Olympus E-M5 vs Panasonic GH2
The Olympus OM-D E-M5 and the Panasonic Lumix DMC-GH2 are two enthusiast cameras that were revealed to the public, respectively, in February 2012 and September 2010. Both the E-M5 and the GH2 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.
|Olympus E-M5||Panasonic GH2|
|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||1080/60i Video|
|ISO 200-25,600||ISO 160-12,800|
|Electronic viewfinder (1440k dots)||Electronic viewfinder (1534k dots)|
|3.0 LCD, 610k dots||3.0 LCD, 460k dots|
|Tilting touchscreen||Swivel screen (not touch-sensitive)|
|9 shutter flaps per second||3 shutter flaps per second|
|In-body stabilization||Lens stabilization only|
|Weathersealed body||not weather sealed|
|360 shots per battery charge||330 shots per battery charge|
|122 x 89 x 43 mm, 425 g||124 x 90 x 76 mm, 442 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-GH2? 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 side-by-side display below illustrates the physical size and weight of the Olympus E-M5 and the Panasonic GH2. 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 measures are rounded to the nearest millimeter.
Both cameras are available in two different colors (black, silver).
If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Panasonic GH2 is somewhat larger (3 percent) than the Olympus E-M5. Moreover, the GH2 is slightly heavier (4 percent) than the E-M5. It is worth mentioning in this context that the E-M5 is splash and dust resistant, while the GH2 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 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.
|Olympus E-M5||122 mm||89 mm||43 mm||425 g||360||Y||Feb 2012||1,299|
|Panasonic GH2||124 mm||90 mm||76 mm||442 g||330||n||Sep 2010||899|
|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 GM5||99 mm||60 mm||36 mm||211 g||220||n||Sep 2014||749|
|Panasonic G6||122 mm||85 mm||71 mm||390 g||340||n||Apr 2013||599|
|Panasonic GX7||123 mm||71 mm||55 mm||402 g||350||n||Aug 2013||999|
|Panasonic GH3||133 mm||93 mm||82 mm||550 g||540||Y||Sep 2012||1,299|
|Panasonic GX1||116 mm||68 mm||39 mm||318 g||320||n||Nov 2011||699|
|Panasonic GH1||124 mm||90 mm||45 mm||385 g||300||n||Mar 2009||899|
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 listed launch prices provide an indication of the market segment that the manufacturer of the cameras have been targeting. The GH2 was launched at a markedly lower price (by 31 percent) than the E-M5, 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. Then, after the new model is out, very good deals can frequently be found on the pre-owned market.
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 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.
In terms of underlying technology, both cameras are build around CMOS sensors.
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 GH2 have the same pixel density, as well as the same pixel size. It should, however, be noted that the E-M5 is a somewhat more recent model (by 1 year and 4 months) than the GH2, 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 Panasonic Lumix DMC-GH2 are ISO 160 to ISO 12800 (no boost).
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"). Of the two cameras under review, the E-M5 provides substantially higher image quality than the GH2, with an overall score that is 11 points higher. This advantage is based on 1.6 bits higher color depth, 1 EV in additional dynamic range, and 0.3 stops in additional low light sensitivity. The following table provides an overview of the physical sensor characteristics, as well as the sensor quality measurements for a selection of comparators.
|Olympus E-M5||Four Thirds||15.9||4608||3456||1080/60i||22.8||12.3||826||71|
|Panasonic GH2||Four Thirds||15.9||4608||3456||1080/60i||21.2||11.3||655||60|
|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 GM5||Four Thirds||15.8||4592||3448||1080/60p||22.1||11.7||721||66|
|Panasonic G6||Four Thirds||15.9||4608||3456||1080/60p||21.3||11.5||639||61|
|Panasonic GX7||Four Thirds||15.8||4592||3448||1080/60p||22.6||12.2||718||70|
|Panasonic GH3||Four Thirds||15.9||4608||3456||1080/60p||22.7||12.4||812||71|
|Panasonic GX1||Four Thirds||15.8||4592||3448||1080/60p||20.8||10.6||703||55|
|Panasonic GH1||Four Thirds||12.0||4000||3000||1080/24p||21.6||11.6||772||64|
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, and both provide the same movie specifications (1080/60i).
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 GH2 offers a slightly higher resolution than the one in the E-M5 (1534k vs 1440k dots). The table below summarizes some of the other core capabilities of the Olympus E-M5 and Panasonic GH2 in connection with corresponding information for a sample of similar cameras.
|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 GH2 is in-body image stabilization (IBIS). The E-M5 reduces the risk of handshake-induced blur with all attached lenses, while the GH2 offers no blur reduction with lenses that themselves do not provide optical image stabilization.The GH2 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.
Concerning the storage of imaging data, both the E-M5 and the GH2 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 GH2 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-GH2 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 GH2 has a microphone port, which can help to improve the quality of audio recordings by attaching an external microphone. The E-M5 does not feature such a mic input.
Both the E-M5 and the GH2 have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on eBay. The GH2 was replaced by the Panasonic GH3, 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 GH2 or vice versa? A synthesis of the relative strong points of each of the models is listed below.
Reasons to prefer the Olympus OM-D E-M5:
- Better image quality: Scores substantially higher (11 points) in the DXO overall assessment.
- Richer colors: Generates images with noticeably better colors (1.6 bits more color depth).
- More dynamic range: Captures a larger spectrum of light and dark details (1 EV of extra DR).
- Better low-light sensitivity: Requires less light for good images (0.3 stops ISO advantage).
- More detailed LCD: Has a higher resolution rear screen (610k vs 460k dots).
- Fewer buttons to press: Is equipped with a touch-sensitive rear screen to facilitate handling.
- Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (9 vs 3 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
- Better sealing: Is weather sealed to enable shooting in dusty or wet environments.
- Sharper images: Has hand-shake reducing image stabilization built-in.
- Faster buffer clearing: Has an SD card interface that supports the UHS-I standard.
- More modern: Is somewhat more recent (announced 1 year and 4 months after the GH2).
Advantages of the Panasonic Lumix DMC-GH2:
- Better sound: Can connect to an external microphone for higher quality sound recording.
- Larger viewfinder image: Features a viewfinder with a higher magnification (0.71x vs 0.58x).
- More flexible LCD: Has a swivel screen for odd-angle shots in portrait or landscape orientation.
- More selfie-friendly: Has an articulated screen that can be turned to be front-facing.
- Easier fill-in: Has a small integrated flash to brighten shadows of backlit subjects.
- More affordable: Was introduced into a lower priced category (31 percent cheaper at launch).
- More heavily discounted: Has been on the market for longer (launched in September 2010).
If the count of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a measure, the E-M5 is the clear winner of the match-up (11 : 7 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 sports photographer will view the differences between cameras in a way that diverges from the perspective of a street photog, and a person interested in family portraits has distinct needs from a landscape 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 GH2 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 specs-based evaluation of cameras can be instructive in revealing their potential as photographic tools, it says little about, for example, the shooting experience and imaging performance of the E-M5 and the GH2 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.
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.
|Olympus E-M5||+ +||80/100||4.5/5||5/5||5/5||Feb 2012||1,299|
|Panasonic GH2||+ +||79/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||5/5||Sep 2010||899|
|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 GM5||+||77/100||5/5||5/5||4.5/5||Sep 2014||749|
|Panasonic G6||+ +||..||5/5||..||4.5/5||Apr 2013||599|
|Panasonic GX7||+||79/100||5/5||4.5/5||5/5||Aug 2013||999|
|Panasonic GH3||+ +||79/100||4.5/5||5/5||4.5/5||Sep 2012||1,299|
|Panasonic GX1||+||77/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||4.5/5||Nov 2011||699|
|Panasonic GH1||+ +||72/100||4.5/5||5/5||4.5/5||Mar 2009||899|
|Notes: (+ +) highly recommended; (+) recommended; (o) reviewed; (..) not available.|
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. A score, therefore, has to be seen in close connection to the price and market introduction time of the camera, and rating-comparisons among cameras that span long time periods or concern very differently equipped models make little sense. Also, please note that some of the review sites have changed their methodology and reporting over time.
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. There is also a set of direct links to comparison reviews that other users of the CAM-parator app explored.
- Canon 5DS R vs Olympus E-M5 II
- Canon M10 vs Panasonic GH2
- Canon M50 vs Panasonic GH2
- Contax N Digital vs Olympus E-M5 II
- Fujifilm X-T30 vs Olympus E-M5 II
- Fujifilm X30 vs Olympus E-M5
- Nikon D7200 vs Panasonic GH2
- Olympus E-M5 II vs Panasonic GH5s
- Olympus E-M5 II vs Zeiss ZX1
- Olympus E-M5 III vs Sony RX1R II
- Olympus E-M5 vs Sony NEX-5N
- Panasonic GH2 vs Zeiss ZX1
Specifications: Olympus E-M5 vs Panasonic GH2
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 GH2|
|Camera Type||Mirrorless system camera||Mirrorless system camera|
|Camera Lens||Micro Four Thirds lenses||Micro Four Thirds lenses|
|Launch Date||February 2012||September 2010|
|Launch Price||USD 1,299||USD 899|
|Sensor Specs||Olympus E-M5||Panasonic GH2|
|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||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||1080/60i Video|
|ISO Setting||200 - 25,600 ISO||160 - 12,800 ISO|
|Image Processor||TruePic VI||Venus FHD|
|DXO Sensor Quality (score)||71||60|
|DXO Color Depth (bits)||22.8||21.2|
|DXO Dynamic Range (EV)||12.3||11.3|
|DXO Low Light (ISO)||826||655|
|Screen Specs||Olympus E-M5||Panasonic GH2|
|Viewfinder Type||Electronic viewfinder||Electronic viewfinder|
|Viewfinder Field of View||100%||100%|
|Viewfinder Resolution||1440k dots||1534k dots|
|LCD Framing||Live View||Live View|
|Rear LCD Size||3.0inch||3.0inch|
|LCD Resolution||610k dots||460k dots|
|LCD Attachment||Tilting screen||Swivel screen|
|Touch Input||Touchscreen||no Touchscreen|
|Shooting Specs||Olympus E-M5||Panasonic GH2|
|Focus System||Contrast-detect AF||Contrast-detect AF|
|Continuous Shooting||9 shutter flaps/s||3 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 GH2|
|USB Connector||USB 2.0||USB 2.0|
|HDMI Port||mini HDMI||mini HDMI|
|Microphone Port||no MIC socket||External MIC port|
|Wifi Support||no Wifi||no Wifi|
|Body Specs||Olympus E-M5||Panasonic GH2|
|Environmental Sealing||Weathersealed body||not weather sealed|
|Battery Life (CIPA)||360 shots per charge||330 shots per charge|
122 x 89 x 43 mm
(4.8 x 3.5 x 1.7 in)
124 x 90 x 76 mm
(4.9 x 3.5 x 3.0 in)
|Camera Weight||425 g (15.0 oz)||442 g (15.6 oz)|
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