Let's be honest. It's intimidating to step up from a point-and-shoot smartphone or digicam to an interchangeable lens camera (ILC) system. Not only do you have to pick lenses, but ILC's are inherently more capable, which also means they're more complex.
Traditionally, even entry-level cameras have suffered dense menu systems where you must scroll through endless submenus in hopes of finding the exact settings you need, which is made that much harder because newbie shutterbugs don't always know exactly what settings they need to get that perfect shot.
Enter Olympus, who has upgraded its most affordable and compact OM-D series ILC for 2017. The new OM-D E-M10 Mark III isn't a tremendous technological leap over the Mark II iteration -- it features the same 16MP image sensor, rear displays, and 5-axis in-body image stabilization -- but Olympus' engineers were more concerned with user feedback than benchmarks. They listened to their customers and read all the reviews and set out to make the Mark III more ergonomic and easier to use than any OM-D camera ever made... And, yes, they even managed to cram in a few new bells and whistles we can't wait to try out, so don't worry, it's not the exact same camera.
4 ASSIST SHOOTING MODES
Olympus redesigned its menus and feature sets to help first-time ILC owners. In these four assist shooting modes, you'll be able to quickly adjust settings and mode selections while the camera's graphic user interface (GUI) acts as a guide to help you learn as you go:
AUTO Mode is exactly what it sounds like -- the camera's going to do all the work, but as mentioned below, this mode as been revamped to improve lowlight performance, reducing blur from moving subjects and/or camera shake.
Scene (SCN) Mode allows you to choose from SIX different shooting scenarios -- People, Nightscape, Motion, Scenery, Indoors, & Close-Ups -- and will then guide you through various sub-settings to optimize the camera for your environment and subject matter.
Advanced Photo Mode is about taking formally complex photographic techniques and, you guessed it, making the whole process easier. Here you'll have access to Live Composite Mode (for capturing long nighttime exposures) and Multiple Exposure (for combing still imagines), OR you can choose to engage Silent Mode, Keystone Compensation, Focus Bracketing, Live Time, Panorama, HDR, and AE Bracketing, all while the GUI helps you learn what these features do.
Art Filters are all about FUN. Use these to create unique looks for your stills and videos. While we've seen many of these before (full list below), Olympus has announced a new Bleach Bypass Art Filter, which should give images a glossy metallic silver look. Other filters and include:
- Pop Art
- Soft Focus
- Pale & Light Color
- Light Tone
- Grainy Film
- Pin Hole
- Cross Process
- Gentle Sepia
- Dramatic Tone
- Key Line
- Partial Color
Oh, and if you don't need the assistance and are just looking for a stylish, compact ILC, then don't worry. The Mark III also sports Program, Aperture Priority, Shutter Priority, and full Manual controls for more advanced photographers or for those growing out of the automatic modes.
IMAGE SENSOR & PROCESSOR
As mentioned above, the E-M10iii features the same 16MP 4/3" Live MOS Image Sensor as the Mark II, which I think is actually a smart move (the more pixels you add, the more susceptible to noise you are). Plus, Olympus did add in the newer TruePic VIII image processor from the OM-D E-M1 Mark II flagship ILC, which boosts continuous shooting to 8.6fps and allows for AUTO Mode's ISO range to increase to 100 - 6400 (manual ISO is 100 - 25,600). Meaning, the Mark III has been designed to quickly detect subject as well as camera movement and raise ISO to reduce blur in lower lighting conditions.
5-AXIS IMAGE STABILIZATION
My favorite feature when using Olympus cameras. Their in-body 5-axis image stabilization is incredible when shooting handheld video and/or lowlight stills. Like the Mark II, the E-M10iii retains its 5-axis image stabilization (which is equal to 4 steps of exposure) for stills, but video recording image stabilization is 5-axis PLUS Movie IS (this is up from 3-axis in the Mark II). There are a few companies who also do image stabilization really well, but Olympus might be the best of the best, which makes this entry-level ILC an absolute bargain.
SPEED & AF
While not the same phase detection from the E-M1 Mark II, the new E-M10 Mark III does include a similar 121 AF point system that covers most of the image area with features like Face Priority, Eye Priority, and C-AF for tracking moving subjects (at up to 8.6fps as mentioned before). You can also select your focal point by using the camera's rear display (more on this below).
DESIGN & ERGONOMICS
The Mark III is 2mm wider, 0.5mm taller, and 3mm deeper than the outgoing Mark II, much of this due to a revised, curving front grip that makes the new model easier to hold. The mode dials are also larger for making adjustments on the fly. Speaking of which, the arrow pad buttons on the rear of the camera now include access to ISO, flash, drive, and focus settings... And, during playback, you can use the up or down keys to scroll through images 10 at a time (versus oned at a time using the left or right buttons). There is also a built-in flash and two customizable Fn buttons, which can be assigned any one of 11 different functions.
Lastly, a new Shortcut Button on the left-hand side of the camera instantly displays the most-relevant settings menu, which saves you the time of navigating through the Super Control Panel (hit the OK button in any mode).
While the OM-D E-M10 Mark III features the same 3.0" tilting touchscreen display (1040K dots) and OLED EVF, the touchscreen display allows you to adjust the following settings -- Shutter release, AF area selection, AF area size adjustment, AF touch pad, frame forward/backward, magnified playback, Live Guide, Super Control Panel, Art Filter, Scene, Wi-Fi connection, video controls, video effects, and video teleconvertertimer.
VIDEO & TIME-LAPSE
Olympus offers support for Ultra HD video (3840 x 2160) @ up to 30p / 102 Mbps or Full HD video (1920 x 1080) @ up to 60p. In most of these resolutions / frame rates, you can add effects like One-shot Echo, Multi-echo, Art Fade, and Old Film OR any of the previously mentioned Art Filters (although frame rates may vary with certain Filters). You can also shoot in-camera time-lapses in 4K (5fps), Full HD (up to 15fps), or 720p HD (up to 30fps).
When using the same BLS-50 battery as the Mark II, the new OM-D E-M10 Mark III is capable of shooting up to 330 shots per charge, which isn't great compared to bulkier DSLRs, but is pretty good for a compact ILC where you'll be using the rear LCD a lot of the time.
Using built-in Wi-Fi, you can connect the Mark III to any iOS or Android smart device running the Olympus Image Share (OI.Share) app where you can use your phone or tablet as remote trigger for shooting group photos and/or for adding GPS information to photos OR to send files to your phone for sharing online.
PRICING & AVAILABILITY
The new Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark III will be available, in a black and silver OR black-only, late next month with a $699.99 MSRP for the body-only OR for $799.99 for the kit that includes a M.Zuiko 14-42mm EZ Lens. Important to note here is that this lens isn't your standard cheapo kit lens -- it retails for $350 when not bundled -- so definitely check out the kit if you're considering a Mark III to be your first ILC or first OM-D camera system.