Updated: Jan 10
In October 2019, Olympus Australia challenged me to #BreakFree with the newly released OM-D E-M5 Mark III. The goal, to incorporate the new camera into a fast-paced wilderness adventure.
Over 6 gruelling days, Brodie (Perspective Productions) and I subjected three of the pre-production E-M5 Mark III's to absolute punishment. Torrential rain, snow, ice, impacts, and just about every other elemental hardship that comes with an NZ adventure. I'm not sure there is another photographer who had used the cameras to this depth. Over 60 hours straight, we had them firing, shooting both stills and video.
For those that know me, I am a full-time Olympus user and specialise in documenting places and cultures that many people don't often get to experience in their lifetime. These places and experiences usually go hand in hand with horrible weather conditions, long hikes and the need for a super-light kit that covers all focal ranges. This is why I use the Olympus system.
As a full disclaimer, this trip was sponsored by Olympus Australia. I was not paid to write this review, but to see what content is possible on the new camera.
This blog is NOT a detailed / comprehensive review of the camera. I'm creating this to show you the types of images that you can take with a camera that is marketed towards the 'Prosumer' collective of photographers. There are plenty of detailed features and unboxing reviews out there. However, if you are anything like me, you'll want to see final images from someone using it out in the field, on an actual project AND in varying conditions.
It's all well and good to browse sample images of the reviewer's house or some pretty flowers. Still, it's the pro level shots that really show off what a camera can achieve and ultimately what you could aim capture in the future.
With the features, the E-M5 Mark III contains, I wouldn't think twice about using it as a second camera in my professional adventure travel kit.
Hell, after this trip I recommended it to a variety of people looking to take their photography to the next level. From beginner to downright badass.
Brodie had no real experience shooting stills, he is a video guy through and through. This was the first time he had ever held an Olympus camera so most of the images that feature me, were also directed by me, and he learnt on the go. Brodie found that after a full day of shooting, he understood the ins and outs of the camera's features. Which means you can too!
*All images shot handheld, no filters, tripods or external tools. Images edited in Lightroom Classic.
** All pictures exported at 2058px widest length, Adobe RGB, file size limited to 1mb.
While our main focus was to capture stills, we also wanted to see how the camera's video capabilities would hold up in the field. Olympus is known for their class-leading stabilisation which, in my opinion, is the most valuable thing you could ask for when in wild conditions or in remote locations. Gimbals and tripods are just not practical.
The E-M5 Mark III would make an excellent vlogging camera due to its size, weight and flip-screen. With phase detection eye and facial autofocus and the ability to shoot Cinema 4k at 237Mbps, this little camera is more than enough for any aspiring travel videographer looking to minimise cost and weight.
Camera Video Specs: 3840 x 2160 (4K) / 30p, IPB (approx. 102 Mbps)
Export Specs: 4k Ultra HD 2160p
Picture Profile: Natural
Edited in Adobe Premiere Rush
Minimal colour correction in Rush
No colour grading
Video Specs: 3840 x 2160 (4K) / 30p, IPB (approx. 102 Mbps)
Picture Profile: Natural
Edited in Final Cut Pro X
Colour corrected with Cinema Grade
Colour graded with Lens Distortions Finishing Lut
As an existing Olympus user, the E-M5 Mark III was a walk in the park to learn and contained features that beginners and proficient camera users could grow into for years to come. The best thing about the Olympus camera system is that they are always releasing camera and lens firmware that can completely refresh the hardware into an entirely new camera. It would be great to see the OMD-LOG400 incorporated into a future firmware update.
What I loved
- Incredibly light, I actually had them strung around my neck, which I never do when hiking.
- Felt just as robust as the other models, despite being plastic.
- Body felt good in my hand. The grip is much better than the E-M5 Mark III, although I have small hands.
- A usable amount of mode dials and buttons. All layouts were intuitive and felt natural after using other models.
- Autofocus was super-fast. I couldn't tell the difference between that and the E-M1 Mark II. However, we did find it struggled in continuous tracking and locking when shooting video in lower light. This could be tuned in-camera with some playing around.
- Weather sealing was incredible (No Surprise there).
- Eyepiece actually stayed on!!!! Hoorah.
What I Didn't Like
Like any pre-production model, there were a few software glitches that occurred.
- The focus point would sometimes disappear and the camera would need to be turned off and on again.
- The histogram would mysteriously disappear. All of which I voiced to Olympus and would be fixed by release time.
- Lack of ability to map the autofocus style to a button, e.g. Single point, continuous, and tracking. I'm sure this could be fixed in a firmware update.
Who Is This Camera For?
- People looking to upgrade from a mobile phone/point and shoot camera or a system that is looking to become a lot more proficient in their photography.
- Someone who wants a camera that can literally be taken anywhere and everywhere, no matter the weather conditions.
- A professional photographer who is after a second smaller backup camera for their travel work.
Who Is This Camera Not For?
- Someone who may use the camera occasionally for some family snaps or selfie travel photos. You would be better off with the E-M10 Mark II.
- A full-time professional photographer who requires more buttons and dials.
- A person who doesn't aspire to be a badass adventure photographer.
3 x Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark III (Pre-Production)
2 x M.Zuiko 12-100mm F4 Pro I.S.
2 x M.Zuiko 7-14mm F2.8 Pro
1 x M.Zuiko 40-150mm F2.8 Pro
1 x M.Zuiko 8mm Fisheye F1.8 Pro
1 x M.Zuiko 17mm F1.2 Pro
1 x M.Zuiko 25mm F1.2 Pro
1 x M.Zuiko 45mm F1.2 Pro
1 x M.Zuiko 300mm F4 Pro IS
1 x M.Zuiko MC-20 2x Teleconverter
1 x M.Zuiko MC-14 1.4x Teleconverter
1 x Shimoda Explore 60 Bag
1 x F-Stop Tilopa BC Bag
OM-D E-M5 Mark III: https://www.olympus.com.au/product/dslr/em5mk3/index.html
If you enjoyed this blog, please drop a like and comment at the bottom! If you have any questions please also leave a comment as I'm sure there are others with the same questions.