In the days of film pho­tog­ra­phy, Olym­pus was called the “bud­get Leica”, but in the dig­i­tal era, the cam­eras of these com­pa­nies are some­what sim­i­lar. Pho­to: asia.olympus-imaging.com

Today, when cam­era prices are ris­ing by leaps and bounds, more and more users are start­ing to look for an alter­na­tive to expen­sive mir­ror­less cam­eras from indus­try giants. For­tu­nate­ly, there is an inter­est­ing option — inex­pen­sive and high-qual­i­ty Micro 4: 3 for­mat cam­eras (Micro 4/3). They have two cool advan­tages: they are good in their own right and there are plen­ty of good and cheap lens­es designed for them.

We have col­lect­ed for you the top 5 best Micro 4: 3 cam­eras for pho­tos and videos.

Features Micro 4/3

The Micro 4:3 sys­tem (or MFT — from the Eng­lish Micro Four Thirds) is being devel­oped by two man­u­fac­tur­ers — Olym­pus (OM Sys­tem) and Pana­son­ic. The advan­tages of the for­mat include the com­pact­ness of the cam­eras. In addi­tion, the lens­es for them are also minia­ture.

The con­trast is strik­ing in the case of full-frame mir­ror­less cam­eras: despite the fact that their man­u­fac­tur­ers have learned how to make minia­ture bod­ies, most full-frame glass­es are bulky and heavy.

Lead­er­ship in the Micro 4/3 niche belongs to Olym­pus and Pana­son­ic. But these are not the only brands that pro­duce MFT cam­eras. Such mod­els can be found, for exam­ple, at Black­mag­ic Design, which spe­cial­izes in pro­fes­sion­al video.

With­in a niche, there is also a cer­tain spe­cial­iza­tion. Olym­pus cam­eras are sharp­ened for pho­tog­ra­phy and shoot video with dig­ni­ty. Pana­son­ic cam­eras are video ori­ent­ed and take good pic­tures.

Com­par­i­son table for the size of cam­era matri­ces of var­i­ous for­mats. Illus­tra­tion: Photostore.Expert

The phys­i­cal size of the frame and matrix Micro 4:3 is slight­ly small­er than APS‑C for­mat, but larg­er than in 1‑inch com­pact cam­eras. You get 2x crop com­pared to full frame (APS‑C cam­eras have 1.5x crop): you have to pay for com­pact­ness with a slight­ly nar­row­er frame and low­er aper­ture.

* our top list does not include the recent­ly announced OM Sys­tem OM‑1 and Pana­son­ic GH6 — we will devote a sep­a­rate arti­cle to these cam­eras.

Olympus OM‑D E‑M1 Mark III

The flag­ship OM‑D E‑M1 has a pro­nounced grip that helps when work­ing with long tele­pho­to lens­es. Pho­to: techx.pk
  • Announced: Feb­ru­ary 2020.
  • Matrix: 20.4 MP.
  • Sta­bi­liza­tion: 7 stops (7.5 stops with 12–100mm f/4 lens)
  • Con­tin­u­ous shoot­ing speed: 18 fps with AF track­ing and mechan­i­cal shut­ter, 60 fps with fixed AF and elec­tron­ic shut­ter.
  • Max­i­mum video res­o­lu­tion: DCI 4K (4096 x 2160) at 30p.
  • Viewfind­er: 2,360,000 dots.
  • Screen: Rotat­able 3‑inch 1,037,000 dots.
  • Dimen­sions: 134.1 x 90.9 x 68.9 mm.
  • Weight: 580 grams.

The Olym­pus OM‑D E‑M1 Mark III is one of the most expen­sive MFT cam­eras on the mar­ket, and the price jus­ti­fies the qual­i­ty. It can be called one of the best pro­fes­sion­al cam­eras of its for­mat. This is a uni­ver­sal mod­el that is good for both pho­to and video shoot­ing.

The E‑M1 Mark III is not very com­pact by the stan­dards of MFT cam­eras, but by the stan­dards of pro­fes­sion­al mod­els it is almost a feath­er (580 grams with bat­tery and SD cards). At the same time, it has a strong body with weath­er pro­tec­tion, so it is a good option for land­scape and street pho­tog­ra­phy, as well as for those who trav­el a lot.

The OM‑D E‑M1 Mark III boasts fast burst shoot­ing and a nim­ble aut­o­fo­cus sys­tem. The cam­era is capa­ble of shoot­ing at 18 fps with track­ing aut­o­fo­cus. This means it’s great for sports and fast action scenes. And as befits a high-speed pro cam­era, it has two SD card slots.

You also get best-in-class image sta­bi­liza­tion: the E‑M1 III com­pen­sates for up to 7 stops of expo­sure (7.5 when using a 12–100mm f/4 lens). In com­par­i­son, Sony’s best full-frame flag­ships with select lens­es reach 6.5 stops.

Such sta­bi­liza­tion allows you to work at suf­fi­cient­ly slow shut­ter speeds when shoot­ing hand­held, which part­ly com­pen­sates for the small size of the matrix and, accord­ing­ly, the short­com­ings of the for­mat when shoot­ing in low light. Shoot­ing videos with such a stub is a plea­sure.

By the way, the flag­ship Olym­pus shoots excel­lent detailed 4K video with min­i­mal rolling shut­ter effect (visu­al dis­tor­tion that appears dur­ing video record­ing, when pan­ning or mov­ing while shoot­ing). The cam­era has a con­ve­nient swiv­el dis­play and has all the nec­es­sary ports for sound record­ing.

Although the price of this pro cam­era bites, it is still below the Sony a7 III, Nikon Z6 or Canon EOS R6. So if you’re look­ing for a pro­fes­sion­al, ver­sa­tile Micro 4:3 mod­el, the OM‑D E‑M1 Mark III should be at the top of your list.

Panasonic Lumix GH5 II

The Pana­son­ic Lumix GH5 II’s handy swiv­el screen helps you cap­ture videos from mul­ti­ple angles. Pho­to­graph: Grif­fin Hammond/Panasonic
  • Announced: May 2021.
  • Matrix: 20.3 MP.
  • Sta­bi­liza­tion: 6.5 stops.
  • Con­tin­u­ous shoot­ing speed: 12 fps with AF track­ing, 6K Pho­to: 30 fps, 4K Pho­to: 60 fps.
  • Max­i­mum video res­o­lu­tion: DCI 4K (4096x2160) at 60p.
  • Viewfind­er: 3.68 mil­lion dots (refresh rate 60/120 fps).
  • Screen: Rotat­able 3‑inch 1.84 mil­lion dots.
  • Dimen­sions: 138.5 x 98.1 x 87.4 mm.
  • Weight: 727 grams.

Pana­son­ic Lumix GH5 II is an updat­ed ver­sion of the leg­endary GH5, which at one time became a real clas­sic among video­g­ra­phers. GH5 II, like its pre­de­ces­sor, is good not only in video, but also in pho­tos.

The Pana­son­ic GH5 II fea­tures a 20.3‑megapixel sen­sor with an option­al anti-reflec­tive coat­ing that reduces flare and improves con­trast when shoot­ing in sun­light. You can shoot 20-megapix­el pho­tos at up to 12 fps, and use the 6K Pho­to mode for con­tin­u­ous shoot­ing, which can take 6‑megapixel stills at 30 fps.

Cam­era shoots 4K (4096 x 2160) video at 60 fps with 10-bit 4:2:0 col­or at 200 Mbps or 4K at 30 fps at 10-bit 4:2:2 at 400 Mbps /With. These are very high fig­ures, suit­able for com­plex pro­fes­sion­al work and advanced post-pro­cess­ing. If that was­n’t enough, the GH5 II can out­put video to an exter­nal recorder via HDMI in 4K 4:2:2 10-bit 60p while record­ing inter­nal­ly to a mem­o­ry card at 4:2:0.

In addi­tion, the GH5 II has an excel­lent built-in sta­bi­liza­tion sys­tem that com­pen­sates for up to 6.5 stops of expo­sure, which is a plus for both video shoot­ing and low-light pho­tog­ra­phy.

All in all, the Pana­son­ic GH5 II is ide­al for video­g­ra­phers who also need a work­ing cam­era.

Olympus OM‑D E‑M5 III

Com­pact, inex­pen­sive, but very cool Olym­pus prime lens­es are one of the rea­sons to love the Micro 4:3. Pho­to: getolympus.com
  • Announced: Octo­ber 2019.
  • Matrix: 20.4 MP.
  • Sta­bi­liza­tion: 6.5 stops.
  • Con­tin­u­ous shoot­ing speed: mechan­i­cal shut­ter — 10 fps with fixed focus, 6 fps with track­ing aut­o­fo­cus; elec­tron­ic shut­ter — 30 fps with fixed focus, 10 fps with track­ing aut­o­fo­cus.
  • Max­i­mum video res­o­lu­tion: 4K (3840 x 2160) at 30p / DCI 4K (4096 x 2160) at 24p.
  • Viewfind­er: 2,360,000 dots.
  • Screen: Rotat­able 3‑inch 1,037,000 dots.
  • Dimen­sions: 125.3 x 85.2 x 9.7 mm.
  • Weight: 414 grams.

Olym­pus OM‑D E‑M5 III is per­haps the best MFT cam­era for pho­tog­ra­phers in terms of price and qual­i­ty. This mod­el is a com­bi­na­tion of a beau­ti­ful pic­ture, a com­pact body, an excel­lent sta­bi­liza­tion sys­tem, fast con­tin­u­ous shoot­ing and a low price.

The Olym­pus OM‑D E‑M5 Mark III does­n’t excel in any one area, but it does­n’t have any down­sides either. This is an option for hob­by pho­tog­ra­phers look­ing to take it to the next lev­el, as well as for pros look­ing for a com­pact cam­era for trav­el and every­day shoot­ing.

The OM‑D E‑M5 Mark III uses a 20-megapix­el sen­sor at the same lev­el as the pro­fes­sion­al MFT mod­els we reviewed above. If 20 megapix­els is not enough for you (for exam­ple, for super-detailed shoot­ing of land­scapes), the cam­era offers a spe­cial 50-megapix­el mode when shoot­ing from a tri­pod.

The body is com­pact but not tiny, which means it works bal­anced with any of the mid-sized Olympian lens­es, such as the 12–40mm f/2.8.

You still have to pay for com­pact­ness — the cam­era has a small grip, so if you are used to work­ing with DSLRs, you will need time to adapt. Either way, the E‑M5 Mark III strikes a great bal­ance between size and ergonom­ics.

Panasonic GH5S

The Pana­son­ic GH5S is the Sony a7S III’s main com­peti­tor among ded­i­cat­ed mir­ror­less cam­corders. Pho­to: camerajabber.com
  • Announced: Jan­u­ary 2020.
  • Matrix: 10.28 MP.
  • Sta­bi­liza­tion: No.
  • Con­tin­u­ous shoot­ing speed: 12 fps with AF fixed, 7 fps with AF track­ing; 4K Pho­to at 60 fps.
  • Max­i­mum Video Res­o­lu­tion: DCI 4K (4096 x 2160) at 60p / Full HD at 240p.
  • Viewfind­er: 3.68 mil­lion dots.
  • Screen: Rotat­able 3.2‑inch 1.62M dots.
  • Dimen­sions: 139 x 98 x 87 mm.
  • Weight: 660 grams.

The first thing to say right away is that the Pana­son­ic Lumix GH5s is a video cam­era, not a pho­to cam­era.

Of course, the GH5s can take decent pho­tos, and even at a respectable 12fps. But still, this is a cam­corder that just knows how to take pho­tos, and not a hybrid mod­el like the GH5 II, which we wrote about above. So if videog­ra­phy is not your num­ber one goal, we rec­om­mend that you pay atten­tion to oth­er cam­eras from our list.

If you’re going to shoot a lot of video, you’ll def­i­nite­ly like the Pana­son­ic Lumix GH5s. The cam­era offers 4K/60p record­ing (bitrates up to 400Mbps) with excel­lent low-light capa­bil­i­ties (max­i­mum ISO up to 204,800), high-qual­i­ty elec­tron­ic viewfind­er (3.69M dots) and Full HD 240k slow-motion shoot­ing. /With. The GH5s has all the tools a pro­fes­sion­al video­g­ra­ph­er needs: zebra, vec­torscopes, HDR record­ing and LUT pro­files.

The body and ergonom­ics of the cam­era resem­ble a small­er DSLR. The sim­i­lar­i­ty is com­ple­ment­ed by access to a wide range of excel­lent MFT lens­es.

If you’re not very famil­iar with cam­corder fea­tures, you might be sur­prised by the res­o­lu­tion (the GH5S has only 10 megapix­els, less than many smart­phones). But that’s stan­dard for a ded­i­cat­ed cam­corder — it uses large pix­els that improve low-light per­for­mance. The 12-megapix­el Sony a7S III has the same prin­ci­ple of oper­a­tion.

Pana­son­ic Lumix GH5s is a seri­ous tool for pro­fes­sion­al video shoot­ing. This cam­era is less ver­sa­tile than the GH5 II and is unlike­ly to inter­est those who shoot both pho­tos and videos at the same time, but for video pro­fes­sion­als this is prob­a­bly the best MFT mod­el.

Panasonic Lumix G9

The Pana­son­ic Lumix G9 is posi­tioned as a ver­sa­tile cam­era for wildlife and sports events with a dust and mois­ture resis­tant body. Pho­to: ajaram.com
  • Announced: Novem­ber 2017.
  • Matrix: 20.4 MP.
  • Sta­bi­liza­tion: 6.5 stops.
  • Con­tin­u­ous shoot­ing speed: 20 fps with track­ing aut­o­fo­cus, 60 fps with fixed — elec­tron­ic shut­ter.
  • Max­i­mum video res­o­lu­tion: UHD 4K (3840 x 2160) at 60p.
  • Viewfind­er: 3,680,000 dots.
  • Screen: Rotat­able 3‑inch 1,040,000 dots.
  • Dimen­sions: 136.9 x 97.3 x 91.6 mm.
  • Weight: 658 grams.

We thought for a long time who to make our fifth nom­i­nee — Olym­pus (for exam­ple, the ini­tial Olym­pus OM‑D E‑M10 Mark IV) or Pana­son­ic. And yet we decid­ed to stop at a mod­el that has almost passed into the cat­e­go­ry of “vet­er­ans” — Pana­son­ic Lumix G9. Due to its ven­er­a­ble age in mod­ern times, it can be found at a good dis­count, but at the same time, the G9 does not make any com­pro­mis­es on the char­ac­ter­is­tics.

The G9 is good in almost every aspect — it’s a cool hybrid cam­era that will be suit­able pri­mar­i­ly for those who spe­cial­ize in pho­tog­ra­phy, but also occa­sion­al­ly shoot videos.

This MFT-for­mat mir­ror­less cam­era uses a 20-megapix­el sen­sor, equiv­a­lent to the flag­ship sen­sor in the Olym­pus OM‑D E‑M1 Mark III. But you won’t be lim­it­ed to 20-megapix­el shots: the cam­era has a super-detailed 80-megapix­el shoot­ing mode using sen­sor shift (you need a tri­pod to work).

The G9 has a very handy, albeit slight­ly dat­ed in terms of res­o­lu­tion, swiv­el screen, dual mem­o­ry card slot, and a beau­ti­ful­ly clear 3.69 mil­lion-dot elec­tron­ic viewfind­er. It’s a viewfind­er on par with the Nikon Z6 and Canon EOS R, and even bet­ter than the much-loved Sony a7 III (2.4 mil­lion dots).

The G9 also offers a good aut­o­fo­cus sys­tem, includ­ing when work­ing with mov­ing sub­jects, although not as reli­able as the com­pe­ti­tion. At the same time, the cam­era can shoot bursts at 20 fps with track­ing aut­o­fo­cus, so it is per­fect for shoot­ing wildlife and sports events. The hull pro­tec­tion from adverse weath­er con­di­tions also goes into the pig­gy bank.

The G9 offers detailed 4K video record­ing at 60p. There are head­phone and micro­phone jacks, so most video­g­ra­phers won’t be dis­ap­point­ed either.

So, if the GH5S can be rec­om­mend­ed for film indus­try pro­fes­sion­als, and the GH5 II for video­g­ra­phers who peri­od­i­cal­ly shoot pho­tos, then the G9 is the best choice for pro­fes­sion­al pho­tog­ra­phers who also like to shoot high-qual­i­ty videos.


Olym­pus OM‑D E‑M1 Mark III is a ver­sa­tile pro­fes­sion­al mod­el that is suit­able for high-speed con­tin­u­ous shoot­ing, and, if nec­es­sary, will help you shoot high-qual­i­ty video.

The Pana­son­ic Lumix GH5 II is a hybrid cam­era aimed pri­mar­i­ly at video­g­ra­phers who also need a good still cam­era.

The Olym­pus OM‑D E‑M5 III is a com­pact hob­by­ist cam­era ide­al for trav­el and every­day pho­tog­ra­phy.

Pana­son­ic Lumix GH5s is a cam­era for pro­fes­sion­al video­g­ra­phers, a kind of MFT ana­logue of the Sony a7S III.

The Pana­son­ic Lumix G9 is a pro­fes­sion­al cam­era for pho­tog­ra­phers that han­dles high-speed burst shoot­ing but also shoots high-qual­i­ty 4K video.


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