Canon SL3 vs Olympus E-PM1
The Canon EOS Rebel SL3 (called Canon 250D in some regions) and the Olympus PEN E-PM1 are two digital cameras that were officially introduced, respectively, in April 2019 and June 2011. The SL3 is a DSLR, while the E-PM1 is a mirrorless interchangeable lens camera. The cameras are based on an APS-C (SL3) and a Four Thirds (E-PM1) sensor. The Canon has a resolution of 24 megapixels, whereas the Olympus provides 12.2 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 Rebel SL3 and the Olympus PEN E-PM1? 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 SL3 and the Olympus E-PM1 are illustrated 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 SL3 can be obtained in two different colors (black, white), while the E-PM1 is available in six color-versions (black, silver, brown, pink, purple, white).
If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Olympus E-PM1 is considerably smaller (38 percent) than the Canon SL3. Moreover, the E-PM1 is substantially lighter (41 percent) than the SL3. In this context, it is worth noting that neither the SL3 nor the E-PM1 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 (SL3) and the Micro Four Thirds Lens Catalog (E-PM1). Mirrorless cameras, such as the E-PM1, 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 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 SL3||122 mm||93 mm||70 mm||449 g||1070||n||Apr 2019||599|
|2.||Olympus E-PM1||110 mm||64 mm||34 mm||265 g||330||n||Jun 2011||499|
|3.||Canon T8i||131 mm||103 mm||76 mm||515 g||800||n||Feb 2020||749|
|4.||Canon M50 Mark II||116 mm||88 mm||59 mm||387 g||305||n||Oct 2020||599|
|5.||Canon M50||116 mm||88 mm||59 mm||390 g||235||n||Feb 2018||779|
|6.||Canon T7||129 mm||101 mm||78 mm||475 g||500||n||Feb 2018||449|
|7.||Canon 77D||131 mm||100 mm||76 mm||540 g||600||n||Feb 2017||899|
|8.||Canon SL2||122 mm||93 mm||70 mm||453 g||650||n||Jun 2017||549|
|9.||Canon T7i||131 mm||100 mm||76 mm||532 g||600||n||Feb 2017||749|
|10.||Canon T6s||132 mm||101 mm||78 mm||565 g||440||n||Feb 2015||649|
|11.||Canon SL1||117 mm||91 mm||69 mm||407 g||380||n||Mar 2013||549|
|12.||Canon T2i||129 mm||98 mm||62 mm||530 g||440||n||Feb 2010||699|
|13.||Olympus E-PM2||110 mm||64 mm||34 mm||269 g||360||n||Sep 2012||499|
|14.||Olympus E-P3||122 mm||69 mm||34 mm||369 g||330||n||Jun 2011||799|
|15.||Olympus E-PL2||114 mm||72 mm||42 mm||362 g||280||n||Jan 2011||599|
|16.||Olympus E-PL3||110 mm||64 mm||37 mm||313 g||300||n||Jun 2011||599|
|17.||Olympus E-PL1||115 mm||72 mm||42 mm||334 g||290||n||Feb 2010||599|
|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 manufacturer’s suggested retail prices give an idea on the placement of the camera in the maker’s lineup and the broader market. The E-PM1 was launched at a somewhat lower price (by 17 percent) than the SL3, 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.
The imaging sensor is at the core of digital cameras and its size is one of the main determining factors of image quality. A large sensor will tend to have larger individual pixels that provide better low-light sensitivity, wider dynamic range, and richer color-depth than smaller pixel-units 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 associated with larger, more expensive camera bodies and lenses.
Of the two cameras under consideration, the Canon SL3 features an APS-C sensor and the Olympus E-PM1 a Four Thirds sensor. The sensor area in the E-PM1 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 SL3 has a native 3:2 aspect ratio, while the one in the E-PM1 offers a 4:3 aspect.
With 24MP, the SL3 offers a higher resolution than the E-PM1 (12.2MP), but the SL3 has smaller individual pixels (pixel pitch of 3.72μm versus 4.29μm for the E-PM1). However, the SL3 is a much more recent model (by 7 years and 9 months) than the E-PM1, 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 SL3 implies greater flexibility for cropping images or the possibility to print larger pictures. The maximum print size of the SL3 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-PM1 are 20.2 x 15.1 inches or 51.2 x 38.4 cm for good quality, 16.1 x 12.1 inches or 41 x 30.7 cm for very good quality, and 13.4 x 10.1 inches or 34.1 x 25.6 cm for excellent quality prints.
The SL3 has on-sensor phase detect pixels, which results in fast and reliable autofocus acquisition even during live view operation.
The Canon EOS Rebel SL3 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 E-PM1 are ISO 100 to ISO 12800 (no boost).
Consistent information on actual sensor performance is available from DXO Mark for many cameras. 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. The adjacent table reports on the physical sensor characteristics and the outcomes of the DXO sensor quality tests for a sample of comparator-cameras.
|2.||Olympus E-PM1||Four Thirds||12.2||4032||3024||1080/60i||21.0||10.3||499||52|
|4.||Canon M50 Mark II||APS-C||24.0||6000||4000||4K/24p||..||..||..||..|
|13.||Olympus E-PM2||Four Thirds||15.9||4608||3456||1080/30p||22.7||12.2||932||72|
|14.||Olympus E-P3||Four Thirds||12.2||4032||3024||1080/60i||20.8||10.1||536||51|
|15.||Olympus E-PL2||Four Thirds||12.2||4032||3024||720/30p||21.4||10.2||573||55|
|16.||Olympus E-PL3||Four Thirds||12.2||4032||3024||1080/60i||20.9||10.3||499||52|
|17.||Olympus E-PL1||Four Thirds||12.2||4032||3024||720/30p||21.5||10.1||487||54|
Many modern cameras are not only capable of taking still images, but can also record movies. Both cameras under consideration are equipped with sensors that have a sufficiently high read-out speed for moving images, but the SL3 provides a higher video resolution than the E-PM1. It can shoot video footage at 4K/25p, 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 SL3 has an optical viewfinder, which can be very useful when shooting in bright sunlight. In contrast, the E-PM1 relies on live view and the rear LCD for framing. That said, the E-PM1 can be equipped with an optional viewfinder – the VF-2. The adjacent table lists some of the other core features of the Canon SL3 and Olympus E-PM1 along with similar information for a selection of comparators.
|1.||Canon SL3||optical||n||3.0 / 1040||swivel||Y||1/4000s||5.0||Y||n|
|2.||Olympus E-PM1||optional||n||3.0 / 460||fixed||n||1/4000s||5.5||n||Y|
|3.||Canon T8i||optical||n||3.0 / 1040||swivel||Y||1/4000s||7.5||Y||n|
|4.||Canon M50 Mark II||2360||n||3.0 / 1040||swivel||Y||1/4000s||10.0||Y||n|
|5.||Canon M50||2360||n||3.0 / 1040||swivel||Y||1/4000s||10.0||Y||n|
|6.||Canon T7||optical||n||3.0 / 920||fixed||n||1/4000s||3.0||Y||n|
|7.||Canon 77D||optical||Y||3.0 / 1040||swivel||Y||1/4000s||6.0||Y||n|
|8.||Canon SL2||optical||n||3.0 / 1040||swivel||Y||1/4000s||5.0||Y||n|
|9.||Canon T7i||optical||n||3.0 / 1040||swivel||Y||1/4000s||6.0||Y||n|
|10.||Canon T6s||optical||Y||3.0 / 1040||swivel||Y||1/4000s||5.0||Y||n|
|11.||Canon SL1||optical||n||3.0 / 1040||fixed||Y||1/4000s||4.9||Y||n|
|12.||Canon T2i||optical||n||3.0 / 1040||fixed||n||1/4000s||3.7||Y||n|
|13.||Olympus E-PM2||optional||n||3.0 / 460||fixed||Y||1/4000s||8.0||n||Y|
|14.||Olympus E-P3||optional||n||3.0 / 614||fixed||Y||1/4000s||3.0||Y||Y|
|15.||Olympus E-PL2||optional||n||3.0 / 460||fixed||n||1/4000s||3.0||Y||Y|
|16.||Olympus E-PL3||optional||n||3.0 / 460||tilting||n||1/4000s||5.5||n||Y|
|17.||Olympus E-PL1||optional||n||2.7 / 230||fixed||n||1/2000s||3.0||Y||Y|
One difference between the cameras concerns the presence of an on-board flash. The SL3 has one, while the E-PM1 does not. While the built-in flash of the SL3 is not very powerful, it can at times be useful as a fill-in light.The SL3 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-PM1 does not have a selfie-screen.
The Canon SL3 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 SL3 and the E-PM1 write their files to SDXC cards. The SL3 supports UHS-I cards (Ultra High Speed data transfer of up to 104 MB/s), while the E-PM1 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 Rebel SL3 and Olympus PEN E-PM1 and, in particular, the interfaces the cameras (and selected comparators) provide for accessory control and data transfer.
Mic / Speaker
|1.||Canon SL3||Y||stereo / mono||Y||-||mini||2.0||Y||-||Y|
|2.||Olympus E-PM1||Y||stereo / mono||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|3.||Canon T8i||Y||stereo / mono||Y||-||mini||2.0||Y||-||Y|
|4.||Canon M50 Mark II||Y||stereo / mono||Y||-||micro||2.0||Y||-||Y|
|5.||Canon M50||Y||stereo / mono||Y||-||micro||2.0||Y||-||Y|
|6.||Canon T7||Y||mono / mono||-||-||mini||2.0||Y||Y||-|
|7.||Canon 77D||Y||stereo / mono||Y||-||mini||2.0||Y||Y||Y|
|8.||Canon SL2||Y||stereo / mono||Y||-||mini||2.0||Y||Y||Y|
|9.||Canon T7i||Y||stereo / mono||Y||-||mini||2.0||Y||Y||Y|
|10.||Canon T6s||Y||stereo / mono||Y||-||mini||2.0||Y||Y||-|
|11.||Canon SL1||Y||mono / mono||Y||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|12.||Canon T2i||Y||stereo / -||Y||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|13.||Olympus E-PM2||Y||stereo / mono||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|14.||Olympus E-P3||Y||stereo / -||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|15.||Olympus E-PL2||Y||stereo / -||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|16.||Olympus E-PL3||Y||stereo / -||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|17.||Olympus E-PL1||Y||stereo / -||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
It is notable that the SL3 has a microphone port, which is missing on the E-PM1. Such an external microphone input can help to substantially improve the quality of audio recordings when a good external microphone is used.
The SL3 is a recent model that features in the current product line-up of Canon. In contrast, the E-PM1 has been discontinued (but can be found pre-owned on eBay). As a replacement in the same line of cameras, the E-PM1 was succeeded by the Olympus E-PM2. 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? Which of the two cameras – the Canon SL3 or the Olympus E-PM1 – has the upper hand? Is one clearly better than the other? The listing below highlights the relative strengths of the two models.
Arguments in favor of the Canon EOS Rebel SL3:
- More detail: Offers more megapixels (24 vs 12.2MP) with a 43% higher linear resolution.
- 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/25p vs 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.
- Easier framing: Has an optical viewfinder for image composition and settings control.
- More detailed LCD: Has a higher resolution rear screen (1040k vs 460k dots).
- More flexible LCD: Has a swivel screen for odd-angle shots in portrait or landscape orientation.
- Fewer buttons to press: Is equipped with a touch-sensitive rear screen to facilitate handling.
- 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 (1070 versus 330) 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 wireless transfer: Supports Bluetooth for image sharing without cables.
- Faster buffer clearing: Has an SD card interface that supports the UHS-I standard.
- More modern: Reflects 7 years and 9 months of technical progress since the E-PM1 launch.
Advantages of the Olympus PEN E-PM1:
- More compact: Is smaller (110x64mm vs 122x93mm) and will fit more readily into a bag.
- Less heavy: Has a lower weight (by 184g or 41 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.
- More affordable: Was released into a lower priced segment (17 percent cheaper at launch).
- More heavily discounted: Has been around for much longer (launched in June 2011).
If the number of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the SL3 is the clear winner of the match-up (20 : 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 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 SL3 and the Olympus E-PM1 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 partial and cannot reveal, for example, the shooting experience and imaging performance when actually working with the SL3 or the E-PM1. 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 adjacent summary-table relays the overall verdicts of several of the most popular 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 SL3||..||o||4.5/5||79/100||4/5||4/5||Apr 2019||599|
|2.||Olympus E-PM1||..||86/100||..||71/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Jun 2011||499|
|3.||Canon T8i||4.5/5||+||3/5||80/100||4/5||3.5/5||Feb 2020||749|
|4.||Canon M50 Mark II||4/5||..||4/5||..||4.5/5||3.5/5||Oct 2020||599|
|5.||Canon M50||..||+||4/5||79/100||..||3.5/5||Feb 2018||779|
|6.||Canon T7||..||o||..||..||3.5/5||3.5/5||Feb 2018||449|
|7.||Canon 77D||4.5/5||..||4/5||82/100||4.5/5||4/5||Feb 2017||899|
|8.||Canon SL2||4/5||+ +||4/5||78/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Jun 2017||549|
|9.||Canon T7i||4.5/5||..||3.5/5||80/100||4.5/5||4/5||Feb 2017||749|
|10.||Canon T6s||5/5||+||..||77/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Feb 2015||649|
|11.||Canon SL1||4/5||+||..||78/100||4/5||4/5||Mar 2013||549|
|12.||Canon T2i||..||+ +||..||77/100||4/5||4.5/5||Feb 2010||699|
|13.||Olympus E-PM2||3/5||..||..||77/100||5/5||4.5/5||Sep 2012||499|
|14.||Olympus E-P3||..||83/100||..||74/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Jun 2011||799|
|15.||Olympus E-PL2||3/5||83/100||..||71/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Jan 2011||599|
|16.||Olympus E-PL3||3/5||+ +||..||72/100||4.5/5||4/5||Jun 2011||599|
|17.||Olympus E-PL1||..||86/100||..||69/100||4/5||4.5/5||Feb 2010||599|
|Notes: (+ +) highly recommended; (+) recommended; (o) reviewed; (..) not available.|
The review scores listed above should be treated with care, though. The ratings are only valid when referring to cameras in the same category and of the same age. 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, 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 use the search menu below. Alternatively, you can follow any of the listed hyperlinks for comparisons that others found interesting.
- Canon 1D vs Canon SL3
- Canon 20D vs Olympus E-PM1
- Canon S120 vs Canon SL3
- Canon SL3 vs Canon T100
- Canon SL3 vs Leica M-E Typ 240
- Canon SL3 vs Nikon 1 J5
- Canon SL3 vs Sony A6600
- Canon T6 vs Olympus E-PM1
- Canon XS vs Olympus E-PM1
- Olympus E-PM1 vs Panasonic GF2
- Olympus E-PM1 vs Ricoh GR III
- Olympus E-PM1 vs Sony NEX-F3
Specifications: Canon SL3 vs Olympus E-PM1
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 SL3||Olympus E-PM1|
|Camera Type||Digital single lens reflex||Mirrorless system camera|
|Camera Lens||Canon EF mount lenses||Micro Four Thirds lenses|
|Launch Date||April 2019||June 2011|
|Launch Price||USD 599||USD 499|
|Sensor Specs||Canon SL3||Olympus E-PM1|
|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||12.2 Megapixels|
|Image Resolution||6000 x 4000 pixels||4032 x 3024 pixels|
|Pixel Pitch||3.72 μm||4.29 μm|
|Pixel Density||7.22 MP/cm2||5.42 MP/cm2|
|Moiré control||Anti-Alias filter||Anti-Alias filter|
|Movie Capability||4K/25p Video||1080/60i Video|
|ISO Setting||100 - 25,600 ISO||100 - 12,800 ISO|
|ISO Boost||100 - 51,200 ISO||no Enhancement|
|Image Processor||DIGIC 8||TruePic VI|
|DXO Sensor Quality (score)||..||52|
|DXO Color Depth (bits)||..||21.0|
|DXO Dynamic Range (EV)||..||10.3|
|DXO Low Light (ISO)||..||499|
|Screen Specs||Canon SL3||Olympus E-PM1|
|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||460k dots|
|LCD Attachment||Swivel screen||Fixed screen|
|Touch Input||Touchscreen||no Touchscreen|
|Shooting Specs||Canon SL3||Olympus E-PM1|
|Focus System||Phase-detect AF||Contrast-detect AF|
|Manual Focusing Aid||Focus Peaking||no Peaking Feature|
|Continuous Shooting||5 shutter flaps/s||5.5 shutter flaps/s|
|Time-Lapse Photography||Intervalometer built-in||no Intervalometer|
|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||no|
|Connectivity Specs||Canon SL3||Olympus E-PM1|
|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|
|Bluetooth Support||Bluetooth built-in||no Bluetooth|
|Body Specs||Canon SL3||Olympus E-PM1|
|Battery Life (CIPA)||1070 shots per charge||330 shots per charge|
122 x 93 x 70 mm
(4.8 x 3.7 x 2.8 in)
110 x 64 x 34 mm
(4.3 x 2.5 x 1.3 in)
|Camera Weight||449 g (15.8 oz)||265 g (9.3 oz)|
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