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  • Georgina Steytler

Olympus OM-D E M1 MKIII


Scarlet Robin: Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark III, Olympus M.Zuiko ED 12-100mm f/4 IS Pro Lens, F5, 1/2000 sec, ISO400 (at 100mm/200mm full frame equivalent (FFE))


Lots of you have asked and here it is. What I think of my new Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark III. I have also included some comparisons to my Canon 1Dx Mark III.


Now, before you get excited, this is not going to be an indepth review of every itsy bitsy feature of the camera equipment. I am going to keep this simple. Below is a quick list of the main pros and cons I have found using the Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark III. I will then set out my favourite shots taken and what features enabled me to get them.


Before I start, though, I would urge you to read my article "Bird Photography: Camera Essentials" in which I discuss the advantages and disadvantages of different camera models in greater detail (and I include a comparison of photos of an Eastern Osprey taken with Canon and Olympus cameras).


MY KIT


Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark III

Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 300mm f/4 IS PRO Super Telephoto Lens

MC14 (1.4x) Teleconverter

M.ZUIKO DIGITAL ED 12-100mm F4.0 IS PRO

Olympus 60mm f/2.8 Weatherproof Macro Lens


I also have a Canon EOS 1Dx Mark III, Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II USM lens, Canon EF 600mm f/4L IS II USM Lens and a 2x teleconverter which I use for bird photography.



Pros and Cons of Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark III (vs Canon 1Dx3)


PROS


+ Lightweight

+ Small

+ In-camera stabilisation (up to 7.5 stops)

+ Fast AF with good tracking of Birds in flight in good light

+ Quiet

+ Articulated Screen

+ Pro Capture mode (F.a.b.u.l.o.u.s.)

+ EVF Image preview

+ In-camera Focus Stacking

+ Focus Peaking


CONS


- increased digital noise

- AF acquisition not as good in very low light

- less dynamic range in low light

- smaller buffer

- doesn't have 'bird eye' AF tracking (but nor does the Canon 1Dx3)

FIRST IMPRESSIONS OF THE OLYMPUS KIT


The first thing you notice when you take the camera out of the box is "OMG! It's TINY!" In fact, I measured it and it's smaller than it's manual... and almost lighter too.


The Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 300mm f/4 IS PRO Super Telephoto Lens is a bit heavier but, combined, the two still weigh less than 2kg.


I had very little trouble working out what does what with an intuitive placement of buttons, and the general 'ergonomics' of the camera are excellent.



HOW OFTEN DO I USE IT?


I have a pathological aversion to tripods. I have not used one for bird photography for ten years, mostly because it inhibits my freedom to take a range of different images and capture sudden action. Rather, I have managed to handhold a heavy pro grade DSLR with a prime F4 600mm lens (~5.5kg) and use it with complete freedom. But those days are numbered. As I get older, my back starts to hurt more.


Since getting the Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark III with M.Zuiko Digital ED 300mm f/4 IS PRO Super Telephoto Lens (which weigh just under 2kg) it has become my 'go-to' camera.


If and when I go overseas again, I will definitely be taking the Olympus kit rather than the heavier Canon kit which used to require me to get extra baggage allowances.


I still use my heavier Canon kit, but only when I am going to be shooting in one area, such as the shoreline of a lake. By using my Canon F4 600mm prime lens with a 2x teleconverter, I can get a massive 1200mm focal length (at F8) which, let's be honest, is too good to give up ... yet.


PHOTOS TAKEN WITH THE OLYMPUS KIT AND THE FEATURES I USED TO GET THEM


AUTOFOCUS (AF)


I found the AF to be fast and accurate with a good hit rate (shots in focus) for birds in flight, as you can see from the images below. There are quite a lot of AF settings and parameters that can be adjusted so I would definitely recommend that new owners spend the time watching video tutorials that explain how to adjust these to get the best out of the AF system (Eg: Mathieu Gaquet's "Olympus OM-D E-M1 III - Birds in Flight Review & Tutorial (also for E-M1X, E-M1 II and E-M5 III").


The only time the AF was noticeably slower than my Canon 1DX Mark III (a top of the line, very expensive, pro camera) was in very low light where, though both cameras struggled, the Olympus seemed to struggle more to attain accurate focus.


Yellow-billed Spoonbill: Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark III, Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 300mm f/4 IS PRO Super Telephoto Lens with MC14 Teleconverter, F5.6, 1/800 sec, ISO1600 (at 420mm/840mm FFE).


Pied Oystercatcher: Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark III, Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 300mm f/4 IS PRO Super Telephoto Lens with MC14 Teleconverter, F4, 1/2500 sec, ISO1600 (at 420mm/840mm FFE).


Eastern Ospreys: Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark III, Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 300mm f/4 IS PRO Super Telephoto Lens, F6.3, 1/4000 sec, ISO1250 (at 300mm/600mm FFE).


Australian White Ibis (Albany, Western Australia): Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark III, Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 300mm f/4 IS PRO Super Telephoto Lens with MC14 Teleconverter, F5.6, 1/2500sec, ISO640 (at 420mm/840mm FFE).


Red Wattlebird (Denmark, Western Australia): Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark III, Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 300mm f/4 IS PRO Super Telephoto Lens, F5, 1/3200sec, ISO1250 (at 300mm/600mm FFE).


IMAGE STABILISATION


The in-camera stabilisation of this camera is amaaaazing. For someone like me who does not like tripods, it has opened up a whole new world of opportunities for creative shots (like the one below) and for taking good handheld nature videos with a 600mm focal length (simply impossible with my Canon kit without using a tripod).


In relation to the image below, I was able to shoot at 1/8sec handheld to get a beautiful blur in the waves, and still have the bird sharp.

Sooty Oystercatcher: Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark III, Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 300mm f/4 IS PRO Super Telephoto Lens with MC14 Teleconverter, F10, 1/8 sec, ISO64 (at 420mm/840mm FFE).


PRO CAPTURE MODE


Pro Capture, or 'back-to-the-future", mode is game changing as it enables you to capture moments (such as bird take-offs or other action) that you would normally miss due to the delay between seeing the action, pressing the shutter button and the camera actually taking the photo.


Essentially, in this mode, once you half press the shutter button it starts recording images (at up to 60 fps!) to the camera's buffer, then once you press the shutter all the way down, it records the images (including those recorded before and after the button is pressed) to the card.


So, in the case of each of the bird images below, I watched the birds on the perches for quite sometime with the shutter half pressed. Then, only once I saw the birds take off (or land as in the case of the woodswallows), I pressed the shutter all the way down. The poses of the birds you see in the images literally occurred BEFORE I took each image. In other words, I could not have gotten these photos with my Canon kit unless I was continuously taking images in anticipation on high speed burst mode OR I was very lucky (sometimes you can anticipate behaviour).


Note: Use Pro Cap H for subjects with minor changes in shooting distance, and Pro Cap L for subjects with significant changes in shooting distance (only this mode has continuous AF).


Black-faced Woodswallows: Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark III, Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 300mm f/4 IS PRO Super Telephoto Lens with MC14 Teleconverter, F5.6, 1/2500sec, ISO800 (at 420mm/840mm FFE).


Rainbow Bee-eater: Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark III, Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 300mm f/4 IS PRO Super Telephoto Lens with MC14 Teleconverter, F6.3, 1/4000sec, ISO2000 (at 420mm/840mm FFE).


Rainbow Bee-eater: Olympus E-M1 III, Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 300mm f/4 IS PRO Super Telephoto Lens with MC14 Teleconverter, F6.3, 1/3200sec, ISO1600 (at 420mm/840mm FFE).


New Holland Honeyeater: Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark III, Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 300mm f/4 IS PRO Super Telephoto Lens with MC14 Teleconverter, F5.6, 1/4000sec, ISO1000 (at 420mm/840mm FFE).


Blue-Spotted Mudskipper: Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark III, Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 300mm f/4 IS PRO Super Telephoto Lens with MC14 Teleconverter, F6.3 1/3200sec, ISO500 (at 420mm/840mm FFE).


EVF (Electronic Viewfinder)


See my article "Bird Photography: Camera Essentials" as regards the EVF (pros and cons).


Using the EVF allowed me to see the effect of applying different amounts of exposure compensation (for artistic purposes) to the images below, before I took the images.


Splendid Fairy Wren: Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark III, Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 300mm f/4 IS PRO Super Telephoto Lens with MC14 Teleconverter, F5.6, 1/640sec, ISO1000 (at 420mm/840mm FFE).


Great Egret: Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark III, Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 300mm f/4 IS PRO Super Telephoto Lens, F4, 1/1000 sec, ISO3200 (at 420mm/840mm FFE).F4, 1/1000, ISO3200 (at 300mm/600mm FFE).


Great Egret: Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark III, Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 300mm f/4 IS PRO Super Telephoto Lens, F4, 1/1250sec, ISO1600 (at 300mm/600mm FFE).


Australian Pelican (Denmark, Western Australia): Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark III, Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 300mm f/4 IS PRO Super Telephoto Lens with MC14 Teleconverter, F5.6, 1/2000sec, ISO400 (at 420mm/840mm FFE).


White-fronted Chat (Albany, Western Australia): Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark III, Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 300mm f/4 IS PRO Super Telephoto Lens with MC14 Teleconverter, F5.6, 1/640sec, ISO2000 (at 420mm/840mm FFE).


ARTICULATED (FLIP-OUT) SCREEN


This is a fabulous feature and to be honest I can't understand why it's not on every camera.


The flip out screen enables you to focus on birds from ground level, without actually having to lie down in the mud and sand (see Striated Heron and Mudskipper shots below), or get into the water as in the Great Crested Grebe shot below.


Striated Heron: Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark III, Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 300mm f/4 IS PRO Super Telephoto Lens with MC14 Teleconverter, F5.6, 1/3200sec, ISO320 (at 420mm/840mm FFE).


Great Crested Grebe: Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark III, Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 300mm f/4 IS PRO Super Telephoto Lens with MC14 Teleconverter, F5.6, 1/1600sec, ISO1250 (at 420mm/840mm FFE).


Western Rosella: Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark III, Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 300mm f/4 IS PRO Super Telephoto Lens with MC14 Teleconverter, F5.6, 1/200sec, ISO3200 (at 420mm/840mm FFE).


FOCUS PEAKING ( & Manual clutch ring)


Focus peaking is a focusing aid that is great for those times when AF does not co-operate. Essentially, it highlights the in-focus edges of a scene in live preview or in the EVF on digital cameras.


The Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 300mm f/4 IS PRO Super Telephoto Lens features a manual clutch ring on the lens barrel which allows you to easily slip the lens into manual focus whilst shooting in AF.


The combination of focus peaking and the manual clutch ring is incredibly useful, especially when you enjoy taking creative shots, such as the Eastern Osprey image below taken through a small gap in dense foliage. You will see from the second image that there was a lot of vegetation that prevented the AF from being able to pick up the bird's head. To overcome this I simply engaged the manual focus (whilst still looking through the viewfinder), and turned the focusing mechanism until the edges of the oprey's head were highlighted in red. Easy.


Eastern Osprey: Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark III, Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 300mm f/4 IS PRO Super Telephoto Lens with MC14 Teleconverter, F5.6, 1/320sec, ISO1600 (at 420mm/840mm FFE).



FOCUS STACKING


I have wanted in-camera focus stacking for soooo long. I was so escited to use it and one of the first things I did when I got my kit was to buy the Olympus 60mm F2.8 weatherproof macro lens. This is so small and light that I got quite a shock to see it but, goodness me, it works a treat!


I take the camera and lens everywhere, even climbing a mountain, as they add very little weight and enable me to photograph cool little critters like those below I found on a trek up Bluff Knoll, Western Australia (which, by the way, I am NEVER EVER climbing again).


Peacock Spider (Stirling Range National Park): Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark III, Olympus M.Zuiko ED 60mm f/2.8 Weather Proof Macro Lens, 5 image stack (Differential 5) F6.3, 1/800, ISO400 (at 60mm/120mm FFE) (Focus stacked).


Weevil (Stirling Range National Park): Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark III, Olympus M.Zuiko ED 60mm f/2.8 Weather Proof Macro Lens, 5 image stack (Differential 5) at F8, 1/800, ISO640 (at 60mm/120mm FFE).


South-western Crevice Skink (Egernia napoleonis) (Stirling Range National Park): Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark III, Olympus M.Zuiko ED 60mm f/2.8 Weather Proof Macro Lens, 5 image stack (Differential 5) F7.1, 1/1600, ISO400 (at 60mm/120mm FFE).




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© 2020 by Georgina Steytler Photography

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