When picking out the best Micro Four thirds cameras, you're dealing with two names, Olympus and Panasonic. Even though Panasonic is busy with its full-frame L-mount, and Olympus has been preoccupied with a much-publicized sell-off, both brands still have their eyes on the prize when it comes to their Micro Four Thirds (MFT) offerings.
Indeed, 2022 is shaping up to be a banner year for MFT enthusiasts. The new Olympus OM-1 (opens in new tab) is inches away from release, and is set to be Olympus's new flagship camera. It's boasting 120fps shooting, 4K 60p ProRes Raw, software-driven 6EV neutral density filters and more, and it'll be going toe-to-toe with the pro sports mirrorless cameras from the likes of Nikon and Sony. Panasonic, meanwhile, has debuted its filmmaker-focused Lumix GH6 in 2022, which has made it into our guide below.
MFT cameras are small, and can make use of small lenses. This is a key advantage of the system – it walks the walk when it comes to portability, unlike larger-sensor mirrorless systems, which can feel very unbalanced with big lenses.
You'll see the different strengths of the various cameras below, but as a rough guide, Olympus cameras tend to excel with stills photography features, while the Lumix G models are some of the best consumer video cameras around. That's a bit of a simplification, and there's a lot of crossover between them, but it's a good mindset to start with.
So let's take a look at the best Micro Four Thirds cameras today. We've split these into sections, with top-end cameras first, enthusiast models next and budget/beginner cameras in our third section. The good part is that every group has plenty of option, so whatever your level, there will likely be a great Micro Four Thirds camera for you.
Best Micro Four Thirds cameras in 2022
Top-end cameras for stills and video
It's a close run thing between the E-M1 Mark III and the E-M1X, which we've also included on our list below. The E-M1 Mark III has much of the power of the E-M1X but in a smaller, cheaper body. The 20MP resolution might not sound much by current standards, but it's the same as the Canon EOS-1D X Mark III, Canon EOS R6 and Nikon D6, and fine for many professionals. The E-M1 III does have an awesome Pro Capture mode, probably the best in-body-stabilisation of any camera and a vari-angle screen.
In our review of the E-M1 Mark III, we gave it the highest score possible. It's a completely unique proposition, boasting the aforementioned stabilisation, a potential resolution of 80MP with multi-shot mode, 60fps burst shooting, the capacity for hand-held astrophotography and more. Many cameras can do some of these things; no other camera does all of them.
The Panasonic Lumix GH series has long been a favourite among filmmakers. Even with full-frame cameras grabbing attention, these MFT models still manage to stand on their own by offering an unrivalled suite of shooting options for the filmmaker. The most recent, and best yet, is the Panasonic Lumix GH6. Its video recording modes are too multitudinous to list here, but new highlights include: internal Apple ProRes 422 and ProRes 422 HQ, and internal Cinema 4K 4:2:0 10-Bit at 120fps.
We recently tasked a professional filmmaker with putting the Lumix GH6 through its paces for a full review from a video perspective. Their verdict? A smash hit, with superb resolution performance, physical handling, in-body stabilisation. The camera is simply a pleasure to use. Granted, Sony's A7S III will outstrip it in high-ISO noise management. It'll also cost you double the amount. For its price, the Lumix GH6 offers perhaps unbeatable value for filmmakers.
The E-M1X is a lot bigger than the E-M1 Mark III, which seems to contradict the compact size argument of Micro Four Thirds, but it's built to balance better with Olympus's bigger lenses, such as the 300mm f/4 or 40-150mm f/2.8. It's easy to criticise the size of the smaller MFT sensor, but when you add up the cost of pro lenses for a fully-kitted out sports and wildlife system, the Olympus system is a fraction of the price of its full frame rivals.
Once again, this is a camera that includes a whole box of tricks that go to show why the MFT system is a tempting proposition for any photographer. The OM-D E-M1 X busts out all the stops, as we discovered when we reviewed the camera. It's got that class-leading image stabilisation, that High Res Shot mode capable of capturing 80MP images, as well as the option to capture 50MP images while handheld. It's an astonishing piece of tech, and destroys the narrative that full-frame systems are the only game in town for serious professionals.
The Panasonic Lumix GH5 II is a new version of the GH5, a camera that was ahead of its time when it was launched in 2017. Though it's since been supplanted by the GH6, it's still an excellent camera in its own right; you still get 20MP stills, 4K 60p video, and 4K 10-bit 4:2:2 video recorded internally, as well as a 6K Photo mode for ultra-fast burst shooting. 4K video at up to 60p is not unusual by today’s standards, but this is still a very powerful, very rounded camera that is likely to appeal to serious filmmakers who can look past the headlines. We gave it a high grade in our review: it may not have reinvented the wheel from the original GH5, but all the small improvements and additions make a tangible difference.
The GH5 is ideal for videographers who also need a good stills camera. If stills are less important, an alternative might be the Lumix GH5S might be better still, as it's even more geared in favour of video.
MFT cameras for enthusiasts
The E-M5 sits between the pro-level E-M1 and the beginner-orientated E-M10 and for enthusiasts it offers the best of both worlds. The previous E-M5 Mark II was highly regarded amongst MFT fans for its small size and powerful features, and the Mark III takes it to the next level with a 20MP sensor (previously 16MP), a vari-angle screen, a pretty amazing Pro Capture mode (and raw buffer capacity), a huge array of Art Filter effects, 4K video, weatherproofing and perhaps the best in-body stabilisation on the market.
It was a long wait for this camera, but when it arrived, it proved more than worth a little patience. Our full OM-D E-M5 Mark III review goes through all the clever features of this camera in detail – we couldn't say enough good things about it.
When the E-M1 Mark II was launched it was certainly a professional camera, but prices have fallen as it has stayed on sale alongside the newer Mark III version, making it a very attractive proposition for enthusiasts. You get a 20MP sensor, vari-angle screen, 4K video, 60fps Pro Capture, Live Composite and Focus Stacking features, weatherproofing and – if you team it up with the Olympus 12-100mm f/4 Pro lens which has its own stabilisation – possibly the most stable platform for handheld shooting or video anywhere.
When you look back at out review of the camera from 2017 you can see how well-featured the E-M1 Mark II was – 60fps burst shooting is still more than competitive today, as is the camera's comprehensive stabilisation system.
Where the Lumix GH6 and GH5 II are top choices if video is your speciality, the Lumix G9 is perfect for stills photographers first and videographers second. It's a hefty DSLR style camera that handles well with bigger lenses, and it's weatherproof too. There's an 80MP composite mode if the regular 20MP isn't enough, plus 4K video at up to 60p, 20fps continuous shooting, a 6K Photo mode producing 18MP images from high-speed image capture, and a zero-black OLED viewfinder. As we noted in our review, you get a lot for your money with this camera, especially now the price has dropped.
Read more: Panasonic Lumix G9 review (opens in new tab)
We like what Panasonic has done with the Lumix G100, making a camera designed for vloggers rather than just offering 4K video to a conventional camera design. We like the vari-angle screen, built-in viewfinder, high-tech three-mic array, the small size and the optional remote tripod grip. When we reviewed the G100, we weren't so keen on the crop factor when shooting 4K video (the viewing angle becomes narrower), and it's also worth noting that there's no in-body stabilisation. But this is still a cute and affordable tool for content creators just starting out.
Entry-level MFT cameras
The E-M10 range is priced for beginners and amateurs, though these are really quite powerful cameras with a good selection of features and dual control dials for more hands-on photographers. The Mark IV version brings some modest but important improvements over its predecessor, including a 20MP sensor and a 180-degree flip-down rear screen for selfies and vlogging. We found these features made a real difference in use, as did the improved C-AF precision. Serious enthusiasts should probably look at the E-M5 III instead, but keen novices will find this camera has plenty to keep them busy.
The older E-M10 Mark III remains on sale alongside the Mark IV version, for now. It is cheaper, but not dramatically so, and while the tech is a little older the differences, again, are not large, making this quite a difficult choice. The Mark III does have Olympus's older 16MP sensor, which is a great performer but could leave many users feeling a little twitchy – the Mark IV's 20MP sensor has a more reassuring resolution for this day and age. Even at the time we initially reviewed the camera, we did feel that 16MP was a little behind the times. Otherwise, though, the older Mark III model is a pretty good deal right now.
Panasonic has made Micro Four Thirds Lumix G cameras with larger DSLR style bodies and smaller rectangular 'rangefinder' style bodies like this one. The GX9 is a nicely made little camera and pretty powerful too, and current prices don't really reflect its quality. If you want to make to most of its small size, get it with the Panasonic 12-32mm retracting kit lens. It's also available with Panasonic 12-60mm lenses, but both versions of these are quite big – perhaps a little too big for this camera. As we noted in our review, handling isn't really this camera's strong point, and using it involves quite a bit of menu-hunting. However, its image quality is rock solid.
The GX85 (GX80 in some territories), is a predecessor to the GX9 with an older, lower-resolution 16MP sensor but a similar combination of small size and powerful features. Panasonic has clearly taken the decision to keep this camera on as a low-cost entry level option, and you certainly do get a lot of camera for your money, especially with some twin-lens deals we've seen in the US. If you're not put off by the 16MP resolution, this is a decent little camera that's being sold at some pretty tempting prices.
How we test cameras
When we test mirrorless cameras such as Micro Four Thirds models, we put them through their paces in both real-world shooting scenarios and carefully controlled lab conditions. The purpose of the lab tests is to get an exact picture of what the sensor can do – we measure resolution using ISO resolution charts, and also use DxO Analyzer test equipment to measure dynamic range and analyse noise. Our real-world testing, meanwhile, assesses how a camera handles in different shooting situations – how easy and intuitive it is to use, and how it stands up to the rigours of day-to-day shooting. Both of these testing methods inform our comments in buying guides.
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