Olympus E-M1 Mark III: Hands-on in Costa Rica
About per 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 area journey to Costa Rica. Despite my reluctance to depart the chilly New York winter behind, I made a decision to courageous the tropical climate and crystalline waters to offer the digicam a rundown beneath launch. We go into extra element in our announcement put up; what follows are my first impressions after utilizing the digicam for a number of days.
Disclaimer: Olympus paid for journey and lodging for this journey. Despite this, the corporate had no say in the contents of this text, and it’s my purpose to stay as goal as potential.
Still, I can’t say I’m completely unbiased; I just about began my journey as a photographer on Micro Four Thirds, and have been capturing on Olympus our bodies for practically 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 a number of adjustments which 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 couple of different buttons have moved round too, but it surely shouldn’t take various minutes for Olympus customers to get acclimated.
The E-M1’s menus are additionally as dense as ever, making the digicam extraordinarily customizable – practically each button, knob, or dial could be reconfigured – on the expense of some simplicity. It’s a trade-off I’m completely satisfied to take although; my most popular settings and management configurations are fairly totally different from Olympus‘ defaults, so I respect the flexibility to customise the digicam to work for my explicit capturing type.
The customizability makes for a digicam on which practically each characteristic you possibly can 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).
Overall, the physique is a case of “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix 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 price mode – however the competitors has moved forward.
It’s the same story with autofocus efficiency, lengthy a double-edged sword for mirrorless cameras. While Olympus has all the time supplied among the quickest and most correct focusing in the enterprise, it’s autofocus monitoring has largely been a weak spot.
Unsurprisingly, the digicam‘s “Continuous Autofocus + Tracking” mode was one of many first issues I attempted after I acquired the E-M1 MKIII. This is the autofocus mode that follows objects inside a body relatively than the extra conventional one requiring you to intention the digicam at your object of curiosity.
Long story quick: in case your topic strikes in an unpredictable trend, particularly with a fancy background, simply don’t use it. While opponents like Sony have made large enhancements in this division, Olympus‘ implementation remains to be lackluster for capturing wildlife or different erratic topics.
Fortunately, the usual steady autofocus mode, which asks you to pre-establish a spotlight space and makes use of much less aggressive monitoring, works fantastically. Using a 5×5 grid more often than not, my keeper price was surprisingly excessive regardless of having the ability to shoot as much as 18 frames a second with C-AF enabled. It actually appeared larger 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 customary C-AF mode when capturing transferring topics and by no means regarded again. If I have to compose my shot a sure approach, 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.
Also 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 fee in bananas.
Lots and many bananas.
I imply, simply have a look at these cuties.
Aside from the improved steady autofocus, my favourite new characteristic by far is the flexibility to make use of high-resolution mode handheld. While the MKII might mix a number of 20MP photographs right into a single 50MP one, doing so required a tripod. This 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 if you need it).
The additional decision is sweet, particularly if you wish to crop later, however the actual profit is improved total picture high quality. Handheld high-res considerably reduces noise and will increase dynamic vary, making the four-thirds sensor nearly on-par with a full-frame in these regards. The caveat is that it takes a number of 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 cute child crocodile shot with the high-resolution mode. Keep in thoughts I used to be standing on a ship and utilizing a 300 mm equal lens; clearly the system is powerful sufficient to deal with extra than simply barely shaky arms.
Now right here is 100 p.c crop:
Likewise, your topic needn’t be completely nonetheless; right here you’ll be able to see the characteristic working with a slow-moving boat.
Again cropped 100 p.c:
Note that a lot of the photographs in this article had been shot with both the 40-150mm F4 or the 300mm F4, typically with a 1.4x or 2x teleconverter, and all the time handheld. It’s a testomony to Micro Four Thirds and Olympus’ stabilization that I hardly seen the standard caveats of utilizing such lengthy lenses.
Though cumbersome in comparison with the extra compact lenses in the system, these telephoto lenses are miniscule in comparison with choices for different techniques. Of course, they gained’t seize the identical shallow depth of area you’d get on lenses for bigger sensors, however at these focal lengths, that hardly issues.
As far as I’m involved, the flexibility to simply shoot telephoto pictures from a distance, handheld, and with minimal impression to my again is price it. Rather than staying fastened in one place ready for one of the best shot, it means I’m extra open to stroll round and take a look at a special composition.
But once more, I’ve been a Micro Four 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 optimistic, if not unblemished emotions concerning the E-M1 Mark III. I didn’t get to attempt a few of its huge new options, together with the Live ND and Starry Sky AF modes, as a lot I’d like, so I’ll replace this evaluate 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 handheld high-resolution mode works freakishly nicely, and steady autofocus efficiency is great – as long as you ignore the devoted monitoring mode. The reality that you would be able to cost it through USB-C is a possible life-saver.
My level is, it’s a digicam that may please current Micro Four Thirds customers in search of 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.
Published February 13, 2020 — 01:36 UTC