Panasonic (GX7) to Olympus (EM5II), some observations

Discussion in 'This or That?' started by laser8, Dec 7, 2015.

  1. laser8

    laser8 Mu-43 Veteran

    Jan 29, 2013
    Mare nostrum, Istria
    I know a lot of things have already been said on this topic, but I wanted to present some of my experiences which did surprise me, even after quite some research, and which I hope may be of help to others in my position. I used a GX7 which I still find a great camera, but had the itch of the long exposure capabilities of the Olympus bodies, so got me an EM5II... Although I think that for my needs it's the better camera, I would not dismiss the Panasonic right away.

    Leaving aside the very known differences which I am not going to list, what I found out, and was quite surprised, is that the extensive customization available to Oly users ends just a bit too soon. Contrary to Panasonic, the SCP is not customizable, and there's no way of putting silent shooting on any fn button(that said the normal shutter of the Oly is almost silent if compared to the GX7). Also, if fast startup time is very important to your style of shooting, the GX7 is a better choice.
    I am still not sure if it's a glitch or something, but with a Panasonic FL360L in red eye mode, there's a lag of about a second before it flashes (did not happen on the GX7). Last thing - in M there's no "shutter preview" mode available (Panasonic users will know if they need it or not).

    The only "mechanical" adaptation needed is with the dials - they're much easier to turn than on the Panasonic, especially the front one. Here muscle memory can play tricks!

    On the flip side, the menu is understandable, the hovering info useful, and really not problematic.
    The mobile app is better, it gives the option to be used as remote control or as a remote shutter (useful for long exposures). Oh, and I really like how it's easy to rename file sequences! One thing that is usually not highlighted, are the blinking over and underexposed areas in live preview - incredibly helpful!

    Lastly - the raw files are some 25% smaller, so people that like shooting with small sd cards will have that more space available per card.
    Last edited: Dec 7, 2015
  2. Steven

    Steven Mu-43 All-Pro

    May 25, 2012
    Going thru the same transition now. Extremely frustrating at first . I understand what people meant by complicated menus. In DigitalRev YouTube review the guy stops and has to Google on how to switch ISO . Watching it afterwards I smiled because I knew how he felt . Definitely not a camera to pick up and go without reading manual and some tips and tricks posts .
    Ergonomically, GX7 is better to hold by virtue of its mount being so far to the left that it leaves a lot more room for the right hand . On the other hand, the em5 feels better to use vertically with viewfinder, where Gx7 feels weird .
    Low light autofocus feels less certain with more hunting on em5.
    The fact that the four way pad is useless by default in em5 is insane to me. Thankfully it's possible to assign functions to 2 of them . Other function buttons are nice , still deciding which functions to assign . Using top right button to activate ISO WB selection for wheels . That seems major. Not crazy about SCP. Too many things to cycle around .
    Movie mode has some cool features not in. Gx7 and some weird limitations. First - the use of digital zoom when filming is just as awesome as I thought . For those who don't know, it's the right function button. Bizarrely, wheels cannot be used to control Exposure in video like on Gx7. You have to click a bunch of buttons first. You Can control audio levels, something gx7 does not allow during filming. Can't really comment much on quality, though low light seems way better and smoother on Gx7. I like that you can can choose various effects for filiming , but adjusting WB on the fly seems more complicated or impossible .
    I like the tactile feel of the plastic and the leatherette .
    Overall image quality so far seems about the same . I do like the smaller Raw files :)
  3. b_rubenstein

    b_rubenstein Mu-43 All-Pro

    Mar 20, 2012
    Melbourne, FL
    By default, pushing one of the 4 buttons directly moves the AF sensor location in the direction of the button. Configure a Panasonic camera (I had a GX1 and now have a LX100.) to directly move the AF sensor and the default functions of the 4 way pad buttons have to be mapped to either programmable buttons or the Q menu. The problem with this is that a great deal of functionality is lost this way. I know the AF sensor can be dragged around on the screen with the GX7, but not the LX100. Also, the SCP is faster to use to make multiple changes at once and drill down to make changes that can't be done through the Q menu. From the SCP it's very quick to switch between Silent mode and mechanical shutter.

    The setup/configuration/menu system you know best is going to be the one you like best. The Olympus menus are very extensive, and often non-intuitive to find your way around, but rarely needed once the camera is configured for your preferences.
  4. davidzvi

    davidzvi Mu-43 All-Pro

    Aug 12, 2012
    Outside Boston MA
    Real Name:
    Just made the switch as well. But I've used many Panasonic and Olympus bodies. (E-PM1, GX1, E-P5, E-M1, E-M10, GM1, GM5, LX100, GX7, E-M10 mk2 - briefly, and now E-M5 mk2)

    I also wish there was a way to configure a button into silent mode (actually the 2x2 controller would be perfect for me). As noted though you can change it without too much trouble using the SCP and the EM5mk2 shutter IS really quiet, even quieter if you use Anti-Shock setting. I think I'll use silent more to silent the beep AF lock I tend to like more than to quiet the shutter.

    One thing I found I really didn't like about the Panasonic bodies I've own is not being able to turn off unwanted display screens as you can on Olympus bodies. I would have loved to be able to go from all information screen to the recording information screen and back which is what the SCP gives me.

    I agree with your on the flip side, even if I don't make use of all of them.

    Menus seem to me to be a trade off. Olympus menus are deep and finding the right setting can be time consuming. But Panasonic disables features in some modes and figuring out what settings you need to activate to be able to enable other options bugged me more.

    Ergonomically is to subjective, I find I prefer the handling of the E-M5 mk2 over almost any m4/3 body I've own (the E-M1 was nice ;)).

    Since I still us my Nikon gear for events I like the default 4-way pad setup. I setup my Panasonic bodies for direct AF control and reprogrammed those function to other buttons or the Q-Menu. And other than silent mode everything I had on the Q-Menu is on the SCP, so for me that's fine. And you can use the touch screen on the SCP.

    Biggest things I miss from my Panasonic bodies? I wish the E-M5 had a focus mode switch, I prefer the Panasonic level gauge, and like that you could just turn the gauge/histogram on and off with a button (though I have them setup for second display now my E-M5 so that's close). I also liked that more things could be done by touch. You can use touch on the SCP and Live Guides but not the menus or Live Controls.
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  5. T N Args

    T N Args Agent Photocateur

    Dec 3, 2013
    Adelaide, Australia
    Real Name:
    call me Arg
    I made the same switch 10 months ago. Although my GX7 stayed in the family and is experiencing much love just like I gave it :)


    Definitely agreed! Even with the faster startup after FW1.1, M5II is not fast enough to startup.

    The M5II front dial is far too easy to turn unawares while walking around with the camera on, ready to shoot fast. I have to contort my hand to avoid it and it is distracting and annoying.

    Love 'em!

    We can only hope that is more efficient lossless packing. :cautious:

    The GX7 is more comfortable in my hand.

    Totally agree! GX7 is king of instantaneous low light AF in this comparo. M5II is acceptable.

    The GX7 has the weirdest limitation of all in video of course: no IBIS. The M5II wins hands down on hand-held video but I hate setting it up (like you say).

    I sadly miss the GX7's fabulous touchpad-AF control. Leave its 4-way controls alone. :)

    One extra thing I have to mention: my deep love of the M5II's preview histogram. In addition to being visually far easier to examine, it displays the histogram of the spot-metering area within the main 'whole-image' histogram. I use this spot meter histogram extensively, it is amazing, and I didn't even know it existed when I bought the camera.

    My conclusion: Panasonic Rules, and Olympus Rules. The kingdom is not split, it is co-ruled. :inlove:
  6. laser8

    laser8 Mu-43 Veteran

    Jan 29, 2013
    Mare nostrum, Istria
    Is it, isn't it? I thought maybe it was my lenses (all Pana) so I did not mention it. At or below GX1 level I'd say.
    I set up one of the fn buttons as AF/MF switch, works fine.
    I'm thinking of getting one of those new 14-42 and give the GX7 to my daughter, as it looks like a tough sell (can't understand why).

    And yes, we're spoiled by choice.