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Buyer's Guide & Owner's Resource

Olympus E-PL5 vs OMD EM5

olympus epl5 vs omd em5

The recent release of the Olympus E-PL5 has caused a stir in the photography community with its seemingly identical features to those found in its high-end big brother, the OMD EM5. Both cameras are part of the famed Micro Four Thirds line that Olympus invented to boost the versatility (and market presence) of its products. Employing the same image sensor, interface, and having most of the capabilities of the OMD EM5, the mid-range upstart looks poised to steal the thunder (and potential buyers) from its pricier stable mate. The uncanny similarities between the pair lead people to believe that an OLYMPUS E-PL5 VS. EM5 battle in the camera wars is very likely indeed.

Olympus E-PL5 vs OMD EM5: A Brewing Sibling Rivalry?

So how exactly is the E-PL5 a market threat to the OMD EM5? The most obvious selling point of the former is, of course, found in its more affordable price tag. At just under $700 for the unit plus a standard 14-42mm zoom lens, it retails for 26% less than one would pay for a camera-body-only Olympus OMD EM5. In terms of form factor, most people would easily see that the mid-range camera is a close relative of the beefier, high priced OMD EM5: placed side-to-side, the E-PL5 looks like a ‘cropped’, slimmed-down version of the other mirrorless camera.

The resemblance isn’t limited to the looks department, however. It will come as a surprise to many that the Live MOS image sensor found in the OMD EM5 has been ported, in all its glorious functionality, to the less expensive E-PL5. This basically removes a major advantage in the OMD EM5′s favor. Other features like Exposure Control and available modes of focusing are identical as well, but it’s the sensor that really steals the show and leaves people scratching their heads, wondering what Olympus is up to when they gave the EM5′s best feature to a cheaper product. On the basis of performance, the mid-range Olympus virtually comes off as the OMD EM5′s skillful equal.

olympus micro four thirds camera comparison

LCD Screen Comparison

What’s more fascinating is that both Olympus products likewise make use of the innovative, variable-tilt hinged 3″ LCD screen at the back; but, in the case of the E-PL5, the screen’s full range-of-motion includes a forward-facing configuration that is simply fabulous for taking photos of yourself. This is probably just a stroke of genius that occurred with the more recent E-PL5 (which just didn’t happen at the time of the OMD EM5′s conception), though it does put the premium camera at an awkward position, compared to the former.


Currently, you can get the Olympus EPL5 from $599 whereas plumping for the OMD EM5 will cost $849.

Weatherproofing, Image Stabilization + Electronic View Finder

At this point, many observers are probably asking if the design and marketing groups of the camera maker have somehow made a miscalculation, by bringing forth a potential giant killer that will drive sales of its more profitably-positioned product underground. At a casual glance, it would appear that the cheaper item would emerge victorious in the brewing Olympus E-PL5 vs OMD EM5 rivalry. To the OMD EM5′s credit, however, a few aces up its sleeve may just become the equalizers that will justify its steeper price tag: most notable of which is its weatherproof, durable case that works well enough for the camera to take photos underwater. In fact, users can set white balance to underwater mode with the OMD EM5, which is something that’s missing in the E-PL5. A 1.44M-dot EVF also comes standard with the former, which the latter lacks as well.

side on omd em5 vs olympus epl5

Image stabilization to compensate for movement with the OMD EM5 is possible along five different axises, instead of along just two in the E-PL5. And while the tilt screen of the OMD EM5 is less flexible than that of its midlevel counterpart, the people at Olympus had the good sense to equip their pricier offering with an LCD that is superior to the E-PL5′s in terms of resolution (610kp and 460kp, respectively). Both screens are touch control-sensitive, though. Therefore, it’s a toss-up between flexibility and digital clarity when choosing which camera LCD is better.

Wrapping It Up

With the recent arrival of the more affordable Olympus PEN Lite E-PL5, it is a bit early to determine if it will be able to knock off the OMD EM5 from its tenuous position in the vanguard of Micro Four Thirds interchangeable lens cameras under the Olympus label. Perhaps a few month’s worth of sales data will prove whether the weatherproof capabilities, better IS, and EVF would be enough to keep the more expensive SLR’s sales figures up in the face of a huge price disadvantage vis-a-vis the company’s compact new mirrorless camera. The Olympus E-PL5 VS OMD EM5 battle is still very much on the cards, a landmark matchup in the Micro Four Thirds world that photography buffs will surely be watching closely.

Where To Buy

At the time of writing this article, the best prices found on each of these cameras can be found via the following links:

Olympus PEN EPL5



The photos are provided courtesy of