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Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark III review: Compact, versatile, brilliant

Expert Reviews Staff
5 Nov 2018
Our Rating 
Price when reviewed 
629
body only

Small, lightweight and attractively retro-styled, this mirrorless model is a superbly versatile choice for beginners and beyond

Pros 
Excellent image quality
Affordable yet feature-packed
Classic, retro design
Cons 
Continuous AF could be better
Fiddly menu system
Only 16-megapixels
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The OM-D E-M10 Mark III is a retro-styled camera that is decidedly forward-thinking. Versatility is a strong point: Olympus, along with Panasonic, co-created the Micro Four-Thirds digital format, so their products are interchangeable. In other words, if you have Olympus lenses, you can use them on LUMIX cameras, and vice-versa. 

This has helped both brands develop products and carve themselves a slice of the highly competitive camera market, as well as giving Micro Four-Thirds users of either brand even more options when it comes to lens choice.

Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark III review: What you need to know

The Olympus range of interchangeable cameras are split into two areas – as well as the OM-D series of retro-SLR-styled models, there are also small and snazzy PEN cameras with looks based on their film cameras of the 1960s.

The OM-D M10 Mark III is Olympus's entry-level model, with the enthusiast-level E-M5 Mark II and pro-orientated E-M1 Mark II sitting above it. It's a small range, but that provides a little more clarity when it comes to potential buyers working out which model best suits them. So, if you're a novice looking for an easy-to-use camera with features to grow into, is the E-M10 Mark III a worthy choice for you to consider?

Not what you're looking for? Then check out our guides to the best mirrorless cameras | Best bridge camerasBest entry-level DSLRs | Best DSLRs | Best vlogging cameras | Best phone cameras | Or pick up a bargain with our pick of the best camera deals

Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark III review: Design and layout

The Olympus boasts a small body and a retro-style that bears a strong resemblance to its classic 35mm OM-series of the '70s. It's one of the smallest interchangeable-lens cameras on the scene and thanks to the sturdy body, angled thumb grip and decent handgrip, it handles very nicely.

The right side of the top-plate is crammed with dials of varying heights, handling exposure modes, exposure compensation and exposure settings, as well as small buttons for video and image magnification. On the left side is the on/off/flash-up switch, as well as the shortcut button. This latter button offers fast access via the LCD monitor to many of the camera's key functions, which can be selected and changed using the four-way control and OK button.

You can also access a smaller number of functions such as White Balance, ISO rating and AF mode simply by pressing the OK button. This is a major advantage for ease of use, especially if you're a novice photographer.

On the negative side, I wasn't that impressed with the standard menu system, which could do with being made more visually appealing.

The electronic viewfinder is similar in size to other entry-level models, so it's usable but smaller than you'll get on more expensive models. That said, the 2,360,000-dot OLED screen provides a sharp, bright display and a comprehensive level of information. There are no complaints with the 3in LCD monitor, which provides a sharp touchscreen display and sits on a tilting platform.

Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark III review: Specifications

This latest version shares some similarities in the specification as with the OM-D M10 Mark II, along with a modest number of differences. The 16.1-million pixel LMOS sensor is the same as that used in its predecessor, but is supported by a new, more powerful TruePic VIII imaging engine, that brings several improvements, including 4K video shooting.

Whether a 16-megapixel resolution may put off would-be purchasers in favour of models with 20+ megapixels is debatable, but this sensor has proven on earlier models to deliver excellent results, so the resolution shouldn't be such a concern.

Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark III review: Features

Along with the core four exposure modes (P, S, A and M) and Full Auto, the mode dial allows access to a movie setting (with four movie modes) as well as a wide selection of 25 scene modes. It also has an Advanced Photography setting, which allows less experienced photographers to try a number of creative techniques ranging from HDR to panoramas to multiple exposures.

It also provides fast access to a wide selection of 15 art filters, for when you want to capture JPEGs with a range of creative effects from grainy film to soft focus or pop art.

The contrast AF system is based around 121 points offering a good level of versatility, with the usual method for selecting single or multiple points as well as the touchscreen to quickly change the AF point. The autofocus is fast and accurate in the majority of shooting situations, including fairly reliable in tracking moving subjects, although don't expect its continuous AF to match more sports-orientated models.

There's no AF joystick as found on some rivals but the touchscreen and four-way control lets you to quickly and easily fine-tune the AF area you want to use.

The 324-zone ESP metering patterns also proved consistent and reliable, with spot and centre-weighted available if required. The Olympus also sports a Highlight and Shadow setting for when you want to bias the exposure for overly light or dark scenes.

Five-axis stabilisation is incorporated into the body and can be used with video as well as stills photography, giving up to four stops of benefit. An integral flash has a range of modes and provides coverage for nearby subjects, with a hotshoe allowing more powerful units to be used.

Other features worth noting include Wi-Fi for sharing/transferring images and remote camera control as well as a very fast maximum shooting rate of 8.6 frames-per-second.

Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark III review: Performance

I enjoyed my time using the Mark III. Its control layout is a little different to cameras from other brands but it's very quick to get used to and fast in operation.

The range of features is strong considering its price and image quality is excellent. Sharpness is high, colour rendition is accurate and noise is handled well, with usable images at ISO 1600.

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Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark III review: Verdict

With the OM-D E-M10 Mark III, Olympus has provided beginners with an affordable yet feature-packed camera. Its size means it can be carried around most of the time – especially if you buy it with the retractable standard zoom, while its handling and ease of use will prove appealing as well.

Image quality is excellent, so don't be put off by its resolution having a lower figure to rivals. This is a very neat mirrorless model that deserves consideration.