Lupin 3rd

Mu-43 Top Veteran
Aug 13, 2018
MoCo, MD
I've recently found myself the happy owner of both of these cameras, and since they can be had for similar amounts (around $400 USD), I thought it may be interesting to compare the two.

Both of these cameras have been out for a few years and have been extensively reviewed. The most excellent David Thorpe has video reviews for the E-M5ii, the GX8 and a comparison between the Olympus Pen-F and Panasonic rangefinder bodies.

The tech specs as well are out there and I don't think it's necessary to repeat them here and to be honest I don't think they matter that much. I've taken satisfying family photos with the older E-M5 (mark 1): nobody looks at those and points out that they were taken with an old m43 camera with ONLY 16mp, it's all about the emotion the images carry. Anyhow both the GX8 and E-M5ii are a step up from the E-M5, and IMHO both are excellent cameras that can be used professionally.

Almost all of my photos are of my family, mainly my kids: at home, at the park, around town, either briefly still or moving around erratically. I also have a Fuji X-T2 that has very good C-AF and high iso performance. What the X-T2 lacks for me is an articulating screen and IBIS. That's where these two cameras fall in. Another person may use the cameras differently (EG: birds in flight or street photography) so they will have different needs, and they will value the cameras differently. I'm sharing the pros and cons of each one as I use them so it may be helpful to someone having to decide between the two.

Hope this helps and here goes...

  • Body and Ergos: whatever works for you.
    • The GX8 is similar in size to the E-M1 which makes it a bit larger than the E-M5ii. Overall I think the GX8 works better for folks with larger hands and the E-M5ii for smaller hands. The GX8 requires me to use two hands to reach the FN5 and FN6 buttons.
    • I often use my E-M5ii with a small grip to help with handling so in the end the size is similar. With the obvious exception of the On/Off switch and mode dial, I can access every control on the E-M5ii with one hand.

  • Image Stabilization: Advantage E-M5ii.
    • The E-M5ii's IBIS works great for photos and video. Even old manual focus lens are usable by setting the focal length. The only point where IBIS begins to struggle is with longer (300mm), non OIS lens.
    • While the GX8 does have IBIS, when used with non OIS lens, it does not provide a stabilized image in the viewfinder and it does not work with video: this really annoys me. That said it's not a total win for the E-M5ii or loss for the GX8, the latter has Dual IS for many lens (list), and I think that at longer focal lengths (300mm), the Dual IS in the GX8 works better than the E-M5ii's IBIS.

  • Video: TIE. Whaaaaaaat?
    • Yes the GX8 has 4k video, but needs lens with Panasonic's OIS to provide a stabilized image. Otherwise the video is pretty shaky, and what's the point of having 4k video if it makes you nauseous? And while the GX8 does have e-stabilization for video, it only works at 1080 and with Panasonic lens.
    • The E-M5ii only does 1080, but it's stabilized with any lens.

  • Auto focus: Win for the GX8
    • The GX8 just works a bit better: S-AF locks faster/more reliably, C-AF tracks a little better. Personally the biggest bonus is Face Recognition, I can assign my kids' faces to two memory slots so AF will prioritize them among other faces. This is great to have in crowded places, like the playground.
    • The E-M5ii does okay. S-AF does pretty well, but Tracking C-AF struggles at times.

  • Buffer: Win for the GX8.
    • GX8: JPEG high: 85 photos, RAW: 32 photos, RAW + JPEG high: 30 photos.
    • E-M5ii: 12-13 photos in RAW + JPEG.

  • HDR: Win for the E-M5ii.
    • Not a major win, but if there's people in your HDR photo and they move slightly, the E-M5ii does a better job of stitching the photos together.
    • The GX8 will sometimes have faces composed from different photos giving them a 3D photo seen without glasses look.

  • Menus:
    • Olympus:
      • Minus: it's complicated, very! And some features are ridiculously obscure or difficult to find. EG: Minimum shutter speed under the (flash) submenu.
      • Plus: almost everything can be customized. EG: I assigned mySet1 to 'Art' on the mode dial as high contrast B/W.
    • Panasonic:
      • Minus: less customizable than the Olympus. EG: let me reassign one of the control wheels in P/A/S mode to iso. Some settings are not obvious, EG: HDR is grayed out when shooting RAW or RAW+JPEG without an explanation. I should be allowed to move the cursor over the grayed out menu and when attempting to select have the info message tell me that it's available only when shooting JPEG.
      • Plus: MUUUUUCH better organized! And easier to find settings.

  • Personal Complaints:
    • GX8:
      • Aside from what I mentioned above, I really don't get the point of having an exposure compensation dial plus TWO wheels with the same function in Aperture, Shutter, and Program... WTF?!? If there's two control wheels, one can work as exposure compensation and then the dial could be used to set the Drive Mode as Panasonic does on other cameras.
      • A battery grip would be nice, especially if it held 2 batteries like Fuji does.
    • E-M5ii:
      • AutoFocus still misses at odd times. Especially C-AF with Tracking, even in good light, even if my subjects (my kids) are not even moving at the moment I start taking photos it will still miss or hesitate for a couple seconds before taking the photo. WTF?!? S-AF is more reliable, but it too has odd misses.
      • The battery grip should hold 2 batteries, like Fuji does.

  • Likes:
    • Olympus:
      • IBIS;
      • Articulating screen;
      • Weather sealing;
      • Size;
      • Shutter noise;
      • Customizability.
    • Panasonic:
      • Rangefinder style body;
      • Articulating screen;
      • Weather sealing;
      • LOVE the tilting EVF;
      • Dual IS;
      • Touch screen.

So that's it for me, shouldn't be anything groundbreaking since these two cameras have been out there for a while. Right now if I could only keep on of these two cameras it would have to be the E-M5ii since its pro's best complements my Fuji X-T2. But if I didn't have the Fuji, and I had to pick, then I would probably keep the GX8. :biggrin:

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