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Panasonic Lumix G5 vs Olympus OM-D E-M5 Review

We compare the latest Micro Four Thirds cameras from Olympus and Panasonic, the Panasonic Lumix G5 and Olympus OM-D E-M5.

|  Olympus Lumix G5 in Mirrorless Cameras
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Panasonic Lumix G5 Vs Olympus OM-D E-M5

The recent introduction of the Panasonic Lumix G5 sees Panasonic renaming the "mirrorless" camera to DSLM (Digital Single Lens Mirrorless), while Olympus' OM-D E-M5 sees Olympus going back to it's Olympus OM SLR roots. These two models, perhaps, show Panasonic's and Olympus' strongest competitors to the Digital SLR market, both with electronic viewfinders and the highest specification Micro Four Thirds cameras available. The combined effort of Panasonic and Olympus also means they have the strongest lens range of any mirrorless system, and perhaps it's time to re-assess whether a larger Digital SLR is actually needed? Can these new cameras deliver Digital SLR quality images in a much more compact package?

Read our full Olympus OM-D E-M5 Review
Read our full Panasonic Lumix G5 Review

Panasonic Lumix G5 vs Olympus OM-D E-M5 Features

Panasonic Lumix G5 Vs Olympus OM-D E-M5
Panasonic Lumix G5 vs Olympus OM-D E-M5

Panasonic Lumix G5 Key Features


Olympus OM-D E-M5 Key Features

New 16.05 megapixel Live MOS sensor   16.1mp Live MOS CMOS sensor (Sony)
Micro Four Thirds lens mount   Micro Four Thirds lens mount
3inch 920k touch screen   3inch OLED tilting capacitive touch-screen 610k dots (equivalent to VGA)
1.44m dot EVF: Eye detection sensor with diopter adjustment   1.44million EVF with eye detection, dioptre adjustment, vignetting correction
Lens based IS   World’s first*1 5-axis Image Stabilisation (Photos / Video)
6fps continuous shooting, 3.7fps continuous shooting with AF   9fps shooting, 4.2fps continuous shooting with AF
ISO160 - 12800   ISO200 - 25600
Full HD video AVCHD Progressive, Stereo   Full HD Video, MPEG4, Stereo
Flash Hot Shoe   Flash Hot Shoe
N/A   AP2 - Accessory Port
Electronic spirit level   Electronic spirit level
3 Function buttons (soft-keys can be customised on screen)   2 Function buttons (dedicated, others can be customised)
Front zoom control, rear dial   Front and Rear Dials
New digital filters   New Art filter(s)
Focus assist lamp   Focus assist lamp
Built in pop-up flash   External pop-up flash
    Weather-sealed magnesium alloy body
Available in Silver, Black, White   Available in Black or Silver and Black
Size: 119.9 x 83.2 x 57.3mm   Size: 121 x 89.6 x 41.9mm
Weight: 348g   Weight: 373g

When compared, the specifications seem fairly evenly matched, although the design of the bodies is where the most obvious differences lie with the G5 featuring a built in flash, while the OM-D E-M5 comes with a seperate compact pop up flash. The Olympus OM-D E-M5 is also available with an optional battery grip for vertical / portrait shooting.

Panasonic Lumix G5 vs Olympus OM-D E-M5 Handling

Panasonic Lumix G5 Vs Olympus OM-D E-M5
Panasonic Lumix G5 Vs Olympus OM-D E-M5

Handling - The G5 includes an improved grip compared to the G3 that it replaces, with a large front rubber grip, as well as a rear thumb grip. The OM-D E-M5 on the other hand features a small front grip that is textured and a large rubber thumb grip on the rear. The E-M5 can have a much larger grip with the optional battery grip that comes in two parts - the first part giving firm grip, and the second part containing another battery and a large vertical grip, as well as additional controls. Both cameras feature the same resolution EVF with eye-detection making it easy and quick to switch straight to the viewfinder when needed. The G5 features a tilting / rotating screen that can be adjusted to a number of positions, while the OM-D E-M5 simply features a tilting screen. Both cameras let you alter the aperture and shutter speed directly in manual mode, the E-M5 with the front and rear dials, and the G5 letting you use the rear dial and front zoom control. The G5's front zoom control can also be used to control the zoom on power zoom lenses.

Panasonic Lumix G5 Vs Olympus OM-D E-M5
Panasonic Lumix G5 Vs Olympus OM-D E-M5

Menus - The Panasonic Lumix G5 menus are very clearly laid out, being easy to read with built in help for each option. The screen is very clear and high resolution, with an updated graphic interface that works extremely well with the touch screen. Whereas the Olympus OM-D E-M5 has inherited the slightly outdated menu from the Olympus PEN cameras, this has increasingly become more and more complex as additional features have been added to the "Custom" menu - this is now a very long list of options that can make it take a very long time to find the options and settings you want. Like the G5, the E-M5 features built in help that explains each option. (The Olympus OM-D E-M5 menus can be seen in the full review.)

Panasonic Lumix G5 Vs Olympus OM-D E-M5
Panasonic Lumix G5 vs Olympus OM-D E-M5

Battery life
- Both cameras feature similar battery ratings of around 1200mAh, and similar CIPA ratings for battery life with the G5 offering slightly more shots. The differences in actual use is likely to depend on how much you use flash, continuous shooting, video etc.

Panasonic Lumix G5 Olympus OM-D E-M5
CIPA Rating: 340 (1200mAh) CIPA Rating: 330 (1220mAh)
Actual: Over 350 shots Actual: Upto 400 shots

Panasonic Lumix G5 Vs Olympus OM-D E-M5
Panasonic Lumix G5 Vs Olympus OM-D E-M5

- We tested the cameras performance at focusing, shutter response, shot-to-shot time, continuous shooting etc. and have posted the results below. To test this we took 6 or more shots and calculated the average, so that consistent results were produced.

Panasonic G5 Olympus E-M5
Shutter Response <0.05 <0.05
Wide - Focus / Shutter Response 0.15 0.125
Full zoom - Focus / Shutter Response 0.2 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
(full resolution, before slow down)
6fps (13 shots) 9fps (19 shots)
Continuous Shooting (with flash) N/A 1.4s
Continuous Shooting (RAW) 6fps (9 shots) 9fps (16 shots)
* G5 tested with 14-42 Power Zoom lens, which will affect switch-on time.

Focus from both cameras is extremely quick, as is shutter response. Shot to shot time is impressive, and continuous shooting at 6 and 9fps is very good. The cameras can also shoot with continuous AF active at 3.7fps / 4.2fps with the Olympus edging ahead. The Olympus OM-D E-M5 will also allow more shots to be taken in continuous mode before slowdown.

Panasonic Lumix G5 vs Olympus OM-D E-M5 Performance

Here are a number of sample photos from both cameras allowing you to compare the results from each. You can click the image to view a larger version, or click "Hi-Res" to view the full size originals. For additional sample photos and video please see the full reviews.

Olympus OM-D E-M5 ISO test images

Panasonic Lumix G5 ISO test images

ISO Noise Performance - The Olympus OM-D E-M5 has an extended ISO range compared to the G5, however the G5 has a slightly lower first ISO setting of ISO160. Noise is very low on both cameras, with the E-M5 showing higher levels of detail and sharpness. With the E-M5 we recommend avoiding ISO20,000 and above due to noticeable colour loss, although detail still remained quite impressive. With the G5 we recommend avoiding ISO12,800, the highest ISO setting, as this shows high levels of noise and much less detail.

Olympus OM-D E-M5 White-balance test images

Panasonic Lumix G5 White-balance test images

White Balance Performance  - The G5 doesn't feature a fluorescent preset and auto white balance performs extremely well in a number of lighting conditions. The tungsten preset on the G5 gives a warm result, which may be useful to keep the warmth in an image. The Olympus OM-D E-M5 has very good auto white balance, with the option to "Keep warm colour" in the menus, which may be useful in certain circumstances, although can make some shots overly warm. The fluorescent preset on the E-M5 produces a magenta cast under our lighting. Detail is excellent from the E-M5, again with a slightly sharper image than the G5.

Olympus OM-D E-M5 Lens test images

Panasonic Lumix G5 Lens test images

Lens Performance - The Panasonic Lumix X Vario 14-42mm power zoom lens doesn't feature the best macro mode, but is one of the most compact lenses available for Micro Four Thirds, and the most compact standard zoom, smaller than the collapsible Olympus 14-42mm lenses. The Olympus OM-D E-M5 was tested with the M. Zuiko 12-50mm power zoom kit lens that features a built in macro mode offering impressive close-up performance. Both lenses perform reasonably well as kit lenses and both have their own benefits, however part of the benefit of the Micro Four Thirds system is access to an ever growing list of lenses.

Olympus OM-D E-M5 Digital filters

Panasonic Lumix G5 Digital filters

Digital Filters - Both cameras feature an extensive range of digital filters and effects, with the Olympus letting you apply filters and effects on top of the options, for example you can apply a frame or vignette on top of most options - it also features a number of black and white options, including film grain. The Panasonic lets you alter the majority of effects to adjust the strength or colour tone for example, but doesn't feature frames or let you apply effects on top of each other. The Olympus also features multiple exposure, yet doesn't feature a built in HDR mode, while the G5 does.

Value For Money

The Olympus OM-D E-M5 is currently the most expensive Micro Four Thirds camera available, however it's design, specification and weather sealing mean it's the highest specification available, priced at £999 body only. The Panasonic Lumix G5 will be available for £599 body only from the middle of August, making it quite good value for money for a high specification mirrorless camera, and noticeably cheaper than the E-M5.

Panasonic Lumix G5 vs Olympus OM-D E-M5 Verdict

The 12 month cycle of some of these cameras lets Panasonic and Olympus update and refresh their models much more quickly than the more usual 18-24 month life cycle for Digital SLRs, making the specifications and performance of these cameras very impressive in comparison. They are increasingly making a more compelling argument for themselves to the point where the additional bulk of a more traditional Digital SLR is no longer necessary.

The Olympus OM-D E-M5 has moved forward the image quality of Micro Four Thirds cameras noticeably, and its design and near-professional level weather sealing has made it appeal to a new group of traditional Digital SLR users. It delivers extremely sharp JPEG images straight from the camera and has slightly easier to control white balance results (warmth, additional presets) compared to the G5. There is an impressive ISO range with particularly good detail even at the higher ISO levels. With less grip the E-M5 feels slightly more compact than the G5, although it lacks the built in flash.

The Panasonic Lumix G5 with built in flash and large hand grip gives a great all-in-one package with excellent handling and external controls. Both cameras give excellent control with external buttons and controls that can be customised, however the Panasonic Lumix G5 makes this easier with a clearer and better designed menu and control system. The G5 also makes better use of the touch screen, while the E-M5s menu system is mostly still controlled by the 4-way buttons on the back.
  The Olympus OM-D E-M5 excels in a number of areas and delivers exceptional image quality in a gorgeous package.

Whichever model you choose betwen the Olympus OM-D E-M5 will mostly come down to price and intended use, for outdoor photographers where weather conditions can be changeable the E-M5 would be an obvious choice, however if your budget is limited, and you don't mind putting the camera away when it rains, then the Panasonic Lumix G5 would be a great choice. Overall, for the excellent image quality, high specification, weather sealing and impressive built-in image stabilisation, the Olympus OM-D E-M5 gets our Editor's Choice award. One that's resulted in our Editor buying the E-M5 for himself.

For more sample photos, details and list of pros, cons, and scores:
Read our full Olympus OM-D E-M5 Review
Read our full Panasonic Lumix G5 Review

Comparison Table

Olympus OM-D E-M5Panasonic Lumix G5
Image Sensor
Pixels16.1Mp (Megapixels)16.05Mp (Megapixels)
Pixels (W)46084608
Pixels (H)34563456
Sensor TypeLive MOS SensorLive MOS Sensor
Sensor SizeMicro / Four ThirdsMicro / Four Thirds
Sensor Size (width)17.3mm17.3mm
Sensor Size (height)13mm13mm
Aspect Ratio
  • 4:3
  • 3:2
  • 16:9
  • 1:1
  • 4:3
  • 16:9
  • 3:2
  • 1:1
LCD Monitor
LCD Monitor3in3in
Screen resolution610k dots920k
Touch ScreenYesYes
Focusing modes
  • Autofocus
  • Manual
  • Face Detection
  • AF Tracking
  • Touch AF
  • Spot
  • Multi
  • Autofocus
  • Manual
  • Spot
  • Face Detection
  • AF Tracking
  • Multi
  • Centre
  • Touch AF
Exposure Control
Shutter speeds shortest1/4000sec1/4000sec
Shutter speeds longest60sec60sec
Bulb modeYesYes
Exp modes
  • Program
  • Aperture-Priority
  • Shutter-Priority
  • Manual
  • Scene modes
  • Program
  • Aperture-Priority
  • Shutter-Priority
  • Manual
  • Scene modes
  • Program Variable
  • Centre-weighted - Average
  • Multi Pattern
  • Spot
  • Centre-weighted - Average
  • Multi Pattern
  • Centre Spot
ISO sensitivity200 - 25600160 - 12800
White balance
  • Auto
  • Manual
  • Incandescent
  • Fluorescent
  • Outdoors/Daylight
  • Cloudy
  • Shade
  • Flash
  • Underwater
  • Auto
  • Manual
  • Outdoors/Daylight
  • Cloudy
  • Incandescent
  • Shade
  • Flash
Exposure Comp+/-3+/-5
Viewfinder Resolution1.44million dots1.44million dots
Magnification0.575xNo Data
Shooting Options
Continuous shooting9fps6fps
Movie modeYesYes
Video Resolution
  • 1920x1080 FullHD
  • 1280x720 HD 720p
  • 640x480 VGA
  • 1920x1080 FullHD
  • 1280x720 HD 720p
  • 640x480 VGA
Video FPS30AVCHD (1080p at 50 FPS) and MP4 (1080p at 25 FPS)
Stereo SoundYesYes
Optical Zoom with VideoYesYes
Other Features
Image StabilisationYesNo
Wi-FiNo DataNo
Card Type
  • SD
  • SDHC
  • SDXC
  • SD
  • SDHC
  • SDXC
File Type
  • RAW
  • JPG
  • RAW + JPG
  • RAW
  • JPG
  • RAW + JPG
Power Source
Battery TypeLithium IonLithium Ion
Battery Life (CIPA rating)330shots340shots
Box Contents
Box ContentsBody, 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 cardCamera, Lens, Body cap, Battery, Battery charger, USB cable, Neck Strap, Software CD-ROM
View Full DetailsView Full Details

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Photographs taken using the Olympus Lumix G5

Elderly Romanian couple at local food festivalAnother bunch of mono flowers.BlackfriarsNow That's A View.The Old Pumphouse wallGheluvelt Park Bandstand.And, the most boring picture in the gallery award goes to ......................The Mob's Favourite Chippie.On The Ragged Edge.Subtle BeautyThe Canoe ClubShoreline IOWCarriage drivers waiting for passengers, Cairo, EgyptA Forgotten ArchWoman Driver?

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18 Jul 2012 12:04PM
"The 12 month cycle of some of these cameras lets Panasonic and Olympus update and refresh their models much more quickly than the more usual 18-24 month life cycle for Digital SLRs, making the specifications and performance of these cameras very impressive in comparison. They are increasingly making a more compelling argument for themselves to the point where the additional bulk of a more traditional Digital SLR is no longer necessary."

This statement, more than anything, will have other manufacturers giving a lot more consideration to the CSC designs and their place in the market.

People are no longer sucked into the mythology of the so called "Professional" cameras, and with the new crop of lenses that are becoming available the Image Quality is not only comparable but will often exceed that of the very heavy & very expensive kit. Smile
18 Jul 2012 7:22PM
Both seem like great cameras and certainly make the case for not buying a dSLR, but I wish they had the larger APS sensor which would make them superior to just about any of the current crop of dSLR or even my current favorite Sony NEX cameras. The built in image stabilization of the Olympus would be a deciding factor for me if I was in the market for a new camera.
kodachrome 9 736
19 Jul 2012 9:24AM
With a price/performance/IQ and ergonomics the G5 wins for me. I'm not worried about weather proofing, 99% of snappers don't have it any way. I never had it in the 40 years of 35-mm picture taking.The E-M5 is aimed at a different market which is pretty small compared to the G series market.

I think Samsung have got it right in all areas, APS-C sensor, light and compact body [classed as a CSC], superb EVF and articulated rear screen. DSLR styling for easy holding and very high 20mp IQ with low noise. The NX lenses are excellent as well, although the choice is small, they are building on this.
lemmy 14 2.9k United Kingdom
21 Jul 2012 8:01AM
I don't agree about the 'mythology' of professional cameras. In my working life I covered assignments from places as diverse as 12,000ft high in the Rockies through to the desert in Jordan. Would anyone seriously consider the M4/3 cameras for this kind of work?

Top range cameras lke Hasselblad and Nikon/ Canon cost their many thousands of pounds not because they are show off jewellery but because they perform better in every respect- as they should for the money.

I can use M4/3 exclusively because as an amateur these days my cameras simply don't get the battering they used to and I don't get commissioned to do exacting location and studio work.

In car terms, the professional cameras are F1 cars and the M4/3s hot hatches. If you are a professional and want to save effort by using a high end consumer camera for your work you are lazy - not a good trait for a professional in a competitive environment.
kodachrome 9 736
21 Jul 2012 2:59PM

You make some very valid points re professionals and cameras. I was looking at the G5 and O-MD from an amateur/enthuseasts point of view which I think fits my low level of photography.

Its like the David Bailey Ads he used to do on TV for the OM cameras years ago. I happened to go into one of his studios during that period and he was using other formats, not just 35-mm, but can't remember the makes. Horses for courses as they say.
lemmy 14 2.9k United Kingdom
21 Jul 2012 5:48PM

Quote: I was looking at the G5 and O-MD from an amateur/enthuseasts point of view which I think fits my low level of photography

Mine too now that I'm an amateur and taking pictures for pleasure and interest. In that guise, I'm happy with my GH2 and G3 but would be more than happy with either of those two.

One thing I notice is that while I was a professional photographer at a quite high level, as an amateur there are many people here who do the amateur thing much better than I can. As a pro, you are either commissioned by a newspaper, magazine, music publicist or someone like that to make real an idea they have or you are dreaming up ideas to photograph and sell. A good agent like Rex can be a real source of inspiration and guidance with that.

As an amateur you have to find time for photography, find motivation and then find ideas. That's quite tough. I had a mate who was a complete amateur and produced work that I found dazzling, a highly talented guy. Yet he could never have earned his living as a photographer as I did. And I could never have done the type of work he did and produced the results he did.

Horses for courses again, I suppose..
kodachrome 9 736
23 Jul 2012 8:16AM

Way back in my 35-mm [Canon EOS 5 and a few long lenses, all fixed primes] days I did a bit of semi pro work for an aviation magazine. I loved it because I got in free to most major air shows and air bases. However, all they wanted was pictures of planes either static or landing but you had little time to compose or make the shot more attractive, mind you I did get the odd dramatic picture that made the press. My pics of Argentine Air Force aircraft made the BBC news, but thats really my only claim to fame.
The millions of amateur phots that used to go to those shows probably took more pleasing pictures than I did. I finished my semi pro days taking pictures of properties for estate agents, what a come down. I'm strictly photos for pleasure these days.

I use a G3 along with a Panny 14-45, Oly 9-18, and a Panny 45-200. I also have a couple of old Olympus cameras, E-510 and a 450. They are worth nothing now to a dealer, so I will keep them, they still take the best Jpeg colours in my opinion.
I also use a Nikon D5100 with a DX 16-85, and picture quality is outstanding but it weighs a ton and gives me neck ache. I could handle the weight years ago but not now. Because I still like APS-C, picture quality I might look for a small and light DSLR, such as a Sony A55/35/37 ??

Its more Donky's for walkies these days for me
lemmy 14 2.9k United Kingdom
23 Jul 2012 3:44PM

Quote:I also use a Nikon D5100 with a DX 16-85, and picture quality is outstanding but it weighs a ton and gives me neck ache. I could handle the weight years ago but not now

I had a Pentax K5 which I loved but the lenses were big and heavy so I went over to M4/3 and haven't regretted it. Funny thing is, my biggest complaint about my GH2 and G3 is that they are so small I find the controls fiddly to manipulate. No pleasing some people!

Estate agents, I wish they would use proper photographers more. They take pictures themselves and if they are sharp and decently exposed they think that is enough. Any decent pro is not selling his technical ability - even estate agents can expose and focus correctly with a digital camera. Wink

A pro is selling his eye for a picture, the ability to see what is attractive or unusual, the selling points in a house and then turn those observations into attention grabbing photographs that will help market the property. That is the value the pro adds.

As an example, I recently bought a place in France. I looked at loads of places, one of which is on the right of the pic in the link. It is the house pictured from the worst possible angle, simply a camera pointed at the place. The pic is well exposed and sharp - after all, that's enough, isn't it?

Given that picture, I only viewed the place at all because I had spare time before flying home. When I went in, there (on the left in my pic) was the view through from windows. ( pic here )

I'm glad the agent didn't get a professional photographer in - the house would have been sold if potential buyers had known the situation of the place.
pmg 9 United Kingdom
24 Jul 2012 6:02PM
It would be very interesting to see what the various performance statistics look like if the same micro 4/3 rds lens was used. Then we would have a true undistorted comparision of the bodies.

flipmac 10
25 Jul 2012 9:15AM
@Jschneir: there's not much difference in IQ between current m4/3 (like the E-M5) and top APS-C (like NEX-7) but the smaller sensor does result in smaller lenses. Just look at the kit zooms. Sure there's a bit more DoF, but that's not necessarily a bad thing.
kodachrome 9 736
26 Jul 2012 8:28AM
As I said in the readers comment page after the DMC G5 review, its a bit unfair to compare the G5 with the Oly E-M5. They don't share the same price range or even spec. If you are into retro styling then the E-M5 is a super camera, but I'm not, the G5 looks more ergonomic and easier to hold and operate. I expect some will disagree, but I would have thought a GH2 replacement such as the rumoured GH3 may be a fairer comparison. I did not like the fiddly tiny controls on my G3 and that area needs some improvement.
Micro 4thirds has given both Olympus and Panasonic an absolute challenge designing their lenses and they have done a great job on 'most' of them.
As for IQ, I have always thought that my G3 [M4T] pictures look a bit over processed compaired to my Nikon D5100. May be this is due to the very clever soft ware in the cameras to auto adjust any anomalies in the lenses. Read Photozone's tests on the Panny zooms. However, my G3 takes superb pictures and I have no complaints.
mike162 8 2
23 Jan 2013 7:41PM
I am constantly amazed by comments like "but I wish they had the larger APS sensor"

That would totally destroy the MFT as the lenses would have to be bigger & heavier to work on the larger sensor.

The reason most buy MFT is BECAUSE of the smaller sensor which allows smaller lighter lenses

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