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Olympus PEN-F vs Panasonic GX8

The Olympus PEN-F and the Panasonic Lumix DMC-GX8 are two enthusiast cameras that were revealed to the public, respectively, in January 2016 and July 2015. Both the PEN-F and the GX8 are mirrorless interchangeable lens cameras that are equipped with a Four Thirds sensor. Both cameras offer a resolution of 20.2 megapixels.

Below is an overview of the main specs of the two cameras as a starting point for the comparison.

Headline Specifications
Olympus PEN-F
versus
Panasonic GX8
Olympus PEN-F   Panasonic GX8
Mirrorless system camera Mirrorless system camera
Micro Four Thirds lenses Micro Four Thirds lenses
20.2 MP, Four Thirds Sensor 20.2 MP, Four Thirds Sensor
1080/60p Video 4K/30p Video
ISO 80-25,600 ISO 200-25,600
Electronic viewfinder (2360k dots) Electronic viewfinder (2360k dots)
3.0 LCD, 1037k dots 3.0 LCD, 1040k dots
Swivel touchscreen Swivel touchscreen
10 shutter flaps per second 10 shutter flaps per second
In-body stabilizationIn-body stabilization
not weather sealedWeathersealed body
330 shots per battery charge330 shots per battery charge
125 x 72 x 37 mm, 427 g 133 x 78 x 63 mm, 487 g

Going beyond this snapshot of core features and characteristics, what are the differences between the Olympus PEN-F and the Panasonic Lumix DMC-GX8? 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.

Body comparison

An illustration of the physical size and weight of the Olympus PEN-F and the Panasonic GX8 is provided in the side-by-side display below. The two cameras are presented according to their relative size. Three consecutive perspectives from the front, the top, and the back are available. All width, height and depth measures are rounded to the nearest millimeter.

Both cameras are available in two different colors (black, silver).

Size Olympus PEN-F vs Panasonic GX8
Compare PEN-F versus GX8 top
Comparison PEN-F or GX8 rear

If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Panasonic GX8 is notably larger (15 percent) than the Olympus PEN-F. Moreover, the GX8 is markedly heavier (14 percent) than the PEN-F. It is noteworthy in this context that the GX8 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 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, you can use the CAM-parator app to select your camera combination among a large number of options.

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Body Specifications
    Camera
Model
Camera
Width
Camera
Height
Camera
Depth
Camera
Weight
Battery
Life
Weather
Sealing
Camera
Launch
Launch
Price (USD)
Street
Price
1.
 
Olympus PEN-F 125 mm 72 mm 37 mm 427 g 330 n Jan 2016 1,199i
2.
 
Panasonic GX8 133 mm 78 mm 63 mm 487 g 330 Y Jul 2015 1,199i
3.
 
Olympus E-M10 III 122 mm 84 mm 50 mm 410 g 330 n Aug 2017 649i
4.
 
Olympus E-M1 II 134 mm 91 mm 67 mm 574 g 440 Y Sep 2016 1,999 i
5.
 
Olympus E-PL8 115 mm 67 mm 38 mm 357 g 350 n Sep 2016 549i
6.
 
Olympus E-M5 II 124 mm 85 mm 45 mm 469 g 310 Y Feb 2015 1,099i
7.
 
Olympus E-M10 II 120 mm 83 mm 47 mm 390 g 320 n Aug 2015 649i
8.
 
Olympus E-M10 119 mm 82 mm 46 mm 396 g 320 n Jan 2014 699i
9.
 
Olympus E-P5 122 mm 69 mm 37 mm 420 g 330 n May 2013 999i
10.
 
Panasonic GX80 122 mm 71 mm 44 mm 426 g 290 n Apr 2016 799 i
11.
 
Panasonic GX7 123 mm 71 mm 55 mm 402 g 350 n Aug 2013 999i
12.
 
Sony A6500 120 mm 67 mm 53 mm 453 g 350 Y Oct 2016 1,399i
Notes: Measurements and pricing do not include easily detachable parts, such as add-on or interchangeable lenses or optional viewfinders.

Any camera decision will naturally be influenced heavily by the price. 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 two cameras under review were launched at the same price and fall into the same 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. Then, after the new model is out, very good deals can frequently be found on the pre-owned market.

Sensor comparison

The imaging sensor is at the core of digital cameras and its size is one of the main determining factors 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. 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.

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.

Olympus PEN-F and Panasonic GX8 sensor measures

The two cameras under review do not only share the same sensor size, but also offer an identical resolution of 20.2 megapixels. This similarity in sensor specs implies that both the PEN-F and the GX8 have the same pixel density, as well as the same pixel size. It should, however, be noted that the PEN-F is a somewhat more recent model (by 6 months) than the GX8, and its sensor might have benefitted from technological advances during this time. Coming back to sensor resolution, it should be mentioned that the PEN-F has no anti-alias filter installed, so that it can capture all the detail its sensor resolves.

Unlike the GX8, 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).

The Olympus PEN-F has a native sensitivity range from ISO 80 to ISO 25600. The corresponding ISO settings for the Panasonic Lumix DMC-GX8 are ISO 200 to ISO 25600, with the possibility to increase the ISO range to 100-25600.

PEN-F versus GX8 MP

Since 2007, DXO Mark has published sensor performance measurements that have been derived using a consistent methodology. 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 following table provides an overview of the physical sensor characteristics, as well as the sensor quality measurements for a selection of comparators.

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Sensor Characteristics
    Camera
Model
Sensor
Class
Resolution
(MP)
Horiz.
Pixels
Vert.
Pixels
Video
Format
DXO
Portrait
DXO
Landscape
DXO
Sports
DXO
Overall
1.
 
Olympus PEN-F Four Thirds 20.2 5184 38881080/60p23.112.489474
2.
 
Panasonic GX8 Four Thirds 20.2 5184 38884K/30p23.512.680675
3.
 
Olympus E-M10 III Four Thirds 15.9 4608 34564K/30p........
4.
 
Olympus E-M1 II Four Thirds 20.2 5184 38884K/30p23.712.8131280
5.
 
Olympus E-PL8 Four Thirds 15.9 4608 34561080/30p........
6.
 
Olympus E-M5 II Four Thirds 15.9 4608 34561080/60p23.012.584273
7.
 
Olympus E-M10 II Four Thirds 15.9 4608 34561080/60p23.112.584273
8.
 
Olympus E-M10 Four Thirds 15.9 4608 34561080/30p22.812.388472
9.
 
Olympus E-P5 Four Thirds 15.9 4608 34561080/30p22.812.489572
10.
 
Panasonic GX80 Four Thirds 15.8 4592 34484K/30p22.912.666271
11.
 
Panasonic GX7 Four Thirds 15.8 4592 34481080/60p22.612.271870
12.
 
Sony A6500 APS-C 24.0 6000 40004K/30p24.513.7140585

Many modern cameras are not only capable of taking still images, but can also record movies. The two cameras under consideration both have sensors whose read-out speed is fast enough to capture moving pictures, but the GX8 provides a better video resolution than the PEN-F. It can shoot movie footage at 4K/30p, while the Olympus is limited to 1080/60p.

Feature comparison

Apart from body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a range of features. The PEN-F and the GX8 are similar in the sense that both feature an electronic viewfinder, which is helpful when framing images in bright sunlight. Moreover, their viewfinders offer an identical resolution of 2360k dots. The following table reports on some other key feature differences and similarities of the Olympus PEN-F, the Panasonic GX8, and comparable cameras.

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Core Features
    Camera
Model
Viewfinder
(Type or
000 dots)
Control
Panel
(yes/no)
LCD
Specifications
(inch/000 dots)
LCD
Attach-
ment
Touch
Screen
(yes/no)
Mech
Shutter
Speed
Shutter
Flaps
(1/sec)
Built-in
Flash
(yes/no)
Built-in
Image
Stab
1.
 
Olympus PEN-F2360 n3.0 / 1037 swivel Y 1/8000s 10.0 n Y
2.
 
Panasonic GX82360 n3.0 / 1040 swivel Y 1/8000s 10.0 n Y
3.
 
Olympus E-M10 III2360 n3.0 / 1040 tilting Y 1/4000s 8.6 Y Y
4.
 
Olympus E-M1 II2360 n3.0 / 1037 swivel Y 1/8000s 18.0 n Y
5.
 
Olympus E-PL8optional n3.0 / 1037 tilting Y 1/4000s 8.0 n Y
6.
 
Olympus E-M5 II2360 n3.0 / 1037 swivel Y 1/8000s 10.0 n Y
7.
 
Olympus E-M10 II2360 n3.0 / 1040 tilting Y 1/4000s 8.0 Y Y
8.
 
Olympus E-M101440 n3.0 / 1037 tilting Y 1/4000s 8.0 Y Y
9.
 
Olympus E-P5optional n3.0 / 1037 tilting Y 1/8000s 9.0 Y Y
10.
 
Panasonic GX802765 n3.0 / 1040 tilting Y 1/4000s 8.0 Y Y
11.
 
Panasonic GX72760 n3.0 / 1040 tilting Y 1/8000s 5.0 Y Y
12.
 
Sony A65002359 n3.0 / 922 tilting Y 1/4000s 11.0 Y Y
Both cameras have an articulated rear screen that can be turned to be front-facing. This feature will be particularly appreciated by vloggers and photographers who are interested in taking selfies.

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, both cameras under consideration feature an 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 PEN-F and the Panasonic GX8 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 PEN-F and the GX8 write their files to SDXC cards. The PEN-F supports UHS-II cards (Ultra High Speed data transfer of up to 312 MB/s), while the GX8 can use UHS-I cards (up to 104 MB/s).

Connectivity comparison

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-F and Panasonic Lumix DMC-GX8 and, in particular, the interfaces the cameras (and selected comparators) provide for accessory control and data transfer.

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Input-Output Connections
    Camera
Model
Hotshoe
Port
Internal
Mic / Speaker
Microphone
Port
Headphone
Port
HDMI
Port
USB
Port
WiFi
Support
NFC
Support
Bluetooth
Support
1.
 
Olympus PEN-FYstereo / mono--micro2.0Y--
2.
 
Panasonic GX8Ystereo / monoY-micro2.0YY-
3.
 
Olympus E-M10 IIIYstereo / mono--micro2.0Y--
4.
 
Olympus E-M1 IIYstereo / monoYYmicro3.0Y--
5.
 
Olympus E-PL8Ystereo / mono--micro2.0Y--
6.
 
Olympus E-M5 IIYstereo / monoY-micro2.0Y--
7.
 
Olympus E-M10 IIYstereo / mono--micro2.0Y--
8.
 
Olympus E-M10Ystereo / mono--micro2.0Y--
9.
 
Olympus E-P5Ystereo / mono--micro2.0Y--
10.
 
Panasonic GX80Ystereo / mono--micro2.0Y--
11.
 
Panasonic GX7Ystereo / mono--mini2.0YY-
12.
 
Sony A6500Ystereo / monoY-micro2.0YY-

It is notable that the GX8 has a microphone port, which can help to improve the quality of audio recordings by attaching an external microphone. The PEN-F does not feature such a mic input.

Both the PEN-F and the GX8 have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on eBay. The GX8 was replaced by the Panasonic GX9, while the PEN-F 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.

Review summary

So what is the bottom line? Is the Olympus PEN-F better than the Panasonic GX8 or vice versa? A synthesis of the relative strong points of each of the models is listed below.

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Reasons to prefer the Olympus PEN-F:

  • Maximized detail: Lacks an anti-alias filter to exploit the sensor's full resolution potential.
  • High quality composites: Can combine several shots after pixel-shifting its sensor.
  • More compact: Is smaller (125x72mm vs 133x78mm) and thus needs less room in the bag.
  • Less heavy: Is lighter (by 60g or 12 percent) and hence easier to carry around.
  • Faster buffer clearing: Supports a more advanced SD data transfer standard (UHS-II vs UHS-I).
  • More modern: Is somewhat more recent (announced 6 months after the GX8).

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Arguments in favor of the Panasonic Lumix DMC-GX8:

  • Better moiré control: Has an anti-alias filter to avoid artificial patterns to appear in images.
  • Better video: Provides higher definition movie capture (4K/30p vs 1080/60p).
  • Better sound: Can connect to an external microphone for higher quality sound recording.
  • Larger viewfinder image: Features a viewfinder with a higher magnification (0.77x vs 0.62x).
  • Better sealing: Is splash and dust sealed for shooting in inclement weather conditions.
  • Easier device pairing: Supports NFC for fast wireless image transfer over short distances.
  • More heavily discounted: Has been on the market for longer (launched in July 2015).

If the count of individual advantages (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the GX8 comes out slightly ahead of the PEN-F (7 : 6 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.

PEN-F 06:07 GX8

How about other alternatives? Do the specifications of the Olympus PEN-F and the Panasonic GX8 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 technical specifications can provide a useful overview of the capabilities of different cameras, it remains partial and cannot reveal, for example, the shooting experience and imaging performance when actually working with the PEN-F or the GX8. 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.

Expert reviews

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.

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Expert Camera Reviews
     Camera 
 Model 
 AP 
 score 
 CL 
 score 
 DCW 
 score 
 DPR 
 score 
 EPZ 
 score 
 PB 
 score 
Camera
Launch
Launch
Price (USD)
Street
Price
1.
 
Olympus PEN-F....4/582/1004.5/55/5 Jan 2016 1,199i
2.
 
Panasonic GX85/5+..82/1004.5/54.5/5 Jul 2015 1,199i
3.
 
Olympus E-M10 III..+5/580/1004.5/54.5/5 Aug 2017 649i
4.
 
Olympus E-M1 II5/5+ +5/585/1004.5/54.5/5 Sep 2016 1,999 i
5.
 
Olympus E-PL8........4.5/54/5 Sep 2016 549i
6.
 
Olympus E-M5 II5/5+ +4.5/581/1005/55/5 Feb 2015 1,099i
7.
 
Olympus E-M10 II4.5/5+ +..80/1005/55/5 Aug 2015 649i
8.
 
Olympus E-M104/5....80/1005/55/5 Jan 2014 699i
9.
 
Olympus E-P55/5+ +..78/1004.5/55/5 May 2013 999i
10.
 
Panasonic GX804.5/5+ +..82/1005/55/5 Apr 2016 799 i
11.
 
Panasonic GX74/5+..79/1005/55/5 Aug 2013 999i
12.
 
Sony A65005/5+ +3.5/585/1004.5/54.5/5 Oct 2016 1,399i
Notes: (+ +) highly recommended; (+) recommended; (o) reviewed; (..) not available.

The review scores listed above should be treated with care, though. The ratings were established in reference to similarly priced cameras that were available in the market at the time of the review. Hence, a score should always be seen in the context of the camera's market launch date and its price, and comparisons of ratings among very different cameras or across long time periods have little meaning. Also, please note that some of the review sites have changed their methodology and reporting over time.

Olympus PEN-F:
Check Ebay offers
Panasonic GX8:
Check Ebay offers

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 use the search menu 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.

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    Specifications: Olympus PEN-F vs Panasonic GX8

    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 Specifications
    Camera Model Olympus PEN-F Panasonic GX8
    Camera Type Mirrorless system camera Mirrorless system camera
    Camera Lens Micro Four Thirds lenses Micro Four Thirds lenses
    Launch Date January 2016 July 2015
    Launch Price USD 1,199 USD 1,199
    Sensor Specs Olympus PEN-F Panasonic GX8
    Sensor Technology CMOS CMOS
    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
    Crop Factor 2.0x 2.0x
    Sensor Resolution 20.2 Megapixels 20.2 Megapixels
    Image Resolution 5184 x 3888 pixels 5184 x 3888 pixels
    Pixel Pitch 3.34 μm 3.34 μm
    Pixel Density 8.96 MP/cm2 8.96 MP/cm2
    Moiré control no AA filter Anti-Alias filter
    Movie Capability 1080/60p Video 4K/30p Video
    ISO Setting 80 - 25,600 ISO 200 - 25,600 ISO
    ISO Boost no Enhancement 100 - 25,600 ISO
    Image Processor TruePic VII Venus
    DXO Sensor Quality (score) 74 75
    DXO Color Depth (bits) 23.1 23.5
    DXO Dynamic Range (EV) 12.4 12.6
    DXO Low Light (ISO) 894 806
    Screen Specs Olympus PEN-F Panasonic GX8
    Viewfinder Type Electronic viewfinder Electronic viewfinder
    Viewfinder Field of View 100% 100%
    Viewfinder Magnification 0.62x 0.77x
    Viewfinder Resolution 2360k dots 2360k dots
    LCD Framing Live View Live View
    Rear LCD Size 3.0inch 3.0inch
    LCD Resolution 1037k dots 1040k dots
    LCD Attachment Swivel screen Swivel screen
    Touch Input Touchscreen Touchscreen
    Shooting Specs Olympus PEN-F Panasonic GX8
    Focus System Contrast-detect AF Contrast-detect AF
    Manual Focusing AidFocus PeakingFocus Peaking
    Max Shutter Speed (mechanical) 1/8000s 1/8000s
    Continuous Shooting 10 shutter flaps/s 10 shutter flaps/s
    Electronic Shutterup to 1/16000sup to 1/16000s
    Time-Lapse PhotographyIntervalometer built-inIntervalometer built-in
    Image StabilizationIn-body stabilizationIn-body stabilization
    Fill Flash no On-Board Flash no On-Board Flash
    Storage Medium SDXC cards SDXC cards
    Second Storage Option Single card slot Single card slot
    UHS card support UHS-II UHS-I
    Connectivity Specs Olympus PEN-F Panasonic GX8
    External Flash Hotshoe Hotshoe
    USB Connector USB 2.0 USB 2.0
    HDMI Port micro HDMI micro HDMI
    Microphone Port no MIC socket External MIC port
    Wifi Support Wifi built-in Wifi built-in
    Near-Field Communication no NFC NFC built-in
    Body Specs Olympus PEN-F Panasonic GX8
    Environmental Sealingnot weather sealedWeathersealed body
    Battery Type BLN-1 DMW-BLC12
    Battery Life (CIPA)330 shots per charge330 shots per charge
    Body Dimensions 125 x 72 x 37 mm
    (4.9 x 2.8 x 1.5 in)
    133 x 78 x 63 mm
    (5.2 x 3.1 x 2.5 in)
    Camera Weight 427 g (15.1 oz) 487 g (17.2 oz)

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