Olympus E-M1 mark III review 2 | Petr Bambousek | Wildlife Photography

Olympus E-M1 mark III in Costa Rica (2)

Olympus E-M1 mark III in Costa Rica (2)

18 Feb 2020, Posted by Petr Bambousek in Articles, Behind the Lens, Equipment, Olympus gear, Trip reports

Here we are – part two of my Costa Rican photographic expedition accompanied by the latest Olympus model E-M1 Mark III. In the first part, you read about the main hardware and software updates all illustrated with practical examples. So let’s continue exactly where I left off last time and discover how the new Olympus handled photographing hummingbirds and other motifs. You’ll also learn why I ended up in an icy pool. But about that in a moment. We have loads to chat about, so sit back and let’s head off to a tropical paradise called Costa Rica.

Green-crowned Brilliant, Costa Rica 2020, Olympus E-M1 mark III, M.Zuiko 300mm/4 IS, ISO 2000, f/4, 1/160s, handheld


Crafty hummingbirds


No wonder hummingbirds act as a natural magnet for most photographers. Sometimes, it’s hard to grasp just how much beauty can fit into such a tiny body. Unlike other birds, though, when photographing hummingbirds, several of their unique characteristic need to be taken into account:

– they are really, REALLY tiny
– they are extremely fast. Nope, they are actually faster than that
– their movements are unpredictable and jerky
– their habitat is often photographically imperfect – it’s either too sunny or too dark
– their colors are only visible at a certain angle and under a certain type of light
– some species are too eager to defend their source of food, which makes it harder to photograph other less dominant species

Talamanca Hummingbird, Costa Rica 2020, Olympus E-M1 mark III, M.Zuiko 300mm/4 IS, ISO 640, f/4, 1/320s, handheld

They also have their positives:

+ being dependent on the sweet and being relatively tame
+ they prefer one particular twig to others from where they like to observe their source of food
+ and above all – they are absolutely dazzling


Volcano Hummingbird, Costa Rica 2020, Olympus E-M1 mark III, M.Zuiko 300mm/4 IS, ISO 500, f/5.6, 1/160s, handheld

Similarly to our Blue tit that loves sunflowers, toucans and tanagers bananas, hummingbirds can be lured in by sweet water. It’s ideal that on top of a feeder with sugar water there are also blooming shrubs and other flowers. Then, it’s just a matter of selecting his favorite flower, compose, or alternatively boost your chances with a bowl of fresh sugar water, and wait. The hummingbird gets to the flower sooner or later. For a second. Sometimes even less than that. At that moment, the speed of your response is crucial. In principle, you have a few basic concepts that you can explore when photographing them:

+ resting hummingbirds on a twig
+ fighting hummingbirds (sitting/ flying)
+ hovering hummingbirds at the bird feeder
+ hovering hummingbirds by a flower with a pre-planned composition (ideally from a tripod)
+ spontaneous photoshoot of those species that cannot be attracted to a feeder or a flower

Photographing a perched hummingbird may seem fairly easy at first. As mentioned, they like to sit at their favorite place, where they can clearly see the source of their food – be it a feeder with sugar water or a blooming bush. This way, it is quite feasible to photograph a common species. However, if you choose a non-dominant species you may have a problem. Then, it’s actually easier to take a picture of a hummingbird in flight. These include, for example, one of the most beautiful species I ever had the opportunity to photograph – White-crested Coquette. Below, you will find a description of actual predicaments and how I solved them using the E-M1 III features. The selected setting for each situation is marked in bold. The new features to E-M1 II (fw 3.0) are in blue.

Dazzling Horned Jewel


In practice, it looks like this. You are standing in front of a 30m long strip of Verbena shrub, which is carpeted with hundreds of tiny flowers, and you hope one of them will attract a bumblebee-sized hummingbird. Meanwhile, there are common hummingbirds hovering all over the flowers, whose aggressiveness strongly contrasts with their tender beauty. After about half an hour, the White-Crested Coquette appears. So far you’ve only seen it in pictures but suddenly it’s right in front of you. It does not take long and the other dominant species start to hassle it. A small “bumblebee” is trying to withstand it and to his honor, it’s a fighter. It lasts up there for about one minute. From the photographer’s point of view, however, it’s hell. To keep the other species from noticing it, it likes to hover in the lower parts of the shrub, which makes it practically impossible to take a decent shot. As soon as it ventures to the upper parts, it is instantly ruthlessly attacked by other types of hummingbirds. By a single press of a button, I engage the C4 Mode (its setting is described in detail in my previous article). I tried what worked when shooting the King vulture. Despite adjusting the AF Limiter to Mode 1 (1,4 – 5m) it still doesn’t work due to the camera having too many AF targets. I quickly limit the AF targets to just one at a standard size. The hummingbird keeps checking out the flowers near the bottom spending a fraction of a second at each. It really does resemble a bumblebee in many ways. I try to focus on it to no avail as there are too many disturbing elements in the scene. The hummingbird gets attacked one more time and leaves. He sits safely very far away and very high. I have no desire to photograph it when perched on a branch. The hummingbird knows very well that it has to keep away from the competition.

White-crested Coquette biotop full of Verbena flowers, mobile phone photo

After its first fly-in I had a pretty good idea of how to set up and prepare for the next arrivals. First of all, I knew to leave it be in the bottom of the bush and concentrate only on the micro-moments, when the bird dares to fly up, giving me a delicate background formed by the distant hill. Even though they spend the vast majority of time at the bottom, I deleted the photos from this phase anyway. The hummingbird will hover by the flower for about one second, during which it is necessary for me to locate it, compose, focus and press the shutter. I didn’t find it appropriate to use a quiet electronic shutter, which in certain situations deforms the shape of the wings of a flying hummingbird. I chose the mechanical shutter. Initially, the continuous focus series (L) appeared logical. However, when shooting hummingbirds it proved relatively counterproductive resulting in only a handful of photos with a hummingbird in the right position leaving me very little to choose from. Therefore, I opted for the maximum achievable shooting speed with several additional parameters adjusted creating a photo series without continuous focus (H) and I activated the AF on the hummingbird at the time of its beak entering the flower. In the C1 (H Setting) menu, I set the fastest burst at 15fps and turned off the image limiter. Secondly, I changed the Shutter Priority (C1) and IS Priority (C2). For both S-AF and C-AF, I set the shutter priority to On, which allows the camera to shoot regardless of whether the hummingbird is in focus. I know it sounds strange, because I am after only a sharp photo, right? True. However, the visit of this particular hummingbird is so short and erratic, plus ideal composition takes only a fraction of a second, that it is more practical to choose from several pictures than to rely on very few having the correct position of the wings. Likewise, I set C2 Image Stabilisation to Priority FPS. I chose a higher ISO (1600), which at 1/400s allows for comfortable hand-hold instead of relying on IS. The imaging speed is therefore maximised and the camera has a similar sound to the sewing machine. Normally, this setup might not make much sense, but it worked really well here – sometimes it pays to experiment a little disregarding all the usual recommendations.

White-crested Coquette photographing, Olympus E-M1 mark III, M.Zuiko 300mm/4 IS

So, in the end, I spent two days just waiting for the right moment for the hummingbird to return to its favourite flowers as he flew back in only a handful of times. Given its size, the erratic of its occurrence and the necessity of frequent relocations to the right place, I again appreciated the compact dimensions of the E-M1 III with the attached M.Zuiko 300mm/ 4 IS lens. Despite the focal length being the equivalent to 600mm, the whole set weighs only about 2kg. Securing the camera to a tripod would be a waste of time. As a result of the above settings, I have about twenty brilliantly focused photographs of White-Crested Coquette by the flowers with a nice background. Choosing just one representative of the series was relatively easy.

White-crested Coquette, Costa Rica 2020, Olympus E-M1 mark III, M.Zuiko 300mm/4 IS, ISO 1600, f/4, 1/400s, handheld

The above setting only works well for this relatively rare species. To take pictures of other types of hummingbird that hover by the flower for 2 seconds or more, I returned to the original values of my C4 mode, including a 3×3 AF target group. Since there were much less flowers they visited, it was far easier to predict where they’d return. As a result it paid off to put the camera on a tripod, compose the photo in advance allowing some room for the bird, activate the AF target group, and wait for its arrival. This can be further simplified by cutting off one twig with their favorite flower and placing it in a more strategic place. Then it’s really just about being ready rather than asleep after half an hour of waiting for the right moment. Below, you can see an example of what the rough composition looked like with a Black-bellied Hummingbird, which is an fascinating species that can only be seen in a narrow range of mountains between Costa Rica and Panama.

Pre-composed Black-bellied Hummingbird

Black-bellied Hummingbird, Costa Rica 2020, Olympus E-M1 mark III, M.Zuiko 300mm/4 IS, ISO 1600, f/4, 1/160s, Peak Design tripod



Swimming in the icy pool


When you watch perched hummingbirds, you feel like they may drop dead at any moment. Their hearts beat frantically and they constantly look around in case someone comes in to steal their favourite food. The beauty of some types of hummingbirds transcends best at these times. If you get lucky, for example, and see a miniature kind of bearded Volcano hummingbird from the right side, you’ll be speechless over the vibrancy of its multicoloured feathers. The same is true of the iconic Fiery-throated Hummingbird or the Talamanca Hummingbird. You need to be patient more than ever before. If you can find their favorite place to rest, try and get closer very slowly. A long focal length will help you capture this small bird at sufficient size without the need to crop. Minimum focus distance (1.4m) of M.Zuiko 300mm/ 4IS lens is sufficient for this purpose. Once the hummingbird returns to its twig, it is a good idea not to waste any time and shoot as much as possible preferably in a quiet mode – L. That fleeting moment when the hummingbird turns correctly is quite rare and gone before you know it. Taking a sharp photo is not that difficult, but you will find that the colours are evident only in very few. A silent mode with 18 fps is the ideal solution. Once the hummingbird flies away all you need to do is to protect the best shots and bulk delete the rest. As I mentioned above, I could’ve relinquished my desire to capture White-Crested Coquette because of its behavior. So, as someone who truly dislikes mandarins with pits and cold water, I dared to venture a rather bold statement one day. “If I succeed in taking a portrait of a White-Crested Coquette the way I want it, I’ll jump into the icy pool in front of our mountain lodge.” Since the hummingbird the entire day before sat only in completely unusable places, I considered this statement perfectly safe. But fate is sometimes merciless and what no one expected indeed happened. After two days of waiting, I finally managed to find a place where it would occasionally sit for a few moments and pose in all its beauty. To cut a long story short I succeeded in taking a series of portraits (about 300) with a 300mm lens and a 1.4x converter. I was ecstatic and after checking the last few photos, I tossed my camera, jacket, pants, shame and dislike, and took a few paces in the icy pool, which I always avoided by miles while wearing a hat and gloves. Secretly, I suspect a little that the hummingbird did it out of spite, but I love him for that.

White-crested Coquette, Costa Rica 2020, Olympus E-M1 mark III, M.Zuiko 300mm/4 IS, TC 1.4x, ISO 640, f/5.6, 1/250s, handheld

Yes, yes, yes!

How to improve the AF accuracy?


The E-M1 MIII has excellent focusing. But to get the most out of it, it’s not enough to simply change S-AF to C-AF. There are a number of additional parameters, which can greatly affect how you’ll feel about the results. I found it very helpful to first understand in-depth all the capabilities of the camera and then use these specific settings for relevant objects. Before any big trip I like to sit down, write down the most likely motifs and what I want the camera to do. Two or three settings can be fine-tuned and saved under custom C modes subsequently adjusting them when needed by pressing the assigned button. Then the camera can do wonders. That’s not to say that AF is infallible, just that you can help it a lot. If the results are not what you were after, try adjusting one of these settings:

+ AF Limiter – up to 3 options with one-click settings
+ Reduction of AF Target Matrix (eg. 5 x 5) for quick selecting the AF Points
+ Upsize of AF targets (eg 3×3 or 5×5)
+ Enable or alternatively disable IS Priority
+ Enable or alternatively disable Focus Priority
+ Save resizing of the AF target under your multi-selector for faster selection

Orange nectar bat, Costa Rica 2020, Olympus E-M1 mark III, M.Zuiko 40-150mm/2.8, ISO 500, f/13, 1/80s, 4x flash Olympus FL-700WR, Peak Design tripod

Photographing “night hummingbirds”


Hummingbird photography can be embraced in many different ways, the simplest one of which I described above. All you need is a camera, a lens and natural light. However, there are ways to completely freeze the movement of their wings preserving as much detail as possible. For that you need a multi-flashes setup and artificial background. This creates a kind of studio allowing you to capture detailed moments otherwise unthinkable. Practically the same principle applies to the “night hummingbirds” – bats. Several Costa Rican species feed on sucking nectar from flowers. There is no need to create an artificial background which is naturally black. Here, the camera in combination with the Olympus FC-WR radio launcher along with four Olympus FL 700WR flash units proved to be fantastic. The setup is not complicated, and if the scene is set up correctly, the photos practically come out finished. This way, it’s possible to capture very interesting positions of the bats. I will not describe the exact settings here as it’s something I cover on my courses. So even Olympus is not deprived of this interesting pastime and works perfectly.

Pallas’s long-tongued bat, Costa Rica 2020, Olympus E-M1 mark III, M.Zuiko 40-150mm/2.8, ISO 400, f/14, 1/80s, 4x flash Olympus FL-700WR, Peak Design Tripod

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What does the Olympus E-M1 III have for landscape photographers?


So far, I’ve only described how to make full use of the E-M1 III for animal photography. Olympus, however, has done an excellent job for landscape photographers too. For shooting without a tripod, for example, the M.Zuiko 12-100mm/ 4IS lens with stabilisation (in combination with a stabilised body of up to 7.5 EV) is inconceivable. Especially at the wide end, it allows you to handhold long times (it’s not so difficult to get up to 10“ exposure) even at low 100 or 64 ISO. In this mode, the dynamic range drops slightly, and low ISO is great for enclosed scenes such as forest waterfalls, or morning/ evening light. In the menu it’s possible to select Low ISO Processing. I have selected the output detail priority. The outputs are technically excellent. Although there are cameras on the market that offer a greater dynamic range, I recommend trying what the Olympus E-M1 MIII can do. You may be pleasantly surprised. Let this photo of our hostel with a stream, which is the result of a single exposure, be proof to you.

Bosque de Paz Lodge, Costa Rica 2020, Olympus E-M1 mark III, Laowa 7.5mm/2, ISO 64, f/11, 8s, Peak Design tripod

There is nothing easier than to use Exposure BKT to preserve maximum information and combine images in a postprocess. For quieter scenes, HiRes shooting can be used. The E-M1 III now even enables Handheld HiRes shooting mode taking advantage of photographer’s natural movement.

La Paz Waterfall, Costa Rica 2020, Olympus E-M1 mark III, Laowa 7.5mm/2, ISO 64, f/11, 5 exposure BKT, Peak Design tripod

Contrarily, for well-lit scenes needing longer exposure, the built-in ND filter mode is now available. It will automatically combine several exposures together, for example blurring water in the waterfall, even when it’s unthinkable to reach about 1”. Naturally, conventional ND filters can be used multiplying their power by the built-in ND filter without having to stack multiple filters on top of each other. Previewing the final photo before you press the shutter button works really well. Accordingly, you can choose the optimal filter strength and see what the photo would look like. Sometimes we photographers have a problem with a wind that blurs the branches. When we were at the Catarata del Toro, the highest waterfall in Costa Rica, there was a very strong gusty wind. In addition to the clean composition, I also looked for a view framed by trees, whose movement I actually find interesting in this photo. The ND filter can also be used for various creative purposes and best in combination with a tripod. I had a new tripod Peak Design in Costa Rica on demonstration loan, which is the perfect choice for compact Olympus bodies. More about this in a separate article, though. It’s definitely worth experimenting with as you may suddenly realise that you can comfortably forget about your tripod and take pictures more often from your hand than you could’ve before.

Catarata del Toro, Costa Rica 2020, Olympus E-M1 mark III, M.Zuiko 12-100mm/4 IS, ISO 64, f/10, 6s, Live ND filtr 32, Peak Design tripod

Night landscapes are a totally different kettle of fish. The E-M1 III introduces a new Stars focus (Starry Sky AF) feature. If you are used to photographing landscapes illuminated by the moon, I recommend testing it to see what you can achieve without a tripod. You may be surprised at what comes out from the handheld camera supported by the wide lenses. Of course there are times when a tripod will be a necessity. For these situations, Live modes can also be used to monitor the progress of the exposure online. You can now find Live Bulb, Live Time and Live Composite modes (such as light painting, star trails etc.) under a separate position ‘B’ on the main dial. This makes their selection much faster compared to the previous model. For time-lapse photographers, the menu now allows for up to 9999 images (previously 999). Thanks to four Custom modes (C1 – C4 marked on the same dial), the landscape photographer can personalise the camera perfectly. Suppose you leave your camera in the most common modes. For example, C1 is set to shoot with the ND filter for longer exposures, C2 to shoot in HighRes, C3 for Exposure bracketing for situations where the scene is too dynamic, and C4 is set to Focus Bracketing ideal to add extra depth of field. B is set to Night mode as mentioned above. As we already know, the C1-C4 modes do not need to be selected with the Mode dial, but can be assigned to any desired button. Additionally, you can assign other support functions such as Live View Boost. This will allow you to see the picture even when the light is so poor that you normally don’t see anything on the screen. The E-M1 III allows you to activate the Live View Boost, plus it now displays a Boost sign that alerts you to its activation. When focusing manually, you can also use the MF Assist, which highlights in-focus areas in color. As if that is not enough, you can save this setting to your computer, for example, under the name landscape_em13. Then just before you leave for your trip, upload it to the camera. Similarly if you are photographing animals, you can create a similarly specific set of settings, such as animals_em13, and start packing for your trip to Costa Rica to shoot toucans and hummingbirds.

Live ND filter in action

Vincent, we happy?


Every time any brand launches a new camera, there is a heated discussion about its benefits followed up by a myriad of ecstatic as well as disappointed comments. The same applies to the launch of the E-M1 Mark III. If Jules Winnfield asked me, “Well, Vincent, sorry Peter, we happy?” I’d perhaps reply: “Yes, we happy.” (If you don’t know what I mean, here’s a link to the video); Simply put, the camera transfers superb performance of the E-M1X to its more compact counterpart of the E-M1 II along with a range of exciting innovations that help me immensely in my work. My last two articles have hopefully shown you how I look at cameras as a professional. For me, the most important thing is not whether the camera is most trendy, or whether it has one, two, three or ten processors. What’s crucial for me is how it behaves in real-life situations and whether its behavior can be adapted to my needs. The use of EVF and LCD viewfinder is much debated online. I am not saying that I wouldn’t be happier to have a higher resolution in EVF, but at the same time I don’t feel limited by its current capacity. I can’t recall a single photo I’d missed because of the current viewfinder. From my point of view, not only does it faithfully depicts what I photograph, it does not limit me even in high-action scenes. I can say the same about the LCD. Yes, it could have a higher resolution, why not. But the current display doesn’t in any way prevent me from creating photos where I have full control of the sharpness (PRO TIP: If you struggle distinguishing sharp shots from the less sharp, set the display sharpness to +1. It does not affect the RAW format in any way, yet at a 1:1 magnification I guarantee you will spot the sharp ones). Furthermore, I noticed disappointments about Olympus not upping the 20 MPX resolution. Yes, if higher resolution would mean higher quality, why not, I will use every pixel. But if it’d infer any limitations to the present state – such as e.g. increasing noise, dynamic range reduction, speed of camera responses, options to save photos in a series, etc., I am absolutely satisfied with what the camera can do now. I have several tens of 1m large prints taken by this camera and their technical quality is excellent. So, quite frankly, I miss neither a better resolution LCD, EVF or more pixels, but of course I wouldn’t mind either. Below you will find my summary of how this new camera really helps me and what my work could benefit from. We all have our priorities, and I base mine on actual situations in nature ankle deep in mud rather than comparing technical parameters ankle deep in slippers. I have come across a situation when an owner of a camera with a more beautiful viewfinder put his camera aside whenever something was happening, and opted for it backup SLR instead. Likewise, I had the first-hand opportunity to experience hell of checking the sharpness on super high resolution camera in a series of 30 enlarged shots for 30 seconds instead of 3 seconds. To conclude, every camera on the market has its pros & cons that must be conquered. Choosing the right camera must be based on personal needs and expected use rather than flashing of technical specs in the style of “I have a better one”.

Red-eyed Tree Frog, Costa Rica 2020, Olympus E-M1 mark III, M.Zuiko 40-150mm/2.8, ISO 64, f/2.8, 1/125s, flash FL-700WR, handheld

What I really love about Olympus E-M1 Mark III (random order)


Resistance to the whims of the weather – It is so liberating not to be afraid of a tropical downpour or frost that any changes of the weather have virtually no effect on my work – in other words, the camera can withstand everything

+ New rubber Body Coating – The camera boasts a new type of rubber coating on the body, which promises much less peeling than the E-M1 II.

+ Ergonomics – The camera fits perfectly in the hand with or without the grip. Likewise, the capability to customise buttons is almost perfect for my needs.

+ Customisation – The camera allows for so many variations that even after years I’m amazed. This makes it a completely versatile tool that can handles landscapes, animals or macros and every theme can be enhanced by an unprecedented range of tools.

+ Stabilisation – I say this over and over, I am practically addicted to Olympus stabilisation and loads of my photos would simply never existed without it; I didn’t use to drag a tripod with me even during my long full frame era.

+ Speed – Naturally, I enjoy the ability to take pictures in super fast series, but that’s not the only speed I mean. The camera is extremely responsive, all controls react without delay, rotate comfortably and command responses are lightning-fast.

+ C1 – C4 Buttons – I see one of the greatest benefits of the E-M1 III to the E-M1 II the ability to pre-set buttons with specific C1-C4 Modes and respond in a split second to the situation in front of you. Furthermore, the possibility to continuously update C1-C4 without accessing the Menu is priceless.

+ Different buttons functions – Currently, each button can be altered with one of the 35 Menu functions.

+ EVF sensor – Newly, the EVF sensor can be disabled when the monitor is tilted and is only turned on when it’s closed. It may be an unimportant gimmick that actually greatly improves photo composition from more complex angles. It gives you a piece of mind that even if you accidentally move your hand in front of the viewfinder or move the camera closer to your body, the LCD is not turned off.

+ Live Composite Timer – The ability to set, for example, an hour to capture rotating stars helps achieve more accurate results without the need for continuous control.

+ AF Target Mark rotation – After selecting the end AF target mark it is now possible to jump to the opposite side with one click without the need to go back again.

+ Custom AF Targets – The possibility of choosing the number of AF targets available and its size is another significant shift compared to the E-M1 II. The camera responds extremely quickly to the situation in front of you, which I think is a real game changer in the Olympus autofocus capacity and I’ve loved it already on the E-M1X.

+ Custom Menu – An upgrade compared to its antecedent model. Absolutely brilliant option to customise a Menu with up to 5 bookmarks of 7 items, which cannot limit anyone.

+ Face/ Eye Detection – A whole new level over anything that Olympus has ever produced; a significant shift over both the E-M1 II and E-M1X; this is mainly appreciated not as an animal photographer, but as the father of two little princesses.

+ Live View Boost – When activated, an unobtrusive yet easy-to-see Boost sign is displayed in the preview, which is a helpful reminder to understand why the display behaves differently than usual.

+ Starry Sky AF – Real gift for night photography.

Strawberry Poison Dart Frog, Costa Rica 2020, Olympus E-M1 mark III, M.Zuiko 30mm/3.5, ISO 320, f/11, 1/125s, flash FL-700WR, handheld

Where I see the potential for improvement (random order)


– How are Controls Customised – Although I love the possibility of assigning own roles to buttons, the mechanism itself is very inefficient. Only one item is visible at a time and if you have no idea how they are sorted (which is very likely with 37 available roles), you may need to scroll down 37 times just to see that it was possible to scroll up once. Ideally, I would see the possibility to lay the options in a grid (similar to language selection). Here the options would be in the form of an icon (which most functions already have one) and its title would appear in the title bar. Assigning a function would then be via a multi-selector or an arrow pad next to the “OK” button. Personally, I reckon the benefit of fast selection would be enormous.

– Assigning Roles to Buttons – Although there are a number of button functions, I would welcome at least two more. The Menu button moved up near the viewfinder due to a multi-selector, which I don’t mind. A friend of mine, who takes a completely different type of photos, complains about it though. Personally, I think it would be simple enough to add the Menu option to the list of button functions and the Menu button to the programmable button list. The second thing that would significantly change my behavior in the field, would be to fast recall of the slowest time for AUTO ISO. If required, you could hold down the button, rotate the dial and select the most appropriate value. Again, it’s a minor adjustment that would take the response rate to a new level.

– Exposure Bracketing order – When shooting scenes with a large dynamic range, you can vary exposure across a series of 0 / – / + shots, ie correctly exposed, underexposed and overexposed. This greatly limits the ability to track the captured gradient. Adding the options of – / 0 / + and + / 0 / – would allow me to use the automatic BKT much more often.

– C-AF Animals tracking – C-AF tracking does not work as reliably as, for example, detecting objects on the E-M1X. As a nature photographer, I would be delighted to see an algorithm that can track the eyes of animals similar to what E-M1 III can do with human eyes. Perhaps, one day.

– No mechanical shutter delay in Live modes – When any Live modes are activated the camera defaults to a fixed mechanical shutter without the shutter release delay. Long exposures may result in blur due to the motion of the shutter. The solution is to use remote release. But the question is why worry about another external devices if you can set the delay in the menu for the electronic shutter, why not here? or at least enable setting a mechanical self-timer.

– Button-activation of C1 – C4 – If the C1-C4 options are activated via buttons, the Settings can be changed using the Supermenu after pressing the OK button. Annoyingly, the mode is canceled, though, as soon as you enter the Menu. The only way to re-enter the menu is to select the mode via the multi-selector.

– Minimising the next photo after erasing – When you magnify a photo preview in a series of pictures and delete it afterwards, the preview of the next photo resets itself to full screen after you deleted the last viewed photo. It would definitely be more user friendly if erasing a picture had no effect and the next photo was at the same magnification as the deleted.

– Focus BKT – The built-in Macro Stacking option is fabulous, but there is no real indication as to how to choose the focus shifts and number of exposures. If it were possible to activate something like the Mode Guide as well as a manual setup, the built-in distance meter, activated e.g. in PreMF could be utilised (its sensitivity values would need to be higher than 1/10 of a meter). Then it would suffice to focus and confirm the closest spot coupled by the farthest one, and the camera would calculate the required number of shots and steps according to the current focus and aperture. Wouldn’t that be amazing?

– 2 more lenses on offer – I would be pleased if two more lenses were added to the Olympus range (Or in cooperation with e.g. Laowa). The first would be 250mm/ 2.8 IS – I actually find the jump between the 40-150 and 300 lenses too big (after the conversion it’s 300, then nothing for a long time and then 600). For many situations the first one is too short, the other too long. The converter is only a temporary solution. A lens with a 500mm focal length range, 2.8 aperture and a background F/5.6 aperture and powerful stabilisation would be an incredible hit. I can imagine that it would still exhibit very compact dimensions. Secondly, I wouldn’t mind seeing in the range a wide-angle macro lens (1:1) currently offered by Laowa for FF cameras. If I had at my disposal a camera with a lens, say 7.5mm/ 4 IS, which would have a 15mm angle of view while maintaining a 1:1 magnification and stabilisation for handheld shooting, you would probably have to carry me out of the jungle against my will … and I’d run back in again anyway.

– EVF, LCD – As I mentioned above, ff the camera could have a higher resolution on both displays, why not. However, unlike the above mentioned functions and lenses, it won’t guarantee better photos anyway.

Red-eyed Tree Frog, Costa Rica 2020, Olympus E-M1 mark III, M.Zuiko 40-150mm/2.8, ISO 200, f/2.8, 1/160s, flash FL-700WR, handheld

Have you read this far?


If you’ve come this far, you have my respect. Interestingly, both articles represent 14 pages of A4 text combined. It’s almost a small book. But I think the new camera is worth it. My aim was to show you how to put the paper specs into practice, and to illustrate that the practical improvements over the E-M1 II are far greater than it seems. Whatever you are shooting with or at, just enjoy it and don’t be afraid to use your camera to the maximum. I am more than happy to advise you in my video course, should you need assistance with any of the above. Make sure you also read Andy Rouse real life review.

  • Jon Culver

    Fascinating and helpful article, Petr and convinces me even more that I am doing the right thing by taking your advice that you gave me in Part 1 of this series and buy the EM1 mk III instead of the mk II. I have a question: does the rapid whirring of hummingbird wings “confuse” the CAF auto focusing on the EM1 mk III? It does with my first gen. EM1, thus forcing me to manually pre-focus.

  • Arthur

    I really do respect your work with Olympus cameras.
    I have to face the truth, the camera is not the limiting part, sadly it is “me”… 🙂

  • Ross

    Please, write the book!

    Another excellent article on matching the capabilities of the camera with the challenge posed by the subject – makes me realise I’m not exploiting a fraction of what even my MkII is capable of.

    The photographs are simply outstanding. There’s nothing else to be said.

    • Arthur

      Yes make it a book.
      Settings, tricks and hints for real life photography on Olympus cameras.

  • Cristi

    Great work, Petr. The best review for the Em1-3 so far.

  • Karen

    Thank you for such an in-depth review of the Mkiii. The images are stunning and beautifully captured. A wonderful representation of your skill with the camera and what the camera is able to capture in capable hands.

    I’m also hoping Olympus adds animal tracking. In the meantime, I’ll still be using my trusty Mkii.

    Cheers – Karen

  • Abraham D Latchin

    Thanks for the superb imagery and detailed write up. I wholeheartedly agree that the focus should be on what is made possible by equipment over what is not possible.

    If Olympus is listening, I would also buy a wide angle macro!

    Thesis again.

  • Rasmus

    Beautiful photos and superb writing, I do wish it was even longer since it was no problem reading that much as interesting as you’ve made it.

    I left my Olympus E-M1 Mk II in favor of the Panasonic G9 but only have Olympus Pro glass still which are superb. Thinking of adding Olympus again in the future but we’ll see.

    As it stands now, would there be any reasons to go with the E-M1X over the Mk III? Apart from the even better ergonomics with the built in grip (Never felt a better camera in the hand, even the G9 isn’t quite up to the ergonomics of the 1X) the 1X and Mk III seem to be very much on par with each other with some benefits to the Mk III and only subject recognition of a bit more uncommon subjects.

    Thanks for a great article.

    • Petr Bambousek

      From my perspective Subject tracking is curently the only advantage of E-M1X over E-M1 III. I mean possible future upgrades to something more suitable for wildlife photography (birds, cats, etc.).

  • John

    Terrific photos, Petr, just excellent.

    Very much appreciated your thoughts on improvements that could be made in firmware.

  • Simon

    You article and the photos, simply brilliant. An inspiration. Thank you.

  • Suji

    Love it!
    I’m about to drive a couple of hours to go pick up an EM1mk3 on the Test&Wow program… I’m sure I’ll be referencing this fine blog a lot over the next few days!


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