Olympus E-M5 II vs Panasonic GH2
The Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark II and the Panasonic Lumix DMC-GH2 are two enthusiast cameras that were announced, respectively, in February 2015 and September 2010. Both the E-M5 II and the GH2 are mirrorless interchangeable lens cameras that are equipped with a Four Thirds sensor. Both cameras offer a resolution of 15.9 megapixels.
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-M5 Mark II and the Panasonic Lumix DMC-GH2? 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-M5 II and the Panasonic GH2 is provided in the side-by-side display below. The two cameras are presented according to their relative size. Three consecutive perspectives from the front, the top, and the back are available. All size dimensions 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 GH2 is notably larger (6 percent) than the Olympus E-M5 II. However, the GH2 is markedly lighter (6 percent) than the E-M5 II. It is worth mentioning in this context that the E-M5 II 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 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 want to switch the focus of the display and review another camera pair, you can move across to the CAM-parator tool and choose from the broad selection of possible camera comparisons there.
|1.||Olympus E-M5 II||124 mm||85 mm||45 mm||469 g||310||Y||Feb 2015||1,099|
|2.||Panasonic GH2||124 mm||90 mm||76 mm||442 g||330||n||Sep 2010||899|
|3.||Olympus E-M5 III||125 mm||85 mm||50 mm||414 g||310||Y||Oct 2019||1,199|
|4.||Olympus PEN-F||125 mm||72 mm||37 mm||427 g||330||n||Jan 2016||1,199|
|5.||Olympus E-M10 II||120 mm||83 mm||47 mm||390 g||320||n||Aug 2015||649|
|6.||Olympus E-M10||119 mm||82 mm||46 mm||396 g||320||n||Jan 2014||699|
|7.||Olympus E-M1||130 mm||94 mm||63 mm||497 g||350||Y||Sep 2013||1,399|
|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.||Panasonic G85||128 mm||89 mm||74 mm||505 g||330||Y||Sep 2016||899|
|11.||Panasonic GX85||122 mm||71 mm||44 mm||426 g||290||n||Apr 2016||799|
|12.||Panasonic GX8||133 mm||78 mm||63 mm||487 g||330||Y||Jul 2015||1,199|
|13.||Panasonic GM5||99 mm||60 mm||36 mm||211 g||220||n||Sep 2014||749|
|14.||Panasonic GM1||99 mm||55 mm||30 mm||204 g||230||n||Oct 2013||749|
|15.||Panasonic GX7||123 mm||71 mm||55 mm||402 g||350||n||Aug 2013||999|
|16.||Panasonic GF1||119 mm||71 mm||36 mm||385 g||380||n||Sep 2009||749|
|17.||Panasonic GH1||124 mm||90 mm||45 mm||385 g||300||n||Mar 2009||899|
|Notes: Measurements and pricing do not include easily detachable parts, such as add-on or interchangeable lenses or optional viewfinders.|
Any camera decision will naturally be influenced heavily by the price. 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 GH2 was launched at a somewhat lower price (by 18 percent) than the E-M5 II, 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.
The size of the imaging sensor is a crucial determinant 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. 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 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.
The two cameras under review do not only share the same sensor size, but also offer an identical resolution of 15.9 megapixels. This similarity in sensor specs implies that both the E-M5 II and the GH2 have the same pixel density, as well as the same pixel size. It should, however, be noted that the E-M5 II is much more recent (by 4 years and 4 months) than the GH2, and its sensor will have benefitted from technological advances during this time.
Unlike the GH2, the E-M5 II 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).
The Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark II 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-GH2 are ISO 160 to ISO 12800 (no boost).
Consistent information on actual sensor performance is available from DXO Mark for many 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 review, the E-M5 II 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, 1.2 EV in additional dynamic range, and 0.4 stops in additional low light sensitivity. The following table provides an overview of the physical sensor characteristics, as well as the sensor quality measurements for a selection of comparators.
| DXO |
|1.||Olympus E-M5 II||Four Thirds||15.9||4608||3456||1080/60p||23.0||12.5||842||73|
|2.||Panasonic GH2||Four Thirds||15.9||4608||3456||1080/60i||21.2||11.3||655||60|
|3.||Olympus E-M5 III||Four Thirds||20.2||5184||3888||4K/30p||..||..||..||..|
|4.||Olympus PEN-F||Four Thirds||20.2||5184||3888||1080/60p||23.1||12.4||894||74|
|5.||Olympus E-M10 II||Four Thirds||15.9||4608||3456||1080/60p||23.1||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-M1||Four Thirds||15.9||4608||3456||1080/30p||23.0||12.7||757||73|
|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.||Panasonic G85||Four Thirds||15.8||4592||3448||4K/30p||22.8||12.5||656||71|
|11.||Panasonic GX85||Four Thirds||15.8||4592||3448||4K/30p||22.9||12.6||662||71|
|12.||Panasonic GX8||Four Thirds||20.2||5184||3888||4K/30p||23.5||12.6||806||75|
|13.||Panasonic GM5||Four Thirds||15.8||4592||3448||1080/60p||22.1||11.7||721||66|
|14.||Panasonic GM1||Four Thirds||15.8||4592||3448||1080/60i||22.3||11.7||660||66|
|15.||Panasonic GX7||Four Thirds||15.8||4592||3448||1080/60p||22.6||12.2||718||70|
|16.||Panasonic GF1||Four Thirds||12.0||4000||3000||720/30p||21.2||10.3||513||54|
|17.||Panasonic GH1||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 E-M5 II provides a higher frame rate than the GH2. It can shoot video footage at 1080/60p, while the Panasonic is limited to 1080/60i.
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-M5 II offers a substantially higher resolution than the one in the GH2 (2360k vs 1534k dots). The table below summarizes some of the other core capabilities of the Olympus E-M5 II and Panasonic GH2 in connection with corresponding information for a sample of similar cameras.
|1.||Olympus E-M5 II||2360||n||3.0||1037||swivel||Y||1/8000s||10.0||n||Y|
|3.||Olympus E-M5 III||2360||n||3.0||1040||swivel||Y||1/8000s||10.0||n||Y|
|5.||Olympus E-M10 II||2360||n||3.0||1040||tilting||Y||1/4000s||8.0||Y||Y|
One feature that differentiates the E-M5 II and the GH2 is in-body image stabilization (IBIS). The E-M5 II reduces the risk of handshake-induced blur with all attached lenses, while the GH2 offers no blur reduction with lenses that themselves do not provide optical image stabilization.Both cameras have an articulated rear screen that can be turned to be front-facing. This feature will be particularly appreciated by vloggers and photographers who are interested in taking selfies.
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, the E-M5 II is one of those camera that have an additional 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-M5 II has 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-M5 II and the GH2 write their files to SDXC cards. The E-M5 II supports UHS-II cards (Ultra High Speed data transfer of up to 312 MB/s), while the GH2 cannot take advantage of Ultra High Speed SD cards.
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-M5 Mark II and Panasonic Lumix DMC-GH2 and, in particular, the interfaces the cameras (and selected comparators) provide for accessory control and data transfer.
| WiFi |
| NFC |
|1.||Olympus E-M5 II||Y||stereo||mono||Y||-||micro||2.0||Y||-||-|
|3.||Olympus E-M5 III||Y||stereo||mono||Y||-||micro||2.0||Y||-||Y|
|5.||Olympus E-M10 II||Y||stereo||mono||-||-||micro||2.0||Y||-||-|
It is notable that the E-M5 II offers wifi support, while the GH2 does not. Wifi can be a very convenient means to transfer image data to an off-camera location.
Studio photographers will appreciate that the Olympus E-M5 II (unlike the GH2) features a PC Sync socket, so that professional strobe lights can be controlled by the camera.
Both the E-M5 II 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-M5 II was followed by the Olympus E-M5 III. 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 conclusions can be drawn? Which of the two cameras – the Olympus E-M5 II or the Panasonic GH2 – has the upper hand? Is one clearly better than the other? The listing below highlights the relative strengths of the two models.
Reasons to prefer the Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark II:
- High quality composites: Can combine several shots after pixel-shifting its sensor.
- 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 (1.2 EV of extra DR).
- Better low-light sensitivity: Requires less light for good images (0.4 stops ISO advantage).
- Better video: Provides higher movie framerates (1080/60p versus 1080/60i).
- More detailed viewfinder: Has higher resolution electronic viewfinder (2360k vs 1534k dots).
- Larger viewfinder image: Features a viewfinder with a higher magnification (0.74x vs 0.71x).
- 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 (1/8000s vs 1/4000s) to freeze action.
- Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (10 vs 3 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
- Less disturbing: Has an electronic shutter option for completely silent shooting.
- Easier time-lapse photography: Has an intervalometer built-in for low frequency shooting.
- Better sealing: Is weather sealed to enable shooting in dusty or wet environments.
- Sharper images: Has hand-shake reducing image stabilization built-in.
- Easier file upload: Has wifi built in for automatic backup or image transfer to the web.
- Better studio light control: Has a PC Sync socket to connect to professional strobe lights.
- Faster buffer clearing: Supports Ultra High Speed (UHS-II) SDXC cards.
- More modern: Reflects 4 years and 4 months of technical progress since the GH2 launch.
Advantages of the Panasonic Lumix DMC-GH2:
- Easier fill-in: Has a small integrated flash to brighten shadows of backlit subjects.
- More affordable: Was released into a lower priced segment (18 percent cheaper at launch).
- 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-M5 II is the clear winner of the match-up (20 : 3 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 wildlife photographer will view the differences between cameras in a way that diverges from the perspective of a family photog, and a person interested in architecture has distinct needs from a sports 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-M5 II and the Panasonic GH2 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 comparison of the spec-sheets of cameras can offer a general idea of their imaging potential, it says little about, for example, the shooting experience and imaging performance of the E-M5 II and the GH2 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], 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-M5 II||5/5||+ +||81/100||5/5||5/5||Feb 2015||1,099|
|2.||Panasonic GH2||5/5||+ +||79/100||4.5/5||5/5||Sep 2010||899|
|3.||Olympus E-M5 III||5/5||+||82/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Oct 2019||1,199|
|4.||Olympus PEN-F||..||..||82/100||4.5/5||5/5||Jan 2016||1,199|
|5.||Olympus E-M10 II||4.5/5||+ +||80/100||5/5||5/5||Aug 2015||649|
|6.||Olympus E-M10||4/5||..||80/100||5/5||5/5||Jan 2014||699|
|7.||Olympus E-M1||5/5||+ +||84/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Sep 2013||1,399|
|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.||Panasonic G85||..||+ +||84/100||5/5||4.5/5||Sep 2016||899|
|11.||Panasonic GX85||4.5/5||+ +||82/100||5/5||5/5||Apr 2016||799|
|12.||Panasonic GX8||5/5||+||82/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Jul 2015||1,199|
|13.||Panasonic GM5||3.5/5||+||77/100||5/5||4.5/5||Sep 2014||749|
|14.||Panasonic GM1||3/5||+||78/100||5/5||4.5/5||Oct 2013||749|
|15.||Panasonic GX7||4/5||+||79/100||5/5||5/5||Aug 2013||999|
|16.||Panasonic GF1||..||85/100||69/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Sep 2009||749|
|17.||Panasonic GH1||..||+ +||72/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Mar 2009||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. A score, therefore, has to be seen in close connection to the price and market introduction time of the camera, and comparing ratings of very distinct cameras or ones that are far apart in terms of their release date have little meaning. Also, please note that some of the review sites have changed their methodology and reporting over time.
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. As an alternative, you can also directly jump to any one of the listed comparisons that were previously generated by the CAM-parator tool.
Specifications: Olympus E-M5 II vs Panasonic GH2
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-M5 II||Panasonic GH2|
|Camera Type||Mirrorless system camera||Mirrorless system camera|
|Camera Lens||Micro Four Thirds lenses||Micro Four Thirds lenses|
|Launch Date||February 2015||September 2010|
|Launch Price||USD 1,099||USD 899|
|Sensor Specs||Olympus E-M5 II||Panasonic GH2|
|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||15.9 Megapixels|
|Image Resolution||4608 x 3456 pixels||4608 x 3456 pixels|
|Pixel Pitch||3.76 μm||3.76 μm|
|Pixel Density||7.08 MP/cm2||7.08 MP/cm2|
|Moiré control||Anti-Alias filter||Anti-Alias filter|
|Movie Capability||1080/60p Video||1080/60i Video|
|ISO Setting||200 - 25,600 ISO||160 - 12,800 ISO|
|ISO Boost||100 - 25,600 ISO||no Enhancement|
|Image Processor||TruePic VII||Venus FHD|
|DXO Sensor Quality (score)||73||60|
|DXO Color Depth (bits)||23.0||21.2|
|DXO Dynamic Range (EV)||12.5||11.3|
|DXO Low Light (ISO)||842||655|
|Screen Specs||Olympus E-M5 II||Panasonic GH2|
|Viewfinder Type||Electronic viewfinder||Electronic viewfinder|
|Viewfinder Field of View||100%||100%|
|Viewfinder Resolution||2360k dots||1534k dots|
|LCD Framing||Live View||Live View|
|Rear LCD Size||3.0inch||3.0inch|
|LCD Resolution||1037k dots||460k dots|
|LCD Attachment||Swivel screen||Swivel screen|
|Touch Input||Touchscreen||no Touchscreen|
|Shooting Specs||Olympus E-M5 II||Panasonic GH2|
|Focus System||Contrast-detect AF||Contrast-detect AF|
|Manual Focusing Aid||Focus Peaking||no Peaking Feature|
|Continuous Shooting||10 shutter flaps/s||3 shutter flaps/s|
|Electronic Shutter||up to 1/16000s||no E-Shutter|
|Time-Lapse Photography||Intervalometer built-in||no Intervalometer|
|Image Stabilization||In-body stabilization||Lens stabilization only|
|Fill Flash||no On-Board Flash||Build-in Flash|
|Storage Medium||SDXC cards||SDXC cards|
|Second Storage Option||Single card slot||Single card slot|
|UHS card support||UHS-II||no|
|Connectivity Specs||Olympus E-M5 II||Panasonic GH2|
|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||External MIC port|
|Wifi Support||Wifi built-in||no Wifi|
|Body Specs||Olympus E-M5 II||Panasonic GH2|
|Environmental Sealing||Weathersealed body||not weather sealed|
|Battery Life (CIPA)||310 shots per charge||330 shots per charge|
124 x 85 x 45 mm
(4.9 x 3.3 x 1.8 in)
124 x 90 x 76 mm
(4.9 x 3.5 x 3.0 in)
|Camera Weight||469 g (16.5 oz)||442 g (15.6 oz)|
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