Buyers Guides |Best Olympus / OM System cameras in 2022

The Buyers guide to...Best Olympus / OM System cameras in 2022

Olympus camera rumours 2016
Buyers Guide

Over the last couple of years mirrorless cameras have become increasingly popular and in 2019, their sales overtook those of DSLRs. With Canon and Nikon now fully active in the mirrorless market in a more meaningful way, Sony has carved itself a large share of sales, Panasonic has introduced four full-frame mirrorless cameras, along with its Micro Four Thirds models, and Fujifilm has a range of APS-C and medium format cameras.

Which brings us to Olympus. As other manufacturers have moved into full-frame and medium format markets, Olympus has remained steadfast in its commitment to the Micro Four Thirds format it helped develop and grow alongside Panasonic.

Then came 2020. While many companies struggled during that tumultuous year, Olympus, in particular, acutely felt the effects of the continued decline in digital camera sales. Rumours surrounded the company all year that it was exiting the camera business. Then, in Q3 it was revealed that Olympus had formalised an agreement to transfer the Olympus Imaging business to Japan Industrial Partners through ‘an absorption-type split.’

In 2021, Olympus officially became OM Digital Solutions, a special purpose company established by JIP, and the Olympus brand officially became OM System and released its first lens under the new moniker.

In this guide, we’ll take a look at the best Olympus cameras you can buy today for your specific photographic needs. For a deeper dive into the many different camera types and features available, check out our range of camera buying guides.

Best Olympus camera for video

Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark III

Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark III Review

Specification

  • Camera type: Mirrorless camera
  • Sensor: 20.4Mp Live MOS Micro Four Thirds sensor
  • Lens mount: Micro Four Thirds
  • Processing engine: TruePic VIII
  • Sensitivity range: ISO 64-25,600
  • Autofocus system: Hybrid with 121 (all cross-type) phase-detection AF points
  • Maximum continuous shooting rate: Mechanical shutter: 10fps with focus and exposure fixed at the start of the burst, 6fps with C-AF, Electronic Shutter 30fps and 10fps
  • Max video resolution: C4K 24p at up to 237Mbps / 4K 30p, 25p, 24p at 102Mbps
  • Live Bulb Shooting Options: Live Composite, Live Time, Live Bulb, Focus Bracketing, Focus Stacking, 50Mp High Res Shot modes
  • Viewfinder: 2,360,000-dot electronic viewfinder
  • Screen: Vari‑angle 3.0-inch 1,037,000-dot touchscreen
  • Dimensions (W x H x D): 125.3 x 85.2 x 9.7mm
  • Weight: 414g including battery and memory card, 366g body only

It’s often overlooked as such, but the OM-D E-M5 Mark II is a surprisingly capable video camera, and at the end of 2019 Olympus replaced it with the even more capable OM-D E-M5 Mark III. As well as its brilliant 5-Axis Image Stabilisation, the E-M5 Mark III offers C4K recording at 24fps and 4K at 30p, 25p or 24p. And Full HD 1080p footage can be recorded at up to 120fps which is perfect for slow-motion playback.

Further good news is that the highest resolution video enables bit rates of up to 237 Mbps, which is good news for post-production processing.

The OMD E-M5 Mark III scores in another area because it’s very compact yet has an excellent stabilisation system. The latter takes out much of the shake and wobble of hand-held recording and can even smooth out the jerky movement of walking up or downstairs.

Price when reviewed
£1100
$1199.99
Check current price

For

  • Images full of detail
  • Low noise at higher ISOs
  • Superb stabilisation

Against

  • Image quality can't quite match full-frame
  • Dynamic range could be better

Best Olympus camera for landscapes, portraits and low light

Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II

Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II

Specification

  • Camera type: Mirrorless camera
  • Sensor: Four Thirds-type 20.4Mp Live MOS
  • Processing engine: TruePic VIII
  • Lens mount: Micro Four Thirds
  • Autofocus system: Hybrid with 121 all cross-type focusing points
  • Max continuous shooting rate: 18fps with AF tracking, 60fps with AF locked on first frame with electronic shutter
  • Max video resolution: 4K (4096 x 2160) at 24p
  • Viewfinder: 2,360,000-dot electronic viewfinder
  • Sensitivity range: ISO 64-25,600
  • Screen: Vari‑angle 3-inch 1,037,000-dot touchscreen
  • Storage: 2x SD/SDHC/SDXC (UHS-II)
  • Dimensions (W x H x D): 134.1 x 90.9 x 68.9mm
  • Weight: 498g (body only), 574g (including battery and memory card)

The OMD E-M1 Mark II may be a few years old now, but it is still the best Olympus camera for a wide range of photography – and more affordable than it used to be.

Rarely does a camera tick so many boxes, but we have to give the Olympus OMD E-M1 Mark II the gongs for these categories as well. The speed of its superb autofocusing system and Tracking AF is so good that wildlife photographers or anyone shooting or filming action will be impressed by its hit rate, even in gloomy conditions.

Which brings us to low light. Olympus’s 5-Axis Image Stabilisation in the E-M1 Mark II is incredible.

In our tests, when shooting at the 100mm end of Olympus’s 12-100mm f/4 lens we were able to get consistently sharp images at 1/2sec, proving the 6.4EV shutter speed extension claim to be true. What’s even more impressive, however, is that at the 12mm we were able to get sharp images with 2sec exposures.

And switching to the camera’s High Res Shot mode allows you to capture 50-megapixel scenes with stunning amounts of detail. The E-M1 Mark II can do it all.

Price when reviewed
£1499
$1299
Check current price

For

  • Fast and accurate focusing with moving subjects
  • Superb stabilisation system
  • Innovative features

Against

  • High price
  • Comparatively small sensor limits scope to restrict depth of field
  • High Res Shot mode a tripod only mode

Best Olympus camera for professional photography

Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark III

Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark III

Specification

  • Camera type: Mirrorless
  • Lens mount: Micro Four Thirds
  • Sensor: Four Thirds type 20.4 MP Live MOS sensor
  • Announced: 12th February 2020
  • Processing engine: TruePic IX
  • Autofocus system: Hybrid with 121-point all cross-type focus points
  • Max continuous shooting rate: 18fps AF/AE mechanical shutter (C-AF), 60fps in electronic shutter (S-AF)
  • Max video resolution: C4K (4096 x 2160) at 30/25p
  • Viewfinder: 2,360,000-dot electronic viewfinder
  • Sensitivity range: ISO 64-25,600
  • Screen: Vari‑angle 3-inch 1,037,000-dot touchscreen
  • Storage: 2x SD/SDHC/SDXC (1 UHS-I and 1 UHS-II)
  • Dimensions (LxHxW): 134.1 x 90.9 x 68.9mm
  • Weight: 504g body only, 580g with battery and SD card

In some respects the Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark III makes a fairly modest step-up from the OM-D E-M1 Mark II, however, it feels more refined and has some great features that make shooting in tricky conditions a little easier. It also enables photographers to travel lighter, not just by being relatively small and light itself, but by allowing tripods and ND filters to be left behind in many situations. Olympus also offers an extensive array of superb lenses and the 2x focal length magnification factor is especially useful for sport and wildlife photographers.

While existing OM-D E-M1 Mark II may not want to upgrade, the OM-D E-M1 Mark III makes a very attractive option for professional photographers looking to switch to a mirrorless camera.

Overall, yes, the OM-D E-M1 II is still a very versatile camera, with a great combination of features and technology that makes shooting some normally difficult images easy. But Olympus has evolved this further with the E-M1 III, giving it most of what the E-M1X has but in a smaller form that seems more in line with the Micro Four Thirds message.

Price when reviewed
£1600
$1499
Check current price

For

  • Compact size with vari-angle screen
  • Great feature set
  • Excellent lens range

Against

  • Sub-APS-C size sensor
  • Uses the same sensor as its predecessor
  • Lacks the subject recognition system of the E-M1X

Best Olympus camera for wildlife

Olympus OM-D E-M1X

Olympus OM-D E-M1X review

Specification

  • Camera type: Mirrorless
  • Sensor: 20.4Mp Four Thirds Type (17.3 x 13.0mm) CMOS
  • Lens mount: Micro Four Thirds
  • Sensitivity range: ISO 64-25,600
  • Processing engine: 2x TruePic VIII
  • Autofocus system: Hybrid with 121 cross-type points (800 in magnified view)
  • Max continuous shooting rate: 18fps with AF tracking, 60fps with AF locked on first frame with electronic shutter
  • Pro Capture High Mode: 60fps
  • Pro Capture Low Mode: 18fps
  • Burst Mode in S-AF: 15fps for 143 raw files
  • Burst Mode in C-AF: 10fps for 283 raw files
  • Max video resolution: 4K (4096 x 2160) at 24p
  • Viewfinder: Electronic with 2,360,000 dots
  • Screen: Touch-sensitive vari-angle 3-inch LCD with 1,037,000 dots
  • Storage: 2x SD/SDHC/SDXC (UHS-II)
  • Dimensions (WxHxD): 144.4 x 146.8 x 75.4mm
  • Weight: 849g (body only), 997g (including 2 batteries and memory cards)

The OM-D E-M1 Mark II is actually a very good camera for wildlife photography, but thanks to its built-in vertical grip, the OM-D E-M1X is better suited to use with long, heavy telephoto lenses. It also has two processing engines built in and this helps power an intelligent subject detection system.  This enables you to set the E-M1X to detect specific subjects including Motorsports, Airplanes and Trains and it works brilliantly and we’re still hoping that animals will be added to the list soon.

There are also two mini-joystick multi-selector controls on the back of the camera for setting the AF point while the viewfinder is in use. Having two of these controls means there’s one in easy reach whether you’re using the horizontal or vertical grip.

Olympus redeveloped the OM-D E-M1 II’s autofocus system for the OM-D E-M1X. It still has 121 cross-type phase detection AF points but the AF algorithm has been re-worked to boost performance – and it works a treat.

Price when reviewed
£2199
$1999
Check current price

For

  • One of the fastest cameras you can buy
  • Pro Capture Mode offers lots of flexibility
  • High Res Shot mode is very impressive

Against

  • It's very big and heavy for a Micro Four Thirds camera
  • Four Thirds sensor
  • Need more smaller, lighter, more affordable long telephoto lenses

Best Olympus camera for vlogging

Olympus Pen E-PL9

Specification

  • Camera type: Mirrorless
  • Sensor: 16.1Mp Four Thirds Type Live Mos
  • Lens mount: Micro Four Thirds
  • Processor: TruePic VIII
  • Sensitivity range: ISO 100-25,600
  • Autofocus system: Contrast detection with 121 points
  • Max shooting rate: Mechanical shutter: 8.6fps in S-AF, 4.8fps in C-AF; Electronic shutter: 14.1fps in S-AF, 61.fps in C-AF
  • Max video resolution: 3840 x 2160 (4k) / 30p, 25p, 24p / IPB (approx. 102Mbps)
  • Storage: SD/SDHC/SDXC UHS‑I
  • Viewfinder: None
  • Screen: Tiltable 3-inch 1,040,000-dot touchscreen
  • Dimensions (WxHxD): 17.1 x 68 x 39mm
  • Weight: 332g body only, 380g including battery and memory card

Although the PEN E-PL10 now replaces it, the E-PL10 only makes a few aesthetic changes to the E-PL9, so we’re sticking with the PEN E-PL9 for our choice as the best Olympus camera for vloggers.

The PEN E-PL9 is an entry-level model in Olympus’s range, and offers 4K video recording at 30, 25 and 24p, and Full HD video can be recorded at 60p.

To go along with that 4K video recording is a vlogger-friendly 3-inch, 1,040k-dot touchscreen that articulates 80 degrees up or 180 degrees down on its bracket for shooting selfies and vlogs.

Video is an essential feature in 2021, especially for vloggers, so the E-PL9’s 4K at 30fps is impressive for a camera of this size and price.

There’s also a High Speed Video mode for capturing slow-motion movies, a Clips video mode for capturing 4sec movies and you can also add the camera’s Art Filters and a wide range of other effects to your videos.

You’ll also find the addition of Bluetooth connectivity (a first for Olympus cameras), new art filters, more AF points and Oympus’s new TruePic VIII image processor, inherited from the company’s flagship E-M1 Mark II.

As well as popular Olympus stalwarts Live Composite and Live Bulb modes, the E-PL9 also has Focus Bracketing (shoot up to 999 frames at different focus differentials, which you can merge into a focus stack in your photo editing software), Sweep Panorama, HDR Backlight and Keystone Compensation (for correcting converging lines in-camera) modes.

Price when reviewed
£580
Check current price

For

  • Compact and easy to use
  • 3-inch 1,040k-dot touchscreen that tilts 80 degrees up or 180 degrees down
  • 4K video at 30p

Against

  • No viewfinder
  • No external mic port

Best Olympus camera for beginners

Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark IV

Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark IV review

Specification

  • Camera type: Micro Four Thirds mirrorless
  • Announced: 4th August 2020
  • Sensor: Four Thirds Type 20.3Mp Live MOS
  • Processing engines: TruePic VIII
  • Sensitivity range: ISO 80-25,600
  • Viewfinder: 2,360,000-dot electronic with 1.23x magnification and 19.2mm eye point
  • Stabilisation: 5-axis with up to 4.5EV shutter speed compensation
  • Screen: 3-inch 1,037,000-dot tilting touchscreen
  • Focus modes: Manual focus, Single AF, Continuous AF, Single AF + MF, AF Tracking, Super Spot AF, Face Detection AF
  • Exposure modes: Programme, Aperture priority, Shutter priority, Manual, Bulb, Time, i-Auto, Scene Modes, Art Filter, Movie, Live Time, Live Composite, Advanced Photo Modes (Live Composite, Live Bulb, Multiple Exposure, HDR Backlight, Silent, Panorama, Keystone Compensation, AE bracketing, AF bracketing)
  • Autofocus system: Contrast detection with up to 121 points
  • Autofocus point selection modes: All target, Group target (9-areas), Single target
  • Exposure metering: 324 zones Multi-pattern Sensing System with ESP, Spot, Centre weighted, Highlight and Shadow mode
  • Art filers: Pop Art, Soft Focus, Pale & Light Colour, Light Tone, Grainy Film, Pin Hole, Diorama, Cross Process, Gentle Sepia, Dramatic Tone, Key Line, Water colour, Vintage, Partial Colour, Bleach Bypass, Instant Film
  • Shutter speed: 1/16,000-60sec, Bulb to 30mins
  • Maximum continuous shooting rate: High: 15 fps Low: 6.3 fps, Max. number of frames: High 42 raw files or 49 (LF) JPGs, Low: 945 raw files or until the card is full with (LF) JPGs
  • Video resolution: 4K (3840 x 2160) / 30p, 25p, 24p / IPB (approx. 102 Mbps) Full HD (1920 x 1080) / 30p, 25p, 24p (MOV) Full HD (1920 x 1080) / 60p, 50p / IPB (F,N) / (MOV) HD (1280 x 720) / 60p, 50p, 30p, 25p, 24p (MOV)
  • Time lapse: 4k, 1080p, 720p
  • Flash: Built-in GN 7.2 (ISO200), hotshoe for external flash
  • Connectivity: Wi-Fi, Bluetooth
  • Multiple exposure: 2 frames with or without autogain
  • Storage: SDHC/SDXC UHS-II
  • Dimensions (WxHxD): 121.7x84.4x49mm
  • Weight: 383g including battery and SD card

The Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark IV isn’t much bigger than some compact cameras with much smaller sensors yet it’s much more versatile, has a great collection of features and produces better image quality.

Aside from the increase in the pixel count, it makes a fairly small step up from the OM-D E-M10 Mark III, but the autofocus system is better and the ability to see the screen from in front of the camera is a useful addition.

The Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark IV makes a very good first serious camera and is an excellent model for anyone looking for a smaller alternative to a large camera. It’s also compatible with an extensive collection of lenses.

We have recommended the Olympus E-M10 camera line to quite a few photographers who have been looking for a compact and lightweight camera and they’ve all been very happy with their purchase. If you’re looking for a camera to carry everywhere that will get you great results and doesn’t need a tripod much of the time, the Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark IV is a great choice.

Price when reviewed
£699
$649
Check current price

For

  • Very compact, yet versatile camera
  • Tilting screen can face forwards for selfies and vlogging
  • Live Composite and Live Bulb mode make long exposure photography easy

Against

  • Sub-APS-C format sensor
  • No weatherproofing
guest

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

1 Comment
Oldest
Newest
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Denis RT
1 year ago

I hope Olympus will make it. They have some great cameras.