The best Olympus cameras encapsulate the brand’s best qualities: classic styling, excellent picture quality, and an elegant, lightweight build. They are formidable imaging devices for both stills and film, from beginners to experts.
Olympus recently decided to sell its photography division, but new company OM Digital Solutions will continue to produce, sell, and service the company’s cameras and lenses (which Olympus retains an ownership stake in). Still, you may be considering if you should purchase an Olympus camera – and in our opinion, you should!
The E-PL9 and E-M5 Mark III are among the best cameras for vlogging, the E-M10 Mark III is our pick for the best travel camera and one of the best cameras for beginners, the E-M1 Mark III is arguably the best professional camera for general practice photography, and the Tough TG–6 is the best waterproof camera.
Regardless of who owns the company name, such cameras are still excellent. And since the Micro Four Thirds lens community is one of the most diverse, there would be no lack of excellent lenses to choose from.
Since Micro Four Thirds sensors are slightly smaller than APS-C sensors, the entire device – cameras and lenses – is thinner, more lightweight, and less expensive than competing camera systems.
So, let’s take a look at the best of Olympus’ three product lines: the flagship OM-D bodies (which harken back to the OM film cameras and are targeted at experienced and enthusiast photographers), the PEN line (which is super sleek and suitable for social shooters and content creators), and the Tough cameras (which are near-indestructible and can be used in any environment)….
Best Olympus Cameras in 2021
1. Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark III
Type: Mirrorless | Sensor: MFT | Megapixels: 20.4MP | Lens mount: NFT | Screen: 3-inch vari-angle touchscreen, 1,037,000 dots | Viewfinder: Electronic | Continuous shooting speed: 30fps (Pro Capture mode), 10fps (mechanical shutter) | Max video resolution: c4K/4K | User level: Enthusiast/Expert
The Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark III is a fantastic camera that is a worthy successor to the famous E-M5 Mark II. This new camera uses Olympus’ flagship 20.4MP Micro Four Thirds sensor, and although the sensor size is smaller than APS-C, the image quality is excellent – particularly considering the camera’s ability to shoot 50MP images through pixel change. It also has 6.5 stops of in-body stabilization, 30fps burst shooting (including via Pro Capture mode with 14-shot pre-buffering), C4K and 4K recording, and Olympus’ genius Live Composite modes, among other features.
2. Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark III
Type: Mirrorless | Sensor: Micro Four Thirds | Megapixels: 20.4MP | Screen: 3.0-inch 1,037k articulating touchscreen | Viewfinder: Electronic 2,360k | Lens: Micro Four Thirds | Continuous shooting speed: 60fps | Max video resolution: 4K | User level: Enthusiast/Professional
Can you believe Olympus can’t perform on a competitive level? Reconsider your place. There are a lot of dedicated cameras that can do certain things differently than the E-M1 Mark III, but none that can do anything it can. It’s an outstanding alternative if you’re a general practicing practitioner who shoots a range of genres. Handheld astrophotography, 4K video with great phase-detect autofocus that doesn’t overheat, industry-leading 7.5-stop image stabilization, 60fps rapid recording, 80MP high-resolution imaging, handheld astrophotography… All of this comes in a kit that’s smaller, lighter, and less costly than most DSLRs or mirrorless cameras. This camera is a beast, so keep that in mind.
3. Olympus OM-D E‑M10 Mark IV
Type: Mirrorless | Sensor: Micro Four Thirds | Megapixels: 20.3MP | Screen: 3-inch tiltable touchscreen, 1,037K dots | Viewfinder: Electronic 2,360K dots | Lens: Micro Four Thirds | Continuous shooting speed: 15fps | Max video resolution: 4K | User level: Intermediate/Enthusiast
The precursor to the Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark IV, the Mark III, was a fantastic camera with a lot to sell. However, the aging 16MP sensor and contrast AF could be better. Fortunately, the Mark IV is an excellent upgrade, using the same 20.3MP sensor as the PEN-F as well as enhanced Continuous Autofocus. Although some of the changes are slight, the Mark IV adds some fascinating new features, such as a smooth 15fps continuous burst mode. We really like the extra-tiltable phone, which can be flipped 180 degrees down to make the ideal selfie screen. And, happily, Olympus has brought silent shooting back to manual mode!
4. Olympus PEN E-PL9
Type: Mirrorless | Sensor: Micro Four Thirds | Megapixels: 16.1MP | Screen: 3.0-inch 1,040k tilting touchscreen | Viewfinder: None | Lens: Micro Four Thirds | Continuous shooting speed: 8.6fps | Max video resolution: 4K | User level: Beginner/intermediate
Check Out: Best Lenses For Olympus PEN E-PL9
Although the newer E-PL10 is a decent camera in its own right, it only provides a slight improvement over the E-PL9, making the older camera better value for money. The E-PL9 is a versatile highway, vlogging, and fashion camera with a 180° selfie screen and 4K recording. Despite its compact, lightweight design, the Olympus E-PL9 has outstanding build quality; the small body is perfect for travel photography, particularly when combined with the surprisingly small Olympus 14-42mm EZ ‘pancake’ kit lens – you can certainly opt for a kit with this genius little optic.
5. Olympus PEN E-PL10
Type: Mirrorless | Sensor: Micro Four Thirds | Megapixels: 16.1MP | Screen: 3.0-inch 1,037k tilting touchscreen | Viewfinder: None | Lens: Micro Four Thirds | Continuous shooting speed: 14.1fps | Max video resolution: 4K | User level: Beginner
The Olympus PEN E-PL10 camera is a wonderful camera. It has a burst rate of 14.1 frames per second, 4K 30 frames per second recording (with 120 frames per second if you drop down to 720p), manual quiet shooting (unlike the E-PL9), and super-steady in-body image stabilization. It doesn’t do any better than its ancestor, however (and, disappointingly, still has the same creaky 16MP sensor). The E-PL10 does all the E-PL9 does, but the E-PL9 is sometimes cheaper if you’re a do-it-all content maker who needs a camera that can take perfect stills and pristine footage while making you look good while doing it.
6. Olympus OM-D E-M1X
Type: Mirrorless | Sensor: Micro Four Thirds | Megapixels: 20.4MP | Screen: 3.0-inch 1,037k vari-angle touchscreen | Viewfinder: Electronic 2,360k | Lens: Micro Four Thirds | Continuous shooting speed: 15fps | Max video resolution: 4K | User level: Professional
Check Out: Best Lenses For Olympus OM-D E-M1X
When Olympus announced the OM-D E-M1X, a large new professional camera targeted squarely at the sports industry but with what seemed to be somewhat similar specifications to the current E-M1 Mark II, it raised a few eyebrows. But search a little further, and the E-M1X shows itself to be a very different beast, with an integrated grip for improved battery life and duplicated horizontal/vertical shooting controls, dual processors that significantly boost autofocus, and a new AI system to identify and monitor subjects. It also works well with Olympus’ f/1.2 Pro lenses and ultra-compact telephotos. This is the Olympus for you if you need a big body for big lenses and a long battery life for long shooting sessions.
7. Olympus PEN-F
Type: Mirrorless | Sensor: Micro Four Thirds | Megapixels: 20.3MP | Screen: 3.0-inch 1,037k vari-angle touchscreen | Viewfinder: Electronic 2,360k | Lens: Micro Four Thirds | Continuous shooting speed: 10fps | Max video resolution: 1080p | User level: Enthusiast
Olympus PEN video cameras have a long and devoted following, dating back to 1959. With its stunning style, the Olympus PEN-F pays tribute to the classic Pen F half-frame film camera while still incorporating the company’s cutting-edge technology, such as a 20.3MP sensor, 5 stops of in-body image stabilization, a front knob for switching between innovative shooting modes, and an optical viewfinder (a first for the PEN line). The only thing it lacks is 4K footage, but the real kicker is that it has been discontinued and is becoming extremely difficult to locate – but if you come across one, we definitely urge you to take advantage of it. It’s a capable camera now, and it’ll be remembered as a classic camera in the future.
8. Olympus TG-6
Type: Compact | Sensor: 1/2.3-inch | Megapixels: 12.0MP | Screen: 3.0-inch 1,040k dots | Viewfinder: None | Lens: 25-100mm f/2-4.9 (effective) | Continuous shooting speed: 20fps | Max video resolution: 4K | User level: Beginner
The Olympus Tough TG-6 seems to be identical to its counterpart, the TG-5, at first glance. The TG-6, on the other hand, comes with a screen with twice the resolution, high-speed camera options, and a new underwater mode. If you still own the TG-5, they may not be worth upgrading to, but if you have an older Tough or are looking for an outdoor camera that can go in the water, get coated in sand, be thrown into asphalt, and still take images and video in subzero temperatures, this is the best everything-proof camera around.