Olympus E-PM2 vs Panasonic LX5
The Olympus PEN E-PM2 and the Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX5 are two digital cameras that were announced, respectively, in September 2012 and July 2010. The E-PM2 is a mirrorless interchangeable lens camera, while the LX5 is a fixed lens compact. The cameras are based on a Four Thirds (E-PM2) and a 1/1.7-inch (LX5) sensor. The Olympus has a resolution of 15.9 megapixels, whereas the Panasonic provides 10 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-PM2 and the Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX5? 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 LX5. 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-PM2 can be obtained in four different colors (black, silver, red, white), while the LX5 is available in two color-versions (black, white).
If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Panasonic LX5 is somewhat larger (2 percent) than the Olympus E-PM2. In this context, it is worth noting that neither the E-PM2 nor the LX5 are weather-sealed.
The above size and weight comparisons are to some extent incomplete and possibly misleading, as the LX5 has a lens built in, whereas the E-PM2 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-PM2 and their specifications in the Micro Four Thirds Lens Catalog.
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, you can use the CAM-parator app to select your camera combination among a large number of options.
|1.||Olympus E-PM2||110 mm||64 mm||34 mm||269 g||360||n||Sep 2012||499||ebay.com|
|2.||Panasonic LX5||110 mm||65 mm||43 mm||271 g||400||n||Jul 2010||499||ebay.com|
|3.||Fujifilm X10||117 mm||70 mm||57 mm||350 g||270||n||Sep 2011||599||ebay.com|
|4.||Olympus E-PL9||117 mm||68 mm||39 mm||380 g||350||n||Feb 2018||599||ebay.com|
|5.||Olympus E-PL8||115 mm||67 mm||38 mm||357 g||350||n||Sep 2016||549||ebay.com|
|6.||Olympus E-M10 II||120 mm||83 mm||47 mm||390 g||320||n||Aug 2015||649||ebay.com|
|7.||Olympus E-PL7||115 mm||67 mm||38 mm||357 g||350||n||Aug 2014||599||ebay.com|
|8.||Olympus E-P5||122 mm||69 mm||37 mm||420 g||330||n||May 2013||999||ebay.com|
|9.||Olympus E-PL6||111 mm||64 mm||38 mm||325 g||360||n||May 2013||599||ebay.com|
|10.||Olympus E-PL5||111 mm||64 mm||38 mm||325 g||360||n||Sep 2012||599||ebay.com|
|11.||Olympus E-PL3||110 mm||64 mm||37 mm||313 g||300||n||Jun 2011||599||ebay.com|
|12.||Olympus E-PM1||110 mm||64 mm||34 mm||265 g||330||n||Jun 2011||499||ebay.com|
|13.||Olympus XZ-1||111 mm||65 mm||42 mm||275 g||320||n||Jan 2011||499||ebay.com|
|14.||Panasonic GX850||107 mm||65 mm||33 mm||269 g||210||n||Jan 2017||549||amazon.com|
|15.||Panasonic LX7||111 mm||68 mm||46 mm||298 g||330||n||Jul 2012||499||ebay.com|
|16.||Panasonic FZ150||124 mm||82 mm||92 mm||528 g||410||n||Aug 2011||499||ebay.com|
|17.||Panasonic GF3||108 mm||67 mm||32 mm||264 g||300||n||Jun 2011||549||ebay.com|
|Note: 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 retail prices at the time of the camera’s release place the model in the market relative to other models in the producer’s line-up and the competition. 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. 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-PM2 features a Four Thirds sensor and the Panasonic LX5 a 1/1.7-inch sensor. The sensor area in the LX5 is 80 percent smaller. As a result of these sensor size differences, the cameras have a format factor of, respectively, 2.0 and 4.4. Both cameras feature a native aspect ratio (sensor width to sensor height) of 4:3. The LX5 has the particularity of featuring a switch that allows to toggle between multiple aspect ratios, while maintaining the same field of view and full image resolution.
With 15.9MP, the E-PM2 offers a higher resolution than the LX5 (10MP), but the E-PM2 nevertheless has larger individual pixels (pixel pitch of 3.76μm versus 2.14μm for the LX5) due to its larger sensor. Moreover, the E-PM2 is a much more recent model (by 2 years and 1 month) than the LX5, and its sensor will have benefitted from technological advances during this time that further enhance the light gathering capacity of its pixels.
The resolution advantage of the Olympus E-PM2 implies greater flexibility for cropping images or the possibility to print larger pictures. The maximum print size of the E-PM2 for good quality output (200 dots per inch) amounts to 23 x 17.3 inches or 58.5 x 43.9 cm, for very good quality (250 dpi) 18.4 x 13.8 inches or 46.8 x 35.1 cm, and for excellent quality (300 dpi) 15.4 x 11.5 inches or 39 x 29.3 cm. The corresponding values for the Panasonic LX5 are 18.2 x 13.7 inches or 46.3 x 34.7 cm for good quality, 14.6 x 10.9 inches or 37.1 x 27.8 cm for very good quality, and 12.2 x 9.1 inches or 30.9 x 23.2 cm for excellent quality prints.
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-LX5 are ISO 80 to ISO 3200, with the possibility to increase the ISO range to 80-12800.
In terms of underlying technology, the E-PM2 is build around a CMOS sensor, while the LX5 uses a CCD imager. Both cameras use a Bayer filter for capturing RGB colors on a square grid of photosensors. This arrangement is found in most digital cameras.
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 review, the E-PM2 provides substantially higher image quality than the LX5, with an overall score that is 31 points higher. This advantage is based on 3.1 bits higher color depth, 1.4 EV in additional dynamic range, and 2.8 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-PM2||Four Thirds||15.9||4608||3456||1080/30p||22.7||12.2||932||72|
|4.||Olympus E-PL9||Four Thirds||15.9||4608||3456||4K/30p||23.1||12.8||1162||74|
|5.||Olympus E-PL8||Four Thirds||15.9||4608||3456||1080/30p||23.0||12.6||1030||73|
|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-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-PL5||Four Thirds||15.9||4608||3456||1080/30p||22.8||12.3||889||72|
|11.||Olympus E-PL3||Four Thirds||12.2||4032||3024||1080/60i||20.9||10.3||499||52|
|12.||Olympus E-PM1||Four Thirds||12.2||4032||3024||1080/60i||21.0||10.3||499||52|
|14.||Panasonic GX850||Four Thirds||15.8||4592||3448||4K/30p||23.2||13.3||586||73|
|17.||Panasonic GF3||Four Thirds||12.0||4000||3000||1080/60i||20.6||10.0||458||49|
|Note: DXO values in italics represent estimates based on sensor size and age.|
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 E-PM2 provides a higher video resolution than the LX5. It can shoot video footage at 1080/30p, while the Panasonic is limited to 720/60p.
Apart from body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a variety of features. The E-PM2 and the LX5 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. However, optional viewfinders – the VF-4 for the E-PM2 and the DMW-LVF1 for the LX5 – are available as accessories. The following table reports on some other key feature differences and similarities of the Olympus E-PM2, the Panasonic LX5, and comparable cameras.
|1.||Olympus E-PM2||optional||n||3.0 / 460||fixed||Y||1/4000s||8.0/s||n||Y|
|2.||Panasonic LX5||optional||n||3.0 / 460||fixed||n||1/4000s||2.5/s||Y||Y|
|3.||Fujifilm X10||optical||n||2.8 / 460||fixed||n||1/4000s||10.0/s||Y||Y|
|4.||Olympus E-PL9||none||n||3.0 / 1040||tilting||Y||1/4000s||8.6/s||Y||Y|
|5.||Olympus E-PL8||optional||n||3.0 / 1037||tilting||Y||1/4000s||8.0/s||n||Y|
|6.||Olympus E-M10 II||2360||n||3.0 / 1040||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-PL5||optional||n||3.0 / 460||tilting||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.||Olympus E-PM1||optional||n||3.0 / 460||fixed||n||1/4000s||5.5/s||n||Y|
|13.||Olympus XZ-1||optional||n||3.0 / 614||fixed||n||1/2000s||2.0/s||Y||Y|
|14.||Panasonic GX850||none||n||3.0 / 1040||tilting||Y||1/500s||10.0/s||Y||n|
|15.||Panasonic LX7||optional||n||3.0 / 920||fixed||n||1/4000s||11.0/s||Y||Y|
|16.||Panasonic FZ150||202||n||3.0 / 460||swivel||n||1/2000s||12.0/s||Y||Y|
|17.||Panasonic GF3||none||n||3.0 / 460||fixed||Y||1/4000s||3.2/s||Y||n|
|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-PM2 has a touchscreen, while the LX5 has a conventional panel. Touch control can be particularly helpful, for example, for setting the focus point.
Concerning the storage of imaging data, both the E-PM2 and the LX5 write their files to SDXC cards. The E-PM2 supports UHS-I cards (Ultra High Speed data transfer of up to 104 MB/s), while the LX5 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-PM2 and Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX5 and, in particular, the interfaces the cameras (and selected comparators) provide for accessory control and data transfer.
Mic / Speaker
|1.||Olympus E-PM2||Y||stereo / mono||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|2.||Panasonic LX5||Y||mono / mono||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|3.||Fujifilm X10||Y||stereo / mono||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|4.||Olympus E-PL9||Y||stereo / mono||-||-||micro||2.0||Y||-||Y|
|5.||Olympus E-PL8||Y||stereo / mono||-||-||micro||2.0||Y||-||-|
|6.||Olympus E-M10 II||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-PL5||Y||stereo / mono||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|11.||Olympus E-PL3||Y||stereo / -||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|12.||Olympus E-PM1||Y||stereo / mono||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|13.||Olympus XZ-1||Y||mono / -||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|14.||Panasonic GX850||-||stereo / mono||-||-||micro||2.0||Y||-||-|
|15.||Panasonic LX7||Y||stereo / mono||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|16.||Panasonic FZ150||Y||stereo / -||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|17.||Panasonic GF3||-||stereo / mono||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
Both the E-PM2 and the LX5 have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on ebay. The LX5 was replaced by the Panasonic LX7, while the E-PM2 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 Panasonic websites.
So what is the bottom line? Is the Olympus E-PM2 better than the Panasonic LX5 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-PM2:
- More detail: Offers more megapixels (15.9 vs 10MP) with a 26% higher linear resolution.
- Better image quality: Scores substantially higher (31 points) in the DXO overall assessment.
- Richer colors: Generates images with noticeably better colors (3.1 bits more color depth).
- More dynamic range: Captures a larger spectrum of light and dark details (1.4 EV of extra DR).
- Better low-light sensitivity: Requires less light for good images (2.8 stops ISO advantage).
- Better video: Provides higher definition movie capture (1080/30p vs 720/60p).
- Fewer buttons to press: Is equipped with a touch-sensitive rear screen to facilitate handling.
- Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (8 vs 2.5 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
- More flexible: Accepts interchangeable lenses, so that lens characteristics can be altered.
- Faster buffer clearing: Has an SD card interface that supports the UHS-I standard.
- More modern: Reflects 2 years and 1 month of technical progress since the LX5 launch.
Reasons to prefer the Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX5:
- Flexible image proportions: Has a multi-aspect sensor that allows for alternative image shapes.
- Ready to shoot: Has an integrated lens, whereas the E-PM2 necessitates an extra lens.
- Longer lasting: Gets more shots (400 versus 360) out of a single battery charge.
- Easier fill-in: Has a small integrated flash to brighten shadows of backlit subjects.
- More heavily discounted: Has been around for much longer (launched in July 2010).
If the number of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the E-PM2 is the clear winner of the match-up (11 : 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-PM2 and the Panasonic LX5 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 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-PM2 or the LX5 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 (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-PM2||3/5||..||..||77/100||5/5||4.5/5||Sep 2012||499||ebay.com|
|2.||Panasonic LX5||4/5||+||..||73/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Jul 2010||499||ebay.com|
|3.||Fujifilm X10||..||..||..||76/100||4/5||4.5/5||Sep 2011||599||ebay.com|
|4.||Olympus E-PL9||..||+||..||..||4.5/5||4/5||Feb 2018||599||ebay.com|
|5.||Olympus E-PL8||..||..||..||..||4.5/5||4/5||Sep 2016||549||ebay.com|
|6.||Olympus E-M10 II||4.5/5||+ +||..||80/100||5/5||5/5||Aug 2015||649||ebay.com|
|7.||Olympus E-PL7||4/5||+||..||..||5/5||4/5||Aug 2014||599||ebay.com|
|8.||Olympus E-P5||5/5||+ +||..||78/100||4.5/5||5/5||May 2013||999||ebay.com|
|9.||Olympus E-PL6||..||..||..||..||..||..||May 2013||599||ebay.com|
|10.||Olympus E-PL5||3/5||+ +||..||..||4.5/5||4.5/5||Sep 2012||599||ebay.com|
|11.||Olympus E-PL3||3/5||+ +||..||72/100||4.5/5||4/5||Jun 2011||599||ebay.com|
|12.||Olympus E-PM1||..||86/100||..||71/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Jun 2011||499||ebay.com|
|13.||Olympus XZ-1||4/5||..||..||74/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Jan 2011||499||ebay.com|
|14.||Panasonic GX850||..||+||..||76/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Jan 2017||549||amazon.com|
|15.||Panasonic LX7||3/5||+ +||..||75/100||4/5||4.5/5||Jul 2012||499||ebay.com|
|16.||Panasonic FZ150||3/5||+ +||..||76/100||4/5||4.5/5||Aug 2011||499||ebay.com|
|17.||Panasonic GF3||3/5||82/100||..||71/100||4.5/5||4/5||Jun 2011||549||ebay.com|
|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 a corresponding selection in the search boxes below. 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 S120 vs Panasonic LX5
- Fujifilm GFX 50R vs Olympus E-PM2
- Fujifilm X-T10 vs Panasonic LX5
- Fujifilm XQ1 vs Panasonic LX5
- Leica T vs Panasonic LX5
- Leica V-LUX 5 vs Olympus E-PM2
- Leica X1 vs Panasonic LX5
- Olympus E-M10 II vs Olympus E-PM2
- Olympus E-PM2 vs Panasonic GX80
- Olympus E-PM2 vs Pentax 645D
- Olympus E-PM2 vs Pentax 645Z
- Panasonic LX5 vs Sony A58
Specifications: Olympus E-PM2 vs Panasonic LX5
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 LX5|
|Camera Type||Mirrorless system camera||Fixed lens compact camera|
|Camera Lens||Micro Four Thirds lenses||24-90mm f/2.0-3.3|
|Launch Date||September 2012||July 2010|
|Launch Price||USD 499||USD 499|
|Sensor Specs||Olympus E-PM2||Panasonic LX5|
|Sensor Format||Four Thirds Sensor||1/1.7" Sensor|
|Sensor Size||17.3 x 13.0 mm||7.85 x 5.89 mm|
|Sensor Area||224.9 mm2||46.2365 mm2|
|Sensor Diagonal||21.6 mm||9.8 mm|
|Sensor Resolution||15.9 Megapixels||10 Megapixels|
|Image Resolution||4608 x 3456 pixels||3648 x 2736 pixels|
|Pixel Pitch||3.76 μm||2.14 μm|
|Pixel Density||7.08 MP/cm2||21.59 MP/cm2|
|Moiré control||Anti-Alias filter||Anti-Alias filter|
|Movie Capability||1080/30p Video||720/60p Video|
|ISO Setting||100 - 25,600 ISO||80 - 3,200 ISO|
|ISO Boost||no Enhancement||80 - 12,800 ISO|
|Image Processor||TruePic VI||Venus FHD|
|DXO Sensor Quality (score)||72||41|
|DXO Color Depth (bits)||22.7||19.6|
|DXO Dynamic Range (EV)||12.2||10.8|
|DXO Low Light (ISO)||932||132|
|Screen Specs||Olympus E-PM2||Panasonic LX5|
|Viewfinder Type||Viewfinder optional||Viewfinder optional|
|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|
|Touch Input||Touchscreen||no Touchscreen|
|Shooting Specs||Olympus E-PM2||Panasonic LX5|
|Focus System||Contrast-detect AF||Contrast-detect AF|
|Continuous Shooting||8 shutter flaps/s||2.5 shutter flaps/s|
|Image Stabilization||In-body stabilization||Lens-based 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-PM2||Panasonic LX5|
|USB Connector||USB 2.0||USB 2.0|
|HDMI Port||mini HDMI||mini HDMI|
|Wifi Support||no Wifi||no Wifi|
|Body Specs||Olympus E-PM2||Panasonic LX5|
|Battery Life (CIPA)||360 shots per charge||400 shots per charge|
110 x 64 x 34 mm
(4.3 x 2.5 x 1.3 in)
110 x 65 x 43 mm
(4.3 x 2.6 x 1.7 in)
|Camera Weight||269 g (9.5 oz)||271 g (9.6 oz)|
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