Image Quality Analysis

Our test scene is designed to simulate a variety of textures, colors and detail types you'll encounter in the real world. It also has two illumination modes to see the effect of different lighting conditions.

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Raw and sensor performance

The E-M10 III's image quality is essentially a match for that of its predecessor, which is to say: really pretty good for a 16MP sensor, but not a match for the levels of detail its 24MP peers will give. The lack of anti-aliasing filter helps the camera squeeze a little more resolution out of its chip but, as the name implies, this means it can exhibit aliasing in high-contrast, repetitive patterns, if you use a sharp enough lens.

The price you pay for the smaller camera size that a smaller sensor can give is more noise. Compare the E-M10 III with the Nikon D5600 and you can see the APS-C camera can produce similar image quality in half as much light (a 1EV difference). However, the difference is less pronounced when compared with the Canon EOS T7i/700D, so it's still a competitive performance.

JPEG output

For this type of easy-to-use camera, JPEG performance is vital the E-M10 III does well in this respect. The default 'Natural' color response is excellent. It broadly follows the pattern of the popular Canon color rendering but punches-up sky blues, in a way that makes every landscape photo look like a happy memory. This is arguably even more attractive than Fujifilm's color, which is another of our favorites.

The camera's default sharpening is a little crude: you can see how much additional detail is in the Raw files that's being overwhelmed by the camera's processing. However, note also how effectively the false color is suppressed (though that's not the case everywhere: note the greenish swathe down the top right of the banknote). Even so, the sharpening is better than that of some of its rivals and it's not much less detailed than the default JPEGs of the Nikon D5600, despite its higher resolution.

Noise reduction (called Noise Filter in the Custom menu), errs on the side of smoothing away both noise and detail to give a low noise but also rather smudged image, by default. The camera's in-camera Raw conversion system makes it easy to experiment with the Low or Off settings.

Auto White Balance doesn't neutralize the lighting as aggressively as its Canon and Nikon peers, but the Setup menu option F3: 'WB Auto Keep Warm Color' can be turned off to get a totally neutral rendering.

Dynamic Range

Dynamic Range is an assessment of the range of brightness values a camera can cope with, from the highlight that causes the image to clip to white, down to the darkest tone with a tolerable noise level.

We look at this in two ways: firstly by giving the camera different exposures, then lifting them back to the same brightness (just as you might in the real world, if you were reducing exposure to prevent highlights over-exposing). Then we give the camera the same exposure at a series of different ISO settings. This reveals how much noise is being added by the camera, since the amount of noise from the light you captured is the same.

As you can see, the Mark III shows the same degree of processing latitude as its predecessor, which shouldn't be surprising, given its use of the same sensor. This puts it behind the performance of the best current APS-C cameras, given the same exposure, but still competitive against others, despite the sensor size difference.