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Canon 450D vs Olympus E-PM1

The Canon EOS 450D (called Canon XSi in some regions) and the Olympus PEN E-PM1 are two digital cameras that were announced, respectively, in January 2008 and June 2011. The 450D is a DSLR, while the E-PM1 is a mirrorless interchangeable lens camera. The cameras are based on an APS-C (450D) and a Four Thirds (E-PM1) sensor. Both cameras offer a resolution of 12.2 megapixels.

Below is an overview of the main specs of the two cameras as a starting point for the comparison.

Headline Specifications
Canon 450D versus Olympus E-PM1
Canon 450D Olympus E-PM1
Digital single lens reflex Mirrorless system camera
Canon EF mount lenses Micro Four Thirds lenses
12.2 MP, APS-C Sensor 12.2 MP, Four Thirds Sensor
no Video 1080/60i Video
ISO 100-1,600 ISO 100-12,800
Optical viewfinder Viewfinder optional
3.0 LCD, 230k dots 3.0 LCD, 460k dots
Fixed screen (not touch-sensitive) Fixed screen (not touch-sensitive)
3.5 shutter flaps per second 5.5 shutter flaps per second
Lens stabilization onlyIn-body stabilization
500 shots per battery charge330 shots per battery charge
129 x 98 x 62 mm, 524 g 110 x 64 x 34 mm, 265 g

Going beyond this snapshot of core features and characteristics, what are the differences between the Canon EOS 450D and the Olympus PEN E-PM1? Which one should you buy? Read on to find out how these two cameras compare with respect to their body size, their imaging sensors, their shooting features, their input-output connections, and their reception by expert reviewers.

Body comparison

An illustration of the physical size and weight of the Canon 450D and the Olympus E-PM1 is provided in the side-by-side display below. The two cameras are presented according to their relative size. Three consecutive perspectives from the front, the top, and the back are available. All size dimensions are rounded to the nearest millimeter.

The E-PM1 can be obtained in six different colors (black, silver, brown, pink, purple, white), while the 450D is only available in black.

Size Canon 450D vs Olympus E-PM1
Compare 450D versus E-PM1 top
Comparison 450D or E-PM1 rear

If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Olympus E-PM1 is considerably smaller (44 percent) than the Canon 450D. Moreover, the E-PM1 is substantially lighter (49 percent) than the 450D. In this context, it is worth noting that neither the 450D nor the E-PM1 are weather-sealed.

The above size and weight comparisons are to some extent incomplete since they do not consider the interchangeable lenses that both of these cameras require. A larger imaging sensor will tend to go along with bigger and heavier lenses, although exceptions exist. You can compare the optics available for the two cameras in the Canon EF Lens Catalog (450D) and the Micro Four Thirds Lens Catalog (E-PM1). Mirrorless cameras, such as the E-PM1, have moreover the advantage that they can use many lenses from other systems via adapters, as they have a relatively short flange to focal plane distance.

Concerning battery life, the 450D gets 500 shots out of its LP-E5 battery, while the E-PM1 can take 330 images on a single charge of its BLS-5 power pack.

The following table provides a synthesis of the main physical specifications of the two cameras and other similar ones. If you want to switch the focus of the display and review another camera pair, just select a new right or left comparator from among the camera models in the table. Alternatively, you can also move across to the CAM-parator tool and choose from the broad selection of possible camera comparisons there.

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Body Specifications
  Camera
Model
Camera
Width
Camera
Height
Camera
Depth
Camera
Weight
Battery
Life 1
Weather
Sealing
Camera
Launch 2
Launch
Price (USD)
Street
Price
 
Canon 450D 5.1 in 3.9 in 2.4 in 18.5 oz 500 n Jan 2008 799i
 
Olympus E-PM1 4.3 in 2.5 in 1.3 in 9.3 oz 330 n Jun 2011 499i
 
Canon 750D 5.2 in 4.0 in 3.1 in 19.6 oz 440 n Feb 2015 749i
 
Canon 760D 5.2 in 4.0 in 3.1 in 19.9 oz 440 n Feb 2015 649i
 
Canon G1 X Mark II 4.6 in 2.9 in 2.6 in 19.5 oz 240 n Feb 2014 799i
 
Canon 650D 5.2 in 3.9 in 3.1 in 20.3 oz 440 n Jun 2012 849i
 
Canon G1 X 4.6 in 3.2 in 2.6 in 18.8 oz 250 n Jan 2012 799i
 
Canon 1100D 5.1 in 3.9 in 3.1 in 17.5 oz 700 n Feb 2011 449i
 
Canon 500D 5.1 in 3.9 in 2.4 in 18.3 oz 400 n Mar 2009 799i
 
Canon 1000D 5.0 in 3.9 in 2.6 in 17.7 oz 500 n Jun 2008 449i
 
Canon 400D 5.0 in 3.3 in 2.6 in 19.6 oz 370 n Aug 2006 799i
 
Nikon D5000 5.0 in 4.1 in 3.1 in 20.8 oz 510 n Apr 2009 749i
 
Olympus E-PM2 4.3 in 2.5 in 1.3 in 9.5 oz 360 n Sep 2012 499i
 
Olympus E-PL2 4.5 in 2.8 in 1.7 in 12.8 oz 280 n Jan 2011 599i
 
Olympus E-PL3 4.3 in 2.5 in 1.5 in 11.0 oz 300 n Jun 2011 599i
 
Olympus E-PL1 4.5 in 2.8 in 1.7 in 11.8 oz 290 n Feb 2010 599i
 
Panasonic G2 4.9 in 3.3 in 2.9 in 15.1 oz 360 n Mar 2010 599i
Notes: Measurements and pricing do not include easily detachable parts, such as add-on or interchangeable lenses or optional viewfinders.
(1) Number of images that can be taken on a full battery charge according to the CIPA-standard; (2) Official announcement.

Any camera decision will naturally be influenced heavily by the price. The manufacturer’s suggested retail prices give an idea on the placement of the camera in the maker’s lineup and the broader market. The E-PM1 was launched at a markedly lower price (by 38 percent) than the 450D, which puts it into a different market segment. Usually, retail prices stay at first close to the launch price, but after several months, discounts become available. Later in the product cycle and, in particular, when the replacement model is about to appear, further discounting and stock clearance sales often push the camera price considerably down. Then, after the new model is out, very good deals can frequently be found on the pre-owned market.

Sensor comparison

The size of the imaging sensor is a crucial determinant of image quality. All other things equal, a large sensor will have larger individual pixel-units that offer better low-light sensitivity, wider dynamic range, and richer color-depth than smaller pixels in a sensor of the same technological generation. Further, a large sensor camera will give the photographer additional creative options when using shallow depth-of-field to isolate a subject from its background. On the downside, larger sensors are more costly to manufacture and tend to lead to bigger and heavier cameras and lenses.

Of the two cameras under consideration, the Canon 450D features an APS-C sensor and the Olympus E-PM1 a Four Thirds sensor. The sensor area in the E-PM1 is 32 percent smaller. As a result of these sensor size differences, the cameras have a format factor of, respectively, 1.6 and 2.0. The sensor in the 450D has a native 3:2 aspect ratio, while the one in the E-PM1 offers a 4:3 aspect.

Canon 450D and Olympus E-PM1 sensor measures

Even though the 450D has a larger sensor, both cameras offer the same resolution of 12.2 megapixels. This implies that the 450D has a lower pixel density and larger individual pixels (with a pixel pitch of 5.19μm versus 4.29μm for the E-PM1), which gives it a potential advantage in terms of light gathering capacity. It should, however, be noted that the E-PM1 is much more recent (by 3 years and 5 months) than the 450D, and its sensor will have benefitted from technological advances during this time that at least partly compensate for the smaller pixel size.

The Canon EOS 450D has a native sensitivity range from ISO 100 to ISO 1600. The corresponding ISO settings for the Olympus PEN E-PM1 are ISO 100 to ISO 12800 (no boost).

450D versus E-PM1 MP

Consistent information on actual sensor performance is available from DXO Mark for many cameras. This service is based on lab testing and assigns an overall score to each camera sensor, as well as ratings for dynamic range ("DXO Landscape"), color depth ("DXO Portrait"), and low-light sensitivity ("DXO Sports"). Of the two cameras under review, the 450D has a notably higher overall DXO score than the E-PM1 (overall score 9 points higher), which gives it an advantage in terms of imaging quality. This advantage is based on 0.9 bits higher color depth, 0.5 EV in additional dynamic range, and 0.5 stops in additional low light sensitivity. The following table provides an overview of the physical sensor characteristics, as well as the sensor quality measurements for a selection of comparators.

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Sensor Characteristics
  Camera
Model
Sensor
Class
Resolution
(MP)
Horiz.
Pixels
Vert.
Pixels
Video
Format
DXO
Portrait
DXO
Landscape
DXO
Sports
DXO
Overall
 
Canon 450D APS-C 12.2 4272 2848none21.910.869261
 
Olympus E-PM1 Four Thirds 12.2 4032 30241080/60i21.010.349952
 
Canon 750D APS-C 24.0 6000 40001080/30p22.712.091971
 
Canon 760D APS-C 24.0 6000 40001080/30p22.612.091570
 
Canon G1 X Mark II 1.5-inch 13.0 4160 31201080/30p21.510.858158
 
Canon 650D APS-C 17.9 5184 34561080/30p21.711.272262
 
Canon G1 X 1.5-inch 14.2 4352 32641080/24p21.710.864460
 
Canon 1100D APS-C 12.2 4272 2848720/30p21.911.075562
 
Canon 500D APS-C 15.1 4752 31681080/20p21.711.566363
 
Canon 1000D APS-C 10.1 3888 2592none........
 
Canon 400D APS-C 10.1 3888 2592none22.111.066462
 
Nikon D5000 APS-C 12.2 4288 2848720/24p22.712.586872
 
Olympus E-PM2 Four Thirds 15.9 4608 34561080/30p22.712.293272
 
Olympus E-PL2 Four Thirds 12.2 4032 3024720/30p21.410.257355
 
Olympus E-PL3 Four Thirds 12.2 4032 30241080/60i20.910.349952
 
Olympus E-PL1 Four Thirds 12.2 4032 3024720/30p21.510.148754
 
Panasonic G2 Four Thirds 12.0 4000 3000720/30p21.210.349353

Many modern cameras are not only capable of taking still images, but also of capturing video footage. The E-PM1 indeed provides for movie recording, while the 450D does not. The highest resolution format that the E-PM1 can use is 1080/60i.

Feature comparison

Beyond body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a range of features. For example, the 450D has an optical viewfinder, which can be very useful when shooting in bright sunlight. In contrast, the E-PM1 relies on live view and the rear LCD for framing. That said, the E-PM1 can be equipped with an optional viewfinder – the VF-2. The table below summarizes some of the other core capabilities of the Canon 450D and Olympus E-PM1 in connection with corresponding information for a sample of similar cameras.

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Core Features
  Camera
Model
Viewfinder
(Type or
000 dots)
Control
Panel
(yes/no)
LCD
Size
(inch)
LCD
Resolution
(000 dots)
LCD
Attach-
ment
Touch
Screen
(yes/no)
Mech
Shutter
Speed
Shutter
Flaps
(1/sec)
Built-in
Flash
(yes/no)
Built-in
Image
Stab
 
Canon 450Doptical n 3.0 230 fixed n 1/4000s 3.5 Y n
 
Olympus E-PM1optional n 3.0 460 fixed n 1/4000s 5.5 n Y
 
Canon 750Doptical n 3.0 1040 swivel Y 1/4000s 5.0 Y n
 
Canon 760Doptical Y 3.0 1040 swivel Y 1/4000s 5.0 Y n
 
Canon G1 X Mark IIoptional n 3.0 1040 tilting Y 1/4000s 5.2 Y Y
 
Canon 650Doptical n 3.0 1040 swivel Y 1/4000s 5.0 Y n
 
Canon G1 Xoptical n 3.0 922 Swivel n 1/4000s 1.9 Y Y
 
Canon 1100Doptical n 2.7 230 fixed n 1/4000s 3.0 Y n
 
Canon 500Doptical n 3.0 920 fixed n 1/4000s 3.4 Y n
 
Canon 1000Doptical n 2.5 230 fixed n 1/4000s 3.0 Y n
 
Canon 400Doptical n 2.5 230 fixed n 1/4000s 3.0 Y n
 
Nikon D5000optical n 2.7 230 full-flex n 1/4000s 4.0 Y n
 
Olympus E-PM2optional n 3.0 460 fixed Y 1/4000s 8.0 n Y
 
Olympus E-PL2optional n 3.0 460 fixed n 1/4000s 3.0 Y Y
 
Olympus E-PL3optional n 3.0 460 tilting n 1/4000s 5.5 n Y
 
Olympus E-PL1optional n 2.7 230 fixed n 1/2000s 3.0 Y Y
 
Panasonic G21440 n 3.0 460 swivel Y 1/4000s 2.6 Y n

One difference between the cameras concerns the presence of an on-board flash. The 450D has one, while the E-PM1 does not. While the built-in flash of the 450D is not very powerful, it can at times be useful as a fill-in light.

The 450D writes its imaging data to SDHC cards, while the E-PM1 uses SDXC cards.

Connectivity comparison

For some imaging applications, the extent to which a camera can communicate with its environment can be an important aspect in the camera decision process. The table below provides an overview of the connectivity of the Canon EOS 450D and Olympus PEN E-PM1 and, in particular, the interfaces the cameras (and selected comparators) provide for accessory control and data transfer.

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Input-Output Connections
  Camera
Model
Hotshoe
Port
Internal
Microphone
Internal
Speaker
Microphone
Port
Headphone
Port
HDMI
Port
USB
Port
WiFi
Support
NFC
Support
Bluetooth
Support
 
Canon 450DY----mini2.0---
 
Olympus E-PM1Ystereomono--mini2.0---
 
Canon 750DYstereomonoY-mini2.0YY-
 
Canon 760DYstereomonoY-mini2.0YY-
 
Canon G1 X Mark IIYstereomono--mini2.0YY-
 
Canon 650DYstereomonoY-mini2.0---
 
Canon G1 XYstereomono--mini2.0---
 
Canon 1100DYstereomono--mini2.0---
 
Canon 500DYmonomono--mini2.0---
 
Canon 1000DY-----2.0---
 
Canon 400DY-----2.0---
 
Nikon D5000Ymonomono--mini2.0---
 
Olympus E-PM2Ystereomono--mini2.0---
 
Olympus E-PL2Ystereo---mini2.0---
 
Olympus E-PL3Ystereo---mini2.0---
 
Olympus E-PL1Ystereo---mini2.0---
 
Panasonic G2Ystereomono--mini2.0---

Both the 450D and the E-PM1 have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on eBay. The 450D was replaced by the Canon 500D, while the E-PM1 was followed by the Olympus E-PM2. Further information on the two cameras (e.g. user guides, manuals), as well as related accessories, can be found on the official Canon and Olympus websites.

Review summary

So what conclusions can be drawn? Which of the two cameras – the Canon 450D or the Olympus E-PM1 – has the upper hand? Is one clearly better than the other? The listing below highlights the relative strengths of the two models.

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Reasons to prefer the Canon EOS 450D:

  • Better image quality: Scores markedly higher (9 points) in the DXO overall assessment.
  • Better low-light sensitivity: Requires less light for good images (0.5 stops ISO advantage).
  • Easier framing: Has an optical viewfinder for image composition and settings control.
  • Longer lasting: Can take more shots (500 versus 330) on a single battery charge.
  • Easier fill-in: Is equipped with a small onboard flash to brighten deep shadow areas.
  • More heavily discounted: Has been available for much longer (launched in January 2008).

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Advantages of the Olympus PEN E-PM1:

  • Broader imaging potential: Can capture not only stills but also 1080/60i video.
  • More detailed LCD: Has a higher resolution rear screen (460k vs 230k dots).
  • Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (5.5 vs 3.5 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
  • More compact: Is smaller (110x64mm vs 129x98mm) and will fit more readily into a bag.
  • Less heavy: Has a lower weight (by 259g or 49 percent) and is thus easier to take along.
  • Sharper images: Has stabilization technology built-in to reduce the impact of hand-shake.
  • More legacy lens friendly: Can use many non-native lenses via adapters.
  • More affordable: Was introduced into a lower priced category (38 percent cheaper at launch).
  • More modern: Reflects 3 years and 5 months of technical progress since the 450D launch.

If the count of individual advantages (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the E-PM1 emerges as the winner of the match-up (9 : 6 points). However, the relative importance of the various individual camera aspects will vary according to personal preferences and needs, so that you might like to apply corresponding weights to the particular features before making a decision on a new camera. A professional wildlife photographer will view the differences between cameras in a way that diverges from the perspective of a family photog, and a person interested in architecture has distinct needs from a sports shooter. Hence, the decision which camera is best and worth buying is often a very personal one.

450D 06:09 E-PM1

How about other alternatives? Do the specifications of the Canon 450D and the Olympus E-PM1 place the cameras among the top in their class? Find out in the latest Best DSLR Camera and Best Mirrorless Interchangeable Lens Camera listings whether the two cameras rank among the cream of the crop.

In any case, while the comparison of the spec-sheets of cameras can offer a general idea of their imaging potential, it says little about, for example, the shooting experience and imaging performance of the 450D and the E-PM1 in practical situations. User reviews that are available, for instance, at amazon can sometimes shed light on these issues, but such feedback is all too often partial, inconsistent, and inaccurate.

Expert reviews

This is where reviews by experts come in. The following table reports the overall ratings of the cameras as published by some of the major camera review sites (cameralabs, dpreview, ephotozine, imaging-resource, and photographyblog). As can be seen, the professional reviewers agree in many cases on the quality of different cameras, but sometimes their assessments diverge, reinforcing the earlier point that a camera decision is often a very personal choice.

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Review Scores
  Camera
Model
camera
  labs  
dp
review  
ephoto
  zine  
imaging
resource
photography
  blog  
Camera
Launch
Launch
Price (USD)
Street
Price
 
Canon 450D+ ++ +4/55/54.5/5 Jan 2008 799i
 
Olympus E-PM186/10071/1004.5/5..4.5/5 Jun 2011 499i
 
Canon 750D..75/1004.5/54.5/54.5/5 Feb 2015 749i
 
Canon 760D+77/1004.5/54.5/54.5/5 Feb 2015 649i
 
Canon G1 X Mark II+77/1004/54/54.5/5 Feb 2014 799i
 
Canon 650D+ +77/1004.5/54.5/54.5/5 Jun 2012 849i
 
Canon G1 X+76/1004/54/54.5/5 Jan 2012 799i
 
Canon 1100D80/10069/1004/54/54.5/5 Feb 2011 449i
 
Canon 500D+ +74/1004.5/55/54.5/5 Mar 2009 799i
 
Canon 1000D82/100+ +3.5/54/54.5/5 Jun 2008 449i
 
Canon 400D+ ++ +o4.5/54/5 Aug 2006 799i
 
Nikon D5000+ +75/1004/55/54.5/5 Apr 2009 749i
 
Olympus E-PM2..77/1005/54.5/54.5/5 Sep 2012 499i
 
Olympus E-PL283/10071/1004.5/54.5/54.5/5 Jan 2011 599i
 
Olympus E-PL3+ +72/1004.5/5..4/5 Jun 2011 599i
 
Olympus E-PL186/10069/1004/54.5/54.5/5 Feb 2010 599i
 
Panasonic G2..72/1004/54/54.5/5 Mar 2010 599i
Notes: (+ +) highly recommended; (+) recommended; (o) reviewed; (..) not available.

Care should be taken when interpreting the review scores above, though. The ratings were established in reference to similarly priced cameras that were available in the market at the time of the review. A score, therefore, has to be seen in close connection to the price and market introduction time of the camera, and comparing ratings of very distinct cameras or ones that are far apart in terms of their release date have little meaning. Also, please note that some of the review sites have changed their methodology and reporting over time.

Canon 450D:
Check Ebay offers
Olympus E-PM1:
Check Ebay offers

Other camera comparisons

Did this review help to inform your camera decision process? If you would like to see a different side-by-side camera review, just make a corresponding selection in the search boxes below. As an alternative, you can also directly jump to any one of the listed comparisons that were previously generated by the CAM-parator tool.

~

    Specifications: Canon 450D vs Olympus E-PM1

    Below is a side-by-side comparison of the specs of the two cameras to facilitate a quick review of their differences and common features.

    Camera Specifications
    Camera Model Canon 450D Olympus E-PM1
    Camera Type Digital single lens reflex Mirrorless system camera
    Camera Lens Canon EF mount lenses Micro Four Thirds lenses
    Launch Date January 2008 June 2011
    Launch Price USD 799 USD 499
    Sensor Specs Canon 450D Olympus E-PM1
    Sensor Technology CMOS CMOS
    Sensor Format APS-C Sensor Four Thirds Sensor
    Sensor Size 22.2 x 14.8 mm 17.3 x 13.0 mm
    Sensor Area 328.56 mm2 224.9 mm2
    Sensor Diagonal 26.7 mm 21.6 mm
    Crop Factor 1.6x 2.0x
    Sensor Resolution 12.2 Megapixels 12.2 Megapixels
    Image Resolution 4272 x 2848 pixels 4032 x 3024 pixels
    Pixel Pitch 5.19 μm 4.29 μm
    Pixel Density 3.70 MP/cm2 5.42 MP/cm2
    Moiré control Anti-Alias filter Anti-Alias filter
    Movie Capability no Video 1080/60i Video
    ISO Setting 100 - 1,600 ISO 100 - 12,800 ISO
    Image Processor DIGIC 3 TruePic VI
    DXO Sensor Quality (score) 61 52
    DXO Color Depth (bits) 21.9 21.0
    DXO Dynamic Range (EV) 10.8 10.3
    DXO Low Light (ISO) 692 499
    Screen Specs Canon 450D Olympus E-PM1
    Viewfinder Type Optical viewfinder Viewfinder optional
    Viewfinder Field of View 95%
    Viewfinder Magnification 0.54x
    LCD Framing Live View Live View
    Rear LCD Size 3.0inch 3.0inch
    LCD Resolution 230k dots 460k dots
    LCD Attachment Fixed screen Fixed screen
    Shooting Specs Canon 450D Olympus E-PM1
    Focus System Phase-detect AF Contrast-detect AF
    Continuous Shooting 3.5 shutter flaps/s 5.5 shutter flaps/s
    Image StabilizationLens stabilization onlyIn-body stabilization
    Fill Flash Build-in Flash no On-Board Flash
    Storage Medium SDHC cards SDXC cards
    Second Storage Option Single card slot Single card slot
    UHS card support no no
    Connectivity Specs Canon 450D Olympus E-PM1
    External Flash Hotshoe Hotshoe
    USB Connector USB 2.0 USB 2.0
    HDMI Port mini HDMI mini HDMI
    Wifi Support no Wifi no Wifi
    Body Specs Canon 450D Olympus E-PM1
    Battery Type LP-E5 BLS-5
    Battery Life (CIPA)500 shots per charge330 shots per charge
    Body Dimensions 129 x 98 x 62 mm
    (5.1 x 3.9 x 2.4 in)
    110 x 64 x 34 mm
    (4.3 x 2.5 x 1.3 in)
    Camera Weight 524 g (18.5 oz) 265 g (9.3 oz)

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