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Olympus E-M1 versus Olympus E-P5

The Olympus OM-D E-M1 and the Olympus PEN E-P5 are two enthusiast cameras that were revealed to the public, respectively, in September 2013 and May 2013. Both the E-M1 and the E-P5 are mirrorless interchangeable lens cameras that are equipped with a Four Thirds sensor. Both cameras offer a resolution of 15.9 megapixel. 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 vs Olympus E-P5

The side-by-side display below illustrates the physical size and weight of the Olympus E-M1 and the Olympus E-P5. Three consecutive views from the front, the top, and the rear side 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 side – the E-M1 – represents the basis for the calculations across all the size and weight measures).

Snapsort Olympus E-M1 vs Olympus E-P5
Compare E-M1 versus E-P5 top
Compare E-M1 and E-P5 rear

If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Olympus E-P5 is considerably smaller (31 percent) than the Olympus E-M1. Moreover, the E-P5 is markedly lighter (15 percent) than the E-M1. It is worth mentioning in this context that the E-M1 is splash and dust resistant, while the E-P5 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. 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 table below summarizes the key physical specs of the two cameras alongside a broader set of comparators. If you want to switch the focus of the display and review another camera pair, just select a new right or left comparator from among the camera models in the table. Alternatively, you can also move across to the CAM-parator tool and choose from the broad selection of possible camera comparisons 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)
Olympus E-M1» 5.1 in 3.7 in 2.5 in 17.5 oz 350 Y Sep 2013 1,399- i
Olympus E-P5« 4.8 in 2.7 in 1.5 in 14.8 oz 330 n May 2013 999- i
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 PEN-F« » 4.9 in 2.8 in 1.5 in 15.1 oz 330 n Jan 2016 1,199 i i
Olympus E-M10 II« » 4.7 in 3.3 in 1.9 in 13.8 oz 320 n Aug 2015 799- i
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-PL7« » 4.5 in 2.6 in 1.5 in 12.6 oz 350 n Aug 2014 599- i
Olympus E-M10« » 4.7 in 3.2 in 1.8 in 14.0 oz 320 n Jan 2014 699- i
Olympus E-M5« » 4.8 in 3.5 in 1.7 in 15.0 oz 360 Y Feb 2012 1,299- i
Panasonic G85« » 5.0 in 3.5 in 2.9 in 17.8 oz 330 Y Sep 2016 899 i i
Panasonic GX8« » 5.2 in 3.1 in 2.5 in 17.2 oz 330 Y Jul 2015 1,199- i
Panasonic GH4« » 5.2 in 3.7 in 3.3 in 19.8 oz 500 Y Feb 2014 1,499- i
Panasonic GH3« » 5.2 in 3.7 in 3.2 in 19.4 oz 540 Y Sep 2012 1,299- i

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-P5 was launched at a markedly lower price (by 29 percent) than the E-M1, 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.

 

Sensor comparison: Olympus E-M1 vs Olympus E-P5

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 tend to have larger individual pixels that provide better low-light sensitivity, wider dynamic range, and richer color depth than smaller pixel-units 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.

Olympus E-M1 and Olympus E-P5 sensor measures

The two cameras under review do not only share the same sensor size, but also offer an identical resolution of 15.9 megapixel. This similarity in sensor specs implies that both the E-M1 and the E-P5 have the same pixel density, as well as the same pixel size. It should, however, be noted that the E-M1 is a somewhat more recent model (by 4 months) than the E-P5, and its sensor might have benefitted from technological advances during this time. Coming back to sensor resolution, it should be mentioned that the E-M1 has no anti-alias filter installed, so that it can capture all the detail its sensor resolves.

E-M1 versus E-P5 MP

Consistent information on actual sensor performance is available from DXO Mark for most 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"). The Overall DXO ratings for the two cameras under consideration are close, suggesting that they provide similar image quality. The table below summarizes the physical sensor characteristics and sensor quality findings and compares them across a set of similar cameras.

Sensor Characteristics
  Camera Sensor
Class
Resolution
(MP)
Horiz.
Pixels
Vert.
Pixels
Video
Format
DXO
Portrait
DXO
Landscape
DXO
Sports
DXO
Overall
Olympus E-M1» Four Thirds 15.9 4608 34561080/30p23.012.775773
Olympus E-P5« Four Thirds 15.9 4608 34561080/30p22.812.489572
Olympus E-M1 II« » Four Thirds 20.2 5184 38884K/30p23.712.8131280
Olympus PEN-F« » Four Thirds 20.2 5184 38881080/60p23.112.489474
Olympus E-M10 II« » Four Thirds 15.9 4608 34561080/60p23.112.584273
Olympus E-M5 II« » Four Thirds 15.9 4608 34561080/60p23.012.584273
Olympus E-PL7« » Four Thirds 15.9 4608 34561080/30p22.712.487372
Olympus E-M10« » Four Thirds 15.9 4608 34561080/30p22.812.388472
Olympus E-M5« » Four Thirds 15.9 4608 34561080/60i22.812.382671
Panasonic G85« » Four Thirds 15.8 4592 34484K/30p22.812.565671
Panasonic GX8« » Four Thirds 20.2 5184 38884K/30p23.512.680675
Panasonic GH4« » Four Thirds 15.9 4608 34564K/30p23.212.879174
Panasonic GH3« » Four Thirds 15.9 4608 34561080/60p22.712.481271

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, and both provide the same movie specifications (1080/30p).

 

Feature comparison: Olympus E-M1 vs Olympus E-P5

Apart from body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a range of features. For example, the E-M1 has an electronic viewfinder (2360k dots), which can be very helpful when shooting in bright sunlight. In contrast, the E-P5 relies on live view and the rear LCD for framing. The table below summarizes some of the other core capabilities of the Olympus E-M1 and Olympus E-P5 in connection with corresponding information for a sample of similar cameras. If needed, the dpreview camera hub, for example, contains further detail on the cameras' specs.

Core Features
  Camera 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
Olympus E-M1»2360 n 3.0 1037 tilting Y 8000 10.0 n Y
Olympus E-P5«- n 3.0 1037 tilting Y 8000 9.0 Y Y
Olympus E-M1 II« »2360 n 3.0 1037 swivel Y 8000 18.0 n Y
Olympus PEN-F« »2360 n 3.0 1037 swivel Y 8000 10.0 n Y
Olympus E-M10 II« »2360 n 3.0 1040 tilting Y 4000 8.0 Y Y
Olympus E-M5 II« »2360 n 3.0 1037 swivel Y 8000 10.0 n Y
Olympus E-PL7« »- n 3.0 1037 tilting Y 4000 8.0 n Y
Olympus E-M10« »1440 n 3.0 1037 tilting Y 4000 8.0 Y Y
Olympus E-M5« »1440 n 3.0 610 tilting Y 4000 9.0 n Y
Panasonic G85« »2360 n 3.0 1040 swivel Y 4000 9.0 Y Y
Panasonic GX8« »2360 n 3.0 1040 swivel Y 8000 10.0 n Y
Panasonic GH4« »2359 n 3.0 1036 swivel Y 8000 12.0 Y n
Panasonic GH3« »1746 n 3.0 614 swivel Y 4000 6.0 Y n

Both the E-M1 and the E-P5 have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on eBay. The E-P5 was replaced by the .., while the E-M1 was followed by the Olympus E-M1 II.

Review summary: Olympus E-M1 vs Olympus E-P5

So what is the bottom line? Which of the two cameras – the Olympus E-M1 or the Olympus E-P5 – has the upper hand? A synthesis of the relative strong points of each of the models is listed below.


Advantages of the Olympus OM-D E-M1:

  • Maximized detail: Lacks an anti-alias filter to exploit the sensor's full resolution potential.
  • Easier framing: Has an electronic viewfinder for image framing and settings control.
  • Better sealing: Is weather sealed to enable shooting in dusty or wet environments.
  • More modern: Is somewhat more recent (announced 4 months after the E-P5).


Reasons to prefer the Olympus PEN E-P5:

  • Better moiré control: Has an anti-alias filter to avoid artificial patterns to appear in images.
  • More compact: Is smaller (122x69mm vs 130x94mm) and will fit more readily into a bag.
  • Less heavy: Has a lower weight (by 77g or 15 percent) and is thus easier to take along.
  • Easier fill-in: Has a small integrated flash to brighten shadows of backlit subjects.
  • More affordable: Was introduced into a lower priced category (29 percent cheaper at launch).
  • More heavily discounted: Has been on the market for longer (launched in May 2013).

If the number of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the E-P5 emerges as the winner of the match-up (6 : 4 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.

E-M1 04:06 E-P5

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-M1 and the E-P5 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 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 cameralabs dpreview ephotozine imaging-resource photographyblog Camera
Launch
(announced)
Launch
Price
(USD)
Street
Price
(USD)
Used
Price
(USD)
Olympus E-M1»HiRec84/1004.5/54.5/54.5/5 Sep 2013 1,399- i
Olympus E-P5«HiRec78/1004.5/54.5/55/5 May 2013 999- i
Olympus E-M1 II« »HiRec85/1004.5/55/54.5/5 Sep 2016 1,999 i i
Olympus PEN-F« »-82/1004.5/54.5/55/5 Jan 2016 1,199 i i
Olympus E-M10 II« »HiRec80/1005/55/55/5 Aug 2015 799- i
Olympus E-M5 II« »HiRec81/1005/54.5/55/5 Feb 2015 1,099 i i
Olympus E-PL7« »Rec-5/54.5/54/5 Aug 2014 599- i
Olympus E-M10« »-80/1005/54.5/55/5 Jan 2014 699- i
Olympus E-M5« »HiRec80/1004.5/55/55/5 Feb 2012 1,299- i
Panasonic G85« »HiRec84/1005/54.5/54.5/5 Sep 2016 899 i i
Panasonic GX8« »Rec82/1004.5/55/54.5/5 Jul 2015 1,199- i
Panasonic GH4« »HiRec85/1005/55/55/5 Feb 2014 1,499- i
Panasonic GH3« »HiRec79/1004.5/55/54.5/5 Sep 2012 1,299- i

Care should be taken when interpreting the review scores above, though. The ratings are only valid when refering 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 comparing ratings of very distinct cameras or ones that are far apart in terms of their release date 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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