Canon EOS-M vs. Olympus E-PL5 (factoring in recent price cuts)

Started Oct 7, 2013 | Questions
abassoonguy
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Canon EOS-M vs. Olympus E-PL5 (factoring in recent price cuts)
Oct 7, 2013

I know this question/comparison has been addressed to a certain extent over the last year since the EOS-M was announced, so I apologize in advance for the slightly repetitive question.

In short, I haven't done serious photography in close to 15 years, had a Canon Elan-IIe in the late 90s and did a mix of nature photography and photo journalism to a fairly advanced level.

I'm ready to start taking real photos again, my wife has an entry level Nikon SLR with a few decent lenses but i find i never take it out with us so don't shoot it much, and we both have point and shoots, so I'm looking for something easier to carry around than an SLR, but with better optics and functionality.

Based on some pricing research, it looks like I could get the EOS-M with the 22mm and the 18-55 in the $400-500 range, whereas a an EPL5 with it's kit 14-42 and a low f stop pancake (like the Pan 20mm f1.7) will run closer to $700-800.  I have a friend who's used the Olympus 4/3rds systems since their introduction and swears by them.  I've also read enough review to conclude that if priced the same, the EPL5 is a better camera.  Considering the price difference (and perhaps a wrong belief that the Canon lens are probably superior to the Olympus), would people recommend the EOS-M?

Also, keep in mind that when I was last regularly using a real SLR, auto-focus was a nice extra feature you used sometimes, I grew up manually focusing, and probably won't be doing lots of video or fast live action, so I'd also welcome people's thoughts on whether the slow autofocus on the EOS-M is truly an issue functionally or just behind compared to other products on the market.

Thanks in advance for the suggestions and advice.

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jalywol
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Re: Canon EOS-M vs. Olympus E-PL5 (factoring in recent price cuts)
In reply to abassoonguy, Oct 8, 2013

abassoonguy wrote:

I know this question/comparison has been addressed to a certain extent over the last year since the EOS-M was announced, so I apologize in advance for the slightly repetitive question.

In short, I haven't done serious photography in close to 15 years, had a Canon Elan-IIe in the late 90s and did a mix of nature photography and photo journalism to a fairly advanced level.

I'm ready to start taking real photos again, my wife has an entry level Nikon SLR with a few decent lenses but i find i never take it out with us so don't shoot it much, and we both have point and shoots, so I'm looking for something easier to carry around than an SLR, but with better optics and functionality.

Based on some pricing research, it looks like I could get the EOS-M with the 22mm and the 18-55 in the $400-500 range, whereas a an EPL5 with it's kit 14-42 and a low f stop pancake (like the Pan 20mm f1.7) will run closer to $700-800. I have a friend who's used the Olympus 4/3rds systems since their introduction and swears by them. I've also read enough review to conclude that if priced the same, the EPL5 is a better camera. Considering the price difference (and perhaps a wrong belief that the Canon lens are probably superior to the Olympus), would people recommend the EOS-M?

The M43 lenses are terrific.  Consider also, that there are only two native lenses for the EOS-M, otherwise you have to use much larger lenses with an adapter....and your price gets a lot less appealing when you add that in.

In addition, you cannot put an EVF on the EOS-M, which, if you need reading glasses or like to take photos in bright daylight, might just be an essential accessory (and the EVFs available for the Olys are wonderful).

Also, keep in mind that when I was last regularly using a real SLR, auto-focus was a nice extra feature you used sometimes, I grew up manually focusing, and probably won't be doing lots of video or fast live action, so I'd also welcome people's thoughts on whether the slow autofocus on the EOS-M is truly an issue functionally or just behind compared to other products on the market.

Here is where we get to the real flaws in the EOS-M....It is pokey to focus.  If you plan on using manual focus, remember, most modern lenses are not designed with nice big focusing rings anymore AND manual focus using just a rear LCD can be a bit tricky.  It is, indeed, a real issue on that camera.

Honestly, the EOS-M could have been a terrific camera if Canon had designed it with the ability to take an external viewfinder and had actually paid attention to its competition and put a decent AF system into it...but then it would compete with its DSLRs, which I don't think they were interested in.

In addition, there is uncertain future support in terms of dedicated lenses for the EOS-M series, according to some recent websites.  That may just be rumor, but it may not be.  M43s has many, many lenses for the format already, so that is not a problem you will run into with this system by comparison.

You may want to wait for some sales...characteristically as we approach the holidays, Olympus starts running some promotions which might reduce the price of the EPL5 pretty significantly.  Or, you might want to look into the EPM2, which has the same sensor, but no mode dial and no flippy LCD.  I have an EPM2 myself and it is quite an impressive little camera in terms of output....

Hope this helps.

-J

Thanks in advance for the suggestions and advice.

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walkaround
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Re: Canon EOS-M vs. Olympus E-PL5 (factoring in recent price cuts)
In reply to abassoonguy, Oct 8, 2013

abassoonguy wrote:

I know this question/comparison has been addressed to a certain extent over the last year since the EOS-M was announced, so I apologize in advance for the slightly repetitive question.

In short, I haven't done serious photography in close to 15 years, had a Canon Elan-IIe in the late 90s and did a mix of nature photography and photo journalism to a fairly advanced level.

I'm ready to start taking real photos again, my wife has an entry level Nikon SLR with a few decent lenses but i find i never take it out with us so don't shoot it much, and we both have point and shoots, so I'm looking for something easier to carry around than an SLR, but with better optics and functionality.

Based on some pricing research, it looks like I could get the EOS-M with the 22mm and the 18-55 in the $400-500 range, whereas a an EPL5 with it's kit 14-42 and a low f stop pancake (like the Pan 20mm f1.7) will run closer to $700-800. I have a friend who's used the Olympus 4/3rds systems since their introduction and swears by them. I've also read enough review to conclude that if priced the same, the EPL5 is a better camera. Considering the price difference (and perhaps a wrong belief that the Canon lens are probably superior to the Olympus), would people recommend the EOS-M?

Also, keep in mind that when I was last regularly using a real SLR, auto-focus was a nice extra feature you used sometimes, I grew up manually focusing, and probably won't be doing lots of video or fast live action, so I'd also welcome people's thoughts on whether the slow autofocus on the EOS-M is truly an issue functionally or just behind compared to other products on the market.

Thanks in advance for the suggestions and advice.

If you only use "legacy" manual lenses with adapters, it's probably a wash. But m4/3 has a fully developed lens system, whereas eos-m has only three so far. The Voigtlander f/0.95 lenses alone are enough to keep me in micro four thirds.

AF on the E-PL5 is very fast with my 17mm 1.8, fast enough for my kids playing, running, etc.

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Timbukto
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Re: Canon EOS-M vs. Olympus E-PL5 (factoring in recent price cuts)
In reply to abassoonguy, Oct 8, 2013

I'll have my EOS-M soon.  However I am getting it because its so cheap and does a few things to complement my 6D.  It gives me a cheap small flash for my 6D that effectively serves as a cheap wireless master remote.  Serves as a teleconverter for many of my EF primes.  Both lenses should be pretty good (you need the Pana 14-45 or 14-42 II for *good* kit lenses).  Electronic first curtain shutter.  Oh and did I mention its pretty cheap?

On the otherhand my E-PM2 has great battery life including with third parties, snaps pictures like a DSLR...the image review and ability to tag and delete, etc is great.  Shot to shot performance and shutter lag is a tad reduced when you must turn on anti-shock, etc.

Get both...the E-PL5 for the 45mm 1.8, and the EOS-M for the 22.  But seriously the *entire* kit costs $100 less than the retail price of the Oly 17 1.8.

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Re: Canon EOS-M vs. Olympus E-PL5 (factoring in recent price cuts)
In reply to abassoonguy, Oct 8, 2013

From the business perspective, the EOS-M and the Nikon J are both late-to-game marketing dept reactions to micro Four Thirds consortium.  That said, your better off committing to m43 as there is a ecosystems of multiple manufacturers now. Canon and Nikon rejected mirrorless for a long time, and responded late.  By then, other people were making lenses, esp Sigma and Rokinon/Samyang and esp Voigtlander.

I use the Panasonic 7-14mm lens.  I can comfortably carry the camera hiking.  On an SLR, that lens would be alot longer, wider and weigh more. That particular lens is one of the big motivators for people to buy into m43'ds - because of the huge weight/size tradeoffs compared to the classic 14-28mm ultrawide zooms.

For the nature photographer, you experience a similar size savings with long telephotos. Making it alittle easier to pack and carry the camera out in the field. You'll still be carrying a tripod though!

You could also jump in with a used E-P3 or OM-D and save alot of money. If you love it, you buy a more expensive body later and use the EP3/OMD as your backup body.

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ryan2007
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Re: Canon EOS-M vs. Olympus E-PL5 (factoring in recent price cuts)
In reply to abassoonguy, Oct 8, 2013

abassoonguy wrote:

I know this question/comparison has been addressed to a certain extent over the last year since the EOS-M was announced, so I apologize in advance for the slightly repetitive question.

In short, I haven't done serious photography in close to 15 years, had a Canon Elan-IIe in the late 90s and did a mix of nature photography and photo journalism to a fairly advanced level.

I'm ready to start taking real photos again, my wife has an entry level Nikon SLR with a few decent lenses but i find i never take it out with us so don't shoot it much, and we both have point and shoots, so I'm looking for something easier to carry around than an SLR, but with better optics and functionality.

Based on some pricing research, it looks like I could get the EOS-M with the 22mm and the 18-55 in the $400-500 range, whereas a an EPL5 with it's kit 14-42 and a low f stop pancake (like the Pan 20mm f1.7) will run closer to $700-800. I have a friend who's used the Olympus 4/3rds systems since their introduction and swears by them. I've also read enough review to conclude that if priced the same, the EPL5 is a better camera. Considering the price difference (and perhaps a wrong belief that the Canon lens are probably superior to the Olympus), would people recommend the EOS-M?

Also, keep in mind that when I was last regularly using a real SLR, auto-focus was a nice extra feature you used sometimes, I grew up manually focusing, and probably won't be doing lots of video or fast live action, so I'd also welcome people's thoughts on whether the slow autofocus on the EOS-M is truly an issue functionally or just behind compared to other products on the market.

Thanks in advance for the suggestions and advice.

I too started with film and like the manual feel of where I started, but autofocus was a nicety.

Anyway,

If we're bringing Canon EOS M in with Olympus/Panasonic MFT's, then you should also compare the Fuji X series cameras. They currently have four bodies with two of them being new and more new body rumored announcements in the next few weeks (XE-2). The XE-1, Xpro-1, XA and XM are current APC mirrorless cameras for Fuji, a still compact larger sensor to Micro Four Thirds.

Each system has pluses and minuses. Canon EOS M to my knowledge has maybe three native lenses but they have an adaptor to use the other Canon lenses.

Micro Four Thirds has various bodies and lens options.

Fuji X is the same though not around as long as Micro Four Thirds they have a decent amount of lenses that are really good, but price point averages more than Canon M's lenses and Micro Four Thirds. Fuji X has a more manual feel to how the XE-1 that I have can speak of.

If you go to the Fuji manufactures site you can find the Fuji X Lens roadmap and they have more to come per that road map.

I had the Panasonic GH-3 which is a really nice camera and I had some great Panny lenses. I also had two other Panny MFT's bodies GF-1 and GX-1 that were updated to said GH-3.

The downside to Fuji X is their is not the availability or call it the selection of external flash that the others have. Currently video is not so great with Fuji and for me I needed to get a dedicated video camera, Canon X20.

If you like the DSLR feel but with out the weight the Panasonic GH-3 feels great in the hands. You just have to see it/hold in in person.

I'll be honest, when I switched from my Nikon D90 to mirror less and had a choice between Olympus or Panasonic I went all in with Panasonic body and lenses. It worked great for me and I am the minority who does not care for Olympus products, it is what it is.

You can read so much reviews and ask so many questions but you may have to buy a couple cameras and return them if you can not see them first hand.

In short all all good systems. Fuji X is the only one that is like using a manual film camera IMHO, no preset scene modes, you have to know what your doing.

Canon M which I have not used 1st hand but have used many Canon cameras but I did use micro four thirds alot and some AF situations Panasonic/Olympus will do better vs Fuji X.

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dougjgreen1
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Re: Canon EOS-M vs. Olympus E-PL5 (factoring in recent price cuts)
In reply to ryan2007, Oct 8, 2013

ryan2007 wrote:If we're bringing Canon EOS M in with Olympus/Panasonic MFT's, then you should also compare the Fuji X series cameras. They currently have four bodies with two of them being new and more new body rumored announcements in the next few weeks (XE-2). The XE-1, Xpro-1, XA and XM are current APC mirrorless cameras for Fuji, a still compact larger sensor to Micro Four Thirds.

Just curious, which Fuji mirrorless interchangeable lens camera can you get for under $500 with a lens?

That's the price range of the stuff the OP is looking at.

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Mark Thornton
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Re: consider Panasonic GX1 (factoring in recent price cuts)
In reply to abassoonguy, Oct 8, 2013

It is available at very good prices in some markets. I bought one a few weeks ago and I'm very satisfied. The lower price leaves money for another lens (or two).

Mark

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Dr_Jon
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Re: Canon EOS-M vs. Olympus E-PL5 (factoring in recent price cuts)
In reply to abassoonguy, Oct 8, 2013

A know a couple of people with EOS-Ms (rather worryingly that's more than m43 users) and they really like them. Personally I'd find the AF as too slow and really miss having a viewfinder, both for use in bright sunlight and shooting from a more stable position. The lenses seem good though.

Other cameras to consider:

Sony RX100 - teeny, good lens, fast AF, takes nice pics. Not so much a creative tool though.

The EPL5, as you mentioned, but the add-on viewfinders (VF4 is good but large) are not cheap. Some good lenses are available (although again many aren't cheap).

The cheaper Fujis lose out on the whizzy sensor and the AF performance is in-between the EOS-M and the above two. The X-E1 is great to hold though.

You could also get a Panasonic G5 and lens for EOS-M kind of money, complete with built-in viewfinder.

At the higher price range the Samsung NX300 comes into play too. As does the really rather small Canon SL1.

Personally I'd be tempted to dodge the EOS-M unless a better one pops up soon.

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Fredrik Glckner
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Re: Canon EOS-M vs. Olympus E-PL5 (factoring in recent price cuts)
In reply to abassoonguy, Oct 8, 2013

I have tried the EOS M in a shop, and, using any of the two kit lenses I found the focus speed to be just horrible. Also, the camera lacks any possibility to use an EVF, and there is no tiltable LCD screen. I think it is a rather useless camera at this time, also given the very limited lens lineup.

Canon will probably launch a new version with their new PDAF capable sensor used in the EOS 70D. That will improve the focus speed, probably.

Micro Four Thirds, on the other hand, has a very impressive lineup.

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baxters
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Re: Canon EOS-M vs. Olympus E-PL5 (factoring in recent price cuts)
In reply to abassoonguy, Oct 8, 2013

abassoonguy wrote: Considering the price difference (and perhaps a wrong belief that the Canon lens are probably superior to the Olympus), would people recommend the EOS-M?

I have only seen the Canon in a display booth. Picked it up, but no battery. Nice looking, compact camera.

If you believe the reviews, it focuses slow, maybe slower than an EPL5 with the 20mm.

If you mean the Canon DSLR lenses, yes they are nice, but aren't they as  big as the Nikon lenses that you never use because it's too much bother to take them outside the house?

The EPL5 with the Panasonic 14mm is a small and useful package. Switch to the 45mm and it's such a great portrait shooter. Tiltable touch screen too.

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ryan2007
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Re: Canon EOS-M vs. Olympus E-PL5 (factoring in recent price cuts)
In reply to dougjgreen1, Oct 8, 2013

dougjgreen1 wrote:

ryan2007 wrote:If we're bringing Canon EOS M in with Olympus/Panasonic MFT's, then you should also compare the Fuji X series cameras. They currently have four bodies with two of them being new and more new body rumored announcements in the next few weeks (XE-2). The XE-1, Xpro-1, XA and XM are current APC mirrorless cameras for Fuji, a still compact larger sensor to Micro Four Thirds.

Just curious, which Fuji mirrorless interchangeable lens camera can you get for under $500 with a lens?

That's the price range of the stuff the OP is looking at.

the XA-1 is $600 with a lens. $100 is pretty minor difference when you ready to spend $500 for a camera plus potential extras like shipping, tax, extra battery, camera bag and a filter or two.

I am sure their are used options too.

With that Canon M would be the way to go, but shopping price as a first criteria is never good because you limit yourself if you can save $100 to wait another month.

With that I have read various complaints or concerns with the AF speed of Canon EOS M.

Given Canon M, Fuji X and Micro Four Thirds as potential options I'd even say get a Micro Four Thirds camera, what ever it is.

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TrapperJohn
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First halfhearted effort versus refined product
In reply to abassoonguy, Oct 8, 2013

The EOS-M is dirt cheap right now, because it didn't sell well, and Canon has said by their actions that they don't plan on introducing an updated version, at least in the US and EU.

It does not have an eye level viewfinder - rear LCD only framing.

Does not have image stabilization in body. I believe the kit zoom does have IS, but Canon's kit zooms tend to be more motivation to run for the B&H website for something better, than really good lens.

It has very little glass. I can't comment directly on the quality of that glass, but I can comment on the quality of the µ43 fast primes: very good. True that you can put Canon EF glass on the EOS-M, but EF glass is Not Small, and the resulting package will be Not Small, as well as Rather Clumsy Handling. What is the point of a small body if the glass isn't also small?

The EPL5, on the other hand, is the third iteration of the intermediate Pen body.

It does have a very good eye level VF as an add on option.

It has an extensive line of lenses that will work well on it, very small fast primes and very small zooms.

It has in body image stabilization, works on all lenses.

Tilting rear LCD - comes in handy.

Sensor performance of both bodies is roughly the same. Purists can bicker over some specs, but generally speaking, the images out of the EPL5 will be about the same as images out of the EOS-M, if the glass is on a par.

In many cases, the EPL5 will produce better results because it has focal lengths that the EOS-M doesn't have, and apparently won't have.

The real question is - do you want a half hearted effort to get into a micro/mirrorless market, or do you want the third refinement from a company who has committed totally to this platform?

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Todd3608
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I would pick the EOS-M
In reply to abassoonguy, Oct 8, 2013

I have owned both and honestly liked the EOS-M better.  Its build quality is MUCH better than the E-PL5.  The 22mm and 18-55 are some of the best 'budget' lenses I have seen.  The 18-55 is as good as the 14-45 from Panasonic and the 22mm is a killer deal for around $100 right now.

Yes the E-PL5 has faster AF but honestly neither are great for sports shooting.  The E-PL5 is also slightly better at high ISO images but the EOS-M is no slouch either, especially with the 22mm lens.

The Canon menus are better and more organized.  The E-PL5 has more customizing capability but the menus are not very logical.

Plus I thought the Canon had better white balance.  I constantly have to tweak the white balance for the E-PL5.

The EOS-M is the best deal out there right now. You can get the camera, 18-55 lens, 22mm lens and 90EX flash for 399.00 shipped.  Heck the 22mm lens is worth that by itself.  I have seen others compare it to Canon L lenses costing over $1000 and say it is darn near as good.

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n3eg
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Re: Canon EOS-M vs. Olympus E-PL5 (factoring in recent price cuts)
In reply to abassoonguy, Oct 8, 2013

abassoonguy wrote:

I know this question/comparison has been addressed to a certain extent over the last year since the EOS-M was announced, so I apologize in advance for the slightly repetitive question.

In short, I haven't done serious photography in close to 15 years, had a Canon Elan-IIe in the late 90s and did a mix of nature photography and photo journalism to a fairly advanced level.

I'm ready to start taking real photos again, my wife has an entry level Nikon SLR with a few decent lenses but i find i never take it out with us so don't shoot it much, and we both have point and shoots, so I'm looking for something easier to carry around than an SLR, but with better optics and functionality.

Based on some pricing research, it looks like I could get the EOS-M with the 22mm and the 18-55 in the $400-500 range, whereas a an EPL5 with it's kit 14-42 and a low f stop pancake (like the Pan 20mm f1.7) will run closer to $700-800. I have a friend who's used the Olympus 4/3rds systems since their introduction and swears by them. I've also read enough review to conclude that if priced the same, the EPL5 is a better camera. Considering the price difference (and perhaps a wrong belief that the Canon lens are probably superior to the Olympus), would people recommend the EOS-M?

Also, keep in mind that when I was last regularly using a real SLR, auto-focus was a nice extra feature you used sometimes, I grew up manually focusing, and probably won't be doing lots of video or fast live action, so I'd also welcome people's thoughts on whether the slow autofocus on the EOS-M is truly an issue functionally or just behind compared to other products on the market.

Thanks in advance for the suggestions and advice.

I like my E-PL5.  Nice and small, lots of lenses and adapters, and definitely something other than a DSLR.

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jkrumm
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Re: Canon EOS-M vs. Olympus E-PL5 (factoring in recent price cuts)
In reply to abassoonguy, Oct 8, 2013

The Canon looks like a good deal. Perhaps just order it from Amazon, try it out for a bit, and if the autofocus is unworkable return it (or try one at a local shop if you can).

If you are talking about taking snapshots of scenery mostly, both cameras will likely work well. If you want to catch people in the moment, a quick laugh for instance, the snappy auto-focus of the E-Pl5 is really nice. The menu system is indeed a pain for the uninitiated, and there will be a set-up learning curve.

The Canon will likely be replaced with something, perhaps a "mark ll" version, who knows, so you could buy it with the lenses, then upgrade the body later, maybe. My guess is they are working on implementing the 70D focusing system into their next mirrorless camera.

I wouldn't worry about the image quality either way.

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walkaround
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In reply to Todd3608, Oct 9, 2013

Todd3608 wrote:

I have owned both and honestly liked the EOS-M better.  Its build quality is MUCH better than the E-PL5.

In what sense? I've held both, and neither struck me as "MUCH better". Plus the EOS-M doesn't have the tilt screen.

Yes the E-PL5 has faster AF

This is a huge understatement. The poor AF on the EOS-M is legendary.

The E-PL5 is also slightly better at high ISO images

Yes, and it has faster native glass at its disposal.

The Canon menus are better and more organized.

+1

Plus I thought the Canon had better white balance.  I constantly have to tweak the white balance for the E-PL5.

I don't know what you are shooting, or how, but I have never moved mine off "AWB", and it is flawless. I say that without exaggeration. I can't think of a single E-PL5 photo that I have had to tweak for WB in lightroom.

Is your monitor calibrated? In all seriousness, a lot of my supposed "white balance" problems evaporated when I bought a ColorMunki Display calibrator.

Heck the 22mm lens is worth that by itself.  I have seen others compare it to Canon L lenses costing over $1000 and say it is darn near as good.

Hahahahaha. This is a joke?

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dougjgreen1
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Sure there are used options....
In reply to ryan2007, Oct 9, 2013

ryan2007 wrote:

dougjgreen1 wrote:

ryan2007 wrote:If we're bringing Canon EOS M in with Olympus/Panasonic MFT's, then you should also compare the Fuji X series cameras. They currently have four bodies with two of them being new and more new body rumored announcements in the next few weeks (XE-2). The XE-1, Xpro-1, XA and XM are current APC mirrorless cameras for Fuji, a still compact larger sensor to Micro Four Thirds.

Just curious, which Fuji mirrorless interchangeable lens camera can you get for under $500 with a lens?

That's the price range of the stuff the OP is looking at.

the XA-1 is $600 with a lens. $100 is pretty minor difference when you ready to spend $500 for a camera plus potential extras like shipping, tax, extra battery, camera bag and a filter or two.

I am sure their are used options too.

With that Canon M would be the way to go, but shopping price as a first criteria is never good because you limit yourself if you can save $100 to wait another month.

With that I have read various complaints or concerns with the AF speed of Canon EOS M.

Given Canon M, Fuji X and Micro Four Thirds as potential options I'd even say get a Micro Four Thirds camera, what ever it is.

I just paid under $350 for a mint used E-PL5.  Actually I paid $440 for an E-PL5 and a VF-2, which is worth close to $150

 dougjgreen1's gear list:dougjgreen1's gear list
Olympus Stylus XZ-10 Olympus PEN E-PL5 Nikon 1 V2 Olympus E-M1 Olympus Zuiko Digital 11-22mm 1:2.8-3.5 +11 more
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abassoonguy
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Re: Canon EOS-M vs. Olympus E-PL5 (factoring in recent price cuts)
In reply to jkrumm, Oct 10, 2013

Thanks everyone for the suggestions and feedback.  I ended up ordering the E-PL5, based in large part on comments here, but also after talking more to a friend who's had an E-PL1 since it was first released.  My biggest worry is not being able to expand my lens collection since it's not clear Canon is really going to support the EOS-M going forward, or alternatively is going to rely on people being able to mount reg DSLR lenses on it, which sort of defeats the point for me of having a smaller camera.  I'll be sure to report back on how I'm liking it.

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