February 12, 2020

Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark III

Life of a photographer

My workhorse just got upgraded with some nifty features.

I absolutely adore my current workhorse, the Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II. It is tough, with top of the line weather proofing. It is unobtrusive, with a small and lightweight body. It is durable, with fantastic battery life. It is speedy, with jaw dropping frames per second (way more than humanly needed if you ask me). It is reliable, with quick and accurate auto-focus lock-ons in both good and low light. It is steady, and I mean real steady (the class leading in-body-image-stabilization makes camera shakes and vibrations a thing of the past).

There’s honestly not much that I could have asked for, or so I thought. That is until Olympus released the OM-D E-M1X last year that got me craving for more.

The 1X have pretty much all the goodness of the E-M1 Mark II and  brought with it new and nifty features like the handheld-high-res shot mode, live-ND mode, improved auto-focus speed/accuracy and also AI-powered intelligent subject detection auto-focus modes.

While I would love to have all those features, those who knows me can attest that I wasn’t and still isn’t a big fan of the bulky form factor of the 1X. The size of the E-M1 Mark II is the largest I would go with, since it’s all about “downsizing” nowadays (to save my aching back). I would reckon I’m probably one of the minute few Olympus Visionary to not own one (whoops haha).

Fast foward to 12 Feb 2020. I guess now it’s time for me to give up, I think it’s time (guess which song this line came from). Not on photography or Olympus, but it’s time to pass on my E-M1 Mk II to my daughter. Because the E-M1 Mark III is here! Woohooo!!! And I’m gonna try to get my hand on the very first unit straight off the production line!

Image courtesy of Olympus Imaging.

Yes I’m excited because it’s the 1X, in an E-M1 Mark II body, and that’s exactly what I would like to have in my work bag. Yes it may be shy of a couple of features that can be found on the 1X but those are features that in my line of work and  genre, I wouldn’t care too much about.

Significantly, perhaps the biggest feature not to trickle down to this smaller body, is the AI-powered intelligent subject detection auto-focus modes, which is none too useful for my genre (weddings, portraits and streets) if you ask me. All I need is fantastic single auto-focus, and reliable continuous auto-focus, which the E-M1 Mark III provides in spades.

I have been playing with the pre-production unit for quite a while and all I can say is, colour me impressed.

The hand-held-high-res mode I was most impressed with as it produces such detailed and clean images, I was blown away. Even at ISO3200 there was barely any significant noise in the straight out of camera JPG. While most would use that feature for landscapes, cityscapes or still life. I found it was also serviceable for portraits too, as long as the subject stays really still while the camera grabs the required frames for it to stitch together the 50 megapixel image (Tripod high-res-mode can get you an even higher res shot of 80 megapixel).

The other feature that I thought was a must have is the live-ND mode, where I was able to capture movements and flows during the day, without having to bring along a physical ND filter. I prefer a run and gun style of photography and the less hassle and gears/gadgets I have on me, the better.

Another fantastic inclusion in this third iteration, is a physical improvement. The Mark III comes with a joystick on the back, allowing you to moving around the 121 AF points faster than Speedy Gonzales. Improvements like these to help make life easier for photographers, I appreciate the most.

It even comes with much improved auto-focus features like, with Face/Eye Priority AF and the Starry Sky AF mode (especially useful for night-scape photography). So much so there’s really nothing more that I can ask for with this new beast of a camera, other than perhaps wishing for a new and improved sensor. But I’m sure Olympus will give us that in good time. Meanwhile, I sure am looking forward to adding the E-M1 Mark III to my arsenal.

I leave you lovely peeps with some of the images I’d taken with the pre-production unit. Cheers!

(Image on the right made with live-ND on)
Face and eye detect was much improved making my portrait sessions a breeze.
Fantastic dynamic range even in the SOOC JPG allowing me to do some post production magic
This was shot almost in the dark, at ISO3200 using hand held high res.
Auto-Focus was spot on, even with moving subjects.
Class leading in-camera-image-stabilization allows me to drag the shutter.
Fantastic also when paired with a strobe for some artsy dance image.
I can even use the wifi connection to photograph myself with the Olympus OI.Share app.
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Hasta la vista…. baby