Nikon Z6 II vs Olympus E-M5
The Nikon Z6 II and the Olympus OM-D E-M5 are two enthusiast cameras that were revealed to the public, respectively, in October 2020 and February 2012. Both the Z6 II and the E-M5 are mirrorless interchangeable lens cameras that are based on a full frame (Z6 II) and a Four Thirds (E-M5) sensor. The Nikon has a resolution of 24.3 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 Nikon Z6 II 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.
An illustration of the physical size and weight of the Nikon Z6 II and the Olympus E-M5 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-M5 can be obtained in two different colors (black, silver), while the Z6 II 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-M5 is notably smaller (20 percent) than the Nikon Z6 II. Moreover, the E-M5 is substantially lighter (40 percent) than the Z6 II. In this context, it is worth noting that both cameras are splash and dust-proof and can, hence, be used in inclement weather conditions or harsh environments.
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. Hence, you might want to study and compare the specifications of available lenses in order to get the full picture of the size and weight of the two camera systems.
Concerning battery life, the Z6 II gets 410 shots out of its EN-EL15c battery, while the E-M5 can take 360 images on a single charge of its BLN-1 power pack. The power pack in the Z6 II can be charged via the USB port, so that it is not always necessary to take the battery charger along when travelling.
The adjacent table lists the principal physical characteristics of the two cameras alongside a wider set of alternatives. 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.||Nikon Z6 II||134 mm||101 mm||70 mm||705 g||410||Y||Oct 2020||1,999|
|2.||Olympus E-M5||122 mm||89 mm||43 mm||425 g||360||Y||Feb 2012||1,299|
|3.||Canon R6||138 mm||98 mm||88 mm||680 g||360||Y||Jul 2020||2,499|
|4.||Fujifilm X-T4||135 mm||93 mm||64 mm||607 g||500||Y||Feb 2020||1,699|
|5.||Nikon D780||144 mm||116 mm||76 mm||840 g||2260||Y||Jan 2020||2,299|
|6.||Nikon Z5||134 mm||101 mm||67 mm||675 g||470||Y||Jul 2020||1,399|
|7.||Nikon Z7 II||134 mm||101 mm||70 mm||705 g||420||Y||Oct 2020||2,999|
|8.||Nikon Z6||134 mm||101 mm||67 mm||675 g||310||Y||Aug 2018||1,999|
|9.||Olympus E-M1 III||134 mm||91 mm||69 mm||580 g||420||Y||Feb 2020||1,799|
|10.||Olympus PEN-F||125 mm||72 mm||37 mm||427 g||330||n||Jan 2016||1,199|
|11.||Olympus E-M5 II||124 mm||85 mm||45 mm||469 g||310||Y||Feb 2015||1,099|
|12.||Olympus E-M1||130 mm||94 mm||63 mm||497 g||350||Y||Sep 2013||1,399|
|13.||Olympus E-P5||122 mm||69 mm||37 mm||420 g||330||n||May 2013||999|
|14.||Panasonic S5||133 mm||98 mm||82 mm||714 g||440||Y||Sep 2020||1,999|
|15.||Panasonic GX7||123 mm||71 mm||55 mm||402 g||350||n||Aug 2013||999|
|16.||Sony A9 II||129 mm||96 mm||76 mm||678 g||690||Y||Oct 2019||4,499|
|17.||Sony A7 III||127 mm||96 mm||74 mm||650 g||610||Y||Feb 2018||1,999|
|Notes: Measurements and pricing do not include easily detachable parts, such as add-on or interchangeable lenses or optional viewfinders.|
Any camera decision will naturally be influenced heavily by the price. 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 E-M5 was launched at a markedly lower price (by 35 percent) than the Z6 II, 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. 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. 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 tend to be more expensive and lead to bigger and heavier cameras and lenses.
Of the two cameras under consideration, the Nikon Z6 II features a full frame sensor and the Olympus E-M5 a Four Thirds sensor. The sensor area in the E-M5 is 74 percent smaller. As a result of these sensor size differences, the cameras have a format factor of, respectively, 1.0 and 2.0. The sensor in the Z6 II has a native 3:2 aspect ratio, while the one in the E-M5 offers a 4:3 aspect.
With 24.3MP, the Z6 II offers a higher resolution than the E-M5 (15.9MP), but the Z6 II nevertheless has larger individual pixels (pixel pitch of 5.94μm versus 3.76μm for the E-M5) due to its larger sensor. Moreover, the Z6 II is a much more recent model (by 8 years and 8 months) than the E-M5, and its sensor will have benefitted from technological advances during this time that further enhance the light gathering capacity of its pixels.
The resolution advantage of the Nikon Z6 II implies greater flexibility for cropping images or the possibility to print larger pictures. The maximum print size of the Z6 II for good quality output (200 dots per inch) amounts to 30.2 x 20.1 inches or 76.8 x 51.1 cm, for very good quality (250 dpi) 24.2 x 16.1 inches or 61.4 x 40.9 cm, and for excellent quality (300 dpi) 20.2 x 13.4 inches or 51.2 x 34.1 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 Z6 II has on-sensor phase detect pixels, which results in fast and reliable autofocus acquisition even during live view operation.
The Nikon Z6 II has a native sensitivity range from ISO 100 to ISO 51200, which can be extended to ISO 50-204800. The corresponding ISO settings for the Olympus OM-D E-M5 are ISO 200 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.
| DXO |
|1.||Nikon Z6 II||Full Frame||24.3||6048||4024||4K/60p||..||..||..||..|
|2.||Olympus E-M5||Four Thirds||15.9||4608||3456||1080/60i||22.8||12.3||826||71|
|3.||Canon R6||Full Frame||20.0||5472||3648||4k/60p||24.2||14.3||3394||90|
|5.||Nikon D780||Full Frame||24.3||6048||4024||4K/30p||..||..||..||..|
|6.||Nikon Z5||Full Frame||24.2||6016||4016||4K/30p||..||..||..||..|
|7.||Nikon Z7 II||Full Frame||45.4||8256||5504||4K/60p||26.3||14.7||2841||100|
|8.||Nikon Z6||Full Frame||24.3||6048||4024||4K/30p||25.3||14.3||3299||95|
|9.||Olympus E-M1 III||Four Thirds||20.2||5184||3888||4K/30p||..||..||..||..|
|10.||Olympus PEN-F||Four Thirds||20.2||5184||3888||1080/60p||23.1||12.4||894||74|
|11.||Olympus E-M5 II||Four Thirds||15.9||4608||3456||1080/60p||23.0||12.5||842||73|
|12.||Olympus E-M1||Four Thirds||15.9||4608||3456||1080/30p||23.0||12.7||757||73|
|13.||Olympus E-P5||Four Thirds||15.9||4608||3456||1080/30p||22.8||12.4||895||72|
|14.||Panasonic S5||Full Frame||24.0||6000||4000||4K/60p||..||..||..||..|
|15.||Panasonic GX7||Four Thirds||15.8||4592||3448||1080/60p||22.6||12.2||718||70|
|16.||Sony A9 II||Full Frame||24.0||6000||4000||4K/30p||25.0||14.0||3434||93|
|17.||Sony A7 III||Full Frame||24.0||6000||4000||4K/30p||25.0||14.7||3730||96|
Many modern cameras are not only capable of taking still images, but can also record movies. The two cameras under consideration both have sensors whose read-out speed is fast enough to capture moving pictures, but the Z6 II provides a higher video resolution than the E-M5. It can shoot video footage at 4K/60p, while the Olympus is limited to 1080/60i.
Apart from body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a range of features. The two cameras under consideration are similar with respect to both having an electronic viewfinder. However, the one in the Z6 II offers a substantially higher resolution than the one in the E-M5 (3690k vs 1440k dots). The following table reports on some other key feature differences and similarities of the Nikon Z6 II, the Olympus E-M5, and comparable cameras.
|1.||Nikon Z6 II||3690||Y||3.2||2100||tilting||Y||1/8000s||14.0||n||Y|
|7.||Nikon Z7 II||3690||Y||3.2||2100||tilting||Y||1/8000s||10.0||n||Y|
|9.||Olympus E-M1 III||2360||n||3.0||1037||swivel||Y||1/8000s||18.0||n||Y|
|11.||Olympus E-M5 II||2360||n||3.0||1037||swivel||Y||1/8000s||10.0||n||Y|
|16.||Sony A9 II||3686||n||3.0||1440||tilting||Y||1/8000s||10.0||n||Y|
|17.||Sony A7 III||2359||n||3.0||922||tilting||Y||1/8000s||10.0||n||Y|
One feature that is present on the Z6 II, but is missing on the E-M5 is a top-level LCD. While being, of course, smaller than the rear screen, the control panel conveys some of the essential shooting information and can be convenient for quick and easy settings verification.
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 Z6 II 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 Nikon Z6 II 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.
The Z6 II writes its imaging data to CFexpress or SDXC cards, while the E-M5 uses SDXC cards. The Z6 II features dual card slots, which can be very useful in case a memory card fails. In contrast, the E-M5 only has one slot. The Z6 II supports UHS-II cards (Ultra High Speed data transfer of up to 312 MB/s), while the E-M5 can use UHS-I cards (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 Nikon Z6 II 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 |
|1.||Nikon Z6 II||Y||stereo||mono||Y||Y||micro||3.2||Y||-||Y|
|7.||Nikon Z7 II||Y||stereo||mono||Y||Y||micro||3.2||Y||-||Y|
|9.||Olympus E-M1 III||Y||stereo||mono||Y||Y||micro||3.1||Y||-||Y|
|11.||Olympus E-M5 II||Y||stereo||mono||Y||-||micro||2.0||Y||-||-|
|16.||Sony A9 II||Y||stereo||mono||Y||Y||micro||3.1||Y||Y||Y|
|17.||Sony A7 III||Y||stereo||mono||Y||Y||micro||3.1||Y||Y||Y|
It is notable that the Z6 II 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.
The Z6 II is a recent model that features in the current product line-up of Nikon. In contrast, the E-M5 has been discontinued (but can be found pre-owned on eBay). As a replacement in the same line of cameras, the E-M5 was succeeded by the Olympus E-M5 II. Further information on the two cameras (e.g. user guides, manuals), as well as related accessories, can be found on the official Nikon and Olympus websites.
So what is the bottom line? Is the Nikon Z6 II better than the Olympus E-M5 or vice versa? A synthesis of the relative strong points of each of the models is listed below.
Reasons to prefer the Nikon Z6 II:
- More detail: Offers more megapixels (24.3 vs 15.9MP) with a 26% 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/60p 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.
- Better sound control: Has a headphone port that enables audio monitoring while recording.
- More detailed viewfinder: Has higher resolution electronic viewfinder (3690k vs 1440k dots).
- Larger viewfinder image: Features a viewfinder with a higher magnification (0.80x vs 0.58x).
- Easier setting verification: Features an LCD display on top to control shooting parameters.
- Larger screen: Has a bigger rear LCD (3.2" vs 3.0") for image review and settings control.
- More detailed LCD: Has a higher resolution rear screen (2100k vs 610k dots).
- Faster shutter: Has higher mechanical shutter speed (1/8000s vs 1/4000s) to freeze action.
- Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (14 vs 9 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
- Less disturbing: Has an electronic shutter option for completely silent shooting.
- Easier time-lapse photography: Has an intervalometer built-in for low frequency shooting.
- Longer lasting: Can take more shots (410 versus 360) on a single battery charge.
- Easier travel charging: Can be conveniently charged via its USB port.
- Faster data transfer: Supports a more advanced USB protocol (3.2 vs 2.0).
- 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.
- Greater peace of mind: Features a second card slot as a backup in case of memory card failure.
- Faster buffer clearing: Supports a more advanced SD data transfer standard (UHS-II vs UHS-I).
- More modern: Reflects 8 years and 8 months of technical progress since the E-M5 launch.
Arguments in favor of the Olympus OM-D E-M5:
- More compact: Is smaller (122x89mm vs 134x101mm) and will fit more readily into a bag.
- Less heavy: Has a lower weight (by 280g or 40 percent) and is thus easier to take along.
- More affordable: Was introduced into a lower priced category (35 percent cheaper at launch).
- More heavily discounted: Has been around for much longer (launched in February 2012).
If the number of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the Z6 II is the clear winner of the match-up (26 : 4 points). However, the pertinence of the various camera strengths will differ across photographers, so that you might want to weigh individual camera traits according to their importance for your own imaging needs before making a camera decision. 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 Nikon Z6 II and the Olympus E-M5 place the cameras among the top in their class? Find out in the latest Best Mirrorless Interchangeable Lens Camera listing 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 Z6 II or the E-M5. 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 following table reports the overall ratings of the cameras as published by some of the major camera 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.||Nikon Z6 II||4.5/5||..||89/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Oct 2020||1,999|
|2.||Olympus E-M5||4/5||+ +||80/100||4.5/5||5/5||Feb 2012||1,299|
|3.||Canon R6||5/5||+ +||90/100||4.5/5||5/5||Jul 2020||2,499|
|4.||Fujifilm X-T4||5/5||+ +||..||5/5||5/5||Feb 2020||1,699|
|5.||Nikon D780||5/5||..||87/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Jan 2020||2,299|
|6.||Nikon Z5||4/5||..||89/100||4.5/5||4/5||Jul 2020||1,399|
|7.||Nikon Z7 II||4.5/5||..||..||4.5/5||4.5/5||Oct 2020||2,999|
|8.||Nikon Z6||5/5||..||..||4.5/5||5/5||Aug 2018||1,999|
|9.||Olympus E-M1 III||5/5||..||83/100||4.5/5||4/5||Feb 2020||1,799|
|10.||Olympus PEN-F||..||..||82/100||4.5/5||5/5||Jan 2016||1,199|
|11.||Olympus E-M5 II||5/5||+ +||81/100||5/5||5/5||Feb 2015||1,099|
|12.||Olympus E-M1||5/5||+ +||84/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Sep 2013||1,399|
|13.||Olympus E-P5||5/5||+ +||78/100||4.5/5||5/5||May 2013||999|
|14.||Panasonic S5||4.5/5||+ +||88/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Sep 2020||1,999|
|15.||Panasonic GX7||4/5||+||79/100||5/5||5/5||Aug 2013||999|
|16.||Sony A9 II||..||..||90/100||5/5||5/5||Oct 2019||4,499|
|17.||Sony A7 III||..||+ +||89/100||5/5||5/5||Feb 2018||1,999|
|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. Hence, a score should always be seen in the context of the camera's market launch date and its price, 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. As an alternative, you can also directly jump to any one of the listed comparisons that were previously generated by the CAM-parator tool.
Specifications: Nikon Z6 II 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||Nikon Z6 II||Olympus E-M5|
|Camera Type||Mirrorless system camera||Mirrorless system camera|
|Camera Lens||Nikon Z mount lenses||Micro Four Thirds lenses|
|Launch Date||October 2020||February 2012|
|Launch Price||USD 1,999||USD 1,299|
|Sensor Specs||Nikon Z6 II||Olympus E-M5|
|Sensor Format||Full Frame Sensor||Four Thirds Sensor|
|Sensor Size||35.9 x 23.9 mm||17.3 x 13.0 mm|
|Sensor Area||858.01 mm2||224.9 mm2|
|Sensor Diagonal||43.1 mm||21.6 mm|
|Sensor Resolution||24.3 Megapixels||15.9 Megapixels|
|Image Resolution||6048 x 4024 pixels||4608 x 3456 pixels|
|Pixel Pitch||5.94 μm||3.76 μm|
|Pixel Density||2.84 MP/cm2||7.08 MP/cm2|
|Moiré control||Anti-Alias filter||Anti-Alias filter|
|Movie Capability||4K/60p Video||1080/60i Video|
|ISO Setting||100 - 51,200 ISO||200 - 25,600 ISO|
|ISO Boost||50 - 204,800 ISO||no Enhancement|
|Image Processor||DUAL EXPEED 6||TruePic VI|
|DXO Sensor Quality (score)||..||71|
|DXO Color Depth (bits)||..||22.8|
|DXO Dynamic Range (EV)||..||12.3|
|DXO Low Light (ISO)||..||826|
|Screen Specs||Nikon Z6 II||Olympus E-M5|
|Viewfinder Type||Electronic viewfinder||Electronic viewfinder|
|Viewfinder Field of View||100%||100%|
|Viewfinder Resolution||3690k dots||1440k dots|
|Top-Level Screen||Control Panel||no Top Display|
|LCD Framing||Live View||Live View|
|Rear LCD Size||3.2inch||3.0inch|
|LCD Resolution||2100k dots||610k dots|
|LCD Attachment||Tilting screen||Tilting screen|
|Shooting Specs||Nikon Z6 II||Olympus E-M5|
|Focus System||On-Sensor Phase-detect||Contrast-detect AF|
|Manual Focusing Aid||Focus Peaking||no Peaking Feature|
|Continuous Shooting||14 shutter flaps/s||9 shutter flaps/s|
|Shutter Life Expectancy||200 000 actuations||100 000 actuations|
|Electronic Shutter||up to 1/8000s||no E-Shutter|
|Time-Lapse Photography||Intervalometer built-in||no Intervalometer|
|Image Stabilization||In-body stabilization||In-body stabilization|
|Fill Flash||no On-Board Flash||no On-Board Flash|
|Storage Medium||CFexpress or SDXC cards||SDXC cards|
|Second Storage Option||Dual card slots||Single card slot|
|UHS card support||UHS-II||UHS-I|
|Connectivity Specs||Nikon Z6 II||Olympus E-M5|
|USB Connector||USB 3.2||USB 2.0|
|HDMI Port||micro HDMI||mini HDMI|
|Microphone Port||External MIC port||no MIC socket|
|Headphone Socket||Headphone port||no Headphone port|
|Wifi Support||Wifi built-in||no Wifi|
|Bluetooth Support||Bluetooth built-in||no Bluetooth|
|Body Specs||Nikon Z6 II||Olympus E-M5|
|Environmental Sealing||Weathersealed body||Weathersealed body|
|Battery Life (CIPA)||410 shots per charge||360 shots per charge|
|In-Camera Charging||USB charging||no USB charging|
134 x 101 x 70 mm
(5.3 x 4.0 x 2.8 in)
122 x 89 x 43 mm
(4.8 x 3.5 x 1.7 in)
|Camera Weight||705 g (24.9 oz)||425 g (15.0 oz)|
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