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Panasonic GH4 versus Olympus E-M5 II

The Panasonic Lumix DMC-GH4 and the Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark II are two enthusiast cameras that were officially introduced, respectively, in February 2014 and February 2015. Both the GH4 and the E-M5 II are mirrorless interchangeable lens cameras that are equipped with a Four Thirds sensor. Both cameras offer a resolution of 15.9 megapixel.

Body comparison

The physical size and weight of the Panasonic GH4 and the Olympus E-M5 II are illustrated in the side-by-side display below. Three consecutive views from the front, the top, and the rear side 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 GH4 – represents 100 percent across all the size and weight measures).

Panasonic GH4 vs Olympus E-M5 II front
GH4 versus E-M5 II top view
GH4 and E-M5 II rear side
Body view (GH4 on the left)

If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Olympus E-M5 II is notably smaller (15 percent) than the Panasonic GH4. Moreover, the E-M5 II is markedly lighter (16 percent) than the GH4. Cameras intended for semi-professional or professional use tend to be a bit bulkier in order to give them the necessary ruggedness. 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
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)
Panasonic GH4 (⇒ rgt) 5.2 in 3.7 in 3.3 in 19.8 oz 500 YES 2014 1,499discont. check
Olympus E-M5 II (⇒ lft) 4.9 in 3.3 in 1.8 in 16.5 oz 310 YES 2015 1,099 latest check
Canon 7D II (⇒ lft | rgt) 5.9 in 4.4 in 3.1 in 32.1 oz 670 YES 2014 1,799 latest check
Fujifilm X-T1 (⇒ lft | rgt) 5.1 in 3.5 in 1.9 in 15.5 oz 350 YES 2014 1,699discont. 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-M10 II (⇒ lft | rgt) 4.7 in 3.3 in 1.9 in 13.8 oz 320 no 2015 799discont. check
Olympus E-M10 (⇒ lft | rgt) 4.7 in 3.2 in 1.8 in 14.0 oz 320 no 2014 699discont. check
Olympus E-M1 (⇒ lft | rgt) 5.1 in 3.7 in 2.5 in 17.5 oz 350 YES 2013 1,399discont. check
Olympus E-M5 (⇒ lft | rgt) 4.8 in 3.5 in 1.7 in 15.0 oz .. YES 2012 1,299discont. check
Panasonic GH5 (⇒ lft | rgt) 5.5 in 3.9 in 3.4 in 25.6 oz 410 YES 2017 1,999 latest check
Panasonic G7 (⇒ lft | rgt) 4.9 in 3.4 in 3.0 in 14.5 oz 350 no 2015 649discont. check
Panasonic GM5 (⇒ lft | rgt) 3.9 in 2.4 in 1.4 in 7.4 oz 220 no 2014 749discont. check
Panasonic G6 (⇒ lft | rgt) 4.8 in 3.3 in 2.8 in 13.8 oz 340 no 2013 599discont. check
Panasonic GM1 (⇒ lft | rgt) 3.9 in 2.2 in 1.2 in 7.2 oz 230 no 2013 749discont. check
Panasonic GH3 (⇒ lft | rgt) 5.2 in 3.7 in 3.2 in 19.4 oz 540 YES 2012 1,299discont. check

The listed prices provide an indication of the market segment that the manufacturer of the cameras have been targeting. The E-M5 II was launched at a markedly lower price (by 27 percent) than the GH4, 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.

Sensor comparison

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 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.

Panasonic GH4 and Olympus E-M5 II sensor measures
Sensor size

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 GH4 and the E-M5 II have the same pixel density, as well as the same pixel size. It should, however, be noted that the E-M5 II is a somewhat more recent model (by 11 months) than the GH4, and its sensor might have benefitted from technological advances during this time.

GH4 versus E-M5 II MP
Sensor resolution

For most cameras, data on sensor performance has been reported by DXO Mark. 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"). The Overall DXO ratings for the two cameras under consideration are close, suggesting that they provide similar image quality. 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
(Megapixel)
Horiz.
Pixels
Vert.
Pixels
Video
Format
DXO
Portrait
DXO
Landscape
DXO
Sports
DXO
Overall
Panasonic GH4 (⇒ rgt) Four Thirds 15.9 4608 3456 4K/30p 23.2 12.8 791 74
Olympus E-M5 II (⇒ lft) Four Thirds 15.9 4608 3456 1080/60p 23.0 12.5 842 73
Canon 7D II (⇒ lft | rgt) APS-C 20.0 5472 3648 1080/60p 22.4 11.8 1082 70
Fujifilm X-T1 (⇒ lft | rgt) APS-C 16.0 4896 3264 1080/60p - - - -
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-M10 (⇒ lft | rgt) Four Thirds 15.9 4608 3456 1080/30p 22.8 12.3 884 72
Olympus E-M1 (⇒ lft | rgt) Four Thirds 15.9 4608 3456 1080/30p 23.0 12.7 757 73
Olympus E-M5 (⇒ lft | rgt) Four Thirds 15.9 4608 3456 1080/60i 22.8 12.3 826 71
Panasonic GH5 (⇒ lft | rgt) Four Thirds 20.2 5184 3888 4K/60p 23.9 13.0 807 77
Panasonic G7 (⇒ lft | rgt) Four Thirds 15.8 4592 3448 4K/30p - - - -
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 GH3 (⇒ lft | rgt) Four Thirds 15.9 4608 3456 1080/60p 22.7 12.4 812 71

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 GH4 provides a higher video resolution than the E-M5 II. It can shoot video footage at 4K/30p, while the Olympus is limited to 1080/60p.

Feature comparison

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 E-M5 II offers a slightly higher resolution than the one in the GH4 (2360k vs 2359k dots). The adjacent table lists some of the other core features of the Panasonic GH4 and Olympus E-M5 II 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
Panasonic GH4 (⇒ rgt) 2359 no 3.0 1036 swivel YES 8000 12.0 17 no
Olympus E-M5 II (⇒ lft) 2360 no 3.0 1037 swivel YES 8000 10.0 no YES
Canon 7D II (⇒ lft | rgt) optical YES 3.0 1040 fixed no 8000 10.0 11 no
Fujifilm X-T1 (⇒ lft | rgt) 2360 no 3.0 1040 tilting no 4000 8.0 no no
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-M10 (⇒ lft | rgt) 1440 no 3.0 1037 tilting YES 4000 8.0 5.8 YES
Olympus E-M1 (⇒ lft | rgt) 2360 no 3.0 1037 tilting YES 8000 10.0 no YES
Olympus E-M5 (⇒ lft | rgt) 1440 no 3.0 610 tilting YES 4000 9.0 no YES
Panasonic GH5 (⇒ lft | rgt) 3680 no 3.2 1620 swivel YES 8000 12.0 no YES
Panasonic G7 (⇒ lft | rgt) 2360 no 3.0 1040 swivel YES 4000 7.0 9.3 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 GH3 (⇒ lft | rgt) 1746 no 3.0 614 swivel YES 4000 6.0 12 no

The E-M5 II is a current model that online retailers, such as amazon, will have in stock. In contrast, the GH4 has been discontinued (but it can be found pre-owned on ebay). As a replacement in the same line of cameras, the GH4 was succeeded by the Panasonic GH5.

Summary

So what conclusions can be drawn? Is there a clear favorite between the Panasonic GH4 and the Panasonic GH4? Below is a summary of the relative strengths of each of the two contestants.


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Advantages of the Panasonic Lumix DMC-GH4:

  • Better video: Provides higher definition movie capture (4K/30p vs 1080/60p).
  • Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (12 vs 10 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
  • Longer lasting: Can take more shots (500 versus 310) on a single battery charge.
  • Easier fill-in: Is equipped with a small onboard flash to brighten deep shadow areas.
  • More heavily discounted: Has been on the market for longer (launched in February 2014).

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Reasons to prefer the Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark II:

  • More detailed viewfinder: Has a higher resolution electronic viewfinder (2360k vs 2359k dots).
  • More compact: Is smaller (124x85mm vs 133x93mm) and will fit more readily into a bag.
  • Less heavy: Has a lower weight (by 91g or 16 percent) and is thus easier to take along.
  • Sharper images: Has stabilization technology build-in to reduce the impact of hand-shake.
  • More affordable: Was introduced into a lower priced category (27 percent cheaper at launch).
  • More modern: Was introduced somewhat (11 months) more recently.

If the count of individual advantages (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the E-M5 II comes out slightly ahead of the GH4 (6 : 5 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.

GH4 05:06 E-M5 II

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 GH4 or the E-M5 II. 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 detailed reviews can be accessed, respectively, on the websites of 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)
Panasonic GH4 (⇒ rgt) HiRec 85/100 Gold 5/5 5/5 5/5 2014 1,499discont. check
Olympus E-M5 II (⇒ lft) HiRec 81/100 Silver 5/5 4.5/5 5/5 2015 1,099 latest check
Canon 7D II (⇒ lft | rgt) Rec 84/100 Silver 4/5 5/5 4.5/5 2014 1,799 latest check
Fujifilm X-T1 (⇒ lft | rgt) HiRec 84/100 Gold 5/5 4/5 5/5 2014 1,699discont. 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-M10 (⇒ lft | rgt) - 80/100 Gold 5/5 4.5/5 5/5 2014 699discont. check
Olympus E-M1 (⇒ lft | rgt) HiRec 84/100 Gold 4.5/5 4.5/5 4.5/5 2013 1,399discont. check
Olympus E-M5 (⇒ lft | rgt) HiRec 80/100 Gold 4.5/5 5/5 5/5 2012 1,299discont. check
Panasonic GH5 (⇒ lft | rgt) HiRec 85/100 Gold 4.5/5 5/5 5/5 2017 1,999 latest check
Panasonic G7 (⇒ lft | rgt) HiRec 80/100 Silver 5/5 4.5/5 4.5/5 2015 649discont. check
Panasonic GM5 (⇒ lft | rgt) Rec 77/100 Silver 5/5 5/5 4.5/5 2014 749discont. check
Panasonic G6 (⇒ lft | rgt) HiRec - 5/5 - 4.5/5 2013 599discont. check
Panasonic GM1 (⇒ lft | rgt) Rec 78/100 Gold 5/5 4.5/5 4.5/5 2013 749discont. check
Panasonic GH3 (⇒ lft | rgt) HiRec 79/100 Gold 4.5/5 5/5 4.5/5 2012 1,299discont. check

Care should be taken when interpreting the review scores above, 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 comparisons of ratings among very different cameras or across long time periods have little meaning. Also, kindly note that some of the listed sites have over time developped their review approaches and their reporting style.

Other comparisons

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. 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 cannot find the camera you are interested in, please send me an email, and I will try to add information on that model to the database.

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