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Olympus Ambassador Jimmy Cheng is one of the lucky few to get their hands on the OM-D E-M5 Mark III ahead of its launch. Here he shares his first thoughts…

‘E-M5’ is not just a model number, a designation of a tough-built, full feature compact system camera, it also represents something far more important to me. Looking for a small compact and capable camera to document my newborn twins, I purchased the original OM-D E-M5 in 2012. For the following three years, I took countless numbers of photos with it. Micro Four Thirds wasn’t my main workhorse system, but it was a personal camera system. I used it for practically everything apart from my paid jobs. It was a fabulous camera. When OM-D E-M5 Mark II arrived, I bought it without any second thoughts. The reason was its video features – I was tempted to start making some home movie clips of my kids growing up and it’s the first, at least to me, ‘proper’ video camera in the family.

By then, Micro Four Thirds was already deep in my workflow. I am used to the system and capabilities. In 2016, I finally switched to Olympus, for both my professional engagements and personal documentaries in both stills and videos. I started using the latest OM-D E-M1 Mark II and OM-D E-M1X for my video work.

So, what is it like to use the OM-D E-M5 Mark III? It brought me back to why I love those letters ‘EM-5’ so much. It’s undoubtedly, unmistakably, an E-M5. From first glance, the body is almost identical. Looking closer, you start to notice the differences: the button layouts have changed slightly, the grip is now deeper for a more secure hold. The mode dial has moved to the right, and in fact the layout from the top now looks very much like a shrunk E-M1 Mark II. It also has the same IBIS rating as its bigger brother, and it means that I can take photos with a silly slow shutter speed, but more importantly – very, very stable handheld video footage!

Speaking of video, this is where the camera shines – it shares everything that the E-M1 Mark II offers: C4K, 4K UHD, 1080 FHD at various frame rates, including the new slow motion at 120p with FHD resolution. While it doesn’t have the more professional OMLOG400 profile, it does offer a flexible ‘Flat’ profile with a base ISO of 200, which is great for shooting during bright, sunny days while maintaining a degree of colour grading flexibility.

Now, my biggest surprise is the AF system, for both stills and videos. This is the first non-professional grade Olympus camera that offers hybrid AF (both CDAF and PDAF). This means a lot for photographers or videographers who want to track moving subjects. While CDAF works well with bright daylight stills, it falls short on action photography and movie tracking. However, the OM-D E-M5 Mark III is a beast when it comes to doing just that, enabling photographers to capture moving subjects with ease and for videographers to fully utilise CAF when needed. This is a first, but what a first for E-M5.

Even though this may not be labelled as a top professional camera, I can easily use it for my professional jobs because the OM-D E-M5 Mark III operates like its speedy big brother, the EM-1 Mark II, just smaller, lighter, yet rugged and weatherproof. I can say it’s a ‘Micro’ E-M1 Mark II!

WATCH JIMMY’S VIDEO

You can see more from Jimmy on InstagramFacebookTwitter, Youtube or by visiting jimmycheng.photography.

Article featured in Olympus Magazine Issue 65 – to see the latest copy of this free digital magazine click here.