Olympus E-PM1 vs TG-5
The Olympus PEN E-PM1 and the Olympus Tough TG-5 are two digital cameras that were officially introduced, respectively, in June 2011 and May 2017. The E-PM1 is a mirrorless interchangeable lens camera, while the TG-5 is a fixed lens compact. The cameras are based on a Four Thirds (E-PM1) and a 1/2.3-inch (TG-5) sensor. The E-PM1 has a resolution of 12.2 megapixels, whereas the TG-5 provides 12 MP.
Below is an overview of the main specs of the two cameras as a starting point for the comparison.
|Olympus E-PM1||Olympus TG-5|
|Mirrorless system camera||Fixed lens compact camera|
|Micro Four Thirds lenses||25-100mm f/2.0-4.9|
|12.2 MP, Four Thirds Sensor||12 MP, 1/2.3" Sensor|
|1080/60i Video||4K/30p Video|
|ISO 100-12,800||ISO 100-12,800|
|Viewfinder optional||No viewfinder, LCD framing|
|3.0 LCD, 460k dots||3.0 LCD, 460k dots|
|Fixed screen (not touch-sensitive)||Fixed screen (not touch-sensitive)|
|5.5 shutter flaps per second||20 shutter flaps per second|
|In-body stabilization||In-body stabilization|
|not weather sealed||Waterproof body (15m)|
|330 shots per battery charge||340 shots per battery charge|
|110 x 64 x 34 mm, 265 g||113 x 66 x 32 mm, 250 g|
Going beyond this snapshot of core features and characteristics, what are the differences between the Olympus PEN E-PM1 and the Olympus Tough TG-5? 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-PM1 and the Olympus TG-5 is provided in the side-by-side display below. 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 measures are rounded to the nearest millimeter.
The E-PM1 can be obtained in six different colors (black, silver, brown, pink, purple, white), while the TG-5 is available in two color-versions (black, red).
If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Olympus TG-5 is notably larger (6 percent) than the Olympus E-PM1. It is noteworthy in this context that the TG-5 is splash and dust-proof, while the E-PM1 does not feature any corresponding weather-sealing. More than that, the TG-5 is water-proof up to 15m and can, thus, be used for underwater photography.
The above size and weight comparisons are to some extent incomplete and possibly misleading, as the TG-5 has a lens built in, whereas the E-PM1 is an interchangeable lens camera that requires a separate lens. Attaching the latter will add extra weight and bulk to the setup. You can compare the optics available for the E-PM1 and their specifications in the Micro Four Thirds Lens Catalog.
Concerning battery life, the E-PM1 gets 330 shots out of its BLS-5 battery, while the TG-5 can take 340 images on a single charge of its LI-92B power pack. The power pack in the TG-5 can be charged via the USB port, which can be very convenient when travelling.
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, just use the right or left arrows in the table to switch to the respective camera. Alternatively, you can also navigate to the CAM-parator app and make your selection from the full list of cameras there.
|Olympus E-PM1||110 mm||64 mm||34 mm||265 g||330||n||Jun 2011||499|
|Olympus TG-5||113 mm||66 mm||32 mm||250 g||340||Y||May 2017||449|
|Nikon W300||112 mm||66 mm||29 mm||231 g||280||Y||May 2017||389|
|Olympus TG-6||113 mm||66 mm||32 mm||253 g||340||Y||May 2019||449|
|Olympus TG-4||112 mm||66 mm||31 mm||247 g||380||Y||Apr 2015||379|
|Olympus E-PM2||110 mm||64 mm||34 mm||269 g||360||n||Sep 2012||499|
|Olympus XZ-2||113 mm||65 mm||48 mm||346 g||340||n||Sep 2012||599|
|Olympus E-P3||122 mm||69 mm||34 mm||369 g||330||n||Jun 2011||799|
|Olympus E-PL2||114 mm||72 mm||42 mm||362 g||280||n||Jan 2011||599|
|Olympus E-PL3||110 mm||64 mm||37 mm||313 g||300||n||Jun 2011||599|
|Olympus XZ-1||111 mm||65 mm||42 mm||275 g||320||n||Jan 2011||499|
|Olympus E-PL1||115 mm||72 mm||42 mm||334 g||290||n||Feb 2010||599|
|Panasonic GF5||108 mm||67 mm||37 mm||267 g||360||n||Apr 2012||499|
|Panasonic GF3||108 mm||67 mm||32 mm||264 g||300||n||Jun 2011||549|
|Panasonic GF2||113 mm||68 mm||33 mm||310 g||300||n||Nov 2010||549|
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 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 TG-5 was launched at a lower price than the E-PM1, despite having a lens built in. 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 sensor inside a digital camera is one of the key determinants 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-PM1 features a Four Thirds sensor and the Olympus TG-5 a 1/2.3-inch sensor. The sensor area in the TG-5 is 88 percent smaller. As a result of these sensor size differences, the cameras have a format factor of, respectively, 2.0 and 5.6. Both cameras feature a native aspect ratio (sensor width to sensor height) of 4:3.
Technology-wise, the TG-5 uses a more advanced image processing engine (TruePic VIII) than the E-PM1 (TruePic VI), with benefits for noise reduction, color accuracy, and processing speed.
With 12.2MP, the E-PM1 offers a slightly higher resolution than the TG-5 (12MP), but the E-PM1 nevertheless has larger individual pixels (pixel pitch of 4.29μm versus 1.53μm for the TG-5) due to its larger sensor. However, the TG-5 is a much more recent model (by 5 years and 10 months) than the E-PM1, and its sensor will have benefitted from technological advances during this time that further enhance the light gathering capacity of its pixels.
The Olympus PEN E-PM1 has a native sensitivity range from ISO 100 to ISO 12800. The Olympus Tough TG-5 offers exactly the same ISO settings.
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. 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-PM1||Four Thirds||12.2||4032||3024||1080/60i||21.0||10.3||499||52|
|Olympus E-PM2||Four Thirds||15.9||4608||3456||1080/30p||22.7||12.2||932||72|
|Olympus E-P3||Four Thirds||12.2||4032||3024||1080/60i||20.8||10.1||536||51|
|Olympus E-PL2||Four Thirds||12.2||4032||3024||720/30p||21.4||10.2||573||55|
|Olympus E-PL3||Four Thirds||12.2||4032||3024||1080/60i||20.9||10.3||499||52|
|Olympus E-PL1||Four Thirds||12.2||4032||3024||720/30p||21.5||10.1||487||54|
|Panasonic GF5||Four Thirds||12.0||4000||3000||1080/60i||21.4||11.6||618||61|
|Panasonic GF3||Four Thirds||12.0||4000||3000||1080/60i||20.6||10.0||458||49|
|Panasonic GF2||Four Thirds||12.0||4000||3000||1080/60i||21.2||10.3||506||54|
Many modern cameras are not only capable of taking still images, but also of capturing video footage. Both cameras under consideration are equipped with sensors that have a sufficiently high read-out speed for moving images, but the TG-5 provides a better video resolution than the E-PM1. It can shoot movie footage at 4K/30p, while the E-PM1 is limited to 1080/60i.
Apart from body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a range of features. The E-PM1 and the TG-5 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. That said, the E-PM1 can be equipped with an optional viewfinder – the VF-2. The table below summarizes some of the other core capabilities of the Olympus E-PM1 and Olympus TG-5 in connection with corresponding information for a sample of similar cameras.
One difference between the cameras concerns the presence of an on-board flash. The TG-5 has one, while the E-PM1 does not. While the built-in flash of the TG-5 is not very powerful, it can at times be useful as a fill-in light.
The Olympus TG-5 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-PM1 and the TG-5 write their files to SDXC cards. The TG-5 supports UHS-I cards (Ultra High Speed data transfer of up to 104 MB/s), while the E-PM1 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-PM1 and Olympus Tough TG-5 and, in particular, the interfaces the cameras (and selected comparators) provide for accessory control and data transfer.
| WiFi |
It is notable that the E-PM1 has a hotshoe, while the TG-5 does not. This socket makes it possible to easily attach optional accessories, such as an external flash gun.
Travel and landscape photographers will find it useful that the TG-5 has an internal geolocalization sensor and can record GPS coordinates in its EXIF data.
Both the E-PM1 and the TG-5 have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on eBay. The E-PM1 was replaced by the Olympus E-PM2, while the TG-5 was followed by the Olympus TG-6. Further information on the two cameras (e.g. user guides, manuals), as well as related accessories, can be found on the official Olympus website.
So what is the bottom line? Which of the two cameras – the Olympus E-PM1 or the Olympus TG-5 – has the upper hand? Is one clearly better than the other? A synthesis of the relative strong points of each of the models is listed below.
Reasons to prefer the Olympus PEN E-PM1:
- Better image quality: Features bigger pixels on a larger sensor for higher quality imaging.
- Richer colors: The pixel size advantage translates into images with better, more accurate colors.
- More dynamic range: Larger pixels capture a wider spectrum of light and dark details.
- Better low-light sensitivity: Larger pixels means good image quality even under poor lighting.
- More framing options: Can be equipped with a hotshoe-mounted accessory-viewfinder.
- Faster shutter: Has higher mechanical shutter speed (1/4000s vs 1/2000s) to freeze action.
- More flexible: Accepts interchangeable lenses, so that lens characteristics can be altered.
- Better lighting: Features a hotshoe and can thus hold and trigger an external flash gun.
- More heavily discounted: Has been available for much longer (launched in June 2011).
Advantages of the Olympus Tough TG-5:
- Better jpgs: Has a more modern image processing engine (TruePic VIII vs TruePic VI).
- Better video: Provides higher definition movie capture (4K/30p vs 1080/60i).
- Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (20 vs 5.5 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
- Easier time-lapse photography: Has an intervalometer built-in for low frequency shooting.
- Ready to shoot: Has an integrated lens, whereas the E-PM1 necessitates an extra lens.
- Less heavy: Has a lower weight even though it has a lens built in (unlike the E-PM1).
- Easier travel charging: Can be conveniently charged via its USB port.
- Better sealing: Is splash and dust sealed for shooting in inclement weather conditions.
- Water-proof: Is rugged and sealed and can thus be used for underwater photography (up to 15m).
- Easier fill-in: Has a small integrated flash to brighten shadows of backlit subjects.
- Easier geotagging: Features an internal GPS sensor to log localization data.
- Easier file upload: Has wifi built in for automatic backup or image transfer to the web.
- Faster buffer clearing: Has an SD card interface that supports the UHS-I standard.
- More affordable: Was introduced at a lower price, despite coming with a built-in lens.
- More modern: Reflects 5 years and 10 months of technical progress since the E-PM1 launch.
If the count of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a measure, the TG-5 is the clear winner of the contest (14 : 9 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 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-PM1 and the Olympus TG-5 place the cameras among the top in their class? Find out in the latest Best Mirrorless Interchangeable Lens Camera and Best Travel-Zoom 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-PM1 and the TG-5 in practical situations. 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 table below provides a synthesis of the camera assessments of some of the best known photo-gear 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-PM1||86/100||71/100||4.5/5||..||4.5/5||Jun 2011||499|
|Olympus TG-5||+ +||..||4/5||o||4/5||May 2017||449|
|Nikon W300||+||..||4/5||..||4/5||May 2017||389|
|Olympus TG-6||+ +||76/100||4/5||..||4/5||May 2019||449|
|Olympus TG-4||+||79/100||4/5||4/5||4/5||Apr 2015||379|
|Olympus E-PM2||..||77/100||5/5||4.5/5||4.5/5||Sep 2012||499|
|Olympus XZ-2||+||..||4.5/5||4/5||4.5/5||Sep 2012||599|
|Olympus E-P3||83/100||74/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||4.5/5||Jun 2011||799|
|Olympus E-PL2||83/100||71/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||4.5/5||Jan 2011||599|
|Olympus E-PL3||+ +||72/100||4.5/5||..||4/5||Jun 2011||599|
|Olympus XZ-1||..||74/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||4.5/5||Jan 2011||499|
|Olympus E-PL1||86/100||69/100||4/5||4.5/5||4.5/5||Feb 2010||599|
|Panasonic GF5||..||..||4.5/5||4/5||4.5/5||Apr 2012||499|
|Panasonic GF3||82/100||71/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||4/5||Jun 2011||549|
|Panasonic GF2||82/100||70/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||4.5/5||Nov 2010||549|
|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. Thus, a score needs to be put into the context of the launch date and the launch price 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 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 X Mark III vs Olympus TG-5
- Canon 600D vs Olympus E-PM1
- Canon G12 vs Olympus E-PM1
- Nikon A1000 vs Olympus E-PM1
- Nikon D2Xs vs Olympus E-PM1
- Nikon D5100 vs Olympus E-PM1
- Nikon D700 vs Olympus TG-5
- Olympus E-600 vs Olympus TG-5
- Olympus E-PL1 vs Olympus E-PM1
- Olympus E-PL5 vs Olympus E-PM1
- Olympus TG-5 vs Panasonic GX80
- Olympus TG-5 vs Sony HX400V
Specifications: Olympus E-PM1 vs Olympus TG-5
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-PM1||Olympus TG-5|
|Camera Type||Mirrorless system camera||Fixed lens compact camera|
|Camera Lens||Micro Four Thirds lenses||25-100mm f/2.0-4.9|
|Launch Date||June 2011||May 2017|
|Launch Price||USD 499||USD 449|
|Sensor Specs||Olympus E-PM1||Olympus TG-5|
|Sensor Format||Four Thirds Sensor||1/2.3" Sensor|
|Sensor Size||17.3 x 13.0 mm||6.17 x 4.55 mm|
|Sensor Area||224.9 mm2||28.0735 mm2|
|Sensor Diagonal||21.6 mm||7.7 mm|
|Sensor Resolution||12.2 Megapixels||12 Megapixels|
|Image Resolution||4032 x 3024 pixels||4000 x 3000 pixels|
|Pixel Pitch||4.29 μm||1.53 μm|
|Pixel Density||5.42 MP/cm2||42.74 MP/cm2|
|Moiré control||Anti-Alias filter||Anti-Alias filter|
|Movie Capability||1080/60i Video||4K/30p Video|
|ISO Setting||100 - 12,800 ISO||100 - 12,800 ISO|
|Image Processor||TruePic VI||TruePic VIII|
|DXO Sensor Quality (score)||52||..|
|DXO Color Depth (bits)||21.0||..|
|DXO Dynamic Range (EV)||10.3||..|
|DXO Low Light (ISO)||499||..|
|Screen Specs||Olympus E-PM1||Olympus TG-5|
|Viewfinder Type||Viewfinder optional||no viewfinder|
|LCD Framing||Live View||Live View|
|Rear LCD Size||3.0inch||3.0inch|
|LCD Resolution||460k dots||460k dots|
|LCD Attachment||Fixed screen||Fixed screen|
|Shooting Specs||Olympus E-PM1||Olympus TG-5|
|Focus System||Contrast-detect AF||Contrast-detect AF|
|Manual Focusing Aid||no Peaking Feature||Focus Peaking|
|Max Shutter Speed (mechanical)||1/4000s||1/2000s|
|Continuous Shooting||5.5 shutter flaps/s||20 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||Build-in Flash|
|Storage Medium||SDXC cards||SDXC cards|
|Second Storage Option||Single card slot||Single card slot|
|UHS card support||no||UHS-I|
|Connectivity Specs||Olympus E-PM1||Olympus TG-5|
|External Flash||Hotshoe||no Hotshoe|
|USB Connector||USB 2.0||USB 2.0|
|HDMI Port||mini HDMI||micro HDMI|
|Wifi Support||no Wifi||Wifi built-in|
|Geotagging||no internal GPS||GPS built-in|
|Body Specs||Olympus E-PM1||Olympus TG-5|
|Environmental Sealing||not weather sealed||Waterproof body (15m)|
|Battery Life (CIPA)||330 shots per charge||340 shots per charge|
|In-Camera Charging||no USB charging||USB charging|
110 x 64 x 34 mm
(4.3 x 2.5 x 1.3 in)
113 x 66 x 32 mm
(4.4 x 2.6 x 1.3 in)
|Camera Weight||265 g (9.3 oz)||250 g (8.8 oz)|
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