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Olympus E-P1 versus Sony A6500

The Olympus PEN E-P1 and the Sony Alpha A6500 are two enthusiast cameras that were announced, respectively, in June 2009 and October 2016. Both the E-P1 and the A6500 are mirrorless interchangeable lens cameras that are based on a Four Thirds (E-P1) and an APS-C (A6500) sensor. The Olympus has a resolution of 12.2 megapixel, whereas the Sony provides 24 MP. Read on to find out how these two cameras compare with respect to their size, their sensors, their features, and their reception by expert reviewers.

Body comparison: Olympus E-P1 vs Sony A6500

An illustration of the physical size and weight of the Olympus E-P1 and the Sony A6500 is provided in the side-by-side display below. Three successive views from the front, the top, and the rear are shown. All size dimensions are rounded to the nearest millimeter. You can also use the toggle button 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-P1 – represents 100 percent across all the size and weight measures).

Compare Olympus E-P1 vs Sony A6500
E-P1 versus A6500 top view
E-P1 and A6500 rear side
Body view (E-P1 on the left)

If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Sony A6500 is notably smaller (5 percent) than the Olympus E-P1. However, the A6500 is markedly heavier (28 percent) than the E-P1. It is noteworthy in this context that the A6500 is splash and dust-proof, while the E-P1 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. A larger imaging sensor will tend to go along with bigger and heavier lenses, although exceptions exist. You can find an overview of optics for the two cameras in the Micro Four Thirds Lens Catalog (E-P1) and the Sony E-Mount Lens Catalog (A6500). 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.

Concerning battery life, the E-P1 gets 300 shots out of its BLS-1 battery, while the A6500 can take 350 images on a single charge of its NP-FW50 power pack.

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 camera comparisons there.

Camera Body Specifications
Camera Camera
Width
Camera
Height
Camera
Depth
Camera
Weight
Battery
Life
(CIPA)
Weather
Sealing
(y/n)
Camera
Launch
(year)
Launch
Price
(USD)
Street
Price
(amazon)
Used
Price
(ebay)
Olympus E-P1 (⇒ rgt) 121 mm 70 mm 36 mm 355 g 300 no 2009 799discont. check
Sony A6500 (⇒ lft) 120 mm 67 mm 53 mm 453 g 350 YES 2016 1,399 latest check
Olympus PEN-F (⇒ lft | rgt) 125 mm 72 mm 37 mm 427 g 330 no 2016 1,199 latest check
Olympus E-PL3 (⇒ lft | rgt) 110 mm 64 mm 37 mm 313 g 300 no 2011 599discont. check
Olympus E-PL2 (⇒ lft | rgt) 114 mm 72 mm 42 mm 362 g 280 no 2011 599discont. check
Olympus E-P3 (⇒ lft | rgt) 122 mm 69 mm 34 mm 369 g 330 no 2011 799discont. check
Olympus E-PL1 (⇒ lft | rgt) 115 mm 72 mm 42 mm 334 g 290 no 2010 599discont. check
Olympus E-P2 (⇒ lft | rgt) 121 mm 70 mm 36 mm 355 g 300 no 2009 799discont. check
Olympus E-620 (⇒ lft | rgt) 130 mm 94 mm 60 mm 521 g 500 no 2009 699discont. check
Olympus E-520 (⇒ lft | rgt) 136 mm 92 mm 68 mm 535 g 750 no 2008 699discont. check
Olympus E-30 (⇒ lft | rgt) 142 mm 108 mm 75 mm 701 g 750 no 2008 1,299discont. check
Olympus E-510 (⇒ lft | rgt) 136 mm 92 mm 68 mm 538 g 750 no 2007 799discont. check
Panasonic GX8 (⇒ lft | rgt) 133 mm 78 mm 63 mm 487 g 330 YES 2015 1,199discont. check
Panasonic GF1 (⇒ lft | rgt) 119 mm 71 mm 36 mm 385 g 380 no 2009 749discont. check
Sony A9 (⇒ lft | rgt) 127 mm 96 mm 63 mm 673 g 650 YES 2017 4,499 latest check
Sony A6300 (⇒ lft | rgt) 120 mm 67 mm 49 mm 404 g 400 YES 2016 999discont. check
Sony A7 (⇒ lft | rgt) 127 mm 94 mm 48 mm 474 g 340 YES 2013 1,699discont. check

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 E-P1 was launched at a markedly lower price (by 43 percent) than the A6500, 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.


Sensor comparison: Olympus E-P1 vs Sony A6500

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. 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 are more costly to manufacture and tend to lead to bigger and heavier cameras and lenses.

Of the two cameras under consideration, the Olympus E-P1 features a Four Thirds sensor and the Sony A6500 an APS-C sensor. The sensor area in the A6500 is 63 percent bigger. As a result of these sensor size differences, the cameras have a format factor of, respectively, 2.0 and 1.5. The sensor in the E-P1 has a native 4:3 aspect ratio, while the one in the A6500 offers a 3:2 aspect.

Olympus E-P1 and Sony A6500 sensor measures
Sensor size

With 24MP, the A6500 offers a higher resolution than the E-P1 (12.2MP), but the A6500 has smaller individual pixels (pixel pitch of 3.91μm versus 4.29μm for the E-P1). Yet, the A6500 is a much more recent model (by 7 years and 3 months) than the E-P1, and its sensor will have benefitted from technological advances during this time that enhance the light gathering capacity of its pixel-units.

E-P1 versus A6500 MP
Sensor resolution

Consistent information on actual sensor performance is available from DXO Mark for most cameras. 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. Of the two cameras under consideration, the A6500 offers substantially better image quality than the E-P1 (overall score 30 points higher). The advantage is based on 3.1 bits higher color depth, 3.3 EV in additional dynamic range, and 1.4 stops in additional low light sensitivity. The table below summarizes the physical sensor characteristics and sensor quality findings and compares them across a set of similar cameras.

Sensor Characteristics
Camera Sensor
Class
Resolution
(Megapixel)
Horiz.
Pixels
Vert.
Pixels
Video
Format
DXO
Portrait
DXO
Landscape
DXO
Sports
DXO
Overall
Olympus E-P1 (⇒ rgt) Four Thirds 12.2 4032 3024 720/30p 21.4 10.4 536 55
Sony A6500 (⇒ lft) APS-C 24.0 6000 4000 4K/30p 24.5 13.7 1405 85
Olympus PEN-F (⇒ lft | rgt) Four Thirds 20.2 5184 3888 1080/60p 23.1 12.4 894 74
Olympus E-PL3 (⇒ lft | rgt) Four Thirds 12.2 4032 3024 1080/60i 20.9 10.3 499 52
Olympus E-PL2 (⇒ lft | rgt) Four Thirds 12.2 4032 3024 720/30p 21.4 10.2 573 55
Olympus E-P3 (⇒ lft | rgt) Four Thirds 12.2 4032 3024 1080/60i 20.8 10.1 536 51
Olympus E-PL1 (⇒ lft | rgt) Four Thirds 12.2 4032 3024 720/30p 21.5 10.1 487 54
Olympus E-P2 (⇒ lft | rgt) Four Thirds 12.2 4032 3024 720/30p 21.5 10.4 505 56
Olympus E-620 (⇒ lft | rgt) Four Thirds 12.2 4032 3024 no 21.3 10.3 536 55
Olympus E-520 (⇒ lft | rgt) Four Thirds 10.0 3648 2736 no 21.4 10.4 548 55
Olympus E-30 (⇒ lft | rgt) Four Thirds 12.2 4032 3024 no 21.3 10.4 530 55
Olympus E-510 (⇒ lft | rgt) Four Thirds 10.0 3648 2736 no 21.2 10.0 442 52
Panasonic GX8 (⇒ lft | rgt) Four Thirds 20.2 5184 3888 4K/30p 23.5 12.6 806 75
Panasonic GF1 (⇒ lft | rgt) Four Thirds 12.0 4000 3000 720/30p 21.2 10.3 513 54
Sony A9 (⇒ lft | rgt) Full Frame 24.0 6000 4000 4K/30p 24.9 13.3 3517 92
Sony A6300 (⇒ lft | rgt) APS-C 24.0 6000 4000 4K/30p 24.4 13.7 1437 85
Sony A7 (⇒ lft | rgt) Full Frame 24.0 6000 4000 1080/60p 24.8 14.2 2248 90

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 A6500 provides a better video resolution than the E-P1. It can shoot movie footage at 4K/30p, while the Olympus is limited to 720/30p.

Feature comparison: Olympus E-P1 vs Sony A6500

Apart from body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a range of features. For example, the A6500 has an electronic viewfinder (2300k dots), which can be very helpful when shooting in bright sunlight. In contrast, the E-P1 relies on live view and the rear LCD for framing. The table below summarizes some of the other core capabilities of the Olympus E-P1 and Sony A6500 in connection with corresponding information for a sample of similar cameras. The full specs-sheets can be found in the camera manual or, for example, in the dpreview camera hub.

Core Features
Camera Viewfinder
(Type or
'000 dots)
Control
Panel
(Y/n)
LCD
Size
(inch)
LCD
Resolution
('000 dots)
LCD
Attach-
ment
Touch
Screen
(Y/n)
Shutter
speed
(1/sec)
Shutter
flaps
(1/sec))
Build-in
Flash
(GN)
Build-in
Image
Stab
Olympus E-P1 (⇒ rgt) no no 3.0 230 fixed no 4000 3.0 no YES
Sony A6500 (⇒ lft) 2300 no 3.0 922 tilting YES 4000 11.0 6 YES
Olympus PEN-F (⇒ lft | rgt) 2360 no 3.0 1037 swivel YES 8000 10.0 no YES
Olympus E-PL3 (⇒ lft | rgt) no no 3.0 460 tilting no 4000 5.5 no YES
Olympus E-PL2 (⇒ lft | rgt) no no 3.0 460 fixed no 4000 3.0 10 YES
Olympus E-P3 (⇒ lft | rgt) no no 3.0 614 fixed YES 4000 3.0 10 YES
Olympus E-PL1 (⇒ lft | rgt) no no 2.7 230 fixed no 2000 3.0 10 YES
Olympus E-P2 (⇒ lft | rgt) no no 3.0 230 fixed no 4000 3.0 no YES
Olympus E-620 (⇒ lft | rgt) optical no 2.7 230 swivel no 4000 4.0 12 YES
Olympus E-520 (⇒ lft | rgt) optical no 2.7 215 fixed no 4000 3.5 12 YES
Olympus E-30 (⇒ lft | rgt) optical YES 2.7 230 swivel no 8000 5.0 13 YES
Olympus E-510 (⇒ lft | rgt) optical no 2.5 215 fixed no 4000 3.0 12 YES
Panasonic GX8 (⇒ lft | rgt) 2360 no 3.0 1040 swivel YES 8000 10.0 no YES
Panasonic GF1 (⇒ lft | rgt) no no 3.0 460 fixed no 4000 3.0 6.0 no
Sony A9 (⇒ lft | rgt) 3686 no 3.0 1440 tilting YES 8000 20.0 no YES
Sony A6300 (⇒ lft | rgt) 2300 no 3.0 922 tilting no 4000 11.0 6 no
Sony A7 (⇒ lft | rgt) 2400 no 3.0 1230 tilting no 8000 5.0 no no

The A6500 is a current model that online retailers, such as amazon, will have in stock. In contrast, the E-P1 has been discontinued (but it can be found pre-owned on eBay). As a replacement in the same line of cameras, the E-P1 was succeeded by the Olympus E-P2.

Review summary: Olympus E-P1 vs Sony A6500

So how do things add up? Is the Olympus E-P1 better than the Sony A6500 or vice versa? 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:

  • Less heavy: Is lighter (by 98g or 22 percent) and hence easier to carry around.
  • More affordable: Was introduced into a lower priced category (43 percent cheaper at launch).
  • More heavily discounted: Has been available for much longer (launched in June 2009).

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Arguments in favor of the Sony Alpha A6500:

  • More detail: Has more megapixels (24 vs 12.2MP), which boosts linear resolution by 43%.
  • Better image quality: Scores substantially higher (30 points) in the DXO overall evaluation.
  • Richer colors: Generates noticeably more natural colors (3.1 bits more color depth).
  • More dynamic range: Captures a broader range of light and dark details (3.3 EV of extra DR).
  • Better low-light sensitivity: Can shoot in dim conditions (1.4 stops ISO advantage).
  • Better video: Provides higher definition movie capture (4K/30p vs 720/30p).
  • Easier framing: Has an electronic viewfinder for image framing and settings control.
  • More detailed LCD: Has a higher resolution rear screen (922k vs 230k dots).
  • More flexible LCD: Has a tilting screen for odd-angle shots in landscape orientation.
  • Fewer buttons to press: Has a touchscreen to facilitate handling and shooting adjustments.
  • Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (11 vs 3 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
  • Longer lasting: Gets more shots (350 versus 300) out of a single battery charge.
  • Better sealing: Is splash and dust sealed for shooting in inclement weather conditions.
  • Easier fill-in: Has a small integrated flash to brighten shadows of backlit subjects.
  • More modern: Reflects 7 years and 3 months of technical progress since the E-P1 launch.

If the number of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the A6500 is the clear winner of the contest (15 : 3 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.

E-P1 03:15 A6500

In any case, while the specs-based evaluation of cameras is instructive in revealing their potential as photographic tools, it says nothing about, for example, the handling, responsiveness, and overall imaging quality of the E-P1 and the A6500 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. This is why hands-on reviews by experts are important. The adjacent table relays the overall verdicts of several of the most popular camera review sites. The detailed reviews can be accessed, respectively, on the websites of cameralabs.com, dpreview.com, ephotozine.com, imaging-resource.com, and photographyblog.com.

Review scores
Camera camera
labs
.com
dp
review
.com
ephoto
zine
.com
imaging
resource
.com
photography
blog
.com
Camera
Launch
(year)
Launch
Price
(USD)
Street
Price
(amazon)
Used
Price
(ebay)
Olympus E-P1 (⇒ rgt) 83/100 Rec 66/100 4/5 4/5 4.5/5 2009 799discont. check
Sony A6500 (⇒ lft) HiRec 85/100 Silver 4.5/5 5/5 4.5/5 2016 1,399 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-PL3 (⇒ lft | rgt) HiRec 72/100 Silver 4.5/5 - 4/5 2011 599discont. check
Olympus E-PL2 (⇒ lft | rgt) 83/100 71/100 Silver 4.5/5 4.5/5 4.5/5 2011 599discont. check
Olympus E-P3 (⇒ lft | rgt) 83/100 74/100 Silver 4.5/5 4.5/5 4.5/5 2011 799discont. check
Olympus E-PL1 (⇒ lft | rgt) 86/100 69/100 Silver 4/5 4.5/5 4.5/5 2010 599discont. check
Olympus E-P2 (⇒ lft | rgt) 83/100 Rec 69/100 Silver 4/5 4.5/5 4.5/5 2009 799discont. check
Olympus E-620 (⇒ lft | rgt) 88/100 72/100 HiRec 4.5/5 reviewed 5/5 2009 699discont. check
Olympus E-520 (⇒ lft | rgt) 87/100 HiRec 4.5/5 4/5 4.5/5 2008 699discont. check
Olympus E-30 (⇒ lft | rgt) - 71/100 HiRec 4.5/5 - 4/5 2008 1,299discont. check
Olympus E-510 (⇒ lft | rgt) 89/100 HiRec 3.5/5 reviewed 4.5/5 2007 799discont. check
Panasonic GX8 (⇒ lft | rgt) Rec 82/100 Silver 4.5/5 5/5 4.5/5 2015 1,199discont. check
Panasonic GF1 (⇒ lft | rgt) 85/100 69/100 4.5/5 4.5/5 4.5/5 2009 749discont. check
Sony A9 (⇒ lft | rgt) HiRec 89/100 Gold 5/5 5/5 5/5 2017 4,499 latest check
Sony A6300 (⇒ lft | rgt) Rec 85/100 Gold 5/5 5/5 5/5 2016 999discont. check
Sony A7 (⇒ lft | rgt) HiRec 80/100 Silver 5/5 4.5/5 5/5 2013 1,699discont. check

The review scores listed above should be treated with care, though. The ratings are only valid when refering 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 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. If you cannot find the camera you are interested in, please send me an email, and I will try to update the database with the necessary infos.

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