Canon M5 vs Olympus PEN-F
The Canon EOS M5 and the Olympus PEN-F are two digital cameras that were revealed to the public, respectively, in September 2016 and January 2016. Both the M5 and the PEN-F are mirrorless interchangeable lens cameras that are based on an APS-C (M5) and a Four Thirds (PEN-F) sensor. The Canon has a resolution of 24 megapixels, whereas the Olympus provides 20.2 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 M5 and the Olympus PEN-F? 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.
An illustration of the physical size and weight of the Canon M5 and the Olympus PEN-F is provided in the side-by-side display below. The two cameras are presented according to their relative size. Three consecutive views from the front, the top, and the rear side are shown. All width, height and depth dimensions are rounded to the nearest millimeter.
The PEN-F can be obtained in two different colors (black, silver), while the M5 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 PEN-F is notably smaller (13 percent) than the Canon M5. In terms of weight, the two cameras are very close. In this context, it is worth noting that neither the M5 nor the PEN-F 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. Hence, you might want to study and compare the specifications of available lenses in order to get the full picture of the size and weight of the two camera systems.
The table below summarizes the key physical specs of the two cameras alongside a broader set of comparators. If you would like to visualize and compare a different camera combination, just use the right or left arrows in the table to switch to the respective camera. Alternatively, you can also navigate to the CAM-parator app and make your selection from the full list of cameras there.
|Canon M5||4.6 in||3.5 in||2.4 in||15.1 oz||295||n||Sep 2016||979|
|Olympus PEN-F||4.9 in||2.8 in||1.5 in||15.1 oz||330||n||Jan 2016||1,199|
|Canon M50||4.6 in||3.5 in||2.3 in||13.8 oz||235||n||Feb 2018||779|
|Canon 77D||5.2 in||3.9 in||3.0 in||19.0 oz||600||n||Feb 2017||899|
|Canon M6||4.4 in||2.7 in||1.8 in||13.8 oz||295||n||Feb 2017||779|
|Canon M100||4.3 in||2.6 in||1.4 in||10.7 oz||295||n||Aug 2017||499|
|Canon SL2||4.8 in||3.7 in||2.8 in||16.0 oz||650||n||Jun 2017||549|
|Canon M3||4.4 in||2.7 in||1.7 in||12.9 oz||250||n||Feb 2015||679|
|Canon M10||4.3 in||2.6 in||1.4 in||10.6 oz||255||n||Oct 2015||499|
|Canon T6i||5.2 in||4.0 in||3.1 in||19.6 oz||440||n||Feb 2015||749|
|Canon T6s||5.2 in||4.0 in||3.1 in||19.9 oz||440||n||Feb 2015||649|
|Nikon D5500||4.9 in||3.8 in||2.8 in||14.8 oz||820||n||Jan 2015||899|
|Olympus E-M10 III||4.8 in||3.3 in||2.0 in||14.5 oz||330||n||Aug 2017||649|
|Olympus E-M5 II||4.9 in||3.3 in||1.8 in||16.5 oz||310||Y||Feb 2015||1,099|
|Olympus E-M10 II||4.7 in||3.3 in||1.9 in||13.8 oz||320||n||Aug 2015||649|
|Olympus E-M1||5.1 in||3.7 in||2.5 in||17.5 oz||350||Y||Sep 2013||1,399|
|Olympus E-P5||4.8 in||2.7 in||1.5 in||14.8 oz||330||n||May 2013||999|
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.
The price is, of course, an important factor in any camera decision. 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 M5 was launched at a somewhat lower price (by 18 percent) than the PEN-F, which makes it more attractive for photographers on a tight budget. 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.
The size of the imaging sensor is a crucial determinant 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 M5 features an APS-C sensor and the Olympus PEN-F a Four Thirds sensor. The sensor area in the PEN-F 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 M5 has a native 3:2 aspect ratio, while the one in the PEN-F offers a 4:3 aspect.
In terms of underlying technology, both cameras are build around CMOS sensors.
With 24MP, the M5 offers a higher resolution than the PEN-F (20.2MP), but the M5 nevertheless has larger individual pixels (pixel pitch of 3.72μm versus 3.34μm for the PEN-F) due to its larger sensor. Moreover, the M5 is a somewhat more recent model (by 7 months) than the PEN-F, and its sensor might have benefitted from technological advances during this time that further enhance the light gathering capacity of its pixels. Coming back to sensor resolution, it should be mentioned that the PEN-F has no anti-alias filter installed, so that it can capture all the detail its sensor resolves.
The resolution advantage of the Canon M5 implies greater flexibility for cropping images or the possibility to print larger pictures. The maximum print size of the M5 for good quality output (200 dots per inch) amounts to 30 x 20 inches or 76.2 x 50.8 cm, for very good quality (250 dpi) 24 x 16 inches or 61 x 40.6 cm, and for excellent quality (300 dpi) 20 x 13.3 inches or 50.8 x 33.9 cm. The corresponding values for the Olympus PEN-F are 25.9 x 19.4 inches or 65.8 x 49.4 cm for good quality, 20.7 x 15.6 inches or 52.7 x 39.5 cm for very good quality, and 17.3 x 13 inches or 43.9 x 32.9 cm for excellent quality prints.
The M5 has on-sensor phase detect pixels, which results in fast and reliable autofocus acquisition even during live view operation.
Unlike the M5, the PEN-F has the capacity to capture high quality composite images (40MP) by combining multiple shots after shifting its sensor by miniscule distances. This multi-shot, pixel-shift mode is most suitable for photography of stationary objects (landscapes, studio scenes).
The Canon EOS M5 has a native sensitivity range from ISO 100 to ISO 25600. The corresponding ISO settings for the Olympus PEN-F are ISO 80 to ISO 25600 (no boost).
For many cameras, data on sensor performance has been reported by DXO Mark. This service determines an overall sensor rating, as well as sub-scores for low-light sensitivity ("DXO Sports"), dynamic range ("DXO Landscape"), and color depth ("DXO Portrait"). The Overall DXO ratings for the two cameras under consideration are close, suggesting that they provide similar imaging performance. The adjacent table reports on the physical sensor characteristics and the outcomes of the DXO sensor quality tests for a sample of comparator-cameras.
|Olympus PEN-F||Four Thirds||20.2||5184||3888||1080/60p||23.1||12.4||894||74|
|Olympus E-M10 III||Four Thirds||15.9||4608||3456||4K/30p||..||..||..||..|
|Olympus E-M5 II||Four Thirds||15.9||4608||3456||1080/60p||23.0||12.5||842||73|
|Olympus E-M10 II||Four Thirds||15.9||4608||3456||1080/60p||23.1||12.5||842||73|
|Olympus E-M1||Four Thirds||15.9||4608||3456||1080/30p||23.0||12.7||757||73|
|Olympus E-P5||Four Thirds||15.9||4608||3456||1080/30p||22.8||12.4||895||72|
Many modern cameras are not only capable of taking still images, but also of capturing video footage. 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 (1080/60p).
Beyond body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a range of features. The M5 and the PEN-F are similar in the sense that both feature an electronic viewfinder, which is helpful when framing images in bright sunlight. Moreover, their viewfinders offer an identical resolution of 2360k dots. The following table reports on some other key feature differences and similarities of the Canon M5, the Olympus PEN-F, and comparable cameras.
|Olympus E-M10 III||2360||n||3.0||1040||tilting||Y||1/4000s||8.6||Y||Y|
|Olympus E-M5 II||2360||n||3.0||1037||swivel||Y||1/8000s||10.0||n||Y|
|Olympus E-M10 II||2360||n||3.0||1040||tilting||Y||1/4000s||8.0||Y||Y|
One difference between the cameras concerns the presence of an on-board flash. The M5 has one, while the PEN-F does not. While the built-in flash of the M5 is not very powerful, it can at times be useful as a fill-in light.Both cameras have an articulated rear screen that can be turned to be front-facing. This feature will be particularly appreciated by vloggers and photographers who are interested in taking selfies.
The reported shutter speed information refers to the use of the mechanical shutter. Yet, some cameras only have an electronic shutter, while others have an electronic shutter in addition to a mechanical one. In fact, the PEN-F is one of those camera that have an additional electronic shutter, which makes completely silent shooting possible. However, this mode is less suitable for photographing moving objects (risk of rolling shutter) or shooting under artificial light sources (risk of flickering).
The Olympus PEN-F 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 M5 and the PEN-F write their files to SDXC cards. The PEN-F supports UHS-II cards (Ultra High Speed data transfer of up to 312 MB/s), while the M5 can use UHS-I cards (up to 104 MB/s).
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 M5 and Olympus PEN-F and, in particular, the interfaces the cameras (and selected comparators) provide for accessory control and data transfer.
| WiFi |
|Olympus E-M10 III||Y||stereo||mono||-||-||micro||2.0||Y||-||-|
|Olympus E-M5 II||Y||stereo||mono||Y||-||micro||2.0||Y||-||-|
|Olympus E-M10 II||Y||stereo||mono||-||-||micro||2.0||Y||-||-|
It is notable that the M5 has a microphone port, which is missing on the PEN-F. Such an external microphone input can help to substantially improve the quality of audio recordings when a good external microphone is used.
The M5 is a recent model that features in the current product line-up of Canon. In contrast, the PEN-F has been discontinued (but can be found pre-owned on eBay). There has not been a direct replacement model for the PEN-F from Olympus. 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 how do things add up? Is the Canon M5 better than the Olympus PEN-F or vice versa? The listing below highlights the relative strengths of the two models.
Reasons to prefer the Canon EOS M5:
- More detail: Offers more megapixels (24 vs 20.2MP) with a 11% higher linear resolution.
- Better moiré control: Has an anti-alias filter to avoid artificial patterns to appear in images.
- Better low-light sensitivity: Requires less light for good images (0.5 stops ISO advantage).
- Better live-view autofocus: Features on-sensor phase-detection for more confident autofocus.
- Better sound: Can connect to an external microphone for higher quality sound recording.
- Larger screen: Has a bigger rear LCD (3.2" vs 3.0") for image review and settings control.
- More detailed LCD: Has a higher resolution rear screen (1620k vs 1037k dots).
- Easier fill-in: Is equipped with a small onboard flash to brighten deep shadow areas.
- Easier device pairing: Supports NFC for fast wireless image transfer over short distances.
- Easier wireless transfer: Supports Bluetooth for image sharing without cables.
- More affordable: Was introduced into a lower priced segment (18 percent cheaper at launch).
- More modern: Is somewhat more recent (announced 7 months after the PEN-F).
Arguments in favor of the Olympus PEN-F:
- Maximized detail: Lacks an anti-alias filter to exploit the sensor's full resolution potential.
- High quality composites: Can combine several shots after pixel-shifting its sensor.
- More flexible LCD: Has a swivel screen for odd-angle shots in portrait or landscape orientation.
- Faster shutter: Has higher mechanical shutter speed (1/8000s vs 1/4000s) to freeze action.
- Less disturbing: Has an electronic shutter option for completely silent shooting.
- Easier time-lapse photography: Has an intervalometer built-in for low frequency shooting.
- More compact: Is smaller (125x72mm vs 116x89mm) and will fit more readily into a bag.
- Longer lasting: Gets more shots (330 versus 295) out of a single battery charge.
- Sharper images: Has stabilization technology built-in to reduce the impact of hand-shake.
- Faster buffer clearing: Supports a more advanced SD data transfer standard (UHS-II vs UHS-I).
- More heavily discounted: Has been on the market for longer (launched in January 2016).
If the count of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a measure, the M5 comes out slightly ahead of the PEN-F (12 : 11 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 wedding photographer will view the differences between cameras in a way that diverges from the perspective of a travel photog, and a person interested in cityscapes has distinct needs from a macro 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 M5 and the Olympus PEN-F place the cameras among the top in their class? Find out in the latest Best Mirrorless Interchangeable Lens Camera listing 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 incomplete and does no justice, for example, to the way the M5 or the PEN-F perform in practice. 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 (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.
|Canon M5||+||82/100||4/5||4.5/5||4/5||Sep 2016||979|
|Olympus PEN-F||..||82/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||5/5||Jan 2016||1,199|
|Canon M50||+||79/100||..||4/5||3.5/5||Feb 2018||779|
|Canon 77D||..||82/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||4/5||Feb 2017||899|
|Canon M6||..||80/100||4/5||4.5/5||4/5||Feb 2017||779|
|Canon M100||+||..||4/5||..||3.5/5||Aug 2017||499|
|Canon SL2||+ +||78/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||4.5/5||Jun 2017||549|
|Canon M3||o||75/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||4/5||Feb 2015||679|
|Canon M10||..||..||..||o||4/5||Oct 2015||499|
|Canon T6i||..||75/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||4.5/5||Feb 2015||749|
|Canon T6s||+||77/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||4.5/5||Feb 2015||649|
|Nikon D5500||+||79/100||4.5/5||5/5||4.5/5||Jan 2015||899|
|Olympus E-M10 III||+||80/100||4.5/5||4/5||4.5/5||Aug 2017||649|
|Olympus E-M5 II||+ +||81/100||5/5||4.5/5||5/5||Feb 2015||1,099|
|Olympus E-M10 II||+ +||80/100||5/5||5/5||5/5||Aug 2015||649|
|Olympus E-M1||+ +||84/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||4.5/5||Sep 2013||1,399|
|Olympus E-P5||+ +||78/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||5/5||May 2013||999|
|Notes: (+ +) highly recommended; (+) recommended; (o) reviewed; (..) not available.|
Care should be taken when interpreting the review scores above, though. The ratings are only valid when referring to cameras in the same category and of the same age. A score, therefore, has to be seen in close connection to the price and market introduction time 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 use the search menu below. Alternatively, you can follow any of the listed hyperlinks for comparisons that others found interesting.
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Specifications: Canon M5 vs Olympus PEN-F
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 M5||Olympus PEN-F|
|Camera Type||Mirrorless system camera||Mirrorless system camera|
|Camera Lens||Canon EF-M mount lenses||Micro Four Thirds lenses|
|Launch Date||September 2016||January 2016|
|Launch Price||USD 979||USD 1,199|
|Sensor Specs||Canon M5||Olympus PEN-F|
|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||24 Megapixels||20.2 Megapixels|
|Image Resolution||6000 x 4000 pixels||5184 x 3888 pixels|
|Pixel Pitch||3.72 μm||3.34 μm|
|Pixel Density||7.22 MP/cm2||8.96 MP/cm2|
|Moiré control||Anti-Alias filter||no AA filter|
|Movie Capability||1080/60p Video||1080/60p Video|
|ISO Setting||100 - 25,600 ISO||80 - 25,600 ISO|
|Image Processor||DIGIC 7||TruePic VII|
|DXO Sensor Quality (score)||77||74|
|DXO Color Depth (bits)||23.4||23.1|
|DXO Dynamic Range (EV)||12.4||12.4|
|DXO Low Light (ISO)||1262||894|
|Screen Specs||Canon M5||Olympus PEN-F|
|Viewfinder Type||Electronic viewfinder||Electronic viewfinder|
|Viewfinder Field of View||100%||100%|
|Viewfinder Magnification||.. x||0.62x|
|Viewfinder Resolution||2360k dots||2360k dots|
|LCD Framing||Live View||Live View|
|Rear LCD Size||3.2inch||3.0inch|
|LCD Resolution||1620k dots||1037k dots|
|LCD Attachment||Tilting screen||Swivel screen|
|Shooting Specs||Canon M5||Olympus PEN-F|
|Focus System||On-Sensor Phase-detect||Contrast-detect AF|
|Manual Focusing Aid||Focus Peaking||Focus Peaking|
|Max Shutter Speed (mechanical)||1/4000s||1/8000s|
|Continuous Shooting||9 shutter flaps/s||10 shutter flaps/s|
|Electronic Shutter||no E-Shutter||up to 1/16000s|
|Time-Lapse Photography||no Intervalometer||Intervalometer built-in|
|Image Stabilization||Lens stabilization only||In-body stabilization|
|Fill Flash||Build-in Flash||no On-Board Flash|
|Storage Medium||SDXC cards||SDXC cards|
|Second Storage Option||Single card slot||Single card slot|
|UHS card support||UHS-I||UHS-II|
|Connectivity Specs||Canon M5||Olympus PEN-F|
|USB Connector||USB 2.0||USB 2.0|
|HDMI Port||mini HDMI||micro HDMI|
|Microphone Port||External MIC port||no MIC socket|
|Wifi Support||Wifi built-in||Wifi built-in|
|Near-Field Communication||NFC built-in||no NFC|
|Bluetooth Support||Bluetooth built-in||no Bluetooth|
|Body Specs||Canon M5||Olympus PEN-F|
|Battery Life (CIPA)||295 shots per charge||330 shots per charge|
116 x 89 x 61 mm
(4.6 x 3.5 x 2.4 in)
125 x 72 x 37 mm
(4.9 x 2.8 x 1.5 in)
|Camera Weight||427 g (15.1 oz)||427 g (15.1 oz)|
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