Olympus E-M5 vs Panasonic GF3
The Olympus OM-D E-M5 and the Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF3 are two digital cameras that were announced, respectively, in February 2012 and June 2011. Both the E-M5 and the GF3 are mirrorless interchangeable lens cameras that are equipped with a Four Thirds sensor. The Olympus has a resolution of 15.9 megapixels, whereas the Panasonic provides 12 MP.
Below is an overview of the main specs of the two cameras as a starting point for the comparison.
|Olympus E-M5||Panasonic GF3|
|Mirrorless system camera||Mirrorless system camera|
|Micro Four Thirds lenses||Micro Four Thirds lenses|
|15.9 MP, Four Thirds Sensor||12 MP, Four Thirds Sensor|
|1080/60i Video||1080/60i Video|
|ISO 200-25,600||ISO 160-6,400|
|Electronic viewfinder (1440k dots)||No viewfinder, LCD framing|
|3.0 LCD, 610k dots||3.0 LCD, 460k dots|
|Tilting touchscreen||Fixed touchscreen|
|9 shutter flaps per second||3.2 shutter flaps per second|
|In-body stabilization||Lens stabilization only|
|Weathersealed body||not weather sealed|
|360 shots per battery charge||300 shots per battery charge|
|122 x 89 x 43 mm, 425 g||108 x 67 x 32 mm, 264 g|
Going beyond this snapshot of core features and characteristics, what are the differences between the Olympus OM-D E-M5 and the Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF3? 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.
The physical size and weight of the Olympus E-M5 and the Panasonic GF3 are illustrated 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 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 GF3 is available in five color-versions (black, brown, pink, red, white).
If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Panasonic GF3 is considerably smaller (33 percent) than the Olympus E-M5. Moreover, the GF3 is substantially lighter (38 percent) than the E-M5. It is worth mentioning in this context that the E-M5 is splash and dust resistant, while the GF3 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 table below summarizes the key physical specs of the two cameras alongside a broader set of comparators. If you would like to visualize and compare a different camera combination, just use the right or left arrows in the table to switch to the respective camera. Alternatively, you can also navigate to the CAM-parator app and make your selection from the full list of cameras there.
|Olympus E-M5||122 mm||89 mm||43 mm||425 g||360||Y||Feb 2012||1,299|
|Panasonic GF3||108 mm||67 mm||32 mm||264 g||300||n||Jun 2011||549|
|Olympus PEN-F||125 mm||72 mm||37 mm||427 g||330||n||Jan 2016||1,199|
|Olympus E-M5 II||124 mm||85 mm||45 mm||469 g||310||Y||Feb 2015||1,099|
|Olympus E-M10 II||120 mm||83 mm||47 mm||390 g||320||n||Aug 2015||649|
|Olympus E-M10||119 mm||82 mm||46 mm||396 g||320||n||Jan 2014||699|
|Olympus E-PL7||115 mm||67 mm||38 mm||357 g||350||n||Aug 2014||599|
|Olympus E-M1||130 mm||94 mm||63 mm||497 g||350||Y||Sep 2013||1,399|
|Olympus E-P5||122 mm||69 mm||37 mm||420 g||330||n||May 2013||999|
|Panasonic G80||128 mm||89 mm||74 mm||505 g||330||Y||Sep 2016||899|
|Panasonic GX8||133 mm||78 mm||63 mm||487 g||330||Y||Jul 2015||1,199|
|Panasonic GX7||123 mm||71 mm||55 mm||402 g||350||n||Aug 2013||999|
|Panasonic GF5||108 mm||67 mm||37 mm||267 g||360||n||Apr 2012||499|
|Panasonic LX7||111 mm||68 mm||46 mm||298 g||330||n||Jul 2012||499|
|Panasonic G10||124 mm||84 mm||74 mm||388 g||380||n||Mar 2010||499|
|Panasonic G2||124 mm||84 mm||74 mm||428 g||360||n||Mar 2010||599|
|Panasonic GF2||113 mm||68 mm||33 mm||310 g||300||n||Nov 2010||549|
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.
Any camera decision will naturally be influenced heavily by the price. The listed launch prices provide an indication of the market segment that the manufacturer of the cameras have been targeting. The GF3 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.
The size of the imaging sensor is a crucial determinant 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. 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 associated with larger, more expensive camera bodies 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.
While the two cameras under review share the same sensor size, the E-M5 offers a higher resolution of 15.9 megapixels, compared with 12 MP of the GF3. This megapixels advantage translates into a 15 percent gain in linear resolution. On the other hand, these sensor specs imply that the E-M5 has a higher pixel density and a smaller size of the individual pixel (with a pixel pitch of 3.76μm versus 4.33μm for the GF3). In this context, it should be noted, however, that the E-M5 is a somewhat more recent model (by 7 months) than the GF3, and its sensor might have benefitted from technological advances during this time that at least partly compensate for the smaller pixel size.
The resolution advantage of the Olympus E-M5 implies greater flexibility for cropping images or the possibility to print larger pictures. The maximum print size of the E-M5 for good quality output (200 dots per inch) amounts to 23 x 17.3 inches or 58.5 x 43.9 cm, for very good quality (250 dpi) 18.4 x 13.8 inches or 46.8 x 35.1 cm, and for excellent quality (300 dpi) 15.4 x 11.5 inches or 39 x 29.3 cm. The corresponding values for the Panasonic GF3 are 20 x 15 inches or 50.8 x 38.1 cm for good quality, 16 x 12 inches or 40.6 x 30.5 cm for very good quality, and 13.3 x 10 inches or 33.9 x 25.4 cm for excellent quality prints.
The Olympus OM-D E-M5 has a native sensitivity range from ISO 200 to ISO 25600. The corresponding ISO settings for the Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF3 are ISO 160 to ISO 6400 (no boost).
Consistent information on actual sensor performance is available from DXO Mark for many cameras. 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"). Of the two cameras under review, the E-M5 provides substantially higher image quality than the GF3, with an overall score that is 22 points higher. This advantage is based on 2.2 bits higher color depth, 2.3 EV in additional dynamic range, and 0.9 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.
|Olympus E-M5||Four Thirds||15.9||4608||3456||1080/60i||22.8||12.3||826||71|
|Panasonic GF3||Four Thirds||12.0||4000||3000||1080/60i||20.6||10.0||458||49|
|Olympus PEN-F||Four Thirds||20.2||5184||3888||1080/60p||23.1||12.4||894||74|
|Olympus E-M5 II||Four Thirds||15.9||4608||3456||1080/60p||23.0||12.5||842||73|
|Olympus E-M10 II||Four Thirds||15.9||4608||3456||1080/60p||23.1||12.5||842||73|
|Olympus E-M10||Four Thirds||15.9||4608||3456||1080/30p||22.8||12.3||884||72|
|Olympus E-PL7||Four Thirds||15.9||4608||3456||1080/30p||22.7||12.4||873||72|
|Olympus E-M1||Four Thirds||15.9||4608||3456||1080/30p||23.0||12.7||757||73|
|Olympus E-P5||Four Thirds||15.9||4608||3456||1080/30p||22.8||12.4||895||72|
|Panasonic G80||Four Thirds||15.8||4592||3448||4K/30p||22.8||12.5||656||71|
|Panasonic GX8||Four Thirds||20.2||5184||3888||4K/30p||23.5||12.6||806||75|
|Panasonic GX7||Four Thirds||15.8||4592||3448||1080/60p||22.6||12.2||718||70|
|Panasonic GF5||Four Thirds||12.0||4000||3000||1080/60i||21.4||11.6||618||61|
|Panasonic G10||Four Thirds||12.0||4000||3000||720/30p||21.2||10.1||411||52|
|Panasonic G2||Four Thirds||12.0||4000||3000||720/30p||21.2||10.3||493||53|
|Panasonic GF2||Four Thirds||12.0||4000||3000||1080/60i||21.2||10.3||506||54|
Many modern cameras are not only capable of taking still images, but can also record movies. Both cameras under consideration are equipped with sensors that have a sufficiently high read-out speed for moving images, and both provide the same movie specifications (1080/60i).
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 GF3 relies on live view and the rear LCD for framing. The adjacent table lists some of the other core features of the Olympus E-M5 and Panasonic GF3 along with similar information for a selection of comparators.
|Olympus E-M5 II||2360||n||3.0||1037||swivel||Y||1/8000s||10.0||n||Y|
|Olympus E-M10 II||2360||n||3.0||1040||tilting||Y||1/4000s||8.0||Y||Y|
One feature that differentiates the E-M5 and the GF3 is in-body image stabilization (IBIS). The E-M5 reduces the risk of handshake-induced blur with all attached lenses, while the GF3 offers no blur reduction with lenses that themselves do not provide optical image stabilization.
Concerning the storage of imaging data, both the E-M5 and the GF3 write their files to SDXC cards. The E-M5 supports UHS-I cards (Ultra High Speed data transfer of up to 104 MB/s), while the GF3 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 and Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF3 and, in particular, the interfaces the cameras (and selected comparators) provide for accessory control and data transfer.
| WiFi |
|Olympus E-M5 II||Y||stereo||mono||Y||-||micro||2.0||Y||-||-|
|Olympus E-M10 II||Y||stereo||mono||-||-||micro||2.0||Y||-||-|
It is notable that the E-M5 has a hotshoe, while the GF3 does not. This socket makes it possible to easily attach optional accessories, such as an external flash gun.
Both the E-M5 and the GF3 have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on eBay. The GF3 was replaced by the Panasonic GF5, while the E-M5 was followed by the Olympus E-M5 II. 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? Is the Olympus E-M5 better than the Panasonic GF3 or vice versa? The listing below highlights the relative strengths of the two models.
Advantages of the Olympus OM-D E-M5:
- More detail: Offers more megapixels (15.9 vs 12MP) with a 15% higher linear resolution.
- Better image quality: Scores substantially higher (22 points) in the DXO overall assessment.
- Richer colors: Generates images with noticeably better colors (2.2 bits more color depth).
- More dynamic range: Captures a larger spectrum of light and dark details (2.3 EV of extra DR).
- Better low-light sensitivity: Requires less light for good images (0.9 stops ISO advantage).
- Easier framing: Has an electronic viewfinder for image composition and settings control.
- More detailed LCD: Has a higher resolution rear screen (610k vs 460k dots).
- More flexible LCD: Has a tilting screen for odd-angle shots in landscape orientation.
- Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (9 vs 3.2 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
- Longer lasting: Can take more shots (360 versus 300) on a single battery charge.
- Better sealing: Is weather sealed to enable shooting in dusty or wet environments.
- Sharper images: Has hand-shake reducing image stabilization built-in.
- Better lighting: Features a hotshoe and can thus hold and trigger an external flash gun.
- Faster buffer clearing: Has an SD card interface that supports the UHS-I standard.
- More modern: Is somewhat more recent (announced 7 months after the GF3).
Arguments in favor of the Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF3:
- More compact: Is smaller (108x67mm vs 122x89mm) and will fit more readily into a bag.
- Less heavy: Has a lower weight (by 161g or 38 percent) and is thus easier to take along.
- Easier fill-in: Has a small integrated flash to brighten shadows of backlit subjects.
- More affordable: Was introduced into a lower priced category (58 percent cheaper at launch).
- More heavily discounted: Has been on the market for longer (launched in June 2011).
If the number of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the E-M5 is the clear winner of the match-up (15 : 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 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.
How about other alternatives? Do the specifications of the Olympus E-M5 and the Panasonic GF3 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 incomplete and does no justice, for example, to the way the E-M5 or the GF3 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 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.
|Olympus E-M5||+ +||80/100||4.5/5||5/5||5/5||Feb 2012||1,299|
|Panasonic GF3||82/100||71/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||4/5||Jun 2011||549|
|Olympus PEN-F||..||82/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||5/5||Jan 2016||1,199|
|Olympus E-M5 II||+ +||81/100||5/5||4.5/5||5/5||Feb 2015||1,099|
|Olympus E-M10 II||+ +||80/100||5/5||5/5||5/5||Aug 2015||649|
|Olympus E-M10||..||80/100||5/5||4.5/5||5/5||Jan 2014||699|
|Olympus E-PL7||+||..||5/5||4.5/5||4/5||Aug 2014||599|
|Olympus E-M1||+ +||84/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||4.5/5||Sep 2013||1,399|
|Olympus E-P5||+ +||78/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||5/5||May 2013||999|
|Panasonic G80||+ +||84/100||5/5||4.5/5||4.5/5||Sep 2016||899|
|Panasonic GX8||+||82/100||4.5/5||5/5||4.5/5||Jul 2015||1,199|
|Panasonic GX7||+||79/100||5/5||4.5/5||5/5||Aug 2013||999|
|Panasonic GF5||..||..||4.5/5||4/5||4.5/5||Apr 2012||499|
|Panasonic LX7||+ +||75/100||4/5||5/5||4.5/5||Jul 2012||499|
|Panasonic G10||..||70/100||4/5||..||4/5||Mar 2010||499|
|Panasonic G2||..||72/100||4/5||4/5||4.5/5||Mar 2010||599|
|Panasonic GF2||82/100||70/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||4.5/5||Nov 2010||549|
|Notes: (+ +) highly recommended; (+) recommended; (o) reviewed; (..) not available.|
The review scores listed above should be treated with care, 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 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.
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 use the search menu below. There is also a set of direct links to comparison reviews that other users of the CAM-parator app explored.
- Canon 200D vs Olympus E-M5 III
- Canon SX620 vs Olympus E-M5 III
- Canon SX740 vs Olympus E-M5 III
- Hasselblad X1D vs Olympus E-M5
- Nikon D70 vs Olympus E-M5
- Nikon D7000 vs Olympus E-M5 III
- Olympus E-M5 II vs Panasonic G10
- Olympus E-M5 II vs Sony A7
- Olympus E-M5 III vs Sony A7
- Olympus E-M5 vs Sony A3000
- Olympus E-PL8 vs Panasonic GF3
- Panasonic GF3 vs Sony A7 II
Specifications: Olympus E-M5 vs Panasonic GF3
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||Panasonic GF3|
|Camera Type||Mirrorless system camera||Mirrorless system camera|
|Camera Lens||Micro Four Thirds lenses||Micro Four Thirds lenses|
|Launch Date||February 2012||June 2011|
|Launch Price||USD 1,299||USD 549|
|Sensor Specs||Olympus E-M5||Panasonic GF3|
|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||12 Megapixels|
|Image Resolution||4608 x 3456 pixels||4000 x 3000 pixels|
|Pixel Pitch||3.76 μm||4.33 μm|
|Pixel Density||7.08 MP/cm2||5.34 MP/cm2|
|Moiré control||Anti-Alias filter||Anti-Alias filter|
|Movie Capability||1080/60i Video||1080/60i Video|
|ISO Setting||200 - 25,600 ISO||160 - 6,400 ISO|
|Image Processor||TruePic VI||Venus FHD|
|DXO Sensor Quality (score)||71||49|
|DXO Color Depth (bits)||22.8||20.6|
|DXO Dynamic Range (EV)||12.3||10.0|
|DXO Low Light (ISO)||826||458|
|Screen Specs||Olympus E-M5||Panasonic GF3|
|Viewfinder Type||Electronic viewfinder||no viewfinder|
|Viewfinder Field of View||100%|
|Viewfinder Resolution||1440k dots|
|LCD Framing||Live View||Live View|
|Rear LCD Size||3.0inch||3.0inch|
|LCD Resolution||610k dots||460k dots|
|LCD Attachment||Tilting screen||Fixed screen|
|Shooting Specs||Olympus E-M5||Panasonic GF3|
|Focus System||Contrast-detect AF||Contrast-detect AF|
|Continuous Shooting||9 shutter flaps/s||3.2 shutter flaps/s|
|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-I||no|
|Connectivity Specs||Olympus E-M5||Panasonic GF3|
|External Flash||Hotshoe||no Hotshoe|
|USB Connector||USB 2.0||USB 2.0|
|HDMI Port||mini HDMI||mini HDMI|
|Wifi Support||no Wifi||no Wifi|
|Body Specs||Olympus E-M5||Panasonic GF3|
|Environmental Sealing||Weathersealed body||not weather sealed|
|Battery Life (CIPA)||360 shots per charge||300 shots per charge|
122 x 89 x 43 mm
(4.8 x 3.5 x 1.7 in)
108 x 67 x 32 mm
(4.3 x 2.6 x 1.3 in)
|Camera Weight||425 g (15.0 oz)||264 g (9.3 oz)|
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