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Olympus E-5 versus Olympus E-M1 II

The Olympus E-5 and the Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II are two digital cameras that were revealed to the public, respectively, in September 2010 and September 2016. The E-5 is a DSLR, while the E-M1 II is a mirrorless interchangeable lens camera. Both cameras are equipped with a Four Thirds sensor. The E-5 has a resolution of 12.2 megapixel, whereas the E-M1 II provides 20.2 MP. Read on to find out how these two cameras compare with respect to their size, their sensors, their features, and their reception by expert reviewers.

Body comparison: Olympus E-5 vs Olympus E-M1 II

The side-by-side display below illustrates the physical size and weight of the Olympus E-5 and the Olympus E-M1 II. 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. If you prefer, you can also use the toggle button to switch to a comparison in percentage terms (in this case, the camera on the left – the E-5 – represents 100 percent across all the size and weight measures).

Compare Olympus E-5 vs Olympus E-M1 II
Compare E-5 versus E-M1 II top
Compare E-5 and E-M1 II rear

If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Olympus E-M1 II is notably smaller (27 percent) than the Olympus E-5. Moreover, the E-M1 II is markedly lighter (34 percent) than the E-5. 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. Both cameras have similarly sized sensors, but DSLRs have a larger flange-to-focal plane distance than mirrorless cameras, which imposes contraints on the optical engineering process and generally leads to bigger and heavier lenses. You can find an overview of optics for the two cameras in the Four Thirds Lens Catalog (E-5) and the Micro Four Thirds Lens Catalog (E-M1 II). Mirrorless cameras, such as the E-M1 II, 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.

Concerning battery life, the E-5 gets 750 shots out of its BLM-5 battery, while the E-M1 II can take 440 images on a single charge of its BLH-1 power pack.

The table below summarizes the key physical specs of the two cameras alongside a broader set of comparators. If you would like to visualize and compare a different camera combination, just use the right or left arrows in the table to switch to the respective camera. Alternatively, you can also navigate to the CAM-parator app and make your selection from the full list of cameras there.

Camera Body Specifications
  Camera
Model
Camera
Width
Camera
Height
Camera
Depth
Camera
Weight
Battery
Life
(CIPA)
Weather
Sealing
(yes/no)
Camera
Launch
(announced)
Launch
Price
(USD)
Street
Price
(USD)
Used
Price
(USD)
Camera
Model
Olympus E-5» 5.6 in 4.6 in 3.0 in 30.8 oz 750 Y Sep 2010 1,699- i Olympus E-5
Olympus E-M1 II« 5.3 in 3.6 in 2.6 in 20.2 oz 440 Y Sep 2016 1,999 i i Olympus E-M1 II
Olympus E-M5 II« » 4.9 in 3.3 in 1.8 in 16.5 oz 310 Y Feb 2015 1,099 i i Olympus E-M5 II
Olympus E-M1« » 5.1 in 3.7 in 2.5 in 17.5 oz 350 Y Sep 2013 1,399- i Olympus E-M1
Olympus E-PL1« » 4.5 in 2.8 in 1.7 in 11.8 oz 290 n Feb 2010 599- i Olympus E-PL1
Olympus E-600« » 5.1 in 3.7 in 2.4 in 18.9 oz 500 n Aug 2009 449- i Olympus E-600
Olympus E-620« » 5.1 in 3.7 in 2.4 in 18.4 oz 500 n Feb 2009 699- i Olympus E-620
Olympus E-P1« » 4.8 in 2.8 in 1.4 in 12.5 oz 300 n Jun 2009 799- i Olympus E-P1
Olympus E-P2« » 4.8 in 2.8 in 1.4 in 12.5 oz 300 n Nov 2009 799- i Olympus E-P2
Olympus E-30« » 5.6 in 4.3 in 3.0 in 24.7 oz 750 n Nov 2008 1,299- i Olympus E-30
Olympus E-520« » 5.4 in 3.6 in 2.7 in 18.9 oz 750 n May 2008 699- i Olympus E-520
Olympus E-3« » 5.6 in 4.6 in 3.0 in 30.9 oz 750 Y Oct 2007 1,699- i Olympus E-3
Olympus E-510« » 5.4 in 3.6 in 2.7 in 19.0 oz 750 n Mar 2007 799- i Olympus E-510
Olympus E-1« » 5.6 in 4.1 in 3.2 in 26.0 oz 750 Y Jun 2003 1,699- i Olympus E-1
Panasonic G9« » 5.4 in 3.8 in 3.6 in 23.2 oz 400 Y Nov 2017 1,699 i i Panasonic G9
Panasonic GH5« » 5.5 in 3.9 in 3.4 in 25.6 oz 410 Y Jan 2017 1,999 i i Panasonic GH5
Panasonic GX8« » 5.2 in 3.1 in 2.5 in 17.2 oz 330 Y Jul 2015 1,199- i Panasonic GX8

Any camera purchase 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-5 was launched at a somewhat lower price (by 15 percent) than the E-M1 II, 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.

 

Sensor comparison: Olympus E-5 vs Olympus E-M1 II

The imaging sensor is at the core of digital cameras and its size is one of the main determining factors 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.

Both cameras under consideration feature a Four Thirds sensor and have a format factor (sometimes also referred to as "crop factor") of 2.0. Within the spectrum of camera sensors, this places the review cameras among the medium-sized sensor cameras that aim to strike a balance between image quality and portability. Both cameras feature a native aspect ratio (sensor width to sensor height) of 4:3.

Technology-wise, the E-M1 II uses a more advanced image processing engine (TruePic VIII) than the E-5 (TruePic V+), with benefits for noise reduction, color accuracy, and processing speed.

Olympus E-5 and Olympus E-M1 II sensor measures

While the two cameras under review share the same sensor size, the E-M1 II offers a higher resolution of 20.2 megapixel, compared with 12.2 MP of the E-5. This megapixel advantage translates into a 29 percent gain in linear resolution. On the other hand, these sensor specs imply that the E-M1 II has a higher pixel density and a smaller size of the individual pixel (with a pixel pitch of 3.34μm versus 4.29μm for the E-5). However, it should be noted that the E-M1 II is much more recent (by 6 years) than the E-5, and its sensor will have benefitted from technological advances during this time that compensate for the smaller pixel size. Coming back to sensor resolution, it should be mentioned that the E-M1 II has no anti-alias filter installed, so that it can capture all the detail its sensor resolves.

The E-M1 II has on-sensor phase detect pixels, which results in relatively fast and reliable autofocus acquisition during video recording.

Unlike the E-5, the E-M1 II has the capacity to capture high quality composite images (50MP) by combining multiple shots after shifting its sensor by miniscule distances. This multi-shot, pixel-shift mode is most suitable for photography of stationary objects (landscapes, studio scenes).

E-5 versus E-M1 II MP

Consistent information on actual sensor performance is available from DXO Mark for many cameras. 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"). Of the two cameras under consideration, the E-M1 II offers substantially better image quality than the E-5 (overall score 24 points higher). The advantage is based on 2.1 bits higher color depth, 2.3 EV in additional dynamic range, and 1.3 stops in additional low light sensitivity. The adjacent table reports on the physical sensor characteristics and the outcomes of the DXO sensor quality tests for a sample of comparator-cameras.

Sensor Characteristics
  Camera
Model
Sensor
Class
Resolution
(MP)
Horiz.
Pixels
Vert.
Pixels
Video
Format
DXO
Portrait
DXO
Landscape
DXO
Sports
DXO
Overall
Camera
Model
Olympus E-5» Four Thirds 12.2 4032 3024720/30p21.610.551956Olympus E-5
Olympus E-M1 II« Four Thirds 20.2 5184 38884K/30p23.712.8131280Olympus E-M1 II
Olympus E-M5 II« » Four Thirds 15.9 4608 34561080/60p23.012.584273Olympus E-M5 II
Olympus E-M1« » Four Thirds 15.9 4608 34561080/30p23.012.775773Olympus E-M1
Olympus E-PL1« » Four Thirds 12.2 4032 3024720/30p21.510.148754Olympus E-PL1
Olympus E-600« » Four Thirds 12.2 4032 3024-21.510.354155Olympus E-600
Olympus E-620« » Four Thirds 12.2 4032 3024-21.310.353655Olympus E-620
Olympus E-P1« » Four Thirds 12.2 4032 3024720/30p21.410.453655Olympus E-P1
Olympus E-P2« » Four Thirds 12.2 4032 3024720/30p21.510.450556Olympus E-P2
Olympus E-30« » Four Thirds 12.2 4032 3024-21.310.453055Olympus E-30
Olympus E-520« » Four Thirds 10.0 3648 2736-21.410.454855Olympus E-520
Olympus E-3« » Four Thirds 10.0 3648 2736-21.610.557156Olympus E-3
Olympus E-510« » Four Thirds 10.0 3648 2736-21.210.044252Olympus E-510
Olympus E-1« » Four Thirds 4.9 2560 1920-----Olympus E-1
Panasonic G9« » Four Thirds 20.2 5184 38884K/60p----Panasonic G9
Panasonic GH5« » Four Thirds 20.2 5184 38884K/60p23.913.080777Panasonic GH5
Panasonic GX8« » Four Thirds 20.2 5184 38884K/30p23.512.680675Panasonic GX8

Many modern cameras are not only capable of taking still images, but also of capturing video footage. Both cameras under consideration are equipped with sensors that have a sufficiently high read-out speed for moving images, but the E-M1 II provides a better video resolution than the E-5. It can shoot movie footage at 4K/30p, while the E-5 is limited to 720/30p.

 

Feature comparison: Olympus E-5 vs Olympus E-M1 II

Apart from body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a range of features. For example, the E-M1 II has an electronic viewfinder (2360k dots), while the E-5 has an optical one. Both systems have their advantages, with the electronic viewfinder making it possible to project supplementary shooting information into the framing view, whereas the optical viewfinder offers lag-free viewing and a very clear framing image. The table below summarizes some of the other core capabilities of the Olympus E-5 and Olympus E-M1 II in connection with corresponding information for a sample of similar cameras. If you need more detail on the specs, you can find comprehensive listings, for example, in the dpreview camera hub.

Core Features
  Camera
Model
Viewfinder
(Type or
'000 dots)
Control
Panel
(yes/no)
LCD
Size
(inch)
LCD
Resolution
('000 dots)
LCD
Attach-
ment
Touch
Screen
(yes/no)
Shutter
speed
(1/sec)
Shutter
flaps
(1/sec)
Build-in
Flash
(yes/no)
Build-in
Image
Stab
Camera
Model
Olympus E-5»optical Y 3.0 920 swivel n 8000 5.0 Y Y Olympus E-5
Olympus E-M1 II«2360 n 3.0 1037 swivel Y 8000 18.0 n Y Olympus E-M1 II
Olympus E-M5 II« »2360 n 3.0 1037 swivel Y 8000 10.0 n Y Olympus E-M5 II
Olympus E-M1« »2360 n 3.0 1037 tilting Y 8000 10.0 n Y Olympus E-M1
Olympus E-PL1« »- n 2.7 230 fixed n 2000 3.0 Y Y Olympus E-PL1
Olympus E-600« »optical n 2.7 230 swivel n 4000 4.0 Y Y Olympus E-600
Olympus E-620« »optical n 2.7 230 swivel n 4000 4.0 Y Y Olympus E-620
Olympus E-P1« »- n 3.0 230 fixed n 4000 3.0 n Y Olympus E-P1
Olympus E-P2« »- n 3.0 230 fixed n 4000 3.0 n Y Olympus E-P2
Olympus E-30« »optical Y 2.7 230 swivel n 8000 5.0 Y Y Olympus E-30
Olympus E-520« »optical n 2.7 215 fixed n 4000 3.5 Y Y Olympus E-520
Olympus E-3« »optical Y 2.5 230 swivel n 8000 5.0 Y Y Olympus E-3
Olympus E-510« »optical n 2.5 215 fixed n 4000 3.0 Y Y Olympus E-510
Olympus E-1« »optical Y 1.8 134 fixed n 4000 3.0 n n Olympus E-1
Panasonic G9« »3680 Y 3.0 1040 swivel Y 8000 20.0 n Y Panasonic G9
Panasonic GH5« »3680 n 3.2 1620 swivel Y 8000 12.0 n Y Panasonic GH5
Panasonic GX8« »2360 n 3.0 1040 swivel Y 8000 10.0 n Y Panasonic GX8

One difference between the cameras concerns the presence of an on-board flash. The E-5 has one, while the E-M1 II does not. While the build-in flash of the E-5 is not very powerful, it can at times be useful as a fill-in light.

The reported shutter speed and shutter burst refer to the use of the mechanical shutter. In addition, the E-M1 II features an electronic shutter, which makes completely silent shooting possible. However, this mode is less suitable for photographing moving objects (rolling shutter) or shooting under artificial light sources (flickering).

The E-5 writes its imaging data to Compact Flash or xD Picture cards, while the E-M1 II uses SDXC cards. Both cameras feature dual card slots, which can be very useful in case a memory card fails.

Input-Output Connections
  Camera
Model
Hotshoe
Port
Internal
Microphone
Internal
Speaker
Microphone
Port
Headphone
Port
HDMI
Port
USB
Type
WiFi
Support
NFC
Support
Bluetooth
Support
Camera
Model
Olympus E-5»Ystereo---mini2.0---Olympus E-5
Olympus E-M1 II«YstereomonoYYmicro3.0Y--Olympus E-M1 II
Olympus E-M5 II« »YstereomonoY-micro2.0Y--Olympus E-M5 II
Olympus E-M1« »YstereomonoY-micro2.0Y--Olympus E-M1
Olympus E-PL1« »Ystereo---mini2.0---Olympus E-PL1
Olympus E-600« »Y-----2.0---Olympus E-600
Olympus E-620« »Y-----2.0---Olympus E-620
Olympus E-P1« »Ystereo---mini2.0---Olympus E-P1
Olympus E-P2« »Ystereo---mini2.0---Olympus E-P2
Olympus E-30« »Y-----2.0---Olympus E-30
Olympus E-520« »Y-----2.0---Olympus E-520
Olympus E-3« »Y-----2.0---Olympus E-3
Olympus E-510« »Y-----2.0---Olympus E-510
Olympus E-1« »Y-----2.0---Olympus E-1
Panasonic G9« »YstereomonoYYfull3.0Y-YPanasonic G9
Panasonic GH5« »YstereomonoYYfull3.1Y-YPanasonic GH5
Panasonic GX8« »YstereomonoY-micro2.0YY-Panasonic GX8

The E-M1 II is a recent model that features in the current product line-up of Olympus. In contrast, the E-5 has been discontinued (but it can be found pre-owned on eBay). There has not been a direct replacement model for the E-5 from Olympus.

Review summary: Olympus E-5 vs Olympus E-M1 II

So what conclusions can be drawn? Which of the two cameras – the Olympus E-5 or the Olympus E-M1 II – has the upper hand? A synthesis of the relative strong points of each of the models is listed below.


Advantages of the Olympus E-5:

  • Better moiré control: Has an anti-alias filter to avoid artificial patterns to appear in images.
  • Brighter framing: Features an optical viewfinder for clear, lag-free composition.
  • Easier setting verification: Features an LCD display on top to control shooting parameters.
  • Longer lasting: Can take more shots (750 versus 440) on a single battery charge.
  • Easier fill-in: Is equipped with a small onboard flash to brighten deep shadow areas.
  • More affordable: Was introduced into a lower priced segment (15 percent cheaper at launch).
  • More heavily discounted: Has been available for much longer (launched in September 2010).


Reasons to prefer the Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II:

  • More detail: Has more megapixels (20.2 vs 12.2MP), which boosts linear resolution by 29%.
  • Maximized detail: Lacks an anti-alias filter to exploit the sensor's full resolution potential.
  • High quality composites: Can combine several shots after pixel-shifting its sensor.
  • Better image quality: Scores substantially higher (24 points) in the DXO overall evaluation.
  • Richer colors: Generates noticeably more natural colors (2.1 bits more color depth).
  • More dynamic range: Captures a broader range of light and dark details (2.3 EV of extra DR).
  • Better low-light sensitivity: Can shoot in dim conditions (1.3 stops ISO advantage).
  • Better jpgs: Has a more modern image processing engine (TruePic VIII vs TruePic V+).
  • Better video: Provides higher definition movie capture (4K/30p vs 720/30p).
  • Better video autofocus: Features on-sensor phase-detection for more confident movie 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 framing info: Has an electronic viewfinder that displays shooting data.
  • More detailed LCD: Has a higher resolution rear screen (1037k vs 920k dots).
  • Fewer buttons to press: Has a touchscreen to facilitate handling and shooting adjustments.
  • Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (18 vs 5 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
  • Less disturbing: Has an electronic shutter option for completely silent shooting.
  • More compact: Is smaller (134x91mm vs 142x117mm) and will fit more readily into a bag.
  • Less heavy: Has a lower weight (by 299g or 34 percent) and is thus easier to take along.
  • More legacy lens friendly: Can use many non-native lenses via adapters.
  • Faster data transfer: Supports a more advanced USB protocol (3.0 vs 2.0).
  • Easier file upload: Has wifi build in for automatic backup or image transfer to the web.
  • More modern: Reflects 6 years of technical progress since the E-5 launch.

If the number of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the E-M1 II is the clear winner of the contest (23 : 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.

E-5 07:23 E-M1 II

In any case, while the comparison of the spec-sheets of cameras can offer a general idea of their imaging potential, it says nothing about, for example, the handling, responsiveness, and overall imaging quality of the E-5 and the E-M1 II 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 adjacent table relays the overall verdicts of several of the most popular camera review sites (cameralabs, dpreview, ephotozine, imaging-resource, photographyblog). You can find the full text of the reviews by clicking on the site logo in the table header.

Review Scores
  Camera
Model
cameralabs dpreview ephotozine imaging-resource photographyblog Camera
Launch
(announced)
Launch
Price
(USD)
Street
Price
(USD)
Used
Price
(USD)
Camera
Model
Olympus E-5»-75/1004/5-4.5/5 Sep 2010 1,699- i Olympus E-5
Olympus E-M1 II«HiRec85/1004.5/55/54.5/5 Sep 2016 1,999 i i Olympus E-M1 II
Olympus E-M5 II« »HiRec81/1005/54.5/55/5 Feb 2015 1,099 i i Olympus E-M5 II
Olympus E-M1« »HiRec84/1004.5/54.5/54.5/5 Sep 2013 1,399- i Olympus E-M1
Olympus E-PL1« »86/10069/1004/54.5/54.5/5 Feb 2010 599- i Olympus E-PL1
Olympus E-600« »----4.5/5 Aug 2009 449- i Olympus E-600
Olympus E-620« »88/10072/1004.5/5rev5/5 Feb 2009 699- i Olympus E-620
Olympus E-P1« »Rec66/1004/54/54.5/5 Jun 2009 799- i Olympus E-P1
Olympus E-P2« »Rec69/1004/54.5/54.5/5 Nov 2009 799- i Olympus E-P2
Olympus E-30« »-71/1004.5/5-4/5 Nov 2008 1,299- i Olympus E-30
Olympus E-520« »87/100HiRec4.5/54/54.5/5 May 2008 699- i Olympus E-520
Olympus E-3« »88/100HiRecrevrev4/5 Oct 2007 1,699- i Olympus E-3
Olympus E-510« »89/100HiRec3.5/5rev4.5/5 Mar 2007 799- i Olympus E-510
Olympus E-1« »-Recrevrev- Jun 2003 1,699- i Olympus E-1
Panasonic G9« »HiRec85/1005/55/55/5 Nov 2017 1,699 i i Panasonic G9
Panasonic GH5« »HiRec85/1004.5/55/55/5 Jan 2017 1,999 i i Panasonic GH5
Panasonic GX8« »Rec82/1004.5/55/54.5/5 Jul 2015 1,199- i Panasonic GX8

Care should be taken when interpreting the review scores above, though. The ratings are only valid when referring to cameras in the same category and of the same age. A score, therefore, has to be seen in close connection to the price and market introduction time of the camera, and comparisons of ratings among very different cameras or across long time periods have little meaning. Also, kindly note that some of the listed sites have over time developped their review approaches and their reporting style.

 

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 use the search menu below. Alternatively, you can follow any of the listed hyperlinks for comparisons that others found interesting. If the camera you are interested in is not available, please send me an email, and I will try to locate and add the respective data to the application.

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