Panasonic G5 vs G3 vs Olympus OM-D E-M5 Comparison

July 29, 2012

Panasonic Lumix G5 vs Olympus E-M5 mirrorless cameras

The Panasonic Lumix G5 is the successor to the G3, a Micro Four Thirds Mirrorless Interchangeable lens camera. In this article I want you to get to know the G5 better and help you decide whether this will be your next camera. Their are many questions regarding Panasonic Micro Four Thirds and the Gx series in particular. I will do my best to give you the answer to popular questions and also compare the Panasonic G5 vs Olympus OM-D E-M5. I’ve read many comments in forums and blog posts, and understood that many people debate between those two cameras. So Let’s start our buying guide with a brief overview of the mirrorless market and will continue from there. Lest’s begin.

 

Overview

I will probably won’t be the first to tell you how popular Mirrorless Interchangeable Lens Cameras (MILC) are.   Panasonic is having a great success in this market and with the Lumix G products in particular. Panasonic and Olympus have established a very strong presence in this market.  The mirrorless market continues to grow and bite DSLR. In Taiwan mirrorless capture 54% market share (46% DSLR), Japan 43% mirrorles / 57% DSLR and in Hong Kong Mirrorless capture 44% market share (56% DSLR).

Sony and Canon where the two companies losing the more market share, paying for Panasonic success in this market. In Taiwan Panasonic more then doubles its market share from 6.4% in 2012 to 17% in 2011, then to 22% in 2012, where it is estimated that Panasonic now controls over 25% of the Interchangeable Lens Cameras’ market in Taiwan (source).

Panasonic was able to perfectly answer the demands of this market by releasing new lens and cameras and by utilizing new technology innovations, convincing many photographers to buy themselves into their system – and indeed, Panasonic Micro Four Thirds cameras have a lot to offer.  Panasonic has released a series of exceptional X lenses for enthusiast and professional use. With a wide range of Micro Four Thirds lenses, you will no longer need to think twice whether to go with a M43 system or buy a Canon or Nikon DSLR camera. Many beginners to photography as well as enthusiast photographers have found themselves choosing CSC over DSLR.

Generally speaking, I can understand why photographers embrace Compact System Cameras. It’s not just because of the compact size, but the fact that Panasonic (in this case) was able to innovate quite significantly over the last couple of years, while the DSLR market seems to be idle in terms of technology innovation. Whether it’s video quality, image quality in high ISO, continuous shooting speed, AF speed and so on, you can enjoy a wide variety of improvements that make CSC cameras a joy to use. A camera that won’t stop you from being creative – on the other hand, it will give you more tools to get the job done. Sometimes faster and better then what you get with  a DSLR camera. If you are a beginner to digital photography, you will certainly enjoy what Panasonic Micro Four Thirds cameras have to offer.

Of course the big advantage of owning a Micro Four Thirds camera like the G5 is that you can use many compatible products from other manufacturers, including lenses from Olympus, Sigma, Tamron and others. If in the future you decide to upgrade to a new Olympus model and already have Panasonic lenses, don’t worry, all of the current lenses are compatible with Olympus M43 cameras. That because all Micro Four Thirds cameras are compatible with the Micro Four Thirds mount.

The advantages are endless and I can write a long article all about it. What you need to know is that Panasonic is one of the leaders in this field and if you decide to purchase a Panasonic G5 camera, you will certainly won’t be disappointed. Of course every photographer has its own needs. The Panasonic Lumix G5 is a very interesting camera that might fits for some photographers, but won’t fit for others. The selection of Micro Four Thirds cameras is pretty large, and although the G5 is the latest addition, the Olympus OM-D E-M5 stand just around the corner, waiting you to pick it up over the G5.

Of course that’s why I am here, to help you decide.

 

Panasonic G5 Introduction

The Panasonic Lumix DMC-G5 is a mid-range model. It sits above the GF5 but below the GH2 and GX1 – all are micro four thirds cameras. The G5 is a DSLR-like, and by design and resembles a DSLR camera rather then a compact camera. It features an electronic viewfinder that many Compact System Cameras lacks. The Panasonic Lumix G3 was announced in May 12, 2011. Panasonic certainly have enough time to improve this model and introduce an updated model that will be able to compete in this tough market and excellent M43 models that are already in the market.

Panasonic Lumix G5 Mirrorless camera

Panasonic Lumix G5 Mirrorless camera

If you read my post about the Olympus E-M5, you know that I’m a fan of this camera. The G5 is around $300 cheaper (with 14-42mm lens KIT) then the Oly, and although the G5 is not a direct competitor to Olympus CSC flagship, still, many people compare those two cameras one versus the other.  Let’s remember that those two cameras will certainly be in the list of the enthusiast market. That means that people might prefer getting a cheaper model but investing more money on better glass or getting the more expensive oly with a cheaper lens. I think that because of the system flexibility, you need to give a good emphasize on where you should put your money in.

 

OK, so what does the G5 give us?

  • 16.05-megapixel Live MOS Sensor and Venus Engine VII FHD
  • ISO 160-12,800
  • 6 fps burst shooting
  • 1080p60 Full HD video recording (option to record 1080p30 in MP4)
  • 3-inch Tilting (180° to the side and tilts 270° up) 9320K-dot Touch Sensitive LCD with Touchpad AF control
  • 1.44 million dots EVF with eye sensor
  • 14 Creative effects
  • Light Speed AF
  • Lever Gauge

This is of course just a glimpse over the main features.  Here, take a look at this G5 introduction video. After you finish viewing this video, I will continue talking about the G5 in more details.

OK, before we continue, let’s take a look and see what are the differences between the G5 and the G3.

 

Panasonic G5 vs G3

Panasonic G5Panasonic G3
AnnouncedJul 18, 2012May 12, 2011
Effective Resolution16.05 megapixels16 megapixels
ProcessorVenus Engine VII FHDVenus Engine FHD
ISO160, 200, 400, 800, 1600, 3200, 6400, 12800160, 200, 400, 800, 1600, 3200, 6400
LCD3-inch
Full Articulated
920K-dots
3-inch
Full Articulated
460K-dots
Burst6 fps
20 fps (4M)
4 fps
20 fps (4M)
Video1080p60 / 60i (AVCHD)
1080p30 (MP4)
720p30 (MP4)
720p60 (AVCHD)
1080i60 (AVCHD)
720p30 (MotionJPEG)
Level GaugeYes (Built-in 3 shaft accelerometer sensor)No
Dimensions119.9 x 83.2 x 70.8 mm / 4.72 x 3.28 x 2.79 inch115.2 x 83.6 x 46.7 mm / 4.54 x 3.29 x 1.84 inch
WeightApprox. 396 g / 0.87 lb (SD card, Battery, Body)Approx. 382 g / 13.47 oz (SD card, Battery, Body)
Function LeverYes (Auto / Zoom / Exp.)No
Hand GripYes, bigger then the G3Yes
Scene modesStills: 23
Video: 20
Stills: 15
Video: 11
Battery Life (CIPA)Approx. 310 images with H-FS014042
Approx. 320 images with H-PS14042 or H-FS45150
Approx. 270 images (When using the LCD / LVF) with H-FS014042
Approx. 250 images (When using the LCD / LVF) with H-FS045200

The G5is better where you want it to be: higher resolution LCD, better processor and improved image sensor,  better battery life, higher max. ISO, faster burst, 1080p60 (progressive), has a level gauge, function lever, move scene modes and better grip. However, it’s larger and a bit heavier then the G3.  I can just assume that Panasonic has carefully listened to what its customers have to say and put that knowledge into the G5.

Another important thing to know is that the digital to analogue conversion now takes place on the sensor itself, rather then as external circuitry. According to Panasonic that should improve noise by quite a lot. So if you read reviews that mention a ‘Digital’ sensor regarding the G5 sensor, that what its all about

 

G5 grip vs G3 grip

If we compare the Panasonic G5 grip vs the G3 grip, we can clearly see a big change here.  The grip on the G5 is much bigger and deeper then the G3. That’s certainly adds more depth to the camera and that’s what you see the dimension specifications of the camera.

Panasonic G5 vs G3 Grip comparison side by side

Panasonic G5 vs G3 Grip Size Comparison

The above image illustrate the differences (Panasonic G5 on the left, G3 on the right).

The grip improved ergonomics and useful especially when mounting long and heavy lenses. People with large hands will certainly enjoy it. I personally have large hands and I can tell you how more comfortable it is to hold the camera when you have a big hand grip. That’s a certainly +1 from me!

 

Olympus OM-D E-M5 Introduction

If you are an enthusiast photographer, I guess that the E-M5 is not new to you. The E-M5 is Olympus’ flagship Micro Four Thirds camera, an one of my personal favorites.  The E-M5 is an impressive camera, boasting a large arsenal of great features. It comes with a 16.1MP Live MOS sensor (made by Sony), which has already proven to provide amazing high quality images, even at high ISO levels.  It features a 610K-dots OLED tilting LCD and 1.44 million dots EVF.

Olympus OM-D E-M5

Olympus OM-D E-M5

the E-M5 is weather-sealed and the durable magnesium-alloy body adds to the durable feel when you hold this camera in your hands.  It’s dust and splash proof and certainly built to last in tough weather conditions. That’s alone put this camera in a new level compared to other Micro Four Thirds cameras.

More than that, the Olympus OM-D E-M5 is the world’s first camera to feature a 5-axis image stabilization. An image stabilization mechanism inside the camera. Most of today’s latest M43 cameras feature 2-axis image stabilization. That’s a very useful and effective feature. That’s why I love Olympus, a company that doesn’t stop to innovate. It’s all started from my first Oly camera 12 years ago (If I remember right), until this day.

 

Let’s looks at the E-M5 main features:

  • 1,440K-dots EVF
  • Magnesium-alloy weather-sealed body (dust and splash proof)
  • 16.1MP Live MOS Sensor
  • 5-axis image stabilization (up and down, left and right, rotational along x-axis, rotational along y-axis, rolling along z-axis)
  • 9 fps burst
  • 1080i60 Full HD video recording
  • Ultra fast AF
  • ISO 200 – 25600
  • AP2 accessory port
  • Focus assist amp
  • Micro Four Thirds mount

 

The Olympus E-M5 is a host for some great technologies and this is a camera that Olympus should certainly very proud of. Dpreview.com has already reviewed this camera and gave it a gold award, stating that this is the most capable Micro Four Thirds camera that dpreview has reviewed.  This is just one review among many that favorite the E-M5. It’s just hard to find any Mirrorless Interchangeable Lens camera that can compete against this little beast.

The Olympus E-M5 is currently the most expensive Micro Four Thirds camera, and the Panasonic Lumix DMC-G5 is more expensive than the G3 it replaces. Even considering the price difference, it’s very interesting to see how those two cameras stack one against the other. In the next section I will be comparing the two side by side and talk about the differences in more details.

 

 

Panasonic G5 vs Olympus OM-D E-M5

Should I Always go with the more expensive camera body or invest in better lenses?

The Olympus E-M5 is approx. $300 more expensive than the Pana G5 (compared the 14-42mm Kit prices on B&H online photo store). That’s quite a big difference. The E-M5 is Olympus Micro Four Thirds flagship camera, and the G5 is Panasonic mid-range camera. Even so, when it comes to buying a new camera, there are many things that can affect your buying decision. One of the most popular debates is whether you should purchase a cheap body + expensive lens or rather go with the more expensive body + cheaper lens.

Of course the first thing you need to do is to understand your needs as a photographer and look if a specific camera body can answer your needs. Some photographers make some kind of a compromise, which is not easy to do, but they have not other option due to budget restrictions. Let me give you an example. I’ve chosen to purchase the Nikon D3100 + 18-55mm VR and 70-300mm VR lenses instead of choosing the Nikon D7000 + 18-55mm lens. I preferred buying the entry-level model and get another great lens (ok, not just one lens, but also a bag, high-capacity card, etc.).

At the end of the day I’m happy that I’ve made that decision, because I can come home with bunch of great photos, that without my 70-300mm, I wouldn’t able to shoot. I also shoot a lot of videos, and I also spent money on extra battery, high-capacity memory card (32GB) and other stuff that I need. I personally think that you should do the same.. I mean think the same way. If you don’t have budget restrictions then you don’t have this problem. However, if you are on a tight budget, you will probably need to make this decision sooner or later.

If I could afford getting the E-M5, I would have got it at this very moment without hesitation.  The E-M5 answer all my needs as a photographer, and I would probably have gotten three lenses (wide-angle, telephoto-zoom and normal lenses.. maybe a fast prime too).

 

Find the Differences?

Let’s quickly compare the two cameras so we get to see the whole picture.

Olympus OM-D E-M5 vs Panasonic Lumix G5

Olympus OM-D E-M5 vs Panasonic Lumix G5 Size Comparison

 

Panasonic G5 vs Olympus E-M5, top view

Panasonic G5 vs Olympus E-M5 Camera Size (top)

 

Of course I will leave my own opinion about the E-M5 aside.
OK, let’s take a look at a side by side comparison table:

Olympus E-M5Panasonic G5Notes
AnnouncedFeb 8, 2012Jul 18, 2012
Body constructionMagnesium-alloy
Weather-sealed (splash and dust proof)
Aluminum front plateBig advantage to the E-M5, especially for outdoor photographers, but not just.
Sensor16.1MP
CMOS
Micro Four Thirds
(Multi aspect ratios: 1:1, 4:3, 3:2, 16:9)
16.1MP
CMOS
Micro Four Thirds
(Multi aspect ratios: 1:1, 4:3, 3:2, 16:9)
Image ProcessorTruePic VIVenus Engine VII FHD
ISO200 - 25600160 - 12800E-M6 higher max ISO limit
Image stabilization5-axis Sensor-shift (built inside the camera)lens-shift (in the lens)G5 does not have in-camera image stabilization. IS depends on the lens. The E-M5 offers the most advanced sensor-shift image stabilization to-date, a 5- axis IS.
AF points3523Oly more AF points. Should provide more accurate focusing when shooting fast moving subjects.
LCD3-inch OLED
610K-dots
Tilting
Touch-screen
3-inch
920K-dots
Fully articulated
Touch screen
G5 has a higher resolution screen. E-M5 panel is OLED, G5 is LCD - OLED is better.
Built-in flashNoYesE-M5 doesn't have a pop-up flash
External flashyes (via hot-shoe)yes (via hot-shoe)
Flash X sync speed1/250 sec1/160 secE-M5 faster sync speed
Burst9 fps6 fps
(20 fps / 4MP)
Video (max res.)1080i60 / p301080p60 / i60 / p30G5 can shoot at 60p (progressive frames) at full hd, compare to 60i (interlaced) on the E-M5. both offer 30p (NTSC)
Battery life (CIPA)330340
Optional battery gripYes (HLD-6)NoThe E-M5 have an optional battery grip. The G5 doesn't, at least for the time of writing this article (July 2012). The default G5 grip is better than the Oly's.
Focus assist lampYesYes
Dimensions121 x 89.6 x 41.9mm119.9 x 83.2 x 57.3mmOly is a bit taller but slimmer. Overall the difference is small.
Weight425 g (0.94 lb / 14.99 oz)396 g (0.87 lb / 13.97 oz)Oly weigths less

Olympus E-M5  Advantages:

  • Magnesium-alloy body
  • Weather-sealed body
  • Higher max. ISO limit
  • 5-axis sensor-shift IS
  • More AF points
  • OLED touchscreen (vs LCD)
  • Faster flash sync
  • Fast continuous shooting speed
  • Optional battery grip
  • Slimmer body

 

Panasonic G5 Advantages:

  • Higher resolution LCD, Fully articulated display (vs tilting)
  • Built-in Flash
  • Full HD 1080p60, progressive frames
  • Deeper hand grip

 

As you can see and without being too picky, Olympus is certainly a more capable camera, and although you pay more, you get what you paid for.

Regarding image quality. According to ephotozine.com, the Olympus EM5 produces sharper images with more details. In terms of noise, the E-M5 noise levels are certainly lower (better high ISO performance). So add that high ISO performance to the specs advantages, and you can certainly see why the E-M5 is much better camera. Of course that comes for a price. The questions is whether those features and image quality convinced you to go with the E-M5 or you prefer to pay less for the body and invest in a better lens.

If you want my opinion: in this case, it’s hard to resist the E-M5. It’s an amazing camera with amazing features and great image quality. No wonder why dpreview gave it the Gold Award.

 

Which Camera Should I Buy?

Choosing between the Panasonic Lumix G5 and the Olympus E-M5 is not that easy, even considering the price differences.  Olympus by all means is the better camera of the two, generally speaking.  It really depends on what you need. Let me explain. Outdoor photographers will certainly appreciate the weather-sealing capabilities of the E-M5.  For those type of photographers, a weather-sealing might be a must-have feature, so they will buy the E-M5 no matter what.

Enthusiast photographers will certainly be attracted to the 5-axis image stabilization, faster burst and the optional battery grip. Some of them might pay a higher price for the body and invest in one lens in order to get started. On the other hand, you can pay around $300 less and get the G5. For a $300 you can buy another lens instead, and even extra accessories.

In the case of the E-M5 it’s very hard to resist such an amazing camera, even if you don’t really need all the extra features that the E-M5 offers.  Of course you should remember that you can always upgrade to the E-M5 when the right time come. You can always use Panasonic Micro Four Thirds with any Oly M43 camera. So even if you choose to go with the G5, you aren’t stuck with Panasonic lenses, it’s all one system and you can always change camera bodies from one vendor to the other. That’s a great advantage that people who buy Micro Four Thirds camera can enjoy.

The Panasonic Lumix G5 is very good camera, with great ergonomics, very good video capabilities. It’s not a huge upgrade from the G3,  but certainly a decent update.  The Olympus EM5 main competitor will be the Panasonic GH2 replacement, the GH3.  According to rumors, the GH3 will also have a compatible external grip. Rumors talking about late August or early September until the GH3 is announced.  This might be “the right” camera to compare the E-M5 against. So who knows, maybe it’s smart to wait until Photokina 2012 or a bit later to see how things develop. If you need to choose now, you have a lot of information and you need to make up your mind.

I hope that after reading this article you’ve got a good overview of the differences between the G5 (and G3) vs the E-M5, and you can make a better buying decision and be happy with it.

 

Click here to Buy Panasonic Lumix G5 from B&H Photo

Click here to Buy Olympus OM-D E-M5 from B&H Photo

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  • Mike

    Very informative and thorough review. Thank you.

  • kesztió

    It would have been nice to mention that the G5 has much better ergonomics and feels much better in hand, which is a clear advantage over E–M5.

  • Ed

    I have both. Oly is a very ‘intense’ camera and the G5 is much easier to just pick up and shoot.