If you’re looking to purchase the best Olympus camera then you’ve come to the right place! In this Buyer’s Guide we’ve rounded up all of Olympus’ current models plus a few from the past that you can still get reconditioned or on the second-hand market so you can see what is available and get the best for you.

A quick history of Olympus

Olympus have an interesting history, and have always been at the forefront of lightweight design and compact styling when it comes to their cameras.

Founded in 1912 Olympus at first specialised in thermometers and microscopes. It wasn’t until 1936 that Olympus introduced its first camera, the Semi-Olympus I, however, where Olympus really changed the market was in 1959 when it launched its first innovative camera –  the Olympus Pen.

This camera was compact and portable and altered the way photographers could shoot. In 1972 to compete with the likes of Canon and Nikon, Olympus launched the OM 35mm SLR system with their Olympus OM-1. This camera was noted for its compact design and weight but also its mirror lock-up facility, making it ideal for astrophotography and macrophotography.

Fast forward a few years and in 2009 after developing the Micro Four Thirds (MFT) system alongside Panasonic, Olympus launched the Olympus PEN E-P1. This camera got a lot of attention for its well-built body and attractive retro looks that mirrored their earlier film cameras.

Where Olympus really started to impress the professional market however was in 2012 when it launched the Olympus OM-D E-M5 – the first in a line of OM-D cameras to come. This camera included a built-in electronic viewfinder and mini-DSLR styling and thus heads started to turn as the style, specifications and performance were all noteworthy for a camera of this time.

Finally in January 2021 after some financial trouble Olympus sold their imaging division and are currently headed by OM Digital Solutions Corporation.

Why choose a Micro Four Thirds camera?

For those unfamiliar with the term Micro Four Thirds, essentially the camera uses an image sensor that measures 17.3mm x 13mm and supports a 4:3 ratio hence the name – Micro Four Thirds.

To give you a comparison, a full frame sensor measures 36mm x 24mm and an APS-C sensor (often used in entry level D-SLRs and mirrorless models) uses a 23.6mm x 15.7mm sensor. A Four Thirds sensor also comes with a crop factor of 2x, meaning a 200mm lens, for example, becomes a 400mm equivalent lens on Micro Four Thirds.

When Olympus and Panasonic launched the Micro Four Thirds system, they removed the mirror from the camera body. No mirror teamed with a smaller image sensor meant the camera body could become much smaller and lighter compared to a DSLR. This was a big bonus for many photographers and Micro Four Thirds technology has greatly helped evolve the mirrorless camera market we see today.

There are advantages and disadvantages to any camera system and with the Micro Four Thirds system take into account these aspects when purchasing:

 Advantages of Micro Four Thirds

 Disadvantages of Micro Four Thirds

  • Smaller sensor size – means higher resolution sensors not available
  • Limited capability in lowlight (compared with FF)
  • Limited depth of field and bokeh due to 2x crop sensor

Now you know more about Olympus and Micro Four Thirds here are our top ten best Olympus cameras models to look out for, both current and second-hand.

1. OM System Olympus OM-1

Price £1,999 / $2199

OM System Olympus OM-1 in hand

The OM System Olympus OM-1 – our pick of the best Olympus cameras out there. Credit: Joshua Waller

At a glance:  

  • 20MP Four Thirds Stacked BSI Live MOS sensor
  • 50fps with C-AF, upto 120fps fixed AF
  • ISO80 – ISO102400 (extended)
  • 1053-point AI detect Quad Pixel AF
  • 76m-dot electronic viewfinder, 1.65/0.825x magnification
  • 62m-dot 3in vari-angle touchscreen
  • 5-axis in-body stabilisation (upto 8EV)
  • IP53 rating with specific lenses

When we reviewed the OM SYSTEM Olympus OM-1 we gave it a whopping 5 stars! We found that without doubt that the OM System OM-1 is the best Micro Four Thirds camera currently available, and goes beyond what you would expect from a £2000 camera. This includes subject detection AF, high-speed performance, and the sheer number of useful shooting features available.

This flagship model sits at the top of the Olympus range and comes jammed packed with some impressive specs. This includes its 20MP Four Thirds Stacked BSI Live MOS sensor that allows for high speed continuous shooting, at 120fps at full-resolution (fixed AF). It also supports a large ISO range, (up to ISO 102400), a 5-axis in-body stabilisation (up to 8EV) feature (which will be useful in lowlight) plus a 1053-point AI detect Quad Pixel AF feature. This means with the right Olympus/OM lens the OM System Olympus OM-1 can continuously focus shooting at 50fps. Impressive!

Best for: Professional photographers, wildlife, and high-speed shooting

We gave the OM System Olympus OM-1 5 Stars – read our review

2. Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark III

Price £1,349 / $1599

Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark III

Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark III with a rugged weather-sealed body. Credit: Andy Westlake

At a glance:  

  • 20.4MP Four Thirds Live MOS sensor
  • EVF 2360K dots
  • 121-point phase detection AF
  • 5-axis in-body stabilisation
  • Movie 4K
  • 18fps shooting with C-AF
  • ISO  Sensitivity (extended): ISO 64-25,600
  • Size: 134.1.4 x 90.9 x 68.9mm
  • Extensive weather sealing
  • Weight 504g

Released in February 2020 the Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark III upgraded the Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II that was released three years prior. At first glance we found the Mark III to look very similar to its predecessor but with the welcome addition of a joystick for selecting the AF area.

The biggest upgrade though was inside because the E-M1 Mark III debuted a new processor, the TruePic IX. This new processor allowed features from the E-M1X, including LiveND that mimics the effect of neutral density filters up to 5 stops, and a hand-held high-resolution multi-shot mode that outputs 50MP images. Essentially the E-M1 Mark III was the camera the E-M1X should have been all along!

Other impressive features the E-M1 Mark III includes are a 4K movie shooting mode, 121-point  superfast phase detection AF and an incredibly effective 5-axis in-body stabilisation. For those photographers whose profession takes them out and about such as wildlife and sport we also found the sturdy extensive weather sealed body to live up to its promise.

Best for: Wildlife and sports photographers

Read our review of the Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark III

3. Olympus OM-D E-M1X

Price £1,499 / $1899

Olympus OM-D E-M1X

Olympus OM-D E-M1X – you’ll need to hunt around for this model on the second-hand market. Credit: Andy Westlake

At a glance:  

  • 20.4MP Four Thirds MOS sensor
  • 121-point phase-detection AF
  • 15fps shooting (10fps with C-AF)
  • 36m-dot EVF, 0.83x magnification
  • 3-in fully-articulated touchscreen
  • 5-axis in-body stabilisation
  • Dimensions: 144.4 x 146.8 x 75.4mm
  • Weight: 997g (with batteries and cards)

Announced back in January 2019 the Olympus OM-D E-M1X was well received and included some great specs and influential technology, however since its launch other Olympus cameras (such as the E-M1 Mark III) have outperformed the E-M1X pushing it down the pecking order.

On the plus side we found this camera to support a huge range of useful additional photographic features like its in-body stabilisation (up to 7.5 stops), support an efficient continuous autofocus and subject detection mode, and put out excellent JPEGs that are accurate in colour exposure. However on the down side the lower ISO range compared to its peers was disappointing as well as its bulky and heavier body build compared with other micro four thirds in the Olympus range.

If you have a shop around on the second hand market you can pick up a model in good condition for around £750 or a reconditioned one directly from Olympus for £1,049 saving you a few quid.

Best for: Second hand buyers

Our review of the Olympus OM-D E-M1X.

4. Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark III

Price £1,049 / $999 body only

Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark III

Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark III – a perfect option for those after lightweight camera. Credit: Andy Westlake

At a glance: 

  • 20.4MP Four Thirds sensor
  • 121-point phase detection autofocus
  • 10fps shooting with continuous AF
  • 5-axis in-body stabilisation
  • ISO Sensitivity (extended): ISO 64-25,600
  • Cinema 4K video recording
  • Size: 125.3 x 85.2 x 49.7mm
  • Weight 414g

The Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark III is another 5 star AP awarded camera that houses some impressive features. These include its small and lightweight body build that is also weather sealed, 121 AF point phase detection that we found to perform quickly and accurately, and its effective 5 -axis in-body stabilisation that delivers sharper images when hand-held. This means you can reduce the shutter speed to a lower setting compared with previous models rather than pushing up the ISO and risking more noise.

If you like the sound of a camera that’s small, handles well and gives attractive images, and works out as excellent value for money, then the E-M5 MK III should certainly be high on your shortlist. Paired with a compact Micro Four Thirds lens, you have a great travel system.

Best for: Travel, enthusiasts and hobbyists photographers

Read our review of the Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark III

5. Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark IV

Price £649 / $699

Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark IV

Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark IV – a great option for beginners. Credit: Andy Westlake

At a glance:  

  • 20MP Four Thirds sensor
  • ISO 200-6400, ISO 80-25,600 (extended)
  • Up to 15 frames per second shooting
  • 121-point contrast-detect AF
  • 5-axis in-body stabilisation
  • Dimensions: 121.7 x 84.4 x 49 mm
  • Weight 383g

The Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark IV sits at the entry point level of the OM-D range and in our review we found it to be ideally suited to photographers who are just starting out and want to build upon their skill set.

The camera comes with plenty to offer including an upgraded 20MP Four Thirds sensor from its 16MP predecessor – the E-M10 Mark III. The image quality produced from the E-M10 MK IV got a good 4 stars and the ISO test results up to 6400 were usable. Other upgrades from the MK III included the screen flipping down to face forwards beneath the camera for selfies, and an improved handgrip, faster continuous shooting, and built-in Bluetooth to provide easier smartphone connectivity.

In terms of value for money this camera is one of the best for budding photographers and one of our favourite entry level cameras available on the market, especially if you’re looking for a compact mirrorless camera.

Best for: budding and emerging photographers

An almost perfect score – read our opinion on the Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark IV

6. Olympus PEN E-P7

Price £749 / $649 with lens

Olympus PEN E-P7

Olympus PEN E-P7 – a great choice for selfie addicts, thanks to its 3-inch tilting touchscreen. Credit: Joshua Waller

At a glance:  

  • 20.3MP Four Thirds Live MOS Sensor
  • ISO 100 – ISO 25600 (extended)
  • Up to 15fps with electronic shutter
  • 3inch 1037K-dot, tilting touchscreen
  • 4K UHD 30,25,24fps video recording
  • 5-axis in-body stabilisation
  • Dimensions: 118.3 x 68.5 x 38.1mm
  • Weight: 337g (with battery and memory card)

Like any camera from the PEN collection the Olympus PEN E-P7 is a stylish and attractive model that comes in a lightweight and compact body weighing a mere 337g. This camera however was noticeable as it was the first to be launched under OM Digital Solutions Corporation.

The E-P7 includes some impressive specs such as its 20MP Four Thirds sensor, 4K video recording, and a wealth of manual and advanced shooting modes. Its tilting 3 inch touchscreen can also be used as a selfie screen, plus a new colour/monochrome profile switch on the front is a nice touch.

We found this particular model to be a little overpriced compared with market rivals and disappointingly the body build was not as sturdy as we would have liked meaning the camera dropped down to an overall 4 stars. We were however impressed by the pleasing image quality, and dual control dials meaning for those who want to use manual controls they can do so.

Best for: Beginners

Olympus PEN E-P7 in-depth review

7. Olympus PEN E-PL10

Price – kits from £649 / $649

Olympus PEN E-PL10

Olympus PEN E-PL10 – A silent shooter and great for beginners with a smaller budget

At a glance: 

  • 20.1 MP Four Thirds Live MOS sensor
  • ISO LOW – 25600 in 1/3 or 1 EV ISO steps
  • Tiltable LCD Touch Panel
  • Movie quality 4K
  • Size 117.1 x 68 x 39mm
  • Weight 332g

The Olympus PEN E-PL10 has been designed very much with the amateur photographer in mind. It comes with lots of beginner friendly shooting modes as well as advanced helpful features like in-body image stabilisation and in-camera Raw editing. This camera also includes a silent shooting mode, tiltable LCD screen and 4K movie quality making it a desirable choice.

The Olympus E-PL10 is the upgrade to the E-PL9 and in all honesty there is little to distinguish the two although the image processor has been swapped to the faster TruePic VIII, which is found in many of Olympus higher end models. If you’re on a tight budget and you can find the now discontinued E-P9 cheaper you’ll save yourself a few quid.

Best for: Beginners on a budget

8. Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II

Price – reconditioned £749 / $750

Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II

Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II – our Olympus choice for action photographers on a budget

At a glance: 

  • 20MP Four Thirds sensor
  • Up to 60fps continuous shooting
  • 5-axis in-body stabilisation
  • 121 AF points
  • 4K video recording
  • Fully articulated touchscreen
  • 36-million-dot EVF
  • Battery life: 440 shots
  • Dimensions: 134 x 91 x 67 mm
  • Weight: 574g (including battery and card)

When the Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II was announced back in 2016 the full retail price was a steep £1,850. Fast forward 8 years and look at the second hand market or buy a reconditioned one directly from Olympus and you’ll save yourself well over £1,000!

Although this camera is not the most recent, the features and technology included are still very much impressive. This includes its 5-axis in-body stabilisation, 4K video, fully articulated touchscreen and 121 AF point feature.

One of its major selling points however was its 60fps burst mode feature at full resolution which even by today’s standards is pretty impressive! At full speed the focus is fixed, but if you want the 121-point AF system to continue tracking the subject between frames, the E-M1 II is still capable of shooting at up to 18 frames per second. This on top of twin SD card slots, and a weather sealed body makes it a great choice for any action photographer.

Best for: Wildlife and sports photographers on a budget

Our review of the Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II

9. Olympus OM-D E-M10 MK III

Price – £300 / $350 (second hand)

Olympus OM-D E-M10 MK III

Olympus OM-D E-M10 MK III – best for aspiring beginner photographers without spending too much cash

At a glance: 

  • 16-megapixel Four Thirds sensor
  • Viewfinder: 2.36-million-dot electronic viewfinder
  • Continuous shooting: 8.6 frames per second shooting
  • Stabilisation: 5-axis in-body stabilisation
  • ISO: LOW – 25600
  • Video: Up to 4K-video resolution
  • Weight: 411g

The Olympus OM-D E-M10 MK III is the predecessor to the E-M10 MK IV and comes with a 16.1MP sensor, 5-axis in-body stabilisation and 4K-video resolution. Despite being a few years old this camera still delivers great results and is ideal for any shooter wanting to upgrade from a lower end model.

Also available is the Olympus OM-D E-M10 MK III S, which is essentially the same camera with a couple of minor improvements. These include a new silent shooting mode and new ‘Instant Film’ art filter.

Best for: Aspiring beginners on a budget

Review: Olympus OM-D E-M10 MK III

10. Olympus Tough TG-6 – £369 / $499


Olympus-TG-6 – Rugged outdoor camera that’s waterproof down to 15 metres

At a glance:  

  • 12MP 1/2.33” CMOS image sensor
  • 4x optical zoom. 25-100mm (35mm equivalent)
  • Waterproof down to 15m
  • Shock resistant – 2.1m (dropping from height)
  • Crushproof (100kg)
  • Freezeproof (-10°C)
  • 4K Movie
  • 16 scene modes
  • Available in black or red

The Olympus Tough TG-6 differs somewhat from the others on our list as it does not include a Micro Four Thirds sensor. It’s worthy of a mention as it’s a fantastic waterproof camera and one that has made a great impression since it was launched in 2019.

This camera is lightweight, agile and ideal for those adventurous types. The camera is waterproof down to 15m and if you want to take it further additional waterproof casing can be purchased. The Olympus PT-059 Underwater Housing retails at £279 and enables the TG-06 to go down as far as 45m.

When it comes to features the Olympus TG-6 comes with a host of shooting options from 16 different scene modes to an aperture priority setting. The ISO ranges from ISO 100 to 12800, and the bright F2 lens enables faster shutter speeds for capturing moving subjects. The camera is also capable of recording 4K movies.

It’s also worth mentioning it made it onto our list of the Top 12 best waterproof and underwater cameras!

Best for: Amateurs and adventurous types

Featured image: Andy Westlake

Further Reading

Best Micro Four Thirds lenses
APS-C Vs Full Frame (inc MFT) – which sensor size is best?

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