A Tale of Two Pancake Lenses – Olympus OMD EM-5 + Panasonic 20mm f1.7 vs Canon EOS M EF-M 22mm
I’ve been loving my Olympus OMD EM-5 for the last 8 months or so because it offers SLR like quality in a very small package. Micro Four Thirds lenses offer a lot in the way of image quality in a very compact form factor. Some of the premium lenses come at a high price though – the 12mm 2.0 is great optically, but costs $800. The Panasonic 20mm 1.7 is a $389 lens, and the Olympus 17mm f1.8 is a $499 lens. Quality is nice for sure, but those high prices are quite a deterrent to the budget minded mirrorless shopper.
I’ve considered purchasing the 17mm f1.8 (35mm focal length equivalent), but price is a big factor.
Recently, for a limited time, the Canon EOS-M with a 22mm f2.0 lens (also 35mm equivalent) went on sale for only $299 for the camera AND the lens. $299 for an excellent camera AND a high quality prime lens? It’s almost hard NOT to buy this camera because the body and lens combo are cheaper than only the comparable lenses for the M43 system
I’ve had the EOS M with the 35mm equivalent pancake lens for a couple weeks now, and wanted to compare it to the OMD EM-5 with the 20mm 1.7 pancake zoom, because they are both approximately the same size and focal length.
The lenses are almost the same in size (both take a 43mm filter and are about an inch tall), but the 20mm 1.7 is slightly brighter for a small edge in low light photography. The amount of background blur you get from each camera is very similar – even though the Canon 22mm is an f2 lens vs the f1.7 of the Panasonic 20mm 1.7, the larger APS-C sensor on the Canon body allows for more bokeh (blurred background) at similar apertures. Both lenses focus at about the same speed (although the OMD is much faster than the Canon when using other lenses).
Both are excellent cameras, but if you are going for performance and a near SLR replacement camera system in a small body, the OMD is the way to go. If you want an inexpensive point and shoot style camera with an awesome DSLR quality sensor, the smaller EOS M might be for you.
Image quality between the two is almost identical – you’ll be hard pressed to find many differences. This is suprising, considering that the OMD’s sensor is more than 40% smaller than the Canon EOS-M’s sensor.
Below you’ll find a comprehensive comparison of the advantages to each system and sample pictures. All shots were taken from approximately the same location. The effective field of view on the 2 systems is almost the same, the m43 system has a bit more vertical height, whereas the Canon system gives you more room on the left and right.
Advantages of the EOS M + 22mm f2.0 (35mm equivalent)
- $299 Price!!! Hundreds of dollars cheaper than a comparable M43 system (even EPM-2 + 20mm 1.7 is $750)
- EOS-M system has a larger sensor than the OMD EM-5
- 18MP sensor vs 16mp sensor on the OMD
- Image quality of the EOS-M is excellent and you can use your Canon EF lenses with an adapter
- The EOS-M body is a bit smaller than the OMD
- EOS-M minimum ISO is 100, which allows you to shoot wide open in daylight
- EOS-M has a better rear LCD has more pixels than the OMD (1M vs 600K)
Advantages of the OMD EM-5 + Panasonic 20mm 1.7 (40mm equivalent)
- The OM-D 5 axis Image stabilization allows you to consistently shoot hand held at very low shutter speeds. The stabilizer is on the sensor itself, meaning that all lenses on the OMD are stabilized, even old manual lenses from other systems. This is huge.
- Ergonomics / Speed – mode dial + 2 additional soft dials allow you to quickly change settings on the OMD for quick shooting. Changing modes and settings on the EOS-M feels very slow by comparison. If you want to quickly shoot from the hip for street photography or do any sort of paid work, speed is quite important!
- Lens options – Currently there are 40+ lenses for the M43 system vs 3 for the Canon EF-M system. There is truly a lens for every focal length on the M43 system.
- Customization – the number of configurable options in the OMD menu is staggering, you have much more control than on the Canon – for example, you can reprogram basically every button and setting on the OMD.
- Electronic viewfinder – the OMD has 2 LCDs, one on the back and one in the eye piece, which allows for clear viewing in bright sunlight, and which provides more stabilization when shooting telephoto
- Tilt screen – you can very easily shoot at very low and overehead angles with the OMD’s tilting screen.
- Focus speed – the OMD’s foucs speed is really fast with lenses such as the 45mm f1.8 and 12mm f2.0
Get the Canon EOS-M if price is a concern and you only want a small SLR-like camera with a single lens. You will lose out in some other categories, but the EOS-M is an excellent camera that can produce outstanding images. If you are a novice photographer, this is an awesome choice.
Get the OMD EM-5 if you want an **almost** SLR replacement camera but you still want a full camera system with many lens options in a small, light and powerful package. I have 5 lenses, a body, and a ton of extra batteries in a tiny bag that ways a fraction of the equivalent gear on a SLR, with nearly the same image quality. The OMD’s innovative 5 axis image stabilizer and tilt screen put this camera in a category that SLRs can’t even match as well.
Without further ado, here are the image comparisons between the two cameras. Images were shot RAW then coverted in Lightroom 5. Images are pretty much straight out of camera.