Canon XSi vs Olympus E-PM1
The Canon EOS Rebel XSi (called Canon 450D in some regions) and the Olympus PEN E-PM1 are two digital cameras that were announced, respectively, in January 2008 and June 2011. The XSi is a DSLR, while the E-PM1 is a mirrorless interchangeable lens camera. The cameras are based on an APS-C (XSi) and a Four Thirds (E-PM1) sensor. Both cameras offer a resolution of 12.2 megapixels.
Below is an overview of the main specs of the two cameras as a starting point for the comparison.
|Canon XSi||Olympus E-PM1|
|Digital single lens reflex||Mirrorless system camera|
|Canon EF mount lenses||Micro Four Thirds lenses|
|12.2 MP, APS-C Sensor||12.2 MP, Four Thirds Sensor|
|no Video||1080/60i Video|
|ISO 100-1600||ISO 100-12800|
|Optical viewfinder||Viewfinder optional|
|3.0" LCD, 230k dots||3.0" LCD, 460k dots|
|Fixed screen (not touch-sensitive)||Fixed screen (not touch-sensitive)|
|3.5 shutter flaps per second||5.5 shutter flaps per second|
|Lens stabilization only||In-body stabilization|
|500 shots per battery charge||330 shots per battery charge|
|129 x 98 x 62 mm, 524 g||110 x 64 x 34 mm, 265 g|
Going beyond this snapshot of core features and characteristics, what are the differences between the Canon EOS Rebel XSi 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.
An illustration of the physical size and weight of the Canon XSi and the Olympus E-PM1 is provided 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 E-PM1 can be obtained in six different colors (black, silver, brown, pink, purple, white), while the XSi 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-PM1 is considerably smaller (44 percent) than the Canon XSi. Moreover, the E-PM1 is substantially lighter (49 percent) than the XSi. In this context, it is worth noting that neither the XSi 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 (XSi) 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 following table provides a synthesis of the main physical specifications of the two cameras and other similar ones. If you want to switch the focus of the display and review another camera pair, just select a new right or left comparator from among the camera models in the table. Alternatively, you can also move across to the CAM-parator tool and choose from the broad selection of possible camera comparisons there.
|Canon XSi»||5.1 in||3.9 in||2.4 in||18.5 oz||500||n||Jan 2008||799||Canon XSi|
|Olympus E-PM1«||4.3 in||2.5 in||1.3 in||9.3 oz||330||n||Jun 2011||499||Olympus E-PM1|
|Canon T6i« »||5.2 in||4.0 in||3.1 in||19.6 oz||440||n||Feb 2015||749||Canon T6i|
|Canon T6s« »||5.2 in||4.0 in||3.1 in||19.9 oz||440||n||Feb 2015||649||Canon T6s|
|Canon T4i« »||5.2 in||3.9 in||3.1 in||20.3 oz||440||n||Jun 2012||849||Canon T4i|
|Canon T3« »||5.1 in||3.9 in||3.1 in||17.5 oz||700||n||Feb 2011||449||Canon T3|
|Canon T2i« »||5.1 in||3.9 in||2.4 in||18.7 oz||440||n||Feb 2010||699||Canon T2i|
|Canon T1i« »||5.1 in||3.9 in||2.4 in||18.3 oz||400||n||Mar 2009||799||Canon T1i|
|Canon XS« »||5.0 in||3.9 in||2.6 in||17.7 oz||500||n||Jun 2008||449||Canon XS|
|Canon 40D« »||5.7 in||4.3 in||2.9 in||29.0 oz||750||n||Aug 2007||1,299||Canon 40D|
|Canon XTi« »||5.0 in||3.3 in||2.6 in||19.6 oz||370||n||Aug 2006||799||Canon XTi|
|Canon XT« »||5.0 in||3.7 in||2.5 in||19.0 oz||400||n||Feb 2005||899||Canon XT|
|Olympus E-PM2« »||4.3 in||2.5 in||1.3 in||9.5 oz||360||n||Sep 2012||499||Olympus E-PM2|
|Olympus E-PL2« »||4.5 in||2.8 in||1.7 in||12.8 oz||280||n||Jan 2011||599||Olympus E-PL2|
|Olympus E-PL3« »||4.3 in||2.5 in||1.5 in||11.0 oz||300||n||Jun 2011||599||Olympus E-PL3|
|Olympus E-PL1« »||4.5 in||2.8 in||1.7 in||11.8 oz||290||n||Feb 2010||599||Olympus E-PL1|
|Panasonic G2« »||4.9 in||3.3 in||2.9 in||15.1 oz||360||n||Mar 2010||599||Panasonic G2|
|Note: Measurements and pricing do not include easily detachable parts, such as interchangeable lenses or optional viewfinders.|
Any camera decision will naturally be influenced heavily by the price. 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 markedly lower price (by 38 percent) than the XSi, 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. Then, after the new model is out, very good deals can frequently be found on the pre-owned market.
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. 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 XSi 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 XSi has a native 3:2 aspect ratio, while the one in the E-PM1 offers a 4:3 aspect.
Even though the XSi has a larger sensor, both cameras offer the same resolution of 12.2 megapixels. This implies that the XSi has a lower pixel density and larger individual pixels (with a pixel pitch of 5.19μm versus 4.29μm for the E-PM1), which gives it a potential advantage in terms of light gathering capacity. It should, however, be noted that the E-PM1 is much more recent (by 3 years and 5 months) than the XSi, and its sensor will have benefitted from technological advances during this time that at least partly compensate for the smaller pixel size.
The Canon EOS Rebel XSi has a native sensitivity range from ISO 100 to ISO 1600. 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 is based on lab testing and assigns an overall score to each camera sensor, as well as ratings for dynamic range ("DXO Landscape"), color depth ("DXO Portrait"), and low-light sensitivity ("DXO Sports"). Of the two cameras under review, the XSi has a notably higher overall DXO score than the E-PM1 (overall score 9 points higher), which gives it an advantage in terms of imaging quality. This advantage is based on 0.9 bits higher color depth, 0.5 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.
|Canon XSi||APS-C||12.2||4272||2848||none||21.9||10.8||692||61||Canon XSi|
|Olympus E-PM1||Four Thirds||12.2||4032||3024||1080/60i||21.0||10.3||499||52||Olympus E-PM1|
|Canon T6i||APS-C||24.0||6000||4000||1080/30p||22.7||12.0||919||71||Canon T6i|
|Canon T6s||APS-C||24.0||6000||4000||1080/30p||22.6||12.0||915||70||Canon T6s|
|Canon T4i||APS-C||17.9||5184||3456||1080/30p||21.7||11.2||722||62||Canon T4i|
|Canon T3||APS-C||12.2||4272||2848||720/30p||21.9||11.0||755||62||Canon T3|
|Canon T2i||APS-C||17.9||5184||3456||1080/30p||22.1||11.5||784||66||Canon T2i|
|Canon T1i||APS-C||15.1||4752||3168||1080/20p||21.7||11.5||663||63||Canon T1i|
|Canon XS||APS-C||10.1||3888||2592||none||..||..||..||..||Canon XS|
|Canon 40D||APS-C||10.1||3888||2592||none||22.1||11.3||703||64||Canon 40D|
|Canon XTi||APS-C||10.1||3888||2592||none||22.1||11.0||664||62||Canon XTi|
|Canon XT||APS-C||8.0||3456||2304||none||21.8||10.8||637||60||Canon XT|
|Olympus E-PM2||Four Thirds||15.9||4608||3456||1080/30p||22.7||12.2||932||72||Olympus E-PM2|
|Olympus E-PL2||Four Thirds||12.2||4032||3024||720/30p||21.4||10.2||573||55||Olympus E-PL2|
|Olympus E-PL3||Four Thirds||12.2||4032||3024||1080/60i||20.9||10.3||499||52||Olympus E-PL3|
|Olympus E-PL1||Four Thirds||12.2||4032||3024||720/30p||21.5||10.1||487||54||Olympus E-PL1|
|Panasonic G2||Four Thirds||12.0||4000||3000||720/30p||21.2||10.3||493||53||Panasonic G2|
Many modern cameras are not only capable of taking still images, but also of capturing video footage. The E-PM1 indeed provides for movie recording, while the XSi does not. The highest resolution format that the E-PM1 can use is 1080/60i.
Beyond body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a range of features. For example, the XSi 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 table below summarizes some of the other core capabilities of the Canon XSi and Olympus E-PM1 in connection with corresponding information for a sample of similar cameras.
|Canon XSi||optical||n||3.0||230||fixed||n||1/4000s||3.5||Y||n||Canon XSi|
|Olympus E-PM1||optional||n||3.0||460||fixed||n||1/4000s||5.5||n||Y||Olympus E-PM1|
|Canon T6i||optical||n||3.0||1040||swivel||Y||1/4000s||5.0||Y||n||Canon T6i|
|Canon T6s||optical||Y||3.0||1040||swivel||Y||1/4000s||5.0||Y||n||Canon T6s|
|Canon T4i||optical||n||3.0||1040||swivel||Y||1/4000s||5.0||Y||n||Canon T4i|
|Canon T3||optical||n||2.7||230||fixed||n||1/4000s||3.0||Y||n||Canon T3|
|Canon T2i||optical||n||3.0||1040||fixed||n||1/4000s||3.7||Y||n||Canon T2i|
|Canon T1i||optical||n||3.0||920||fixed||n||1/4000s||3.4||Y||n||Canon T1i|
|Canon XS||optical||n||2.5||230||fixed||n||1/4000s||3.0||Y||n||Canon XS|
|Canon 40D||optical||Y||3.0||230||fixed||n||1/8000s||6.5||Y||n||Canon 40D|
|Canon XTi||optical||n||2.5||230||fixed||n||1/4000s||3.0||Y||n||Canon XTi|
|Canon XT||optical||n||1.8||115||fixed||n||1/4000s||3.0||Y||n||Canon XT|
|Olympus E-PM2||optional||n||3.0||460||fixed||Y||1/4000s||8.0||n||Y||Olympus E-PM2|
|Olympus E-PL2||optional||n||3.0||460||fixed||n||1/4000s||3.0||Y||Y||Olympus E-PL2|
|Olympus E-PL3||optional||n||3.0||460||tilting||n||1/4000s||5.5||n||Y||Olympus E-PL3|
|Olympus E-PL1||optional||n||2.7||230||fixed||n||1/2000s||3.0||Y||Y||Olympus E-PL1|
|Panasonic G2||1440||n||3.0||460||swivel||Y||1/4000s||2.6||Y||n||Panasonic G2|
One difference between the cameras concerns the presence of an on-board flash. The XSi has one, while the E-PM1 does not. While the built-in flash of the XSi is not very powerful, it can at times be useful as a fill-in light.
The XSi writes its imaging data to SDHC cards, while the E-PM1 uses SDXC 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 XSi and Olympus PEN E-PM1 and, in particular, the interfaces the cameras (and selected comparators) provide for accessory control and data transfer.
|Canon XSi||Y||none||none||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-||Canon XSi|
|Olympus E-PM1||Y||stereo||mono||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-||Olympus E-PM1|
|Canon T6i||Y||stereo||mono||Y||-||mini||2.0||Y||Y||-||Canon T6i|
|Canon T6s||Y||stereo||mono||Y||-||mini||2.0||Y||Y||-||Canon T6s|
|Canon T4i||Y||stereo||mono||Y||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-||Canon T4i|
|Canon T3||Y||stereo||mono||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-||Canon T3|
|Canon T2i||Y||stereo||none||Y||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-||Canon T2i|
|Canon T1i||Y||mono||mono||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-||Canon T1i|
|Canon XS||Y||none||none||-||-||none||2.0||-||-||-||Canon XS|
|Canon 40D||Y||none||none||-||-||none||2.0||-||-||-||Canon 40D|
|Canon XTi||Y||none||none||-||-||none||2.0||-||-||-||Canon XTi|
|Canon XT||Y||none||none||-||-||none||2.0||-||-||-||Canon XT|
|Olympus E-PM2||Y||stereo||mono||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-||Olympus E-PM2|
|Olympus E-PL2||Y||stereo||none||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-||Olympus E-PL2|
|Olympus E-PL3||Y||stereo||none||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-||Olympus E-PL3|
|Olympus E-PL1||Y||stereo||none||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-||Olympus E-PL1|
|Panasonic G2||Y||stereo||mono||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-||Panasonic G2|
Both the XSi and the E-PM1 have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on eBay. The XSi was replaced by the Canon T1i, while the E-PM1 was followed 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 what conclusions can be drawn? Which of the two cameras – the Canon XSi 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.
Reasons to prefer the Canon EOS Rebel XSi:
- Better image quality: Scores markedly higher (9 points) in the DXO overall assessment.
- Better low-light sensitivity: Requires less light for good images (0.5 stops ISO advantage).
- Easier framing: Has an optical viewfinder for image composition and settings control.
- Longer lasting: Can take more shots (500 versus 330) 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 January 2008).
Advantages of the Olympus PEN E-PM1:
- Broader imaging potential: Can capture not only stills but also 1080/60i video.
- More detailed LCD: Has a higher resolution rear screen (460k vs 230k dots).
- Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (5.5 vs 3.5 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
- More compact: Is smaller (110x64mm vs 129x98mm) and will fit more readily into a bag.
- Less heavy: Has a lower weight (by 259g or 49 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 introduced into a lower priced category (38 percent cheaper at launch).
- More modern: Reflects 3 years and 5 months of technical progress since the XSi launch.
If the count of individual advantages (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the E-PM1 emerges as the winner of the match-up (9 : 6 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 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 XSi 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 the spec-sheets of cameras can offer a general idea of their imaging potential, it says little about, for example, the shooting experience and imaging performance of the XSi and the E-PM1 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 (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.
Care should be taken when interpreting the review scores above, 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? If you would like to see a different side-by-side camera review, just make a corresponding selection in the search boxes below. As an alternative, you can also directly jump to any one of the listed comparisons that were previously generated by the CAM-parator tool.
- Canon 20D vs Olympus E-PM1
- Canon SX410 vs Canon XSi
- Canon XSi vs Olympus E-PL6
- Canon XSi vs Panasonic GX1
- Canon XSi vs Sony NEX-5N
- Contax N Digital vs Olympus E-PM1
- Leica V-LUX Typ 114 vs Olympus E-PM1
- Nikon B700 vs Olympus E-PM1
- Olympus E-PL9 vs Olympus E-PM1
- Olympus E-PM1 vs Panasonic GX80
- Olympus E-PM1 vs Panasonic S1R
- Olympus E-PM1 vs Pentax K-1 II
Specifications: Canon XSi 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 XSi||Olympus E-PM1|
|Camera Type||Digital single lens reflex||Mirrorless system camera|
|Camera Lens||Canon EF mount lenses||Micro Four Thirds lenses|
|Launch Date||January 2008||June 2011|
|Launch Price||USD 799||USD 499|
|Sensor Specs||Canon XSi||Olympus E-PM1|
|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||12.2 Megapixels||12.2 Megapixels|
|Image Resolution||4272 x 2848 pixels||4032 x 3024 pixels|
|Pixel Pitch||5.19 μm||4.29 μm|
|Pixel Density||3.70 MP/cm2||5.42 MP/cm2|
|Moiré control||Anti-Alias filter||Anti-Alias filter|
|Movie Capability||no Video||1080/60i Video|
|ISO Setting||100-1600 ISO||100-12800 ISO|
|Image Processor||DIGIC 3||TruePic VI|
|DXO Sensor Quality (score)||61||52|
|DXO Color Depth (bits)||21.9||21.0|
|DXO Dynamic Range (EV)||10.8||10.3|
|DXO Low Light (ISO)||692||499|
|Screen Specs||Canon XSi||Olympus E-PM1|
|Viewfinder Type||Optical viewfinder||Viewfinder optional|
|Viewfinder Field of View||95%|
|LCD Framing||Live View||Live View|
|Rear LCD Size||3.0 inch||3.0 inch|
|LCD Resolution||230k dots||460k dots|
|LCD Attachment||Fixed screen||Fixed screen|
|Shooting Specs||Canon XSi||Olympus E-PM1|
|Focus System||Phase-detect AF||Contrast-detect AF|
|Continuous Shooting||3.5 shutter flaps/s||5.5 shutter flaps/s|
|Image Stabilization||Lens stabilization only||In-body stabilization|
|Fill Flash||Build-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||no|
|Connectivity Specs||Canon XSi||Olympus E-PM1|
|USB Connector||USB 2.0||USB 2.0|
|HDMI Port||mini HDMI||mini HDMI|
|Wifi Support||no Wifi||no Wifi|
|Body Specs||Canon XSi||Olympus E-PM1|
|Battery Life (CIPA)||500 shots per charge||330 shots per charge|
129 x 98 x 62 mm
(5.1 x 3.9 x 2.4 in)
110 x 64 x 34 mm
(4.3 x 2.5 x 1.3 in)
|Camera Weight||524 g (18.5 oz)||265 g (9.3 oz)|
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