Olympus E-PM2 vs Panasonic GX850
The Olympus PEN E-PM2 and the Panasonic Lumix DMC-GX850 (labelled Panasonic GX800 in some countries) are two digital cameras that were announced, respectively, in September 2012 and January 2017. Both the E-PM2 and the GX850 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.
|Olympus E-PM2||Panasonic GX850|
|Mirrorless system camera||Mirrorless system camera|
|Micro Four Thirds lenses||Micro Four Thirds lenses|
|15.9 MP, Four Thirds Sensor||15.8 MP, Four Thirds Sensor|
|1080/30p Video||4K/30p Video|
|ISO 100-25600||ISO 200-25600|
|Viewfinder optional||No viewfinder, LCD framing|
|3.0" LCD, 460k dots||3.0" LCD, 1040k dots|
|Fixed touchscreen||Tilting touchscreen|
|8 shutter flaps per second||10 shutter flaps per second|
|In-body stabilization||Lens stabilization only|
|360 shots per battery charge||210 shots per battery charge|
|110 x 64 x 34 mm, 269 g||107 x 65 x 33 mm, 269 g|
Going beyond this snapshot of core features and characteristics, what are the differences between the Olympus PEN E-PM2 and the Panasonic Lumix DMC-GX850? 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-PM2 and the Panasonic GX850. 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-PM2 can be obtained in four different colors (black, silver, red, white), while the GX850 is available in three color-versions (black, silver, red).
If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Panasonic GX850 is somewhat smaller (1 percent) than the Olympus E-PM2. In terms of weight, the two cameras are very close. In this context, it is worth noting that neither the E-PM2 nor the GX850 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. 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-PM2»||4.3 in||2.5 in||1.3 in||9.5 oz||360||n||Sep 2012||499||Olympus E-PM2|
|Panasonic GX850«||4.2 in||2.6 in||1.3 in||9.5 oz||210||n||Jan 2017||549||Panasonic GX850|
|Olympus E-PL9« »||4.6 in||2.7 in||1.5 in||13.4 oz||350||n||Feb 2018||599||Olympus E-PL9|
|Olympus E-PL8« »||4.5 in||2.6 in||1.5 in||12.6 oz||350||n||Sep 2016||549||Olympus E-PL8|
|Olympus E-M10 II« »||4.7 in||3.3 in||1.9 in||13.8 oz||320||n||Aug 2015||649||Olympus E-M10 II|
|Olympus E-PL7« »||4.5 in||2.6 in||1.5 in||12.6 oz||350||n||Aug 2014||599||Olympus E-PL7|
|Olympus E-P5« »||4.8 in||2.7 in||1.5 in||14.8 oz||330||n||May 2013||999||Olympus E-P5|
|Olympus E-PL6« »||4.4 in||2.5 in||1.5 in||11.5 oz||360||n||May 2013||599||Olympus E-PL6|
|Olympus E-PL5« »||4.4 in||2.5 in||1.5 in||11.5 oz||360||n||Sep 2012||599||Olympus E-PL5|
|Olympus E-PL3« »||4.3 in||2.5 in||1.5 in||11.0 oz||300||n||Jun 2011||599||Olympus E-PL3|
|Olympus E-PM1« »||4.3 in||2.5 in||1.3 in||9.3 oz||330||n||Jun 2011||499||Olympus E-PM1|
|Panasonic GF7« »||4.2 in||2.6 in||1.3 in||9.4 oz||230||n||Jan 2015||499||Panasonic GF7|
|Panasonic G6« »||4.8 in||3.3 in||2.8 in||13.8 oz||340||n||Apr 2013||599||Panasonic G6|
|Panasonic G5« »||4.7 in||3.3 in||2.8 in||14.0 oz||320||n||Jul 2012||599||Panasonic G5|
|Panasonic G3« »||4.5 in||3.3 in||1.9 in||11.9 oz||270||n||May 2011||599||Panasonic G3|
|Panasonic GX1« »||4.6 in||2.7 in||1.5 in||11.2 oz||320||n||Nov 2011||699||Panasonic GX1|
|Note: Measurements and pricing do not include easily detachable parts, such as 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-PM2 was somewhat cheaper (by 9 percent) than the GX850 at launch, but both cameras fall into the same price category. 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.
The size of the imaging sensor is a crucial determinant of image quality. A large sensor will generally have larger individual pixels that offer better low-light sensitivity, provide wider dynamic range, and have richer color-depth than smaller pixels in a sensor of the same technological generation. Furthermore, a large sensor camera will give the photographer more possibilities to use shallow depth-of-field in order to isolate a subject from the background. On the downside, larger sensors tend to be associated with larger, more expensive camera bodies 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-PM2 offers a slightly higher resolution of 15.9 megapixels, compared with 15.8 MP of the GX850. This megapixels advantage translates into a 0.3 percent gain in linear resolution. On the other hand, these sensor specs imply that the E-PM2 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 GX850). Moreover, it should be noted that the GX850 is much more recent (by 4 years and 3 months) than the E-PM2, and its sensor will have benefitted from technological advances during this time that further enhance the light gathering capacity of individual pixels. Coming back to sensor resolution, it should be mentioned that the GX850 has no anti-alias filter installed, so that it can capture all the detail its sensor resolves.
The Olympus PEN E-PM2 has a native sensitivity range from ISO 100 to ISO 25600. The corresponding ISO settings for the Panasonic Lumix DMC-GX850 are ISO 200 to ISO 25600, with the possibility to increase the ISO range to 100-25600.
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 Overall DXO ratings for the two cameras under consideration are close, suggesting that they provide similar imaging performance. The adjacent table reports on the physical sensor characteristics and the outcomes of the DXO sensor quality tests for a sample of comparator-cameras.
|Olympus E-PM2||Four Thirds||15.9||4608||3456||1080/30p||22.7||12.2||932||72||Olympus E-PM2|
|Panasonic GX850||Four Thirds||15.8||4592||3448||4K/30p||23.2||13.3||586||73||Panasonic GX850|
|Olympus E-PL9||Four Thirds||15.9||4608||3456||4K/30p||..||..||..||..||Olympus E-PL9|
|Olympus E-PL8||Four Thirds||15.9||4608||3456||1080/30p||..||..||..||..||Olympus E-PL8|
|Olympus E-M10 II||Four Thirds||15.9||4608||3456||1080/60p||23.1||12.5||842||73||Olympus E-M10 II|
|Olympus E-PL7||Four Thirds||15.9||4608||3456||1080/30p||22.7||12.4||873||72||Olympus E-PL7|
|Olympus E-P5||Four Thirds||15.9||4608||3456||1080/30p||22.8||12.4||895||72||Olympus E-P5|
|Olympus E-PL6||Four Thirds||15.9||4608||3456||1080/30p||..||..||..||..||Olympus E-PL6|
|Olympus E-PL5||Four Thirds||15.9||4608||3456||1080/30p||22.8||12.3||889||72||Olympus E-PL5|
|Olympus E-PL3||Four Thirds||12.2||4032||3024||1080/60i||20.9||10.3||499||52||Olympus E-PL3|
|Olympus E-PM1||Four Thirds||12.2||4032||3024||1080/60i||21.0||10.3||499||52||Olympus E-PM1|
|Panasonic GF7||Four Thirds||15.8||4592||3448||1080/60p||..||..||..||..||Panasonic GF7|
|Panasonic G6||Four Thirds||15.9||4608||3456||1080/60p||21.3||11.5||639||61||Panasonic G6|
|Panasonic G5||Four Thirds||15.9||4608||3456||1080/60p||..||..||..||..||Panasonic G5|
|Panasonic G3||Four Thirds||15.8||4592||3448||1080/60i||21.0||10.6||667||56||Panasonic G3|
|Panasonic GX1||Four Thirds||15.8||4592||3448||1080/60p||20.8||10.6||703||55||Panasonic GX1|
Many modern cameras cannot only take still pictures, but also record videos. The two cameras under consideration both have sensors whose read-out speed is fast enough to capture moving pictures, but the GX850 provides a better video resolution than the E-PM2. 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. The E-PM2 and the GX850 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-PM2 can be equipped with an optional viewfinder – the VF-4. The adjacent table lists some of the other core features of the Olympus E-PM2 and Panasonic GX850 along with similar information for a selection of comparators.
|Olympus E-PM2||optional||n||3.0||460||fixed||Y||1/4000s||8.0||n||Y||Olympus E-PM2|
|Panasonic GX850||none||n||3.0||1040||tilting||Y||1/500s||10.0||Y||n||Panasonic GX850|
|Olympus E-PL9||none||n||3.0||1040||tilting||Y||1/4000s||8.6||Y||Y||Olympus E-PL9|
|Olympus E-PL8||none||n||3.0||1037||tilting||Y||1/4000s||8.0||n||Y||Olympus E-PL8|
|Olympus E-M10 II||2360||n||3.0||1040||tilting||Y||1/4000s||8.0||Y||Y||Olympus E-M10 II|
|Olympus E-PL7||optional||n||3.0||1037||tilting||Y||1/4000s||8.0||n||Y||Olympus E-PL7|
|Olympus E-P5||optional||n||3.0||1037||tilting||Y||1/8000s||9.0||Y||Y||Olympus E-P5|
|Olympus E-PL6||optional||n||3.0||460||tilting||Y||1/4000s||8.0||n||Y||Olympus E-PL6|
|Olympus E-PL5||optional||n||3.0||460||tilting||Y||1/4000s||8.0||n||Y||Olympus E-PL5|
|Olympus E-PL3||optional||n||3.0||460||tilting||n||1/4000s||5.5||n||Y||Olympus E-PL3|
|Olympus E-PM1||optional||n||3.0||460||fixed||n||1/4000s||5.5||n||Y||Olympus E-PM1|
|Panasonic GF7||none||n||3.0||1040||tilting||Y||1/500s||5.8||Y||n||Panasonic GF7|
|Panasonic G6||1440||n||3.0||1036||swivel||Y||1/4000s||7.0||Y||n||Panasonic G6|
|Panasonic G5||1440||n||3.0||920||swivel||Y||1/4000s||6.0||Y||n||Panasonic G5|
|Panasonic G3||1440||n||3.0||460||swivel||Y||1/4000s||4.0||Y||n||Panasonic G3|
|Panasonic GX1||optional||n||3.0||460||fixed||Y||1/4000s||4.2||Y||n||Panasonic GX1|
One feature that differentiates the E-PM2 and the GX850 is in-body image stabilization (IBIS). The E-PM2 reduces the risk of handshake-induced blur with all attached lenses, while the GX850 has to rely on optical image stabilization in OIS-equipped lenses to achieve the same effect.The GX850 has an articulated screen that can be turned to be front-facing. This characteristic will be appreciated by vloggers and photographers who are interested in taking selfies. In contrast, the E-PM2 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 GX850 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 Panasonic GX850 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-PM2 and the GX850 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-PM2 and Panasonic Lumix DMC-GX850 and, in particular, the interfaces the cameras (and selected comparators) provide for accessory control and data transfer.
|Olympus E-PM2||Y||stereo||mono||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-||Olympus E-PM2|
|Panasonic GX850||-||stereo||mono||-||-||micro||2.0||Y||-||-||Panasonic GX850|
|Olympus E-PL9||Y||stereo||mono||-||-||micro||2.0||Y||-||Y||Olympus E-PL9|
|Olympus E-PL8||Y||stereo||mono||-||-||micro||2.0||Y||-||-||Olympus E-PL8|
|Olympus E-M10 II||Y||stereo||mono||-||-||micro||2.0||Y||-||-||Olympus E-M10 II|
|Olympus E-PL7||Y||stereo||mono||-||-||micro||2.0||Y||-||-||Olympus E-PL7|
|Olympus E-P5||Y||stereo||mono||-||-||micro||2.0||Y||-||-||Olympus E-P5|
|Olympus E-PL6||Y||stereo||mono||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-||Olympus E-PL6|
|Olympus E-PL5||Y||stereo||mono||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-||Olympus E-PL5|
|Olympus E-PL3||Y||stereo||none||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-||Olympus E-PL3|
|Olympus E-PM1||Y||stereo||mono||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-||Olympus E-PM1|
|Panasonic GF7||-||stereo||mono||-||-||micro||2.0||Y||Y||-||Panasonic GF7|
|Panasonic G6||Y||stereo||mono||Y||-||mini||2.0||Y||Y||-||Panasonic G6|
|Panasonic G5||Y||stereo||mono||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-||Panasonic G5|
|Panasonic G3||Y||stereo||mono||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-||Panasonic G3|
|Panasonic GX1||Y||stereo||mono||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-||Panasonic GX1|
It is notable that the E-PM2 has a hotshoe, while the GX850 does not. This socket makes it possible to easily attach optional accessories, such as an external flash gun.
The GX850 is a recent model that features in the current product line-up of Panasonic. In contrast, the E-PM2 has been discontinued (but it can be found pre-owned on eBay). There has not been a direct replacement model for the E-PM2 from Olympus. Further information on the two cameras (e.g. user guides, manuals), as well as related accessories, can be found on the official Olympus and Panasonic websites.
So how do things add up? Which of the two cameras – the Olympus E-PM2 or the Panasonic GX850 – 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.
Arguments in favor of the Olympus PEN E-PM2:
- Better moiré control: Has an anti-alias filter to avoid artificial patterns to appear in images.
- Better low-light sensitivity: Requires less light for good images (0.7 stops ISO advantage).
- More framing options: Can be equipped with a hotshoe-mounted accessory-viewfinder.
- Faster shutter: Has higher mechanical shutter speed (1/4000s vs 1/500s) to freeze action.
- Longer lasting: Can take more shots (360 versus 210) on a single battery charge.
- Sharper images: Has hand-shake reducing image stabilization built-in.
- 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 September 2012).
Advantages of the Panasonic Lumix DMC-GX850:
- Maximized detail: Lacks an anti-alias filter to exploit the sensor's full resolution potential.
- More dynamic range: Captures a broader range of light and dark details (1.1 EV of extra DR).
- Better video: Provides higher definition movie capture (4K/30p vs 1080/30p).
- More detailed LCD: Has a higher resolution rear screen (1040k vs 460k dots).
- 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 (10 vs 8 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
- Less disturbing: Has an electronic shutter option for completely silent shooting.
- Easier time-lapse photography: Has an intervalometer built-in for low frequency shooting.
- 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.
- More modern: Reflects 4 years and 3 months of technical progress since the E-PM2 launch.
If the count of individual advantages (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the GX850 is the clear winner of the contest (12 : 8 points). However, the relative importance of the various individual camera aspects will vary according to personal preferences and needs, so that you might like to apply corresponding weights to the particular features before making a decision 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-PM2 and the Panasonic GX850 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 says little about, for example, the shooting experience and imaging performance of the E-PM2 and the GX850 in practical situations. User reviews, such as those found at amazon, can sometimes inform about these issues, but such feedback is often incomplete, inconsistent, and biased.
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.
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. 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 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 70D vs Panasonic GX850
- Fujifilm X-T100 vs Panasonic GX850
- Nikon D700 vs Panasonic GX850
- Olympus E-PM2 vs Panasonic GX80
- Olympus E-PM2 vs Sony A7R IV
- Olympus E-PM2 vs Sony NEX-F3
- Olympus E-PM2 vs Sony RX0 II
- Panasonic GX850 vs Panasonic LX7
- Panasonic GX850 vs Pentax 645D
- Panasonic GX850 vs Pentax KP
- Panasonic GX850 vs Sony A6300
- Panasonic GX850 vs Sony NEX-3
Specifications: Olympus E-PM2 vs Panasonic GX850
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-PM2||Panasonic GX850|
|Camera Type||Mirrorless system camera||Mirrorless system camera|
|Camera Lens||Micro Four Thirds lenses||Micro Four Thirds lenses|
|Launch Date||September 2012||January 2017|
|Launch Price||USD 499||USD 549|
|Sensor Specs||Olympus E-PM2||Panasonic GX850|
|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||no AA filter|
|Movie Capability||1080/30p Video||4K/30p Video|
|ISO Setting||100-25600 ISO||200-25600 ISO|
|ISO Boost||no Enhancement||100-25600 ISO|
|Image Processor||TruePic VI||Venus|
|DXO Sensor Quality (score)||72||73|
|DXO Color Depth (bits)||22.7||23.2|
|DXO Dynamic Range (EV)||12.2||13.3|
|DXO Low Light (ISO)||932||586|
|Screen Specs||Olympus E-PM2||Panasonic GX850|
|Viewfinder Type||Viewfinder optional||No viewfinder|
|LCD Framing||Live View||Live View|
|Rear LCD Size||3.0 inch||3.0 inch|
|LCD Resolution||460k dots||1040k dots|
|LCD Attachment||Fixed screen||Tilting screen|
|Shooting Specs||Olympus E-PM2||Panasonic GX850|
|Autofocus System||Contrast-detect AF||Contrast-detect AF|
|Manual Focusing Aid||No Peaking Feature||Focus Peaking|
|Max Shutter Speed (mechanical)||1/4000/s||1/500/s|
|Continuous Shooting||8 shutter flaps/s||10 shutter flaps/s|
|Electronic Shutter||no E-Shutter||up to 1/16000s|
|Time-Lapse Photography||no Intervalometer||Intervalometer built-in|
|Image Stabilization||In-body stabilization||Lens stabilization only|
|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||UHS-I||UHS-I|
|Connectivity Specs||Olympus E-PM2||Panasonic GX850|
|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|
|Body Specs||Olympus E-PM2||Panasonic GX850|
|Battery Life (CIPA)||360 shots per charge||210 shots per charge|
110 x 64 x 34 mm
(4.3 x 2.5 x 1.3 in)
107 x 65 x 33 mm
(4.2 x 2.6 x 1.3 in)
|Camera Weight||269 g (9.5 oz)||269 g (9.5 oz)|
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