL NEW 5 Axis unit that is smaller and improves on performance.
  • Cinema 4K 24FPS – Same specs as the EM1 MKII – 237 MBPS (NO 4k 60)
  • New smaller battery. Saves on size, but delivers same performance as prior larger battery
  • New ergonomics based on user feedback
  • Thumb rest redesigned for more comfort
  • On off is now up top
  • Touch screen, touch shutter and touch AF pad
  • Face detection and Eye detection
  • 5 Axis IS Sync with some lenses deliver 6.5 stops
  • 2.36 million dot OLED EVF. 1.37X magnification.
  • Supersonic wave filter dust removal.
  • High res TRIPOD mode and Pro Capture modes
  • Silver or Black, Ships November 2019

After seeing the specs and shooting with the new EM5 MKIII I was honestly blown away by it as it basically is a mini EM1 MKII. Imagine having the pro level EM1 in a smaller body Well, this is as close as it gets to that. This also tells me that there may be a new EM1 MKIII on the way soon.

The Olympus OMD Family. Left to Right: EM5 MKIII, EM1X, Em1 MKII, EM10 MKIII

20 Megapixel. The Sweet Spot for M 4/3?

This camera has the same 20MP sensor as the flagship EM1X and EM1 MKII, it has improved and ALL NEW 5 Axis IS which is pretty incredible and smaller (Olympus makes the best 5 Axis in the business IMO). It has cinema 4K 24 FPS video (though no 4K/60), very fast and accurate AF, a new smaller battery and a slew of improvements over the now four year old MKII. The AF is pretty fast, accurate and snappy as well.

If you own a MKII, this is an upgrade for you. No question. This is not just a “fluff” update but it’s like an all new camera over the 4 1/2 year old MkII.

The 25 1.2 wide open at f/1.2 and shot as JPEG. 

20 Megapixels

If you are concerned about this body having “only” 20 MP, there are no worries. While I have yet to look at the RAW files (not supported by Adobe yet) I have looked at and processed RAW files from the EM1 MKII and EM1X, and there are no issues with detail, dynamic range or color science. With a 20MP M 4/3 sensor you are hitting the sweet spot. Cram more MP onto the sensor and it may make the ISO performance even worse. I always say 24MP is the sweet sport for full frame, and I think 20 is the sweet spot for M 4/3.

I am not a technical review kind of guy. This website has been up for almost 12 years ( 2 weeks will be 12 years), and it was started as a “real world” review website where a camera or lens is reviewed in a way that tells YOU the READER about the experience of using a piece of gear, the real results, and the usability. 100% crops do not really matter to me (especially these days) as I have always said this has nothing at all to do with photography (IMO of course).

In other words, when I take an image… if by any luck I get the right light, the right moment, and it is a great image/subject it will be great whether it was shot with 3 MP or 50 MP.  Why? Because a print that is worthy of being framed is beautiful no matter the megapixels. ; ) So yea, 20 Micro 4/3 megapixels is more than enough for most of us. That is the reality, but there will alway be some of us who WANT more MP just because…well, we want what we want. If you want that, then more power to you. Enjoy and have fun! In fact, I can not say I will never have a higher res body, because if the right one comes along, well, who knows?

Either way, 20 Megapixels is plenty for large prints!

Again, these are all JPEG from the camera ; ) Lenses used? 12mm f/2, 12-100 f/4 and the 25 1.2

Unless you are shooting something specific or a high dollar job that needs medium format level detail or want that full frame look, a camera like this is more than good enough for everyday shooting and IMO, a little more fun . This is not a pro camera but I bet there is someone out there using MKII’s for pro work. They are good enough.


If you are looking to upgrade from an older Olympus micro 4/3 model, don’t think twice, just do it (unless you have an EM1 MKII or EM1X of course). It’s worth it and there is a reason Olympus waited four years to update it. Why you ask? Because Olympus does not release new models every year to try and sell you a minimal upgrade as almost all other camera companies do.

Click the images for much larger and better versions. 


I am about to tell you a secret of the photo industry…Shhh, do not tell anyone I told you this ; ) Lol. Actually, it’s no secret.

Camera companies, (some of them, but not all), make new bodies about every year as they know camera enthusiasts have a sort of addiction. We call it GAS (Gear Acquisition Syndrome). They know if they make minimal upgrades every year, that will sell a ton of those upgraded cameras to their base of users, at least enough of them to make a killing. So why do some people buy these upgrades every time? Because we have been taught that we need the latest and greatest, and the way products are promoted today, we all feel left out if we do not jump on the upgrade train. Again, not all of us and not all camera companies do this but most of the time when a new camera is released, it is a small upgrade to the original. For example, the new Sony A9II. It’s a small update to the original but will cost you $1500 more to buy. I’d buy the original A9 and save that $1500 to put towards a nice G Master Lens ; ) Even if I were a sports pro. 

Olympus on the other hand?

They do not release cameras in this way, so often,  and I love their/this approach. I admit, in recent months I have been losing some faith in Micro 4/3. With all of the full frame models coming out within the mirrorless realm, how can a smaller sensor camera compete today?

I mean, there are benefits to a camera like this over something like a (INSERT APS-C MODEL HERE). Design, charm, lenses, lens size, unique features, speed, swivel LCD, weight, etc.

There are also drawbacks like low light limitations and all out max shallow DOF limitations, and all out resolution for those who like it uber detailed. To most, these are not dealbreakers but for some, a larger sensor size may make more sense.

For me, I find myself taking an Olympus camera with me during the day and brining my Sony or Leica out at night. Some of my fondest memories over the last 15 years have been shot with Olympus and Leica. I find these two companies share some of the same charm and are more similar than different.


The Olympus camera bodies are almost always beautifully designed. They bring a retro vibe and they feel good. They are small, much smaller than full frame competitors, and their lenses are absolutely amazing, and small. There is not a bad Olympus Zuiko lens made IMO. If there is, I have not experienced it.

They offer speed, amazing color, best out of camera JEGS I have seen (still) and their cameras always have the best 5 Axis (they were the first ever to have this in a camera) performance. Add to that the live composite features that work so well, and the very nice cinema 4K video. This new camera is polished, complete and offers so much in one small body. It is in fact so much like an EM1 MKII but in a small EM5 MKIII body.

I’m not sure why this is, but when I shoot Olympus I feel good. I feel happy. Everything just works how it should and the out of camera results are always beautiful. Yes, they have a smaller Micro 4/3 sensor but with THIS sensor, the only weakness is in extreme low light, as usual. In good light, this is a camera that can be used anywhere and for anything.  I do know of quite a few pros who shoot Olympus and LOVE them. They are good enough for professional work, without question. (Well, the EM1 MKII and EM1X are made for pros, and feel and perform every bit of that pro designation).

So yes, Olympus is still improving their cameras and yes there are still many very valid reasons to choose Micro 4/3 over full frame and even APS-C. Even today when full frame mirrorless is so popular. But mirrorless from the likes of Sony, Canon and Nikon… well, they have been getting larger, heavier and more cumbersome as time goes on.

Mirrorless started with Micro 4/3 long ago and when I started this website TWELVE years ago now, I was reviewing all of the new “mirrorless” cameras. Panasonic, Olympus and then Sony with their TINY NEX3 and 5.

They sold us all on it by saying “MIRRORLESS IS SMALLER THAN THE DSLR” and they were not lying. All early mirrorless cameras were small, much smaller than a DSLR. But as the years progressed, full frame mirrorless came to be and there went the end of the small size bodies and especially small lenses. These days full frame lenses can be HUGE beasts!

Olympus and even Panasonic kept their focus on small size bodies and lenses. They even managed to improve bodies with each release and today, with a camera like the new EM5 MKIII the improvements keep coming.

And guess what? The IQ from this camera, in decent light, is just as nice as any APS-C or even full frame camera. The only differences lies in the depth of field and HIGH ISO as dynamic range is fantastic as is color.

So this new release from Olympus comes amid a congested camera market that is full of mostly full frame models, as well as some APS-C sensor sized models. I have heard some in the industry say they are not sure how Micro 4/3 can survive. If you ask me, I am more of a fan of Micro 4/3 than I am APS-C, and I have been saying this for years. I see no benefit to APS-C cameras over Micro 4/3, simply because with a camera like the EM5 MKIII I am getting unique features as well as fantastic color and IQ, more quality than I need for a family, travel or causal camera. I get more fun factor. Fuji is nice though and my APS-C fave without question : )

The Olympus has Live composite for low light real time imaging. A Swivel LCD for vlogging or selfie images. Olympus are the originators of the dust shaker tech, and I have never had an Olympus with a dust issue. The Supersonic Wave filter works well. The 5 Axis from Olympus is amazing, and again, they were the originators of this tech quite a few years ago. IMO they do it the best. The LCD has touch focus and touch shutter and the Tripod High Res shot mode is also here (though this is something I personally find useless and it tries to solve a problem that really doesn’t exist, though I am sure there are some out there who love it).

There is not much here that I do not like. I mean…when I sit down and think “what are the cons here”? I have a hard time finding any. Sure, it has one SD card slot but remember this is not a “pro” camera. This is made for families, vacations, hiking, enthusiasts and hobbyists. It is made for the everyday person who wants a step up from their phone (the video at the top of the page has a comparison with the iPhone 11 Pro) and all while keeping it small and light. The EM5 MKIII and a 12mm f/2 or 17 1.8 makes for an amazing combo. Add in a 25 1.8 or 75 1.8 and you can build a killer system without spending a fortune, like you can when diving into full frame. This can take photos just as beautiful as the Olympus Pro bodies. All you lose here is the ruggedness and larger bodies of the pro line. You also will lose a little speed, just a little, but for most of us, this is more than good enough.

Official Olympus Blurb on the EM5 MKIII

CENTER VALLEY, Pa., October 17, 2019

Today, Olympus announces the newestaddition to its OM-D lineup,the Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark III. Featuring much of the cutting-edge technology found in the OM-D E-M1 Mark II professional model, this compact, lightweight, weather sealed camera includes a 20 megapixel Live MOS sensor, powerful 5-Axis in-body Image Stabilization with up to 5.5 EV steps of compensation (6.5 EV steps with SyncIS), 30 frames per second sequential shooting, high speed and high precision autofocus capabilities using 121-point all cross-type on-chip phase detection AF, as well as versatile shooting features such as Live Composite and Focus Stacking and advanced features such as Cinema 4K Video and Pro Capture, all packed into a powerfully, portable body.

Paired with the superior resolution of Olympus M.Zuiko®lenses, this weathersealed system is the ultimatetravel companionfor the on-the-go photography enthusiasts.

My Final Word on the Olympus EM5 MKIII

I had a blast shooting with this camera. It’s small, it’s light, it’s solid, it’s fun and it continues the tradition of what has come before it. These cameras are well loved by so many out in the world. Even with full frame being all the rage, Micro 4/3 can keep up in many areas.

IQ is great, color is great, AF is fast, it can record 4K video, has the best 5 Axis IS there is, keeps you sensor dust free, allows you to shoot Astro in a unique way (see it as it exposes), has a swivel LCD and a great OLED EVF. It has the sensor of the EM1X flagship and with lenses like the 12-100 f/4 you boost the 5 AXIS IS even further to 6.5 stops. What the heck is there not to like here?

This is a solid camera. The only thing you will want to ask yourself is this…“Do I want Full Frame, to spend more, to go larger and heavier”. The answer to that depends on what you shoot, and what you enjoy. For me, some cameras are hard to love and some cameras have me at first glance and feel. I like to use cameras that are intuitive to use, produce great results out of camera and do not give me any problems. This is why I love companies like Olympus and Leica. In fact, these may be my two fave camera companies.

Sony is fantastic… but a bit sterile when it comes to design. I never loved their body designs or menus. They make a fantastic set of tech filled capable cameras but they do not speak to me like a good Leica or Olympus does. Panasonic is nice in the Micro 4/3 and now in the full frame world as well but again, a bit sterile for me when it comes to design and feel of the body. Fuji is wonderful, and the X-T3 was and is my all time favorite APS-C camera. Even so, I would prefer my Em1 MKII over a Fuji XT-3 as I just prefer the Olympus experience. This is not new, I have been talking about Olympus on these pages since this website was created. Always been a fan and have owned and EM1 mKII since I tested it in Iceland long ago.

Basically, if you shoot in cavernous conditions, avoid M 4/3. If not, take a look at what these unique cameras offer. You may be surprised, and you may fall in love. ; )


Keep in mind I am just me. My reviews are personal, always have been. It’s my opinion like a movie reviewer would have AFTER I used the gear extensively ; ) I am not an ambassador to any brand, but am an ambassador to GOOD camera and tech ; ) I review only what I like or what I would buy myself if I had the chance and have been doing that here for twelve years. My favorite camera brands have always been Leica and Olympus and I like what Olympus did here with the OMD EM5 MKIII. It’s a winner as it gives us most of what the EM1 MKII has inside a smaller, gorgeous retro style body. I do feel if the price was $999 it would have been a home run grand slam. At $1199 it’s on the borderline of being too high priced but worth it for M 43 upgraders. Seeing that you can buy an EM1 MKII for $1499 one may opt to go that route for a bigger body. After adding the $169 grip to the EM5 MKIII it will be only $150 away from a new Em1 MKII ; )

Gotta love choices. Thank you all for reading this review. Took me several days to put it together so I hope you enjoy it!

A screen grab from my personal Facebook page where I comment to Bryan about the worries of Micro 4/3 with my thoughts. 


You can order the OMD EM5 MKIII at B&H Photo HERE. Ships November. Price $1199 for the body only. 

Lenses I recommend for this body:

12mm f/2 – See it in use in a 2011 article HERE.

17 1.8 – My review of this lens HERE

25 1.8 – My review of this lens is HERE

45 1.8 – My review is HERE

75 1.8 – My review of this one HERE

12-100 f/4Have not done an official review but used it in THIS review ; )


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  1. Hey Steve,

    I originally fell in love with Olympus due to my old em5 and the punchy jpeg colours it produced. I’ve heard conflicting things about the latest 20mp models and whether they’ve kept that distinct Olympus look. sounds like this does though? Cheers

  2. Hi Steve,
    thank you for your review. I know now you have a period off from photography industry.
    today in 2021, what m4/3 boby would you choose? EM5 III yet?
    In your feeling are panasonic look so different from Olympus? (because I considering Panasonic g9 too)
    Thank you for your time

    • The EM5 III is a fantastic camera, even today. Pair it with a nice lens from Olympus (12-100 or nice Prime) and you will have a fantastic video and photo machine. The G9 is also nice, just depends on your wants and needs. I prefer Olynmpus but always have.

  3. Hi Steve, Thanks for reviewing 🙂
    Which is the better camera to buy today between the Olympus 5miii, Fuji XT2 or XT30 ?
    I have an Olympus 10mii for 2 years but it recently didn’t like having salted water bath… and I would like to upgrade for a better one. I am really attracted by Fuji cameras for a while (mostly bc of the colors)but this new Olympus looks amazing!

    • Well, it’s all personal. The EM5 III is fantastic, like shooting an EM1 MKII in a small body. The Fuji’s have their own style and color rendering. Fuji has larger sensors (APS-C vs Micro 4/3) so you benefit from that with Fuji. The X-T3 is a gorgeous camera. Fast, great video, great IQ and feels great in the hand. The Fuji XT2 is nice but larger, heavier and bulkier. I prefer the X-T3. Between the X-T2 and XT30, I would choose the X-T2 but between the Olympus and Fuji, tough call. The Olympus has some things I love, and the Fuji does as well. Just FYI, I own an EM5 III ; )

  4. Just thinking about canceling the preorder for the e-m5iii.
    Last year I could not turn off my e-m5ii of. Payed 77€. Many m5ii have his problem. Last month again the same. Now Olympus Austria wants 173€. Thinking to change to Sony. With a A7riii 50% crop, 20% less resolution same weight +35% in price I would have a similar sytem but full frame.
    One more rason. I also have the Pen-F and now different batteries.

    • I’ve held it, I have shot with it. As a camera it’s much larger, has a much larger grip, AF is better on the Olympus. Will give you Panasonic colors/look over Olympus colors/look. The EM5 MKIII is almost exactly like an EM1 MKII in an EM5 body, but I feel with better continuous AF than the EM1.

  5. I’m really struggling to decide wether to buy it (with €100 discount until mid November).

    I too, would not totally agree with you that it is such a major upgrade. I held the Mk-II in my hands at an event at a Munich camera store, yersterday. The plastic is not that bad, but I really prefer the haptic of my Mk-II in metal. Mine has overheated two or three times or so in the last 4.5 years, I wasn’t impressed. I’d expect the plastic to make that even worse. And I’m really just a hobbist. I don’t push it very hard.

    Add the smaller EVF (I’m actually fine with that) and the discontinued tethered shooting feature, and I have a feeling they are pushing the 5 series into a lower market segment, as they did with the E-M10 Mk-III downgrade.

    I’m still considering the purchase because I need the higher ISO for no/low light pictures with moving subjects (humans sitting around, speaking and occasionally turning their head with only candle light). Apparently I can raise my ISO limit from 1600 to 6400 keeping the same noise level. And I need the 15 frame precapture to catch the ignition moment of front loader muskets and cannons. These are the only two situation in which my Mk-II is showing weakness. The new AF system is very welcome (phase AF, yeah), but the Mk-II doesn’t really leave much to be desired already. So without these two improvements there really wouldn’t be a reason for me to buy the new one.

    But the potential deal breaker is the removed tethered shooting support. I use that on a copy stand for digitising my film negatives and even whole prints from my dark room. Also great for some table top macro work. I can still use my MK-II for that (I never sell anything), but I’d prefer not to loose the capability in a newer camera. I wonder if it will come back with a firmware update or if marketing will prevent it to push it down into the envisioned market segment.

    I’d never buy an E-M1 series camera, as I hate DSLR design (Canon, Nikon style) and big handgrips. Not really OM-D. But I understand a pro needs the features, not the emotion. And I’m happy if they make tons of money with it. That’s good for the whole system. The EPL3 (totally flat) was the best body they ever made for my large hands. Solid metal, too.

  6. Thank you for the review!
    I’m still using my original E-M5 MK 1. It’s brilliant with the superb Olympus 60mm macro f2.8, being small enough to get in close for shooting insects on foliage etc. I’d like to hear your thoughts on the MK3’s macro performance.
    I’ve also achieved decent results in low light with the E-M5 Mk 1 and my E-M1 Mk 1 in low light city street and beach scenes which I use as reference material for my artworks.
    I’m assuming the larger sensor in the E-M5 MK3 will do an even better job.

    • Hello Michael, the sensor in the III is in no way larger. It’s still the same sized M 4/3 sensor, which gives you a 2X crop factor on your lenses. In low light, the III will be better than the I without question but it’s not a huge difference. The benefits of the III are the improved 5 Axis, higher res large EVF, more megapixels (maybe that is what you meant, if so I apologize) and the latest processed. Also AF speed and tracking is much improved, video is usable as the AF is great with face and eye detect. Video looks awesome actually, I prefer it to my Sony A7III for some applications (photo and basic video like vlog, quick, family, etc).

      • Thanks very much, Steve. Yes that’s what I meant. No expert here 🙂
        One more thing I’d like to mention – I get amazingly good results when taking shots of my model railway using the Olympus E-M5 and E-M1. The depth of field they give is exactly what I want. I’m no bokeh fan at any time hahaha.
        The E-M5 in particular is great for the job because it can be placed on the layout, in amongst scenery, because it’s not too bulky.
        I wish Olympus – and reviews of them – would make mention of just how useful the extra depth of field is when performing certain tasks.

  7. great imagery. you say all are jpgs. some pics do look like they have been tweaked (to my eyes, pretty shure they dont decive me). May i ask if these are “uneditd jpgs” right out of cam or is there some kind of pp involved ?

  8. Hi Steve, thank you, another informative and interesting review. You really do have access to some great scenery! I wonder how you would compare the EM5 MkIII to the Panasonic GX9 (as it’s called here in the UK)? Similar pixel count etc. Have you managed to review the GX9 (I couldn’t find one). Reason for asking is the price differential is considerable (£1099 v £495) over here, though I appreciate the GX9 is older. Cheers. Lee

    • Hello Lee,

      I have not reviewed the GX9 but have held it. The EM5 III will have better AF for tracking, face detect, eye detect, etc. A nicer EVF, better 5 Axis, and Olympus color. Video is super on the new Olympus as well and the new 5 Axis works very nicely with video. Features like live time, live bulb are only on the Olympus. Tripod high res shot, etc. The GX9 would be a little more stripped down in comparison. So depends on what you shoot with it. If you want better AF, faster overall, decent tracking and cinema 4K video with that beautiful 5 Axis the Olympus is wonderful. If you just take casual photos…family, vacation, etc..the GX9 would be great.

  9. A nice piece Steve and fun pictures as well. I currently have the MkII and am very tempted by the MkIII.

    One thing I’d like to know and haven’t yet seen any information about, is whether it will support the USB Raw Edit/Export facility where the Olympus Workspace desktop application uses the TruPic processor in the camera to accelerate RAW operations for images (currently only possible with the EM-1 MkII and the EM1x. As the MkIII has the same processor as the EM-1 MkII, this is theoretically possible although granted more of a Pro feature perhaps given how good the JPEG engine is.

    • Pen f série is discontinued
      And it was the only M4/3 caméra that I’have considère.
      But AF and fonder were so so…
      I hope Olympus changes its mind and bring an update of this cool camera

  10. Hi, Steve. Thank you, as always, for your reviews and replies.
    I do portraiture and landscape photography, and I want to switch from Canon and Nikon dSLRs I’ve owned in the past. Color, spot on WB and precise focus are paramount to me. In fact, to me the main disadvantage with dSLRs is that you do not always get precise focus, which decreases sharpness and IQ.

    What would you consider better in the departments I mentioned before: a $1200 E-M5 III, a $1400 A6600 or a $1500 X-T3? I would pair them with the Nocticron or 45 Pro, the 56 Sigma or the 56 Fuji. I like your personal and emotional advice/take on these discussion.

    Thank you!

    • Well, if it were me personally, I would skip the A6600. I am not a huge fan of Sony’s APS-C cameras. Not sure what it is…the un-inspiring body design, the lenses that seem overly large on the camera, or the color. The Fuji X-T3 is fantastic, and not far off from Olympus. Has a cool retro body, fast AF, and Fuji colors. Fuji colors are not what I would call accurate, but they are indeed beautiful if the light is right. Same with Olympus, but Olympus has their own color science as well. As for lenses, Id take the 45 1.2 over the Nocticron as it edges it out slightly and will AF faster on an Olympus body. This will give you a 90mm equivalent, perfect for portraits. The Fuji and the 56 Fuji will be nice as well. Tough call. I feel the Olympus will give a more natural pleasing color out of camera, but the Fuji will be a bit better in low light. Some would say FUJI all the way, some would say OLYMPUS but both are nice. I think the Fuji body is a tad larger so may be easier to grip onto. Go with your heart ; )

  11. On another note…I hope Olympus has fixed the power switch. My EM5ii power switch has failed twice (when I turn it off, the power stays on and the battery just runs down) due to dirt getting under the mode dial. The offickla Olympus repair centre in the UK told me this was a design flaw that Olympus hasn’t acknowledged and that the on/off switch isn’t a mechanical switch. The weather sealing is particularly weak around the mode dial and on/off switch on the EM5ii. Fingers crossed it’s fixed

  12. Nice review, Steve, as always! I’ve got an EM5ii and adore it. Even by today’s standards, the EM5ii has a lot of unique features…but one’s that I, personally, don’t often use. I got it because I wanted a rugged camera that I could take camping, was intuitive to use (if we forget about Olympus’s menu system for a second), had great lenses and took good photos. I think versatility is a standout feature of the EM5 range. The EM5iii looks fantastic, but a lot of the new features I just don’t need…so I’ll stick with my battered and weathered old EM5ii for now, but will keep the EM5ii on my radar. My EM5ii actually died a couple of weeks ago in a rain storm, but luckily three days in a bag of rice sorted it out.
    I heard from some other reviewers the EM5iii has a plastic body. Can you confirm this? I’m pretty rough with my gear and, even though I know there are some very tough plastics, it does put me off it a bit, if it is plastic.

  13. Thank you, Steve, for a spacious and informative review. I have ogled Olympus from afar for years. This time I found your detailed views on pixel numbers and sensor size made a lot of sense – to me, at least. Whether I might move over from Sony a6000 and Zeiss lens is another question, but it would certainly be backed up by this review if I did. But the X-Vario stays !!

  14. Hi Steve – for fun and user experience



    EM5 lll


    Obviously just from your perspective having seemingly enjoyed both

    • Well, I personally enjoy the PEN-F more due to its design and fun factor, but the EM5 MKIII is technically a better camera, better sensor, better 5 Axis, faster AF, etc. So I guess it comes down to which one you feel you would enjoy more.

  15. Hi Steve, thanks for writing your opinion of the camera. I’ve been using m43 since the ep 1 came out. To me it’s really important that using the camera is fun, and I’m a bit worried that two changes to the em5 iii affect using the camera in a negative way. I feel like you share the same opinion of how important the feel of using a camera is so I wanted to ask you two questions.

    1. Do you notice the difference in evf magnification compared to the em5 ii and the em5 iii? (From what I’ve read it’s a lower magnification on the mark iii)
    2. Do you feel the difference in holding the em5 ii vs the em5 iii in regards to a different body material? (I’m talking about the use of plastic in the iii). Is it less robost?

    Thanks again, I always enjoy reading your thoughts on the cameras I’m considering.

    • Hey Jonas, thank you.

      Answer 1: I did not notice any difference between the III and the II with EVF. I can say the III is much nicer from my memory of the II. Nothing negative at all, was great, big, bright, clear.

      Answer 2: The funny thing is I had no idea there was plastic until AFTER I used it in Moab. I arrived home and read a blurb about it and I was unaware. Somehow I missed that in the presentation I guess. So I did not notice any change of feel, and it’s better sealed than the II so, there’s that.

      Thanks again.

  16. So it’s a mini EM1.2, but is it really that mini?
    metal EM1.2 is 574g
    plastic EM5.3 is 414g + grip 121g + spare battery 45g = 580g.
    A used EM1,2 can be purchased for less. Or new for negligible difference if you buy EM5.3 & grip, and spare battery.
    So how excited am I for a camera that costs more, weights more, and is made from plastic?!
    I guess EM5.3 is for folk that don’t want to get a grip on things

    • It’s quite a bit smaller in the hand over an EM1 body. So yea, a Mini Em1 II. It may have the weight but it’s physically much smaller, hence the “mini” mention. A used EM1 has no warranty, so anyone looking at that option, that’s something to think of. I can get a used End II for much less than a used EM1 MKII. I can also get an old EP3 for much less than that. People will buy what they want, and the EM5 III is a great upgrade to the II. It does not in any way feel like plastic, at all. Feels like the II did in my hand, a little better due to the larger built in grip. Thanks.

  17. Great review.. So is the EM1 Mk2 worth 15% more than the EM5 Mk3? In Australia the EM1M2 is $2200 and the EM5M3 $1899. I like the chunkier grip on the EM1, but the EM5 is significantly lighter with small prime lenses.

  18. Just a heads up, your link at the top to pre order says EM1 MKIII, and in the first paragraph you reference the EM5 MKIV: “Today Olympus has officially announced the new EM5 MKIV, and it is quite the update to the older MKIV.”

    Just started reading the review, and looking forward to your thoughts on the camera!

  19. I have used Olympus M4-3 cameras for a number of years. The weight (of my E-m 10 -ii at least) is very nice for travel and the image quality is pretty good in good light. The lens are also mostly very good. However I still get very frustrated by the hugely complicated menus and strange symbols (3 fish?), to the point where sometimes I have no idea what the camera is going to do. To me, my Olympus isn’t fun to use. At a time where most cameras are ‘good enough’ and I’m doing this as a hobby, not a job- I’m valuing ‘fun’ a lot more than stops of stabilization. And for $1199, I want a camera that I’ll enjoy using. I wonder if the simplicity of a Leica (although they are totally priced out of my reach) makes them more fun to use since you don’t have to deal with all the mind numbing complexity.

    • I never ever have to go into an Olympus menu once set up, which takes me 10 minutes to do. All controls are easy to change with dials, and if you need to change a menu item, the quick menu allows for easy changes. One button press, choose your item, done. I would suggest setting up the camera to your needs, and then you rarely will ever, IF EVER, have to go into the menu. Leica has the best menus, or at least they used to. They are starting to fill their menus with more than they used to. Even so, much nicer than most. I feel the worst menu system is from Sony, and I tell them this every chance I get, but it’s the same….once set up, I never have to go in. The reality though, is that there are only two brands with simple, minimalistic menus. Leica and Hasselblad.

        • I was a “Pentaxian” for 30 years

          They are awesome. My last Pentax was the K3 – my problem w Pentax? – lags behind the field on tech updates, no compact mirror less ILC aside from the Q series, which I have and have loved…they are so much fun

          If Pentax had a Fuji-sized mirrorless or Oly sized 4/3, I could be lured back, but they don’t and their schedule for catching up w the field is just exasperatingly slow. I waited so long for a ff Pentax that when it arrived, I had moved on

          I love Pentax but they just never love me back enough

          The K01 had AWESOME IQ and was kind of fun, but too many shortcomings

          The Menus – ya they were/are awesome…imo

    • I agree with Steve here – Olympus menus are horrible, but spend the first 10 minutes setting it up and then you almost never have to go back into them. The only times I do are to format the card or turn the AF lamp on/off depending on the situation. The quick menu and function buttons cover everything else.

  20. I absolutely love My EM1 MKI and I am not even tempted to upgrade it. So I disagree on EM5 MKIII being an upgrade on older Olympus models for enthusiasts. But I 100% agree on 20 MP being enough for most enthusiasts. I am not even sure how many MP my camera has, I guess 16 but whatever it is, it is enough for me so I have no reason to care…

    • You can disagree but it is in fact a huge upgrade for someone with an EM10 MKI. Not even close, from IQ to well, everything. EVF, AF, 5 AXIS, Speed, etc. Not everyone will want to upgrade, as there is no need to if happy with what you have but that doesn’t mean it’s not a huge upgrade : )

    • I still use the original E-M1 as my day-to-day camera. It’s been incredibly reliable and has enabled me to make many very nice images. All that said, it is beginning to get a little old in the tooth and is nearing replacement age. I have been humming about what to buy for some time. I have some great Olympus glass, and some great Canon glass which I retained from my last Canon body a number of years ago. I am currently trying to decide between an E-M1 mk II, or an EOS R. There are advantages and disadvantages to both. Any suggestions?

  21. Budget yet neat

    Creative photography : Olympus EM5 mk2.
    4K Videography : Panasonic Gx85 (5axisIS 4K video edit using touchscreen).
    Low light shallow dof FF : Nikon D700 12MP.

    All together under $1K : approx $700

  22. The sample photos are absolutely incredible.
    It gives a good face to any camera and lens..Well done Steve!
    I am using a very old Olympus which req. it’s very own 2GB card..sigh.
    In terms of quality contrary to “popular” belief format size way less important
    than time of film. Digital has changed that.forever.
    I have done major pro shoots with “point and shoots” to everyone’s satisfaction.
    Size more important now than ever as all compared to phone cameras..
    Less is more!
    Finally a camera that yields excellent JPEG without all that other nonsense.
    Finally your images captured the whole romance of The West!

  23. This looks very good. Could you please compare it’s size to an A7III and Leica Q2?
    Also, camera are so good these days, it calls into question what a ‘pro’ camera is. I’ve always thought 20mp too high for Sony RX100 series(I’ve had 3 versions!), But have printed 13×19 prints, and sold them, and they were beautiful. SO, I think 20mp on a much larger 4/3 would allow stunning prints.

    • It’s smaller than both of those cameras. I do not have a Q here but a Q is larger for sure. This is the same size as the MKI and MKII EM5. In some ways though it feels a little too small without the grip they offer with it.

  24. After reading this I was left with the impression you enjoyed your time with this camera. After the wife dropped her iPhone into a very large cactus at the desert botanical garden (lucky bounce permitted us to retrieve it…iPhones have terrible ergonomics for photography!) I bought her a Canon RP. Paired with the 40mm f2.8 and the adapter it weighs exactly 2 pounds. Total cost for a 35mm size sensor camera (RP) and pretty good lens was $1450. This new Olympus camera and a similar lens (17 f1.8), while about 8 ounces lighter, would cost about $1550. I’m not sure I’d want to pay $1550 for a lens and a camera body with a smaller sized sensor. My 2¢.

    • The Canon doesn’t have 5 Axis, does not have cinema 4k, does not have live time or any of the cool night exposure features of the Olympus. The RP doesn’t have the same color (some may prefer Canon color) or this kind of OOC JPEG quality. So it all depends what the needs and wants are I guess ; ) I enjoy Canon, and love the EOS-R but that one is LARGE and with the new R lenses, it gets pretty huge. The RP is smaller, and a cool camera for sure. But it’s different, as are all cameras..different. Not better, different. There are pros and cons to both. Thanks.

  25. Steve thx for the review

    I would not have considered 4/3s years ago and now I’m all in. I have em1mk2, Pen F, em1x and a curio full of Oly pro and premium lenses

    These cameras feel great, are fun to use and make great quality images

    They give me the ability to go small with Pen F and small premiums OR to not care and go a larger w Em1x and Pro lenses for AN AWESOME USER EXPERIENCE …ya gotta try it to understand it..kinda like Harley Davidson or a wooden boat), and just enjoy the hell out of making images

    I’ll hold off for a short while just to pretend I have self control, then I’ll buy this E-M5 lll because……ITS AWESOME AND I JUST GOTTA HAVE IT

    No apologies. I’m an enthusiast and Oly is awesome. Life is short. Buy quality

  26. I really like this camera and your review Steve. I just think this is priced 2-300 over what it should be. If it was under 1k I would of pre-ordered.

  27. There’s only one thing that I wish Olympus would change, which is the On/Off switch located on the right-hand side of the top-plate on the 4/4rds E-1 16 years ago. It’s more ergonomically located, right next to your thumb. I’ve still got the E-1 I bought 2005 and I’ll often take that out even now especially if I know I’m going to be taking street scene grab-shots.

    I have, needless to say, upgraded since then, currently owning the E-M1 Mk 1 and waiting for the E-M1 Mk III, as whilst the E-MX puts the on/off switch in a more (to me) sensible place, I don’t need the bulk and weight of the r-angle grip.

    I too, greatly appreciate that Olly camera models aren’t changed frequently, as often as not, the upgrades don’t offer much over the previous model and I feel that when a new model is released, it needs to offer a significant improvement over the last model.

    • I have a feeling an EM1 MKIII will be out very soon. I have NO info, just a hunch because now this camera is like an EM1 MKII inside, so they need a new EM1 MKIII with a new sensor, faster speed, 4k/60, etc. It will come soon I bet. My guess by February 2020.

      • That sounds likely. Sony has demonstrated the capability to make a higher resolution sensor without compromising much. Sharp, Panasonic, and others have been working on new chips. Something must be emerging for a next-gen EM1… not that mine is any problem at the moment.

        I’d also like to see Olympus boost the processor and continue their lead in AI and computational photography on pro cameras. Smartphones have demonstrated that this is the future. Mirrorless cameras with fast sensor readout are the enabling technology. And the EM-1 X suggests a taste of what’s possible.

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