Canon 550D vs Olympus E-PL8
The Canon EOS 550D (called Canon T2i in some regions) and the Olympus PEN E-PL8 are two digital cameras that were officially introduced, respectively, in February 2010 and September 2016. The 550D is a DSLR, while the E-PL8 is a mirrorless interchangeable lens camera. The cameras are based on an APS-C (550D) and a Four Thirds (E-PL8) sensor. The Canon has a resolution of 17.9 megapixels, whereas the Olympus provides 15.9 MP.
Below is an overview of the main specs of the two cameras as a starting point for the comparison.
Going beyond this snapshot of core features and characteristics, what are the differences between the Canon EOS 550D and the Olympus PEN E-PL8? 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.
The physical size and weight of the Canon 550D and the Olympus E-PL8 are illustrated in the side-by-side display below. The two cameras are presented according to their relative size. Three successive views from the front, the top, and the rear are shown. All size dimensions are rounded to the nearest millimeter.
The E-PL8 can be obtained in three different colors (black, brown, white), while the 550D is only available in black.
If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Olympus E-PL8 is considerably smaller (39 percent) than the Canon 550D. Moreover, the E-PL8 is markedly lighter (33 percent) than the 550D. In this context, it is worth noting that neither the 550D nor the E-PL8 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 (550D) and the Micro Four Thirds Lens Catalog (E-PL8). Mirrorless cameras, such as the E-PL8, 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.
The table below summarizes the key physical specs of the two cameras alongside a broader set of comparators. In case you want to display and compare another camera duo, you can use the CAM-parator app to select your camera combination among a large number of options.
|1.||Canon 550D||129 mm||98 mm||62 mm||530 g||440||n||Feb 2010||699||ebay.com|
|2.||Olympus E-PL8||115 mm||67 mm||38 mm||357 g||350||n||Sep 2016||549||ebay.com|
|3.||Canon 4000D||129 mm||102 mm||77 mm||436 g||500||n||Feb 2018||399||amazon.com|
|4.||Canon 750D||132 mm||101 mm||78 mm||555 g||440||n||Feb 2015||749||ebay.com|
|5.||Canon 760D||132 mm||101 mm||78 mm||565 g||440||n||Feb 2015||649||ebay.com|
|6.||Canon 1200D||130 mm||100 mm||78 mm||480 g||500||n||Feb 2014||449||ebay.com|
|7.||Canon 700D||133 mm||100 mm||79 mm||580 g||440||n||Mar 2013||649||ebay.com|
|8.||Canon 650D||133 mm||100 mm||79 mm||575 g||440||n||Jun 2012||849||ebay.com|
|9.||Canon 600D||133 mm||100 mm||80 mm||570 g||440||n||Feb 2011||599||ebay.com|
|10.||Canon 1100D||130 mm||100 mm||78 mm||495 g||700||n||Feb 2011||449||ebay.com|
|11.||Canon 500D||129 mm||98 mm||62 mm||520 g||400||n||Mar 2009||799||ebay.com|
|12.||Nikon D5100||128 mm||97 mm||79 mm||560 g||660||n||Apr 2011||749||ebay.com|
|13.||Olympus E-PL10||117 mm||68 mm||39 mm||380 g||350||n||Oct 2019||599||amazon.com|
|14.||Olympus E-PL9||117 mm||68 mm||39 mm||380 g||350||n||Feb 2018||599||ebay.com|
|15.||Olympus E-M10 III||122 mm||84 mm||50 mm||410 g||330||n||Aug 2017||649||ebay.com|
|16.||Olympus E-M10 II||120 mm||83 mm||47 mm||390 g||320||n||Aug 2015||649||ebay.com|
|17.||Olympus E-PL7||115 mm||67 mm||38 mm||357 g||350||n||Aug 2014||599||ebay.com|
|Note: Measurements and pricing do not include easily detachable parts, such as add-on or interchangeable lenses or optional viewfinders.|
The price is, of course, an important factor in any camera decision. The retail prices at the time of the camera’s release place the model in the market relative to other models in the producer’s line-up and the competition. The E-PL8 was launched at a somewhat lower price (by 21 percent) than the 550D, which makes it more attractive for photographers on a tight budget. Normally, street prices remain initially close to the MSRP, but after a couple of months, the first discounts appear. 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.
The size of the sensor inside a digital camera is one of the key determinants of image quality. A large sensor will generally have larger individual pixels that offer better low-light sensitivity, provide wider dynamic range, and have 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 tend to be more expensive and lead to bigger and heavier cameras and lenses.
Of the two cameras under consideration, the Canon 550D features an APS-C sensor and the Olympus E-PL8 a Four Thirds sensor. The sensor area in the E-PL8 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 550D has a native 3:2 aspect ratio, while the one in the E-PL8 offers a 4:3 aspect.
With 17.9MP, the 550D offers a higher resolution than the E-PL8 (15.9MP), but the 550D nevertheless has larger individual pixels (pixel pitch of 4.31μm versus 3.76μm for the E-PL8) due to its larger sensor. However, the E-PL8 is a much more recent model (by 6 years and 7 months) than the 550D, and its sensor will have benefitted from technological advances during this time that further enhance the light gathering capacity of its pixels.
The resolution advantage of the Canon 550D implies greater flexibility for cropping images or the possibility to print larger pictures. The maximum print size of the 550D for good quality output (200 dots per inch) amounts to 25.9 x 17.3 inches or 65.8 x 43.9 cm, for very good quality (250 dpi) 20.7 x 13.8 inches or 52.7 x 35.1 cm, and for excellent quality (300 dpi) 17.3 x 11.5 inches or 43.9 x 29.3 cm. The corresponding values for the Olympus E-PL8 are 23 x 17.3 inches or 58.5 x 43.9 cm for good quality, 18.4 x 13.8 inches or 46.8 x 35.1 cm for very good quality, and 15.4 x 11.5 inches or 39 x 29.3 cm for excellent quality prints.
The Canon EOS 550D has a native sensitivity range from ISO 100 to ISO 6400, which can be extended to ISO 100-12800. The corresponding ISO settings for the Olympus PEN E-PL8 are ISO 200 to ISO 6400, with the possibility to increase the ISO range to 100-25600.
Technology-wise, both cameras are equipped with CMOS (Complementary Metal–Oxide–Semiconductor) sensors. Both cameras use a Bayer filter for capturing RGB colors on a square grid of photosensors. This arrangement is found in most digital cameras.
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"). The following table provides an overview of the physical sensor characteristics, as well as the sensor quality measurements for a selection of comparators.
|2.||Olympus E-PL8||Four Thirds||15.9||4608||3456||1080/30p||23.0||12.6||1030||73|
|13.||Olympus E-PL10||Four Thirds||15.9||4608||3456||4K/30p||23.3||13.1||1324||76|
|14.||Olympus E-PL9||Four Thirds||15.9||4608||3456||4K/30p||23.1||12.8||1162||74|
|15.||Olympus E-M10 III||Four Thirds||15.9||4608||3456||4K/30p||23.1||12.8||1120||74|
|16.||Olympus E-M10 II||Four Thirds||15.9||4608||3456||1080/60p||23.1||12.5||842||73|
|17.||Olympus E-PL7||Four Thirds||15.9||4608||3456||1080/30p||22.7||12.4||873||72|
|Note: DXO values in italics represent estimates based on sensor size and age.|
Many modern cameras cannot only take still pictures, but also record videos. The two cameras under consideration both have sensors whose read-out speed is fast enough to capture moving pictures, and both provide the same movie specifications (1080/30p).
Beyond body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a range of features. For example, the 550D has an optical viewfinder, which can be very useful when shooting in bright sunlight. In contrast, the E-PL8 relies on live view and the rear LCD for framing. That said, the E-PL8 can be equipped with an optional viewfinder – the VF-4. The table below summarizes some of the other core capabilities of the Canon 550D and Olympus E-PL8 in connection with corresponding information for a sample of similar cameras.
|1.||Canon 550D||optical||n||3.0 / 1040||fixed||n||1/4000s||3.7/s||Y||n|
|2.||Olympus E-PL8||optional||n||3.0 / 1037||tilting||Y||1/4000s||8.0/s||n||Y|
|3.||Canon 4000D||optical||n||2.7 / 230||fixed||n||1/4000s||3.0/s||Y||n|
|4.||Canon 750D||optical||n||3.0 / 1040||swivel||Y||1/4000s||5.0/s||Y||n|
|5.||Canon 760D||optical||Y||3.0 / 1040||swivel||Y||1/4000s||5.0/s||Y||n|
|6.||Canon 1200D||optical||n||3.0 / 460||fixed||n||1/4000s||3.0/s||Y||n|
|7.||Canon 700D||optical||n||3.0 / 1040||swivel||Y||1/4000s||5.0/s||Y||n|
|8.||Canon 650D||optical||n||3.0 / 1040||swivel||Y||1/4000s||5.0/s||Y||n|
|9.||Canon 600D||optical||n||3.0 / 1040||swivel||n||1/4000s||3.7/s||Y||n|
|10.||Canon 1100D||optical||n||2.7 / 230||fixed||n||1/4000s||3.0/s||Y||n|
|11.||Canon 500D||optical||n||3.0 / 920||fixed||n||1/4000s||3.4/s||Y||n|
|12.||Nikon D5100||optical||n||3.0 / 921||swivel||n||1/4000s||4.0/s||Y||n|
|13.||Olympus E-PL10||none||n||3.0 / 1040||tilting||Y||1/4000s||8.6/s||Y||Y|
|14.||Olympus E-PL9||none||n||3.0 / 1040||tilting||Y||1/4000s||8.6/s||Y||Y|
|15.||Olympus E-M10 III||2360||n||3.0 / 1040||tilting||Y||1/4000s||8.6/s||Y||Y|
|16.||Olympus E-M10 II||2360||n||3.0 / 1040||tilting||Y||1/4000s||8.0/s||Y||Y|
|17.||Olympus E-PL7||optional||n||3.0 / 1037||tilting||Y||1/4000s||8.0/s||n||Y|
|Notes: *) Information refers to the mechanical shutter, unless the camera only has an electronic one.|
One difference between the cameras concerns the presence of an on-board flash. The 550D has one, while the E-PL8 does not. While the built-in flash of the 550D is not very powerful, it can at times be useful as a fill-in light.The E-PL8 has an articulated screen that can be turned to be front-facing. This characteristic will be appreciated by vloggers and photographers who are interested in taking selfies. In contrast, the 550D does not have a selfie-screen.
The Olympus E-PL8 has an intervalometer built-in. This enables the photographer to capture time lapse sequences, such as flower blooming, a sunset or moon rise, without purchasing an external camera trigger and related software.
Concerning the storage of imaging data, both the 550D and the E-PL8 write their files to SDXC cards. The E-PL8 supports UHS-I cards (Ultra High Speed data transfer of up to 104 MB/s), while the 550D cannot take advantage of Ultra High Speed SD cards.
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 550D and Olympus PEN E-PL8 and, in particular, the interfaces the cameras (and selected comparators) provide for accessory control and data transfer.
Mic / Speaker
|1.||Canon 550D||Y||stereo / -||Y||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|2.||Olympus E-PL8||Y||stereo / mono||-||-||micro||2.0||Y||-||-|
|3.||Canon 4000D||Y||mono / mono||-||-||mini||2.0||Y||Y||-|
|4.||Canon 750D||Y||stereo / mono||Y||-||mini||2.0||Y||Y||-|
|5.||Canon 760D||Y||stereo / mono||Y||-||mini||2.0||Y||Y||-|
|6.||Canon 1200D||Y||mono / mono||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|7.||Canon 700D||Y||stereo / mono||Y||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|8.||Canon 650D||Y||stereo / mono||Y||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|9.||Canon 600D||Y||mono / mono||Y||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|10.||Canon 1100D||Y||stereo / mono||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|11.||Canon 500D||Y||mono / mono||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|12.||Nikon D5100||Y||mono / mono||Y||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|13.||Olympus E-PL10||Y||stereo / mono||-||-||micro||2.0||Y||-||Y|
|14.||Olympus E-PL9||Y||stereo / mono||-||-||micro||2.0||Y||-||Y|
|15.||Olympus E-M10 III||Y||stereo / mono||-||-||micro||2.0||Y||-||-|
|16.||Olympus E-M10 II||Y||stereo / mono||-||-||micro||2.0||Y||-||-|
|17.||Olympus E-PL7||Y||stereo / mono||-||-||micro||2.0||Y||-||-|
It is notable that the 550D has a microphone port, which is missing on the E-PL8. Such an external microphone input can help to substantially improve the quality of audio recordings when a good external microphone is used.
Both the 550D and the E-PL8 have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on ebay. The 550D was replaced by the Canon 600D, while the E-PL8 was followed by the Olympus E-PL9. 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.
So what is the bottom line? Is there a clear favorite between the Canon 550D and the Olympus E-PL8? Which camera is better? A synthesis of the relative strong points of each of the models is listed below.
Advantages of the Canon EOS 550D:
- More detail: Offers more megapixels (17.9 vs 15.9MP) with a 8% higher linear resolution.
- Better sound: Can connect to an external microphone for higher quality sound recording.
- Easier framing: Has an optical viewfinder for image composition and settings control.
- Longer lasting: Can take more shots (440 versus 350) 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 February 2010).
Reasons to prefer the Olympus PEN E-PL8:
- More flexible LCD: Has a tilting screen for odd-angle shots in landscape orientation.
- Fewer buttons to press: Has a touchscreen to facilitate handling and shooting adjustments.
- More selfie-friendly: Has an articulated screen that can be turned to be front-facing.
- Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (8 vs 3.7 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
- Easier time-lapse photography: Has an intervalometer built-in for low frequency shooting.
- More compact: Is smaller (115x67mm vs 129x98mm) and will fit more readily into a bag.
- Less heavy: Has a lower weight (by 173g or 33 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.
- Easier file upload: Has wifi built in for automatic backup or image transfer to the web.
- Faster buffer clearing: Has an SD card interface that supports the UHS-I standard.
- More affordable: Was released into a lower priced segment (21 percent cheaper at launch).
- More modern: Reflects 6 years and 7 months of technical progress since the 550D launch.
If the number of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the E-PL8 is the clear winner of the contest (13 : 6 points). However, the relevance of individual strengths will vary across photographers, so that you might want to apply your own weighing scheme to the summary points when reflecting and deciding on a new camera. A professional sports photographer will view the differences between cameras in a way that diverges from the perspective of a street photog, and a person interested in family portraits has distinct needs from a landscape shooter. Hence, the decision which camera is best and worth buying is often a very personal one.
How about other alternatives? Do the specifications of the Canon 550D and the Olympus E-PL8 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 specs-based evaluation of cameras can be instructive in revealing their potential as photographic tools, it remains partial and cannot reveal, for example, the shooting experience and imaging performance when actually working with the 550D or the E-PL8. At times, user reviews, such as those published at amazon, address these issues in a useful manner, but such feedback is on many occasions incomplete, inconsistent, and unreliable.
This is why hands-on reviews by experts are important. The table below provides a synthesis of the camera assessments of some of the best known photo-gear review sites (amateurphotographer [AP], cameralabs [CL], digitalcameraworld [DCW], dpreview [DPR], ephotozine [EPZ], photographyblog [PB]). 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.
|1.||Canon 550D||..||+ +||..||77/100||4/5||4.5/5||Feb 2010||699||ebay.com|
|2.||Olympus E-PL8||..||..||..||..||4.5/5||4/5||Sep 2016||549||ebay.com|
|3.||Canon 4000D||..||o||3/5||..||3.5/5||3.5/5||Feb 2018||399||amazon.com|
|4.||Canon 750D||5/5||..||..||75/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Feb 2015||749||ebay.com|
|5.||Canon 760D||5/5||+||..||77/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Feb 2015||649||ebay.com|
|6.||Canon 1200D||3/5||+||..||..||4/5||4.5/5||Feb 2014||449||ebay.com|
|7.||Canon 700D||..||..||..||76/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Mar 2013||649||ebay.com|
|8.||Canon 650D||4/5||+ +||..||77/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Jun 2012||849||ebay.com|
|9.||Canon 600D||3/5||o||..||77/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Feb 2011||599||ebay.com|
|10.||Canon 1100D||..||80/100||..||69/100||4/5||4.5/5||Feb 2011||449||ebay.com|
|11.||Canon 500D||..||+ +||..||74/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Mar 2009||799||ebay.com|
|12.||Nikon D5100||5/5||+ +||..||76/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Apr 2011||749||ebay.com|
|13.||Olympus E-PL10||..||..||4/5||77/100||..||4/5||Oct 2019||599||amazon.com|
|14.||Olympus E-PL9||..||+||..||..||4.5/5||4/5||Feb 2018||599||ebay.com|
|15.||Olympus E-M10 III||..||+||5/5||80/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Aug 2017||649||ebay.com|
|16.||Olympus E-M10 II||4.5/5||+ +||..||80/100||5/5||5/5||Aug 2015||649||ebay.com|
|17.||Olympus E-PL7||4/5||+||..||..||5/5||4/5||Aug 2014||599||ebay.com|
|Notes: (+ +) highly recommended; (+) recommended; (o) reviewed; (..) not available.|
The review scores listed above should be treated with care, though. The ratings were established in reference to similarly priced cameras that were available in the market at the time of the review. Thus, a score needs to be put into the context of the launch date and the launch price of the camera, and comparisons of ratings among very different cameras or across long time periods have little meaning. Also, kindly note that some of the listed sites have over time developped their review approaches and their reporting style.
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.
- Canon 550D vs Canon G1 X
- Canon 550D vs Canon G7 X Mark III
- Canon 550D vs Hasselblad X1D
- Canon 550D vs Leica S3
- Canon 550D vs Nikon D1X
- Canon 550D vs Nikon D40
- Canon M3 vs Olympus E-PL8
- Fujifilm X-T4 vs Olympus E-PL8
- Leica D-LUX 6 vs Olympus E-PL8
- Nikon B500 vs Olympus E-PL8
- Nikon D100 vs Olympus E-PL8
- Nikon P950 vs Olympus E-PL8
Specifications: Canon 550D vs Olympus E-PL8
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 Model||Canon 550D||Olympus E-PL8|
|Camera Type||Digital single lens reflex||Mirrorless system camera|
|Camera Lens||Canon EF mount lenses||Micro Four Thirds lenses|
|Launch Date||February 2010||September 2016|
|Launch Price||USD 699||USD 549|
|Sensor Specs||Canon 550D||Olympus E-PL8|
|Sensor Format||APS-C Sensor||Four Thirds Sensor|
|Sensor Size||22.3 x 14.9 mm||17.3 x 13.0 mm|
|Sensor Area||332.27 mm2||224.9 mm2|
|Sensor Diagonal||26.8 mm||21.6 mm|
|Sensor Resolution||17.9 Megapixels||15.9 Megapixels|
|Image Resolution||5184 x 3456 pixels||4608 x 3456 pixels|
|Pixel Pitch||4.31 μm||3.76 μm|
|Pixel Density||5.39 MP/cm2||7.08 MP/cm2|
|Moiré control||Anti-Alias filter||Anti-Alias filter|
|Movie Capability||1080/30p Video||1080/30p Video|
|ISO Setting||100 - 6,400 ISO||200 - 6,400 ISO|
|ISO Boost||100 - 12,800 ISO||100 - 25,600 ISO|
|Image Processor||DIGIC 4||TruePic VII|
|DXO Sensor Quality (score)||66||..|
|DXO Color Depth (bits)||22.1||..|
|DXO Dynamic Range (EV)||11.5||..|
|DXO Low Light (ISO)||784||..|
|Screen Specs||Canon 550D||Olympus E-PL8|
|Viewfinder Type||Optical viewfinder||Viewfinder optional|
|Viewfinder Field of View||95%|
|LCD Framing||Live View||Live View|
|Rear LCD Size||3.0inch||3.0inch|
|LCD Resolution||1040k dots||1037k dots|
|LCD Attachment||Fixed screen||Tilting screen|
|Touch Input||no Touchscreen||Touchscreen|
|Shooting Specs||Canon 550D||Olympus E-PL8|
|Focus System||Phase-detect AF||Contrast-detect AF|
|Manual Focusing Aid||no Peaking Feature||Focus Peaking|
|Max Shutter Speed (mechanical)||1/4000s||1/4000s|
|Continuous Shooting||3.7 shutter flaps/s||8 shutter flaps/s|
|Time-Lapse Photography||no Intervalometer||Intervalometer built-in|
|Image Stabilization||Lens stabilization only||In-body stabilization|
|Fill Flash||Built-in Flash||no On-Board Flash|
|Storage Medium||SDXC cards||SDXC cards|
|Second Storage Option||Single card slot||Single card slot|
|UHS card support||no||UHS-I|
|Connectivity Specs||Canon 550D||Olympus E-PL8|
|USB Connector||USB 2.0||USB 2.0|
|HDMI Port||mini HDMI||micro HDMI|
|Microphone Port||External MIC port||no MIC socket|
|Wifi Support||no Wifi||Wifi built-in|
|Body Specs||Canon 550D||Olympus E-PL8|
|Battery Life (CIPA)||440 shots per charge||350 shots per charge|
129 x 98 x 62 mm
(5.1 x 3.9 x 2.4 in)
115 x 67 x 38 mm
(4.5 x 2.6 x 1.5 in)
|Camera Weight||530 g (18.7 oz)||357 g (12.6 oz)|
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