What is the Best Micro Four Thirds Compact Camera?


Micro Four Thirds Compact Camera
Watch PhotoJoseph talk about the best starting budget MFT/M43 setup for under $1,000

Micro Four Thirds cameras have proven their mettle in the field by producing stunning image quality that even the professionals love.

Photographers appreciate the compact, lightweight options available in the Micro Four Thirds format, but with so many new models on the market, it can be tough to know which model will be the best Micro Four Thirds compact camera for your needs.

M43 cameras can excel in a range of conditions, but no two photographers are alike in their needs and have different requirements.

So, if you like the challenge of low-light conditions, or need the extra detail only a high pixel count can provide, here are the best Micro Four Thirds compact cameras for the job.

Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark II for Fast AF and High Resolution

Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark II

The E-M5 Mark II is built tough so it can handle a little roughhousing while out in the field. And the weather sealing means you’ve got time to crank out a few more shots before the deluge comes down full force.

Dynamic range is excellent, and the high ISO range provides for more options in a variety of lighting conditions.

The EM5 MkII has incredibly fast autofocus, which won’t let you down even in low-light situations.

The camera also has a 40MP feature for capturing higher resolution shots if that’s your thing, but RAW files will still be at the 16.1MP capacity of the sensor.

Who’s the Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark II For?

The OM-D E-M5 Mark II is a mid-range offering that will work for anybody wanting to get started in the M43 format.

It’s a bit of a jack-of-all-trades, but it will perform well whether you are capturing wildlife shots on an overcast day, or standing by the race track in bright sunlight.

Panasonic GH5 for the Budding Film Maker

Panasonic GH5

The GH5 is a perfectly capable camera in all respects, but its superb 4K video capture at 60fps in UHD or 180fps in FHD makes it the standout choice for filmmakers considering cameras in the M43 range.

Autofocusing is excellent, and the camera has decent ISO abilities. The camera design feels good in the hands, and it comes with built-in Wi-Fi.

Who’s the Panasonic GH5 For?

The sturdy build-quality and excellent 4K footage produced by the GH5 makes it one of the best choices for budget or student filmmakers.

So, if you need a capable camera for video footage, but want your still images to turn out pretty good as well, then the GH5 would be a great option.

Panasonic GH5S

Panasonic GH5S

The Panasonic GH5S mostly differs from the GH5 in the sensor department and uses a multi-aspect sensor with a low-pass filter.

The sensor is a true 10.2MP, which is just the right size to capture pixel perfect DCI 4K cinema, with no evidence of line-skipping, or pixel-binning.

Of course, this setup ensures you get incredibly sharp video, but even low-end smartphones are beating the GH5S in terms of pure resolution.

Another area where Panasonic skimped is the in-body stabilization, which is a huge minus for still photographers who work without tripods, but a low-resolution sensor provides other advantages.

Larger pixels means the GH5S is more suited to night shooting than the GH5, and a dual native ISO design ensures less noise at the higher ISO settings.

Who’s the Panasonic GH5S For?

The GH5S has no equal in terms of video production, even when you move into the DSLR and full-frame models.

If your interest is in creating the best quality videos in a compact camera that will probably never be used for stills, then the GH5S is the camera for you.

Panasonic Lumix G9

Panasonic Lumix G9

The G9 is a camera built for speed. A 225 point contrast detection system ensures blisteringly fast focus speeds. The G9 can also achieve 20fps with the mechanical shutter, and even faster with the electronic shutter.

Speed doesn’t get all the attention though, as the G9 also sports a 20.3MP Live MOS sensor coupled with a Venus Engine processor to ensure that every frame is captured with precision.

If slightly more than 20MP isn’t enough, the G9 is also able to up the ante by combining 8 separate images into one magnificent RAW file when using the 80MP high-res shot mode.

Who’s the Panasonic Lumix G9 For?

The G9 is a rugged workhorse for photographers who enjoy having options. The rugged dust and splash-proof body can go anywhere, and the fast capture rates create more chances at securing the perfect shot.

Plus, the high-resolution capabilities will be a big drawcard for photographers who crave the extra detail.

Panasonic GX8 for Superb Color Reproduction

Panasonic GX8

If you are after the best color reproduction in a Micro Four Thirds camera, then the GX8 is the best Micro Four Thirds compact camera for you. A tilting EVF and the ability to shoot at 10fps serves to sweeten the deal.

It’s a nice looking camera and feels comfortable in the hands, so it’s good that it also delivers superb image quality. However, the color reproduction of the GX8 is what makes this model stand out.

You also get fairly decent autofocus and more than capable in-camera image stabilization for those days when you can’t be bothered to carry a heavy, cumbersome tripod.

If you enjoy having total control over your images, then you will appreciate the many buttons, knobs, and dials on the GH8.

Plenty of thought has been put into the design, so you get all the external control you need, but some placements may feel a little awkward.

Who’s Panasonic GX8 For?

The Panasonic GX8 is a flagship product for Panasonic’s Micro Four Thirds cameras and features the best of everything that Panasonic has to offer in this range.

Photographers looking for no compromise photography in a compact form and have the budget to cover it should definitely put it on their short list.

Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II for the Discerning Professional

Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II

If you absolutely must have the best image stabilization available in a compact camera, then the OM-D E-M1 may be the camera for you.

With 6.5 stops of image stabilization, you will rarely need to bring out the tripod when shooting with this robust little camera.

The OM-D E-M1 Mark II features 15fps shooting, and a TruePic VIII Dual Quad Core Processor means you won’t be waiting around while the camera catches up.

The 20.4MP Live MOS sensor provides sharp clarity right through to its maximum ISO of 25600. There’s also 4K movie capture for when you need it.

Who’s the Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II For?

Like the Panasonic GX8, the OM-D E-M1 Mark II is a camera for those who are serious about their photography. Excellent build quality and weatherproofing means that you can use the camera pretty much anywhere.

While this model does feature 4K video capabilities, if you are choosing a camera based on its video quality then the GH5S might be a better option.

Panasonic Lumix GX850 for the Beginner on a Budget

Panasonic Lumix GX850

The GX850 is compact, lightweight, great for travel, and can even do duty as a capable video blogging camera. It fits in a coat pocket but doesn’t skimp on features.

At this price, you don’t get an EVF, but you do get access to 4K video, as well as Panasonic’s 4K Photo modes, WiFi connectivity, and a 180-degree selfie screen.

A tilting touch screen also makes the camera easy to operate under challenging conditions, but only slightly makes up for the lack of an EVF.

The camera also has a 12-32mm retracting lens to give you more options straight out of the box. And don’t forget, this is an M43 camera, which means you can use a range of additional lenses compatible with the format.

Who’s the Panasonic Lumix GX850 For?

The GX850 sits at an appealing price point for someone looking to advance their photography skills beyond the simple point-and-click pocket camera or has moved on from low-quality smartphone images.

The GX850 provides more advanced features but doesn’t make too many sacrifices in terms of portability. Also, the fact the GX850 is a Micro Four-Thirds camera ensures there are options to grow as skill and budget allow.

Best Micro Four Thirds Compact Camera Conclusion

As you can see, there are Micro Four Thirds cameras for all types of photographers at all levels – from budgeting beginners to discerning professionals.

The M43 range has more than proven itself as a capable format that can handle the toughest of shooting conditions.

Development is ongoing, and new lenses and models from both Panasonic and Olympus (many of them professional grade) ensure that there is a lot more to look forward to in the Micro Four Thirds format and a wider range of choices when deciding on the best Micro Four Thirds compact camera.

John Kilmerstone

I'm an Aussie living in Japan who enjoys traveling and photography. Please visit this website and explore the wonderful world of Micro Four Thirds photography. Discover the advantages of carrying a small yet powerful camera system.

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