I didn't expect it to happen this quickly.
I didn't expect it to happen at all, actually. I was going to carry the OMD EM10 MK III and its kit lens around in my backpack with a point and shoot film camera so I didn't have to lug a full frame DSLR around to make high quality images. I knew it would be smaller and lighter than my other APSC DSLR; that it would be a digital addition to my arsenal of film cameras, maybe even a back up body for weddings or events. But i never expected that with the right glass in front of it, olympus’ lowest end enthusiast camera would make me consider selling some of my other photo gear just to upgrade. If their mid range gear is this good, I can only imagine how solid their flagship EM1 and pro line of lenses must be. I’ve been an Olympus stan since my dad handed off his 30 year old OM20 to me and it worked like new, and the quality of Olympus gear continues to impress me.
First of all, their 14-42 EZ kit lens packaged with the EM10 MK III is sharp. Surprisingly sharp. It’s also flat as a pancake lens when it is powered off, making it pocketable with a large enough jacket, and it easily fits in a messenger bag or purse. The Camera itself weighs next to nothing; I carried the whole kit around Washington DC for about 4 hours and I never even felt it in my bag. I could see a new or casual/family photographer who just wanted something to snap a few Facebook or Instagram photos being perfectly able to and content with pulling the camera out of the box as is and never looking back. Like all basic kit lenses it’s serviceable at everything, good at most things and great at nothing. It has a variable aperture of f 3.5 - f 5.6, a feature that a new shooter who never leaves the auto mode might not care about. As a slightly more seasoned photographer, however, I had the camera for about a day before i started itching for a fast prime, or at least a zoom with a fixed and faster aperture like the Zuiko 12-40 f 2.8. The Gear Acquisition Syndrome had set in, and there were a few lenses primed for getting me my fix.
Custom Controls, Beautiful Design
One of my favorite things about every Olympus camera i’ve ever used is their build quality and design. The OMD series takes more than a few cues from the classic 35mm OM design, like the power switch designed to look like a film rewind lever, leather covered body and compact size. One new feature on the OMDs are the customizable fn buttons and dials that make controlling focus, shutter speed, aperture and exposure compensation a breeze.
I’m nothing if not a researcher. My compulsive need to know as much as possible before i jump into a situation makes me a very cautious consumer. Therefore I’d been digging into the EM line up for about a year before i purchased the EM10, and being an Olympus user already, i knew firsthand about the quality of Zuiko lenses. The first lenses that any seasoned photographer recommend to a newbie are probably a 35mm f 1.8 or 50mm f 1.8 on the 35mm SLR or full frame DSLR, or their equivalent in APSC or Micro Four Thirds. They’re standard focal length (allowing for a natural look and less distortion) and relatively inexpensive in comparison to their faster counterparts. I’m primarily a portrait photographer, so I knew i also would need an 85mm f 1.8 equivalent. After researching the Micro Four Thirds system, i determined that the 17mm, 25mm, 45mm and 75mm f 1.8 would be the kit i needed if it was going to be a viable option for professional work and serious personal projects. I’m a firm believer in glass before bodies, so i went with the EM10 because i wanted a low risk entry into the Olympus system. Buying a less expensive body left me with money for better glass, and if i wanted to upgrade later, I’d already have the lenses for a better piece of kit.
The first piece of fast glass that I purchased for my portrait work was the 45mm F1.8, a lens that has rave reviews about bokeh and sharpness that are well justified. I’ve taken it out for casual weekend shooting in the woods and for a few candid portraits at some church events so far, and i can see it becoming a well used tool in my arsonal of portrait gear in the future.
All in all, the OMD EM5 MK III is a great little camera, a steal for the money. I’ll take a retrospective in about a year that will show how well it has aged, but for now, it is and does exactly what i need in an almost pocketable package. I can’t see myself doing all of my professional portrait work on this particular model, but It’s a great beginner or consumer camera that sacrifices materials and megapixels, not build or image quality.