Olympus PEN-F versus Panasonic GH5
The Olympus PEN-F and the Panasonic Lumix DC-GH5 are two enthusiast cameras that were announced, respectively, in January 2016 and January 2017. Both the PEN-F and the GH5 are mirrorless interchangeable lens cameras that are equipped with a Four Thirds sensor. Both cameras offer a resolution of 20.2 megapixel. Read on to find out how these two cameras compare with respect to their size, their sensors, their features, and their reception by expert reviewers.
Body comparison: Olympus PEN-F vs Panasonic GH5
The physical size and weight of the Olympus PEN-F and the Panasonic GH5 are illustrated in the side-by-side display below. Three consecutive perspectives from the front, the top, and the back are presented. All width, height and depth dimensions are rounded to the nearest millimeter. You can also use the toggle button to switch to a percentage comparison if you prefer that the measures are being expressed in relative terms (in this case, the camera on the left side – the PEN-F – represents the basis for the calculations across all the size and weight measures).
If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Panasonic GH5 is considerably larger (51 percent) than the Olympus PEN-F. Moreover, the GH5 is substantially heavier (70 percent) than the PEN-F. It is noteworthy in this context that the GH5 is splash and dust-proof, while the PEN-F 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. In this particular case, both cameras feature the same lens mount, so that they can use the same lenses. You can find an overview of suitable optics 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 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, just select a new right or left comparator from among the camera models in the table. Alternatively, you can also move across to the CAM-parator tool and choose from the broad selection of possible camera comparisons there.
|Camera Body Specifications|
|Olympus PEN-F»||4.9 in||2.8 in||1.5 in||15.1 oz||330||n||Jan 2016||1,199|
|Panasonic GH5«||5.5 in||3.9 in||3.4 in||25.6 oz||410||Y||Jan 2017||1,999|
|Nikon D500« »||5.8 in||4.5 in||3.2 in||30.3 oz||1240||Y||Jan 2016||1,999|
|Olympus E-M10 III« »||4.8 in||3.3 in||2.0 in||14.5 oz||330||n||Aug 2017||649|
|Olympus E-M1 II« »||5.3 in||3.6 in||2.6 in||20.2 oz||440||Y||Sep 2016||1,999|
|Olympus E-M10 II« »||4.7 in||3.3 in||1.9 in||13.8 oz||320||n||Aug 2015||799||-|
|Olympus E-M5 II« »||4.9 in||3.3 in||1.8 in||16.5 oz||310||Y||Feb 2015||1,099|
|Olympus E-M10« »||4.7 in||3.2 in||1.8 in||14.0 oz||320||n||Jan 2014||699||-|
|Olympus E-P5« »||4.8 in||2.7 in||1.5 in||14.8 oz||330||n||May 2013||999||-|
|Panasonic G9« »||5.4 in||3.8 in||3.6 in||23.2 oz||400||Y||Nov 2017||1,699|
|Panasonic G85« »||5.0 in||3.5 in||2.9 in||17.8 oz||330||Y||Sep 2016||899|
|Panasonic GX85« »||4.8 in||2.8 in||1.7 in||15.0 oz||290||n||Apr 2016||799|
|Panasonic GX8« »||5.2 in||3.1 in||2.5 in||17.2 oz||330||Y||Jul 2015||1,199||-|
|Panasonic GH4« »||5.2 in||3.7 in||3.3 in||19.8 oz||500||Y||Feb 2014||1,499||-|
|Sony A6500« »||4.7 in||2.6 in||2.1 in||16.0 oz||350||Y||Oct 2016||1,399|
|Sony RX100 IV« »||4.0 in||2.3 in||1.6 in||10.5 oz||280||n||Jun 2015||999||-|
The price is, of course, an important factor in any camera decision. The listed launch prices provide an indication of the market segment that the manufacturer of the cameras have been targeting. The PEN-F was launched at a markedly lower price (by 40 percent) than the GH5, 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.
Sensor comparison: Olympus PEN-F vs Panasonic GH5
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.
The two cameras under review do not only share the same sensor size, but also offer an identical resolution of 20.2 megapixel. This similarity in sensor specs implies that both the PEN-F and the GH5 have the same pixel density, as well as the same pixel size. It should, however, be noted that the GH5 is a somewhat more recent model (by 11 months) than the PEN-F, and its sensor might have benefitted from technological advances during this time. Coming back to sensor resolution, it should be mentioned that neither of the two cameras has an anti-alias filter installed, so they are able to capture all the detail the sensor resolves.
Unlike the GH5, the PEN-F has the capacity to capture high quality composite images (40MP) by combining multiple shots after shifting its sensor by miniscule distances. This multi-shot, pixel-shift mode is most suitable for photography of stationary objects (landscapes, studio scenes).
Consistent information on actual sensor performance is available from DXO Mark for most 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 image quality. 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 PEN-F»||Four Thirds||20.2||5184||3888||1080/60p||23.1||12.4||894||74|
|Panasonic GH5«||Four Thirds||20.2||5184||3888||4K/60p||23.9||13.0||807||77|
|Nikon D500« »||APS-C||20.7||5568||3712||4K/30p||24.0||14.0||1324||83|
|Olympus E-M10 III« »||Four Thirds||15.9||4608||3456||4K/30p||-||-||-||-|
|Olympus E-M1 II« »||Four Thirds||20.2||5184||3888||4K/30p||23.7||12.8||1312||80|
|Olympus E-M10 II« »||Four Thirds||15.9||4608||3456||1080/60p||23.1||12.5||842||73|
|Olympus E-M5 II« »||Four Thirds||15.9||4608||3456||1080/60p||23.0||12.5||842||73|
|Olympus E-M10« »||Four Thirds||15.9||4608||3456||1080/30p||22.8||12.3||884||72|
|Olympus E-P5« »||Four Thirds||15.9||4608||3456||1080/30p||22.8||12.4||895||72|
|Panasonic G9« »||Four Thirds||20.2||5184||3888||4K/60p||-||-||-||-|
|Panasonic G85« »||Four Thirds||15.8||4592||3448||4K/30p||22.8||12.5||656||71|
|Panasonic GX85« »||Four Thirds||15.8||4592||3448||4K/30p||22.9||12.6||662||71|
|Panasonic GX8« »||Four Thirds||20.2||5184||3888||4K/30p||23.5||12.6||806||75|
|Panasonic GH4« »||Four Thirds||15.9||4608||3456||4K/30p||23.2||12.8||791||74|
|Sony A6500« »||APS-C||24.0||6000||4000||4K/30p||24.5||13.7||1405||85|
|Sony RX100 IV« »||1-inch||20.0||5472||3648||4K/30p||22.8||12.6||591||70|
Many modern cameras are not only capable of taking still images, but can also record movies. Both cameras under consideration have a sensor with sufficiently fast read-out times for moving pictures, but the GH5 provides a better video resolution than the PEN-F. It can shoot movie footage at 4K/60p, while the Olympus is limited to 1080/60p.
Feature comparison: Olympus PEN-F vs Panasonic GH5
Apart from body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a variety of features. The two cameras under review are similar with respect to both having an electronic viewfinder. However, the one in the GH5 offers a substantially higher resolution than the one in the PEN-F (3680k vs 2360k dots). The adjacent table lists some of the other core features of the Olympus PEN-F and Panasonic GH5 along with similar information for a selection of comparators. If needed, the dpreview camera hub, for example, contains further detail on the cameras' specs.
|Nikon D500« »||optical||Y||3.2||2359||tilting||Y||8000||10.0||n||n|
|Olympus E-M10 III« »||2360||n||3.0||1040||tilting||Y||4000||8.6||Y||Y|
|Olympus E-M1 II« »||2360||n||3.0||1037||swivel||Y||8000||18.0||n||Y|
|Olympus E-M10 II« »||2360||n||3.0||1040||tilting||Y||4000||8.0||Y||Y|
|Olympus E-M5 II« »||2360||n||3.0||1037||swivel||Y||8000||10.0||n||Y|
|Olympus E-M10« »||1440||n||3.0||1037||tilting||Y||4000||8.0||Y||Y|
|Olympus E-P5« »||-||n||3.0||1037||tilting||Y||8000||9.0||Y||Y|
|Panasonic G9« »||3680||Y||3.0||1040||swivel||Y||8000||20.0||n||Y|
|Panasonic G85« »||2360||n||3.0||1040||swivel||Y||4000||9.0||Y||Y|
|Panasonic GX85« »||2765||n||3.0||1040||tilting||Y||4000||8.0||Y||Y|
|Panasonic GX8« »||2360||n||3.0||1040||swivel||Y||8000||10.0||n||Y|
|Panasonic GH4« »||2359||n||3.0||1036||swivel||Y||8000||12.0||Y||n|
|Sony A6500« »||2300||n||3.0||922||tilting||Y||4000||11.0||Y||Y|
|Sony RX100 IV« »||2359||n||3.0||1228||tilting||n||2000||16.0||Y||Y|
Both the PEN-F and the GH5 are current models that good online retailers will have in stock. You can check the latest prices, for example, at amazon. The GH5 replaced the earlier Panasonic GH4, while the PEN-F does not have a direct predecessor.
Review summary: Olympus PEN-F vs Panasonic GH5
So what conclusions can be drawn? Is the Olympus PEN-F better than the Panasonic GH5 or vice versa? The listing below highlights the relative strengths of the two models.
Advantages of the Olympus PEN-F:
- High quality composites: Can combine several shots after pixel-shifting its sensor.
- More compact: Is smaller (125x72mm vs 139x98mm) and thus needs less room in the bag.
- Less heavy: Is lighter (by 298g or 41 percent) and hence easier to carry around.
- More affordable: Was introduced into a lower priced category (40 percent cheaper at launch).
- More heavily discounted: Has been on the market for longer (launched in January 2016).
Arguments in favor of the Panasonic Lumix DC-GH5:
- More dynamic range: Captures a broader range of light and dark details (0.6 EV of extra DR).
- Better video: Provides higher definition movie capture (4K/60p vs 1080/60p).
- More detailed viewfinder: Has higher resolution electronic viewfinder (3680k vs 2360k dots).
- Larger screen: Has a bigger rear LCD (3.2" vs 3.0") for image review and settings control.
- More detailed LCD: Has a higher resolution rear screen (1620k vs 1037k dots).
- Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (12 vs 10 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
- Longer lasting: Gets more shots (410 versus 330) out of a single battery charge.
- Better sealing: Is splash and dust sealed for shooting in inclement weather conditions.
- More modern: Was introduced somewhat (11 months) more recently.
If the number of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the GH5 is the clear winner of the contest (9 : 5 points). However, the relevance of individual strengths will vary across photographers, so that you might want to apply your own weighing scheme to the summary points when reflecting and deciding on a new camera.
In any case, while the comparison of technical specifications can provide a useful overview of the capabilities of different cameras, it remains incomplete and does no justice, for example, to the way the PEN-F or the GH5 handle or 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 why hands-on reviews by experts are important. The following table reports the overall rankings of the cameras as published by some of the major camera review sites (cameralabs, dpreview, ephotozine, imaging-resource, photographyblog). The full reviews are available by clicking on the site logo in the table header.
|Olympus PEN-F»||-||82/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||5/5||Jan 2016||1,199|
|Panasonic GH5«||HiRec||85/100||4.5/5||5/5||5/5||Jan 2017||1,999|
|Nikon D500« »||HiRec||91/100||4.5/5||5/5||5/5||Jan 2016||1,999|
|Olympus E-M10 III« »||Rec||80/100||4.5/5||-||4.5/5||Aug 2017||649|
|Olympus E-M1 II« »||HiRec||85/100||4.5/5||5/5||4.5/5||Sep 2016||1,999|
|Olympus E-M10 II« »||HiRec||80/100||5/5||5/5||5/5||Aug 2015||799||-|
|Olympus E-M5 II« »||HiRec||81/100||5/5||4.5/5||5/5||Feb 2015||1,099|
|Olympus E-M10« »||-||80/100||5/5||4.5/5||5/5||Jan 2014||699||-|
|Olympus E-P5« »||HiRec||78/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||5/5||May 2013||999||-|
|Panasonic G9« »||HiRec||85/100||5/5||-||5/5||Nov 2017||1,699|
|Panasonic G85« »||HiRec||84/100||5/5||4.5/5||4.5/5||Sep 2016||899|
|Panasonic GX85« »||HiRec||82/100||5/5||4.5/5||5/5||Apr 2016||799|
|Panasonic GX8« »||Rec||82/100||4.5/5||5/5||4.5/5||Jul 2015||1,199||-|
|Panasonic GH4« »||HiRec||85/100||5/5||5/5||5/5||Feb 2014||1,499||-|
|Sony A6500« »||HiRec||85/100||4.5/5||5/5||4.5/5||Oct 2016||1,399|
|Sony RX100 IV« »||HiRec||85/100||4/5||4.5/5||4.5/5||Jun 2015||999||-|
The review scores listed above should be treated with care, though. The assessments were made in relation to similar cameras of the same technological generation. Hence, a score should always be seen in the context of the camera's market launch date and its price, and comparing ratings of very distinct cameras or ones that are far apart in terms of their release date have little meaning. Also, kindly note that some of the listed sites have over time developped their review approaches and their reporting style.
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