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Olympus E-P3 vs Panasonic GF5

The Olympus PEN E-P3 and the Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF5 are two digital cameras that were officially introduced, respectively, in June 2011 and April 2012. Both the E-P3 and the GF5 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-P3
versus
Panasonic GF5
Olympus E-P3   Panasonic GF5
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
1080/60i Video 1080/60i Video
ISO 200-12,800 ISO 160-6,400 (160 - 12,800)
Viewfinder optional No viewfinder, LCD framing
3.0" LCD – 614k dots 3.0" LCD – 920k dots
Fixed touchscreen Fixed touchscreen
3 shutter flaps per second 4 shutter flaps per second
In-body stabilizationLens stabilization only
330 shots per battery charge360 shots per battery charge
122 x 69 x 34 mm, 369 g 108 x 67 x 37 mm, 267 g
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Going beyond this snapshot of core features and characteristics, what are the differences between the Olympus PEN E-P3 and the Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF5? 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-P3 and the Panasonic GF5 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 size dimensions are rounded to the nearest millimeter.

The E-P3 can be obtained in three different colors (black, silver, white), while the GF5 is also available in three color-versions, but different ones (black, red, white).

Size Olympus E-P3 vs Panasonic GF5
Compare E-P3 versus GF5 top
Comparison E-P3 or GF5 rear

If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Panasonic GF5 is notably smaller (14 percent) than the Olympus E-P3. Moreover, the GF5 is markedly lighter (28 percent) than the E-P3. In this context, it is worth noting that neither the E-P3 nor the GF5 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.

Concerning battery life, the E-P3 gets 330 shots out of its BLS-5 battery, while the GF5 can take 360 images on a single charge of its DMW-BLE9 power pack.

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, you can use the CAM-parator app to select your camera combination among a large number of options.

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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-P3 122 mm 69 mm 34 mm 369 g 330 n Jun 2011 799ebay.com
2.
 
Panasonic GF5 108 mm 67 mm 37 mm 267 g 360 n Apr 2012 499ebay.com
3.
 
Olympus E-P5 122 mm 69 mm 37 mm 420 g 330 n May 2013 999ebay.com
4.
 
Olympus E-PL5 111 mm 64 mm 38 mm 325 g 360 n Sep 2012 599ebay.com
5.
 
Olympus E-PL2 114 mm 72 mm 42 mm 362 g 280 n Jan 2011 599ebay.com
6.
 
Olympus E-PL3 110 mm 64 mm 37 mm 313 g 300 n Jun 2011 599ebay.com
7.
 
Olympus E-PM1 110 mm 64 mm 34 mm 265 g 330 n Jun 2011 499ebay.com
8.
 
Olympus E-PL1 115 mm 72 mm 42 mm 334 g 290 n Feb 2010 599ebay.com
9.
 
Olympus E-P1 121 mm 70 mm 36 mm 355 g 300 n Jun 2009 799ebay.com
10.
 
Olympus E-P2 121 mm 70 mm 36 mm 355 g 300 n Nov 2009 799ebay.com
11.
 
Panasonic G6 122 mm 85 mm 71 mm 390 g 340 n Apr 2013 599ebay.com
12.
 
Panasonic GF6 111 mm 65 mm 38 mm 323 g 340 n Apr 2013 499ebay.com
13.
 
Panasonic GF3 108 mm 67 mm 32 mm 264 g 300 n Jun 2011 549ebay.com
14.
 
Panasonic GX1 116 mm 68 mm 39 mm 318 g 320 n Nov 2011 699ebay.com
15.
 
Panasonic G10 124 mm 84 mm 74 mm 388 g 380 n Mar 2010 499ebay.com
16.
 
Panasonic G2 124 mm 84 mm 74 mm 428 g 360 n Mar 2010 599ebay.com
Note: 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 GF5 was launched at a markedly lower price (by 38 percent) than the E-P3, which puts it into a different market segment. Normally, street prices remain initially close to the MSRP, but after a couple of months, the first discounts appear. 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.

Sensor comparison

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. 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.

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.

Olympus E-P3 and Panasonic GF5 sensor measures

While the two cameras under review share the same sensor size, the E-P3 offers a slightly higher resolution of 12.2 megapixels, compared with 12 MP of the GF5. This megapixels advantage translates into a 0.8 percent gain in linear resolution. On the other hand, these sensor specs imply that the E-P3 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 GF5). Moreover, it should be noted that the GF5 is a somewhat more recent model (by 9 months) than the E-P3, 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-P3 has a native sensitivity range from ISO 200 to ISO 12800. The corresponding ISO settings for the Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF5 are ISO 160 to ISO 6400, with the possibility to increase the ISO range to 160-12800.

Technology-wise, both cameras are equipped with CMOS (Complementary Metal–Oxide–Semiconductor) sensors. Both cameras use a Bayer filter for capturing RGB colors on a square grid of photosensors. This arrangement is found in most digital cameras.

E-P3 versus GF5 MP

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 consideration, the GF5 has a markedly higher DXO score than the E-P3 (overall score 10 points higher), which will translate into better image quality. The advantage is based on 0.6 bits higher color depth, 1.5 EV in additional dynamic range, and 0.2 stops in additional low light sensitivity. The adjacent table reports on the physical sensor characteristics and the outcomes of the DXO sensor quality tests for a sample of comparator-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-P3 Four Thirds 12.2 4032 30241080/60i20.810.153651
2.
 
Panasonic GF5 Four Thirds 12.0 4000 30001080/60i21.411.661861
3.
 
Olympus E-P5 Four Thirds 15.9 4608 34561080/30p22.812.489572
4.
 
Olympus E-PL5 Four Thirds 15.9 4608 34561080/30p22.812.388972
5.
 
Olympus E-PL2 Four Thirds 12.2 4032 3024720/30p21.410.257355
6.
 
Olympus E-PL3 Four Thirds 12.2 4032 30241080/60i20.910.349952
7.
 
Olympus E-PM1 Four Thirds 12.2 4032 30241080/60i21.010.349952
8.
 
Olympus E-PL1 Four Thirds 12.2 4032 3024720/30p21.510.148754
9.
 
Olympus E-P1 Four Thirds 12.2 4032 3024720/30p21.410.453655
10.
 
Olympus E-P2 Four Thirds 12.2 4032 3024720/30p21.510.450556
11.
 
Panasonic G6 Four Thirds 15.9 4608 34561080/60p21.311.563961
12.
 
Panasonic GF6 Four Thirds 15.8 4592 34481080/60i20.710.662254
13.
 
Panasonic GF3 Four Thirds 12.0 4000 30001080/60i20.610.045849
14.
 
Panasonic GX1 Four Thirds 15.8 4592 34481080/60p20.810.670355
15.
 
Panasonic G10 Four Thirds 12.0 4000 3000720/30p21.210.141152
16.
 
Panasonic G2 Four Thirds 12.0 4000 3000720/30p21.210.349353

Many modern cameras are not only capable of taking still images, but also of capturing video footage. Both cameras under consideration are equipped with sensors that have a sufficiently high read-out speed for moving images, and both provide the same movie specifications (1080/60i).

Feature comparison

Apart from body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a range of features. The E-P3 and the GF5 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 E-P3 can be equipped with an optional viewfinder – the VF-3. The table below summarizes some of the other core capabilities of the Olympus E-P3 and Panasonic GF5 in connection with corresponding information for a sample of similar cameras.

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Core Features
    Camera
Model
Viewfinder
(Type or
000 dots)
Control
Panel
(yes/no)
LCD
Specifications
(inch/000 dots)
LCD
Attach-
ment
Touch
Screen
(yes/no)
Max
Shutter
Speed *
Max
Shutter
Flaps *
Built-in
Flash
(yes/no)
Built-in
Image
Stab
1.
 
Olympus E-P3optional n3.0 / 614 fixed Y 1/4000s 3.0/s Y Y
2.
 
Panasonic GF5none n3.0 / 920 fixed Y 1/4000s 4.0/s Y n
3.
 
Olympus E-P5optional n3.0 / 1037 tilting Y 1/8000s 9.0/s Y Y
4.
 
Olympus E-PL5optional n3.0 / 460 tilting Y 1/4000s 8.0/s n Y
5.
 
Olympus E-PL2optional n3.0 / 460 fixed n 1/4000s 3.0/s Y Y
6.
 
Olympus E-PL3optional n3.0 / 460 tilting n 1/4000s 5.5/s n Y
7.
 
Olympus E-PM1optional n3.0 / 460 fixed n 1/4000s 5.5/s n Y
8.
 
Olympus E-PL1optional n2.7 / 230 fixed n 1/2000s 3.0/s Y Y
9.
 
Olympus E-P1none n3.0 / 230 fixed n 1/4000s 3.0/s n Y
10.
 
Olympus E-P2optional n3.0 / 230 fixed n 1/4000s 3.0/s n Y
11.
 
Panasonic G61440 n3.0 / 1036 swivel Y 1/4000s 7.0/s Y n
12.
 
Panasonic GF6none n3.0 / 1040 tilting Y 1/4000s 4.2/s Y n
13.
 
Panasonic GF3none n3.0 / 460 fixed Y 1/4000s 3.2/s Y n
14.
 
Panasonic GX1optional n3.0 / 460 fixed Y 1/4000s 4.2/s Y n
15.
 
Panasonic G10202 n3.0 / 460 fixed n 1/4000s 2.6/s Y n
16.
 
Panasonic G21440 n3.0 / 460 swivel Y 1/4000s 2.6/s Y n
Notes: *) Information refers to the mechanical shutter, unless the camera only has an electronic one.

One feature that differentiates the E-P3 and the GF5 is in-body image stabilization (IBIS). The E-P3 reduces the risk of handshake-induced blur with all attached lenses, while the GF5 offers no blur reduction with lenses that themselves do not provide optical image stabilization.

Concerning the storage of imaging data, both the E-P3 and the GF5 write their files to SDXC cards. Both cameras can use UHS-I cards, which provide for Ultra High Speed data transfer of up to 104 MB/s.

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-P3 and Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF5 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
Mic / Speaker
Microphone
Port
Headphone
Port
HDMI
Port
USB
Port
WiFi
Support
NFC
Support
Bluetooth
Support
1.
 
Olympus E-P3Ystereo / ---mini2.0---
2.
 
Panasonic GF5-stereo / mono--mini2.0---
3.
 
Olympus E-P5Ystereo / mono--micro2.0Y--
4.
 
Olympus E-PL5Ystereo / mono--mini2.0---
5.
 
Olympus E-PL2Ystereo / ---mini2.0---
6.
 
Olympus E-PL3Ystereo / ---mini2.0---
7.
 
Olympus E-PM1Ystereo / mono--mini2.0---
8.
 
Olympus E-PL1Ystereo / ---mini2.0---
9.
 
Olympus E-P1Ystereo / ---mini2.0---
10.
 
Olympus E-P2Ystereo / ---mini2.0---
11.
 
Panasonic G6Ystereo / monoY-mini2.0YY-
12.
 
Panasonic GF6-stereo / mono--mini2.0YY-
13.
 
Panasonic GF3-stereo / mono--mini2.0---
14.
 
Panasonic GX1Ystereo / mono--mini2.0---
15.
 
Panasonic G10Ymono / ---mini2.0---
16.
 
Panasonic G2Ystereo / mono--mini2.0---

It is notable that the E-P3 has a hotshoe, while the GF5 does not. This socket makes it possible to easily attach optional accessories, such as an external flash gun.

Both the E-P3 and the GF5 have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on ebay. The E-P3 was replaced by the Olympus E-P5, while the GF5 was followed by the Panasonic GF6. Further information on the features and operation of the E-P3 and GF5 can be found, respectively, in the Olympus E-P3 Manual (free pdf) or the online Panasonic GF5 Manual.

Review summary

So what conclusions can be drawn? Which of the two cameras – the Olympus E-P3 or the Panasonic GF5 – has the upper hand? Is one clearly better than the other? 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-P3:

  • More framing options: Can be equipped with a hotshoe-mounted accessory-viewfinder.
  • Sharper images: Has hand-shake reducing image stabilization built-in.
  • Better lighting: Features a hotshoe and can thus hold and trigger an external flash gun.
  • More heavily discounted: Has been on the market for longer (launched in June 2011).

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Advantages of the Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF5:

  • Better image quality: Scores markedly higher (10 points) in the DXO overall evaluation.
  • More dynamic range: Captures a broader range of light and dark details (1.5 EV of extra DR).
  • More detailed LCD: Has a higher resolution rear screen (920k vs 614k dots).
  • Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (4 vs 3 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
  • More compact: Is smaller (108x67mm vs 122x69mm) and will fit more readily into a bag.
  • Less heavy: Has a lower weight (by 102g or 28 percent) and is thus easier to take along.
  • More affordable: Was introduced into a lower priced category (38 percent cheaper at launch).
  • More modern: Was introduced somewhat (9 months) more recently.

If the count of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a measure, the GF5 is the clear winner of the contest (8 : 4 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 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.

E-P3 04:08 GF5

How about other alternatives? Do the specifications of the Olympus E-P3 and the Panasonic GF5 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 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-P3 or the GF5. User reviews, such as those found at amazon, can sometimes inform about these issues, but such feedback is often incomplete, inconsistent, and biased.

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], digitalcameraworld [DCW], 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 
 DCW 
 score 
 DPR 
 score 
 EPZ 
 score 
 PB 
 score 
Camera
Launch
Launch
Price (USD)
Street
Price
1.
 
Olympus E-P3..83/100..74/1004.5/54.5/5 Jun 2011 799ebay.com
2.
 
Panasonic GF53/5......4.5/54.5/5 Apr 2012 499ebay.com
3.
 
Olympus E-P55/5+ +..78/1004.5/55/5 May 2013 999ebay.com
4.
 
Olympus E-PL53/5+ +....4.5/54.5/5 Sep 2012 599ebay.com
5.
 
Olympus E-PL23/583/100..71/1004.5/54.5/5 Jan 2011 599ebay.com
6.
 
Olympus E-PL33/5+ +..72/1004.5/54/5 Jun 2011 599ebay.com
7.
 
Olympus E-PM1..86/100..71/1004.5/54.5/5 Jun 2011 499ebay.com
8.
 
Olympus E-PL1..86/100..69/1004/54.5/5 Feb 2010 599ebay.com
9.
 
Olympus E-P1..+..66/1004/54.5/5 Jun 2009 799ebay.com
10.
 
Olympus E-P23/5+..69/1004/54.5/5 Nov 2009 799ebay.com
11.
 
Panasonic G64/5+ +....5/54.5/5 Apr 2013 599ebay.com
12.
 
Panasonic GF6..+ +....4.5/54.5/5 Apr 2013 499ebay.com
13.
 
Panasonic GF33/582/100..71/1004.5/54/5 Jun 2011 549ebay.com
14.
 
Panasonic GX13/5+..77/1004.5/54.5/5 Nov 2011 699ebay.com
15.
 
Panasonic G103/5....70/1004/54/5 Mar 2010 499ebay.com
16.
 
Panasonic G2......72/1004/54.5/5 Mar 2010 599ebay.com
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. Also, kindly note that some of the listed sites have over time developped their review approaches and their reporting style.

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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 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-P3 vs Panasonic GF5

    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-P3 Panasonic GF5
    Camera Type Mirrorless system camera Mirrorless system camera
    Camera Lens Micro Four Thirds lenses Micro Four Thirds lenses
    Launch Date June 2011 April 2012
    Launch Price USD 799 USD 499
    Sensor Specs Olympus E-P3 Panasonic GF5
    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 1080/60i Video 1080/60i Video
    ISO Setting 200 - 12,800 ISO 160 - 6,400 ISO
    ISO Boost no Enhancement 160 - 12,800 ISO
    Image Processor TruePic VI Venus FHD
    DXO Sensor Quality (score) 51 61
    DXO Color Depth (bits) 20.8 21.4
    DXO Dynamic Range (EV) 10.1 11.6
    DXO Low Light (ISO) 536 618
    Screen Specs Olympus E-P3 Panasonic GF5
    Viewfinder Type Viewfinder optional no viewfinder
    LCD Framing Live View Live View
    Rear LCD Size 3.0inch 3.0inch
    LCD Resolution 614k dots 920k dots
    LCD Attachment Fixed screen Fixed screen
    Touch Input Touchscreen Touchscreen
    Shooting Specs Olympus E-P3 Panasonic GF5
    Focus System Contrast-detect AF Contrast-detect AF
    Continuous Shooting 3 shutter flaps/s 4 shutter flaps/s
    Image StabilizationIn-body stabilizationLens stabilization only
    Fill Flash Built-in Flash Built-in Flash
    Storage Medium SDXC cards SDXC cards
    Single or Dual Card Slots Single card slot Single card slot
    UHS card support UHS-I UHS-I
    Connectivity Specs Olympus E-P3 Panasonic GF5
    External Flash Hotshoe no 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-P3 Panasonic GF5
    Battery Type BLS-5 DMW-BLE9
    Battery Life (CIPA)330 shots per charge360 shots per charge
    Body Dimensions 122 x 69 x 34 mm
    (4.8 x 2.7 x 1.3 in)
    108 x 67 x 37 mm
    (4.3 x 2.6 x 1.5 in)
    Camera Weight 369 g (13.0 oz) 267 g (9.4 oz)
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