Olympus E-PL5 vs Panasonic GH5s
The Olympus PEN E-PL5 and the Panasonic Lumix DC-GH5s are two digital cameras that were revealed to the public, respectively, in September 2012 and January 2018. Both the E-PL5 and the GH5s 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 9.9 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 DC-GH5s? 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.
An illustration of the physical size and weight of the Olympus E-PL5 and the Panasonic GH5s 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 dimensions are rounded to the nearest millimeter.
The E-PL5 can be obtained in three different colors (black, silver, white), while the GH5s 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 Panasonic GH5s is considerably larger (92 percent) than the Olympus E-PL5. Moreover, the GH5s is substantially heavier (103 percent) than the E-PL5. It is noteworthy in this context that the GH5s is splash and dust-proof, while the E-PL5 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. 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 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-PL5||111 mm||64 mm||38 mm||325 g||360||n||Sep 2012||599|
|2.||Panasonic GH5s||139 mm||98 mm||87 mm||660 g||440||Y||Jan 2018||2,499|
|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 G9||137 mm||97 mm||92 mm||658 g||400||Y||Nov 2017||1,699|
|13.||Panasonic GH5||139 mm||98 mm||87 mm||725 g||410||Y||Jan 2017||1,999|
|14.||Panasonic FZ330||132 mm||92 mm||117 mm||691 g||380||Y||Jul 2015||599|
|15.||Panasonic GH4||133 mm||93 mm||84 mm||560 g||500||Y||Feb 2014||1,499|
|16.||Panasonic G6||122 mm||85 mm||71 mm||390 g||340||n||Apr 2013||599|
|17.||Panasonic GH3||133 mm||93 mm||82 mm||550 g||540||Y||Sep 2012||1,299|
|Notes: Measurements and pricing do not include easily detachable parts, such as add-on or interchangeable lenses or optional viewfinders.|
Any camera decision will obviously take relative prices into account. The manufacturer’s suggested retail prices give an idea on the placement of the camera in the maker’s lineup and the broader market. The E-PL5 was launched at a markedly lower price (by 76 percent) than the GH5s, 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.
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. 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.
While the two cameras under review share the same sensor size, the E-PL5 offers a higher resolution of 15.9 megapixels, compared with 9.9 MP of the GH5s. This megapixels advantage translates into a 25 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 4.77μm for the GH5s). Moreover, it should be noted that the GH5s is much more recent (by 5 years and 3 months) than the E-PL5, and its sensor will have benefitted from technological advances during this time that further enhance the light gathering capacity of individual pixels. Coming back to sensor resolution, it should be mentioned that the GH5s has no anti-alias filter installed, so that it can capture all the detail its sensor resolves.
The resolution advantage of the Olympus E-PL5 implies greater flexibility for cropping images or the possibility to print larger pictures. The maximum print size of the E-PL5 for good quality output (200 dots per inch) amounts to 23 x 17.3 inches or 58.5 x 43.9 cm, for very good quality (250 dpi) 18.4 x 13.8 inches or 46.8 x 35.1 cm, and for excellent quality (300 dpi) 15.4 x 11.5 inches or 39 x 29.3 cm. The corresponding values for the Panasonic GH5s are 18.4 x 13.5 inches or 46.7 x 34.3 cm for good quality, 14.7 x 10.8 inches or 37.4 x 27.4 cm for very good quality, and 12.3 x 9 inches or 31.2 x 22.9 cm for excellent quality prints.
The Olympus PEN E-PL5 has a native sensitivity range from ISO 200 to ISO 25600. The corresponding ISO settings for the Panasonic Lumix DC-GH5s are ISO 160 to ISO 51200, with the possibility to increase the ISO range to 80-204800.
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"). 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-PL5||Four Thirds||15.9||4608||3456||1080/30p||22.8||12.3||889||72|
|2.||Panasonic GH5s||Four Thirds||9.9||3680||2700||4K/60p||..||..||..||..|
|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 G9||Four Thirds||20.2||5184||3888||4K/60p||..||..||..||..|
|13.||Panasonic GH5||Four Thirds||20.2||5184||3888||4K/60p||23.9||13.0||807||77|
|15.||Panasonic GH4||Four Thirds||15.9||4608||3456||4K/30p||23.2||12.8||791||74|
|16.||Panasonic G6||Four Thirds||15.9||4608||3456||1080/60p||21.3||11.5||639||61|
|17.||Panasonic GH3||Four Thirds||15.9||4608||3456||1080/60p||22.7||12.4||812||71|
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 GH5s provides a better video resolution than the E-PL5. It can shoot movie footage at 4K/60p, 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 GH5s has an electronic viewfinder (3680k 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 adjacent table lists some of the other core features of the Olympus E-PL5 and Panasonic GH5s along with similar information for a selection of comparators.
|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 GH5s is in-body image stabilization (IBIS). The E-PL5 reduces the risk of handshake-induced blur with all attached lenses, while the GH5s 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.
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 GH5s 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 Panasonic GH5s has an intervalometer built-in. This enables the photographer to capture time lapse sequences, such as flower blooming, a sunset or moon rise, without purchasing an external camera trigger and related software.
Concerning the storage of imaging data, both the E-PL5 and the GH5s write their files to SDXC cards. The GH5s features dual card slots, which can be very useful in case a memory card fails. In contrast, the E-PL5 only has one slot. The GH5s supports UHS-II cards (on both slots), while the E-PL5 can use UHS-I 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 DC-GH5s 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||-||-|
It is notable that the GH5s offers wifi support, which can be a very convenient means to transfer image data to an off-camera location. In contrast, the E-PL5 does not provide wifi capability.
Studio photographers will appreciate that the Panasonic GH5s (unlike the E-PL5) features a PC Sync socket, so that professional strobe lights can be controlled by the camera.
The GH5s is a recent model that features in the current product line-up of Panasonic. In contrast, the E-PL5 has been discontinued (but can be found pre-owned on eBay). As a replacement in the same line of cameras, the E-PL5 was succeeded 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 what is the bottom line? Which of the two cameras – the Olympus E-PL5 or the Panasonic GH5s – has the upper hand? Is one clearly better than the other? Below is a summary of the relative strengths of each of the two contestants.
Advantages of the Olympus PEN E-PL5:
- More detail: Offers more megapixels (15.9 vs 9.9MP) with a 26% higher linear resolution.
- Better moiré control: Has an anti-alias filter to avoid artificial patterns to appear in images.
- More compact: Is smaller (111x64mm vs 139x98mm) and thus needs less room in the bag.
- Less heavy: Is lighter (by 335g or 51 percent) and hence easier to carry around.
- Sharper images: Has hand-shake reducing image stabilization built-in.
- More affordable: Was introduced into a lower priced category (76 percent cheaper at launch).
- More heavily discounted: Has been available for much longer (launched in September 2012).
Arguments in favor of the Panasonic Lumix DC-GH5s:
- Maximized detail: Lacks an anti-alias filter to exploit the sensor's full resolution potential.
- Better video: Provides higher definition movie capture (4K/60p vs 1080/30p).
- Better sound: Can connect to an external microphone for higher quality sound recording.
- Better sound control: Has a headphone port that enables audio monitoring while recording.
- Easier framing: Has an electronic viewfinder for image composition and settings control.
- Larger screen: Has a bigger rear LCD (3.2" vs 3.0") for image review and settings control.
- More detailed LCD: Has a higher resolution rear screen (1620k vs 460k dots).
- More flexible LCD: Has a swivel screen for odd-angle shots in portrait or landscape orientation.
- Faster shutter: Has higher mechanical shutter speed (1/8000s vs 1/4000s) to freeze action.
- Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (12 vs 8 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
- Less disturbing: Has an electronic shutter option for completely silent shooting.
- Easier time-lapse photography: Has an intervalometer built-in for low frequency shooting.
- Longer lasting: Gets more shots (440 versus 360) out of a single battery charge.
- Better sealing: Is splash and dust sealed for shooting in inclement weather conditions.
- 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 wireless transfer: Supports Bluetooth for image sharing without cables.
- Better studio light control: Has a PC Sync socket to connect to professional strobe lights.
- Greater peace of mind: Features a second card slot as a backup in case of memory card failure.
- Faster buffer clearing: Supports a more advanced SD data transfer standard (UHS-II vs UHS-I).
- More modern: Reflects 5 years and 3 months of technical progress since the E-PL5 launch.
If the count of individual advantages (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the GH5s is the clear winner of the contest (22 : 7 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. 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-PL5 and the Panasonic GH5s 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-PL5 or the GH5s. 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 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.
|1.||Olympus E-PL5||3/5||+ +||..||4.5/5||4.5/5||Sep 2012||599|
|2.||Panasonic GH5s||..||..||84/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Jan 2018||2,499|
|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 G9||..||+ +||85/100||5/5||5/5||Nov 2017||1,699|
|13.||Panasonic GH5||4.5/5||+ +||85/100||4.5/5||5/5||Jan 2017||1,999|
|14.||Panasonic FZ330||..||+ +||..||4.5/5||4.5/5||Jul 2015||599|
|15.||Panasonic GH4||5/5||+ +||85/100||5/5||5/5||Feb 2014||1,499|
|16.||Panasonic G6||4/5||+ +||..||5/5||4.5/5||Apr 2013||599|
|17.||Panasonic GH3||5/5||+ +||79/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Sep 2012||1,299|
|Notes: (+ +) highly recommended; (+) recommended; (o) reviewed; (..) not available.|
The review scores listed above should be treated with care, 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 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.
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.
Specifications: Olympus E-PL5 vs Panasonic GH5s
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 GH5s|
|Camera Type||Mirrorless system camera||Mirrorless system camera|
|Camera Lens||Micro Four Thirds lenses||Micro Four Thirds lenses|
|Launch Date||September 2012||January 2018|
|Launch Price||USD 599||USD 2,499|
|Sensor Specs||Olympus E-PL5||Panasonic GH5s|
|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||9.9 Megapixels|
|Image Resolution||4608 x 3456 pixels||3680 x 2700 pixels|
|Pixel Pitch||3.76 μm||4.77 μm|
|Pixel Density||7.08 MP/cm2||4.42 MP/cm2|
|Moiré control||Anti-Alias filter||no AA filter|
|Movie Capability||1080/30p Video||4K/60p Video|
|ISO Setting||200 - 25,600 ISO||160 - 51,200 ISO|
|ISO Boost||no Enhancement||80 - 204,800 ISO|
|Image Processor||TruePic VI||Venus 10|
|DXO Sensor Quality (score)||72||..|
|DXO Color Depth (bits)||22.8||..|
|DXO Dynamic Range (EV)||12.3||..|
|DXO Low Light (ISO)||889||..|
|Screen Specs||Olympus E-PL5||Panasonic GH5s|
|Viewfinder Type||Viewfinder optional||Electronic viewfinder|
|Viewfinder Field of View||100%|
|Viewfinder Resolution||3680k dots|
|LCD Framing||Live View||Live View|
|Rear LCD Size||3.0inch||3.2inch|
|LCD Resolution||460k dots||1620k dots|
|LCD Attachment||Tilting screen||Swivel screen|
|Shooting Specs||Olympus E-PL5||Panasonic GH5s|
|Focus System||Contrast-detect AF||Contrast-detect AF|
|Manual Focusing Aid||no Peaking Feature||Focus Peaking|
|Max Shutter Speed (mechanical)||1/4000s||1/8000s|
|Continuous Shooting||8 shutter flaps/s||12 shutter flaps/s|
|Electronic Shutter||no E-Shutter||up to 1/16000s|
|Time-Lapse Photography||no Intervalometer||Intervalometer built-in|
|Image Stabilization||In-body stabilization||Lens stabilization only|
|Fill Flash||no On-Board Flash||no On-Board Flash|
|Storage Medium||SDXC cards||SDXC cards|
|Second Storage Option||Single card slot||Dual card slots|
|UHS card support||UHS-I||Dual UHS-II|
|Connectivity Specs||Olympus E-PL5||Panasonic GH5s|
|Studio Flash||no PC Sync||PC Sync socket|
|USB Connector||USB 2.0||USB 3.1|
|HDMI Port||mini HDMI||full HDMI|
|Microphone Port||no MIC socket||External MIC port|
|Headphone Socket||no Headphone port||Headphone port|
|Wifi Support||no Wifi||Wifi built-in|
|Bluetooth Support||no Bluetooth||Bluetooth built-in|
|Body Specs||Olympus E-PL5||Panasonic GH5s|
|Environmental Sealing||not weather sealed||Weathersealed body|
|Battery Life (CIPA)||360 shots per charge||440 shots per charge|
111 x 64 x 38 mm
(4.4 x 2.5 x 1.5 in)
139 x 98 x 87 mm
(5.5 x 3.9 x 3.4 in)
|Camera Weight||325 g (11.5 oz)||660 g (23.3 oz)|
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