Olympus E-5 vs E-P1
The Olympus E-5 and the Olympus PEN E-P1 are two digital cameras that were revealed to the public, respectively, in September 2010 and June 2009. The E-5 is a DSLR, while the E-P1 is a mirrorless interchangeable lens camera. Both cameras are equipped with a Four Thirds 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.
Going beyond this snapshot of core features and characteristics, what are the differences between the Olympus E-5 and the Olympus PEN E-P1? 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.
The side-by-side display below illustrates the physical size and weight of the Olympus E-5 and the Olympus E-P1. The two cameras are presented according to their relative size. Three consecutive views from the front, the top, and the rear side are shown. All width, height and depth dimensions are rounded to the nearest millimeter.
The E-P1 can be obtained in three different colors (black, silver, white), while the E-5 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-P1 is considerably smaller (49 percent) than the Olympus E-5. Moreover, the E-P1 is substantially lighter (59 percent) than the E-5. It is worth mentioning in this context that the E-5 is splash and dust resistant, while the E-P1 does not feature any corresponding weather-sealing.
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 compare the optics available for the two cameras in the Four Thirds Lens Catalog (E-5) and the Micro Four Thirds Lens Catalog (E-P1). Mirrorless cameras, such as the E-P1, 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 want to switch the focus of the display and review another camera pair, you can move across to the CAM-parator tool and choose from the broad selection of possible camera comparisons there.
|1.||Olympus E-5||142 mm||117 mm||75 mm||873 g||750||Y||Sep 2010||1,699||ebay.com|
|2.||Olympus E-P1||121 mm||70 mm||36 mm||355 g||300||n||Jun 2009||799||ebay.com|
|3.||Canon 60D||145 mm||106 mm||79 mm||755 g||1100||Y||Aug 2010||1,399||ebay.com|
|4.||Olympus E-P3||122 mm||69 mm||34 mm||369 g||330||n||Jun 2011||799||ebay.com|
|5.||Olympus E-PL2||114 mm||72 mm||42 mm||362 g||280||n||Jan 2011||599||ebay.com|
|6.||Olympus E-PL3||110 mm||64 mm||37 mm||313 g||300||n||Jun 2011||599||ebay.com|
|7.||Olympus E-PM1||110 mm||64 mm||34 mm||265 g||330||n||Jun 2011||499||ebay.com|
|8.||Olympus E-PL1||115 mm||72 mm||42 mm||334 g||290||n||Feb 2010||599||ebay.com|
|9.||Olympus E-450||130 mm||91 mm||53 mm||440 g||500||n||Mar 2009||499||ebay.com|
|10.||Olympus E-600||130 mm||94 mm||60 mm||535 g||500||n||Aug 2009||449||ebay.com|
|11.||Olympus E-620||130 mm||94 mm||60 mm||521 g||500||n||Feb 2009||699||ebay.com|
|12.||Olympus E-P2||121 mm||70 mm||36 mm||355 g||300||n||Nov 2009||799||ebay.com|
|13.||Olympus E-520||136 mm||92 mm||68 mm||535 g||750||n||May 2008||699||ebay.com|
|14.||Olympus E-3||142 mm||116 mm||75 mm||876 g||750||Y||Oct 2007||1,699||ebay.com|
|15.||Sony A77||143 mm||104 mm||81 mm||732 g||470||Y||Aug 2011||1,399||ebay.com|
|Note: 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 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-P1 was launched at a markedly lower price (by 53 percent) than the E-5, 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 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 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.
In terms of chip-set technology, the E-5 uses a more advanced image processing engine (TruePic V+) than the E-P1 (TruePic V), with benefits for noise reduction, color accuracy, and processing speed.
The two cameras under review do not only share the same sensor size, but also offer an identical resolution of 12.2 megapixels. This similarity in sensor specs implies that both the E-5 and the E-P1 have the same pixel density, as well as the same pixel size. It should, however, be noted that the E-5 is a somewhat more recent model (by 1 year and 2 months) than the E-P1, and its sensor might have benefitted from technological advances during this time.
The Olympus E-5 has a native sensitivity range from ISO 100 to ISO 6400. The Olympus PEN E-P1 offers exactly the same ISO settings.
Technology-wise, both cameras are equipped with CMOS (Complementary Metal–Oxide–Semiconductor) sensors. Both cameras use a Bayer filter for capturing RGB colors on a square grid of photosensors. This arrangement is found in most digital cameras.
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 Overall DXO ratings for the two cameras under consideration are close, suggesting that they provide similar imaging performance. The table below summarizes the physical sensor characteristics and sensor quality findings and compares them across a set of similar cameras.
|1.||Olympus E-5||Four Thirds||12.2||4032||3024||720/30p||21.6||10.5||519||56|
|2.||Olympus E-P1||Four Thirds||12.2||4032||3024||720/30p||21.4||10.4||536||55|
|4.||Olympus E-P3||Four Thirds||12.2||4032||3024||1080/60i||20.8||10.1||536||51|
|5.||Olympus E-PL2||Four Thirds||12.2||4032||3024||720/30p||21.4||10.2||573||55|
|6.||Olympus E-PL3||Four Thirds||12.2||4032||3024||1080/60i||20.9||10.3||499||52|
|7.||Olympus E-PM1||Four Thirds||12.2||4032||3024||1080/60i||21.0||10.3||499||52|
|8.||Olympus E-PL1||Four Thirds||12.2||4032||3024||720/30p||21.5||10.1||487||54|
|9.||Olympus E-450||Four Thirds||10.0||3648||2736||none||21.5||10.5||512||56|
|10.||Olympus E-600||Four Thirds||12.2||4032||3024||none||21.5||10.3||541||55|
|11.||Olympus E-620||Four Thirds||12.2||4032||3024||none||21.3||10.3||536||55|
|12.||Olympus E-P2||Four Thirds||12.2||4032||3024||720/30p||21.5||10.4||505||56|
|13.||Olympus E-520||Four Thirds||10.0||3648||2736||none||21.4||10.4||548||55|
|14.||Olympus E-3||Four Thirds||10.0||3648||2736||none||21.6||10.5||571||56|
Many modern cameras are not only capable of taking still images, but can also record movies. Both cameras under consideration are equipped with sensors that have a sufficiently high read-out speed for moving images, and both provide the same movie specifications (720/30p).
Apart from body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a variety of features. For example, the E-5 has an optical viewfinder, which can be very useful when shooting in bright sunlight. In contrast, the E-P1 relies on live view and the rear LCD for framing. The following table reports on some other key feature differences and similarities of the Olympus E-5, the Olympus E-P1, and comparable cameras.
|1.||Olympus E-5||optical||Y||3.0 / 920||swivel||n||1/8000s||5.0/s||Y||Y|
|2.||Olympus E-P1||none||n||3.0 / 230||fixed||n||1/4000s||3.0/s||n||Y|
|3.||Canon 60D||optical||Y||3.0 / 1040||swivel||n||1/8000s||5.3/s||Y||n|
|4.||Olympus E-P3||optional||n||3.0 / 614||fixed||Y||1/4000s||3.0/s||Y||Y|
|5.||Olympus E-PL2||optional||n||3.0 / 460||fixed||n||1/4000s||3.0/s||Y||Y|
|6.||Olympus E-PL3||optional||n||3.0 / 460||tilting||n||1/4000s||5.5/s||n||Y|
|7.||Olympus E-PM1||optional||n||3.0 / 460||fixed||n||1/4000s||5.5/s||n||Y|
|8.||Olympus E-PL1||optional||n||2.7 / 230||fixed||n||1/2000s||3.0/s||Y||Y|
|9.||Olympus E-450||optical||n||2.7 / 215||fixed||n||1/4000s||3.5/s||Y||n|
|10.||Olympus E-600||optical||n||2.7 / 230||swivel||n||1/4000s||4.0/s||Y||Y|
|11.||Olympus E-620||optical||n||2.7 / 230||swivel||n||1/4000s||4.0/s||Y||Y|
|12.||Olympus E-P2||optional||n||3.0 / 230||fixed||n||1/4000s||3.0/s||n||Y|
|13.||Olympus E-520||optical||n||2.7 / 215||fixed||n||1/4000s||3.5/s||Y||Y|
|14.||Olympus E-3||optical||Y||2.5 / 230||swivel||n||1/8000s||5.0/s||Y||Y|
|15.||Sony A77||2359||Y||3.0 / 921||full-flex||n||1/8000s||12.0/s||Y||Y|
|Notes: *) Information refers to the mechanical shutter, unless the camera only has an electronic one.|
One difference between the cameras concerns the presence of an on-board flash. The E-5 has one, while the E-P1 does not. While the built-in flash of the E-5 is not very powerful, it can at times be useful as a fill-in light.The E-5 has an articulated LCD that can be turned to be front-facing. This characteristic will be appreciated by vloggers and photographers who are interested in snapping selfies. In contrast, the E-P1 does not have a selfie-screen.
The E-5 writes its imaging data to Compact Flash or xD Picture cards, while the E-P1 uses SDHC cards. The E-5 features dual card slots, which can be very useful in case a memory card fails. In contrast, the E-P1 only has one slot.
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-5 and Olympus PEN E-P1 and, in particular, the interfaces the cameras (and selected comparators) provide for accessory control and data transfer.
Mic / Speaker
|1.||Olympus E-5||Y||stereo / -||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|2.||Olympus E-P1||Y||stereo / -||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|3.||Canon 60D||Y||mono / mono||Y||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|4.||Olympus E-P3||Y||stereo / -||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|5.||Olympus E-PL2||Y||stereo / -||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|6.||Olympus E-PL3||Y||stereo / -||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|7.||Olympus E-PM1||Y||stereo / mono||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|8.||Olympus E-PL1||Y||stereo / -||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|9.||Olympus E-450||Y||- / -||-||-||-||2.0||-||-||-|
|10.||Olympus E-600||Y||- / -||-||-||-||2.0||-||-||-|
|11.||Olympus E-620||Y||- / -||-||-||-||2.0||-||-||-|
|12.||Olympus E-P2||Y||stereo / -||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|13.||Olympus E-520||Y||- / -||-||-||-||2.0||-||-||-|
|14.||Olympus E-3||Y||- / -||-||-||-||2.0||-||-||-|
|15.||Sony A77||Y||stereo / mono||Y||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
Studio photographers will appreciate that the Olympus E-5 (unlike the E-P1) features a PC Sync socket, so that professional strobe lights can be controlled by the camera.
Both the E-5 and the E-P1 have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on ebay. The E-P1 was replaced by the Olympus E-P2, while the E-5 does not have a direct successor. Further information on the features and operation of the E-5 and E-P1 can be found, respectively, in the Olympus E-5 Manual (free pdf) or the online Olympus E-P1 Manual.
So what is the bottom line? Is there a clear favorite between the Olympus E-5 and the Olympus E-P1? Which camera is better? A synthesis of the relative strong points of each of the models is listed below.
Arguments in favor of the Olympus E-5:
- Better jpgs: Has a more modern image processing engine (TruePic V+ vs TruePic V).
- Easier framing: Has an optical viewfinder for image composition and settings control.
- Easier setting verification: Features an LCD display on top to control shooting parameters.
- More detailed LCD: Has a higher resolution rear screen (920k vs 230k dots).
- More flexible LCD: Has a swivel screen for odd-angle shots in portrait or landscape orientation.
- More selfie-friendly: Has an articulated screen that can be turned to be front-facing.
- Faster shutter: Has higher mechanical shutter speed (1/8000s vs 1/4000s) to freeze action.
- Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (5 vs 3 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
- Longer lasting: Can take more shots (750 versus 300) on a single battery charge.
- Better sealing: Is weather sealed to enable shooting in dusty or wet environments.
- Easier fill-in: Is equipped with a small onboard flash to brighten deep shadow areas.
- Better studio light control: Has a PC Sync socket to connect to professional strobe lights.
- Greater peace of mind: Features a second card slot as a backup in case of memory card failure.
- More modern: Is somewhat more recent (announced 1 year and 2 months after the E-P1).
Reasons to prefer the Olympus PEN E-P1:
- More compact: Is smaller (121x70mm vs 142x117mm) and will fit more readily into a bag.
- Less heavy: Has a lower weight (by 518g or 59 percent) and is thus easier to take along.
- More legacy lens friendly: Can use many non-native lenses via adapters.
- More affordable: Was introduced into a lower priced category (53 percent cheaper at launch).
- More heavily discounted: Has been on the market for longer (launched in June 2009).
If the number of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the E-5 is the clear winner of the match-up (14 : 5 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 sports photographer will view the differences between cameras in a way that diverges from the perspective of a street photog, and a person interested in family portraits has distinct needs from a landscape 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-5 and the Olympus E-P1 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 E-5 or the E-P1. 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 why hands-on reviews by experts 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], 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.||Olympus E-5||4/5||..||..||75/100||4/5||4.5/5||Sep 2010||1,699||ebay.com|
|2.||Olympus E-P1||..||+||..||66/100||4/5||4.5/5||Jun 2009||799||ebay.com|
|3.||Canon 60D||5/5||+||..||79/100||4/5||4.5/5||Aug 2010||1,399||ebay.com|
|4.||Olympus E-P3||..||83/100||..||74/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Jun 2011||799||ebay.com|
|5.||Olympus E-PL2||3/5||83/100||..||71/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Jan 2011||599||ebay.com|
|6.||Olympus E-PL3||3/5||+ +||..||72/100||4.5/5||4/5||Jun 2011||599||ebay.com|
|7.||Olympus E-PM1||..||86/100||..||71/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Jun 2011||499||ebay.com|
|8.||Olympus E-PL1||..||86/100||..||69/100||4/5||4.5/5||Feb 2010||599||ebay.com|
|9.||Olympus E-450||..||..||..||..||4/5||4/5||Mar 2009||499||ebay.com|
|10.||Olympus E-600||..||..||..||..||..||4.5/5||Aug 2009||449||ebay.com|
|11.||Olympus E-620||3/5||88/100||..||72/100||4.5/5||5/5||Feb 2009||699||ebay.com|
|12.||Olympus E-P2||3/5||+||..||69/100||4/5||4.5/5||Nov 2009||799||ebay.com|
|13.||Olympus E-520||..||87/100||..||+ +||4.5/5||4.5/5||May 2008||699||ebay.com|
|14.||Olympus E-3||..||88/100||..||+ +||o||4/5||Oct 2007||1,699||ebay.com|
|15.||Sony A77||5/5||91/100||..||81/100||..||5/5||Aug 2011||1,399||ebay.com|
|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. Hence, a score should always be seen in the context of the camera's market launch date and its price, and rating-comparisons among cameras that span long time periods or concern very differently equipped models make little sense. It should also be noted that some of the review sites have over time altered the way they render their verdicts.
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. Alternatively, you can follow any of the listed hyperlinks for comparisons that others found interesting.
- Canon 40D vs Olympus E-P1
- Canon 5D vs Olympus E-P1
- Canon M10 vs Olympus E-P1
- Canon T2i vs Olympus E-5
- Fujifilm X100T vs Olympus E-P1
- Fujifilm X100V vs Olympus E-5
- Leica Digilux 3 vs Olympus E-P1
- Leica V-LUX 5 vs Olympus E-5
- Olympus E-5 vs Panasonic GH5
- Olympus E-5 vs Panasonic GX85
- Olympus E-5 vs Panasonic L10
- Olympus E-P1 vs Olympus E-P7
Specifications: Olympus E-5 vs Olympus E-P1
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-5||Olympus E-P1|
|Camera Type||Digital single lens reflex||Mirrorless system camera|
|Camera Lens||Four Thirds lenses||Micro Four Thirds lenses|
|Launch Date||September 2010||June 2009|
|Launch Price||USD 1,699||USD 799|
|Sensor Specs||Olympus E-5||Olympus E-P1|
|Sensor Format||Four Thirds Sensor||Four Thirds Sensor|
|Sensor Size||17.3 x 13.0 mm||17.3 x 13.0 mm|
|Sensor Area||224.9 mm2||224.9 mm2|
|Sensor Diagonal||21.6 mm||21.6 mm|
|Sensor Resolution||12.2 Megapixels||12.2 Megapixels|
|Image Resolution||4032 x 3024 pixels||4032 x 3024 pixels|
|Pixel Pitch||4.29 μm||4.29 μm|
|Pixel Density||5.42 MP/cm2||5.42 MP/cm2|
|Moiré control||Anti-Alias filter||Anti-Alias filter|
|Movie Capability||720/30p Video||720/30p Video|
|ISO Setting||100 - 6,400 ISO||100 - 6,400 ISO|
|Image Processor||TruePic V+||TruePic V|
|DXO Sensor Quality (score)||56||55|
|DXO Color Depth (bits)||21.6||21.4|
|DXO Dynamic Range (EV)||10.5||10.4|
|DXO Low Light (ISO)||519||536|
|Screen Specs||Olympus E-5||Olympus E-P1|
|Viewfinder Type||Optical viewfinder||no viewfinder|
|Viewfinder Field of View||100%|
|Top-Level Screen||Control Panel||no Top Display|
|LCD Framing||Live View||Live View|
|Rear LCD Size||3.0inch||3.0inch|
|LCD Resolution||920k dots||230k dots|
|LCD Attachment||Swivel screen||Fixed screen|
|Shooting Specs||Olympus E-5||Olympus E-P1|
|Focus System||Phase-detect AF||Contrast-detect AF|
|Continuous Shooting||5 shutter flaps/s||3 shutter flaps/s|
|Image Stabilization||In-body stabilization||In-body stabilization|
|Fill Flash||Built-in Flash||no On-Board Flash|
|Storage Medium||CF or XD cards||SDHC cards|
|Single or Dual Card Slots||Dual card slots||Single card slot|
|Connectivity Specs||Olympus E-5||Olympus E-P1|
|Studio Flash||PC Sync socket||no PC Sync|
|USB Connector||USB 2.0||USB 2.0|
|HDMI Port||mini HDMI||mini HDMI|
|Wifi Support||no Wifi||no Wifi|
|Body Specs||Olympus E-5||Olympus E-P1|
|Environmental Sealing||Weathersealed body||not weather sealed|
|Battery Life (CIPA)||750 shots per charge||300 shots per charge|
142 x 117 x 75 mm
(5.6 x 4.6 x 3.0 in)
121 x 70 x 36 mm
(4.8 x 2.8 x 1.4 in)
|Camera Weight||873 g (30.8 oz)||355 g (12.5 oz)|
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