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Build quality: Panasonic v Olympus

Discussion in 'Panasonic Cameras' started by Ricoh, Mar 19, 2015.

  1. Ricoh

    Ricoh Mu-43 Top Veteran

    906
    Nov 2, 2013
    UK
    Steve
    I have purchased both Panasonic and Olympus, so have no bias that's for sure. I have had issues with both my E-M5 and my EP-5, but only a vague symptom with my GX7 (sometimes not switching on), and it's far too early to say anything about my recently acquired GM5.

    Nothing scientific, but scanning the threads in the respective sub-forums, there appears to be a reduced number of build issues reported with the Panasonic brand compared to Olympus. Viz: lower number rear dials reported as not working (I could only see one and that appeared to be misuse) or any dials not working in fact, not as many eye cups falling off (if any), no rear screen bezels cracking, and in fact very few people seem to be moaning much about Panasonic.
    It would be unwise to conclude from this, but Panasonic seem to have something going on, whether by design, build or both. Or it could be that there are more Olympus users out there, so more cameras to go wrong.
     
  2. T N Args

    T N Args Agent Photocateur

    Dec 3, 2013
    Adelaide, Australia
    call me Arg
    The Panasonic in my family are all 'Made in Japan'. Olympus seem to have moved production of bodies to China and Vietnam. Maybe that is a factor.
     
  3. GFFPhoto

    GFFPhoto Mu-43 All-Pro

    Feb 24, 2013
    Both my Olympus cameras are rock solid and super durable. I should mention that they use film are at least 30 years old. My Panasonic M43s have pretty good build quality as well.
     
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  4. boatman37210

    boatman37210 Mu-43 Regular

    103
    Jun 28, 2012
    Thailand
    That could exactly be why.
     
  5. T N Args

    T N Args Agent Photocateur

    Dec 3, 2013
    Adelaide, Australia
    call me Arg
    If that is the reason, though, then Canons would appear much less reliable than any other brand. I don't think that's right.
     
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  6. Ricoh

    Ricoh Mu-43 Top Veteran

    906
    Nov 2, 2013
    UK
    Steve
    Good point, but canons, or nikons for that matter, don't get much of an airing here. I was going from the number of complaints on the Pannasonic and Olympus sub forums, here on Mu-43.
     
  7. boatman37210

    boatman37210 Mu-43 Regular

    103
    Jun 28, 2012
    Thailand
    The number of complaints on a forum is not enough information to make a determination. I would think you would need to know problems per units sold. If two companies have the same failure rate and one company sells twice as many cameras as the other, it will have twice as many complaints. Chances of getting a problem camera from either company are exactly the same
     
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  8. ijm5012

    ijm5012 Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Oct 2, 2013
    Pittsburgh, PA
    Ian
    I've seen a number of issues reported with a variety of Olympus cameras:
    • EVF eye cups falling off
    • Mode dials falling off
    • Rear dials not working
    • LCD screens cracking
    • Rubber grips delaminating from the body
    • Rear mount of the 12-40 PRO snapping off when dropped from a low height on to a padded surface
    When I think about Panasonic, the only "regular" issues I've seen people report is the rear LCD delaminating on the GX1, and the rear LCD hinge becoming loose on the GH3. Other than that, I can't recall reading about any prevalent issues. I know that I have a GH3 & GH4, and haven't had any build quality issues with them what-so-ever.
     
  9. Ulfric M Douglas

    Ulfric M Douglas Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Mar 6, 2010
    Northumberland
    I would say that Olympus recently had a phase of using certain construction methods that have proven unreliable or a desire to sell things without sufficient testing.
    I hope they used the feedback to correct the way they design and make certain parts.
    I don't think Panasonic went along that road.
     
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  10. fortwodriver

    fortwodriver Mu-43 Top Veteran

    959
    Nov 15, 2013
    Toronto, Ontario, Canada
    Frank
    Hey guys...

    If I compare my E-M1 to my wife's G2, the build quality isn't "better" but it is "different". Remember though, nobody really posts that they're having no problems, they only post when they do have problems. That significantly skews the perception of problems. If you read the forums, you'd think the eyecup issue on the E-M5 made that camera unsellable, but (I'm guessing) hundreds of thousands of people appear not to have any problems.

    Add to that the tendency for arm-chair critics to sign up and post on MULTIPLE forums at a time to tell different groups they're having problems because the world needs to know and they feel they're doing the public a service. If I'm bored, I can skim across multiple camera forums and find the same guy posting the same issue again, and again, and again. IF that guy actually took his camera, went outside and took pictures, I'm sure he'd be fine. But no... This is the Internet.

    There's bound to be a few issues.
     
    Last edited: Mar 19, 2015
  11. agentlossing

    agentlossing Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Jun 26, 2013
    Andrew Lossing
    The GX1 isn't the only Panasonic to suffer from screen delamination, both my GX1 and my GF3 are doing it. Still, when it comes to consumer electronics, I think Panasonic's vast experience serves them well. They're robust and well designed, and show a certain design understatement that's hard to quantify but somehow exudes... Confidence, almost.
     
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  12. tjdean01

    tjdean01 Mu-43 Top Veteran

    842
    Feb 20, 2013
    My PM2 had a shutter problem and I had to send it in. I bought it on Amazon though, a place where all my electronics have been defective.

    My GM1 is made in China. I think all of the GM1's are made there?
     
  13. Ulfric M Douglas

    Ulfric M Douglas Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Mar 6, 2010
    Northumberland
    :clapping:
    So true! Funny too.
     
  14. GFFPhoto

    GFFPhoto Mu-43 All-Pro

    Feb 24, 2013
    Interesting perspective. While my experience and what I have seen tells me that Panasonic cameras are very durable and quite reliable, some of the low or mid range models feel kind of cheap and plastic. I'm not saying they aren't robust, because they sure seem to be. I think its just a fit and finish issue, but aside from the higher end models, I don't pick them up and think "this is solid!". (but maybe things have changed. I'm thinking of some of the older GF or G models)
     
  15. Ricoh

    Ricoh Mu-43 Top Veteran

    906
    Nov 2, 2013
    UK
    Steve
    Just looked at the base of my panasonic duo, GX7 was made in Japan, GM5 made in China. Should I be worried?
     
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  16. agentlossing

    agentlossing Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Jun 26, 2013
    Andrew Lossing
    I agree with you, I think Panasonic knows how to make products at a lower cost that are still robust, due to their many years of multitudinous consumer products. Actually they're one of the few mainstream electronics manufacturers that I feel errs on the side of quality instead of cheapness. But you still see that consumer heritage in their cameras, whereas Olympus is much more a dedicated camera maker.
     
  17. demiro

    demiro Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Nov 7, 2010
    My complete guesstimate is that Olympus has a higher rate of issues than does Panasonic. Significantly higher? Would it make me choose Panny over Oly? No. Not even a consideration.
     
  18. Benzy

    Benzy Mu-43 Regular

    156
    Mar 18, 2014
    I think it's fair to mention this. Definitely something I've noticed in the oly forum - knobs falling off, dials not responsive and rubber gripping coming unglued on the E-M1. The last is a huge red flag for me. The E-M1 is priced high in part becausne of its rep as a very tough camera that can take abuse. The rubber coming unseated on multiple units is pretty unacceptable to me and is one reason why I have not bought that model.

    Also unscientific, but of the two Olympus cams I've purchased new, both had issues out of the box. (One wouldn't hold the date the other had a bad zoom ring on the kit lens).

    I will say oly cameras feel better built in my hands. My GX7 feels
    plasticy, while my epm2 and em5 felt very solid.
     
  19. Redwing

    Redwing Mu-43 Rookie

    17
    Feb 2, 2015
    My G5 and GF3 certainly don't feel cheap, but they tend to be more 'plasticy' feeling than my E-M1. I feel if I really, really squeezed the Panasonic cameras, that I could break the plastic outer shell, whereas I feel like that won't happen with the E-M1 (as a pro spec camera, it should be that way). However, I think that the G5 is probably the most 'comfortable' camera I have ever used. Sometimes I think the E-M1 is a little too 'dense,' or heavy feeling, and the G5 feels just right. But, I suppose if I had purchased the E-M1 first, I'd be saying the Oly felt perfect and the G5 was too light (or, more likely, I would have never purchased the G5 if I had the E-M1 already).

    I also agree with fortwo that people will post/complain when there is a problem, which is completely understandable, and since photo forums tend to attract more serious users, you see a greater percentage of OMD owners on the forums as opposed to the camera population in general, leading to more complaints about those cameras.

    Also, as far as I know, Panasonic doesn't offer factory direct refurbs like Olympus does, so the issue of returns/refurbs is not as noticeable to us. I don't know that I've ever seen a refurb Pany u4/3 camera or lens anywhere, not that I've looked too hard for them.

    I should also say that I've never had an issue with any Panasonic camera or lens I've ever purchased. I've never had an issue with any new or refurb Oly Lens, but I did have excessive hot spots, even after mapping, on a refurb E-M1 I had purchased, which was ultimately returned, and I purchased a new one.
     
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  20. Sammyboy

    Sammyboy m43 Pro

    Oct 26, 2010
    Steeler Country
    .... the GF-1 had problems with the strap lugs failing .....