Canon SL2 vs Olympus E-M5
The Canon EOS Rebel SL2 (called Canon 200D in some regions) and the Olympus OM-D E-M5 are two digital cameras that were revealed to the public, respectively, in June 2017 and February 2012. The SL2 is a DSLR, while the E-M5 is a mirrorless interchangeable lens camera. The cameras are based on an APS-C (SL2) and a Four Thirds (E-M5) 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.
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-M5? 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 SL2 and the Olympus E-M5 are illustrated 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 SL2 can be obtained in two different colors (black, white), while the E-M5 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-M5 is somewhat smaller (4 percent) than the Canon SL2. Moreover, the E-M5 is markedly lighter (6 percent) than the SL2. It is noteworthy in this context that the E-M5 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-M5). Mirrorless cameras, such as the E-M5, 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, you can use the CAM-parator app to select your camera combination among a large number of options.
|1.||Canon SL2||122 mm||93 mm||70 mm||453 g||650||n||Jun 2017||549|
|2.||Olympus E-M5||122 mm||89 mm||43 mm||425 g||360||Y||Feb 2012||1,299|
|3.||Canon SL3||122 mm||93 mm||70 mm||449 g||1070||n||Apr 2019||599|
|4.||Canon T7||129 mm||101 mm||78 mm||475 g||500||n||Feb 2018||449|
|5.||Canon 77D||131 mm||100 mm||76 mm||540 g||600||n||Feb 2017||899|
|6.||Canon G9 X Mark II||98 mm||58 mm||31 mm||206 g||235||n||Jan 2017||529|
|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 T7i||131 mm||100 mm||76 mm||532 g||600||n||Feb 2017||749|
|10.||Canon M5||116 mm||89 mm||61 mm||427 g||295||n||Sep 2016||979|
|11.||Canon T6s||132 mm||101 mm||78 mm||565 g||440||n||Feb 2015||649|
|12.||Canon SL1||117 mm||91 mm||69 mm||407 g||380||n||Mar 2013||549|
|13.||Olympus PEN-F||125 mm||72 mm||37 mm||427 g||330||n||Jan 2016||1,199|
|14.||Olympus E-M5 II||124 mm||85 mm||45 mm||469 g||310||Y||Feb 2015||1,099|
|15.||Olympus E-M1||130 mm||94 mm||63 mm||497 g||350||Y||Sep 2013||1,399|
|16.||Olympus E-P5||122 mm||69 mm||37 mm||420 g||330||n||May 2013||999|
|17.||Panasonic GX7||123 mm||71 mm||55 mm||402 g||350||n||Aug 2013||999|
|Notes: Measurements and pricing do not include easily detachable parts, such as add-on or interchangeable lenses or optional viewfinders.|
Any camera decision will obviously take relative prices into account. 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 SL2 was launched at a markedly lower price (by 58 percent) than the E-M5, 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. Then, after the new model is out, very good deals can frequently be found on the pre-owned market.
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-M5 a Four Thirds sensor. The sensor area in the E-M5 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-M5 offers a 4:3 aspect.
With 24MP, the SL2 offers a higher resolution than the E-M5 (15.9MP), but the SL2 has marginally smaller individual pixels (pixel pitch of 3.72μm versus 3.76μm for the E-M5). However, the SL2 is a much more recent model (by 5 years and 4 months) than the E-M5, and its sensor will have benefitted from technological advances during this time that enhance the light gathering capacity of its pixels.
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-M5 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 SL2 has on-sensor phase detect pixels, which results in fast and reliable autofocus acquisition even during live view operation.
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-M5 are ISO 200 to ISO 25600 (no boost).
Consistent information on actual sensor performance is available from DXO Mark for many cameras. 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"). Of the two cameras under review, the SL2 has a notably higher overall DXO score than the E-M5 (overall score 8 points higher), which gives it an advantage in terms of imaging quality. This advantage is based on 0.8 bits higher color depth, 1.1 EV in additional dynamic range, and 0.3 stops in additional low light sensitivity. The table below summarizes the physical sensor characteristics and sensor quality findings and compares them across a set of similar cameras.
| DXO |
|2.||Olympus E-M5||Four Thirds||15.9||4608||3456||1080/60i||22.8||12.3||826||71|
|6.||Canon G9 X Mark II||1-inch||20.0||5472||3648||1080/60p||21.9||12.5||522||65|
|13.||Olympus PEN-F||Four Thirds||20.2||5184||3888||1080/60p||23.1||12.4||894||74|
|14.||Olympus E-M5 II||Four Thirds||15.9||4608||3456||1080/60p||23.0||12.5||842||73|
|15.||Olympus E-M1||Four Thirds||15.9||4608||3456||1080/30p||23.0||12.7||757||73|
|16.||Olympus E-P5||Four Thirds||15.9||4608||3456||1080/30p||22.8||12.4||895||72|
|17.||Panasonic GX7||Four Thirds||15.8||4592||3448||1080/60p||22.6||12.2||718||70|
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 SL2 provides a higher frame rate than the E-M5. It can shoot video footage at 1080/60p, while the Olympus is limited to 1080/60i.
Beyond body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a range of features. For example, the E-M5 has an electronic viewfinder (1440k 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-M5 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-M5 has a higher magnification (0.58x vs 0.54x), so that the size of the image transmitted appears closer to the size seen with the naked human eye. The table below summarizes some of the other core capabilities of the Canon SL2 and Olympus E-M5 in connection with corresponding information for a sample of similar cameras.
|6.||Canon G9 X Mark II||none||n||3.0||1040||fixed||Y||1/2000s||8.2||Y||Y|
|14.||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-M5 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-M5 does not have a selfie-screen.
The Canon SL2 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 SL2 and the E-M5 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-M5 and, in particular, the interfaces the cameras (and selected comparators) provide for accessory control and data transfer.
| WiFi |
| NFC |
|6.||Canon G9 X Mark II||-||stereo||mono||-||-||micro||2.0||Y||Y||Y|
|14.||Olympus E-M5 II||Y||stereo||mono||Y||-||micro||2.0||Y||-||-|
It is notable that the SL2 has a microphone port, which is missing on the E-M5. Such an external microphone input can help to substantially improve the quality of audio recordings when a good external microphone is used.
Both the SL2 and the E-M5 have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on eBay. The E-M5 was replaced by the Olympus E-M5 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 how do things add up? Is the Canon SL2 better than the Olympus E-M5 or vice versa? Below is a summary of the relative strengths of each of the two contestants.
Reasons to prefer the Canon EOS Rebel SL2:
- More detail: Offers more megapixels (24 vs 15.9MP) with a 25% higher linear resolution.
- Better image quality: Scores markedly higher (8 points) in the DXO overall assessment.
- More dynamic range: Captures a larger spectrum of light and dark details (1.1 EV of extra DR).
- Better low-light sensitivity: Requires less light for good images (0.3 stops ISO advantage).
- Better video: Provides higher movie framerates (1080/60p versus 1080/60i).
- 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.
- Brighter framing: Features an optical viewfinder for clear, lag-free composition.
- More detailed LCD: Has a higher resolution rear screen (1040k vs 610k dots).
- 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.
- Easier time-lapse photography: Has an intervalometer built-in for low frequency shooting.
- Longer lasting: Can take more shots (650 versus 360) on a single battery charge.
- Easier fill-in: Is equipped with a small onboard flash to brighten deep shadow areas.
- Easier file upload: Has wifi built in for automatic backup or image transfer to the web.
- 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 (58 percent cheaper at launch).
- More modern: Reflects 5 years and 4 months of technical progress since the E-M5 launch.
Advantages of the Olympus OM-D E-M5:
- 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 (0.58x vs 0.54x).
- Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (9 vs 5 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
- 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.
- More heavily discounted: Has been around for much longer (launched in February 2012).
If the count of individual advantages (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the SL2 is the clear winner of the match-up (19 : 8 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 SL2 and the Olympus E-M5 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-M5 perform in practice. User reviews, such as those found at amazon, can sometimes inform about these issues, but such feedback is often incomplete, inconsistent, and biased.
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 (amateurphotographer [AP], cameralabs [CL], 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 SL2||4/5||+ +||78/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Jun 2017||549|
|2.||Olympus E-M5||4/5||+ +||80/100||4.5/5||5/5||Feb 2012||1,299|
|3.||Canon SL3||..||o||79/100||4/5||4/5||Apr 2019||599|
|4.||Canon T7||..||o||..||3.5/5||3.5/5||Feb 2018||449|
|5.||Canon 77D||4.5/5||..||82/100||4.5/5||4/5||Feb 2017||899|
|6.||Canon G9 X Mark II||4/5||..||75/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Jan 2017||529|
|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 T7i||4.5/5||..||80/100||4.5/5||4/5||Feb 2017||749|
|10.||Canon M5||4/5||+||82/100||4/5||4/5||Sep 2016||979|
|11.||Canon T6s||5/5||+||77/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Feb 2015||649|
|12.||Canon SL1||4/5||+||78/100||4/5||4/5||Mar 2013||549|
|13.||Olympus PEN-F||..||..||82/100||4.5/5||5/5||Jan 2016||1,199|
|14.||Olympus E-M5 II||5/5||+ +||81/100||5/5||5/5||Feb 2015||1,099|
|15.||Olympus E-M1||5/5||+ +||84/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Sep 2013||1,399|
|16.||Olympus E-P5||5/5||+ +||78/100||4.5/5||5/5||May 2013||999|
|17.||Panasonic GX7||4/5||+||79/100||5/5||5/5||Aug 2013||999|
|Notes: (+ +) highly recommended; (+) recommended; (o) reviewed; (..) not available.|
The above review scores should be interpreted with care, though. The ratings are only valid when referring to cameras in the same category and of the same age. Hence, a score should always be seen in the context of the camera's market launch date and its price, 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
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Specifications: Canon SL2 vs Olympus E-M5
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-M5|
|Camera Type||Digital single lens reflex||Mirrorless system camera|
|Camera Lens||Canon EF mount lenses||Micro Four Thirds lenses|
|Launch Date||June 2017||February 2012|
|Launch Price||USD 549||USD 1,299|
|Sensor Specs||Canon SL2||Olympus E-M5|
|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||Anti-Alias filter|
|Movie Capability||1080/60p Video||1080/60i Video|
|ISO Setting||100 - 25,600 ISO||200 - 25,600 ISO|
|ISO Boost||100 - 51,200 ISO||no Enhancement|
|Image Processor||DIGIC 7||TruePic VI|
|DXO Sensor Quality (score)||79||71|
|DXO Color Depth (bits)||23.6||22.8|
|DXO Dynamic Range (EV)||13.4||12.3|
|DXO Low Light (ISO)||1041||826|
|Screen Specs||Canon SL2||Olympus E-M5|
|Viewfinder Type||Optical viewfinder||Electronic viewfinder|
|Viewfinder Field of View||95%||100%|
|Viewfinder Resolution||1440k dots|
|LCD Framing||Live View||Live View|
|Rear LCD Size||3.0inch||3.0inch|
|LCD Resolution||1040k dots||610k dots|
|LCD Attachment||Swivel screen||Tilting screen|
|Shooting Specs||Canon SL2||Olympus E-M5|
|Focus System||Phase-detect AF||Contrast-detect AF|
|Continuous Shooting||5 shutter flaps/s||9 shutter flaps/s|
|Shutter Life Expectancy||100 000 actuations||100 000 actuations|
|Time-Lapse Photography||Intervalometer built-in||no Intervalometer|
|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-M5|
|USB Connector||USB 2.0||USB 2.0|
|HDMI Port||mini HDMI||mini HDMI|
|Microphone Port||External MIC port||no MIC socket|
|Wifi Support||Wifi built-in||no Wifi|
|Near-Field Communication||NFC built-in||no NFC|
|Bluetooth Support||Bluetooth built-in||no Bluetooth|
|Body Specs||Canon SL2||Olympus E-M5|
|Environmental Sealing||not weather sealed||Weathersealed body|
|Battery Life (CIPA)||650 shots per charge||360 shots per charge|
122 x 93 x 70 mm
(4.8 x 3.7 x 2.8 in)
122 x 89 x 43 mm
(4.8 x 3.5 x 1.7 in)
|Camera Weight||453 g (16.0 oz)||425 g (15.0 oz)|
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