Canon SL2 vs Olympus E-M1
The Canon EOS Rebel SL2 (called Canon 200D in some regions) and the Olympus OM-D E-M1 are two digital cameras that were officially introduced, respectively, in June 2017 and September 2013. The SL2 is a DSLR, while the E-M1 is a mirrorless interchangeable lens camera. The cameras are based on an APS-C (SL2) and a Four Thirds (E-M1) sensor. The Canon has a resolution of 24 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.
|Canon SL2||Olympus E-M1|
|Digital single lens reflex||Mirrorless system camera|
|Canon EF mount lenses||Micro Four Thirds lenses|
|24 MP, APS-C Sensor||15.9 MP, Four Thirds Sensor|
|1080/60p Video||1080/30p Video|
|ISO 100-25,600 (100 - 51,200)||ISO 200-25,600|
|Optical viewfinder||Electronic viewfinder (2360k dots)|
|3.0 LCD, 1040k dots||3.0 LCD, 1037k dots|
|Swivel touchscreen||Tilting touchscreen|
|5 shutter flaps per second||10 shutter flaps per second|
|Lens stabilization only||In-body stabilization|
|not weather sealed||Weathersealed body|
|650 shots per battery charge||350 shots per battery charge|
|122 x 93 x 70 mm, 453 g||130 x 94 x 63 mm, 497 g|
Going beyond this snapshot of core features and characteristics, what are the differences between the Canon EOS Rebel SL2 and the Olympus OM-D E-M1? 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 SL2 and the Olympus E-M1 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 measures are rounded to the nearest millimeter.
The SL2 can be obtained in two different colors (black, white), while the E-M1 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 E-M1 is notably larger (8 percent) than the Canon SL2. Moreover, the E-M1 is markedly heavier (10 percent) than the SL2. It is noteworthy in this context that the E-M1 is splash and dust-proof, while the SL2 does not feature any corresponding weather-sealing.
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 (SL2) and the Micro Four Thirds Lens Catalog (E-M1). Mirrorless cameras, such as the E-M1, 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 following table provides a synthesis of the main physical specifications of the two cameras and other similar ones. In case you want to display and compare another camera duo, just click on the right or left arrow next to the camera that you would like to inspect. Alternatively, you can also use the CAM-parator to select your camera combination among a larger number of options.
|Canon SL2||4.8 in||3.7 in||2.8 in||16.0 oz||650||n||Jun 2017||549|
|Olympus E-M1||5.1 in||3.7 in||2.5 in||17.5 oz||350||Y||Sep 2013||1,399|
|Canon SL3||4.8 in||3.7 in||2.8 in||15.8 oz||1070||n||Apr 2019||599|
|Canon T7||5.1 in||4.0 in||3.1 in||16.8 oz||500||n||Feb 2018||449|
|Canon 77D||5.2 in||3.9 in||3.0 in||19.0 oz||600||n||Feb 2017||899|
|Canon G9 X Mark II||3.9 in||2.3 in||1.2 in||7.3 oz||235||n||Jan 2017||529|
|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 T7i||5.2 in||3.9 in||3.0 in||18.8 oz||600||n||Feb 2017||749|
|Canon M5||4.6 in||3.5 in||2.4 in||15.1 oz||295||n||Sep 2016||979|
|Canon T6s||5.2 in||4.0 in||3.1 in||19.9 oz||440||n||Feb 2015||649|
|Canon SL1||4.6 in||3.6 in||2.7 in||14.4 oz||380||n||Mar 2013||549|
|Olympus E-M1 II||5.3 in||3.6 in||2.6 in||20.2 oz||440||Y||Sep 2016||1,999|
|Olympus PEN-F||4.9 in||2.8 in||1.5 in||15.1 oz||330||n||Jan 2016||1,199|
|Olympus E-M5 II||4.9 in||3.3 in||1.8 in||16.5 oz||310||Y||Feb 2015||1,099|
|Olympus E-P5||4.8 in||2.7 in||1.5 in||14.8 oz||330||n||May 2013||999|
|Olympus E-M5||4.8 in||3.5 in||1.7 in||15.0 oz||360||Y||Feb 2012||1,299|
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 SL2 was launched at a markedly lower price (by 61 percent) than the E-M1, 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.
The imaging sensor is at the core of digital cameras and its size is one of the main determining factors 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 are more costly to manufacture and tend to lead to bigger and heavier cameras and lenses.
Of the two cameras under consideration, the Canon SL2 features an APS-C sensor and the Olympus E-M1 a Four Thirds sensor. The sensor area in the E-M1 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 SL2 has a native 3:2 aspect ratio, while the one in the E-M1 offers a 4:3 aspect.
Technology-wise, both cameras are equipped with CMOS (Complementary Metal–Oxide–Semiconductor) sensors.
With 24MP, the SL2 offers a higher resolution than the E-M1 (15.9MP), but the SL2 has marginally smaller individual pixels (pixel pitch of 3.72μm versus 3.76μm for the E-M1). However, the SL2 is a much more recent model (by 3 years and 9 months) than the E-M1, and its sensor will have benefitted from technological advances during this time that enhance the light gathering capacity of its pixels. Coming back to sensor resolution, it should be mentioned that the E-M1 has no anti-alias filter installed, so that it can capture all the detail its sensor resolves.
The resolution advantage of the Canon SL2 implies greater flexibility for cropping images or the possibility to print larger pictures. The maximum print size of the SL2 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 E-M1 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 Rebel SL2 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 OM-D E-M1 are ISO 200 to ISO 25600, with the possibility to increase the ISO range to 100-25600.
Since 2007, DXO Mark has published sensor performance measurements that have been derived using a consistent methodology. This service assesses and scores the color depth ("DXO Portrait"), dynamic range ("DXO Landscape"), and low-light sensitivity ("DXO Sports") of camera sensors, and also publishes an overall camera score. Of the two cameras under review, the SL2 has a notably higher overall DXO score than the E-M1 (overall score 6 points higher), which gives it an advantage in terms of imaging quality. This advantage is based on 0.6 bits higher color depth, 0.7 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.
|Olympus E-M1||Four Thirds||15.9||4608||3456||1080/30p||23.0||12.7||757||73|
|Canon G9 X Mark II||1-inch||20.0||5472||3648||1080/60p||21.9||12.5||522||65|
|Olympus E-M1 II||Four Thirds||20.2||5184||3888||4K/30p||23.7||12.8||1312||80|
|Olympus PEN-F||Four Thirds||20.2||5184||3888||1080/60p||23.1||12.4||894||74|
|Olympus E-M5 II||Four Thirds||15.9||4608||3456||1080/60p||23.0||12.5||842||73|
|Olympus E-P5||Four Thirds||15.9||4608||3456||1080/30p||22.8||12.4||895||72|
|Olympus E-M5||Four Thirds||15.9||4608||3456||1080/60i||22.8||12.3||826||71|
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, but the SL2 provides a higher frame rate than the E-M1. It can shoot video footage at 1080/60p, while the Olympus is limited to 1080/30p.
Beyond body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a range of features. For example, the E-M1 has an electronic viewfinder (2360k dots), while the SL2 has an optical one. Both systems have their advantages, with the electronic viewfinder making it possible to project supplementary shooting information into the framing view, whereas the optical viewfinder offers lag-free viewing and a very clear framing image. The viewfinder in the E-M1 offers a wider field of view (100%) than the one in the SL2 (95%), so that a larger proportion of the captured image is visible in the finder. In addition, the viewfinder of the E-M1 has a higher magnification (0.74x vs 0.54x), so that the size of the image transmitted appears closer to the size seen with the naked human eye. The following table reports on some other key feature differences and similarities of the Canon SL2, the Olympus E-M1, and comparable cameras.
|Canon G9 X Mark II||none||n||3.0||1040||fixed||Y||1/2000s||8.2||Y||Y|
|Olympus E-M1 II||2360||n||3.0||1037||swivel||Y||1/8000s||18.0||n||Y|
|Olympus E-M5 II||2360||n||3.0||1037||swivel||Y||1/8000s||10.0||n||Y|
One difference between the cameras concerns the presence of an on-board flash. The SL2 has one, while the E-M1 does not. While the built-in flash of the SL2 is not very powerful, it can at times be useful as a fill-in light.The SL2 has an articulated LCD that can be turned to be front-facing. This characteristic will be appreciated by vloggers and photographers who are interested in snapping selfies. In contrast, the E-M1 does not have a selfie-screen.
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 E-M1 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 SL2 and the Olympus E-M1 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 SL2 and the E-M1 write their files to SDXC cards. Both cameras can use UHS-I cards, which provide for Ultra High Speed data transfer of 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 Rebel SL2 and Olympus OM-D E-M1 and, in particular, the interfaces the cameras (and selected comparators) provide for accessory control and data transfer.
| WiFi |
|Canon G9 X Mark II||-||stereo||mono||-||-||micro||2.0||Y||Y||Y|
|Olympus E-M1 II||Y||stereo||mono||Y||Y||micro||3.0||Y||-||-|
|Olympus E-M5 II||Y||stereo||mono||Y||-||micro||2.0||Y||-||-|
Studio photographers will appreciate that the Olympus E-M1 (unlike the SL2) features a PC Sync socket, so that professional strobe lights can be controlled by the camera.
Both the SL2 and the E-M1 have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on eBay. The E-M1 was replaced by the Olympus E-M1 II, while the SL2 was followed by the Canon SL2. 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 conclusions can be drawn? Which of the two cameras – the Canon SL2 or the Olympus E-M1 – has the upper hand? Is one clearly better than the other? A synthesis of the relative strong points of each of the models is listed below.
Arguments in favor of the Canon EOS Rebel SL2:
- More detail: Offers more megapixels (24 vs 15.9MP) with a 25% higher linear resolution.
- Better moiré control: Has an anti-alias filter to avoid artificial patterns to appear in images.
- Better image quality: Scores markedly higher (6 points) in the DXO overall assessment.
- More dynamic range: Captures a larger spectrum of light and dark details (0.7 EV of extra DR).
- Better low-light sensitivity: Requires less light for good images (0.5 stops ISO advantage).
- Better video: Provides higher movie framerates (1080/60p versus 1080/30p).
- Brighter framing: Features an optical viewfinder for clear, lag-free composition.
- More flexible LCD: Has a swivel screen for odd-angle shots in portrait or landscape orientation.
- More selfie-friendly: Has an articulated screen that can be turned to be front-facing.
- Longer lasting: Can take more shots (650 versus 350) on a single battery charge.
- 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 category (61 percent cheaper at launch).
- More modern: Reflects 3 years and 9 months of technical progress since the E-M1 launch.
Reasons to prefer the Olympus OM-D E-M1:
- Maximized detail: Lacks an anti-alias filter to exploit the sensor's full resolution potential.
- More framing info: Has an electronic viewfinder that displays shooting data.
- More complete view: Has a viewfinder with a larger field of view (100% vs 95%).
- Larger viewfinder image: Features a viewfinder with a higher magnification (0.74x vs 0.54x).
- Faster shutter: Has higher mechanical shutter speed (1/8000s vs 1/4000s) to freeze action.
- Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (10 vs 5 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
- Less disturbing: Has an electronic shutter option for completely silent shooting.
- Better sealing: Is splash and dust sealed for shooting in inclement weather conditions.
- 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.
- Better studio light control: Has a PC Sync socket to connect to professional strobe lights.
- More heavily discounted: Has been around for much longer (launched in September 2013).
If the count of individual advantages (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the SL2 emerges as the winner of the contest (15 : 12 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 SL2 and the Olympus E-M1 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 technical specifications can provide a useful overview of the capabilities of different cameras, it remains incomplete and does no justice, for example, to the way the SL2 or the E-M1 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 expert reviews 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 SL2||+ +||78/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||4.5/5||Jun 2017||549|
|Olympus E-M1||+ +||84/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||4.5/5||Sep 2013||1,399|
|Canon SL3||o||79/100||4/5||..||4/5||Apr 2019||599|
|Canon T7||o||..||3.5/5||..||3.5/5||Feb 2018||449|
|Canon 77D||..||82/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||4/5||Feb 2017||899|
|Canon G9 X Mark II||..||75/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||4.5/5||Jan 2017||529|
|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 T7i||..||80/100||4.5/5||4/5||4/5||Feb 2017||749|
|Canon M5||+||82/100||4/5||4.5/5||4/5||Sep 2016||979|
|Canon T6s||+||77/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||4.5/5||Feb 2015||649|
|Canon SL1||+||78/100||4/5||4/5||4/5||Mar 2013||549|
|Olympus E-M1 II||+ +||85/100||4.5/5||5/5||4.5/5||Sep 2016||1,999|
|Olympus PEN-F||..||82/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||5/5||Jan 2016||1,199|
|Olympus E-M5 II||+ +||81/100||5/5||4.5/5||5/5||Feb 2015||1,099|
|Olympus E-P5||+ +||78/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||5/5||May 2013||999|
|Olympus E-M5||+ +||80/100||4.5/5||5/5||5/5||Feb 2012||1,299|
|Notes: (+ +) highly recommended; (+) recommended; (o) reviewed; (..) not available.|
The review scores listed above should be treated with care, though. The assessments were made in relation to similar cameras of the same technological generation. Hence, a score should always be seen in the context of the camera's market launch date and its price, and rating-comparisons among cameras that span long time periods or concern very differently equipped models make little sense. 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? If you would like to see a different side-by-side camera review, just use the search menu below. There is also a set of direct links to comparison reviews that other users of the CAM-parator app explored.
- Canon SL2 vs Fujifilm X-A3
- Canon SL2 vs Leica X Typ 113
- Canon SL2 vs Sony RX10 IV
- Leica M Typ 240 vs Olympus E-M1
- Nikon 1 V2 vs Olympus E-M1 II
- Nikon D4S vs Olympus E-M1
- Nikon D500 vs Olympus E-M1 II
- Nikon D850 vs Olympus E-M1
- Olympus E-M1 II vs Panasonic TS7
- Olympus E-M1 II vs Sony A6400
- Olympus E-M1 III vs Panasonic GX800
- Olympus E-M1 III vs Panasonic ZS70
Specifications: Canon SL2 vs Olympus E-M1
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 SL2||Olympus E-M1|
|Camera Type||Digital single lens reflex||Mirrorless system camera|
|Camera Lens||Canon EF mount lenses||Micro Four Thirds lenses|
|Launch Date||June 2017||September 2013|
|Launch Price||USD 549||USD 1,399|
|Sensor Specs||Canon SL2||Olympus E-M1|
|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||15.9 Megapixels|
|Image Resolution||6000 x 4000 pixels||4608 x 3456 pixels|
|Pixel Pitch||3.72 μm||3.76 μm|
|Pixel Density||7.22 MP/cm2||7.08 MP/cm2|
|Moiré control||Anti-Alias filter||no AA filter|
|Movie Capability||1080/60p Video||1080/30p Video|
|ISO Setting||100 - 25,600 ISO||200 - 25,600 ISO|
|ISO Boost||100 - 51,200 ISO||100 - 25,600 ISO|
|Image Processor||DIGIC 7||TruePIC VII|
|DXO Sensor Quality (score)||79||73|
|DXO Color Depth (bits)||23.6||23.0|
|DXO Dynamic Range (EV)||13.4||12.7|
|DXO Low Light (ISO)||1041||757|
|Screen Specs||Canon SL2||Olympus E-M1|
|Viewfinder Type||Optical viewfinder||Electronic viewfinder|
|Viewfinder Field of View||95%||100%|
|Viewfinder Resolution||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||Tilting screen|
|Shooting Specs||Canon SL2||Olympus E-M1|
|Focus System||Phase-detect AF||On-Sensor Phase-detect|
|Manual Focusing Aid||no Peaking Feature||Focus Peaking|
|Max Shutter Speed (mechanical)||1/4000s||1/8000s|
|Continuous Shooting||5 shutter flaps/s||10 shutter flaps/s|
|Shutter Life Expectancy||100 000 actuations||150 000 actuations|
|Electronic Shutter||no E-Shutter||YES|
|Time-Lapse Photography||Intervalometer built-in||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-I|
|Connectivity Specs||Canon SL2||Olympus E-M1|
|Studio Flash||no PC Sync||PC Sync socket|
|USB Connector||USB 2.0||USB 2.0|
|HDMI Port||mini HDMI||micro HDMI|
|Microphone Port||External MIC port||External MIC port|
|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 SL2||Olympus E-M1|
|Environmental Sealing||not weather sealed||Weathersealed body|
|Battery Life (CIPA)||650 shots per charge||350 shots per charge|
122 x 93 x 70 mm
(4.8 x 3.7 x 2.8 in)
130 x 94 x 63 mm
(5.1 x 3.7 x 2.5 in)
|Camera Weight||453 g (16.0 oz)||497 g (17.5 oz)|
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