Olympus E-PL5 vs Panasonic G3
The Olympus PEN E-PL5 and the Panasonic Lumix DMC-G3 are two digital cameras that were officially introduced, respectively, in September 2012 and May 2011. Both the E-PL5 and the G3 are mirrorless interchangeable lens cameras that are equipped with a Four Thirds sensor. The Olympus has a resolution of 15.9 megapixels, whereas the Panasonic provides 15.8 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-PL5 and the Panasonic Lumix DMC-G3? 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-PL5 and the Panasonic G3 are illustrated 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-PL5 can be obtained in three different colors (black, silver, white), while the G3 is available in four color-versions (black, brown, red, white).
If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Panasonic G3 is notably larger (36 percent) than the Olympus E-PL5. Moreover, the G3 is slightly heavier (3 percent) than the E-PL5. In this context, it is worth noting that neither the E-PL5 nor the G3 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 following table provides a synthesis of the main physical specifications of the two cameras and other similar ones. If you want to switch the focus of the display and review another camera pair, you can move across to the CAM-parator tool and choose from the broad selection of possible camera comparisons there.
|1.||Olympus E-PL5||111 mm||64 mm||38 mm||325 g||360||n||Sep 2012||599|
|2.||Panasonic G3||115 mm||84 mm||47 mm||336 g||270||n||May 2011||599|
|3.||Olympus E-PL9||117 mm||68 mm||39 mm||380 g||350||n||Feb 2018||599|
|4.||Olympus E-PL8||115 mm||67 mm||38 mm||357 g||350||n||Sep 2016||549|
|5.||Olympus E-M10 II||120 mm||83 mm||47 mm||390 g||320||n||Aug 2015||649|
|6.||Olympus E-M10||119 mm||82 mm||46 mm||396 g||320||n||Jan 2014||699|
|7.||Olympus E-PL7||115 mm||67 mm||38 mm||357 g||350||n||Aug 2014||599|
|8.||Olympus E-P5||122 mm||69 mm||37 mm||420 g||330||n||May 2013||999|
|9.||Olympus E-PL6||111 mm||64 mm||38 mm||325 g||360||n||May 2013||599|
|10.||Olympus E-PM2||110 mm||64 mm||34 mm||269 g||360||n||Sep 2012||499|
|11.||Olympus E-PL3||110 mm||64 mm||37 mm||313 g||300||n||Jun 2011||599|
|12.||Panasonic G6||122 mm||85 mm||71 mm||390 g||340||n||Apr 2013||599|
|13.||Panasonic G5||120 mm||83 mm||71 mm||396 g||320||n||Jul 2012||599|
|14.||Panasonic GX1||116 mm||68 mm||39 mm||318 g||320||n||Nov 2011||699|
|15.||Panasonic G2||124 mm||84 mm||74 mm||428 g||360||n||Mar 2010||599|
|16.||Panasonic GH2||124 mm||90 mm||76 mm||442 g||330||n||Sep 2010||899|
|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 two cameras under review were launched at the same price and fall into the same 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.
The size of the imaging sensor is a crucial determinant 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 associated with larger, more expensive camera bodies 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.
While the two cameras under review share the same sensor size, the E-PL5 offers a slightly higher resolution of 15.9 megapixels, compared with 15.8 MP of the G3. This megapixels advantage translates into a 0.3 percent gain in linear resolution. On the other hand, these sensor specs imply that the E-PL5 has a higher pixel density and a smaller size of the individual pixel (with a pixel pitch of 3.76μm versus 3.77μm for the G3). In this context, it should be noted, however, that the E-PL5 is a somewhat more recent model (by 1 year and 4 months) than the G3, and its sensor might have benefitted from technological advances during this time that at least partly compensate for the smaller pixel size.
The Olympus PEN E-PL5 has a native sensitivity range from ISO 200 to ISO 25600. The corresponding ISO settings for the Panasonic Lumix DMC-G3 are ISO 160 to ISO 6400 (no boost).
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 review, the E-PL5 provides substantially higher image quality than the G3, with an overall score that is 16 points higher. This advantage is based on 1.8 bits higher color depth, 1.7 EV in additional dynamic range, and 0.4 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.
| DXO |
|1.||Olympus E-PL5||Four Thirds||15.9||4608||3456||1080/30p||22.8||12.3||889||72|
|2.||Panasonic G3||Four Thirds||15.8||4592||3448||1080/60i||21.0||10.6||667||56|
|3.||Olympus E-PL9||Four Thirds||15.9||4608||3456||4K/30p||..||..||..||..|
|4.||Olympus E-PL8||Four Thirds||15.9||4608||3456||1080/30p||..||..||..||..|
|5.||Olympus E-M10 II||Four Thirds||15.9||4608||3456||1080/60p||23.1||12.5||842||73|
|6.||Olympus E-M10||Four Thirds||15.9||4608||3456||1080/30p||22.8||12.3||884||72|
|7.||Olympus E-PL7||Four Thirds||15.9||4608||3456||1080/30p||22.7||12.4||873||72|
|8.||Olympus E-P5||Four Thirds||15.9||4608||3456||1080/30p||22.8||12.4||895||72|
|9.||Olympus E-PL6||Four Thirds||15.9||4608||3456||1080/30p||..||..||..||..|
|10.||Olympus E-PM2||Four Thirds||15.9||4608||3456||1080/30p||22.7||12.2||932||72|
|11.||Olympus E-PL3||Four Thirds||12.2||4032||3024||1080/60i||20.9||10.3||499||52|
|12.||Panasonic G6||Four Thirds||15.9||4608||3456||1080/60p||21.3||11.5||639||61|
|13.||Panasonic G5||Four Thirds||15.9||4608||3456||1080/60p||..||..||..||..|
|14.||Panasonic GX1||Four Thirds||15.8||4592||3448||1080/60p||20.8||10.6||703||55|
|15.||Panasonic G2||Four Thirds||12.0||4000||3000||720/30p||21.2||10.3||493||53|
|16.||Panasonic GH2||Four Thirds||15.9||4608||3456||1080/60i||21.2||11.3||655||60|
Many modern cameras are not only capable of taking still images, but also of capturing video footage. The two cameras under consideration both have sensors whose read-out speed is fast enough to capture moving pictures, but the G3 provides a faster frame rate than the E-PL5. It can shoot movie footage at 1080/60i, while the Olympus is limited to 1080/30p.
Beyond body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a range of features. For example, the G3 has an electronic viewfinder (1440k dots), which can be very helpful when shooting in bright sunlight. In contrast, the E-PL5 relies on live view and the rear LCD for framing. That said, the E-PL5 can be equipped with an optional viewfinder – the VF-3. The table below summarizes some of the other core capabilities of the Olympus E-PL5 and Panasonic G3 in connection with corresponding information for a sample of similar cameras.
|5.||Olympus E-M10 II||2360||n||3.0||1040||tilting||Y||1/4000s||8.0||Y||Y|
One feature that differentiates the E-PL5 and the G3 is in-body image stabilization (IBIS). The E-PL5 reduces the risk of handshake-induced blur with all attached lenses, while the G3 offers no blur reduction with lenses that themselves do not provide optical image stabilization.Both cameras have an articulated rear screen that can be turned to be front-facing. This feature will be particularly appreciated by vloggers and photographers who are interested in taking selfies.
Concerning the storage of imaging data, both the E-PL5 and the G3 write their files to SDXC cards. The E-PL5 supports UHS-I cards (Ultra High Speed data transfer of up to 104 MB/s), while the G3 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 PEN E-PL5 and Panasonic Lumix DMC-G3 and, in particular, the interfaces the cameras (and selected comparators) provide for accessory control and data transfer.
| WiFi |
| NFC |
|5.||Olympus E-M10 II||Y||stereo||mono||-||-||micro||2.0||Y||-||-|
Both the E-PL5 and the G3 have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on eBay. The G3 was replaced by the Panasonic G5, while the E-PL5 was followed by the Olympus E-PL6. 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 how do things add up? Is there a clear favorite between the Olympus E-PL5 and the Panasonic G3? 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-PL5:
- Better image quality: Scores substantially higher (16 points) in the DXO overall assessment.
- Richer colors: Generates images with noticeably better colors (1.8 bits more color depth).
- More dynamic range: Captures a larger spectrum of light and dark details (1.7 EV of extra DR).
- Better low-light sensitivity: Requires less light for good images (0.4 stops ISO advantage).
- Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (8 vs 4 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
- More compact: Is smaller (111x64mm vs 115x84mm) and thus needs less room in the bag.
- Longer lasting: Can take more shots (360 versus 270) on a single battery charge.
- Sharper images: Has hand-shake reducing image stabilization built-in.
- Faster buffer clearing: Has an SD card interface that supports the UHS-I standard.
- More modern: Is somewhat more recent (announced 1 year and 4 months after the G3).
Reasons to prefer the Panasonic Lumix DMC-G3:
- Better video: Provides higher movie framerates (1080/60i versus 1080/30p).
- Easier framing: Has an electronic viewfinder for image composition and settings control.
- More flexible LCD: Has a swivel screen for odd-angle shots in portrait or landscape orientation.
- Easier fill-in: Has a small integrated flash to brighten shadows of backlit subjects.
- More heavily discounted: Has been on the market for longer (launched in May 2011).
If the count of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a measure, the E-PL5 is the clear winner of the match-up (10 : 5 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.
How about other alternatives? Do the specifications of the Olympus E-PL5 and the Panasonic G3 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 says little about, for example, the shooting experience and imaging performance of the E-PL5 and the G3 in practical situations. User reviews that are available, for instance, at amazon can sometimes shed light on these issues, but such feedback is all too often partial, inconsistent, and inaccurate.
This is where reviews by experts come in. The following table reports the overall ratings of the cameras as published by some of the major camera 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-PL5||3/5||+ +||..||4.5/5||4.5/5||Sep 2012||599|
|2.||Panasonic G3||3/5||+ +||75/100||4.5/5||5/5||May 2011||599|
|3.||Olympus E-PL9||..||+||..||4.5/5||4/5||Feb 2018||599|
|4.||Olympus E-PL8||..||..||..||4.5/5||4/5||Sep 2016||549|
|5.||Olympus E-M10 II||4.5/5||+ +||80/100||5/5||5/5||Aug 2015||649|
|6.||Olympus E-M10||4/5||..||80/100||5/5||5/5||Jan 2014||699|
|7.||Olympus E-PL7||4/5||+||..||5/5||4/5||Aug 2014||599|
|8.||Olympus E-P5||5/5||+ +||78/100||4.5/5||5/5||May 2013||999|
|9.||Olympus E-PL6||..||..||..||..||..||May 2013||599|
|10.||Olympus E-PM2||3/5||..||77/100||5/5||4.5/5||Sep 2012||499|
|11.||Olympus E-PL3||3/5||+ +||72/100||4.5/5||4/5||Jun 2011||599|
|12.||Panasonic G6||4/5||+ +||..||5/5||4.5/5||Apr 2013||599|
|13.||Panasonic G5||3/5||+ +||..||4.5/5||4.5/5||Jul 2012||599|
|14.||Panasonic GX1||3/5||+||77/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Nov 2011||699|
|15.||Panasonic G2||..||..||72/100||4/5||4.5/5||Mar 2010||599|
|16.||Panasonic GH2||5/5||+ +||79/100||4.5/5||5/5||Sep 2010||899|
|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. A score, therefore, has to be seen in close connection to the price and market introduction time 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, please note that some of the review sites have changed their methodology and reporting over time.
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. There is also a set of direct links to comparison reviews that other users of the CAM-parator app explored.
Specifications: Olympus E-PL5 vs Panasonic G3
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-PL5||Panasonic G3|
|Camera Type||Mirrorless system camera||Mirrorless system camera|
|Camera Lens||Micro Four Thirds lenses||Micro Four Thirds lenses|
|Launch Date||September 2012||May 2011|
|Launch Price||USD 599||USD 599|
|Sensor Specs||Olympus E-PL5||Panasonic G3|
|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||15.8 Megapixels|
|Image Resolution||4608 x 3456 pixels||4592 x 3448 pixels|
|Pixel Pitch||3.76 μm||3.77 μm|
|Pixel Density||7.08 MP/cm2||7.04 MP/cm2|
|Moiré control||Anti-Alias filter||Anti-Alias filter|
|Movie Capability||1080/30p Video||1080/60i Video|
|ISO Setting||200 - 25,600 ISO||160 - 6,400 ISO|
|Image Processor||TruePic VI||Venus FHD|
|DXO Sensor Quality (score)||72||56|
|DXO Color Depth (bits)||22.8||21.0|
|DXO Dynamic Range (EV)||12.3||10.6|
|DXO Low Light (ISO)||889||667|
|Screen Specs||Olympus E-PL5||Panasonic G3|
|Viewfinder Type||Viewfinder optional||Electronic viewfinder|
|Viewfinder Field of View||100%|
|Viewfinder Resolution||1440k dots|
|LCD Framing||Live View||Live View|
|Rear LCD Size||3.0inch||3.0inch|
|LCD Resolution||460k dots||460k dots|
|LCD Attachment||Tilting screen||Swivel screen|
|Shooting Specs||Olympus E-PL5||Panasonic G3|
|Focus System||Contrast-detect AF||Contrast-detect AF|
|Continuous Shooting||8 shutter flaps/s||4 shutter flaps/s|
|Image Stabilization||In-body stabilization||Lens stabilization only|
|Fill Flash||no On-Board Flash||Build-in Flash|
|Storage Medium||SDXC cards||SDXC cards|
|Second Storage Option||Single card slot||Single card slot|
|UHS card support||UHS-I||no|
|Connectivity Specs||Olympus E-PL5||Panasonic G3|
|USB Connector||USB 2.0||USB 2.0|
|HDMI Port||mini HDMI||mini HDMI|
|Wifi Support||no Wifi||no Wifi|
|Body Specs||Olympus E-PL5||Panasonic G3|
|Battery Life (CIPA)||360 shots per charge||270 shots per charge|
111 x 64 x 38 mm
(4.4 x 2.5 x 1.5 in)
115 x 84 x 47 mm
(4.5 x 3.3 x 1.9 in)
|Camera Weight||325 g (11.5 oz)||336 g (11.9 oz)|
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