Olympus E-1 vs Pentax 645Z
The Olympus E-1 and the Pentax 645Z are two professional cameras that were revealed to the public, respectively, in June 2003 and April 2014. Both are DSLR (Digital Single Lens Reflex) cameras that are based on a Four Thirds (E-1) and a medium format (645Z) sensor. The Olympus has a resolution of 4.9 megapixels, whereas the Pentax provides 51.1 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 Olympus E-1 and the Pentax 645Z? 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 Olympus E-1 and the Pentax 645Z 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.
If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Pentax 645Z is notably larger (24 percent) than the Olympus E-1. Moreover, the 645Z is substantially heavier (110 percent) than the E-1. 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.
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.||Olympus E-1||141 mm||104 mm||81 mm||738 g||750||Y||Jun 2003||1,699|
|2.||Pentax 645Z||156 mm||117 mm||123 mm||1550 g||650||Y||Apr 2014||8,499|
|3.||Canon 6D Mark II||144 mm||111 mm||75 mm||765 g||1200||Y||Jun 2017||1,999|
|4.||Canon 5DS||152 mm||116 mm||76 mm||930 g||700||Y||Feb 2015||3,699|
|5.||Canon 5DS R||152 mm||116 mm||76 mm||930 g||700||Y||Feb 2015||3,699|
|6.||Canon 7D||148 mm||111 mm||74 mm||860 g||800||Y||Sep 2009||1,699|
|7.||Hasselblad X1D||150 mm||98 mm||71 mm||725 g||..||Y||Jun 2016||8,995|
|8.||Leica SL||147 mm||104 mm||39 mm||847 g||400||Y||Oct 2015||7,450|
|9.||Leica Digilux 3||146 mm||87 mm||77 mm||606 g||750||n||Sep 2006||1,499|
|10.||Nikon D500||147 mm||115 mm||81 mm||860 g||1240||Y||Jan 2016||1,999|
|11.||Nikon D610||141 mm||113 mm||82 mm||850 g||900||Y||Oct 2013||1,999|
|12.||Nikon D7000||132 mm||105 mm||77 mm||780 g||1050||Y||Sep 2010||1,499|
|13.||Olympus E-5||142 mm||117 mm||75 mm||873 g||750||Y||Sep 2010||1,699|
|14.||Olympus E-3||142 mm||116 mm||75 mm||876 g||750||Y||Oct 2007||1,699|
|15.||Olympus E-330||140 mm||87 mm||72 mm||637 g||750||n||Jan 2006||999|
|16.||Olympus E-300||147 mm||85 mm||64 mm||624 g||750||n||Sep 2004||799|
|17.||Pentax 645D||156 mm||117 mm||119 mm||1480 g||800||Y||Mar 2010||9,995|
|Notes: Measurements and pricing do not include easily detachable parts, such as add-on or interchangeable lenses or optional viewfinders.|
The price is, of course, an important factor in any camera decision. The listed launch prices provide an indication of the market segment that the manufacturer of the cameras have been targeting. The E-1 was launched at a markedly lower price (by 80 percent) than the 645Z, 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. 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 Olympus E-1 features a Four Thirds sensor and the Pentax 645Z a medium format sensor. The sensor area in the 645Z is 539 percent bigger. As a result of these sensor size differences, the cameras have a format factor of, respectively, 2.0 and 0.79. Both cameras feature a native aspect ratio (sensor width to sensor height) of 4:3.
With 51.1MP, the 645Z offers a higher resolution than the E-1 (4.9MP), but the 645Z has smaller individual pixels (pixel pitch of 5.30μm versus 6.78μm for the E-1). Yet, the 645Z is a much more recent model (by 10 years and 9 months) than the E-1, and its sensor will have benefitted from technological advances during this time that enhance the light gathering capacity of its pixel-units. Coming back to sensor resolution, it should be mentioned that the 645Z has no anti-alias filter installed, so that it can capture all the detail its sensor resolves.
The resolution advantage of the Pentax 645Z implies greater flexibility for cropping images or the possibility to print larger pictures. The maximum print size of the 645Z for good quality output (200 dots per inch) amounts to 41.3 x 31 inches or 104.9 x 78.6 cm, for very good quality (250 dpi) 33 x 24.8 inches or 83.9 x 62.9 cm, and for excellent quality (300 dpi) 27.5 x 20.6 inches or 69.9 x 52.4 cm. The corresponding values for the Olympus E-1 are 12.8 x 9.6 inches or 32.5 x 24.4 cm for good quality, 10.2 x 7.7 inches or 26 x 19.5 cm for very good quality, and 8.5 x 6.4 inches or 21.7 x 16.3 cm for excellent quality prints.
The Olympus E-1 has a native sensitivity range from ISO 100 to ISO 800, which can be extended to ISO 100-3200. The corresponding ISO settings for the Pentax 645Z are ISO 100 to ISO 204800 (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"). 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.||Olympus E-1||Four Thirds||4.9||2560||1920||none||..||..||..||..|
|2.||Pentax 645Z||Medium Format||51.1||8256||6192||1080/60i||26.0||14.7||4505||101|
|3.||Canon 6D Mark II||Full Frame||26.0||6240||4160||1080/60p||24.4||11.9||2862||85|
|4.||Canon 5DS||Full Frame||50.3||8688||5792||1080/30p||24.7||12.4||2381||87|
|5.||Canon 5DS R||Full Frame||50.3||8688||5792||1080/30p||24.6||12.4||2308||86|
|7.||Hasselblad X1D||Medium Format||51.3||8272||6200||1080/25p||26.2||14.8||4489||102|
|8.||Leica SL||Full Frame||24.0||6000||4000||4K/30p||25.0||13.4||1821||88|
|9.||Leica Digilux 3||Four Thirds||7.4||3136||2352||none||..||..||..||..|
|11.||Nikon D610||Full Frame||24.2||6016||4016||1080/30p||25.1||14.4||2925||94|
|13.||Olympus E-5||Four Thirds||12.2||4032||3024||720/30p||21.6||10.5||519||56|
|14.||Olympus E-3||Four Thirds||10.0||3648||2736||none||21.6||10.5||571||56|
|15.||Olympus E-330||Four Thirds||7.4||3136||2352||none||..||..||..||..|
|16.||Olympus E-300||Four Thirds||8.0||3264||2448||none||..||..||..||..|
|17.||Pentax 645D||Medium Format||39.5||7264||5440||none||24.6||12.6||1262||82|
Many modern cameras cannot only take still pictures, but also record videos. The 645Z indeed provides for movie recording, while the E-1 does not. The highest resolution format that the 645Z can use is 1080/60i.
Apart from body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a range of features. The E-1 and the 645Z are similar in the sense that both have an optical viewfinder. The latter is useful for getting a clear image for framing even in brightly lit environments. The viewfinder in the E-1 offers a wider field of view (100%) than the one in the 645Z (98%), so that a larger proportion of the captured image is visible in the finder. On the other hand, the viewfinder of the 645Z has a higher magnification (0.78x vs 0.48x), so that the size of the image transmitted appears closer to the size seen with the naked human eye. The adjacent table lists some of the other core features of the Olympus E-1 and Pentax 645Z along with similar information for a selection of comparators.
|3.||Canon 6D Mark II||optical||Y||3.0||1040||swivel||Y||1/4000s||6.5||n||n|
|5.||Canon 5DS R||optical||Y||3.2||1040||fixed||n||1/8000s||5.0||n||n|
|9.||Leica Digilux 3||optical||n||2.5||207||fixed||n||1/4000s||3.0||Y||n|
The Pentax 645Z 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 E-1 writes its imaging data to Compact Flash or xD Picture cards, while the 645Z uses SDXC cards. Both cameras feature dual card slots, which can be very useful in case a memory card fails.
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 Olympus E-1 and Pentax 645Z and, in particular, the interfaces the cameras (and selected comparators) provide for accessory control and data transfer.
| WiFi |
| NFC |
|3.||Canon 6D Mark II||Y||stereo||mono||Y||-||mini||2.0||Y||Y||Y|
|5.||Canon 5DS R||Y||mono||mono||Y||-||mini||3.0||-||-||-|
|9.||Leica Digilux 3||Y||stereo||mono||-||-||-||2.0||-||-||-|
Both cameras feature a PC Sync terminal to control professional strobe lights, which will be appreciated by studio photographers.
The 645Z is a recent model that features in the current product line-up of Pentax. In contrast, the E-1 has been discontinued (but can be found pre-owned on eBay). As a replacement in the same line of cameras, the E-1 was succeeded by the Olympus E-3. Further information on the two cameras (e.g. user guides, manuals), as well as related accessories, can be found on the official Olympus and Pentax websites.
So what is the bottom line? Which of the two cameras – the Olympus E-1 or the Pentax 645Z – has the upper hand? Is one clearly better than the other? Below is a summary of the relative strengths of each of the two contestants.
Arguments in favor of the Olympus E-1:
- Better moiré control: Has an anti-alias filter to avoid artificial patterns to appear in images.
- More complete view: Has a viewfinder with a larger field of view (100% vs 98%).
- More compact: Is smaller (141x104mm vs 156x117mm) and thus needs less room in the bag.
- Less heavy: Is lighter (by 812g or 52 percent) and hence easier to carry around.
- Longer lasting: Can take more shots (750 versus 650) on a single battery charge.
- More affordable: Was introduced into a lower priced category (80 percent cheaper at launch).
- More heavily discounted: Has been available for much longer (launched in June 2003).
Advantages of the Pentax 645Z:
- More detail: Has more megapixels (51.1 vs 4.9MP), which boosts linear resolution by 223%.
- Maximized detail: Lacks an anti-alias filter to exploit the sensor's full resolution potential.
- Better image quality: Is equipped with a larger and more technologically advanced 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.
- Broader imaging potential: Can capture not only stills but also 1080/60i video.
- Larger viewfinder image: Features a viewfinder with a higher magnification (0.78x vs 0.48x).
- Larger screen: Has a bigger rear LCD (3.2" vs 1.8") for image review and settings control.
- More detailed LCD: Has a higher resolution rear screen (1037k vs 134k dots).
- More flexible LCD: Has a tilting screen for odd-angle shots in landscape orientation.
- Easier time-lapse photography: Has an intervalometer built-in for low frequency shooting.
- Faster data transfer: Supports a more advanced USB protocol (3.0 vs 2.0).
- More modern: Reflects 10 years and 9 months of technical progress since the E-1 launch.
If the number of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the 645Z is the clear winner of the contest (14 : 7 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 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 Olympus E-1 and the Pentax 645Z place the cameras among the top in their class? Find out in the latest Best DSLR 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 says little about, for example, the shooting experience and imaging performance of the E-1 and the 645Z in practical situations. 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 where reviews by experts come in. 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.||Olympus E-1||..||..||+||o||..||Jun 2003||1,699|
|2.||Pentax 645Z||5/5||..||..||4.5/5||5/5||Apr 2014||8,499|
|3.||Canon 6D Mark II||4/5||+||80/100||4.5/5||4/5||Jun 2017||1,999|
|4.||Canon 5DS||..||+||83/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Feb 2015||3,699|
|5.||Canon 5DS R||5/5||+||83/100||5/5||4.5/5||Feb 2015||3,699|
|6.||Canon 7D||5/5||+ +||84/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Sep 2009||1,699|
|7.||Hasselblad X1D||..||o||81/100||..||4/5||Jun 2016||8,995|
|8.||Leica SL||4/5||..||84/100||4.5/5||4/5||Oct 2015||7,450|
|9.||Leica Digilux 3||..||..||..||..||..||Sep 2006||1,499|
|10.||Nikon D500||5/5||+ +||91/100||4.5/5||5/5||Jan 2016||1,999|
|11.||Nikon D610||4/5||+ +||87/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Oct 2013||1,999|
|12.||Nikon D7000||4/5||..||80/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Sep 2010||1,499|
|13.||Olympus E-5||4/5||..||75/100||4/5||4.5/5||Sep 2010||1,699|
|14.||Olympus E-3||..||88/100||+ +||o||4/5||Oct 2007||1,699|
|15.||Olympus E-330||..||..||+||o||..||Jan 2006||999|
|16.||Olympus E-300||..||..||+||o||4.5/5||Sep 2004||799|
|17.||Pentax 645D||5/5||..||..||..||..||Mar 2010||9,995|
|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. There is also a set of direct links to comparison reviews that other users of the CAM-parator app explored.
Specifications: Olympus E-1 vs Pentax 645Z
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||Olympus E-1||Pentax 645Z|
|Camera Type||Digital single lens reflex||Digital single lens reflex|
|Camera Lens||Four Thirds lenses||Pentax 645 mount lenses|
|Launch Date||June 2003||April 2014|
|Launch Price||USD 1,699||USD 8,499|
|Sensor Specs||Olympus E-1||Pentax 645Z|
|Sensor Format||Four Thirds Sensor||Medium Format Sensor|
|Sensor Size||17.3 x 13.0 mm||43.8 x 32.8 mm|
|Sensor Area||224.9 mm2||1436.64 mm2|
|Sensor Diagonal||21.6 mm||54.7 mm|
|Sensor Resolution||4.9 Megapixels||51.1 Megapixels|
|Image Resolution||2560 x 1920 pixels||8256 x 6192 pixels|
|Pixel Pitch||6.78 μm||5.30 μm|
|Pixel Density||2.19 MP/cm2||3.56 MP/cm2|
|Moiré control||Anti-Alias filter||no AA filter|
|Movie Capability||no Video||1080/60i Video|
|ISO Setting||100 - 800 ISO||100 - 204,800 ISO|
|ISO Boost||100 - 3,200 ISO||no Enhancement|
|Image Processor||TruePic||PRIME III|
|DXO Sensor Quality (score)||..||101|
|DXO Color Depth (bits)||..||26.0|
|DXO Dynamic Range (EV)||..||14.7|
|DXO Low Light (ISO)||..||4505|
|Screen Specs||Olympus E-1||Pentax 645Z|
|Viewfinder Type||Optical viewfinder||Optical viewfinder|
|Viewfinder Field of View||100%||98%|
|Top-Level Screen||Control Panel||Control Panel|
|LCD Framing||Live View|
|Rear LCD Size||1.8inch||3.2inch|
|LCD Resolution||134k dots||1037k dots|
|LCD Attachment||Fixed screen||Tilting screen|
|Shooting Specs||Olympus E-1||Pentax 645Z|
|Focus System||Phase-detect AF||Phase-detect AF|
|Manual Focusing Aid||no Peaking Feature||Focus Peaking|
|Max Shutter Speed (mechanical)||1/4000s||1/4000s|
|Continuous Shooting||3 shutter flaps/s||3 shutter flaps/s|
|Shutter Life Expectancy||150 000 actuations||100 000 actuations|
|Time-Lapse Photography||no Intervalometer||Intervalometer built-in|
|Fill Flash||no On-Board Flash||no On-Board Flash|
|Storage Medium||CF or XD cards||SDXC cards|
|Second Storage Option||Dual card slots||Dual card slots|
|Connectivity Specs||Olympus E-1||Pentax 645Z|
|Studio Flash||PC Sync socket||PC Sync socket|
|USB Connector||USB 2.0||USB 3.0|
|HDMI Port||no HDMI||mini HDMI|
|Microphone Port||no MIC socket||External MIC port|
|Wifi Support||no Wifi||no Wifi|
|Body Specs||Olympus E-1||Pentax 645Z|
|Environmental Sealing||Weathersealed body||Weathersealed body|
|Battery Life (CIPA)||750 shots per charge||650 shots per charge|
141 x 104 x 81 mm
(5.6 x 4.1 x 3.2 in)
156 x 117 x 123 mm
(6.1 x 4.6 x 4.8 in)
|Camera Weight||738 g (26.0 oz)||1550 g (54.7 oz)|
Did you notice an error on this page? If so, please get in touch, so that we can correct the information.