Olympus E-M5 versus Panasonic GH4
The Olympus OM-D E-M5 and the Panasonic Lumix DMC-GH4 are two enthusiast cameras that were revealed to the public, respectively, in February 2012 and February 2014. Both the E-M5 and the GH4 are mirrorless interchangeable lens cameras that are equipped with a Four Thirds sensor. Both cameras offer a resolution of 15.9 megapixel.
An illustration of the physical size and weight of the Olympus E-M5 and the Panasonic GH4 is provided in the side-by-side display below. Three consecutive perspectives from the front, the top, and the back are presented. 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 – the E-M5 – represents the basis or 100 percent across all the size and weight measures).
If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Panasonic GH4 is notably larger (14 percent) than the Olympus E-M5. Moreover, the GH4 is markedly heavier (32 percent) than the E-M5. Cameras intended for semi-professional or professional use tend to be a bit bulkier in order to give them the necessary ruggedness. In this context, it is worth noting that both cameras are splash and dust-proof and can, hence, be used in inclement weather conditions or harsh environments.
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 find an overview of suitable optics 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 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 comparisons there.
|Camera Body Specifications
|Olympus E-M5 (⇒ rgt)||4.8 in||3.5 in||1.7 in||15.0 oz||..||YES||2012||1,299||discont.||check|
|Panasonic GH4 (⇒ lft)||5.2 in||3.7 in||3.3 in||19.8 oz||500||YES||2014||1,499||discont.||check|
|Olympus E-M1 II (⇒ lft | rgt)||5.3 in||3.6 in||2.6 in||20.2 oz||440||YES||2016||1,999||latest||check|
|Olympus PEN-F (⇒ lft | rgt)||4.9 in||2.8 in||1.5 in||15.1 oz||330||no||2016||1,199||latest||check|
|Olympus E-M10 II (⇒ lft | rgt)||4.7 in||3.3 in||1.9 in||13.8 oz||320||no||2015||799||discont.||check|
|Olympus E-M5 II (⇒ lft | rgt)||4.9 in||3.3 in||1.8 in||16.5 oz||310||YES||2015||1,099||latest||check|
|Olympus E-M10 (⇒ lft | rgt)||4.7 in||3.2 in||1.8 in||14.0 oz||320||no||2014||699||discont.||check|
|Olympus E-M1 (⇒ lft | rgt)||5.1 in||3.7 in||2.5 in||17.5 oz||350||YES||2013||1,399||discont.||check|
|Olympus E-P5 (⇒ lft | rgt)||4.8 in||2.7 in||1.5 in||14.8 oz||330||no||2013||999||discont.||check|
|Panasonic GH5 (⇒ lft | rgt)||5.5 in||3.9 in||3.4 in||25.6 oz||410||YES||2017||1,999||latest||check|
|Panasonic G85 (⇒ lft | rgt)||5.0 in||3.5 in||2.9 in||17.8 oz||330||YES||2016||899||latest||check|
|Panasonic G6 (⇒ lft | rgt)||4.8 in||3.3 in||2.8 in||13.8 oz||340||no||2013||599||discont.||check|
|Panasonic GM1 (⇒ lft | rgt)||3.9 in||2.2 in||1.2 in||7.2 oz||230||no||2013||749||discont.||check|
|Panasonic GH3 (⇒ lft | rgt)||5.2 in||3.7 in||3.2 in||19.4 oz||540||YES||2012||1,299||discont.||check|
The listed prices provide an indication of the market segment that the manufacturer of the cameras have been targeting. The E-M5 was launched at a somewhat lower price (by 13 percent) than the GH4, which makes it more attractive for photographers on a tight budget. 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. Further, a large sensor camera will give the photographer additional creative options when using shallow depth-of-field to isolate a subject from its 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.
The two cameras under review do not only share the same sensor size, but also offer an identical resolution of 15.9 megapixel. This similarity in sensor specs implies that both the E-M5 and the GH4 have the same pixel density, as well as the same pixel size. It should, however, be noted that the GH4 is much more recent (by 2 years) than the E-M5, and its sensor will have benefitted from technological advances during this time.
For most cameras, data on sensor performance has been reported by DXO Mark. 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 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.
|Olympus E-M5 (⇒ rgt)||Four Thirds||15.9||4608||3456||1080/60i||22.8||12.3||826||71|
|Panasonic GH4 (⇒ lft)||Four Thirds||15.9||4608||3456||4K/30p||23.2||12.8||791||74|
|Olympus E-M1 II (⇒ lft | rgt)||Four Thirds||20.2||5184||3888||4K/30p||23.7||12.8||1312||80|
|Olympus PEN-F (⇒ lft | rgt)||Four Thirds||20.2||5184||3888||1080/60p||23.1||12.4||894||74|
|Olympus E-M10 II (⇒ lft | rgt)||Four Thirds||15.9||4608||3456||1080/60p||23.1||12.5||842||73|
|Olympus E-M5 II (⇒ lft | rgt)||Four Thirds||15.9||4608||3456||1080/60p||23.0||12.5||842||73|
|Olympus E-M10 (⇒ lft | rgt)||Four Thirds||15.9||4608||3456||1080/30p||22.8||12.3||884||72|
|Olympus E-M1 (⇒ lft | rgt)||Four Thirds||15.9||4608||3456||1080/30p||23.0||12.7||757||73|
|Olympus E-P5 (⇒ lft | rgt)||Four Thirds||15.9||4608||3456||1080/30p||22.8||12.4||895||72|
|Panasonic GH5 (⇒ lft | rgt)||Four Thirds||20.2||5184||3888||4K/60p||23.9||13.0||807||77|
|Panasonic G85 (⇒ lft | rgt)||Four Thirds||15.8||4592||3448||4K/30p||22.8||12.5||656||71|
|Panasonic G6 (⇒ lft | rgt)||Four Thirds||15.9||4608||3456||1080/60p||21.3||11.5||639||61|
|Panasonic GM1 (⇒ lft | rgt)||Four Thirds||15.8||4592||3448||1080/60i||22.3||11.7||660||66|
|Panasonic GH3 (⇒ lft | rgt)||Four Thirds||15.9||4608||3456||1080/60p||22.7||12.4||812||71|
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 GH4 provides a better video resolution than the E-M5. It can shoot movie footage at 4K/30p, while the Olympus is limited to 1080/60i.
Apart from body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a range of features. The two cameras under review are similar with respect to both having an electronic viewfinder. However, the one in the GH4 offers a substantially higher resolution than the one in the E-M5 (2359k vs 1440k dots). The following table reports on some other key feature differences and similarities of the Olympus E-M5, the Panasonic GH4, and comparable cameras. If you need more detail on the specs, you can find comprehensive listings, for example, in the dpreview camera hub.
|Olympus E-M5 (⇒ rgt)||1440||no||3.0||610||tilting||YES||4000||9.0||no||YES|
|Panasonic GH4 (⇒ lft)||2359||no||3.0||1036||swivel||YES||8000||12.0||17||no|
|Olympus E-M1 II (⇒ lft | rgt)||2360||no||3.0||1037||swivel||YES||8000||18.0||no||YES|
|Olympus PEN-F (⇒ lft | rgt)||2360||no||3.0||1037||swivel||YES||8000||10.0||no||YES|
|Olympus E-M10 II (⇒ lft | rgt)||2360||no||3.0||1040||tilting||YES||4000||8.0||5.8||YES|
|Olympus E-M5 II (⇒ lft | rgt)||2360||no||3.0||1037||swivel||YES||8000||10.0||no||YES|
|Olympus E-M10 (⇒ lft | rgt)||1440||no||3.0||1037||tilting||YES||4000||8.0||5.8||YES|
|Olympus E-M1 (⇒ lft | rgt)||2360||no||3.0||1037||tilting||YES||8000||10.0||no||YES|
|Olympus E-P5 (⇒ lft | rgt)||no||no||3.0||1037||tilting||YES||8000||9.0||7||YES|
|Panasonic GH5 (⇒ lft | rgt)||3680||no||3.2||1620||swivel||YES||8000||12.0||no||YES|
|Panasonic G85 (⇒ lft | rgt)||2360||no||3.0||1040||swivel||YES||4000||9.0||6.2||YES|
|Panasonic G6 (⇒ lft | rgt)||1440||no||3.0||1036||swivel||YES||4000||7.0||10.5||no|
|Panasonic GM1 (⇒ lft | rgt)||no||no||3.0||1036||fixed||YES||500||5.0||4||no|
|Panasonic GH3 (⇒ lft | rgt)||1746||no||3.0||614||swivel||YES||4000||6.0||12||no|
Both the E-M5 and the GH4 have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on ebay. The E-M5 was replaced by the Olympus E-M5 II, while the GH4 was followed by the Panasonic GH5.
So how do things add up? Is the Olympus E-M5 better than the Panasonic GH4 or vice versa? The listing below highlights the relative strengths of the two models.
Reasons to prefer the Olympus OM-D E-M5:
- More compact: Is smaller (122x89mm vs 133x93mm) and thus needs less room in the bag.
- Less heavy: Is lighter (by 135g or 24 percent) and hence easier to carry around.
- Sharper images: Has hand-shake reducing image stabilization build-in.
- More affordable: Was introduced into a lower priced segment (13 percent cheaper at launch).
- More heavily discounted: Has been on the market for longer (launched in February 2012).
Advantages of the Panasonic Lumix DMC-GH4:
- Better video: Provides higher definition movie capture (4K/30p vs 1080/60i).
- More detailed viewfinder: Has a higher resolution electronic viewfinder (2359k vs 1440k dots).
- More detailed LCD: Has a higher resolution rear screen (1036k vs 610k dots).
- More flexible LCD: Has a swivel screen for odd-angle shots in portrait or landscape orientation.
- Faster shutter: Has a higher mechanical shutter speed (8000/sec vs 4000/sec) to freeze action.
- Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (12 vs 9 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
- Easier fill-in: Has a small integrated flash to brighten shadows of backlit subjects.
- More modern: Was introduced somewhat (2 years) more recently.
If the number of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the GH4 emerges as the winner of the match-up (8 : 5 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.
In any case, while the comparison of technical specifications can provide a useful overview of the capabilities of different cameras, it remains partial and cannot reveal, for example, the handling experience and imaging performance when actually working with the E-M5 or the GH4. 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 hands-on reviews by experts are important. The following table reports the overall rankings of the cameras as published by some of the major camera review sites. The full reviews are available, respectively, at cameralabs.com, dpreview.com, ephotozine.com, imaging-resource.com, and photographyblog.com.
|Olympus E-M5 (⇒ rgt)||HiRec||80/100 Gold||4.5/5||5/5||5/5||2012||1,299||discont.||check|
|Panasonic GH4 (⇒ lft)||HiRec||85/100 Gold||5/5||5/5||5/5||2014||1,499||discont.||check|
|Olympus E-M1 II (⇒ lft | rgt)||HiRec||85/100 Gold||4.5/5||5/5||4.5/5||2016||1,999||latest||check|
|Olympus PEN-F (⇒ lft | rgt)||-||82/100 Silver||4.5/5||4.5/5||5/5||2016||1,199||latest||check|
|Olympus E-M10 II (⇒ lft | rgt)||HiRec||80/100 Silver||5/5||5/5||5/5||2015||799||discont.||check|
|Olympus E-M5 II (⇒ lft | rgt)||HiRec||81/100 Silver||5/5||4.5/5||5/5||2015||1,099||latest||check|
|Olympus E-M10 (⇒ lft | rgt)||-||80/100 Gold||5/5||4.5/5||5/5||2014||699||discont.||check|
|Olympus E-M1 (⇒ lft | rgt)||HiRec||84/100 Gold||4.5/5||4.5/5||4.5/5||2013||1,399||discont.||check|
|Olympus E-P5 (⇒ lft | rgt)||HiRec||78/100 Silver||4.5/5||4.5/5||5/5||2013||999||discont.||check|
|Panasonic GH5 (⇒ lft | rgt)||HiRec||85/100 Gold||4.5/5||5/5||5/5||2017||1,999||latest||check|
|Panasonic G85 (⇒ lft | rgt)||HiRec||84/100 Gold||5/5||4.5/5||4.5/5||2016||899||latest||check|
|Panasonic G6 (⇒ lft | rgt)||HiRec||-||5/5||-||4.5/5||2013||599||discont.||check|
|Panasonic GM1 (⇒ lft | rgt)||Rec||78/100 Gold||5/5||4.5/5||4.5/5||2013||749||discont.||check|
|Panasonic GH3 (⇒ lft | rgt)||HiRec||79/100 Gold||4.5/5||5/5||4.5/5||2012||1,299||discont.||check|
The review scores listed above should be treated with care, 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 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.
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. An an alternative, you can also directly jump to any one of the listed comparisons that were previously generated by the CAM-parator tool. 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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