The best Olympus cameras (OM System) embody everything great about the brand's heritage: iconic style, immaculate image quality and impeccably compact design. From beginners to professionals, for both stills and video, they are formidable imaging machines.
While the brand name has now been changed to OM System, following the sale of the imaging business to new company OM Digital Solutions (in which Olympus still owns a stake), the best Olympus cameras and best Olympus lenses (opens in new tab) still work exactly the same as they always did, and the Micro Four Thirds standard is still going strong.
The latest flagship, the Olympus OM-1 (opens in new tab), is a phenomenal computational photography camera, with the world's first Cross Quad Pixel AF system, 120fps burst mode, 4K 60p ProRes Raw, software-based 6EV ND filters and much more.
The E-PL9 and E-M5 Mark III are among the best cameras for vlogging (opens in new tab), the E-M10 Mark III is our pick for the best travel camera (opens in new tab) as well as one of the best cameras for beginners (opens in new tab), the E-M1 Mark III may be the best professional camera (opens in new tab) for general practice photography, and the Tough TG-6 is the best waterproof camera (opens in new tab).
And since Micro Four Thirds sensors are a little smaller than APS-C sensors, this means that the whole system – both cameras and lenses – is lighter, more compact and generally more affordable than rival cameras set-ups.
So here's a look at the best of Olympus' three product categories: the flagship OM / OM-D bodies (harking back to the OM film cameras, aimed at professional and enthusiast photographers), the PEN line (super stylish and ideal for social shooters and content creators), and the Tough cameras (fixed lens cameras that are near-indestructible, for use in any environment)…
The best Olympus cameras in 2022
The best Olympus cameras: OM-D cameras
The Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark III is an exceptional camera and a worthy successor to the highly regarded E-M5 Mark II. This new camera uses Olympus' flagship 20.4MP Micro Four Thirds sensor, and while this might put some people off (these sensors are smaller than APS-C) the image quality is top notch – particularly when this camera can shoot 50MP images via pixel shift. Its other abilities are equally amazing, including 6.5 stops of in body stabilization, 30fps burst shooting (including via Pro Capture mode with 14-shot pre-buffering), C4K and 4K video, Olympus' brilliant Live Composite modes and plenty more.
Think Olympus can't compete on the professional stage? Think again. There are many dedicated cameras that can do individual things better than the E-M1 Mark III; however, there are none that can do everything it can do. If you're a general practice professional who shoots a lot of different genres, it's an amazingly good choice. Industry leading 7.5-stop image stabilization, 60fps burst shooting, 80MP high-resolution imaging, handheld astrophotography, 4K video with great phase detect autofocus that doesn't overheat… and all in a package that's smaller, lighter, and cheaper than other DSLRs or mirrorless systems. Pro tip: this camera is a beast.
The Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark IV's predecessor, the Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark III, was a great camera with plenty to offer. However, its aging 16MP sensor and contrast AF left room for improvement. Luckily the Mark IV is a great update, with the same 20.3MP sensor as the PEN-F and improved Continuous Autofocus. While some improvements are incremental, the Mark IV brings some interesting new offerings to the table including a zippy 15fps continuous burst mode. We're also a fan of the extra-tiltable screen, which is capable of flipping 180° down to create the perfect selfie screen. And Olympus has thankfully returned silent shooting to manual mode!
Olympus raised a few eyebrows when it launched the OM-D E-M1X, a big new professional camera aimed squarely at the sports market, but with what looked like very similar specs to the existing E-M1 Mark II. Dig deeper, though, and you find the E-M1X is a very different beast, with an integrated grip for bigger battery capacity and duplicated horizontal / vertical shooting controls, dual processors that dramatically up the game for autofocus, and a new AI system to recognize and track subjects. It also pairs perfectly with Olympus' lineup of f/1.2 Pro lenses and super-small telephotos. If you need a big body for big lenses, and big battery life for big shooting sessions, this is the Oly for you.
Read more: Olympus OM-D E-M1X review (opens in new tab)
The best Olympus cameras: PEN cameras
The Olympus PEN E-P7 combines the finesse and form factor of its predecessor, 2013's Olympus PEN E-P5, with the Profile Control switch inspired by the fan favorite Olympus PEN-F (opens in new tab), and the features and functionality of the new Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark IV (opens in new tab). The result is the best non-OM-D camera we've seen since the PEN-F. The E-P7 is so stylish that you can take it anywhere, so simple that beginners can use it, and so capable that experts can get sensational results from it. It's perfect for stills, while IBIS makes recording video a breeze. This is an ideal take-anywhere, shoot-anything camera that packs the power of an OM-D into your pocket. The only catch is you can't yet buy the PEN E-P7 in all world regions, with North America yet to see an official launch.
Read more: Olympus PEN E-P7 review (opens in new tab)
While the newer E-PL10 is a good camera in its own right, it only offers a minor upgrade over the E-PL9 – so much so that the older camera offers better value for money. A highly capable street, vlogging and fashion camera, the E-PL9 comes with a 180° selfie screen and 4K video. The Olympus E-PL9 has excellent build quality despite its compact, lightweight construction; the diminutive build is ideally suited to travel photography, especially when the body is paired with the remarkably small Olympus 14-42mm EZ ‘pancake’ kit lens – you should definitely opt for a kit with this brilliant little optic.
The Olympus PEN E-PL10 is an excellent camera. It shoots at a super-fast burst rate of 14.1fps, 4K 30fps video (with 120fps if you drop down to 720p), it's got manual silent shooting (unlike the E-PL9) and super-steady in-body image stabilization. However, it doesn't do that much more than its predecessor (and, disappointingly, still has the same creaky 16MP sensor). If you're a do-it-all content creator who wants a camera that'll shoot great stills and pristine video, and make you look good while doing it, the E-PL10 does all the above – but the E-PL9 can sometimes be cheaper.
Read more: Olympus PEN E-PL10 review (opens in new tab)
The best Olympus cameras: Tough cameras
At first glance, the Olympus Tough TG-6 seems indistinguishable from its predecessor, the TG-5. However, with a screen that's double the resolution, high speed video options and a new underwater mode, the TG-6 packs some worthwhile new features. They may not warrant an upgrade if you already own the TG-5, but if you have an older Tough or you're looking for an outdoor camera that can go in the sea, get covered in sand, be dropped onto concrete, and still take pictures and video even in freezing temperatures, this is the best everything-proof camera out there.
Read more: Olympus Tough TG-6 review (opens in new tab)
How we test cameras
We test DSLR and mirrorless cameras both in real-world shooting scenarios and in carefully controlled lab conditions. Our lab tests measure resolution, dynamic range and signal to noise ratio. Resolution is measured using ISO resolution charts, dynamic range is measured using DxO Analyzer test equipment and DxO Analyzer is also used for noise analysis across the camera's ISO range. We use both real-world testing and lab results to inform our comments in buying guides.
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