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Olympus E-P1 vs Panasonic GF2

The Olympus PEN E-P1 and the Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF2 are two digital cameras that were officially introduced, respectively, in June 2009 and November 2010. Both the E-P1 and the GF2 are mirrorless interchangeable lens cameras that are equipped with a Four Thirds sensor. The Olympus has a resolution of 12.2 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.

Headline Specifications
Olympus E-P1
versus
Panasonic GF2
Olympus E-P1 Panasonic GF2
Mirrorless system camera Mirrorless system camera
Micro Four Thirds lenses Micro Four Thirds lenses
12.2 MP, Four Thirds Sensor 12 MP, Four Thirds Sensor
720/30p Video 1080/60i Video
ISO 100-6,400 ISO 100-6,400
No viewfinder, LCD framing Viewfinder optional
3.0 LCD, 230k dots 3.0 LCD, 460k dots
Fixed screen (not touch-sensitive) Fixed touchscreen
3 shutter flaps per second 2.6 shutter flaps per second
In-body stabilizationLens stabilization only
300 shots per battery charge300 shots per battery charge
121 x 70 x 36 mm, 355 g 113 x 68 x 33 mm, 310 g

Going beyond this snapshot of core features and characteristics, what are the differences between the Olympus PEN E-P1 and the Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF2? 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-P1 and the Panasonic GF2 is provided in the side-by-side display below. The two cameras are presented according to their relative size. Three successive views from the front, the top, and the rear are shown. All width, height and depth measures are rounded to the nearest millimeter.

The E-P1 can be obtained in three different colors (black, silver, white), while the GF2 is available in four color-versions (black, silver, red, white).

Size Olympus E-P1 vs Panasonic GF2
Compare E-P1 versus GF2 top
Comparison E-P1 or GF2 rear

If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Panasonic GF2 is notably smaller (9 percent) than the Olympus E-P1. Moreover, the GF2 is markedly lighter (13 percent) than the E-P1. In this context, it is worth noting that neither the E-P1 nor the GF2 are weather-sealed.

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. 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.

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Body Specifications
    Camera
Model
Camera
Width
Camera
Height
Camera
Depth
Camera
Weight
Battery
Life
Weather
Sealing
Camera
Launch
Launch
Price (USD)
Street
Price
1.
 
Olympus E-P1 121 mm 70 mm 36 mm 355 g 300 n Jun 2009 799 i
2.
 
Panasonic GF2 113 mm 68 mm 33 mm 310 g 300 n Nov 2010 549 i
3.
 
Olympus E-P3 122 mm 69 mm 34 mm 369 g 330 n Jun 2011 799 i
4.
 
Olympus E-PL2 114 mm 72 mm 42 mm 362 g 280 n Jan 2011 599 i
5.
 
Olympus E-PL3 110 mm 64 mm 37 mm 313 g 300 n Jun 2011 599 i
6.
 
Olympus E-PL1 115 mm 72 mm 42 mm 334 g 290 n Feb 2010 599 i
7.
 
Olympus E-620 130 mm 94 mm 60 mm 521 g 500 n Feb 2009 699 i
8.
 
Olympus E-P2 121 mm 70 mm 36 mm 355 g 300 n Nov 2009 799 i
9.
 
Olympus E-520 136 mm 92 mm 68 mm 535 g 750 n May 2008 699 i
10.
 
Panasonic G3 115 mm 84 mm 47 mm 336 g 270 n May 2011 599 i
11.
 
Panasonic GF3 108 mm 67 mm 32 mm 264 g 300 n Jun 2011 549 i
12.
 
Panasonic G10 124 mm 84 mm 74 mm 388 g 380 n Mar 2010 499 i
13.
 
Panasonic G2 124 mm 84 mm 74 mm 428 g 360 n Mar 2010 599 i
14.
 
Panasonic GF1 119 mm 71 mm 36 mm 385 g 380 n Sep 2009 749 i
15.
 
Panasonic GH1 124 mm 90 mm 45 mm 385 g 300 n Mar 2009 899 i
Notes: Measurements and pricing do not include easily detachable parts, such as add-on or interchangeable lenses or optional viewfinders.

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 GF2 was launched at a markedly lower price (by 31 percent) than the E-P1, 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.

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Sensor comparison

The size of the sensor inside a digital camera is one of the key determinants of image quality. All other things equal, a large sensor will have larger individual pixel-units that offer better low-light sensitivity, wider dynamic range, and 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.

Olympus E-P1 and Panasonic GF2 sensor measures

While the two cameras under review share the same sensor size, the E-P1 offers a slightly higher resolution of 12.2 megapixels, compared with 12 MP of the GF2. This megapixels advantage translates into a 0.8 percent gain in linear resolution. On the other hand, these sensor specs imply that the E-P1 has a higher pixel density and a smaller size of the individual pixel (with a pixel pitch of 4.29μm versus 4.33μm for the GF2). Moreover, it should be noted that the GF2 is a somewhat more recent model (by 1 year and 4 months) than the E-P1, and its sensor might have benefitted from technological advances during this time that further enhance the light gathering capacity of individual pixels.

The Olympus PEN E-P1 has a native sensitivity range from ISO 100 to ISO 6400. The Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF2 offers exactly the same ISO settings.

E-P1 versus GF2 MP

Since 2007, DXO Mark has published sensor performance measurements that have been derived using a consistent methodology. 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 imaging performance. The table below summarizes the physical sensor characteristics and sensor quality findings and compares them across a set of similar cameras.

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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
1.
 
Olympus E-P1 Four Thirds 12.2 4032 3024720/30p21.410.4536 55
2.
 
Panasonic GF2 Four Thirds 12.0 4000 30001080/60i21.210.3506 54
3.
 
Olympus E-P3 Four Thirds 12.2 4032 30241080/60i20.810.1536 51
4.
 
Olympus E-PL2 Four Thirds 12.2 4032 3024720/30p21.410.2573 55
5.
 
Olympus E-PL3 Four Thirds 12.2 4032 30241080/60i20.910.3499 52
6.
 
Olympus E-PL1 Four Thirds 12.2 4032 3024720/30p21.510.1487 54
7.
 
Olympus E-620 Four Thirds 12.2 4032 3024none21.310.3536 55
8.
 
Olympus E-P2 Four Thirds 12.2 4032 3024720/30p21.510.4505 56
9.
 
Olympus E-520 Four Thirds 10.0 3648 2736none21.410.4548 55
10.
 
Panasonic G3 Four Thirds 15.8 4592 34481080/60i21.010.6667 56
11.
 
Panasonic GF3 Four Thirds 12.0 4000 30001080/60i20.610.0458 49
12.
 
Panasonic G10 Four Thirds 12.0 4000 3000720/30p21.210.1411 52
13.
 
Panasonic G2 Four Thirds 12.0 4000 3000720/30p21.210.3493 53
14.
 
Panasonic GF1 Four Thirds 12.0 4000 3000720/30p21.210.3513 54
15.
 
Panasonic GH1 Four Thirds 12.0 4000 30001080/24p21.611.6772 64

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 GF2 provides a better video resolution than the E-P1. It can shoot movie footage at 1080/60i, while the Olympus is limited to 720/30p.

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Feature comparison

Apart from body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a range of features. The E-P1 and the GF2 are similar in the sense that neither of the two has a viewfinder. The images are, thus, framed using live view on the rear LCD. That said, the GF2 can be equipped with an optional viewfinder – the DMW-LVF1. The following table reports on some other key feature differences and similarities of the Olympus E-P1, the Panasonic GF2, 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
1.
 
Olympus E-P1none n 3.0 230 fixed n 1/4000s 3.0 n Y
2.
 
Panasonic GF2optional n 3.0 460 fixed Y 1/4000s 2.6 Y n
3.
 
Olympus E-P3optional n 3.0 614 fixed Y 1/4000s 3.0 Y Y
4.
 
Olympus E-PL2optional n 3.0 460 fixed n 1/4000s 3.0 Y Y
5.
 
Olympus E-PL3optional n 3.0 460 tilting n 1/4000s 5.5 n Y
6.
 
Olympus E-PL1optional n 2.7 230 fixed n 1/2000s 3.0 Y Y
7.
 
Olympus E-620optical n 2.7 230 swivel n 1/4000s 4.0 Y Y
8.
 
Olympus E-P2optional n 3.0 230 fixed n 1/4000s 3.0 n Y
9.
 
Olympus E-520optical n 2.7 215 fixed n 1/4000s 3.5 Y Y
10.
 
Panasonic G31440 n 3.0 460 swivel Y 1/4000s 4.0 Y n
11.
 
Panasonic GF3none n 3.0 460 fixed Y 1/4000s 3.2 Y n
12.
 
Panasonic G10202 n 3.0 460 fixed n 1/4000s 2.6 Y n
13.
 
Panasonic G21440 n 3.0 460 swivel Y 1/4000s 2.6 Y n
14.
 
Panasonic GF1optional n 3.0 460 fixed n 1/4000s 3.0 Y n
15.
 
Panasonic GH11440 n 3.0 460 swivel n 1/4000s 3.0 Y n

One feature that differentiates the E-P1 and the GF2 is in-body image stabilization (IBIS). The E-P1 reduces the risk of handshake-induced blur with all attached lenses, while the GF2 offers no blur reduction with lenses that themselves do not provide optical image stabilization.

The E-P1 writes its imaging data to SDHC cards, while the GF2 uses SDXC cards.

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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 PEN E-P1 and Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF2 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
1.
 
Olympus E-P1Ystereo---mini2.0---
2.
 
Panasonic GF2Ystereomono--mini2.0---
3.
 
Olympus E-P3Ystereo---mini2.0---
4.
 
Olympus E-PL2Ystereo---mini2.0---
5.
 
Olympus E-PL3Ystereo---mini2.0---
6.
 
Olympus E-PL1Ystereo---mini2.0---
7.
 
Olympus E-620Y-----2.0---
8.
 
Olympus E-P2Ystereo---mini2.0---
9.
 
Olympus E-520Y-----2.0---
10.
 
Panasonic G3Ystereomono--mini2.0---
11.
 
Panasonic GF3-stereomono--mini2.0---
12.
 
Panasonic G10Ymono---mini2.0---
13.
 
Panasonic G2Ystereomono--mini2.0---
14.
 
Panasonic GF1Ymonomono--mini2.0---
15.
 
Panasonic GH1Ystereo-Y-mini2.0---

Both the E-P1 and the GF2 have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on eBay. The E-P1 was replaced by the Olympus E-P2, while the GF2 was followed by the Panasonic GF3. 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.

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Review summary

So what is the bottom line? Is there a clear favorite between the Olympus E-P1 and the Panasonic GF2? Which camera is better? A synthesis of the relative strong points of each of the models is listed below.

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Reasons to prefer the Olympus PEN E-P1:

  • Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (3 vs 2.6 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
  • Sharper images: Has hand-shake reducing image stabilization built-in.
  • More heavily discounted: Has been on the market for longer (launched in June 2009).

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Arguments in favor of the Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF2:

  • Better video: Provides higher definition movie capture (1080/60i vs 720/30p).
  • More framing options: Can be equipped with a hotshoe-mounted accessory-viewfinder.
  • More detailed LCD: Has a higher resolution rear screen (460k vs 230k dots).
  • Fewer buttons to press: Has a touchscreen to facilitate handling and shooting adjustments.
  • Less heavy: Has a lower weight (by 45g or 13 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 (31 percent cheaper at launch).
  • More modern: Was introduced somewhat (1 year and 4 months) more recently.

If the count of individual advantages (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the GF2 is the clear winner of the contest (8 : 3 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 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.

E-P1 03:08 GF2

How about other alternatives? Do the specifications of the Olympus E-P1 and the Panasonic GF2 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-P1 and the GF2 in practical situations. 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.

Expert reviews

This is where reviews by experts come in. 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.

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Expert Camera Reviews
     Camera 
 Model 
 AP 
 score 
 CL 
 score 
 DPR 
 score 
 EPZ 
 score 
 PB 
 score 
Camera
Launch
Launch
Price (USD)
Street
Price
1.
 
Olympus E-P1..+66/1004/54.5/5 Jun 2009 799 i
2.
 
Panasonic GF23/582/10070/1004.5/54.5/5 Nov 2010 549 i
3.
 
Olympus E-P3..83/10074/1004.5/54.5/5 Jun 2011 799 i
4.
 
Olympus E-PL23/583/10071/1004.5/54.5/5 Jan 2011 599 i
5.
 
Olympus E-PL33/5+ +72/1004.5/54/5 Jun 2011 599 i
6.
 
Olympus E-PL1..86/10069/1004/54.5/5 Feb 2010 599 i
7.
 
Olympus E-6203/588/10072/1004.5/55/5 Feb 2009 699 i
8.
 
Olympus E-P23/5+69/1004/54.5/5 Nov 2009 799 i
9.
 
Olympus E-520..87/100+ +4.5/54.5/5 May 2008 699 i
10.
 
Panasonic G33/5+ +75/1004.5/55/5 May 2011 599 i
11.
 
Panasonic GF33/582/10071/1004.5/54/5 Jun 2011 549 i
12.
 
Panasonic G103/5..70/1004/54/5 Mar 2010 499 i
13.
 
Panasonic G2....72/1004/54.5/5 Mar 2010 599 i
14.
 
Panasonic GF1..85/10069/1004.5/54.5/5 Sep 2009 749 i
15.
 
Panasonic GH1..+ +72/1004.5/54.5/5 Mar 2009 899 i
Notes: (+ +) highly recommended; (+) recommended; (o) reviewed; (..) not available.

Care should be taken when interpreting the review scores above, though. The ratings are only valid when referring to cameras in the same category and of the same age. 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.

Olympus E-P1:
Check Ebay offers
Panasonic GF2:
Check Ebay offers

Other camera comparisons

Did this review help to inform your camera decision process? 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. Alternatively, you can follow any of the listed hyperlinks for comparisons that others found interesting.

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    Specifications: Olympus E-P1 vs Panasonic GF2

    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-P1 Panasonic GF2
    Camera Type Mirrorless system camera Mirrorless system camera
    Camera Lens Micro Four Thirds lenses Micro Four Thirds lenses
    Launch Date June 2009 November 2010
    Launch Price USD 799 USD 549
    Sensor Specs Olympus E-P1 Panasonic GF2
    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 12.2 Megapixels 12 Megapixels
    Image Resolution 4032 x 3024 pixels 4000 x 3000 pixels
    Pixel Pitch 4.29 μm 4.33 μm
    Pixel Density 5.42 MP/cm2 5.34 MP/cm2
    Moiré control Anti-Alias filter Anti-Alias filter
    Movie Capability 720/30p Video 1080/60i Video
    ISO Setting 100 - 6,400 ISO 100 - 6,400 ISO
    Image Processor TruePic V Venus FHD
    DXO Sensor Quality (score) 55 54
    DXO Color Depth (bits) 21.4 21.2
    DXO Dynamic Range (EV) 10.4 10.3
    DXO Low Light (ISO) 536 506
    Screen Specs Olympus E-P1 Panasonic GF2
    Viewfinder Type no viewfinder Viewfinder optional
    Viewfinder Magnification
    LCD Framing Live View Live View
    Rear LCD Size 3.0inch 3.0inch
    LCD Resolution 230k dots 460k dots
    LCD Attachment Fixed screen Fixed screen
    Touch Input no Touchscreen Touchscreen
    Shooting Specs Olympus E-P1 Panasonic GF2
    Focus System Contrast-detect AF Contrast-detect AF
    Continuous Shooting 3 shutter flaps/s 2.6 shutter flaps/s
    Image StabilizationIn-body stabilizationLens stabilization only
    Fill Flash no On-Board Flash Built-in Flash
    Storage Medium SDHC cards SDXC cards
    Second Storage Option Single card slot Single card slot
    UHS card support no no
    Connectivity Specs Olympus E-P1 Panasonic GF2
    External Flash Hotshoe 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-P1 Panasonic GF2
    Battery Type BLS-1 DMW-BLD10
    Battery Life (CIPA)300 shots per charge300 shots per charge
    Body Dimensions 121 x 70 x 36 mm
    (4.8 x 2.8 x 1.4 in)
    113 x 68 x 33 mm
    (4.4 x 2.7 x 1.3 in)
    Camera Weight 355 g (12.5 oz) 310 g (10.9 oz)

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