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Olympus E-M5 vs E-P5

The Olympus OM-D E-M5 and the Olympus PEN E-P5 are two enthusiast cameras that were revealed to the public, respectively, in February 2012 and May 2013. Both the E-M5 and the E-P5 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.

Headline Specifications
Olympus E-M5   Olympus E-P5
Olympus E-M5 Olympus E-P5
Mirrorless system camera Mirrorless system camera
Micro Four Thirds lenses Micro Four Thirds lenses
15.9 MP, Four Thirds Sensor 15.9 MP, Four Thirds Sensor
1080/60i Video 1080/30p Video
ISO 200-25600 ISO 200-25600
Electronic viewfinder (1440k dots) Viewfinder optional
3.0" LCD, 610k dots 3.0" LCD, 1037k dots
Tilting touchscreen Tilting touchscreen
9 shutter flaps per second 9 shutter flaps per second
In-body stabilizationIn-body stabilization
Weathersealed bodyNot weather sealed
360 shots per battery charge330 shots per battery charge
122 x 89 x 43 mm, 425 g 122 x 69 x 37 mm, 420 g

Going beyond this snapshot of core features and characteristics, what are the differences between the Olympus OM-D E-M5 and the Olympus PEN E-P5? 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 side-by-side display below illustrates the physical size and weight of the Olympus E-M5 and the Olympus E-P5. 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 can be obtained in two different colors (black, silver), while the E-P5 is available in three color-versions (black, silver, white).

Size Olympus E-M5 vs Olympus E-P5
Compare E-M5 versus E-P5 top
Comparison E-M5 or E-P5 rear

If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Olympus E-P5 is notably smaller (22 percent) than the Olympus E-M5. Moreover, the E-P5 is slightly lighter (1 percent) than the E-M5. It is worth mentioning in this context that the E-M5 is splash and dust resistant, while the E-P5 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, 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» 4.8 in 3.5 in 1.7 in 15.0 oz 360 Y Feb 2012 1,299- i Olympus E-M5
 
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 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-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-M10 II« » 4.7 in 3.3 in 1.9 in 13.8 oz 320 n Aug 2015 649- 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-PL7« » 4.5 in 2.6 in 1.5 in 12.6 oz 350 n Aug 2014 599- i Olympus E-PL7
 
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-PL5« » 4.4 in 2.5 in 1.5 in 11.5 oz 360 n Sep 2012 599- i Olympus E-PL5
 
Olympus E-PM2« » 4.3 in 2.5 in 1.3 in 9.5 oz 360 n Sep 2012 499- i Olympus E-PM2
 
Panasonic GX8« » 5.2 in 3.1 in 2.5 in 17.2 oz 330 Y Jul 2015 1,199- i Panasonic GX8
 
Panasonic GX7« » 4.8 in 2.8 in 2.2 in 14.2 oz 350 n Aug 2013 999- i Panasonic GX7
 
Panasonic GH3« » 5.2 in 3.7 in 3.2 in 19.4 oz 540 Y Sep 2012 1,299- i Panasonic GH3
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 retail prices at the time of the camera’s release place the model in the market relative to other models in the producer’s line-up and the competition. The E-P5 was launched at a somewhat lower price (by 23 percent) than the E-M5, which makes it more attractive for photographers on a tight budget. Normally, street prices remain initially close to the MSRP, but after a couple of months, the first discounts appear. 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 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 tend to have larger individual pixels that provide better low-light sensitivity, wider dynamic range, and richer color-depth than smaller pixel-units 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.

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-M5 and Olympus E-P5 sensor measures

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 and the E-P5 have the same pixel density, as well as the same pixel size. It should, however, be noted that the E-P5 is a somewhat more recent model (by 1 year and 3 months) than the E-M5, and its sensor might have benefitted from technological advances during this time.

The Olympus OM-D E-M5 has a native sensitivity range from ISO 200 to ISO 25600. The corresponding ISO settings for the Olympus PEN E-P5 are ISO 200 to ISO 25600, with the possibility to increase the ISO range to 100-25600.

E-M5 versus E-P5 MP

Consistent information on actual sensor performance is available from DXO Mark for many cameras. This service assesses and scores the color depth ("DXO Portrait"), dynamic range ("DXO Landscape"), and low-light sensitivity ("DXO Sports") of camera sensors, and also publishes an overall camera score. The Overall DXO ratings for the two cameras under consideration are close, suggesting that they provide similar imaging performance. 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-M5» Four Thirds 15.9 4608 34561080/60i22.812.382671Olympus E-M5
 
Olympus E-P5« Four Thirds 15.9 4608 34561080/30p22.812.489572Olympus E-P5
 
Olympus PEN-F« » Four Thirds 20.2 5184 38881080/60p23.112.489474Olympus PEN-F
 
Olympus E-M5 II« » Four Thirds 15.9 4608 34561080/60p23.012.584273Olympus E-M5 II
 
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-PL7« » Four Thirds 15.9 4608 34561080/30p22.712.487372Olympus E-PL7
 
Olympus E-M1« » Four Thirds 15.9 4608 34561080/30p23.012.775773Olympus E-M1
 
Olympus E-PL5« » Four Thirds 15.9 4608 34561080/30p22.812.388972Olympus E-PL5
 
Olympus E-PM2« » Four Thirds 15.9 4608 34561080/30p22.712.293272Olympus E-PM2
 
Panasonic GX8« » Four Thirds 20.2 5184 38884K/30p23.512.680675Panasonic GX8
 
Panasonic GX7« » Four Thirds 15.8 4592 34481080/60p22.612.271870Panasonic GX7
 
Panasonic GH3« » Four Thirds 15.9 4608 34561080/60p22.712.481271Panasonic GH3

Many modern cameras are not only capable of taking still images, but also of capturing video footage. The two cameras under consideration both have sensors whose read-out speed is fast enough to capture moving pictures, but the E-M5 provides a higher frame rate than the E-P5. It can shoot video footage at 1080/60i, while the E-P5 is limited to 1080/30p.

 

Feature comparison

Apart from body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a variety of features. For example, the E-M5 has an electronic viewfinder (1440k dots), which can be very helpful when shooting in bright sunlight. In contrast, the E-P5 relies on live view and the rear LCD for framing. That said, the E-P5 can be equipped with an optional viewfinder – the VF-4. The following table reports on some other key feature differences and similarities of the Olympus E-M5, the Olympus E-P5, 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
 
Olympus E-M5»1440 n 3.0 610 tilting Y 1/4000s 9.0 n Y Olympus E-M5
 
Olympus E-P5«- n 3.0 1037 tilting Y 1/8000s 9.0 Y Y Olympus E-P5
 
Olympus PEN-F« »2360 n 3.0 1037 swivel Y 1/8000s 10.0 n Y Olympus PEN-F
 
Olympus E-M5 II« »2360 n 3.0 1037 swivel Y 1/8000s 10.0 n Y Olympus E-M5 II
 
Olympus E-M10 II« »2360 n 3.0 1040 tilting Y 1/4000s 8.0 Y Y Olympus E-M10 II
 
Olympus E-M10« »1440 n 3.0 1037 tilting Y 1/4000s 8.0 Y Y Olympus E-M10
 
Olympus E-PL7« »- n 3.0 1037 tilting Y 1/4000s 8.0 n Y Olympus E-PL7
 
Olympus E-M1« »2360 n 3.0 1037 tilting Y 1/8000s 10.0 n Y Olympus E-M1
 
Olympus E-PL5« »- n 3.0 460 tilting Y 1/4000s 8.0 n Y Olympus E-PL5
 
Olympus E-PM2« »- n 3.0 460 fixed Y 1/4000s 8.0 n Y Olympus E-PM2
 
Panasonic GX8« »2360 n 3.0 1040 swivel Y 1/8000s 10.0 n Y Panasonic GX8
 
Panasonic GX7« »2760 n 3.0 1040 tilting Y 1/8000s 5.0 Y Y Panasonic GX7
 
Panasonic GH3« »1746 n 3.0 614 swivel Y 1/4000s 6.0 Y n Panasonic GH3

One difference between the cameras concerns the presence of an on-board flash. The E-P5 has one, while the E-M5 does not. While the built-in flash of the E-P5 is not very powerful, it can at times be useful as a fill-in light.

The Olympus E-P5 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 and the E-P5 write their files to SDXC cards. Both cameras can use UHS-I cards, which provide for Ultra High Speed data transfer of up to 104 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 and Olympus PEN E-P5 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
 
Olympus E-M5»Ystereomono--mini2.0---Olympus E-M5
 
Olympus E-P5«Ystereomono--micro2.0Y--Olympus E-P5
 
Olympus PEN-F« »Ystereomono--micro2.0Y--Olympus PEN-F
 
Olympus E-M5 II« »YstereomonoY-micro2.0Y--Olympus E-M5 II
 
Olympus E-M10 II« »Ystereomono--micro2.0Y--Olympus E-M10 II
 
Olympus E-M10« »Ystereomono--micro2.0Y--Olympus E-M10
 
Olympus E-PL7« »Ystereomono--micro2.0Y--Olympus E-PL7
 
Olympus E-M1« »YstereomonoY-micro2.0Y--Olympus E-M1
 
Olympus E-PL5« »Ystereomono--mini2.0---Olympus E-PL5
 
Olympus E-PM2« »Ystereomono--mini2.0---Olympus E-PM2
 
Panasonic GX8« »YstereomonoY-micro2.0YY-Panasonic GX8
 
Panasonic GX7« »Ystereomono--mini2.0YY-Panasonic GX7
 
Panasonic GH3« »YstereomonoYYmini2.0Y--Panasonic GH3

It is notable that the E-P5 offers wifi support, which can be a very convenient means to transfer image data to an off-camera location. In contrast, the E-M5 does not offer wifi capability.

Both the E-M5 and the E-P5 have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on eBay. The E-M5 was replaced by the Olympus E-M5 II, while the E-P5 does not have a direct successor. Further information on the two cameras (e.g. user guides, manuals), as well as related accessories, can be found on the official Olympus website.


Review summary

So what conclusions can be drawn? Which of the two cameras – the Olympus E-M5 or the Olympus E-P5 – 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:

  • Better video: Provides higher movie framerates (1080/60i versus 1080/30p).
  • Easier framing: Has an electronic viewfinder for image composition and settings control.
  • 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 2012).


Arguments in favor of the Olympus PEN E-P5:

  • More detailed LCD: Has a higher resolution rear screen (1037k vs 610k dots).
  • Faster shutter: Has higher mechanical shutter speed (1/8000s vs 1/4000s) to freeze action.
  • Easier time-lapse photography: Has an intervalometer built-in for low frequency shooting.
  • More compact: Is smaller (122x69mm vs 122x89mm) and will fit more readily into a bag.
  • Easier fill-in: Has a small integrated flash to brighten shadows of backlit subjects.
  • Easier file upload: Has wifi built in for automatic backup or image transfer to the web.
  • More affordable: Was released into a lower priced segment (23 percent cheaper at launch).
  • More modern: Was introduced somewhat (1 year and 3 months) more recently.

If the count of individual advantages (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the E-P5 is the clear winner of the contest (8 : 4 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. 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.

E-M5 04:08 E-P5

How about other alternatives? Do the specifications of the Olympus E-M5 and the Olympus E-P5 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 remains partial and cannot reveal, for example, the shooting experience and imaging performance when actually working with the E-M5 or the E-P5. 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.

Expert reviews

This is why expert reviews are important. The adjacent summary-table relays the overall verdicts of several of the most popular 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
 
Olympus E-M5»+ +80/1004.5/55/55/5 Feb 2012 1,299- i Olympus E-M5
 
Olympus E-P5«+ +78/1004.5/54.5/55/5 May 2013 999- i Olympus E-P5
 
Olympus PEN-F« »-82/1004.5/54.5/55/5 Jan 2016 1,199 i i Olympus PEN-F
 
Olympus E-M5 II« »+ +81/1005/54.5/55/5 Feb 2015 1,099 i i Olympus E-M5 II
 
Olympus E-M10 II« »+ +80/1005/55/55/5 Aug 2015 649- i Olympus E-M10 II
 
Olympus E-M10« »-80/1005/54.5/55/5 Jan 2014 699- i Olympus E-M10
 
Olympus E-PL7« »+-5/54.5/54/5 Aug 2014 599- i Olympus E-PL7
 
Olympus E-M1« »+ +84/1004.5/54.5/54.5/5 Sep 2013 1,399- i Olympus E-M1
 
Olympus E-PL5« »+ +-4.5/54.5/54.5/5 Sep 2012 599- i Olympus E-PL5
 
Olympus E-PM2« »-77/1005/54.5/54.5/5 Sep 2012 499- i Olympus E-PM2
 
Panasonic GX8« »+82/1004.5/55/54.5/5 Jul 2015 1,199- i Panasonic GX8
 
Panasonic GX7« »+79/1005/54.5/55/5 Aug 2013 999- i Panasonic GX7
 
Panasonic GH3« »+ +79/1004.5/55/54.5/5 Sep 2012 1,299- i Panasonic GH3
Notes: (+ +) highly recommended; (+) recommended; (o) reviewed; (-) not available.

The above review scores should be interpreted 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, please note that some of the review sites have changed their methodology and reporting over time.

Olympus E-M5:
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Olympus E-P5:
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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 make your choice using the following search menu. There is also a set of direct links to comparison reviews that other users of the CAM-parator app explored.

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    Specifications: Olympus E-M5 vs Olympus E-P5

    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 Olympus E-P5
    Camera Type Mirrorless system camera Mirrorless system camera
    Camera Lens Micro Four Thirds lenses Micro Four Thirds lenses
    Launch Date February 2012 May 2013
    Launch Price USD 1299 USD 999
    Sensor Specs Olympus E-M5 Olympus E-P5
    Sensor Technology CMOS CMOS
    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
    Crop Factor 2.0x 2.0x
    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 1080/60i Video 1080/30p Video
    ISO Setting 200-25600 ISO 200-25600 ISO
    ISO Boost no Enhancement 100-25600 ISO
    Image Processor TruePic VI TruePic VI
    DXO Sensor Quality (score) 71 72
    DXO Color Depth (bits) 22.8 22.8
    DXO Dynamic Range (EV) 12.3 12.4
    DXO Low Light (ISO) 826 895
    Screen Specs Olympus E-M5 Olympus E-P5
    Viewfinder Type Electronic viewfinder Viewfinder optional
    Viewfinder Field of View 100%
    Viewfinder Magnification 0.58x
    Viewfinder Resolution 1440k dots
    LCD Framing Live View Live View
    Rear LCD Size 3.0 inch 3.0 inch
    LCD Resolution 610k dots 1037k dots
    LCD Attachment Tilting screen Tilting screen
    Touch Input Touchscreen Touchscreen
    Shooting Specs Olympus E-M5 Olympus E-P5
    Autofocus System Contrast-detect AF Contrast-detect AF
    Manual Focusing AidNo Peaking FeatureFocus Peaking
    Max Shutter Speed (mechanical) 1/4000/s 1/8000/s
    Continuous Shooting 9 shutter flaps/s 9 shutter flaps/s
    Time-Lapse Photographyno IntervalometerIntervalometer built-in
    Image StabilizationIn-body stabilizationIn-body stabilization
    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-I UHS-I
    Connectivity Specs Olympus E-M5 Olympus E-P5
    External Flash Hotshoe Hotshoe
    USB Connector USB 2.0 USB 2.0
    HDMI Port mini HDMI micro HDMI
    Wifi Support no Wifi Wifi built-in
    Body Specs Olympus E-M5 Olympus E-P5
    Environmental SealingWeathersealed bodyNot weather sealed
    Battery Type BLN-1 BLN-1
    Battery Life (CIPA)360 shots per charge330 shots per charge
    Body Dimensions 122 x 89 x 43 mm
    (4.8 x 3.5 x 1.7 in)
    122 x 69 x 37 mm
    (4.8 x 2.7 x 1.5 in)
    Camera Weight 425 g (15.0 oz) 420 g (14.8 oz)

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