Over a recent summer weekend, I had the great pleasure of shooting with the OM-D E-M5 Mark III. As far as first impressions go, this camera is a breeze to work with. With an exterior design that is sleek, beautiful, and unpretentious, you can’t go wrong with either the black or silver models—although I lean toward the timeless silver body myself. Upon unboxing, I immediately noticed how much lighter the E-M5 III model is compared to the older Mark II. Slinging it around my neck, I knew that I could wear it comfortably for hours of poolside shooting in the summer heat and decided to do just that.
I switched between the 60mm f/2.8 Macro Lens and the 12-40mm f/2.8 PRO Lens throughout my day of shooting and was delighted to find that the E-M5 III includes an on-sensor phase detect autofocus feature. My camera’s ability to detect both the faces and eyes of my subjects automatically made a noticeable difference when trying to capture candid portraits.
This near-seamless, self-driving ability freed up my bandwidth to focus on composition and other little details that often get lost in the fray, yielding an experience that was much more enjoyable for myself and my subjects alike. There was no doubling-back or “can we try that again?”—every shot felt like a hit, and as a non-native mirrorless user, this camera made me feel like a superstar. While I didn’t hand it to a family member to try, I would feel very comfortable doing so with any newbie—that is how intuitive the handling is with the E-M5 III.
Ergonomic improvements working in tandem with clearly thoughtful design distinguish this camera from the quotidian. In contrast with high-caliber rivals like the small-bodied FUJIFILM X-T30, Nikon Z 50, and Sony A6400, the E-M5 III sports controls that you don’t accidentally hit while shooting. The main mode dial and subsequent control wheels are large, intuitively located, and easy enough to thumb-toggle. A neat little lever on the back plate enables you to alternate between two distinct sets of functions, should you need to switch quickly.
Also included is the fully vari-angle screen that can be flipped, twisted, and locked in face-forward position. While this might not mean much to the traditional photo enthusiast or semi-professional photographer, being able to rotate your screen frontward broadens this camera’s use beyond just the standard photographer-to-subject dynamic. The E-M5 III can also be used for casual vlogging and selfie-taking; its DCI (4096 x 2160) and UHD (3840 x 2160) 4K video recording only emphasizes this practical application.
The audio quality of this camera sans shotgun mic is also impressive, with the voices of my subjects brought to the fore over music and other noise. I haven’t come across other reviews discussing this, likely because most people are recording video with shotgun mics by default, but I felt it was worth mentioning.
I was very pleased with the quality of my shots. The E-M5 III boasts a 20MP MFT sensor, a huge leap from the Mark II’s 16MP. Combined with better autofocus and an upgraded image stabilization system, my photos featured beautiful clarity despite a very laid-back shoot. I realized upon zooming in that I could see every pore and blemish on my brother’s faces, a feat that is obviously handy for editing, but is also excellent for anyone who opts for a closer crop.
Considering the quality assuring upgrades, along with a 5.5EV shake compensation with the In Body Image Stabilization system, I wouldn’t count the E-M5 III out as a viable option for casual birding and other wildlife photography. Its notable speed of up to 30 fps is great for action photography and, if paired with a compatible Panasonic long lens or an Olympus stabilized lens, I have no doubt you could snag some breathtaking shots. It is also weather sealed against dust, variable temperatures, and water splashes, so you can be worry-free toting this bad boy on a long nature walk.
All told, the E-M5 III probably won’t be one of the cheapest mirrorless cameras on the market anytime soon, but it hits the sweet spot in terms of its performance, size, and features. Intuitive and ergonomic, this camera is friendly enough for a beginner and powerful enough for a semi-professional. The breadth of potential here speaks volumes about my personal experience using it and I am keen to hear from you if you have tips or tricks to share.
Was there anything about the E-M5 III that surprised you? Do you prefer to shoot mirrorless? Why do you prefer to shoot with a mirrorless camera? Sound off in the Comments section, below.