Questions about E-M5iii from a Pen-F owner

Drdul

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I've been considering upgrading to an E-M5iii from a Pen-F, mainly for the better autofocus, weatherproofing and the semblance of a grip on the camera body. There are a few differences between the two cameras, and I've been trying to figure out if any of them might be dealbreakers. I've slogged through the manual and Googled as best I can, but there are a few things I cannot figure out:

Custom modes: There is only one custom mode setting on the E-M5iii mode dial (vs. 4 on my Pen-F). There are two more custom modes (C2 and C3), but I cannot figure out if it's possible to assign these additional custom modes to other spots on the mode dial (e.g. to SCN and ART). If not, how easy/quick is it to recall C2 or C3 settings?

Rear dial: The manual says that in A mode, for example, the rear dial adjusts aperture and the front dial adjusts exposure comp. I would prefer the reverse with the front dial adjusting aperture, and I assume it's possible to switch the dial functions (I couldn't find a clear confirmation of this in the manual). If so, then does the rear dial always adjust exposure comp, or do I need to press the exposure comp button first? Can the rear dial also be used to adjust ISO (I assume by pressing the ISO button)? What happens after I adjust and set the exposure comp or ISO, does the rear dial become inactive (until I press another button to activate it)? The reason I ask is that on my Pen-F I have the rear dial set to ISO (because there's a dedicated dial for exposure comp), but I sometimes inadvertently bump the dial with my thumb and end up shooting at ISO-Low or ISO 25,600. It would be an improvement from the Pen-F if the rear dial on the E-M5iii was inactive when not being used, so that any accidental bumps to the dial didn't change any settings (or if the dial is far enough away from my thumb that I'm not likely to accidentally bump it).

Autofocus: I have never owned a camera with phase-detect autofocus, so I have no appreciation of how much better the AF is on the E-M5iii. As a street/urban photographer, an annoyance with my Pen-F is that it sometimes misses focus on a person 3 m away, and instead focuses on the background 10 m away (this can occur, for example, when I've set the target where the person is but they or the camera have moved. I can sometimes work around this problem with manual focus, but there are other situations where I'm not able to focus manually and I have to rely on the AF). One of the things that intrigues me about the E-M5iii is the following from Olympus' website: "Single AF (S-AF) prevents the focus from jumping to the background even in scenes with subjects in the foreground and background." I also see that there are six AF target options of varying sizes (1 to 121 points), and the accompanying descriptions of each suggest that they offer a better chance of selecting the correct target for AF. Am I correctly understanding the benefits of phase-detect autofocus and the various AF target options in terms of selecting the desired focus target? I also see that the E-M5iii has a focus limiter function, which would help in the situation I described above. Lastly, would C-AF offer any advantages in this situation? (I don't use C-AF on my Pen-F because it's so bad, so I have no experience with C-AF.)

Thanks in advance for all comments and suggestions!
 
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DIALS: you can assign the dials to do different things in different modes. This is one thing I love about the OM-D platform.

C-AF might work better than S-AF if you have face detect on and you're shooting, say, some people with other objects in the background. I don't think PDAF is really going to change what the camera locks onto, it's just going to be able to focus on whatever it is locked onto or whatever is in the selected focus area more accurately and probably quicker than PDAF alone.
 

Bushboy

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I have never accidentally turned the rear dial. It is just not possible.
My front dial adjusts aperture, rear exposure comp, but any number of different combinations are possible. Very easy to select.
 

Darmok N Jalad

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The dials are definitely programable, and the rear dial is recessed just enough and has enough resistance that you won’t accidentally trigger it, or at least I don‘t. I actually do shutter front, aperture rear, in mode 1, and shutter front, ISO rear in mode 2. That‘s to accommodate quick adjustments when I slap on my TC. I wish I just had an ISO dial, but oh well.

Regarding focus, I assigned the front button to “magnify,” which will allows you to zoom into your focus point to get more precise focus. I use it a ton on macro, and it helps me nail the focus on, say, the bug’s head instead of its wing, for example. Without doing so, the camera will guess, and as you know, it can guess wrong. Once you get the hang of it, it will really help you get exactly what you want in focus, and it can be done relatively quickly.

I can’t help you on the other question, as I don’t use C mode.

Yes, the mount is a question mark, but if you work in small/light lenses, I don’t know if it’s a deal breaker. I’ve probably used a tripod 10 times out of my last 5,000 photos, so it is not a problem for me. :)
 

Hendrik

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If you have become used to fully exploiting C 1-4 on the Pen-F, the 5.3 will be a disappointment. If you typically use only one Custom setting, then the hassle of menu diving to change to C 2 or 3 may only be a minor annoyance at times you wish to use them. Be aware that each time you move the dial away from the C position, the C-assignment reverts to C1––you will have to reassign C 2 or 3 in the menu. C 2 and 3 are only available at the C position on the dial. You may find this a major hobbling of the camera.

The command dials are very flexible in assignments. You should be able to get them to work just as you wish. I find the ergonomics of the buttons and dials to be slightly superior to the Pen-F, with the exception of the on-off switch, in which case the Pen-F rules.

The autofocus of the 5.3 is very flexible and competent. C-AF is supposed to be about on a par with the E-M1 Mark II, which is to say, about as competent as OM-Ds get, short of the 1X. I use C-AF regularly on the 1.2, but seldom on the 5.3 (I don't shoot action with the lenses I tend to use on it). Unfortunately, C-AF+MF did not survive the port from the 1.2, which is a pity––it's very useful at times you may be shooting through a lot of clutter. I agree that C-AF on the Pen-F is cringeworthy.

The tripod mount feels modestly light-duty, but if you are serious about mostly shooting street, then you might find that no big deal. I've used the camera on tripod and it's more than manageable. The general worry is that the mount will be more fragile than that of previous models if the tripod takes a tumble.
 

saladin

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Yes, you can have any combination of settings on the front/rear dials.

No, you don't need to press exp comp button if you have exp comp on a dial.

No, you can't currently assign a custom mode to other mode dial slots. It IS somewhat painful to have to menu dive for C2 . One thing I will say though, is that my Pen-F lends itself to quick access to the four custom settings - especially with tuned color profiles etc such as "classic chrome" - but my Em5iii less so. I have a monochrome setting on C1 and rarely bother with C2/3.

Even S-AF is better on the 5iii. I've never thought the Pen-F autofocus was even as good as the Em5ii or Em1i.
 

Drdul

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Thanks everyone for the responses. A few comments:
  • Good to know for sure that I can switch the dial functions, and that the rear dial isn't prone to accidental bumps like the one on the Pen-F.
  • Bummer about not being able to add custom modes to the mode dial. I mostly use one custom mode on the Pen-F so I would mostly use "C" on the E-M5iii. I'll have to decide whether I'd be menu-diving to get to C2 and C3 often enough that it would be a deal-breaker.
  • It sounds like I would find the AF on the E-M5iii to be a significant improvement. I'll have to play with a camera to see if there's an optimum combination of focus mode and target options that would work for me.
  • @Darmok N Jalad I do the same and have the front button on my Pen-F set to magnify, which works great for manual focus (way better than focus peaking).
  • @rezatravilla Thanks for the heads up about the tripod mount. Fortunately, I never use a tripod. :dance3:
 

Growltiger

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I find S-AF on the Pen-F just as good as on the E-M1 II. In other words both work fast and accurately. I don't see why you would find the E-M5 III any better.

I have to question whether you will regret making this change of camera.
 

RAH

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As everyone has said, you cannot use other dial positions for custom settings. One thing that might be of interest, however, is that you can go into a C mode set of settings and then return to using whatever settings you had on the camera before going to the C mode. Maybe this has always been true, but I didn't know it with my E-M10.3.

So, for example, say you've been using f5.6, ISO 1600, with IS1. You want to switch to C2, which has f4.0, ISO 200, IS OFF. If you just pressed the Menu button and picked C2, when you were finished using it, you could not easily return to your original f5.6, ISO 1600, IS1. But if instead you used the dial to select C first, and then went into the menu to pick C2, when you were finished, turning the dial away from the C position would return you to the those settings you were using earlier - f5.6, ISO 1600, IS1.

Edit: Also, concerning the grip, I don't know anything about the Pen's grip, but I never liked the grip on my E-M10.1 or 2. I find the grip on the E-M5.3 a significant improvement, enough so that I'd say it is perfect as a travel camera.
 
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Michael Meissner

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EM5 III is a good camera but there is a flaw that need to be careful which is their tripod mount's failure. If it's possible, why don't buy EM1 mark II instead?

https://www.dpreview.com/forums/thread/4479644
For me, as I've said in the past, the E-m1 mark III using the same TFT LCD viewfinder as the E-m1 mark II and E-m1x is a deal breaker. I need to wear polarized sunglasses all of the time when I'm outdoors (due to migraines), and the TFT LCD viewfinder distorts the image when you are shooting in landscape (horizontal) orientation. The E-m5 mark III uses an OLED viewfinder, which does not have issues when you wear polarized sunglasses.

Yes, there have been some complaints about the tripod plate in the past. However, all of the posts seem to involve people carrying the camera via a strap that uses the tripod socket to hold the camera.

In particular things like the Peak Designs capture plate use the tripod plate in this fashion, where you attach the capture clip to a backpack strap and have the camera hang lens down attached to the plate. Yes, I used to use the capture system, but with the E-m5 mark III have gone back to using a normal neck strap.

I could imagine if you are using a heavy leans and mount the camera vertically on a tripod, that it might have similar stresses (or mount it so the lens is facing down). But generally, most of the heavy lenses have options to mount the lens directly on the tripod.
 

Drdul

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@RAH Thanks for explaining how best to use the custom modes and for the tip to access them via C on the mode dial.

@Michael Meissner Thanks for clarifying the issue with the tripod socket. I use a wrist strap on my cameras attached to the lug on the right side, so in my case the tripod socket ends up being a vestigial feature.

@Growltiger Thanks for the feedback on the S-AF performance of both cameras. I'm considering the E-M5iii for more than just the AF (although I would hope to see some benefit from the ability to choose from 1 to 121-point AF targets and the other features that phase-detect AF offers). The weatherproofing and grip on the body are reasons I would consider upgrading, as well as the AF limiter and Pre-MF functions.
 

AaronE

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As for the grip on the Pen-f, I had trouble holding the Pen-f with the Oly 12-40 on it. I put the Olympus grip on my Pen-f and it is a totally different camera. Carry it all day in one hand, secure one handed shooting, much easier to pull out of a camera bag.
 

Drdul

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I had trouble holding the Pen-f with the Oly 12-40 on it. I put the Olympus grip on my Pen-f and it is a totally different camera.

I have a 12-40 lens on my Pen-F, too, and while I make it work, it does get tiring holding it for any length of time. I tried the Olympus grip but returned it because it interfered with flipping open the screen from the bottom edge. It really slowed me down, and for me that was more important than a comfortable grip. One of the things that appeals to me about the E-M5iii is that I can have both a grip and still be able to flip the screen open quickly.
 

Drdul

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It isn’t hard to go to change the number of focus points either. I usually just pull press a button on the D-pad to bring up the focus point, and then you just spin the front dial to change the number of focus points.

That’s good to know. On my Pen-F I have to press the left D-pad button and then press Info before I can change the number of focus points, and even then I only get three choices (1, 9 or all).
 

Growltiger

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That’s good to know. On my Pen-F I have to press the left D-pad button and then press Info before I can change the number of focus points, and even then I only get three choices (1, 9 or all).
You should be getting four choices not three. Small single, large single, nine, all.
 
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I find S-AF on the Pen-F just as good as on the E-M1 II. In other words both work fast and accurately. I don't see why you would find the E-M5 III any better.

I have to question whether you will regret making this change of camera.
What about low-light AF? I am an avid Pen-F user myself and love the camera, however the low-light AF performance in my opinion isn't great at all, I heard more recent Olympus bodies featuring the TruePic VIII and above have improved on this matter. Single AF, I never use C-AF anyways, in my opinion is very reliable and fast on the Pen-F anyways, however it takes a hit once the light is gone and the scenery is getting dim.
 

Growltiger

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What about low-light AF? I am an avid Pen-F user myself and love the camera, however the low-light AF performance in my opinion isn't great at all, I heard more recent Olympus bodies featuring the TruePic VIII and above have improved on this matter. Single AF, I never use C-AF anyways, in my opinion is very reliable and fast on the Pen-F anyways, however it takes a hit once the light is gone and the scenery is getting dim.
There have been huge improvements in C-AF with some later cameras, but I find the Pen-F S-AF works very well even in dark conditions. I can't see this as a reason to change cameras.
 

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