Olympus E-M1 vs Panasonic GX7
The Olympus OM-D E-M1 and the Panasonic Lumix DMC-GX7 are two enthusiast cameras that were officially introduced, respectively, in September 2013 and August 2013. Both the E-M1 and the GX7 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-GX7? 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 GX7 is provided in the side-by-side display below. The two cameras are presented according to their relative size. Three successive views from the front, the top, and the rear are shown. All width, height and depth measures are rounded to the nearest millimeter.
Both cameras are available in two different colors (black, silver).
If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Panasonic GX7 is notably smaller (29 percent) than the Olympus E-M1. Moreover, the GX7 is markedly lighter (19 percent) than the E-M1. It is worth mentioning in this context that the E-M1 is splash and dust resistant, while the GX7 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 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 following table provides a synthesis of the main physical specifications of the two cameras and other similar ones. 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|
|2.||Panasonic GX7||123 mm||71 mm||55 mm||402 g||350||n||Aug 2013||999|
|3.||Olympus E-M1 II||134 mm||91 mm||67 mm||574 g||440||Y||Sep 2016||1,999|
|4.||Olympus PEN-F||125 mm||72 mm||37 mm||427 g||330||n||Jan 2016||1,199|
|5.||Olympus E-M5 II||124 mm||85 mm||45 mm||469 g||310||Y||Feb 2015||1,099|
|6.||Olympus E-M10||119 mm||82 mm||46 mm||396 g||320||n||Jan 2014||699|
|7.||Olympus E-PL7||115 mm||67 mm||38 mm||357 g||350||n||Aug 2014||599|
|8.||Olympus E-P5||122 mm||69 mm||37 mm||420 g||330||n||May 2013||999|
|9.||Olympus E-M5||122 mm||89 mm||43 mm||425 g||360||Y||Feb 2012||1,299|
|10.||Olympus E-PL5||111 mm||64 mm||38 mm||325 g||360||n||Sep 2012||599|
|11.||Olympus E-PM2||110 mm||64 mm||34 mm||269 g||360||n||Sep 2012||499|
|12.||Panasonic GX85||122 mm||71 mm||44 mm||426 g||290||n||Apr 2016||799|
|13.||Panasonic GH4||133 mm||93 mm||84 mm||560 g||500||Y||Feb 2014||1,499|
|14.||Panasonic GH3||133 mm||93 mm||82 mm||550 g||540||Y||Sep 2012||1,299|
|15.||Panasonic GH2||124 mm||90 mm||76 mm||442 g||330||n||Sep 2010||899|
|Notes: 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 listed launch prices provide an indication of the market segment that the manufacturer of the cameras have been targeting. The GX7 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.
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. 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 associated with larger, more expensive camera bodies 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 GX7. 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 GX7). It is noteworthy in this context that the two cameras were released in close succession, so that their sensors are from the same technological generation. 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.
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 corresponding ISO settings for the Panasonic Lumix DMC-GX7 are ISO 125 to ISO 25600 (no boost).
Since 2007, DXO Mark has published sensor performance measurements that have been derived using a consistent methodology. 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 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-M1||Four Thirds||15.9||4608||3456||1080/30p||23.0||12.7||757||73|
|2.||Panasonic GX7||Four Thirds||15.8||4592||3448||1080/60p||22.6||12.2||718||70|
|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-M10||Four Thirds||15.9||4608||3456||1080/30p||22.8||12.3||884||72|
|7.||Olympus E-PL7||Four Thirds||15.9||4608||3456||1080/30p||22.7||12.4||873||72|
|8.||Olympus E-P5||Four Thirds||15.9||4608||3456||1080/30p||22.8||12.4||895||72|
|9.||Olympus E-M5||Four Thirds||15.9||4608||3456||1080/60i||22.8||12.3||826||71|
|10.||Olympus E-PL5||Four Thirds||15.9||4608||3456||1080/30p||22.8||12.3||889||72|
|11.||Olympus E-PM2||Four Thirds||15.9||4608||3456||1080/30p||22.7||12.2||932||72|
|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|
|15.||Panasonic GH2||Four Thirds||15.9||4608||3456||1080/60i||21.2||11.3||655||60|
Many modern cameras cannot only take still pictures, but also record videos. Both cameras under consideration have a sensor with sufficiently fast read-out times for moving pictures, but the GX7 provides a faster frame rate than the E-M1. It can shoot movie footage at 1080/60p, while the Olympus is limited to 1080/30p.
Apart from 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 GX7 offers a higher resolution than the one in the E-M1 (2760k vs 2360k dots). The following table reports on some other key feature differences and similarities of the Olympus E-M1, the Panasonic GX7, and comparable cameras.
|1.||Olympus E-M1||2360||n||3.0 / 1037||tilting||Y||1/8000s||10.0||n||Y|
|2.||Panasonic GX7||2760||n||3.0 / 1040||tilting||Y||1/8000s||5.0||Y||Y|
|3.||Olympus E-M1 II||2360||n||3.0 / 1037||swivel||Y||1/8000s||18.0||n||Y|
|4.||Olympus PEN-F||2360||n||3.0 / 1037||swivel||Y||1/8000s||10.0||n||Y|
|5.||Olympus E-M5 II||2360||n||3.0 / 1037||swivel||Y||1/8000s||10.0||n||Y|
|6.||Olympus E-M10||1440||n||3.0 / 1037||tilting||Y||1/4000s||8.0||Y||Y|
|7.||Olympus E-PL7||optional||n||3.0 / 1037||tilting||Y||1/4000s||8.0||n||Y|
|8.||Olympus E-P5||optional||n||3.0 / 1037||tilting||Y||1/8000s||9.0||Y||Y|
|9.||Olympus E-M5||1440||n||3.0 / 610||tilting||Y||1/4000s||9.0||n||Y|
|10.||Olympus E-PL5||optional||n||3.0 / 460||tilting||Y||1/4000s||8.0||n||Y|
|11.||Olympus E-PM2||optional||n||3.0 / 460||fixed||Y||1/4000s||8.0||n||Y|
|12.||Panasonic GX85||2765||n||3.0 / 1040||tilting||Y||1/4000s||8.0||Y||Y|
|13.||Panasonic GH4||2359||n||3.0 / 1036||swivel||Y||1/8000s||12.0||Y||n|
|14.||Panasonic GH3||1746||n||3.0 / 614||swivel||Y||1/4000s||6.0||Y||n|
|15.||Panasonic GH2||1534||n||3.0 / 460||swivel||n||1/4000s||3.0||Y||n|
One difference between the cameras concerns the presence of an on-board flash. The GX7 has one, while the E-M1 does not. While the built-in flash of the GX7 is not very powerful, it can at times be useful as a fill-in light.
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 GX7 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 GX7 write their files to SDXC cards. Both cameras can use UHS-I cards, which provide for Ultra High Speed data transfer of 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-GX7 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 GX7||Y||stereo / mono||-||-||mini||2.0||Y||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-M10||Y||stereo / mono||-||-||micro||2.0||Y||-||-|
|7.||Olympus E-PL7||Y||stereo / mono||-||-||micro||2.0||Y||-||-|
|8.||Olympus E-P5||Y||stereo / mono||-||-||micro||2.0||Y||-||-|
|9.||Olympus E-M5||Y||stereo / mono||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|10.||Olympus E-PL5||Y||stereo / mono||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|11.||Olympus E-PM2||Y||stereo / mono||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|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||-||-|
|15.||Panasonic GH2||Y||stereo / mono||Y||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
It is notable that the E-M1 has a microphone port, which is missing on the GX7. Such an external microphone input can help to substantially improve the quality of audio recordings when a good external microphone is used.
Studio photographers will appreciate that the Olympus E-M1 (unlike the GX7) features a PC Sync socket, so that professional strobe lights can be controlled by the camera.
Both the E-M1 and the GX7 have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on eBay. The GX7 was replaced by the Panasonic GX85, while the E-M1 was followed by the Olympus E-M1 II. Further information on the two cameras (e.g. user guides, manuals), as well as related accessories, can be found on the official Olympus and Panasonic websites.
So what is the bottom line? Is there a clear favorite between the Olympus E-M1 and the Panasonic GX7? Which camera is better? A synthesis of the relative strong points of each of the models is listed below.
Reasons to prefer the Olympus OM-D E-M1:
- Maximized detail: Lacks an anti-alias filter to exploit the sensor's full resolution potential.
- Better live-view autofocus: Features on-sensor phase-detection for more confident autofocus.
- Better sound: Can connect to an external microphone for higher quality sound recording.
- Larger viewfinder image: Features a viewfinder with a higher magnification (0.74x vs 0.70x).
- Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (10 vs 5 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
- Better sealing: Is weather sealed to enable shooting in dusty or wet environments.
- Better studio light control: Has a PC Sync socket to connect to professional strobe lights.
Arguments in favor of the Panasonic Lumix DMC-GX7:
- Better moiré control: Has an anti-alias filter to avoid artificial patterns to appear in images.
- Better video: Provides higher movie framerates (1080/60p versus 1080/30p).
- More detailed viewfinder: Has higher resolution electronic viewfinder (2760k vs 2360k dots).
- More compact: Is smaller (123x71mm vs 130x94mm) and will fit more readily into a bag.
- Less heavy: Has a lower weight (by 95g or 19 percent) and is thus easier to take along.
- Easier fill-in: Has a small integrated flash to brighten shadows of backlit subjects.
- Easier device pairing: Supports NFC for fast wireless image transfer over short distances.
- More affordable: Was introduced into a lower priced category (29 percent cheaper at launch).
If the count of individual advantages (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the GX7 comes out slightly ahead of the E-M1 (8 : 7 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 GX7 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 says little about, for example, the shooting experience and imaging performance of the E-M1 and the GX7 in practical situations. 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 where reviews by experts come in. 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-M1||5/5||+ +||..||84/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Sep 2013||1,399|
|2.||Panasonic GX7||4/5||+||..||79/100||5/5||5/5||Aug 2013||999|
|3.||Olympus E-M1 II||5/5||+ +||5/5||85/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Sep 2016||1,999|
|4.||Olympus PEN-F||..||..||4/5||82/100||4.5/5||5/5||Jan 2016||1,199|
|5.||Olympus E-M5 II||5/5||+ +||4.5/5||81/100||5/5||5/5||Feb 2015||1,099|
|6.||Olympus E-M10||4/5||..||..||80/100||5/5||5/5||Jan 2014||699|
|7.||Olympus E-PL7||4/5||+||..||..||5/5||4/5||Aug 2014||599|
|8.||Olympus E-P5||5/5||+ +||..||78/100||4.5/5||5/5||May 2013||999|
|9.||Olympus E-M5||4/5||+ +||..||80/100||4.5/5||5/5||Feb 2012||1,299|
|10.||Olympus E-PL5||3/5||+ +||..||..||4.5/5||4.5/5||Sep 2012||599|
|11.||Olympus E-PM2||3/5||..||..||77/100||5/5||4.5/5||Sep 2012||499|
|12.||Panasonic GX85||4.5/5||+ +||..||82/100||5/5||5/5||Apr 2016||799|
|13.||Panasonic GH4||5/5||+ +||..||85/100||5/5||5/5||Feb 2014||1,499|
|14.||Panasonic GH3||5/5||+ +||..||79/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Sep 2012||1,299|
|15.||Panasonic GH2||5/5||+ +||..||79/100||4.5/5||5/5||Sep 2010||899|
|Notes: (+ +) highly recommended; (+) recommended; (o) reviewed; (..) not available.|
Care should be taken when interpreting the review scores above, though. The ratings are only valid when referring to cameras in the same category and of the same age. Thus, a score needs to be put into the context of the launch date and the launch price 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
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Specifications: Olympus E-M1 vs Panasonic GX7
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 GX7|
|Camera Type||Mirrorless system camera||Mirrorless system camera|
|Camera Lens||Micro Four Thirds lenses||Micro Four Thirds lenses|
|Launch Date||September 2013||August 2013|
|Launch Price||USD 1,399||USD 999|
|Sensor Specs||Olympus E-M1||Panasonic GX7|
|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||Anti-Alias filter|
|Movie Capability||1080/30p Video||1080/60p Video|
|ISO Setting||200 - 25,600 ISO||125 - 25,600 ISO|
|ISO Boost||100 - 25,600 ISO||no Enhancement|
|Image Processor||TruePIC VII||Venus|
|DXO Sensor Quality (score)||73||70|
|DXO Color Depth (bits)||23.0||22.6|
|DXO Dynamic Range (EV)||12.7||12.2|
|DXO Low Light (ISO)||757||718|
|Screen Specs||Olympus E-M1||Panasonic GX7|
|Viewfinder Type||Electronic viewfinder||Electronic viewfinder|
|Viewfinder Field of View||100%||100%|
|Viewfinder Resolution||2360k dots||2760k dots|
|LCD Framing||Live View||Live View|
|Rear LCD Size||3.0inch||3.0inch|
|LCD Resolution||1037k dots||1040k dots|
|LCD Attachment||Tilting screen||Tilting screen|
|Shooting Specs||Olympus E-M1||Panasonic GX7|
|Focus System||On-Sensor Phase-detect||Contrast-detect AF|
|Manual Focusing Aid||Focus Peaking||Focus Peaking|
|Max Shutter Speed (mechanical)||1/8000s||1/8000s|
|Continuous Shooting||10 shutter flaps/s||5 shutter flaps/s|
|Electronic Shutter||YES||up to 1/8000s|
|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-I|
|Connectivity Specs||Olympus E-M1||Panasonic GX7|
|Studio Flash||PC Sync socket||no PC Sync|
|USB Connector||USB 2.0||USB 2.0|
|HDMI Port||micro HDMI||mini HDMI|
|Microphone Port||External MIC port||no MIC socket|
|Wifi Support||Wifi built-in||Wifi built-in|
|Near-Field Communication||no NFC||NFC built-in|
|Body Specs||Olympus E-M1||Panasonic GX7|
|Environmental Sealing||Weathersealed body||not weather sealed|
|Battery Life (CIPA)||350 shots per charge||350 shots per charge|
130 x 94 x 63 mm
(5.1 x 3.7 x 2.5 in)
123 x 71 x 55 mm
(4.8 x 2.8 x 2.2 in)
|Camera Weight||497 g (17.5 oz)||402 g (14.2 oz)|
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