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Olympus OMD EM1 Gordon Laing, January 2014
 
 

Olympus OMD EM1 vs OMD EM5 vs Panasonic Lumix GX7 quality

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To compare real-life performance I shot this scene with the Olympus OMD EM1, OMD EM5 and Panasonic Lumix GX7 within a few moments of each other using their best quality JPEG settings; RAW results follow on the next page.

I fitted each camera in turn with the same Olympus M.Zuiko Digital 17mm f1.8 lens to eliminate the optics from the comparison, and set the aperture to f4 as pre-determined to deliver the sharpest results. All three cameras were set to 200 ISO and shared the same exposure.

Note there was a minor difference in cloud cover when shooting with the EM5. I plan on performing this test again soon, but wanted to share these initial results.

  Olympus OMD EM1 results
1 Olympus OMD EM1 Quality JPEG
2 Olympus OMD EM1 Quality RAW
3 Olympus OMD EM1 Noise JPEG
4 Olympus OMD EM1 Noise RAW
5 Olympus OMD EM1 diffraction compensation
6 Olympus OMD EM1 Lumix 7-14mm flare
7 Olympus OMD EM1 long exposure noise
8 Olympus OMD EM1 Sample images


The image above was taken with the Olympus OMD EM1 fitted with the M.Zuiko Digital 17mm f1.8 lens. The EM1 was mounted on a tripod and Image Stabilisation disabled. Aperture priority mode was selected with the aperture set to f4, which produces the best result from this lens. With the sensitivity set to the base setting of 200 ISO the camera metered an exposure of 1/2000. The same lens was used on the EM5 and GX7, and both cameras metered the same exposure. As always, the areas marked by the red rectangles are reproduced below at 100% for comparison.

As a reminder, all three cameras share the same 16 Megapixel resolution, although all use different sensors and different image processors too; in addition, the sensor on the EM1 does not have an optical low pass filter. Since the same lens was used for all three cameras, we're able to directly compare the sensor and image processing.

At first glance the crops from the two Olympus bodies look very similar in style and detail. There's a minor boost in contrast from the EM5 in the middle column, but this is more down to a slight difference in the cloud cover at the time of shooting. Remove this contrast difference from the equation and I'd say they look very similar.

Look really closely and this conclusion remains unchanged. I've stared and stared at these images and really cannot see any benefit of the EM1 over the EM5. Both cameras are delivering essentially the same degree of detail and their processing styles are essentially the same too. You may notice the EM5 exhibits a little chromatic aberration in the crop showing the metal bench which is absent on the EM1, proving the new model's digital reduction capabilities, but otherwise there really isn't anything between their in-camera JPEGs here.

At first this is a little disappointing as the absence of an optical low pass filter on the EM1 would suggest it may enjoy crisper results than the EM5. Maybe the EM5's low pass filter was already very weak. Maybe the default image processing settings of the EM1 are to blame as Olympus explains it is doing in-camera moire-management. Perhaps the EM1's processor is digitally doing the same job as the physical filter in the EM5 and effectively eliminating any benefit. Certainly I can't see any evidence of moire on the EM1 crops, despite several instances of very closely paired lines.

In the meantime the third column shows the output from the Panasonic Lumix GX7 which looks quite subdued in comparison. We've seen this before though when comparing Olympus and Panasonic bodies - the former tends to apply punchier processing with higher contrast and sharpening. If you look beyond this and examine the actual detail in the crops, you'll see the GX7 is essentially delivering the same detail. If you apply the same degree of sharpening and contrast to the GX7 as employed by the Olympus bodies, it delivers very similar looking output.

To prove this I shot this scene in RAW+JPEG mode, and you can see the results in my Olympus OMD EM1 RAW quality page. Alternatively, you may enjoy my Olympus OMD EM1 noise comparison or my selection of Olympus OMD EM1 sample images.

 

Olympus OMD EM1
using Olympus 17mm f1.8 lens
 
Olympus OMD EM5
using Olympus 17mm f1.8 lens
 
Panasonic Lumix GX7
using Olympus 17mm f1.8 lens
f4, 200 ISO
f4, 200 ISO
f4, 200 ISO
f4, 200 ISO
f4, 200 ISO
f4, 200 ISO
f4, 200 ISO
f4, 200 ISO
f4, 200 ISO
         
f4, 200 ISO
f4, 200 ISO
f4, 200 ISO
         
f4, 200 ISO
f4, 200 ISO
f4, 200 ISO

Olympus OMD EM1 results : Quality / RAW quality / Noise / RAW Noise / 7-14mm flare / diffraction / long exposure


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