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Olympus PEN-F versus Panasonic ZS100

The Olympus PEN-F and the Panasonic Lumix DMC-ZS100 (labelled Panasonic TZ100 in some countries) are two digital cameras that were announced in January 2016. The PEN-F is a mirrorless interchangeable lens camera, while the ZS100 is a fixed lens compact. The cameras are based on a Four Thirds (PEN-F) and an one-inch sensor. The Olympus has a resolution of 20.2 megapixel, whereas the Panasonic provides 20 MP.

Body comparison

An illustration of the physical size and weight of the Olympus PEN-F and the Panasonic ZS100 is provided 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 dimensions are rounded to the nearest millimeter. If you prefer, you can also use the toggle button to switch to a comparison in percentage 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).

Olympus PEN-F vs Panasonic ZS100 front
PEN-F versus ZS100 top view
PEN-F and ZS100 rear side
Body view (PEN-F on the left)

If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Panasonic ZS100 is notably smaller (20 percent) than the Olympus PEN-F. In this context, it is worth noting that neither the PEN-F nor the ZS100 are weather-sealed.

The above size and weight comparisons are to some extent incomplete and possibly misleading, as the ZS100 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.

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 comparisons there.

Camera Body Specifications
Camera Camera
Width
Camera
Height
Camera
Depth
Camera
Weight
Battery
Life
(CIPA)
Weather
Sealing
(y/n)
Camera
Launch
(year)
Launch
Price
(USD)
Street
Price
(amazon)
Used
Price
(ebay)
Olympus PEN-F (⇒ rgt) 125 mm 72 mm 37 mm 427 g 330 no 2016 1,199 latest check
Panasonic ZS100 (⇒ lft) 111 mm 65 mm 44 mm 312 g 300 no 2016 699 latest check
Canon M3 (⇒ lft | rgt) 111 mm 68 mm 44 mm 366 g 250 no 2015 679discont. check
Canon G5 X (⇒ lft | rgt) 112 mm 76 mm 44 mm 353 g 210 no 2015 799 latest check
Canon G7 X (⇒ lft | rgt) 103 mm 60 mm 40 mm 304 g 210 no 2014 699discont. check
Olympus E-M10 III (⇒ lft | rgt) 122 mm 84 mm 50 mm 410 g 330 no 2017 649 latest check
Olympus E-M1 II (⇒ lft | rgt) 134 mm 91 mm 67 mm 574 g 440 YES 2016 1,999 latest check
Olympus E-M10 II (⇒ lft | rgt) 120 mm 83 mm 47 mm 390 g 320 no 2015 799discont. check
Olympus E-M5 II (⇒ lft | rgt) 124 mm 85 mm 45 mm 469 g 310 YES 2015 1,099 latest check
Olympus E-M10 (⇒ lft | rgt) 119 mm 82 mm 46 mm 396 g 320 no 2014 699discont. check
Olympus E-P5 (⇒ lft | rgt) 122 mm 69 mm 37 mm 420 g 330 no 2013 999discont. check
Panasonic GX85 (⇒ lft | rgt) 122 mm 71 mm 44 mm 426 g 290 no 2016 799 latest check
Panasonic LX10 (⇒ lft | rgt) 106 mm 60 mm 42 mm 310 g 260 no 2016 699 latest check
Panasonic GX8 (⇒ lft | rgt) 133 mm 78 mm 63 mm 487 g 330 YES 2015 1,199 latest check
Sony A6500 (⇒ lft | rgt) 120 mm 67 mm 53 mm 453 g 350 YES 2016 1,399 latest check
Sony RX100 IV (⇒ lft | rgt) 102 mm 58 mm 41 mm 298 g 280 no 2015 999discont. check

The listed prices provide an indication of the market segment that the manufacturer of the cameras have been targeting. The ZS100 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

The size of the imaging sensor is a crucial determinant 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. Further, a large sensor camera will give the photographer additional creative options when using shallow depth-of-field to isolate a subject from its 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 PEN-F features a Four Thirds sensor and the Panasonic ZS100 an one-inch sensor. The sensor area in the ZS100 is 48 percent smaller. As a result of these sensor size differences, the cameras have a format factor of, respectively, 2.0 and 2.7. The sensor in the PEN-F has a native 4:3 aspect ratio, while the one in the ZS100 offers a 3:2 aspect.

Olympus PEN-F and Panasonic ZS100 sensor measures
Sensor size

With 20.2MP, the PEN-F offers a slightly higher resolution than the ZS100 (20MP), but the PEN-F nevertheless has larger individual pixels (pixel pitch of 3.34μm versus 2.41μm for the ZS100) due to its larger sensor. 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 the PEN-F has no anti-alias filter installed, so that it can capture all the detail its sensor resolves.

Unlike the ZS100, 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 ZS100 MP
Sensor resolution

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"). Of the two cameras under review, the PEN-F has a notably higher overall DXO score than the ZS100 (overall score 4 points higher), which gives it an advantage in terms of imaging quality. This advantage is based on 0.3 bits higher color depth, 0.1 EV of lower dynamic range, and 0.7 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.

Sensor Characteristics
Camera Sensor
Class
Resolution
(Megapixel)
Horiz.
Pixels
Vert.
Pixels
Video
Format
DXO
Portrait
DXO
Landscape
DXO
Sports
DXO
Overall
Olympus PEN-F (⇒ rgt) Four Thirds 20.2 5184 3888 1080/60p 23.1 12.4 894 74
Panasonic ZS100 (⇒ lft) 1-inch 20.0 5472 3648 4K/30p 22.8 12.5 559 70
Canon M3 (⇒ lft | rgt) APS-C 24.0 6000 4000 1080/30p 22.8 11.8 1169 72
Canon G5 X (⇒ lft | rgt) 1-inch 20.0 5472 3648 1080/60p - - - -
Canon G7 X (⇒ lft | rgt) 1-inch 20.0 5472 3648 1080/60p 23.0 12.7 556 71
Olympus E-M10 III (⇒ lft | rgt) Four Thirds 15.9 4608 3456 4K/30p .. .. .. ..
Olympus E-M1 II (⇒ lft | rgt) Four Thirds 20.2 5184 3888 4K/30p 23.7 12.8 1312 80
Olympus E-M10 II (⇒ lft | rgt) Four Thirds 15.9 4608 3456 1080/60p 23.1 12.5 842 73
Olympus E-M5 II (⇒ lft | rgt) Four Thirds 15.9 4608 3456 1080/60p 23.0 12.5 842 73
Olympus E-M10 (⇒ lft | rgt) Four Thirds 15.9 4608 3456 1080/30p 22.8 12.3 884 72
Olympus E-P5 (⇒ lft | rgt) Four Thirds 15.9 4608 3456 1080/30p 22.8 12.4 895 72
Panasonic GX85 (⇒ lft | rgt) Four Thirds 15.8 4592 3448 4K/30p 22.9 12.6 662 71
Panasonic LX10 (⇒ lft | rgt) 1-inch 20.0 5472 3648 4K/30p .. .. .. ..
Panasonic GX8 (⇒ lft | rgt) Four Thirds 20.2 5184 3888 4K/30p 23.5 12.6 806 75
Sony A6500 (⇒ lft | rgt) APS-C 24.0 6000 4000 4K/30p 24.5 13.7 1405 85
Sony RX100 IV (⇒ lft | rgt) 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 also of capturing video footage. Both cameras under consideration have a sensor with sufficiently fast read-out times for moving pictures, but the ZS100 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

Beyond body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a range of features. The two cameras under consideration are similar with respect to both having an electronic viewfinder. However, the one in the PEN-F offers a substantially higher resolution than the one in the ZS100 (2360k vs 1166k dots). The adjacent table lists some of the other core features of the Olympus PEN-F and Panasonic ZS100 along with similar information for a selection of comparators. If you need more detail on the specs, you can find comprehensive listings, for example, in the dpreview camera hub.

Core Features
Camera Viewfinder
(Type or
'000 dots)
Control
Panel
(Y/n)
LCD
Size
(inch)
LCD
Resolution
('000 dots)
LCD
Attach-
ment
Touch
Screen
(Y/n)
Shutter
speed
(1/sec)
Shutter
flaps
(1/sec))
Build-in
Flash
(GN)
Build-in
Image
Stab
Olympus PEN-F (⇒ rgt) 2360 no 3.0 1037 swivel YES 8000 10.0 no YES
Panasonic ZS100 (⇒ lft) 1166 no 3.0 1040 fixed YES 2000 10.0 YES YES
Canon M3 (⇒ lft | rgt) no no 3.0 1040 tilting YES 4000 4.2 5 no
Canon G5 X (⇒ lft | rgt) 2360 no 3.0 1040 swivel YES 2000 5.9 7 YES
Canon G7 X (⇒ lft | rgt) no no 3.0 1040 tilting YES 2000 6.5 7 YES
Olympus E-M10 III (⇒ lft | rgt) 2360 no 3.0 1040 tilting YES 4000 8.6 5.8 YES
Olympus E-M1 II (⇒ lft | rgt) 2360 no 3.0 1037 swivel YES 8000 18.0 no YES
Olympus E-M10 II (⇒ lft | rgt) 2360 no 3.0 1040 tilting YES 4000 8.0 5.8 YES
Olympus E-M5 II (⇒ lft | rgt) 2360 no 3.0 1037 swivel YES 8000 10.0 no YES
Olympus E-M10 (⇒ lft | rgt) 1440 no 3.0 1037 tilting YES 4000 8.0 5.8 YES
Olympus E-P5 (⇒ lft | rgt) no no 3.0 1037 tilting YES 8000 9.0 7 YES
Panasonic GX85 (⇒ lft | rgt) 2765 no 3.0 1040 tilting YES 4000 8.0 6 YES
Panasonic LX10 (⇒ lft | rgt) no no 3.0 1040 tilting YES 4000 10.0 12.1 YES
Panasonic GX8 (⇒ lft | rgt) 2360 no 3.0 1040 swivel YES 8000 10.0 no YES
Sony A6500 (⇒ lft | rgt) 2300 no 3.0 922 tilting YES 4000 11.0 6 YES
Sony RX100 IV (⇒ lft | rgt) 2359 no 3.0 1228 tilting no 2000 16.0 10.2 YES

Both the PEN-F and the ZS100 are current models that good online retailers will have in stock. You can check the latest prices, for example, at amazon. The ZS100 replaced the earlier Panasonic ZS50, while the PEN-F does not have a direct predecessor.

Summary

So what conclusions can be drawn? Is there a clear favorite between the Olympus PEN-F and the Olympus PEN-F? The listing below highlights the relative strengths of the two models.


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Arguments in favor of 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.
  • Better image quality: Scores markedly higher (4 points) in the DXO overall assessment.
  • Better low-light sensitivity: Requires less light for good images (0.7 stops ISO advantage).
  • More detailed viewfinder: Has higher resolution electronic viewfinder (2360k vs 1166k dots).
  • More flexible LCD: Has swivel screen for odd-angle shots in portrait or landscape orientation.
  • Faster shutter: Has higher mechanical shutter speed (8000/sec vs 2000/sec) to freeze action.
  • More flexible: Accepts interchangeable lenses, so that lens characteristics can be altered.

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Advantages of the Panasonic Lumix DMC-ZS100:

  • 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).
  • Ready to shoot: Has an integrated lens, whereas the PEN-F necessitates an extra lens.
  • More compact: Is smaller (111x65mm 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).
  • Easier fill-in: Has a small integrated flash to brighten shadows of backlit subjects.
  • More affordable: Was introduced at a lower price, despite coming with a build-in lens.

If the count of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a measure, the PEN-F comes out slightly ahead of the ZS100 (8 : 7 points). However, the relative importance of the various individual camera aspects will vary according to personal preferences and needs, so that you might like to apply corresponding weights to the particular features.

PEN-F 08:07 ZS100

In any case, while the comparison of the spec-sheets of cameras can offer a general idea of their imaging potential, it remains incomplete and does no justice, for example, to the way the PEN-F or the ZS100 handle or perform in practice. User reviews, such as those found at amazon, can sometimes inform about these issues, but such feedback is often incomplete, inconsistent, and biased. This is where reviews by experts come in. The table below summarizes the assessments of some of the best known camera review sites. The full reviews are available, respectively, at cameralabs.com, dpreview.com, ephotozine.com, imaging-resource.com, and photographyblog.com.

Review scores
Camera camera
labs
dp
review
ephoto
zine
imaging
resource
photography
blog
Camera
Launch
(year)
Launch
Price
(USD)
Street
Price
(amazon)
Used
Price
(ebay)
Olympus PEN-F (⇒ rgt) - 82/100 Silver 4.5/5 4.5/5 5/5 2016 1,199 latest check
Panasonic ZS100 (⇒ lft) HiRec 82/100 Gold 4.5/5 4/5 4.5/5 2016 699 latest check
Canon M3 (⇒ lft | rgt) reviewed 75/100 4.5/5 4.5/5 4/5 2015 679discont. check
Canon G5 X (⇒ lft | rgt) HiRec 78/100 Silver 4.5/5 4/5 4.5/5 2015 799 latest check
Canon G7 X (⇒ lft | rgt) HiRec 77/100 Silver 4.5/5 3.5/5 4.5/5 2014 699discont. check
Olympus E-M10 III (⇒ lft | rgt) Rec 80/100 4.5/5 .. 4.5/5 2017 649 latest check
Olympus E-M1 II (⇒ lft | rgt) HiRec 85/100 Gold 4.5/5 5/5 4.5/5 2016 1,999 latest check
Olympus E-M10 II (⇒ lft | rgt) HiRec 80/100 Silver 5/5 5/5 5/5 2015 799discont. check
Olympus E-M5 II (⇒ lft | rgt) HiRec 81/100 Silver 5/5 4.5/5 5/5 2015 1,099 latest check
Olympus E-M10 (⇒ lft | rgt) - 80/100 Gold 5/5 4.5/5 5/5 2014 699discont. check
Olympus E-P5 (⇒ lft | rgt) HiRec 78/100 Silver 4.5/5 4.5/5 5/5 2013 999discont. check
Panasonic GX85 (⇒ lft | rgt) HiRec 82/100 Silver 5/5 4.5/5 5/5 2016 799 latest check
Panasonic LX10 (⇒ lft | rgt) HiRec 81/100 Silver 4/5 4.5/5 4.5/5 2016 699 latest check
Panasonic GX8 (⇒ lft | rgt) Rec 82/100 Silver 4.5/5 5/5 4.5/5 2015 1,199 latest check
Sony A6500 (⇒ lft | rgt) HiRec 85/100 Silver 4.5/5 5/5 4.5/5 2016 1,399 latest check
Sony RX100 IV (⇒ lft | rgt) HiRec 85/100 Gold 4/5 4.5/5 4.5/5 2015 999discont. check

The above review scores should be interpreted 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.

Other comparisons

In case you would like to check on the differences and similarities of other camera models, just use the search menu 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 the camera you are interested in is not available, kindly get in touch, and I will try to locate and add the respective data to the application.

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