OM-D vs 5D Mk2 Test

Started Dec 7, 2012 | Discussions thread
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Binone Contributing Member • Posts: 513
OM-D vs 5D Mk2 Test

I've been using Canon equipment for years with my main camera being the 5D Mark2.  I love the IQ I get from that camera and the Canon "L" glass.  However, what I don't like is carrying that equipment around when I hike or travel.  So, after reading all of the reviews, I bought an OM-D and, I must say I'm very pleased with the results, and I love not carrying something that feels like a sack of bricks when I go on a hike.

The big question for me is: Do I keep or sell the Canon gear?  I decided to do a test to determine if there's any meaningful difference between images shot with the 5D2 vs the OM-D.  I realize that this isn't a fair test because I'm comparing a 16MP micro 4/3 sensor to a FF 20MP sensor.  But, so what, to me what's important is the IQ.  Will I keep the Canon for use where I don't have to carry the equipment for any great distance, or not?

The only important factor for this is what the images look like - can I see a noticeable difference on a print.  The largest I can print is 22 x 24, so more than that isn't important, but I also wanted to see what the IQ is if I really zoom in.  So, here are the test parameters:

For both cameras:  Tripod mounted and IS turned off.  RAW files processed in ACR with default settings.  No sharpening or any other editing made other than cropping.

For the OM-D: Panasonic 12-35 f/2.8 set to f5.6, ISO 400.  Lens set to 50mm.  Exposure metered at 1/2,000.

5D2:  Canon 24-105 f/4 L set to f/11.  Lens set to 50mm.  Exposure metered at 1/640.  I used f/11 because that would result in approximately the same dof as the OM.  The Canon was also set to ISO 400.  I thought about setting the OM to ISO 200 since I typically shoot it at a wider aperture than the Canon, but decided to keep as much as possible equal.

Exposures:  Much as been written about the OM-D's ISO not being accurate.  With a 2-stop difference in f/stop, the OM-D's exposure should have been 1/2,560.  The resulting OM-D image is about 1/8 to 1/4 stop darker than the Canon's.  So, there may be a difference of about 1/4 - 1/3 stop between the ISO calibration of the 2 cameras.  I have no way of knowing which is correct and, frankly, it doesn't matter.

Here is the full image from both Cameras - Canon on top:

Full image from the 5D, reduced for web use.

Full image from OM-D, reduced for web use.

From the above, you can see that the OM-D's image is a little darker, but they are remarkably similar.

Taking a closer look, here's a crop from the center section of the image.  Again, Canon on top:

This is a small section out of the center of the 5D's frame

This is approximately the same crop area from the OM-D.  Again, no differences that I think you'd notice in a print.

I'm not a "pixel-peeper", but to satisfy those who are, and my own curiosity, here's an even tighter crop.  This was enlarged in PS6 by the same amount for both cameras.  Again, Canon on top:

This is a detail from the 5D shot.  Notice the slip numbers on the white bins, also the shadow detail and noise in the blue hull.

Here's the same detail from the OM-D shot.  Again, look at the slip numbers on the white bins, also the shadow detail and noise in the blue hull.

These last shots, which are significant enlargements (probably representing 200% view) do show a difference in favor of the 5D2.  There's less noise visible in the blue hull and the numbers on the white bins are a little bit sharper.  However, I doubt that these differences would be visible in a print, which is really what matters.

This test turned out a lot closer than I expected it to be.  If I had to pick a winner, it would be the 5D2, but a margin so small that I doubt that the differences would show in a print.  Also, since there's a 2 stop difference in dof between the 2 cameras, with f5.6 being roughly the same on the OM-D as f11 on the 5D2, I actually end up using the OM-d at a lower ISO than the 5D and that would have made the comparison even closer.  In fact, I doubt that I would have seen a difference at all.

When it first came out, I tried a 5D Mk3 and found that in good light its IQ was so close to the 5D2's that there was no point in spending the money on it.  So, I believe that the above comparison would hold true for a 5D Mk3 as well.

What this doesn't tell me is what difference there is, if any, at high-ISO in low light.  I have shot the OM-D at ISO 6400 and the results were much better than I expected, but I haven't done an exact comparison, like the above.  That's a test for another day.  But for now, the camera I grab when I walk out the door is the OM-D.

 Binone's gear list:Binone's gear list
Olympus E-M1 Nikon 1 AW1 Olympus PEN-F Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 60mm 1:2.8 Macro Panasonic 12-35mm F2.8 +5 more
Canon EOS 5D Canon EOS 5D Mark II Panasonic Lumix DMC-F5
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