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Olympus E-M5 II versus Panasonic ZS100

The Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark II and the Panasonic Lumix DMC-ZS100 (labelled Panasonic TZ100 in some countries) are two digital cameras that were officially introduced, respectively, in February 2015 and January 2016. The E-M5 II is a mirrorless interchangeable lens camera, while the ZS100 is a fixed lens compact. The cameras are based on a Four Thirds (E-M5 II) and an one-inch (ZS100) sensor. The Olympus has a resolution of 15.9 megapixel, whereas the Panasonic provides 20 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-M5 II vs Panasonic ZS100

The physical size and weight of the Olympus E-M5 II and the Panasonic ZS100 are illustrated in the side-by-side display below. Three consecutive views from the front, the top, and the rear side are shown. All size dimensions are rounded to the nearest millimeter. You can also toggle the display 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-M5 II – represents the basis for the calculations across all the size and weight measures).

Snapsort Olympus E-M5 II vs Panasonic ZS100
Compare E-M5 II versus ZS100 top
Compare E-M5 II and ZS100 rear

If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Panasonic ZS100 is considerably smaller (32 percent) than the Olympus E-M5 II. It is worth mentioning in this context that the E-M5 II is splash and dust resistant, while the ZS100 does not feature any corresponding weather-sealing.

The above size and weight comparisons are to some extent incomplete and possibly misleading, as the ZS100 has a lens build in, whereas the E-M5 II is an interchangeable lens camera that requires a separate lens. Attaching the latter will add extra weight and bulk to the setup. You can find an overview of optics for the E-M5 II and their specifications in the Micro Four Thirds Lens Catalog.

Concerning battery life, the E-M5 II gets 310 shots out of its BLN-1 battery, while the ZS100 can take 300 images on a single charge of its DMW-BLG10 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-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
Panasonic ZS100« 4.4 in 2.6 in 1.7 in 11.0 oz 300 n Jan 2016 699- i Panasonic ZS100
Canon M3« » 4.4 in 2.7 in 1.7 in 12.9 oz 250 n Feb 2015 679- i Canon M3
Canon G5 X« » 4.4 in 3.0 in 1.7 in 12.5 oz 210 n Oct 2015 799 i i Canon G5 X
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 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 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-M10« » 4.7 in 3.2 in 1.8 in 14.0 oz 320 n Jan 2014 699- i Olympus E-M10
Olympus E-M1« » 5.1 in 3.7 in 2.5 in 17.5 oz 350 Y Sep 2013 1,399- i Olympus E-M1
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-M5« » 4.8 in 3.5 in 1.7 in 15.0 oz 360 Y Feb 2012 1,299- i Olympus E-M5
Panasonic ZS200« » 4.4 in 2.6 in 1.8 in 12.0 oz 370 n Feb 2018 799 i i Panasonic ZS200
Panasonic G85« » 5.0 in 3.5 in 2.9 in 17.8 oz 330 Y Sep 2016 899 i i Panasonic G85
Panasonic GX85« » 4.8 in 2.8 in 1.7 in 15.0 oz 290 n Apr 2016 799 i i Panasonic GX85
Panasonic LX10« » 4.2 in 2.4 in 1.7 in 10.9 oz 260 n Sep 2016 699 i i Panasonic LX10
Panasonic GX8« » 5.2 in 3.1 in 2.5 in 17.2 oz 330 Y Jul 2015 1,199- i Panasonic GX8
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 ZS100 was launched at a lower price than the E-M5 II, despite having a lens build in. 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-M5 II vs Panasonic ZS100

The imaging sensor is at the core of digital cameras and its size is one of the main determining factors 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 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 ZS100 an one-inch sensor. The sensor area in the ZS100 is 48 percent smaller. As a result of these sensor size differences, the cameras have a format factor of, respectively, 2.0 and 2.7. The sensor in the E-M5 II has a native 4:3 aspect ratio, while the one in the ZS100 offers a 3:2 aspect.

Olympus E-M5 II and Panasonic ZS100 sensor measures

Despite having a smaller sensor, the ZS100 offers a higher resolution of 20 megapixel, compared with 15.9 MP of the E-M5 II. This megapixel advantage comes at the cost of a higher pixel density and a smaller size of the individual pixel (with a pixel pitch of 2.41μm versus 3.76μm for the E-M5 II). However, it should be noted that the ZS100 is a somewhat more recent model (by 10 months) than the E-M5 II, and its sensor might have benefitted from technological advances during this time that partly offset its pixel-size disadvantage.

Unlike the ZS100, 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).

E-M5 II versus ZS100 MP

Since 2007, DXO Mark has published sensor performance measurements that have been derived using a consistent methodology. 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 following table provides an overview of the physical sensor characteristics, as well as the sensor quality measurements for a selection of comparators.

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-M5 II» Four Thirds 15.9 4608 34561080/60p23.012.584273Olympus E-M5 II
Panasonic ZS100« 1-inch 20.0 5472 36484K/30p22.812.555970Panasonic ZS100
Canon M3« » APS-C 24.0 6000 40001080/30p22.811.8116972Canon M3
Canon G5 X« » 1-inch 20.0 5472 36481080/60p----Canon G5 X
Olympus E-M1 II« » Four Thirds 20.2 5184 38884K/30p23.712.8131280Olympus E-M1 II
Olympus PEN-F« » Four Thirds 20.2 5184 38881080/60p23.112.489474Olympus PEN-F
Olympus E-M10 II« » Four Thirds 15.9 4608 34561080/60p23.112.584273Olympus E-M10 II
Olympus E-M10« » Four Thirds 15.9 4608 34561080/30p22.812.388472Olympus E-M10
Olympus E-M1« » Four Thirds 15.9 4608 34561080/30p23.012.775773Olympus E-M1
Olympus E-P5« » Four Thirds 15.9 4608 34561080/30p22.812.489572Olympus E-P5
Olympus E-M5« » Four Thirds 15.9 4608 34561080/60i22.812.382671Olympus E-M5
Panasonic ZS200« » 1-inch 20.0 5472 36484K/30p----Panasonic ZS200
Panasonic G85« » Four Thirds 15.8 4592 34484K/30p22.812.565671Panasonic G85
Panasonic GX85« » Four Thirds 15.8 4592 34484K/30p22.912.666271Panasonic GX85
Panasonic LX10« » 1-inch 20.0 5472 36484K/30p----Panasonic LX10
Panasonic GX8« » Four Thirds 20.2 5184 38884K/30p23.512.680675Panasonic GX8
Sony RX100 IV« » 1-inch 20.0 5472 36484K/30p22.812.659170Sony RX100 IV

Many modern cameras are not only capable of taking still images, but can also record movies. The two cameras under consideration both have sensors whose read-out speed is fast enough to capture moving pictures, but the ZS100 provides a better video resolution than the E-M5 II. It can shoot movie footage at 4K/30p, while the Olympus is limited to 1080/60p.

 

Feature comparison: Olympus E-M5 II vs Panasonic ZS100

Apart from body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a variety 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 ZS100 (2360k vs 1166k dots). The table below summarizes some of the other core capabilities of the Olympus E-M5 II and Panasonic ZS100 in connection with corresponding information for a sample of similar cameras. The full specs-sheets can be found in the camera manual or, for example, in the dpreview camera hub.

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-M5 II»2360 n 3.0 1037 swivel Y 8000 10.0 n Y Olympus E-M5 II
Panasonic ZS100«1166 n 3.0 1040 fixed Y 2000 10.0 Y Y Panasonic ZS100
Canon M3« »- n 3.0 1040 tilting Y 4000 4.2 Y n Canon M3
Canon G5 X« »2360 n 3.0 1040 swivel Y 2000 5.9 Y Y Canon G5 X
Olympus E-M1 II« »2360 n 3.0 1037 swivel Y 8000 18.0 n Y Olympus E-M1 II
Olympus PEN-F« »2360 n 3.0 1037 swivel Y 8000 10.0 n Y Olympus PEN-F
Olympus E-M10 II« »2360 n 3.0 1040 tilting Y 4000 8.0 Y Y Olympus E-M10 II
Olympus E-M10« »1440 n 3.0 1037 tilting Y 4000 8.0 Y Y Olympus E-M10
Olympus E-M1« »2360 n 3.0 1037 tilting Y 8000 10.0 n Y Olympus E-M1
Olympus E-P5« »- n 3.0 1037 tilting Y 8000 9.0 Y Y Olympus E-P5
Olympus E-M5« »1440 n 3.0 610 tilting Y 4000 9.0 n Y Olympus E-M5
Panasonic ZS200« »2330 n 3.0 1240 fixed Y 2000 10.0 Y Y Panasonic ZS200
Panasonic G85« »2360 n 3.0 1040 swivel Y 4000 9.0 Y Y Panasonic G85
Panasonic GX85« »2765 n 3.0 1040 tilting Y 4000 8.0 Y Y Panasonic GX85
Panasonic LX10« »- n 3.0 1040 tilting Y 4000 10.0 Y Y Panasonic LX10
Panasonic GX8« »2360 n 3.0 1040 swivel Y 8000 10.0 n Y Panasonic GX8
Sony RX100 IV« »2359 n 3.0 1228 tilting n 2000 16.0 Y Y Sony RX100 IV

The E-M5 II is a current model that online retailers, such as amazon, will have in stock. In contrast, the ZS100 has been discontinued (but it can be found pre-owned on eBay). As a replacement in the same line of cameras, the ZS100 was succeeded by the Panasonic ZS200.

Review summary: Olympus E-M5 II vs Panasonic ZS100

So what is the bottom line? Is there a clear favorite between the Olympus E-M5 II and the Panasonic ZS100? The listing below highlights the relative strengths of the two models.

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Advantages of the Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark II:

  • High quality composites: Can combine several shots after pixel-shifting its sensor.
  • Better low-light sensitivity: Requires less light for good images (0.6 stops ISO advantage).
  • More detailed viewfinder: Has higher resolution electronic viewfinder (2360k vs 1166k 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 2000/sec) to freeze action.
  • More flexible: Accepts interchangeable lenses, so that lens characteristics can be altered.
  • Better sealing: Is weather sealed to enable shooting in dusty or wet environments.
  • More heavily discounted: Has been on the market for longer (launched in February 2015).

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Reasons to prefer the Panasonic Lumix DMC-ZS100:

  • More detail: Has more megapixels (20 vs 15.9MP), which boosts linear resolution by 14%.
  • Better video: Provides higher definition movie capture (4K/30p vs 1080/60p).
  • Ready to shoot: Has an integrated lens, whereas the E-M5 II necessitates an extra lens.
  • More compact: Is smaller (111x65mm vs 124x85mm) and will fit more readily into a bag.
  • Less heavy: Has a lower weight even though it has a lens build in (unlike the E-M5 II).
  • Easier fill-in: Has a small integrated flash to brighten shadows of backlit subjects.
  • More affordable: Was introduced at a lower price, despite coming with a build-in lens.
  • More modern: Was introduced somewhat (10 months) more recently.

If the count of individual advantages (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the match-up finishes in a tie (8 points each). However, the pertinence of the various camera strengths will differ across photographers, so that you might want to weigh individual camera traits according to their importance for your own imaging needs before making a camera decision.

E-M5 II 08:08 ZS100

In any case, while the comparison of the spec-sheets of cameras can offer a general idea of their imaging potential, it remains incomplete and does no justice, for example, to the way the E-M5 II or the ZS100 handle or perform in practice. 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 why hands-on reviews by experts are important. The adjacent table relays the overall verdicts of several of the most popular camera review sites (cameralabs, dpreview, ephotozine, imaging-resource, photographyblog). The detailed reviews can be accessed 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-M5 II»HiRec81/1005/54.5/55/5 Feb 2015 1,099 i i Olympus E-M5 II
Panasonic ZS100«HiRec82/1004.5/54/54.5/5 Jan 2016 699- i Panasonic ZS100
Canon M3« »rev75/1004.5/54.5/54/5 Feb 2015 679- i Canon M3
Canon G5 X« »HiRec78/1004.5/54/54.5/5 Oct 2015 799 i i Canon G5 X
Olympus E-M1 II« »HiRec85/1004.5/55/54.5/5 Sep 2016 1,999 i i Olympus E-M1 II
Olympus PEN-F« »-82/1004.5/54.5/55/5 Jan 2016 1,199 i i Olympus PEN-F
Olympus E-M10 II« »HiRec80/1005/55/55/5 Aug 2015 799- i Olympus E-M10 II
Olympus E-M10« »-80/1005/54.5/55/5 Jan 2014 699- i Olympus E-M10
Olympus E-M1« »HiRec84/1004.5/54.5/54.5/5 Sep 2013 1,399- i Olympus E-M1
Olympus E-P5« »HiRec78/1004.5/54.5/55/5 May 2013 999- i Olympus E-P5
Olympus E-M5« »HiRec80/1004.5/55/55/5 Feb 2012 1,299- i Olympus E-M5
Panasonic ZS200« »HiRec81/1004.5/5-4.5/5 Feb 2018 799 i i Panasonic ZS200
Panasonic G85« »HiRec84/1005/54.5/54.5/5 Sep 2016 899 i i Panasonic G85
Panasonic GX85« »HiRec82/1005/54.5/55/5 Apr 2016 799 i i Panasonic GX85
Panasonic LX10« »HiRec81/1004/54.5/54.5/5 Sep 2016 699 i i Panasonic LX10
Panasonic GX8« »Rec82/1004.5/55/54.5/5 Jul 2015 1,199- i Panasonic GX8
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 assessments were made in relation to similar cameras of the same technological generation. Hence, a score should always be seen in the context of the camera's market launch date and its price, 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? In case you are interested in seeing how other cameras pair up, just make a corresponding selection in the search boxes below. Alternatively, you can follow any of the listed hyperlinks for comparisons that others found interesting. If you do not see the camera that you are looking for, please contact me, and I will try to locate and add the respective data to the application.

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