A couple of 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 discipline journey to Costa Rica. Regardless of my reluctance to depart the chilly New York winter behind, I made a decision to courageous the tropical climate and crystalline waters to present the digital camera a rundown under launch. We go into extra element in our announcement put up; what follows are my first impressions after utilizing the digital camera for a number of days.
Disclaimer: Olympus paid for journey and lodging for this journey. Regardless of this, the corporate had no say within the contents of this text, and it’s my purpose to stay as goal as attainable.
Nonetheless, I can’t say I’m completely unbiased; I just about began my journey as a photographer on Micro 4 Thirds, and have been capturing on Olympus our bodies for practically a decade. The E-M1 MKIII is a superb 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 received my palms on it, although there are a number of adjustments that 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 digital camera to interchange the earlier AF goal button with a devoted ISO button.
A number of different buttons have moved round too, nevertheless it shouldn’t take quite a lot of minutes for Olympus customers to get acclimated.
The E-M1’s menus are additionally as dense as ever, making the digital camera extraordinarily customizable – practically each button, knob, or dial may be reconfigured – on the expense of some simplicity. It’s a trade-off I’m comfortable to take although; my most well-liked settings and management configurations are fairly totally different from Olympus‘ defaults, so I respect the power to customise the digital camera to work for my explicit capturing model.
The customizability makes for a digital camera on which practically each characteristic you might 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).
General, the physique is a case of “if it ain’t broke, don’t repair 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 charge mode – however the competitors has moved forward.
It’s an identical story with autofocus efficiency, lengthy a double-edged sword for mirrorless cameras. Whereas Olympus has all the time provided among the quickest and most correct focusing within the enterprise, it’s autofocus monitoring has largely been a weak spot.
Unsurprisingly, the digital camera‘s “Steady Autofocus + Monitoring” mode was one of many first issues I attempted once I obtained the E-M1 MKIII. That is the autofocus mode that follows objects inside a body quite than the extra conventional one requiring you to goal the digital camera at your object of curiosity.
Lengthy story brief: in case your topic strikes in an unpredictable trend, particularly with a posh background, simply don’t use it. Whereas rivals like Sony have made enormous enhancements on this division, Olympus‘ implementation remains to be lackluster for capturing wildlife or different erratic topics.
Luckily, the usual steady autofocus mode, which asks you to pre-establish a spotlight space and makes use of much less aggressive monitoring, works fantastically. Utilizing a 5×5 grid more often than not, my keeper charge was surprisingly excessive regardless of with the ability to shoot as much as 18 frames a second with C-AF enabled. It definitely appeared greater than I can recall from the E-M1 MKII, although I’d have to check each cameras side-by-side to quantify the development.
I left the digital camera in normal C-AF mode when capturing transferring topics and by no means appeared again. If I must compose my shot a sure manner, there are numerous methods to maneuver the AF goal, although often C-AF was adequate to keep up a lock on my topic even when it left the goal zone.
Additionally improved is the brand new face detection algorithm, which even works in C-AF mode. It’s adequate (or dangerous sufficient?) to work on native white-faced capuchin monkeys, who had been none too shy to pose for fee in bananas.
Heaps and many bananas.
I imply, simply take a look at these cuties.
Except for the improved steady autofocus, my favourite new characteristic by far is the power to make use of high-resolution mode handheld. Whereas the MKII might mix a number of 20MP pictures right into a single 50MP one, doing so required a tripod. That is now 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 would like it).
The additional decision is good, particularly if you wish to crop later, however the true profit is improved general picture high quality. Handheld high-res considerably reduces noise and will increase dynamic vary, making the four-thirds sensor just about 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 value it.
For reference, right here’s an cute child crocodile shot with the high-resolution mode. Take into account 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 palms.
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.
Once more cropped 100 p.c:
Observe that many of the pictures on this article had been shot with both the 40-150mm F4 or the 300mm F4, generally with a 1.4x or 2x teleconverter, and all the time handheld. It’s a testomony to Micro 4 Thirds and Olympus’ stabilization that I hardly observed the standard caveats of utilizing such lengthy lenses.
Although cumbersome in comparison with the extra compact lenses within the system, these telephoto lenses are miniscule in comparison with choices for different methods. After all, they gained’t seize the identical shallow depth of discipline you’d get on lenses for bigger sensors, however at these focal lengths, that hardly issues.
So far as I’m involved, the power to simply shoot telephoto photos from a distance, handheld, and with minimal impression to my again is value it. Somewhat than staying fastened in a single place ready for the perfect shot, it means I’m extra open to stroll round and check out a distinct composition.
However once more, I’ve been a Micro 4 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 constructive, if not unblemished emotions concerning the E-M1 Mark III. I didn’t get to attempt a few of its massive new options, together with the Dwell ND and Starry Sky AF modes, as a lot I’d like, so I’ll replace this evaluation as soon as I’ve spent extra time with the digital camera.
For now, one of the best ways to explain the Mark III is that it feels acquainted. That’s each good and dangerous.
The ergonomics are standout, and the picture stabilization is just about in a category of its personal. The hand-held high-resolution mode works freakishly nicely, and steady autofocus efficiency is superb – as long as you ignore the devoted monitoring mode. The truth that you’ll be able to cost it by way of USB-C is a possible life-saver.
My level is, it’s a digital camera that may please present Micro 4 Thirds customers in search of a brand new digital camera physique, however not essentially one with a hook that may pull in new customers. The E-M1 Mark III is a superb digital camera if capturing motion in a compact physique is your precedence. I simply hope the Mark IV feels rather less acquainted.
Printed February 13, 2020 — 01:36 UTC