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Olympus E-M1 II versus Panasonic GH5s

The Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II and the Panasonic Lumix DC-GH5s are two enthusiast cameras that were announced, respectively, in September 2016 and January 2018. Both the E-M1 II and the GH5s are mirrorless interchangeable lens cameras that are equipped with a Four Thirds sensor. The Olympus has a resolution of 20.2 megapixel, whereas the Panasonic provides 9.9 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-M1 II vs Panasonic GH5s

An illustration of the physical size and weight of the Olympus E-M1 II and the Panasonic GH5s 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 width, height and depth measures are rounded to the nearest millimeter. You can also toggle the display to switch to a percentage comparison if you prefer that the measures are being expressed in relative terms (in this case, the camera on the left side – the E-M1 II – represents the basis for the calculations across all the size and weight measures).

Compare Olympus E-M1 II vs Panasonic GH5s
Compare E-M1 II versus GH5s top
Compare E-M1 II and GH5s rear

If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Panasonic GH5s is notably larger (12 percent) than the Olympus E-M1 II. Moreover, the GH5s is markedly heavier (15 percent) than the E-M1 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. In this particular case, both cameras feature the same lens mount, so that they can use the same lenses. You can find an overview of suitable optics in the Micro Four Thirds Lens Catalog. Mirrorless cameras, such as the two under consideration, have the additional advantage of having a short flange to focal plane distance, which makes it possible to mount many lenses from other systems onto the camera via adapters.

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, 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-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
Panasonic GH5s« 5.5 in 3.9 in 3.4 in 23.3 oz 440 Y Jan 2018 2,499 i i Panasonic GH5s
Olympus PEN-F« » 4.9 in 2.8 in 1.5 in 15.1 oz 330 n Jan 2016 1,199 i i Olympus PEN-F
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
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 G85« » 5.0 in 3.5 in 2.9 in 17.8 oz 330 Y Sep 2016 899 i i Panasonic G85
Panasonic FZ300« » 5.2 in 3.6 in 4.6 in 24.4 oz 380 Y Jul 2015 599 i i Panasonic FZ300
Panasonic GX8« » 5.2 in 3.1 in 2.5 in 17.2 oz 330 Y Jul 2015 1,199- i Panasonic GX8
Panasonic GH4« » 5.2 in 3.7 in 3.3 in 19.8 oz 500 Y Feb 2014 1,499- i Panasonic GH4
Panasonic GH3« » 5.2 in 3.7 in 3.2 in 19.4 oz 540 Y Sep 2012 1,299- i Panasonic GH3
Panasonic G2« » 4.9 in 3.3 in 2.9 in 15.1 oz 360 n Mar 2010 599- i Panasonic G2
Sony A7 III« » 5.0 in 3.8 in 2.9 in 22.9 oz 610 Y Feb 2018 1,999 i i Sony A7 III
Sony A9« » 5.0 in 3.8 in 2.5 in 23.7 oz 650 Y Apr 2017 4,499 i i Sony A9
Sony A7 II« » 5.0 in 3.8 in 2.4 in 21.1 oz 350 Y Nov 2014 1,999- i Sony A7 II

The camera’s price is obviously a critical decision-making factor. 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-M1 II was launched at a somewhat lower price (by 20 percent) than the GH5s, which makes it more attractive for photographers on a tight budget. Normally, street prices remain initially close to the MSRP, but after a couple of months, the first discounts appear. 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.

 

Sensor comparison: Olympus E-M1 II vs Panasonic GH5s

The size of the sensor inside a digital camera is one of the key determinants 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.

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, both cameras are equipped with CMOS (Complementary Metal–Oxide–Semiconductor) sensors.

Olympus E-M1 II and Panasonic GH5s 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 9.9 MP of the GH5s. This megapixel advantage translates into a 41 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 4.77μm for the GH5s). Moreover, it should be noted that the GH5s is a somewhat more recent model (by 1 year and 3 months) than the E-M1 II, and its sensor might have benefitted from technological advances during this time that further enhance the light gathering capacity of individual pixels. Coming back to sensor resolution, it should be mentioned that neither of the two cameras has an anti-alias filter installed, so they are able to capture all the detail the 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 GH5s, 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-M1 II versus GH5s MP

Consistent information on actual sensor performance is available from DXO Mark for many cameras. This service assesses and scores the color depth ("DXO Portrait"), dynamic range ("DXO Landscape"), and low-light sensitivity ("DXO Sports") of camera sensors, and also publishes an overall camera score. The table below summarizes the physical sensor characteristics and sensor quality findings and compares them across a set of similar 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-M1 II» Four Thirds 20.2 5184 38884K/30p23.712.8131280Olympus E-M1 II
Panasonic GH5s« Four Thirds 9.9 3680 27004K/60p----Panasonic GH5s
Olympus PEN-F« » Four Thirds 20.2 5184 38881080/60p23.112.489474Olympus PEN-F
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
Panasonic G9« » Four Thirds 20.2 5184 38884K/60p----Panasonic G9
Panasonic GH5« » Four Thirds 20.2 5184 38884K/60p23.913.080777Panasonic GH5
Panasonic G85« » Four Thirds 15.8 4592 34484K/30p22.812.565671Panasonic G85
Panasonic FZ300« » 1/2.3 12.0 4000 30004K/30p19.311.09738Panasonic FZ300
Panasonic GX8« » Four Thirds 20.2 5184 38884K/30p23.512.680675Panasonic GX8
Panasonic GH4« » Four Thirds 15.9 4608 34564K/30p23.212.879174Panasonic GH4
Panasonic GH3« » Four Thirds 15.9 4608 34561080/60p22.712.481271Panasonic GH3
Panasonic G2« » Four Thirds 12.0 4000 3000720/30p21.210.349353Panasonic G2
Sony A7 III« » Full Frame 24.0 6000 40004K/30p25.014.7373096Sony A7 III
Sony A9« » Full Frame 24.0 6000 40004K/30p24.913.3351792Sony A9
Sony A7 II« » Full Frame 24.0 6000 40001080/60p24.913.6244990Sony A7 II

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 GH5s provides a faster frame rate than the E-M1 II. It can shoot movie footage at 4K/60p, while the Olympus is limited to 4K/30p.

 

Feature comparison: Olympus E-M1 II vs Panasonic GH5s

Beyond body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a range of features. The two cameras under review are similar with respect to both having an electronic viewfinder. However, the one in the GH5s offers a substantially higher resolution than the one in the E-M1 II (3680k vs 2360k dots). The table below summarizes some of the other core capabilities of the Olympus E-M1 II and Panasonic GH5s in connection with corresponding information for a sample of similar cameras. The full specs-sheets can be found in the camera manual or 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-M1 II»2360 n 3.0 1037 swivel Y 8000 18.0 n Y Olympus E-M1 II
Panasonic GH5s«3680 n 3.2 1620 swivel Y 8000 12.0 n n Panasonic GH5s
Olympus PEN-F« »2360 n 3.0 1037 swivel Y 8000 10.0 n Y Olympus PEN-F
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
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 G85« »2360 n 3.0 1040 swivel Y 4000 9.0 Y Y Panasonic G85
Panasonic FZ300« »1440 n 3.0 1040 swivel Y 4000 12.0 Y Y Panasonic FZ300
Panasonic GX8« »2360 n 3.0 1040 swivel Y 8000 10.0 n Y Panasonic GX8
Panasonic GH4« »2359 n 3.0 1036 swivel Y 8000 12.0 Y n Panasonic GH4
Panasonic GH3« »1746 n 3.0 614 swivel Y 4000 6.0 Y n Panasonic GH3
Panasonic G2« »1440 n 3.0 460 swivel Y 4000 2.6 Y n Panasonic G2
Sony A7 III« »2359 n 3.0 922 tilting Y 8000 10.0 n Y Sony A7 III
Sony A9« »3686 n 3.0 1440 tilting Y 8000 20.0 n Y Sony A9
Sony A7 II« »2400 n 3.0 1230 tilting n 8000 5.0 n Y Sony A7 II

One feature that differentiates the E-M1 II and the GH5s is in-body image stabilization (IBIS). The E-M1 II reduces the risk of handshake-induced blur with all attached lenses, while the GH5s has to rely on optical image stabilization in OIS-equipped lenses to achieve the same effect.

The reported shutter speed and shutter burst refer to the use of the mechanical shutter. In addition, both cameras feature 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).

Both the E-M1 II and the GH5s write their imaging data to 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-M1 II»YstereomonoYYmicro3.0Y--Olympus E-M1 II
Panasonic GH5s«YstereomonoYYfull3.1Y-YPanasonic GH5s
Olympus PEN-F« »Ystereomono--micro2.0Y--Olympus PEN-F
Olympus E-M5 II« »YstereomonoY-micro2.0Y--Olympus E-M5 II
Olympus E-M1« »YstereomonoY-micro2.0Y--Olympus E-M1
Panasonic G9« »YstereomonoYYfull3.0Y-YPanasonic G9
Panasonic GH5« »YstereomonoYYfull3.1Y-YPanasonic GH5
Panasonic G85« »YstereomonoY-micro2.0Y--Panasonic G85
Panasonic FZ300« »YstereomonoY-mini2.0Y--Panasonic FZ300
Panasonic GX8« »YstereomonoY-micro2.0YY-Panasonic GX8
Panasonic GH4« »YstereomonoYYmicro2.0YY-Panasonic GH4
Panasonic GH3« »YstereomonoYYmini2.0Y--Panasonic GH3
Panasonic G2« »Ystereomono--mini2.0---Panasonic G2
Sony A7 III« »YstereomonoYYmicro3.1YYYSony A7 III
Sony A9« »YstereomonoYYmicro2.0YYYSony A9
Sony A7 II« »YstereomonoYYmicro2.0YY-Sony A7 II

Both the E-M1 II and the GH5s are recent models that feature in their makers' current product line-up. The E-M1 II replaced the earlier Olympus E-M1, while the GH5s does not have a direct predecessor.

Review summary: Olympus E-M1 II vs Panasonic GH5s

So how do things add up? Is there a clear favorite between the Olympus E-M1 II and the Panasonic GH5s? The listing below highlights the relative strengths of the two models.

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

  • More detail: Offers more megapixels (20.2 vs 9.9MP) with a 42% higher linear resolution.
  • High quality composites: Can combine several shots after pixel-shifting its sensor.
  • Better video autofocus: Features on-sensor phase-detection for more confident movie autofocus.
  • Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (18 vs 12 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
  • More compact: Is smaller (134x91mm vs 139x98mm) and thus needs less room in the bag.
  • Less heavy: Is lighter (by 86g or 13 percent) and hence easier to carry around.
  • Sharper images: Has hand-shake reducing image stabilization build-in.
  • More affordable: Was introduced into a lower priced segment (20 percent cheaper at launch).
  • More heavily discounted: Has been on the market for longer (launched in September 2016).

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Advantages of the Panasonic Lumix DC-GH5s:

  • Better video: Provides higher movie framerates (4K/60p versus 4K/30p).
  • More detailed viewfinder: Has higher resolution electronic viewfinder (3680k vs 2360k dots).
  • 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 (1620k vs 1037k dots).
  • Faster data transfer: Supports a more advanced USB protocol (3.1 vs 3.0).
  • More solid recording: Has a full-sized HDMI port for a sturdy connection to an external recorder.
  • Easier wireless transfer: Supports Bluetooth for image sharing without cables.
  • More modern: Was introduced somewhat (1 year and 3 months) more recently.

If the number of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the E-M1 II comes out slightly ahead of the GH5s (9 : 8 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-M1 II 09:08 GH5s

In any case, while the comparison of the spec-sheets of cameras can offer a general idea of their imaging potential, it remains incomplete and does no justice, for example, to the way the E-M1 II or the GH5s handle or perform in practice. 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 summarizes the assessments of some of the best known camera review sites (cameralabs, dpreview, ephotozine, imaging-resource, photographyblog). The full reviews are available 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-M1 II»HiRec85/1004.5/55/54.5/5 Sep 2016 1,999 i i Olympus E-M1 II
Panasonic GH5s«-84/1004.5/5-4.5/5 Jan 2018 2,499 i i Panasonic GH5s
Olympus PEN-F« »-82/1004.5/54.5/55/5 Jan 2016 1,199 i i Olympus PEN-F
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
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 G85« »HiRec84/1005/54.5/54.5/5 Sep 2016 899 i i Panasonic G85
Panasonic FZ300« »HiRec-4.5/54.5/54.5/5 Jul 2015 599 i i Panasonic FZ300
Panasonic GX8« »Rec82/1004.5/55/54.5/5 Jul 2015 1,199- i Panasonic GX8
Panasonic GH4« »HiRec85/1005/55/55/5 Feb 2014 1,499- i Panasonic GH4
Panasonic GH3« »HiRec79/1004.5/55/54.5/5 Sep 2012 1,299- i Panasonic GH3
Panasonic G2« »-72/1004/54/54.5/5 Mar 2010 599- i Panasonic G2
Sony A7 III« »HiRec89/1005/55/55/5 Feb 2018 1,999 i i Sony A7 III
Sony A9« »HiRec89/1005/55/55/5 Apr 2017 4,499 i i Sony A9
Sony A7 II« »Rec82/1004.5/55/55/5 Nov 2014 1,999- i Sony A7 II

The above review scores should be interpreted with care, 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 rating-comparisons among cameras that span long time periods or concern very differently equipped models make little sense. 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? In case you would like to check on the differences and similarities of other camera models, just use the search menu below. An an alternative, you can also directly jump to any one of the listed comparisons that were previously generated by the CAM-parator tool. If the camera you are interested in is not available, kindly get in touch, and I will try to locate and add the respective data to the application.

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