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Panasonic GH5 versus Olympus PEN-F

The Panasonic Lumix DC-GH5 and the Olympus PEN-F are two enthusiast cameras that were revealed to the public, respectively, in January 2017 and January 2016. Both the GH5 and the PEN-F are mirrorless interchangeable lens cameras that are equipped with a Four Thirds sensor. Both cameras offer a resolution of 20.2 megapixel. 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: Panasonic GH5 vs Olympus PEN-F

An illustration of the physical size and weight of the Panasonic GH5 and the Olympus PEN-F 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 GH5 – represents the basis or 100 percent across all the size and weight measures).

Snapsort Panasonic GH5 vs Olympus PEN-F
Compare GH5 versus PEN-F top
Compare GH5 and PEN-F rear

If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Olympus PEN-F is considerably smaller (34 percent) than the Panasonic GH5. Moreover, the PEN-F is substantially lighter (41 percent) than the GH5. It is worth mentioning in this context that the GH5 is splash and dust resistant, while the PEN-F does not feature any corresponding weather-sealing.

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.

Concerning battery life, the GH5 gets 410 shots out of its DMW-BLF19 battery, while the PEN-F can take 330 images on a single charge of its BLN-1 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)
Panasonic GH5» 5.5 in 3.9 in 3.4 in 25.6 oz 410 Y Jan 2017 1,999 i i
Olympus PEN-F« 4.9 in 2.8 in 1.5 in 15.1 oz 330 n Jan 2016 1,199 i i
Nikon D500« » 5.8 in 4.5 in 3.2 in 30.3 oz 1240 Y Jan 2016 1,999 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
Panasonic GH5s« » 5.5 in 3.9 in 3.4 in 23.3 oz 440 Y Jan 2018 2,499 i i
Panasonic G9« » 5.4 in 3.8 in 3.6 in 23.2 oz 400 Y Nov 2017 1,699 i i
Panasonic G85« » 5.0 in 3.5 in 2.9 in 17.8 oz 330 Y Sep 2016 899 i i
Panasonic GX8« » 5.2 in 3.1 in 2.5 in 17.2 oz 330 Y Jul 2015 1,199- i
Panasonic GH4« » 5.2 in 3.7 in 3.3 in 19.8 oz 500 Y Feb 2014 1,499- i
Sony A9« » 5.0 in 3.8 in 2.5 in 23.7 oz 650 Y Apr 2017 4,499 i i
Sony RX100 IV« » 4.0 in 2.3 in 1.6 in 10.5 oz 280 n Jun 2015 999- i
Sony A7 II« » 5.0 in 3.8 in 2.4 in 21.1 oz 350 Y Nov 2014 1,999- i
Sony A77« » 5.6 in 4.1 in 3.2 in 25.8 oz 470 Y Aug 2011 1,999- 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 PEN-F was launched at a markedly lower price (by 40 percent) than the GH5, 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: Panasonic GH5 vs Olympus PEN-F

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 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. 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.

Panasonic GH5 and Olympus PEN-F sensor measures

The two cameras under review do not only share the same sensor size, but also offer an identical resolution of 20.2 megapixel. This similarity in sensor specs implies that both the GH5 and the PEN-F have the same pixel density, as well as the same pixel size. It should, however, be noted that the GH5 is a somewhat more recent model (by 11 months) than the PEN-F, and its sensor might have benefitted from technological advances during this time. Coming back to sensor resolution, it should be mentioned that neither of the two cameras has an anti-alias filter installed, so they are able to capture all the detail the sensor resolves.

Unlike the GH5, 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).

GH5 versus PEN-F MP

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"). 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.

Sensor Characteristics
  Camera Sensor
Class
Resolution
(MP)
Horiz.
Pixels
Vert.
Pixels
Video
Format
DXO
Portrait
DXO
Landscape
DXO
Sports
DXO
Overall
Panasonic GH5» Four Thirds 20.2 5184 38884K/60p23.913.080777
Olympus PEN-F« Four Thirds 20.2 5184 38881080/60p23.112.489474
Nikon D500« » APS-C 20.7 5568 37124K/30p24.014.0132483
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
Panasonic GH5s« » Four Thirds 9.9 3680 27004K/60p----
Panasonic G9« » Four Thirds 20.2 5184 38884K/60p----
Panasonic G85« » Four Thirds 15.8 4592 34484K/30p22.812.565671
Panasonic GX8« » Four Thirds 20.2 5184 38884K/30p23.512.680675
Panasonic GH4« » Four Thirds 15.9 4608 34564K/30p23.212.879174
Sony A9« » Full Frame 24.0 6000 40004K/30p24.913.3351792
Sony RX100 IV« » 1-inch 20.0 5472 36484K/30p22.812.659170
Sony A7 II« » Full Frame 24.0 6000 40001080/60p24.913.6244990
Sony A77« » APS-C 24.0 6000 40001080/60p24.013.280178

Many modern cameras are not only capable of taking still images, but can also record movies. The two cameras under consideration both have sensors whose read-out speed is fast enough to capture moving pictures, but the GH5 provides a higher video resolution than the PEN-F. It can shoot video footage at 4K/60p, while the Olympus is limited to 1080/60p.

 

Feature comparison: Panasonic GH5 vs Olympus PEN-F

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 GH5 offers a substantially higher resolution than the one in the PEN-F (3680k vs 2360k dots). The adjacent table lists some of the other core features of the Panasonic GH5 and Olympus PEN-F 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
(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
Panasonic GH5»3680 n 3.2 1620 swivel Y 8000 12.0 n Y
Olympus PEN-F«2360 n 3.0 1037 swivel Y 8000 10.0 n Y
Nikon D500« »optical Y 3.2 2359 tilting Y 8000 10.0 n n
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
Panasonic GH5s« »3680 n 3.2 1620 swivel Y 8000 12.0 n n
Panasonic G9« »3680 Y 3.0 1040 swivel Y 8000 20.0 n Y
Panasonic G85« »2360 n 3.0 1040 swivel Y 4000 9.0 Y Y
Panasonic GX8« »2360 n 3.0 1040 swivel Y 8000 10.0 n Y
Panasonic GH4« »2359 n 3.0 1036 swivel Y 8000 12.0 Y n
Sony A9« »3686 n 3.0 1440 tilting Y 8000 20.0 n Y
Sony RX100 IV« »2359 n 3.0 1228 tilting n 2000 16.0 Y Y
Sony A7 II« »2400 n 3.0 1230 tilting n 8000 5.0 n Y
Sony A77« »2359 Y 3.0 921 full-flex n 8000 12.0 Y Y

Both the GH5 and the PEN-F are current models that good online retailers will have in stock. You can check the latest prices, for example, at amazon. The GH5 replaced the earlier Panasonic GH4, while the PEN-F does not have a direct predecessor.

Review summary: Panasonic GH5 vs Olympus PEN-F

So what is the bottom line? Which of the two cameras – the Panasonic GH5 or the Olympus PEN-F – has the upper hand? Below is a summary of the relative strengths of each of the two contestants.

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Advantages of the Panasonic Lumix DC-GH5:

  • More dynamic range: Captures a larger spectrum of light and dark details (0.6 EV of extra DR).
  • Better video: Provides higher definition movie capture (4K/60p vs 1080/60p).
  • More detailed viewfinder: Has higher resolution electronic viewfinder (3680k vs 2360k dots).
  • Larger screen: Has a bigger rear LCD (3.2" vs 3.0") for image review and settings control.
  • More detailed LCD: Has a higher resolution rear screen (1620k vs 1037k dots).
  • Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (12 vs 10 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
  • Longer lasting: Can take more shots (410 versus 330) on a single battery charge.
  • Better sealing: Is weather sealed to enable shooting in dusty or wet environments.
  • More modern: Is somewhat more recent (announced 11 months after the PEN-F).

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Arguments in favor of the Olympus PEN-F:

  • High quality composites: Can combine several shots after pixel-shifting its sensor.
  • More compact: Is smaller (125x72mm vs 139x98mm) and will fit more readily into a bag.
  • Less heavy: Has a lower weight (by 298g or 41 percent) and is thus easier to take along.
  • More affordable: Was introduced into a lower priced category (40 percent cheaper at launch).
  • More heavily discounted: Has been on the market for longer (launched in January 2016).

If the count of individual advantages (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the GH5 is the clear winner of the match-up (9 : 5 points). However, the pertinence of the various camera strengths will differ across photographers, so that you might want to weigh individual camera traits according to their importance for your own imaging needs before making a camera decision.

GH5 09:05 PEN-F

In any case, while the comparison of technical specifications can provide a useful overview of the capabilities of different cameras, it remains partial and cannot reveal, for example, the handling experience and imaging performance when actually working with the GH5 or the PEN-F. 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 table below summarizes the assessments of some of the best known camera review sites (cameralabs, dpreview, ephotozine, imaging-resource, photographyblog). The full reviews are available 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)
Panasonic GH5»HiRec85/1004.5/55/55/5 Jan 2017 1,999 i i
Olympus PEN-F«-82/1004.5/54.5/55/5 Jan 2016 1,199 i i
Nikon D500« »HiRec91/1004.5/55/55/5 Jan 2016 1,999 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
Panasonic GH5s« »-84/1004.5/5-4.5/5 Jan 2018 2,499 i i
Panasonic G9« »HiRec85/1005/5-5/5 Nov 2017 1,699 i i
Panasonic G85« »HiRec84/1005/54.5/54.5/5 Sep 2016 899 i i
Panasonic GX8« »Rec82/1004.5/55/54.5/5 Jul 2015 1,199- i
Panasonic GH4« »HiRec85/1005/55/55/5 Feb 2014 1,499- i
Sony A9« »HiRec89/1005/55/55/5 Apr 2017 4,499 i i
Sony RX100 IV« »HiRec85/1004/54.5/54.5/5 Jun 2015 999- i
Sony A7 II« »Rec82/1004.5/55/55/5 Nov 2014 1,999- i
Sony A77« »91/10081/100-4.5/55/5 Aug 2011 1,999- i

The review scores listed above should be treated with care, though. The ratings are only valid when refering to cameras in the same category and of the same age. Thus, a score needs to be put into the context of the launch date and the launch price of the camera, and rating-comparisons among cameras that span long time periods or concern very differently equipped models make little sense. Also, kindly note that some of the listed sites have over time developped their review approaches and their reporting style.

 

Other camera comparisons

Did this review help to inform your camera decision process? In case you are interested in seeing how other cameras pair up, just make a corresponding selection in the search boxes below. There is also a set of direct links to comparison reviews that other users of the CAM-parator app explored. 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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