Olympus E-M1 versus Pentax K-3 II
The Olympus OM-D E-M1 and the Pentax K-3 II are two enthusiast cameras that were officially introduced, respectively, in September 2013 and April 2015. The E-M1 is a mirrorless interchangeable lens camera, while the K-3 II is a DSLR. The cameras are based on a Four Thirds (E-M1) and an APS-C (K-3 II) sensor. The Olympus has a resolution of 15.9 megapixel, whereas the Pentax provides 24.1 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 vs Pentax K-3 II
The physical size and weight of the Olympus E-M1 and the Pentax K-3 II are illustrated in the side-by-side display below. Three consecutive perspectives from the front, the top, and the back are presented. All size dimensions 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 Pentax K-3 II is notably larger (7 percent) than the Olympus E-M1. Moreover, the K-3 II is substantially heavier (61 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. Hence, you might want to study the specifications of available lenses in order to get the full picture of the size and weight of the two camera systems.
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
|Olympus E-M1 (⇒ rgt)||130 mm||94 mm||63 mm||497 g||350||YES||2013||1,399||discont.||check|
|Pentax K-3 II (⇒ lft)||131 mm||100 mm||77 mm||800 g||720||YES||2015||1,099||latest||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||360||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||discont.||check|
|Panasonic GH4 (⇒ lft | rgt)||133 mm||93 mm||84 mm||560 g||500||YES||2014||1,499||discont.||check|
|Panasonic GH3 (⇒ lft | rgt)||133 mm||93 mm||82 mm||550 g||540||YES||2012||1,299||discont.||check|
|Pentax KP (⇒ lft | rgt)||132 mm||101 mm||76 mm||703 g||390||YES||2017||1,099||latest||check|
|Pentax K-70 (⇒ lft | rgt)||126 mm||93 mm||74 mm||688 g||410||YES||2016||649||latest||check|
|Pentax K-3 (⇒ lft | rgt)||131 mm||100 mm||77 mm||800 g||560||YES||2013||1,299||discont.||check|
|Pentax K-5 (⇒ lft | rgt)||131 mm||97 mm||73 mm||760 g||740||YES||2010||1,099||discont.||check|
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 K-3 II was launched at a somewhat lower price (by 21 percent) than the E-M1, which makes it more attractive for photographers on a tight budget. 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 Pentax K-3 II
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.
Of the two cameras under consideration, the Olympus E-M1 features a Four Thirds sensor and the Pentax K-3 II an APS-C sensor. The sensor area in the K-3 II is 63 percent bigger. As a result of these sensor size differences, the cameras have a format factor of, respectively, 2.0 and 1.5. The sensor in the E-M1 has a native 4:3 aspect ratio, while the one in the K-3 II offers a 3:2 aspect.
With 24.1MP, the K-3 II offers a higher resolution than the E-M1 (15.9MP), but the K-3 II nevertheless has larger individual pixels (pixel pitch of 3.90μm versus 3.76μm for the E-M1) due to its larger sensor. Moreover, the K-3 II is a somewhat more recent model (by 1 year and 7 months) than the E-M1, and its sensor might have benefitted from technological advances during this time that further enhance the light gathering capacity of its pixel-units. 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.
Unlike the E-M1, the K-3 II has the capacity to capture high quality composite images 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).
Consistent information on actual sensor performance is available from DXO Mark for most cameras. 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 consideration, the K-3 II has a markedly higher DXO score than the E-M1 (overall score 7 points higher), which will translate into better image quality. The advantage is based on 0.6 bits higher color depth, 0.9 EV in additional dynamic range, and 0.5 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|
|Pentax K-3 II (⇒ lft)||APS-C||24.1||6016||4000||1080/60i||23.6||13.6||1106||80|
|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 GH3 (⇒ lft | rgt)||Four Thirds||15.9||4608||3456||1080/60p||22.7||12.4||812||71|
|Pentax KP (⇒ lft | rgt)||APS-C||24.1||6016||4000||1080/60i||-||-||-||-|
|Pentax K-70 (⇒ lft | rgt)||APS-C||24.0||6000||4000||1080/60i||-||-||-||-|
|Pentax K-3 (⇒ lft | rgt)||APS-C||24.1||6016||4000||1080/60i||23.7||13.4||1216||80|
|Pentax K-5 (⇒ lft | rgt)||APS-C||16.1||4928||3264||1080/25p||23.7||14.1||1162||82|
Many modern cameras cannot only take still pictures, but also record videos. The two cameras under consideration both have sensors whose read-out speed is fast enough to capture moving pictures, but the K-3 II 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.
Feature comparison: Olympus E-M1 vs Pentax K-3 II
Beyond body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a range of features. For example, the E-M1 has an electronic viewfinder (2360k dots), while the K-3 II has an optical one. Both systems have their advantages, with the electronic viewfinder making it possible to project supplementary shooting information into the framing view, whereas the optical viewfinder offers lag-free viewing and a very clear framing image. The table below summarizes some of the other core capabilities of the Olympus E-M1 and Pentax K-3 II in connection with corresponding information for a sample of similar cameras. If you need more detail on the specs, you can find comprehensive listings, for example, in the dpreview camera hub.
|Olympus E-M1 (⇒ rgt)||2360||no||3.0||1037||tilting||YES||8000||10.0||no||YES|
|Pentax K-3 II (⇒ lft)||optical||YES||3.2||1037||fixed||no||8000||8.3||no||YES|
|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 GH3 (⇒ lft | rgt)||1746||no||3.0||614||swivel||YES||4000||6.0||12||no|
|Pentax KP (⇒ lft | rgt)||optical||no||3.0||921||tilting||no||6000||7.0||YES||YES|
|Pentax K-70 (⇒ lft | rgt)||optical||no||3.0||921||swivel||no||6000||6.0||YES||YES|
|Pentax K-3 (⇒ lft | rgt)||optical||YES||3.2||1037||fixed||no||8000||8.3||13||YES|
|Pentax K-5 (⇒ lft | rgt)||optical||YES||3.0||921||fixed||no||8000||7.0||13||YES|
The K-3 II is a current model that online retailers, such as amazon, will have in stock. In contrast, the E-M1 has been discontinued (but it can be found pre-owned on eBay). As a replacement in the same line of cameras, the E-M1 was succeeded by the Olympus E-M1 II.
Review summary: Olympus E-M1 vs Pentax K-3 II
So what is the bottom line? Is there a clear favorite between the Olympus E-M1 and the Pentax K-3 II? A synthesis of the relative strong points of each of the models is listed below.
Advantages of the Olympus OM-D E-M1:
- More framing info: Has an electronic viewfinder that displays shooting data.
- More flexible LCD: Has a tilting screen for odd-angle shots in landscape orientation.
- Fewer buttons to press: Is equipped with a touch-sensitive rear screen to facilitate handling.
- Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (10 vs 8.3 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
- Less heavy: Is lighter (by 303g or 38 percent) and hence easier to carry around.
- More legacy lens friendly: Can take a broad range of non-native lenses via adapters.
- More heavily discounted: Has been on the market for longer (launched in September 2013).
Reasons to prefer the Pentax K-3 II:
- More detail: Has more megapixels (24.1 vs 15.9MP), which boosts linear resolution by 25%.
- High quality composites: Can combine several shots after pixel-shifting its sensor.
- Better image quality: Scores markedly higher (7 points) in the DXO overall evaluation.
- More dynamic range: Captures a broader range of light and dark details (0.9 EV of extra DR).
- Better low-light sensitivity: Can shoot in dim conditions (0.5 stops ISO advantage).
- Better video: Provides higher movie framerates (1080/60i versus 1080/30p).
- Brighter framing: Features an optical viewfinder for clear, lag-free composition.
- Easier setting verification: Has a control panel on top to check shooting parameters.
- Larger screen: Has a bigger rear LCD (3.2" vs 3.0") for image review and settings control.
- Longer lasting: Gets more shots (720 versus 350) out of a single battery charge.
- More affordable: Was released into a lower priced segment (21 percent cheaper at launch).
- More modern: Was introduced somewhat (1 year and 7 months) more recently.
If the number of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the K-3 II is the clear winner of the contest (12 : 7 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 when reflecting and deciding on a new camera.
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 K-3 II. 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 summarizes the assessments of some of the best known camera review sites. The detailed reviews can be accessed, respectively, on the websites of 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|
|Pentax K-3 II (⇒ lft)||-||-||5/5||4.5/5||5/5||2015||1,099||latest||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||discont.||check|
|Panasonic GH4 (⇒ lft | rgt)||HiRec||85/100 Gold||5/5||5/5||5/5||2014||1,499||discont.||check|
|Panasonic GH3 (⇒ lft | rgt)||HiRec||79/100 Gold||4.5/5||5/5||4.5/5||2012||1,299||discont.||check|
|Pentax KP (⇒ lft | rgt)||-||82/100 Silver||5/5||-||4.5/5||2017||1,099||latest||check|
|Pentax K-70 (⇒ lft | rgt)||-||79/100 Silver||4.5/5||4/5||4.5/5||2016||649||latest||check|
|Pentax K-3 (⇒ lft | rgt)||-||83/100 Gold||5/5||4.5/5||5/5||2013||1,299||discont.||check|
|Pentax K-5 (⇒ lft | rgt)||-||83/100 Gold||5/5||4.5/5||4.5/5||2010||1,099||discont.||check|
The review scores listed above should be treated with care, though. The assessments were made in relation to similar cameras of the same technological generation. 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
Did this review help to inform your camera decision process? If you would like to see a different side-by-side camera review, just make a corresponding selection in the search boxes 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 you cannot find the camera you are interested in, kindly get in touch, and I will try to update the database with the necessary infos.
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