Panasonic GH3 versus Olympus E-M5
The Panasonic Lumix DMC-GH3 and the Olympus OM-D E-M5 are two enthusiast cameras that were officially introduced, respectively, in September 2012 and February 2012. Both the GH3 and the E-M5 are mirrorless interchangeable lens cameras that are equipped with a Four Thirds sensor. Both cameras offer a resolution of 15.9 megapixel.
The side-by-side display below illustrates the physical size and weight of the Panasonic GH3 and the Olympus E-M5. 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. 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 side – the GH3 – represents the basis for the calculations across all the size and weight measures).
If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Olympus E-M5 is notably smaller (12 percent) than the Panasonic GH3. Moreover, the E-M5 is markedly lighter (23 percent) than the GH3. In this context, it is worth noting that both cameras are splash and dust-proof and can, hence, be used in inclement weather conditions or harsh environments.
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 find an overview of suitable optics 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. 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
|Panasonic GH3 (⇒ rgt)||5.2 in||3.7 in||3.2 in||19.4 oz||540||YES||2012||1,299||discont.||check|
|Olympus E-M5 (⇒ lft)||4.8 in||3.5 in||1.7 in||15.0 oz||..||YES||2012||1,299||discont.||check|
|Olympus E-M1 II (⇒ lft | rgt)||5.3 in||3.6 in||2.6 in||20.2 oz||440||YES||2016||1,999||latest||check|
|Olympus E-M5 II (⇒ lft | rgt)||4.9 in||3.3 in||1.8 in||16.5 oz||310||YES||2015||1,099||latest||check|
|Olympus E-M1 (⇒ lft | rgt)||5.1 in||3.7 in||2.5 in||17.5 oz||350||YES||2013||1,399||discont.||check|
|Olympus E-P5 (⇒ lft | rgt)||4.8 in||2.7 in||1.5 in||14.8 oz||330||no||2013||999||discont.||check|
|Panasonic G85 (⇒ lft | rgt)||5.0 in||3.5 in||2.9 in||17.8 oz||330||YES||2016||899||latest||check|
|Panasonic GH4 (⇒ lft | rgt)||5.2 in||3.7 in||3.3 in||19.8 oz||500||YES||2014||1,499||discont.||check|
|Panasonic GM5 (⇒ lft | rgt)||3.9 in||2.4 in||1.4 in||7.4 oz||220||no||2014||749||discont.||check|
|Panasonic G6 (⇒ lft | rgt)||4.8 in||3.3 in||2.8 in||13.8 oz||340||no||2013||599||discont.||check|
|Panasonic GM1 (⇒ lft | rgt)||3.9 in||2.2 in||1.2 in||7.2 oz||230||no||2013||749||discont.||check|
|Panasonic GX7 (⇒ lft | rgt)||4.8 in||2.8 in||2.2 in||14.2 oz||350||no||2013||999||discont.||check|
|Panasonic GH2 (⇒ lft | rgt)||4.9 in||3.5 in||3.0 in||15.6 oz||330||no||2010||1,499||discont.||check|
The listed prices provide an indication of the market segment that the manufacturer of the cameras have been targeting. The two cameras under review were launched at the same price and fall into the same 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 sensor inside a digital camera is one of the key determinants 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 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.
The two cameras under review do not only share the same sensor size, but also offer an identical resolution of 15.9 megapixel. This similarity in sensor specs implies that both the GH3 and the E-M5 have the same pixel density, as well as the same pixel size. It should, however, be noted that the GH3 is a somewhat more recent model (by 7 months) than the E-M5, and its sensor might have benefitted from technological advances during this time.
For most cameras, data on sensor performance has been reported by DXO Mark. 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 image quality. The following table provides an overview of the physical sensor characteristics, as well as the sensor quality measurements for a selection of comparators.
|Panasonic GH3 (⇒ rgt)||Four Thirds||15.9||4608||3456||1080/60p||22.7||12.4||812||71|
|Olympus E-M5 (⇒ lft)||Four Thirds||15.9||4608||3456||1080/60i||22.8||12.3||826||71|
|Olympus E-M1 II (⇒ lft | rgt)||Four Thirds||20.2||5184||3888||4K/30p||23.7||12.8||1312||80|
|Olympus E-M5 II (⇒ lft | rgt)||Four Thirds||15.9||4608||3456||1080/60p||23.0||12.5||842||73|
|Olympus E-M1 (⇒ lft | rgt)||Four Thirds||15.9||4608||3456||1080/30p||23.0||12.7||757||73|
|Olympus E-P5 (⇒ lft | rgt)||Four Thirds||15.9||4608||3456||1080/30p||22.8||12.4||895||72|
|Panasonic G85 (⇒ lft | rgt)||Four Thirds||15.8||4592||3448||4K/30p||22.8||12.5||656||71|
|Panasonic GH4 (⇒ lft | rgt)||Four Thirds||15.9||4608||3456||4K/30p||23.2||12.8||791||74|
|Panasonic GM5 (⇒ lft | rgt)||Four Thirds||15.8||4592||3448||1080/60p||22.1||11.7||721||66|
|Panasonic G6 (⇒ lft | rgt)||Four Thirds||15.9||4608||3456||1080/60p||21.3||11.5||639||61|
|Panasonic GM1 (⇒ lft | rgt)||Four Thirds||15.8||4592||3448||1080/60i||22.3||11.7||660||66|
|Panasonic GX7 (⇒ lft | rgt)||Four Thirds||15.8||4592||3448||1080/60p||22.6||12.2||718||70|
|Panasonic GH2 (⇒ lft | rgt)||Four Thirds||15.9||4608||3456||1080/60i||21.2||11.3||655||60|
Many modern cameras cannot only take still pictures, but also record videos. The two cameras under consideration both have sensors whose read-out speed is fast enough to capture moving pictures, but the GH3 provides a higher frame rate than the E-M5. It can shoot video footage at 1080/60p, while the Olympus is limited to 1080/60i.
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 GH3 offers a higher resolution than the one in the E-M5 (1746k vs 1440k dots). The adjacent table lists some of the other core features of the Panasonic GH3 and Olympus E-M5 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.
|Panasonic GH3 (⇒ rgt)||1746||no||3.0||614||swivel||YES||4000||6.0||12||no|
|Olympus E-M5 (⇒ lft)||1440||no||3.0||610||tilting||YES||4000||9.0||no||YES|
|Olympus E-M1 II (⇒ lft | rgt)||2360||no||3.0||1037||swivel||YES||8000||18.0||no||YES|
|Olympus E-M5 II (⇒ lft | rgt)||2360||no||3.0||1037||swivel||YES||8000||10.0||no||YES|
|Olympus E-M1 (⇒ lft | rgt)||2360||no||3.0||1037||tilting||YES||8000||10.0||no||YES|
|Olympus E-P5 (⇒ lft | rgt)||no||no||3.0||1037||tilting||YES||8000||9.0||7||YES|
|Panasonic G85 (⇒ lft | rgt)||2360||no||3.0||1040||swivel||YES||4000||9.0||6.2||YES|
|Panasonic GH4 (⇒ lft | rgt)||2359||no||3.0||1036||swivel||YES||8000||12.0||17||no|
|Panasonic GM5 (⇒ lft | rgt)||1166||no||3.0||921||fixed||YES||500||5.8||no||no|
|Panasonic G6 (⇒ lft | rgt)||1440||no||3.0||1036||swivel||YES||4000||7.0||10.5||no|
|Panasonic GM1 (⇒ lft | rgt)||no||no||3.0||1036||fixed||YES||500||5.0||4||no|
|Panasonic GX7 (⇒ lft | rgt)||2760||no||3.0||1040||tilting||YES||8000||5.0||7||YES|
|Panasonic GH2 (⇒ lft | rgt)||1534||no||3.0||460||swivel||no||4000||3.0||15.6||no|
Both the GH3 and the E-M5 have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on ebay. The E-M5 was replaced by the Olympus E-M5 II, while the GH3 was followed by the Panasonic GH4.
So how do things add up? Is there a clear favorite between the Panasonic GH3 and the Panasonic GH3? A synthesis of the relative strong points of each of the models is listed below.
Advantages of the Panasonic Lumix DMC-GH3:
- Better video: Provides higher movie framerates (1080/60p vs 1080/60i).
- More detailed viewfinder: Has a higher resolution electronic viewfinder (1746k vs 1440k dots).
- More flexible LCD: Has a swivel screen for odd-angle shots in portrait or landscape orientation.
- Easier fill-in: Is equipped with a small onboard flash to brighten deep shadow areas.
- More modern: Is somewhat more recent (announced 7 months after the E-M5).
Arguments in favor of the Olympus OM-D E-M5:
- Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (9 vs 6 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
- More compact: Is smaller (122x89mm vs 133x93mm) and will fit more readily into a bag.
- Less heavy: Has a lower weight (by 125g or 23 percent) and is thus easier to take along.
- Sharper images: Has stabilization technology build-in to reduce the impact of hand-shake.
- More heavily discounted: Has been on the market for longer (launched in September 2012).
If the count of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a measure, the match-up finishes in a tie (5 points each). 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.
In any case, while the comparison of the spec-sheets of cameras can offer a general idea of their imaging potential, it says nothing about, for example, the handling, responsiveness, and overall imaging quality of the GH3 and the E-M5 in practical situations. 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 following table reports the overall rankings of the cameras as published by some of the major camera review sites. The full reviews are available, respectively, at cameralabs.com, dpreview.com, ephotozine.com, imaging-resource.com, and photographyblog.com.
|Panasonic GH3 (⇒ rgt)||HiRec||79/100 Gold||4.5/5||5/5||4.5/5||2012||1,299||discont.||check|
|Olympus E-M5 (⇒ lft)||HiRec||80/100 Gold||4.5/5||5/5||5/5||2012||1,299||discont.||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-M5 II (⇒ lft | rgt)||HiRec||81/100 Silver||5/5||4.5/5||5/5||2015||1,099||latest||check|
|Olympus E-M1 (⇒ lft | rgt)||HiRec||84/100 Gold||4.5/5||4.5/5||4.5/5||2013||1,399||discont.||check|
|Olympus E-P5 (⇒ lft | rgt)||HiRec||78/100 Silver||4.5/5||4.5/5||5/5||2013||999||discont.||check|
|Panasonic G85 (⇒ lft | rgt)||HiRec||84/100 Gold||5/5||4.5/5||4.5/5||2016||899||latest||check|
|Panasonic GH4 (⇒ lft | rgt)||HiRec||85/100 Gold||5/5||5/5||5/5||2014||1,499||discont.||check|
|Panasonic GM5 (⇒ lft | rgt)||Rec||77/100 Silver||5/5||5/5||4.5/5||2014||749||discont.||check|
|Panasonic G6 (⇒ lft | rgt)||HiRec||-||5/5||-||4.5/5||2013||599||discont.||check|
|Panasonic GM1 (⇒ lft | rgt)||Rec||78/100 Gold||5/5||4.5/5||4.5/5||2013||749||discont.||check|
|Panasonic GX7 (⇒ lft | rgt)||Rec||79/100 Silver||5/5||4.5/5||5/5||2013||999||discont.||check|
|Panasonic GH2 (⇒ lft | rgt)||86/100 HiRec||79/100 Silver||4.5/5||4.5/5||5/5||2010||1,499||discont.||check|
The above review scores should be interpreted with care, though. The assessments were made in relation to similar cameras of the same technological generation. A score, therefore, has to be seen in close connection to the price and market introduction time of the camera, 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.
In case you are interested in seeing how other cameras pair up, just make your choice using the following search menu. There is also a set of direct links to comparison reviews that other users of the CAM-parator app explored. If the camera you are interested in is not available, please contact me, and I will try to add information on that model to the database.
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