One of the most searched for terms on our website is ‘best Micro Four Thirds camera,’ so we have done a roundup of the best M4/3 cameras.
It’s true; ‘the best Micro Four Thirds camera‘ really is one of the top search terms that is typed into our search bar. On any given week, that term will be there, near the top. Micro Four Thirds Cameras receive a lot of hate, but there are plenty of you who are still interested in the system. Not too long ago, we made a roundup of the best Micro Four Thirds lenses for new photographers, and it was well-received. So, now we have rounded up the best Micro Four Thirds cameras for most types of photographers. Whether you like travel photography, sports photography, event, portrait, street, or landscape photography, there’s a M4/3 camera for you. Jump past the break to see our favorites.
There are a lot of misconceptions about the Micro Four Thirds platform. Many photographers or camera nerds will tell you that the image quality is poor because of the small sensor. They would be wrong. You’ll be told that low light and high ISO shooting is not possible. That’s also fake news. I have shot up to ISO 6400 without issues. Are images as clean as Full-Frame cameras? No. Are they still perfectly fine to use? Yes. You’ll also be told that dynamic range is terrible, that you cannot create bokeh, and that there is no way you can be a professional and use Micro Four Thirds cameras. This is the point where we tell you to stop believing everything self-proclaimed YouTube photography professionals tell you.
What’s really unfortunate is that the keyboard warriors out there will tell you the platform is worthless. The truth is many either tried the platform back in its infancy and haven’t even held one of the newer cameras, or they have never tried one at all. Along with the new cameras, the lenses, especially the Panasonic Leica, and Olympus M. Zuiko and Pro lenses, are all incredible, they are some of the sharpest I have used personally, and I have used a lot of lenses across a lot of systems.
I use the Olympus OM-D E-M1 III daily for both paid gigs and personal use. My clients have never uttered a bad word about the work they receive, and I have never been left wanting more. Go out and get a newer Micro Four Thirds camera in your hands and see just what it can do. Not only will you be stunned with the image quality, but you’ll also love how much lighter the system is compared to Full Frame offerings. During a recent 6-hour long event in 105 degree Oklahoma heat, I was glad I had my M4/3 setup. Here’s a look at which Micro Four Thirds cameras are perfect for every type of photographer. As a side note, let me save you a comment. We know the Panasonic G9 isn’t listed here. We haven’t reviewed it, and therefore, as a matter of ethics, we will not include it in roundups like this.
Further note from the Editor in Chief: For a while, we’ve had a policy that if we don’t get to review a camera within six months of it being announced, we automatically just don’t review it. Often, it’s not worth it considering how many products come out each quarter.
“…the keyboard warriors out there will tell you the platform is worthless. The truth is, many either tried the platform back in its infancy and haven’t even held one of the newer cameras, or they have never tried one at all.”
For the Beginner – Olympus E-PL10
If you’re looking to step up from your smartphone, the Olympus E-PL10 is the perfect place to start. Small, user-friendly, gorgeous looks, and affordable, the Olympus E-PL10 can slip into your bag or jacket pocket and go anywhere with you. This camera is fun to use, the IBIS works great, the filters can help you create unique images, and Live Comp is a star as always. Here are the pros and cons from our full review:
- The E-PL10 is a fun camera to use, especially with smaller lenses
- The feature set is impressive and includes Olympus’s Live Comp and fun art filters
- 3-Axis Image Stabilization works really well
- The flip-down screen is great for those who love selfies
- A very good quality LCD: it’s better than the LCD on Sony’s a6100
- It’s small, light, and looks good. It can go anywhere with minimal fuss
- Pretty great battery life
- Image quality is great considering the sensor is six years old
- Good autofocus performance in good lighting conditions
- Good build quality overall
- The sensor is six years old! Come on Olympus, it’s time for an update
- Autofocus performance is hit and miss in low light (contrast only AF)
- In bright sun, the LCD can be tricky to see
- The buttons and controls are a little hard to use due to their small size
- Even with some helpful splash screens, the main meat of the menu system is terrible
- There’s no weather sealing
Buy now: $699 with the 14-42mm lens
For the Street Photographer – Olympus Pen F
The Olympus Pen F is a thing of beauty, but this camera isn’t just about looks. An excellent 20-megapixel sensor sits inside the retro body, and the 5-axis in-body image stabilization and autofocus system are fantastic. The Pen F creates gorgeous image files (both RAW and JPEGS) and fires off ten frames per second. Pair it with the Olympus 17mm f1.8 or the Panasonic 20mm f1.7 II and you’ll have a killer street combo. Here are the pros and cons from our full review:
- The absolute best and in some ways almost perfect image quality from an Olympus ILC camera yet
- Handles very much like an old analog camera
- Feels amazing in the hand for street photography
- Thumb rest is absolutely fantastic
- Autofocus performance is more than satisfactory.
- Not too large of a camera body
- The knob that lets me shoot in black and white mode has us addicted to not only shooting in black and white but also being very happy with the JPEGs
- Flippin’ fantastic JPEG output
- Great EVF
- The electronic shutter is super nice
- The most beautiful digital camera made thus far
- 80MP High res mode is there but I’m honestly not sure it should be. It wasn’t really designed for that user.
- We haven’t been this excited about a camera since the Olympus OMD EM5 came out
- We really, really wish Olympus put some weather sealing into the camera
Buy now: $999
For Videographers – Panasonic GH5s
The GH5s has been a go-to camera for videographers since its release in 2018. Thanks to its excellent 4K 4:2:2 10-Bit video with unlimited recording times, and the fact that it can also help you make great images, the GH5s is a hybrid shooter’s dream. Like most Panasonic cameras, the GH5s is built like a tank and features great autofocus performance. This beastly Micro Four Thirds camera is also weather-sealed. Pair it with the new Panasonic 10-25mm f1.7 and you’ll have a great package for videography and photography. Here are the pros and cons from our full review:
- Weather sealing
- Great autofocus in most situations
- Focus peaking for manual focus lenses
- High ISO output is great
- Because this is a 10.2MP Four Thirds sensor, the pixels are more densely packed and therefore give off pretty detailed images
- Tactile things on the buttons that make you realize what they are
- That’s a lot of money to pay
Buy now: $1,797.99
Pro Tip: These Micro Four Thirds cameras are so much fun to use, you’re going to find yourself out and about more than ever just so that you can make images with them. Being outside means your gear is going to get dirty, so we recommend carrying a basic cleaning kit with you. You don’t need an expensive kit; this one is just fine.
For the Travel Photographer – Olympus OMD EM5 Mark III
If you want a small but mighty camera to take with you on your travels, the Olympus OM-D E-M5 III is the one for you. It has beautiful retro looks, a fully articulating screen, a blazing-fast autofocus system, a 20.4-megapixel sensor, and it is weather sealed. Pair all this with the Olympus 12-200mm f3.5-6.3 or the Panasonic 12-60mm f2.8-4, and you’ll have an all-in-one package that can shoot any genre. Here are the pros and cons from our review:
- Beautiful retro styling
- Excellent image quality
- Robust weather sealing
- Reliable image stabilization
- Accurate autofocus
- Compact form factor
- Built-in Live Composite and 50 MP High Resolution shooting modes are highly effective
- Form factor can be too compact for some
- Plasticky build quality
- Single UHS-II SD Card slot
- Lacks dedicated joystick
- Poor battery life
- Convoluted menu systems
Buy now: $999
Pro Tip: One thing to keep in mind with Micro Four Thirds cameras is that they have a 2x crop. This crop means whatever lens you have attached to the camera; it will act as if it is twice its actual focal length. So, the terrific Olympus 40-150mm f2.8 will have an equivalent focal length of 80-300mm and an equivalent depth of field of f5.6. As you’re looking for Micro Four Thirds lenses, remember this, and you’ll be A-Okay.
For the Professional – Olympus OMD E-M1 Mk III
The Olympus OM-D E-M1 III is a workhorse of a camera that is built tough. The in-body image stabilization is the best in the business, the autofocus system is fast and features improved eye and face detect, it’s got enough weather sealing to survive a lifetime, and it sports two SD card slots (One UHS-II). Then you have features like Starry Sky AF, handheld 50MP hi-res modes, and Live Comp to sweeten the pot even more. Pair it up with the Olympus 40-150mm f2.8 Pro or the Olympus 45mm f1.2 Pro, and you’ll have a portrait photographer’s dream setup. Here are the pros and cons from our full review:
- Feels nice when shooting for a long time
- We like the shutter sound
- Good continuous autofocus which does tracking
- The processor is fantastic
- The art filters continue to make Olympus unique
- Live composite is so incredibly pleasant, along with Starry AF.
- It survived sand and saltwater
- Continuous AF+Tracking works well
- The custom shooting mode switch on the back is something every adventure brand should have
- This is the foundation for an Olympus camera we’d want to bring with us everywhere
- Handheld high res shot continues to be one of the best things ever
- Face detection works on monkeys
- Battery life in the heat and the cold
- Still no rating system in the playback menu. Why?
- Why no touchscreen menus?
- Olympus’s menu system continues to give headaches
- Some of the parts seem very dated. Like the EVF, the sensor, and some of the dials
- A top screen LCD could have made shooting easier
- Why couldn’t it have Dual UHS-II Card slots?
- Above ISO 1600, you really need the art filters
- Could really use no blackout in the EVF
- Animal Tracking in autofocus is needed
Buy now: $1,699
For the Sports and Wildlife Photographer – Olympus OMD EM1X
If you need a camera that can survive being roughed up in the field, the Olympus E-M1X is the camera you need. This camera was designed for professional sports photographers and those who love to be outdoors with wildlife. Two image processors make this AI-powered camera a joy to use, and the focusing system is fast enough to capture any action. Pair it with the Olympus 300mm f4 Pro, the Panasonic 100-400mm, or the new Olympus 100-400mm f5-6.3 IS, and you’ll be amazed at what this camera can do. Here are the pros and cons from our full review:
- Very fast autofocus
- Autofocus is fast for tracking
- Very well weather sealed
- A joy to carry and hold
- We love that there is no automatic mode of any sort
- The viewfinder is very nice
- C-lock switch is awesome
- One of the best weather-sealed mirrorless cameras we’ve ever tested
- Damned good image stabilization
- Face detection isn’t as good as Sony’s and Fujifilm’s
- Needs a star rating system for the images
- Interesting choices for what Olympus should hone in on for autofocus tracking
- We miss Sony’s no viewfinder blackout
- The focus tracking was all over the place
- This is a noisy camera at ISO 6400
- The RAW files aren’t super versatile at higher ISO settings.
Buy now: $2,399