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Olympus E-M10 versus Olympus PEN-F

The Olympus OM-D E-M10 and the Olympus PEN-F are two digital cameras that were revealed to the public, respectively, in January 2014 and January 2016. Both the E-M10 and the PEN-F are mirrorless interchangeable lens cameras that are equipped with a Four Thirds sensor. The E-M10 has a resolution of 15.9 megapixel, whereas the PEN-F provides 20.2 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-M10 vs Olympus PEN-F

An illustration of the physical size and weight of the Olympus E-M10 and the Olympus PEN-F 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 dimensions are rounded to the nearest millimeter. You can also use the toggle button to switch to a percentage comparison if you prefer that the measures are being expressed in relative terms (in this case, the camera on the left side – the E-M10 – represents the basis for the calculations across all the size and weight measures).

Snapsort Olympus E-M10 vs Olympus PEN-F
Compare E-M10 versus PEN-F top
Compare E-M10 and PEN-F rear

If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Olympus PEN-F is notably smaller (8 percent) than the Olympus E-M10. However, the PEN-F is markedly heavier (8 percent) than the E-M10. In this context, it is worth noting that neither the E-M10 nor the PEN-F are weather-sealed.

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.

Concerning battery life, the E-M10 gets 320 shots out of its BLS-5 battery, while the PEN-F can take 330 images on a single charge of its BLN-1 power pack.

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)
Camera
Model
Olympus E-M10» 4.7 in 3.2 in 1.8 in 14.0 oz 320 n Jan 2014 699- i Olympus E-M10
Olympus PEN-F« 4.9 in 2.8 in 1.5 in 15.1 oz 330 n Jan 2016 1,199 i i Olympus PEN-F
Olympus E-M10 III« » 4.8 in 3.3 in 2.0 in 14.5 oz 330 n Aug 2017 649 i i Olympus E-M10 III
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 E-M1 II
Olympus E-M10 II« » 4.7 in 3.3 in 1.9 in 13.8 oz 320 n Aug 2015 799- i Olympus E-M10 II
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-M5 II
Olympus E-PL7« » 4.5 in 2.6 in 1.5 in 12.6 oz 350 n Aug 2014 599- i Olympus E-PL7
Olympus E-PL6« » 4.4 in 2.5 in 1.5 in 11.5 oz 360 n May 2013 599- i Olympus E-PL6
Olympus E-P5« » 4.8 in 2.7 in 1.5 in 14.8 oz 330 n May 2013 999- i Olympus E-P5
Olympus E-PL5« » 4.4 in 2.5 in 1.5 in 11.5 oz 360 n Sep 2012 599- i Olympus E-PL5
Panasonic GX85« » 4.8 in 2.8 in 1.7 in 15.0 oz 290 n Apr 2016 799 i i Panasonic GX85
Panasonic G6« » 4.8 in 3.3 in 2.8 in 13.8 oz 340 n Apr 2013 599- i Panasonic G6
Panasonic GX7« » 4.8 in 2.8 in 2.2 in 14.2 oz 350 n Aug 2013 999- i Panasonic GX7
Sony RX100 IV« » 4.0 in 2.3 in 1.6 in 10.5 oz 280 n Jun 2015 999- i Sony RX100 IV

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-M10 was launched at a markedly lower price (by 42 percent) than the PEN-F, 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-M10 vs Olympus PEN-F

The imaging sensor is at the core of digital cameras and its size is one of the main determining factors of image quality. All other things equal, a large sensor will have larger individual pixel-units that offer better low-light sensitivity, wider dynamic range, and richer color depth than smaller pixels in a sensor of the same technological generation. Further, a large sensor camera will give the photographer additional creative options when using shallow depth-of-field to isolate a subject from its 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-M10 and Olympus PEN-F sensor measures

While the two cameras under review share the same sensor size, the PEN-F offers a higher resolution of 20.2 megapixel, compared with 15.9 MP of the E-M10. This megapixel advantage translates into a 13 percent gain in linear resolution. On the other hand, these sensor specs imply that the PEN-F has a higher pixel density and a smaller size of the individual pixel (with a pixel pitch of 3.34μm versus 3.76μm for the E-M10). However, it should be noted that the PEN-F is a somewhat more recent model (by 1 year and 11 months) than the E-M10, and its sensor might have benefitted from technological advances during this time that at least partly compensate for the smaller pixel size. 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-M10, the PEN-F has the capacity to capture high quality composite images (40MP) 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).

E-M10 versus PEN-F MP

Consistent information on actual sensor performance is available from DXO Mark for many 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 adjacent table reports on the physical sensor characteristics and the outcomes of the DXO sensor quality tests for a sample of comparator-cameras.

Sensor Characteristics
  Camera
Model
Sensor
Class
Resolution
(MP)
Horiz.
Pixels
Vert.
Pixels
Video
Format
DXO
Portrait
DXO
Landscape
DXO
Sports
DXO
Overall
Camera
Model
Olympus E-M10» Four Thirds 15.9 4608 34561080/30p22.812.388472Olympus E-M10
Olympus PEN-F« Four Thirds 20.2 5184 38881080/60p23.112.489474Olympus PEN-F
Olympus E-M10 III« » Four Thirds 15.9 4608 34564K/30p----Olympus E-M10 III
Olympus E-M1 II« » Four Thirds 20.2 5184 38884K/30p23.712.8131280Olympus E-M1 II
Olympus E-M10 II« » Four Thirds 15.9 4608 34561080/60p23.112.584273Olympus E-M10 II
Olympus E-M5 II« » Four Thirds 15.9 4608 34561080/60p23.012.584273Olympus E-M5 II
Olympus E-PL7« » Four Thirds 15.9 4608 34561080/30p22.712.487372Olympus E-PL7
Olympus E-PL6« » Four Thirds 15.9 4608 34561080/30p----Olympus E-PL6
Olympus E-P5« » Four Thirds 15.9 4608 34561080/30p22.812.489572Olympus E-P5
Olympus E-PL5« » Four Thirds 15.9 4608 34561080/30p22.812.388972Olympus E-PL5
Panasonic GX85« » Four Thirds 15.8 4592 34484K/30p22.912.666271Panasonic GX85
Panasonic G6« » Four Thirds 15.9 4608 34561080/60p21.311.563961Panasonic G6
Panasonic GX7« » Four Thirds 15.8 4592 34481080/60p22.612.271870Panasonic GX7
Sony RX100 IV« » 1-inch 20.0 5472 36484K/30p22.812.659170Sony RX100 IV

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 PEN-F provides a faster frame rate than the E-M10. It can shoot movie footage at 1080/60p, while the E-M10 is limited to 1080/30p.

 

Feature comparison: Olympus E-M10 vs Olympus PEN-F

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 PEN-F offers a substantially higher resolution than the one in the E-M10 (2360k vs 1440k dots). The adjacent table lists some of the other core features of the Olympus E-M10 and Olympus PEN-F along with similar information for a selection of comparators. If needed, the dpreview camera hub, for example, contains further detail on the cameras' specs.

Core Features
  Camera
Model
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
Camera
Model
Olympus E-M10»1440 n 3.0 1037 tilting Y 4000 8.0 Y Y Olympus E-M10
Olympus PEN-F«2360 n 3.0 1037 swivel Y 8000 10.0 n Y Olympus PEN-F
Olympus E-M10 III« »2360 n 3.0 1040 tilting Y 4000 8.6 Y Y Olympus E-M10 III
Olympus E-M1 II« »2360 n 3.0 1037 swivel Y 8000 18.0 n Y Olympus E-M1 II
Olympus E-M10 II« »2360 n 3.0 1040 tilting Y 4000 8.0 Y Y Olympus E-M10 II
Olympus E-M5 II« »2360 n 3.0 1037 swivel Y 8000 10.0 n Y Olympus E-M5 II
Olympus E-PL7« »- n 3.0 1037 tilting Y 4000 8.0 n Y Olympus E-PL7
Olympus E-PL6« »- n 3.0 460 tilting Y 4000 8.0 n Y Olympus E-PL6
Olympus E-P5« »- n 3.0 1037 tilting Y 8000 9.0 Y Y Olympus E-P5
Olympus E-PL5« »- n 3.0 460 tilting Y 4000 8.0 n Y Olympus E-PL5
Panasonic GX85« »2765 n 3.0 1040 tilting Y 4000 8.0 Y Y Panasonic GX85
Panasonic G6« »1440 n 3.0 1036 swivel Y 4000 7.0 Y n Panasonic G6
Panasonic GX7« »2760 n 3.0 1040 tilting Y 8000 5.0 Y Y Panasonic GX7
Sony RX100 IV« »2359 n 3.0 1228 tilting n 2000 16.0 Y Y Sony RX100 IV

The PEN-F is a current model that online retailers, such as amazon, will have in stock. In contrast, the E-M10 has been discontinued (but it can be found pre-owned on eBay). As a replacement in the same line of cameras, the E-M10 was succeeded by the Olympus E-M10 II.

Review summary: Olympus E-M10 vs Olympus PEN-F

So how do things add up? Is there a clear favorite between the Olympus E-M10 and the Olympus PEN-F? Below is a summary of the relative strengths of each of the two contestants.


Arguments in favor of the Olympus OM-D E-M10:

  • Easier fill-in: Is equipped with a small onboard flash to brighten deep shadow areas.
  • More affordable: Was introduced into a lower priced category (42 percent cheaper at launch).
  • More heavily discounted: Has been on the market for longer (launched in January 2014).


Advantages of the Olympus PEN-F:

  • More detail: Has more megapixels (20.2 vs 15.9MP), which boosts linear resolution by 13%.
  • High quality composites: Can combine several shots after pixel-shifting its sensor.
  • Better video: Provides higher movie framerates (1080/60p versus 1080/30p).
  • More detailed viewfinder: Has higher resolution electronic viewfinder (2360k vs 1440k dots).
  • More flexible LCD: Has swivel screen for odd-angle shots in portrait or landscape orientation.
  • Faster shutter: Has higher mechanical shutter speed (8000/sec vs 4000/sec) to freeze action.
  • Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (10 vs 8 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
  • More modern: Was introduced somewhat (1 year and 11 months) more recently.

If the count of individual advantages (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the PEN-F is the clear winner of the contest (8 : 3 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.

E-M10 03:08 PEN-F

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-M10 or the PEN-F. User reviews, such as those found at amazon, can sometimes inform about these issues, but such feedback is often incomplete, inconsistent, and biased. This is why hands-on reviews by experts are important. The following table reports the overall rankings of the cameras as published by some of the major camera review sites (cameralabs, dpreview, ephotozine, imaging-resource, photographyblog). The full reviews are available by clicking on the site logo in the table header.

Review Scores
  Camera
Model
cameralabs dpreview ephotozine imaging-resource photographyblog Camera
Launch
(announced)
Launch
Price
(USD)
Street
Price
(USD)
Used
Price
(USD)
Camera
Model
Olympus E-M10»-80/1005/54.5/55/5 Jan 2014 699- i Olympus E-M10
Olympus PEN-F«-82/1004.5/54.5/55/5 Jan 2016 1,199 i i Olympus PEN-F
Olympus E-M10 III« »Rec80/1004.5/5-4.5/5 Aug 2017 649 i i Olympus E-M10 III
Olympus E-M1 II« »HiRec85/1004.5/55/54.5/5 Sep 2016 1,999 i i Olympus E-M1 II
Olympus E-M10 II« »HiRec80/1005/55/55/5 Aug 2015 799- i Olympus E-M10 II
Olympus E-M5 II« »HiRec81/1005/54.5/55/5 Feb 2015 1,099 i i Olympus E-M5 II
Olympus E-PL7« »Rec-5/54.5/54/5 Aug 2014 599- i Olympus E-PL7
Olympus E-PL6« »----- May 2013 599- i Olympus E-PL6
Olympus E-P5« »HiRec78/1004.5/54.5/55/5 May 2013 999- i Olympus E-P5
Olympus E-PL5« »HiRec-4.5/54.5/54.5/5 Sep 2012 599- i Olympus E-PL5
Panasonic GX85« »HiRec82/1005/54.5/55/5 Apr 2016 799 i i Panasonic GX85
Panasonic G6« »HiRec-5/5-4.5/5 Apr 2013 599- i Panasonic G6
Panasonic GX7« »Rec79/1005/54.5/55/5 Aug 2013 999- i Panasonic GX7
Sony RX100 IV« »HiRec85/1004/54.5/54.5/5 Jun 2015 999- i Sony RX100 IV

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 comparisons of ratings among very different cameras or across long time periods have little meaning. It should also be noted that some of the review sites have over time altered the way they render their verdicts.

 

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. There is also a set of direct links to comparison reviews that other users of the CAM-parator app explored. If you do not see the camera that you are looking for, please send me an email, and I will try to update the database with the necessary infos.

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