Olympus E-PL5 vs Panasonic GX1
The Olympus PEN E-PL5 and the Panasonic Lumix DMC-GX1 are two digital cameras that were officially introduced, respectively, in September 2012 and November 2011. Both the E-PL5 and the GX1 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-GX1? 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 GX1 is provided 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 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 GX1 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 GX1 is notably larger (11 percent) than the Olympus E-PL5. However, the GX1 is slightly lighter (2 percent) than the E-PL5. In this context, it is worth noting that neither the E-PL5 nor the GX1 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 adjacent table lists the principal physical characteristics of the two cameras alongside a wider set of alternatives. 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||ebay.com|
|2.||Panasonic GX1||116 mm||68 mm||39 mm||318 g||320||n||Nov 2011||699||ebay.com|
|3.||Olympus E-PL9||117 mm||68 mm||39 mm||380 g||350||n||Feb 2018||599||ebay.com|
|4.||Olympus E-PL8||115 mm||67 mm||38 mm||357 g||350||n||Sep 2016||549||ebay.com|
|5.||Olympus E-M10 II||120 mm||83 mm||47 mm||390 g||320||n||Aug 2015||649||ebay.com|
|6.||Olympus E-M10||119 mm||82 mm||46 mm||396 g||320||n||Jan 2014||699||ebay.com|
|7.||Olympus E-PL7||115 mm||67 mm||38 mm||357 g||350||n||Aug 2014||599||ebay.com|
|8.||Olympus E-P5||122 mm||69 mm||37 mm||420 g||330||n||May 2013||999||ebay.com|
|9.||Olympus E-PL6||111 mm||64 mm||38 mm||325 g||360||n||May 2013||599||ebay.com|
|10.||Olympus E-PM2||110 mm||64 mm||34 mm||269 g||360||n||Sep 2012||499||ebay.com|
|11.||Olympus E-PL3||110 mm||64 mm||37 mm||313 g||300||n||Jun 2011||599||ebay.com|
|12.||Panasonic GM5||99 mm||60 mm||36 mm||211 g||220||n||Sep 2014||749||ebay.com|
|13.||Panasonic G6||122 mm||85 mm||71 mm||390 g||340||n||Apr 2013||599||ebay.com|
|14.||Panasonic GX7||123 mm||71 mm||55 mm||402 g||350||n||Aug 2013||999||ebay.com|
|15.||Panasonic G3||115 mm||84 mm||47 mm||336 g||270||n||May 2011||599||ebay.com|
|16.||Panasonic G10||124 mm||84 mm||74 mm||388 g||380||n||Mar 2010||499||ebay.com|
|17.||Panasonic GH2||124 mm||90 mm||76 mm||442 g||330||n||Sep 2010||899||ebay.com|
|Note: 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 listed launch prices provide an indication of the market segment that the manufacturer of the cameras have been targeting. The E-PL5 was launched at a somewhat lower price (by 14 percent) than the GX1, which makes it more attractive for photographers on a tight budget. 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 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. 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.
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 GX1. 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 GX1). In this context, it should be noted, however, that the E-PL5 is a somewhat more recent model (by 10 months) than the GX1, 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-GX1 are ISO 160 to ISO 12800 (no boost).
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.
Since 2007, DXO Mark has published sensor performance measurements that have been derived using a consistent methodology. 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"). Of the two cameras under review, the E-PL5 provides substantially higher image quality than the GX1, with an overall score that is 17 points higher. This advantage is based on 2 bits higher color depth, 1.7 EV in additional dynamic range, and 0.3 stops in additional low light sensitivity. The following table provides an overview of the physical sensor characteristics, as well as the sensor quality measurements for a selection of comparators.
|1.||Olympus E-PL5||Four Thirds||15.9||4608||3456||1080/30p||22.8||12.3||889||72|
|2.||Panasonic GX1||Four Thirds||15.8||4592||3448||1080/60p||20.8||10.6||703||55|
|3.||Olympus E-PL9||Four Thirds||15.9||4608||3456||4K/30p||23.1||12.8||1162||74|
|4.||Olympus E-PL8||Four Thirds||15.9||4608||3456||1080/30p||23.0||12.6||1030||73|
|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||22.5||12.0||717||68|
|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 GM5||Four Thirds||15.8||4592||3448||1080/60p||22.1||11.7||721||66|
|13.||Panasonic G6||Four Thirds||15.9||4608||3456||1080/60p||21.3||11.5||639||61|
|14.||Panasonic GX7||Four Thirds||15.8||4592||3448||1080/60p||22.6||12.2||718||70|
|15.||Panasonic G3||Four Thirds||15.8||4592||3448||1080/60i||21.0||10.6||667||56|
|16.||Panasonic G10||Four Thirds||12.0||4000||3000||720/30p||21.2||10.1||411||52|
|17.||Panasonic GH2||Four Thirds||15.9||4608||3456||1080/60i||21.2||11.3||655||60|
|Note: DXO values in italics represent estimates based on sensor size and age.|
Many modern cameras are not only capable of taking still images, but can also record movies. Both cameras under consideration have a sensor with sufficiently fast read-out times for moving pictures, but the GX1 provides a faster frame rate than the E-PL5. It can shoot movie footage at 1080/60p, while the Olympus is limited to 1080/30p.
Beyond body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a range of features. The E-PL5 and the GX1 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. However, optional viewfinders – the VF-3 for the E-PL5 and the DMW-LVF2 for the GX1 – are available as accessories. The following table reports on some other key feature differences and similarities of the Olympus E-PL5, the Panasonic GX1, and comparable cameras.
|1.||Olympus E-PL5||optional||n||3.0 / 460||tilting||Y||1/4000s||8.0/s||n||Y|
|2.||Panasonic GX1||optional||n||3.0 / 460||fixed||Y||1/4000s||4.2/s||Y||n|
|3.||Olympus E-PL9||none||n||3.0 / 1040||tilting||Y||1/4000s||8.6/s||Y||Y|
|4.||Olympus E-PL8||optional||n||3.0 / 1037||tilting||Y||1/4000s||8.0/s||n||Y|
|5.||Olympus E-M10 II||2360||n||3.0 / 1040||tilting||Y||1/4000s||8.0/s||Y||Y|
|6.||Olympus E-M10||1440||n||3.0 / 1037||tilting||Y||1/4000s||8.0/s||Y||Y|
|7.||Olympus E-PL7||optional||n||3.0 / 1037||tilting||Y||1/4000s||8.0/s||n||Y|
|8.||Olympus E-P5||optional||n||3.0 / 1037||tilting||Y||1/8000s||9.0/s||Y||Y|
|9.||Olympus E-PL6||optional||n||3.0 / 460||tilting||Y||1/4000s||8.0/s||n||Y|
|10.||Olympus E-PM2||optional||n||3.0 / 460||fixed||Y||1/4000s||8.0/s||n||Y|
|11.||Olympus E-PL3||optional||n||3.0 / 460||tilting||n||1/4000s||5.5/s||n||Y|
|12.||Panasonic GM5||1166||n||3.0 / 921||fixed||Y||1/500s||5.8/s||n||n|
|13.||Panasonic G6||1440||n||3.0 / 1036||swivel||Y||1/4000s||7.0/s||Y||n|
|14.||Panasonic GX7||2760||n||3.0 / 1040||tilting||Y||1/8000s||5.0/s||Y||Y|
|15.||Panasonic G3||1440||n||3.0 / 460||swivel||Y||1/4000s||4.0/s||Y||n|
|16.||Panasonic G10||202||n||3.0 / 460||fixed||n||1/4000s||2.6/s||Y||n|
|17.||Panasonic GH2||1534||n||3.0 / 460||swivel||n||1/4000s||3.0/s||Y||n|
|Notes: *) Information refers to the mechanical shutter, unless the camera only has an electronic one.|
One feature that differentiates the E-PL5 and the GX1 is in-body image stabilization (IBIS). The E-PL5 reduces the risk of handshake-induced blur with all attached lenses, while the GX1 offers no blur reduction with lenses that themselves do not provide optical image stabilization.The E-PL5 has an articulated LCD that can be turned to be front-facing. This characteristic will be appreciated by vloggers and photographers who are interested in snapping selfies. In contrast, the GX1 does not have a selfie-screen.
Concerning the storage of imaging data, both the E-PL5 and the GX1 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.
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-GX1 and, in particular, the interfaces the cameras (and selected comparators) provide for accessory control and data transfer.
Mic / Speaker
|1.||Olympus E-PL5||Y||stereo / mono||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|2.||Panasonic GX1||Y||stereo / mono||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|3.||Olympus E-PL9||Y||stereo / mono||-||-||micro||2.0||Y||-||Y|
|4.||Olympus E-PL8||Y||stereo / mono||-||-||micro||2.0||Y||-||-|
|5.||Olympus E-M10 II||Y||stereo / mono||-||-||micro||2.0||Y||-||-|
|6.||Olympus E-M10||Y||stereo / mono||-||-||micro||2.0||Y||-||-|
|7.||Olympus E-PL7||Y||stereo / mono||-||-||micro||2.0||Y||-||-|
|8.||Olympus E-P5||Y||stereo / mono||-||-||micro||2.0||Y||-||-|
|9.||Olympus E-PL6||Y||stereo / mono||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|10.||Olympus E-PM2||Y||stereo / mono||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|11.||Olympus E-PL3||Y||stereo / -||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|12.||Panasonic GM5||Y||stereo / mono||-||-||micro||2.0||Y||-||-|
|13.||Panasonic G6||Y||stereo / mono||Y||-||mini||2.0||Y||Y||-|
|14.||Panasonic GX7||Y||stereo / mono||-||-||mini||2.0||Y||Y||-|
|15.||Panasonic G3||Y||stereo / mono||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|16.||Panasonic G10||Y||mono / -||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|17.||Panasonic GH2||Y||stereo / mono||Y||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
Both the E-PL5 and the GX1 have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on ebay. The GX1 was replaced by the Panasonic GX7, while the E-PL5 was followed by the Olympus E-PL6. Further information on the features and operation of the E-PL5 and GX1 can be found, respectively, in the Olympus E-PL5 Manual (free pdf) or the online Panasonic GX1 Manual.
So what is the bottom line? Is there a clear favorite between the Olympus E-PL5 and the Panasonic GX1? Which camera is better? Below is a summary of the relative strengths of each of the two contestants.
Reasons to prefer the Olympus PEN E-PL5:
- Better image quality: Scores substantially higher (17 points) in the DXO overall assessment.
- Richer colors: Generates images with noticeably better colors (2 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 (0.3 stops ISO advantage).
- More flexible LCD: Has a tilting screen for odd-angle shots in landscape orientation.
- More selfie-friendly: Has an articulated screen that can be turned to be front-facing.
- Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (8 vs 4.2 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
- Longer lasting: Can take more shots (360 versus 320) on a single battery charge.
- Sharper images: Has hand-shake reducing image stabilization built-in.
- More affordable: Was introduced into a lower priced segment (14 percent cheaper at launch).
- More modern: Is somewhat more recent (announced 10 months after the GX1).
Arguments in favor of the Panasonic Lumix DMC-GX1:
- Better video: Provides higher movie framerates (1080/60p versus 1080/30p).
- 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 November 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 (11 : 3 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 wedding photographer will view the differences between cameras in a way that diverges from the perspective of a travel photog, and a person interested in cityscapes has distinct needs from a macro 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 GX1 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 the spec-sheets of cameras can offer a general idea of their imaging potential, it says little about, for example, the shooting experience and imaging performance of the E-PL5 and the GX1 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 adjacent summary-table relays the overall verdicts of several of the most popular camera 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.
|1.||Olympus E-PL5||3/5||+ +||..||..||4.5/5||4.5/5||Sep 2012||599||ebay.com|
|2.||Panasonic GX1||3/5||+||..||77/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Nov 2011||699||ebay.com|
|3.||Olympus E-PL9||..||+||..||..||4.5/5||4/5||Feb 2018||599||ebay.com|
|4.||Olympus E-PL8||..||..||..||..||4.5/5||4/5||Sep 2016||549||ebay.com|
|5.||Olympus E-M10 II||4.5/5||+ +||..||80/100||5/5||5/5||Aug 2015||649||ebay.com|
|6.||Olympus E-M10||4/5||..||..||80/100||5/5||5/5||Jan 2014||699||ebay.com|
|7.||Olympus E-PL7||4/5||+||..||..||5/5||4/5||Aug 2014||599||ebay.com|
|8.||Olympus E-P5||5/5||+ +||..||78/100||4.5/5||5/5||May 2013||999||ebay.com|
|9.||Olympus E-PL6||..||..||..||..||..||..||May 2013||599||ebay.com|
|10.||Olympus E-PM2||3/5||..||..||77/100||5/5||4.5/5||Sep 2012||499||ebay.com|
|11.||Olympus E-PL3||3/5||+ +||..||72/100||4.5/5||4/5||Jun 2011||599||ebay.com|
|12.||Panasonic GM5||3.5/5||+||..||77/100||5/5||4.5/5||Sep 2014||749||ebay.com|
|13.||Panasonic G6||4/5||+ +||..||..||5/5||4.5/5||Apr 2013||599||ebay.com|
|14.||Panasonic GX7||4/5||+||..||79/100||5/5||5/5||Aug 2013||999||ebay.com|
|15.||Panasonic G3||3/5||+ +||..||75/100||4.5/5||5/5||May 2011||599||ebay.com|
|16.||Panasonic G10||3/5||..||..||70/100||4/5||4/5||Mar 2010||499||ebay.com|
|17.||Panasonic GH2||5/5||+ +||..||79/100||4.5/5||5/5||Sep 2010||899||ebay.com|
|Notes: (+ +) highly recommended; (+) recommended; (o) reviewed; (..) not available.|
The above review scores should be interpreted with care, though. The ratings are only valid when referring to cameras in the same category and of the same age. A score, therefore, has to be seen in close connection to the price and market introduction time 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 use the search menu below. There is also a set of direct links to comparison reviews that other users of the CAM-parator app explored.
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Specifications: Olympus E-PL5 vs Panasonic GX1
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 GX1|
|Camera Type||Mirrorless system camera||Mirrorless system camera|
|Camera Lens||Micro Four Thirds lenses||Micro Four Thirds lenses|
|Launch Date||September 2012||November 2011|
|Launch Price||USD 599||USD 699|
|Sensor Specs||Olympus E-PL5||Panasonic GX1|
|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||1080/60p Video|
|ISO Setting||200 - 25,600 ISO||160 - 12,800 ISO|
|Image Processor||TruePic VI||Venus FHD|
|DXO Sensor Quality (score)||72||55|
|DXO Color Depth (bits)||22.8||20.8|
|DXO Dynamic Range (EV)||12.3||10.6|
|DXO Low Light (ISO)||889||703|
|Screen Specs||Olympus E-PL5||Panasonic GX1|
|Viewfinder Type||Viewfinder optional||Viewfinder optional|
|LCD Framing||Live View||Live View|
|Rear LCD Size||3.0inch||3.0inch|
|LCD Resolution||460k dots||460k dots|
|LCD Attachment||Tilting screen||Fixed screen|
|Shooting Specs||Olympus E-PL5||Panasonic GX1|
|Focus System||Contrast-detect AF||Contrast-detect AF|
|Manual Focusing Aid||no Peaking Feature||Focus Peaking|
|Max Shutter Speed (mechanical)||1/4000s||1/4000s|
|Continuous Shooting||8 shutter flaps/s||4.2 shutter flaps/s|
|Image Stabilization||In-body stabilization||Lens stabilization only|
|Fill Flash||no On-Board 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-PL5||Panasonic GX1|
|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 GX1|
|Battery Life (CIPA)||360 shots per charge||320 shots per charge|
111 x 64 x 38 mm
(4.4 x 2.5 x 1.5 in)
116 x 68 x 39 mm
(4.6 x 2.7 x 1.5 in)
|Camera Weight||325 g (11.5 oz)||318 g (11.2 oz)|
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