Olympus E-PL8 vs Sony A9 II
The Olympus PEN E-PL8 and the Sony Alpha A9 II are two digital cameras that were revealed to the public, respectively, in September 2016 and October 2019. Both the E-PL8 and the A9 II are mirrorless interchangeable lens cameras that are based on a Four Thirds (E-PL8) and a full frame (A9 II) 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.
Going beyond this snapshot of core features and characteristics, what are the differences between the Olympus PEN E-PL8 and the Sony Alpha A9 II? 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-PL8 and the Sony A9 II 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-PL8 can be obtained in three different colors (black, brown, white), while the A9 II 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 A9 II is considerably larger (61 percent) than the Olympus E-PL8. Moreover, the A9 II is substantially heavier (90 percent) than the E-PL8. It is noteworthy in this context that the A9 II is splash and dust-proof, while the E-PL8 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-PL8) and the Sony FE Lens Catalog (A9 II). 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-PL8 gets 350 shots out of its BLS-50 battery, while the A9 II can take 690 images on a single charge of its NP-FZ100 power pack. The power pack in the A9 II 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. 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-PL8||115 mm||67 mm||38 mm||357 g||350||n||Sep 2016||549|
|2.||Sony A9 II||129 mm||96 mm||76 mm||678 g||690||Y||Oct 2019||4,499|
|3.||Olympus E-PL10||117 mm||68 mm||39 mm||380 g||350||n||Oct 2019||599|
|4.||Olympus E-PL9||117 mm||68 mm||39 mm||380 g||350||n||Feb 2018||599|
|5.||Olympus E-M10 III||122 mm||84 mm||50 mm||410 g||330||n||Aug 2017||649|
|6.||Olympus E-M10 II||120 mm||83 mm||47 mm||390 g||320||n||Aug 2015||649|
|7.||Olympus E-PL7||115 mm||67 mm||38 mm||357 g||350||n||Aug 2014||599|
|8.||Olympus E-PL6||111 mm||64 mm||38 mm||325 g||360||n||May 2013||599|
|9.||Olympus E-PL5||111 mm||64 mm||38 mm||325 g||360||n||Sep 2012||599|
|10.||Olympus E-PM2||110 mm||64 mm||34 mm||269 g||360||n||Sep 2012||499|
|11.||Panasonic GX85||122 mm||71 mm||44 mm||426 g||290||n||Apr 2016||799|
|12.||Panasonic G7||125 mm||86 mm||77 mm||410 g||350||n||May 2015||649|
|13.||Sony A7 III||127 mm||96 mm||74 mm||650 g||610||Y||Feb 2018||1,999|
|14.||Sony A9||127 mm||96 mm||63 mm||673 g||650||Y||Apr 2017||4,499|
|15.||Sony A7S II||127 mm||96 mm||60 mm||627 g||370||Y||Sep 2015||2,999|
|16.||Sony A7 II||127 mm||96 mm||60 mm||599 g||350||Y||Nov 2014||1,999|
|17.||Sony A99||147 mm||111 mm||78 mm||812 g||500||Y||Sep 2012||2,799|
|Notes: Measurements and pricing do not include easily detachable parts, such as add-on or interchangeable lenses or optional viewfinders.|
The price is, of course, an important factor in any camera decision. 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-PL8 was launched at a markedly lower price (by 88 percent) than the A9 II, 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 size of the imaging sensor is a crucial determinant of image quality. A large sensor will tend to have larger individual pixels that provide better low-light sensitivity, wider dynamic range, and richer color-depth than smaller pixel-units 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 associated with larger, more expensive camera bodies and lenses.
Of the two cameras under consideration, the Olympus E-PL8 features a Four Thirds sensor and the Sony A9 II a full frame sensor. The sensor area in the A9 II is 276 percent bigger. As a result of these sensor size differences, the cameras have a format factor of, respectively, 2.0 and 1.0. The sensor in the E-PL8 has a native 4:3 aspect ratio, while the one in the A9 II offers a 3:2 aspect.
With 24MP, the A9 II offers a higher resolution than the E-PL8 (15.9MP), but the A9 II nevertheless has larger individual pixels (pixel pitch of 5.94μm versus 3.76μm for the E-PL8) due to its larger sensor. Moreover, the A9 II is a much more recent model (by 3 years) than the E-PL8, 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 A9 II implies greater flexibility for cropping images or the possibility to print larger pictures. The maximum print size of the A9 II 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-PL8 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 A9 II has on-sensor phase detect pixels, which results in fast and reliable autofocus acquisition even during live view operation.
The Olympus PEN E-PL8 has a native sensitivity range from ISO 200 to ISO 6400, which can be extended to ISO 100-25600. The corresponding ISO settings for the Sony Alpha A9 II are ISO 100 to ISO 51200, with the possibility to increase the ISO range to 50-204800.
Consistent information on actual sensor performance is available from DXO Mark for many cameras. 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-PL8||Four Thirds||15.9||4608||3456||1080/30p||..||..||..||..|
|2.||Sony A9 II||Full Frame||24.0||6000||4000||4K/30p||25.0||14.0||3434||93|
|3.||Olympus E-PL10||Four Thirds||15.9||4608||3456||4K/30p||..||..||..||..|
|4.||Olympus E-PL9||Four Thirds||15.9||4608||3456||4K/30p||..||..||..||..|
|5.||Olympus E-M10 III||Four Thirds||15.9||4608||3456||4K/30p||..||..||..||..|
|6.||Olympus E-M10 II||Four Thirds||15.9||4608||3456||1080/60p||23.1||12.5||842||73|
|7.||Olympus E-PL7||Four Thirds||15.9||4608||3456||1080/30p||22.7||12.4||873||72|
|8.||Olympus E-PL6||Four Thirds||15.9||4608||3456||1080/30p||..||..||..||..|
|9.||Olympus E-PL5||Four Thirds||15.9||4608||3456||1080/30p||22.8||12.3||889||72|
|10.||Olympus E-PM2||Four Thirds||15.9||4608||3456||1080/30p||22.7||12.2||932||72|
|11.||Panasonic GX85||Four Thirds||15.8||4592||3448||4K/30p||22.9||12.6||662||71|
|12.||Panasonic G7||Four Thirds||15.8||4592||3448||4K/30p||..||..||..||..|
|13.||Sony A7 III||Full Frame||24.0||6000||4000||4K/30p||25.0||14.7||3730||96|
|14.||Sony A9||Full Frame||24.0||6000||4000||4K/30p||24.9||13.3||3517||92|
|15.||Sony A7S II||Full Frame||12.0||4240||2832||4K/30p||23.6||13.3||2993||85|
|16.||Sony A7 II||Full Frame||24.0||6000||4000||1080/60p||24.9||13.6||2449||90|
|17.||Sony A99||Full Frame||24.0||6000||4000||1080/60p||25.0||14.0||1555||89|
Many modern cameras cannot only take still pictures, but also record videos. Both cameras under consideration are equipped with sensors that have a sufficiently high read-out speed for moving images, but the A9 II provides a better video resolution than the E-PL8. 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 range of features. For example, the A9 II has an electronic viewfinder (3686k dots), which can be very helpful when shooting in bright sunlight. In contrast, the E-PL8 relies on live view and the rear LCD for framing. That said, the E-PL8 can be equipped with an optional viewfinder – the VF-4. The following table reports on some other key feature differences and similarities of the Olympus E-PL8, the Sony A9 II, and comparable cameras.
|2.||Sony A9 II||3686||n||3.0||1440||tilting||Y||1/8000s||10.0||n||Y|
|5.||Olympus E-M10 III||2360||n||3.0||1040||tilting||Y||1/4000s||8.6||Y||Y|
|6.||Olympus E-M10 II||2360||n||3.0||1040||tilting||Y||1/4000s||8.0||Y||Y|
|13.||Sony A7 III||2359||n||3.0||922||tilting||Y||1/8000s||10.0||n||Y|
|15.||Sony A7S II||2400||n||3.0||1229||tilting||n||1/8000s||5.0||n||Y|
|16.||Sony A7 II||2400||n||3.0||1230||tilting||n||1/8000s||5.0||n||Y|
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 A9 II 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 Olympus E-PL8 and the Sony A9 II both have 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-PL8 and the A9 II write their files to SDXC cards. The A9 II features dual card slots, which can be very useful in case a memory card fails. In contrast, the E-PL8 only has one slot. The A9 II supports UHS-II cards (on both slots), while the E-PL8 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-PL8 and Sony Alpha A9 II and, in particular, the interfaces the cameras (and selected comparators) provide for accessory control and data transfer.
| WiFi |
| NFC |
|2.||Sony A9 II||Y||stereo||mono||Y||Y||micro||3.1||Y||Y||Y|
|5.||Olympus E-M10 III||Y||stereo||mono||-||-||micro||2.0||Y||-||-|
|6.||Olympus E-M10 II||Y||stereo||mono||-||-||micro||2.0||Y||-||-|
|13.||Sony A7 III||Y||stereo||mono||Y||Y||micro||3.1||Y||Y||Y|
|15.||Sony A7S II||Y||stereo||mono||Y||Y||micro||2.0||Y||Y||-|
|16.||Sony A7 II||Y||stereo||mono||Y||Y||micro||2.0||Y||Y||-|
It is notable that the A9 II has a headphone jack, which makes it possible to attach external headphones and monitor the quality of sound during the recording process. The E-PL8 lacks such a headphone port.
Studio photographers will appreciate that the Sony A9 II (unlike the E-PL8) features a PC Sync socket, so that professional strobe lights can be controlled by the camera.
The A9 II is a recent model that features in the current product line-up of Sony. In contrast, the E-PL8 has been discontinued (but can be found pre-owned on eBay). As a replacement in the same line of cameras, the E-PL8 was succeeded by the Olympus E-PL9. 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 there a clear favorite between the Olympus E-PL8 and the Sony A9 II? Which camera is better? The listing below highlights the relative strengths of the two models.
Arguments in favor of the Olympus PEN E-PL8:
- More selfie-friendly: Has an articulated screen that can be turned to be front-facing.
- More compact: Is smaller (115x67mm vs 129x96mm) and thus needs less room in the bag.
- Less heavy: Is lighter (by 321g or 47 percent) and hence easier to carry around.
- More affordable: Was introduced into a lower priced category (88 percent cheaper at launch).
- More heavily discounted: Has been available for much longer (launched in September 2016).
Reasons to prefer the Sony Alpha A9 II:
- More detail: Has more megapixels (24 vs 15.9MP), which boosts linear resolution by 25%.
- Better image quality: Is equipped with a larger and more technologically advanced sensor.
- Richer colors: The sensor size advantage translates into images with better, more accurate colors.
- More dynamic range: Larger sensor captures a wider spectrum of light and dark details.
- Better low-light sensitivity: Larger sensor produces good images even in poorly lit environments.
- 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.
- 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.
- More detailed LCD: Has a higher resolution rear screen (1440k vs 1037k dots).
- Faster shutter: Has higher mechanical shutter speed (1/8000s vs 1/4000s) to freeze action.
- Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (10 vs 8 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
- Less disturbing: Has an electronic shutter option for completely silent shooting.
- Longer lasting: Gets more shots (690 versus 350) out of a single battery charge.
- Easier travel charging: Can be conveniently charged via its USB port.
- 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 device pairing: Supports NFC for fast wireless image transfer over short distances.
- 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 3 years of technical progress since the E-PL8 launch.
If the count of individual advantages (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the A9 II is the clear winner of the contest (24 : 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-PL8 and the Sony A9 II 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 remains incomplete and does no justice, for example, to the way the E-PL8 or the A9 II perform in practice. 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], 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-PL8||..||..||..||4.5/5||4/5||Sep 2016||549|
|2.||Sony A9 II||..||..||90/100||5/5||5/5||Oct 2019||4,499|
|3.||Olympus E-PL10||..||..||77/100||..||4/5||Oct 2019||599|
|4.||Olympus E-PL9||..||+||..||4.5/5||4/5||Feb 2018||599|
|5.||Olympus E-M10 III||..||+||80/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Aug 2017||649|
|6.||Olympus E-M10 II||4.5/5||+ +||80/100||5/5||5/5||Aug 2015||649|
|7.||Olympus E-PL7||4/5||+||..||5/5||4/5||Aug 2014||599|
|8.||Olympus E-PL6||..||..||..||..||..||May 2013||599|
|9.||Olympus E-PL5||3/5||+ +||..||4.5/5||4.5/5||Sep 2012||599|
|10.||Olympus E-PM2||3/5||..||77/100||5/5||4.5/5||Sep 2012||499|
|11.||Panasonic GX85||4.5/5||+ +||82/100||5/5||5/5||Apr 2016||799|
|12.||Panasonic G7||4/5||+ +||80/100||5/5||4.5/5||May 2015||649|
|13.||Sony A7 III||..||+ +||89/100||5/5||5/5||Feb 2018||1,999|
|14.||Sony A9||5/5||+ +||89/100||5/5||5/5||Apr 2017||4,499|
|15.||Sony A7S II||5/5||+||..||4.5/5||5/5||Sep 2015||2,999|
|16.||Sony A7 II||5/5||+||82/100||4.5/5||5/5||Nov 2014||1,999|
|17.||Sony A99||5/5||..||84/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Sep 2012||2,799|
|Notes: (+ +) highly recommended; (+) recommended; (o) reviewed; (..) not available.|
Care should be taken when interpreting the review scores above, though. The assessments were made in relation to similar cameras of the same technological generation. A score, therefore, has to be seen in close connection to the price and market introduction time of the camera, and rating-comparisons among cameras that span long time periods or concern very differently equipped models make little sense. 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 are interested in seeing how other cameras pair up, just make a corresponding selection in the search boxes below. Alternatively, you can follow any of the listed hyperlinks for comparisons that others found interesting.
Specifications: Olympus E-PL8 vs Sony A9 II
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-PL8||Sony A9 II|
|Camera Type||Mirrorless system camera||Mirrorless system camera|
|Camera Lens||Micro Four Thirds lenses||Sony E mount lenses|
|Launch Date||September 2016||October 2019|
|Launch Price||USD 549||USD 4,499|
|Sensor Specs||Olympus E-PL8||Sony A9 II|
|Sensor Format||Four Thirds Sensor||Full Frame Sensor|
|Sensor Size||17.3 x 13.0 mm||35.6 x 23.8 mm|
|Sensor Area||224.9 mm2||847.28 mm2|
|Sensor Diagonal||21.6 mm||42.8 mm|
|Sensor Resolution||15.9 Megapixels||24 Megapixels|
|Image Resolution||4608 x 3456 pixels||6000 x 4000 pixels|
|Pixel Pitch||3.76 μm||5.94 μm|
|Pixel Density||7.08 MP/cm2||2.83 MP/cm2|
|Moiré control||Anti-Alias filter||Anti-Alias filter|
|Movie Capability||1080/30p Video||4K/30p Video|
|ISO Setting||200 - 6,400 ISO||100 - 51,200 ISO|
|ISO Boost||100 - 25,600 ISO||50 - 204,800 ISO|
|Image Processor||TruePic VII||BIONZ X|
|DXO Sensor Quality (score)||..||93|
|DXO Color Depth (bits)||..||25.0|
|DXO Dynamic Range (EV)||..||14.0|
|DXO Low Light (ISO)||..||3434|
|Screen Specs||Olympus E-PL8||Sony A9 II|
|Viewfinder Type||Viewfinder optional||Electronic viewfinder|
|Viewfinder Field of View||100%|
|Viewfinder Resolution||3686k dots|
|LCD Framing||Live View||Live View|
|Rear LCD Size||3.0inch||3.0inch|
|LCD Resolution||1037k dots||1440k dots|
|LCD Attachment||Tilting screen||Tilting screen|
|Shooting Specs||Olympus E-PL8||Sony A9 II|
|Focus System||Contrast-detect AF||On-Sensor Phase-detect|
|Manual Focusing Aid||Focus Peaking||Focus Peaking|
|Max Shutter Speed (mechanical)||1/4000s||1/8000s|
|Continuous Shooting||8 shutter flaps/s||10 shutter flaps/s|
|Electronic Shutter||no E-Shutter||up to 1/32000s|
|Time-Lapse Photography||Intervalometer built-in||Intervalometer built-in|
|Image Stabilization||In-body stabilization||In-body stabilization|
|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-PL8||Sony A9 II|
|Studio Flash||no PC Sync||PC Sync socket|
|USB Connector||USB 2.0||USB 3.1|
|HDMI Port||micro HDMI||micro HDMI|
|Microphone Port||no MIC socket||External MIC port|
|Headphone Socket||no Headphone port||Headphone port|
|Wifi Support||Wifi built-in||Wifi built-in|
|Near-Field Communication||no NFC||NFC built-in|
|Bluetooth Support||no Bluetooth||Bluetooth built-in|
|Body Specs||Olympus E-PL8||Sony A9 II|
|Environmental Sealing||not weather sealed||Weathersealed body|
|Battery Life (CIPA)||350 shots per charge||690 shots per charge|
|In-Camera Charging||no USB charging||USB charging|
115 x 67 x 38 mm
(4.5 x 2.6 x 1.5 in)
129 x 96 x 76 mm
(5.1 x 3.8 x 3.0 in)
|Camera Weight||357 g (12.6 oz)||678 g (23.9 oz)|
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