Best Micro Four Thirds Cameras of 2015
Best Micro Four Thirds Cameras of 2015
Mirrorless interchangeable-lens cameras have become one of the hottest and fastest growing markets in the world of photography. They have paved the way for innovative features and designs and have become nearly as popular as the modern DSLR.
Mirrorless cameras offer three types of sensors: full fame, APS-C, and Micro Four Thirds. The smallest of the three is Micro Four Thirds and it offers some major advantages over the larger sensors. One is that the smaller size allows manufactures to build a lighter and more compact body, this being one of its major selling points. The smaller sensor also has a 2X focal length equivalent when attaching lenses—this means is that any focal length is essentially doubled. One example would be Olympus’ extremely popular 40-150mm f/2.8 lens. When attached to a Micro Four Thirds camera, it becomes an 80-300mm f/2.8! A lens with this maximum aperture and focal length for a DSLR would cost thousands of dollars.
The third huge success of the Micro Four Thirds system has been video. Due to its unique sensor size, it provides videographers with a very convenient format and a more compact system that more traditional and larger systems cannot offer. Both Olympus and Panasonic are the only competitive manufactures of Micro Four Thirds systems, and below are their very best cameras available in 2015.
Olympus has established itself as a pioneer in the world of Micro Four Thirds cameras and continues to deliver impressive cameras that push the boundaries of these compact systems. Some of Olympus’s patented features include their 5-Axis Sensor Shift image stabilization, fast processing power with the TruePic VII image processor, and full access to their Zuiko lens system with some of the best optics for mirrorless camera systems. Whether you are a beginner or seasoned professional, Olympus offers an excellent lineup packed with features to fit just about any photographer and budget.
Olympus’ flagship model, the OM-D E-M1. is an incredibly popular camera for both beginners and enthusiasts. Inside, the E-M1 houses a 16.3-megapixel Live MOS sensor and TruePic VII image processor, delivering outstanding performance and image quality, as well as Full HD 1080p video. It also comes with Olympus’s patented 5-Axis Sensor Shift IS for minimizing camera shake. This will improve image sharpness even in the most demanding low-light situations and makes hand-held photography very attainable. The camera also shoots at an incredibly fast 9 fps in continuous autofocus mode.
The E-M1 comes fully weather sealed and is able to withstand just about any thing you throw at it, making it a top choice for photographers who are rough on gear or might be traveling in dusty or humid environments. Around the back are a 3-inch tilt touchscreen and an intuitive control layout that makes the E-M1 easy to use for those unfamiliar with the OM-D system. Like all of Olympus’s Micro Four Thirds cameras, it features built in Wi-Fi and GPS for maximum connectivity and ease of use when transferring images to mobile devices.
A more refined camera than its predecessor, the E-M5 Mark II brings some interesting new features that set it apart from the rest of Olympus’s OM-D line. The E-M5 Mark II has a high-quality 16-megapixel Live MOS sensor delivering impressive resolution and color. It also has a brand new feature that allows users to create 40-megapixel images (yes, that’s right, 40 megapixels). The camera achieves this does this by taking a series of 8 images and merging them together to create one super detailed, high-resolution image. This feature is useful for architecture, studio photography, and basically any situation where there are no moving subjects.
The E-M5 II Mark II also features excellent autofocus and fast shooting speeds of 10 fps when shooting still subjects and 5fps when using the continuous autofocus tracking mode. It offers excellent options for videographers with Full HD 1080p/60fps video. As with the E-M1, the E-M5 MarkII also has Olympus’s excellent 5-Axis Sensor Shift IS for creating sharper images when handholding and minimizing camera shake. On the exterior, Olympus has a very user-friendly layout of controls and also features a vari-angle, 3-inch touchscreen for viewing in difficult positions. The E-M5 features some impressive new upgrades, delivers outstanding image quality, and has a price that is very competitive for a camera of this type.
The smallest body in the OM-D line, the E-M10 delivers impressive results in an extremely compact and user-friendly design. The E-M10 contains a 16-megapixel Live MOS sensor and TruePic VII image processor, delivering high quality images and Full HD 1080p video. It will shoot up to 8 fps and autofocus is fast, providing excellent tracking of moving subjects even in low light. Olympus’ 3-Axis image stabilization (the two cameras above have 5-Axis) helps minimize camera shake and create sharp images when shooting indoors or in challenging lighting conditions.
Around back, the Olympus OM-D E-M10 has a 3-inch tilting touchscreen for menu navigation, image and video playback, and makes viewing at difficult angles that much easier. The camera also features built in Wi-Fi connectivity and can be connected to iOS and Android mobile devices to control the shutter release, focusing and previewing compositions. This camera is a great choice for photographers looking for a more compact Micro Four Thirds camera, that still want some enthusiast features of the OM-D Line at a more affordable price.
The E-P5 is at the top of Olympus’ PEN series of cameras. These models have a slightly more retro style and smaller form factor then the OM-D series, but still retain many features that are important to both beginners and enthusiasts. The E-P5 has a 16-megapixel Live MOS sensor with Full HD 1080p video and delivers excellent resolution and color reproduction. It also has Olympus’s 5-Axis image stabilization, making low light photography that much easier by eliminating camera shake and providing sharper images when shooting indoors and other demanding lighting situations. It features both Wi-Fi and GPS technology and easily syncs with wireless and mobile devices.
The E-P5 does not have an electronic optical viewfinder, but it does have a beautiful 3-inch tilt touchscreen that allows easy composition and adjusting for odd viewing angles and better positioning to reduce glare. In addition, the E-P5 features a built-in flash and can control multiple external flashes if one so chooses. With its small form factor and stylish design, the E-P5 still retains a lot of the professional features of the OM-D line in a compact body that can easily slip into a jacket pocket.
The E-PL7 is the newest edition to Olympus’s PEN line of cameras, bringing some exciting features for social photographers in addition to Olympus’s usual outstanding image performance. Inside is a 16-megapixel Live MOS sensor with TruePic VII Image processor, delivering outstanding image quality and color rendition. The E-PL7 also has a super fast 81-point autofocus system and will shoot up to 8 fps in continuous mode, great for moving subjects such as sports or candid action shots. It also has Olympus’s 3-Axis image stabilization for handling and reducing camera shake in low light conditions.
New on the E-PL7 is its 3-inch Flip LCD touchscreen. The screen is bright easy to use for composing and reviewing your images, and it will also flip downward 180 degrees for taking self-portraits. Along with its new “selfie” ability, the E-PL7 has built in Wi-Fi and has a compatible Olympus Share app for full wireless control through both iOS and Android devices. The E-PL7 PEN is an easy to camera to take anywhere and share your photos with its strong new social features.
Panasonic has led the way in producing some outstanding Micro Four Thirds cameras that meet the needs of both beginning photographers and professionals. Their systems include a 4-CPU Venus Engine, which delivers impressive speed and processing power, and a Light Speed autofocus system that makes tracking moving subjects and fast action that much easier. Perhaps one of their best-known features, however, is the 4K video now available in some models. Along with excellent performance for still photographers, this attractive features makes Panasonic a very popular choice for aspiring photographers and videographers in 2015.
The GH4 is best known for its amazing video capabilities, producing 4K broadcast quality video in a very accessible and affordable package. Ad not only is GH4 the king of superb video features, it delivers impressive still images. Featuring a 16-megapixel Live MOS sensor and a 4-CPU Venus Engine, the camera is capable of excellent JPEG and RAW images. Its construction is a weather-sealed magnesium alloy body similar to Olympus’s OM-D E-M1, and it can operate in adverse conditions such as rain, dust, and humid environments.
The GH4 also features a 49-Area autofocus system that can shoot 12 fps in single autofocus mode and 7.5 fps when shooting in continuous. When photographing sports, candid action, or any fast moving subject, the GH4 provides great tracking and response, delivering impressive, sharp images. Of course, the GH4 is very popular among videographers, delivering some of the most feature-rich video options of any consumer mirrorless camera or DSLR on the market. It’s Panasonic’s flagship camera and for good reason. If you can afford the slightly higher price tag, and want the very best video/still performance in a Micro Four Thirds camera, the GH4 is an excellent choice.
The GM5 is a feature-rich camera in a small package. Constructed of a magnesium alloy frame, the GM5 houses a 16-megapixel Live MOS sensor and Venus Engine image processor, creating outstanding high-resolution images and Full HD 1080p/60fps video. Inside, a Smart Contrast Autofocus system easily tracks moving subjects, while a frame rate of 5.8 fps helps capture sports and action photography.
The GM5 includes a high-resolution electronic viewfinder to its list of features, a new addition to the GM series, and it provides accurate color reproduction and easy viewing in bright sunlight. Built in Wi-Fi is standard, giving mobile photographers more options for transferring their images, and can also be used to connect a smartphone for use as a remote control for the camera. The GM5 packs in a ton more features and is a great choice for both the beginning and enthusiast photographer looking for a compact Micro Four Thirds camera that will deliver professional results.
Panasonic’s GX7 is a major upgrade from its predecessor, the GX1. It adds some welcome new features and has evolved into an impressive Micro Four Thirds camera in a compact design. The GX7 has a 16-megapixel Live MOS sensor that delivers excellent image quality and houses a Light Speed autofocus system for tracking subjects in low light conditions. Its continuous autofocus system it can also shoot up to 5 fps, great for moving subjects.
The GX7 features a flip-up electronic viewfinder for unique positioning when photographing in awkward positions and a beautiful 3-inch LCD touchscreen for menu navigation, image playback, and live view. The GX7 also delivers superb video quality with Full HD 1080p at 60 fps and 24fps, and has become popular with videographers for its small size and quality output. Panasonic also has brought Sensor-shift IS to the GX7, a first in any of their cameras, giving users built-in image stabilization and eliminating a good amount of camera shake. The GX7 comes in at an attractive price and offers a lot of performance in an easy-to-use package.
A new addition to Panasonic’s lineup, the GF7 is a relatively affordable Micro Four Thirds camera featuring innovative social and mobile features. With all of these new features, it gives both new and experienced photographers a lot to work with. The GF7 houses a 16-megapixel Live MOS sensor and a powerful Venus Engine image processor. Its sensor is capable of producing sharp, low noise images up to ISO 25,600 and video to ISO 3,200. For moving subjects, the GF7 offers excellent continuous autofocus performance assisted by its 5.8 fps. The rear LCD is a beautiful 3-inch touchscreen that tilts 180 degrees into “selfie” mode. For mobile photographers, the GF7 also has built in Wi-Fi allowing “no password” connectivity for easier and hassle free connections.
You can pair the GF7 with a smart phone and control its shutter, zoom, and focus remotely. There also is a new way of remotely triggering the camera with its Buddy and Face shutter mode. The camera will recognize either one or two faces in front of the camera and will remotely trigger the shutter allowing for more convenient group and selfie photos. In addition to all of its great social and mobile features, the GF7 offers HD video with full time auto focus and stereo sound. There’s a lot to love in this small package, and for most users the GF7 will have just about everything one would want in a compact Micro Four Thirds camera.
|Olympus OM-D E-M1||$1,299||16.3||10 fps||Yes||100-25600||17.5 oz.|
|Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark II||$1,099||16.1||10 fps||Yes||100-25600||14.4 oz.|
|Olympus OM-D E-M10||$599||16.1||8 fps||Yes||100-25600||14 oz.|
|Olympus E-P5 PEN||$799||16.1||9 fps||No||100-25600||13.3 oz.|
|Olympus E-PL7 PEN||$499||16.1||8 fps||No||100-25600||10.9 oz.|
|Panasonic LUMIX DMC-GH4||$1,498||16||40 fps||Yes||100-25600||19.8 oz.|
|Panasonic LUMIX DMC-GM5||$631||16||40 fps||Yes||100-25600||6.4 oz.|
|Panasonic LUMIX DMC-GX7||$530||16||40 fps||Yes||125-25600||14 .2 oz.|
|Panasonic LUMIX DMC-GF7||$500||16||5.8 fps||No||100-25600||11.9 oz.|