The best Olympus camera (OM System) in 2024: for vloggers, enthusiasts and pros

Best Olympus Cameras (OM System)
(Image credit: James Artaius)

The best Olympus cameras (OM System, as the lineup is gradually being renamed) combine iconic style, immaculate image quality and impeccable design. While they're geared more toward stills than video, they offer everything you could ask for whether you're a beginner, enthusiast, content creator or working professional. 

While the brand name has now been changed to OM System, the best Olympus cameras and best Olympus lenses still work exactly the same as they always did – and the Micro Four Thirds standard is still going strong, with the best Micro Four Thirds lenses offering arguably the richest and most diverse range of any lens ecosystem.

And since Micro Four Thirds sensors are a even smaller than APS-C sensors, this means that the whole system is lighter, more compact and generally more affordable than rival camera set-ups (where even though APS-C bodies might be small, the lenses are still pretty big). 

So here's a look at the best Olympus cameras across its three product categories: the flagship OM / OM-D bodies (harking back to the OM film cameras, aimed at professionals and enthusiasts), the PEN line (super stylish, and ideal for street shooting, social media and travel), and the Tough cameras (fixed lens compacts that are near-indestructible, for use in any environment)…

Best Olympus cameras: Top picks

If you're a working professional or a top-tier enthusiast, I wholeheartedly recommend the OM System OM-1 – which may well be the best all-around camera for general practice photographers, professionals included. I simply can't fault it, and trust it whether I'm working on a commission or shooting for my own pleasure.

The Olympus PEN E-P7 is a tricky recommendation, as it's not available in some territories, but I'm picking it for good reason: this camera literally comes everywhere with me, from the supermarket to my summer vacation. It's effectively an Olympus PEN-F Mark II, but it's got enough in common with the Olympus PEN E-PL10 that I would recommend that if the E-P7 isn't sold in your region. 

My final recommendation is the touch-as-nails OM System Tough TG-7. How tough is this camera? I've taken it in the sea. I've taken it to a burn in the middle of the desert. I've deliberately thrown it on the ground, stomped on it and poured soda on it – and it's still going strong. Need something rugged to go where you daren't take your main camera or phone? This is it!

The best Olympus cameras (OM System)

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Best Olympus cameras: OM / OM-D cameras

(Image credit: James Artaius)
The best Olympus camera ever made

Specifications

Type: Mirrorless
Sensor: MFT stacked
Megapixels: 20.4MP
Lens mount: MFT
Screen: 3-inch vari-angle touchscreen, 1.62m dots
Viewfinder: Electronic, 5.76m dots, 120fps
Continuous shooting speed: 120fps (no AF/AE), 50fps (full AF/AE)
Max video resolution: 4K 60p
User level: Advanced / Expert

Reasons to buy

+
120fps burst shooting
+
IP53 weather sealing
+
4K 60p 12-bit ProRes RAW
+
8 stops of stabilization
+
80MP Hi Res Shot

Reasons to avoid

-
No 8K video
-
Native 20.4MP resolution

Don't let the "OM-1" name fool you into thinking this is a camera from yesteryear – this packs the technology of tomorrow. The world's only IP53 weather-sealed camera, with the world's first Cross Quad Pixel AF, it is also packed with bleeding-edge computational photography tech, image stabilization that blows everything else out of the water, and ISO performance that promises parity with full frame sensors. 

The caveat is that this is only a 20.4MP sensor – albeit a stacked one, which can deliver 120fps shooting, 80MP pixel-shift stills and 4K 60p ProRes Raw video. This is quite simply one of the finest and most capable cameras I've ever used. You won't find this much across-the-board firepower in another camera, even one twice the size. 

The best Olympus camera for adventuring

Specifications

Type: Mirrorless
Sensor: MFT
Megapixels: 20.4MP
Lens mount: MFT
Screen: 3-inch vari-angle touchscreen, 1,04 million dots
Viewfinder: Electronic, 2.36 million dots
Continuous shooting speed: 30fps (Pro Capture mode), 10fps (mechanical shutter)
Max video resolution: 4K 30p, C4K 24p, 1080p 120p
User level: Enthusiast/Expert

Reasons to buy

+
Up to 7.5 stops of image stabilization
+
IP53 weather sealing
+
Computational wizardry (Live ND filters!)
+
Very compact

Reasons to avoid

-
'Only' 20.4MP native resolution
-
Single card slot

The OM System OM-5 was the first camera not to bear the Olympus logo, but it bleeds the technological legacy of the brand. Technically it's a successor to the Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark III, but truthfully it has more in common with the flagship OM System OM-1 – except where the OM-1 is built for advanced photographers, the OM-5 is built for adventurers. 

While the familiar 20.4MP sensor may seem conservative in pixel count, it offers 50MP handheld shooting (or 80MP on a tripod) for when you need a resolution boost. The in-body image stabilization is now a base 6.5 stops, hitting 7.5 when used with the company's Sync-IS lenses, and an upgraded processor powers the brilliant Live ND Filters, giving you up to 4-stops of ND simulation.

Autofocus systems are improved, with better face and eye recognition along with Starry Sky AF mode to make astrophotography a doddle. And the OM-5 is weatherproof to the IP53 standard, making it the official leader in its class when it comes to withstanding water, dirt and dust in the field. I've used this camera line ever since the original Olympus OM-D E-M5, and the OM-5 remains my personal favorite of the OM System lineup.

(Image credit: Future)
The best Olympus camera for beginners

Specifications

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

Reasons to buy

+
Updated 20MP sensor
+
Flip-down monitor

Reasons to avoid

-
Plastic build
-
No mic port for vloggers

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. I'm also a big 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! One of the best cameras for beginners, and a great travel camera too. 

Read more: Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark IV review

(Image credit: James Artaius / Digital Camera World)
The best Olympus camera for big lenses

Specifications

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

Reasons to buy

+
Pro build quality
+
Next-generation AF

Reasons to avoid

-
Smaller MFT sensor
-
Pricey next to E-M1 II

Olympus raised a few eyebrows (mine included) when it launched the E-M1X, a big new professional camera aimed squarely at the sports and wildlife market, but with what looked like very similar specs to the existing Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II. A DSLR-sized Olympus camera? Isn't the whole point of Olympus cameras that they're the most compact on the market?

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 primes and super-small telephoto zooms, which can feel unbalanced on smaller bodies without a grip. If you need a big body for big lenses, and big battery life for big shooting sessions, this is the Oly for you – I took it with me to Africa on a photo safari, and it was a phenomenal performer.

Read more: Olympus OM-D E-M1X review

(Image credit: James Artaius)
Rugged, fast and packed with features – the all-round ace

Specifications

Type: Mirrorless
Sensor: MFT
Megapixels: 20.4MP
Lens mount: MFT
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

Reasons to buy

+
Stunning Pro Capture mode
+
Exceptional 152 raw file buffer
+
Size and handling
+
Range of lenses

Reasons to avoid

-
MFT sensor smaller than APS-C
-
'Only' 20.4MP

While it has been superseded by the OM-5, the Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark III is still an exceptional camera. It uses Olympus' former flagship 20.4MP Micro Four Thirds sensor and, while the resolution might put some people off, the image quality is top notch – and this camera can shoot 50MP images via pixel shift. 

Its other abilities are equally amazing, including 6.5 stops of in-body image 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. This has been my primary workhorse camera for years, and remains so. With the OM-5 having been out for a while, there are some good deals to be had on the E-M5 Mark III right now. 

Read more: Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark III review

The best Olympus cameras: PEN cameras

(Image credit: James Artaius)
The best Olympus camera for everyday shooting

Specifications

Type: Mirrorless
Sensor: Micro Four Thirds
Megapixels: 20.3MP
Screen: 3.0-inch 1,037k vari-angle touchscreen
Viewfinder: N/A
Lens: Micro Four Thirds
Continuous shooting speed: 15fps
Max video resolution: 4K at 30p
User level: Enthusiast

Reasons to buy

+
Fantastic stabilization
+
Two control dials
+
Profile Control switch
+
180° Selfie screen
+
USB charging

Reasons to avoid

-
No viewfinder
-
Awkward power switch
-
Not yet available in all markets

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, and the features and functionality of the Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark IV. The result is the best non-OM-D camera I've seen since the PEN-F. In fact, it's basically a PEN-F without an EVF. 

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 – and that's why it's literally the camera that's on my shoulder everywhere I go. The only catch is you can't yet buy the PEN E-P7 in all regions, with North America yet to see an official launch.

Read more: Olympus PEN E-P7 review

The best Olympus cameras: Tough cameras

(Image credit: James Artaius)
Best waterproof camera overall

Specifications

Type: Compact
Sensor: 1/2.33in
Megapixels: 12MP
Lens: 25-100mm (equiv.) f/2.0-4.9
LCD: 3in, 1,040k dots
Waterproof: 15m/50ft
Shockproof: 2.1m/7ft
Freezeproof: -10ºC/14°F
Max video resolution: 4K
Colors available: Red or black

Reasons to buy

+
4K video recording
+
Generous optical zoom
+
Built-in GPS

Reasons to avoid

-
'Only' 15m waterproofing 
-
Virtually identical to its predecessor, the Olympus Tough TG-7

The Olympus TG-6 was our favorite waterproof compact camera - and this has now been reborn as the OM System TG-7. It is pretty much identical - but that is a good thing in our book, and ensures this newer version remains at the top of our recommendations for a rugged camera. Features we love include the built-in microscope setting that allows you to take amazing close-ups - and a Field Sensor System that records GPS coordinates and ambient temperature with your shots.

Producing 4K video at 30fps and offering the option to shoot Full HD video at 120fps for super-slow-motion, the TG-7 also has a generous 25-100mm optical zoom lens that lets you get closer and closer to the action. It's got an improved chunky handgrip providing a secure hold on the camera, while the internal zoom mechanism means the lens never protrudes from the body, protecting it from knocks and bumps. We found the camera straightforward but sophisticated, making the TG-7 quite simply the best waterproof camera around.

Read our full OM System Tough TG-7 review for more details

How we test cameras 

We test 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, and continue testing these cameras over the long term to gauge their ongoing performance.

Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark II

(Image credit: OM Digital Solutions)

Do professional photographers use Olympus cameras?

Yes, many professional photographers use Olympus / OM System cameras. They are particularly popular among pro wildlife shooters, where the dramatically reduced size and weight compared to DSLRs or other mirrorless cameras means they can go further with less kit – or carry more kit than would be possible with a larger camera system. 

(Image credit: Alis Volat)

Are Olympus cameras good quality?

Not only do they produce great image quality, Olympus / OM System cameras also feature perhaps the best build quality in the industry. Their weather sealing, for example, is regarded as the best in the business, with IP53-rated cameras and lenses alike – the highest you'll find in this category.

(Image credit: Tom Ormerod)

You might also be interested in the best Olympus lenses (OM System), as well as the best Micro Four Thirds cameras and the best Micro Four Thirds lenses made by partner companies like Panasonic

James Artaius
Editor

The editor of Digital Camera World, James has 21 years experience as a journalist and started working in the photographic industry in 2014 (as an assistant to Damian McGillicuddy, who succeeded David Bailey as Principal Photographer for Olympus). In this time he shot for clients like Aston Martin Racing, Elinchrom and L'Oréal, in addition to shooting campaigns and product testing for Olympus, and providing training for professionals. This has led him to being a go-to expert for camera and lens reviews, photo and lighting tutorials, as well as industry news, rumors and analysis for publications like Digital Camera MagazinePhotoPlus: The Canon MagazineN-Photo: The Nikon MagazineDigital Photographer and Professional Imagemaker, as well as hosting workshops and talks at The Photography Show. He also serves as a judge for the Red Bull Illume Photo Contest. An Olympus and Canon shooter, he has a wealth of knowledge on cameras of all makes – and a fondness for vintage lenses and instant cameras.