Olympus E-M1 versus Panasonic GH2
The Olympus OM-D E-M1 and the Panasonic Lumix DMC-GH2 are two enthusiast cameras that were revealed to the public, respectively, in September 2013 and September 2010. Both the E-M1 and the GH2 are mirrorless interchangeable lens cameras that are equipped with a Four Thirds sensor. Both cameras offer a resolution of 15.9 megapixel.
An illustration of the physical size and weight of the Olympus E-M1 and the Panasonic GH2 is provided in the side-by-side display below. 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 – the E-M1 – represents 100 percent across all the size and weight measures).
If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Panasonic GH2 is somewhat smaller (9 percent) than the Olympus E-M1. Moreover, the GH2 is markedly lighter (11 percent) than the E-M1. It is worth mentioning in this context that the E-M1 is splash and dust resistant, while the GH2 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 comparisons there.
|Camera Body Specifications
|Olympus E-M1 (⇒ rgt)||130 mm||94 mm||63 mm||497 g||350||YES||2013||1,399||discont.||check|
|Panasonic GH2 (⇒ lft)||124 mm||90 mm||76 mm||442 g||330||no||2010||1,499||discont.||check|
|Olympus E-M1 II (⇒ lft | rgt)||134 mm||91 mm||67 mm||574 g||440||YES||2016||1,999||latest||check|
|Olympus PEN-F (⇒ lft | rgt)||125 mm||72 mm||37 mm||427 g||330||no||2016||1,199||latest||check|
|Olympus E-M5 II (⇒ lft | rgt)||124 mm||85 mm||45 mm||469 g||310||YES||2015||1,099||latest||check|
|Olympus E-M10 (⇒ lft | rgt)||119 mm||82 mm||46 mm||396 g||320||no||2014||699||discont.||check|
|Olympus E-P5 (⇒ lft | rgt)||122 mm||69 mm||37 mm||420 g||330||no||2013||999||discont.||check|
|Olympus E-M5 (⇒ lft | rgt)||122 mm||89 mm||43 mm||425 g||..||YES||2012||1,299||discont.||check|
|Panasonic G85 (⇒ lft | rgt)||128 mm||89 mm||74 mm||505 g||330||YES||2016||899||latest||check|
|Panasonic GX8 (⇒ lft | rgt)||133 mm||78 mm||63 mm||487 g||330||YES||2015||1,199||latest||check|
|Panasonic GH4 (⇒ lft | rgt)||133 mm||93 mm||84 mm||560 g||500||YES||2014||1,499||discont.||check|
|Panasonic G6 (⇒ lft | rgt)||122 mm||85 mm||71 mm||390 g||340||no||2013||599||discont.||check|
|Panasonic GH3 (⇒ lft | rgt)||133 mm||93 mm||82 mm||550 g||540||YES||2012||1,299||discont.||check|
|Panasonic G3 (⇒ lft | rgt)||115 mm||84 mm||47 mm||336 g||..||no||2011||599||discont.||check|
|Panasonic GX1 (⇒ lft | rgt)||116 mm||68 mm||39 mm||318 g||..||no||2011||949||discont.||check|
|Panasonic GH1 (⇒ lft | rgt)||124 mm||90 mm||45 mm||385 g||..||no||2009||1,499||discont.||check|
The listed prices provide an indication of the market segment that the manufacturer of the cameras have been targeting. The E-M1 was somewhat cheaper (by 7 percent) than the GH2 at launch, but both cameras fall into the same price category. 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 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 tent 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.
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 GH2 have the same pixel density, as well as the same pixel size. It should, however, be noted that the E-M1 is much more recent (by 2 years and 11 months) than the GH2, and its sensor will 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.
Since 2007, DXO Mark has published sensor performance measurements that have been derived using a consistent methodology. This service is based on lab testing and assigns an overall score to each camera sensor, as well as ratings for dynamic range ("DXO Landscape"), color depth ("DXO Portrait"), and low-light sensitivity ("DXO Sports"). Of the two cameras under review, the E-M1 provides substantially higher image quality than the GH2, with an overall score that is 13 points higher. This advantage is based on 1.8 bits higher color depth, 1.4 EV in additional dynamic range, and 0.2 stops in additional low light sensitivity. The table below summarizes the physical sensor characteristics and sensor quality findings and compares them across a set of similar cameras.
|Olympus E-M1 (⇒ rgt)||Four Thirds||15.9||4608||3456||1080/30p||23.0||12.7||757||73|
|Panasonic GH2 (⇒ lft)||Four Thirds||15.9||4608||3456||1080/60i||21.2||11.3||655||60|
|Olympus E-M1 II (⇒ lft | rgt)||Four Thirds||20.2||5184||3888||4K/30p||23.7||12.8||1312||80|
|Olympus PEN-F (⇒ lft | rgt)||Four Thirds||20.2||5184||3888||1080/60p||23.1||12.4||894||74|
|Olympus E-M5 II (⇒ lft | rgt)||Four Thirds||15.9||4608||3456||1080/60p||23.0||12.5||842||73|
|Olympus E-M10 (⇒ lft | rgt)||Four Thirds||15.9||4608||3456||1080/30p||22.8||12.3||884||72|
|Olympus E-P5 (⇒ lft | rgt)||Four Thirds||15.9||4608||3456||1080/30p||22.8||12.4||895||72|
|Olympus E-M5 (⇒ lft | rgt)||Four Thirds||15.9||4608||3456||1080/60i||22.8||12.3||826||71|
|Panasonic G85 (⇒ lft | rgt)||Four Thirds||15.8||4592||3448||4K/30p||22.8||12.5||656||71|
|Panasonic GX8 (⇒ lft | rgt)||Four Thirds||20.2||5184||3888||4K/30p||23.5||12.6||806||75|
|Panasonic GH4 (⇒ lft | rgt)||Four Thirds||15.9||4608||3456||4K/30p||23.2||12.8||791||74|
|Panasonic G6 (⇒ lft | rgt)||Four Thirds||15.9||4608||3456||1080/60p||21.3||11.5||639||61|
|Panasonic GH3 (⇒ lft | rgt)||Four Thirds||15.9||4608||3456||1080/60p||22.7||12.4||812||71|
|Panasonic G3 (⇒ lft | rgt)||Four Thirds||15.8||4592||3448||1080/60i||21||10.6||667||56|
|Panasonic GX1 (⇒ lft | rgt)||Four Thirds||15.8||4592||3448||1080/60p||20.8||10.6||703||55|
|Panasonic GH1 (⇒ lft | rgt)||Four Thirds||12.0||4000||3000||1080/24p||21.6||11.6||772||64|
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 GH2 provides a faster frame rate than the E-M1. It can shoot movie footage at 1080/60i, while the Olympus is limited to 1080/30p.
Beyond body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a range of features. The two cameras under consideration are similar with respect to both having an electronic viewfinder. However, the one in the E-M1 offers a substantially higher resolution than the one in the GH2 (2360k vs 1534k dots). The following table reports on some other key feature differences and similarities of the Olympus E-M1, the Panasonic GH2, and comparable cameras. The full specs-sheets can be found in the camera manual or, for example, in the dpreview camera hub.
|Olympus E-M1 (⇒ rgt)||2360||no||3.0||1037||tilting||YES||8000||10.0||no||YES|
|Panasonic GH2 (⇒ lft)||1534||no||3.0||460||swivel||no||4000||3.0||15.6||no|
|Olympus E-M1 II (⇒ lft | rgt)||2360||no||3.0||1037||swivel||YES||8000||18.0||no||YES|
|Olympus PEN-F (⇒ lft | rgt)||2360||no||3.0||1037||swivel||YES||8000||10.0||no||YES|
|Olympus E-M5 II (⇒ lft | rgt)||2360||no||3.0||1037||swivel||YES||8000||10.0||no||YES|
|Olympus E-M10 (⇒ lft | rgt)||1440||no||3.0||1037||tilting||YES||4000||8.0||5.8||YES|
|Olympus E-P5 (⇒ lft | rgt)||no||no||3.0||1037||tilting||YES||8000||9.0||7||YES|
|Olympus E-M5 (⇒ lft | rgt)||1440||no||3.0||610||tilting||YES||4000||9.0||no||YES|
|Panasonic G85 (⇒ lft | rgt)||2360||no||3.0||1040||swivel||YES||4000||9.0||6.2||YES|
|Panasonic GX8 (⇒ lft | rgt)||2360||no||3.0||1040||swivel||YES||8000||10.0||no||YES|
|Panasonic GH4 (⇒ lft | rgt)||2359||no||3.0||1036||swivel||YES||8000||12.0||17||no|
|Panasonic G6 (⇒ lft | rgt)||1440||no||3.0||1036||swivel||YES||4000||7.0||10.5||no|
|Panasonic GH3 (⇒ lft | rgt)||1746||no||3.0||614||swivel||YES||4000||6.0||12||no|
|Panasonic G3 (⇒ lft | rgt)||1440||no||3.0||460||swivel||YES||4000||4.0||11||no|
|Panasonic GX1 (⇒ lft | rgt)||no||no||3.0||460||fixed||YES||4000||4.2||7.6||no|
|Panasonic GH1 (⇒ lft | rgt)||1440||no||3.0||460||swivel||no||4000||3.0||10.5||no|
Both the E-M1 and the GH2 have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on ebay. The GH2 was replaced by the Panasonic GH3, while the E-M1 was followed by the Olympus E-M1 II.
So how do things add up? Which of the two cameras – the Olympus E-M1 or the Panasonic GH2 – has the upper hand? A synthesis of the relative strong points of each of the models is listed below.
Arguments in favor of the Olympus OM-D E-M1:
- Maximized detail: Lacks an anti-alias filter to exploit the sensor's full resolution potential.
- Better image quality: Scores substantially higher (13 points) in the DXO overall assessment.
- Richer colors: Generates images with noticeably better colors (1.8 bits more color depth).
- More dynamic range: Captures a larger spectrum of light and dark details (1.4 EV of extra DR).
- More detailed viewfinder: Has higher resolution electronic viewfinder (2360k vs 1534k dots).
- More detailed LCD: Has a higher resolution rear screen (1037k vs 460k dots).
- Fewer buttons to press: Is equipped with a touch-sensitive rear screen to facilitate handling.
- Faster shutter: Has higher mechanical shutter speed (8000/sec vs 4000/sec) to freeze action.
- Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (10 vs 3 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
- Better sealing: Is weather sealed to enable shooting in dusty or wet environments.
- Sharper images: Has hand-shake reducing image stabilization build-in.
- More modern: Reflects 2 years and 11 months of technical progress since the GH2 launch.
Reasons to prefer the Panasonic Lumix DMC-GH2:
- Better moiré control: Has an anti-alias filter to avoid artificial patterns to appear in images.
- Better video: Provides higher movie framerates (1080/60i vs 1080/30p).
- More flexible LCD: Has swivel screen for odd-angle shots in portrait or landscape orientation.
- Less heavy: Has a lower weight (by 55g or 11 percent) and is thus easier to take along.
- Easier fill-in: Has a small integrated flash to brighten shadows of backlit subjects.
- More heavily discounted: Has been around for much longer (launched in September 2010).
If the count of individual advantages (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the E-M1 is the clear winner of the match-up (12 : 6 points). However, the relevance of individual strengths will vary across photographers, so that you might want to apply your own weighing scheme to the summary points.
In any case, while the specs-based evaluation of cameras is instructive in revealing their potential as photographic tools, it remains partial and cannot reveal, for example, the handling experience and imaging performance when actually working with the E-M1 or the GH2. 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. You can find the full text of the reviews, respectively, at cameralabs.com, dpreview.com, ephotozine.com, imaging-resource.com, and photographyblog.com.
|Olympus E-M1 (⇒ rgt)||HiRec||84/100 Gold||4.5/5||4.5/5||4.5/5||2013||1,399||discont.||check|
|Panasonic GH2 (⇒ lft)||86/100 HiRec||79/100 Silver||4.5/5||4.5/5||5/5||2010||1,499||discont.||check|
|Olympus E-M1 II (⇒ lft | rgt)||HiRec||85/100 Gold||4.5/5||5/5||4.5/5||2016||1,999||latest||check|
|Olympus PEN-F (⇒ lft | rgt)||-||82/100 Silver||4.5/5||4.5/5||5/5||2016||1,199||latest||check|
|Olympus E-M5 II (⇒ lft | rgt)||HiRec||81/100 Silver||5/5||4.5/5||5/5||2015||1,099||latest||check|
|Olympus E-M10 (⇒ lft | rgt)||-||80/100 Gold||5/5||4.5/5||5/5||2014||699||discont.||check|
|Olympus E-P5 (⇒ lft | rgt)||HiRec||78/100 Silver||4.5/5||4.5/5||5/5||2013||999||discont.||check|
|Olympus E-M5 (⇒ lft | rgt)||HiRec||80/100 Gold||4.5/5||5/5||5/5||2012||1,299||discont.||check|
|Panasonic G85 (⇒ lft | rgt)||HiRec||84/100 Gold||5/5||4.5/5||4.5/5||2016||899||latest||check|
|Panasonic GX8 (⇒ lft | rgt)||Rec||82/100 Silver||4.5/5||5/5||4.5/5||2015||1,199||latest||check|
|Panasonic GH4 (⇒ lft | rgt)||HiRec||85/100 Gold||5/5||5/5||5/5||2014||1,499||discont.||check|
|Panasonic G6 (⇒ lft | rgt)||HiRec||-||5/5||-||4.5/5||2013||599||discont.||check|
|Panasonic GH3 (⇒ lft | rgt)||HiRec||79/100 Gold||4.5/5||5/5||4.5/5||2012||1,299||discont.||check|
|Panasonic G3 (⇒ lft | rgt)||88/100 HiRec||75/100 Silver||4.5/5||4.5/5||5/5||2011||599||discont.||check|
|Panasonic GX1 (⇒ lft | rgt)||85/100 Rec||77/100 Silver||4.5/5||4.5/5||4.5/5||2011||949||discont.||check|
|Panasonic GH1 (⇒ lft | rgt)||89/100 HiRec||72/100 HiRec||4.5/5||5/5||4.5/5||2009||1,499||discont.||check|
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. Thus, a score needs to be put into the context of the launch date and the launch price of the camera, and rating-comparisons among cameras that span long time periods or concern very differently equipped models make little sense. Also, please note that some of the review sites have changed their methodology and reporting over time.
In case you are interested in seeing how other cameras pair up, just make your choice using the following search menu. 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 you cannot find the camera you are interested in, please contact me, and I will try to locate and add the respective data to the application.
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