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When introduced, the Panasonic Lumix GX7 came with some bold claims, including better noise performance than the Olympus OM-D E-M5. As these two cameras are available at a similar price, and have a similar set of features, such as 9fps continuous shooting, build in electronic viewfinder, and built in image stabilisation, we thought it would be worth comparing the two models to find out which is best.
Read the full Panasonic Lumix GX7 Review
Read the full Olympus OM-D E-M5 Review
The Panasonic Lumix GX7 and Olympus OM-D E-M5 share a number of key features, they are both Micro Four Thirds cameras, with a 16 megapixel sensor, 9fps continuous shooting, 3inch tilting screen, and they both have a built-in electronic viewfinder. Here similarities diminish, with the GX7 featuring a tilting EVF and built-in pop up flash with rangefinder styling, while the OM-D E-M5 does not feature a flash, but does have a weather sealed body and Digital SLR stlying with a raised area for the viewfinder and flash hot-shoe.
Both cameras feature in body image stabilisation, with the Olympus OM-D E-M5 featuring the impressive 5-axis image stabilisation, while the Panasonic Lumix GX7, features 2-axis sensor shift image stabilisation, instead suggesting that lens based optical image stabilisation is preferable if available.
Key Features Comparison Table:
|Olympus OM-D E-M5||Panasonic Lumix GX7|
|16.1 megapixel sensor||16 megapixel sensor|
|5-axis image stabilisation - up to 5EV||Image Sensor Shift Type (2-axis)|
|3 inch OLED 610k dot tilting touch-screen||3 inch 1040k dot tilting touch-screen|
|9fps, 4.2fps continuous shooting with AF||9fps (electronic), 5.3fps mechanical, 4.2fps continuous AF|
|1/4000s mechanical shutter||1/8000s mechanical shutter|
|1/180s x-sync external flash, 1/250s attached||1/320 second|
|Full HD, MPEG4 MOV, 720p MJPEG, 30p||Full HD, AVCHD, MP4, 50/25/24p|
|Stereo mics, accessory port for microphone etc||Stereo mic|
|ISO range 200-25600 (Lowest ISO200)||ISO range 125-25600 (extends to low 125)|
|2 axis electronic spirit level||2 axis electronic spirit level|
|2 Function buttons (dedicated)||4 physical function buttons|
1.44 million dot EVF
Field of view Approx. 100%
Max. 1.15x with a 50mm lens set to infinity at -1 dioptre
18mm at -1 dioptre from eyepiece lens
-4.0 to +2.0 diopters
2.764 million dot tilting EVF
Field of view Approx. 100%
Approx. 1.39x / 0.7x (35mm camera equivalent) with 50mm lens at infinity; -1.0 m -1
Approx.17.5mm from eyepiece lens
-4.0 to +3.0 diopters
|N/A||Wi-Fi built-in / NFC|
|External flash included (Guide 10, ISO200)||Built-in pop-up flash (GN7.0 equivalent, ISO 200)|
|Weather sealed body, battery grip available (adds function buttons)||N/A|
330 shot battery life
320 shot battery life (with H-H020A),
350 shots with 14-42mm
|Weight: 425g (SD card, Battery, Body)||Weight: 402g (SD card, Battery, Body)|
|Size: 121 x 89.6 x 41.9mm||122.6 x 70.7 x 43.3mm|
|Body only: £795 (RRP £999)||Body only: £819 (RRP £819)|
If you want some of the more advanced features of the GX7 in an Olympus camera then you would need to look at the Olympus PEN E-P5, with 5-axis IS, ISO100-25600, focus peaking, Wi-Fi built-in, built-in pop up flash (GN 10), 400 shot battery life, 9fps continuous shooting, 5fps continuous AF, 1/8000s shutter speed, 3inch 1037k dot touch screen, and a slightly smaller body. The Olympus PEN E-P5 doesn't feature a built-in electronic viewfinder, however, the VF-4 is available and is a tilting electronic viewfinder with impressive specifications.
The two cameras are roughly the same weight, with the Olympus OM-D E-M5 coming in at slightly heavier. It's also slightly smaller in width and depth, although taller in the middle due to the raised flash hot-shoe. The Panasonic Lumix GX7 manages an impressive feat putting a tilting EVF, flash hot-shoe, and pop up flash all in the top plate, as well as a control wheel around the shutter release.
The GX7 has a large front rubberised grip, that extends around to the back. The front grip on the OM-D slightly lacking with a textured pattern, but it is not rubberised, although the optional battery grip helps here, as well as the protruding rubber grip at the back.
Both cameras feature metal bodies, although the Olympus OM-D E-M5 with weather sealed body does feel slightly stronger, with a weather sealed battery cover and side memory card slot compared to the plastic battery / memory cover on the GX7.
The EVF on the GX7 is a 16:9 aspect ratio unit, and promises 100% color reproduction in Adobe RGB, with a resolution of 2764k dots. The E-M5 electronic viewfinder has a 4:3 aspect ratio, 1.44 million dots (SVGA), and is made by Epson.
The GX7 screen tilts to the same amount as the OM-D E-M5 both up and down, although the GX7 is thinner in comparison. The Q. Menu on the Panasonic gives quick access to a number of useful settings, making it easy to change setting.
On the Olympus you press the OK button to get an overlaid view of settings that you can scroll through. To access a "Super Control Panel" to get quick access to settings you have to enable this feature in the menus, and even then it isn't always so easy to access.
The full Panasonic menus are clearly laid out and easy to navigate. Unfortunately the same can't be said for Olympus menus, which by default show a fairly basic set of options. To get the full set of menus you need to enable the custom menus then you get several pages of options.
Battery life - The GX7 offers up to 320 shots with the with 20mm lens or 350 shots with the 14-42mm lens. The Olympus OM-D E-M5 offers 330 shots, with both cameras battery life being quite short compared to the 400 shots offered by the Olympus PEN E-P5.
Speed - We took a number of shots to test the camera's responsiveness, from switch on to first photo, shot to shot, focusing speed etc. We take a number of shots and then use the average to ensure accurate and consistent tests, making it easy to compare with other cameras.
|Panasonic Lumix GX7||Olympus OM-D E-M5|
|Wide - Focus / Shutter Response||0.175||0.125|
|Full zoom - Focus / Shutter Response||0.175||0.2|
|Switch on Time to Taking a Photo||1.1||1.0|
|Shot to Shot without flash||0.4||0.3-0.4|
|Shot to Shot with Flash||1.0||1.5|
Continuous Shooting - JPEG
(shots before slow down)
5.3fps (63 shots)
9fps electronic (24 shots)
9fps (19 shots)
|Continuous Shooting - Flash||N/A||1.4s|
|Continuous Shooting - RAW||5fps (10 shots)||9fps (16 shots)|
Quicker RAW shooting with the OM-D, as well as the mechanical shutter being able to shoot at 9fps, while the GX7 needs to be switched to the electronic shutter before 9fps is possible.
Here is a comparison of ISO and white balance images taken on both the Panasonic Lumix GX7 and Olympus OM-D E-M5. Click "High-Res" to view the full size originals. Additional sample photos and product shots are available in the Panasonic Lumix GX7 Review, and Olympus OM-D E-M5 Review.
Olympus OM-D E-M5 ISO test images
1/8 sec | f/6.0 | 43.0 mm | ISO 200
1/15 sec | f/6.0 | 43.0 mm | ISO 400
1/30 sec | f/6.0 | 43.0 mm | ISO 800
1/60 sec | f/6.0 | 43.0 mm | ISO 1600
1/100 sec | f/6.3 | 43.0 mm | ISO 3200
1/160 sec | f/7.1 | 43.0 mm | ISO 6400
1/200 sec | f/9.0 | 43.0 mm | ISO 12800
1/250 sec | f/10.0 | 43.0 mm | ISO 16000
1/250 sec | f/10.0 | 43.0 mm | ISO 20000
1/320 sec | f/10.0 | 43.0 mm | ISO 25600
Panasonic Lumix GX7 ISO test images
The GX7 ISO range goes from ISO200 to ISO25600, and the lowest ISO setting can be extended to ISO125, while the OM-D E-M5 goes from ISO200 to ISO25600 with no lower ISO setting available. Shown below are 100% actual pixels crops from the ISO images.
Compared to the Olympus OM-D E-M5, the GX7 images at ISO125 and ISO200 show smoother results, with slightly less grain visible, although the E-M5 shows more fine detail. Noise results at ISO400, ISO800, and ISO1600 are very similar, however with the E-M5 retaining slightly more fine detail. This is the case at ISO3200, where noise results are very similar, although there is a slightly higher level of noise in mid greys from the GX7.
Again at ISO6400 results are very similar, with both cameras smudging detail. At ISO12800 image quality from the E-M5 deteriorates, and at ISO25600 the images from the GX7 show better results, although the highest ISO setting on both cameras is best avoided if at all possible. We shot the GX7 images using manual white balance, as the camera struggled with white balance under mixed lighting.
Olympus OM-D E-M5 White-balance test images
AWB Tungsten Warm ON | 1/15 sec | f/5.0 | 23.0 mm | ISO 200
AWB Tungsten Warm OFF | 1/15 sec | f/5.0 | 23.0 mm | ISO 200
Tungsten Preset | 1/15 sec | f/5.0 | 23.0 mm | ISO 200
AWB Fluorescent | 1/5 sec | f/5.0 | 23.0 mm | ISO 200
Fluorescent Preset | 1/5 sec | f/5.0 | 23.0 mm | ISO 200
Panasonic Lumix GX7 White-balance test images
The Olympus OM-D E-M5 (and other Olympus m43 cameras, and some compacts) features an option to "Keep Warm WB" under tungsten lighting - this keeps a warm image, but with this switched off gives extremely accurate white balance results, with better results than the GX7 under tungsten light. There is not a massive difference between the cameras under fluorescent lighting, although the OM-D E-M5 does deliver more neutral results.
For these shots we used the Panasonic Lumix G Vario 14-42mm II lens, as well as the Panasonic Lumix G 20mm f/1.7 II lens. The Olympus OM-D E-M5 images show slightly stronger contrast, as well as slightly sharper results straight out of the camera, as well as a slightly darker exposure for most of the shots.
Value For Money
The Panasonic Lumix GX7 is introduced with a body only price of £819. The Olympus OM-D E-M5, after being out for over a year is available for just under £800 body only. This puts both cameras into the premium mirrorless camera price bracket, and they are up against the Olympus PEN E-P5, Fujifilm X-Pro1, Samsung NX20 and Samsung Galaxy NX, as well as the Sony NEX-6 and NEX-7.
Both the Panasonic Lumix GX7 and Olympus OM-D E-M5 are capable of shooting extremely high quality images, delivering sharp results with low noise levels, as well as excellent colour. While the cameras use different sensors, with Panasonic using their own sensor, and the Olympus OM-D E-M5 using a Sony sensor, they both produce similar levels of noise, with a slight benefit going to the GX7 at the highest ISO settings of ISO12800 and ISO25600.
With them both capable of delivering excellent image quality, high speed shooting, and fast focus, it comes down to what features you are looking for in a camera, as to which would be best for you. For example, if you are regularly shooting outdoors, then the weather sealed OM-D E-M5 will be best suited to you. If however you like the idea of using a tilting EVF, and want the latest Wi-Fi connectivity features, then the Panasonic Lumix GX7 would make an excellent choice, particularly if you would benefit from focus peaking for manual focus lenses.
If you shoot video, the GX7 has more options and settings as well as a full range of frame speeds, however as the in-body image stabilisation isn't active in video mode, you would be best investing in optically stabilised lenses. The Olympus OM-D E-M5, with 5-axis image stabilisation, does an excellent job at stabilising the video, regardless of what lens is on the front. Choosing between the two is an extremely tough choice, as the cameras are extremely closely matched, and I think it would be difficult to be disappointed with either of them.
Panasonic Lumix GX7 Pros:Tilting EVF
Improved ISO performance
Olympus OM-D E-M5 Pros:Livetime, livebulb mode
5-axis image stabilisation
Excellent JPEG output, WB options
Very quiet shutter
Panasonic Lumix GX7 Cons:Loud mechanical shutter - electronic available
In body IS not available in video mode
Olympus OM-D E-M5 Cons:Olympus menu system
|Panasonic Lumix GX7||Olympus OM-D E-M5|
|CCD pixels||16Mp (Megapixels)||16.1Mp (Megapixels)|
|Sensor Type||Live MOS Sensor||Live MOS Sensor|
|Sensor Size||Micro / Four Thirds||Micro / Four Thirds|
|Sensor Size (width)||17.3mm||17.3mm|
|Sensor Size (height)||13mm||13mm|
|Screen resolution||1040k dots||610k dots|
|Shutter speeds shortest||1/8000sec||1/4000sec|
|Shutter speeds longest||60sec||60sec|
|ISO sensitivity||125 - 25600||200 - 25600|
|Viewfinder Resolution||2764k dots||1.44million dots|
|Optical Zoom with Video||Yes||Yes|
|USB||USB 2||USB 2|
|Battery Type||Lithium-Ion Battery||Lithium Ion|
|Box Contents||Digital camera, Body cap, Lens, Lens hood, Lens Cap, Lens rear cap, Battery pack, Battery charger, USB connection cable, CD-ROM, Shoulder strap, Hot shoe cover, operating instructions.||Body, Flash FL-LM2, Li-ion battery BLN-1, Li-ion battery charger BCN-1, USB/Video Multi cable, Shoulder strap, OLYMPUS Viewer 2/ib CD-ROM, Instruction manual, Warranty card|
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