Olympus E-M5 vs Panasonic L1
The Olympus OM-D E-M5 and the Panasonic Lumix DMC-L1 are two digital cameras that were announced, respectively, in February 2012 and February 2006. The E-M5 is a mirrorless interchangeable lens camera, while the L1 is a DSLR. Both cameras are equipped with a Four Thirds sensor. The Olympus has a resolution of 15.9 megapixels, whereas the Panasonic provides 7.4 MP.
Below is an overview of the main specs of the two cameras as a starting point for the comparison.
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-L1? 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 L1 are illustrated 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 size dimensions are rounded to the nearest millimeter.
The E-M5 can be obtained in two different colors (black, silver), while the L1 is only available in black.
If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Panasonic L1 is notably larger (17 percent) than the Olympus E-M5. Moreover, the L1 is substantially heavier (43 percent) than the E-M5. It is worth mentioning in this context that the E-M5 is splash and dust resistant, while the L1 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. Both cameras have similarly sized sensors, but DSLRs have a larger flange-to-focal plane distance than mirrorless cameras, which imposes contraints on the optical engineering process and generally leads to bigger and heavier lenses. You can compare the optics available for the two cameras in the Micro Four Thirds Lens Catalog (E-M5) and the Four Thirds Lens Catalog (L1). Mirrorless cameras, such as the Olympus E-M5, have moreover the advantage that they have a relatively short flange to focal plane distance and can thus use many lenses from other systems via adapters.
The following table provides a synthesis of the main physical specifications of the two cameras and other similar ones. If you would like to visualize and compare a different camera combination, you can navigate to the CAM-parator app and make your selection from a broad list of cameras there.
|1.||Olympus E-M5||122 mm||89 mm||43 mm||425 g||360||Y||Feb 2012||1,299|
|2.||Panasonic L1||146 mm||87 mm||64 mm||606 g||750||n||Feb 2006||999|
|3.||Canon XT||127 mm||94 mm||64 mm||540 g||400||n||Feb 2005||899|
|4.||Leica Digilux 3||146 mm||87 mm||77 mm||606 g||750||n||Sep 2006||1,499|
|5.||Olympus PEN-F||125 mm||72 mm||37 mm||427 g||330||n||Jan 2016||1,199|
|6.||Olympus E-M5 II||124 mm||85 mm||45 mm||469 g||310||Y||Feb 2015||1,099|
|7.||Olympus E-PL7||115 mm||67 mm||38 mm||357 g||350||n||Aug 2014||599|
|8.||Olympus E-M1||130 mm||94 mm||63 mm||497 g||350||Y||Sep 2013||1,399|
|9.||Olympus E-P5||122 mm||69 mm||37 mm||420 g||330||n||May 2013||999|
|10.||Olympus E-PL5||111 mm||64 mm||38 mm||325 g||360||n||Sep 2012||599|
|11.||Olympus E-PM2||110 mm||64 mm||34 mm||269 g||360||n||Sep 2012||499|
|12.||Olympus E-330||140 mm||87 mm||72 mm||637 g||750||n||Jan 2006||999|
|13.||Olympus E-300||147 mm||85 mm||64 mm||624 g||750||n||Sep 2004||799|
|14.||Panasonic GX8||133 mm||78 mm||63 mm||487 g||330||Y||Jul 2015||1,199|
|15.||Panasonic GX7||123 mm||71 mm||55 mm||402 g||350||n||Aug 2013||999|
|16.||Panasonic GH3||133 mm||93 mm||82 mm||550 g||540||Y||Sep 2012||1,299|
|17.||Panasonic L10||135 mm||96 mm||78 mm||556 g||450||n||Aug 2007||599|
|Notes: Measurements and pricing do not include easily detachable parts, such as add-on or interchangeable lenses or optional viewfinders.|
Any camera decision will naturally be influenced heavily by the price. 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 L1 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. 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 size of the imaging sensor is a crucial determinant 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.
In terms of underlying technology, both cameras are build around CMOS sensors.
While the two cameras under review share the same sensor size, the E-M5 offers a higher resolution of 15.9 megapixels, compared with 7.4 MP of the L1. This megapixels advantage translates into a 47 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 5.51μm for the L1). In this context, it should be noted, however, that the E-M5 is much more recent (by 5 years and 11 months) than the L1, and its sensor will have benefitted from technological advances during this time that 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 L1 are 15.7 x 11.8 inches or 39.8 x 29.9 cm for good quality, 12.5 x 9.4 inches or 31.9 x 23.9 cm for very good quality, and 10.5 x 7.8 inches or 26.6 x 19.9 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-L1 are ISO 100 to ISO 1600 (no boost).
For many cameras, data on sensor performance has been reported by DXO Mark. This service is based on lab testing and assigns an overall score to each camera sensor, as well as ratings for dynamic range ("DXO Landscape"), color depth ("DXO Portrait"), and low-light sensitivity ("DXO Sports"). The table below summarizes the physical sensor characteristics and sensor quality findings and compares them across a set of similar cameras.
| DXO |
|1.||Olympus E-M5||Four Thirds||15.9||4608||3456||1080/60i||22.8||12.3||826||71|
|2.||Panasonic L1||Four Thirds||7.4||3136||2352||none||..||..||..||..|
|4.||Leica Digilux 3||Four Thirds||7.4||3136||2352||none||..||..||..||..|
|5.||Olympus PEN-F||Four Thirds||20.2||5184||3888||1080/60p||23.1||12.4||894||74|
|6.||Olympus E-M5 II||Four Thirds||15.9||4608||3456||1080/60p||23.0||12.5||842||73|
|7.||Olympus E-PL7||Four Thirds||15.9||4608||3456||1080/30p||22.7||12.4||873||72|
|8.||Olympus E-M1||Four Thirds||15.9||4608||3456||1080/30p||23.0||12.7||757||73|
|9.||Olympus E-P5||Four Thirds||15.9||4608||3456||1080/30p||22.8||12.4||895||72|
|10.||Olympus E-PL5||Four Thirds||15.9||4608||3456||1080/30p||22.8||12.3||889||72|
|11.||Olympus E-PM2||Four Thirds||15.9||4608||3456||1080/30p||22.7||12.2||932||72|
|12.||Olympus E-330||Four Thirds||7.4||3136||2352||none||..||..||..||..|
|13.||Olympus E-300||Four Thirds||8.0||3264||2448||none||..||..||..||..|
|14.||Panasonic GX8||Four Thirds||20.2||5184||3888||4K/30p||23.5||12.6||806||75|
|15.||Panasonic GX7||Four Thirds||15.8||4592||3448||1080/60p||22.6||12.2||718||70|
|16.||Panasonic GH3||Four Thirds||15.9||4608||3456||1080/60p||22.7||12.4||812||71|
|17.||Panasonic L10||Four Thirds||10.0||3648||2736||none||21.3||10.8||429||55|
Many modern cameras are not only capable of taking still images, but can also record movies. The E-M5 indeed provides movie recording capabilities, while the L1 does not. The highest resolution format that the E-M5 can use is 1080/60i.
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), while the L1 has an optical one. Both systems have their advantages, with the electronic viewfinder making it possible to project supplementary shooting information into the framing view, whereas the optical viewfinder offers lag-free viewing and a very clear framing image. The viewfinder in the E-M5 offers a wider field of view (100%) than the one in the L1 (95%), so that a larger proportion of the captured image is visible in the finder. In addition, the viewfinder of the E-M5 has a higher magnification (0.58x vs 0.47x), so that the size of the image transmitted appears closer to the size seen with the naked human eye. The adjacent table lists some of the other core features of the Olympus E-M5 and Panasonic L1 along with similar information for a selection of comparators.
|4.||Leica Digilux 3||optical||n||2.5||207||fixed||n||1/4000s||3.0||Y||n|
|6.||Olympus E-M5 II||2360||n||3.0||1037||swivel||Y||1/8000s||10.0||n||Y|
One feature that differentiates the E-M5 and the L1 is in-body image stabilization (IBIS). The E-M5 reduces the risk of handshake-induced blur with all attached lenses, while the L1 offers no blur reduction with lenses that themselves do not provide optical image stabilization.
The E-M5 writes its imaging data to SDXC cards, while the L1 uses SDHC cards. The E-M5 supports UHS-I cards (Ultra High Speed data transfer of up to 104 MB/s), while the L1 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-L1 and, in particular, the interfaces the cameras (and selected comparators) provide for accessory control and data transfer.
| WiFi |
| NFC |
|4.||Leica Digilux 3||Y||stereo||mono||-||-||-||2.0||-||-||-|
|6.||Olympus E-M5 II||Y||stereo||mono||Y||-||micro||2.0||Y||-||-|
Both the E-M5 and the L1 have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on eBay. The L1 was replaced by the Panasonic L10, 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 is the bottom line? Is the Olympus E-M5 better than the Panasonic L1 or vice versa? The listing below highlights the relative strengths of the two models.
Arguments in favor of the Olympus OM-D E-M5:
- More detail: Offers more megapixels (15.9 vs 7.4MP) with a 47% higher linear resolution.
- Broader imaging potential: Can record not only still images but also 1080/60i movies.
- More framing info: Has an electronic viewfinder that displays shooting data.
- More complete view: Has a viewfinder with a larger field of view (100% vs 95%).
- Larger viewfinder image: Features a viewfinder with a higher magnification (0.58x vs 0.47x).
- Larger screen: Has a bigger rear LCD (3.0" vs 2.5") for image review and settings control.
- More detailed LCD: Has a higher resolution rear screen (610k vs 207k dots).
- More flexible LCD: Has a tilting screen for odd-angle shots in landscape orientation.
- 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.
- More compact: Is smaller (122x89mm vs 146x87mm) and thus needs less room in the bag.
- Less heavy: Is lighter (by 181g or 30 percent) and hence easier to carry around.
- Better sealing: Is weather sealed to enable shooting in dusty or wet environments.
- Sharper images: Has hand-shake reducing image stabilization built-in.
- More legacy lens friendly: Can take a broad range of non-native lenses via adapters.
- Faster buffer clearing: Has an SD card interface that supports the UHS-I standard.
- More modern: Reflects 5 years and 11 months of technical progress since the L1 launch.
Advantages of the Panasonic Lumix DMC-L1:
- Brighter framing: Features an optical viewfinder for clear, lag-free composition.
- Longer lasting: Gets more shots (750 versus 360) out of a single battery charge.
- Easier fill-in: Has a small integrated flash to brighten shadows of backlit subjects.
- More affordable: Was released into a lower priced segment (23 percent cheaper at launch).
- More heavily discounted: Has been around for much longer (launched in February 2006).
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 (17 : 5 points). However, the relative importance of the various individual camera aspects will vary according to personal preferences and needs, so that you might like to apply corresponding weights to the particular features before making a decision 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.
How about other alternatives? Do the specifications of the Olympus E-M5 and the Panasonic L1 place the cameras among the top in their class? Find out in the latest Best Mirrorless Interchangeable Lens Camera and Best DSLR Camera listings 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 partial and cannot reveal, for example, the shooting experience and imaging performance when actually working with the E-M5 or the L1. At times, user reviews, such as those published at amazon, address these issues in a useful manner, but such feedback is on many occasions incomplete, inconsistent, and unreliable.
This is why expert reviews are important. The table below provides a synthesis of the camera assessments of some of the best known photo-gear review sites (amateurphotographer [AP], cameralabs [CL], dpreview [DPR], ephotozine [EPZ], photographyblog [PB]). 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.
|1.||Olympus E-M5||4/5||+ +||80/100||4.5/5||5/5||Feb 2012||1,299|
|2.||Panasonic L1||..||85/100||+||..||3.5/5||Feb 2006||999|
|3.||Canon XT||..||80/100||+ +||o||..||Feb 2005||899|
|4.||Leica Digilux 3||..||..||..||..||..||Sep 2006||1,499|
|5.||Olympus PEN-F||..||..||82/100||4.5/5||5/5||Jan 2016||1,199|
|6.||Olympus E-M5 II||5/5||+ +||81/100||5/5||5/5||Feb 2015||1,099|
|7.||Olympus E-PL7||4/5||+||..||5/5||4/5||Aug 2014||599|
|8.||Olympus E-M1||5/5||+ +||84/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Sep 2013||1,399|
|9.||Olympus E-P5||5/5||+ +||78/100||4.5/5||5/5||May 2013||999|
|10.||Olympus E-PL5||3/5||+ +||..||4.5/5||4.5/5||Sep 2012||599|
|11.||Olympus E-PM2||3/5||..||77/100||5/5||4.5/5||Sep 2012||499|
|12.||Olympus E-330||..||..||+||o||..||Jan 2006||999|
|13.||Olympus E-300||..||..||+||o||4.5/5||Sep 2004||799|
|14.||Panasonic GX8||5/5||+||82/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Jul 2015||1,199|
|15.||Panasonic GX7||4/5||+||79/100||5/5||5/5||Aug 2013||999|
|16.||Panasonic GH3||5/5||+ +||79/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Sep 2012||1,299|
|17.||Panasonic L10||..||85/100||+||3.5/5||4/5||Aug 2007||599|
|Notes: (+ +) highly recommended; (+) recommended; (o) reviewed; (..) not available.|
The above review scores should be interpreted 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 comparing ratings of very distinct cameras or ones that are far apart in terms of their release date have little meaning. It should also be noted that some of the review sites have over time altered the way they render their verdicts.
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.
Specifications: Olympus E-M5 vs Panasonic L1
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 L1|
|Camera Type||Mirrorless system camera||Digital single lens reflex|
|Camera Lens||Micro Four Thirds lenses||Four Thirds lenses|
|Launch Date||February 2012||February 2006|
|Launch Price||USD 1,299||USD 999|
|Sensor Specs||Olympus E-M5||Panasonic L1|
|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||7.4 Megapixels|
|Image Resolution||4608 x 3456 pixels||3136 x 2352 pixels|
|Pixel Pitch||3.76 μm||5.51 μm|
|Pixel Density||7.08 MP/cm2||3.28 MP/cm2|
|Moiré control||Anti-Alias filter||Anti-Alias filter|
|Movie Capability||1080/60i Video||no Video|
|ISO Setting||200 - 25,600 ISO||100 - 1,600 ISO|
|Image Processor||TruePic VI||Venus|
|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||Panasonic L1|
|Viewfinder Type||Electronic viewfinder||Optical viewfinder|
|Viewfinder Field of View||100%||95%|
|Viewfinder Resolution||1440k dots|
|LCD Framing||Live View||Live View|
|Rear LCD Size||3.0inch||2.5inch|
|LCD Resolution||610k dots||207k dots|
|LCD Attachment||Tilting screen||Fixed screen|
|Touch Input||Touchscreen||no Touchscreen|
|Shooting Specs||Olympus E-M5||Panasonic L1|
|Focus System||Contrast-detect AF||Phase-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||Built-in Flash|
|Storage Medium||SDXC cards||SDHC cards|
|Second Storage Option||Single card slot||Single card slot|
|UHS card support||UHS-I||no|
|Connectivity Specs||Olympus E-M5||Panasonic L1|
|USB Connector||USB 2.0||USB 2.0|
|HDMI Port||mini HDMI||no HDMI|
|Wifi Support||no Wifi||no Wifi|
|Body Specs||Olympus E-M5||Panasonic L1|
|Environmental Sealing||Weathersealed body||not weather sealed|
|Battery Life (CIPA)||360 shots per charge||750 shots per charge|
122 x 89 x 43 mm
(4.8 x 3.5 x 1.7 in)
146 x 87 x 64 mm
(5.7 x 3.4 x 2.5 in)
|Camera Weight||425 g (15.0 oz)||606 g (21.4 oz)|
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