Cameras


Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark III Technical Review

December 12, 2017

By Greg Scoblete

Rangefinder is a member of the Technical Image Press Association which has contracted with Image Engineering to perform detailed lab tests of digital cameras. See here for a full methodological rundown of how Image Engineering puts cameras through their paces. Full res files of every visual in this review are available to download for your pixel-peeping pleasure here.

Introduction

The  OM-D E-M10 Mark III sports a 16-megapixel image sensor with a native ISO range of 200-25,600 (with an ISO 100 LOW setting). The camera’s in-body, 5-axis stabilization system is good for up to four stops of correction, per CIPA standards.

There are 121 AF points with touch-focusing capability on the 3-inch, tilting display. You’ll enjoy continuous shooting of up to 8.6fps with focused fixed on the first frame.

On the video front, the Mark III can record 4K (3840 x 2160) at 30p or 24p and full HD at 60p. It can also compile 4K time-lapse movies in camera.

Additional features include:

  • 1/4000 sec. top mechanical shutter speed
  • 1/16,000 sec. electronic shutter
  • Wi-Fi
  • built-in flash
  • programmable Shortcut button, plus two customizable function buttons
  • new Bleach Bypass option in the Art filter menu
  • Face priority AF and eye priority AF

The Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark III will be available in a black and silver body or black body for $650 or for $800 with the M.Zuiko 14–42mm EZ lens. It’s available for purchase now.

Resolution

• 16 Megapixel sensor which is fully used at the lowest ISO of 200 (100 percent of the theoretical maximum; 1725 line pairs per picture height).

• Better than the OM-D E-M10 Mark II, which captured 1623 line pairs per picture height at ISO 200, 94 percent of the theoretical maximum.

• At ISO 400, the Mark III uses 95 percentof the theoretical maximum (1649 line pairs per picture height), at ISO 3200, 91 percent (1568 line pairs per picture height), and at ISO 6400, 85 percent (1476 line pairs per picture height).

• Better than the Mark II, which captured 1535 line pairs per picture height at ISO 400 (89 percent of the sensor), and 1521 at ISO 3200 (88 percent).

• At the highest ISO tested (ISO 25600), the Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark III uses 73 percent of its sensor (1269 lines pairs per picture height), compared to 65 percent (1116 line pairs per picture height) in its predecessor.

This graph shows the loss of contrast (y-axis) as a function of the spatial frequency in line pairs per picture height (x-axis) for different ISO-sensitivities (colored lines). The further to the right a curve stretches before descending, the better the resolution at that ISO. The limiting resolution for each ISO can be found by identifying to the highest spatial frequency which results in a contrast of 0.1, or where the ISO curve crosses the thicker horizontal thicker black line marking 0.1. The vertical pink line is a reference representing half the number of pixels in the sensor height (the Nyquist frequency).

Texture loss

• Relatively many artifacts are produced by the Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark III, more than by its predecessor.

• Although MTF50 of images shot of high-contrast scenes declines with each step upwards in ISO, the difference at lower ISOs is not great (978 line pairs per picture height at ISO 200, 897 at ISO 400, 741 at ISO 1600, 753 at ISO 3200, dropping to 523 at the highest native ISO of 6400).

• At ISO 200, MTF50 is similar in high- and low-contrast parts of a scene (978 line pairs per picture height at high contrast, 799 at low contrast).

• At ISO 1600, the measured MTF50 of 741 line pairs per picture height in high contrast compares fairly well to 522 line pairs per picture height in low-contrast parts of a scene.

An artifact is an alteration in a digital image due to technology or technique of processing. Artifacts stem from noise, compression, and sharpening. This graph plots the calculated difference in digital signal between two methods (DeadLeavesCross & DeadLeavesDirect). The colored lines represent response at different ISOs and in reference to a high-contrast target and a low-contrast target. Values plotted are the Dead Leaves SFR difference against the spatial frequency. The larger the area under the curve, the more artifacts are present.

This graph shows the degree of sharpening in the image by representing an over- and undershoot along contrasted edges. The colored lines represent measurements at different ISOs and in high- and low-contrast situations. The size of the dip before the edge (in both depth and breadth) indicates the degree of undershoot; similarly, the amount overshoot is indicated by the height and breadth of the peak. Thus, larger dips and/or peaks indicate that a sharpening effect is visible.

Edge contrast / sharpening

• Overshoot and undershoot along high and low-contrast edges, are relatively small, and smaller than that applied by the Mark II.

• Overshoot in high-contrast scenes, ranges from 7.2 percent at ISO 200, to 5.1 percent at ISO 3200, to 0.4 percent at ISO 25600.

• Undershoot in high-contrast scenes, ranges from 10.8 percent at ISO 200, to 1.9 percent at ISO 3200, to 0.0 percent at ISO 25600.

• In low-contrast scenes, overshoot ranges from 9.6 percent at ISO 200, to 0.0 percent at ISO 25600. Undershoot ranges from 8.7 percent at ISO 200, to 1.6 percent at ISO 25600.

OECF VN / Visual Noise

• Images captured at all ISOs would show observable noise in Viewing Condition 1 (100 percent viewed on a screen). Noise measurements ranged from 0.9 at ISO 200 to 1.5 at ISO 1600.

• At ISO 6400 and above, the noise would be very noticeable in Viewing Condition 1 (100 percent; measured at 2.3 at ISO 6400, and increasing with ISO).

• When the image is viewed on a mobile screen or as a postcard-sized print, noise would not be very noticeable until ISO 1600 (Viewing Condition 2; measurements range from 0.5 to 0.6 at ISOs up to ISO 800). At ISO 1600, the noise is measured at 0.9, and at 6400, 1.1.

• In Viewing Condition 3, simulating a large print, noise would also only become noticeable above ISO 3200 (1.0).

• Most of the observable noise can be seen in the mid-tones, especially the darker part of the mid-tones.

This chart shows the noise behavior at various ISO-sensitivities (colored lines) as a function of the brightness of the target image, which is indicated by the relative darkness of the circle on the outer edge of the diagram (noise in shadowed areas are above, and in highlights below). The larger the area inside a curve, the stronger the noise. The degree to which noise disturbs the appreciation of an image, depends on the image size and the viewing condition. The right-hand side of the chart shows the visibility of the noise in an image that is displayed 100 percent on a monitor (VN1). The left-hand half shows the visibility of noise in a 40-cm tall print (VN3).

This chart shows the noise behavior at various ISO-sensitivities (colored lines) as a function of the brightness of the target image. The perception of noise is represented by the area that is encircled by the curve. The larger the area, the stronger the noise. How much the noise disturbs the viewing of an image, depends on the image size and the viewing distance. This chart shows the noise visibility for an image that is displayed 100 percent on a monitor (VN1).

This chart shows the noise behavior at various ISO-sensitivities (colored lines) as a function of the brightness of the target image. The perception of noise is represented by the area that is encircled by the curve. The larger the area, the stronger the noise. How much the noise disturbs the viewing of an image, depends on the image size and the viewing distance. The chart shows the noise visibility for an image that is about postcard size (scaled to a height of 10cm) viewed at a distance of 25cm.

Dynamic Range

• Dynamic range in the Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark III is excellent: more than 11 f-stops at lower ISO s (11.2 f-stops at ISO 200 and ISO 400, and 12.3 at ISO 800).

• The results are not very different from the excellent dynamic range of the Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark II: all ISO s from 200 to 800 measured 11.3 f-stops.

• Dynamic range drops to 8.5 at ISO 6400, 7.5 at ISO 128000, and 7.0 at ISO 25600.

Color Reproduction

• Color reproduction is good, with infrequent strong deviations from the original color.

Color reproduction is shown here in two ways. The upper figure is a chart comparing a reference color (right-hand half of each color patch) directly with the color reproduced by the camera (left-hand half of the color patch)
Below is a table that lists the DeltaE of each color patch. Red cells indicated strong color deviations, light green cells represent colors with noticeable deviations, and a dark green field represents a moderate deviation.

Automatic white balance

• The automatic white balance delivers very good and consistent results throughout most of the range of available ISOs (e.g. between ISO 100 and ISO 3200, automatic white balance results range from 0.1 - 0.6).

• Best automatic white balance (0.1) is measured at ISO 400 and ISO 800.

Video

• Capable of recording 4K movies.

• In video mode, uses 70 percent of its sensor (759 line pairs per picture height) at Auto ISO Auto and 73 percent (785 line pairs per picture height) at ISO 1600.

• Visual noise in videos made by the Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark III show that it is not extremely noticeable (1.2 when viewed at 100 percent (viewing condition 1)), and mostly in the darker tones. On this measure, it is similar to its predecessor.

• Sharpening in video images of high-contrast scenes, is acceptable and less than its predecessor, ranging from 7.9 percent overshoot and 7.3 percent undershoot at auto ISO.

• Sharpening in videos made in low-contrast situations is similar: for example 8.2 percent overshoot and 10.1 undershoot at ISO 1600.

• Dynamic range in video is good, at 9.0 f-stops, about the same as the Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark II.

• Automatic white balance in the Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark III is very good (0.4) at auto ISO, and not bad at ISO 1600 (1.4).

This chart shows the noise behavior at two ISO-sensitivities (ISO 100 and ISO 1600) as a function of the brightness of the target image. The amount of noise perceived is reflected in the size of the area encircled by the curves. The larger the area, the stronger the noise and its perception. The degree to which the noise disturbs the viewer, depends on the image size and the viewing distance. This chart shows the noise visibility for a video frame that is displayed 100 percent on a monitor (VN1).

This graph shows the loss of contrast (y-axis) as a function of the spatial frequency in line pairs per picture height (x-axis) for two ISO-sensitivities in video mode (colored lines). The further to the right a curve stretches before descending, the better the resolution at that ISO. The limiting resolution for each ISO can be found by identifying to the highest spatial frequency which results in a contrast of 0.1, or where the ISO curve crosses the thicker horizontal thicker black line marking 0.1. The vertical pink line is a reference representing half the number of pixels in the sensor height (the Nyquist frequency).

This graph shows the sharpening in the image due to an over- and undershoot along edges. Depending on the size (based on width and height) of the additional emerging area, a lower (shallower additional area) or stronger (higher and narrower additional area) sharpening effect is visible.

In Depth

The Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark III is a small mirrorless camera with a retro appearance and a 16-megapixel sensor. This camera has a relatively small native ISO range, from 200 to 6400 (confirmed by Olympus America). However, it also provides extended ISOs down to speeds close to 100 and up to 25,600. The technical specifications do not clearly label that the higher ISOs are extended. However, this lack of accuracy may not be much of a problem for the intended user. That the E-M10 Mark III has no fewer than 35 different exposure modes, including 21 ‘scene’ in-camera processed modes, indicates it is directed at consumers who like to experiment a bit with a portable camera that can produce fun and nice-looking jpeg photos without resorting to external processing software.

The Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark III uses its 16 Megapixel sensor fully at the lowest ISO of 200 (100 percent of the theoretical maximum; 1725 line pairs per picture height). All resolution measurements are improved in the Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark III over the Mark II. For example, the Mark II, which also had a 16 Megapixel sensor, captured 1623 line pairs per picture height at ISO 200, representing 94 percent of the theoretical maximum.

The Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark III makes excellent use of its sensor at all the lower ISO speeds: at ISO 400, it used 95 percentof the theoretical maximum (1649 line pairs per picture height), and at ISO 3200, 91 percent (1568 line pairs per picture height). Even at ISO 6400, it uses 85 percent of its sensor (1476 line pairs per picture height). In comparISO n, the Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark II captured 1535 line pairs per picture height at ISO 400 (89 percent of the sensor), and 1521 at ISO 3200 (88 percent). At the highest ISO tested (ISO 25600, an extended ISO), the Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark III uses 73 percent of its sensor (1269 lines pairs per picture height), compared to 65 percent (1116 line pairs per picture height) in its predecessor.

These numbers are supported by subjective visual inspection of images shot with the Mark III of the test chart. Only a slight softening of the finest detail is noticeable at ISO 6400 compared to ISO 200. The same part of an image made at ISO 800 is hardly softer than the photo shot at ISO 200.

Relatively many artifacts are produced by the Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark III, more than by its predecessor, which had the same size sensor. Although MTF50 of images shot of high-contrast scenes declines with each step upwards in ISO, the difference is relatively small among lower ISOs (978 line pairs per picture height at ISO 200, 897 at ISO 400, 741 at ISO 1600, 753 at ISO 3200, and then dropping to 523 at the highest native ISO of 6400). At ISO 200, MTF50 is similar in high- and low-contrast parts of a scene (978 line pairs per picture height at high contrast, 799 at low contrast). At ISO 1600, high-contrast texture (741 line pairs per picture height) is not very far from the measured 522 line pairs per picture height in low-contrast parts of a scene.

Subjective visual inspection at 100 percent of both the high-contrast and low-contrast parts of the test image, shows a very slight loss of fine detail between ISO 200 and ISO 800. At ISO 6400, however, the image is appears to the subjective observer both overly smoothed and noisy.

The degree of sharpening applied by the Mark III is on the low side, and it is less than that applied by the Mark II. The amount of overshoot and undershoot also decreases as ISO increases. However, one should recall that the user can directly set the degree of in-camera sharpening for JPEGs through the many customizable picture mode settings. Overshoot in high-contrast scenes captured by the Mark III ranges from 7.2 percent at ISO 200, to 5.1 percent at ISO 3200, to 0.4 percent at ISO 25600. Undershoot in high-contrast scenes, ranges from 10.8 percent at ISO 200, to 1.9 percent at ISO 3200, to 0.0 percent at ISO 25600.  In low-contrast scenes, overshoot ranges from 9.6 percent at ISO 200, to 0.0 percent at ISO 25600. Undershoot in low-contrast scenes ranges from 8.7 percent at ISO 200, to 1.6 percent at ISO 25600.

Images made at all ISOs would show observable noise in Viewing Condition 1 (100 percent viewed on a screen; this is an objective assessment of the modelled Viewing Condition). Noise measurements ranged from 0.9 at ISO 200 to 1.5 at ISO 1600. At ISO 6400 and above, the noise would be very noticeable in Viewing Condition 1 (100 percent; measured at 2.3 and increasing with ISO). A subjective visual assessment of the images finds very little noise observable at ISO 200, and observable but not disruptive noise at ISO 800.

When the image is modelled objectively as viewed on a mobile screen or as a postcard-sized print (Viewing Condition 2), results indicate that noise would not be very noticeable until ISO 1600; measurements range from 0.5 to 0.6 at ISOs up to ISO 800. At ISO 1600, the noise is measured at 0.9, and at 6400, 1.1.

In Viewing Condition 3, simulating a large print, noise would also only become noticeable above ISO 3200 (1.0).

Most of the observable noise can be seen in the mid-tones, especially the darker part of the mid-tones.

Dynamic range in the Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark III is excellent: more than 11 f-stops at lower ISOs (11.2 f-stops at ISO 200 and ISO 400, and 12.3 at ISO 800). The results are not very different from the excellent dynamic range of the Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark II: all IS s from 200 to 800 measured 11.3 f-stops. Dynamic range in the Mark III drops to 8.5 at ISO 6400, and down more at extended ISOs (7.5 at ISO 128000, and 7.0 at ISO 25600). The Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark III also has a number of in-camera programs, from HDR to maximizing sunset or compensating for photos taken in snow, which will help the user avoid common disappointments regarding dynamic range. Color reproduction is also good, with infrequent strong deviations from the original color.

The automatic white balance delivers very good and consistent results throughout nearly the entire range of available ISOs, from ISO 100 and ISO 3200 (0.1 - 0.6). The top native ISO of 6400 shows a value of 1.0, and the upper extended ISO s show decent automatic white balance of 0.4 and 0.8. The very best automatic white balance (0.1) is measured at ISO 400 and ISO 800.

The camera’s start-up time is 1.6 seconds. As this is a mirrorless camera, the autofocus time was measured only using Live View. When using Live View in bright light, the autofocus takes 0.17 seconds, with a total lapse from pressing the button to shutter release of 0.26 seconds. In low light, the autofocus in Live View takes a tiny bit longer (0.28 seconds), for a total shooting lapse of 0.36 seconds. The Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark III shoots 8.6 JPEG frames per second until the card is full, and 8.5 RAW images per second for a total of 23.

Video

The Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark III in video mode uses 70 percent of its sensor (759 line pairs per picture height) at Auto ISO , and 73 percent (785 line pairs per picture height) at ISO 1600. Because it is capable of recording 4K movies, the sensor areas used is bigger than that used by the Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark II, which captured 475 lines pairs per picture height at low ISO and 454 at high ISO.

Frames grabbed from a video shot at high and low ISO and enlarged to 100 percent, can be said from subjective inspection to be completely acceptable, for example with regard to detail, color, and noise. Objective measurements of visual noise in videos made by the Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark III show that it is not extremely noticeable (1.2 when viewed at 100 percent (viewing condition 1)), and mostly in the darker tones. On this measure, the camera is similar to its predecessor.

Sharpening is acceptable in video images made of high-contrast scenes (7.9 percent overshoot and 7.3 percent undershoot at auto ISO). The degree of sharpening in videos made in low-contrast situations is similar: for example 8.2 percent overshoot and 10.1 undershoot at ISO 1600. The sharpening produced by the Mark III is less than the strong sharpening measured in its predecessor, which produced sharpening measured at 14.7 percent overshoot and 17.8 percent undershoot in low contrast scenes shot at high ISO, for example.

Dynamic range in video is good, at 9.0 f-stops, about the same as the Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark II. The automatic white balance in the Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark III is very good (0.4) at auto ISO, and not bad at ISO 1600 (1.4). The Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark II was consistently moderate at both low and high ISOs (0.8 and 0.9).