G5 vs. EM5 - a thorough real life comparison

Discussion in 'This or That? (MFT only)' started by yehuda, Oct 9, 2013.

  1. yehuda

    yehuda Mu-43 Veteran

    Mar 14, 2013

    One might think that a G5 vs. EM5 comparison is a bit long in the tooth.
    Both cameras have been in the market for over a year and all has been said and done... that's partially true but not complete.
    I also don't think both cameras are obsolete yet (the EM5 is still part of the king of the hill group and the G5 is so cheap that I think it's a viable choice when considering the more-than-double-priced G6 which isn't that much better IMHO).

    I had an EM5 for over a year and sold it with the grip for a nice sum towards funding the upcoming EM1 (mainly for the bigger EVF and better controls).
    But as the EM5 had it's quirks (and I never really liked that spiky form factor) I realized I do not want to spend that kind of money on the EM1.
    As the Panasonic G5 was sold with the kit lens for 350$ I figured I'll buy one and if I'm unhappy I'll just sell it for little to no loss.
    Turns out there are quite a lot of differences between the EM5 and the G5 and I figured I might as well list them in a post for the benefit of prospective buyers.

    I'll try to make this concise (though it is comprehensive so it won't be short) and list the important stuff as I see them.

    Just to clear things: I shoot RAW and am a glasses wearer (relates to EVF comments).
    With the EM5 I used (not all at the same time) the following lenses: 14-45 (old 'kit zoom'), 12-35 F2.8, 14-42 PZ, 7.5mm roknion fisheye, 20mm F1.7, 25mm F1.4, 45mm F1.8.
    I thinned down my collection to my 3 favorites: 12-35 F2.8 (best all rounder), 7.5mm Fisheye (can amazingly be transformed to rectilinear if wanted using the adaptive wide angle tool in Photoshop) and 14-42 PZ when I want to be more portable.
    With the G5 I only used the above 3 (12-35,14-42 PZ, 7.5mm).

    Better on the EM5, more DR to work with in LR, less noisy in higher ISOs and visually much more pleasing in very high ISOs (2000+).The G5 sensor is also quite OK (better than the GX1 I have as a backup camera). @ less than ISO 1000 the differences in IQ aren't that major.
    Take note - the EM5/G5 IQ gap seems much larger with OOC JPEGS but when shooting RAW it's smaller.

    IBIS vs. OIS:
    Not to start a fight about this but the EM5 5-axis is better than any OIS I used. I got 100% success in blur free images at 1/2 second exposures with lenses upto 45mm in focal length. With OIS I barely get such results upto 1/5 second exposures in a consistent manner.
    As I was trolled about this in another thread I will not waste my time trying to support this claim.
    Anyway - a person can fabricate tripod mounted images at a given shutter speed as 'proof' so I'm not participating in such debates.
    What I wrote is based on my experience and I gladly share it with others but will not go overboard protecting the validity of my words.
    I cannot control people who choose do disbelieve what I write here but am really stating the truth here.

    The EM5 has smoother fluidity (especially in dimly lit room etc.) and I can see the whole image in the EVF. With the G5 I cannot see the whole scene; the left and right edges are slightly hidden.
    The quality of the LCD is good on both units.
    The EM5 only tilts while the G5 is fully articulate - this is really a matter of preference (I have to have the screen sideways on the G5 when I want to only tilt it; some might not like this) but the G5 winds hands down for possibilities here (esp. in video taking).

    Both cameras differ greatly in the integration between the EVF and the LCD.
    On the G5 you can switch from EVF to LCD and whatever was shown on the one screen is shown (with a very short lag) on the other. On the EM5 this works slightly differently; the lag is more noticeable and if you are already looking through the EVF in record mode and want to go to playback mode you have to press the 'play' triangle and THEN the EVF button (it defaults to show the image on the LCD). On top of this you also have to disable the EVF/LCD sensor to even make viewing the playback images on the EVF. VERY ANNOYING!

    The EM5 is horribly uncomfortable without buying an extra grip attachment even when using small lenses (like the 14-42 PZ) - I bought the HLD6 and used only the vertical part.
    The EM5 is noticeably taller (and heavier) with the grip as well (even the vertical part adds more than 100 grams and 1 cm to camera height).
    With the grip the EM5 has enough place for 2-3 fingers but still feels forward-heavy and there's an indentation in the HLD6 vertical grip which digs into the index finger if you have a heavy lens attached.
    In the very limited times I've used the horizontal part of the HLD6 I noticed that the palm of my hand inadvertently caused the FN buttons on the grip attachment to be pressed and had to disable them.
    The G5 grip is much more comfortable for me without any added attachments.
    There's also the issue of the strap lugs; in the G5 they're relatively flush to the body and on the EM5 they're of the D-ring variety which might dig into your finger when holding the camera (less of an issue when using the HLD6).

    Menus and Buttons:
    I had the EM5 for over a year and the G5 for just a couple of weeks and from the very start I felt the G5 is much better both in button layout and in the menu system.
    I prefer the custom quick menu on the G5 to the SCP on the EM5.
    The EM5 has 2 wheels but they're not comfortable to use (when using the grip you tend to use the front wheel in an awkward position. This is hard to explain why but it just is)
    I prefer the single wheel + rocker dial on the G5 solution (and it also zooms the PZ lenses is wanted allowing one-handed control on the camera with zooming!).
    Another small but annoying quirk relates to when you magnify and image in playback mode and want to jump straight back to fit-screen; with the G5 you press the middle button in the D-Pad whereas the EM5 has no way to achieve this in a click of a button (it has various tweaks like jumping between detected faces and stuff but not this simple one button solution so common on many cameras).
    I will mention that when shooting RAW only, zooming-in the image with the EM5 you see actual pixels and with the G5 you see a lower resolution preview so it get's slightly pixelated enough to make you uncertain that the image is in proper focus (it looks more out of focus than pixelated). I think shooting RAW+JPEG in the G5 might fix it but haven't tried it as the AF is quite good and I can tell if it's properly focused even in the lower-res view (just don't go looking for sharp eyelashes in a portrait image!).

    The EM5 might be slightly faster (I have no way of measuring this) but is definitely better implemented. For example: I can be in central point AF but if a face is detected it overrides the central point.
    This is also possible with the G5 but it requires resetting this every time (you choose face detection and then choose to move to center but this setting doesn't stay stuck between modes (PASM) or switching off the camera etc.).
    The EM5 also has great eye detection which works wonders when shooting portraits with shallow DOF (45 F1.8 for example). The G5 doesn't have eye detection.

    Video quality:
    This one's easy - the G5 is much better (try shooting the EM5 with moving leaves, running water, kids running and you'll see the codec feels the frame with a buzzilion blocky artifacts).
    The EM5 however has the 5 axis IBIS which allowed me to shoot handheld videos with almost zero wobble. But the IQ messed up this advantage sadly.
    The AVCHD files on the G5 are also easier to combine automatically with short batch files using ffmpeg (the quicktime files from the EM5 sometimes got the colors messed up when combining).

    Shutter (and shutter shock):
    To start off I'll say I have no problems with double imaging etc. when shooting the 14-42 PZ between 1/60 to 1/200 shutter speeds. I have tested this and found zero problems @100% magnification on both cameras.
    But other than that the EM5 has a much softer and quieter shutter than the G5's.
    The G5 has an optional electronic shutter which is sometimes useful as the image capture is near silent but is limited in some ways (doesn't work with external flashes for one thing).

    AUTO WB:
    This might seem less of an issue for RAW shooters such as myself but it's not exactly so.
    In my LR workflow I have manually set automatic presets for each camera based on the ISO used in the file etc.
    For the G5 I have AUTO WB set by LR as the in camera auto WB is very 'cold'.
    On the EM5 I had LR leave the WB as set by the camera and have found that the auto WB done in the EM5 is more to my liking than the auto WB set by LR.
    Maybe this is part of why EM5 OOC JPEGS seem (and are) so much more pleasing visually than the G5 jpegs.

    I mainly use external flashes (I have the Metz 44 AF-1, 50 AF-1 and 24 AF-1).
    BTW the Metz 24 AF-1 is amazingly useful for indoor flash bouncing and I rarely use the larger 44 and 50 (bought second hand btw).
    So the lack of built-in flash on the EM5 is less of a limit to me and I also don't care much for the built-in flash on the G5 as it doesn't tilt upwards for a make-do bounce.
    The flash system is definitely better on the EM5; I can use HSS (with the Metz 50 AF-1), can use wireless flash with TTL (the 44 and 50) but as the wireless feature requires me to attach the clip-on flash (removing 2 covers in the process) I hardly ever used it.
    What I do like a lot on the EM5 is that I can set a limit for minimum shutter speed in AUTO ISO and even in preset ISOs this dictates the shutter speed when using an external flash without needing to use S or M modes.
    On the G5 it always uses 1/60 unless I override it using S or M modes.

    The EM5 is better built (weather sealed etc.), has better major components (sensor, 5-axis stabilizer, EVF shutter and more), has better auto WB and processing, is faster (9 FPS etc.) and by the numbers should be superior to the G5.
    But when it comes down to actually using one I find the shooting experience to feel less natural with the EM5. Believe me: after over a year I knew where everything was in the menus (from bracketing to anti shock to whatever else) of the EM5 but still find the G5 much easier to manage.

    The EM5 is so uncomfortable without an external grip (which costs a fortune if you buy the original) whereas the G5 is just fine (and after selling the kit lens which I have no use for) and costs roughly what the HLD6 costs without the camera itself... this alone is very annoying.
    The only real thing I miss on the G5 is the 5-axis IBIS; no more shooting dimly lit static scenes @ ISO 200, shutter 1/2 second...

    So anyways - this was a LONG post (don't think I'll be writing anything like this again:smile:) but I hope it helped as it contains many things not mentioned online and definitely not organized together in the way I wrote in my post.
    And as a side note: I also have the GX1 (used as a backup for small paid jobs) and find the G5 superior in just about everything except size which is less of an issue when attaching a lens.
    • Like Like x 22
  2. elavon

    elavon Mu-43 All-Pro

    Sep 1, 2012
    Tel Aviv Israel

    thanks for a very good comparison. When i had bought my G5 I have made the same analysis and came to the conclusion, for RAW shooters the G5 is a great camera.
    It win over the EM5 by a big margin in the price/performance and ergonomics.
    The only thing I do not like about the G5 is the slow writing to the SD in burst mode, does the EM5 suffers from the same problem?
  3. Gillymaru

    Gillymaru Mu-43 Veteran

    As an experienced Oylmpus and Panasonic user I agree with your conclusions. I didn't buy the Em5 because although the image quality was great the G5 was very nearly as good and the body felt nice to use. The only thing that I really don't like about the G5 is the build quality, it falls short of any Olympus camera I have owned.
    The new Em1 has addressed many of the issues I had with the Em5 and have placed an order for one. My G5 will now become my backup body, a role which it will be well suited for.
  4. yehuda

    yehuda Mu-43 Veteran

    Mar 14, 2013
    You're welcome!

    I don't have both cameras to test but I seem to remember the EM5 being slightly better in that department.
    I've being using the same Transcend UHS-I 32GB card on both cameras and what I DO notice is that if I shoot a video and then switch the camera off it delays until it finsihes writing; I think the EM5 would shutoff quicker under similar conditions but am not 100%.
    • Like Like x 1
  5. yehuda

    yehuda Mu-43 Veteran

    Mar 14, 2013
    I'm sure you'll enjoy the EM1. Let us know what it's like!

    btw I updated the original comment with stuff I forgot to write.
  6. dougjgreen

    dougjgreen Mu-43 All-Pro

    Jun 5, 2013
    San Diego
    Doug Green
    IMHO, Yehuda left out two HUGE advantages for the G5 in his otherwise excellent and comprehensive comparison, which remains the reason I bought it, and why I still continue to use it at least as much as my E-PL5 which has all of the same IQ advantages of the E-M5 (other than 5 axis IBIS).

    Firstly, the fact that the G5 does not have issues with my two favorite lenses - the 20mm and the 7-14mm lens, while the Sony-sensor Olympuses do. IMHO, the banding issue with the 20mm at very high ISOs is not a big deal, as I've never seen it at the ISOs I tend to shoot at, but the purple flare issue with the 7-14mm IS a big deal.

    Secondly is that the Panasonic bodies process out color fringing in software, and certain lenses just perform better on Panasonic bodies as a result.
    • Like Like x 3
  7. yehuda

    yehuda Mu-43 Veteran

    Mar 14, 2013

    I forgot about the banding as I sold the 20mm long ago (and didn't shoot it much at high ISOs) and also forgot about the fringing as I have them removed automatically with LR.
    I remember the 14-45 was so bad with Purple Fringing; I think that's when I added the removal of fringing to my LR automatic presets.
  8. THe opposite is also true.. correct?

    Olympus lens on a panasonic body is not corrected.

    PS> I haven't seen banding issue with my 20mm on EM5, but then again.. I don't shoot high ISOs often.
  9. elavon

    elavon Mu-43 All-Pro

    Sep 1, 2012
    Tel Aviv Israel
    Olympus lenses are CA corrected only on the EM1, but not on the EM5. Panasonic lenses are corrected on all panasonic bodies.

    Sent from my HTC One S using Mu-43 mobile app
  10. klee

    klee Mu-43 Veteran

    Mar 20, 2013
    Houston, TX
    I recently convinced a friend to buy a G5 for cheap and experimented with my 20/1.7 on it.

    It focuses much much faster and decisively on the G5 than my EM5. I was so distraught by this and the banding problem that I sold the 20/1.7 for a 17/1.8. I still really miss the FL and sharpness of the 20/1.7. I highly recommend the shooting experience to anybody with a Panasonic body.
  11. Steven

    Steven Mu-43 All-Pro

    May 25, 2012
    Excellent review. I am surprised to hear you say G5 sensor/image quality is better than Gx1. I always assumed they were pretty similar .
  12. Steven

    Steven Mu-43 All-Pro

    May 25, 2012
    That's pretty sad. Kind of makes a lie out of the 2 manufacturer - all compatible system.
  13. dougjgreen

    dougjgreen Mu-43 All-Pro

    Jun 5, 2013
    San Diego
    Doug Green
    Not true - ALL native M4/3 lenses are corrected on Panasonic bodies.
  14. dougjgreen

    dougjgreen Mu-43 All-Pro

    Jun 5, 2013
    San Diego
    Doug Green
    Certainly the G5's JPEGs are better. Might not be much difference in RAW though.
  15. mring1

    mring1 Mu-43 Regular

    Nov 28, 2012
    Phoenix, Arizona
    John Taska
    Horses for courses...

    The E-M5's ergonomics didn't work for you, and that's arguably the chief issue with the camera. Almost no one is arguing its specs, except for video. With the RRS grip, it works perfectly for me. I used mine for two months "naked" and while the closeness and size of the buttons took getting used to, it's become pretty comfortable for me. While I'd love to have the button separation of the E-M1, not to mention of new EVF, I'll be spending my money on the new 12-40.

    The great thing about the m4/3s universe now is that we have these options. The size range and feature set of all these cameras is pretty amazing, and with the intro next week of the new "mini-Pany" the range is going to grow even more. Add to that the lens options, and it's even better.

    It's like golf clubs...there's Nike, Taylor, Calloway, and a whole bunch of others. All of them work well. The connection between your hands and your brain will tell you which one works best.
  16. wildwildwes

    wildwildwes Mu-43 Veteran

    Jun 9, 2012
    Brooklyn, NY
    Great review Yehuda. thanks for sharing...

    I've owned an EM-5 since they were released. While I agree that having a "penta-prism" is really STUPID (especially since it is a mirror-less camera!!!), I gotta say that ergonomically the camera feels like an extension of my hands and I absolutely LOVE the way it handles. I must confess however that it took me several weeks to become accustomed to the "new" camera at the time, but once I was, it's been smooth sailing. This became even more so true when I purchased and began using the accessory grip hand manufactured by John Milich (right here in Brooklyn!). All of that said, I've never had the opportunity to shoot with a G5, so my comments pertain only to my experiences with the EM-5. I absolutely love mine and pre-oredered an EM-1 moments after it was announced a month ago or so... STILL WAITING to receive it however!!! :dash2:
  17. darosk

    darosk Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Apr 17, 2013
    Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia
    I had a G5 for a couple of months (got one of those super cheap eBay deals that was out a while back). I liked the form factor, and the flippy out screen. Could not discern a major IQ difference with my E-M5. The hollow feel of the body I didn't much care for, neither the gypped video controls and bitrates etc. Though the footage itself was nice, I guess one should opt for a GH series if one really wants a "fuller" m43 video body.

    I ended up selling it for almost exactly what I paid for it, which was nice.
  18. yehuda

    yehuda Mu-43 Veteran

    Mar 14, 2013
    It's not just physical ergonomics (mainly the grip, buttons, evf hump and strap lgs) but has a lot to do with implementation and quirks (viewing recorded images on the evf, zooming out in one click etc.).

    But if all in all you're comfortable with the camera that's great. Because it sure has a lot going for it. Enjoy the 12-40!

    In case it is implied otherwise I did enjoy my em5 and used it a lot with great results but I guess it didn't really grow on me all that time... I guess nothing's perfect for eveyone (especially when mass produced).
  19. jnewell

    jnewell Mu-43 All-Pro

    Jun 23, 2011
    Boston, MA
    I largely agree with the original post - but it's worth remembering that the EM5 is roughly twice the price of the G5. I like using them both - I prefer the EM5 to the G5 - but plan to keep both in my bag for a while.
  20. jnewell

    jnewell Mu-43 All-Pro

    Jun 23, 2011
    Boston, MA
    My G5 replaced a GX1. I didn't have much chance to do A/B testing, but my impression is that they're very similar in raw mode.