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Olympus PEN-F versus Panasonic LX100

The Olympus PEN-F and the Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX100 are two enthusiast cameras that were revealed to the public, respectively, in January 2016 and September 2014. The PEN-F is a mirrorless interchangeable lens camera, while the LX100 is a fixed lens compact. Both cameras are equipped with a Four Thirds sensor. The Olympus has a resolution of 20.2 megapixel, whereas the Panasonic provides 12.7 MP. 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 LX100

The physical size and weight of the Olympus PEN-F and the Panasonic LX100 are illustrated in the side-by-side display below. Three successive views from the front, the top, and the rear are shown. All width, height and depth measures 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 – the PEN-F – represents the basis or 100 percent across all the size and weight measures).

Snapsort Olympus PEN-F vs Panasonic LX100
Compare PEN-F versus LX100 top
Compare PEN-F and LX100 rear

If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Panasonic LX100 is notably smaller (16 percent) than the Olympus PEN-F. In this context, it is worth noting that neither the PEN-F nor the LX100 are weather-sealed.

The above size and weight comparisons are to some extent incomplete and possibly misleading, as the LX100 has a lens build in, whereas the PEN-F is an interchangeable lens camera that requires a separate lens. Attaching the latter will add extra weight and bulk to the setup. You can find an overview of optics for the PEN-F and their specifications in the Micro Four Thirds Lens Catalog.

Concerning battery life, the PEN-F gets 330 shots out of its BLN-1 battery, while the LX100 can take 300 images on a single charge of its DMW-BLG10 power pack.

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
  Camera
Model
Camera
Width
Camera
Height
Camera
Depth
Camera
Weight
Battery
Life
(CIPA)
Weather
Sealing
(yes/no)
Camera
Launch
(announced)
Launch
Price
(USD)
Street
Price
(USD)
Used
Price
(USD)
Olympus PEN-F» 4.9 in 2.8 in 1.5 in 15.1 oz 330 n Jan 2016 1,199 i i
Panasonic LX100« 4.5 in 2.6 in 2.2 in 13.9 oz 300 n Sep 2014 899 i i
Canon G5 X« » 4.4 in 3.0 in 1.7 in 12.5 oz 210 n Oct 2015 799 i i
Canon G1 X Mark II« » 4.6 in 2.9 in 2.6 in 19.5 oz 240 n Feb 2014 799 i i
Fujifilm X30« » 4.7 in 2.8 in 2.4 in 14.9 oz 470 n Aug 2014 599 i i
Olympus E-M10 III« » 4.8 in 3.3 in 2.0 in 14.5 oz 330 n Aug 2017 649 i i
Olympus E-M1 II« » 5.3 in 3.6 in 2.6 in 20.2 oz 440 Y Sep 2016 1,999 i i
Olympus E-M10 II« » 4.7 in 3.3 in 1.9 in 13.8 oz 320 n Aug 2015 799- i
Olympus E-M5 II« » 4.9 in 3.3 in 1.8 in 16.5 oz 310 Y Feb 2015 1,099 i i
Olympus E-M10« » 4.7 in 3.2 in 1.8 in 14.0 oz 320 n Jan 2014 699- i
Olympus E-P5« » 4.8 in 2.7 in 1.5 in 14.8 oz 330 n May 2013 999- i
Panasonic GX85« » 4.8 in 2.8 in 1.7 in 15.0 oz 290 n Apr 2016 799 i i
Panasonic GX8« » 5.2 in 3.1 in 2.5 in 17.2 oz 330 Y Jul 2015 1,199- i
Panasonic FZ1000« » 5.4 in 3.9 in 5.2 in 29.3 oz 360 n Jun 2014 899- i
Sony A6500« » 4.7 in 2.6 in 2.1 in 16.0 oz 350 Y Oct 2016 1,399 i i
Sony RX100 IV« » 4.0 in 2.3 in 1.6 in 10.5 oz 280 n Jun 2015 999- i

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 LX100 was launched at a lower price than the PEN-F, despite having a lens build in. 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 LX100

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 tend to have larger individual pixels that provide better low-light sensitivity, wider dynamic range, and richer color depth than smaller pixel-units 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 more expensive and lead to bigger and heavier cameras 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 LX100 sensor measures

While the two cameras under review share the same sensor size, the PEN-F offers a higher resolution of 20.2 megapixel, compared with 12.7 MP of the LX100. This megapixel advantage translates into a 26 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 4.21μm for the LX100). In this context, it should be noted, however, that the PEN-F is a somewhat more recent model (by 1 year and 4 months) than the LX100, and its sensor might have benefitted from technological advances during this time that at least partly compensate for the smaller pixel size. 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 LX100, 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).

PEN-F versus LX100 MP

Since 2007, DXO Mark has published sensor performance measurements that have been derived using a consistent methodology. This service assesses and scores the color depth ("DXO Portrait"), dynamic range ("DXO Landscape"), and low-light sensitivity ("DXO Sports") of camera sensors, and also publishes an overall camera score. Of the two cameras under review, the PEN-F has a notably higher overall DXO score than the LX100 (overall score 7 points higher), which gives it an advantage in terms of imaging quality. This advantage is based on 0.8 bits higher color depth, 0.1 EV of lower dynamic range, and 0.7 stops in additional low light sensitivity. The adjacent table reports on the physical sensor characteristics and the outcomes of the DXO sensor quality tests for a sample of comparator-cameras.

Sensor Characteristics
  Camera Sensor
Class
Resolution
(MP)
Horiz.
Pixels
Vert.
Pixels
Video
Format
DXO
Portrait
DXO
Landscape
DXO
Sports
DXO
Overall
Olympus PEN-F» Four Thirds 20.2 5184 38881080/60p23.112.489474
Panasonic LX100« Four Thirds 12.7 4112 30884K/30p22.312.555367
Canon G5 X« » 1-inch 20.0 5472 36481080/60p----
Canon G1 X Mark II« » 1.5-inch 13.0 4160 31201080/30p21.510.858158
Fujifilm X30« » 2/3 12.0 4000 30001080/60p----
Olympus E-M10 III« » Four Thirds 15.9 4608 34564K/30p----
Olympus E-M1 II« » Four Thirds 20.2 5184 38884K/30p23.712.8131280
Olympus E-M10 II« » Four Thirds 15.9 4608 34561080/60p23.112.584273
Olympus E-M5 II« » Four Thirds 15.9 4608 34561080/60p23.012.584273
Olympus E-M10« » Four Thirds 15.9 4608 34561080/30p22.812.388472
Olympus E-P5« » Four Thirds 15.9 4608 34561080/30p22.812.489572
Panasonic GX85« » Four Thirds 15.8 4592 34484K/30p22.912.666271
Panasonic GX8« » Four Thirds 20.2 5184 38884K/30p23.512.680675
Panasonic FZ1000« » 1-inch 20.0 5472 36484K/30p22.111.751764
Sony A6500« » APS-C 24.0 6000 40004K/30p24.513.7140585
Sony RX100 IV« » 1-inch 20.0 5472 36484K/30p22.812.659170

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 LX100 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: Olympus PEN-F vs Panasonic LX100

Beyond body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a range of features. The two cameras under review are similar with respect to both having an electronic viewfinder. However, the one in the LX100 offers a higher resolution than the one in the PEN-F (2764k vs 2360k dots). The table below summarizes some of the other core capabilities of the Olympus PEN-F and Panasonic LX100 in connection with corresponding information for a sample of similar cameras. If needed, the dpreview camera hub, for example, contains further detail on the cameras' specs.

Core Features
  Camera Viewfinder
(Type or
'000 dots)
Control
Panel
(yes/no)
LCD
Size
(inch)
LCD
Resolution
('000 dots)
LCD
Attach-
ment
Touch
Screen
(yes/no)
Shutter
speed
(1/sec)
Shutter
flaps
(1/sec))
Build-in
Flash
(yes/no)
Build-in
Image
Stab
Olympus PEN-F»2360 n 3.0 1037 swivel Y 8000 10.0 n Y
Panasonic LX100«2764 n 3.0 921 fixed n 4000 11.0 n Y
Canon G5 X« »2360 n 3.0 1040 swivel Y 2000 5.9 Y Y
Canon G1 X Mark II« »- n 3.0 1040 tilting Y 4000 5.2 Y Y
Fujifilm X30« »2360 n 3.0 920 tilting n 4000 12.0 Y Y
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 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 FZ1000« »2359 n 3.0 921 swivel n 4000 12.0 Y Y
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 LX100 are current models that good online retailers will have in stock. You can check the latest prices, for example, at amazon. Neither of the two has a direct predecessor, so perhaps they will constitute the origins of new camera lines for Olympus and Panasonic.

Review summary: Olympus PEN-F vs Panasonic LX100

So what conclusions can be drawn? Is the Olympus PEN-F better than the Panasonic LX100 or vice versa? Below is a summary of the relative strengths of each of the two contestants.

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Reasons to prefer the Olympus PEN-F:

  • More detail: Offers more megapixels (20.2 vs 12.7MP) with a 26% higher linear resolution.
  • 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.
  • Better image quality: Scores markedly higher (7 points) in the DXO overall assessment.
  • Better low-light sensitivity: Requires less light for good images (0.7 stops ISO advantage).
  • More detailed LCD: Has a higher resolution rear screen (1037k vs 921k dots).
  • More flexible LCD: Has swivel screen for odd-angle shots in portrait or landscape orientation.
  • Fewer buttons to press: Is equipped with a touch-sensitive rear screen to facilitate handling.
  • Faster shutter: Has higher mechanical shutter speed (8000/sec vs 4000/sec) to freeze action.
  • More flexible: Accepts interchangeable lenses, so that lens characteristics can be altered.
  • More modern: Is somewhat more recent (announced 1 year and 4 months after the LX100).

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Advantages of the Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX100:

  • 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).
  • More detailed viewfinder: Has higher resolution electronic viewfinder (2764k vs 2360k dots).
  • Ready to shoot: Has an integrated lens, whereas the PEN-F necessitates an extra lens.
  • More compact: Is smaller (115x66mm vs 125x72mm) and will fit more readily into a bag.
  • Less heavy: Has a lower weight even though it has a lens build in (unlike the PEN-F).
  • More affordable: Was introduced at a lower price, despite coming with a build-in lens.
  • More heavily discounted: Has been on the market for longer (launched in September 2014).

If the count of individual advantages (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the PEN-F emerges as the winner of the contest (11 : 8 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.

PEN-F 11:08 LX100

In any case, while the comparison of the spec-sheets of cameras can offer a general idea of their imaging potential, it remains partial and cannot reveal, for example, the handling experience and imaging performance when actually working with the PEN-F or the LX100. 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 hands-on reviews by experts are important. The table below summarizes the assessments of some of the best known camera review sites (cameralabs, dpreview, ephotozine, imaging-resource, photographyblog). You can find the full text of the reviews by clicking on the site logo in the table header.

Review scores
  Camera cameralabs dpreview ephotozine imaging-resource photographyblog Camera
Launch
(announced)
Launch
Price
(USD)
Street
Price
(USD)
Used
Price
(USD)
Olympus PEN-F»-82/1004.5/54.5/55/5 Jan 2016 1,199 i i
Panasonic LX100«HiRec85/1005/54/55/5 Sep 2014 899 i i
Canon G5 X« »HiRec78/1004.5/54/54.5/5 Oct 2015 799 i i
Canon G1 X Mark II« »Rec77/1004/54/54.5/5 Feb 2014 799 i i
Fujifilm X30« »-76/1004.5/54/54.5/5 Aug 2014 599 i i
Olympus E-M10 III« »Rec80/1004.5/5-4.5/5 Aug 2017 649 i i
Olympus E-M1 II« »HiRec85/1004.5/55/54.5/5 Sep 2016 1,999 i i
Olympus E-M10 II« »HiRec80/1005/55/55/5 Aug 2015 799- i
Olympus E-M5 II« »HiRec81/1005/54.5/55/5 Feb 2015 1,099 i i
Olympus E-M10« »-80/1005/54.5/55/5 Jan 2014 699- i
Olympus E-P5« »HiRec78/1004.5/54.5/55/5 May 2013 999- i
Panasonic GX85« »HiRec82/1005/54.5/55/5 Apr 2016 799 i i
Panasonic GX8« »Rec82/1004.5/55/54.5/5 Jul 2015 1,199- i
Panasonic FZ1000« »HiRec82/1004.5/54.5/54.5/5 Jun 2014 899- i
Sony A6500« »HiRec85/1004.5/55/54.5/5 Oct 2016 1,399 i i
Sony RX100 IV« »HiRec85/1004/54.5/54.5/5 Jun 2015 999- i

The above review scores should be interpreted with care, though. The ratings are only valid when refering 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? If you would like to see a different side-by-side camera review, just make a corresponding selection in the search boxes below. An an alternative, you can also directly jump to any one of the listed comparisons that were previously generated by the CAM-parator tool. If you do not see the camera that you are looking for, please send me an email, and I will try to locate and add the respective data to the application.

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