Olympus PEN E-PL5 Ken McMahon, November 2012

Olympus PEN E-PL5 vs Canon EOS M JPEG quality

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To compare real-life performance I shot this scene with the Olympus PEN E-PL5 and Canon EOS M within a few moments of each other using their best quality JPEG settings.

The PEN E-PL5 was fitted with the M.Zuiko 14-42mm f3.5-5.6 kit zoom and the EOS M was fitted with the EF-M 18-55mm f3.5-5.6 IS STM kit zoom.

The lenses on both cameras were set to their maximum wide angle, 14mm (28mm equivalent) on the PEN E-PL5 and18mm (29mm equivalent) on the EOS M, providing an approximately equivalent field of view.

Image stabilisation was disabled for this tripod-mounted test and all other settings were left on the defaults.

  Olympus E-PL5 results
1 Olympus E-PL5 Quality JPEG
2 Olympus E-PL5 Quality RAW
3 Olympus E-PL5 Noise JPEG
4 Olympus E-PL5 Noise RAW
5 Olympus E-PL5 Sample images

The image above was taken with the Olympus PEN E-PL5 in Aperture Priority mode set to f5.6 and 200 ISO. At these settings, the Olympus PEN E-PL5 metered an exposure of 1/1000. At its base 100 ISO sensitivity setting the Canon EOS M metered 1/800 at f5.6. To match exposures with the Canon EOS M and produce similar results for comparison I applied -2/3EV exposure compensation on the E-PL5 resulting in an exposure of 1/1600 at f5.6.

This is a contrasty scene with a wide brightness range including bright highlights and deep shadows. The E-PL5's original metering didn't over-expose the image, but exposure compensation was applied to produce visually similar results for comparison. The E-PL5 image overall is punchy with good saturation and the warm colour balance typical of the PEN range.

The level of detail in the crops is also very good. Taking the top one first, the small details in the chapel, the doors and windows as well as the stonework are very well resolved. The grassy hill in the foreground with its rocky outcrops is a difficult area for sensors to hold onto detail, but the E-PL5 has managed it, you can make out detail in the rocks as well as the clumpy texture of the grass.

In the next crop the lighthouse is a distinct white column and you can make out the separate detail in the lamphouse. There's also some detail in the cliffs beyond. The roofs and houses in the foreground of this crop are looking a little blurry and indistinct though. And the detail in the third crop from closer to the edge of the frame also looks a little bit soft. This area was in shadow and there's also a little bit of noise texture creeping in. Another issue is chromatic abberation, with quite visible red fringing on high contrast vertical edges. The fourth crop from the close to the centre centre of the frame shows a return to the form shown in the first one, with nice, sharp, clearly resolved, well-defined detail right down to the individual roof tiles.

Though the Olympus PEN E-PL5 shares the same sensor as the Olympus OM-D E-M5, I think these reults look quite different to those from the E-M5. These crops have a punchier, sharper look to them much more in tune with what consumers would want from a straight out of camera JPEG. The sensor is doing an excellent job, let down slightly by the quality of the 14-42mm kit lens at the edge of the frame, at least at the wide angle setting.

The PEN E-PL5 crops are also crisper, more detailed and punchier than those from the EOS M. First, take a look at the chapel on the first crop, the doors and windows look sharper in the E-PL5 crop and there appears to be more detail on the stonework. In the second crop, as with the EOS M, the windows in the foreground are a little indistict, but there's more detail in the roof at the bottom of the crop. There's not much to separate the two in the third crop, but though the EOS M also suffers from chromatic aberration, unlike the PEN E-PL5, it has built-in correction (which for these tests was in the default Off setting). In the final crop, as with the first, the PEN E-PL5 crop looks to be sharper with a little more detail. Note the E-PL5 crops also show little evidence of noise in the sea and sky areas at its base sensitivity of 200 ISO

The question is are these differences merely down to processing, or is the Olympus E-PL5 Micro Four Thirds sensor recording more detail than the APS-C sensor in the Canon EOS M? To discover more check out my Olympus E-PL5 RAW results on the next page or see how these models compare at higher sensitivities in my Olympus E-PL5 Noise results.


Oympus PEN E-PL5
Canon EOS M
f5.6, 200 ISO
f5.6, 100 ISO
f5.6, 200 ISO
f5.6, 100 ISO
f5.6, 200 ISO
f5.6, 100 ISO
f5.6, 200 ISO
f5.6, 100 ISO

Olympus PEN E-PL5
results : Quality / RAW vs JPEG / Noise / RAW noise

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