Recently, when I switched from a full-frame Nikon D810 to a crop-sensor Fuji XT1 (which I LOVE, by the way!), I had to make the difficult decision to choose whether I should go with the micro 4/3 Olympus cameras, or if I'd rather shoot with Fuji.
I tried out both camera systems and gave them a fair chance.
For me the Fuji ended up being the right camera, but for others the benefits of the Olympus will be better.
In this post on Olympus vs Fuji, I just want to share some of the similarities and differences to help you make your decision.
Olympus Camera System – What I like
The Olympus micro 4/3 cameras have some really neat technology.
It's incredible what they can do with such a small sensor.
For me, the factors that nearly convinced me to choose Olympus were the fantastic lens lineup and the price of the lenses.
But the connectivity and touch screens are also compelling.
- Larger Lens Lineup – The biggest benefit of choosing an Olympus camera, in my opinion, is the lens lineup.
Olympus and Panasonic have come together to create a micro 4/3 lens system that can be used on both brands of cameras.
The competition between the two has produced excellent lenses at inexpensive prices.
- In-Body Image Stabilization – This is a huge benefit. In body image stabilization means you don't have to buy image stabilization on every lens.
It's built into the camera, so all of your lenses have this technology.
- Touch Screen – One thing that some of the Olympus cameras have is a touch screen.
This makes changing camera settings much more intuitive and quick.
I'd like to see this implemented in future Fuji cameras.
- Live Exposure for Long Exposure Photography – One cool feature that Olympus pioneered is the ability to see a black image when you start taking a long exposure, and then to see that black image slowly become exposed.
Then, the photographer can simply stop the exposure as soon as the photo is bright enough. Awesome!
- Very Slightly Better Battery – The battery life of the Olympus cameras is generally better than that of the Fuji cameras.
That's not hard, though, because the battery life indicator on the Fuji XT1 is basically unusable. Ugh!
- Flash Sync Speed – Olympus cameras can sync a flash at a faster shutter speed than comparable Fuji cameras, which tap out at only 1/180.
That's a bit annoying when using a flash, so the Olympus has an advantage here.
Fuji Camera System – What I like
The reason I chose to shoot Fuji is because the cameras utilize a much larger APS-C sensor, which gives significant advantages which are apparent when you shoot both camera systems.
In general, the Fuji cameras do much better with low light and can achieve shallower depth of field than the Olympus cameras.
Also, the dials and controls of the Fuji cameras–though an acquired taste–are absolutely fantastic.
- Better viewfinders – The EVF in Fuji cameras is better than any other EVF on the market right now.
The Olympus viewfinders are actually quite good, but the Fuji cameras generally have brighter, bigger viewfinders with more customizability for showing info.
Having used a Fuji EVF for a few months now, I could never go back to a DSLR.
- Better Low Light Performance – If you've actually spent time shooting both camera systems, you'd have to admit that the Fuji does significantly better in dealing with low light.
- Shallower Depth of Field – The caveat to this benefit is “when all else is equal.”
The larger sensor size on the Fuji cameras produces shallower depth of field when the same f-stop of lens is in use.
For me, this is a huge benefit.
While some of the ultra-fast lenses on the Olympus system are compelling, I still just couldn't get the shallow depth of field that I can with my Fuji.
- Controls, Controls, Controls! – The biggest surprise for me with the Fuji system is how much I love the controls!
It's something I wrote about in my “Why I switched to Fuji” article.
With separate dials for shutter, aperture, and ISO, I'm able to shoot without any regard to the camera mode.
It completely changed the way I expose my photos, and made exposure changes faster than ever.
Once you try shooting a Fuji XT1 with all its beautiful controls, it's hard to go back to a traditional setup.
- Wider Aspect Ratio – This is huge for me. I'm a composition fanatic, so the aspect ratio is a big deal.
The Fuji XT1 utilizes a standard 3/2 aspect ratio.
However, the Olympus uses the older 4/3 aspect ratio.
In a practical sense, it means the Olympus photos are more squared, and the Fuji photos are more of a rectangle.
I just couldn't get used to the 4/3 aspect ratio.
Similarities Between Olympus and Fuji
Aside from the same mirrorless camera design, you'll find many similarities between the Olympus and Fuji cameras.
Despite using completely different lens systems and technology, they actually look like close cousins.
You'll find that both camera systems are using the same retro camera design.
In fact, it can be quite difficult to tell the difference between a Fuji XT1 and an Olympus EM1 from a distance.
Both camera systems are quite comparable in the resolution department as well. Both Olympus and Fuji have taken themselves.
Autofocus on both camera systems is quite good.
A year ago, I would have said that Olympus was much quicker, but Fuji has issued a number of firmware updates to its cameras and the cameras it has released recently are just as fast (maybe even a touch faster?) than the Olympus cameras.
Autofocus performance on both systems is now quite good, though still not as fast as DSLRs.
Olympus or Fuji? – How to decide
Choose Olympus If…
- You have a very low budget for your camera and lenses. Olympus cameras are about the same price as the Fuji cameras, but the lenses are generally less expensive.
HOWEVER, be sure to read my article on the best 10 mirrorless cameras under $1,000. I recommend several Fuji and Olympus cameras there.
- You want to shoot wildlife photography. Olympus has better supertelephoto lenses available right now, though their lineup is scarce as well.
- You'll be shooting with flash very often – The Olympus cameras have a faster flash sync speed.
Choose Fuji If…
- You like having buttons and dials for controlling everything without getting into the menu.
- You'll do any night photography or shooting in low light. The low light performance of the Fuji cameras is a significant improvement over the Olympus cameras from what I've seen.
Plus, the Fuji cameras are ISO invariant, which is pretty handy.
- You want to capture shallower depth of field.
Both camera systems are excellent competitors to the traditional DSLR, and I would rather shoot either of these camera systems over my old Nikon, but there are similarities and differences between them.
If you'll be shooting the Fuji camera system, be sure to read my comparison between the Fuji XT1 and the Fuji XT10, and no matter which system you choose, be sure to read my recommendations of the best mirrorless cameras under $1,000.