Olympus E-M1 vs Panasonic G85
The Olympus OM-D E-M1 and the Panasonic Lumix DMC-G85 (labelled Panasonic G80 in some countries) are two digital cameras that were announced, respectively, in September 2013 and September 2016. Both the E-M1 and the G85 are mirrorless interchangeable lens cameras that are equipped with a Four Thirds sensor. The Olympus has a resolution of 15.9 megapixels, whereas the Panasonic provides 15.8 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 OM-D E-M1 and the Panasonic Lumix DMC-G85? 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-M1 and the Panasonic G85 is provided in the side-by-side display below. 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-M1 can be obtained in two different colors (black, silver), while the G85 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 Panasonic G85 is notably smaller (7 percent) than the Olympus E-M1. However, the G85 is slightly heavier (2 percent) than the E-M1. 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 compare the optics available 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 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-M1||130 mm||94 mm||63 mm||497 g||350||Y||Sep 2013||1,399||ebay.com|
|2.||Panasonic G85||128 mm||89 mm||74 mm||505 g||330||Y||Sep 2016||899||ebay.com|
|3.||Olympus E-M1 II||134 mm||91 mm||67 mm||574 g||440||Y||Sep 2016||1,999||ebay.com|
|4.||Olympus PEN-F||125 mm||72 mm||37 mm||427 g||330||n||Jan 2016||1,199||ebay.com|
|5.||Olympus E-M5 II||124 mm||85 mm||45 mm||469 g||310||Y||Feb 2015||1,099||ebay.com|
|6.||Olympus E-PL7||115 mm||67 mm||38 mm||357 g||350||n||Aug 2014||599||ebay.com|
|7.||Olympus E-P5||122 mm||69 mm||37 mm||420 g||330||n||May 2013||999||ebay.com|
|8.||Olympus E-M5||122 mm||89 mm||43 mm||425 g||360||Y||Feb 2012||1,299||ebay.com|
|9.||Olympus E-PL5||111 mm||64 mm||38 mm||325 g||360||n||Sep 2012||599||ebay.com|
|10.||Olympus E-PM2||110 mm||64 mm||34 mm||269 g||360||n||Sep 2012||499||ebay.com|
|11.||Panasonic G95||130 mm||94 mm||77 mm||536 g||290||Y||Apr 2019||999||amazon.com|
|12.||Panasonic GX85||122 mm||71 mm||44 mm||426 g||290||n||Apr 2016||799||amazon.com|
|13.||Panasonic GH4||133 mm||93 mm||84 mm||560 g||500||Y||Feb 2014||1,499||ebay.com|
|14.||Panasonic GH3||133 mm||93 mm||82 mm||550 g||540||Y||Sep 2012||1,299||ebay.com|
|Note: 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 manufacturer’s suggested retail prices give an idea on the placement of the camera in the maker’s lineup and the broader market. The G85 was launched at a markedly lower price (by 36 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.
The size of the sensor inside a digital camera is one of the key determinants of image quality. A large sensor will generally have larger individual pixels that offer better low-light sensitivity, provide wider dynamic range, and have richer color-depth than smaller pixels in a sensor of the same technological generation. Furthermore, a large sensor camera will give the photographer more possibilities to use shallow depth-of-field in order to 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.
While the two cameras under review share the same sensor size, the E-M1 offers a slightly higher resolution of 15.9 megapixels, compared with 15.8 MP of the G85. This megapixels advantage translates into a 0.3 percent gain in linear resolution. On the other hand, these sensor specs imply that the E-M1 has a higher pixel density and a smaller size of the individual pixel (with a pixel pitch of 3.76μm versus 3.77μm for the G85). Moreover, it should be noted that the G85 is much more recent (by 3 years) than the E-M1, and its sensor will 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 has on-sensor phase detect pixels, which results in fast and reliable autofocus acquisition even during live view operation.
The Olympus OM-D E-M1 has a native sensitivity range from ISO 200 to ISO 25600, which can be extended to ISO 100-25600. The Panasonic Lumix DMC-G85 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 adjacent table reports on the physical sensor characteristics and the outcomes of the DXO sensor quality tests for a sample of comparator-cameras.
|1.||Olympus E-M1||Four Thirds||15.9||4608||3456||1080/30p||23.0||12.7||757||73|
|2.||Panasonic G85||Four Thirds||15.8||4592||3448||4K/30p||22.8||12.5||656||71|
|3.||Olympus E-M1 II||Four Thirds||20.2||5184||3888||4K/30p||23.7||12.8||1312||80|
|4.||Olympus PEN-F||Four Thirds||20.2||5184||3888||1080/60p||23.1||12.4||894||74|
|5.||Olympus E-M5 II||Four Thirds||15.9||4608||3456||1080/60p||23.0||12.5||842||73|
|6.||Olympus E-PL7||Four Thirds||15.9||4608||3456||1080/30p||22.7||12.4||873||72|
|7.||Olympus E-P5||Four Thirds||15.9||4608||3456||1080/30p||22.8||12.4||895||72|
|8.||Olympus E-M5||Four Thirds||15.9||4608||3456||1080/60i||22.8||12.3||826||71|
|9.||Olympus E-PL5||Four Thirds||15.9||4608||3456||1080/30p||22.8||12.3||889||72|
|10.||Olympus E-PM2||Four Thirds||15.9||4608||3456||1080/30p||22.7||12.2||932||72|
|11.||Panasonic G95||Four Thirds||20.2||5184||3888||4K/30p||23.2||13.0||1273||75|
|12.||Panasonic GX85||Four Thirds||15.8||4592||3448||4K/30p||22.9||12.6||662||71|
|13.||Panasonic GH4||Four Thirds||15.9||4608||3456||4K/30p||23.2||12.8||791||74|
|14.||Panasonic GH3||Four Thirds||15.9||4608||3456||1080/60p||22.7||12.4||812||71|
|Note: DXO values in italics represent estimates based on sensor size and age.|
Many modern cameras are not only capable of taking still images, but also of capturing video footage. The two cameras under consideration both have sensors whose read-out speed is fast enough to capture moving pictures, but the G85 provides a better video resolution than the E-M1. It can shoot movie footage at 4K/30p, while the Olympus is limited to 1080/30p.
Beyond body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a range of features. The E-M1 and the G85 are similar in the sense that both feature an electronic viewfinder, which is helpful when framing images in bright sunlight. Moreover, their viewfinders offer an identical resolution of 2360k dots. The following table reports on some other key feature differences and similarities of the Olympus E-M1, the Panasonic G85, and comparable cameras.
|1.||Olympus E-M1||2360||n||3.0 / 1037||tilting||Y||1/8000s||10.0/s||n||Y|
|2.||Panasonic G85||2360||n||3.0 / 1040||swivel||Y||1/4000s||9.0/s||Y||Y|
|3.||Olympus E-M1 II||2360||n||3.0 / 1037||swivel||Y||1/8000s||18.0/s||n||Y|
|4.||Olympus PEN-F||2360||n||3.0 / 1037||swivel||Y||1/8000s||10.0/s||n||Y|
|5.||Olympus E-M5 II||2360||n||3.0 / 1037||swivel||Y||1/8000s||10.0/s||n||Y|
|6.||Olympus E-PL7||optional||n||3.0 / 1037||tilting||Y||1/4000s||8.0/s||n||Y|
|7.||Olympus E-P5||optional||n||3.0 / 1037||tilting||Y||1/8000s||9.0/s||Y||Y|
|8.||Olympus E-M5||1440||n||3.0 / 610||tilting||Y||1/4000s||9.0/s||n||Y|
|9.||Olympus E-PL5||optional||n||3.0 / 460||tilting||Y||1/4000s||8.0/s||n||Y|
|10.||Olympus E-PM2||optional||n||3.0 / 460||fixed||Y||1/4000s||8.0/s||n||Y|
|11.||Panasonic G95||2360||n||3.0 / 1240||swivel||Y||1/4000s||9.0/s||Y||Y|
|12.||Panasonic GX85||2765||n||3.0 / 1040||tilting||Y||1/4000s||8.0/s||Y||Y|
|13.||Panasonic GH4||2359||n||3.0 / 1036||swivel||Y||1/8000s||12.0/s||Y||n|
|14.||Panasonic GH3||1746||n||3.0 / 614||swivel||Y||1/4000s||6.0/s||Y||n|
|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 G85 has one, while the E-M1 does not. While the built-in flash of the G85 is not very powerful, it can at times be useful as a fill-in light.The G85 has an articulated screen that can be turned to be front-facing. This characteristic will be appreciated by vloggers and photographers who are interested in taking selfies. In contrast, the E-M1 does not have a selfie-screen.
The reported shutter speed information refers to the use of the mechanical shutter. Yet, some cameras only have an electronic shutter, while others have an electronic shutter in addition to a mechanical one. In fact, both cameras under consideration feature an electronic shutter, which makes completely silent shooting possible. However, this mode is less suitable for photographing moving objects (risk of rolling shutter) or shooting under artificial light sources (risk of flickering).
The Olympus E-M1 and the Panasonic G85 both have 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.
Concerning the storage of imaging data, both the E-M1 and the G85 write their files to SDXC cards. The G85 supports UHS-II cards (Ultra High Speed data transfer of up to 312 MB/s), while the E-M1 can use UHS-I cards (up to 104 MB/s).
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 OM-D E-M1 and Panasonic Lumix DMC-G85 and, in particular, the interfaces the cameras (and selected comparators) provide for accessory control and data transfer.
Mic / Speaker
|1.||Olympus E-M1||Y||stereo / mono||Y||-||micro||2.0||Y||-||-|
|2.||Panasonic G85||Y||stereo / mono||Y||-||micro||2.0||Y||-||-|
|3.||Olympus E-M1 II||Y||stereo / mono||Y||Y||micro||3.0||Y||-||-|
|4.||Olympus PEN-F||Y||stereo / mono||-||-||micro||2.0||Y||-||-|
|5.||Olympus E-M5 II||Y||stereo / mono||Y||-||micro||2.0||Y||-||-|
|6.||Olympus E-PL7||Y||stereo / mono||-||-||micro||2.0||Y||-||-|
|7.||Olympus E-P5||Y||stereo / mono||-||-||micro||2.0||Y||-||-|
|8.||Olympus E-M5||Y||stereo / mono||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|9.||Olympus E-PL5||Y||stereo / mono||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|10.||Olympus E-PM2||Y||stereo / mono||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|11.||Panasonic G95||Y||stereo / mono||Y||Y||micro||2.0||Y||-||Y|
|12.||Panasonic GX85||Y||stereo / mono||-||-||micro||2.0||Y||-||-|
|13.||Panasonic GH4||Y||stereo / mono||Y||Y||micro||2.0||Y||Y||-|
|14.||Panasonic GH3||Y||stereo / mono||Y||Y||mini||2.0||Y||-||-|
Studio photographers will appreciate that the Olympus E-M1 (unlike the G85) features a PC Sync socket, so that professional strobe lights can be controlled by the camera.
Both the E-M1 and the G85 have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on ebay. The E-M1 was replaced by the Olympus E-M1 II, while the G85 was followed by the Panasonic G95. Further information on the features and operation of the E-M1 and G85 can be found, respectively, in the Olympus E-M1 Manual (free pdf) or the online Panasonic G85 Manual.
So how do things add up? Is the Olympus E-M1 better than the Panasonic G85 or vice versa? The listing below highlights the relative strengths of the two models.
Reasons to prefer the Olympus OM-D E-M1:
- Better live-view autofocus: Features on-sensor phase-detection for more confident autofocus.
- Faster shutter: Has higher mechanical shutter speed (1/8000s vs 1/4000s) to freeze action.
- Better studio light control: Has a PC Sync socket to connect to professional strobe lights.
- More heavily discounted: Has been available for much longer (launched in September 2013).
Arguments in favor of the Panasonic Lumix DMC-G85:
- Better video: Provides higher definition movie capture (4K/30p vs 1080/30p).
- 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.
- Easier fill-in: Has a small integrated flash to brighten shadows of backlit subjects.
- Faster buffer clearing: Supports a more advanced SD data transfer standard (UHS-II vs UHS-I).
- More affordable: Was introduced into a lower priced category (36 percent cheaper at launch).
- More modern: Reflects 3 years of technical progress since the E-M1 launch.
If the count of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a measure, the G85 emerges as the winner of the match-up (7 : 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. A professional wedding photographer will view the differences between cameras in a way that diverges from the perspective of a travel photog, and a person interested in cityscapes has distinct needs from a macro 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-M1 and the Panasonic G85 place the cameras among the top in their class? Find out in the latest Best Mirrorless Interchangeable Lens Camera listing whether the two cameras rank among the cream of the crop.
In any case, while the specs-based evaluation of cameras can be instructive in revealing their potential as photographic tools, it remains incomplete and does no justice, for example, to the way the E-M1 or the G85 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 why hands-on reviews by experts are important. The table below provides a synthesis of the camera assessments of some of the best known photo-gear 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-M1||5/5||+ +||..||84/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Sep 2013||1,399||ebay.com|
|2.||Panasonic G85||..||+ +||..||84/100||5/5||4.5/5||Sep 2016||899||ebay.com|
|3.||Olympus E-M1 II||5/5||+ +||5/5||85/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Sep 2016||1,999||ebay.com|
|4.||Olympus PEN-F||..||..||4/5||82/100||4.5/5||5/5||Jan 2016||1,199||ebay.com|
|5.||Olympus E-M5 II||5/5||+ +||4.5/5||81/100||5/5||5/5||Feb 2015||1,099||ebay.com|
|6.||Olympus E-PL7||4/5||+||..||..||5/5||4/5||Aug 2014||599||ebay.com|
|7.||Olympus E-P5||5/5||+ +||..||78/100||4.5/5||5/5||May 2013||999||ebay.com|
|8.||Olympus E-M5||4/5||+ +||..||80/100||4.5/5||5/5||Feb 2012||1,299||ebay.com|
|9.||Olympus E-PL5||3/5||+ +||..||..||4.5/5||4.5/5||Sep 2012||599||ebay.com|
|10.||Olympus E-PM2||3/5||..||..||77/100||5/5||4.5/5||Sep 2012||499||ebay.com|
|11.||Panasonic G95||4.5/5||+||4.5/5||83/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Apr 2019||999||amazon.com|
|12.||Panasonic GX85||4.5/5||+ +||..||82/100||5/5||5/5||Apr 2016||799||amazon.com|
|13.||Panasonic GH4||5/5||+ +||..||85/100||5/5||5/5||Feb 2014||1,499||ebay.com|
|14.||Panasonic GH3||5/5||+ +||..||79/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Sep 2012||1,299||ebay.com|
|Notes: (+ +) highly recommended; (+) recommended; (o) reviewed; (..) not available.|
Care should be taken when interpreting the review scores above, 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 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.
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Specifications: Olympus E-M1 vs Panasonic G85
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-M1||Panasonic G85|
|Camera Type||Mirrorless system camera||Mirrorless system camera|
|Camera Lens||Micro Four Thirds lenses||Micro Four Thirds lenses|
|Launch Date||September 2013||September 2016|
|Launch Price||USD 1,399||USD 899|
|Sensor Specs||Olympus E-M1||Panasonic G85|
|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||15.9 Megapixels||15.8 Megapixels|
|Image Resolution||4608 x 3456 pixels||4592 x 3448 pixels|
|Pixel Pitch||3.76 μm||3.77 μm|
|Pixel Density||7.08 MP/cm2||7.04 MP/cm2|
|Moiré control||no AA filter||no AA filter|
|Movie Capability||1080/30p Video||4K/30p Video|
|ISO Setting||200 - 25,600 ISO||200 - 25,600 ISO|
|ISO Boost||100 - 25,600 ISO||100 - 25,600 ISO|
|Image Processor||TruePIC VII||Venus|
|DXO Sensor Quality (score)||73||71|
|DXO Color Depth (bits)||23.0||22.8|
|DXO Dynamic Range (EV)||12.7||12.5|
|DXO Low Light (ISO)||757||656|
|Screen Specs||Olympus E-M1||Panasonic G85|
|Viewfinder Type||Electronic viewfinder||Electronic viewfinder|
|Viewfinder Field of View||100%||100%|
|Viewfinder Resolution||2360k dots||2360k dots|
|LCD Framing||Live View||Live View|
|Rear LCD Size||3.0inch||3.0inch|
|LCD Resolution||1037k dots||1040k dots|
|LCD Attachment||Tilting screen||Swivel screen|
|Shooting Specs||Olympus E-M1||Panasonic G85|
|Focus System||On-Sensor Phase-detect||Contrast-detect AF|
|Manual Focusing Aid||Focus Peaking||Focus Peaking|
|Max Shutter Speed (mechanical)||1/8000s||1/4000s|
|Continuous Shooting||10 shutter flaps/s||9 shutter flaps/s|
|Electronic Shutter||YES||up to 1/16000s|
|Time-Lapse Photography||Intervalometer built-in||Intervalometer built-in|
|Image Stabilization||In-body stabilization||In-body stabilization|
|Fill Flash||no On-Board Flash||Built-in Flash|
|Storage Medium||SDXC cards||SDXC cards|
|Second Storage Option||Single card slot||Single card slot|
|UHS card support||UHS-I||UHS-II|
|Connectivity Specs||Olympus E-M1||Panasonic G85|
|Studio Flash||PC Sync socket||no PC Sync|
|USB Connector||USB 2.0||USB 2.0|
|HDMI Port||micro HDMI||micro HDMI|
|Microphone Port||External MIC port||External MIC port|
|Wifi Support||Wifi built-in||Wifi built-in|
|Body Specs||Olympus E-M1||Panasonic G85|
|Environmental Sealing||Weathersealed body||Weathersealed body|
|Battery Life (CIPA)||350 shots per charge||330 shots per charge|
130 x 94 x 63 mm
(5.1 x 3.7 x 2.5 in)
128 x 89 x 74 mm
(5.0 x 3.5 x 2.9 in)
|Camera Weight||497 g (17.5 oz)||505 g (17.8 oz)|
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