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Olympus E-M5 vs E-PL8

The Olympus OM-D E-M5 and the Olympus PEN E-PL8 are two digital cameras that were officially introduced, respectively, in February 2012 and September 2016. Both the E-M5 and the E-PL8 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 versus Olympus E-PL8
Olympus E-M5 Olympus E-PL8
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 200-25,600 ISO 200-6,400 (100 - 25,600)
Electronic viewfinder (1440k dots) No viewfinder, LCD framing
3.0 LCD, 610k dots 3.0 LCD, 1037k dots
Tilting touchscreen Tilting touchscreen
9 shutter flaps per second 8 shutter flaps per second
In-body stabilizationIn-body stabilization
Weathersealed bodynot weather sealed
360 shots per battery charge350 shots per battery charge
122 x 89 x 43 mm, 425 g 115 x 67 x 38 mm, 357 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-PL8? 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

An illustration of the physical size and weight of the Olympus E-M5 and the Olympus E-PL8 is provided 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 measures are rounded to the nearest millimeter.

The E-M5 can be obtained in two different colors (black, silver), while the E-PL8 is available in three color-versions (black, brown, white).

Size Olympus E-M5 vs Olympus E-PL8
Compare E-M5 versus E-PL8 top
Comparison E-M5 or E-PL8 rear

If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Olympus E-PL8 is notably smaller (29 percent) than the Olympus E-M5. Moreover, the E-PL8 is markedly lighter (16 percent) than the E-M5. It is worth mentioning in this context that the E-M5 is splash and dust resistant, while the E-PL8 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.

Concerning battery life, the E-M5 gets 360 shots out of its BLN-1 battery, while the E-PL8 can take 350 images on a single charge of its BLS-50 power pack.

The adjacent table lists the principal physical characteristics of the two cameras alongside a wider set of alternatives. In case you want to display and compare another camera duo, just click on the right or left arrow next to the camera that you would like to inspect. Alternatively, you can also use the CAM-parator to select your camera combination among a larger number of options.

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Body Specifications
  Camera
Model
Camera
Width
Camera
Height
Camera
Depth
Camera
Weight
Battery
Life 1
Weather
Sealing
Camera
Launch 2
Launch
Price (USD)
Street
Price
 
Olympus E-M5 122 mm 89 mm 43 mm 425 g 360 Y Feb 2012 1,299i
 
Olympus E-PL8 115 mm 67 mm 38 mm 357 g 350 n Sep 2016 549i
 
Olympus E-PL9 117 mm 68 mm 39 mm 380 g 350 n Feb 2018 599 i
 
Olympus E-M10 III 122 mm 84 mm 50 mm 410 g 330 n Aug 2017 649i
 
Olympus PEN-F 125 mm 72 mm 37 mm 427 g 330 n Jan 2016 1,199i
 
Olympus E-M5 II 124 mm 85 mm 45 mm 469 g 310 Y Feb 2015 1,099i
 
Olympus E-M10 II 120 mm 83 mm 47 mm 390 g 320 n Aug 2015 649i
 
Olympus E-M10 119 mm 82 mm 46 mm 396 g 320 n Jan 2014 699i
 
Olympus E-PL7 115 mm 67 mm 38 mm 357 g 350 n Aug 2014 599i
 
Olympus E-M1 130 mm 94 mm 63 mm 497 g 350 Y Sep 2013 1,399i
 
Olympus E-P5 122 mm 69 mm 37 mm 420 g 330 n May 2013 999i
 
Olympus E-PL6 111 mm 64 mm 38 mm 325 g 360 n May 2013 599i
 
Panasonic G80 128 mm 89 mm 74 mm 505 g 330 Y Sep 2016 899i
 
Panasonic GX8 133 mm 78 mm 63 mm 487 g 330 Y Jul 2015 1,199i
 
Panasonic GX7 123 mm 71 mm 55 mm 402 g 350 n Aug 2013 999i
Notes: Measurements and pricing do not include easily detachable parts, such as add-on or interchangeable lenses or optional viewfinders.
(1) Number of images that can be taken on a full battery charge according to the CIPA-standard; (2) Official announcement.

The price is, of course, an important factor in any camera decision. 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 E-PL8 was launched at a markedly lower price (by 58 percent) than the E-M5, which puts it into a different market segment. 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. Then, after the new model is out, very good deals can frequently be found on the pre-owned market.

Sensor comparison

The size of the sensor inside a digital camera is one of the key determinants 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. 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 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.

Technology-wise, the E-PL8 uses a more advanced image processing engine (TruePic VII) than the E-M5 (TruePic VI), with benefits for noise reduction, color accuracy, and processing speed.

Olympus E-M5 and Olympus E-PL8 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-PL8 have the same pixel density, as well as the same pixel size. It should, however, be noted that the E-PL8 is much more recent (by 4 years and 7 months) than the E-M5, and its sensor will 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-PL8 are ISO 200 to ISO 6400, with the possibility to increase the ISO range to 100-25600.

E-M5 versus E-PL8 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 following table provides an overview of the physical sensor characteristics, as well as the sensor quality measurements for a selection of comparators.

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Sensor Characteristics
  Camera
Model
Sensor
Class
Resolution
(MP)
Horiz.
Pixels
Vert.
Pixels
Video
Format
DXO
Portrait
DXO
Landscape
DXO
Sports
DXO
Overall
 
Olympus E-M5 Four Thirds 15.9 4608 34561080/60i22.812.382671
 
Olympus E-PL8 Four Thirds 15.9 4608 34561080/30p........
 
Olympus E-PL9 Four Thirds 15.9 4608 34564K/30p........
 
Olympus E-M10 III Four Thirds 15.9 4608 34564K/30p........
 
Olympus PEN-F Four Thirds 20.2 5184 38881080/60p23.112.489474
 
Olympus E-M5 II Four Thirds 15.9 4608 34561080/60p23.012.584273
 
Olympus E-M10 II Four Thirds 15.9 4608 34561080/60p23.112.584273
 
Olympus E-M10 Four Thirds 15.9 4608 34561080/30p22.812.388472
 
Olympus E-PL7 Four Thirds 15.9 4608 34561080/30p22.712.487372
 
Olympus E-M1 Four Thirds 15.9 4608 34561080/30p23.012.775773
 
Olympus E-P5 Four Thirds 15.9 4608 34561080/30p22.812.489572
 
Olympus E-PL6 Four Thirds 15.9 4608 34561080/30p........
 
Panasonic G80 Four Thirds 15.8 4592 34484K/30p22.812.565671
 
Panasonic GX8 Four Thirds 20.2 5184 38884K/30p23.512.680675
 
Panasonic GX7 Four Thirds 15.8 4592 34481080/60p22.612.271870

Many modern cameras cannot only take still pictures, but also record videos. Both cameras under consideration are equipped with sensors that have a sufficiently high read-out speed for moving images, but the E-M5 provides a higher frame rate than the E-PL8. It can shoot video footage at 1080/60i, while the E-PL8 is limited to 1080/30p.

Feature comparison

Beyond body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a range 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-PL8 relies on live view and the rear LCD for framing. The following table reports on some other key feature differences and similarities of the Olympus E-M5, the Olympus E-PL8, and comparable cameras.

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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
 
Olympus E-M51440 n 3.0 610 tilting Y 1/4000s 9.0 n Y
 
Olympus E-PL8optional n 3.0 1037 tilting Y 1/4000s 8.0 n Y
 
Olympus E-PL9none n 3.0 1040 tilting Y 1/4000s 8.6 Y Y
 
Olympus E-M10 III2360 n 3.0 1040 tilting Y 1/4000s 8.6 Y Y
 
Olympus PEN-F2360 n 3.0 1037 swivel Y 1/8000s 10.0 n Y
 
Olympus E-M5 II2360 n 3.0 1037 swivel Y 1/8000s 10.0 n Y
 
Olympus E-M10 II2360 n 3.0 1040 tilting Y 1/4000s 8.0 Y Y
 
Olympus E-M101440 n 3.0 1037 tilting Y 1/4000s 8.0 Y Y
 
Olympus E-PL7optional n 3.0 1037 tilting Y 1/4000s 8.0 n Y
 
Olympus E-M12360 n 3.0 1037 tilting Y 1/8000s 10.0 n Y
 
Olympus E-P5optional n 3.0 1037 tilting Y 1/8000s 9.0 Y Y
 
Olympus E-PL6optional n 3.0 460 tilting Y 1/4000s 8.0 n Y
 
Panasonic G802360 n 3.0 1040 swivel Y 1/4000s 9.0 Y Y
 
Panasonic GX82360 n 3.0 1040 swivel Y 1/8000s 10.0 n Y
 
Panasonic GX72760 n 3.0 1040 tilting Y 1/8000s 5.0 Y Y
The E-PL8 has an articulated screen that can be turned to be front-facing. This characteristic will be appreciated by vloggers and photographers who are interested in taking selfies. In contrast, the E-M5 does not have a selfie-screen.

The Olympus E-PL8 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-PL8 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-PL8 and, in particular, the interfaces the cameras (and selected comparators) provide for accessory control and data transfer.

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Input-Output Connections
  Camera
Model
Hotshoe
Port
Internal
Microphone
Internal
Speaker
Microphone
Port
Headphone
Port
HDMI
Port
USB
Port
WiFi
Support
NFC
Support
Bluetooth
Support
 
Olympus E-M5Ystereomono--mini2.0---
 
Olympus E-PL8Ystereomono--micro2.0Y--
 
Olympus E-PL9Ystereomono--micro2.0Y-Y
 
Olympus E-M10 IIIYstereomono--micro2.0Y--
 
Olympus PEN-FYstereomono--micro2.0Y--
 
Olympus E-M5 IIYstereomonoY-micro2.0Y--
 
Olympus E-M10 IIYstereomono--micro2.0Y--
 
Olympus E-M10Ystereomono--micro2.0Y--
 
Olympus E-PL7Ystereomono--micro2.0Y--
 
Olympus E-M1YstereomonoY-micro2.0Y--
 
Olympus E-P5Ystereomono--micro2.0Y--
 
Olympus E-PL6Ystereomono--mini2.0---
 
Panasonic G80YstereomonoY-micro2.0Y--
 
Panasonic GX8YstereomonoY-micro2.0YY-
 
Panasonic GX7Ystereomono--mini2.0YY-

It is notable that the E-PL8 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 provide wifi capability.

Both the E-M5 and the E-PL8 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-PL8 was followed by the Olympus E-PL9. 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 is the bottom line? Is the Olympus E-M5 better than the Olympus E-PL8 or vice versa? A synthesis of the relative strong points of each of the models is listed below.


Arguments in favor of 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.
  • Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (9 vs 8 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
  • Better sealing: Is weather sealed to enable shooting in dusty or wet environments.
  • More heavily discounted: Has been available for much longer (launched in February 2012).


Reasons to prefer the Olympus PEN E-PL8:

  • Better jpgs: Has a more modern image processing engine (TruePic VII vs TruePic VI).
  • More detailed LCD: Has a higher resolution rear screen (1037k vs 610k dots).
  • 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 (115x67mm vs 122x89mm) and will fit more readily into a bag.
  • Less heavy: Has a lower weight (by 68g or 16 percent) and is thus easier to take along.
  • Easier file upload: Has wifi built in for automatic backup or image transfer to the web.
  • More affordable: Was introduced into a lower priced category (58 percent cheaper at launch).
  • More modern: Reflects 4 years and 7 months of technical progress since the E-M5 launch.

If the count of individual advantages (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the E-PL8 is the clear winner of the contest (9 : 5 points). 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. 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 05:09 E-PL8

How about other alternatives? Do the specifications of the Olympus E-M5 and the Olympus E-PL8 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 and the E-PL8 in practical situations. 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 hands-on reviews by experts 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.

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Review Scores
  Camera
Model
camera
  labs  
dp
review  
ephoto
  zine  
imaging
resource
photography
  blog  
Camera
Launch
Launch
Price (USD)
Street
Price
 
Olympus E-M5+ +80/1004.5/55/55/5 Feb 2012 1,299i
 
Olympus E-PL8....4.5/5..4/5 Sep 2016 549i
 
Olympus E-PL9+..4.5/54.5/54/5 Feb 2018 599 i
 
Olympus E-M10 III+80/1004.5/54/54.5/5 Aug 2017 649i
 
Olympus PEN-F..82/1004.5/54.5/55/5 Jan 2016 1,199i
 
Olympus E-M5 II+ +81/1005/54.5/55/5 Feb 2015 1,099i
 
Olympus E-M10 II+ +80/1005/55/55/5 Aug 2015 649i
 
Olympus E-M10..80/1005/54.5/55/5 Jan 2014 699i
 
Olympus E-PL7+..5/54.5/54/5 Aug 2014 599i
 
Olympus E-M1+ +84/1004.5/54.5/54.5/5 Sep 2013 1,399i
 
Olympus E-P5+ +78/1004.5/54.5/55/5 May 2013 999i
 
Olympus E-PL6.......... May 2013 599i
 
Panasonic G80+ +84/1005/54.5/54.5/5 Sep 2016 899i
 
Panasonic GX8+82/1004.5/55/54.5/5 Jul 2015 1,199i
 
Panasonic GX7+79/1005/54.5/55/5 Aug 2013 999i
Notes: (+ +) highly recommended; (+) recommended; (o) reviewed; (..) not available.

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 comparing ratings of very distinct cameras or ones that are far apart in terms of their release date have little meaning. Also, kindly note that some of the listed sites have over time developped their review approaches and their reporting style.

Olympus E-M5:
Check Ebay offers
Olympus E-PL8:
Check Ebay offers

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 your choice using the following search menu. Alternatively, you can follow any of the listed hyperlinks for comparisons that others found interesting.

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    Specifications: Olympus E-M5 vs Olympus E-PL8

    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-PL8
    Camera Type Mirrorless system camera Mirrorless system camera
    Camera Lens Micro Four Thirds lenses Micro Four Thirds lenses
    Launch Date February 2012 September 2016
    Launch Price USD 1,299 USD 549
    Sensor Specs Olympus E-M5 Olympus E-PL8
    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 - 25,600 ISO 200 - 6,400 ISO
    ISO Boost no Enhancement 100 - 25,600 ISO
    Image Processor TruePic VI TruePic VII
    DXO Sensor Quality (score) 71 ..
    DXO Color Depth (bits) 22.8 ..
    DXO Dynamic Range (EV) 12.3 ..
    DXO Low Light (ISO) 826 ..
    Screen Specs Olympus E-M5 Olympus E-PL8
    Viewfinder Type Electronic viewfinder no viewfinder
    Viewfinder Field of View 100%
    Viewfinder Magnification 0.58x
    Viewfinder Resolution 1440k dots
    LCD Framing Live View Live View
    Rear LCD Size 3.0inch 3.0inch
    LCD Resolution 610k dots 1037k dots
    LCD Attachment Tilting screen Tilting screen
    Touch Input Touchscreen Touchscreen
    Shooting Specs Olympus E-M5 Olympus E-PL8
    Focus System Contrast-detect AF Contrast-detect AF
    Manual Focusing Aidno Peaking FeatureFocus Peaking
    Max Shutter Speed (mechanical) 1/4000s 1/4000s
    Continuous Shooting 9 shutter flaps/s 8 shutter flaps/s
    Time-Lapse Photographyno IntervalometerIntervalometer built-in
    Image StabilizationIn-body stabilizationIn-body stabilization
    Fill Flash no On-Board Flash no On-Board 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-PL8
    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-PL8
    Environmental SealingWeathersealed bodynot weather sealed
    Battery Type BLN-1 BLS-50
    Battery Life (CIPA)360 shots per charge350 shots per charge
    Body Dimensions 122 x 89 x 43 mm
    (4.8 x 3.5 x 1.7 in)
    115 x 67 x 38 mm
    (4.5 x 2.6 x 1.5 in)
    Camera Weight 425 g (15.0 oz) 357 g (12.6 oz)

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