Canon M50 vs Olympus PEN-F
The Canon EOS M50 and the Olympus PEN-F are two digital cameras that were officially introduced, respectively, in February 2018 and January 2016. Both the M50 and the PEN-F are mirrorless interchangeable lens cameras that are based on an APS-C (M50) 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 M50 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.
The side-by-side display below illustrates the physical size and weight of the Canon M50 and the Olympus PEN-F. 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 M50 can be obtained in two different colors (black, white), while the PEN-F is also available in two color-versions, but different ones (black, silver).
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 (12 percent) than the Canon M50. However, the PEN-F is markedly heavier (9 percent) than the M50. In this context, it is worth noting that neither the M50 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 adjacent table lists the principal physical characteristics of the two cameras alongside a wider set of alternatives. If you would like to visualize and compare a different camera combination, you can navigate to the CAM-parator app and make your selection from a broad list of cameras there.
|1.||Canon M50||116 mm||88 mm||59 mm||390 g||235||n||Feb 2018||779|
|2.||Olympus PEN-F||125 mm||72 mm||37 mm||427 g||330||n||Jan 2016||1,199|
|3.||Canon M50 Mark II||116 mm||88 mm||59 mm||387 g||305||n||Oct 2020||599|
|4.||Canon SL3||122 mm||93 mm||70 mm||449 g||1070||n||Apr 2019||599|
|5.||Canon M6 Mark II||120 mm||70 mm||49 mm||408 g||305||n||Aug 2019||849|
|6.||Canon T7||129 mm||101 mm||78 mm||475 g||500||n||Feb 2018||449|
|7.||Canon M6||112 mm||68 mm||45 mm||390 g||295||n||Feb 2017||779|
|8.||Canon M100||108 mm||67 mm||35 mm||302 g||295||n||Aug 2017||499|
|9.||Canon SL2||122 mm||93 mm||70 mm||453 g||650||n||Jun 2017||549|
|10.||Canon T7i||131 mm||100 mm||76 mm||532 g||600||n||Feb 2017||749|
|11.||Canon M5||116 mm||89 mm||61 mm||427 g||295||n||Sep 2016||979|
|12.||Canon M3||111 mm||68 mm||44 mm||366 g||250||n||Feb 2015||679|
|13.||Olympus E-M10 III||122 mm||84 mm||50 mm||410 g||330||n||Aug 2017||649|
|14.||Olympus E-M5 II||124 mm||85 mm||45 mm||469 g||310||Y||Feb 2015||1,099|
|15.||Olympus E-M10 II||120 mm||83 mm||47 mm||390 g||320||n||Aug 2015||649|
|16.||Olympus E-M1||130 mm||94 mm||63 mm||497 g||350||Y||Sep 2013||1,399|
|17.||Olympus E-P5||122 mm||69 mm||37 mm||420 g||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.|
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 M50 was launched at a markedly lower price (by 35 percent) than the PEN-F, which puts it into a different market segment. 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.
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. Moreover, a large sensor camera will give the photographer more control over depth-of-field in the image and, thus, the ability to better isolate a subject from the background. On the downside, larger sensors tend to be associated with larger, more expensive camera bodies and lenses.
Of the two cameras under consideration, the Canon M50 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 M50 has a native 3:2 aspect ratio, while the one in the PEN-F offers a 4:3 aspect.
With 24MP, the M50 offers a higher resolution than the PEN-F (20.2MP), but the M50 nevertheless has larger individual pixels (pixel pitch of 3.72μm versus 3.34μm for the PEN-F) due to its larger sensor. Moreover, the M50 is a much more recent model (by 2 years and 1 month) than the PEN-F, and its sensor will 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 M50 implies greater flexibility for cropping images or the possibility to print larger pictures. The maximum print size of the M50 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 M50 has on-sensor phase detect pixels, which results in fast and reliable autofocus acquisition even during live view operation.
Unlike the M50, 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 M50 has a native sensitivity range from ISO 100 to ISO 25600, which can be extended to ISO 100-51200. 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 table below summarizes the physical sensor characteristics and sensor quality findings and compares them across a set of similar cameras.
|2.||Olympus PEN-F||Four Thirds||20.2||5184||3888||1080/60p||23.1||12.4||894||74|
|3.||Canon M50 Mark II||APS-C||24.0||6000||4000||4K/24p||..||..||..||..|
|5.||Canon M6 Mark II||APS-C||32.3||6960||4640||4K/30p||..||..||..||..|
|13.||Olympus E-M10 III||Four Thirds||15.9||4608||3456||4K/30p||..||..||..||..|
|14.||Olympus E-M5 II||Four Thirds||15.9||4608||3456||1080/60p||23.0||12.5||842||73|
|15.||Olympus E-M10 II||Four Thirds||15.9||4608||3456||1080/60p||23.1||12.5||842||73|
|16.||Olympus E-M1||Four Thirds||15.9||4608||3456||1080/30p||23.0||12.7||757||73|
|17.||Olympus E-P5||Four Thirds||15.9||4608||3456||1080/30p||22.8||12.4||895||72|
Many modern cameras cannot only take still pictures, but also record videos. Both cameras under consideration have a sensor with sufficiently fast read-out times for moving pictures, but the M50 provides a higher video resolution than the PEN-F. It can shoot video footage at 4K/24p, while the Olympus is limited to 1080/60p.
Apart from body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a range of features. The M50 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 adjacent table lists some of the other core features of the Canon M50 and Olympus PEN-F along with similar information for a selection of comparators.
|1.||Canon M50||2360||n||3.0 / 1040||swivel||Y||1/4000s||10.0||Y||n|
|2.||Olympus PEN-F||2360||n||3.0 / 1037||swivel||Y||1/8000s||10.0||n||Y|
|3.||Canon M50 Mark II||2360||n||3.0 / 1040||swivel||Y||1/4000s||10.0||Y||n|
|4.||Canon SL3||optical||n||3.0 / 1040||swivel||Y||1/4000s||5.0||Y||n|
|5.||Canon M6 Mark II||optional||n||3.0 / 1040||tilting||Y||1/4000s||14.0||Y||n|
|6.||Canon T7||optical||n||3.0 / 920||fixed||n||1/4000s||3.0||Y||n|
|7.||Canon M6||optional||n||3.0 / 1040||tilting||Y||1/4000s||9.0||Y||n|
|8.||Canon M100||none||n||3.0 / 1040||tilting||Y||1/4000s||6.1||Y||n|
|9.||Canon SL2||optical||n||3.0 / 1040||swivel||Y||1/4000s||5.0||Y||n|
|10.||Canon T7i||optical||n||3.0 / 1040||swivel||Y||1/4000s||6.0||Y||n|
|11.||Canon M5||2360||n||3.2 / 1620||tilting||Y||1/4000s||9.0||Y||n|
|12.||Canon M3||optional||n||3.0 / 1040||tilting||Y||1/4000s||4.2||Y||n|
|13.||Olympus E-M10 III||2360||n||3.0 / 1040||tilting||Y||1/4000s||8.6||Y||Y|
|14.||Olympus E-M5 II||2360||n||3.0 / 1037||swivel||Y||1/8000s||10.0||n||Y|
|15.||Olympus E-M10 II||2360||n||3.0 / 1040||tilting||Y||1/4000s||8.0||Y||Y|
|16.||Olympus E-M1||2360||n||3.0 / 1037||tilting||Y||1/8000s||10.0||n||Y|
|17.||Olympus E-P5||optional||n||3.0 / 1037||tilting||Y||1/8000s||9.0||Y||Y|
One difference between the cameras concerns the presence of an on-board flash. The M50 has one, while the PEN-F does not. While the built-in flash of the M50 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 Canon M50 and the Olympus PEN-F both have 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 M50 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 M50 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 M50 and Olympus PEN-F and, in particular, the interfaces the cameras (and selected comparators) provide for accessory control and data transfer.
Mic / Speaker
|1.||Canon M50||Y||stereo / mono||Y||-||micro||2.0||Y||-||Y|
|2.||Olympus PEN-F||Y||stereo / mono||-||-||micro||2.0||Y||-||-|
|3.||Canon M50 Mark II||Y||stereo / mono||Y||-||micro||2.0||Y||-||Y|
|4.||Canon SL3||Y||stereo / mono||Y||-||mini||2.0||Y||-||Y|
|5.||Canon M6 Mark II||Y||stereo / mono||Y||-||micro||2.0||Y||-||Y|
|6.||Canon T7||Y||mono / mono||-||-||mini||2.0||Y||Y||-|
|7.||Canon M6||Y||stereo / mono||Y||-||mini||2.0||Y||Y||Y|
|8.||Canon M100||-||stereo / mono||-||-||micro||2.0||Y||Y||Y|
|9.||Canon SL2||Y||stereo / mono||Y||-||mini||2.0||Y||Y||Y|
|10.||Canon T7i||Y||stereo / mono||Y||-||mini||2.0||Y||Y||Y|
|11.||Canon M5||Y||stereo / mono||Y||-||mini||2.0||Y||Y||Y|
|12.||Canon M3||Y||stereo / mono||Y||-||mini||2.0||Y||Y||-|
|13.||Olympus E-M10 III||Y||stereo / mono||-||-||micro||2.0||Y||-||-|
|14.||Olympus E-M5 II||Y||stereo / mono||Y||-||micro||2.0||Y||-||-|
|15.||Olympus E-M10 II||Y||stereo / mono||-||-||micro||2.0||Y||-||-|
|16.||Olympus E-M1||Y||stereo / mono||Y||-||micro||2.0||Y||-||-|
|17.||Olympus E-P5||Y||stereo / mono||-||-||micro||2.0||Y||-||-|
It is notable that the M50 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.
Both the M50 and the PEN-F have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on eBay. The M50 was replaced by the Canon M50 Mark II, while the PEN-F does not have a direct successor. 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 there a clear favorite between the Canon M50 and the Olympus PEN-F? Which camera is better? A synthesis of the relative strong points of each of the models is listed below.
Advantages of the Canon EOS M50:
- 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 image quality: Features a larger and more technologically advanced imaging sensor.
- Richer colors: The sensor size advantage translates into images with better, more accurate colors.
- More dynamic range: Larger sensor captures a wider spectrum of light and dark details.
- Better low-light sensitivity: Larger sensor produces good images even in poorly lit environments.
- Better video: Provides higher definition movie capture (4K/24p vs 1080/60p).
- 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.
- Easier fill-in: Is equipped with a small onboard flash to brighten deep shadow areas.
- Easier wireless transfer: Supports Bluetooth for image sharing without cables.
- More affordable: Was introduced into a lower priced category (35 percent cheaper at launch).
- More modern: Reflects 2 years and 1 month of technical progress since the PEN-F launch.
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.
- 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.
- More compact: Is smaller (125x72mm vs 116x88mm) and will fit more readily into a bag.
- Longer lasting: Gets more shots (330 versus 235) 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 around for much longer (launched in January 2016).
If the count of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a measure, the M50 is the clear winner of the match-up (13 : 9 points). However, the pertinence of the various camera strengths will differ across photographers, so that you might want to weigh individual camera traits according to their importance for your own imaging needs before making a camera decision. 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.
How about other alternatives? Do the specifications of the Canon M50 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 comparison of technical specifications can provide a useful overview of the capabilities of different cameras, it says little about, for example, the shooting experience and imaging performance of the M50 and the PEN-F 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.
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 (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 M50||..||+||4/5||79/100||..||3.5/5||Feb 2018||779|
|2.||Olympus PEN-F||..||..||4/5||82/100||4.5/5||5/5||Jan 2016||1,199|
|3.||Canon M50 Mark II||4/5||..||4/5||..||4.5/5||3.5/5||Oct 2020||599|
|4.||Canon SL3||..||o||4.5/5||79/100||4/5||4/5||Apr 2019||599|
|5.||Canon M6 Mark II||..||+||4.5/5||85/100||4/5||4/5||Aug 2019||849|
|6.||Canon T7||..||o||..||..||3.5/5||3.5/5||Feb 2018||449|
|7.||Canon M6||..||..||..||80/100||4/5||4/5||Feb 2017||779|
|8.||Canon M100||3/5||+||..||..||4/5||3.5/5||Aug 2017||499|
|9.||Canon SL2||4/5||+ +||4/5||78/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Jun 2017||549|
|10.||Canon T7i||4.5/5||..||3.5/5||80/100||4.5/5||4/5||Feb 2017||749|
|11.||Canon M5||4/5||+||4/5||82/100||4/5||4/5||Sep 2016||979|
|12.||Canon M3||4/5||o||..||75/100||4.5/5||4/5||Feb 2015||679|
|13.||Olympus E-M10 III||..||+||5/5||80/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Aug 2017||649|
|14.||Olympus E-M5 II||5/5||+ +||4.5/5||81/100||5/5||5/5||Feb 2015||1,099|
|15.||Olympus E-M10 II||4.5/5||+ +||..||80/100||5/5||5/5||Aug 2015||649|
|16.||Olympus E-M1||5/5||+ +||..||84/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Sep 2013||1,399|
|17.||Olympus E-P5||5/5||+ +||..||78/100||4.5/5||5/5||May 2013||999|
|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. 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.
Other camera comparisons
Did this review help to inform your camera decision process? In case you would like to check on the differences and similarities of other camera models, just make your choice using the following search menu. There is also a set of direct links to comparison reviews that other users of the CAM-parator app explored.
- Canon M3 vs Olympus PEN-F
- Canon M50 vs Fujifilm X30
- Canon M50 vs Hasselblad X1D II
- Canon M50 vs Olympus E-P2
- Canon M50 vs Olympus E-PL3
- Canon M50 vs Panasonic GH5 II
- Canon M50 vs Sony RX1
- Canon S120 vs Olympus PEN-F
- Fujifilm X-M1 vs Olympus PEN-F
- Nikon D5600 vs Olympus PEN-F
- Nikon Z6 vs Olympus PEN-F
- Olympus PEN-F vs Sony A7 II
Specifications: Canon M50 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 M50||Olympus PEN-F|
|Camera Type||Mirrorless system camera||Mirrorless system camera|
|Camera Lens||Canon EF-M mount lenses||Micro Four Thirds lenses|
|Launch Date||February 2018||January 2016|
|Launch Price||USD 779||USD 1,199|
|Sensor Specs||Canon M50||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||4K/24p Video||1080/60p Video|
|ISO Setting||100 - 25,600 ISO||80 - 25,600 ISO|
|ISO Boost||100 - 51,200 ISO||no Enhancement|
|Image Processor||DIGIC 8||TruePic VII|
|DXO Sensor Quality (score)||..||74|
|DXO Color Depth (bits)||..||23.1|
|DXO Dynamic Range (EV)||..||12.4|
|DXO Low Light (ISO)||..||894|
|Screen Specs||Canon M50||Olympus PEN-F|
|Viewfinder Type||Electronic viewfinder||Electronic viewfinder|
|Viewfinder Field of View||100%||100%|
|Viewfinder Resolution||2360k dots||2360k dots|
|LCD Framing||Live View||Live View|
|Rear LCD Size||3.0inch||3.0inch|
|LCD Resolution||1040k dots||1037k dots|
|LCD Attachment||Swivel screen||Swivel screen|
|Shooting Specs||Canon M50||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||10 shutter flaps/s||10 shutter flaps/s|
|Electronic Shutter||no E-Shutter||up to 1/16000s|
|Time-Lapse Photography||Intervalometer built-in||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||UHS-I||UHS-II|
|Connectivity Specs||Canon M50||Olympus PEN-F|
|USB Connector||USB 2.0||USB 2.0|
|HDMI Port||micro HDMI||micro HDMI|
|Microphone Port||External MIC port||no MIC socket|
|Wifi Support||Wifi built-in||Wifi built-in|
|Bluetooth Support||Bluetooth built-in||no Bluetooth|
|Body Specs||Canon M50||Olympus PEN-F|
|Battery Life (CIPA)||235 shots per charge||330 shots per charge|
116 x 88 x 59 mm
(4.6 x 3.5 x 2.3 in)
125 x 72 x 37 mm
(4.9 x 2.8 x 1.5 in)
|Camera Weight||390 g (13.8 oz)||427 g (15.1 oz)|
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