Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark IIIs - A Real Life Shooting Experience

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Olympus released E-M10 Mark IIIs, a minor refresh to the E-M10 Mark III some time late last year. The E-M10 Mark IIIs is positioned below the E-M10 Mark IV, but it is almost the same camera as the previous E-M10 Mark III, with only 2 improvements: Silent mode while shooting in P, A, S and M modes, and new Art Filter Instant Film. Since the E-M10 Mark IIIs is practically the same camera as E-M10 Mark III, I shall not be doing a double review here, I have reviewed it before, you can read it here (click). However, I do want to prove something - that the Olympus OM-D E-M10 series camera are capable and can perform in professionally challenging shooting environment. I brought the E-M10 Mark IIIs to actual real life shooting scenario - live music stage performance, and also I did some night shooting in low light. Spoilers alert - the E-M10 Mark IIIs aced all these sessions and delivered fantastic results. 

For those of you who prefer to watch a video version of this article, here it is (YouTube Link). 




DISCLAIMER
I am an Olympus Visionary, an ambassador to the Olympus brand. The E-M10 Mark IIIs was on loan from OMD World Imaging (sole distributor for Olympus products in Malaysia) and I have to return the camera. Olympus did not ask me to write this article, I did it out of my own curiosity. This is not a review, as I mentioned the E-M10 Mark IIIs is too similar to E-M10 Mark III, and there are already plenty of reviews available. Instead, I want to find out how the E-M10 Mark IIIs performs in real life shooting. 

CAMERA OVERVIEW
The E-M10 Mark IIIs is an entry level Olympus OM-D camera. Being an OM-D, it shares similar DNA with Olympus flagships E-M1 Mark II and E-M1X. The camera is well constructed, and it feels very solid in hand, with no creaky or rattling parts. The handling of the camera is also excellent, with substantial hand gripping area in front as well as a deep thumb hook at the back, for comfortable hand-held shooting. There is a built in electronic viewfinder (EVF) which is bright, large, smooth and very comfortable to compose with. The camera, like all OM-Ds, has twin dial command controls, for quick exposure parameter adjustments, all reachable within a few fingers, operating with one hand, much like a professional DSLR camera. 

At the core of the E-M10 Mark IIIs, there is the older generation 16MP LiveMOS image sensor. It does feature the powerful Truepic 8 image processing engine, similarly found in flagships E-M1 Mark II and E-M1X. An important OM-D feature, the 5-Axis Image Stabilization separates the E-M10 Mark IIIs from competing cameras from other brands - this surely will benefit hand-held shooting in multiple scenarios, even for stabilized video recording. Since this is an entry level camera, it is designed to be very small, compact and light, more suited for casual everyday use, or travel. E-M10 Mark IIIs is also missing some advanced features found in the flagship brothers, such as Pro Capture, High Res Shot, Live ND, and Phase Detection AF for better continuous AF tracking. 

For full E-M10 Mark IIIs specifications, please go to the official product page here (click). 

JAZZ PERFORMANCE SHOOTING
I was privilleged to shoot two of the most prolific jazz performers in Malaysia, Janet Lee and Tay Cher Siang. I thought this was the perfect opportunity to torture the E-M10 Mark IIIs. the stage was dimly lit, and Janet constantly moved around the stage, much like she was dancing for the entire show. Not only was this a good test for high ISO shooting, it was also good to see if the AF of E-M10 Mark IIIs can keep up with Janet's fast movements. 

ISO1600



ISO1600`

ISO3200

ISO3200

ISO6400

ISO5000



For the jazz performance shoot, I went in full force, utilizing all my best lenses for the job. Obviously I wanted to deliver the best possible images to Janet and Cher Siang. I had with me M.Zuiko 12-40mm F2.8 PRO for my wide angle shots, M.Zuiko 25mm F1.2 PRO for mid range shots, M.Zuiko 45mm F1.8 and 75mm F1.8, both lenses I used for 90% of the images shot from this session, since I needed the telephoto reach, shooting the performers from a safe distance. Both the 75mm and 45mm F1.8 lenses performed flawlessly on the E-M10 Mark IIIs, with super quick AF, nailing critical moments, and I did come home with very high hit rate. 

The stage was quite dimly lit. Though I was using F1.8 lenses, and shot wide open at all times, I still had to go to ISO3200 and 6400 in some situations. I need to maintain shutter speeds around 1/200 to to prevent motion blur, and I'd like to go faster if possible. Most of the time, I managed to stay below ISO3200, and images came out sharp with plenty of good details, and the pixel integrity was still well intact. Noise, what noise? Yes, you can see some grain there and here, but the noise was not destructive, the color was still well preserved, the image rendering still look true to life, with good contrast and depth and skin tones look pleasant and natural. I'd say the E-M10 Mark IIIs did a splendid job here - white balance engine managed to produce pleasing colors, high ISO noise was well controlled, there was sufficient dynamic range for all my shots and most importantly, I successfully nailed some beautiful moments during the performance. I don't necessarily think any other camera can give me any better shots. 

PROBLEM WITH POPULAR CAMERA REVIEWS
I have some beef with a few popular photography review sites, or YouTubers - they don't show how the camera performs in actual shooting. The sample photos taken to analyze the capabilities of the camera are extremely important, yet these sample photos are almost like an after-thought for many, many photographer reviewers out there. They just don't put enough effort to take meaningful photographs that represent the true abilities of the camera or gear they are testing. All they do is just take some random shots, which are totally pointless, and has no artistic value, and they pixel-peep these poorly taken shots and make irrelevant conclusions - on Micro Four Thirds cameras have poor dynamic range, bad high ISO shooting noise, and not enough resolution. Trust me, just bring the camera out in a real life shooting - any practical scenario, you will see Micro Four Thirds cameras, especially Olympus OM-D, even the lowest E-M10 series can truly shine and deliver great results. 

Seriously, I can't take your review seriously, if you don't even spend enough time with the camera, or use it to shoot real photographs in real world. Your photographs speak louder than your opinion. 

Don't believe me? Here is another shoot at a completely different event - at Kuala Lumpur Performing Arts Center (KLPAC), an afternoon full of music, of course, stage event, again. I brought the E-M10 Mark IIIs together with the same set of lenses, and I managed to get these shots, which I have submitted to KLPAC. 












NIGHT STREET SHOOTING
I want to see how well the 5-Axis Image Stabilization performs in the E-M10 Mark IIIs, so I went to do a night street photography after sundown at the heart of Kuala Lumpur. And the 5-Axis IS did not disappoint. I managed to hand-hold down to about 4 seconds without support or tripod, to capture some light trails of vehicles moving along the highway. I won't recommend shooting at such dangerously slow shutter speeds, but if you have a generally wide angle you should be able to shoot about 1-2 seconds hand-held comfortably. That means, even shutter speeds like 1/10s, or half a second, you can almost confidently nail the shot free of any blur and shake, relying on the incredible 5-Axis IS. 

For those who do not realize, the 5-Axis IS is game-changing. Instead of using high ISO like 6400, or 3200 to achieve safe shutter speeds of, say 1/20 second, or 1/30 second to prevent camera shake when shooting without tripod, I can use ISO200 or 400, and stretch the shutter speed all the way to a slow 1 to 2 seconds. You may claim that your full frame camera can shoot clean ISO6400 image, but come on, you and I know, my ISO200 on E-M10 Mark IIIs will still far outperform your ISO6400 on full frame. I get better per pixel sharpness, completely clean image with zero noise, better contrast, dynamic range, and overall color tonality. The 5-Axis IS on OM-D cameras can bridge the gap of performance between the different image sensor sizes in some shooting scenarios. 

Having used Olympus OM-D for so many years now, every time I am not using Olympus camera, I get anxious. Not having the 5-Axis IS means I am losing some confidence in nailing the shot. 

1 second hand-held

4 seconds hand-held

ISo6400

ISO6400

1.3 seconds hand-held

ISO6400

ISO6400

ISO12800

ISO6400

1.6 seconds hand-held

ISO3200

ISO3200

I really like how small and light the E-M10 Mark IIIs is. Having used E-M1 Mark II for most of my professional shoots, suddenly the E-M10 Mark IIIs feels like a feather. I also acknowledge that I paired the E-M10 Mark IIIs with smaller lenses, if I were to use larger lenses, for example the 40-150mm PRO, it would have thrown the combo out of balance, and the E-M1 series cameras would have been a better choice. Also, if you need weather-sealing, which I often do, the E-M5 or E-M1 series would definitely suit you better. For most casual use, day to day photography, travel, and non-professional shooting environment, if you use mostly small, compact lenses (kit lens, all the F1.8 prime lenses) then the E-M10 Mark IIIs makes more sense - less weight to carry, smaller footprint, yet still can perform really well in demanding shooting situations. 

E-M10 Mark IIIs vs E-M10 Mark IV
For those considering between E-M10 Mark IIIs vs E-M10 Mark IV, it all comes down to your budget. If you have no financial constraint, and you can afford to fork out a little extra, get the Mark IV - it features a better 20MP image sensor (better dynamic range, high ISO, a bit more resolution), redesigned hand-gripping for more comfortable handling, reworked AF for video recording, more powerful 5-Axis IS and overall a better camera delivering better image quality and shooting performance. On the other hand, if you are tight on budget, the lowest level E-M10 Mark IIIs is still a great option to look at - I have just proven to you with dozens of images here that the camera can shoot in very challenging scenarios, even in low light, and can deliver fantastic results. It is still an OM-D camera, and it has all the best features from Olympus. 

I know some of you must be wondering, why are all the sample photographs taken in such dark environments, using crazy high ISO numbers? Don't we have ordinary shots taken in good light? So here is another series of images, all shot with ISO200, in good light - to show off the amazing color rendition from Olympus, and also how it handles contrast and making the images look so realistic. 










I am a huge fan of Olympus OM-D E-M10 series cameras, and it is no surprise that the E-M10 cameras top the camera sales in Japan last year (click here). I love that the camera is compact, light, yet packing plenty of capable shooting features like 5-Axis IS, EVF and great AF system. Image quality is also very good, though the image sensor is dated, the images are still more than sufficient for today's standards, even in professional shooting environment. I see very good noise control for high ISO, sufficient dynamic range, good color rendition, and definitely very good optimization of per-pixel-sharpness. If I were not a professional photographer, and I want to keep only one camera, the choice is simple and clear - the Olympus OM-D E-M10 series. 

Do you own an Olympus E-M10 (any generation)? Please share your thoughts and experience using your E-M10!

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11 comments:

Marcio K said...

Have the E-M10 MK III (not the s), and I'm HUGELY disapointed with Olympus beacuse they did not make these modifications available to the MK III users with a firmware update (like Fujifilm did with the X-E2 and X-E2s - same camera, the s version already come with the updated firmware, but the non-s owners got the same modifications with a firmware update). VERY cheap move - and one of the reasons that I'm moving to Fujifilm after 8 years with Micro Four Thirds.

Love the format, but got tired with things like this.

Richard said...

I use E-M1, now the Mk2. I was tempted by the E-M10, at least as something for the family as they're getting older. Built in flash looks handy for that kind of camera.
I value to waterproofing in the E-M1 as I take it places like mountains in bad weather, for example to photograph mountain race events. It's also covered things like Scout Camps and charity hikes and all sorts of events where the weather throws all sorts at it.

Andy Hough said...

Having used the E-M10 Mk III for 6 months before selling it to part fund an E-M1 Mk II, I find I actually miss it as a light weight walk around. The image quality and performance really surprised me and although the E-M1 gives a lot more flexibility it is a trade-off with weight. I will probably get another E-M10, just so I can throw it in a pocket :)

Robin Wong said...

Good luck with Fuji. Grass is always greener elsewhere.

Robin Wong said...

Yeah I do need the weather-sealing too. Rains too much here in Malaysia

Robin Wong said...

Yeah, having a small camera to slide into the pocket inspires you to shoot more!

Andrea Bellelli said...

I have an OM10 Mark II, which Is an excellent camera. The oly jpegs are fantastic, I shoot RAW+jpeg, but rarely use the RAW files. My oly gas silent mode with pasm.

s.wolters said...

The Fuji colors as well.

s.wolters said...

The Fuji colors as well.

Unknown said...

Dear Robin, hello! Do you use the flash when taking evening / night photos?

Unknown said...

Ps.
I will be happy for your answer and your recommendation of flash for Olympus.
Dmitrii, Russia.