Is E-M5 MkIII PDAF a serious upgrade over E-M10 CDAF?

exakta

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Lately I've become frustrated about the AF hit rate of my E-M10 when shooting fast moving subjects or trying to use tracking. Subjects such as birds, insects and other fast moving critters where focus lock isn't quite fast enough and music performances where face tracking during bursts is unreliable are two important cases. Otherwise, I find the CDAF to work well. I have a few other reasons to be interested in the E-M5 mkIII but focusing speed and accuracy is at the very top of the list.

I'd love to hear from other shooters who moved from an E-M10 (any version) to the E-M5 mkIII for the PDAF.
 
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The short answer is yes. I have not tested the C-AF or C-AF tracking on my EM10 II, since I had EM1 bodies that I used for action photography. I started with an EM5 and its C-AF was poor and C-AF+TR was awful, especially in dim lighting. When I switched to an EM1 with hybrid AF (PDAF & CDAF), C-AF became usable, although C-AF+TR was still pretty iffy. The later EM1 models are even better, such that I can use C-AF for BIF shooting. I currently have an EM1 III and an EM5 III. I don't normally use Face or Eye AF, but I bet it would still be better with hybrid AF bodies.

I think it's fair to say that you will get much better focusing speed, accuracy, and tracking with any of the hybrid AF bodies like the EM1 series or EM5 III.
 
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I upgraded from an EM10ii to the EM5iii and it’s night and day, particularly if you are doing anything that moves fast (or even not fast). Shooting kids’ sports became a reasonable proposition after I upgraded.
 

Drdul

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It depends on how/what you shoot. For me, upgrading from a Pen-F, the PDAF has been a game-changer.

I’m a street/urban photographer, and with the Pen-F (and a few other CDAF cameras before that), focus was sometimes unpredictable, and I ended up with too many missed shots where the background or some other random item was in focus rather than what I wanted to be in focus. And occasionally it struggled to focus.

On the other hand, my E-M5iii focuses quickly and almost always focuses on what I want to be in focus. I also find the PreMF and focus limiter to be useful in providing variations of zone focusing. I don’t use C-AF or tracking focus, however, so I can’t comment on how well those features work.
 

comment23

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It’s probably worth noting, as alluded to by @Drdul above, that S-AF benefits from PDAF too. As I understand it, the phase detect system is a used to aquire initial focus and is refined further as needed by the potentially more precise contrast detect method.
 

pake

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Maybe there's no point in repeating what the others have said but to emphasize the point: yes, the AF on E-M5III is 1000x better than on any E-M10 cameras.
 
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I had both the EM-5 and EM-5mkII. The CDAF was pretty good for stills. Sometimes it hunted. In video, it went from "usable" to "what in the ever loving F are you trying to focus on??"

The PDAF sensor in the MkIII is so much better. It's quick, and it doesn't have to hunt around. It's a great improvement.

(as an aside, I think it's laughable that the Panasonic GH5mkII has not switched to a sensor with PDAF. The hunting AF was the Achilles Heel of the GH5)
 

exakta

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Had my first try with some backyard birding yesterday using the E-M5iii with the 75-300 (at 300). Used Pro Capture L with e-shutter, M mode (f6.7 and 1/2000) and auto ISO. I got an order of magnitude better focus hit rate then with the E-M10. Opened up in Oly Workspace it was very interesting to see the focus point moving around to follow the birds. I saved the camera setup to C mode and will finetune that as needed.

Still plenty of learning to do with this new camera, but the focusing improvement alone was worth the purchase. Thanks again for all your advice.
 

davidzvi

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Just a note.

You have to also remember that, depending on which E-M10 you have, the AF system it's self is much improved in the E-M5.3. I have the E-M1.2 and had a Pen F. I recently swapped (in a very round about way) the Pen F for an E-P7. TruePic VII to TruePic VIII processor and upgraded AF from 81 point to 121 point system. I notice an improvement in the CDAF systems between the two. Yes my E-M.2's PDAF is still better in may situations, it's just not the only update you've gotten in the new body.
 

exakta

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it's not the only update you've gotten in the new body.

The other updates hadn't been important enough for me to buy a new camera, adding PDAF to the list tipped the scales because it solved a problem. After less than a week with the camera, I'm surprised at what features have caught my attention that I hadn't even considered...USB charging, better location for the EVF/Live View switch, S-OVF, SD card and battery in separate locations, the FL-LM3 flash, the DOF preview button.
 

davidzvi

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The other updates hadn't been important enough for me to buy a new camera, adding PDAF to the list tipped the scales because it solved a problem. After less than a week with the camera, I'm surprised at what features have caught my attention that I hadn't even considered...USB charging, better location for the EVF/Live View switch, S-OVF, SD card and battery in separate locations, the FL-LM3 flash, the DOF preview button.
Yes there are a lot of other updates. But I was talking specifically about AF.
 

Michael Meissner

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The other updates hadn't been important enough for me to buy a new camera, adding PDAF to the list tipped the scales because it solved a problem. After less than a week with the camera, I'm surprised at what features have caught my attention that I hadn't even considered...USB charging, better location for the EVF/Live View switch, S-OVF, SD card and battery in separate locations, the FL-LM3 flash, the DOF preview button.
Note, USB charging only occurs if the camera is turned off. It won't charge the batteries if the camera is just asleep. The E-m5 mark III USB plug is the old USB micro-B (i.e. not the newer USB C plug).

While the title says E-m5 mark III, in case you look at the E-m1 mark III, note it no longer comes with a FL-LM3 in the box. The E-m5 mark III and E-m1 mark II do come with the FL-LM3. The E-m1 mark III will work with the FL-LM3, it just isn't in the box. Personally, I would have preferred a variant of the FL-LM2 flash. I find the FL-LM3 flash to be too tall to keep the flash on the camera all of the time, while with the E-m1 mark I and E-m5 mark I, I could leave the FL-LM2 flash on the camera instead of using a hotshoe cover and flip it up if needed.

Again if you are looking at the E-m1 mark III instead of the E-m5 mark III, note its USB charging will only charge the battery in the body. It will not charge the battery in the HLD-9 battery grip (since the HLD-9 was designed around the E-m1 mark II which did not do USB charging). The E-m1 mark III does use a USB-C battery.

I hate not having the EVF/Live view switch next to the viewfinder like all of the previous cameras had. Different strokes for different folks.

Generally with the ever growing SD card sizes, I no longer even think about swapping cards in the field. If I shot 4K video, then yes, I would need to swap SD cards, but the few times I shoot video, it is still 1080p, and a 128GB card will hold something like 12-14 hours of video. So for me, it isn't an issue that I can more easily swap SD cards while the camera is mounted on a tripod or some other support.
 
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