Canon XS vs Olympus E-PM2
The Canon EOS Rebel XS (called Canon 1000D in some regions) and the Olympus PEN E-PM2 are two digital cameras that were announced, respectively, in June 2008 and September 2012. The XS is a DSLR, while the E-PM2 is a mirrorless interchangeable lens camera. The cameras are based on an APS-C (XS) and a Four Thirds (E-PM2) sensor. The Canon has a resolution of 10.1 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 XS and the Olympus PEN E-PM2? 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 XS and the Olympus E-PM2 is provided in the side-by-side display below. The two cameras are presented according to their relative size. Three successive views from the front, the top, and the rear are shown. All width, height and depth measures are rounded to the nearest millimeter.
The E-PM2 can be obtained in four different colors (black, silver, red, white), while the XS 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 E-PM2 is considerably smaller (43 percent) than the Canon XS. Moreover, the E-PM2 is substantially lighter (46 percent) than the XS. In this context, it is worth noting that neither the XS nor the E-PM2 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 (XS) and the Micro Four Thirds Lens Catalog (E-PM2). Mirrorless cameras, such as the E-PM2, 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 XS||126 mm||98 mm||65 mm||502 g||500||n||Jun 2008||449|
|2.||Olympus E-PM2||110 mm||64 mm||34 mm||269 g||360||n||Sep 2012||499|
|3.||Canon T7||129 mm||101 mm||78 mm||475 g||500||n||Feb 2018||449|
|4.||Canon T100||129 mm||102 mm||77 mm||436 g||500||n||Feb 2018||399|
|5.||Canon T5||130 mm||100 mm||78 mm||480 g||500||n||Feb 2014||449|
|6.||Canon T3||130 mm||100 mm||78 mm||495 g||700||n||Feb 2011||449|
|7.||Canon SX20||123 mm||88 mm||87 mm||600 g||..||n||Aug 2009||399|
|8.||Canon T1i||129 mm||98 mm||62 mm||520 g||400||n||Mar 2009||799|
|9.||Canon SX10||123 mm||88 mm||87 mm||600 g||..||n||Sep 2008||399|
|10.||Canon XSi||129 mm||98 mm||62 mm||524 g||500||n||Jan 2008||799|
|11.||Canon 40D||146 mm||108 mm||74 mm||822 g||750||n||Aug 2007||1,299|
|12.||Canon XTi||127 mm||84 mm||65 mm||556 g||370||n||Aug 2006||799|
|13.||Olympus E-M10 II||120 mm||83 mm||47 mm||390 g||320||n||Aug 2015||649|
|14.||Olympus E-P5||122 mm||69 mm||37 mm||420 g||330||n||May 2013||999|
|15.||Olympus E-PL6||111 mm||64 mm||38 mm||325 g||360||n||May 2013||599|
|16.||Olympus E-PL5||111 mm||64 mm||38 mm||325 g||360||n||Sep 2012||599|
|17.||Olympus E-PM1||110 mm||64 mm||34 mm||265 g||330||n||Jun 2011||499|
|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 listed launch prices provide an indication of the market segment that the manufacturer of the cameras have been targeting. The XS was somewhat cheaper (by 10 percent) than the E-PM2 at launch, but both cameras fall into the same price category. 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 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 are more costly to manufacture and tend to lead to bigger and heavier cameras and lenses.
Of the two cameras under consideration, the Canon XS features an APS-C sensor and the Olympus E-PM2 a Four Thirds sensor. The sensor area in the E-PM2 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 XS has a native 3:2 aspect ratio, while the one in the E-PM2 offers a 4:3 aspect.
Despite having a smaller sensor, the E-PM2 offers a higher resolution of 15.9 megapixels, compared with 10.1 MP of the XS. This megapixels advantage comes at the cost of a higher pixel density and a smaller size of the individual pixel (with a pixel pitch of 3.76μm versus 5.71μm for the XS). However, it should be noted that the E-PM2 is much more recent (by 4 years and 3 months) than the XS, and its sensor will have benefitted from technological advances during this time that make it possible to gather light more efficiently.
The resolution advantage of the Olympus E-PM2 implies greater flexibility for cropping images or the possibility to print larger pictures. The maximum print size of the E-PM2 for good quality output (200 dots per inch) amounts to 23 x 17.3 inches or 58.5 x 43.9 cm, for very good quality (250 dpi) 18.4 x 13.8 inches or 46.8 x 35.1 cm, and for excellent quality (300 dpi) 15.4 x 11.5 inches or 39 x 29.3 cm. The corresponding values for the Canon XS are 19.4 x 13 inches or 49.4 x 32.9 cm for good quality, 15.6 x 10.4 inches or 39.5 x 26.3 cm for very good quality, and 13 x 8.6 inches or 32.9 x 21.9 cm for excellent quality prints.
The Canon EOS Rebel XS has a native sensitivity range from ISO 100 to ISO 800, which can be extended to ISO 100-1600. The corresponding ISO settings for the Olympus PEN E-PM2 are ISO 100 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 following table provides an overview of the physical sensor characteristics, as well as the sensor quality measurements for a selection of comparators.
|2.||Olympus E-PM2||Four Thirds||15.9||4608||3456||1080/30p||22.7||12.2||932||72|
|13.||Olympus E-M10 II||Four Thirds||15.9||4608||3456||1080/60p||23.1||12.5||842||73|
|14.||Olympus E-P5||Four Thirds||15.9||4608||3456||1080/30p||22.8||12.4||895||72|
|15.||Olympus E-PL6||Four Thirds||15.9||4608||3456||1080/30p||22.5||12.0||717||68|
|16.||Olympus E-PL5||Four Thirds||15.9||4608||3456||1080/30p||22.8||12.3||889||72|
|17.||Olympus E-PM1||Four Thirds||12.2||4032||3024||1080/60i||21.0||10.3||499||52|
|Note: DXO values in italics represent estimates based on sensor size and age.|
Many modern cameras cannot only take still pictures, but also record videos. The E-PM2 indeed provides for movie recording, while the XS does not. The highest resolution format that the E-PM2 can use is 1080/30p.
Beyond body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a range of features. For example, the XS has an optical viewfinder, which can be very useful when shooting in bright sunlight. In contrast, the E-PM2 relies on live view and the rear LCD for framing. That said, the E-PM2 can be equipped with an optional viewfinder – the VF-4. The table below summarizes some of the other core capabilities of the Canon XS and Olympus E-PM2 in connection with corresponding information for a sample of similar cameras.
|1.||Canon XS||optical||n||2.5 / 230||fixed||n||1/4000s||3.0||Y||n|
|2.||Olympus E-PM2||optional||n||3.0 / 460||fixed||Y||1/4000s||8.0||n||Y|
|3.||Canon T7||optical||n||3.0 / 920||fixed||n||1/4000s||3.0||Y||n|
|4.||Canon T100||optical||n||2.7 / 230||fixed||n||1/4000s||3.0||Y||n|
|5.||Canon T5||optical||n||3.0 / 460||fixed||n||1/4000s||3.0||Y||n|
|6.||Canon T3||optical||n||2.7 / 230||fixed||n||1/4000s||3.0||Y||n|
|7.||Canon SX20||202||n||2.5 / 230||swivel||n||1/3200s||0.7||Y||Y|
|8.||Canon T1i||optical||n||3.0 / 920||fixed||n||1/4000s||3.4||Y||n|
|9.||Canon SX10||202||n||2.5 / 230||swivel||n||1/3200s||0.7||Y||Y|
|10.||Canon XSi||optical||n||3.0 / 230||fixed||n||1/4000s||3.5||Y||n|
|11.||Canon 40D||optical||Y||3.0 / 230||fixed||n||1/8000s||6.5||Y||n|
|12.||Canon XTi||optical||n||2.5 / 230||fixed||n||1/4000s||3.0||Y||n|
|13.||Olympus E-M10 II||2360||n||3.0 / 1040||tilting||Y||1/4000s||8.0||Y||Y|
|14.||Olympus E-P5||optional||n||3.0 / 1037||tilting||Y||1/8000s||9.0||Y||Y|
|15.||Olympus E-PL6||optional||n||3.0 / 460||tilting||Y||1/4000s||8.0||n||Y|
|16.||Olympus E-PL5||optional||n||3.0 / 460||tilting||Y||1/4000s||8.0||n||Y|
|17.||Olympus E-PM1||optional||n||3.0 / 460||fixed||n||1/4000s||5.5||n||Y|
One difference between the cameras concerns the presence of an on-board flash. The XS has one, while the E-PM2 does not. While the built-in flash of the XS is not very powerful, it can at times be useful as a fill-in light.
The XS writes its imaging data to SDHC cards, while the E-PM2 uses SDXC cards. The E-PM2 supports UHS-I cards (Ultra High Speed data transfer of up to 104 MB/s), while the XS 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 XS and Olympus PEN E-PM2 and, in particular, the interfaces the cameras (and selected comparators) provide for accessory control and data transfer.
Mic / Speaker
|1.||Canon XS||Y||- / -||-||-||-||2.0||-||-||-|
|2.||Olympus E-PM2||Y||stereo / mono||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|3.||Canon T7||Y||mono / mono||-||-||mini||2.0||Y||Y||-|
|4.||Canon T100||Y||mono / mono||-||-||mini||2.0||Y||Y||-|
|5.||Canon T5||Y||mono / mono||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|6.||Canon T3||Y||stereo / mono||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|7.||Canon SX20||Y||stereo / mono||-||-||YES||2.0||-||-||-|
|8.||Canon T1i||Y||mono / mono||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|9.||Canon SX10||Y||stereo / mono||-||-||-||2.0||-||-||-|
|10.||Canon XSi||Y||- / -||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|11.||Canon 40D||Y||- / -||-||-||-||2.0||-||-||-|
|12.||Canon XTi||Y||- / -||-||-||-||2.0||-||-||-|
|13.||Olympus E-M10 II||Y||stereo / mono||-||-||micro||2.0||Y||-||-|
|14.||Olympus E-P5||Y||stereo / mono||-||-||micro||2.0||Y||-||-|
|15.||Olympus E-PL6||Y||stereo / mono||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|16.||Olympus E-PL5||Y||stereo / mono||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|17.||Olympus E-PM1||Y||stereo / mono||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
Both the XS and the E-PM2 have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on eBay. The XS was replaced by the Canon T3, while the E-PM2 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 what conclusions can be drawn? Is the Canon XS better than the Olympus E-PM2 or vice versa? A synthesis of the relative strong points of each of the models is listed below.
Advantages of the Canon EOS Rebel XS:
- Easier framing: Has an optical viewfinder for image composition and settings control.
- Longer lasting: Can take more shots (500 versus 360) on a single battery charge.
- Easier fill-in: Is equipped with a small onboard flash to brighten deep shadow areas.
- More heavily discounted: Has been available for much longer (launched in June 2008).
Reasons to prefer the Olympus PEN E-PM2:
- More detail: Has more megapixels (15.9 vs 10.1MP), which boosts linear resolution by 23%.
- Broader imaging potential: Can capture not only stills but also 1080/30p video.
- Larger screen: Has a bigger rear LCD (3.0" vs 2.5") for image review and settings control.
- More detailed LCD: Has a higher resolution rear screen (460k vs 230k dots).
- Fewer buttons to press: Has a touchscreen to facilitate handling and shooting adjustments.
- Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (8 vs 3 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
- More compact: Is smaller (110x64mm vs 126x98mm) and will fit more readily into a bag.
- Less heavy: Has a lower weight (by 233g or 46 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.
- Faster buffer clearing: Has an SD card interface that supports the UHS-I standard.
- More modern: Reflects 4 years and 3 months of technical progress since the XS launch.
If the count of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a measure, the E-PM2 is the clear winner of the contest (12 : 4 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 XS and the Olympus E-PM2 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 the spec-sheets of cameras can offer a general idea of their imaging potential, it remains partial and cannot reveal, for example, the shooting experience and imaging performance when actually working with the XS or the E-PM2. 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 XS||..||82/100||..||+ +||3.5/5||4.5/5||Jun 2008||449|
|2.||Olympus E-PM2||3/5||..||..||77/100||5/5||4.5/5||Sep 2012||499|
|3.||Canon T7||..||o||..||..||3.5/5||3.5/5||Feb 2018||449|
|4.||Canon T100||..||o||3/5||..||3.5/5||3.5/5||Feb 2018||399|
|5.||Canon T5||3/5||+||..||..||4/5||4.5/5||Feb 2014||449|
|6.||Canon T3||..||80/100||..||69/100||4/5||4.5/5||Feb 2011||449|
|7.||Canon SX20||..||+ +||..||73/100||..||4/5||Aug 2009||399|
|8.||Canon T1i||..||+ +||..||74/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Mar 2009||799|
|9.||Canon SX10||..||+ +||..||..||..||4/5||Sep 2008||399|
|10.||Canon XSi||..||+ +||..||+ +||4/5||4.5/5||Jan 2008||799|
|11.||Canon 40D||..||+ +||..||+ +||4.5/5||4.5/5||Aug 2007||1,299|
|12.||Canon XTi||..||+ +||..||+ +||o||4/5||Aug 2006||799|
|13.||Olympus E-M10 II||4.5/5||+ +||..||80/100||5/5||5/5||Aug 2015||649|
|14.||Olympus E-P5||5/5||+ +||..||78/100||4.5/5||5/5||May 2013||999|
|15.||Olympus E-PL6||..||..||..||..||..||..||May 2013||599|
|16.||Olympus E-PL5||3/5||+ +||..||..||4.5/5||4.5/5||Sep 2012||599|
|17.||Olympus E-PM1||..||86/100||..||71/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Jun 2011||499|
|Notes: (+ +) highly recommended; (+) recommended; (o) reviewed; (..) not available.|
The above review scores should be interpreted with care, though. The assessments were made in relation to similar cameras of the same technological generation. Thus, a score needs to be put into the context of the launch date and the launch price 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. Alternatively, you can follow any of the listed hyperlinks for comparisons that others found interesting.
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- Olympus E-PM2 vs Sony RX100 II
Specifications: Canon XS vs Olympus E-PM2
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 XS||Olympus E-PM2|
|Camera Type||Digital single lens reflex||Mirrorless system camera|
|Camera Lens||Canon EF mount lenses||Micro Four Thirds lenses|
|Launch Date||June 2008||September 2012|
|Launch Price||USD 449||USD 499|
|Sensor Specs||Canon XS||Olympus E-PM2|
|Sensor Format||APS-C Sensor||Four Thirds Sensor|
|Sensor Size||22.2 x 14.8 mm||17.3 x 13.0 mm|
|Sensor Area||328.56 mm2||224.9 mm2|
|Sensor Diagonal||26.7 mm||21.6 mm|
|Sensor Resolution||10.1 Megapixels||15.9 Megapixels|
|Image Resolution||3888 x 2592 pixels||4608 x 3456 pixels|
|Pixel Pitch||5.71 μm||3.76 μm|
|Pixel Density||3.07 MP/cm2||7.08 MP/cm2|
|Moiré control||Anti-Alias filter||Anti-Alias filter|
|Movie Capability||no Video||1080/30p Video|
|ISO Setting||100 - 800 ISO||100 - 25,600 ISO|
|ISO Boost||100 - 1,600 ISO||no Enhancement|
|Image Processor||DIGIC 3||TruePic VI|
|DXO Sensor Quality (score)||..||72|
|DXO Color Depth (bits)||..||22.7|
|DXO Dynamic Range (EV)||..||12.2|
|DXO Low Light (ISO)||..||932|
|Screen Specs||Canon XS||Olympus E-PM2|
|Viewfinder Type||Optical viewfinder||Viewfinder optional|
|Viewfinder Field of View||95%|
|LCD Framing||Live View||Live View|
|Rear LCD Size||2.5inch||3.0inch|
|LCD Resolution||230k dots||460k dots|
|LCD Attachment||Fixed screen||Fixed screen|
|Touch Input||no Touchscreen||Touchscreen|
|Shooting Specs||Canon XS||Olympus E-PM2|
|Focus System||Phase-detect AF||Contrast-detect AF|
|Continuous Shooting||3 shutter flaps/s||8 shutter flaps/s|
|Image Stabilization||Lens stabilization only||In-body stabilization|
|Fill Flash||Built-in Flash||no On-Board Flash|
|Storage Medium||SDHC cards||SDXC cards|
|Second Storage Option||Single card slot||Single card slot|
|UHS card support||no||UHS-I|
|Connectivity Specs||Canon XS||Olympus E-PM2|
|USB Connector||USB 2.0||USB 2.0|
|HDMI Port||no HDMI||mini HDMI|
|Wifi Support||no Wifi||no Wifi|
|Body Specs||Canon XS||Olympus E-PM2|
|Battery Life (CIPA)||500 shots per charge||360 shots per charge|
126 x 98 x 65 mm
(5.0 x 3.9 x 2.6 in)
110 x 64 x 34 mm
(4.3 x 2.5 x 1.3 in)
|Camera Weight||502 g (17.7 oz)||269 g (9.5 oz)|
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