Olympus PEN Lite E-PL5 vs Canon EOS M

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CameraLabs recently posted a review of the new Olympus PEN Lite E-PL5 and in their verdict section, they compared it to the Canon EOS M. No surprises here. Although CameraLabs seem to like the EOS M a little bit more than we do, they share our conclusion when putting Canon’s first mirrorless against the Olympus. The PEN Lite smokes it in just about every way.

Here’s CameraLabs’ comparison:
From the point of view of a compact upgrader, the Canon EOS M and Olympus E-PL5 offer two very different propositions. Despite the different sensor size – the 18 Megapixel APS-C sensor in the EOS M is a little larger than the PEN E-PL5’s 16 Megapixel Four Thirds sensor – in quality terms there’s actually little to choose between them.

In terms of native lenses, the PEN E-PL5 is an easy winner, with access to over 30 options from the mature Micro Four Thirds catalogue, compared to just two native lenses for the EOS M at the time of writing – the 18-55mm f3.5-5.6 zoom and 22mm f2 pancake prime. Crucially though, with the EF-EOS M adapter you can mount any EF or EF-S lens on the EOS M and still have full use of AF and all exposure modes. To be fair, the E-PL5 can also accommodate other lenses via an adapter, but the only ones you’ll enjoy autofocus with come from the original Four Thirds mount system.

The E-PL5 body is little thicker and heavier than the EOS M, but it has built-in sensor-shift image stabilisation that works with any lens you attach – a key advantage Olympus compact system cameras have over rivals. Because of the EOS M’s larger sensor, EF-M lenses are also bigger to begin with, plus the existing 18-55 and any new stabilised lenses will involve additional weight and cost. And though you have access to the entire Canon EF and EF-S lens catalogue, many of these lenses are designed for full-frame pro DSLR bodies and will dwarf the EOS M body negating any size and weight advantage it might have had. So for anyone who doesn’t already own Canon lenses, the adapter isn’t as attractive an option as a wide choice of native mount lenses.

Both cameras offer touch-screens; the PEN E-PL5’s 460k dot screen is lower resolution than the EOS M’s 1040k. Both measure 3 inches diagonally, but the EOS M’s fixed screen shares the same 3:2 aspect ratio as its sensor, so still images fill the screen. The PEN E-PL5’s 16:9 screen is much wider than its 4:3 proportioned still images which only fit the central portion, with wide black bars down either side, a much worse arrangement for stills shooters, but better for shooting HD video. In its favour, the PEN E-PL5’s screen is articulated and flips out and over so you can see it from in front of the camera. And If you don’t like composing with the E-PL5’s screen, you have the option of fitting one of two electronic viewfinders (or an optical one), a choice that’s sadly lacking on the EOS M.

Compared with the PEN E-PL5’s fast contrast detect AF, the EOS M is sluggish, to put it charitably. So for street, sports and action photography of any kind, the EOS M comes a poor second and not just to the PEN range, but just about any other mirror-less CSC you care to mention, with the possible exception of the Fujifilm X-Pro 1, at least with its original firmware.

Both cameras have a conventional hotshoe, but the PEN-E-PL5’s included flash accessory is powered by the camera. Canon’s Speedlite 90EX supplied in some regions with the EOS M takes a couple of AAA batteries and is larger, but with roughly equivalent output when base sensitivities are taken into account. And talking of power, the EOS M’s battery will last for 230 shots compared with a more generous 360 shots for the E-PL5.

All in all the PEN E-PL5 is a smaller, less expensive and more versatile camera than the EOS M, but if you’re upgrading from a Canon compact, or have a Canon DSLR and lenses, the EOS M still has plenty to offer.

Our Take: E-PL5 = Better Camera for $200 less. Nuff Said.

If for some reason your heart is set on it, you can Check out the Canon EOS M Here. Otherwise, you can’t go wrong with the Olympus PEN Lite E-PL5.

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