30/01/2016 /

Olympus OM-D EM-1 v Canon 5 mark iii


I have had quite a few questions about the differences between the Canon full frame 5D3 and the Olympus Micro four thirds OM-D E-M1.

So here are some direct real world comparisons. Same lighting, same environment same distance from the focal object.

Each camera is set up as close to each other as possible. The canon has a Sigma 50mm 1.4 Art lense on it, and the Olympus has a Panasonic Leica Summilux ASPH 25mm 1.4. This gives both cameras the same equivalent focal length of 50mm and both have the same maximum aperature of f1.4. I also wanted to check the IQ of the camera, so each unit was set to aperature priority mode, f1.4 with the exposure compensation set to zero. White balance was was set to incandescent, which is approx 2750K in the EM-1 and 3200K in the 5D3 (the olympus did not tell me what the K was as I set it, it was not until I imported it into LR). Both were shooting in RAW.

So I set up the test scence in my kitchen which was lit but incandescent spots. The focal subject is another lense. I put a line on the table and put the front of the camera on the line in an attempt to equalise the distance of the sensor from the subject. This is as close as I could get it without being scientific. And this is not a scentific test. What I wanted to do was see the actual differences between each and ultimately see if I had a preference between one or the other.

I only took one shot with each camera. Imported into Lightroom. Images below:

SOOC image from EM-1
SOOC Olympus EM-1
SOOC Canon 5D3
SOOC Canon 5D3

Obviously the canon came out warmer. So my next thing was to normalise everything. I auto straightened, adjusted the white balance of the canon down to 2850K, and then did AutoTone in Lightroom.

Auto tone edit in Lightroom from the EM-1
Auto tone edit in Lightroom from the EM-1
Auto tone edit in Lightroom from the 5D3
Auto tone edit in Lightroom from the 5D3

Lastly I wanted to see the effect of using a manufacture specific preset. I have used the Mastin Portra 400, all hard, with canon lens correction. There is no specific set for Olympus.

Mastin Portra 400 preset on Olympus EM-1 RAW
Mastin Portra 400 preset on Olympus EM-1 RAW
Mastin Portra 400 preset on Canon 5D3 RAW
Mastin Portra 400 preset on Canon 5D3 RAW

I was asked to reshoot the scene with the same depth of field. So the next morning I reset the scene, not cameras in Av mode, but I kept the EM-1 at f1.4 but changed the 5D3 to f2.8. These were the results:

Olympus E-m1
Canon 5D3
Canon 5D3

The interesting thing here is the way each camera has chosen its settings:

Canon 5D3 – ISO3200, 1/160
Olympus – E-M1 – ISO400, 1/100


The surprise to me was the image quality of both images was very similar. The interesting thing to look at is the usable depth of field. The canon is literally sliver thin at f1.4, so to be usable it would need to be stopped down to match the usability of the Olympus depth at f1.4


I don’t have one. The canon gives the classic full frame look and is marginally sharper, but the Pana Leica lense on the E-M1 was not cailbrated. I think the EM-1 looks a bit more real. What do you think??? Let me know.


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