Olympus E-M1 III vs E-M5
The Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark III and the Olympus OM-D E-M5 are two enthusiast cameras that were officially introduced, respectively, in February 2020 and February 2012. Both the E-M1 III and the E-M5 are mirrorless interchangeable lens cameras that are equipped with a Four Thirds sensor. The E-M1 III has a resolution of 20.2 megapixels, whereas the E-M5 provides 15.9 MP.
Below is an overview of the main specs of the two cameras as a starting point for the comparison.
Going beyond this snapshot of core features and characteristics, what are the differences between the Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark III and the Olympus OM-D E-M5? Which one should you buy? Read on to find out how these two cameras compare with respect to their body size, their imaging sensors, their shooting features, their input-output connections, and their reception by expert reviewers.
An illustration of the physical size and weight of the Olympus E-M1 III and the Olympus E-M5 is provided in the side-by-side display below. The two cameras are presented according to their relative size. Three successive views from the front, the top, and the rear are shown. All width, height and depth dimensions are rounded to the nearest millimeter.
The E-M5 can be obtained in two different colors (black, silver), while the E-M1 III is only available in black.
If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Olympus E-M5 is notably smaller (11 percent) than the Olympus E-M1 III. Moreover, the E-M5 is markedly lighter (27 percent) than the E-M1 III. In this context, it is worth noting that both cameras are splash and dust-proof and can, hence, be used in inclement weather conditions or harsh environments.
The above size and weight comparisons are to some extent incomplete since they do not consider the interchangeable lenses that both of these cameras require. In this particular case, both cameras feature the same lens mount, so that they can use the same lenses. You can compare the optics available in the Micro Four Thirds Lens Catalog. Mirrorless cameras, such as the two under consideration, have the additional advantage of having a short flange to focal plane distance, which makes it possible to mount many lenses from other systems onto the camera via adapters.
Concerning battery life, the E-M1 III gets 420 shots out of its BLH-1 battery, while the E-M5 can take 360 images on a single charge of its BLN-1 power pack. The power pack in the E-M1 III can be charged via the USB port, so that it is not always necessary to take the battery charger along when travelling.
The table below summarizes the key physical specs of the two cameras alongside a broader set of comparators. If you want to switch the focus of the display and review another camera pair, you can move across to the CAM-parator tool and choose from the broad selection of possible camera comparisons there.
|1.||Olympus E-M1 III||134 mm||91 mm||69 mm||580 g||420||Y||Feb 2020||1,799|
|2.||Olympus E-M5||122 mm||89 mm||43 mm||425 g||360||Y||Feb 2012||1,299|
|3.||Olympus E-M10 IV||122 mm||84 mm||49 mm||383 g||360||n||Aug 2020||699|
|4.||Olympus E-M5 III||125 mm||85 mm||50 mm||414 g||310||Y||Oct 2019||1,199|
|5.||Olympus E-M1X||144 mm||147 mm||75 mm||997 g||870||Y||Jan 2019||2,999|
|6.||Olympus E-M1 II||134 mm||91 mm||67 mm||574 g||440||Y||Sep 2016||1,999|
|7.||Olympus PEN-F||125 mm||72 mm||37 mm||427 g||330||n||Jan 2016||1,199|
|8.||Olympus E-M5 II||124 mm||85 mm||45 mm||469 g||310||Y||Feb 2015||1,099|
|9.||Olympus E-M1||130 mm||94 mm||63 mm||497 g||350||Y||Sep 2013||1,399|
|10.||Olympus E-P5||122 mm||69 mm||37 mm||420 g||330||n||May 2013||999|
|11.||Panasonic G95||130 mm||94 mm||77 mm||536 g||290||Y||Apr 2019||999|
|12.||Panasonic G9||137 mm||97 mm||92 mm||658 g||400||Y||Nov 2017||1,699|
|13.||Panasonic GH5||139 mm||98 mm||87 mm||725 g||410||Y||Jan 2017||1,999|
|14.||Panasonic GX8||133 mm||78 mm||63 mm||487 g||330||Y||Jul 2015||1,199|
|15.||Panasonic GX7||123 mm||71 mm||55 mm||402 g||350||n||Aug 2013||999|
|16.||Sony A7C||124 mm||71 mm||60 mm||509 g||740||Y||Sep 2020||1,799|
|Notes: Measurements and pricing do not include easily detachable parts, such as add-on or interchangeable lenses or optional viewfinders.|
The price is, of course, an important factor in any camera decision. The retail prices at the time of the camera’s release place the model in the market relative to other models in the producer’s line-up and the competition. The E-M5 was launched at a markedly lower price (by 28 percent) than the E-M1 III, which puts it into a different market segment. Usually, retail prices stay at first close to the launch price, but after several months, discounts become available. Later in the product cycle and, in particular, when the replacement model is about to appear, further discounting and stock clearance sales often push the camera price considerably down.
The imaging sensor is at the core of digital cameras and its size is one of the main determining factors of image quality. A large sensor will generally have larger individual pixels that offer better low-light sensitivity, provide wider dynamic range, and have richer color-depth than smaller pixels in a sensor of the same technological generation. Moreover, a large sensor camera will give the photographer more control over depth-of-field in the image and, thus, the ability to better isolate a subject from the background. On the downside, larger sensors tend to be associated with larger, more expensive camera bodies and lenses.
Both cameras under consideration feature a Four Thirds sensor and have a format factor (sometimes also referred to as "crop factor") of 2.0. Within the spectrum of camera sensors, this places the review cameras among the medium-sized sensor cameras that aim to strike a balance between image quality and portability. Both cameras feature a native aspect ratio (sensor width to sensor height) of 4:3.
In terms of chip-set technology, the E-M1 III uses a more advanced image processing engine (TruePic IX) than the E-M5 (TruePic VI), with benefits for noise reduction, color accuracy, and processing speed.
While the two cameras under review share the same sensor size, the E-M1 III offers a higher resolution of 20.2 megapixels, compared with 15.9 MP of the E-M5. This megapixels advantage translates into a 13 percent gain in linear resolution. On the other hand, these sensor specs imply that the E-M1 III has a higher pixel density and a smaller size of the individual pixel (with a pixel pitch of 3.34μm versus 3.76μm for the E-M5). In this context, it should be noted, however, that the E-M1 III is much more recent (by 8 years) than the E-M5, and its sensor will have benefitted from technological advances during this time that compensate for the smaller pixel size. Coming back to sensor resolution, it should be mentioned that the E-M1 III has no anti-alias filter installed, so that it can capture all the detail its sensor resolves.
The resolution advantage of the Olympus E-M1 III implies greater flexibility for cropping images or the possibility to print larger pictures. The maximum print size of the E-M1 III for good quality output (200 dots per inch) amounts to 25.9 x 19.4 inches or 65.8 x 49.4 cm, for very good quality (250 dpi) 20.7 x 15.6 inches or 52.7 x 39.5 cm, and for excellent quality (300 dpi) 17.3 x 13 inches or 43.9 x 32.9 cm. The corresponding values for the Olympus E-M5 are 23 x 17.3 inches or 58.5 x 43.9 cm for good quality, 18.4 x 13.8 inches or 46.8 x 35.1 cm for very good quality, and 15.4 x 11.5 inches or 39 x 29.3 cm for excellent quality prints.
The E-M1 III has on-sensor phase detect pixels, which results in fast and reliable autofocus acquisition even during live view operation.
Unlike the E-M5, the E-M1 III has the capacity to capture high quality composite images (80MP) by combining multiple shots after shifting its sensor by miniscule distances. This multi-shot, pixel-shift mode is most suitable for photography of stationary objects (landscapes, studio scenes).
The Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark III has a native sensitivity range from ISO 200 to ISO 25600, which can be extended to ISO 64-25600. The corresponding ISO settings for the Olympus OM-D E-M5 are ISO 200 to ISO 25600 (no boost).
Consistent information on actual sensor performance is available from DXO Mark for many cameras. This service assesses and scores the color depth ("DXO Portrait"), dynamic range ("DXO Landscape"), and low-light sensitivity ("DXO Sports") of camera sensors, and also publishes an overall camera score. The table below summarizes the physical sensor characteristics and sensor quality findings and compares them across a set of similar cameras.
| DXO |
|1.||Olympus E-M1 III||Four Thirds||20.2||5184||3888||4K/30p||..||..||..||..|
|2.||Olympus E-M5||Four Thirds||15.9||4608||3456||1080/60i||22.8||12.3||826||71|
|3.||Olympus E-M10 IV||Four Thirds||20.2||5184||3888||4K/30p||..||..||..||..|
|4.||Olympus E-M5 III||Four Thirds||20.2||5184||3888||4K/30p||..||..||..||..|
|5.||Olympus E-M1X||Four Thirds||20.2||5184||3888||4K/30p||..||..||..||..|
|6.||Olympus E-M1 II||Four Thirds||20.2||5184||3888||4K/30p||23.7||12.8||1312||80|
|7.||Olympus PEN-F||Four Thirds||20.2||5184||3888||1080/60p||23.1||12.4||894||74|
|8.||Olympus E-M5 II||Four Thirds||15.9||4608||3456||1080/60p||23.0||12.5||842||73|
|9.||Olympus E-M1||Four Thirds||15.9||4608||3456||1080/30p||23.0||12.7||757||73|
|10.||Olympus E-P5||Four Thirds||15.9||4608||3456||1080/30p||22.8||12.4||895||72|
|11.||Panasonic G95||Four Thirds||20.2||5184||3888||4K/30p||..||..||..||..|
|12.||Panasonic G9||Four Thirds||20.2||5184||3888||4K/60p||..||..||..||..|
|13.||Panasonic GH5||Four Thirds||20.2||5184||3888||4K/60p||23.9||13.0||807||77|
|14.||Panasonic GX8||Four Thirds||20.2||5184||3888||4K/30p||23.5||12.6||806||75|
|15.||Panasonic GX7||Four Thirds||15.8||4592||3448||1080/60p||22.6||12.2||718||70|
|16.||Sony A7C||Full Frame||24.0||6000||4000||4K/30p||25.0||14.7||3407||95|
Many modern cameras are not only capable of taking still images, but also of capturing video footage. Both cameras under consideration have a sensor with sufficiently fast read-out times for moving pictures, but the E-M1 III provides a higher video resolution than the E-M5. It can shoot video footage at 4K/30p, while the E-M5 is limited to 1080/60i.
Beyond body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a range of features. The two cameras under consideration are similar with respect to both having an electronic viewfinder. However, the one in the E-M1 III offers a substantially higher resolution than the one in the E-M5 (2360k vs 1440k dots). The adjacent table lists some of the other core features of the Olympus E-M1 III and Olympus E-M5 along with similar information for a selection of comparators.
|1.||Olympus E-M1 III||2360||n||3.0||1037||swivel||Y||1/8000s||18.0||n||Y|
|3.||Olympus E-M10 IV||2360||n||3.0||1040||tilting||Y||1/4000s||15.0||Y||Y|
|4.||Olympus E-M5 III||2360||n||3.0||1040||swivel||Y||1/8000s||10.0||n||Y|
|6.||Olympus E-M1 II||2360||n||3.0||1037||swivel||Y||1/8000s||18.0||n||Y|
|8.||Olympus E-M5 II||2360||n||3.0||1037||swivel||Y||1/8000s||10.0||n||Y|
The reported shutter speed information refers to the use of the mechanical shutter. Yet, some cameras only have an electronic shutter, while others have an electronic shutter in addition to a mechanical one. In fact, the E-M1 III is one of those camera that have an additional electronic shutter, which makes completely silent shooting possible. However, this mode is less suitable for photographing moving objects (risk of rolling shutter) or shooting under artificial light sources (risk of flickering).
The Olympus E-M1 III has an intervalometer built-in. This enables the photographer to capture time lapse sequences, such as flower blooming, a sunset or moon rise, without purchasing an external camera trigger and related software.
Concerning the storage of imaging data, both the E-M1 III and the E-M5 write their files to SDXC cards. The E-M1 III features dual card slots, which can be very useful in case a memory card fails. In contrast, the E-M5 only has one slot. The E-M1 III supports UHS-II cards (on its first slot), while the E-M5 can use UHS-I cards.
For some imaging applications, the extent to which a camera can communicate with its environment can be an important aspect in the camera decision process. The table below provides an overview of the connectivity of the Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark III and Olympus OM-D E-M5 and, in particular, the interfaces the cameras (and selected comparators) provide for accessory control and data transfer.
| WiFi |
| NFC |
|1.||Olympus E-M1 III||Y||stereo||mono||Y||Y||micro||3.1||Y||-||Y|
|3.||Olympus E-M10 IV||Y||stereo||mono||-||-||micro||2.0||Y||-||Y|
|4.||Olympus E-M5 III||Y||stereo||mono||Y||-||micro||2.0||Y||-||Y|
|6.||Olympus E-M1 II||Y||stereo||mono||Y||Y||micro||3.0||Y||-||-|
|8.||Olympus E-M5 II||Y||stereo||mono||Y||-||micro||2.0||Y||-||-|
It is notable that the E-M1 III has a microphone port, which is missing on the E-M5. Such an external microphone input can help to substantially improve the quality of audio recordings when a good external microphone is used.
Studio photographers will appreciate that the Olympus E-M1 III (unlike the E-M5) features a PC Sync socket, so that professional strobe lights can be controlled by the camera.
The E-M1 III is a recent model that features in the current product line-up of Olympus. In contrast, the E-M5 has been discontinued (but can be found pre-owned on eBay). As a replacement in the same line of cameras, the E-M5 was succeeded by the Olympus E-M5 II. Further information on the two cameras (e.g. user guides, manuals), as well as related accessories, can be found on the official Olympus website.
So what is the bottom line? Is the Olympus E-M1 III better than the Olympus E-M5 or vice versa? Below is a summary of the relative strengths of each of the two contestants.
Advantages of the Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark III:
- More detail: Offers more megapixels (20.2 vs 15.9MP) with a 13% higher linear resolution.
- Maximized detail: Lacks an anti-alias filter to exploit the sensor's full resolution potential.
- High quality composites: Can combine several shots after pixel-shifting its sensor.
- Better jpgs: Has a more modern image processing engine (TruePic IX vs TruePic VI).
- Better video: Provides higher definition movie capture (4K/30p vs 1080/60i).
- Better live-view autofocus: Features on-sensor phase-detection for more confident autofocus.
- Better sound: Can connect to an external microphone for higher quality sound recording.
- Better sound control: Has a headphone port that enables audio monitoring while recording.
- More detailed viewfinder: Has higher resolution electronic viewfinder (2360k vs 1440k dots).
- Larger viewfinder image: Features a viewfinder with a higher magnification (0.74x vs 0.58x).
- More detailed LCD: Has a higher resolution rear screen (1037k vs 610k dots).
- More flexible LCD: Has a swivel screen for odd-angle shots in portrait or landscape orientation.
- More selfie-friendly: Has an articulated screen that can be turned to be front-facing.
- Faster shutter: Has higher mechanical shutter speed (1/8000s vs 1/4000s) to freeze action.
- Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (18 vs 9 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
- Less disturbing: Has an electronic shutter option for completely silent shooting.
- Easier time-lapse photography: Has an intervalometer built-in for low frequency shooting.
- Longer lasting: Can take more shots (420 versus 360) on a single battery charge.
- Easier travel charging: Can be conveniently charged via its USB port.
- Faster data transfer: Supports a more advanced USB protocol (3.1 vs 2.0).
- Easier file upload: Has wifi built in for automatic backup or image transfer to the web.
- Easier wireless transfer: Supports Bluetooth for image sharing without cables.
- Better studio light control: Has a PC Sync socket to connect to professional strobe lights.
- Greater peace of mind: Features a second card slot as a backup in case of memory card failure.
- Faster buffer clearing: Supports a more advanced SD data transfer standard (UHS-II vs UHS-I).
- More modern: Reflects 8 years of technical progress since the E-M5 launch.
Arguments in favor of the Olympus OM-D E-M5:
- Better moiré control: Has an anti-alias filter to avoid artificial patterns to appear in images.
- More compact: Is smaller (122x89mm vs 134x91mm) and will fit more readily into a bag.
- Less heavy: Has a lower weight (by 155g or 27 percent) and is thus easier to take along.
- More affordable: Was introduced into a lower priced category (28 percent cheaper at launch).
- More heavily discounted: Has been around for much longer (launched in February 2012).
If the count of individual advantages (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the E-M1 III is the clear winner of the match-up (26 : 5 points). However, the relative importance of the various individual camera aspects will vary according to personal preferences and needs, so that you might like to apply corresponding weights to the particular features before making a decision on a new camera. A professional wedding photographer will view the differences between cameras in a way that diverges from the perspective of a travel photog, and a person interested in cityscapes has distinct needs from a macro shooter. Hence, the decision which camera is best and worth buying is often a very personal one.
How about other alternatives? Do the specifications of the Olympus E-M1 III and the Olympus E-M5 place the cameras among the top in their class? Find out in the latest Best Mirrorless Interchangeable Lens Camera listing whether the two cameras rank among the cream of the crop.
In any case, while the specs-based evaluation of cameras can be instructive in revealing their potential as photographic tools, it says little about, for example, the shooting experience and imaging performance of the E-M1 III and the E-M5 in practical situations. User reviews, such as those found at amazon, can sometimes inform about these issues, but such feedback is often incomplete, inconsistent, and biased.
This is why hands-on reviews by experts are important. The table below provides a synthesis of the camera assessments of some of the best known photo-gear review sites (amateurphotographer [AP], cameralabs [CL], dpreview [DPR], ephotozine [EPZ], photographyblog [PB]). As can be seen, the professional reviewers agree in many cases on the quality of different cameras, but sometimes their assessments diverge, reinforcing the earlier point that a camera decision is often a very personal choice.
|1.||Olympus E-M1 III||5/5||..||83/100||4.5/5||4/5||Feb 2020||1,799|
|2.||Olympus E-M5||4/5||+ +||80/100||4.5/5||5/5||Feb 2012||1,299|
|3.||Olympus E-M10 IV||4.5/5||..||..||4.5/5||4.5/5||Aug 2020||699|
|4.||Olympus E-M5 III||5/5||+||82/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Oct 2019||1,199|
|5.||Olympus E-M1X||4.5/5||o||..||4.5/5||..||Jan 2019||2,999|
|6.||Olympus E-M1 II||5/5||+ +||85/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Sep 2016||1,999|
|7.||Olympus PEN-F||..||..||82/100||4.5/5||5/5||Jan 2016||1,199|
|8.||Olympus E-M5 II||5/5||+ +||81/100||5/5||5/5||Feb 2015||1,099|
|9.||Olympus E-M1||5/5||+ +||84/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Sep 2013||1,399|
|10.||Olympus E-P5||5/5||+ +||78/100||4.5/5||5/5||May 2013||999|
|11.||Panasonic G95||4.5/5||+||83/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Apr 2019||999|
|12.||Panasonic G9||..||+ +||85/100||5/5||5/5||Nov 2017||1,699|
|13.||Panasonic GH5||4.5/5||+ +||85/100||4.5/5||5/5||Jan 2017||1,999|
|14.||Panasonic GX8||5/5||+||82/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Jul 2015||1,199|
|15.||Panasonic GX7||4/5||+||79/100||5/5||5/5||Aug 2013||999|
|16.||Sony A7C||3.5/5||..||86/100||4/5||4/5||Sep 2020||1,799|
|Notes: (+ +) highly recommended; (+) recommended; (o) reviewed; (..) not available.|
Care should be taken when interpreting the review scores above, though. The assessments were made in relation to similar cameras of the same technological generation. A score, therefore, has to be seen in close connection to the price and market introduction time of the camera, and comparing ratings of very distinct cameras or ones that are far apart in terms of their release date have little meaning. It should also be noted that some of the review sites have over time altered the way they render their verdicts.
Other camera comparisons
Did this review help to inform your camera decision process? In case you would like to check on the differences and similarities of other camera models, just use the search menu below. As an alternative, you can also directly jump to any one of the listed comparisons that were previously generated by the CAM-parator tool.
Specifications: Olympus E-M1 III vs Olympus E-M5
Below is a side-by-side comparison of the specs of the two cameras to facilitate a quick review of their differences and common features.
|Camera Model||Olympus E-M1 III||Olympus E-M5|
|Camera Type||Mirrorless system camera||Mirrorless system camera|
|Camera Lens||Micro Four Thirds lenses||Micro Four Thirds lenses|
|Launch Date||February 2020||February 2012|
|Launch Price||USD 1,799||USD 1,299|
|Sensor Specs||Olympus E-M1 III||Olympus E-M5|
|Sensor Format||Four Thirds Sensor||Four Thirds Sensor|
|Sensor Size||17.3 x 13.0 mm||17.3 x 13.0 mm|
|Sensor Area||224.9 mm2||224.9 mm2|
|Sensor Diagonal||21.6 mm||21.6 mm|
|Sensor Resolution||20.2 Megapixels||15.9 Megapixels|
|Image Resolution||5184 x 3888 pixels||4608 x 3456 pixels|
|Pixel Pitch||3.34 μm||3.76 μm|
|Pixel Density||8.96 MP/cm2||7.08 MP/cm2|
|Moiré control||no AA filter||Anti-Alias filter|
|Movie Capability||4K/30p Video||1080/60i Video|
|ISO Setting||200 - 25,600 ISO||200 - 25,600 ISO|
|ISO Boost||64 - 25,600 ISO||no Enhancement|
|Image Processor||TruePic IX||TruePic VI|
|DXO Sensor Quality (score)||..||71|
|DXO Color Depth (bits)||..||22.8|
|DXO Dynamic Range (EV)||..||12.3|
|DXO Low Light (ISO)||..||826|
|Screen Specs||Olympus E-M1 III||Olympus E-M5|
|Viewfinder Type||Electronic viewfinder||Electronic viewfinder|
|Viewfinder Field of View||100%||100%|
|Viewfinder Resolution||2360k dots||1440k dots|
|LCD Framing||Live View||Live View|
|Rear LCD Size||3.0inch||3.0inch|
|LCD Resolution||1037k dots||610k dots|
|LCD Attachment||Swivel screen||Tilting screen|
|Shooting Specs||Olympus E-M1 III||Olympus E-M5|
|Focus System||On-Sensor Phase-detect||Contrast-detect AF|
|Manual Focusing Aid||Focus Peaking||no Peaking Feature|
|Continuous Shooting||18 shutter flaps/s||9 shutter flaps/s|
|Shutter Life Expectancy||400 000 actuations||100 000 actuations|
|Electronic Shutter||up to 1/32000s||no E-Shutter|
|Time-Lapse Photography||Intervalometer built-in||no Intervalometer|
|Image Stabilization||In-body stabilization||In-body stabilization|
|Fill Flash||no On-Board Flash||no On-Board Flash|
|Storage Medium||SDXC cards||SDXC cards|
|Second Storage Option||Dual card slots||Single card slot|
|UHS card support||Single UHS-II||UHS-I|
|Connectivity Specs||Olympus E-M1 III||Olympus E-M5|
|Studio Flash||PC Sync socket||no PC Sync|
|USB Connector||USB 3.1||USB 2.0|
|HDMI Port||micro HDMI||mini HDMI|
|Microphone Port||External MIC port||no MIC socket|
|Headphone Socket||Headphone port||no Headphone port|
|Wifi Support||Wifi built-in||no Wifi|
|Bluetooth Support||Bluetooth built-in||no Bluetooth|
|Body Specs||Olympus E-M1 III||Olympus E-M5|
|Environmental Sealing||Weathersealed body||Weathersealed body|
|Battery Life (CIPA)||420 shots per charge||360 shots per charge|
|In-Camera Charging||USB charging||no USB charging|
134 x 91 x 69 mm
(5.3 x 3.6 x 2.7 in)
122 x 89 x 43 mm
(4.8 x 3.5 x 1.7 in)
|Camera Weight||580 g (20.5 oz)||425 g (15.0 oz)|
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