24 March 2023

A Gwadloup Experiment, the Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark III: compactness at the edge, the street photo sniper.

  (Personal) An old and very good friend of mine had the generosity (Thanks Claude!) to give me his Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark III camera for my birthday. The camera was absolutely in mint condition (if not new) in its original box and with all its accessories and documentation. I began to play with my new toy saying to me it might be a good second ("B") camera but within a few days of cohabitation, it has become my first and only one for all the duration of my Guadeloupe month stay this winter.

So, what it is to going back to a less sophisticated and performing product? I cannot tell it easily (may be because I am profoundly tired of trying to cope with the ever unfinished technological race). But it can be an interesting challenge. 

After a month of almost daily use in the Guadeloupe environnement, the Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark III is still performing nicely although I became aware about its fondamental limitations such as its autofocus system and its less resolution 16MP image sensor. So, let’s do this very informal camera review.

The gift: the Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark III

After the conversion of the Olympus OM-D E-M1 III and E-M5 III to their new denominations as OM-1 and OM-5 respectively, many are expecting something similar will happen for the E-M10 IV in the near future. We will see if it comes in reality but there is a definitive heritage that all the OM-D E-M10 series (Original, Mark II, Mark III, Mark IIIS & Mark IV) are sharing and it is their obvious compactness and for their design with a a centered viewfinder (SLR like).

A brief look at any OM-D E-M10 model versions may recall us many compact SLR 35 mm analog cameras such as the Olympus OM, the Nikon EM/FG or the Pentax MX/ME series. The size of their bodies are similar although those cameras can fulfill a more extended image/film area of 24X36mm instead of the smaller Micro Four Third image sensor format (13,5X18mm). Ergonomic and mostly interface are sharing also an apparent parenthood. It is clear that the older have inspired the digital sucessors to a certain extend.

Not everybody like compact designed camera models finding them too much small to be properly and securely handhold and interacted with. The body design of the Olympus series have always very appealing for most of those who have migrated from the traditional SLR analog cameras to the digital world. For some reviewers their ergonomic will reveal that the OM-D E-M10 is not perfect in regard of their smallish dimensions. Push buttons, control dials, swift are cramped into a very minimal area and user confusion can be easily happen before becoming more fully aware about their particular interface configuration. The back screen (live viewfinder - LVF) is occupying a prevalent space which is an advantage in this case.

The electronic viewfinder (EVF) experience.

What have strike me first when I first use the OM-D E-M10 Mark III is its electronic viewfinder (EVF) which is very clean and, most important, very detailed. In fact not all EVF with a 2.39 dots of definition are equal as we may think first but the Olympus EVF formula used on the OM-D E-M10 III is equal or even better than some higher selling price MFT camera models. We can only regret that the viewing datas don't automatically rotate to accommodate vertical framing (portrait).

The tilting LVF (back screen) is a reminiscence of the original OM-D E-M5 with its capacity to be used as a waist level viewfinder and as an "over the crowd" one. It cannot be reversed and its limited mobility prevent a useful "outside camera viewing" or a fully closed and protected screen surface. On the positive side, it is a touch screen practical for surfing through the menu setting and for the subject focusing point designation and the camera picture release if needed.

Olympus Spot Metering: a legacy

One of the most efficient and spectacular feature of the Olympus camera models over the years are their exposure metering system which is, in fact, a great legacy from the analog-film era and the original OM 35 mm camera models. The OM-D E-M10 Mark III exposure lecture is very accurate from the chosen image sensor surface area you have selected (Matrix, Center, Spot) and we only regret the absence of the multi-spot metering calculator "à la" OM (analog models). Each camera manufacturer has its strong point and Olympus has maintained its over the top advantage with their exposure metering system.

A simplified interface for an entry level camera model

Interface simplification has been always an engineer dream that want to propose an almost totally exempted of manual camera control for a fully automated device for its user. That can be very appreciated from the part-time photo taker that doesn't want to be involved into the many camera processing adjustments. But the final result is that even the more elementary parameters are becoming less accessible if not completely unreachable. Luckily, the Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark III is, at least, incorporating most of the basic access to these parameters with controls dials or function buttons for exposure metering (ISO), aperture and shutter speed control dials and exposure corrections.

The operating modes (P, A , S, M, Auto, Scene, Advanced, Art, Movie) are also directly configurable. The only real interface drawback is the more difficult access to the autofocus setting (AF-S/AF-C/M) via the rapid menu although you can configure the Fn2 function button in that specific matter. The On-Off switch position respect the old Olympus tradition to be localized on the left upper side of the camera body.

Olympus have decided to restraint a certain amount of previous configuration options that were present into the previous OM-D E-M10 Mark II model in limiting the number of push button and functionalities available to do so. In doing so, the OM-D E-M10 III has became clearly less versatile for people that want to personalize their camera to theirs specific needs and tastes. Those one (which I am!) may struggle to find or not a practical way to interact with the OM-D E-M10 III.

Menu "à la carte"

For those Olympus owners who are familiar with the complexity of the OM-D menus, they will be surprised by the simplified OM-D E-M10 Mark III menu presentation and they may be frustrated by the obvious absence (or removed) of some previous configuration options (and of which some are not compensate in any ways). Considering the low cost of electronic program implementations, this is not the best interface design decision in regard of the Olympus faithful clientele.

Auto-focus abilities and inabilities

If you are relying on the OM-D E-M10 III single or stop autofocus (AF-S) system, you might discover one of its most surprising asset because the camera will set the focus point in a fast and competent manner most of the time, even with low contrast (and low light) subjects. Sure the autofocus system is no help with completely plain and no detailed surfaces and these situations will require your manual intervention. Using the continuous autofocus (AF-C) setting is a complete different story because the camera system visibly struggle to maintain its focus point when the subject is moving even when you are selecting the AF-C with tracking (TR) optionality. It is clear that the Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark III is not a "follow-action" camera and you may have to use a focus locking point (pre-focus) and anticipate the photo-taking moment to get a better chance of succeed.

Color and monochrome picture renderings

Color science into the digital photographic is now so versatile in its multiple configuration, effect and pre-treatment, that is almost impossible to not be able to at least reach a certain point that will suit your needs and tastes. Most of the limitations encountered during the analog-film days are a thing of the past although there will be always space for some marginal improvements. In general Olympus JPEG picture files will be accurate may be with a zest of cooler temperature from the original scene especially with interior artificial light, situations which the white balance adjustment is notorious for its difficulty to interpret flawlessly, in particular with mixed light sources.

Black and white photographic rendering of the OM-D E-M10 III is excellent although I would appreciate to have different contrast level options right from the camera instead of doing post-editing to get it.

Some missing things...

No special provision for a better environnemental camera body protection (weather resistant - WR) has been applied to the Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark III compare to the higher priced models (E-M5 or E-M1). I wonder if it is relevant in our today climatic world to maintain that kind of material discrimination among the different camera model level series. Even the selling price point seems to me not an important factor especially if you consider what is observed in the smartphone market.

No complete switch-off of the LVF (live monitor) that can be combined with the use of the EVF auto-switch during photo-taking session. That option is particularly useful since the back screen cannot be reversed and to get full protection).

No Custom (C) settings are programable on the OM-D E-M10 III which can be annoying when it is combined with no direct access to some important parameters such as an AF-S/AF-C/M configurable options as for the exposure metering pattern options.

No autofocus phase detection functionality (only the classic contrast one is offered) which is unqualified the OM-D E-M10 III for any serious continuous autofocus subject contexts with a workable rate of sharp picture success. Pre-focusing remains the only and incomplete alternative.

The Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark III image sensor definition is also limited to 16 Mega Pixels (MP) which is at least one generation behind most of the recent offer into the Micro Four Third image sensor category (20MP). That issue has been correctly addressed with the introduction of the Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark IV and should be equally later observed if the probable OM-10 to be introduced by OM System.


What to expect from the OM-D E-M10 Mark III

Obviously good pictures! Certainly equal from the those that the previous Olympus OM-D E-M5 original and OM-D E-M5 Mark II have produced over the years and with the satisfaction from their users. That been said it is true to add that there has been a normal technical evolution into the MFT world over the years. But at the end the real challenge you might ask to yourself may be how I can use the Olympus OM-D E-10 Mark III to produce and share interesting pictures that will last a little further than the only moment that they have been taken because, in fact, it is you, the photographer!

On the other point of view, the OM-D E-M10 III cannot really compete in terms of performance, interface and protectively with the more recent Olympus / OM System products such as the OM-D E-M5 III or the newest OM-5 but these ones are noticeably more expensive to own. For an outdoor, street or travel photographer, these later choices could be more appropriate without scarifying the compactness of the camera-lens combination (especially with the M.Zuiko ED 14-150mm F4-5.6 II all-around zoom lens).


At the end of this experimentation, the Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark III has been appreciated as a competent camera, compact and discrete that can deliver fine pictures (but in reminding us that is not in any way a real action camera). 

Photos Daniel M: Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark III / M.Zuiko 14-42mm II R / M.Zuiko 40-150mm F4-5.6 R II

17 March 2023

Gwadloup Street Art

 Street Art is very prolific in Guadeloupe and more particularly in Pointe-à-Pitre, the city of the inter-islands which celebrates their artistic works not only in the street but also inside their open-air museum located in the now discontinued renovation building of their former Art Center.

Many of these murals beautify old buildings and prevent their unwelcome facades from being a rather depressing sight for onlookers. There is also a sense of sociological expression about the people who live in Guadeloupe but also about other human beings around the world and its history that inspires street artists.

What is significant is the lesser presence of graffiti compared to many major North American metropolitan areas. Guadeloupean street expression is culturally deeper, more articulate and more appealing than just repeated graphic garish lines.

Here are some examples of how artistic expression can be popular and highly sophisticated.

Photos Daniel M: Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark III / M.Zuiko 14-42mm II R 

15 March 2023

Gwadloup Carnets: Seashore tourist watch


It's instinctive for most of us, let's say: looking at the sea! It's captivating, it's soothing, it's spiritual, etc., etc. It is also one of the last humble exercises that we as humans still consent to do. Perhaps because we understand that the sea cannot be mastered in the end by small creatures like us, even with all our pompous attempts to try it.

And the sea is an endless spectacular sight to watch and be a little scared of.

Photos Daniel M: Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark III / M.Zuiko 14-42mm II R

14 March 2023

Gwadloup Carnets: The Sargassum Dilemma


You can smell them before seeing them deposited on the beaches of the Guadeloupe coast. They are present and they represent a kind of dissuasive tourist trap for those who seek the landscapes of the old postal beaches. They represent the modern tourist "threat" of Sargassum.

You can see them coming from the sea by observing gradually overgrown coastal areas and when fully settled they prevent an idealistic swimming practice in the clear ocean water. But many don't know that there is a Sargasso Sea (located loosely in the center of the Atlantic Ocean) that has been around for centuries, if not millennia. And no, its characteristic brown algae is in no way the result of a polluting activity but rather a very natural phenomenon. In fact, the Sargasso Sea has been and still is seriously polluted by plastic waste (a direct result of irresponsible human activities) of all kinds now present in the water.

True, vacationers do not like the sight, the smell, the general discomfort caused by the additional presence of Sargassum. The same disgust applies to those who use motor boats because of the obvious inconvenience that brown algae can cause to propellers or turbines for example. Episodic phenomena surely obsess the greatest number more than the few who prefer to ignore it, but it is part of our geo-climatic reality that it would be almost impossible to prevent and control in the near future and is part of the life of our planet.

When the sargassum comes, isn't it time to take a break from our hectic lifestyle? The question remains there...

Photos Daniel M : Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark III / M.Zuiko 12-42mm II R

12 March 2023

Gwadloup Carnets: Church Presence

It is always surprising how much the presence of the church (temple) if not its precedence in our Western society is still visible even knowing that the majority of people are no longer practicing (if in fact we tend to reserve this religious involvement for the most, should we say, "fanatics").

In Guadeloupe, religious faith is part of the Caribbean cultural society which proves that human spiritual thought remains alive despite the apparent media (and Internet) secularism of today's communication exchanges.

Through all the natural disasters experienced by the Gwadloup Islands, their temple-churches have been preserved or rebuilt over time. In many cases they are interesting examples of the Art Deco style designed by the architect Ali Tur who took part in many reconstructions of civil buildings during the 1930s following the devastating cyclone of 1928. Here are some examples that you can see during a visit to Guadeloupe.

Photos Daniel M: Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark III / M.Zuiko 14-42mm II R

10 March 2023

Gwadloup Carnets: Circulating around

  We cannot summerzise an entenry geographical entity like the Guadeloupe archipelago in a short description because all those islands represent a continent of geology, vegetal, animal and human different testimonies. We can only surface the very mean of them and we can only do a short and fragmented survey of what has been and still is as a maritime civilisation that may be opposed to our urban views and bias. 

We are voyagers with very limited observing senses and with a very narrow memory capacities and even if our archival finds seem to be extended, we have gradually lost our historical curiosity in profit of a flashing live of secured and low grade emotions. Collecting destinations stickers on our virtual luggages wont replace the true experience of getting a real taste of the unknown countries and peoples.

Guadeloupe can be seen as a segmented human society in its economic and cultural sectarisme, an obvious fact that nobody cannot really denied and which is also the case of many human settlements around the world. But this relative absence of multilateral exchanges of any kind is creating a more static view than an evolutionary one. For an outside observer like me, it means also that everything in Guadeloupe has not really changed since my last visit six years ago.

A land of contrasts between the favorite ones among the natives, the seasonal, the visitors and others. And sometimes thoses contrasts can be observed side by side. In brief, a true human kaleidoscope that is very interesting to photograph!

Photos Daniel M: Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark III / M.Zuiko 14-42mm II R


08 March 2023

26 February 2023

Gwadloup Carnets (Adventures from the "butterfly" archipelago): A touchdown!

 (Lucky Daniel M will spent the next month in Guadeloupe)

The charming “butterfly” archipelago of Guadeloupe is part of the French Antilles located into the Caribbean sea. Alongside with its richer sister island of Martinique, Guadeloupe is a refuge in many ways for its habitants human or not. Seen by many short or long-term visitors as a paradise, it is fair to say that Guadeloupe has also its own challenges with poverty and ecological issues and still depend on outsiders contributions.

During this monthly stay in Guadeloupe, I will challenge myself to document visually and to write short impressions about the islands and its society. Tourism have become an essential "industry" for many south destinations such as Gwadloup (native creole name). It transform the society that is facing basically two kinds of visitors: the short term one (as myself) and the long term one (mainly French people coming from, as they call, the metropole France). So even for the touristic activities and especially lodging and restauration, a large part of it is controlled by mostly French natives or mid-time habitants.

Two distinctives islands (or lands) are forming the Guadeloupe achipèl (archipelago in creole): Basse Terre and Grande Terre. They are geographically different and reunited by the Pointe-à-Pitre area which is not by the way the official Guadeloupe capital city (Basse-Terre).  The two islands have a very distinctive geography. Basse-Terre is a volcanic formation dominated by the Soufrière. The mountainous interior offer you spectacular sites such as the Carbet falls. many small and narrow beaches are secluded and naturally preserved. Grande Terre is a more flat land that has been mainly used in the past for the sugar plantation purposes have beaches that are larger with a lot of marine attracted activities like scuba diving, surfing, fishing..

Outside those two main islands, there are beautiful smaller islands (Desired,  Saint, etc) that are accessible via boat rides or even small charter planes. The entire Gwadloup archipelago may ask an extended stay (or multiples short ones) to properly embrace its diversity. 

Photos Daniel M: OM-D EM10 Mark III