Conclusion

What we like What we don't
  • Good JPEG and Raw image quality
  • Pleasing colors out-of-camera
  • Attractive design, excellent build quality
  • Impressive image stabilization
  • Updated OLED viewfinder panel
  • Good quality 4K video, low rolling shutter
  • 10fps burst shooting (electronic shutter)
  • High-res mode gives good detail boost and noise benefit for static subjects
  • Live Time feature makes long exposure photography easier
  • Lots of direct control, good ergonomics and customization
  • In-camera Raw conversion
  • Plentiful options for customizing JPEGs
  • Fast UHS-II memory card slot
  • USB charging
  • IPX1 rated weather sealing
  • Unimpressive continuous autofocus and tracking performance
  • Menus are dense and have no indexing and color coding
  • Using the Function lever for autofocus modes ignores face/eye detect, focus limiter settings
  • No option to disable eye sensor when screen is flipped out, is difficult to shoot from the hip
  • So-so battery life
  • No headphone socket
  • No Log profile for video

Overall conclusion by Carey Rose

The Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark III's solid build quality, excellent controls (including some of the best-feeling control dials on the market) and generally pleasing out-of-camera files make it a supremely engaging camera to take pictures with. It's compact, but manages to shoehorn some of the best bits of the E-M1 Mark II into an appreciably lighter, smaller and more manageable body. I like the addition of 4K video, the stabilizer is still among the best in the industry, it has best-in-class weather-sealing and the camera is very responsive. But I think that, for most people, it's going to be a tough sell.

The E-M5 Mark III is a usable and rewarding camera to take control over

That's because, despite the fact that more than four years have passed since its predecessor was released, there isn't that much about the E-M5 III that will help it stand out from the crowd. We've seen this same sensor, stabilization capability, video, autofocus system and high-res mode before. And even considering that, in our testing it looks like the E-M5 III actually takes a step backward in terms of its continuous autofocus performance from the E-M1 II, and it inherits Olympus' latest menus, which we think are more convoluted than they need to be.

Out-of-camera JPEG.
ISO 320 | 1/60 sec | F2.8
Photo by Jeff Keller

That's not to say that the E-M5 III is a bad camera; just look at the 'cons' list above, and you'll see that there's not a whole lot that's objectively 'wrong' with it. It's just, well, a good camera that needs a bit of work on its autofocus system. It's a usable and rewarding camera to take control over, and of course, its beautiful design will elicit 'oohs' and 'aah's and 'wow, how old is that camera?' comments from people wherever you take it.

In the end, the E-M5 III will be a fine choice for those users with the older Mark II that want the upgraded sensor and video, as well as other users who are invested in the Micro Four Thirds ecosystem and have built up a catalog of lenses. But if you're starting out fresh, there are just an awful lot of options around the E-M5 Mark III's MSRP of $1199 (body only) that may offer better image quality from larger sensors, or have even better video, and there are certainly options with better autofocus for action and sports photography.

However, we're not convinced any of them will look as handsome or feel as good in the hand, or even inspire you to go out and take photographs as much as the Olympus does. In consideration of all of this, the E-M5 III earns one of our awards, but not our highest praise.


What we think


Richard Butler
Technical Editor

I can't decide whether to adore or be disappointed by the E-M5 III. It's a beautiful camera with an impressive feature set, including great IS, 1/8000th max shutter speed, certified weather sealing and really well-sorted ergonomics. Its performance and interface design don't always live up to these high standards though. So my feelings depended on what I was trying to photograph: for continuous AF, it's off the pace, but as a compact travel companion, it's rather charming.


Dan Bracaglia
Photo Editor

Would I recommend the E-M5 III to a friend for a travel adventure? The answer is most certainly yes. The E-M5 III offers good image quality and autofocus, high quality and stabilized 4K video capture, excellent protection from the elements and a huge system of high quality, compact zoom lenses. It's also got a lot of useful creative features, like LiveBulb/LiveTime and a high-res mode.


Compared to its peers

The Panasonic Lumix DC-G95 (G90 and G91 outside North America) is the Olympus E-M5 III's natural competitor, sharing the same sensor size, lens mount and coming in at a similar price. There's not much between them in terms of image quality, but in terms of handling, some users may prefer the Panasonic's larger grip. We found the G95's autofocus to be more reliable than the E-M5 III's on-sensor phase detection system, though the slower maximum burst speed and AF 'wobble' in the viewfinder count against it. Lastly, though the G95's 4K video comes with a substantial crop, you get a headphone port and Log recording that are both missing from the E-M5 III.

Although it has a larger APS-C sized sensor, the Fujifilm X-T30 is another midrange option that comes in around the same price as the E-M5 III. You get a larger sensor which will get you better image quality across the ISO range, far better autofocus and its video quality is a step up (though with a ten-minute record limit in 4K). The Olympus strikes back with incredible in-body stabilization and weather-sealing, and though both cameras have similarly small grips, we prefer the ergonomics and controls on the Olympus. Fujifilm has a great selection of prime lenses, but it still pales in comparison to the incredible variety available for the Micro Four Thirds system.

That brings us to the Sony a6600. Wrapped up in the Sony's small, purportedly weather-sealed body is the industry's current benchmark for autofocus performance and implementation. The a6600 also captures highly detailed 4K video, and shoots at up to 11 frames per second. On the other hand, the Olympus provides better image stabilization for both stills and video, and it exhibits very low levels of rolling shutter, unlike the Sony. You'll likely find the lenses you need on the Sony, but those for the Olympus may be smaller or less expensive. The a6600's grip is big and comfy (and it houses an enormous battery), but we find we prefer the Olympus for overall handling, responsiveness and user experience.


Scoring

Scoring is relative only to the other cameras in the same category. Click here to learn about the changes to our scoring system and what these numbers mean.

Olympus OM-D E-M5 III
Category: Mid Range Interchangeable Lens Camera / DSLR
Build quality
Ergonomics & handling
Features
Metering & focus accuracy
Image quality (raw)
Image quality (jpeg)
Low light / high ISO performance
Viewfinder / screen rating
Performance
Movie / video mode
Connectivity
Value
PoorExcellent
Conclusion
The Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark III gets a lot of things right. It produces great images, is packed with fun and genuinely useful features, is well-built and beautifully designed, and above all, fun to use and take control over. Unfortunately, its autofocus just can't keep up with the competition and the overly complex user interface could use updating. But for many types of photography, the E-M5 Mark III will be a rewarding and capable choice.
Good for
General and travel photography, landscape shooters wanting a compact kit and existing Micro Four Thirds users looking for some of the best image quality they can get.
Not so good for
Those that photograph demanding sports and peak action and those that need a more full-featured video experience.
82%
Overall score