Olympus E-PL2 vs Zeiss ZX1
The Olympus PEN E-PL2 and the Zeiss ZX1 are two digital cameras that were officially introduced, respectively, in January 2011 and September 2018. The E-PL2 is a mirrorless interchangeable lens camera, while the ZX1 is a fixed lens compact. The cameras are based on a Four Thirds (E-PL2) and a full frame (ZX1) sensor. The Olympus has a resolution of 12.2 megapixels, whereas the Zeiss provides 37.4 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 PEN E-PL2 and the Zeiss ZX1? 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-PL2 and the Zeiss ZX1 are illustrated in the side-by-side display below. The two cameras are presented according to their relative size. Three consecutive perspectives from the front, the top, and the back are available. All size dimensions are rounded to the nearest millimeter.
The E-PL2 can be obtained in four different colors (black, silver, red, white), while the ZX1 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 Zeiss ZX1 is considerably larger (61 percent) than the Olympus E-PL2. In this context, it is worth noting that neither the E-PL2 nor the ZX1 are weather-sealed.
The above size and weight comparisons are to some extent incomplete and possibly misleading, as the ZX1 has a lens built in, whereas the E-PL2 is an interchangeable lens camera that requires a separate lens. Attaching the latter will add extra weight and bulk to the setup. You can compare the optics available for the E-PL2 and their specifications in the Micro Four Thirds Lens Catalog.
The table below summarizes the key physical specs of the two cameras alongside a broader set of comparators. 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-PL2||114 mm||72 mm||42 mm||362 g||280||n||Jan 2011||599|
|2.||Zeiss ZX1||142 mm||93 mm||46 mm||800 g||250||n||Sep 2018||5,999|
|3.||Leica Q2||130 mm||80 mm||92 mm||718 g||370||Y||Mar 2019||4,995|
|4.||Leica V-LUX 5||136 mm||97 mm||131 mm||812 g||350||n||Jul 2019||1,249|
|5.||Olympus XZ-2||113 mm||65 mm||48 mm||346 g||340||n||Sep 2012||599|
|6.||Olympus E-P3||122 mm||69 mm||34 mm||369 g||330||n||Jun 2011||799|
|7.||Olympus E-PL3||110 mm||64 mm||37 mm||313 g||300||n||Jun 2011||599|
|8.||Olympus E-PM1||110 mm||64 mm||34 mm||265 g||330||n||Jun 2011||499|
|9.||Olympus E-PL1||115 mm||72 mm||42 mm||334 g||290||n||Feb 2010||599|
|10.||Olympus E-P1||121 mm||70 mm||36 mm||355 g||300||n||Jun 2009||799|
|11.||Olympus E-P2||121 mm||70 mm||36 mm||355 g||300||n||Nov 2009||799|
|12.||Panasonic FZ1000 II||136 mm||97 mm||131 mm||810 g||350||n||Feb 2019||899|
|13.||Panasonic FZ1000||137 mm||99 mm||131 mm||831 g||360||n||Jun 2014||899|
|14.||Panasonic G10||124 mm||84 mm||74 mm||388 g||380||n||Mar 2010||499|
|15.||Panasonic G2||124 mm||84 mm||74 mm||428 g||360||n||Mar 2010||599|
|16.||Panasonic GF2||113 mm||68 mm||33 mm||310 g||300||n||Nov 2010||549|
|17.||Sony RX100 VI||102 mm||58 mm||43 mm||301 g||240||n||Jun 2018||1,199|
|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 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. 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. Then, after the new model is out, very good deals can frequently be found on the pre-owned market.
The size of the sensor inside a digital camera is one of the key determinants 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.
Of the two cameras under consideration, the Olympus E-PL2 features a Four Thirds sensor and the Zeiss ZX1 a full frame sensor. The sensor area in the ZX1 is 284 percent bigger. As a result of these sensor size differences, the cameras have a format factor of, respectively, 2.0 and 1.0. The sensor in the E-PL2 has a native 4:3 aspect ratio, while the one in the ZX1 offers a 3:2 aspect.
Technology-wise, both cameras are equipped with CMOS (Complementary Metal–Oxide–Semiconductor) sensors.
With 37.4MP, the ZX1 offers a higher resolution than the E-PL2 (12.2MP), but the ZX1 nevertheless has larger individual pixels (pixel pitch of 4.81μm versus 4.29μm for the E-PL2) due to its larger sensor. Moreover, the ZX1 is a much more recent model (by 7 years and 8 months) than the E-PL2, and its sensor will have benefitted from technological advances during this time that further enhance the light gathering capacity of its pixel-units.
The resolution advantage of the Zeiss ZX1 implies greater flexibility for cropping images or the possibility to print larger pictures. The maximum print size of the ZX1 for good quality output (200 dots per inch) amounts to 37.4 x 25 inches or 95.1 x 63.4 cm, for very good quality (250 dpi) 30 x 20 inches or 76.1 x 50.7 cm, and for excellent quality (300 dpi) 25 x 16.6 inches or 63.4 x 42.3 cm. The corresponding values for the Olympus E-PL2 are 20.2 x 15.1 inches or 51.2 x 38.4 cm for good quality, 16.1 x 12.1 inches or 41 x 30.7 cm for very good quality, and 13.4 x 10.1 inches or 34.1 x 25.6 cm for excellent quality prints.
The Olympus PEN E-PL2 has a native sensitivity range from ISO 200 to ISO 6400. The corresponding ISO settings for the Zeiss ZX1 are ISO 80 to ISO 51200 (no boost).
Consistent information on actual sensor performance is available from DXO Mark for many cameras. 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 following table provides an overview of the physical sensor characteristics, as well as the sensor quality measurements for a selection of comparators.
| DXO |
|1.||Olympus E-PL2||Four Thirds||12.2||4032||3024||720/30p||21.4||10.2||573||55|
|2.||Zeiss ZX1||Full Frame||37.4||7488||4992||4K/30p||..||..||..||..|
|3.||Leica Q2||Full Frame||46.7||8368||5584||4K/30p||26.4||13.5||2491||96|
|4.||Leica V-LUX 5||1-inch||20.0||5472||3648||4K/30p||..||..||..||..|
|6.||Olympus E-P3||Four Thirds||12.2||4032||3024||1080/60i||20.8||10.1||536||51|
|7.||Olympus E-PL3||Four Thirds||12.2||4032||3024||1080/60i||20.9||10.3||499||52|
|8.||Olympus E-PM1||Four Thirds||12.2||4032||3024||1080/60i||21.0||10.3||499||52|
|9.||Olympus E-PL1||Four Thirds||12.2||4032||3024||720/30p||21.5||10.1||487||54|
|10.||Olympus E-P1||Four Thirds||12.2||4032||3024||720/30p||21.4||10.4||536||55|
|11.||Olympus E-P2||Four Thirds||12.2||4032||3024||720/30p||21.5||10.4||505||56|
|12.||Panasonic FZ1000 II||1-inch||20.0||5472||3648||4K/30p||..||..||..||..|
|14.||Panasonic G10||Four Thirds||12.0||4000||3000||720/30p||21.2||10.1||411||52|
|15.||Panasonic G2||Four Thirds||12.0||4000||3000||720/30p||21.2||10.3||493||53|
|16.||Panasonic GF2||Four Thirds||12.0||4000||3000||1080/60i||21.2||10.3||506||54|
|17.||Sony RX100 VI||1-inch||20.0||5472||3648||4K/30p||..||..||..||..|
Many modern cameras cannot only take still pictures, but also record videos. The two cameras under consideration both have sensors whose read-out speed is fast enough to capture moving pictures, but the ZX1 provides a better video resolution than the E-PL2. It can shoot movie footage at 4K/30p, while the Olympus is limited to 720/30p.
Beyond body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a range of features. For example, the ZX1 has an electronic viewfinder (6221k dots), which can be very helpful when shooting in bright sunlight. In contrast, the E-PL2 relies on live view and the rear LCD for framing. That said, the E-PL2 can be equipped with an optional viewfinder – the VF-2. The table below summarizes some of the other core capabilities of the Olympus E-PL2 and Zeiss ZX1 in connection with corresponding information for a sample of similar cameras.
|4.||Leica V-LUX 5||2360||n||3.0||1240||swivel||Y||1/4000s||12.0||Y||Y|
|12.||Panasonic FZ1000 II||2360||n||3.0||1240||swivel||Y||1/4000s||12.0||Y||Y|
|17.||Sony RX100 VI||2359||n||3.0||1229||tilting||Y||1/2000s||24.0||Y||Y|
One difference between the cameras concerns the presence of an on-board flash. The E-PL2 has one, while the ZX1 does not. While the built-in flash of the E-PL2 is not very powerful, it can at times be useful as a fill-in light.
The reported shutter speed information refers to the use of the mechanical shutter. Yet, some cameras only have an electronic shutter, while others have an electronic shutter in addition to a mechanical one. In fact, the ZX1 is one of those camera that have an additional electronic shutter, which makes completely silent shooting possible. However, this mode is less suitable for photographing moving objects (risk of rolling shutter) or shooting under artificial light sources (risk of flickering).
The E-PL2 writes its imaging data to SDHC cards, while the ZX1 uses an internal SSD.
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-PL2 and Zeiss ZX1 and, in particular, the interfaces the cameras (and selected comparators) provide for accessory control and data transfer.
| WiFi |
| NFC |
|4.||Leica V-LUX 5||Y||stereo||mono||-||-||micro||2.0||Y||-||Y|
|12.||Panasonic FZ1000 II||Y||stereo||mono||Y||-||micro||2.0||Y||-||Y|
|17.||Sony RX100 VI||-||stereo||mono||-||-||micro||2.0||Y||Y||Y|
It is notable that the ZX1 offers wifi support, which can be a very convenient means to transfer image data to an off-camera location. In contrast, the E-PL2 does not provide wifi capability.
The ZX1 is a recent model that features in the current product line-up of Zeiss. In contrast, the E-PL2 has been discontinued (but can be found pre-owned on eBay). As a replacement in the same line of cameras, the E-PL2 was succeeded by the Olympus E-PL3. Further information on the two cameras (e.g. user guides, manuals), as well as related accessories, can be found on the official Olympus and Zeiss websites.
So what is the bottom line? Is there a clear favorite between the Olympus E-PL2 and the Zeiss ZX1? Which camera is better? A synthesis of the relative strong points of each of the models is listed below.
Advantages of the Olympus PEN E-PL2:
- Faster shutter: Has higher mechanical shutter speed (1/4000s vs 1/1000s) to freeze action.
- More flexible: Accepts interchangeable lenses, so that lens characteristics can be altered.
- More compact: Is smaller (114x72mm vs 142x93mm) and thus needs less room in the bag.
- Longer lasting: Can take more shots (280 versus 250) on a single battery charge.
- Sharper images: Has hand-shake reducing image stabilization built-in.
- Easier fill-in: Is equipped with a small onboard flash to brighten deep shadow areas.
Reasons to prefer the Zeiss ZX1:
- More detail: Has more megapixels (37.4 vs 12.2MP), which boosts linear resolution by 79%.
- Better image quality: Is equipped with a larger and more technologically advanced sensor.
- Richer colors: The sensor size advantage translates into images with better, more accurate colors.
- More dynamic range: Larger sensor captures a wider spectrum of light and dark details.
- Better low-light sensitivity: Larger sensor produces good images even in poorly lit environments.
- Better video: Provides higher definition movie capture (4K/30p vs 720/30p).
- Easier framing: Has an electronic viewfinder for image composition and settings control.
- Larger screen: Has a bigger rear LCD (4.3" vs 3.0") for image review and settings control.
- More detailed LCD: Has a higher resolution rear screen (2765k vs 460k dots).
- Fewer buttons to press: Has a touchscreen to facilitate handling and shooting adjustments.
- Less disturbing: Has an electronic shutter option for completely silent shooting.
- Ready to shoot: Has an integrated lens, whereas the E-PL2 necessitates an extra lens.
- Faster data transfer: Supports a more advanced USB protocol (3.1 vs 2.0).
- Easier file upload: Has wifi built in for automatic backup or image transfer to the web.
- Easier device pairing: Supports NFC for fast wireless image transfer over short distances.
- Easier wireless transfer: Supports Bluetooth for image sharing without cables.
- More prestigious: Has the Zeiss luxury appeal, which ensures a high resale value.
If the number of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the ZX1 is the clear winner of the contest (17 : 6 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 sports photographer will view the differences between cameras in a way that diverges from the perspective of a street photog, and a person interested in family portraits has distinct needs from a landscape 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-PL2 and the Zeiss ZX1 place the cameras among the top in their class? Find out in the latest Best Mirrorless Interchangeable Lens Camera and Best Prime Lens Compact Camera listings 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 remains partial and cannot reveal, for example, the shooting experience and imaging performance when actually working with the E-PL2 or the ZX1. 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 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-PL2||3/5||83/100||71/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Jan 2011||599|
|2.||Zeiss ZX1||..||..||..||..||..||Sep 2018||5,999|
|3.||Leica Q2||..||..||84/100||4.5/5||4/5||Mar 2019||4,995|
|4.||Leica V-LUX 5||..||..||..||4/5||4/5||Jul 2019||1,249|
|5.||Olympus XZ-2||4/5||+||..||4.5/5||4.5/5||Sep 2012||599|
|6.||Olympus E-P3||..||83/100||74/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Jun 2011||799|
|7.||Olympus E-PL3||3/5||+ +||72/100||4.5/5||4/5||Jun 2011||599|
|8.||Olympus E-PM1||..||86/100||71/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Jun 2011||499|
|9.||Olympus E-PL1||..||86/100||69/100||4/5||4.5/5||Feb 2010||599|
|10.||Olympus E-P1||..||+||66/100||4/5||4.5/5||Jun 2009||799|
|11.||Olympus E-P2||3/5||+||69/100||4/5||4.5/5||Nov 2009||799|
|12.||Panasonic FZ1000 II||..||..||83/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Feb 2019||899|
|13.||Panasonic FZ1000||4/5||+ +||82/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Jun 2014||899|
|14.||Panasonic G10||3/5||..||70/100||4/5||4/5||Mar 2010||499|
|15.||Panasonic G2||..||..||72/100||4/5||4.5/5||Mar 2010||599|
|16.||Panasonic GF2||3/5||82/100||70/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Nov 2010||549|
|17.||Sony RX100 VI||4.5/5||+ +||83/100||4/5||4.5/5||Jun 2018||1,199|
|Notes: (+ +) highly recommended; (+) recommended; (o) reviewed; (..) not available.|
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, kindly note that some of the listed sites have over time developped their review approaches and their reporting style.
Other camera comparisons
Did this review help to inform your camera decision process? If you would like to see a different side-by-side camera review, just make a corresponding selection in the search boxes below. As an alternative, you can also directly jump to any one of the listed comparisons that were previously generated by the CAM-parator tool.
Specifications: Olympus E-PL2 vs Zeiss ZX1
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-PL2||Zeiss ZX1|
|Camera Type||Mirrorless system camera||Fixed lens compact camera|
|Camera Lens||Micro Four Thirds lenses||35mm f/2.8|
|Launch Date||January 2011||September 2018|
|Launch Price||USD 599||USD 5,999|
|Sensor Specs||Olympus E-PL2||Zeiss ZX1|
|Sensor Format||Four Thirds Sensor||Full Frame Sensor|
|Sensor Size||17.3 x 13.0 mm||36.0 x 24.0 mm|
|Sensor Area||224.9 mm2||864 mm2|
|Sensor Diagonal||21.6 mm||43.3 mm|
|Sensor Resolution||12.2 Megapixels||37.4 Megapixels|
|Image Resolution||4032 x 3024 pixels||7488 x 4992 pixels|
|Pixel Pitch||4.29 μm||4.81 μm|
|Pixel Density||5.42 MP/cm2||4.33 MP/cm2|
|Moiré control||Anti-Alias filter||Anti-Alias filter|
|Movie Capability||720/30p Video||4K/30p Video|
|ISO Setting||200 - 6,400 ISO||80 - 51,200 ISO|
|DXO Sensor Quality (score)||55||..|
|DXO Color Depth (bits)||21.4||..|
|DXO Dynamic Range (EV)||10.2||..|
|DXO Low Light (ISO)||573||..|
|Screen Specs||Olympus E-PL2||Zeiss ZX1|
|Viewfinder Type||Viewfinder optional||Electronic viewfinder|
|Viewfinder Field of View||100%|
|Viewfinder Resolution||6221k dots|
|LCD Framing||Live View||Live View|
|Rear LCD Size||3.0inch||4.3inch|
|LCD Resolution||460k dots||2765k dots|
|LCD Attachment||Fixed screen||Fixed screen|
|Touch Input||no Touchscreen||Touchscreen|
|Shooting Specs||Olympus E-PL2||Zeiss ZX1|
|Focus System||Contrast-detect AF||Contrast-detect AF|
|Continuous Shooting||3 shutter flaps/s||3 shutter flaps/s|
|Electronic Shutter||no E-Shutter||up to 1/8000s|
|Image Stabilization||In-body stabilization||no handshake reduction|
|Fill Flash||Build-in Flash||no On-Board Flash|
|Storage Medium||SDHC cards||Internal SSD|
|Second Storage Option||Single card slot||Single SSD|
|Connectivity Specs||Olympus E-PL2||Zeiss ZX1|
|USB Connector||USB 2.0||USB 3.1|
|HDMI Port||mini HDMI||no HDMI|
|Wifi Support||no Wifi||Wifi built-in|
|Near-Field Communication||no NFC||NFC built-in|
|Bluetooth Support||no Bluetooth||Bluetooth built-in|
|Body Specs||Olympus E-PL2||Zeiss ZX1|
|Battery Life (CIPA)||280 shots per charge||250 shots per charge|
114 x 72 x 42 mm
(4.5 x 2.8 x 1.7 in)
142 x 93 x 46 mm
(5.6 x 3.7 x 1.8 in)
|Camera Weight||362 g (12.8 oz)||800 g (28.2 oz)|
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