Panasonic Lumix GH3 vs Olympus OM-D E-M5 – Hands On Comparison

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(Video above is a slow motion test of the Panasonic Lumix GH3 by HawaiiRocksOn and displays the GH3’s extrordinary performance in video mode)

CameraLabs just posted an in depth review of the Panasonic Lumix GH3, and as part of their verdict they wrote up a head to head comparison between the GH3 and it’s closest micro 4/3 rival, the highly celebrated Olympus OM-D E-M5.

Each of these cameras is the flagship of their respective lineup, and each have garnered a lion’s share of praise and attention since their release.  It’s rumored that each is equipped with essentially the same Sony sensor, and each can make the claim that they are packed with pro-level features.  But what are the features that set these cameras apart from one another, and does one stand a little taller than it’s rival?

Here’s CameraLabs’ Comparison Highlights

Though smaller and lighter than the GH3, the OM-D E-M5 shares the GH3’s SLR styling, albeit in retro format and it’s also weather-sealed. Both provide a plethora of physical controls with dual control dials and multiple programmable function buttons. Both have touch-screens, though the GH3’s is better integrated and offers touch focusing during movie shooting.

Both screens use OLED technology and share similar resolutions, but the E-M5’s screen is hinged at the bottom, so it can flip up or down, but not out to the side and forwards facing like the GH3’s.

Both being Micro four Thirds models the GH3 and E-M5 have access to the same library of lenses, but the EM-5’s built-in five-axis stabilization works with any lens you attach. With the GH3 you only get stabilization with appropriately equipped lenses.

The GH3 outclasses the E-M5 for video recording. The latter offers a best quality 1080p30 HD mode and manual exposure control but can’t match the range of modes or the high bit rates of the GH3. Neither does it have a headphones or external mic socket, though you can connect a mic via the accessory port. And, as I’ve already mentioned, you can’t use the OM-D E-M5’s touch screen to focus during movie recording.

Next to the GH3, the OM-D E-M5’s lack of wireless connectivity makes it look almost as dated as its styling suggests. It won’t be long before all cameras have Wi-Fi built in and this is something that Olympus will need to address sooner rather than later. The GH3 also sports more wired connectivity with a PC sync port for external lighting, a microphone input and headphone jack.

[With the Panasonic Lumix GH3 and the Olympus OM-D E-M5], the Micro Four Thirds format now sports two high-end bodies to choose from, in addition to the broadest range of lenses, which is great news for the first of the mirrorless systems. (Read full comparison on CameraLabs)

My 2 Cents

These Panasonic Lumix GH3 and the Olympus OM-D E-M5 are two of our favorite cameras, and for good reason.

The OM-D is the camera that proved that a micro 4/3 camera sensor could deliver image quality that rivaled that of it’s larger APSC sized cousins.

On the other hand, the GH3 was highly anticipated because of the performance of it’s predecessor, the Panasonic Lumix GH2 in the video department, where it was the first camera to prove that a micro 4/3 sensor could deliver high quality HD video rivaling that produced by larger, more expensive cameras.   With the new GH3, Panasonic have released a camera that matches the OMD blow for blow where still image quality is concerned, but it adds professional quality video to the mix, taking the legendary performance of the GH2 to the next level.

Olympus and Panasonic have been continually raising the bar on each other with each camera release.  The GH3 was the most recent addition to the M43 lineup and in my opinion, it’s the best Hybrid Camera ever produced to date.   Now it’s Olympus’ turn, and it’ll be interesting to see what they come up with next.

In the end, these are two superb cameras that deserve every accolade that has been heaped upon them and there’s a lot to love about each.

Buy the Panasonic Lumix GH3 and Olympus OM-D E-M5 on Amazon Here

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