Olympus E-PL5 vs Sony A6500
The Olympus PEN E-PL5 and the Sony Alpha A6500 are two digital cameras that were announced, respectively, in September 2012 and October 2016. Both the E-PL5 and the A6500 are mirrorless interchangeable lens cameras that are based on a Four Thirds (E-PL5) and an APS-C (A6500) sensor. The Olympus has a resolution of 15.9 megapixels, whereas the Sony provides 24 MP.
Below is an overview of the main specs of the two cameras as a starting point for the comparison.
|Olympus E-PL5||Sony A6500|
|Mirrorless system camera||Mirrorless system camera|
|Micro Four Thirds lenses||Sony E mount lenses|
|15.9 MP, Four Thirds Sensor||24 MP, APS-C Sensor|
|1080/30p Video||4K/30p Video|
|ISO 200-25,600||ISO 100-25,600 (100 - 51,200)|
|Viewfinder optional||Electronic viewfinder (2359k dots)|
|3.0 LCD, 460k dots||3.0 LCD, 922k dots|
|Tilting touchscreen||Tilting touchscreen|
|8 shutter flaps per second||11 shutter flaps per second|
|In-body stabilization||In-body stabilization|
|not weather sealed||Weathersealed body|
|360 shots per battery charge||350 shots per battery charge|
|111 x 64 x 38 mm, 325 g||120 x 67 x 53 mm, 453 g|
Going beyond this snapshot of core features and characteristics, what are the differences between the Olympus PEN E-PL5 and the Sony Alpha A6500? 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 side-by-side display below illustrates the physical size and weight of the Olympus E-PL5 and the Sony A6500. The two cameras are presented according to their relative size. Three consecutive views from the front, the top, and the rear side 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 A6500 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 Sony A6500 is notably larger (13 percent) than the Olympus E-PL5. Moreover, the A6500 is substantially heavier (39 percent) than the E-PL5. It is noteworthy in this context that the A6500 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. A larger imaging sensor will tend to go along with bigger and heavier lenses, although exceptions exist. You can compare the optics available for the two cameras in the Micro Four Thirds Lens Catalog (E-PL5) and the Sony E-Mount Lens Catalog (A6500). 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.
Concerning battery life, the E-PL5 gets 360 shots out of its BLS-5 battery, while the A6500 can take 350 images on a single charge of its NP-FW50 power pack. The power pack in the A6500 can be charged via the USB port, which can be very convenient when travelling.
The table below summarizes the key physical specs of the two cameras alongside a broader set of comparators. In case you want to display and compare another camera duo, just click on the right or left arrow next to the camera that you would like to inspect. Alternatively, you can also use the CAM-parator to select your camera combination among a larger number of options.
|Olympus E-PL5||4.4 in||2.5 in||1.5 in||11.5 oz||360||n||Sep 2012||599|
|Sony A6500||4.7 in||2.6 in||2.1 in||16.0 oz||350||Y||Oct 2016||1,399|
|Olympus E-PL9||4.6 in||2.7 in||1.5 in||13.4 oz||350||n||Feb 2018||599|
|Olympus E-PL8||4.5 in||2.6 in||1.5 in||12.6 oz||350||n||Sep 2016||549|
|Olympus E-M10 II||4.7 in||3.3 in||1.9 in||13.8 oz||320||n||Aug 2015||649|
|Olympus E-M10||4.7 in||3.2 in||1.8 in||14.0 oz||320||n||Jan 2014||699|
|Olympus E-PL7||4.5 in||2.6 in||1.5 in||12.6 oz||350||n||Aug 2014||599|
|Olympus E-P5||4.8 in||2.7 in||1.5 in||14.8 oz||330||n||May 2013||999|
|Olympus E-PL6||4.4 in||2.5 in||1.5 in||11.5 oz||360||n||May 2013||599|
|Olympus E-PM2||4.3 in||2.5 in||1.3 in||9.5 oz||360||n||Sep 2012||499|
|Olympus E-PL3||4.3 in||2.5 in||1.5 in||11.0 oz||300||n||Jun 2011||599|
|Panasonic GX8||5.2 in||3.1 in||2.5 in||17.2 oz||330||Y||Jul 2015||1,199|
|Panasonic G6||4.8 in||3.3 in||2.8 in||13.8 oz||340||n||Apr 2013||599|
|Sony A6600||4.7 in||2.6 in||2.7 in||17.7 oz||810||Y||Aug 2019||1,399|
|Sony A6300||4.7 in||2.6 in||1.9 in||14.3 oz||400||Y||Feb 2016||999|
|Sony A77||5.6 in||4.1 in||3.2 in||25.8 oz||470||Y||Aug 2011||1,399|
|Sony NEX-7||4.7 in||2.6 in||1.7 in||14.1 oz||430||n||Aug 2011||1,349|
Notes: Measurements and pricing do not include easily detachable parts, such as add-on or interchangeable lenses or optional viewfinders.
(1) Number of images that can be taken on a full battery charge according to the CIPA-standard; (2) Official announcement.
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 markedly lower price (by 57 percent) than the A6500, which puts it into a different market segment. Usually, retail prices stay at first close to the launch price, but after several months, discounts become available. 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. 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.
Of the two cameras under consideration, the Olympus E-PL5 features a Four Thirds sensor and the Sony A6500 an APS-C sensor. The sensor area in the A6500 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 A6500 offers a 3:2 aspect.
With 24MP, the A6500 offers a higher resolution than the E-PL5 (15.9MP), but the A6500 nevertheless has larger individual pixels (pixel pitch of 3.91μm versus 3.76μm for the E-PL5) due to its larger sensor. Moreover, the A6500 is a much more recent model (by 4 years) than the E-PL5, 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 Sony A6500 implies greater flexibility for cropping images or the possibility to print larger pictures. The maximum print size of the A6500 for good quality output (200 dots per inch) amounts to 30 x 20 inches or 76.2 x 50.8 cm, for very good quality (250 dpi) 24 x 16 inches or 61 x 40.6 cm, and for excellent quality (300 dpi) 20 x 13.3 inches or 50.8 x 33.9 cm. The corresponding values for the Olympus E-PL5 are 23 x 17.3 inches or 58.5 x 43.9 cm for good quality, 18.4 x 13.8 inches or 46.8 x 35.1 cm for very good quality, and 15.4 x 11.5 inches or 39 x 29.3 cm for excellent quality prints.
The A6500 has on-sensor phase detect pixels, which results in fast and reliable autofocus acquisition even during live view operation.
The Olympus PEN E-PL5 has a native sensitivity range from ISO 200 to ISO 25600. The corresponding ISO settings for the Sony Alpha A6500 are ISO 100 to ISO 25600, with the possibility to increase the ISO range to 100-51200.
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"). Of the two cameras under consideration, the A6500 offers substantially better image quality than the E-PL5 (overall score 13 points higher). The advantage is based on 1.7 bits higher color depth, 1.4 EV in additional dynamic range, and 0.7 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.
|Olympus E-PL5||Four Thirds||15.9||4608||3456||1080/30p||22.8||12.3||889||72|
|Olympus E-PL9||Four Thirds||15.9||4608||3456||4K/30p||..||..||..||..|
|Olympus E-PL8||Four Thirds||15.9||4608||3456||1080/30p||..||..||..||..|
|Olympus E-M10 II||Four Thirds||15.9||4608||3456||1080/60p||23.1||12.5||842||73|
|Olympus E-M10||Four Thirds||15.9||4608||3456||1080/30p||22.8||12.3||884||72|
|Olympus E-PL7||Four Thirds||15.9||4608||3456||1080/30p||22.7||12.4||873||72|
|Olympus E-P5||Four Thirds||15.9||4608||3456||1080/30p||22.8||12.4||895||72|
|Olympus E-PL6||Four Thirds||15.9||4608||3456||1080/30p||..||..||..||..|
|Olympus E-PM2||Four Thirds||15.9||4608||3456||1080/30p||22.7||12.2||932||72|
|Olympus E-PL3||Four Thirds||12.2||4032||3024||1080/60i||20.9||10.3||499||52|
|Panasonic GX8||Four Thirds||20.2||5184||3888||4K/30p||23.5||12.6||806||75|
|Panasonic G6||Four Thirds||15.9||4608||3456||1080/60p||21.3||11.5||639||61|
Many modern cameras cannot only take still pictures, but also record videos. Both cameras under consideration have a sensor with sufficiently fast read-out times for moving pictures, but the A6500 provides a better video resolution than the E-PL5. It can shoot movie footage at 4K/30p, while the Olympus is limited to 1080/30p.
Apart from body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a variety of features. For example, the A6500 has an electronic viewfinder (2359k 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 following table reports on some other key feature differences and similarities of the Olympus E-PL5, the Sony A6500, and comparable cameras.
|Olympus E-M10 II||2360||n||3.0||1040||tilting||Y||1/4000s||8.0||Y||Y|
One difference between the cameras concerns the presence of an on-board flash. The A6500 has one, while the E-PL5 does not. While the built-in flash of the A6500 is not very powerful, it can at times be useful as a fill-in light.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 A6500 does not have a selfie-screen.
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 A6500 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-PL5 writes its imaging data to SDXC cards, while the A6500 uses SDXC or Memory Stick PRO Duo 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 Sony Alpha A6500 and, in particular, the interfaces the cameras (and selected comparators) provide for accessory control and data transfer.
| WiFi |
|Olympus E-M10 II||Y||stereo||mono||-||-||micro||2.0||Y||-||-|
It is notable that the A6500 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.
Both the E-PL5 and the A6500 have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on eBay. The E-PL5 was replaced by the Olympus E-PL6, while the A6500 was followed by the Sony A6600. Further information on the two cameras (e.g. user guides, manuals), as well as related accessories, can be found on the official Olympus and Sony websites.
So what is the bottom line? Is the Olympus E-PL5 better than the Sony A6500 or vice versa? Below is a summary of the relative strengths of each of the two contestants.
Arguments in favor of the Olympus PEN E-PL5:
- More selfie-friendly: Has an articulated screen that can be turned to be front-facing.
- More compact: Is smaller (111x64mm vs 120x67mm) and thus needs less room in the bag.
- Less heavy: Is lighter (by 128g or 28 percent) and hence easier to carry around.
- More affordable: Was introduced into a lower priced category (57 percent cheaper at launch).
- More heavily discounted: Has been available for much longer (launched in September 2012).
Reasons to prefer the Sony Alpha A6500:
- More detail: Has more megapixels (24 vs 15.9MP), which boosts linear resolution by 25%.
- Better image quality: Scores substantially higher (13 points) in the DXO overall evaluation.
- Richer colors: Generates noticeably more natural colors (1.7 bits more color depth).
- More dynamic range: Captures a broader range of light and dark details (1.4 EV of extra DR).
- Better low-light sensitivity: Can shoot in dim conditions (0.7 stops ISO advantage).
- Better video: Provides higher definition movie capture (4K/30p vs 1080/30p).
- Better live-view autofocus: Features on-sensor phase-detection for more confident autofocus.
- Better sound: Can connect to an external microphone for higher quality sound recording.
- Easier framing: Has an electronic viewfinder for image composition and settings control.
- More detailed LCD: Has a higher resolution rear screen (922k vs 460k dots).
- Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (11 vs 8 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
- Less disturbing: Has an electronic shutter option for completely silent shooting.
- Easier travel charging: Can be conveniently charged via its USB port.
- Better sealing: Is splash and dust sealed for shooting in inclement weather conditions.
- Easier fill-in: Has a small integrated flash to brighten shadows of backlit subjects.
- 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.
- More modern: Reflects 4 years of technical progress since the E-PL5 launch.
If the number of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the A6500 is the clear winner of the contest (17 : 5 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 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 Sony A6500 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 specs-based evaluation of cameras can be instructive in revealing their potential as photographic tools, it remains incomplete and does no justice, for example, to the way the E-PL5 or the A6500 perform in practice. 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 expert reviews are important. The adjacent summary-table relays the overall verdicts of several of the most popular camera review sites (cameralabs, dpreview, ephotozine, imaging-resource, and photographyblog). 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.
|Olympus E-PL5||+ +||..||4.5/5||4.5/5||4.5/5||Sep 2012||599|
|Sony A6500||+ +||85/100||4.5/5||5/5||4.5/5||Oct 2016||1,399|
|Olympus E-PL9||+||..||4.5/5||4.5/5||4/5||Feb 2018||599|
|Olympus E-PL8||..||..||4.5/5||..||4/5||Sep 2016||549|
|Olympus E-M10 II||+ +||80/100||5/5||5/5||5/5||Aug 2015||649|
|Olympus E-M10||..||80/100||5/5||4.5/5||5/5||Jan 2014||699|
|Olympus E-PL7||+||..||5/5||4.5/5||4/5||Aug 2014||599|
|Olympus E-P5||+ +||78/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||5/5||May 2013||999|
|Olympus E-PL6||..||..||..||..||..||May 2013||599|
|Olympus E-PM2||..||77/100||5/5||4.5/5||4.5/5||Sep 2012||499|
|Olympus E-PL3||+ +||72/100||4.5/5||..||4/5||Jun 2011||599|
|Panasonic GX8||+||82/100||4.5/5||5/5||4.5/5||Jul 2015||1,199|
|Panasonic G6||+ +||..||5/5||..||4.5/5||Apr 2013||599|
|Sony A6600||+||83/100||4.5/5||..||4/5||Aug 2019||1,399|
|Sony A6300||+||85/100||5/5||5/5||5/5||Feb 2016||999|
|Sony A77||91/100||81/100||..||4.5/5||5/5||Aug 2011||1,399|
|Sony NEX-7||+ +||81/100||4.5/5||5/5||5/5||Aug 2011||1,349|
|Notes: (+ +) highly recommended; (+) recommended; (o) reviewed; (..) not available.|
Care should be taken when interpreting the review scores above, though. The ratings are only valid when referring to cameras in the same category and of the same age. Hence, a score should always be seen in the context of the camera's market launch date and its price, and rating-comparisons among cameras that span long time periods or concern very differently equipped models make little sense. It should also be noted that some of the review sites have over time altered the way they render their verdicts.
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. As an alternative, you can also directly jump to any one of the listed comparisons that were previously generated by the CAM-parator tool.
- Canon 1D Mark II vs Sony A6500
- Leica Digilux 3 vs Sony A6500
- Leica M9 vs Olympus E-PL5
- Leica X-U Typ 113 vs Sony A6500
- Leica X2 vs Sony A6500
- Olympus E-PL2 vs Olympus E-PL5
- Olympus E-PL3 vs Olympus E-PL5
- Olympus E-PL5 vs Olympus PEN-F
- Olympus E-PL5 vs Sony A3000
- Olympus E-PL5 vs Sony NEX-5
- Panasonic GF7 vs Sony A6500
- Sony A6500 vs Sony H300
Specifications: Olympus E-PL5 vs Sony A6500
|Camera Model||Olympus E-PL5||Sony A6500|
|Camera Type||Mirrorless system camera||Mirrorless system camera|
|Camera Lens||Micro Four Thirds lenses||Sony E mount lenses|
|Launch Date||September 2012||October 2016|
|Launch Price||USD 599||USD 1,399|
|Sensor Specs||Olympus E-PL5||Sony A6500|
|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||24 Megapixels|
|Image Resolution||4608 x 3456 pixels||6000 x 4000 pixels|
|Pixel Pitch||3.76 μm||3.91 μm|
|Pixel Density||7.08 MP/cm2||6.55 MP/cm2|
|Moiré control||Anti-Alias filter||Anti-Alias filter|
|Movie Capability||1080/30p Video||4K/30p Video|
|ISO Setting||200 - 25,600 ISO||100 - 25,600 ISO|
|ISO Boost||no Enhancement||100 - 51,200 ISO|
|Image Processor||TruePic VI||BIONZ X|
|DXO Sensor Quality (score)||72||85|
|DXO Color Depth (bits)||22.8||24.5|
|DXO Dynamic Range (EV)||12.3||13.7|
|DXO Low Light (ISO)||889||1405|
|Screen Specs||Olympus E-PL5||Sony A6500|
|Viewfinder Type||Viewfinder optional||Electronic viewfinder|
|Viewfinder Field of View||100%|
|Viewfinder Resolution||2359k dots|
|LCD Framing||Live View||Live View|
|Rear LCD Size||3.0inch||3.0inch|
|LCD Resolution||460k dots||922k dots|
|LCD Attachment||Tilting screen||Tilting screen|
|Shooting Specs||Olympus E-PL5||Sony A6500|
|Focus System||Contrast-detect AF||On-Sensor Phase-detect|
|Manual Focusing Aid||no Peaking Feature||Focus Peaking|
|Max Shutter Speed (mechanical)||1/4000s||1/4000s|
|Continuous Shooting||8 shutter flaps/s||11 shutter flaps/s|
|Electronic Shutter||no E-Shutter||YES|
|Image Stabilization||In-body stabilization||In-body stabilization|
|Fill Flash||no On-Board Flash||Build-in Flash|
|Storage Medium||SDXC cards||MS or SDXC cards|
|Second Storage Option||Single card slot||Single card slot|
|UHS card support||UHS-I||UHS-I|
|Connectivity Specs||Olympus E-PL5||Sony A6500|
|USB Connector||USB 2.0||USB 2.0|
|HDMI Port||mini HDMI||micro HDMI|
|Microphone Port||no MIC socket||External MIC port|
|Wifi Support||no Wifi||Wifi built-in|
|Near-Field Communication||no NFC||NFC built-in|
|Body Specs||Olympus E-PL5||Sony A6500|
|Environmental Sealing||not weather sealed||Weathersealed body|
|Battery Life (CIPA)||360 shots per charge||350 shots per charge|
|In-Camera Charging||no USB charging||USB charging|
111 x 64 x 38 mm
(4.4 x 2.5 x 1.5 in)
120 x 67 x 53 mm
(4.7 x 2.6 x 2.1 in)
|Camera Weight||325 g (11.5 oz)||453 g (16.0 oz)|