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Olympus E-M5 II vs Panasonic S1

The Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark II and the Panasonic Lumix DC-S1 are two enthusiast cameras that were officially introduced, respectively, in February 2015 and February 2019. Both the E-M5 II and the S1 are mirrorless interchangeable lens cameras that are based on a Four Thirds (E-M5 II) and a full frame (S1) sensor. The Olympus has a resolution of 15.9 megapixels, whereas the Panasonic provides 24 MP.

Below is an overview of the main specs of the two cameras as a starting point for the comparison.

Headline Specifications
Olympus E-M5 II   Panasonic S1
Olympus E-M5 II Panasonic S1
Mirrorless system camera Mirrorless system camera
Micro Four Thirds lenses Leica L mount lenses
15.9 MP, Four Thirds Sensor 24 MP, Full Frame Sensor
1080/60p Video 4K/60p Video
ISO 200-25600 ISO 100-51200 (50-204800)
Electronic viewfinder (2360k dots) Electronic viewfinder (5760k dots)
3.0" LCD, 1037k dots 3.2" LCD, 2100k dots
Swivel touchscreen Fully flexible touchscreen
10 shutter flaps per second 9 shutter flaps per second
In-body stabilizationIn-body stabilization
Weathersealed bodyWeathersealed body
310 shots per battery charge400 shots per battery charge
124 x 85 x 45 mm, 469 g 149 x 110 x 97 mm, 1017 g

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 DC-S1? 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.

Body comparison

The physical size and weight of the Olympus E-M5 II and the Panasonic S1 are illustrated in the side-by-side display below. The two cameras are presented according to their relative size. 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.

The E-M5 II can be obtained in two different colors (black, silver), while the S1 is only available in black.

Size Olympus E-M5 II vs Panasonic S1
Compare E-M5 II versus S1 top
Comparison E-M5 II or S1 rear

If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Panasonic S1 is considerably larger (56 percent) than the Olympus E-M5 II. Moreover, the S1 is substantially heavier (117 percent) than the E-M5 II. 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 and compare the specifications of available lenses in order to get the full picture of the size and weight of the two camera systems.

Concerning battery life, the E-M5 II gets 310 shots out of its BLN-1 battery, while the S1 can take 400 images on a single charge of its DMW-BLJ31 power pack. The power pack in the S1 can be charged via the USB port, which can be very convenient when travelling.

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
Note: Measurements and pricing do not include easily detachable parts, such as 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 E-M5 II was launched at a markedly lower price (by 56 percent) than the S1, 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.

 

Sensor comparison

The size of the sensor inside a digital camera is one of the key determinants 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. 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 are more costly to manufacture and tend to lead to bigger and heavier cameras and lenses.

Of the two cameras under consideration, the Olympus E-M5 II features a Four Thirds sensor and the Panasonic S1 a full frame sensor. The sensor area in the S1 is 276 percent bigger. As a result of these sensor size differences, the cameras have a format factor of, respectively, 2.0 and 1.0. The sensor in the E-M5 II has a native 4:3 aspect ratio, while the one in the S1 offers a 3:2 aspect.

Technology-wise, both cameras are equipped with CMOS (Complementary Metal–Oxide–Semiconductor) sensors.

Olympus E-M5 II and Panasonic S1 sensor measures

With 24MP, the S1 offers a higher resolution than the E-M5 II (15.9MP), but the S1 nevertheless has larger individual pixels (pixel pitch of 5.94μm versus 3.76μm for the E-M5 II) due to its larger sensor. Moreover, the S1 is a much more recent model (by 3 years and 11 months) than the E-M5 II, and its sensor will 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 the S1 has no anti-alias filter installed, so that it can capture all the detail its sensor resolves.

The resolution advantage of the Panasonic S1 implies greater flexibility for cropping images or the possibility to print larger pictures. The maximum print size of the S1 for good quality output (200 dots per inch) amounts to 30 x 20 inch or 76.2 x 50.8 cm, for very good quality (250 dpi) 24 x 16 inch or 61 x 40.6 cm, and for excellent quality (300 dpi) 20 x 13.3 inch or 50.8 x 33.9 cm. The corresponding values for the Olympus E-M5 II are 23 x 17.3 inch or 58.5 x 43.9 cm for good quality, 18.4 x 13.8 inch or 46.8 x 35.1 cm for very good quality, and 15.4 x 11.5 inch or 39 x 29.3 cm for excellent quality prints.

Both cameras have the capacity to capture high quality composite images by combining multiple shots after shifting the 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 DC-S1 are ISO 100 to ISO 51200, with the possibility to increase the ISO range to 50-204800.

E-M5 II versus S1 MP

For many cameras, data on sensor performance has been reported by DXO Mark. 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 S1 offers substantially better image quality than the E-M5 II (overall score 22 points higher). The advantage is based on 2.2 bits higher color depth, 2 EV in additional dynamic range, and 2 stops in additional low light sensitivity. 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

Many modern cameras are not only capable of taking still images, but also of capturing video footage. Both cameras under consideration have a sensor with sufficiently fast read-out times for moving pictures, but the S1 provides a better video resolution than the E-M5 II. It can shoot movie footage at 4K/60p, while the Olympus is limited to 1080/60p.

 

Feature comparison

Apart from body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a variety of features. The two cameras under review are similar with respect to both having an electronic viewfinder. However, the one in the S1 offers a substantially higher resolution than the one in the E-M5 II (5760k vs 2360k dots). The following table reports on some other key feature differences and similarities of the Olympus E-M5 II, the Panasonic S1, and comparable cameras.

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)
Mech
Shutter
Speed
Shutter
Flaps
(1/sec)
Built-in
Flash
(yes/no)
Built-in
Image
Stab
Camera
Model

One feature that is present on the S1, but is missing on the E-M5 II is a top-level LCD. While being, of course, smaller than the rear screen, the control panel conveys some of the essential shooting information and can be convenient for quick and easy settings verification.

The E-M5 II has an articulated LCD that can be turned to be front-facing. This characteristic will be appreciated by vloggers and photographers who are interested in snapping selfies. In contrast, the S1 does not have a selfie-screen.

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-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.

The E-M5 II writes its imaging data to SDXC cards, while the S1 uses SDHC or XQD cards. The S1 features dual card slots, which can be very useful in case a memory card fails. In contrast, the E-M5 II only has one slot. Moreover, both cameras support UHS-II cards (Ultra High Speed data transfer of up to 312 MB/s).

 

Connectivity comparison

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 DC-S1 and, in particular, the interfaces the cameras (and selected comparators) provide for accessory control and data transfer.

Input-Output Connections
  Camera
Model
Hotshoe
Port
Internal
Microphone
Internal
Speaker
Microphone
Port
Headphone
Port
HDMI
Port
USB
Type
WiFi
Support
NFC
Support
Bluetooth
Support
Camera
Model

It is notable that the S1 has a headphone jack, which makes it possible to attach external headphones and monitor the quality of sound during the recording process. The E-M5 II lacks such a headphone port.

Both cameras feature a PC Sync terminal to control professional strobe lights, which will be appreciated by studio photographers.

Both the E-M5 II and the S1 are recent models that are part of the current product line-up. The E-M5 II replaced the earlier Olympus E-M5, while the S1 does not have a direct predecessor. 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.


Review summary

So how do things add up? Is the Olympus E-M5 II better than the Panasonic S1 or vice versa? A synthesis of the relative strong points of each of the models is listed below.

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Reasons to prefer the Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark II:

  • Better moiré control: Has an anti-alias filter to avoid artificial patterns to appear in images.
  • More selfie-friendly: Has an articulated screen that can be turned to be front-facing.
  • Easier time-lapse photography: Has an intervalometer built-in for low frequency shooting.
  • More compact: Is smaller (124x85mm vs 149x110mm) and thus needs less room in the bag.
  • Less heavy: Is lighter (by 548g or 54 percent) and hence easier to carry around.
  • More affordable: Was introduced into a lower priced category (56 percent cheaper at launch).
  • More heavily discounted: Has been available for much longer (launched in February 2015).

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Arguments in favor of the Panasonic Lumix DC-S1:

  • More detail: Has more megapixels (24 vs 15.9MP), which boosts linear resolution by 25%.
  • Maximized detail: Lacks an anti-alias filter to exploit the sensor's full resolution potential.
  • Better image quality: Scores substantially higher (22 points) in the DXO overall evaluation.
  • Richer colors: Generates noticeably more natural colors (2.2 bits more color depth).
  • More dynamic range: Captures a broader range of light and dark details (2 EV of extra DR).
  • Better low-light sensitivity: Can shoot in dim conditions (2 stops ISO advantage).
  • Better video: Provides higher definition movie capture (4K/60p vs 1080/60p).
  • Better sound control: Has a headphone port that enables audio monitoring while recording.
  • More detailed viewfinder: Has higher resolution electronic viewfinder (5760k vs 2360k dots).
  • Larger viewfinder image: Features a viewfinder with a higher magnification (0.78x vs 0.74x).
  • Easier setting verification: Features 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.
  • More detailed LCD: Has a higher resolution rear screen (2100k vs 1037k dots).
  • Longer lasting: Gets more shots (400 versus 310) out of a single battery charge.
  • Easier travel charging: Can be conveniently charged via its USB port.
  • Faster data transfer: Supports a more advanced USB protocol (3.1 vs 2.0).
  • More solid recording: Has a full-sized HDMI port for a sturdy connection to an external recorder.
  • Easier wireless transfer: Supports Bluetooth for image sharing without cables.
  • Greater peace of mind: Features a second card slot as a backup in case of memory card failure.
  • More modern: Reflects 3 years and 11 months of technical progress since the E-M5 II launch.

If the number of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the S1 is the clear winner of the contest (19 : 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.

E-M5 II 07:19 S1

How about other alternatives? Do the specifications of the Olympus E-M5 II and the Panasonic S1 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 technical specifications can provide a useful overview of the capabilities of different cameras, it remains partial and cannot reveal, for example, the shooting experience and imaging performance when actually working with the E-M5 II or the S1. User reviews, such as those found at amazon, can sometimes inform about these issues, but such feedback is often incomplete, inconsistent, and biased.

Expert reviews

This is why expert reviews are important. The following table reports the overall ratings of the cameras as published by some of the major camera review sites (cameralabs, dpreview, ephotozine, imaging-resource, and photographyblog). 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.

Review Scores
  Camera
Model
cameralabs dpreview ephotozine imaging-resource photographyblog Camera
Launch
(announced)
Launch
Price
(USD)
Street
Price
(USD)
Used
Price
(USD)
Camera
Model
Notes: (+ +) highly recommended; (+) recommended; (o) reviewed; (-) not available.

The review scores listed above should be treated with care, 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 comparing ratings of very distinct cameras or ones that are far apart in terms of their release date have little meaning. It should also be noted that some of the review sites have over time altered the way they render their verdicts.

Olympus E-M5 II:
Check Amazon price
Panasonic S1:
Check Amazon price

Other camera comparisons

Did this review help to inform your camera decision process? In case you would like to check on the differences and similarities of other camera models, just use the search menu 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.

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    Specifications: Olympus E-M5 II vs Panasonic S1

    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 Specifications
    Camera Model Olympus E-M5 II Panasonic S1
    Camera Type Mirrorless system camera Mirrorless system camera
    Camera Lens Micro Four Thirds lenses Leica L mount lenses
    Launch Date February 2015 February 2019
    Launch Price USD 1099 USD 2499
    Sensor Specs Olympus E-M5 II Panasonic S1
    Sensor Technology CMOS CMOS
    Sensor Format Four Thirds Sensor Full Frame Sensor
    Sensor Size 17.3 x 13.0 mm 35.6 x 23.8 mm
    Sensor Area 224.9 mm2 847.28 mm2
    Sensor Diagonal 21.6 mm 42.8 mm
    Crop Factor 2.0x 1.0x
    Sensor Resolution 15.9 Megapixels 24 Megapixels
    Image Resolution 4608 x 3456 pixels 6000 x 4000 pixels
    Pixel Pitch 3.76 μm 5.94 μm
    Pixel Density 7.08 MP/cm2 2.83 MP/cm2
    Moiré control Anti-Alias filter no AA filter
    Movie Capability 1080/60p Video 4K/60p Video
    ISO Setting 200-25600 ISO 100-51200 ISO
    ISO Boost 100-25600 ISO 50-204800 ISO
    Image Processor TruePic VII Venus
    DXO Sensor Quality (score) 73 95
    DXO Color Depth (bits) 23.0 25.2
    DXO Dynamic Range (EV) 12.5 14.5
    DXO Low Light (ISO) 842 3333
    Screen Specs Olympus E-M5 II Panasonic S1
    Viewfinder Type Electronic viewfinder Electronic viewfinder
    Viewfinder Field of View 100% 100%
    Viewfinder Magnification 0.74x 0.78x
    Viewfinder Resolution 2360k dots 5760k dots
    Top-Level Screen no Top Display Control Panel
    LCD Framing Live View Live View
    Rear LCD Size 3.0 inch 3.2 inch
    LCD Resolution 1037k dots 2100k dots
    LCD Attachment Swivel screen Fully flexible screen
    Touch Input Touchscreen Touchscreen
    Shooting Specs Olympus E-M5 II Panasonic S1
    Autofocus System Contrast-detect AF Contrast-detect AF
    Manual Focusing AidFocus PeakingFocus Peaking
    Max Shutter Speed (mechanical) 1/8000/s 1/8000/s
    Continuous Shooting 10 shutter flaps/s 9 shutter flaps/s
    Electronic Shutterup to 1/16000sup to 1/8000s
    Time-Lapse PhotographyIntervalometer built-inno Intervalometer
    Image StabilizationIn-body stabilizationIn-body stabilization
    Fill Flash no On-Board Flash no On-Board Flash
    Storage Medium SDXC cards SDXC or XQD cards
    Second Storage Option Single card slot Dual card slots
    UHS card support UHS-II Dual UHS-II
    Connectivity Specs Olympus E-M5 II Panasonic S1
    External Flash Hotshoe Hotshoe
    Studio Flash PC Sync socket PC Sync socket
    USB Connector USB 2.0 USB 3.1
    HDMI Port micro HDMI full HDMI
    Microphone Port External MIC port External MIC port
    Headphone Socket no Headphone port Headphone port
    Wifi Support Wifi built-in Wifi built-in
    Bluetooth Support no Bluetooth Bluetooth built-in
    Body Specs Olympus E-M5 II Panasonic S1
    Environmental SealingWeathersealed bodyWeathersealed body
    Battery Type BLN-1 DMW-BLJ31
    Battery Life (CIPA)310 shots per charge400 shots per charge
    In-Camera Charging no USB charging USB charging
    Body Dimensions 124 x 85 x 45 mm
    (4.9 x 3.3 x 1.8 in)
    149 x 110 x 97 mm
    (5.9 x 4.3 x 3.8 in)
    Camera Weight 469 g (16.5 oz) 1017 g (35.9 oz)

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