Olympus E-PL5 vs Pentax K-500
The Olympus PEN E-PL5 and the Pentax K-500 are two digital cameras that were officially introduced, respectively, in September 2012 and June 2013. The E-PL5 is a mirrorless interchangeable lens camera, while the K-500 is a DSLR. The cameras are based on a Four Thirds (E-PL5) and an APS-C (K-500) sensor. The Olympus has a resolution of 15.9 megapixels, whereas the Pentax provides 16.1 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 Pentax K-500? 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 Pentax K-500 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 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 K-500 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 Pentax K-500 is considerably larger (78 percent) than the Olympus E-PL5. Moreover, the K-500 is substantially heavier (99 percent) than the E-PL5. In this context, it is worth noting that neither the E-PL5 nor the K-500 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. Hence, you might want to study and compare the specifications of available lenses in order to get the full picture of the size and weight of the two camera systems.
The adjacent table lists the principal physical characteristics of the two cameras alongside a wider set of alternatives. 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.||Pentax K-500||130 mm||97 mm||71 mm||646 g||710||n||Jun 2013||549|
|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.||Pentax K-S1||121 mm||93 mm||70 mm||558 g||410||n||Aug 2014||749|
|14.||Pentax K-50||130 mm||97 mm||71 mm||650 g||410||Y||Jun 2013||599|
|15.||Pentax K-30||130 mm||97 mm||71 mm||650 g||410||Y||May 2012||849|
|16.||Pentax K-5 II||131 mm||97 mm||73 mm||760 g||740||Y||Sep 2012||1,099|
|17.||Pentax K-5||131 mm||97 mm||73 mm||760 g||740||Y||Sep 2010||1,099|
|Note: 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 listed launch prices provide an indication of the market segment that the manufacturer of the cameras have been targeting. The K-500 was somewhat cheaper (by 8 percent) than the E-PL5 at launch, but both cameras fall into the same price category. 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 imaging sensor is at the core of digital cameras and its size is one of the main determining factors 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.
Of the two cameras under consideration, the Olympus E-PL5 features a Four Thirds sensor and the Pentax K-500 an APS-C sensor. The sensor area in the K-500 is 63 percent bigger. As a result of these sensor size differences, the cameras have a format factor of, respectively, 2.0 and 1.5. The sensor in the E-PL5 has a native 4:3 aspect ratio, while the one in the K-500 offers a 3:2 aspect.
Technology-wise, both cameras are equipped with CMOS (Complementary Metal–Oxide–Semiconductor) sensors.
With 16.1MP, the K-500 offers a higher resolution than the E-PL5 (15.9MP), but the K-500 nevertheless has larger individual pixels (pixel pitch of 4.77μm versus 3.76μm for the E-PL5) due to its larger sensor. Moreover, the K-500 is a somewhat more recent model (by 8 months) than the E-PL5, and its sensor might have benefitted from technological advances during this time that further enhance the light gathering capacity of its pixel-units.
The Olympus PEN E-PL5 has a native sensitivity range from ISO 200 to ISO 25600. The corresponding ISO settings for the Pentax K-500 are ISO 100 to ISO 51200 (no boost).
For many cameras, data on sensor performance has been reported by DXO Mark. This service assesses and scores the color depth ("DXO Portrait"), dynamic range ("DXO Landscape"), and low-light sensitivity ("DXO Sports") of camera sensors, and also publishes an overall camera score. Of the two cameras under consideration, the K-500 has a markedly higher DXO score than the E-PL5 (overall score 7 points higher), which will translate into better image quality. The advantage is based on 0.9 bits higher color depth, 0.8 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|
|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 G6||Four Thirds||15.9||4608||3456||1080/60p||21.3||11.5||639||61|
|16.||Pentax K-5 II||APS-C||16.1||4928||3264||1080/25p||23.8||14.1||1235||82|
|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, and both provide the same movie specifications (1080/30p).
Beyond body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a range of features. For example, the K-500 has an optical viewfinder, which can be very useful 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 following table reports on some other key feature differences and similarities of the Olympus E-PL5, the Pentax K-500, and comparable cameras.
|1.||Olympus E-PL5||optional||n||3.0 / 460||tilting||Y||1/4000s||8.0/s||n||Y|
|2.||Pentax K-500||optical||n||3.0 / 921||fixed||n||1/6000s||6.0/s||Y||Y|
|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 G6||1440||n||3.0 / 1036||swivel||Y||1/4000s||7.0/s||Y||n|
|13.||Pentax K-S1||optical||n||3.0 / 921||fixed||n||1/6000s||5.4/s||Y||Y|
|14.||Pentax K-50||optical||n||3.0 / 921||fixed||n||1/6000s||6.0/s||Y||Y|
|15.||Pentax K-30||optical||n||3.0 / 921||fixed||n||1/6000s||6.0/s||Y||Y|
|16.||Pentax K-5 II||optical||Y||3.0 / 921||fixed||n||1/8000s||7.0/s||Y||Y|
|17.||Pentax K-5||optical||Y||3.0 / 921||fixed||n||1/8000s||7.0/s||Y||Y|
|Notes: *) Information refers to the mechanical shutter, unless the camera only has an electronic one.|
One differentiating feature between the two cameras concerns the touch sensitivity of the rear screen. The E-PL5 has a touchscreen, while the K-500 has a conventional panel. Touch control can be particularly helpful, for example, for setting the focus point.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 K-500 does not have a selfie-screen.
The Pentax K-500 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 K-500 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 K-500 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 Pentax K-500 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.||Pentax K-500||Y||mono / mono||-||-||-||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 G6||Y||stereo / mono||Y||-||mini||2.0||Y||Y||-|
|13.||Pentax K-S1||Y||stereo / mono||-||-||micro||2.0||-||-||-|
|14.||Pentax K-50||Y||mono / mono||-||-||micro||2.0||-||-||-|
|15.||Pentax K-30||Y||mono / mono||-||-||-||2.0||-||-||-|
|16.||Pentax K-5 II||Y||stereo / mono||Y||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|17.||Pentax K-5||Y||stereo / mono||Y||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
Both the E-PL5 and the K-500 have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on eBay. The E-PL5 was replaced by the Olympus E-PL6, while the K-500 does not have a direct successor. Further information on the two cameras (e.g. user guides, manuals), as well as related accessories, can be found on the official Olympus and Pentax websites.
So what is the bottom line? Is there a clear favorite between the Olympus E-PL5 and the Pentax K-500? 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:
- More flexible LCD: Has a tilting screen for odd-angle shots in landscape orientation.
- Fewer buttons to press: Is equipped with a touch-sensitive rear screen to facilitate handling.
- More selfie-friendly: Has an articulated screen that can be turned to be front-facing.
- Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (8 vs 6 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
- More compact: Is smaller (111x64mm vs 130x97mm) and thus needs less room in the bag.
- Less heavy: Is lighter (by 321g or 50 percent) and hence easier to carry around.
- More legacy lens friendly: Can take a broad range of non-native lenses via adapters.
- Faster buffer clearing: Has an SD card interface that supports the UHS-I standard.
- More heavily discounted: Has been on the market for longer (launched in September 2012).
Arguments in favor of the Pentax K-500:
- Better image quality: Scores markedly higher (7 points) in the DXO overall evaluation.
- More dynamic range: Captures a broader range of light and dark details (0.8 EV of extra DR).
- Easier framing: Has an optical viewfinder for image composition and settings control.
- More detailed LCD: Has a higher resolution rear screen (921k vs 460k dots).
- Faster shutter: Has higher mechanical shutter speed (1/6000s vs 1/4000s) to freeze action.
- Easier time-lapse photography: Has an intervalometer built-in for low frequency shooting.
- Longer lasting: Gets more shots (710 versus 360) out of a single battery charge.
- Easier fill-in: Has a small integrated flash to brighten shadows of backlit subjects.
- More modern: Was introduced somewhat (8 months) more recently.
If the count of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a measure, the match-up finishes in a tie (9 points each). 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 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 Pentax K-500 place the cameras among the top in their class? Find out in the latest Best Mirrorless Interchangeable Lens Camera and Best DSLR Camera listings 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 K-500 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|
|2.||Pentax K-500||..||..||..||..||4.5/5||4.5/5||Jun 2013||549|
|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.||Pentax K-S1||4/5||..||..||..||4.5/5||4/5||Aug 2014||749|
|14.||Pentax K-50||5/5||..||..||..||5/5||4.5/5||Jun 2013||599|
|15.||Pentax K-30||4/5||..||..||78/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||May 2012||849|
|16.||Pentax K-5 II||5/5||..||..||80/100||5/5||4.5/5||Sep 2012||1,099|
|17.||Pentax K-5||4/5||..||..||83/100||5/5||4.5/5||Sep 2010||1,099|
|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 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? 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.
- Canon 1D Mark II N vs Olympus E-PL5
- Canon 350D vs Olympus E-PL5
- Leica V-LUX 5 vs Pentax K-500
- Nikon D7100 vs Olympus E-PL5
- Nikon Z6 vs Pentax K-500
- Nikon Z7 vs Pentax K-500
- Olympus E-PL5 vs Panasonic S1
- Olympus E-PL5 vs Samsung NX500
- Olympus E-PL5 vs Sony NEX-5N
- Olympus TG-6 vs Pentax K-500
- Panasonic FZ1000 II vs Pentax K-500
- Pentax K-30 vs Pentax K-500
Specifications: Olympus E-PL5 vs Pentax K-500
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||Pentax K-500|
|Camera Type||Mirrorless system camera||Digital single lens reflex|
|Camera Lens||Micro Four Thirds lenses||Pentax K mount lenses|
|Launch Date||September 2012||June 2013|
|Launch Price||USD 599||USD 549|
|Sensor Specs||Olympus E-PL5||Pentax K-500|
|Sensor Format||Four Thirds Sensor||APS-C Sensor|
|Sensor Size||17.3 x 13.0 mm||23.5 x 15.6 mm|
|Sensor Area||224.9 mm2||366.6 mm2|
|Sensor Diagonal||21.6 mm||28.2 mm|
|Sensor Resolution||15.9 Megapixels||16.1 Megapixels|
|Image Resolution||4608 x 3456 pixels||4928 x 3264 pixels|
|Pixel Pitch||3.76 μm||4.77 μm|
|Pixel Density||7.08 MP/cm2||4.39 MP/cm2|
|Moiré control||Anti-Alias filter||Anti-Alias filter|
|Movie Capability||1080/30p Video||1080/30p Video|
|ISO Setting||200 - 25,600 ISO||100 - 51,200 ISO|
|Image Processor||TruePic VI||PRIME M|
|DXO Sensor Quality (score)||72||79|
|DXO Color Depth (bits)||22.8||23.7|
|DXO Dynamic Range (EV)||12.3||13.1|
|DXO Low Light (ISO)||889||1087|
|Screen Specs||Olympus E-PL5||Pentax K-500|
|Viewfinder Type||Viewfinder optional||Optical viewfinder|
|Viewfinder Field of View||100%|
|LCD Framing||Live View||Live View|
|Rear LCD Size||3.0inch||3.0inch|
|LCD Resolution||460k dots||921k dots|
|LCD Attachment||Tilting screen||Fixed screen|
|Touch Input||Touchscreen||no Touchscreen|
|Shooting Specs||Olympus E-PL5||Pentax K-500|
|Focus System||Contrast-detect AF||Phase-detect AF|
|Manual Focusing Aid||no Peaking Feature||Focus Peaking|
|Max Shutter Speed (mechanical)||1/4000s||1/6000s|
|Continuous Shooting||8 shutter flaps/s||6 shutter flaps/s|
|Time-Lapse Photography||no Intervalometer||Intervalometer built-in|
|Image Stabilization||In-body stabilization||In-body stabilization|
|Fill Flash||no On-Board Flash||Built-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||Pentax K-500|
|USB Connector||USB 2.0||USB 2.0|
|HDMI Port||mini HDMI||no HDMI|
|Wifi Support||no Wifi||no Wifi|
|Body Specs||Olympus E-PL5||Pentax K-500|
|Battery Life (CIPA)||360 shots per charge||710 shots per charge|
111 x 64 x 38 mm
(4.4 x 2.5 x 1.5 in)
130 x 97 x 71 mm
(5.1 x 3.8 x 2.8 in)
|Camera Weight||325 g (11.5 oz)||646 g (22.8 oz)|
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