Olympus PEN-F vs Panasonic GX85
The Olympus PEN-F and the Panasonic Lumix DMC-GX85 (labelled Panasonic GX80 in some countries) are two digital cameras that were announced, respectively, in January 2016 and April 2016. Both the PEN-F and the GX85 are mirrorless interchangeable lens cameras that are equipped with a Four Thirds sensor. The Olympus has a resolution of 20.2 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 PEN-F||Panasonic GX85|
|Mirrorless system camera||Mirrorless system camera|
|Micro Four Thirds lenses||Micro Four Thirds lenses|
|20.2 MP, Four Thirds Sensor||15.8 MP, Four Thirds Sensor|
|1080/60p Video||4K/30p Video|
|ISO 80-25600||ISO 200-25600|
|Electronic viewfinder (2360k dots)||Electronic viewfinder (2765k dots)|
|3.0" LCD, 1037k dots||3.0" LCD, 1040k dots|
|Swivel touchscreen||Tilting touchscreen|
|10 shutter flaps per second||8 shutter flaps per second|
|In-body stabilization||In-body stabilization|
|330 shots per battery charge||290 shots per battery charge|
|125 x 72 x 37 mm, 427 g||122 x 71 x 44 mm, 426 g|
Going beyond this snapshot of core features and characteristics, what are the differences between the Olympus PEN-F and the Panasonic Lumix DMC-GX85? 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 PEN-F and the Panasonic GX85. 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.
Both cameras are available in two different colors (black, silver).
If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Panasonic GX85 is somewhat smaller (4 percent) than the Olympus PEN-F. Moreover, the GX85 is slightly lighter (0 percent) than the PEN-F. In this context, it is worth noting that neither the PEN-F nor the GX85 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 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, 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 PEN-F»||125 mm||72 mm||37 mm||427 g||330||n||Jan 2016||1,199||Olympus PEN-F|
|Panasonic GX85«||122 mm||71 mm||44 mm||426 g||290||n||Apr 2016||799||Panasonic GX85|
|Olympus E-M10 III« »||122 mm||84 mm||50 mm||410 g||330||n||Aug 2017||649||Olympus E-M10 III|
|Olympus E-PL8« »||115 mm||67 mm||38 mm||357 g||350||n||Sep 2016||549||Olympus E-PL8|
|Olympus E-M5 II« »||124 mm||85 mm||45 mm||469 g||310||Y||Feb 2015||1,099||Olympus E-M5 II|
|Olympus E-M10 II« »||120 mm||83 mm||47 mm||390 g||320||n||Aug 2015||649||Olympus E-M10 II|
|Olympus E-PL7« »||115 mm||67 mm||38 mm||357 g||350||n||Aug 2014||599||Olympus E-PL7|
|Olympus E-M1« »||130 mm||94 mm||63 mm||497 g||350||Y||Sep 2013||1,399||Olympus E-M1|
|Olympus E-P5« »||122 mm||69 mm||37 mm||420 g||330||n||May 2013||999||Olympus E-P5|
|Olympus E-M5« »||122 mm||89 mm||43 mm||425 g||360||Y||Feb 2012||1,299||Olympus E-M5|
|Panasonic GX9« »||124 mm||72 mm||47 mm||407 g||260||n||Feb 2018||849||Panasonic GX9|
|Panasonic G85« »||128 mm||89 mm||74 mm||505 g||330||Y||Sep 2016||899||Panasonic G85|
|Panasonic GX8« »||133 mm||78 mm||63 mm||487 g||330||Y||Jul 2015||1,199||Panasonic GX8|
|Panasonic GX7« »||123 mm||71 mm||55 mm||402 g||350||n||Aug 2013||999||Panasonic GX7|
|Panasonic GH2« »||124 mm||90 mm||76 mm||442 g||330||n||Sep 2010||899||Panasonic GH2|
|Note: Measurements and pricing do not include easily detachable parts, such as interchangeable lenses or optional viewfinders.|
Any camera decision will obviously take relative prices into account. The listed launch prices provide an indication of the market segment that the manufacturer of the cameras have been targeting. The GX85 was launched at a markedly lower price (by 33 percent) than the PEN-F, 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.
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.
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 PEN-F offers a higher resolution of 20.2 megapixels, compared with 15.8 MP of the GX85. This megapixels advantage translates into a 13 percent gain in linear resolution. On the other hand, these sensor specs imply that the PEN-F has a higher pixel density and a smaller size of the individual pixel (with a pixel pitch of 3.34μm versus 3.77μm for the GX85). It is noteworthy in this context that the two cameras were released in close succession, so that their sensors are from the same technological generation. 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.
The resolution advantage of the Olympus PEN-F implies greater flexibility for cropping images or the possibility to print larger pictures. The maximum print size of the PEN-F for good quality output (200 dots per inch) amounts to 25.9 x 19.4 inch or 65.8 x 49.4 cm, for very good quality (250 dpi) 20.7 x 15.6 inch or 52.7 x 39.5 cm, and for excellent quality (300 dpi) 17.3 x 13 inch or 43.9 x 32.9 cm. The corresponding values for the Panasonic GX85 are 23 x 17.2 inch or 58.3 x 43.8 cm for good quality, 18.4 x 13.8 inch or 46.7 x 35 cm for very good quality, and 15.3 x 11.5 inch or 38.9 x 29.2 cm for excellent quality prints.
Unlike the GX85, 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-GX85 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 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"). 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.
|Olympus PEN-F||Four Thirds||20.2||5184||3888||1080/60p||23.1||12.4||894||74||Olympus PEN-F|
|Panasonic GX85||Four Thirds||15.8||4592||3448||4K/30p||22.9||12.6||662||71||Panasonic GX85|
|Olympus E-M10 III||Four Thirds||15.9||4608||3456||4K/30p||..||..||..||..||Olympus E-M10 III|
|Olympus E-PL8||Four Thirds||15.9||4608||3456||1080/30p||..||..||..||..||Olympus E-PL8|
|Olympus E-M5 II||Four Thirds||15.9||4608||3456||1080/60p||23.0||12.5||842||73||Olympus E-M5 II|
|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-M1||Four Thirds||15.9||4608||3456||1080/30p||23.0||12.7||757||73||Olympus E-M1|
|Olympus E-P5||Four Thirds||15.9||4608||3456||1080/30p||22.8||12.4||895||72||Olympus E-P5|
|Olympus E-M5||Four Thirds||15.9||4608||3456||1080/60i||22.8||12.3||826||71||Olympus E-M5|
|Panasonic GX9||Four Thirds||20.2||5184||3888||4K/30p||..||..||..||..||Panasonic GX9|
|Panasonic G85||Four Thirds||15.8||4592||3448||4K/30p||22.8||12.5||656||71||Panasonic G85|
|Panasonic GX8||Four Thirds||20.2||5184||3888||4K/30p||23.5||12.6||806||75||Panasonic GX8|
|Panasonic GX7||Four Thirds||15.8||4592||3448||1080/60p||22.6||12.2||718||70||Panasonic GX7|
|Panasonic GH2||Four Thirds||15.9||4608||3456||1080/60i||21.2||11.3||655||60||Panasonic GH2|
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 GX85 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.
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 GX85 offers a higher resolution than the one in the PEN-F (2765k vs 2360k dots). The following table reports on some other key feature differences and similarities of the Olympus PEN-F, the Panasonic GX85, and comparable cameras.
|Olympus PEN-F||2360||n||3.0||1037||swivel||Y||1/8000s||10.0||n||Y||Olympus PEN-F|
|Panasonic GX85||2765||n||3.0||1040||tilting||Y||1/4000s||8.0||Y||Y||Panasonic GX85|
|Olympus E-M10 III||2360||n||3.0||1040||tilting||Y||1/4000s||8.6||Y||Y||Olympus E-M10 III|
|Olympus E-PL8||none||n||3.0||1037||tilting||Y||1/4000s||8.0||n||Y||Olympus E-PL8|
|Olympus E-M5 II||2360||n||3.0||1037||swivel||Y||1/8000s||10.0||n||Y||Olympus E-M5 II|
|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-M1||2360||n||3.0||1037||tilting||Y||1/8000s||10.0||n||Y||Olympus E-M1|
|Olympus E-P5||optional||n||3.0||1037||tilting||Y||1/8000s||9.0||Y||Y||Olympus E-P5|
|Olympus E-M5||1440||n||3.0||610||tilting||Y||1/4000s||9.0||n||Y||Olympus E-M5|
|Panasonic GX9||2760||n||3.0||1240||tilting||Y||1/4000s||9.0||Y||Y||Panasonic GX9|
|Panasonic G85||2360||n||3.0||1040||swivel||Y||1/4000s||9.0||Y||Y||Panasonic G85|
|Panasonic GX8||2360||n||3.0||1040||swivel||Y||1/8000s||10.0||n||Y||Panasonic GX8|
|Panasonic GX7||2760||n||3.0||1040||tilting||Y||1/8000s||5.0||Y||Y||Panasonic GX7|
|Panasonic GH2||1534||n||3.0||460||swivel||n||1/4000s||3.0||Y||n||Panasonic GH2|
One difference between the cameras concerns the presence of an on-board flash. The GX85 has one, while the PEN-F does not. While the built-in flash of the GX85 is not very powerful, it can at times be useful as a fill-in light.The PEN-F has an articulated LCD that can be turned to be front-facing. This characteristic will be appreciated by vloggers and photographers who are interested in snapping selfies. In contrast, the GX85 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, 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 GX85 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 GX85 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 GX85 can use UHS-I cards (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-F and Panasonic Lumix DMC-GX85 and, in particular, the interfaces the cameras (and selected comparators) provide for accessory control and data transfer.
|Olympus PEN-F||Y||stereo||mono||-||-||micro||2.0||Y||-||-||Olympus PEN-F|
|Panasonic GX85||Y||stereo||mono||-||-||micro||2.0||Y||-||-||Panasonic GX85|
|Olympus E-M10 III||Y||stereo||mono||-||-||micro||2.0||Y||-||-||Olympus E-M10 III|
|Olympus E-PL8||Y||stereo||mono||-||-||micro||2.0||Y||-||-||Olympus E-PL8|
|Olympus E-M5 II||Y||stereo||mono||Y||-||micro||2.0||Y||-||-||Olympus E-M5 II|
|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-M1||Y||stereo||mono||Y||-||micro||2.0||Y||-||-||Olympus E-M1|
|Olympus E-P5||Y||stereo||mono||-||-||micro||2.0||Y||-||-||Olympus E-P5|
|Olympus E-M5||Y||stereo||mono||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-||Olympus E-M5|
|Panasonic GX9||Y||stereo||mono||-||-||micro||2.0||Y||-||Y||Panasonic GX9|
|Panasonic G85||Y||stereo||mono||Y||-||micro||2.0||Y||-||-||Panasonic G85|
|Panasonic GX8||Y||stereo||mono||Y||-||micro||2.0||Y||Y||-||Panasonic GX8|
|Panasonic GX7||Y||stereo||mono||-||-||mini||2.0||Y||Y||-||Panasonic GX7|
|Panasonic GH2||Y||stereo||mono||Y||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-||Panasonic GH2|
Both the PEN-F and the GX85 are recent models that are part of the current product line-up. The GX85 replaced the earlier Panasonic GX7, while the PEN-F does not have a direct predecessor. 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? Is there a clear favorite between the Olympus PEN-F and the Panasonic GX85? Which camera is better? A synthesis of the relative strong points of each of the models is listed below.
Arguments in favor of the Olympus PEN-F:
- More detail: Offers more megapixels (20.2 vs 15.8MP) with a 13% higher linear resolution.
- High quality composites: Can combine several shots after pixel-shifting its sensor.
- Better low-light sensitivity: Requires less light for good images (0.4 stops ISO advantage).
- More flexible LCD: Has a swivel screen for odd-angle shots in portrait or landscape orientation.
- More selfie-friendly: Has an articulated screen that can be turned to be front-facing.
- Faster shutter: Has higher mechanical shutter speed (1/8000s vs 1/4000s) to freeze action.
- Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (10 vs 8 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
- Longer lasting: Can take more shots (330 versus 290) on a single battery charge.
- Faster buffer clearing: Supports a more advanced SD data transfer standard (UHS-II vs UHS-I).
Reasons to prefer the Panasonic Lumix DMC-GX85:
- Better video: Provides higher definition movie capture (4K/30p vs 1080/60p).
- More detailed viewfinder: Has higher resolution electronic viewfinder (2765k vs 2360k dots).
- Larger viewfinder image: Features a viewfinder with a higher magnification (0.70x vs 0.62x).
- Easier fill-in: Has a small integrated flash to brighten shadows of backlit subjects.
- More affordable: Was introduced into a lower priced category (33 percent cheaper at launch).
If the count of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a measure, the PEN-F is the clear winner of the match-up (9 : 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 PEN-F and the Panasonic GX85 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 remains incomplete and does no justice, for example, to the way the PEN-F or the GX85 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 (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.
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 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 1Ds vs Panasonic GX85
- Leica M10 vs Olympus PEN-F
- Nikon D600 vs Olympus PEN-F
- Nikon P1000 vs Panasonic GX85
- Olympus E-M10 III vs Panasonic GX85
- Olympus PEN-F vs Panasonic G85
- Olympus PEN-F vs Panasonic GX9
- Olympus PEN-F vs Sony NEX-5
- Olympus PEN-F vs Sony RX100 III
- Panasonic FZ80 vs Panasonic GX85
- Panasonic GX85 vs Sony A7
- Panasonic GX85 vs Sony A7 II
Specifications: Olympus PEN-F vs Panasonic GX85
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 PEN-F||Panasonic GX85|
|Camera Type||Mirrorless system camera||Mirrorless system camera|
|Camera Lens||Micro Four Thirds lenses||Micro Four Thirds lenses|
|Launch Date||January 2016||April 2016|
|Launch Price||USD 1199||USD 799|
|Sensor Specs||Olympus PEN-F||Panasonic GX85|
|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||20.2 Megapixels||15.8 Megapixels|
|Image Resolution||5184 x 3888 pixels||4592 x 3448 pixels|
|Pixel Pitch||3.34 μm||3.77 μm|
|Pixel Density||8.96 MP/cm2||7.04 MP/cm2|
|Moiré control||no AA filter||no AA filter|
|Movie Capability||1080/60p Video||4K/30p Video|
|ISO Setting||80-25600 ISO||200-25600 ISO|
|ISO Boost||no Enhancement||100-25600 ISO|
|Image Processor||TruePic VII||Venus|
|DXO Sensor Quality (score)||74||71|
|DXO Color Depth (bits)||23.1||22.9|
|DXO Dynamic Range (EV)||12.4||12.6|
|DXO Low Light (ISO)||894||662|
|Screen Specs||Olympus PEN-F||Panasonic GX85|
|Viewfinder Type||Electronic viewfinder||Electronic viewfinder|
|Viewfinder Field of View||100%||100%|
|Viewfinder Resolution||2360k dots||2765k dots|
|LCD Framing||Live View||Live View|
|Rear LCD Size||3.0 inch||3.0 inch|
|LCD Resolution||1037k dots||1040k dots|
|LCD Attachment||Swivel screen||Tilting screen|
|Shooting Specs||Olympus PEN-F||Panasonic GX85|
|Focus System||Contrast-detect AF||Contrast-detect AF|
|Manual Focusing Aid||Focus Peaking||Focus Peaking|
|Max Shutter Speed (mechanical)||1/8000/s||1/4000/s|
|Continuous Shooting||10 shutter flaps/s||8 shutter flaps/s|
|Electronic Shutter||up to 1/16000s||up to 1/16000s|
|Time-Lapse Photography||Intervalometer built-in||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||UHS-II||UHS-I|
|Connectivity Specs||Olympus PEN-F||Panasonic GX85|
|USB Connector||USB 2.0||USB 2.0|
|HDMI Port||micro HDMI||micro HDMI|
|Wifi Support||Wifi built-in||Wifi built-in|
|Body Specs||Olympus PEN-F||Panasonic GX85|
|Battery Life (CIPA)||330 shots per charge||290 shots per charge|
125 x 72 x 37 mm
(4.9 x 2.8 x 1.5 in)
122 x 71 x 44 mm
(4.8 x 2.8 x 1.7 in)
|Camera Weight||427 g (15.1 oz)||426 g (15.0 oz)|
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