Panasonic GF5 vs Olympus E-PL3
The Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF5 and the Olympus PEN E-PL3 are two digital cameras that were announced, respectively, in April 2012 and June 2011. Both the GF5 and the E-PL3 are mirrorless interchangeable lens cameras that are equipped with a Four Thirds sensor. The Panasonic has a resolution of 12 megapixels, whereas the Olympus provides 12.2 MP.
Below is an overview of the main specs of the two cameras as a starting point for the comparison.
|Panasonic GF5||Olympus E-PL3|
|Mirrorless system camera||Mirrorless system camera|
|Micro Four Thirds lenses||Micro Four Thirds lenses|
|12 MP, Four Thirds Sensor||12.2 MP, Four Thirds Sensor|
|1080/60i Video||1080/60i Video|
|ISO 160-6400 (160-12800)||ISO 200-12800|
|No viewfinder, LCD framing||Viewfinder optional|
|3.0" LCD, 920k dots||3.0" LCD, 460k dots|
|Fixed touchscreen||Tilting screen (not touch-sensitive)|
|4 shutter flaps per second||5.5 shutter flaps per second|
|Lens stabilization only||In-body stabilization|
|360 shots per battery charge||300 shots per battery charge|
|108 x 67 x 37 mm, 267 g||110 x 64 x 37 mm, 313 g|
Going beyond this snapshot of core features and characteristics, what are the differences between the Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF5 and the Olympus PEN E-PL3? 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 Panasonic GF5 and the Olympus E-PL3. The two cameras are presented according to their relative size. Three successive views from the front, the top, and the rear are shown. All size dimensions are rounded to the nearest millimeter.
The GF5 can be obtained in three different colors (black, red, white), while the E-PL3 is available in four color-versions (black, silver, red, white).
If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Olympus E-PL3 is somewhat smaller (3 percent) than the Panasonic GF5. However, the E-PL3 is markedly heavier (17 percent) than the GF5. In this context, it is worth noting that neither the GF5 nor the E-PL3 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.
|Panasonic GF5»||4.3 in||2.6 in||1.5 in||9.4 oz||360||n||Apr 2012||499||Panasonic GF5|
|Olympus E-PL3«||4.3 in||2.5 in||1.5 in||11.0 oz||300||n||Jun 2011||599||Olympus E-PL3|
|Olympus E-PL5« »||4.4 in||2.5 in||1.5 in||11.5 oz||360||n||Sep 2012||599||Olympus E-PL5|
|Olympus E-P3« »||4.8 in||2.7 in||1.3 in||13.0 oz||330||n||Jun 2011||799||Olympus E-P3|
|Olympus E-PL2« »||4.5 in||2.8 in||1.7 in||12.8 oz||280||n||Jan 2011||599||Olympus E-PL2|
|Olympus E-PM1« »||4.3 in||2.5 in||1.3 in||9.3 oz||330||n||Jun 2011||499||Olympus E-PM1|
|Olympus E-PL1« »||4.5 in||2.8 in||1.7 in||11.8 oz||290||n||Feb 2010||599||Olympus E-PL1|
|Panasonic G6« »||4.8 in||3.3 in||2.8 in||13.8 oz||340||n||Apr 2013||599||Panasonic G6|
|Panasonic GF6« »||4.4 in||2.6 in||1.5 in||11.4 oz||340||n||Apr 2013||499||Panasonic GF6|
|Panasonic LX7« »||4.4 in||2.7 in||1.8 in||10.5 oz||330||n||Jul 2012||499||Panasonic LX7|
|Panasonic GF3« »||4.3 in||2.6 in||1.3 in||9.3 oz||300||n||Jun 2011||549||Panasonic GF3|
|Panasonic G10« »||4.9 in||3.3 in||2.9 in||13.7 oz||380||n||Mar 2010||499||Panasonic G10|
|Panasonic G2« »||4.9 in||3.3 in||2.9 in||15.1 oz||360||n||Mar 2010||599||Panasonic G2|
|Panasonic GF2« »||4.4 in||2.7 in||1.3 in||10.9 oz||300||n||Nov 2010||549||Panasonic GF2|
|Panasonic G1« »||4.9 in||3.3 in||1.8 in||12.7 oz||410||n||Sep 2008||599||Panasonic G1|
|Note: Measurements and pricing do not include easily detachable parts, such as interchangeable lenses or optional viewfinders.|
The price is, of course, an important factor in any camera decision. 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 GF5 was launched at a somewhat lower price (by 17 percent) than the E-PL3, which makes it more attractive for photographers on a tight budget. 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.
The size of the sensor inside a digital camera is one of the key determinants 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.
While the two cameras under review share the same sensor size, the E-PL3 offers a slightly higher resolution of 12.2 megapixels, compared with 12 MP of the GF5. This megapixels advantage translates into a 0.8 percent gain in linear resolution. On the other hand, these sensor specs imply that the E-PL3 has a higher pixel density and a smaller size of the individual pixel (with a pixel pitch of 4.29μm versus 4.33μm for the GF5). Moreover, it should be noted, that the GF5 is a somewhat more recent model (by 9 months) than the E-PL3, and its sensor might have benefitted from technological advances during this time that further enhance the light gathering capacity of individual pixels.
The Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF5 has a native sensitivity range from ISO 160 to ISO 6400, which can be extended to ISO 160-12800. The corresponding ISO settings for the Olympus PEN E-PL3 are ISO 200 to ISO 12800 (no boost).
For many cameras, data on sensor performance has been reported by DXO Mark. 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 GF5 has a notably higher overall DXO score than the E-PL3 (overall score 9 points higher), which gives it an advantage in terms of imaging quality. This advantage is based on 0.5 bits higher color depth, 1.3 EV in additional dynamic range, and 0.3 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.
|Panasonic GF5||Four Thirds||12.0||4000||3000||1080/60i||21.4||11.6||618||61||Panasonic GF5|
|Olympus E-PL3||Four Thirds||12.2||4032||3024||1080/60i||20.9||10.3||499||52||Olympus E-PL3|
|Olympus E-PL5||Four Thirds||15.9||4608||3456||1080/30p||22.8||12.3||889||72||Olympus E-PL5|
|Olympus E-P3||Four Thirds||12.2||4032||3024||1080/60i||20.8||10.1||536||51||Olympus E-P3|
|Olympus E-PL2||Four Thirds||12.2||4032||3024||720/30p||21.4||10.2||573||55||Olympus E-PL2|
|Olympus E-PM1||Four Thirds||12.2||4032||3024||1080/60i||21.0||10.3||499||52||Olympus E-PM1|
|Olympus E-PL1||Four Thirds||12.2||4032||3024||720/30p||21.5||10.1||487||54||Olympus E-PL1|
|Panasonic G6||Four Thirds||15.9||4608||3456||1080/60p||21.3||11.5||639||61||Panasonic G6|
|Panasonic GF6||Four Thirds||15.8||4592||3448||1080/60i||20.7||10.6||622||54||Panasonic GF6|
|Panasonic LX7||1/1.7||10.0||3648||2736||1080/60p||20.7||11.7||147||50||Panasonic LX7|
|Panasonic GF3||Four Thirds||12.0||4000||3000||1080/60i||20.6||10.0||458||49||Panasonic GF3|
|Panasonic G10||Four Thirds||12.0||4000||3000||720/30p||21.2||10.1||411||52||Panasonic G10|
|Panasonic G2||Four Thirds||12.0||4000||3000||720/30p||21.2||10.3||493||53||Panasonic G2|
|Panasonic GF2||Four Thirds||12.0||4000||3000||1080/60i||21.2||10.3||506||54||Panasonic GF2|
|Panasonic G1||Four Thirds||12.0||4000||3000||none||21.1||10.3||463||53||Panasonic G1|
Many modern cameras are not only capable of taking still images, but also of capturing video footage. The two cameras under consideration both have sensors whose read-out speed is fast enough to capture moving pictures, and both provide the same movie specifications (1080/60i).
Apart from body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a range of features. The GF5 and the E-PL3 are similar in the sense that neither of the two has a viewfinder. The images are, thus, framed using live view on the rear LCD. That said, the E-PL3 can be equipped with an optional viewfinder – the VF-2. The table below summarizes some of the other core capabilities of the Panasonic GF5 and Olympus E-PL3 in connection with corresponding information for a sample of similar cameras.
|Panasonic GF5||none||n||3.0||920||fixed||Y||1/4000s||4.0||Y||n||Panasonic GF5|
|Olympus E-PL3||optional||n||3.0||460||tilting||n||1/4000s||5.5||n||Y||Olympus E-PL3|
|Olympus E-PL5||optional||n||3.0||460||tilting||Y||1/4000s||8.0||n||Y||Olympus E-PL5|
|Olympus E-P3||optional||n||3.0||614||fixed||Y||1/4000s||3.0||Y||Y||Olympus E-P3|
|Olympus E-PL2||optional||n||3.0||460||fixed||n||1/4000s||3.0||Y||Y||Olympus E-PL2|
|Olympus E-PM1||optional||n||3.0||460||fixed||n||1/4000s||5.5||n||Y||Olympus E-PM1|
|Olympus E-PL1||optional||n||2.7||230||fixed||n||1/2000s||3.0||Y||Y||Olympus E-PL1|
|Panasonic G6||1440||n||3.0||1036||swivel||Y||1/4000s||7.0||Y||n||Panasonic G6|
|Panasonic GF6||none||n||3.0||1040||tilting||Y||1/4000s||4.2||Y||n||Panasonic GF6|
|Panasonic LX7||optional||n||3.0||920||fixed||n||1/4000s||11.0||Y||Y||Panasonic LX7|
|Panasonic GF3||none||n||3.0||460||fixed||Y||1/4000s||3.2||Y||n||Panasonic GF3|
|Panasonic G10||202||n||3.0||460||fixed||n||1/4000s||2.6||Y||n||Panasonic G10|
|Panasonic G2||1440||n||3.0||460||swivel||Y||1/4000s||2.6||Y||n||Panasonic G2|
|Panasonic GF2||optional||n||3.0||460||fixed||Y||1/4000s||2.6||Y||n||Panasonic GF2|
|Panasonic G1||1440||n||3.0||460||swivel||n||1/4000s||3.0||Y||n||Panasonic G1|
One difference between the cameras concerns the presence of an on-board flash. The GF5 has one, while the E-PL3 does not. While the built-in flash of the GF5 is not very powerful, it can at times be useful as a fill-in light.The E-PL3 has an articulated screen that can be turned to be front-facing. This characteristic will be appreciated by vloggers and photographers who are interested in taking selfies. In contrast, the GF5 does not have a selfie-screen.
Concerning the storage of imaging data, both the GF5 and the E-PL3 write their files to SDXC cards. The GF5 supports UHS-I cards (Ultra High Speed data transfer of up to 104 MB/s), while the E-PL3 cannot take advantage of Ultra High Speed SD cards.
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 Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF5 and Olympus PEN E-PL3 and, in particular, the interfaces the cameras (and selected comparators) provide for accessory control and data transfer.
|Panasonic GF5||-||stereo||mono||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-||Panasonic GF5|
|Olympus E-PL3||Y||stereo||none||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-||Olympus E-PL3|
|Olympus E-PL5||Y||stereo||mono||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-||Olympus E-PL5|
|Olympus E-P3||Y||stereo||none||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-||Olympus E-P3|
|Olympus E-PL2||Y||stereo||none||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-||Olympus E-PL2|
|Olympus E-PM1||Y||stereo||mono||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-||Olympus E-PM1|
|Olympus E-PL1||Y||stereo||none||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-||Olympus E-PL1|
|Panasonic G6||Y||stereo||mono||Y||-||mini||2.0||Y||Y||-||Panasonic G6|
|Panasonic GF6||-||stereo||mono||-||-||mini||2.0||Y||Y||-||Panasonic GF6|
|Panasonic LX7||Y||stereo||mono||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-||Panasonic LX7|
|Panasonic GF3||-||stereo||mono||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-||Panasonic GF3|
|Panasonic G10||Y||mono||none||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-||Panasonic G10|
|Panasonic G2||Y||stereo||mono||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-||Panasonic G2|
|Panasonic GF2||Y||stereo||mono||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-||Panasonic GF2|
|Panasonic G1||Y||none||none||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-||Panasonic G1|
It is notable that the E-PL3 has a hotshoe, which makes it possible to easily attach optional accessories, such as an external flash gun. The GF5 does not feature such an accessory-socket.
Both the GF5 and the E-PL3 have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on eBay. The E-PL3 was replaced by the Olympus E-PL5, while the GF5 was followed by the Panasonic GF6. Further information on the two cameras (e.g. user guides, manuals), as well as related accessories, can be found on the official Panasonic and Olympus websites.
So how do things add up? Is there a clear favorite between the Panasonic GF5 and the Olympus E-PL3? Which camera is better? Below is a summary of the relative strengths of each of the two contestants.
Reasons to prefer the Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF5:
- Better image quality: Scores markedly higher (9 points) in the DXO overall assessment.
- More dynamic range: Captures a larger spectrum of light and dark details (1.3 EV of extra DR).
- More detailed LCD: Has a higher resolution rear screen (920k vs 460k dots).
- Fewer buttons to press: Is equipped with a touch-sensitive rear screen to facilitate handling.
- Less heavy: Is lighter (by 46g or 15 percent) and hence easier to carry around.
- Longer lasting: Can take more shots (360 versus 300) on a single battery charge.
- Easier fill-in: Is equipped with a small onboard flash to brighten deep shadow areas.
- Faster buffer clearing: Has an SD card interface that supports the UHS-I standard.
- More affordable: Was introduced into a lower priced segment (17 percent cheaper at launch).
- More modern: Is somewhat more recent (announced 9 months after the E-PL3).
Advantages of the Olympus PEN E-PL3:
- More framing options: Can be equipped with a hotshoe-mounted accessory-viewfinder.
- More flexible LCD: Has a tilting screen for odd-angle shots in landscape orientation.
- More selfie-friendly: Has an articulated screen that can be turned to be front-facing.
- Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (5.5 vs 4 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
- Sharper images: Has stabilization technology built-in to reduce the impact of hand-shake.
- Better lighting: Features a hotshoe and can thus hold and trigger an external flash gun.
- More heavily discounted: Has been on the market for longer (launched in June 2011).
If the count of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a measure, the GF5 emerges as the winner of the contest (10 : 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 before making a decision on a new camera. 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.
How about other alternatives? Do the specifications of the Panasonic GF5 and the Olympus E-PL3 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 partial and cannot reveal, for example, the shooting experience and imaging performance when actually working with the GF5 or the E-PL3. 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 where reviews by experts come in. 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.
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 rating-comparisons among cameras that span long time periods or concern very differently equipped models make little sense. Also, please note that some of the review sites have changed their methodology and reporting over time.
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 use the search menu below. There is also a set of direct links to comparison reviews that other users of the CAM-parator app explored.
- Canon 1D Mark IV vs Panasonic GF5
- Canon 1D X Mark II vs Panasonic GF5
- Canon 650D vs Panasonic GF5
- Canon G7 X Mark II vs Olympus E-PL3
- Hasselblad X1D vs Panasonic GF5
- Nikon A1000 vs Panasonic GF5
- Nikon D5 vs Olympus E-PL3
- Nikon Z6 vs Panasonic GF5
- Olympus E-P5 vs Panasonic GF5
- Olympus E-PL3 vs Panasonic G95
- Olympus E-PL3 vs Panasonic GH2
- Olympus E-PM1 vs Panasonic GF5
Specifications: Panasonic GF5 vs Olympus E-PL3
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||Panasonic GF5||Olympus E-PL3|
|Camera Type||Mirrorless system camera||Mirrorless system camera|
|Camera Lens||Micro Four Thirds lenses||Micro Four Thirds lenses|
|Launch Date||April 2012||June 2011|
|Launch Price||USD 499||USD 599|
|Sensor Specs||Panasonic GF5||Olympus E-PL3|
|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||12 Megapixels||12.2 Megapixels|
|Image Resolution||4000 x 3000 pixels||4032 x 3024 pixels|
|Pixel Pitch||4.33 μm||4.29 μm|
|Pixel Density||5.34 MP/cm2||5.42 MP/cm2|
|Moiré control||Anti-Alias filter||Anti-Alias filter|
|Movie Capability||1080/60i Video||1080/60i Video|
|ISO Setting||160-6400 ISO||200-12800 ISO|
|ISO Boost||160-12800 ISO||no Enhancement|
|Image Processor||Venus FHD||Truepic VI|
|DXO Sensor Quality (score)||61||52|
|DXO Color Depth (bits)||21.4||20.9|
|DXO Dynamic Range (EV)||11.6||10.3|
|DXO Low Light (ISO)||618||499|
|Screen Specs||Panasonic GF5||Olympus E-PL3|
|Viewfinder Type||No viewfinder||Viewfinder optional|
|LCD Framing||Live View||Live View|
|Rear LCD Size||3.0 inch||3.0 inch|
|LCD Resolution||920k dots||460k dots|
|LCD Attachment||Fixed screen||Tilting screen|
|Touch Input||Touchscreen||no Touchscreen|
|Shooting Specs||Panasonic GF5||Olympus E-PL3|
|Focus System||Contrast-detect AF||Contrast-detect AF|
|Continuous Shooting||4 shutter flaps/s||5.5 shutter flaps/s|
|Image Stabilization||Lens stabilization only||In-body stabilization|
|Fill Flash||Build-in Flash||no On-Board Flash|
|Storage Medium||SDXC cards||SDXC cards|
|Second Storage Option||Single card slot||Single card slot|
|UHS card support||UHS-I||no|
|Connectivity Specs||Panasonic GF5||Olympus E-PL3|
|External Flash||no Hotshoe||Hotshoe|
|USB Connector||USB 2.0||USB 2.0|
|HDMI Port||mini HDMI||mini HDMI|
|Wifi Support||no Wifi||no Wifi|
|Body Specs||Panasonic GF5||Olympus E-PL3|
|Battery Life (CIPA)||360 shots per charge||300 shots per charge|
108 x 67 x 37 mm
(4.3 x 2.6 x 1.5 in)
110 x 64 x 37 mm
(4.3 x 2.5 x 1.5 in)
|Camera Weight||267 g (9.4 oz)||313 g (11.0 oz)|
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